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  • The Press Concocted A Clinton Caricature, But That’s Not Who Showed Up At The Debate

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Hillary Clinton sure didn’t look like an “awful” candidate up on the debate stage this week.

    “Awful” was how ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd derided the Democratic nominee over the summer on This Week. “She is an awful candidate. Everybody knows it,” he stressed.

    Dowd was hardly alone. The Beltway pundit class has relentlessly portrayed Clinton as someone who’s supremely uncomfortable in her own skin and ill-suited to be the Democratic nominee or the next president.

    But that’s not what 80-plus million viewers saw when they tuned into the debate. Poised, confident and in control, Clinton walked away with a clear victory, according to all scientific polling.

    So why the huge disconnect between the way the press portrays Clinton, often with a relentlessly caustic and cynical eye, and the reality of who Clinton is as a candidate, as seen during the debate? A large chunk of viewers, regardless of whether they support her or not, must have been genuinely confused by the person they watched for 90 minutes, and the person they’ve seen depicted in the press throughout this campaign.

    She certainly didn’t resemble the supposedly phony, unlikeable, calculating politician the press has been describing most of this year. She didn’t come across as the deeply secretive, distant, “scripted,” figure who can’t connect with voters. (Fact: Clinton accumulated more votes than any other candidate during the presidential primaries.)

    Aside from her agenda and her politics, the press has been nearly universal in the way they’ve described Clinton as a person and as a candidate. She’s “afraid to say what she thinks about anything for fear of alienating this or that constituency,” explained The Washington Post, while emphasizing, “She often comes across as inauthentic or lacking a basic core of beliefs.”

    Bottom line: Clinton is a deeply flawed candidate, and possibly a deeply flawed person.

    And that has been the nearly universal media theme since the beginning of this campaign. Last summer, The Wall Street Journal suggested Clinton sounds too "scripted and poll-tested," while Politico this year marked her victory in the Kentucky primary with the downer headline, “Hillary Clinton’s Joyless Victory.”

    But instead of that scheming Clinton caricature showing up at the debate, viewers saw a confident, at-ease candidate who at one point even shimmied with delight on the national stage.

    “[T]ens of millions of Americans saw the candidates in action, directly, without a media filter,” noted New York Times columnist Paul Krugman following the debate. “For many, the revelation wasn’t Mr. Trump’s performance, but Mrs. Clinton’s: The woman they saw bore little resemblance to the cold, joyless drone they’d been told to expect.”

    Indeed.

    Unfortunately, as Media Matters has been noting for years, there has existed over time an almost open contempt for Clinton from the press corps. Last year there was even talk about how journalists were primed to “take down” her campaign.

    Obsessive Clinton tormentor Maureen Dowd at the Times, for example, has spent years looking past what Clinton stands for (does Dowd even care?) in order to belittle her as a person. Over two decades, Dowd has robotically represented Clinton as an unlikeable, power-hungry, phony.

    Author Neal Gabler made this key point over the summer (emphasis added):

    Hillary Clinton has always been under a media microscope. They assess her pantsuits, her hairdos, her gestures, her expressions, her “grating” voice. They assume that there is always some ulterior motive or calculation to everything she says and does — as if there isn’t for any presidential candidate. Whether you like Hillary Clinton or not, she labors under the media’s presumption of guilt.

    And again, the most troubling aspect is that so much of the press pile-on regarding Clinton is oddly personal, and rarely revolves around her politics. (Except when it comes to her emails, which journalists have been weirdly obsessive about.) The press seems utterly determined to portray the nominee as a blemished individual.  

    And that’s one of the reasons why presidential debates are so important: They force the campaign press to get off the national stage for 90 minutes and allow candidates to speak directly to viewers, without a heavy-handed media filter and without journalists trying to fit everything into preferred narratives.

    Meanwhile, did you notice how few members of the Beltway media’s elite foresaw Clinton’s lopsided debate win?

    Think about all the hours and days of pre-debate commentary, all the analysis on radio, television and in print that commentators provided during the run up to the debate. Did you see, hear, or read many (any?) pundits confidently predict that Clinton would, as it turned out, easily win the debate and it wouldn’t even be a close call?

    Seemingly committed to the Clinton narrative that she’s a cautious, calculating pol who can’t connect with voters, lots of commentators seemed certain Trump would be able to equal her debate parries, even as they lowered the expectations for him to absurd depths.

    But even graded on an entirely different and gentler scale, Trump still wasn’t able to construct a coherent performance. With the media’s nasty Clinton caricature set aside for the duration of the debate, viewers were able to make up their own minds about the candidate.

  • Conservative Newspapers Explain Why They Refused To Endorse “Frightening” Trump

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Opinion editors at three major newspapers that have routinely endorsed Republicans for president -- dating back more than a century in some cases -- tell Media Matters they endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton because Republican nominee Donald Trump is “frightening” and potentially “dangerous.”

    Political observers and veteran news experts, meanwhile, say such a dramatic move by longtime Republican-friendly publications could have a greater impact on the race than more expected endorsements.   

    “We have been traditionally considered a conservative newspaper, having endorsed Republicans for the last hundred years,” said Cindi Andrews, editorial page editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, which endorsed Clinton on September 23. “For me personally, the two biggest concerns come down to temperament; how he would be on the world stage, his demeanor, his language he uses about citizens in our own country of different races and genders, as well as immigrants. It is fundamentally what we’re about as Americans.”

    The Enquirer, owned by Gannett Company, had last endorsed a Democrat in 1916 when it backed Woodrow Wilson. Andrews said the five-member editorial board was unanimous in their choice, adding that a non-endorsement was not an option.

    “We felt that fundamentally not endorsing in any race we are looking at is a pretty lame approach,” she said. “Because somebody has to decide who the next president is and voters have to make a decision, it felt a like a dereliction of duty.”

    The Enquirer wasn’t the first traditionally Republican paper to endorse Clinton. The Dallas Morning News ended 80 years of GOP presidential endorsements on September 7 when it backed Clinton.

    “We had recommended John Kasich in the primary and were disappointed that his campaign didn’t catch more fire,” said Keven Ann Willey, Morning News editorial page editor since 2002 and a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. “Over that time Donald Trump just became more and more difficult to tolerate. The thought of him as the leader of our country just became anathema. On issues ranging from immigration to foreign relations to tax policy, it was hard to find much to align with him on. He is really not a conservative, he is a Republican of convenience.”

    Willey said the nine-member editorial board was unanimous in their choice of Clinton, another unusual occurrence.

    “It was a long and deliberative process,” she said, adding that opposition to Trump was based on many things such as his “name-calling of people and groups of people and the tone, the ramifications of that are just frightening.”

    The most recent and perhaps most surprising case was the Arizona Republic, which gave Clinton the nod this week. That marked the first time it had endorsed a Democrat in its history, which dates back to 1890 went it launched as the Arizona Republican.

    Editorial Page Editor Phil Boas said the nine-member editorial board began criticizing Trump nearly a year ago.

    For him, the tide started to turn against Trump when Trump supporters “started kicking and punching” a protester at a rally in Birmingham, AL, in November 2015 and Trump yelled, “get him the hell out of here.” Trump later doubled down on his rhetoric in an interview the same week, telling Fox News, “maybe he should have been roughed up.”

    “That’s when I sat down and wrote an editorial that these are sort of the ominous base notes of authoritarianism,” said Boas, an admitted lifelong conservative Republican. “It was a sign and alarm that this guy might be dangerous.”

    Since then, the paper has routinely criticized Trump, endorsing John Kasich in the Arizona primary and hitting the businessman in numerous editorials

    “Because this is probably the most unusual election in our lifetimes, the process was different than what I’m used to and for us,” Boas explained. “It really evolved over a year on our pages, a conversation with our readers. I don’t think any loyal reader of our editorial pages are that surprised that we endorse Clinton. For a year now we have been writing scalding editorials about Donald Trump.”

    Boas also cited Trump’s mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski’s disability. “I was just appalled by it,” he said. “He made fun of a disabled man, he mocked him. … To behave that way is disrespectful of the office. This became bigger than party, bigger than team.”

    Asked why they chose to endorse Clinton and not just decline to endorse a candidate, he said, “She conducts herself in a way that’s responsible, she is not going to scare off our allies and create an international incident.”

    While newspaper endorsements are seen as having less impact in recent years, political and newspaper observers said such sharp changes in these normally conservative publications could be influential.

    “This is hugely significant,” said Poynter Institute President Tim Franklin, a former editor and editorial board member of the Indianapolis StarThe Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun. “Most newspapers develop a core set of beliefs and values and then they stick to those core beliefs and values for years. That is a covenant with the audience.”

    Citing the key undecided voters, Franklin added, “These endorsements could have an impact on what seems to be a very small undecided group.”

    Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, also saw the potential for an impact if more conservative papers go with Clinton.

    “They are attracting lots of attention, for sure,” Sabato said via email. “If enough GOP papers endorse their first Democratic presidential candidate ever, that might cause some voters to ask a logical question: Why is this happening. The answer is obvious: Donald Trump.”

    Matt Dallek, associate professor at the George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, said the endorsement switch can be impactful. 

    “It is newsworthy that in some cases, like the Arizona Republic, it is the first time they haven’t endorsed a Republican and that I think generates additional stories, additional attention beyond the editorials themselves,” Dallek said. “Even voters who don’t necessarily see that headline, it gins up attention in subsequent stories and people hear about it.”

    He added, “These endorsements from these newspapers will likely have more impact than, say, Henry Paulson writing an Op-Ed saying he’s voting for Clinton. I’m not sure that really penetrates with people in places like Ohio like it does coming from the hometown paper.

    David Yepsen, former Des Moines Register political columnist, said, “One thing Trump has to do is get moderate and wavering Republicans to ‘come home.’ When Republican papers endorse Hillary Clinton, those endorsements become something that might continue to give those Republicans pause about him.”

    David Boardman, a former Seattle Times editor and currently dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University, said, “It reflects something about how most opinion journalists see this election, clearly their level of distaste for Trump is compelling them to take positions different from what they did in the past.”

    Among those known for a long history of Republican presidential support who have yet to offer their choice are The Indianapolis Star and The Orange County Register. The Wall Street Journal does not normally endorse in presidential races.

    USA Today, which has "never taken sides" in a presidential race before, declared Trump "unfit for the presidency" in an editorial this morning.

  • Hannity Spurns Fox Executives, Hypes Online Polls After After Internal Memo Says They Don't Meet Fox Standards

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News host Sean Hannity cited post-debate online polls to show that people "vote so overwhelmingly for [Donald] Trump," just two days after Fox's vice president of public-opinion research sent an internal memo “reminding television producers and the politics team that unscientific online polls ‘do not meet our editorial standards.’” Scientific polls showed Clinton overwhelmingly won the debate, with the NBC/SurveyMonkey poll showing Trump came in third place in the two-person debate, finishing both behind Clinton and "neither." Hannity has gone to great lengths to shill for Trump, including recently appearing in a Trump campaign ad, which Fox executives were neither aware of nor happy about. From the September 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I know that people hate when I cite online polling. But when you see The Hill, and you see Slate, and Time.com, these are not mainstream conservative polling or websites. And when they vote after a debate so overwhelmingly for Trump, it's telling me something. It's more than Trump's base that I think people feel how bad things are and that's what they're voting on. 

  • Morning Joe Inaccurately Hypes Latino Support For Trump In Nevada With A Misleading Poll Report

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    MSNBC’s Morning Joe hyped one poll to suggest 30 percent of Latino Nevada voters support Trump, but the survey’s participants who fit the description of Latino likely voters provided such a small sample size that Morning Joe’s blanket statement was likely inaccurate.

    On the September 29 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski and correspondent Jacob Soboroff reported that an NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll found 30 percent of Latinos supported Trump. Soboroff, after referring to the results as “surprising” and “frankly puzzling,” went to see if “Latinos for Trump” were “a real thing” by interviewing callers on Jesus Marquez’s radio show on the Las Vegas station La Voz de Nevada.

    Marquez is one of the remaining members of Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council -- several of them quit, calling the group a “scam” and denouncing Trump’s August 31 anti-immigrant speech as “horrible,” “dishonest,” and “tone-deaf.” Marquez often makes media appearances as a Trump surrogate, so callers to his pro-Trump radio show aren’t likely to be the most representative sample of Latino voters in Nevada.

    The problem with MSNBC’s reporting was explained by Futuro Media Group’s Julio Ricardo Varela shortly after the report aired. In an article on NPR’s Latino USA, Varela explained that the poll MSNBC was citing did not contain a large enough sample of Latinos to be representative. Varela dug into the poll’s methodology to explain that the poll surveyed 1,090 adults, only 627 of whom were likely voters, and only 17 percent, or 107, were Latino. Varela laid out the significance of MSNBC’s botched reporting (which also aired on the September 28 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, according to Nexis):

    This would mean that Morning Joe did not accurately represent the poll’s data and methodology, and no one at the table challenged the data. It also raises questions about whether a sample of 107 likely Latino voters in Nevada is even large enough to make a confident conclusion that Trump has 30% of the Latino vote in Nevada, especially when a national NBC News/Telemundo/WSJ poll has Trump’s Latino support in the high teens.

    One particularly misleading graphic, titled “Among Nevada Latino Likely Voters,” showed the breakdown of the 107 people the poll surveyed who fit that description, but at the bottom noted the total number of people polled, 1,090. The graphic could have left viewers with the impression that 1,090 Latino likely voters were surveyed, instead of 107:

    Later in the day, Soboroff acknowledged he was receiving “blowback” for his reporting, but instead of addressing the criticism, he doubled down. Soboroff said, “I actually got a lot of feedback, a lot of blowback online from folks saying that that 30 number percent looked high. That’s the number that we got in our NBC News poll here.”

    MSNBC is not the first network to fumble reports about the Latino vote: Earlier this year, Telemundo also based a report that Latinos could be warming to Trump on flawed polling. Given the lousy attempts that Trump has made at Latino outreach, his anti-immigrant rhetoric, and the fact that even his Latino supporters have admitted his Latino outreach is doomed -- as well as the media’s penchant for misrepresenting Latino voters-- a poll that shows a large number of Latinos supporting Trump should be met with skepticism.

    According to Stephen A. Nuño, an associate professor at Northern Arizona University, media reporting on the Latino vote can “often be contradictory, confusing, and outright nonsensical” because sloppy methodology is often used when polling Latinos. Nuño explained that sample sizes are often too small to be representative, polls are frequently not conducted bilingually, and polls are not representative of age, country of origin, and gender.

    In a June 10 guest appearance on NPR’s Latino USA, Nuño talked about the number of things that can go wrong when polling Latinos and interpreting the numbers:

  • NRA Once Again Uses Footage From Military Cemetery In Campaign Attack Ad

    VFW’s Response to Previous Ad: “Don't Use Our Dead To Score Political Points”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A new attack ad from the National Rifle Association targeting Florida Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy features images of military graves at Alexandria National Cemetery.

    In a September 27 ad, the NRA attempts to link Murphy to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over supposed malfeasance related to the 2012 terror attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. (Without evidence, the ad claims Clinton “lied” about the attacks.) Murphy is facing Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in the race.

    The ad features several shots of Alexandria National Cemetery that the NRA filmed for a previous attack ad. It is a violation of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs policy to film political ads at national cemeteries.

    From the ad:

    The footage from the ad comes from a June ad in which the NRA attacked Clinton over Benghazi in support of Republican nominee Donald Trump, whom the gun group has endorsed.

    Media Matters identified the cemetery in that ad as Alexandria National Cemetery in Virginia. The cemetery, which is primarily made up of Civil War-era graves, is located near Old Town, Alexandria, which is home to the headquarters for NRA News and an office of Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s ad firm.

    At the time, veterans groups slammed the NRA for using a military cemetery in an ad. A national spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars told Media Matters, “Don’t use our dead to score political points. We fought for everybody’s First Amendment rights and everything, but we don’t want any candidate using our dead to score political points.”

    Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org, responded with a statement that said, "This ad should be taken down immediately. It is insensitive to those buried at the cemetery -- most, if not all, of whom died before Benghazi, and many of whom may not have been NRA supporters. Further, it violates Veterans Affairs policy. It should be taken down."

    And yet the NRA continues to use the footage in its attack ads. In contrast, several  organizations other than the NRA that had aired images and footage from national cemeteries in political ads either altered or removed them. In 1999, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign aired an ad featuring unauthorized footage filmed at Arlington National Cemetery, and  the campaign admitted fault and recut the ad to remove the footage. More recently, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) pulled a 2014 ad that was filmed at a North Dakota veterans cemetery.

  • Rush Limbaugh Falsely Denies He Called Alicia Machado A Porn Star, Then Repeats The Claim

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Radio host Rush Limbaugh denied, then repeated, the false claim that former Miss Universe Alicia Machado is a “former porn star,” an accusation right-wing media have adopted to attack her.

    On the September 29 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh said that he “didn’t call [Machado] a porn star”:

    RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): And they say that "Rush Limbaugh the other day called her a porn [star]." I didn't call her a porn star. I was reading a news report in which she was referred to as a porn star. I don't watch porn. I don't know if she's done porn or not. I have no idea if she’s a -- I read what one of your colleagues in the drive-by media wrote about her. She's worse than a porn star. Because she's a woman and this and this is 2016 and women are getting bullied and raped on college campuses, ostensibly. You got to be very, very careful here.

    So Trump calls her Miss Piggy. There is a character called Miss Piggy, proudly called Miss Piggy. One of the Muppets. Looks like somebody in American politics today, I might add. If you can't figure it out, I'll leave it up to you at some point to see.

    However, on the September 28 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh did refer to Machado as “a porn star” and “the porn star Miss Piggy.” The claim -- which is actually false -- had been pushed by right-wing media outlets in order to delegitimize Machado after she reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and publicly humiliated her for gaining weight.

    Mere minutes after making his denial, Limbaugh resumed his name-calling, referring to her, once again, as a “former porn star”:

    RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): You would think if the [Clinton campaign] thought they won [the debate] hands-down, slam dunk, that they would start hammering Trump on any number of things that include issues. And instead they bring up this former porn star and this whole sordid thing that happened 20 years ago with the Miss [Universe] pageant.

    This is hardly the first time Limbaugh has resorted to slut-shaming to attack a woman. In 2012, he infamously attacked then-Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” for testifying before Congress in favor of requiring that health insurance plans cover birth control. He also demanded that she post sex “videos online so we can all watch.” Limbaugh’s disgusting attacks, in that case, led to a decline in his affiliates, advertisers, and political influence.

  • Johns Hopkins Professors Condemn Anti-LGBT Junk Science In Baltimore Sun Op-Ed

    Professors: “Findings Could Further Stigmatize And Harm The Health Of The LGBTQ Community”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    Faculty members at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health disassociated themselves from a recent report on LGBT health published by fellow Hopkins colleagues in a non-peer review journal, condemning the “troubling” report in a op-ed in The Baltimore Sun for “mischaracterizing” scientific evidence in a way that will “further stigmatize and harm the health of LGBTQ communities.” 

    Three faculty members from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published an op-ed on September 28 in The Baltimore Sun criticizing a new report on LGBT health that they say is cause for “concern” because it “mischaracterizes the current state of the science on sexuality and gender.” The recent report is written by current Hopkins “scholar in residence” Lawrence Mayer and faculty member Paul McHugh. McHugh has long peddled anti-LGBT pseudoscience and refused to accept medical consensus on LGBT health, having previously written op-eds for The Wall Street Journal in which he lamented the increasing visibility of transgender rights and warned that transgender identities should be treated as "confusions" and illnesses.

    The authors of the op-ed cited concerns with the report’s analysis and conclusion, noting that previous research was inexplicably excluded from the study. Additionally, the report was published in a journal -- The New Atlantis -- that that is not “subject to rigorous peer review” normal of scientific research. The New Atlantis is published by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which is dedicated to “applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.” The Hopkins faculty also expressed their fear that “the report's findings could further stigmatize and harm the health of LGBTQ communities.”

    From the September 28 Baltimore Sun op-ed:

    That is why the recent report, released by one current and one former member of our faculty on the topic of LGBTQ health, is so troubling. The report, "Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological and Psychological and Social Sciences," was not published in the scientific literature, where it would have been subject to rigorous peer review prior to publication. It purports to detail the science of this area, but it falls short of being a comprehensive review.

    [...]

    As now stated, the report's findings could further stigmatize and harm the health of LGBTQ communities, and the report is already being widely touted by organizations opposed to LGBTQ rights.

    Because of the report, the Human Rights Campaign has warned Johns Hopkins that it is reviewing, and may remove from the institution, its high ranking in the HRC Healthcare Equality Index. The national benchmarking tool evaluates health care facilities' policies and practices related to equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees.

    We wish to make clear that there are many people at Hopkins who hold a profound and long-standing commitment to the health, wellness, well-being, and fair and non-stigmatizing treatment of LGBTQ people and communities. We do not believe that the "Sexuality and Gender" report cited above is a comprehensive portrayal of the current science, and we respectfully disassociate ourselves from its findings.

  • Alicia Machado Didn’t Kill Anyone, But Don King Did

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    CNN political commentator and former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski attempted to smear former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, by claiming that she “has been part of a murder.” While no charges were brought against Machado and she long ago denied involvement, Lewandowski ignored the role of Don King in Trump’s campaign -- the former boxing promoter who was “found guilty of second-degree murder for killing a gambling associate who owed him $600.”

    Lewandowski attempted to deflect from the criticism over Trump’s public shaming of Machado by smearing her on the September 29 edition of CNN’s New Day, asserting that “The Clinton campaign took a person and brought her into a debate who has been part of a murder.”

    While Machado “was accused of being an accomplice to an attempted murder” in 1998, according to a Los Angeles Times report, “A judge later said there was insufficient evidence to arrest her and ordered only her boyfriend’s arrest.” New Day co-host Alisyn Camerota explained to Lewandowski that Machado was “never charged, never indicted,” and “never convicted” of the accusations, facts reported by The New York Times as well.

    In his attack on Machado, Lewandowski ignored that Trump has leaned on Don King in efforts to court minority voters, who in 1966 was found guilty of murder for reportedly stomping his employee to death. King also shot and killed a man in 1954 (later ruled a “justifiable homicide”) who, according to ESPN.com, “tried to rob one of his gambling houses.” King’s 1966 murder charges were reduced by the judge at sentencing to manslaughter, and King was later pardoned in 1983.

    Lewandowski’s attempt to smear Machado while ignoring the role of King in Trump’s campaign isn’t surprising given his sycophantic support for Trump. Despite being a paid CNN contributor, Lewandowski is still very much involved in the Trump campaign. Lewandowski’s company Green Monster Consulting LLC received $20,000 for “strategy consulting” for the Trump campaign in August, which the campaign claimed was “severance.” Lewandowski announced September 29 that he is no longer receiving payments from the Trump campaign and it is reported that “the campaign paid off the remainder of his contract in one lump sum.” Lewandowski’s claim cannot be confirmed until future rounds of FEC filings.

    Lewandowski has also traveled with Trump on the campaign trail and was reportedly involved in preparing the Republican nominee for the first presidential debate.

  • Neo-Nazi Writer: “Virtually Every Alt-Right Nazi I Know Is Volunteering For The Trump Campaign”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Los Angeles Times is highlighting how Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy continues to draw “white supremacists into" the "political mainstream.”

    Trump and his campaign have engaged in an ongoing and unprecedented courtship with the white nationalist movement. White nationalists have donated to Trump’s campaign, endorsed him, and repeatedly cheered his policy proposals and racist comments. The candidate has on multiple occasions retweeted white supremacists on Twitter, and Trump surrogates -- including his son, Donald Jr., who has become a hero to neo-Nazis -- have given interviews to white nationalist media. In turn, the white nationalist movement has used Trump’s candidacy to fundraise and boost their organizations and media outlets.

    In a September 29 article, LA Times reporter Lisa Mascaro highlights how “Trump’s surprise rise to become the GOP presidential nominee, built largely on a willingness to openly criticize minority groups and tap into long-simmering racial divisions, has reenergized white supremacist groups and drawn them into mainstream American politics like nothing seen in decades.”

    In addition to Trump’s candidacy leading to “a sharp rise in traffic and visitors” for white nationalist websites, Mascaro writes that members of the movement have been “showing up at his rallies, knocking on doors to get out the vote and organizing debate-watching parties.”

    According to neo-Nazi writer Andrew Anglin, who heads the pro-Hitler and rabidly anti-Semitic and racist website Daily Stormer, “Trump had me at ‘build a wall’ … Virtually every alt-right Nazi I know is volunteering for the Trump campaign.”

    From the LA Times:

    White supremacists are active on social media and their websites report a sharp rise in traffic and visitors, particularly when posting stories and chat forums about the New York businessman.

    Stormfront, already one of the oldest and largest white nationalist websites, reported a 600% increase in readership since President Obama’s election, and now has more than one in five threads devoted to Trump. It reportedly had to upgrade its servers recently due to the increased traffic.

    “Before Trump, our identity ideas, national ideas, they had no place to go,” said Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank based in Arlington, Va.

    Not since Southern segregationist George Wallace’s failed presidential bids in 1968 and 1972 have white nationalists been so motivated to participate in a presidential election.

    Andrew Anglin, editor of the Daily Stormer website and an emerging leader of a new generation of millennial extremists, said he had “zero interest” in the 2012 general election and viewed presidential politics as “pointless.” That is, until he heard Trump.

    “Trump had me at ‘build a wall,’” Anglin said. “Virtually every alt-right Nazi I know is volunteering for the Trump campaign.”

  • A Media Guide To The Hyde Amendment And Its Anti-Choice Legacy

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    September 25 marked the start of a week of action by reproductive rights advocates to raise awareness about the Hyde amendment, its anti-choice legacy, and recent efforts to catalyze support for its repeal.

    The United for Abortion Coverage Week of Action, led by All* Above All’s coalition of reproductive rights activists, not only demarcates the 40th anniversary of the oppressive anti-choice measure’s adoption, but also comes at a significant time politically. Despite the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt -- which struck down medically unnecessary anti-choice restrictions on abortion access in Texas -- right-wing media and anti-choice politicians have continued to push misinformation about abortion and have doubled down on their support for the Hyde amendment.

    During this week of action -- and beyond -- here’s what the media needs to know about the Hyde amendment, its legacy, and the efforts of reproductive rights activists to eliminate the anti-choice funding restriction once and for all.

    What Is The Hyde Amendment?

    If It’s Been Around For 40 Years, Why Is It Just Now Becoming A Campaign Issue?

    What Are Right-Wing Media Saying About Funding For Abortion And Reproductive Health Services?

    Who Does The Hyde Amendment Most Impact?

    What Can Be Done About The Hyde Amendment?

    What Is The Hyde Amendment?

    The Hyde amendment is a restriction on federal funding for abortion services. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), this restriction -- commonly called the Hyde amendment after its first sponsor, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) -- was first passed as a budgetary rider “to the fiscal 1977 Medicaid appropriation.” Every year since, “the Hyde Amendment has been reenacted” to prevent the use of federal Medicaid funds from covering abortion services, except in case of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother.

    Because of its restrictions, the Hyde amendment has created a significant barrier for low-income patients attempting to access safe and legal abortion care. Considering the number of financial and logistical barriers women already face in trying to access abortion, the Hyde amendment adds an additional and unnecessary complication.

    If It’s Been Around For 40 Years, Why Is It Just Now Becoming A Campaign Issue?

    In January, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton decided to “publicly do battle against Hyde,” by making the repeal of the anti-choice restriction a top priority, Rebecca Traister wrote in New York magazine. Beyond being the first presidential nominee to publicly speak against the Hyde amendment, Clinton “dropped a bomb on the political conversation about abortion” by drawing attention to “the relationship between reproductive-health-care access and economic inequality,” Traister argued. 

    The Democratic Party also formally adopted repealing the Hyde amendment as a priority in its platform -- marking the first time a major political party has targeted the anti-choice restriction on this scale.

    Although Clinton and the Democratic Party are drawing much-needed attention to the problematic Hyde amendment, the renewed focus on its impact did not originate with them. Instead, as All* Above All co-chair Jessica González-Rojas explained to The Guardian, the credit belongs with “Women of color leaders” who “have been calling for the repeal of Hyde for decades when most mainstream reproductive rights groups did not prioritize this issue.”

    Similarly, ThinkProgress reported in early September, although Hillary Clinton’s commitment to repealing the Hyde amendment “ quickly shot the controversial idea into mainstream political conversations,” it has been the “end goal of dozens of resilient reproductive justice organizations that have been pushing to repeal the Hyde Amendment for decades.”

    Now, during this week of action, All* Above All has mobilized a grass-roots coalition involving “68 organizations in 38 states" working "to show support for lifting bans on abortion coverage for low-income women.” Reproductive rights advocates are not the only ones drawing attention to the Hyde amendment during the election, however.

    More recently, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released a letter announcing that he has a new “pro-life coalition,” led by known anti-choice extremist Marjorie Dannenfelser. As part of the announcement, Trump committed himself to making the Hyde amendment “permanent law” in order to prevent “taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.” Trump also promised to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortion after 20 weeks on the faulty premise that a fetus can feel pain by that point in gestation.

    What Are Right-Wing Media Saying About Funding For Abortion And Reproductive Health Services?

    Right-wing media have a history of not only attacking Planned Parenthood, but also spreading misinformation about the Hyde amendment and federal funding for other reproductive health care services.

    For example, during the December 22 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Eric Bolling reacted to co-host Dana Perino’s statement that “defunding Planned Parenthood” is problematic politically by arguing that funding for abortion services should be “separate” from funding for “women’s services.” Although Bolling did not explicitly name the Hyde amendment, he pushed for Republicans to "defund the abortion part of Planned Parenthood” and set up a “Chinese wall” between abortions and Planned Parenthood’s other services.

    Right-wing media have also misled the public about how much of Planned Parenthood’s resources are strictly devoted to abortion, dismissing the many other types of health care the organization provides to both women and men. In July 2015, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and Fox co-host Andrea Tantaros advocated for defunding Planned Parenthood because, as O’Reilly argued, he did not want “tax dollars going” to abortion providers. Tantaros supported this statement and repeated the myth that because Americans have ample alternatives to Planned Parenthood, “taxpayer dollars should not have to go” to abortion providers.

    Beyond the Hyde amendment, right-wing media have also spread misinformation about the nature of Title X family planning funds that are used by providers like Planned Parenthood to supply necessary reproductive health care such as contraception, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and cancer screenings. Right-wing media have argued that Planned Parenthood is an inappropriate recipient of Title X funds, because the organization is incapable of providing wider reproductive health care. In reality, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are an essential resource for reproductive health care in many communities.

    As a result, in September 2016, the Obama administration proposed a rule that would stop anti-choice lawmakers from diverting federal family planning money -- distributed to states through Title X of the Public Health Service Act -- away from Planned Parenthood. As The New York Times explained, “The rule would make clear that state governments must apportion Title X funds based on a provider’s ability to perform family planning services effectively -- not on other factors like whether a provider also offers abortions.” In April, the Obama administration had “warned officials in all 50 states” that blocking Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding is likely “out of compliance with federal law,” according to The Washington Post.

    Nevertheless, right-wing media alleged that the proposed rule would ensure that there are “millions more in taxpayer dollars for the nation’s abortion market leader at the expense of women’s health.”

    Even when not discussing the Hyde amendment or abortion funding, right-wing media have frequently misrepresented the severity of anti-choice restrictions and downplayed the ways these requirements have made abortion and other reproductive health services less accessible.

    This is an issue that has spread beyond just right-wing media. In a recent study, Media Matters analyzed 14 months of evening cable news discussion about reproductive rights and found that media frequently ignore or underestimate the impact of economic barriers when talking about abortion access. In this study we found that only eight news segments even briefly mentioned the economic barriers women face to accessing abortion.

    Who Does The Hyde Amendment Most Impact?

    1. Low-Income Patients

    Low-income patients and their families are one of the primary groups affected by the Hyde amendment’s restriction on funding for abortion services.

    The Guttmacher Institute found in a July 2016 study that the “number of women potentially affected by the Hyde Amendment is substantial” given the significant number of women dependent on federally subsidized medical services. According to Guttmacher’s director of public policy, Heather Boonstra, for women between 15 and 33 who depend on Medicaid, 60 percent live in places (35 states and D.C.) “that do not cover abortion, except in limited circumstances.” As a result, approximately 7 million women are potentially impacted by Hyde’s restrictions on federal funding for abortion care.

    In January, Slate’s Christina Cauterucci highlighted Clinton’s focus on repealing the Hyde amendment because of its disproportionate impact on low-income patients. According to Clinton, abortion is not accessible enough “'as long as we have laws on the book like the Hyde Amendment making it harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.'” Cauterucci concluded that if Clinton succeeded in making the repeal of Hyde a central issue in the campaign, it would be “a long-overdue step toward addressing the intersection between economic insecurity and reproductive health.”

    The National Women’s Law Center explained in 2015 that “because of the high cost of the procedure, low-income women are often forced to delay obtaining an abortion,” which increases the out-of-pocket costs. Thus the Hyde amendment exacerbates the substantial financial disadvantage low-income persons already face in obtaining abortion care.

    2. Women Of Color

    Women of color -- especially black women, Latinas, and Native Americans -- suffer a particularly disparate impact from the Hyde amendment’s ban on federal abortion coverage.

    According to a September 2016 research brief from Ibis Reproductive Health and All* Above All on the impact of out-of-pocket costs on abortion access, “Because low-income women and women of color are disproportionately covered by public health insurance programs, restrictions in coverage increase their socioeconomic disadvantage.”

    This assessment matched the findings of the National Women’s Law Center’s study, which noted that women of color were not only “more likely than White women to face financial barriers when seeking abortions” but also “more likely to experience unintended pregnancy, due to racial, ethnic, gender, and economic healthcare inequalities.”

    Black Women

    In 2015 the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda reported that “black women have more than double the unintended pregnancy rate of white women,” which is particularly concerning given that “the risk of death from pregnancy complications was nearly three and a half times higher for Black women than for white women.”

    According to a recent Guttmacher Institute fact sheet, black women do experience higher rates of unintended pregnancy and more frequently elect to abort. Think Progress’ Kira Lerner explained these numbers simply reflect “the difficulties that many women in minority communities face in accessing high-quality contraceptive services and in using their chosen method of birth control consistently and effectively.” Lerner noted black women also experience a “racial disparity … for other health measures including rates of diabetes, breast and cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections.”

    Latinas

    Latinas’ access to reproductive care is significantly impacted not just by the Hyde amendment but also by the financial and logistical barriers created by anti-choice restrictions in states, like Texas, that have a high percentage of Latinos.

    According to a joint op-ed from the executive directors of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, and Voto Latino, “The first woman known to die of an unsafe illegal abortion after the Hyde Amendment was a Latina” named Rosie Jimenez, who “died from septic shock in October 1977” months after the Hyde amendment first went into effect. Since then, the op-ed explained, the Hyde amendment has continued to have “an especially devastating effect” on Latina communities, due to their high national rates of Medicaid enrollment.

    In an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health, NLIRH explained the material consequences of barriers created by state anti-choice restrictions, like Texas’ HB 2. NLIRH argued that due to the "significant geographic, transportation, infrastructure, and cost challenges" Latinas already face when seeking medical care, clinic closures caused by Texas’ anti-choice law would create "severe burdens in accessing reproductive healthcare."

    Native Americans

    Native Americans are disparately impacted not only by restrictions on federal funding for abortion, but also by a lack of public awareness about the unique barriers to reproductive health care faced by their communities.

    As Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center executive director Charon Asetoyer explained to Salon, despite the disparate impact anti-choice restrictions have on Native American communities, Native people are often a “silent population” in national conversations about reproductive rights. For example, she noted that although Native Americans are entitled to receive care through the federally funded Indian Health Service (IHS), “We are still struggling to aspire to the Hyde Amendment while others work to get rid of it.”

    Indeed, as a 2002 survey of Native American women’s reproductive health care access found, 85 percent of IHS offices “often refuse to provide Native American women even the limited access to abortion services to which they are legally entitled under the Hyde Amendment.”

    As a result, Asetoyer continued, many Native Americans who wish to access abortion services are forced to incur higher out-of-pocket costs in order to travel to the nearest abortion provider when “A lot of the time women in these situations don’t even have an automobile to drive to the nearest Planned Parenthood, let alone the money to pay for the procedure.”

    3. LGBT Persons

    In an op-ed for Advocate, National LGBTQ Task Force representative Candace Bond-Theriault affirmed that the LGBTQ and reproductive justice movements are “inseparable” because “many of the same people who propose policies that discriminate against LGBTQ people also [are] actively working to deny access to reproductive health care.”

    While the Hyde amendment makes abortion care inaccessible for many, Bond-Theriault highlighted how anti-choice restrictions additionally perpetuate structural inequalities wherein individuals are “stigmatized because of the personal bodily choices that [they] make.”

    Lambda Legal’s Camilla Taylor, Caroline Sacerdote, and Kara Ingelhart previously explained the pervasive and negative forms of stigma that both movements address, noting that, “People who have an abortion -- whether members of the LGBT community or not -- experience something familiar to all LGBT people: stigma.” They emphasized the importance of combating abortion stigma because, “As the LGBT community knows all too well, it is hard to fight against efforts to roll back your civil rights when you have to remain in the closet.”

    In an op-ed titled “Abortion Access and Trans Health Care Are Bound Together in Texas,” Texas Equal Access Fund president Nan Little Kirkpatrick wrote that “the Hyde amendment is discrimination in health care” faced by those attempting to “exercise their reproductive rights as granted by the Supreme Court.” She argued that the effort to take down structurally oppressive measures like the Hyde amendment “expressly highlights the ways that the movements for trans and reproductive justice intersect” because both involve “bodily autonomy.”

    4. Service Members And Veterans

    Because the Hyde amendment is a restriction on federal abortion funding, its impact is felt by anyone dependent on federally subsidized medical care, including service members or veterans.

    After the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision against Texas’ anti-choice law HB 2, Salon’s Amanda Marcotte named the repeal of the Hyde amendment one of the next major goals for pro-choice advocates. According to Marcotte, “The effects of the Hyde Amendment have been devastating” for both low-income families and service members because it means “no federal employees, service women, veterans or women on Medicaid have access to coverage for abortion.”

    What Can Be Done About The Hyde Amendment?

    As Steph Herold, managing director of the Sea Change Program, wrote in an op-ed for Rewire, All* Above All “is playing a pivotal role by introducing pro-active abortion access legislation and encouraging elected officials to come out against the Hyde Amendment.”

    The organization represents a coalition of reproductive justice advocates and women of color whose goals are to catalyze action to “restore public insurance coverage so that every woman, however much she makes, can get affordable, safe abortion care when she needs it.”

    From September 25 to October 1, All* Above All is leading a week of action, which includes “130 activities hosted by 68 organizations in 38 states to show support for lifting bans on abortion coverage for low-income women.” The United for Abortion Coverage Week of Action also includes “a multi-city ad campaign amplifying the voices of Catholics [for choice] across the county” as well as a “celebration of local victories” to earn recognition for the need to repeal oppressive anti-choice restrictions like the Hyde amendment.

    In addition, All* Above All has mobilized support for the EACH Woman Act, proposed legislation that would repeal the Hyde amendment and guarantee “coverage for abortion for every woman, however much she earns or however she is insured.” According to All* Above All, the bill now has over 120 co-sponsors who have committed themselves to affirming that people have the right to make the best reproductive health care decision for themselves and their families.

    To mark 40 years of the Hyde amendment’s dangerous anti-choice legacy, NARAL Pro-Choice America shared the stories of several individuals “from diverse backgrounds and experiences [who] came together to support repeal of Hyde.” Although their stories represent a variety of experiences in trying to gain access to necessary abortion care, the common refrain and message to the media was clear. As one of the individuals, Mary Tobin, wrote: “If equality is truly a pillar that our country represents and embraces, then the repeal of the Hyde Amendment is crucial to upholding our country’s identity.”