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  • Wash. Post’s Dana Milbank: Trump Loves Conspiracies Until They Involve Him

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has finally found a conspiracy he doesn’t like -- one that involves himself.

    Milbank’s column noted reports that security experts say Russian hackers are behind the publication of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails on the night before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. The timing and sourcing of the email dump led media to question whether Russian officials were attempting to influence United States elections and whether Trump had any connections to Russian officials that may have played a role in the hack.

    Trump has a well-documented history of invoking and encouraging conspiracy theories, claiming a “fix” was in when the FBI decided not to indict Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state, suggesting President Barack Obama was sympathetic to terrorists and not an American citizen, and claiming the suicide of a Clinton aide was “very fishy.” Trump has also praised conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who believes the government coordinated the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that a New World Order plans to exterminate 80 percent of the world.

    In the July 26 article, Milbank wrote that despite engaging in theories that “President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination,” Trump is "conspicuously incurious" about suggestions that he is working with Vladimir Putin to swing the U.S. presidential election. If Clinton were in Trump’s position, Milbank wrote, “it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin.” From the Milbank column:

    Donald Trump never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like — until now.

    He has dabbled in, among other things, the notion that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination.

    But on one topic, Trump is conspicuously incurious: the suggestion that he is complicit in a plan by Vladimir Putin to influence the U.S. election. Consider how Trump might react to the following fact pattern if the candidate involved weren’t “Donald Trump” but — let’s pick a name at random here — “Hillary Clinton”:

    The candidate’s real estate empire, unable to borrow from most U.S. banks, gets capital from Russian sources. Such transfers couldn’t occur without Putin’s blessing.

    [...]

    If the Clinton campaign, and not the Trump campaign, were so extensively interwoven with Putin’s Russia, it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin — just as he demanded Obama release his birth certificate.

    He would also very likely float allegations masquerading as questions by using the phrases “a lot of people have said” or “I’m hearing,” or “there’s something we don’t know about.” But Trump, I’m hearing, won’t be doing that in this case. 

  • Vox: Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards Was First Convention Speaker To Mention Abortion On Stage

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
    On Tuesday night, Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards addressed the Democratic National Convention in a speech that CSPAN was the only cable network to air in full. Richards was also the first speaker at the convention to use the word "abortion" on stage. 
     
    Vox’s Emily Crockett pointed out that reproductive rights advocates in recent years have pushed to de-stigmatize abortion, a campaign that involves encouraging people to publicly talk about a procedure -- including by naming it -- that one in three U.S. women will have in her lifetime.

    It might seem strange that Democrats, most of whom are pro-choice and willing to speak out against things like Planned Parenthood funding cuts, are often so reluctant to actually use the word "abortion."

    But it’s very common for Democrats and other pro-choice advocates to instead use euphemisms like "a woman’s right to choose." There’s also a tendency to implicitly apologize for abortion by emphasizing that federal funds for Planned Parenthood don’t go toward abortion, or to focus only [on] how great the organization's contraception and sexual health services are.

    […]

    In recent years especially, pro-choice advocates have pushed to fight the stigma against abortion in order to protect it as a fundamental right. They say that about one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and many people don’t realize that abortion is a safe, routine medical procedure.

    Abortion should be treated like the normal medical care it is, advocates say, not separated out and turned into a political football. And they say that saying the word "abortion" like it’s a normal thing is one way to break the stigma and accomplish that goal.

  • NRA's New Testimonial For Trump Features Man Who Promoted Sandy Hook Conspiracy

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A testimonial video for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released by the National Rifle Association prominently features a man who posted online content suggesting that some Sandy Hook Elementary School parents were actually actors.

    NRA News, the NRA’s media arm, published a nearly eight-minute testimonial in support of Trump on July 25. The NRA endorsed Trump on May 20 during its annual meeting in Louisville, KY.

    The testimonial echoes claims made at the annual meeting, focusing on the false claim that Hillary Clinton would abolish the Second Amendment as president. The testimonial also features video footage of terrorist attacks, including the recent attack in Nice, France, that left 84 people dead.

    Throughout the testimonial, the NRA presents interviews of people attending the NRA annual meeting expressing support for Trump. One individual identified by the NRA as Vince Resor is featured five times in the video.

    Resor first comments on gun-free zones (“Gun-free zones have cost us a lot of lives and it’s time to put an end to that”) and the future of the Supreme Court (“America won’t be America. The Supreme Court can make or break the country for the next generation”) before offering words of encouragement for Trump.

    Resor says that he is “excited” about Trump, that “he is right for the country at this time,” and “You either vote for Trump or you vote for a dim future for all Americans, and your kids, and generations to come.”

    The NRA video gives Resor the last word, with his pitch closing out the testimonial: “Keep your foot on the gas, Donald Trump. This is no time to let up. We’re sliding down the slippery slope and it’s time to put the hammer down and get the job done.”

     

    On his public Facebook page, Resor suggested that parents of two children who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of a 2012 mass shooting, are actually actors. Sharing a false report from a conspiracy website about the parents of two Sandy Hook students, Resor wrote weeks after the shooting, “What is amazing here is not how despicable this is, but how unremarkable it is to learn that the mainstream media deceives us with propaganda to advance their cause. Disgusting.”

    He also referenced the same conspiracy in April 2013, writing, “Now are these the real Newtown parents or the actors from Florida?”

    The claim that certain people who made media appearances or appeared in news footage following the Sandy Hook mass shooting were actually “crisis actors” is a central tenet to the conspiracy theory that the shooting was a hoax.

    Other conspiracies appear on Resor’s page, including the claim that President Obama is a Muslim:

    Resor also operates a blog where he wrote that he is “all for racial profiling” and “and any other method that helps law enforcement civil servants rid us of the criminal element fouling our society,” arguing, “If you wear a towel around your head, you get searched. If your crack is exposed because your pants are too low, you get searched.”

  • Lies, Body-Shaming, And Character Attacks: Right-Wing Media Indignant During DNC's Second Night

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    During the second night of the Democratic National Convention, conservative media figures reacted on Twitter by spreading debunked lies about Planned Parenthood, criticizing Lena Dunham's body, and attacking Bill Clinton.

    Right-Wing Media Attack Planned Parenthood And President Cecile Richards

    Conservatives Body-Shame Lena Dunham 

    Right-Wing Media Criticize Bill Clinton

    Right-Wing Media Attack Planned Parenthood And President Cecile Richards

    Conservatives Body-Shame Lena Dunham 

    Right-Wing Media Criticize Bill Clinton

     

  • Fox News Completely Ignores The “Mothers Of The Movement” During Democratic National Convention

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    As CNN and MSNBC aired the emotional Democratic National Convention tribute by mothers who lost children to gun violence or police shootings in its entirety, Fox News completely ignored the appearance “Mothers of the Movement.” The mothers seek to rebuild police-community relationships and strive to end gun violence.

    On July 26, the nine women who comprise the Mothers of the Movement gathered on stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to endorse Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The women said that Clinton was a leader “who will say our children’s names” and one who “isn’t afraid to say that black lives matter” while stressing the need for criminal justice reform and “common sense gun legislation” to stem the tide of violence in their communities. Both CNN and MSNBC aired the full, heartrending remarks before concluding with a brief analysis.

    On Fox News, an outlet that has worked to demonize Black Lives Matter -- labeling it as “a hate group” and a “murder movement,” and equating it with the Ku Klux Klan -- and diminished its calls for necessary criminal justice reforms, the appearance went unmentioned.

    Rather than hearing the stories of the grieving mothers,” Fox host Bill O’Reilly continued his show uninterrupted, interviewing guests on general election polling and border security:

  • Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin Downplays The Historical Importance Of First Female Presidential Nominee

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin downplayed the historic relevance of Hillary Clinton becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party, claiming that “the lack of suspense” over Clinton’s victory and that there have been “women in high places for decades” somehow made her nomination less historic.

    In her column, Rubin describes Clinton’s nomination as a “significant” rebuke of “the far-right media” and Donald Trump’s “nonchalant misogyny,” but claimed “gender simply is not as big a deal in 21st-century America as race still is”:

    Some of the “wow” factor is diminished by the lack of suspense. Clinton has been running for president forever (well, about 10 years), and despite a mild scare from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was always going to be the nominee. A surprise, this was not.

    Moreover, gender simply is not as big a deal in 21st-century America as race still is. We’ve had women in high places for decades, and we do not have a divide between the sexes (thank goodness) to the degree that we still have along racial lines. We fought a civil war and a brutal battle to do away with Jim Crow. I could go on, but most would agree that this is not as big a deal as nominating or electing the first African American. Frankly, seeing civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was repeatedly beaten and jailed in the 1960s, put Clinton’s name into nomination only underscored the lack of equivalence.

    Clinton’s nomination is nevertheless significant and a testament to Americans’ devotion to equality, which to a large degree defines the United States. It is a rebuke to the sophomoric and nonchalant misogyny of Donald Trump and some of the far-right media.

    We can hope this lowers the heat on the “war against women” rhetoric, but do not count on it. Americans, after nearly eight years of President Obama, are signaling record levels of pessimism about race relations. Let’s hope that if she wins, Clinton does not do for gender relations what Obama did for race relations.

    Rubin has a long  history of attacking Clinton including recycling debunked Clinton Foundation smears and perpetrating evidence-free Benghazi lies.

  • Trump Says He “Would Think About” Hiring Disgraced Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes To Work On Campaign

    Trump: Ailes Is A “Very Capable Guy,” And “A Friend Of Mine”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Donald Trump “would think about” hiring disgraced ex-Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who was forced to resign following a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson. Following the announcement of Carlson’s lawsuit, dozens of women have come forward to allege sexual misconduct by Ailes going back decades.

    Despite the allegations, which include sexual harassment that was “encouraged and protected” at Fox News under Ailes, Trump praised Ailes and described him as “a friend of mine” and “very capable”:

    There have been all sorts of rumors about Roger Ailes potentially helping the Donald Trump campaign now that he’s out as Fox News Chairman & CEO, and Trump himself isn’t discounting the idea.

    In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trump said, “You know, Roger’s been a friend of mine for a long time and he’s done an incredible job … but nobody has actually — Roger has never mentioned it to me at all.”

    That being said, Trump admitted he “would think about it.” He praised Ailes as a “Roger very capable guy and he’s a friend of mine.”

    [h/t Mediaite]

  • Fox Correspondent Corrects Own Network’s False Attack The DNC Showcases No American Flags

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin corrected her own network after Fox hosts falsely claimed that the Democratic National Convention featured no American flags in the arena.

    On the July 26 edition of The Five, co-host Eric Bolling attacked the Democratic National Convention by falsely claiming that there were “no American flags” in the convention hall.  

    After the commercial break, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle reported that Fox correspondent Jennifer Griffin said “there’s a number of of American flags on stage and in the backdrop.” After being corrected on-air by her own colleague, Guilfoyle said, “we’re happy to hear it.”

    The urban-legend busting website Snopes also noted that the attack was “false,” writing that right-wing media promoting the myth “cherry-picked photographs in order to make it appear that no U.S. flags” were on display.

    Images of the flags throughout the convention hall were readily available from the C-SPAN feed of the convention:

  • Chris Hayes: Conservatives’ Climate Denial Explained By “The Alex Jonesification Of The GOP”

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    MSNBC host Chris Hayes explained in a series of tweets how conservatives’ denial of the evidence of human-caused climate change exemplifies “the rot in the conservative movement” and the Republican Party.

    USA Today reported on July 26 that according to the federal government’s Climate Prediction Center, “for the first time on record, every square inch of all 50 states is forecast to see above-average temperatures for the next three months.”

    Hayes cited this report in explaining the GOP’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of human-caused climate change. Hayes went on to say the conservative movement’s climate change denial represents “breathtaking epistemic nihilism” and that the three-decade-long “conspiracy theory” that climate change is a hoax is the embodiment of “the Alex Jonesification of the GOP.” (Alex Jones is a notorious conspiracy theorist and 9/11 truther who received special guest credentials at the Republican National Convention):

    Fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil have known for nearly three decades that fossil fuel emissions harm the climate, but have been working to “deceive the public,” according to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). An earlier UCS report explained that MSNBC’s climate coverage has been overwhelmingly accurate, especially when compared to conservative cable news channel Fox News.

  • New Research On Seattle's Minimum Wage Hike Shows “The Sky Has Not Fallen”

    University Of Washington Researchers Found Seattle Job Market “Exceptionally Strong” While City Raised The Minimum Wage

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Researchers at the University of Washington found the Seattle, WA, economy continued on a path of strong growth after the city began to raise the minimum wage -- counter to dire predictions from right-wing media.

    Seattle Weekly reported that Seattle’s economy has not been met with “devastation” since the city raised the minimum wage to $11 per hour on July 25, according to researchers at the University of Washington, who found that the Seattle economy saw a “boom in job growth” over the last 18 months. Seattle began phasing in its minimum wage increase in April 2015, raising wages to $11 per hour. The Washington cities of Seattle and SeaTac are in the process of phasing in the highest municipal minimum wages in the country -- $15 per hour. Researchers found that from mid-2014 to the end of 2015, “the Seattle labor market was exceptionally strong” and the city’s “job growth rate tripled the national average.” Seattle Weekly reported that the researchers’ findings debunk conservative predictions that the increase “would ‘devastate’ small businesses” and harm low-wage workers:

    The sky has not fallen. That’s the takeaway from a new report on the effects of Seattle’s newly heightened minimum wage.

    “Wages have risen, businesses have withstood the increase, work opportunities have declined modestly, [and] average earnings have changed by no more than a few dollars a week,” said the UW minimum wage research team, led by Jacob Vigdor, in a presentation to city council this morning. This outcome stands in stark contrast against the rhetoric used when the new minimum wage was being debated in 2013 and ‘14, when opponents claimed it would “devastate” small businesses.

    In fact, no such devastation has occurred. This has been clear for a while—Seattle’s minimum wage increase began April last year—and the new report from the UW research team further confirms it. “The City’s low-wage workers did relatively well after the minimum wage increased, but largely because of the strong regional economy,” the report says. “Seattle’s low wage workers would have experienced almost equally positive trends if the minimum wage had not increased.”

    The report shows that the minimum wage increase was not the source of the economic boom but also that the Seattle economy has not seen a major impact from the minimum wage increase. The researchers “caution that these results show only the short-run impact of Seattle’s increase to a wage of $11/hour” and that it will take many years for the full effect of raising the minimum wage to be seen.

    Conservative media smears against Seattle's minimum wage increase started soon after the city approved an ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 over the course of a three- to seven-year period. In July 2015, Fox News' Dan Springer falsely claimed that Seattle was facing "unintended consequences" from the wage increase, with some low-income workers attempting to game the system so as to remain eligible for welfare benefits. In August, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) used cherry-picked data to claim Seattle's minimum wage increase "has started having a negative effect on restaurant jobs." Fox Business host Stuart Varney echoed AEI's claim a month later on his show, weeks after the specific job loss claim had been debunked. Other right-wing outlets, including The Daily Caller and Investor's Business Daily, have combed through municipal jobs data in Seattle to exaggerate alleged side effects of the minimum wage.

    Right-wing media are staunchly opposed to increasing the minimum wage and dedicated to promoting the myth that wage increases result in job losses, despite a wealth of evidence showing that minimum wage increases have a negligible effect on employment.