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  • All The News Media Ignored While Obsessing Over Trump's Taco Bowl

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    While media have been obsessing over Donald Trump's culturally incompetent tweet in which he expressed his love for Hispanics while eating a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo, over the past 24 hours numerous other campaign blunders with long-term consequences were sidelined.

    A Google News search for "‘Donald Trump’+‘taco bowl’" returns about 379,000 results, and a search via TV monitoring software iQ media reflects a massive spike in TV coverage of the "taco bowl" tweet.

    Meanwhile, other consequential events relevant to Trump's campaign have received remarkably less attention. Mitt Romney said he won't back the presumptive Republican nominee, Trump "disavowed" former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's most recent display of anti-Semitic enthusiasm for his campaign after previously refusing to do so, bizarrely walked back his “only detailed economic proposal,” saying his tax plan wasn't to be taken literally, and responded to a discrepancy with his adviser Ben Carson over whether the campaign's vice presidential choice would be a Republican. A U.S. District judge is also expected to address the timing of the trial for the class-action lawsuit that Trump is facing over the now-defunct Trump University.

    While media is right to point out the insensitive nature of Trump’s pandering tweet – reactions among Hispanic media were especially mocking -- by devoting disproportionate coverage, they have effectively allowed Trump to set the agenda from his Twitter account, subsequently diverting attention from other troubling, more consequential aspects of his campaign. As Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum noted, the tweet was bait, meant to induce mockery and appeal specifically to his base, and the media took it.

  • Meet The Utah Columnist Shining A Light On Fossil Fuel Front Groups

    Blog ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    In recent decades, fossil fuel interests have been funding front groups to advance their ideological and political goals, and key to these groups’ success is concealing their industry backing. But Utah columnist Paul Rolly has been working to shine a light on the industry backing behind the most influential front groups in his state. In an interview with Media Matters, Rolly discussed the importance of following the money.

    Rolly has been a columnist at The Salt Lake Tribune for the last 20 years, and he has stood out because of his work exposing fossil fuel front groups operating in Utah. He has uncovered the oil industry fingerprints behind campaigns to seize public lands from the federal government, attack renewable energy, and promote an industry-friendly agenda in higher education.

    Why is it so important to Rolly to educate his readers about Big Oil’s involvement in these fights? “It’s our job,” he said, explaining that it’s vital that readers know “what the sources of bills are, where they’re coming from, who they benefit, who’s behind them, who’s making money, and who’s making campaign contributions.” He hopes this information will give his readers the ability to “make informed decisions when they vote.”

    Utah is ground zero for many of the fossil fuel industry’s campaigns, making Rolly’s work invaluable. One of the most prominent fossil fuel-backed campaigns in recent years has been the effort to transfer control of federal lands to state governments, which would greatly benefit fossil fuel interests, as states would likely open up more areas to oil and gas drilling and coal mining.

    State Rep. Ken Ivory (R-UT) has played a leading role in the public land grab movement in the west, and Rolly has been paying close attention. In 2012, Ivory co-founded a group called the American Lands Council (ALC), which aims to “secure local control of western public lands by transferring federal public lands to willing States.” Utah, Rolly explained, is the only state that has passed legislation setting aside taxpayer funds to sue the federal government over control of public lands, like those managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. The lawsuit was recommended by a legal team hired by a Republican-dominated commission of Utah legislators, even though the lawyers acknowledged that the lawsuit “could cost up to $14 million, take years to play out in the courts,” and is “far from a sure victory,” according to the Associated Press.

    Rolly has repeatedly pointed out that Ivory has taken a six-figure annual salary from the ALC, which is largely funded by counties in Western states. The ALC’s tax forms reportedly indicate that Ivory and his wife have pocketed almost half of the group’s total revenue. Rolly believes that the negative attention Ivory received over his salary at ALC may explain why he stepped down as the organization’s president in December. (He remains an unpaid member of its executive committee).

    Rolly has devoted several columns to exposing the fossil funding behind ALC and other groups that are engaged in the public lands campaign. He's pointed out that Federalism in Action, where Ivory currently heads the “Free the Lands” project, is affiliated with the oil billionaires Charles and David Koch. And he's documented that the firm hired by the Utah legislature to promote the land transfer agenda, Strata Policy, also has financial ties to the Koch brothers. As the Los Angeles Times has noted, ALC has also received financial support from Americans for Prosperity, which was co-founded by the Kochs and continues to spearhead their agenda.

    The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate front group that connects fossil fuel executives with legislators to push model bills that serve industry interests, is also highly influential in Utah and has a heavy hand in the public land grab movement. And, as Rolly told Media Matters, “the Koch brothers are a big deep-pocket force behind ALEC.” Ivory is an ALEC member and was even awarded the group’s “Legislator Of The Year” award in 2014.

    In addition to the public lands battle, Rolly has turned his attention to the Kochs’ influence in local universities. He said national stories about the Kochs' investments in higher education led him to examine their efforts at Utah State University, where Strata co-founder Randy Simmons was previously the Charles G. Koch professor of political economy and currently supervises a Koch-funded scholarship program. As Rolly reported: “The Kochs have extended influence to institutions of higher education, setting up grants at universities to hire professors that teach the Kochs' anti-tax, anti-regulation business and political philosophies to mold young minds to fall in step with the Kochs' industrial wishes going forward through the 21st Century.”

    Too often, media fail to disclose these important ties, Rolly noted. ALEC, for one, “probably doesn’t get the attention it should” in the national media, nor do its “ties to the Koch brothers, and their deep-pocket influence, and what happens to state legislatures.” Many valuable resources that provide context are “underused,” in Rolly’s opinion, including legislators’ conflict-of-interest and financial disclosure forms, which he examines to see if there’s any connection between “who’s giving them money” and “what they’re doing as a legislator.” He said he also examines the tax filings of nonprofits such as ALC.

    But he also noted the difficulties that newsrooms face as the journalism industry struggles financially, resulting in increased pressure and reduced resources. Newspapers have been shutting down all over the country, and the ones that remain have had to greatly cut down on staff (including the Salt Lake Tribune). When that happens, Rolly noted, “the first thing to suffer is investigative reporting” because it requires so much time and staff resources. He added: “The industry is in peril right now.”

    There are also structural difficulties that further complicate the task of investigative journalism, Rolly noted, such as Citizens United v. FEC, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that protects a corporation's right to make unlimited expenditures in support of political candidates as a form of speech. Because of that ruling, Rolly said, super PACs can “basically take over [political] campaigns” and “you have no idea who’s contributing the money.”

    It’s worth keeping in mind that even as newspapers are facing increased financial pressures, reporting like Rolly’s can be good for business. His columns are among the newspaper’s most viewed pieces online, he says. And he recently received the “Making Democracy Work” award from the League of Women Voters for his work at the Tribune.

    The need for the media to disclose the industry backing that’s behind fossil fuel front groups is clear. Dark money groups like DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund exist solely to hide these funds. And research shows that organizations funded by Exxon and the Koch brothers are “more likely to have written and disseminated texts meant to polarize the climate change issue." Yet Media Matters has shown time and time again that fossil fuel front groups are getting away with promoting anti-environmental agendas while hiding the real voices behind their misleading messages.

    In the words of the Tribune, Rolly told the League of Women Voters that “democracy best works when the public is informed.” Reporters would do well to follow Rolly’s example by digging a little deeper to uncover the dark money behind special interest campaigns occurring all around the country.

  • Here's What Happens When Trump Refuses To Denounce His Racist Neo-Nazi Supporters

    Neo-Nazi Website: Trump’s Refusal To Denounce Anti-Semitic Threats Amounts To “Hail Victory, Comrades!”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has thrilled and emboldened his racist online neo-Nazi supporters with his refusal to denounce them in a recent CNN interview.

    Reporter Julia Ioffe recently wrote a profile of Melania Trump for GQ which was criticized by Melania Trump for purportedly being unfair. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that’s endorsed Trump, responded to Ioffe’s piece by directing followers to “go ahead and send her a tweet and let her know what you think of her dirty kike trickery.”

    What followed was a barrage of anti-Semitic messages and death threats against the reporter. Ioffe told CNN that Trump fans have been sending her “the most obscene, anti-Semitic stuff I have frankly ever seen directed at me in my life.” She “also received a call from someone claiming to be from a company called ‘Overnight Caskets.’ ‘We got an email with your phone number saying you'd need our services,’ Ioffe detailed in a post on her Facebook page.”

    CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interviewed Trump on May 4 and asked if he would denounce the anti-Semitic death threats against Ioffe. Trump refused to condemn the threats, saying he was unaware of them and adding, “I don’t have a message to the fans. A woman wrote a article that was inaccurate.”

    Trump’s refusal to condemn their behavior has thrilled Trump’s neo-Nazi fans. Daily Stormer editor Andrew Anglin responded to the interview with the headline, “Glorious Leader Donald Trump Refuses to Denounce Stormer Troll Army.” He began:

    Asked by the disgusting and evil Jewish parasite Wolf Blitzer to denounce the Stormer Troll Army, The Glorious Leader declined.

    The Jew Wolf was attempting to Stump the Trump, bringing up stormer attacks on Jew terrorist Julia Ioffe. Trump responded to the request with “I have no message to the fans” which might as well have been “Hail Victory, Comrades!”

    The pro-Hitler writer explained that “we are his most ardent supports. We will be on the ground, getting him elected. By the way: You all need to get ready to volunteer. We’re going to need a lot of boots on the ground to ensure the evil bitch Hillary is vanquished from the realm.”

    Anglin -- an ally of fellow Trump supporter David Duke -- then turned his attention to Blitzer, directing followers: “Tell the dirty Jew Wolf Blitzer (זאב ברק) what you think of his diabolical agenda against us and Our Leader: @wolfblitzer.” (A separate Anglin post about the Blitzer interview was headlined, “Glorious Leader Holocausts Filthy Kike Wolf Blitzer.”)

    Trump's campaign has received support from numerous white nationalist groups and leaders, who have used Trump's campaign to recruit followers, fundraise, and spread their message.

  • Reminder: How The Media Missed The Trump Surge

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The media’s mea culpa season is in full bloom this spring as analysts and commentators step forward to concede that with Donald Trump effectively seizing the Republican nomination, they were often very wrong in predicting his political demise.

    Convinced that he was an outlier fluke who couldn’t sustain his popularity -- let alone nail down a major party nomination -- the Beltway media consistently missed the Trump surge for months, and often did so in bold fashion:

    *"Why no one should take Donald Trump seriously” (Washington Post

    *“Donald Trump’s surge in the polls has followed the classic pattern of a media-driven surge. Now it will most likely follow the classic pattern of a party-backed decline.” (New York Times)  

    *“No, he won't win the Republican nomination for president.” (ABC News)

    Credit now goes to journalists who have stepped forward to admit their mistakes and offer news consumers some guidance as to why commentators likely misread the Trump campaign.

    Some reasons offered up include, Republican elites failed to effectively coalesce around an anti-Trump candidate. The news media essentially sponsored Trump’s campaign with an unprecedented amount of free exposure. And Republican voters didn’t penalize Trump for his obvious policy flip-flops.

    Note that there’s nothing inherently wrong with being incorrect about campaigns, assuming predictions are made in good faith. And this Trump misfire isn’t going to, nor should it, stop pundits and prognosticators from trying to peer into the future.

    But there is a problem if the media’s elite class doesn’t understand how one of America’s two major parties functions today. It’s problematic if the GOP’s gone through an ugly transformation, which produces a Trump nominee, and the political press is too timid or too detached to accurately document that radical makeover.

    And in the case of Trump that denial seems to have been widespread. For instance, much of the data pointed to a Trump win for a very long time. “Trump was a stronger candidate than anyone wanted to admit,” the Huffington Post recently noted. “He skyrocketed to the top of an incredibly crowded pack soon after announcing he was running.”

    Resisting those hard facts, many journalists clung to the idea that Trump was simply too out-there to become the nominee; too extreme, reckless, and garish for a major party nominee.

    And that’s still the problem today. Lots of media analysts continue to ignore a central reason for why they missed the Trump surge, and they’re still not acknowledging what’s driving his success: The truly radical nature of today’s Republican Party and its right-wing voter base.

    Y’know, the conservative movement that cheered Glenn Beck when he called the president of the United States a "racist"; that supported right-wing claims that president Obama was a tyrant who needs to be impeached. (And that he was foreign-born.) The movement that revolves around Rush Limbaugh, who claimed that if Obama weren't black he'd be working as a tour guide in Hawaii, not sitting in the Oval Office, and who insisted Obama ran for office because he resents white America and wants to score some payback.

    And it’s a Republican Party that has essentially shut down the U.S. Congress, rather than legislate with Obama. It’s a party today that refuses to hold hearings for the president’s highly qualified Supreme Court nominee.

    That’s what the Republican Party has become in recent years, but the press has mostly held its tongue about the nasty makeover. And in the process, the press missed the Trump surge, which rode that radical GOP wave. 

    The collective, years-long turning of a blind eye indicates to me just how important it is for the Beltway press to maintain a symmetrical balance between Democrats and Republicans. It shows how the press remains married to the idea that the two parties are simply mirror images of each other, occupying different ends of the political spectrum. That for however far to the edge Republicans move, Democrats are sure to reciprocate. It’s the Both Sides Are To Blame syndrome, basically.

    And there’s great comfort in that for the press. Because if you call out Republicans as radical, or note that the ugly nature at the base of the GOP could easily propel Trump to a nomination victory, that means the press has to break from the safety of the Both Sides narrative. That then opens the press up to “liberal media bias” denunciations from the right.

    So which is worse, being taunted with claims of liberal bias, or misreading a presidential campaign season for ten months? 

  • Pundits’ New Lament: Clinton Might Win, But She Won’t Win The Right Way

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    That distant rumble you’re hearing from the Beltway is the sounds of pundits eagerly excavating as they dig up the campaign goal posts established for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run and reset them during the middle of the race.

    After months of suggesting her White House push was possibly doomed, that she couldn’t connect with voters, pundits are now conceding she will be her party’s nominee and that polling data and demographics currently give her a November advantage. But instead of admitting they misread her run (how do you accumulate 13 million primary votes and not connect with people?), some have decided to change the rules -- to move the goal posts midway through the game -- and suggest that even if she wins the presidency, Clinton will have won it the wrong way, and that in some bizarre way her victory won’t be legitimate.

    Penning a campaign memo to Clinton with the subject line, “Winning Right,” Ron Fournier in The Atlantic insisted that winning isn’t enough for her (emphasis added):

    Congratulations! You are now the presumptive Democratic nominee. Considering the demographic obstacles piled against Donald J. Trump, you’re this close to the presidency. The nation’s first woman president. Heir to President Obama’s legacy.

    It’s not enough. Is your goal to win the presidency or to win and transform the presidency? Are you a caretaker or a change agent? Do you seize power for the love of power or for higher purposes: to modernize the institutions of politics and governance; to restore the public’s faith in Washington; to break the cycle of polarization and solve big problems; to galvanize the youth vote (like Obama) and translate millennials’ passion and power into governmental reforms (unlike Obama)?

    According to Fournier, Clinton’s victory and her presidency will only matter if she completely transforms American politics. And if she accomplishes that without any help from Republicans, of course.

    For context, note that Fournier’s column scolded Clinton’s campaign for not being “honest and authentic” the way Donald Trump’s campaign has been honest and authentic. So that tells you a bit about the writer’s worldview.

    Some of Fournier’s suggestions/demands for Clinton to win and govern the right way? She should “digitize” the “bully pulpit” to get Republican statehouses to stop gerrymandering voting districts, and as president she should change the rules for how the Democratic and Republican parties nominate their candidates.

    So no, I doubt the Clinton camp is taking Fournier’s offerings seriously. But his heavy-handed demands are worth noting since they offer insight into how parts of the pundit class are already preemptively undermining Clinton’s possible win.

    One popular refrain is that the rest of Clinton’s run is already tainted because her unfavorable/favorable rating is not good. Trump’s net unfavorable rating is worse, but many in the press are lumping the two candidates together and presenting them as a deeply unpopular pair.

    “I think is very frustrating is that the two people most disliked by a majority of the country are about to end up running against each other,” lamented Matthew Dowd on ABC This Week.

    Added Fournier on Meet The Press: “We have two presumptive nominees and most often America says oh, my God. Maybe I don't vote in November.”

    The theme is constant: Clinton’s viewed poorly by voters, therefore she doesn’t inspire. But that’s not true. A recent Gallup poll found that Clinton supporters were among the most enthusiastic this campaign season, and were even more enthusiastic about her run than supporters of Bernie Sanders were about his.

    Meanwhile, over at Politico, Todd Purdum’s recent piece, “How Hillary Could Win the Election—and Lose the Country,” harped on many of the same points Fournier made in The Atlantic. Yes, Clinton can win, but she’s winning the wrong  way (emphasis added):

    It is entirely possible to be the winner and still not get much of a mandate—to enter office as a kind of default president who gets in because no other candidate is electable but who doesn’t have the faith and loyalty of a large portion of the nation.”

    Specifically, Purdum deducts points for Clinton lacking a clear vision (a “new animating idea”). Yes, as Purdum quotes from a recent Clinton speech, she’s fighting for “civil rights, voting rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and rights for people with disabilities.” But to pundit Purdum, it seems boring.

    It’s boring and out of touch: “[Her] ideas are out of sync with the mood of the electorate in this three-sheets-to-the-wind age.”

    Of course, the idea that she’s “out of sync” with voters is undermined by the fact Clinton has received more votes than any other candidate this year.

    Have we ever seen a White House campaign where members of the press suggest the candidate winning the most votes isn’t really the candidate people want to vote for? Yet over and over Purdum insists Clinton’s out of touch with Democratic voters … while Clinton seems poised to accept her party’s nomination. (I’m anxiously awaiting the Purdum column about how Trump’s badly out of step with Republican voters today.)

    Overall, this whole not-winning-the-right-way thing is quite odd, mainly because for decades campaign coverage in America has revolved around one thing: Winning. It’s been the only thing that mattered. And winners were usually toasted as being super savvy regardless of their margin of victory. That's why it's called horse race journalism because the press has been obsessed with documenting who crosses the finish line first; with who's up and who's down. 

    Today, Clinton’s clearly up so some scribes want to rewrite the rules and announce that it’s not really about winning, it’s about how you win? Suddenly pundits are subtracting points for style and grace if she doesn’t run her campaign and win exactly how they say she must conduct herself?

    Media message to Hillary: Jump through these series of progressively smaller campaign hoops while we  grade your leaps and bounds as being insufficient.  

  • US Officials Report No Evidence Hillary Clinton Broke The Law, Will Right-Wing Media Listen?

    Conservative Media Conspiracy Theories Doused By The Facts

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    U.S. officials say they have not yet found evidence that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton willfully broke the law with use of her private email or that her server was hacked, according to two new reports, undercutting the conservative witch-hunt for a bombshell in the Democratic presidential front-runner’s email setup.

    Prosecutors and FBI officials “have so far found scant evidence that [Hillary Clinton] intended to break classification rules,” according to a May 5 Washington Post report. The article noted that “prosecutors are wrestling with the question of whether Clinton intended to violate the rules, and so far, the evidence seemed to indicate she did not”:

    Prosecutors and FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server have so far found scant evidence that the leading Democratic presidential candidate intended to break classification rules, though they are still probing the case aggressively with an eye on interviewing Clinton herself, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter

    [...]

    The involvement of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is not indicative that charges are imminent or even likely. One official said prosecutors are wrestling with the question of whether Clinton intended to violate the rules, and so far, the evidence seemed to indicate she did not.

    CNN underscored the findings in the Washington Post article, reporting that “The investigation is still ongoing, but so far investigators haven't found evidence to prove that Clinton willfully violated the law.” The reports join the growing chorus of legal experts and government officials who have undermined claims made by right-wing media figures, who have repeatedly scandalized Clinton’s use of a private email server by arguing that she broke the law using her server for State Department emails.

    Fox News’ chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, who has a history of hyping evidence-free claims, most recently reported on May 4 that “the infamous Romanian hacker known as ‘Guccifer’ … easily – and repeatedly – breached former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server,” a claim parroted by various right-wing media figures.

    But U.S. officials “dismissed claims [by “Guccifer”] that he was able to breach Clinton’s personal email server,” according to the Post, noting, “investigators have found no evidence to support the assertion.” NBC News also reported that the hacker “could provide no documentation to back up his claims,” and Politico reported that an “internal FBI review of Clinton’s email records did not indicate traces of hacking.”

    Fox also alleged that the Obama administration is “slow-rolling” the Select Committee on Benghazi Committee’s investigation into Clinton’s email use, scandalizing the fact that a “special unit to review Benghazi documents” was convened later than expected.

    The Department of Defense recently criticized the committee, slamming it for “straining the department's resources” chasing “documents and interviews” often based on “speculative or hypothetical” queries, according to Politico. A letter sent by Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger derided the Republican-led committee’s “multiple and changing requests,” some of which have been “unfair … unproductive … [and] unnecessary,” and implored the committee to “remain focused on obtaining facts rather than encouraging speculation.”

    Since Clinton’s use of private email was revealed, conservative media figures have made multiple baseless allegations, only to be burned by facts. The new revelations that investigators have not yet found evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton only add to the growing list of debunked myths spuriously pushed by right-wing media.  

  • Sean Hannity Endorses Trump, Lashes Out At Paul Ryan For "Sabotage"

    Hannity: Paul Ryan Is Leading A "Circular Firing Squad" In The Republican Party

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    In a series of tweets on May 5, Sean Hannity endorsed Donald Trump and attacked House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), after Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper he is "just not ready" to endorse presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over the eventual Democratic nominee in the general election.

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    Responding to Ryan's refusal to endorse Trump, Hannity tweeted "You have to be kidding me” and called Ryan's statement "pathetic."

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    Hannity continued to attack Ryan, writing "The Hell with what the voters think. Circular firing squad now led by @SpeakerRyan," and additionally characterized National Review Online's criticism of Trump as "Elitist BS."

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    Hannity's criticism of House Speaker Paul Ryan highlights his reputation of attacking critics of Donald Trump while also being called out for his softball interviews of the Republican presidential nominee. Hannity has previously attacked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as a "pawn of the establishment" trying to take down Trump, and rebuked commentators who critiqued his contentious interview with Ted Cruz.

  • NY Times Highlights The Problem With Letting “Those Who Have Demonized” Abortion Dominate The Conversation

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    A New York Times report about a Washington, D.C., hospital’s gag order on an abortion provider demonstrates the pervasive nature of abortion stigma. MedStar Washington Hospital Center barred abortion provider Dr. Diane J. Horvath-Cosper from advocating for greater abortion access, citing fear of anti-choice violence, and the doctor has now filed a civil rights complaint against her employer.

    Hospital officials had issued Horvath-Cosper’s gag order after anti-choice extremist Robert Lewis Dear carried out his deadly attack on the Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs last November, according to the Times’ May 2 article. The hospital’s medical director ordered Horvath-Cosper “to end her advocacy” “out of concerns for security,” saying he didn’t want to draw attention to MedStar’s abortion services. Horvath-Cosper responded by filing her civil rights complaint.

    Fears of anti-choice violence are not unfounded. Last summer, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of deceptively edited videos baselessly alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue -- earning CMP and its founder, David Daleiden, the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year. Although CMP’s work has been largely discredited, the videos sparked an unprecedented spike in the rate of anti-choice violence against abortion providers and clinics.

    Horvath-Cosper knows these risks, but she argued that when providers and advocates “cower and pull back” from public dialogues about abortion, it creates a dangerous vacuum that is filled by “those who have demonized this totally normal part of health care.” As the Times noted, Horvath-Cosper is far from alone in her belief that allowing right-wing media and anti-choice grouyeahps to dominate the conversation about abortion is dangerous. Instead, the paper explained, she is part of a larger group of providers “who argue that silence about their work only feeds the drive to stigmatize and restrict abortion.”

    Abortion stigma is the “shared understanding that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable." This belief is reinforced through media coverage, popular culture, and by many people’s lack of accurate information about the procedure itself. Right-wing media and anti-choice groups have worked relentlessly to capitalize on this lack of public knowledge by consistently demonizing abortion providers and fearmongering about the safety of abortion procedures. Right-wing media have referred to abortion as sickening, “grisly,” “selfish,” and on par with terrorism. They have also attacked abortion providers, calling them “villains” and comparing them to Nazis.

    Despite abortion being both common and overwhelmingly safe, anti-choice groups have consistently attempted to “exploit the stigma of abortion.” Anti-choice legislators have similarly relied on fearmongering about the safety of abortion to pass medically unnecessary restrictions. The consequences of losing access to abortion care are severe. For example, in a study conducted after the passage of Texas’ anti-choice law HB 2, researchers found that 100,000 to 240,000 women between the ages of 18 and 49 had attempted to self-induce an abortion, demonstrating that increased barriers to accessing abortion in Texas put women at risk.

    But challenging abortion stigma by encouraging greater public dialogue is not new to reproductive health advocates. The organizations Sea Change, #ShoutYourAbortion, and the 1 in 3 Campaign all encourage people to speak out about their experiences with abortion through a variety of mediums.

    Speaking to NPR, Horvath-Cosper underscored the importance of providers challenging abortion stigma and continuing to provide abortion care when possible. “The message that we’ve all gotten in society is that abortion is shameful, and that people who have abortions should be shamed, and I think that’s something we need to work against,” she said.

    According to ThinkProgress, “if anything, this silencing has further inspired Horvath-Cosper to vocalize her defense of abortion and abortion providers.” As Horvath-Cosper explained in a May 3 press release:

    “Especially at a time when abortion is marginalized and under attack, I’m compelled to speak out about the importance of abortion as a legal and safe medical procedure that’s critical to women’s health,” said Horvath-Cosper in a Tuesday press release. “Abortion has become so stigmatized in this country. As a doctor, I have a responsibility to urge that abortion be recognized as the integral part of women’s medical care that it is.”

    During a conversation with Slate journalist Jennifer Conti, Horvath-Cosper again reaffirmed this commitment. In a text to Conti, Horvath-Cosper wrote: “Our silence has never and will never protect us. Patients deserve better than shame and secrecy.”

  • STUDY: Trump Won The Fox Primary, Doubling Any Other Candidate In Interview Airtime

    Blog ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump dominated his former rivals for the nomination in interview airtime on Fox News. From May 1, 2015, through Trump’s decisive victory in the Indiana primary on May 3, 2016, the businessman garnered more than 49 hours of interview airtime on the network, more than twice as much as second place finisher Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

    Hours before the Indiana results came in and he suspended his campaign, Sen. Cruz lashed out at 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch and Fox News chief Roger Ailes for purportedly turning Fox News “into the Donald Trump network, 24/7.” He added, “Rupert Murdoch is used to picking world leaders in Australia and the United Kingdom, running tabloids, and we're seeing it here at home.”

    The network has also faced criticism in recent days over its Trump coverage from prominent conservative commentators like radio host Mark Levin, who labeled the network a “Donald Trump super PAC.”

    While Trump publicly feuded with Fox News intermittently throughout the primary campaign, he maintained a sizable advantage in interview airtime on the network. He led all candidates in interview airtime in every month since he formally announced his candidacy in June 2015.

    Overall, Fox devoted 202 hours and 2 minutes to 1,481 original and reaired interviews of the Republican candidates over the last year.

    In addition to more than doubling Cruz’s airtime total, Trump had more than three times as much interview airtime on the network as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was the last challenger to drop out of the race on May 4, 2016:  

    In what ended up being the final month-and-change of the nomination fight, Trump again lapped the field in interview airtime on Fox News. From April 1 through May 3, Fox News aired 7 hours and 49 minutes of interviews with Trump, compared to 3 hours and 54 minutes for Cruz and 2 hours and 21 minutes for Kasich.

    Trump’s airtime generally trended upward over the course of the campaign, as more of his rivals dropped from the race (click to enlarge):

    (Note: The final month in the above chart includes interview time from all of April and the first three days of May, 2016.)

    Sean Hannity -- who has recently been criticized for favoring Trump over Cruz and Kasich -- featured by far the most interview airtime with candidates since the beginning of the study, with almost 50 hours. (Including interviews reaired by the network, Trump’s received far more interview airtime on Hannity than Cruz or any other candidate -- full data is below.)

    Breakdowns for candidate time appearances by month and by Fox News program are below. (Click to enlarge.)

    (Note: Red times represent the candidate who had the most total time on the corresponding show.)

    Previous Fox Primary Reports

    May 2015
    June 2015
    July 2015
    August 2015
    September 2015
    October 2015
    November 2015
    2015 Overview
    January 2016
    February 2016
    March 2016

    Methodology

    For this study, we used FoxNews.com's "2016 Presidential Candidate Watch List." Jim Gilmore's inclusion in the study began after his formal announcement on July 30. The following candidates' data collection stopped when they each ended their respective campaigns: Rick Perry (September 11), Scott Walker (September 22), Bobby Jindal (November 17), Lindsey Graham (December 21), George Pataki (December 29), Mike Huckabee (February 1), Rand Paul (February 3), Rick Santorum (February 3), Chris Christie (February 10), Carly Fiorina (February 10), Jim Gilmore (February 12), Jeb Bush (February 20), Ben Carson (March 4), and Marco Rubio (March 15).

    Media Matters searched the Nexis database and our internal video archive for all guest appearances on Fox News Channel between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. and Fox News Sunday for the three presidential candidates current for April through May 3: Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump.

    This study includes all original appearances between May 1, 2015, and May 3, 2016. Repeat appearances were counted if they aired on a new day. Appearances during early morning post-debate specials were counted.

    Charts by Oliver Willis. Additional research by Media Matters' research staff.

  • Fox Darling Scott Brown Accuses Elizabeth Warren Of Being “Drunk” After She Blasted Trump’s “Toxic Stew Of Hatred”

    Fox News Has Promoted Brown As A Potential Running Mate For Trump

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News contributor Scott Brown criticized Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for a series of tweets condemning GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, alleging that Warren was “drunk tweeting” and accusing her of being unable to “stand on her own two feet.” Brown, who lost his 2012 Senate race to Sen. Warren and whose political ambitions have long been boosted by Fox News, has been openly pushed by the network as a potential vice presidential running mate for Trump.

    Scott Brown, a former Republican Senator for Massachusetts, was hired by Fox News in 2013 after a failed Senate campaign, and left the network soon thereafter to run for office in New Hampshire. During his 2014 Senate bid, Brown received widespread support and praise from Fox, often with no disclosure of his prior affiliation with the network. Following his Senate loss in 2014, Brown re-joined as a contributor. Fox hosts have regularly hyped Brown, who is still a Fox News contributor, as a potential running mate for Trump during the 2016 presidential primary.

    During a May 4 interview with Boston Herald Radio, Brown criticized his former rival Elizabeth Warren after she took to Twitter to slam Trump’s “toxic stew of hatred & insecurity” and pledged to “fight my heart out” to ensure Trump’s “racism, sexism, and xenophobia” “never reaches the White House.” Brown “lauded Trump and hit back at Warren in harsh terms,” according to Boston.com. Brown asked if Sen. Warren was “drunk tweeting” and slammed her tweets as “irrelevant,” writing, “She had her chance to make a difference … All she does is yell and criticize and demean and belittle people instead of working for the people of Massachusetts”:

    As America began to come to terms with Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren launched into a series of tweets criticizing the businessman’s “toxic stew of hatred and insecurity.”

    A day later, the man she beat to become the U.S. senator from Massachusetts fired back at Warren.

    “Is she drunk tweeting now?” Scott Brown said.

    The comment came in an interview with Boston Herald Radio on Wednesday in which Brown lauded Trump and hit back at Warren in harsh terms.

    “First of all, what she said is completely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter,” Brown said. “She had her chance to make a difference. She hasn’t even bothered to endorse anybody, so it just is a continuation of her phoniness and her inability to make decisions that really have her stand on her own two feet.”

    Brown has addressed questions about his own tweeting in the past. In 2013, the former Republican senator posted a series of misspelled, dismissive tweets on a late night. “bqhatevwr,” he infamously wrote. Critics at the time questioned whether Brown was drunk when he sent the mangled tweet.

    “I rarely drink, the last time I was ever drunk was my bachelor party,” he said at the time, according to the Washington Post.Herald Radio host Jaclyn Cashman on Wednesday agreed with Brown’s questioning of Warren’s drinking habits.

    “I envision her with a glass of Chardonnay in Cambridge,” she said, as Brown laughed. “I guarantee that she was half in the bag tweeting last night.”

    Brown, who endorsed Trump for president, said Warren had not accomplished anything of note in office.

    “All she does is yell and criticize and demean and belittle people instead of working for the people of Massachusetts,” he said. “If it’s the new norm to go down there and yell and scream at people and divide people, she’s doing a great job at that.”