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Fox Business contributor Liz Claman misleadingly suggested a spurious connection between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Mylan, the pharmaceutical company under fire for raising the price of the EpiPen. She based her claim on a picture taken of Bill Clinton and the former CEO Robert Coury and a donation Mylan gave to the Clinton Foundation to aid the fight against HIV in 2009. Using the guise of other Clinton Foundation stories that have equally little merit, Claman says that the 2009 photograph and donation "on a completely unrelated HIV issue" led "Fox and Fox Business" to look into "the Clinton Foundation issue" as an aspect of the EpiPen price change. However, the segment failed to note Hillary Clinton's statement denouncing the price hike as outrageous and calling on Mylan to immediately drop its prices. Both are evidence against the right-wing media smear that the Clintons shield Clinton Foundation donors from scrutiny or give them special treatment.
SHANNON BREAM (CO-HOST): Well and you mention the name Hillary Clinton but now there are questions about if this company has links to the Clinton Foundation as well?
LIZ CLAMAN: Well, it appears that back I think in about 2009 -- I could be incorrect on the exact date there, Robert Coury, who was the then-CEO, actually was heading the company, he appeared in a photograph with Bill Clinton. He had made about a $100,000 to $250,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation on a completely unrelated HIV issue that they felt was really important that the Clinton Foundation was doing good work on. Okay, fine. But what you have is a PR problem that has now turned into a PR tsunami disaster because they simply raised the drug price of the EpiPen so much for no apparent reason. So now everybody is looking into -- Fox and Fox Business -- the Clinton Foundation issue, the tax aversion where they dodged taxes. Because they have a sparkling headquarters that was just built in 2014 in Pittsburgh. Really? Because we thought you moved to the Netherlands. All these questions now surface. And then they don't return our phone calls.
Medical experts and ethicists are harshly criticizing news outlets and doctors who continue to spread false conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health, warning that such irresponsible “diagnoses” are both unprofessional and dangerous.
Republican nominee Donald Trump and his campaign have been pushing the conspiracy theory that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is secretly suffering from severe health problems. Trump’s allies in the conservative media, including Fox News host Sean Hannity, have also promoted the Clinton health conspiracy theory.
But medical experts, some who represent hundreds of medical professionals, are warning that trying to diagnose Clinton without having examined her or researched her entire medical history is simply wrong.
“Diagnosing a person who is not your patient without ever examining that person or reviewing his or her entire medical record, signifies a huge ethical lapse on the part of a physician,” said Len Bruzzese, executive director of the Association of Health Care Journalists. “Shopping for doctors willing to do this anyway, signifies a huge ethical lapse on the part of a journalist.”
“To attempt to diagnose an individual without that information does them a disservice and can harm the individual with an inaccurate label or diagnosis which can negatively impact them,” said Dr. Robert Wergin, chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Board of Directors. “It can lead to speculation regarding the individual that could be far from the truth."
Dr. Art Caplan, head of the division of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, said, “unless you believe in psychic diagnosis it is completely irresponsible and unprofessional to do it.”
He later added, “The bottom line danger is you are likely to be wrong. Second, you are just playing along with the politics. That is what is driving this. They don’t care about these people, they are just calling doctors to push the partisanship. ... I think it's lousy journalism ethics. You shouldn’t be fostering the notion that somehow these are experts who can divine the health status of people they’ve never met, talked to, or have no sense of their medical history. It’s farcical and to indulge it is one more example of journalists not knowing how to cover this campaign.”
Lawrence McGinty, chair of the Medical Journalists’ Association, a British medical association, called such diagnoses “dangerous.”
“My advice to doctors would be simply ‘Don't.’ And as a TV news journalist for three decades, my advice to journalists would be, ‘Don't ask.’"
Karl Stark, a Philadelphia Inquirer health and science journalist and president of the Association of Health Care Journalists, added, “Guessing may be a staple of astrology but it's bad for medicine and bad for journalism.”
Andrew Holtz, a former CNN medical correspondent and editor of The Holtz Report, agreed: “When reporters call up a doctor and ask for something, like diagnosis by video clip, that is beyond their expertise, they should refuse to play along … and tell the reporter or producer why they can’t do it.”
Dr. Paul K. Bronston, National Chairman of the Ethics and Professional Policy Committee of the American College of Medical Quality, is a veteran medical expert in legal matters. He said such an approach would be dangerous in court, let alone on television.
“I think it’s outrageous and it's irresponsible and it's unethical,” Bronston said of the unauthorized opinions. “They have no business doing that if they haven’t reviewed their medical records, haven’t listened to appropriate doctors who are taking care of her, and they have to have the requisite specialty to comment on that.”
He cited Dr. Drew Pinsky’s recent claims as an example of one of the worst offenders.
“I am very concerned about Dr. Drew making medical evaluations and a diagnosis regarding Hillary Clinton’s alleged medical problems in areas outside his medical expertise,” Bronston said. “I also believe that he would probably be disqualified to give medical testimony in certain areas of Hillary’s medical condition in a California court. What he is doing is unethical.”
Jonathan Moreno, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, also cited doctor-patient ethics.
“Ethically, unless you have entered into a therapeutic relationship with a patient, you are not supposed to diagnose their medical condition,” he said. “And if you do that you are not supposed to reveal it under the doctor-patient relationship. It doesn’t do the profession any favors when you do these things.”
Dr. Richard Allen Williams, president of the National Medical Association, which represents African-American doctors, noted Trump’s role in the spread of accusations about Clinton.
“In the case of the particular political campaigns, it seems that most of the commentary regarding one’s health status has flowed from the Trump side to the Clinton side,” Williams said. “We do not see that as action that would be warranted and it is unethical from the standpoint of someone making a medical comment without having examined the individual or having knowledge of that person.”
Robert Powell: “The Reality Is Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees”
During an appearance on Fox Business, former Economist editor Robert Powell dispelled claims from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign that the candidate’s tax and economic policy proposals would generate at least five consecutive years of economic growth in excess of 4 percent annually.
Powell, who is now the global risk briefing manager for the Economist Intelligence Unit, a forecasting and advisory business operated by The Economist, was interviewed on the August 24 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co. Host Stuart Varney opened the segment by asking for a response to Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore’s guarantee earlier this week that the massive tax cuts proposed by the Republican nominee would generate sustained economic growth far outpacing anything witnessed in the United States since 1966. Along the way, Powell poked holes in the arguments in favor of the budget-busting supply-side tax cuts Trump and other Republicans have advocated for years as a silver bullet solution to economic malaise.
Powell mocked Moore’s guarantee, noting that “the reality is money doesn’t grow on trees,” and slammed Trump’s tax plan for promising to add trillions of dollars to the debt -- far more than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s proposal might. He undermined Varney’s unsubstantiated claim that cutting taxes will kickstart economic expansion, and reminded the Fox Business audience that President Reagan actually had to raise taxes to regain revenue lost to early tax cuts. Powell noted that to make up for built-in revenue losses, the rate of economic expansion would actually have to hit 10 percent or more -- which is not a “feasible” rate of growth. Most importantly, he questioned why Varney and his Fox Business cohort are gripped with so much economic anxiety when “unemployment is 4.9 percent” and the American economy is doing “relatively well” and is “a star performer” when compared with other developed countries around the world. From Varney & Co.:
Powell mentioned during the interview that The Economist does not believe either Trump’s or Clinton’s plan can meet Moore’s arbitrary growth threshold, stating that “we’re perfectly reasonable, and we don’t think Hillary Clinton will deliver 4 percent growth either.” But Powell did argue that Trump’s position on taxes and economic policy is “less responsible” than his Democratic opponent’s.
Trump’s inherent lack of responsibility is why the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global risk forecast for September 2016 ranks Trump being elected president as a threat to the global economy that is as big as “the rising threat of jihadi terrorism” and “a clash of arms in the South China Sea,” the site of a territorial dispute between China and other neighboring countries, including U.S.-allied Taiwan:
One of the things that went unsaid during the interview was how absurd it was for Varney to accept Trump’s 4 percent growth target in the first place. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the United States has not witnessed five consecutive years of growth in excess of 4 percent in five decades. When failed Republican candidate Jeb Bush first promoted the target in June 2015, experts slammed it as “impossible” and “nonsense.” Since then, arbitrary targets of 4 or 5 percent growth have been adopted by other GOP hopefuls, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and now Trump. For its part, Fox News has consistently fixated on setting arbitrary growth targets for the American economy in excess of 3 percent, which it claims is proof of a failed economic recovery under President Obama.
Media are attempting to scandalize a report from The Associated Press that revealed that “[m]ore than half the people outside the government who met with now-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money ... to the Clinton Foundation,” calling the report “breathtaking” and “disturbing,” because it “looks bad,” and the “optics” and “perceptions” are problematic, despite the fact that their programs also note that “it wasn’t illegal,” and there was no quid pro quo. The focus on the “optics” of the situation rather than the facts has led some in media to criticize the reporting, and explain that “consumers of the media [should] think twice about whether or not the narrative” media are pushing “fits ALL of the facts.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has been informally advising Donald Trump’s presidential campaign while serving as its primary media cheerleader, has effectively turned his nightly prime-time show into Trump’s second campaign headquarters. According to a Media Matters analysis, Hannity’s program has given Trump what amounts to more than $31 million in free advertising in the form of dozens of fawning interviews with the candidate since Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015.
Hannity has devoted just over 22 hours of airtime to broadcasting interviews with Trump since the launch of Trump’s campaign. That airtime is worth more than $31 million according to advertising value calculated by media monitoring service iQ Media. That coverage includes 51 original interviews and over a dozen re-airings of previously aired interviews. This year alone, Hannity has aired thirteen and a half hours of Trump interviews, four and a half hours of which have come since Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the Republican primary in early May, effectively ending the race.
IQ Media uses Nielsen data to determine the viewership of a given program and price data for advertising from Sqad to come up with an equivalent advertising rate.
These numbers only count the amount of time Hannity spent airing interviews featuring Donald Trump -- they do not include the countless time Hannity spends carrying the Trump campaign's water without the candidate present, including similarly fawning interviews with Trump family members, surrogates, and supporters.
Hannity has repeatedly faced criticism for his obsequious Trump coverage, including from conservatives who have mocked Hannity for his “slavish” Trump cheerleading and accused him of hosting a “nightly infomercial” for Trump’s campaign.
According to a previous Media Matters study, Hannity devoted far more airtime to interviews with Trump than with any of his 16 Republican presidential primary opponents. Just before dropping out of the race, Cruz complained that Rupert Murdoch and former network head Roger Ailes had “turned Fox News into the Donald Trump network.”
New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg recently reported that, in addition to serving as “Trump’s biggest media booster,” Hannity has “for months peppered Mr. Trump, his family members and advisers with suggestions on strategy and messaging.” Hannity defended himself by telling the Times that he’s “never claimed to be a journalist” and that he is “not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States.”
Hannity’s efforts to promote Trump's candidacy aren't ending anytime soon -- he’s slated to host the second half of a two-hour Trump town hall tonight.
Media Matters used iQ Media to ascertain the monetary value of Donald Trump's appearances on Hannity from May 1, 2015-August 23, 2015. The study includes all original appearances in Hannity’s usual 10 p.m. EST time slot -- repeat and reaired appearances were counted if they aired on a new day between 6 a.m. and midnight (overnight reairings of Hannity were not included). Trump interviews during early morning post-debate Hannity specials were counted. Interviews with Hannity guest hosts and guest interviewers were included if they aired on the program.
Graphic by Sarah Wasko.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent urged his supporters to vote for GOP nominee Donald Trump in a racially charged rant that labeled Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a “lying hypocrite bitch.”
In a August 24 post on his Facebook page, Nugent claimed that gun-related homicides “are largely the result of recidivistic, gangster, ‘black lives don’t matter’ punks killing other recidivistic gangster, ‘black lives don’t matter’ punks.”
“Not you. Not me. Leave us the hell alone!” Nugent added.
In fact, according to an analysis of a Centers for Disease Control study, “more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related.”
Nugent then downplayed the danger to the public posed by assault weapons, ignoring their ubiquitous involvement in public mass shootings, before calling Clinton a “Scammaster lying hypocrite bitch.” He concluded his post by writing, “Vote for Donald Trump and make America Great Again”:
This year Nugent has called for Clinton, along with President Obama, to be hanged for treason and also shared a fake video of Clinton being shot to death, writing, “I got your guncontrol right here bitch!”
Jorge Ramos, one of Hispanic media’s most prominent journalists, is asking the media not to “stay silent on Donald Trump” and to avoid “hid[ing] in the principle of neutrality.”
Ramos has had a tenuous relationship with the Republican presidential nominee, which has highlighted Trump’s problem with Hispanic media. In June 2015, Trump responded to an interview request from Ramos by publishing the anchor’s personal contact information on social media. Following that, Ramos was ejected from a Trump event after challenging the candidate, and more recently, Trump sent the anchor a “personal” letter with a bumper sticker and a donation request. Ramos and other Univision journalists have expressed their concern regarding Trump’s confrontational relationship with the media, pointing out how it’s similar in style to dictatorial regimes in Latin America.
In an August 23 piece in Time magazine, the Univision and Fusion anchor notes that, “when it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public lies, dictatorships and the violation of human rights,” media have to “take a stand” and realize that “providing both points of view is not enough.” Ramos criticized Trump for questioning “judge Gonzalo Curiel’s capacity to rule in a case” “simply because of his Hispanic ethnicity” and for his statements on “the silence of a Muslim-American woman” who had lost her son in Iraq, and notes that “Judgement day is coming” for journalists “who stay silent on Donald Trump.” From the August 23 article:
It doesn’t matter who you are—a journalist, a politician or a voter—we’ll all be judged by how we responded to Donald Trump. Like it or not, this election is a plebiscite on the most divisive, polarizing and disrupting figure in American politics in decades. And neutrality is not an option.
Trump has forced journalists to revisit rules of objectivity and fairness. Just providing both points of view is not enough in the current presidential campaign. If a candidate is making racist and sexist remarks, we cannot hide in the principle of neutrality. That’s a false equivalence.
Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite were right; sometimes you have to take a stand. They did it against the dangerous persecutions of Senator Joe McCarthy and in denouncing the pernicious official spin during the worst years of the Vietnam War.
Donald Trump’s candidacy has created the same moral dilemma and sense of urgency. So, yes, when it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public lies, dictatorships and the violation of human rights, we have to take a stand.
There have been two crucial moments in which even Trump supporters couldn’t defend their own candidate: when he questioned judge Gonzalo Curiel’s capacity to rule in a case in which he was involved simply because of his Hispanic ethnicity and when he criticized the silence of a Muslim-American woman, Ghazala Khan, who had lost her son, a U.S. soldier, in the Iraq war. Those moments proved to be too much even for the most loyal party members.
Even Trump’s jokes aren’t funny. He suggested that “Second Amendment people” do something about Hillary Clinton (which he later insisted was an attempt to motivate them to the polls, not assassinate her). He claimed his multiple comments accusing President Barack Obama of founding ISIS were “sarcastic.”
Trump, really, is no laughing matter. But he could be the next president. That’s how democracy works.
Judgment day is coming. Will you have peace of mind come November 9th?
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With Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his media surrogates making unfounded allegations about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s mental and physical well-being and demanding she release more medical records, The New York Times recently addressed the issue of candidate health. In a story headlined "Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Ages 68 and 70, Share Few Health Details," the newspaper claimed that both Trump and Clinton “have been more secretive and selective than many recent presidential nominees in providing up-to-date details about their personal health.”
The Times article quickly conceded that Trump has been less forthcoming than Clinton. But it’s wildly misguided to suggest Trump and Clinton have treated the issue of medical disclosures in a remotely similar fashion. Yes, each candidate has released a letter from his or her personal doctor evaluating the candidate’s current health. But it’s fantasy to pretend that the two doctors’ letters are comparable.
And that’s where the Times examination really stumbled, by trying to take seriously the dubious letter from Trump’s doctor that was released last December -- a letter that has been widely derided as a joke. “It purports to be a medical letter, but it is one of the most ridiculous documents ever to emerge in any political campaign,” Kurt Eichenwald recently wrote for Newsweek.
So committed was the paper to the narrative that both Clinton and Trump were hiding their medical past, the Times ignored the real story: Trump has released no verifiable information about his medical history. None. Because to date, Trump’s only medical release is his very weird doctor’s letter, which remains a completely useless document.
The brief, vague letter was released 11 days after Trump vowed in December to make public a “full medical report” about his physical health and fitness to serve as president. He bragged that the medical report would “show perfection.”
To date, there’s been no medical report, just the weird, uninformative letter penned by Dr. Harold N. Bornstein.
Accentuated by typos -- including a very odd “To Whom My Concern” salutation -- and featuring a website URL that doesn’t work, Trump’s four-paragraph medical letter was filled with strange terms like “astonishingly excellent,” which convey no medical meaning.
Dr. Jennifer Gunter dissected the Trump letter for The Huffington Post, noting that doctors "just don't typically write vague, quasi-medical things in letters. ... I would never write anything this terrible for a jury duty excuse or a back to work note. ... It’s medically illiterate.”
At one point, Trump’s doctor boasted that the Republican nominee’s “physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.” But the doctor never explained how he measured Trump’s stamina and strength. Bornstein also claimed Trump had lost “at least fifteen pounds” in the previous year, but he never listed the candidate’s current weight.
Another gaping hole, as noted by Eichenwald:
The letter from the Trump campaign mentions nothing about family history, as any normal letter assessing someone’s medical condition would. (Clinton’s does.) Family history is critical in understanding possible diseases that may emerge, particularly those with a genetic link. Trump’s father, Fred Trump, died from complications of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Meanwhile, Bornstein in the letter says he’s been treating Trump for decades. But note that the physician is a gastroenterologist, a doctor who treats digestive tract problems. If Trump is in such “astonishingly excellent” health, why has he been going to see a gastroenterologist for nearly half his life? (Clinton’s letter of medical evaluation was written by Lisa Bardack, director of internal medicine in the Mount Sinai Health System at CareMount Medical.)
None of it makes any sense, which is why the Trump letter has been widely derided as a joke. Yet this week the Times opted to treat the letter as legitimate in an effort to portray Trump and Clinton as equally secretive.
The truth is, Clinton has released about as much medical information as President Obama did when he ran for president in 2008. By contrast, Trump has released only a baffling, useless document from his gastroenterologist. “The letter provides essentially no medical information,” wrote Gunter.
The Times is right that there is a candidate in this race who’s being “more secretive and selective” about releasing medical information. But it’s not Clinton.
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Politico’s report on Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) re-election fight could not have been more flattering to the candidate if his press staff had authored it.
Based on attending a single day of events with McCain, Politico published an August 23 story headlined “The return of ‘Straight Talk’ McCain” that claimed that, at least for that day, he was again “the loose, accessible, happy warrior of Straight Talk Express yesteryear” and was “at ease on the trail” while “running what might be his last campaign in vintage plainspoken style.”
The fawning article relayed anecdotes from reporter Burgess Everett’s travel to a series of McCain campaign events that day. Readers learn that McCain told several jokes over the course of the day, that he was “relaxed enough to kid around about ethnic jokes” during one event and told a light joke at Everett’s expense at another. Everett also reported that McCain criticized Congress and President Obama, and that when asked about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the “straight-talker” first dodged the question before eventually saying,“I believe we should do everything we can as Republicans to steer Mr. Trump in the right direction.”
Somehow the article never mentioned that McCain has endorsed Trump. And despite the paeans to the “plainspoken” McCain, it never found space to bring up how the senator hemmed and hawed his way through a stammering nonanswer after being asked earlier this month if he is comfortable with his choice for president of the United States controlling the nuclear arsenal:
The Straight Talk Express is back! Congrats to the senator’s campaign press operation.
Thanks to an intensive, decades-long effort to cultivate the press, McCain has received an unearned reputation from reporters as a maverick and a straight-talker, as detailed in Media Matters’ 2008 book, Free Ride: John McCain and the Media. Yet after his words and actions make clear that he is a Republican like any other, the press regularly finds ways to declare that the “old” McCain is “back.”