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  • Politico Report On Obama’s Smart Gun Plan Doesn’t Disclose Smart Gun Critic Received Gun Industry Money

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A Politico article on President Obama’s reported upcoming plan to “push” for smart gun technology quoted Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) executive director Jim Pasco attacking the technology without disclosing the FOP has received funding from the gun industry. Many of Pasco’s attacks on smart guns echoed the National Rifle Association and the gun industry.

    Politico’s article also credulously repeated the NRA’s misleading claim that it merely opposes laws that mandate the adoption of smart gun technology and not the development of smart gun technology in general.

    In an April 28 article, Politico reported President Obama “is opening a new front in the gun control debate, readying a big push for so-called smart gun technology -- an initiative that the gun lobby and law enforcement rank and file is already mobilizing against.” According to the report, “As early as Friday, Obama is set to formally release findings from the Defense, Justice and Homeland Security Departments on ways to spur the development of guns that can be fired only by their owner.”

    The article extensively quoted Pasco, who offered various attacks on smart gun technology, claiming that law enforcement officers would be used as “guinea pigs” to test the technology; that Obama’s move placed politics over officer safety; that police officers oppose the technology; and suggesting the technology could put officers in greater danger:

    “Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” said James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “We have some very, very serious questions.

    […]

    But at this point, the Obama administration already has frayed ties with rank-and-file cops, many of whom didn’t think the president took their side in his reactions to police violence and protests like those in Ferguson, Missouri. Pasco compared the push for smart guns to the decision to limit local departments’ access to surplus military equipment.

    “They sit down among themselves and decide what is best for law enforcement, but from a political standpoint, and then tell officers they’re doing it for their benefit,” Pasco said.

    Of the 330,000 officers in his union, Pasco said, “I have never heard a single member say what we need are guns that only we can fire,” noting that there might be moments in close combat when an officer would need to use a partner’s weapon or even the suspect’s.

    Politico did not disclose that FOP's charity has received money from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s trade group. According to a 2010 Washington Post investigation, NSSF gave FOP Foundation $100,000 in 2010. In 2015, NSSF announced a $25,000 contribution to FOP Foundation. NSSF senior vice president Larry Keane has attacked smart gun technology. In 2014 he published a factually inaccurate and unfounded column arguing that two Massachusetts political candidates lost their races because of support for the technology.

    The Politico article twice referenced FOP’s representation of “rank and file” police officers as explanation for FOP’s opposition to Obama’s reported proposal. But FOP has also been accused of representing corporate interests. The 2010 Washington Post profile -- which delved into Pasco’s other work as a lobbyist -- described him as “a product of the capital's revolving-door culture” with an “unusual” role as a lobbyist representing beer, cigarette, and entertainment companies that "raises questions about possible conflicts of interest," according to tax law specialists.

    According to the Post's reporting, under Pasco's leadership FOP has accepted donations from the gun industry lobby after taking positions favorable to that group, and the organization's positions have repeatedly aligned with the priorities of lobbying clients of Pasco and his wife.

    Washington Post pointed to several specific instances of apparent conflict:

    • In 2007, FOP "became pivotal to the" gun debate when it opposed the repeal of the Tiahrt amendment. The group backed other gun industry priorities in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, FOP's charity received $100,000 from NSSF.
    • In 1998, FOP opposed a bill giving the Food and Drug Administration the ability to regulate tobacco and raise the federal cigarette tax. In addition to leading FOP, Pasco at the time was a lobbyist for Philip Morris, which has paid his firm $600,000.
    • In 2005, while Pasco was receiving $200,000 from Sony to lobby on "Internet theft of intellectual property," FOP joined a legal brief backing the music industry in an intellectual-property case against a music-sharing website.

    The Politico article also repeated the NRA’s misleading claim about the gun organization’s position on smart guns, noting, “Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, are not against funding research for smart guns or putting them on shelves. But the NRA does oppose any law that would prohibit people from buying a gun that doesn’t have personalized technology.”

    The NRA’s attacks on smart gun technology go far beyond the group’s opposition to laws that mandate the adoption of the technology. While purporting to not oppose research into smart guns in a statement on its website, the NRA’s media arm routinely attacks the technology, often pushing either falsehoods about the reliability smart guns or by connecting the developing technology to conspiracy theories about the federal government.

  • Ezra Klein: “John Boehner Just Confirmed Everything Liberals Suspected About The Republican Party”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an April 28 piece for Vox, editor-in-chief Ezra Klein noted that former Republican House Speaker John Boehner recently validated the critique that the Republican Party is no longer a healthy political party devoted to governing.

    During a recent talk at Stanford University, Boehner harshly criticized Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh,” called the conservative House Freedom Caucus "knuckleheads" and "goofballs," and said Ronald Reagan “would be the most moderate Republican elected today.”

    Klein wrote that “Boehner is validating one of the most persistent and controversial critiques of the modern Republican Party” -- that they are the central problem in politics today. He concluded:

    Zoom out, and here is the condition of the modern Republican Party. Despite significant down-ballot strength, it has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and it looks likely to lose this one, too. The party has completely lost control of its own nominating process, and its choice now is to either elect Donald Trump, a candidate who isn't really a Republican and might be a historic disaster for the party, or risk a schism by trying to rip the nomination away from Trump amidst a contested convention. Meanwhile, John Boehner, the most powerful Republican elected official from 2008 to 2015, resigned in frustration last year and is now saying his party has been captured by idiots and zealots.

    Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have repeatedly warned the media and political observers that the core of Washington’s dysfunction “lies with the Republican Party." Mann and Ornstein issued their warning years ago, but many have been slow to adopt their conclusions.

  • Union Leader Parrots Koch-Funded Group To Attack Gov. Hassan

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    An editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader parroted the state director of a Koch-funded group in attacking Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s plan to use budget surplus funds to fill the state’s rainy day fund and address New Hampshire’s opioid crisis.  

    The April 27 editorial claimed Hassan is rushing to spend the state’s surplus funds “as fast as possible” and that she “seems to think spending large amounts of money will solve all of New Hampshire’s problems.”

    Maggie Hassan is running out of time to spend New Hampshire’s money.

    The lame duck governor is desperate to spend the surplus created by a budget she vetoed before the Legislature adjourns in two months. After all, when they come back to write the next state budget, she won’t be governor anymore.

    As business tax revenues come in faster than anticipated, Hassan is trying to take credit for the surplus, and spend it as fast as possible.

    [...]

    Maggie Hassan seems to think simply spending large amounts of money will solve all of New Hampshire’s problems.

    No wonder she wants to be a U.S. senator.

    A day before publishing the editorial, the paper reported that Hassan was seeking to deposit enough of the surplus revenue into the state’s rainy day fund to fill the savings account to its legal limit. Only after contributing to the savings fund did Hassan propose to spend “additional resources to address the opioid epidemic, fully fund education adequacy grants, additional money for Police Standards and Training Council, and to overhaul the business profits tax to make it easier for startups to attract capital.”

    The April 26 article detailing Hassan’s savings plan also quoted Americans for Prosperity (AFP) state director Greg Moore, whose group is largely funded by the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.

    Moore’s critique of Hassan’s proposals sounded similar to what the Union Leader’s editorial board wrote the next day:

    “There are some things you can count on in life — death, taxes and Gov. Hassan trying to spend more taxpayer money, even before these funds have made it in the door” said Greg Moore, AFP-NH state director. “Now is exactly the time to show fiscal restraint and very carefully target any additional spending, not toss out a wish list of spending that she could not get included in the budget last year.”

    Moore often places op-eds in the Union Leader and has been quoted by the paper over 100 times in the last five years, according to a Nexis search. Since the paper has given such a strong voice to AFP – including previously publishing a reworked version of an AFP press release as news -- its parroting of Moore’s talking points comes as little surprise.

    Furthermore, the editorial board at the Union Leader has its own Koch connection. Opinion editor Grant Bosse worked for the Koch-funded Josiah Bartlett Center for over four years prior to joining the paper.

  • Fox's Varney Dubiously Claims US Is "Sliding Toward Recession" After Economy Grows Slightly Less Than Expected

    Stuart Varney: "It Is Legitimate To Use The Word Recession" Despite Seven Consecutive Quarters Of Economic Growth

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney misleadingly used the Commerce Department's most recent economic growth estimate to claim the United States is "sliding toward recession." In reality, there are many reasons to believe economic activity will pick back up in the spring and summer this year.

    On the April 28 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., Varney used the Commerce Department’s quarterly GDP report, which estimated economic expansion to be 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2016, to claim America is “sliding toward recession.” Guest Julie Roginsky attempted to correct Varney's characterization of the economy, explaining that the United States' economy is still growing and has created nearly 15 million new jobs over the course of “73 consecutive months of job growth,” but she couldn't budge the host from his talking points. Varney concluded the segment by claiming that the economy's supposed "downtrend" creates a "political problem" for Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton:

     

    The last recession, which the National Bureau of Economic Research defines as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months,” began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, first quarter economic growth has typically lagged behind growth for the rest of the year since the economy emerged from the Bush-era Great Recession:

    Varney’s warning that a recession may be imminent does not match expert analysis. On April 28, The Washington Post reported that “most analysts say that the United States faces little risk of recession.” Reuters reported that "a pick-up in activity is anticipated" in the coming months "given a buoyant labor market." In fact, while Varney was pushing his dire warning about the state of the economy, Bank of America economist Ethan Harris was on CNBC's Squawk Box explaining how one could assume a recession is happening in the first quarter of almost every year “if you don’t adjust the data,” because “the winter hits” and the “shopping season ends.” In an interview with ABC News, economist Ian Shepherdson acknowledged that the current data "looks grim, but the second quarter will be much better."

    Varney is a serial misinformer on the economy, repeatedly attempting to spin data to claim President Obama’s economic policies have failed, even though the president’s economic legacy of the last seven years shows the unemployment rate has been cut in half, annual deficits have gone down, GDP has grown, and the United States enjoyed the third-longest stock market upswing in its history. Varney’s spin on economic data has gone so far that on December 4 -- in response to a strong November jobs report that beat most economists' expectations -- he managed to conclude that the pace of job creation was "mediocre," and on January 8 he downplayed the December jobs report as merely "modest" even though it was arguably the strongest jobs report of 2015.

  • NRA Spins Primary Results With False Claim Clinton’s Support For Gun Safety Laws Is Hurting Her Campaign

    NRA News On CT Primary: “Hillary Clinton Did Not Win Newtown, Donald Trump Won Newtown”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s media arm offered a faulty and misleading analysis of Connecticut’s presidential primary results to suggest that Hillary Clinton’s support for stronger gun safety laws is a detriment to her campaign, while arguing that she somehow lost the primary to Donald Trump.

    During the April 27 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards attacked a Huffington Post article headlined “Hillary Clinton Wins Newtown, After Making Gun Control Central To Her Campaign.”

    Newtown was the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting which claimed 26 lives.

    Clinton won a seven point victory over Bernie Sanders in Newtown, beating her overall state victory margin of five points during Connecticut’s April 26 primary.

    Edwards attacked the notion that Clinton’s focus on gun safety and subsequent win was “significant” by fallaciously arguing that “Hillary Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown” because Trump received more total votes in the primary:

    EDWARDS: On the Republican side, in Newtown, Connecticut, Hillary Clinton didn’t beat Donald Trump in terms of the vote numbers. … So in terms of all of the candidates that residents and voters in Newtown could vote for, no, Hillary Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown. I don't think you’re going to see that headline at Huffington Post. ... So if Hillary Clinton's win in Newtown in the Democratic primary is significant, well then what is the significance of (a) a Republican candidate actually getting the most votes of all of the candidates on the ballot there in Newtown, (b) one who has expressed support for the right to keep and bear arms. What's the significance there ya think?

    Trump received 1,654 votes in the Republican primary in Newtown while Clinton received 1,362 votes in the Democratic primary.

    Edwards also said, “It's worth noting that statewide, Hillary Clinton actually did get more votes than Donald Trump, she got about 50,000 more votes than Donald Trump, but not in Newtown, Connecticut. ... I just think it's worth pondering what the significance of the fact that Hillary Clinton did not actually get the most votes in Newtown might be.”

    Edwards’ comparison between vote totals for Clinton and Trump is nonsensical. By definition, primaries are not contests between candidates of different parties -- and Connecticut has a closed primary system meaning voters can only vote for candidates of their registered party.

    Edwards claim that “Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown” also doesn’t make sense when voter trends in Connecticut are analyzed:

    • For a variety of factors, far more Republicans have voted in 2016 primaries compared to Democrats.
    • Newtown has more active registered Republicans (5126) than active registered Democrats (4358). Mitt Romney easily won Newtown in the 2012 presidential election.
    • Even so, Democratic turnout was higher (58%) compared to Republican turnout (56%) in Newtown.
    • Edwards argued it was significant that Trump received more votes than Clinton in Newtown, even though Clinton “got about 50,000 more votes” than Trump statewide. But in Newtown there are 768 more active registered Republicans than Democrats, while statewide there are 303,635 more registered active Democrats compared to active registered Republicans.
  • Trump Ally Roger Stone Advocated Killing Bernie Sanders "For Treason”

    Trump And Stone Are Now Making A Play For Sanders Voters

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Donald Trump ally Roger Stone tweeted in 2014 that Sen. Bernie Sanders is a "Soviet Agent" who "should be arrested for treason and shot." Stone and decades-long friend Trump have recently been courting Sanders supporters to back the Republican front-runner in the general election.

    Stone is a longtime adviser and confidant to Trump. He now heads a pro-Trump super PAC and has stirred controversy by promising to disclose the hotels and room numbers of Republican National Convention delegates who are purportedly trying to "steal" the nomination from Trump.

    Stone has a history of violent rhetoric. He suggested he wants "to bash Bill O'Reilly's head in," offered a bounty to anyone who “punches out Chris Matthews,” told journalist Jill Abramson to “DIE BITCH!,” fantasized about CNN commentator Ana Navarro “killing herself,” and said he’d “kick in” money to see Hillary Clinton kill herself.

    He tweeted in April 2014: "Soviet Agent Bernie Saunders [sic], Should be arrested for treason and shot”: 

    Stone also repeatedly tweeted that the Founding Fathers would have beaten up Sanders:

    Trump recently tweeted that “Sanders has been treated terribly by the Democrats—both with delegates & otherwise. He should show them, and run as an Independent!” The Republican made similar remarks during his April 26 victory speech. (The Sanders campaign has rejected Trump’s suggestion.) Trump also said on MSNBC that "Sanders has a message that's interesting. I'm going to be taking a lot of the things that Bernie said and using them.”

    During an April 27 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Stone made a play for Sanders voters by claiming Trump has a “very strong appeal to more than a third of the Bernie Sanders voters” because they are “blue-collar folks who have been left out by the New World Order economy.” (Alex Jones previously suggested Sanders supporters “need to have" their "jaws broken.”)

    Stone said in August 2015 that Sanders and Trump shared similarities, claiming: “I’m 100 percent for Trump, and I must tell you I like Bernie Sanders, even though his philosophy is different than mine. Both these candidates are outsiders, both these candidates are nonestablishment candidates.”

  • Error-Filled Book Clinton Cash To Be Turned Into Movie For 2016 Election

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Breitbart News' Stephen K. Bannon and Republican activist and strategist Peter Schweizer have turned Schweizer’s error-ridden book Clinton Cash into a movie in order to "engage voters" and attack Hillary Clinton.

    According to Bloomberg News, the movie will premiere in Cannes, France in May at a screening arranged for distributors, but it will make its American debut “on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.” As Bloomberg explained, "the Clinton Cash movie is less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons”:

    But while polls suggest Trump and Sanders will have a hard time stopping [Clinton], the team behind Clinton Cash—[Peter] Schweizer and Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News—haven’t given up. They’ve turned Clinton Cash into a movie, directed by M.A. Taylor, that will premiere next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors).

    As the trailer below indicates, the Clinton Cash movie is less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons[.]

    “It’s a story that resonated with people on the printed page,” said Schweizer. “We felt we needed to look at other platforms, too. The key is to engage voters. If you look at what’s motivating Trump and Sanders fans, it’s disgust with cronyism and corruption in Washington.”

    […]

    According to Bannon, the film’s U.S. premiere will be held in Philadelphia on July 24 on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. During the first week of August, he added, it will have a limited release in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.

    Media outlets -- particularly The New York Times and The Washington Post, which had exclusive editorial agreements with Schweizer -- hyped the book before its release. Fox News gave the book more than $107 million in free publicity -- before the book was even released. However, the book contained numerous false and misleading claims. Many media outlets subsequently admitted the book had little evidence to back up its claims. Schweizer, who has a history of faulty reporting, attempted to claim he was non-partisan because he was also investigating Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). The result of that effort was a 38-page e-book, which is nearly a quarter of the length of Clinton Cash.

    To read more about the 20-plus errors, fabrications, and distortions in Peter Schweizer's book, click here.

  • After Claiming Carly Fiorina Went “Full Vagina,” Radio Host Steve Deace Touts Her For Ted Cruz VP

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Influential radio host and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) media surrogate Steve Deace praised Ted Cruz's decision to select former GOP candidate Carly Fiorina as his running-mate, claiming Fiorina "might be the best messenger for the party." Deace’s endorsement is a sharp departure from his sexist rhetoric about Fiorina which received heavy criticism from the media and from Fiorina herself.

    Appearing at a rally in Indianapolis on April 27, Republican candidate Ted Cruz named Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running-mate. In a series of tweets after the announcement, Deace lauded Cruz's vice presidential selection, claiming Fiorina "might be the best messenger for the party," and stating "Her presence is a living, daily reminder of Trump's struggles with women."

    Deace has previously appeared as part of Cruz's Iowa leadership team, in promotional videos for Cruz's campaign, and has been described by the Des Moines Register as having "served as an informal, unpaid consultant" to Cruz.

    Deace’s most recent comments are at odds with his prior sexist attacks on Fiorina, including a tweet stating "Fiorina goes full vagina right away" in her opening statement during the December 2015 Republican debate.

    Deace initially defended his criticism of Fiorina, tweeting "I think a GOP presidential candidate's opening statement being all about her gender is disgusting." Deace subsequently apologized for the remarks, claiming his wife told him he had been "too vulgar and need[ed] to apologize."

    Deace received widespread condemnation following his remarks including criticism from Fox News host Megyn Kelly and Fiorina during a December 16 interview on Fox News' The Kelly File. Fiorina rebuked Deace's sexist attacks and position as a prominent campaign surrogate for Ted Cruz, stating "I told my story, just like every other candidate has told their story, [...] it's inexplicable to me why this major surrogate of Ted Cruz thought that was playing the 'V' card." Fiorina continued, saying Deace "is more than a radio show talk host. He is a major surrogate for Ted Cruz and a major endorser, and this is why Ted Cruz cannot possibly beat Hillary Clinton."

  • Coalition Of Scientists Takes Novel Approach To Grading Accuracy Of Climate Change Coverage

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    A group of scientists from around the world is using new web-based technology to assess the accuracy of media coverage of climate change, and the organization spearheading these efforts is looking for support to take its work to the next level.

    The organization, known as Climate Feedback, uses what’s known as web annotation technology to layer scientists’ comments directly onto articles and opinion pieces, so that readers can easily understand whether -- and to what degree -- the pieces are consistent with scientific understanding of climate change. Climate Feedback then assigns a credibility score known as “feedback” to each media piece, which serves as an overall guide to its accuracy -- or lack thereof.

    The result looks like this:

    At Media Matters, we’ve given scientists a forum to set the record straight when media distort their climate studies. Now Climate Feedback is further improving the media conversation by giving scientists the opportunity to respond to a wide variety of climate change coverage, as founder Dr. Emmanuel Vincent explained in an email to Media Matters.

    “We think scientists need to have a voice of their own in the media,” Vincent said. “Not as a replacement of journalism, but as a way to ensure that scientific results are not misunderstood or distorted.”

    The approach Climate Feedback employs is unique in several respects. It borrows from the peer review process used to evaluate scientific research papers, ensuring that media coverage of climate science receives a similar level of scrutiny. “After an article is selected for review, scientists with relevant expertise are invited to provide their feedback directly” using the web annotation platform, Vincent said. “Reviewers then fill [out] a short questionnaire with their rating and appreciation of the overall credibility of the piece that are all revealed at the same time to guarantee the independence of scientists’ reviews.”

    Vincent noted that Climate Feedback usually solicits comments from five to 10 scientists for each media evaluation, which is substantially higher than the two to three reviewers typically involved in a classic peer review of scientific literature. “This distributes the workload among scientists who can focus on discussing what they know best,” and helps “convey a more robust sense of the consensus when there is one.”

    Climate Feedback also ensures that only highly qualified experts weigh in on the accuracy of the media reports it analyzes. According to Vincent, contributors must have been the lead author of an article published in a top-tier peer-reviewed scientific journal within the last three years, and they must have a doctorate in a relevant discipline. Depending on the nature of the claims made in the article, Climate Feedback may seek comments from experts in a variety of subjects including biogeochemistry, oceanography, climate variability, paleoclimatology, climate impacts on ecosystems, human health and beyond.

    Once an evaluation is published, Climate Feedback shares it with the reporter or columnist via email or social media. As an example of his group’s success, Vincent pointed to an article in London’s Telegraph newspaper, which “appended a correction and made major modifications” to its original article, “withdrawing 5 sentences, in such a way that the title of the article announcing an imminent ice age is not supported anymore.” Additionally, one Climate Feedback evaluation formed the basis of an open letter from a group of scientists to The Wall Street Journal, criticizing an opinion piece for “attempt[ing] to throw clouds of uncertainty around the hard facts about climate change.” And just last week, members of the British House of Lords referenced another Climate Feedback evaluation while calling on The Times of London to more accurately cover climate science.

    Since Climate Feedback launched in late 2014, Vincent has observed several common media failings, including using flawed reasoning, making logical fallacies, cherry-picking data, and offering misleading or imprecise statements. One example he highlighted was a May 2015 Forbes column by “merchant of doubt” James Taylor, of the Exxon- and Koch-funded Heartland Institute, which misleadingly denied the impact of global warming on polar ice. Vincent noted in his email that Taylor’s column received “almost a million views and is by far Forbes’ most influential climate article in 2015 – which gives an idea of the scale of the problem we’re tackling.”

    Indeed, because the challenge is so great, Climate Feedback is ramping up its efforts via a crowdfunding campaign this week. The aim is to raise enough funds to hire a scientific editor and build a “Scientific Trust Tracker,” which will aggregate the group’s ratings to assess the overall credibility of various news sources. According to Vincent, the new tool “should provide a healthy incentive for more accurate science reporting,” because “building trust is essential for news sources and scientists’ endorsements can help journalists with integrity to get ahead.”

    Climate Feedback is doing this work at an important time. Major U.S. media outlets continue to give undue attention to those who deny the scientific consensus that fossil fuel pollution and other human activities are causing global warming, while scientists remain vastly underrepresented in some of the most high-profile media discussions of climate change, such as those taking place on the broadcast networks’ Sunday shows. And revelations of Exxon’s climate change deception exemplify the ability of the fossil fuel industry to inject misinformation into the media to undermine climate policies. As the fossil fuel industry continues to wage war on the Clean Power Plan, the Paris climate agreement, and other major climate initiatives, too many Americans remain confused about the causes of climate change (although the trend is positive), and not enough recognize the urgent need for action.

    As Vincent explained, “We now have growing evidence that corporate interests have been using the same playbook as Tobacco companies a few decades earlier: using the media to sow doubt about the science of the smoking-cancer connection then and of climate change now in order to confuse the public and undermine democratic support for dealing with the issue.”

    Climate Feedback is a valuable resource to counteract the fossil fuel industry’s harmful influence and encourage media consumers to “stand with science” to achieve more accurate climate change coverage.

  • With The Megyn Kelly Vs. Donald Trump TV Summit, Everyone Wins (Except The GOP)

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The unfolding Republican primary season, which often resembles a soap opera with its endless drama and plot twists, saw a new media chapter when Fox News announced Megyn Kelly had landed her first interview with Donald Trump since the start of their public feud last year. 

    Scheduled to be included in Kelly’s first prime-time Fox TV special on May 17, the sit-down came after Kelly, the target of relentless Trump insults, made a hush-hush visit to candidate’s New York City office to ask for an interview. (Kelly also reportedly asked Trump stop personally insulting her.)

    The Fox News green room commotions just never end. Recall that in March, after going on a Twitter tirade in which he denounced Kelly as “crazy,” Trump announced he was skipping another Fox News debate, which led to the event being canceled. Fox News headquarters answered back, claiming the GOP frontrunner had a “sick obsession” with Kelly. But that was awkward because Fox showered Trump with nearly $30 million in free TV time from May through December of 2015. So who’s obsessed with whom?

    The Fox News vs. Trump saga represents a completely dysfunctional relationship: Much of Fox loves Trump’s right-wing politics; Trump loves to bully Fox. Now the latest love/hate chapter is that Trump has agreed to sit for Kelly’s interview, which is weirdly being hyped as a major campaign showdown. (Remember when campaigns were focused on voters, not cable news hosts?)

    Kelly’s Trump interview represents good news for her, good news for Fox, and good news for Trump.

    If he behaves himself, he might come across as magnanimous as he jousts with his foe. If Kelly uses the opportunity to aggressively challenge Trump, she'll likely garner more plaudits from mainstream outlets. (The interview also comes as Kelly is negotiating a new contract and potentially leaving Fox News for a less openly partisan outlet.)

    And even if Trump flops, the interview will come so late in the primary season that it will likely have little impact on the final voting tallies among Republican voters.

    The only interested partisan party not celebrating? The GOP. Because for the Republican Party, the whole Fox interview spectacle represents the latest Trump-fueled mess, as the marauding Frankenstein’s monster wreaks havoc on the way to the Republican convention this summer.

    Indeed, the ongoing Fox News/Trump saga represents something of a Keystone Kops production for both the GOP and Fox.

    Journalistically you’d think the spectacle would be something of a negative for Fox News -- the idea of Kelly being a target of Trump’s attacks and then trying to calm the waters by visiting his office to ask for an interview in person. (Has Anderson Cooper ever done that?) But Fox signaled a long time ago that journalism and truth telling aren’t what drives their operation. It’s ratings, and whenever possible, Republican propaganda that remain paramount.

    Fox cares about ratings and buzz, and most likely Kelly’s prime-time interview with Trump can deliver both, especially since much of the mainstream media positions itself as Kelly’s collective publicist, churning out endless puff pieces about her. She and Fox News can expect lots of praise for her performance.

    She’s an "independent" "rising star" with a "reputation for asking tough questions to anyone,” CBS Sunday Morning’s Charlie Rose recently stressed.

    Note that Rose insisted Kelly’s “willingness to take on some of America's big name conservatives, quickly made Kelly a rising star" at Fox News, which makes no sense. Why would taking on conservatives at a proudly partisan and conservative network propel Kelly’s career? It didn’t.

    But her strategic use of very occasional bouts of conservative pushback provides the press with anecdotal evidence it needs to push the narrative that reporters, and Kelly, were comfortable with: Journalism flourishes at Fox News!

    The incident that set off the feud was Kelly publicly (and deservedly) challenging Trump on his long record of noxious comments about women at a debate last August. (He promptly freaked out.) The press accolades began pouring in. She’s a “feminist icon of sorts,” with “star power” that rivals Julia Roberts, claimed Vanity Fair.

    The press turned a blind eye in order to promote Kelly. But readers of Media Matters know the unpleasant truth:

    She has frequently hosted an anti-LGBT hate group leader on her show, made flippant comments about racism and police brutality, and promoted conservative falsehoods about Planned Parenthood and the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Kelly is notorious in her own right for shaming and blaming black victims of police brutality.

    Doesn’t it bother journalists that they’re holding up as a newsroom paragon somebody with an ugly record of supporting race baiting and homophobia? I’m curious which groups of people Kelly has to offend before elite journalists take notice.

    But none of that likely concerns her now. Kelly has her Trump interview to conduct for her star turn special, which Fox will endlessly promote, and Trump himself might even benefit from it.

    It’s the Republican Party that’s left asking itself how its 2016 presidential campaign devolved into a cable news soap opera.