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  • NY Times Highlights How Trump’s “Whole Frame Of Reference” Is Right-Wing Media Conspiracy Theories

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin explained that because presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “‘whole frame of reference’” for his campaign strategy has been conservative media outlets and discredited conspiracy theories, he’s “obliterated” the line separating elected officials and “conservative mischief makers.”

    Trump has long had a symbiotic relationship with conservative media. Fox News and other right-wing news outlets have built up his campaign and repeatedly defended his controversial policies and rhetoric while Trump has echoed their talking points and peddled their conspiracy theories -- most recently including the claim the Clintons were involved with the death of aide Vince Foster. Trump regularly surrounds himself with and lauds known conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones, an infamous 9/11 truther, and Roger Stone, a notorious dirty trickster who alleges the Clintons are murderers.Trump has also courted and pushed the claims of discredited author and conspiracy theorist Ed Klein, whose conspiracies on the Clintons have been called “fan faction” and “smut.”

    In a May 25 piece, Martin noted that Trump has obliterated “the line separating the conservative mischief makers and the party’s more buttoned-up cadre of elected officials and aides.”Martin also quoted Republican strategists explaining that Trump’s “whole frame of reference is daytime Fox News and [Alex Jones’] Infowars.” From the May 25 New York Times piece:

    Ever since talk radio, cable news and the Internet emerged in the 1990s as potent political forces on the right, Republicans have used those media to attack their opponents through a now-familiar two-step.

    Political operatives would secretly place damaging information with friendly outlets like The Drudge Report and Fox News and with radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh — and then they would work to get the same information absorbed into the mainstream media.

    Candidates themselves would avoid being seen slinging mud, if possible, so as to avoid coming across as undignified or desperate.

    Yet by personally broaching topics like Bill Clinton’s marital indiscretions and the conspiracy theories surrounding the suicide of Vincent W. Foster Jr., a Clinton White House aide, Donald J. Trump is again defying the norms of presidential politics and fashioning his own outrageous style — one that has little use for a middleman, let alone usual ideas about dignity.

    “They’ve reverse-engineered the way it has always worked because they now have a candidate willing to say it himself,” said Danny Diaz, who was a top aide in Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, speaking with a measure of wonder about the spectacle of the party’s presumptive nominee discussing Mr. Clinton’s sexual escapades.

    With Mr. Trump as the Republican standard-bearer, the line separating the conservative mischief makers and the party’s more buttoned-up cadre of elected officials and aides has been obliterated. Fusing what had been two separate but symbiotic forces, Mr. Trump has begun a real-life political science experiment: What happens when a major party’s nominee is more provocateur than politician?

    […]

    Roger J. Stone Jr., the political operative who is Mr. Trump’s longtime confidant and an unapologetic stirrer of strife, called Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney “losers” for their more restrained approaches.

    But that is precisely what has many Republicans, and some Democrats, nervous.

    “He’s never been involved in policy making or party building or the normal things a candidate would do,” said Jon Seaton, a Republican strategist. “His whole frame of reference is daytime Fox News and Infowars,” a website run by the conservative commentator Alex Jones.

    Mark Salter, Mr. McCain’s former chief of staff, said Mr. Trump was making common cause with “the lunatic fringe,” citing his willingness to appear on the radio show of Mr. Jones, who has claimed that Michelle Obama is a man.

  • CNN Criticizes Clinton Wealth While Ignoring Trump’s Shady Financial History  

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    A segment on CNN’s OutFront criticized Hillary Clinton, claiming that she “avoids drawing attention to the vast wealth she and her husband have accumulated,” while ignoring the controversial business practices and wealth accumulated by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. Ironically, the CNN segment collected their information from tax returns released by the Clinton campaign, but failed to note Trump’s reluctance to release his own tax returns after repeatedly saying he would do so.

    CNN national correspondent Sunlen Serfaty highlighted Clinton’s “posh properties” and “luxurious vacations” after Bill Clinton left the White House. And while Serfaty admitted that the Clintons were millions in debt following Bill’s presidency, she argued that “the speaking circuit” allowed the Clintons to “cash in on their political fame.”

    The segment mirrors attacks lobbed at Hillary Clinton during her 2014 book tour, where media outlets painted Clinton as “out of touch with average Americans,” despite polls finding that most Americans believe Clinton understands the problems of everyday Americans.

    Despite the segment’s focus on the financial status of the Democratic frontrunner, Donald Trump’s lavish lifestyle and financials were completely ignored. Trump has failed to release his previous tax returns, claiming he will only release them after IRS audit is complete. But in 2012, Donald Trump criticized Mitt Romney’s reluctance to release his tax returns that “It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters, especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service.” This came after Trump had promised in February that he would release his taxes “over the next three, four months.”

    Furthermore, while media has shown a fascination with Clinton’s financial history, Trump’s reportedly shady dealings have received relatively little attention. Trump is also currently facing a fraud lawsuit alleging that he scammed students out of $40 million, has received millions in tax deductions by donating land that he valued between 13 and 50 times what he paid for it, and has been accused of running a nutritional supplement scam that he billed as a “recession-proof” venture that bilked people out of thousands of dollars. Trump also took advantage of a government program meant to help small businesses hurt by 9/11, a move that netted him $150,000. None of this was mentioned in CNN’s Segment.

  • Journalists Should Stop Validating Trump Ally And Conspiracy Theorist Roger Stone

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Journalists have regularly validated top Donald Trump ally and infamous conspiracy theorist Roger Stone in their reporting by uncritically quoting Stone without acknowledging his history of dirty tricks, racism, sexism, and violent rhetoric.

    Political reporters turn to candidates’ campaign staff and other political allies in order to provide insight into campaign strategy. Journalists have used Stone as a source for this insight with regard to the Trump campaign, often referring to him as merely a Trump “associate” or “ally.”

    But Stone is not a typical political adviser, and when the press treats him as one they miss out on a key election story: the extremism of Trump’s supporters. Stone’s decades-long history of dirty tricks includes playing a role in Watergate that later caused him to be fired from a job in the Senate. He has a record of racist and misogynistic rhetoric that caused MSNBC and CNN to ban him from their networks. Stone also regularly calls for public figures to be executed.

    Stone’s history of extremism is particularly relevant for readers when he is quoted discussing the Clintons. Stone has alleged that the Clintons are “plausibly responsible” for the deaths of roughly 40 people, including John F. Kennedy Jr. He has also claimed that Bill Clinton is not Chelsea Clinton’s real father. In 2008, he ran an anti-Hillary Clinton group that went by the acronym “C.U.N.T.”

    Recent articles that have quoted Stone without providing readers with any context regarding his history include:

    • A May 16 BuzzFeed article that quoted “longtime political ally and former campaign adviser to Donald Trump” acknowledging that Trump “posed as his own publicist.”
    • A May 24 Fox News segment discussed comments from “Trump confidant Roger Stone” about whether the candidate had given money to Kathleen Willey.
    • A May 23 Washington Post article quoted “Trump confidant” Stone on the candidate’s strategy for attacking the Clintons.
    • A May 17 USA Today article cited “Trump adviser” Stone on the candidate’s position on Wall Street.

    The media’s validation of Stone closely echoes the mainstreaming of Trump’s extremism. On CNN, Huffington Post Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington called out the media for just that, noting that “by not challenging” Trump’s “extreme statements,” media “are allowing them to become part of the conversation, to become part of the mainstream; we’re getting used to these absurdities.” Journalists should keep that in mind when covering Stone, too.

  • Stone Backtracks On Claim That Trump Paid Willey, Raises New Questions

    Roger Stone Tells Alex Jones That He "Was Told" Trump Paid Willey, Does Not Say Who Told Him

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Stone

    Roger Stone is now backing away from his claim that Donald Trump gave Kathleen Willey money so she could attack the Clintons. While he said in February that Trump had donated to a fund to help Willey pay off her mortgage, Stone today claimed that “at one time I was told that Donald Trump made an online contribution to the fund” set up to help Willey, but “in retrospect he did not.”

    Stone also told Jones today that, “I, along with others did set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to try to pay off her mortgage.” Despite his apparent role in initially setting up the account, Stone did not explain who originally told him about the alleged donation or how he came to the conclusion that Trump had not donated.

    Yesterday, the Trump campaign released a web video highlighting Willey’s allegation that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her in 1993. (Willey’s claim was later investigated by the Office of the Independent Counsel.)

    As Media Matters reported, during a February interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Stone assured Jones that Trump had contributed money to help pay off Willey’s mortgage “so she can hit the road and start speaking out on Hillary.” While soliciting donations to Willey’s mortgage fund from Jones’ audience, Stone claimed at the time, “We have raised a substantial amount of money. Trump is himself a contributor -- I’m not ready to disclose what he has given.”

    Asked by Fox News about Stone’s comments, the Trump campaign said there was “no truth” to the claim. Stone also responded by tweeting, “A bald face Lie- @realDonaldTrump has not paid @kathleenwilley mortgage.”

    Stone is a longtime associate of Trump who says that he speaks regularly with the candidate, including a phone call this morning to congratulate him on the Willey web video.

    He has for decades been involved in conservative politics, orchestrating political dirty tricks and spouting racist, sexist, violent rhetoric while publishing numerous conspiracy theories about the Clintons.

  • Rush Limbaugh Silent After Politico Magazine Piece Details His Business Woes

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Rush Limbaugh responded with uncharacteristic silence to the Politico Magazine piece that detailed the business woes of his long-running radio program.

    Limbaugh completely ignored the contents of the May 24 article during the three hours of his show that aired on the same date. According to Politico Magazine, Limbaugh also ignored “multiple interview requests” before the piece was published.

    The news items of the day that he did feel compelled to rant about included a tropical storm forecast piece. The host signed off of his May 24 show saying there had been “absolutely nothing in the news.”

    Politico Magazine says Limbaugh’s radio show is, “as a business proposition, … on shaky ground” because of the ongoing advertiser boycott largely pushed by the Media Matters campaign “Flush Rush,” which came as a response to the radio host’s infamous tirade in which he referred to then-Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke as a “slut.” Because Limbaugh has been branded with a “scarlet letter among national brand advertisers,” as talk radio consultant Holland Cooke told Politico Magazine, major radio stations have dropped The Rush Limbaugh Show from their lineup in the past year.

  • The Danger Of Giving Anti-Choice Misinformation Equal Weight As Medical Consensus

    Rewire Explains False Equivalencies In Media Coverage Of Abortion Access

     

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In a May 23 article, Rewire president and Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson criticized journalists for creating false equivalencies between anti-choice extremists and medical experts to seemingly “represent both sides” of the debate over abortion access.

    Jacobson’s criticism centered on a May 18 article from the Associated Press about a bill passed by the South Carolina legislature to ban abortion after 19 weeks based on the false premise that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization. She noted that although AP fairly covered the bill’s political context it failed to accurately represent the most important part: “the medical accuracy of claims underlying such bans.”

    Jacobson wrote that the groups supporting 20-week abortion bans include a number of anti-choice organizations such as Americans United for Life, the National Right to Life Committee, and the Susan B. Anthony List -- all of which rely on “false science and unfounded claims of ‘fetal pain’ to pass legislation.” In contrast, “every relevant, respected, and recognized medical body in the world opposes such bans.” Jacobson argued that by reducing coverage of abortion access to a conversation between “supporters versus opponents” it gives false credibility to “a group of people with absolutely no legitimacy making and passing legislation rejected by the weight of the international medical and public health communities.”

    She concluded that given the importance of access to abortion and other basic reproductive health care, “The media’s reliance on false equivalencies has to stop. People’s lives are at risk, and we can’t afford it.”

    From Rewire’s May 23 article:

    Using false equivalencies effectively means giving equal time to those who spread misinformation and, in many cases, outright lies, abrogating the ethical responsibilities of journalists to be accurate and fair. And this is exactly what the Associated Press did last week when it published an article on 20-week abortion bans that epitomized the worst of reporting on abortion.

    [...]

    “Supporters” of 20-week abortion bans (and many other such laws) include groups like Americans United for Life and the National Right to Life Committee (both of which have drafted model legislation for these bans), as well as others such as the Susan B. Anthony List. Each of these groups uses false science and unfounded claims of “fetal pain” to pass legislation that threatens access to critical reproductive health care; the anti-choice movement’s self-important “pro-life” designation elides the fact that women’s health and lives are in grave danger wherever such care is unavailable.

    Who are the “opponents” of 20-week abortion bans? These include the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and a range of international bodies such as the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. In other words, every relevant, respected, and recognized medical body in the world opposes such bans.

    [...]

    Is it “fair and accurate” to posit the assertions of anti-choice groups, which base their claims on ideology and contrived “evidence,” as equal to medical and public health experts? Is it in the public interest to suggest that an issue that is fundamental to both human rights and public health be decided by reducing a vast body of evidence to equal that of organizations with an overriding political agenda? Is it good journalism by any standard?

    There is only one answer to all of these questions, and it is “no.” AP’s piece was irresponsible, but it also reflects that current state of reporting on reproductive health care by many outlets, including NPR, the Washington Post, and others.

    No matter how strong the backlash from the small but loud contingent of people within the anti-choice movement, it is the media’s job to report fairly and responsibly. Making the claims of anti-choice “supporters” of abortion bans equivalent to the consensus of the medical and public health community not only abrogates the public trust, it puts all of us in danger.

  • How Coverage Of Transgender Issues In Hispanic Media Is Improving

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Univision and Telemundo, the biggest players in Spanish-language media, are making notable strides in their coverage of transgender issues, a topic in need of improved visibility among Hispanic audiences. 

    During the first third of 2016, a Media Matters guest demographic study showed transgender voices were absent from Spanish-language Sunday shows. But recently, Univision and Telemundo have both included transgender voices -- Univision on their nightly news show and Telemundo on their Sunday show -- in their reporting on the recent slew of  anti-LGBT bathroom bills, which bar transgender people from using facilities that correspond to their gender identity. On the May 22 edition of their Sunday show Enfoque, Telemundo brought on a transgender teenager to talk about discrimination:

    Latinos and Latinas face extra hurdles compared to other LGBT folks in the form of family structure and religion that may often suppress their ability to be open about their gender and/or sexuality. When Hispanic media gives transgender people a platform to tell their own stories, it helps educate viewers and debunk myths and stereotypes about transgender people.

    In the past, Spanish-language news networks have aired stories that include inaccurate and dehumanizing language about transgender people. Last year, networks also failed to cover a wave of deadly violence against  transgender women of color. National news networks have a history of irresponsible and inaccurate journalism when it comes to transgender issues, but Spanish-language networks are taking a much-needed step in the right direction.

  • The NRA’s Endorsement Of Donald Trump Is Premised On A Lie

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The NRA supported its endorsement of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump at the group’s annual meeting by repeatedly telling the lie that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton opposes gun ownership and would confiscate guns as president.

    The NRA lying to its members -- and anyone else observing the annual meeting -- is anathema to the group’s 2016 election messaging, which is centered on the claim that the NRA “doesn’t lie” but that instead Americans are constantly lied to by “the political and media elites at the highest levels.”

    Moments before the NRA endorsed Donald Trump at its annual meeting on May 20, the NRA’s two top members of leadership, executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, and Chris Cox, the group’s top lobbyist who also runs the NRA’s political efforts, told a series of lies about Clinton’s position on guns.

    According to repeated campaign trail statements, Clinton has expressed support for both people being allowed to own guns and for regulations on firearms, such as expanded background checks. PolitiFact found there is “no evidence” for the claim Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and that Clinton’s position on whether the Second Amendment confers an individual right to gun ownership is “more or less in line with the George W. Bush administration’s position” on the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller.

    In his remarks, Cox claimed that Clinton thinks it’s “wrong” that “the Supreme Court said you have a right to protect your life against a murderer in your own home.” (Clinton actually believes Heller was “wrongly decided” because it “may open the door to overturning thoughtful, common sense safety measures in the future” such as a child access provision that was struck down in the ruling, not because she opposes firearm ownership for lawful self-defense.)

    Cox continued, claiming Clinton “wants us to surrender our firearms,” “to live in a place where only law enforcement has guns,” and made repeated references to his claim Clinton wants “to take our guns.”

    Then, moments before the NRA’s formal endorsement of Trump, LaPierre took the stage to claim that “if she could, Hillary would ban every gun” and that Clinton “craves” gun confiscation. The next day at the official meeting of members, LaPierre grouped in Clinton with other entities the NRA claims don’t support self-defense, saying, “We will not give up our God-given right to defend ourselves, our families, to the elites, to Obama, to the media, and sure as hell not to another Clinton.”

    None of these claims are true. Yet, the NRA has increasingly positioned itself as a truth-teller about the 2016 elections. In an article in the March edition of the NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom that attacked the honesty of Clinton and President Obama, the NRA wrote, “Let’s get something straight: The NRA doesn’t lie. The NRA tells the truth, no matter how unpopular, how politically incorrect or how much the truth might offend those who fear or hate freedom.”

    LaPierre made similar remarks during his March 3 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, claiming, “At a time when all of us are bombarded with media agenda, their web of spin and political conniving, the very best, most effective and surest way to defend freedom is found in those four little words: Thou Shalt Not Lie” and that “History proves that if you give the American people the straight truth, they will choose honest freedom every time. That is why, for decades, the NRA has been the guiding light for American gun owners and those who treasure our constitutional freedom. … We’ve been exposing the liars about our freedom for decades, telling the truth that most Americans know in their hearts to be right.” In sum, LaPierre referenced “the truth” 11 times during his speech.

    LaPierre spoke on the same theme during a March 23 address to Liberty University, claiming, “The lies go on and on, an epidemic of untruth at the highest levels of our country. Everybody spins a fabric of lies, and the American public sits out there and goes, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s got to stop!’ Yet when someone does tell the truth, they get clobbered. It’s all upside-down. Lies seem normal and the truth seems like bizarre, crazy talk.”

    What the NRA has said about its endorsement of Trump also speaks to the organization’s dishonesty.

    While the NRA’s endorsement of Trump -- given his willingness to adopt the NRA’s extreme agenda -- makes sense, NRA top lobbyist Cox attempted to sugarcoat the endorsement for members, calling the decision “easy” and claiming “show me a Republican presidential nominee in our lifetimes, or for that matter, in the past 100 years, who has spoken so forcefully about not only the right to own a gun, but the right to use it to defend yourself.”

     

     

    This is the same presumptive nominee who said after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that NRA nemesis President Obama “spoke for me and every American in his remarks in [Newtown] Connecticut” -- remarks that sent the NRA into a still-ongoing fury.

     

     

  • BEDLAM: Trump Campaign Suggests Top Ally Stone Lied About Willey Payments

    Trump Campaign Responds To Media Matters Report

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Trump and Stone

    Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is reportedly denying a claim from his top ally Roger Stone that Trump gave Kathleen Willey money so she could attack the Clintons.

    Yesterday Media Matters reported exclusively that in a February radio interview, Stone said that Trump had contributed an undisclosed amount to help pay off Willey’s mortgage “so she can hit the road and start speaking out on Hillary.” Stone urged listeners to join Trump in sending money to Willey, citing a GoFundMe page and unidentified “numerous receptacles” through which donors could give.

    Willey’s accusation that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her in 1993 -- which was investigated by the Office of the Independent Counsel -- was the subject of a web video Trump’s campaign released yesterday.

    Fox News’ John Roberts, who highlighted Stone’s comments earlier today, reported that the Trump campaign said “there’s no truth” to the assertion that Trump “contributed to [the] Willey mortgage GoFundMe campaign.”

    It is unclear whether Trump contributed through one of the other “receptacles” Stone cited in the interview, or if Stone was lying.

    Stone is a longtime friend and ally of Trump who says he speaks regularly with the candidate. He has a decades-long history of dirty political tricks, and regularly spouts violent, racist, and sexist rhetoric and conspiracy theories about the Clintons.

  • Dayton Daily News Exposes Hypocritical Koch Ad

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Dayton Daily News demonstrated the vital role of the media during campaign ad season as the paper debunked a new ad produced by Freedom Partners Action fund, a super PAC funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. The ad in question attacked former Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is currently seeking to replace Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

    With billions of dollars expected to fund a torrent of political ads in 2016, media outlets play a crucial role in fact-checking claims made by candidates and the super PACs running ads on their behalf. In states with highly contested Senate races such as Ohio, outside funders like the Koch brothers have begun spending millions to reserve ad space through groups like Freedom Partners.

    The Daily News’ May 20 article took a closer look at Freedom Partners’ latest ad, which featured a local businessman claiming the former governor “had to be doing something wrong” as “Ohio lost over 350,000 jobs under Ted Strickland.”

    However, the Daily News found that the same businessman had praised the economic shape of the state in the newspaper in 2011 when Strickland was governor. From the Daily News:

    A Tipp City businessman is featured in a new political action committee ad criticizing former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, the Democrat running to unseat U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

    Keith Kingrey, vice president of  SK Mold & Tool Co., a  Tipp City company owned by his family, says that Ohio lost 350,000 jobs during Strickland’s time as Ohio governor.

    “Ted Strickland had to be doing something wrong for all these jobs to leave Ohio,” Kingrey said in the ad.

    Strickland was governor from 2007-2010 and oversaw the state during the U.S. Great Recession. He was unseated after one term by John Kasich in a 2010 campaign that focused on laying the blame for Ohio’s lost jobs on Strickland. Kasich took office in January 2011.

    In a June 2011 Dayton Daily News article Kingrey said positive things about his company’s economic outlook, saying that business had been picking up. The company had expanded in 2008 with the purchase of Sun Machine and Tool Corp. in Troy, according to a Dayton Daily News article.

    “It started picking up in 2010 pretty good. Last year was a pretty decent year,” Kingrey said. “This year every quarter, it continues to get better and better.”

    Freedom Partners Action Fund is a conservative PAC. Federal Elections Commission documents show one of its chief contributors is conservative Charles G. Koch, a businessmen who, with his brother, David H. Koch, is major contributor to conservative causes.

    “Even the person used by the Koch Brothers in this ad previously praised the economy under Ted Strickland and said what newspapers and fact checkers have confirmed: Ohio’s economic recovery began under Ted,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Daniel van Hoogstraten. “It’s no surprise that wealthy, shadowy special interests like the Kochs are propping up their puppet Rob Portman — because at every turn, Portman is pushing their agenda at the expense of Ohio’s working families.”

    h/t Daily Kos