Media Structures & Regulations

Issues ››› Media Structures & Regulations
  • Breitbart’s Curt Schilling Praises Photo Of Man Advocating For The Lynching Of Journalists

    Curt Schilling: “So Much Awesome Here”

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling praised an image of a man wearing a shirt that promoted the lynching of journalists. In a November 7 tweet, Schilling responding to a picture of a man wearing a shirt that said, “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required,” tweeting “Ok, so much awesome here”:
    Schilling Deleted Tweet

    While journalists have condemned the shirt’s message, Schilling’s post continues his promotion of inflammatory and offensive rhetoric, including memes comparing Muslims to Nazis, a comparison of the Confederate flag to biblical imagery, and an image suggesting that participants in a march commemorating the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” including civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), were not patriotic.

    UPDATE: Curt Schilling has since deleted the offensive tweet.

  • Days Before The Election, Sunday Shows Turn Almost Exclusively To White Guests

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    In their final editions before the 2016 election, over 80 percent of guests on the five Sunday morning political talk shows were white. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s racism has been a consistent theme of the race, but those shows hosted only 10 people of color out of 53 total guests.

    CBS’s Face The Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday each hosted only one person of color on the November 6 edition of their show, with Jamelle Bouie, Van Jones, and Juan Williams each appearing in panel discussions. NBC’s Meet The Press hosted three people of color: reporter Kristen Welker and panelists Jose Diaz-Balart and Fred Yang. ABC’s This Week set a higher bar, with four out of 12 guests being people of color. Two of those guests, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), appeared in a panel discussion.

    Here are the major political panels on each of those programs:

    Trump’s historic racism has been well documented. He began his recent political career in 2011 by spreading the racist and baseless accusation that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States; used his first campaign speech to call Mexicans criminals and rapists; said a federal judge could not be fair to him because of his “Mexican heritage”; lashed out at Muslim Gold Star parents; has been celebrated by white nationalists; hired Steve Bannon, who oversaw Breitbart News’ attempts to normalize and embrace the white nationalist movement; and last week was endorsed by “one of the most prominent newspapers of the Ku Klux Klan.”

    Indeed, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria opened the November 6 edition of his show by highlighting Trump’s unprecedented racism as part of “the core views of Donald Trump,” noting that “Trump has consistently expressed himself -- in word and deed -- in ways that can only be described as racist.” Zakaria expanded on Trump’s history of racism, including being sued by the Justice Department for “allegedly denying housing to qualified black people” and his “striking[]” refusal to accept the innocence of the Central Park Five.

    In 2015, Media Matters’ annual Sunday shows report found that white men represented more than 50 percent of all guests on the five shows and that white persons in general made up more than 75 percent of the guests on each show.

  • Journalists Condemn CNN's Lewandowski Embarrassment After Trump Campaign Manager's "#teamwork" Tweet

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    CNN’s ethical dilemma over its employment of Corey Lewandowski, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, as a political analyst was on display once again when current campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted a picture of her and Lewandowski with the caption “#teamwork #NH.”

    CNN’s use of on-air Trump surrogates has drawn widespread condemnation, with media critics pointing out that the practice has undercut the “work of [CNN’s] journalists.” Despite these concerns, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker has stood by the network’s decision to give Trump surrogates a platform to spread lies and derogatory rhetoric, claiming that CNN has a responsibility “to represent those 13-14 million voters who have voted for” Trump, rather than to provide viewers with accurate analysis.

    Lewandowski has been at the center of CNN’s ethical dilemma, with many criticizing the network for employing him as an analyst while he was still receiving payments from the Trump campaign, advising the Trump campaign, working on debate prep for the Trump campaign, traveling with the Trump campaign, and campaigning with Trump.

    A week after calling on the “@CNN Dream Team” of Trump surrogates to “stay strong,” on November 4, current Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted a picture of her, press secretary Hope Hicks, and Lewandowski, captioning the tweet “#teamwork.” The tweet spurred criticism from members of the media, with The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple saying it “should shame everyone at CNN” and noting that “now we know that officially and unequivocally, the Trump campaign regards a paid CNN commentator as part of the team.” Others called the tweet -- and what it signifies about the relationship between a CNN analyst and the Trump campaign -- “totally inappropriate.”

    Sign Media Matters petition and tell CNN to cut ties with Corey Lewandowski immediately.

  • CNN's Stelter Explains How Hannity “Embraced” A Fake Story That Would’ve Been “Disproven By A Quick Twitter Search”

    Brian Stelter: This “Claim Could Have Been Disproven By A Quick Twitter Search”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter outlined how Fox host Sean Hannity “embraced a piece of fake news about President Obama deleting endorsements of Hillary Clinton from his Twitter account.”

    Stelter reported in a November 1 article that Hannity’s decision to promote the story that “could have been disproven by a quick Twitter search ...illustrates how fake new stories expand and spread from fringe web sites to nationally syndicated radio shows with millions of listeners”:

    Sean Hannity on Tuesday embraced a piece of fake news about President Obama deleting endorsements of Hillary Clinton from his Twitter account.

    Hannity used the made-up news to claim that President Obama's legacy might be "jail."

    The deleted-tweets claim could have been disproven by a quick Twitter search.

    The progression of events illustrates how fake news stories expand and spread from fringe web sites to nationally syndicated radio shows with millions of listeners. In this case, the fake news originated on a dubious site called "Your News Wire," which publishes a mix of true, slanted and made-up news. Then, like a game of telephone, by the time the story got to Hannity, even the fake facts were wrong.

    [...]

    By 4 p.m., the made-up claims were on "The Sean Hannity Show." Hannity was talking about revelations from the Wikileaks trove of stolen Clinton campaign emails. He began to read information about Warren and Obama, then said "What?"

    A female voice chimed in to report: "Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren have both unfollowed Hillary Clinton, as well as scrubbing their timeline of tweets about her."

    "Wow," Hannity said, and paused. "That means they know it's huge. You know why? Because Obama's implicated! He's implicated here, and he's pissed. You know what his legacy might be? Jail."

    Hannity later apologized for advancing this false news story, tweeting “correction. Live on radio I read a gateway pundit report that @MichelleObmaa had deleted mentions of HRC. And a listener said BHO and …” “Elizabeth Warren did same. Fact is they didn’t. I humbly apologize. Live radio”:

  • Mark Halperin’s Donald Trump Interview Even Fails The Mark Halperin Test

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Mark Halperin’s widely panned interview with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was obsequious and didn’t yield any news, as many critics have pointed out. But it also failed Halperin’s own requirement that journalists who interview Trump ask him about his unprecedented refusal to release his tax returns in order to pressure him to follow presidential election norms.

    Halperin, the host of Bloomberg News’ With All Due Respect (which also airs on MSNBC) and Showtime’s The Circus, interviewed Trump following the candidate’s October 26 publicity event for his new hotel in Washington, D.C. After portions of the interview aired on his Bloomberg show, critics called Halperin’s questions “truly laughable,” compared him unfavorably to Sean Hannity, and suggested he was seeking a job on Trump TV.

    The full interview, later published on the YouTube channel for The Circus, does nothing to bolster that initial assessment. Halperin had a rare opportunity, for a mainstream journalist, to ask tough questions of the GOP nominee. Instead, questions included:

    • “But how does a building connect to your presidential aspirations and your qualities?”

    • “You’d be surprised to hear that Hillary Clinton’s already criticized the hotel?”

    • “But people who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, they’re all great or?”

    • “You’ve redefined how candidates talk about polls. Some polls now you’re winning, some you’re behind. We’ve got a new poll where you’re up in Florida. What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”

     

     

    Halperin’s questions not only fail as journalism, but they also fail the standard that Halperin himself has laid down for Trump interviews.

    In May, Halperin declared that journalists are “obligated” to keep pushing Trump until he releases his “full [tax] returns” just like every nominee has done for decades. He specifically stated that “we have to all keep asking, as many of us have asked. I've asked him several times about it -- he gives roughly the same answer. He's going to have to put out the returns, I’m almost certain, and we should demand full returns, not just the summary.” His co-host John Heilemann has also suggested that journalists “try every time we sit in front of him make it clear to him that it's not OK that he violate what has become a norm in American elections over the past 30 or 40 years.”

    The New York Times on October 1 produced three pages from Trump’s 1995 tax returns, which showed that he had declared a $916 million loss that “could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.” Yet Trump has continued to offer a series of excuses for why he won’t release any tax returns.

    Halperin had the opportunity to follow his own standard and press Trump on his refusal to follow a decades-old requirement for presidential nominees. Instead, he asked the candidate if he agreed with the “people” who supposedly said that “this was a great Trump speech.”

  • NY Times Executive Editor: CNN And Fox Campaign Coverage Is “Bad For Democracy And Those Institutions”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet condemned U.S. cable news -- particularly CNN and Fox News -- for their “ridiculous” presidential campaign coverage in an interview with the Financial Times, accusing the networks of, as the paper described it, “blurring the line between entertainment and news and pandering to partisan viewers.”

    In the interview, Baquet criticized CNN’s hiring of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, saying, “I’m sorry, that is outrageous. I cannot fathom that,” and calling Lewandowski “a political shill.” CNN created an ethical nightmare for the network when it hired Lewandowski, who still advises the Trump campaign, probably cannot legally disparage his former boss, and was paid simultaneously by CNN and the Trump campaign for months. CNN has also paid surrogates to go on air and defend Trump’s many false and offensive statements at almost any length.

    Baquet was “most critical of Fox News” in his interview, the Financial Times reported, noting that the network “‘at its heart is not a journalistic institution.’” Baquet described Fox’s coverage as “‘some weird mix of a little bit of journalism, a little bit of entertainment, a little bit of pandering to a particular audience.’” Fox served as a safe space for Trump for weeks before the first presidential debate as he managed to almost entirely avoid being interviewed on other networks, and during the Republican primaries, Fox gave Trump more than double the airtime of any other Republican candidate. In addition, Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity endorsed Trump following the primaries, has given Trump more than $31 million in free publicity, serves as an informal adviser to Trump, and has defended his softball coverage of Trump by asserting that he’s “not a journalist.”

    Baquet concluded that the two networks’ conduct is “in the long run, bad for democracy and those institutions,” noting that Trump is “a product of that world.” From the October 28 Financial Times interview:

    US cable news networks have played a “ridiculous” role in the presidential campaign by blurring the line between entertainment and news and pandering to partisan viewers, Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, has said.

    Mr Baquet said CNN had been wrong to hire Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, as a commentator and was in danger of damaging both itself and democracy. “I’m sorry, that is outrageous. I cannot fathom that,” he said of Mr Lewandowski’s onscreen role, describing him as “a political shill”.

    Mr Baquet, in an interview in London to mark the New York Times’ digital expansion internationally, was most critical of Fox News, the rightwing news network owned by 21st Century Fox, and its former chairman Roger Ailes. Mr Ailes resigned in July following accusations that he sexually harassed female staff, which he denies.

    “Fox News at its heart is not a journalistic institution. Megyn Kelly [a Fox presenter] is a great journalist, Chris Wallace is a great journalist, but it is some weird mix of a little bit of journalism, a little bit of entertainment, a little bit of pandering to a particular audience … I don’t think Roger Ailes will go down as one of the great journalists of his time.”

    Mr Baquet described the conduct of Fox News and CNN as “in the long run, bad for democracy and those institutions … This mix of entertainment and news, and news masquerading as entertainment, is kind of funny except that we now have a guy who is a product of that world nominated as Republican presidential candidate.” 

  • Despite Widespread Condemnation From Jewish Leaders, Curt Schilling Continues To Defend His Bigoted Statements

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an October 27 appearance on Newsmax’s America Talks Live, newly-hired Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling refused to apologize for asking CNN’s Jake Tapper to account for Jewish Americans' support of the “so clearly anti-Jewish Israel” Democratic Party.

    After the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish leaders criticized Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling for his “bigoted” and “tone-deaf” questioning of CNN’s Jake Tapper, who is of Jewish heritage, Schilling agreed with Newsmax host Steve Malzberg’s claim he “didn’t say anything wrong to Tapper.”

    Defending his widely criticized remarks, Schilling blamed the media, claiming “the narrative’s getting skewed” and “the media has no accountability”:

    STEVE MALZBERG (HOST): You've come under fire also from some Jewish groups -- now, I'm Jewish, and I saw the interview you did with Jake Tapper, and all you said to him is what people say to me all the time, and Curt, what I say to my Jewish friends all the time -- "How the heck could you, as a Jew, support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party?"

    And you would have thought, you know, you -- you were praising Hitler. They're all after you now. Why?

    CURT SCHILLING: First of all, I don't say "Jew." Saying "Jew" makes me feel uncomfortable. I asked Jake Tapper "As a man of Jewish faith, why in his" -- and he clearly made it clear to me that he doesn't vote in the presidential elections, which I didn't know, but I always have found -- I have a neighbor who lives right down the street, who's a brilliantly smart guy.

    And I asked -- I talked to him a lot about the history of the Jewish state, and the history, the plight of the Jewish people, and I like to understand why things happen, so instead of relying on a media which is clearly askew and in the tank for liberal ideas and liberal narratives, I felt like asking someone of the Jewish faith why -- why they vote -- why they have voted considerably more Democrat.

    And it's been forever, I didn't realize it was as huge of a lean as it was, number one, and how long it's been that Jewish people -- people of Jewish faith -- because the Democratic Party is, you know -- this is the party that founded the KKK. they are anti-Israel. This administration, the only real reason I feel like they've done anything with Israel is because there were agreements in place before Obama got in, because I don't think he would have carried out any of that, had he not already been kind of handcuffed to it.

    But this -- this party has been anti-Israel, you know they call it ISIL, the Levant of ISIL. The L in ISIL is Levant, includes Israel which is why they say it. It's a -- I think it's a slight at Israel to begin with.

    [...]

    MALZBERG: So you were -- Curt, Curt so you don't get this though, do you? I mean, you don't -- you didn't say anything wrong to Tapper. I don't think you did.

    SCHILLING: No, no no no, and here's the thing, any time you start to become something in the media that you're not, you realize the narrative's getting skewed. I'm starting to understand and feel a little bit of what it might be like to run for political office.

    The media has no accountability, they get to say and do whatever they feel like saying and -- listen, how many times have you heard Ivanka Trump had to answer for her father's comments? And on the other flip -- on the other side of the coin, how many times have you heard Chelsea Clinton been asked about her father being a rapist, or a sexual assaulter?

    MALZBERG: Never. Never, never, never, never, never.

    SCHILLING: Because that's not how the game works for them.

    Schilling had previously defended his questioning of Tapper by telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “I’m not going to play the victim game because I’m a white male Christian, which apparently makes me a racist.”

    Schilling’s continued defense of his widely condemned remarks continue his tradition of bigoted social media posts, and fits Breitbart News’ history of promoting anti-semitic speech within the confines of its media outlets.

  • Report: Trump's Campaign Resources Could Help Him Launch A Media Outlet "To Carry On His Movement"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A Bloomberg Businessweek report brought to light the possibility that if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump loses the election, he could capitalize on his campaign resources and partner with Breitbart News to launch a Trump TV network using his list of supporters to “gain a platform from which to carry on his movement” and strengthen the global “cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics.”  

    Trump’s campaign has constantly lashed out against the media, even Fox News, despite his retreat to the network and their efforts to rehabilitate his image. The Trump campaign also announced proposals to “break up” media companies that Trump disapproves of, and “open up our libel laws” to make it easier to sue outlets and journalists. At the same time, Trump has also parroted anti-Semitic talking points from white nationalist “alt-right” media, including Breitbart News, which is the website of his campaign CEO Stephen Bannon. Recently, the Trump campaign launched a nightly Facebook Live show “to circumvent mainstream media,” an effort many journalists understood as “a Trump TV dry run.”

    The October 27 Bloomberg Businessweek article explained that Trump is uniquely positioned to launch his own TV network -- which reportedly began as a threat to Fox News’ Roger Ailes to gain more favorable coverage of the candidate -- given his readymade audience of the campaign supporters he paid for, who will “buy into his claim that the election was rigged and stolen from him.” As the report noted,  “the easiest move would be for Trump to partner with Bannon’s global Breitbart News Network” to launch “a platform from which to carry on his movement.” The report  also noted that “this cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics” is already happening in Great Britain, where Raheem Kassam -- editor-in-chief of Bannon’s Breitbart London -- is a candidate to become the leader of the UK Independence Party, with the slogan “Make UKIP Great Again.” From the article:

    According to a source close to Trump, the idea of a Trump TV network originated during the Republican primaries as a threat [Trump’s son-in-law Jared] Kushner issued to Roger Ailes when Trump’s inner circle was unhappy with the tenor of Fox News’s coverage. The warring factions eventually reconciled. But Trump became enamored by the power of his draw after five media companies expressed interest. “One thing Jared always tells Donald is that if the New York Times and cable news mattered, he would be at 1 percent in the polls,” says the source. “Trump supporters really don’t have a media outlet where they feel they’re represented—CNN has gone fully against Trump, MSNBC is assumed to be against Trump, and Fox is somewhere in the middle. What we found is that our people have organized incredibly well on the web. Reddit literally had to change their rules because it was becoming all Trump. Growing the digital footprint has really allowed us to take his message directly to the people.”

    It’s not clear how much of this digital audience will remain in Trump’s thrall if he loses. But the number should be substantial. “Trump will get 40 percent of the vote, and half that number at least will buy into his claim that the election was rigged and stolen from him,” says Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign chief and an outspoken Trump critic. “That is more than enough people to support a multibillion-dollar media business and a powerful presence in American politics.”

    Digital strategists typically value contact lists at $3 to $8 per e-mail, which would price Trump’s list of supporters anywhere from $36 million to $112 million. The Trump enterprise could benefit from it in any number of ways. The easiest move would be for Trump to partner with Bannon’s global Breitbart News Network, which already has a grip on the rising generation of populist Republicans. Along with a new venture, Trump would gain a platform from which to carry on his movement, built upon the millions of names housed in Project Alamo. “This is the pipe that makes the connection between Trump and the people,” says Bannon. “He has an apparatus that connects him to an ever-expanding audience of followers.”

    As it happens, this cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics is already occurring overseas—and Trump’s influence on it is unmistakable. In early October, the editor-in-chief of Breitbart London, Raheem Kassam, a former adviser to Nigel Farage, announced he would run for leader of UKIP. His slogan: “Make UKIP Great Again.”