Blog

  • BuzzFeed’s Editor-In-Chief Slams Media For Giving Credence To Trump’s Lie He Opposed Invasion Of Iraq

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith lambasted media outlets and reporters for allowing GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump to “lie to their face” about his opposition to the invasion of Iraq, ignoring the evidence showing that in 2002 Trump supported the invasion of Iraq.

    Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed throughout the GOP presidential primaries that he opposed the Iraq invasion, using his alleged opposition to attack his GOP rivals and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. But BuzzFeed’s “Andrew Kaczynski unearthed an audio recording of [Trump] saying he supported” the invasion in 2002. Despite releasing audio evidence, media outlets, including “CNN, Fox, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, Bloomberg, the New York Times, and the Washington Post” have all either reprinted Trump’s lie, or allowed him to claim he opposed the invasion without pushback.

    Smith also highlighted how the media, led by the Times’ Maureen Dowd, have also added this “fake fact” into a “fake narrative” that Trump is more of a “dove” on foreign policy than Hillary Clinton, ignoring that Trump’s claim he opposed the invasion has been debunked, that he has has refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in the Middle East and Europe, and has floated military engagement with Iran.

    In his May 3 article, Smith implored media reporters to “stop letting [Trump] lie to their face about the most important policy call of the last 20 years,” writing, “Donald Trump did not oppose the invasion of Iraq” and “there’s no evidence that he’s ever been a ‘dove'”:

    One of the great stories of 2016 is how Donald Trump hacked the media: How he learned from the New York tabloids and The Apprentice; how he dictated terms to the weakened television networks; how he used Twitter and won Facebook.

    Those are complex questions that we will argue about for decades.

    Here is a simpler one: Could reporters stop letting him lie to their face about the most important policy call of the last 20 years?

    Donald Trump did not oppose the invasion of Iraq. Further, there’s no evidence that he’s ever been a “dove” — and a great deal that he’s been an impulsive supporter of military intervention around the world.

    We know this because BuzzFeed News’s intrepid Andrew Kaczynski unearthed an audio recording of him saying he supported it. You can listen to it above. The audio quality is clear.

    In the recording, made on Sept. 11, 2002, when it mattered, Howard Stern asked Trump whether he supported the invasion. His answer: “Yeah, I guess so.” On the war’s first day, he called it a “tremendous success from a military standpoint.”

    It was the most recent in a series of belligerent statements about Iraq. In 2000, he opined at length in his book how U.S. airstrikes did nothing to stop Iraq’s WMD programs and said it “is madness not to carry the mission to its conclusion” in the context of a new war. He said many times in the late 1990s and early 2000s George H.W. Bush should have toppled Saddam during the Gulf War.

    Trump’s opinions during that period have all the force and thoughtfulness of a man who isn’t paying much attention and whose opinion doesn’t matter. His support for the war is also totally unambiguous.

    And yet, since Kaczynski found the audio recordings, most of the leading American media organizations have either repeated Trump’s lie or allowed him to deliver it unchallenged. That includes CNN, Fox, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, Bloomberg, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

    This fake fact is the basis for a fake narrative, crystallized in a Maureen Dowd column over the weekend christening “Donald the Dove.”

     

  • USA Today Gives Anti-LGBT Hate Group A Platform To Attack Target's Inclusive Bathroom Policy

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    USA Today featured an op-ed by the president of anti-LGBT hate group American Family Association (AFA), who attacked Target's LGBT nondiscrimination policy for restrooms by peddling the widely debunked "bathroom predator" myth. USA Today failed to identify AFA as a recognized hate group to its readers.

    On May 2, USA Today published an op-ed by AFA President Tim Wildmon, titled "Why you should boycott Target," which was written in response to the editorial board’s opposition to laws that “perpetuate the myth that transgender people are predators.” AFA is the group responsible for launching a boycott against Target over the store's policy of allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. In the column, Wildmon criticized Target's nondiscrimination policy, peddling the widely debunked myth that there is “potential danger” when men are able to access the women’s room:

    For the entirety of its history until recently, Target had bathrooms and fitting rooms designated for men and for women.

    Why? Why the distinction by Target and every other retailer in every civilized country?

    The answers are twofold and quite simple. First, the vast majority of people are uncomfortable using the bathroom while a stranger of the opposite sex is present. Second, most people understand the potential danger inherent in allowing men access to women and children in a private setting — where harassment, voyeurism or even abuse can occur.

    Wildmon also questioned the motives of transgender people, saying that they only want to "make a point" by using a restroom that aligns with their gender identity:

    Of course, there is a simple solution to this controversy for Target. Gender-specific facilities (men’s bathrooms/fitting rooms, women’s bathrooms/fitting rooms) would be maintained, and a single-occupancy, unisex option would be provided for the transgendered community. As someone has recently noted, a transgendered man, for example, who walks past a unisex restroom in order to enter the woman’s bathroom is not primarily interested in relieving himself. He wants to make a point.

    Like many other media outlets reporting on the Target boycott, USA Today failed to identify AFA as a hate group to its readers, even while giving the group a national platform. The AFA has been designated an anti-LGBT “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its history of anti-gay extremism, including blaming gay men for the Holocaust, supporting criminalization of gay sex, and asserting that being gay is a “poor and dangerous choice."

  • WSJ Falsely Labels Puerto Ricans As “Refugees” In Their Own Country

    Puerto Ricans Are Full American Citizens

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    The Wall Street Journal issued a dire warning that the unfolding debt crisis in Puerto Rico could create an “exodus” of “Puerto Rican refugees” to the United States who would vote for Democrats and soak up public benefits -- completely ignoring their status as American citizens, with every right to live and work in whatever part of the country they wish.

    On May 2, The New York Times reported that the government of Puerto Rico defaulted on $399 million of a scheduled debt payment of $422 million owed to creditors and bondholders. According to the Times, the government in San Juan has already severely cut public services for millions of the island’s residents, but it is still unable to make up the revenue shortfall created by a prolonged recession that has sapped the Puerto Rican economy. Puerto Rico will be unable to repay its obligations without an act of Congress allowing the island to restructure its debt.

    In a May 2 editorial, The Wall Street Journal urged necessary congressional action to help Puerto Rico write-down and restructure its debt obligations, but it did so only to avoid “anarchy and a back-door bailout” that would result in “tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans flee[ing] to the mainland where they will land on the U.S. public dole.” The Journal said the debt crisis could result in an “exodus” of “Puerto Rican refugees” moving to another part of the United States and voting in federal elections. The paper speculated that if the Republican-controlled Congress did not assist the island, Puerto Rican votes would go “to the Democrats for years to come” (emphasis added):

    A new report by the Instituto de Estadísticas de Puerto Rico shows the island’s population exodus is accelerating with a net 64,000 Puerto Ricans moving to the U.S. in 2014. Most are young people—the median age is 29 and income is $13,000—seeking a better life. While many will eventually find jobs in the U.S., their incomes will at least initially be low enough to qualify for Medicaid, food stamps and public housing. Their kids will attend public schools.

    The Puerto Rican refugees will also be able to vote. In 2014, Florida (23,297) was the top destination for Puerto Ricans followed by Texas (5,019) and Pennsylvania (4,304). Virginia (1,664) and Ohio (1,553) ranked ninth and tenth. President Obama won Florida by about 74,000 votes in 2012—there are more than one million Puerto Ricans living in the state—and 537 votes decided the 2000 presidential election.

    A congressional default would relegate the island to economic paralysis, and Florida and Puerto Rican voters to the Democrats for years to come.

    The editorial board’s decision to slur millions of American citizens as “refugees” is irresponsible.

    Puerto Ricans moving to another part of the United States are not “refugees”; they are American citizens, and have been granted formal American citizenship since March 2, 1917. The full rights of citizenship were later extended to “All persons born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899.” If some residents of Puerto Rico choose to move throughout the United States in search of better economic opportunities for themselves and their families, they have every right to do so.

    Millions of Puerto Ricans are suffering from the island's confluence of corporate greed and bureaucratic mismanagement, as explained by the Huffington Post. HBO's Last Week Tonight has also exposed the precarious circumstances created by Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory, rather than a fully incorporated state, and highlighted the importance of helping Puerto Rico restructure its debt.

    The Journal’s fearmongering about so-called “Puerto Rican refugees” fits the standard right-wing media trope about the supposed threat presented by immigrants and refugees. Right-wing outlets often worry that refugees will soak up government resources, and that Democrats will use government entitlement programs to curry favor with Spanish-speaking immigrants. But the Journal’s decision to paint Puerto Ricans as refugees -- rather than the American citizens they are -- may set a new low for conservatives.

  • USA Today Lets Extremist Gun Group Distort Merrick Garland’s Judicial Record

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    USA Today gave a representative of extremist gun organization Gun Owners of America (GOA) a platform to smear Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The group wrote a column distorting the facts on several U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit opinions to claim Garland “had 4 chances to vote against gun rights, and he took them all.”

    GOA is a far-right organization with past ties to anti-Semites and white supremacist groups and a leader, Larry Pratt, who has repeatedly suggested that politicians should fear being shot by a GOA supporter if they pass laws regulating firearms.

    In a May 1 column at USAToday.com, GOA general counsel Michael Hammond distorted Garland’s involvement in four cases decided before the D.C. Circuit, where Garland sits as chief judge, to claim Garland is “anti-gun.”

    In one case Hammond cited, Garland did not participate in the ruling, but rather took part in a vote to decide whether the entire D.C. Circuit should rehear the case, which would require the full panel of judges to consider it. According to legal experts, a judge’s vote to rehear or not rehear a case is not indicative of what the judge thinks the outcome of the case should be. Two of the cases Hammond cited were not actually decided on Second Amendment grounds and cannot be characterized as showing bias for or against gun rights. And in the fourth case he cited, Garland did not participate in the ruling and the case was not decided on Second Amendment grounds.

    Parker v. District of Columbia

    Hammond first attacked Garland for his participation in a vote related to Parker v. District of Columbia, a 2007 challenge to Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban. In a 2-1 panel decision -- which Garland did not participate in -- the D.C. Circuit reversed a lower court's decision upholding the ban, finding that D.C.'s law violated the Second Amendment.

    Following the ruling, Garland was one of four judges, including George H.W. Bush appointee Judge Raymond Randolph, to vote to have the entire D.C. Circuit rehear the case en banc. A majority of D.C. Circuit judges voted not to rehear the case, and it moved on to the Supreme Court, where it became the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller.

    The claim that Garland’s en banc vote in Parker means that he is "anti-gun" is a smear developed by the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a discredited right-wing group that is spending millions to oppose Garland's nomination. Numerous legal experts, however, have debunked the claim that an en banc vote is representative of how a judge would rule on the merits if the case were reheard.

    According to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, an en banc rehearing “ordinarily will not be ordered unless” a full panel’s “consideration is necessary to secure or maintain uniformity of the court's decisions; or the proceeding involves a question of exceptional importance.” As PolitiFact noted, the Parker case satisfied both of those conditions.

    Seegars v. Gonzalez

    Hammond also attacked Garland for his involvement in a case preceding Parker that unsuccessfully challenged D.C.'s handgun ban. As in Parker, Garland did not participate in the decision in Seegars v. Gonzalez, but rather participated in a vote on whether to rehear the case en banc.

    The Seegars case was brought by a group of District of Columbia residents who argued that D.C.’s handgun ban and trigger lock laws violated their Second Amendment rights. In 2005, the D.C. Circuit ruled against the residents in an opinion authored by Reagan appointee Judge Stephen F. Williams.

    While the D.C. residents made a Second Amendment argument against D.C.’s gun law, the court never ruled on the merits of this argument. Instead, the court dismissed the case on procedural grounds, with the majority opinion finding that “under controlling circuit precedent no plaintiff has standing” to challenge D.C.’s handgun ban and trigger lock laws. The vote to rehear the case failed 7-3, with Garland voting against rehearing alongside D.C. Circuit judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans. Then-D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg, a Reagan appointee, filed a concurrence in the denial to rehear the case. As in Parker, Garland’s vote does not indicate how he would have ruled on the merits of the case.

    National Rifle Association v. Reno

    Hammond also cited Garland’s joining of the 2000 decision National Rifle Association v. Reno as supposed evidence of “anti-gun” bias. As with his citation of the Parker case, Hammond’s attacks concerning NRA v. Reno originate from debunked talking points pushed by JCN.

    In Reno, the NRA claimed that the way the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for gun purchases temporarily retained data on gun owners violated a federal prohibition on creating a registry of gun owners.

    On appeal, the NRA lost the decision, 2-1, with Garland joining Judge David S. Tatel's majority opinion, which ruled: “Finding nothing in the Brady Act that unambiguously prohibits temporary retention of information about lawful transactions, and finding that the Attorney General has reasonably interpreted the Act to permit retention of such information for audit purposes, we affirm the district court's dismissal of the complaint.”

    As with the Seegars case, the ruling was not decided on Second Amendment grounds. Rather, the case was one of statutory construction and interpretation, assessing whether the NICS system of temporary record retention was permissible under the language of the Brady Act and the Department of Justice’s interpretation of that act.

    Furthermore, no court accepted the NRA’s argument that the NICS system was tantamount to a gun registry. The NRA lost the case at the federal district court level, then again at the D.C. Circuit in the ruling Garland joined, before the then-conservative-leaning Supreme Court finally denied a request by the NRA to hear the case. In fact, Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft opposed the NRA’s request that the Supreme Court hear the case, writing that the D.C. Circuit decision Garland joined was “correct.”

    United States v. Burwell

    The last example Hammond cited as supposed evidence of Garland’s “anti-gun” bias was the 2012 decision United States v. Burwell, where the D.C. Circuit reheard a case involving a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence given to a man convicted of possessing a machine gun while committing a "crime of violence."

    At issue was whether the criminal defendant in that case, who had brandished a fully automatic AK-47 assault rifle during a series of bank robberies, knew that the firearm was capable of fully automatic fire (the gun in question was capable of both automatic and semi-automatic fire).

    A 2012 decision before the entire D.C. Circuit – after members of the court had voted to rehear the case en banc – affirmed the D.C. Circuit’s original decision in a majority opinion that upheld the defendant’s conviction.

    Garland joined the majority opinion authored by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a George W. Bush appointee.

    Like with the Seegars and Reno cases, it is misleading to claim that the opinion here offers an indication of a judge’s view on gun rights because the case was not decided on Second Amendment grounds. Instead, the case was decided on statutory grounds: whether the sentencing minimum law required the prosecution to prove that the defendant knew whether the firearm used in a crime of violence was fully automatic.

    The ruling affirming the defendant’s conviction largely relied upon prior precedent within the D.C. Circuit -- a 1992 case called United States v. Harris. In that case, a panel of judges composed of Carter appointee Ruth Bader Ginsburg, George H.W. Bush appointee Clarence Thomas, and Reagan appointee Laurence H. Silberman issued a per curiam opinion that reached the same legal conclusion as the opinion Garland joined in the Burwell case.

  • Break Out The Popcorn: Bill Kristol Goes After WSJ Editorial Board Over Trump Support

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Kristol and Trump

    The editor of one of the conservative establishment’s most influential magazines is now lashing out at the nation’s most prominent right-wing newspaper editorial board over whether conservatives should run a third-party candidate if Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee.

    With Trump on the verge of clinching his party’s nomination, the conservative movement is in shambles. Dozens of right-wing commentators have come forward to say that they will never vote for Trump, either due to his bigotry and authoritarian tendencies or because of his alleged progressive positions. Those conservatives have said they will stay home, vote for the Democratic candidate, or support a third-party candidate.

    Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard and a prominent conservative activist who bears significant responsibility for Sarah Palin ending up on a national ticket, is part of that faction. In February, he said that he “would try to recruit a real conservative” to run an independent campaign if Trump became the Republican nominee.

    But a large group of conservatives are either openly rooting for the New York businessman or have come to terms with the likelihood that he will be their party’s standard-bearer.

    The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board joined that final group this morning, with a piece criticizing any effort to enlist a third-party candidate (Rupert Murdoch, the paper’s owner, has said that the party would be “mad not to unify” around Trump). The editors write:

    Readers know our doubts about Mr. Trump, on policy and as an autumn candidate. His nomination still isn’t guaranteed, and the polls show him badly trailing Mrs. Clinton, despite her many flaws. Third-party advocates say the right candidate would give conservatives an honorable alternative to Trump-Hillary. They say a third-party candidate could win enough states to throw the election into the House of Representatives, which would then presumably choose the non-Trump Republican.

    This isn’t impossible, but then again it almost never happens. The usual presidential result is that the party that splinters hands the election to the other, more united party. 

    The editors conclude that a third-party conservative candidate would be devastating to the party’s House and Senate candidates: “[D]ueling presidential candidates would put House and Senate Republican candidates in a perilous spot. Do they support Mr. Trump or the third-party conservative? If they are forced to choose, they could alienate enough GOP voters to ensure defeat.”

    Hours later, Kristol threw down the gauntlet at the Journal. Pointing to Trump’s “crazed” comments this morning linking Sen. Ted Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Kristol declared that “serious people, including serious conservatives, cannot acquiesce in Donald Trump as their candidate.”

    Kristol savaged the Journal for prioritizing “political prudence,” concluding that regardless of the political implications, “Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. The Wall Street Journal cannot bring itself to say that. We can say it, we do say it, and we are proud to act accordingly.”

    The Journal and Kristol may both be right: Giving conservatives no choice but to support Trump in the general election may be better for the party’s congressional candidates (though it also makes it impossible for them to distance themselves from their incredibly unpopular nominee). But supporting Trump in spite of what the Journal gingerly describes as their “doubts” about his candidacy is quite obviously an act of raw political cowardice.

    It’s only May, and the looming Trump candidacy is already dividing even the establishment’s stalwarts. Who knows what the next six months will bring. But it will surely be fun to watch from the outside.

  • Fox Business Pushes Four Lies About Smart Guns In 45 Seconds

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A brief segment on Fox Business Network about President Obama’s push to develop smart gun technology included falsehoods about Obama’s plan, the availability and reliability of smart guns, and law enforcement’s position on the issue.

    On April 29, President Obama announced a plan for the Defense Department (DOD), Homeland Security Department (DHS), and Justice Department (DOJ) to assist in the development of technology that allows only the authorized user of a firearm to fire it. As Obama explained, the purpose of the initiative is “identifying the requirements that smart guns would have to meet in order for law enforcement to purchase and use them effectively - and keep themselves and the public safer in the process.”

    During the May 3 broadcast of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich offered a litany of falsehoods to attack the Obama administration’s announcement:

    1. Varney opened the segment by claiming Obama “might use executive orders to push for smart guns.”

      In fact, Obama’s announcement was an update on his administration’s January announcement of executive actions, not orders. Conservative media frequently mislabel executive actions -- where, in this case, federal agencies are operating within their respective purviews to help expedite the development of technology – by terming them executive orders in an attempt to make claims about supposed Obama administration overreach.

    2. Calling smart guns “actually very dumb,” Pavlich claimed that “there are a lot of federal law enforcement agencies, and local police departments, and sheriff’s departments that are pushing back.”

      First, several federal executive departments that administer law enforcement agencies – DOJ, DOD, and DHS -- are involved in carrying out the administration’s plan, not opposing it.

      There has been only one high-profile law enforcement group that has been outspoken on Obama’s plan, and that group has a major conflict of interest. The head of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Jim Pasco, was quoted in several news outlets criticizing Obama’s plan, without the disclosure that the FOP’s charity has received large amounts of money from the National Shooting Sporting Foundation, a gun industry trade group that often attacks smart gun technology. A 2010 investigation by The Washington Post identified several instances where the interests of clients at Pasco’s lobbying business aligned with positions subsequently taken by FOP.

    3. Pavlich claimed that “smart gun technology has been on the market for years now.”

      While smart gun technology has been in development for years, smart guns are not yet available for purchase by the general public in America, except for in rare instances. This is because gun dealers largely refuse to stock the first market-ready smart gun, the Armatix iP1, a semi-automatic handgun that uses radio-frequency identification technology. In 2014, a Maryland gun dealer was the subject of death threats and harassment from gun rights activists after the dealer announced his intention to sell the iP1. He later canceled his plan to sell the firearm. A similar incident occurred in California when a gun store attempted to sell the iP1.

    4. Pavlich claimed smart gun technology is “not reliable” and “when you’re talking about a life-or-death self-defense situation, people just aren’t going to go there and risk it with the smart gun technology.”

      Pavlich’s claim echoes a frequent attack from the National Rifle Association, which often makes false claims about the reliability of smart gun technology. Smart guns have to meet certain reliability benchmarks to be sold. For example, to be sold in California, the iP1 had to be able to fire 600 rounds with a malfunction rate of less than 1 percent.

      Obama’s announcement on smart guns also said the DOD would continue to allow manufacturers to use a testing facility in Maryland to improve reliability.​ According to a leading developer of the technology at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the next generation of smart guns will have an operational failure rate “comparable to mechanical failure rate in many consumer side-arms.”

    From the May 3 broadcast of Varney & Co.:

    STUART VARNEY: President Obama, he might use executive orders to push for smart guns. What do you make of this?

    KATIE PAVLICH: Well, the problem with smart guns is they’re actually very dumb. And there are a lot of federal law enforcement agencies, and local police departments, and sheriff’s departments that are pushing back on President Obama’s idea that smart guns should be used, not only just in law enforcement, but across the country. The fact is that smart gun technology has been on the market for years now and people don’t buy them because they are not reliable. The president’s argument is that, look you have to be able to have guns that can only be fired by their owners, but when you’re talking about a life-or-death self-defense situation, people just aren’t going to go there and risk it with the smart gun technology.

  • Wash. Post: College Debt Forces Students To Take Jobs “Without Long-Term Prospects”

    Research Shows Economic Difficulties Are Still A Major Concern For Recent Graduates, Especially Women And African-Americans

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The Washington Post reported on the economic prospects of the Class of 2016, saying that while the economy has improved, wages are still down for recent graduates, and the mounting debt thrust onto students forces many to take jobs with poor advancement opportunities.

    In a May 2 article for The Washington Post’s Grade Point education news blog, reporter Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reported that while hiring continues to improve for recent college graduates, job prospects are still poor, and the increasing debt burden faced by graduates forces them to take jobs -- if they can find one -- that may have no chance of wage growth or career development. The Post highlighted findings from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) showing that nearly seven years after the end of the Great Recession, recent graduates still face many employment hurdles, namely lower pay and higher amounts of student debt.

    While the unemployment rate for recent graduates is “only a tenth of a percentage point” above pre-recession levels, the Post wrote, “nearly 13 percent of young college graduates are currently underemployed, compared to 9.6 percent nine years ago.” As wages are still low for recent graduates, student debt burdens continue to climb and the Post reported that it is likely “the average Class of 2016 graduate will leave school with five-figure debt.” The piece said student debt burdens “likely will force graduates to accept jobs without long-term prospects for career or wage growth.” These and other factors spurred EPI to conclude that new graduates likely will earn less in the next decade than those who graduated before the recession.

    EPI also found that prospects for recent graduates are bleaker for women and African-Americans, a point Media Matters has also highlighted. According to the Post, the national average unemployment rate for college graduates is 5.6 percent, nearly double the 9.4 percent unemployment rate EPI found for black college graduates. Since 2000, the gender gap for recent graduates has widened; female graduates today make 6.8 percent less than their counterparts did in 2000 compared to male college graduates, who now earn 8 percent more than male graduates did 16 years ago.

    From The Washington Post:

    If the last few years are any indication, the average Class of 2016 graduate will leave school with five-figure debt. That albatross likely will force graduates to accept jobs without long-term prospects for career or wage growth, according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute. Analysts at the think tank say that despite the rosy overall employment picture, graduates actually face a tougher labor market than they would have before the 2008 recession. Degree-holders, they say, still contend with elevated levels of unemployment and underemployment, and a large share are neither employed nor pursuing advanced degrees — in other words, they are idling.

    “Although there have been small improvements, there is still a lot that’s problematic about this economy for young college grads,” said Teresa Kroeger, a research assistant at EPI who co-authored the study. “Wages are still performing poorly. And we see still disparities between genders and racial groups.”

    […]

    Analysts at EPI say unemployment for young black college graduates hovers at 9.4 percent, higher than the peak unemployment rate for young white college grads during the recession. And gender wage inequality has grown, with male college grads earning 8 percent more this year than in 2000, while young women with degrees earned 6.8 percent less than in 2000.

    Perhaps the most troubling prediction from the institute posits that newly minted grads as a whole likely will earn less and have more spells of unemployment during the next 10 to 15 years than if they had graduated before the downturn.

  • Las Mujeres Están Críticamente Subrepresentadas En Los Programas Dominicales De Entrevistas En Español

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ English language version

    Las voces femeninas fueron subrepresentadas de manera crítica en los programas dominicales de entrevistas en las principales cadenas en español, Univisión y Telemundo, durante el primer tercio de 2016.

    Un estudio de Media Matters que analizó a todos los invitados que aparecieron desde el 3 de enero al 24 de abril en los programas dominicales de entrevistas encontró que en el programa de Univisión Al Punto, aparecieron tres veces más invitados que invitadas, mientras que en el programa de Telemundo Enfoque, hubo el doble de hombres invitados que de mujeres. Durante el período analizado, el programa de Univisión Al Punto -- que dura una hora -- tuvo un 76 por ciento de invitados y solamente un 24 por ciento de invitadas. Por su parte, el programa de media hora de Telemundo Enfoque tuvo un 68 por ciento de invitados y un 32 por ciento de invitadas.

    La subrepresentación de mujeres invitadas a los programas dominicales en español es especialmente grave, considerando que las latinas "están más involucradas políticamente que sus pares masculinos", según la presidente de Voto Latino María Teresa Kumar, siendo asuntos como la salud reproductiva o la desigualdad salarial los que animan a votar.

    La programación dominical es una de las plataformas principales en las que se discute la coyuntura nacional y por ende, las programas de entrevistas juegan un rol principal en establecer la agenda política. Es crítico que se incluyan voces femeninas en la discusión de asuntos que afectan a la nación, ya que sus perspectivas pueden agregar una profundidad valiosa a las conversaciones. Además, algunos temas, como la salud reproductiva y la desigualdad salarial, afectan a las Latinas de manera desproporcionada.  

    La exclusión de mujeres como invitadas a los programas dominicales en español refleja una tendencia que demuestra la subrepresentación de latinas en programas de formato similar en inglés: En 2015, las latinas fueron solo el 1 por ciento del total de invitados a los programas dominicales de entrevistas en inglés, a pesar de que conforman el 9 por ciento de la población general.  

    Metodología

    Media Matters analizó cada invitado que apareció en el programa de Univision Al Punto y en el programa de Telemundo Enfoque del 3 de enero al 24 de abril usando iQ media, y codificando a cada invitado acorde a su género. Se consideraron invitados a todos los participantes que aparecieron en el programa para participar en discusiones significativas, que se definieron como dos personas o más, durante un segmento, hablando la una con la otra.

    Dina Radtke y Sarah Wasko aportaron a este estudio. 

  • Obama’s Boasting Reaganesque Approval Ratings, So Where’s The Media Attention?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    For a leader regularly written off by the press as a lame duck 18 months ago, President Obama has tallied some major wins during his second term, and voters have taken notice. He’s normalized relations with Cuba, implemented a historic Iranian nuclear deal, signed a global climate pact with nearly 200 nations, overseen the continued success of Obamacare, all while the economy has recorded 73 straight months of job growth.

    No wonder that polls point toward a Democrat succeeding him in the White House.

    So why isn’t there more media credit directed his way? Is the press making the mistake of reading off the Republican campaign script this year, which insists America is teetering on collapse? (Obama joked at the White House Correspondents Dinner: “The end of the Republic has never looked better.”)  

    Whatever the reasons, let’s note there hasn’t been a media rush to document Obama’s strong standing in recent weeks. CNN last month timidly suggested, “there's some evidence that the public is viewing Obama … more fondly.” The first clue? Obama’s approval rating hit a three-year high of 53 percent, according to Gallup. (He boasts a staggering 66 percent approval rating today among voters 18-29.)

    Obama’s strong showing has remained steady since March: Gallup on Monday pegged his approval rating at 52 percent.

    Note that the president’s approval rating dropped down to 40 percent just 18 months ago during the midterm election cycle in 2014, which means he’s ridden a 13-point surge over the last year-and-a-half. Doesn’t that qualify as news?

    The president averaged a nearly 50 percent approval rating from January 20 through April 19, his 29th quarter in office, according to Gallup. That 29th quarter represents “one of the higher quarterly averages in his presidency to date.” That’s especially remarkable considering second terms are not traditionally kind to presidential approval ratings.

    Recall that our previous two-term president left office with a 22 percent approval rating, while his vice president signed off with a thumbs-up from 13 percent of voters. 

    What’s also impressive is that in today’s hyper-partisan environment, Obama has been able to boost his standing while getting almost no support from Republican voters.

    “Obama is the first president since polls existed to have never gone above 25 percent approval from the other side,” noted Paul Waldman at the American Prospect. Obama’s approval among Republicans currently stands at just 14 percent, according to Gallup. Given today’s rugged political terrain, “If a president can stay at 50 percent, he should be counted a remarkable success,” Waldman argued.

    But don’t look for lots of media tributes. The truth is, during his two terms the press has repeatedly worked to depict Obama’s standing as being on the decline, and often downplaying his success. (Also, good news is no news.) As Media Matters noted in 2010, “Beltway scribes today have made it plain that when it comes to Obama and polling, good news is no news.”

    And when Obama’s standing did fall, the press eagerly piled on, as I laid out after Democratic losses in 2014:

    Right after the election, a November Economist editorial announced, "Mr. Obama cannot escape the humiliating verdict on his presidency." Glimmers of hope after the midterms were no reason to think Obama had "somehow crawled out of the dark place that voters put him," the Washington Post assured readers. (Post columnist Dana Milbank has recently tagged Obama as a hapless "bystander" who's "turning into George W. Bush.") And a McClatchy Newspapers headline declared, "President Obama Is Now Truly A Lame Duck."

    So it’s not surprising the same press corps is in no rush today to detail Obama’s recent surge in popularity, and in fact seems to tiptoe around it. 

    In January, The New York Times looked ahead to Obama’s final year in office and stressed, “polls show doubts about his handling of critical issues.” Contrasting his second term with Bill Clinton’s and Ronald Reagan’s, the Times insisted Obama began the year “without the advantages of popularity that Reagan and Mr. Clinton had.”

    In other words, both Reagan and Clinton were very popular during their final year in office, but Obama was not. Yet recently, Obama’s Gallup approval rating slightly exceeds Reagan’s from the same point in the Republican’s eighth year in office.

    Obama’s Gallup rating April 25-May 1, 2016: 51 percent.

    Reagan’s Gallup rating May 2-May 8, 1988: 50 percent.

    So where are the media acknowledgements? (In the press, Reagan is often used as shorthand for a universally popular president.) In recent months, the Times has made only a few passing references to Obama’s approval ratings, according to Nexis.

    In early March, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that Obama’s approval rating had risen to 51 percent, up from 45 percent in December. Big news, right? Nope. The Post reported that 51 percent fact in the ninth paragraph and devoted just one sentence to his surge.

    Here’s another example: Last June when a CNN poll found that Obama’s approval rating dipped to 45 percent, CNN played the data as big news (“President Barack Obama's job approval numbers are sinking”), complete with the taunting headline “Bush Now More Popular Than Obama.” 

    But more recently, when CNN polling pegged Obama’s approval at 51 percent, CNN downplayed the news. CNN’s polling write-up about the survey included just one sentence noting the president’s surge.

    And in a recent 8,000-word opus, Politico outlined what it claims to have been Obama’s “failure” to communicate his agenda, and what “went wrong” inside the White House. It wasn’t until 7,000 words into the feature that Politico acknowledged Obama’s approval rating recently hit a three-year high. Politico also never mentioned that Obama’s approval today matches that of Reagan’s, who was known as The Great Communicator.

    To date, Obama’s second term has been a broad success, and lots of voters agree. When’s the press going to take note? 

  • CNN’s Dylan Byers Highlights Sean Hannity’s “Unapologetic Advocacy” For Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an article for CNN.com detailing Fox News host Sean Hannity’s role as a “Republican shill” and pro-Trump advocate, CNN’s Dylan Byers highlighted Hannity’s softball interviews with Trump and his admission that he is offering a safe space for Republican candidates on his television and radio shows.

    The May 2 article highlights how Hannity’s softball interviews with Trump start with Hannity citing “areas where he agrees with Trump, or where he thinks Trump was right about something, then asks him to expand on it.” Byers explained that Hannity “often ignores or defends Trump from criticism,” never asking Trump about not disavowing the Klu Klux Klan and arguing that criticism of Trump is “extraordinarily unfair.”

    Byers also pointed out the support Trump has received from numerous Fox personalities including host Bill O’Reilly and the hosts of Fox & Friends, but argued that Hannity is the only host to admit his a pro-Trump characterization – making him “the most honest opinion host”:

    In his interviews, Hannity frequently cites areas where he agrees with Trump, or where he thinks Trump was right about something, then asks him to expand on it. Many questions function as a set-up for Trump to discuss anything he wants: "If you win Florida and Ohio, you are well on your way to the nomination to be the Republican nominee for president," Hannity said during a March interview. "How would that make you feel?"

    Hannity often ignores or defends Trump from criticism. When he interviewed Trump in the heat of the controversy over of his failure to disavow the Klu Klux Klan, he never asked Trump about it. After the CNBC debate, Hannity said to Trump: "I felt [moderator] John Harwood was extraordinarily unfair to you and attacking you... I've got to imagine that that's pretty aggravating for you. What's your reaction to it?"

    Hannity thinks his critics cherry pick these examples, but there are many cherries to pick. On terrorism: "I'm sure you wish you were wrong, Mr. Trump, but you were right. What did you see that maybe others didn't see about what was happening in Brussels and Belgium?" Hannity once told Trump: "You can tell me whatever you want. You're Donald Trump. You can say anything you want."

    Hannity's unapologetic advocacy has won him the support of Trump's base, a vocal coalition that loathes most members of the media. While he is hardly the only pro-Trump pundit, no other has the immense platform that is Fox News. In the first three months of 2016, Hannity averaged 1.88 million viewers a night, and his radio show is the second most-listened-to talk show in the country after Rush Limbaugh's.

    […]

    Jonah Goldberg, of the conservative National Review, recently argued that Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, Eric Bolling, Bill O'Reilly and the majority of hosts on "Fox & Friends," "The Five" and "Outnumbered" are "all more pro-Trump than anti."

    Several of the aforementioned hosts would likely disagree with that characterization. Hannity no longer troubles himself with such protests. In a way, that might just make him the most honest opinion host in all of cable news.