As Donald Trump continues to wage a public fight with Fox News, several of his GOP primary rivals spoke with Media Matters at this weekend's Values Voter Summit about his feud with the conservative network and media coverage of the Republican primary.
Trump and Fox have been in a back and forth fight for much of the past two months. Last week, Trump announced that he was planning to boycott Fox News "for the foreseeable future" because the network has supposedly been treating him "very unfairly." Fox chief Roger Ailes and other "senior Fox editorial executives" are reportedly set to meet with Trump this week in an effort to smooth things over.
"All you have to do is look at the airtime, look at the airtime," former Fox News contributor Rick Santorum told Media Matters when asked about the Trump effect.
As Media Matters has documented, despite Trump's regular complaints about Fox's coverage of his campaign, he has dominated his Republican rivals in interview airtime on the network. From May through August, Trump garnered 10 hours and 21 minutes of interview airtime, more than three times as much as Santorum, who had just over 3 hours.
Asked by Media Matters when he would return to Fox, Trump said, "We'll see, we'll see. They have to treat me fairly and I'm sure they will. I'm sure they will."
Such a return is likely to keep the overwhelming media focus on Trump, prompting mixed reactions from his rivals.
"They're like a moth drawn to the flame," South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said about Fox's Trump coverage. "You can't help but cover it."
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal objected to candidates decrying media coverage, saying, "Any Republican or conservative that complains about the media, I think that's foolishness. There's nothing you can do about that, go out and talk directly to voters. "
While he was critical of Trump, Jindal conceded that he is "great for ratings."
"I've said over and over I think Trump is an egomaniac, he's not a conservative, he's not a liberal, he's not an independent," Jindal said. "He only believes in himself, I think he's great entertainment, he's great for ratings."
Former Fox News employee Dr. Ben Carson indicated he was happy with Fox News' primary coverage so far, telling Media Matters, "I've never had any problems with Fox News, I don't feel any problem, I am happy with what's going on."
Carson has good reason to be happy. Earlier this month, New York magazine reporter and Roger Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman reported that Ailes "has been impressed by Carson, a former Fox pundit, and is promoting his candidacy inside the network." Sherman also quoted an anonymous Fox personality telling him, "Roger has told producers to push Carson and put him on whenever he wants to go on."
An article in Politico uncritically repeated Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's claim that he would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans as president, but also reported that Trump's plan would actually reduce the top marginal income tax rate from 39.6 to 25 percent and lower the corporate income tax rate to 15 percent.
During a September 27 appearance on CBS News' 60 Minutes, Trump claimed that his tax policy would raise taxes on the "very wealthy." This claim apparently inspired Politico to use the headline, "Trump plans to hike taxes on the wealthy" for a September 28 article describing his tax plan that said publicly-available information about Trump's tax plan -- set to be released in full on September 28 -- indicated that the wealthiest Americans would actually receive a tax cut:
Under a President Donald Trump, some Americans will pay no income tax and the corporate income tax will fall to 15 percent, while the Treasury Department will maintain or even increase current revenue.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which obtained more details ahead of the plan's formal release, individuals making less than $25,000 and married couples making less than $50,000 will not have to pay taxes. The current highest income-tax rate--39.6 percent--would drop to 25 percent. Overall, the number of rates would decrease from the current seven to four, at 0, 10, 20 and 25 percent. While 36 percent of American households do not pay income tax currently, that share would jump to 50 percent.
The gulf between Politico's headline and its reporting on the publicly-available details of Trump's tax plan doesn't stand up to even modest scrutiny, and its failure to get the math right was rightly mocked by conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin on Twitter.
Despite what Trump told 60 Minutes, the numbers don't add up. According to a detailed summary of the billionaire businessman's plan in The Wall Street Journal, Trump also says he would reduce the top capital gains rate from 23.8 to 20 percent, and claims his proposed 15 percent corporate income rate is "among the lowest that have been proposed so far" by any candidate from either party. According to The Journal, Trump's tax plan would eliminate or cap some tax deductions that cater to the wealthy but with major reductions in baseline rates it is unclear how limiting deductions would amount to a tax "hike."
UPDATE: Following a September 28 speech in which Trump revealed his full tax reform plan, Politico updated its article with a new headline and additional reporting, including praise of the plan from Americans for Tax Reform, which opposes any increases of marginal tax rates for any individual or business. The new headline still takes Trump at his word that his tax proposals are "going to cost [him] a fortune," despite the underlying article reaffirming Trump's proposed rate reductions for corporations and high income earners. Politico also confirmed Trump's plan to eliminate the estate tax, which the publication referred to as the "death tax." Eliminating the estate tax would be a major tax policy victory for the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Fox News Senior Vice President Neil Cavuto promoted a series of deceptively-edited videos released by the anti-choice Center for Medial Progress (CMP) by claiming that the tapes "were not edited or strung together." In fact, CMP's videos were deceptively edited in numerous instances, including in cases of videos described by CMP as "full footage."
During the September 25 broadcast of his Fox Business Network show Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Cavuto responded to critics pointing out that the CMP videos are edited and "did not represent what Planned Parenthood was really about" by falsely claiming, "I made a point when these [CMP] videos came out of picking any one of them -- which were not edited or strung together -- picking out an objectionable part and playing it at home. There was not a lot of doctoring going on there." Cavuto then hosted CMP founder David Daleiden, giving him a platform to promote falsehoods about Planned Parenthood and the CMP video stings:
During the segment, Cavuto asked Daleiden about critics' claims CMP's tapes are "strung together, doctored, and edited," leading Daleiden to claim, "The fact is we post the full footage of the conversations with the Planned Parenthood directors and executives on our YouTube channel for everybody to see."
In reality, an independent analysis commissioned by Planned Parenthood and conducted by forensic experts of the first seven CMP-released videos found "42 instances in which CMP edited out content from the short as well as so-called full versions of the tapes." Multiple other sources have come to the same conclusion and official investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.
Daleiden also said on the program: "It's been a good 15 years" since the issue of illegal sales of fetal tissue has been discussed. He did not mention that he modeled his own campaign against Planned Parenthood based on the work done 15 years ago by the discredited anti-choice group Life Dynamics whose star witness, a medical technician named Lawrence Dean Alberty, admitted to lying to Life Dynamics about having witnessed illegal activity involving fetal tissue collection and profiteering.
The veracity of what is "unedited video" from the Center for Medical Progress has become an issue in light of a subpoena issued on September 23 by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requesting from CMP "all unedited video footage in their possession, relating to the acquisition, preparation and sale of fetal tissue." Several GOP-led House committees have announced or begun hearings following the release of CMP's deceptively-edited videos targeting Planned Parenthood, leading to calls from some Republicans to shut down the federal government if Planned Parenthood is not defunded by Congress.
On September 25, attorneys for Planned Parenthood submitted a letter to both Chaffetz and House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), which included a document from former FBI forensic video/audio analyst Douglas Lacey, pointing out the committee's request of footage from CMP was not specific enough. According to this expert, "source footage" is needed from the anti-choice group -- "the actual original recording saved on the recording device" - and only upon review of that will the committee be able to "verify with any confidence the authenticity of a video recording and determine whether it has been edited or altered."
The letter "urge[d] the Committee to insist that Mr. Daleiden and CMP produce nothing short of the complete, original 'source footage' from each device used to record Planned Parenthood personnel."
Scott Walker's early exit from the presidential primary has led some media outlets to conclude that super PACs may not be having as big an effect on the 2016 campaign as it was once thought they would. However, it's far too early to judge super PACs' influence because many of these outside groups have not yet begun to spend the tens of millions of dollars they've already raised in preparation for the fight ahead.
In the case of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the media has largely focused on how his Unintimidated PAC appears to have failed, pointing out that while deep-pocketed outside groups can provide a boost in advertising, they cannot legally help with some of the most basic functions needed to keep a campaign functioning. As the New York Times reported, "Super PACs, Mr. Walker learned, cannot pay rent, phone bills, salaries, airfares or ballot access fees." Political reporters pointed out that even the Walker PAC's success in raising over $20 million couldn't prevent its candidate's eventual withdrawal from the race.
While super PACs certainly have their limitations, it would be naive to take Scott Walker's or Rick Perry's withdrawal from the presidential race as a sign that PACs won't have a significant impact on the 2016 election.
Last spring, the billionaire Koch brothers named Scott Walker to their short list of candidates in line for their support -- an expected endorsement of sorts that confirmed the financial force analysts expected Walker to marshal in the primaries. The Kochs spent roughly $400 million on the 2012 election and plan to spend hundreds of millions more in support of their handpicked candidate in 2016.
Walker's Unitimidated PAC already had several major donors.* But it had yet to begin to flex its financial muscles when apparent campaign mismanagement brought down the governor's bid. A comparison of how much both Walker and Jeb Bush's PACs have raised versus how much they have spent so far, as illustrated by OpenSecrets.org below, indicates the tsunami of spending yet to come:
Predictably, and necessarily, super PAC spending spikes as Election Day approaches. For those candidates who can competently manage their campaigns through the heavy advertising season, their PAC's ability to raise and spend millions on air time will prove invaluable. While super PACs may not seem relevant this fall, if the past spending patterns by outside groups documented by The Washington Post below is any indication, next fall's super PAC spending will be obvious when political campaign advertising goes into overdrive.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly claimed that the Koch brothers had donated to Scott Walker's Unitimidated PAC. Media Matters regrets the error.
In a September 23 article for Conservative Review that ranked each 2016 GOP presidential candidate's chances of winning the Iowa Caucus, conservative political commenter and former radio host Steve Deace referred to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as "transgendered:"
Lindsey Graham (1,000-1) Iowa Caucus voters apparently aren't ready for a transgendered candidate yet.
This marks the second time Deace has referred to Graham as "transgendered." Deace, who officially endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for president in August, gave Cruz the best odds to win Iowa.
A new commentary video produced by the National Rifle Association's (NRA) NRA News suggests that school shootings occur because children do not "respect" firearms or know how to handle them safely.
The claim came during the September 23 episode of the NRA News' series, Defending Our America, which brings together conservative commentators to participate in a roundtable discussion in each episode. Defending Our America has been heavily promoted by the NRA as part of the "new" NRA News, which launched on September 8. Other NRA News shows include talk radio show Cam & Company, a web series aimed at millennials called Noir, and Frontlines, a military-themed show that recently promoted the paranoid idea that North Korea could use a satellite to launch an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on America. Defending Our America is sponsored by gun manufacturer Sig Sauer.
During the Defending Our America episode, co-host Del Wilber said, "When I was growing up, part of the curriculum at high schools was firearm safety and marksmanship. And we didn't have 'Columbines' or 'Newtowns' because kids were taught to respect firearms, they were taught how to handle them safely and taught what their purpose was for, and that's been long gone."
The perpetrator in the Newtown, CT school shooting was highly-trained in the use of firearms and frequented shooting ranges. Authorities who investigated the killing of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary school found an NRA certificate bearing the gunman's name as well as an NRA firearm training manual in his house.
From the September 23 edition of NRA News' Defending Our America:
Chris Cillizza has written more than 50 posts mentioning Hillary Clinton's emails since March on his Washington Post politics blog The Fix, nearly all of them issuing dire warnings about the supposedly "massive political problem."
The New York Times first wrote about Clinton's email during her tenure at the State Department on March 2, when they falsely reported she had violated federal requirements by using a private email account. Since then, mainstream media outlets have attempted to find some scandal in the email story, often pushing various falsehoods and being forced to issue corrections after the fact. To date, there has been no evidence of any lawbreaking.
Cillizza has been a major contributor to this effort, repeatedly claiming the email story "just keeps getting worse" and that it's "not going away," while claiming Clinton has an "honesty problem" and should "start panicking."
Just this week, Cillizza wrote a post headlined "Just when you thought the e-mail story couldn't get worse for Hillary Clinton ..." The post misleadingly tried to repackage old email stories as new developments in the "scandal."
Searching Nexis for pieces written at The Fix with Cillizza's byline, Media Matters found over 100 blog posts that mentioned Hillary Clinton in the headline or first paragraphs since March 2. Roughly half of those posts also mentioned Clinton's "email," "e-mail," or "server" at least once. Only a handful of the headlines suggest any good news for the Democratic frontrunner for president.
Media Matters presents 50 headlines representative of Cillizza's coverage on Clinton's emails:
The conservative media-fueled campaign to permanently defund Planned Parenthood would lead to a net increase in government spending of $130 million over a 10-year period, according to a new report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Conservative media have been championing Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood since the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress began releasing a series of videos falsely claiming to show Planned Parenthood officials "selling aborted baby parts." Although the videos have been roundly called out by experts and journalists for "show[ing] nothing illegal" and containing selectively-edited footage -- and multiple state and federal investigations have cleared the health care provider of any wrongdoing -- the videos nonetheless continue to prompt calls to defund the reproductive health organization.
Defunding Planned Parenthood would mean the elimination of critical family planning services, wellness checks, STD testing, and cervical and breast cancer screenings for millions of Americans -- a grim reality that right-wing media is doing its best to deny by claiming that community health clinics could absorb Planned Parenthood's patients, a scenario health care experts agree would be impossible.
In a September 22 report, CBO projected that permanently defunding Planned Parenthood "would increase direct spending by $130 million over the 2016-2025 period." From an article on the report in The Hill (emphasis added):
The CBO, Congress's nonpartisan scorekeeper, projects that defunding Planned Parenthood would actually end up increasing government spending, because it would result in more unplanned births as women lost access to services such as contraception. Medicaid would have to pay for some of those births, and some of the children themselves would then end up qualifying for Medicaid and other government programs.
So while CBO estimates that cutting off federal funds to Planned Parenthood would reduce spending by $520 million 10 ten years, it would also increase spending by $650 million over that period. The net effect is an increase in spending of $130 million.
Vox reported on September 16 that the CBO reported in July that "as many as 630,000 Planned Parenthood patients could lose access to birth control, STD screening, and other reproductive health services if the organization loses its federal funding." From Vox (emphasis added):
As many as 630,000 Planned Parenthood patients could lose access to birth control, STD screening, and other reproductive health services if the organization loses its federal funding, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Tuesday.
The House is scheduled to vote later this week on the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, which would bar the federal government from funding the group for one year. In debating the act, there's been significant argument over what would happen to Planned Parenthood patients if the group lost federal funding -- whether they would simply transition to other health-care providers or whether they would not find replacements.
CBO, for its part, says it would be a mixed bag: Of Planned Parenthood's 2.6 million patients, the agency estimates that between 130,000 and 630,000 "would face reduced access to care."
"The people most likely to experience reduced access to care would probably reside in areas without access to other health care clinics or medical practitioners who serve low-income populations," the agency concludes.
If you feel like the 2016 presidential campaign, starring celebrity Donald Trump, has already produced mountainous media coverage, you're right. According to a new study of network evening news campaign coverage by broadcast news monitor Andrew Tyndall, ABC, CBS, and NBC have devoted a total of 504 minutes to covering the story in 2015. At this point in the 2007 race, 462 minutes had been dedicated to the race, compared to just 277 minutes given to the contest in 2011, according to Tyndall.
To date, Republican coverage far outweighs that of the Democratic primary, 338 minutes to 128 minutes.
But what's most telling about the number crunching is how broadcast newscasts have covered Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The findings back up claims from supporters of both candidates who insist the press is a) utterly obsessed with the Clinton email story and b) not giving Sanders his due.
The Clinton campaign has received a good deal coverage this year, garnering 82 minutes in network news time. That's second only to Trump (a staggering 145 minutes), and well ahead of the next most-covered candidate, Jeb Bush (43 minutes). Here's what's so noteworthy, though: ABC, CBS, and NBC have dedicated almost the exact same amount of airtime to her campaign (82 minutes) as they have to covering the Republican-fed controversy surrounding Clinton's old secretary of state emails this year (83 minutes).
So for the network newscasts, the Clinton email story has proven to be just as important as the entirety of her campaign. Talk about newsrooms having skewed priorities. To date, the email story has produced no proof any kind of lawbreaking by Clinton, yet the network newscasts have absolutely devoured the story and turned it into one the year's big news events.
More from Tyndall on the Clinton coverage:
CBS has found the e-mails more newsworthy than the candidacy (31 mins vs 19); NBC has focused more on the candidacy than the e-mails (42 mins vs 26); ABC has treated them roughly equally (e-mails 25 mins vs candidacy 21).
As for Sanders, his campaign has barely even registered on the broadcast evening news this year, generating just eight minutes of coverage. By comparison, Mitt Romney's decision last winter to not run for president generated just as much coverage as Sanders' entire 2015 campaign, which has been crisscrossing the country for the last four months.
Meanwhile, Sanders' coverage is getting dwarfed by Bush's, which doesn't make a lot of sense. According to the polls, Sanders is running strong in Iowa and New Hampshire and polling at approximately 25 percent nationally. By contrast, Bush is polling very poorly in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire and is polling nationally at around ten percent.
Obviously, with many more Republican candidates in the field it's harder to post a big national number. But still, it's hard to look at the polling data and understand why Bush has received more than five times as much network newscast coverage as Sanders.
Also, note that the Vermont Democrat's campaign has received the same amount of broadcast news time as Gov. Chris Christie, who's polling at around three percent and in seventh place among GOP candidates.
In the month since he announced his bid, Sanders' coverage seems to pale in comparison to comparable Republican candidates who face an arduous task of obtaining their party's nomination. The reluctance is ironic, since the D.C. press corps for months brayed loudly about how Hillary Clinton must face a primary challenger. Now she has one and the press can barely feign interest?
As the campaign progresses, there's plenty of time for network newscasts to shift some of their relentless focus off the Republican race and do more to cover the Clinton campaign (not the partisan controversy), and give Sanders his fair share.
The New York Times editorial board called out the GOP's latest attempt to "play brinkmanship" with the federal budget, with some "even threatening to shut down the government" to wage their "political campaign against Planned Parenthood." The Times said that the campaign against the reproductive health organization is based on deceptive smear videos, and ultimately comes down to denying women "the healthcare they need" and obstructing the functioning of government.
The Times editorial board explained September 24 that the Republican campaign against Planned Parenthood was renewed after a series of deceptively-edited videos by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) were released. The videos showed "Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal-tissue donation, which is legal and critical for medical research," but Republicans have echoed right-wing media to claim "they are evidence that Planned Parenthood illegally profits by selling aborted fetuses and should therefore be stripped of federal money."
The editorial board also highlighted how the consequences of the "political campaign against Planned Parenthood," come down to "denying women, especially poor women, the health care they need," and "obstructing the budget process and the smooth functioning of government":
The latest phase of this campaign began in July with deceptive videos by anti-abortion activists. The videos showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal-tissue donation, which is legal and critical for medical research. Republicans say the videos are evidence that Planned Parenthood illegally profits by selling aborted fetuses and should therefore be stripped of federal money.
Congress is not the only venue for this campaign. On "Fox News Sunday," Carly Fiorina insisted that the anti-abortion video shows a kicking fetus being kept alive so its brain can be harvested, an image she also invoked in last week's debate. It shows no such thing. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said this week that Planned Parenthood, with President Obama's support, is engaged in the "systematic murder of children in the womb" in order to sell body parts.
Abortions are a small part of Planned Parenthood's services and tissue donation a very small part. No federal money is spent on abortions at Planned Parenthood; most of its services are for contraception, health screenings, pregnancy tests and prenatal care for low-income women.
The Republican obsession with the group seems to come to this: denying women, especially poor women, the health care they need; pandering for primary votes among Tea Party regulars; and obstructing the budget process and the smooth functioning of government. Quite a record.
Right-wing media have paved the way for a government shutdown by championing Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood despite a growing list of investigations that have found no wrongdoing by the health provider.