• Trump Surrogate Ted Nugent: Hillary Clinton Is A “Devilbitch,” “VOTE TRUMP!”

    Nugent, A Member Of The NRA’s Board, Has Called For Clinton To Be Hanged

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent called Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton a “devilbitch” moments after promoting a Donald Trump presidential campaign video that he appears in.

    In an October 27 post on his Facebook page, Nugent wrote of Clinton, “The devilbitch hates everything good about America! VOTE TRUMP!” while promoting an NRA attack on the Democratic nominee. The post came moments after Nugent shared a Trump campaign video, which he is featured in, that discusses hunting and the Second Amendment:

    In the Trump campaign video, which features a message from Trump and statements from a variety of gun regulation opponents, Nugent claims Clinton “will destroy the freedom that is uniquely American. Donald Trump will safeguard the things that make America the greatest place in the world.” Nugent has frequently called Clinton a bitch. Here is footage from an August concert where he said of Clinton, “That’s one toxic bitch, now why isn’t that bitch in jail?”:

    Earlier this year Nugent called for Clinton, as well as President Obama, to be hanged for treason. During primary season, Nugent promoted a fake video of Sen. Bernie Sanders graphically shooting Clinton, and added his own message, “I got your gun control right here bitch!” He has also called the former secretary of state a “toxic cunt.” In a 2007 concert video, an assault-rifle-wielding Nugent called Clinton a “worthless bitch” and said that she should "ride" on his machine gun.

    Nugent is associated with the Trump campaign despite his long history of making racist and inflammatory commentary. In 2016 alone, Nugent has promoted anti-Semitic content, used a racial slur against a Latino critic, promoted misogynist reasons why guns are better than women, and shared a racist meme advertising the fake moving company “2 niggers and a stolen truck.” In 2015, Nugent devoted an entire column to praising the use of the word “nigger,” even in a racist context.

    Nugent often uses his Facebook page to write testimonials for Trump that have sometimes included inflammatory commentary. For example, in an August post he called for “federal agents” to “coordinate the mass arrest they know they are sworn to make” -- presumably in reference to politicians he doesn’t favor -- and added, “When will America be America again? Trump November 2016 & WE THE PEOPLE raising hell onward!”

  • Mark Halperin’s “Truly Laughable” Interview With Donald Trump

    Halperin’s Interview Fails The Standards He And His Co-Host Set For Other Journalists

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect host Mark Halperin previewed an interview with Donald Trump scheduled to air Sunday on Showtime’s The Circus. The interview has been roundly criticized in the media for Halperin’s soft questioning of Trump.

    Halperin appeared with Trump following a publicity event for his new hotel in Washington, D.C. and asked Trump questions like “For people who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, do you think they’re all great,” and “What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”

    The preview ignored recent controversies surrounding Trump’s candidacy, including Trump adviser Newt Gingrich’s sexually charged attack on Fox News’ Megyn Kelly which Trump praised as “amazing” during the same speech that Halperin categorized in his interview as “great.”

    The Daily Beast described Halperin’s interview as “truly laughable” while highlighting some of the more ridiculous questions:

    How do you get Donald Trump to talk to you with less than two weeks to go before Election Day? Tell him exactly what he wants to hear. That’s been the approach by Fox News’ Sean Hannity and radio host Rush Limbaugh.

    And now we can add Mark Halperin to that list.

    The co-host of Bloomberg Politics’ With All Due Respect (which also airs on MSNBC) and Showtime’s The Circus approached Trump after he delivered a ribbon-cutting speech to open his new Washington, D.C. hotel on Wednesday and asked some truly laughable questions of the Republican nominee.

    For instance, “People who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, do you think they’re all great?” Yes, he does, but this one wasn’t enough in the “Make America Great Again” spirit to rile up his rally crowds.

    Then there was this one: “You’ve redefined how candidates talk about polls. Some polls you’re winning, some you’re behind. We have a new poll where you are up in Florida. What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”

    Halperin’s interview even fell below his own journalistic standard given the pressure that he and his co-host John Heilemann have placed on journalists to question Trump about his failure to release his tax returns. Previously, Halperin called it “one hundred percent” the media’s obligation to continue asking Trump about his tax returns while challenging the media “to all keep asking” Trump about it. Heilemann even called on the media to question Trump about his returns “every time we sit in front of him,” and declaring it the responsibility of anyone who interviews Trump to “make it clear to him that it’s not okay that he violate what has become a norm in American elections.”

    Halperin has come under intense criticism during this election season for acting as a bonafide Trump apologist, including brushing off Trump’s reluctance to accept the election results as a concern of “elites,” criticizing The New York Times for responding to Trump’s threat to take legal action against them, portraying Trump’s request of Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails as bad behavior by Clinton and Trump, and defending Trump’s racist attacks against American judge of Mexican descent, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, by declaring “Mexico isn’t a race.”

  • Some Context To Trump's “Desperate, Last-Minute” Florida Cuban-American Outreach

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Several Hispanic media reporters ridiculed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s meager attempt at Hispanic outreach -- which consisted of meeting with Cuban-Americans in the key swing state of Florida -- and explained that he once again failed to reach beyond his solidified base of support. The reports also pointed out the irony in the candidate casting himself as a hard-liner against the U.S.-Cuba embargo, which is the catalyst driving older Cuban-Americans’ support for him, when questions about Trump’s potential violation of the embargo remain.

    An October 25 Univision article by David Adams, Jessica Weiss, and Lorena Arroyo reported that Trump spoke to “some 40 Bay of Pigs veterans” in Miami, FL, a voting bloc that has historically voted Republican, but he failed to spearhead further outreach within the Latino community. The report notes that although Miami’s Cuban-Americans were “once a bastion of Republican support,” they are now “evenly split 41-41 percent between Trump and Clinton.” Political analysts commented that “Trump’s Cuban American strategy is running counter to a changing demographic reality,” taking into account young Cuban-Americans who are “increasingly registering as Democrats and Independents,” a point that other reports confirm.

    Trump’s event with the Bay of Pigs veterans also “did not offer any details of a plan to free Cuba” even though Trump was specifically “invited ‘to explain to [them] his plan for Cuba’s freedom,’” Univision reported. The article noted that this lack of specifics “has been customary in the [Trump] campaign.”

    In an opinion piece for the Miami Herald, Florida journalist Fabiola Santiago also pointed out the irony of the interaction between the businessman and the Cuban-American veterans. Santiago recalled reports by Bloomberg and Newsweek documenting two occasions in which Trump “sent teams to Cuba to research business opportunities,” which was “most likely in violation of the U.S. embargo.” She opined that “Donald Trump’s campaign engaged the Bay of Pigs veterans because he’s falling behind in Florida, a must-win state where the Hispanic vote counts, and it’s massively favoring Hillary Clinton, Cuban-Americans included."

    But research about the Latino vote demonstrates that among the Hispanic community, “Cuban-Americans are, in many ways, a group apart. As a whole they are wealthier, better educated and more Republican than other Hispanics.” Therefore, Trump’s meeting with Cuban-Americans doesn’t help him breach the enormous gap between him and Clinton in polls of the Latino community, where he only has 17 percent support.

    The message of these Hispanic media reporters to the Trump campaign is clear: this “desperate, last-minute” attempt to reach out to Cuban-Americans will not make up for its ongoing rejection of the Hispanic community. Nevertheless, the approach isn’t surprising, as it’s in step with Trump’s overall campaign strategy of remaining within his comfort zone and ignoring groups that break with his radical proposals, particularly when it comes to Latino outreach.

  • Conservative Media Are Already Calling For Clinton’s Impeachment

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS


    With less than two weeks until Election Day, conservative media figures have started pushing the idea of impeaching Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the event she wins the presidency. Citing her decision to use a private email server during her time as secretary of state, they say she “should be impeached” and argue congressional Republicans should leave the option on the table as they investigate her.

    Their message echoes some congressional Republicans, including Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), who said, “If all the things we've seen are true and they come out the way I think they will, then we should impeach her,” and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who said, “With respect to Hillary Clinton, she will be a unique president if she is elected by the public next November, because the day she’s sworn in is the day that she’s subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    FBI Director James Comey, at the conclusion of the FBI probe into Clinton’s emails, said the agency had determined that “no charges are appropriate in this case.”

    Conservative Media Call For Clinton Impeachment

    Radio Host Rush Limbaugh: Clinton “Is The Most Prepared To Be Impeached In Advance Of Any Presidential Candidate This Country Has Ever Had.” On the October 5 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh argued that “Hillary Clinton is the most prepared to be impeached in advance of any presidential candidate this country has ever had! Hillary Clinton will be elected to be impeached,” adding, “By the way, I'm not being glib. If elected, Hillary Clinton could be impeached based on what we already know, and there's plenty more yet to be discovered. Emails and other documents that could be used in impeachment proceedings are waiting to be found like Easter eggs laid out for 3-year-olds.” [, 10/5/16]

    National Review’s Andrew McCarthy: “Mrs. Clinton Should Be Impeached.” National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, who has spent years arguing for President Obama’s impeachment, wrote that “Mrs. Clinton should be impeached” for “mishandling classified information and withholding government records.” [National Review, 8/23/16]

    Judicial Watch President: “Impeachment” Of Clinton “Is Something That’s Relevant.” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told NBC News that if Clinton is elected, “You’re going to still have a clamor for a serious criminal investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s conduct with respect to her emails and the [Clinton] Foundation” and “I know this generation of Republican leaders is loath to exercise these tools, but impeachment is something that’s relevant.” NBC noted Fitton has “criticized GOP lawmakers for failing to pre-emptively impeach Clinton,” and quoted him saying, “They see [the oversight process] as an opportunity in some measure to keep their opponents off-kilter, but they don’t want to do the substantive and principled work to truly hold corrupt politicians, or the administration, or anyone accountable.” [, 10/26/16]

    Radio Host Steve Deace: “Republicans Should Promise They’ll Impeach Hillary.” Iowa-based radio host Steve Deace said that in order “to hold on to their congressional majorities, Republicans should promise voters they’ll impeach Hillary by 2018.” [Twitter, 10/17/16]

    Radio Host Mark Levin: Clinton “Must Be Impeached For High Crimes And Misdemeanors.” Radio host Mark Levin alleged that Clinton “has attempted to cover-up and obstruct her Espionage Act violations in hopes of winning this election” so she “must be prosecuted, but she won't be; if elected, however, she must be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors in what is and will be continuing revelations about her criminality.” [Facebook, 10/22/16]

  • Wash. Post Weather Editor Debunks Myth That Hurricane “Drought” Disproves Climate Science

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    The Washington Post’s weather editor Jason Samenow debunked the claim by climate science deniers and conservative media outlets that the lack of category 3 or higher hurricanes striking the U.S. over the last 11 years is "evidence that global warming is not affecting the storms."

    This month marks 11 years since the U.S. mainland was last struck by a “major” hurricane, defined by the National Hurricane Center as a category 3, 4 or 5 storm with sustained wind speeds of at least 111 miles per hour. In response, conservative media have misleadingly cited this fact to wrongly dispute the link between hurricanes and global warming.

    For instance, The New American asserted, “The latest report from NOAA that major hurricane activity has subsided for 11 years — despite high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere — provides welcome relief from the assorted predictions made by the ‘global warming’ doomsayers of catastrophic events that supposedly will be caused by human activity.” Similarly, The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch wrote that “the hurricane drought sort of runs counter to predictions global warming will make storms more frequent and more intense.” And perhaps most notably, radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that the lack of a major hurricane making landfall in the U.S. over the past 11 years “bores a hole right through the whole climate change argument.”

    But as Samenow explained, researchers believe it is just "dumb luck" that Atlantic storms with sufficient wind speeds to be defined as "major" hurricanes have remained offshore or slowed down before making landfall on the U.S. coastline. Atlantic hurricane activity also accounts for only a small portion of the total storms occurring around the world, as PolitiFact noted when it rated Limbaugh's claim a "Pants on Fire" falsehood.

    Samenow, who described the hurricane “drought” as “the most overblown statistic in meteorology,” also pointed out that many hurricanes that had devastating impacts due to extreme rainfall and flooding occurred during this "drought." He noted that because the definition of a “major” hurricane is tied only to wind speeds and not impacts from water, the term “omits some of the most consequential storms in modern history”:

    But the criteria for what makes a major hurricane is impossibly restrictive. It is tied to a single hazard, wind, and ignores impacts from water, which causes the lion’s share of fatalities and damage in most hurricanes.

    While big wind speeds grab people’s attention and sound scary, precious few people, if any, ever experience a storm’s peak winds. Such high winds are typically confined to a tiny area near the hurricane’s eye.

    But tens of thousands of people are exposed to a hurricane’s water, whether it’s freshwater flooding from heavy rainfall or coastal flooding from storm surge, the rise in ocean water as the hurricane comes ashore.

    Because the definition of a major hurricane ignores the effects of water, it omits some of the most consequential storms in modern history, which have occurred during the so-called drought.

    Consider, in the 11 years since Wilma, two of the three most costly storms in U.S. history occurred: Sandy in 2012, and Hurricane Ike in 2008 — neither of which was classified as “major.”

    Moreover, the "impacts from water" that Samenow describes are intensified by climate change. Scientists say that a warming climate is making storms more destructive due to warming air and oceans -- which lead to more rainfall -- and rising sea levels, which worsen storm surges.

    Samenow ultimately concluded: “The major-hurricane-landfall drought is an interesting statistic, and that’s about it. It is a fine metric to track and report as a curiosity, but it cannot be used to say anything useful about how hurricanes are affecting society or how their behavior may or may not be changing over time.” 

  • What It's Like To Cover Donald Trump As A Spanish-Language Reporter

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has broken the precedent set by presidential candidates before him by avoiding speaking to major Spanish-language media networks and outlets since June 2015, posing an unexpected challenge for the Spanish-language reporters covering his campaign, and forcing them to rely on campaign press releases, televised news conferences, the candidate’s Twitter account and the work of other journalists. Media Matters interviewed La Opinión’s Washington correspondent Maria Peña to find out what it’s like to cover Trump for an audience of Spanish-speakers in such conditions.

    While Trump’s animosity toward the major Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo has been well documented, the fact that his Hispanic media blackout has also affected print outlets is less discussed. La Opinión -- the Los Angeles-based largest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the U.S. -- has a strong digital and print presence among Latino readers. La Opinión’s Maria Peña told Media Matters that “the main difficulty” in covering Trump for a Spanish-language outlet has been “access” since the campaign “does not even respond to emails.”

    Trump has set himself apart from other candidates -- Democratic and Republican -- by repeatedly ignoring Spanish-language media figures’ requests for access. Peña said she had “no problems whatsoever with [covering] Mitt Romney’s campaign,” and was able to interview Romney’s wife and son during the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa, FL, and “almost always got written responses or helpful info[rmation]” from the other campaigns during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.

    In this election cycle, Peña has interviewed “Hillary Clinton and Gary Johnson, as well as some of their surrogates” about the issues that “Latinos care [about] the most this year” such as “jobs, health care, education, national security, and immigration.” While a growing portion of the Hispanic community gets their news in English, Spanish-language media is still the tool many Latinos rely on to help them “navigate America.” According to Peña, “for many Latino voters who are just now flexing their political muscle, or learning about the electoral process in this country, getting reliable and accurate information in their own language is very important.”

    Spanish-speaking audiences have yet to hear Trump’s unfiltered views on the things that matter to them the most, since even when his campaign caved to Hispanic media’s pressure and conceded a short interview to a local Miami, FL, Telemundo station, Trump was neither challenged on issues that Hispanics prioritize nor questioned on his dismal Latino outreach strategy.

    Trump’s shirking of Spanish-language media is just one prong of his media strategy wherein he seeks exclusively fawning press coverage by denying interviews if he cannot have the questions in advance, or changing his mind seconds before interviews with local Hispanic journalists his campaign has already agreed to. Trump also has an extensive record of attacks against media figures and outlets he perceives as critical, and has a tendency to retreat to the protection of the sycophantic right-wing media bubble, often to whine about the “very evil” press.

    To many Hispanic journalists, Trump’s “unprecedented and dangerous” antics with the news media echo those of “political figures” who “use whatever is at their disposal to punish and silence unfavorable news coverage.” But, as Peña pointed out, Trump’s ignoring Spanish-language media figures “at his own peril” because "this voting bloc has the power to swing elections.”

  • Jewish Leaders Call Out New Breitbart Radio Host Curt Schilling For His “Offensive” And “Bigoted” Commentary

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Breitbart News’ hiring of disgraced broadcaster Curt Schilling for an online radio show is drawing criticism from Jewish leaders who contend his history of anti-Semitic and offensive commentary should disqualify him from the job.

    Schilling is a former baseball star who was fired from ESPN in April after he shared an anti-transgender image on Facebook. He had previously been suspended from the network for comparing Muslims to Nazis on Twitter.

    In other social media postings, Schilling has repeatedly demonized Muslims as killers, shared a picture calling Hillary Clinton a drunk murderer, and suggested civil rights leaders like Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) aren't patriotic.

    Schilling, who plans to run for the Senate in Massachusetts as a Republican, recently drew criticism for asking CNN anchor Jake Tapper to explain how “as a person who is practicing the Jewish faith … people of Jewish faith can back the Democratic Party” given that the party has supposedly been “so clearly anti-Jewish Israel.” Tapper responded that while he doesn’t “speak for Jews,” he believes that Jewish Americans prioritize what they see as the interests of their own country over those of Israel.

    Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, called his remarks “tone-deaf.”

    “Curt Schilling may have been a major league pitcher, but he’s a bush league commentator,” Moline said. “His tone-deaf remarks about Jewish Americans are just the latest in a long line of offensive statements that call into question his judgment and values. His Facebook page alone, where he has compared Muslims to Nazis and praised the Confederacy, renders him unfit for public office. Sadly we should expect no better from Schilling after he joins on with Breitbart – an outlet that wears its bigotry as a badge of honor.”

    Ben Shnider, national political director of J Street, said the only way Schilling could get on the air now is through discredited groups like Breitbart.

    “It’s clear that mainstream media outlets would not hire him,” Shnider said. “His comments to Jake Tapper were incredibly offensive. He has a long track record of incredibly offensive statements whether it’s about our community or other Americans. It’s simply unthinkable that any outlet would give him a mouthpiece.”

    Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, echoed that view.

    "Schilling, Breitbart, Breitbart's former-CEO-turned-Trump-campaign-manager Steve Bannon, and Trump himself all have two things in common: a love of Donald Trump and a willingness to employ bigoted statements and images about Muslims, Jews and members of the LGBTQ community that resonate with the alt-right,” she said in a statement. “The elevation of someone as blatantly bigoted and anti-Semitic as Schilling to a national media position is yet another side effect of the Trump campaign and a preview of what a Trump presidency could look like, and that is why Bend the Arc Jewish Action has been working so hard for over a year to oppose Trump's campaign."

    Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judiasm, also called out Schilling, saying, “Of course, Breitbart is free to hire whoever they would like. Curt Schilling has expressed simplistic, offensive and bigoted perspectives about Jews, Muslims, women, transgender people and civil rights activists.”

    He added of Schilling’s recent comments to Jake Tapper (and his subsequent appearance on MSNBC to defend himself), “I disagree with Schilling’s analysis of the US-Israel relationship. American Jews, like every other religious group in our country, hold diverse political views. Many of us are focused on the ongoing work of racial justice, economic opportunity, religious freedom and pluralism, women’s rights, environmental protection and the full inclusion of transgender people in our religious and civic institutions. These are values and issues that many American Jews reflect on when they decide which candidates to support for elected office.”


    Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, also criticized Schilling in a statement to Media Matters: 

    Curt Schilling’s remarks over the weekend to Jake Tapper on the political preferences of American Jews demonstrate a lack of awareness and understanding both of the issues that matter to our community, and of what it means to be pro-Israel. American Jews, as a whole, support public policies that protect those who are most vulnerable -- including racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; immigrants and refugees; women, and LGBT people -- as well as the long-term security of Israel, living in peace with its neighbors. Schilling has shown that he is out of his depth in the political arena and should stick to commentary on baseball.

  • Right-Wing Media Use Old Lies To Trash A Public Option For Obamacare

    Blog ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    Right-wing media are pre-emptively attacking a “public option" health care proposal supported by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama by linking it to supposedly “socialist” single-payer systems that have been routinely demonized through the history of health care reform. Conservative media used this tactic to disparage the public option in 2009 during the legislative debates that created the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to tap into powerful historical tropes that promote misinformation and misperceptions of the American health care system, stymieing much-needed reform and perverting the public opinion.

    The Affordable Care Act has become a major topic of conversation leading up to the election. Right-wing media have manufactured scandals by taking former President Bill Clinton’s comments at an October rally out of context and falsely claiming the newly announced health care marketplace premium increases are evidence of the so-called “death spiral” conservative media have been predicting for years -- despite no evidence the law is in danger of collapsing in on itself. The newest target of right-wing media ire is the public option, a proposal supported by Hillary Clinton and President Obama, which would introduce a low-cost, government-administered health insurance option into the federally run health insurance marketplaces.

    The strategy right-wing media are using to scandalize the public option revolves around linking it to the single-payer systems used in countries with socialized medical options, either implicitly or explicitly invoking the specter of “Big Government.” Some media argue that the public option is a “Trojan Horse” to destroy the current private insurer-based market or claim that the public option is just “single-payer on the installment plan.” Others argue that Clinton “ultimately wanted a single-payer ultimate government control system for health care” and thus will eventually “go towards the single payer option” when she “replace[s] Obamacare with Hillarycare.”

    If these attacks sound familiar, it’s because they are. The original draft versions of the ACA included a robust public option that Democrats ultimately dropped, partially because it became politically toxic as a result of concerted right-wing media assaults. Prominent right-wing media figures called the proposed public option a “stalking horse” or a “buy in,” arguing that “such a plan will lead to a single-payer system.” Others argued that the key to defeating the public option is “expos[ing] the positive-sounding ‘public option’ for what it truly is: a government grab.” They used the same fearmongering “Trojan Horse” rhetoric that right-wing media use now to play upon distrust of the government. They also actively demonized the public option as a socialist takeover of the health care system -- framing that has significantly impacted public opinion on the ACA and health care policy generally.

    But none of this is true. Numerous fact-checkers have debunked the claim that the public option is just single-payer in sheep's clothing or that Clinton secretly wants a single-payer system. The public option is a government-administered health insurance plan that would compete in the insurance markets against private insurance plans, while in a single-payer system, “everyone in the country would have health coverage provided by the government,” according to Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of social medicine and health policy at UNC Chapel Hill, noted that “‘single payer’ is often used loosely to refer to everything” and argued that “depicting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a ‘slippery slope’ to single payer is bizarre.” Thus, efforts to conflate the two actively spread misinformation and make health care policy even more confusing than it already is for the American public.

    This practice of scandalizing the public option in an effort to torpedo reform efforts is particularly problematic since the ACA does need reforms. Clinton and Obama both acknowledge the necessity of reforming the ACA to address fundamental issues about affordability and competition in the marketplaces. Recognizing that there are issues with the ACA does not mean the law is failing. However, purposefully stigmatizing a substantive proposal for reforming the current health care system is particularly troubling since Republicans have yet to produce a viable alternative to replace Obamacare. Americans remain seriously uninformed about health care policy, and the media shouldn’t allow conservative media myths to demonize a potentially productive reform before the public even has the chance to properly learn about it. 

  • VIDEO: Debunking The "Rigged Election" Horror Story


    Donald Trump’s “rigged election” shtick is the product of years of conservative fearmongering about voter fraud and election stealing, and it poses a unique challenge to journalists who want to ensure voter confidence in the election process.

    Faced with dismal polling numbers in the final weeks of his presidential campaign, Trump has resorted to telling his supporters that the election will be “rigged” -- stolen from him because of widespread voter fraud. He’s repeated that warning frequently on the campaign trail, and nearly half of his supporters now believe him.

    The voter fraud talking point – the idea that Democrats will use voters who lie about their identities, dead voters, or undocumented immigrants to cast fraudulent ballots -- has been debunked ad nauseum in research, court decisions, and expert testimony. Politifact rated Trump’s “rigged election” claim a “pants on fire” lie, stating there’s simply no evidence that widespread voter fraud is a real problem, especially in presidential elections.

    But even before Trump’s campaign, a growing number of primarily Republican voters began to believe that voter fraud is a widespread problem.

    That’s thanks in part to conservative media’s near-constant, baseless fear mongering about voter fraud over the past few election cycles. Right-wing outlets, and especially Fox News, have bombarded audiences with exaggerated or misleading claims of voter fraud to create the impression that Democratic victories at the ballot box are largely the result of illegal election rigging. Stories about dead or non-eligible or non-existent voters appearing on voter rolls are regularly touted as proof of nefarious activity, even though those voter registrations never actually translate into votes.

    The most memorable example of this kind of fear mongering came during the 2008 controversy surrounding the non-profit group ACORN. A number of ACORN voter registration employees had been discovered submitting false or duplicate voter registration forms (the laws in many states require third parties who register voters to submit all forms they receive). Fox News devoted countless segments to the story in order to hype hysteria about widespread voter fraud, despite the fact that those forms never produced an actual fraudulent vote. ACORN was eventually cleared of charges of orchestrating voter fraud, but half of all Republican voters still believed ACORN helped steal the election for President Obama in 2012 -- two years after ACORN had closed down.

    Misinformation about voter fraud isn’t only the fault of conservative media. As GOP statehouses across the country have pushed for restrictive voter ID laws -- laws aimed at disenfranchising typically Democratic voters -- local news outlets have repeated Republican talking points about the threat of voter fraud without fact-checking them.

    That kind of round-the-clock saturation helps explain why so many voters have started to doubt the integrity of elections without evidence that it is a problem. And that doubt poses a real threat to a democracy, which relies on voters trusting and accepting the outcomes of elections.

    Trump’s “rigged election” shtick is just one element of a broader problem with media coverage of voter fraud. Regardless of who wins in November, journalists are going to have to be a lot more aggressive about fact-checking right-wing horror stories if they want to restore voter confidence in the election process.

  • Study Confirms Network Evening Newscasts Have Abandoned Policy Coverage For 2016 Campaign

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Walking away from a long-standing tradition of covering issues and presidential policies during campaign season, the network evening newscasts have all but abandoned that type of reporting this year, according to recent tabulations from Tyndall Report, which for decades has tracked the flagship nightly news programs.

    Since the beginning of 2016, ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News have devoted just 32 minutes to issues coverage, according to Andrew Tyndall.

    Differentiating issues coverage from daily campaign coverage where policy topics might be addressed, Tyndall defines issues coverage by a newscast this way: “It takes a public policy, outlines the societal problem that needs to be addressed, describes the candidates' platform positions and proposed solutions, and evaluates their efficacy.”

    And here’s how that kind of in-depth coverage breaks down, year to date, by network:

    ABC: 8 minutes, all of which covered terrorism.

    NBC: 8 minutes for terrorism, LBGT issues, and foreign policy.

    CBS: 16 minutes for foreign policy, terrorism, immigration, policing, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

    And this remarkable finding from Tyndall [emphasis added]:

    No trade, no healthcare, no climate change, no drugs, no poverty, no guns, no infrastructure, no deficits. To the extent that these issues have been mentioned, it has been on the candidates' terms, not on the networks' initiative.

    These numbers are staggering in terms of the complete retreat they represent from issues-orientated campaign coverage. Just eight years ago, the last time both parties nominated new candidates for the White House, the network newscasts devoted 220 minutes to issues coverage, compared to only 32 minutes so far this year. (CBS Evening News went from 119 minutes of issues coverage in 2008 to 16 this year.)

    Note that during the Republican primary season alone, the networks spent 333 minutes focusing on Donald Trump. Yet for all of 2016, they have set aside just one-tenth of that for issue reporting.

    And look at this: Combined, the three network newscasts have slotted 100 minutes so far this year for reporting on Hillary Clinton’s emails while she served as secretary of state, but just 32 minutes for all issues coverage. (NBC’s Nightly News has spent 31 minutes on the emails this year; just eight minutes on issues.)

    Indeed, this approach used to be a hallmark of presidential campaign reporting; outline what candidates stand for, describe what their presidency might look like, and compare and contrast that platform with his or her opponents. i.e. What would the new president’s top priorities be on the first day of his or her new administration?

    It seems clear that the media’s abandonment of issues coverage benefits Trump since his campaign has done very little to outline the candidate’s core beliefs. Clinton, by contrast, has done the opposite.

    As the Associated Press reported, “Trump’s campaign has posted just seven policy proposals on his website, totaling just over 9,000 words. There are 38 on Clinton’s ‘issues’ page, ranging from efforts to cure Alzheimer’s disease to Wall Street and criminal justice reform, and her campaign boasts that it has now released 65 policy fact sheets, totaling 112,735 words.”

    Tyndall’s findings echo what other media researchers have found this campaign season, and what commentators have been noting for months:

    A study released last month from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy confirmed that during the time of both parties’ conventions this summer, just eight percent of news coverage centered on policy and issues.

    “During the convention period, even though questions of policy and leadership were on the agenda within the halls of the national conventions, they were not on journalists’ agenda,” wrote Harvard University professor Thomas Patterson. “Polls, projections, strategy and the like constituted about a fifth of all coverage, whereas issues took up less than 1/12 and the candidates’ qualifications for the presidency accounted for less than 1/13.”

    Part of the purpose of campaign coverage, including at the flagship network newscasts, is to help inform voters about key issues of public concern. It’s troubling that the networks have decided this year to walk away from that responsibility.