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Experts In Asian Pacific Studies And International Relations Warn It “Raises The Risk Of Diplomatic Disaster”
Pundits are defending President-elect Donald Trump’s protocol-shattering phone conversation with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen as “terrific” and saying it will have “no cost to America,” but experts in Asian Pacific studies and international relations warn that the move “does not bode well for US-China relations” and “raises the risk of diplomatic disaster.”
A CNN graphic that misleadingly claimed President-elect Donald Trump “deliver[ed] on [his] vow to save” jobs at Indiana-based manufacturer Carrier demonstrates the need for the network to continue using on-screen graphics as a way of fact-checking Trump during his transition and presidency.
Carrier announced on November 29 that it had struck a deal with Trump and the State of Indiana to keep about 1,000 jobs it had planned to move to Mexico in the United States. According to The Wall Street Journal, the state will provide Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies Corp. (UTC), $7 million in tax breaks over the next decade in exchange for keeping the jobs there. In addition to the $7 million in tax breaks, Trump reportedly promised UTC CEO Greg Hayes millions more in future corporate tax reductions.
Discussing the announcement on the December 1 edition of CNN Newsroom, panelists noted multiple problems with Trump’s actions, including that the announcement could cause a “slippery slope” where “every company will expect to get huge tax incentives to stay in the United States,” a point economists and policy experts have also made. CNN commentator and New Yorker editor Ryan Lizza agreed, noting that “the precedent here can be very dangerous,” and adding, “You basically have this sort of extortion game that companies can now play because Trump has set himself up this way.” Echoing economist Jared Bernstein, Atlantic editor Ron Brownstein argued it is “unlikely that individual interventions in the decisions of individual companies is going to make a big dent in the long-term trajectory of a more automated and globalized manufacturing supply chain.”
However, someone looking at only the TV screen would not know these potential stumbling blocks with the deal. Instead, they would see only a graphic saying, “Trump Delivers On Vow To Save Carrier Jobs,” essentially giving Trump the talking point he wanted. That graphic presents a stark contrast from what CNN’s own Kate Bolduan noted during a later segment of At This Hour in which she stated: “1,000 jobs remaining in Indiana that would have left, that is to be celebrated. … But it is a far cry from what Trump promised … on the campaign trail.”
During the presidential campaign, CNN repeatedly used on-screen graphics to call out Trump’s lies and misleading rhetoric, such as "Trump: Never Said Japan Should Have Nukes (He Did)," "Trump’s Son: Father Apologized To Khans (He Hasn’t)," and "Trump Calls Obama Founder of ISIS (He’s Not)." CNN was not the only network to do this, with MSNBC also joining in to fact-check Trump’s claim he watched a “video of Iran receiving cash.” MSNBC’s graphic pointed out that the video was “nonexistent.”
As ABC News legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams noted during the campaign, this practice of fact-checking Trump in real time helped solve “one of the big problems in cable news” where things sometimes are “just not true” and need to be called out as such.
CNN’s failure to express the nuanced issues with the Carrier announcement highlights the need for CNN and other networks to have clearer on-screen graphics and continue their practice of on-screen fact-checking. These measures are crucial in preventing misleading talking points and falsehoods pushed by Trump from gaining traction.
Daniel Richman: “We Don’t Know What’s In [The Emails], And It’s Entirely Possible That There’s Nothing In Them”
Daniel Richman, a Columbia Law School professor and adviser to FBI Director James Comey, criticized the media’s poor coverage of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails taking Comey’s recent letter announcing the FBI’s review of possible new emails out of context.
Richman criticized the media for sensationalizing Comey’s letter to Congress on newly found emails from Clinton adviser Huma Abedin without explaining that “We don’t know what’s in them, and it’s entirely possible that there’s nothing in them.” In an interview with the Huffington Post Richman said that the letter sent by Comey on the FBI’s review of new emails “was pretty clear, and that media outlets had ‘failed, utterly’ in placing the letter in the proper context.” Richman continued:
“Everybody has their own views on what the letter said,” he continued. “In my view, as just a simple reader of the English language, it was dialed down as far as possible to convey the very odd position of there being emails that appeared to be related to this, without conveying anything about the contents, which of course he didn’t know at the time.”
“Could he have added an extra sentence saying, ‘I really mean it’? I guess,” Richman said. “It would be really nice if members of the media and members of the public realized that there’s a real possibility that there will be duplicates. Since they haven’t been checked, the bureau can’t say, but we can guess from the outside.”
Comey’s vague letter to Congress received heavy criticism from both journalists and experts for violating FBI precedent and meddling in the election. In an interview with CNN, Richman described the letter as “incomplete” and “innuendo,” and said the media had jumped to conclusions on its meaning. The New Yorker criticized Comey’s letter as “a striking break with the policies of the Department of Justice, according to current and former federal legal officials.”
But Media outlets -- especially those on the right -- have used Comey’s letter to attack Clinton and push flawed reporting on the email review by claiming it would result in a “likely” indictment of Clinton. These false claims have even made their way to Donald Trump’s campaign speeches, despite being walked back by Fox News.
Fox’s reporting, based on two anonymous sources, has been disputed by law enforcement officials who say “there have been no developments” in the case. An ABC News report directly debunked Fox, calling it “inaccurate and without merit,” while MSNBC’s Pete Williams reported that FBI officials have told him the report “is just not true.”
ABC News and NBC News are both disputing Fox News’ anonymously sourced report that there is an active, “very high priority” FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation which has collected “a great deal of evidence,” citing their own anonymous sources. Both ABC and NBC report that the investigation in question produced little evidence of wrongdoing and there have been no recent developments in the case.
On November 2, days before the presidential election, Fox News’ Bret Baier cited two anonymous sources “with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations into the Clinton emails and the Clinton Foundation” to claim that the investigation “into possible pay-for-play interaction between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Foundation” is a “‘very high priority'” and that “agents are actively and aggressively pursuing this case.” Baier said FBI agents “had collected a great deal of evidence” to suggest wrongdoing. The story has been trumpeted on Fox and in the conservative media and was highlighted during a November 3 speech by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
MSNBC anchor Kate Snow noted on November 3 that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “cited a Fox report” to allege that the FBI investigation “is likely to yield an indictment” and the Justice Department “is trying to protect” Clinton. Snow also reported, however, that “law enforcement officials tell NBC News” that “there have been no developments” in the Clinton Foundation case “for several months,” presumably because there is insufficient evidence for an indictment. From the November 3 edition of MSNBC Live:
KATE SNOW (HOST): Let me ask you about something Donald Trump said just a couple of hours ago in Jacksonville, Florida. He went on kind of went on a rant against Hillary Clinton and the about the FBI. He cited a Fox report that said that Clinton might face indictment related to the Clinton Foundation; I just want to note that law enforcement officials tell NBC News that the FBI did take an initial look at the Clinton Foundation based on allegations that were made in the press, and a book that’s gotten some attention -- excuse me -- but that there have been no developments on that front in the last several months. That said, here’s what Donald Trump said:
DONALD TRUMP: The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment. But just remember, the system is rigged. Just remember that. And reports also show the political leadership at the Department of Justice is trying to protect Hillary Clinton and is trying to interfere with the FBI investigation
ABC News’ sources similarly called the Fox report “inaccurate and without merit.” In a November 3 article, Matt Levine wrote that ABC News’ sources told him that in February, “prosecutors and senior FBI officials agreed there was no clear evidence of wrongdoing, and that a criminal case tied to the Clinton Foundation could not be made.” ABC further reported:
Investigators and higher-ups have continued to discuss the matter, but there has been no change in posture, sources said. Authorities still believe there is no evidence of wrongdoing, and they do not believe there is a sufficient reason to pursue charges, according to the sources.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has an extensive history of attacking the media, and his campaign and supporters have joined in the fight throughout the election. The nominee, his surrogates, and his supporters have called media outlets and reporters across the spectrum “dishonest,” “neurotic,” “dumb,” and a “waste of time,” and until recently, the campaign had a media blacklist of outlets that weren’t allowed into campaign events.
Media figures carried water for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after the second presidential debate, promoting the narrative that he “staunched the bleeding” in his ailing campaign with his debate performance. The assertion that Trump “stopped the bleeding” came despite many low points from Trump during the debate, including his statement that he would put his opponent in jail if he became president, and it ignores immediate post-debate polling that showed Trump lost the debate to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Fox News used a misleading chart featuring incomplete data to defend Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s false claim made during the first presidential debate that “murders are up” in New York City. Fox’s chart used data from 2014 to 2015 to demonstrate a rise in murder rates, but did not include complete data showing that murder rates in New York City are down in 2016 from the same point last year.
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Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of ABC’s The Dr. Oz Show, hosted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to purportedly discuss the results of a recent physical exam and go through “a full review of [Trump’s] systems.” Media organizations should be aware that Oz is infamous for “dubious medical advice” unsupported by evidence, that he has promoted discredited “ex-gay” therapy, and that he is a registered Republican who “donated handsomely” to GOP candidates.
Media figures are criticizing Donald Trump’s comments praising Russian President Vladimir Putin at NBC’s Commander-in-Chief forum where he said that Putin has “been a leader” far more than President Obama.
Right-wing media labeled the second night of the Democratic National Convention as an “anti-law enforcement rally” because a group of seven mothers, known as the Mothers of the Movement, were invited to speak about losing their children to gun violence or excessive use of force by police. While right-wing media figures have said that the Democratic Party “shows no respect for law enforcement,” the Pittsburgh Police Chief spoke prior to the mother's’ plea to “seek common ground” between law enforcement and communities, while one of the mothers lauded police, saying, “The majority of police officers are good people doing a good job.”
FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not recommend criminal charges be filed against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server. Right-wing media, echoing Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, soon baselessly accused Comey of excusing Clinton’s “gross negligence” in violation of the Espionage Act.
Conservative media figures are running with an ABC News report to claim that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “sold a seat” on the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) to Rajiv K. Fernando, a donor to the Clinton Foundation who was allegedly unqualified for the position. But the appointee in question is an expert in financial systems and serves on other national security boards. Contrary to ABC News’ implications, ISAB’s work includes financial security, and a general who works works with Fernando -- and who also currently sits on the ISAB -- says Fernando’s ”expertise in cyber-security is a great asset to our national security.”
Right-wing media are claiming that President Obama’s endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is “a terrible conflict of interest," suggesting the FBI could otherwise indict Clinton but will not do so because of the endorsement. Mainstream media and legal experts have reported for months that the “chatter” that Clinton will be indicted “is just plain ridiculous,” noting that “there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate basis for any sort of criminal charge against” Clinton.