Right-wing media are seizing on a New York Times report that misleadingly stated that Paul Begala sought "talking points" from the State Department before a CNN appearance to discuss Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state to attack the CNN contributor as biased. But in the email in question, Begala actually requested a "briefing," not talking points.
The Washington Times misleadingly cited a government factsheet to claim that a "U.S. policy" could authorize the confiscation of Hillary Clinton's personal email server. In fact, the authority to which the Times refers explicitly notes that its "advisories are NOT binding upon U.S. Government departments and agencies."
On July 1, the Times published an article headlined "Admission Of Hillary's Classified Emails Opens Door For Feds To Seize Her Servers." The report suggested that because some information on Clinton's State Department emails has now been retroactively classified, the NSA could seize the private server on which she stored the emails in order to "destroy" it.
The emails in question are part of a collection of the former Secretary of State's official business correspondence, which was conducted on a non-government email account, and which the State Department is currently reviewing and releasing to the public. According to the Times, the classification of "two dozen" of her thousands of emails could "trigger a U.S. policy that authorizes the government to take control of her private server and sanitize the contents":
The State Department on Wednesday conceded that two dozen of Hillary Clinton's emails did contain classified information, a fact that could trigger a U.S. policy that authorizes the government to take control of her private server and sanitize the contents.
A former senior intelligence official told The Washington Times the policy also requires the government to check other Internet paths her secret information could have taken.
The procedures are spelled out by the National Security Agency's special panel on controlling leaked secrets, called the Committee on National Security Systems. It published a policy, "Securing Data and Handling Spillage Events," that fits Mrs. Clinton's unauthorized private server kept at her home while she was secretary of state, according to the retired officer's reading of the regulations.
From the July 1 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom:
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Mainstream media consistently fail to question GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie's self-promotion as a "straight talking" "truth-teller," but he consistently lies and misrepresents his record in interviews and speeches.
A new Media Matters study has found that outside of MSNBC, major broadcast and cable television outlets are failing to fact-check climate science denial by presidential candidates 75 percent of the time. But it's worth taking a closer look at how television program hosts have handled their face-to-face interviews with presidential candidates, since these high-profile interviews often get a substantial amount of attention and can shape media discussions for days or even weeks to come.
So how are TV hosts responding when presidential candidates spout climate science denial in real time? It depends which channel you're watching.
Several months into the 2016 presidential campaign, the media is frequently failing to fact-check statements by presidential candidates denying the science of climate change. Seven major newspapers and wire services surveyed by Media Matters have thus far failed to indicate that candidates' statements conflict with the scientific consensus in approximately 43 percent of their coverage, while the major broadcast and cable news outlets other than MSNBC have failed to do so 75 percent of the time.
From the June 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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The Associated Press' (AP) report on a meeting between lawless Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) completely ignored the nationwide controversy Bundy sparked in 2014 when he made a series of racist comments about "the Negro." Paul himself repudiated Bundy at the time for his "offensive" commentary, a fact that was also missing from the AP article.
According to the AP, Bundy and Paul met during a June 29 campaign event in Mesquite, Nevada. Bundy said of Paul to the AP, "In general, I think we're in tune with each other." Politico additionally reported that the two men spoke for 45 minutes.
In its report, AP described the April 2014 armed standoff between Bundy supporters and federal law enforcement agents as "one of the more dramatic conflicts over land rights in recent years," but made no mention of Bundy's infamous racist commentary or that Paul had previously condemned him:
Paul's meeting with Bundy recalled one of the more dramatic conflicts over land rights in recent years.
Hundreds of armed supporters joined Bundy in April 2013 to stop a roundup of his cattle near Bunkerville about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The Bureau of Land Management says he owes more than $1 million in grazing fees over more than 20 years. Bundy argues the federal government has no authority there.
Indeed, in April 2014 violence nearly broke out as armed militia members pointed guns at federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management over Bundy's decades-long refusal to pay grazing fees for his use of federal land despite several court orders. (While the AP article presents the question of whether Bundy owes fees as an open question, journalists who have covered the Nevada rancher's legal dispute say his claims are baseless.)
Significantly, the AP article made no mention of the major controversy after The New York Times reported on racist remarks made by Bundy. In comments to supporters about "the Negro," Bundy suggested that African-Americans may have been better off as slaves and that "[t]hey abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton." After the Times' report, Media Matters posted video of Bundy's comments, and Bundy's champions in conservative politics and media largely fled his cause.
Sen. Paul was among those who condemned Bundy, releasing a statement saying that the rancher's "remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him." While the AP excluded mention of the controversy and Paul's previous rebuke of Bundy, those details made it into reports on the meeting between Bundy and Paul by Politico and CNN.com. Politico reported that "Paul's presidential campaign did not respond to a request to explain why he held a private meeting with Bundy 14 months" after the controversy.
Watch video of Bundy's infamous comments below:
Fox News downplayed a recent report on questionable business dealings made by Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush after having ignored the story in the days after it broke.
On June 28, The Washington Post reported on Bush's business dealings in the years before and after he was governor of Florida and said Bush "often benefited from his family connections and repeatedly put himself in situations that raised questions about his judgment and exposed him to reputational risk." As The Post also noted:
Five of his business associates have been convicted of crimes; one remains an international fugitive on fraud charges. In each case, Bush said he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing and said some of the people he met as a businessman in Florida took advantage of his naiveté.
On the June 30 edition of Fox & Friends, correspondent Carl Cameron downplayed The Post's reporting, saying Bush, "like any kind of businessman," has had "some ups and some downs" and "some of the downs have been in the press lately." Cameron claimed Bush's decision to release 33 years of tax returns could be a response to reporting on his business dealings:
CAMERON: 33 years of tax returns, that's a lot.
STEVE DOOCY: I'm sure it's just a coincidence it's coming out today, not raining on anybody's parade, just a coincidence, right, Carl?
CAMERON: Wouldn't dream of it. And it's also worth noting, you know, that his business career, he made a lot of money, but, you know, like any kind of businessman, there were some ups and some downs, and some of the downs have been in the press lately, so this may be answering a little bit of that, but it's also sending a message to Chris Christie ... Look out, Hillary Clinton, when it comes to transparency.
Prior to Cameron's remarks, Fox had ignored The Post's reporting completely in its primetime coverage since the story broke.
As national media begin to focus their political coverage on campaigning by Republican presidential candidates in the lead-up to the New Hampshire primary, it's incumbent upon journalists to disclose the history of misinformation and conservative bias of the state's top newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, as well as the ties between the Koch brothers and oft-quoted state political expert Charles Arlinghaus.
A June 30 report by Politico highlighted how the crowded field of GOP contenders are viewing next January's first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire as "do or die" and already jostling for position. The piece said, "Never before have so many White House hopefuls bet so much on a single primary," and included quotes from Charles Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Institute, and Drew Cline, editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. But Politico failed to mention Arlinghaus' ties to the Koch brothers and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), or the Union Leader's long history of publishing conservative misinformation.
As other New Hampshire newspapers have been closing their state house bureaus because of budget cuts, the Union Leader's voice in statewide politics has gained prominence. Fox News is co-hosting a debate in August with the paper and presidential candidates are lining up to be interviewed by the Union Leader's publisher via live streaming. With so much access to candidates, and hardly any competition, the Union Leader's outsized influence could push candidates further to the right.
Publisher Joe McQuaid enjoys a prominent role as a must-visit member of the media for presidential primary candidates. In addition to his publishing duties, McQuaid has written sensationalist editorials for the paper, including one that called for a travel ban during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa -- a move most experts agreed would only exacerbate the spread of the virus. As the Daily Beast pointed out in the run-up to the 2012 election, McQuaid "is one of the more influential voices in American politics." McQuaid himself "figures that the Union Leader 'may be able to sway a few percentage points in close elections,'" much of that due to the editorial stance of the paper, which is written by only two people: McQuaid and editor Cline, who also runs the editorial page.
Although the 2012 Union Leader-endorsed candidate, Newt Gingrich, failed to win the primary, Gingrich's polling numbers spiked following the endorsement. However, as Politico explained, because of the way the Union Leader operates, the endorsement the paper gives is more than just a "one-time front-page feature," because the paper "tends to interweave its endorsement with its news coverage, bolstering its pick and attacking the other candidates ... most likely in addition to the opinion columns that tend to run in the paper echoing the official choice."
The two-man editorial board of McQuaid and Cline often echoes national conservative media talking points. The board has fabricated a need for harmful voter ID laws, attacked successful Head Start programs -- which help provide a pre-K education for New Hampshire's children - and even downplayed the impact of sequestration's steep budget cuts.
The Union Leader's editorial board has been attacking President Obama and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since 2010 and published a massive amount of misinformation on the law. The board warned of spiking insurance premium prices that never came to pass, criticized cost-saving measures in the law, and said initial glitches in the rollout of the online exchanges meant the entire law was a failure. The board also attacked Medicaid expansion and promoted a misguided voucher program to privatize the program.
On foreign policy issues, the Union Leader has demonstrated reckless bias by calling opponents of the release of the Senate report on CIA torture "wusses," and pushed a false narrative that blamed Hillary Clinton for the kidnapping of hundreds of African girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
Outside of its opinion pages, the Union Leader has also at times blatantly misinformed its readers. In 2013, the paper published a lightly-edited press release authored by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) -- the Koch brothers-funded conservative advocacy group -- attacking the ACA. The article gave free publicity to AFP while helping to fulfill its larger mission, which, according to The Washington Post, is to "spread as much confusion and dishonesty about the [health care] law as possible."
The conservative slant to the Union Leader's news section is also apparent in what the paper chooses not to cover. A 2012 Media Matters study found that it failed to report on the "environmental, health, and economic benefits" of new government regulations in stories that emphasized how they would hurt the economy.
The Union Leader also publishes a regular op-ed by Charles Arlinghaus, the president of the Josiah Bartlett Institute, a think tank with strong connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council's conservative model-legislation mill (ALEC). In 2012, Arlinghaus and ALEC representatives co-hosted an event to denounce the Affordable Care Act.
The Josiah Bartlett Institute is part of the Koch brothers-funded State Policy Network -- state-based think tanks that incubate and legitimize conservative policy ideas that often benefit corporate sponsors. A representative for the Center for Media and Democracy told the Nashua Telegraph that Koch donations associated with Arlinghaus and the institute show that Arlinghaus is "working on a national conservative agenda, not a local, New Hampshire-based agenda."
Fox News contributor Karl Rove denied a negative story appearing in a new book from presidential candidate and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), but Cruz has now produced an email from Rove that appears to back his version of events. This is just the latest exchange in an ongoing fight between Rove and the conservative movement.
In his new book A Time For Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America, Cruz wrote that Rove tried to bury a donation President George H.W. Bush made to Cruz for his 2009 Texas attorney general campaign.
Cruz explained that Rove was "in the process of helping raise money for the George W. Bush presidential library in Dallas" while "Texas donors were giving the Bushes tens of millions, including major donors who were supporting the Dallas state rep who wanted to run for attorney general." According to Cruz, those donors started "berating" Rove.
Rove denied the allegation, writing, "When Mr. Cruz and I talked in 2009, I was not raising money for the Bush Library," adding, "nor were any library donors 'berating' me."
Cruz's presidential campaign responded by releasing the details of the email exchange he had with Rove. In the email, Rove allegedly said, "[T]he distress you mention is not mine or 43 -- it is the people raising money for the library who are also [then-Texas Rep. Dan] Branch fans and will not understand why one part of the Bush family is for not-the-guy while they are raising money big bucks for library."
In the release, Cruz describes Rove's response to the story as "a straight-out falsehood" and an example of "why people are so cynical about politics, because too many people are willing to lie."
Rove's chief of staff told The Texas Tribune that Rove doesn't have a record or any recollection of the email.
Conservative radio host Mark Levin linked to the release on his Facebook page with the comment, "Ted Cruz sets the record straight with sleazy Karl Rove."
This is not Rove's first fight with the conservative movement.
In 2013, when Rove announced plans for "the Conservative Victory Project," an attempt to protect incumbent Republicans from Tea Party challengers, many in the movement condemned him.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said the group was "repulsive" and guilty of "fratricide." Levin described Rove as a "propagandist" who is "despised" by the conservative grassroots. Donald Trump called Rove "a total loser" and said "money given to him might as well be thrown down the drain." In a recent Fox appearance, Rove said Republicans should ignore Trump, who is "not a serious candidate" for president.
Michelle Malkin declared "war" against "Rove and his big government band of elites."
A year later, Media Research Center's Brent Bozell said Rove "has never cared about conservatism and has spent his entire career opposing any Republican who might be successful in promoting or implementing a conservative agenda." He also urged conservatives to "make sure Karl Rove no longer has any influence on their party."
After Rove bemoaned the nomination of Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell in Delaware in 2010 (she would go on to lose the general election), conservatives pounced. Malkin described him as an "effete sore loser," Fox contributor Erick Erickson said he was "in full-on meltdown," while Rush Limbaugh said, "I've never heard Karl so animated against a Democrat as he was against Christine O'Donnell."
In 2010, Rove said that Sarah Palin appearing on a reality show would not help her in convincing voters that she was a viable presidential candidate. Palin said his comments were "quite negative and unnecessary," and Rove responded by saying he was "sorry if she took offense" but "I hope she's got a thicker skin than that." He later went on to do a negative impersonation of Palin during an interview with New York magazine:
When I bring up his statements about Palin during our interview, Rove says only that he wished he'd made his comments on Fox News instead--before going into a withering impersonation of Palin, recalling a scene from her TV show in which she's fishing.
"Did you see that?" he says, adopting a high, sniveling Palin accent: " 'Holy crap! That fish hit my thigh! It hurts!' "
"How does that make us comfortable seeing her in the Oval Office?" he asks, disgusted. "You know--'Holy crap, Putin said something ugly!' "
From the June 25 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Fox News host Sean Hannity praised Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's "great record as governor" during an exclusive interview following the official launch of Jindal's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Hannity ignored the massive budget deficit created by Jindal's tax cuts, as well as the economic woes his policies have inflicted on constituents in his state.
From the June 21 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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FactCheck.org called a common conservative myth -- that the Clinton Foundation spends only a small fraction of its money on charitable works -- "simply wrong." The flimsy statistic has made the rounds on conservative media, and was most recently repeated by Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.
The fact-checking organization noted on June 19 that Fiorina had claimed that "'so little' of the charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation 'actually go to charitable works.'" When pressed for more details, a super PAC supporting her campaign* claimed that only 6 percent of the foundation's revenue goes to charitable grants, and for the rest, "there really isn't anything that can be categorized as charitable."
But as FactCheck.org explained, "That just isn't so. The Clinton Foundation does most of its charitable work itself." In fact, an independent philanthropy watchdog found that about 89 percent of Clinton Foundation funding goes to charity, through their in-house work. FactCheck.org concluded the false claim "amounts to a misunderstanding of how public charities work."
This myth surfaced earlier this year thanks to the error-filled anti-Clinton book Clinton Cash, written by discredited Republican activist Peter Schweizer. While promoting his book in May, Schweizer repeatedly claimed the Clinton Foundation gives just "10 percent" of its budget "to other charitable organizations, the rest they keep for themselves."
As Media Matters noted at the time, several other media figures picked up Schweizer's cherry-picked statistic. Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed "85 percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff." As FactCheck.org noted, Fox Business host Gerri Willis said only 6 percent of the foundation's revenue "went to help people." And on Fox News, The Five co-host Eric Bolling said that "only 10 cents on the dollar went to charitable uses."
But even one of Bolling's Fox News colleagues called this statistic "incredibly misleading." When Fox correspondent Eric Shawn was asked by host Bill O'Reilly about the "accusation ... that there only 10 percent of the money raised -- and it's $2 billion -- goes to grants out to poor people or institutions," Shawn responded:
That sounds really bad but it's actually incredibly misleading, because, the way the charity works, they don't give grants to other charities -- they do most of it themselves. So that, they actually have a rate of spending of about 80 percent, according to the IRS figures, they say 88 percent, you know Bill -- the experts for charity say that's very good.
PolitiFact's PunditFact has also evaluated these claims, and found them to be "mostly false."
*FactCheck.org originally reported that this information came from the Fiorina campaign, but has since corrected its post to note it came from the CARLY for America super PAC. Our language has been updated accordingly.