Critical voices in the media are increasingly encouraging news outlets to not give a "free pass" to the fact that presidential candidate Donald Trump "is without question making himself into the racist's candidate for president."
During the Sunday news shows on November 22, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and John Kasich were all challenged by hosts over the fact that under current federal law, people who are on the FBI's consolidated terror watch list are not legally prohibited from buying guns. The questions over what is known as the "terror gap" followed widespread media discussion of legislation in Congress -- opposed by the National Rifle Association -- that would prohibit people on terror watch lists from buying guns.
From the November 22 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
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Right-wing media mischaracterized President Obama's remarks that ISIS has been "contained" to suggest that he downplayed the international threat posed by the terrorist group. However, fact-checkers have determined that "references or suggestions that Obama claimed ISIS no longer presents an active threat are incorrect."
In recent months, media investigations have revealed that Exxon Mobil peddled climate science denial for years after its scientists recognized that burning fossil fuels causes global warming, prompting New York's Attorney General to issue a subpoena to Exxon and all three Democratic presidential candidates to call for a federal probe of the company. But despite these developments, the nightly news programs of all three major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- have failed to air a single segment addressing the evidence that Exxon knowingly deceived its shareholders and the public about climate change.
On the November 10 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, host George Stephanopoulos allowed GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to greatly exaggerate the nation's unemployment rate when he falsely claimed that "unemployment is probably close to 20 percent." Trump has a history of trumpeting debunked right-wing media myths as campaign talking points. He previously claimed that the unemployment rate "might very well be" 40 percent or more, echoing Rush Limbaugh. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, October's unemployment rate stood at just five percent, the lowest rate since April 2008.
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Since the start of the 2016 presidential election season, CBS and PBS have dedicated more coverage of the issues surrounding the crisis of money in politics and campaign finance than any other broadcast network, while MSNBC led in the coverage among cable news outlets. Despite polls showing Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of the post-Citizens United campaign finance landscape, most news outlets still provide little coverage of the current impact of money in politics and possibilities for reform.
Newly-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) came under fire for accepting the position under the condition that he be able to spend time with his family, while also opposing a federal paid family leave policy. When he appeared on CBS' Face The Nation and ABC's This Week, both interviewers neglected to ask Ryan about his opposition to paid family leave policies, which benefit employees, employers, and the economy.
On October 20, Paul Ryan announced that he would run for Speaker of the House as long as a number of conditions were met, one being that he would not "give up [his] family" for traditional requirements of the job, such as "spending hundreds of days on the road raising money for Republican candidates." After Ryan's announcement, Politico noted that "when it comes to federal policies on family leave, Ryan has opposed virtually every measure proposed over the past several years."
Since announcing his candidacy for Speaker of the House, Ryan has been widely criticized for his hypocrisy on family leave. EMILY's List asserted that Ryan is "totally in favor of family-friendly workplace policies for Speakers of the House named Paul Ryan." Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, issued a statement criticizing Ryan for having "refused to sign on to two bills that would provide Americans time to care for a loved one during a routine or even a serious illness, namely, the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act. When Rep. Ryan had the opportunity to vote for paid time for federal employees to bond with a new child, he voted no - twice." Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project told Politico "Paul Ryan is rightly concerned about his job's impact on his spouse and children ... yet [he] isn't willing to guarantee that all workers ... have the necessary tools to balance their work and family obligations."
Ryan made the rounds on the November 1 Sunday talk shows the week after the Speaker election. Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, and State of the Union asked Ryan about his opposition to federal paid family leave legislation, noting his condition that he not give up his own family time. However, ABC's Martha Raddatz and CBS' John Dickerson of This Week and Face the Nation, respectively, neglected to question Ryan's hypocrisy, even as Raddatz mentioned his family as part of his hesitation to take on the job, and Dickerson asked Ryan what he told his children about the new position.
Paid family leave was brought up earlier this year in President Obama's State of the Union address. Economists have found that increasing paid parental leave could incentivize more women to join and remain in the labor force, boost the economy, increase wages, and keep families out of poverty and reduce their reliance on public assistance.
A Media Matters analysis of the three months of broadcast evening news' coverage of Hillary Clinton following her 2016 presidential campaign launch found that there were more than twice as many segments covering Clinton's use of a personal email server than there were of her more than a dozen announced policy proposals and positions.
Broadcast evening news programs were once again virtually silent on congressional Republicans' attempt to restrict women's access to reproductive health care by pushing an extreme 20-week ban through the Senate. The same outlets ignored a GOP-controlled House vote on a similar bill in May.
From the September 17 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:
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After the Department of Justice (DOJ) told a federal court that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had full authority to delete what she determined to be personal emails without involvement from the agency, most of the Sunday political talk shows covering the Clinton email story failed to mention this development.
Broadcast evening news programs entirely ignored Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign finance reform proposal, instead continuing to focus on speculation about Clinton's email use and poll numbers, according to a Media Matters review.
Cable and network TV news devoted more segments to coverage of economic issues during the first half of 2015 compared to the last six months of 2014, an increase driven by heightened public interest in the debate over economic inequality and a flurry of economic policy proposals from nearly two dozen 2016 presidential candidates.
ABC's This Week host George Stephanopoulos passed on the opportunity to question Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker about how his health care plan would harm low-income Americans. Stephanopoulos failed to question Walker on this topic despite mainstream media outlets highlighting the issue in articles detailing Walker's plan.
On August 18, Walker revealed his plan to replace the Affordable Care Act if he is elected president. A key feature of his plan is to issue tax credits based on age rather than income to help Americans purchase health insurance plans, but mainstream media outlets quickly detailed how this change would hurt the ability of low-income Americans to afford robust health insurance coverage.
The Upshot blog from The New York Times explained how Walker's plan is "much less concerned about ensuring health care access for the poor," and "appears to be less generous for many poor Americans":
Governor Walker's plan appears to be less generous for many poor Americans. It would roll back the Medicaid expansion that has provided free insurance to low-income adults. It would distribute tax credits to those with private coverage on the basis of age, not income.
But it means that for people without a lot to spend on insurance, a comprehensive health plan may slip back out of reach. For others, an affordable plan might be so bare-bones that it wouldn't kick in before a major health catastrophe.
Wealthier people, on the other hand, could fare better under this plan, as long as they're healthy. They would get more federal money to buy insurance plans, and they would have the choice of buying cheaper, less comprehensive plans than those offered under Obamacare rules.
Vox highlighted the detrimental impact Walker's plan would have on the poor and demonstrated how an age-based tax credit plan could help the rich while hurting low-income earners of the same age:
For high earners, this might be great. Under Walker's plan, Taylor Swift would get $1,200 to help buy coverage because she's 25, while Obamacare would give her nothing on the grounds that she's superrich. For lower-income people, this is a lousy deal: A 25-year-old earning $17,000 at a low-wage job would get a $1,962 credit under Obamacare.
A world in which Obamacare is repealed, and the Walker plan enacted, is one in which the individual market is friendlier to higher-income, healthy shoppers -- but likely worse for the poor and the sick, both those seeking private coverage and those on Medicaid.
Instead of questioning Walker about this pressing problem with his health care plan, harming the ability of low-income Americans to afford quality health insurance compared to Obamacare, Stephanopoulos only asked him about criticism from an opponent, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), about the cost of his plan and how he would fund it. Watch: