CNN's moderators asked two questions during the Democratic primary debate on the issue of racial justice in America, but the topic was noticeably absent during the network's Republican primary debate.
During CNN's October 13 Democratic primary debate, moderator Anderson Cooper turned to Don Lemon, in order to "talk about issues of race in America." Lemon introduced a video question submitted via Facebook that asked, "Do black lives matter or do all lives matter?" Lemon noted that the question has previously been a stumbling block for some of the candidates on stage, and Cooper followed up by asking Secretary Hillary Clinton, "What would you do for African Americans in this country that President Obama couldn't?" The candidates' responses focused on institutional racism and urged reform on criminal justice, policing, education, jobs, and housing. In total, the debate dedicated nearly five minutes to discussing racial justice.
In contrast, CNN's September 16 Republican primary debate did not include a single question on racial justice.
The absence of questions addressing racial relations didn't go unnoticed. New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote that "it was both fascinating and disappointing that race relations in America were not directly addressed" during the Republican debate despite the fact that "issues of race consume the news," and polls show it is among the top three most important issues facing the country.
Following the Democratic debate, Huffington Post reported that race was one of several issues Democrats discussed in their CNN presidential primary debate that Republicans didn't, writing "the GOP contenders, however, have failed to utter the word 'black' even once during either of their debates."
Media Matters compiled a list detailing the amount of time spent during the CNN Republican and Democratic debates on various topics:
Methodology: Media Matters counted the time spent discussing each topic, counting from the beginning of the moderator's question on a given topic to the end of the last candidate's response on that topic. The time count only includes questions that were focused on the above topics and the responses given, it does not include discussions of those issues during opening and closing statements or responses addressing those issues during questions focused on other topics.
Julie Alderman, Cydney Hargis, and Brendan Karet contributed research to this post
The Democratic presidential candidates will gather in Las Vegas for their first primary debate on October 13, and NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer is urging CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper to make climate change and clean energy a central part of the discussion.
In a September 29 letter to Cooper, Steyer wrote that while three major candidates -- Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, and Bernie Sanders -- have recognized the threat posed by climate change and taken strong stands on key climate-related issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, Arctic drilling, and the EPA's Clean Power Plan, "the candidates have yet to discuss their specific plans to comprehensively address climate change and build a clean energy economy." That's why, according to Steyer, Cooper has "a unique opportunity to push the Democratic presidential candidates" to "articulate, defend and refine" their climate and clean energy plans.
In addition to making his case based on the urgency of addressing climate change, Steyer's letter cited polls showing that climate change is a "top-tier issue for Democratic voters" and argued that these voters "demand nothing less than a robust discussion" about the issue.
Cooper recently told the Huffington Post that he wasn't aware of Steyer's letter and wouldn't commit to asking about climate change in next week's debate. Cooper did acknowledge, however, that "environmental issues are of great interest" to both Democrats and the country as a whole, and he hinted that it is "entirely possible" he'll ask the candidates about the topic. CNN's Jake Tapper asked several GOP candidates about climate change during the cable network's Republican primary debate on September 16.
But NextGen Climate isn't taking any chances. In an October 7 blog post, the group pointed out that The Washington Post's Greg Sargent also believes that Democratic primary voters "deserve to know more specifics about the contenders' [climate] solutions," and concluded: "You're up, Anderson." NextGen also urged supporters to tweet some climate- and energy-related questions to Cooper:
Because of both the magnitude of the climate crisis and importance of the issue to Democratic voters, NextGen has called on the Democratic Party to add another primary-season debate to its schedule that will focus entirely on climate change and clean energy. But in the meantime, Tuesday's CNN debate presents an opportunity to get the conversation started.
Image at top via Flickr user mroach using a Creative Commons License.
From the July 8 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:
Loading the player reg...
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.
The rocky rollout of Obamacare has prompted commentators to attack the president and his team for having three years to plan for the launch and still not getting it right. That's a legitimate critique as problems persist. But the same can be said for an awful lot of reporters doing a very poor job covering Obamacare. They also had three years to prepare themselves to accurately report the story.
So what's their excuse?
The truth is, the Beltway press rarely bothers to explain, let alone cover, public policy any more. With a media model that almost uniformly revolves around the political process of Washington (who's winning, who's losing?), journalists have distanced themselves from the grungy facts of governance, especially in terms of how government programs work and how they effect the citizenry.
But explaining is the job of journalism. It's one of the crucial roles that newsrooms play in a democracy. And in the recent case of Obamacare, the press has failed badly in its role. Worse, it has actively misinformed about the new health law and routinely highlighted consumers unhappy with Obamacare, while ignoring those who praise it.
As Joshua Holland noted at Bill Moyers' website, "lazy stories of "sticker shock" and cancellations by reporters uninterested in the details of public policy only offer the sensational half of a complicated story, and that's providing a big assist to opponents of the law."
It's part of a troubling trend. Fresh off of blaming both sides for the GOP's wholly-owned, and thoroughly engineered, government shutdown, the press is now botching its Obamacare reporting by omitting key facts and context -- to the delight of Republicans. It's almost like there's a larger newsroom pattern in play.
And this week the pattern revolved around trying to scare the hell out of people with deceiving claims about how Obamacare had forced insurance companies to "drop" clients and how millions of Americans had "lost" their coverage.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes released a documentary on climate change Friday, continuing relatively in-depth coverage of what he calls "the single greatest threat that we face." In fact, Media Matters found that even prior to this documentary, Hayes dedicated over 1 hour and 40 minutes to climate change since the launch of his primetime show -- more than three times that of four shows on CNN and Fox News combined in that same time period. Including the coverage that Hayes dedicated to previewing and airing the documentary "The Politics of Power" on Thursday and Friday, Hayes has covered climate change for over 3 hours -- about nine times those shows combined.
From April 1, when the show All In with Chris Hayes premiered, to August 14, Hayes discussed climate change 19 times, devoting approximately 1 hour and 42 minutes to the issue*. By contrast, CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront only mentioned climate change once for about two minutes, Anderson Cooper 360 didn't mention it at all, and Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity only mentioned climate change dismissively, devoting twelve and seven minutes to the topic, respectively. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow also devoted more coverage than these other four primetime shows combined, discussing climate change eight times for a total of 32 minutes.
During this time period, President Barack Obama gave a major speech on climate change, carbon dioxide levels exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in human history, wildfires in the West and flooding in the Midwest were worsened in the context of this carbon pollution, and Republican politicians made several colorful claims denying the overwhelming science on climate change as a pro-Obama group conducted a campaign to highlight exactly these types of remarks.
From the October 19 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
Loading the player reg...
CNN's Erickson is now contributing his fraudulent talking points about taxes to CNN presidential debates.
As The Washington Post's Suzy Khimm reported, Erickson has helped launch a campaign to counter the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement, claiming that he is part of "the 53 percent" that is "subsidizing" the "whiners" with his taxes:
Conservative activists have created a Tumblr called "We are the 53 percent" that's meant to be a counterpunch to the viral "We are the 99 percent" site that's become a prominent symbol for the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Tumblr is supposed to represent the 53 percent of Americans who pay federal income taxes, and its assumption is that the Wall Street protesters are part of the 46 percent of the country who don't.
Erickson's movement is based on a fraud. While nearly half of American households have paid no income taxes in the past few years, the vast majority of Americans do pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes, as well as state and local taxes. In an April New York Times article, David Leonhardt explained how figures like the one Erickson was pushing distort the economic debate away from growing income inequality while completely ignoring taxes that all American households pay.
But at Tuesday's Republican primary candidates debate, CNN moderator Anderson Cooper adopted that fraud as fact. During the debate, Cooper asked Bachmann:
You also said at the last debate that everyone should pay something. Does that mean that you would raise taxes on the 47 percent of Americans who currently don't pay taxes?
After the debate, Cooper interviewed Herman Cain and again peddled the fraud that "there are a number of Americans, 47 percent, who don't pay taxes right now." [See update below.]
From the April 25 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
Loading the player reg...
Right-wing media have been hyping reports from an Indian news agency that President Obama's upcoming trip to India will cost $200 million a day and will require 34 warships to be stationed off the Indian coast. In fact, the White House, the Secret Service and the Pentagon have called the claims false, and numerous U.S. media sources question the numbers.
The question for the mainstream press, as always, is how to deal with egregious falsehoods that take hold and quickly drive our political discourse. Sometimes I think the right-wing plan is to just drown everyone in so many lies that it becomes too time consuming for journalists to fact-check all the fabrications. And perhaps that's why so often the lies are not confronted.
Happily, the India trip lie is being forcefully knocked down from some mainstream media outlets such CNN and ABC News. And that's exactly the right way to confront a misinformation campaign -- call it out for what it is. Don't look away, or issue it's-just-Rush-being-Rush type of passes to powerful pundits who can't tell the truth. The correct thing to do is to say without apology, that these people are lying about the President of the United States, they don't seem to care that they're lying, and most likely they know they're lying. ($2 billion in security costs for a presidential visit? On what planet?)
And to his credit, that's essentially what Anderson Cooper did on last night's show:
And it's what ABC's Jake Tapper did on Good Morning America:
Meanwhile on her program last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow also debunked the India trip idiocy. But Maddow went a bit further and explained the larger, disturbing trend in play, which is how the "alternative, self-contained, right-wing media world" fabricates and deceives on purpose; how it's designed to spread misinformation. Maddow notes the increasing trouble with that is that more and more Republican political leaders are taking that right-wing misinformation ($2 billion) and deploying it into the real world.
Maddow laments that because of its self-contained structure there's no longer an effective debunking process for right-wing lies because nobody inside that world acknowledges the outside world. True to a point. But I still think it's effective and important and necessary for independent journalists to call out this nonsense and let right-wing pundits know they cannot always lie with impunity.
From the September 21 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
Loading the player reg...
From the August 2 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees:
Loading the player reg...
In recent days, media figures repeatedly referred to the Senate Democrats' possible use of reconciliation to pass health care reform with a simple majority as the "nuclear option," with Fox News going so far as to run graphics defining "nuclear option" as "[f]orcing government-run insurance through the Senate with just 51 votes." In fact, the term "nuclear option" was coined by then-Republican Sen. Trent Lott in 2005 to refer to a possible Republican attempt to change Senate filibuster rules, while the budget process, known as reconciliation, is already part of Senate procedure, and Republicans have used it repeatedly in the past.
Echoing Fox News' Bill Sammon and Sean Hannity, CNN hosts Anderson Cooper and Kiran Chetry both falsely compared Senate Democrats' potential use of the reconciliation process to pass health reform legislation to the "nuclear option." In fact, the term "nuclear option" was coined by then-Republican Sen. Trent Lott in 2005 to refer to a possible Republican attempt to change Senate filibuster rules, while reconciliation is already part of Senate procedure and Republicans have used it repeatedly in the past.