An October 8 Associated Press report, titled "Clinton Server Hack Attempts Came From China, Korea, Germany" outlined how "at least five cyberattack tries were apparently blocked by a 'threat monitoring' product that was connected to her network in October 2013." Fox News immediately began using the AP report to support spurious claims regarding Hillary Clinton's email server, but a Washington Post reporter recently explained that failed hacking attempts such as these are a routine occurrence online.
The Associated Press properly identified Liberty Counsel -- the legal group defending Kentucky's Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis -- as an anti-LGBT hate group, in an all-too-rare example of a major news outlet accurately informing its audience about Liberty's extreme views.
Liberty Counsel's defense of Davis has put it at the center of a months-long media firestorm over the clerk's refusal to follow the law and issue same-sex marriage licenses. Yet major news outlets have repeatedly failed to note that Liberty Counsel has been labeled an anti-LGBT "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, often only referring to the group as a "Christian" or "conservative" legal organization.
From the Associated Press (emphasis added):
Kim Davis' lawyer stood onstage in a Washington D.C. hotel and pointed to a photo on the screen. It showed 100,000 people packed into a Peruvian soccer stadium, Mat Staver told the crowd, all there to pray for the Kentucky clerk battling against gay marriage.
The crowd erupted.
It wasn't true.
Staver's firm, the Liberty Counsel, which revealed Davis' secret meeting with Pope Francis, has been accused by advocacy groups of peddling misrepresentations in the past. Yet it has become the main source of details about the controversial pope meeting.
Online sleuths quickly debunked the Peru story Staver told at the Values Voter Summit, a conference for the conservative Family Research Council. The photo was from a year-old gathering unrelated to Davis, who spent five days in jail for defying a court order and refusing to license gay marriages. Staver could provide no evidence of a massive Davis rally. On Monday, he called it a mistake and blamed miscommunication with the Peruvian authorities who gave him the photo.
The next day, the firm dropped a bombshell. It said Pope Francis, on his celebrated visit to America, secretly met with Davis. The pope hugged her, thanked her for her courage and told her to "stay strong," Liberty Counsel said. The Vatican on Friday said the pope had a brief meeting with Davis that should not be seen as support for her stance.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Liberty Counsel as an anti-gay hate groups for spreading false information.
"A group that regularly portrays gay people as perverse, diseased pedophiles putting Western civilization at risk are way, way over the line," said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center.
The Liberty Counsel has connected homosexuality to higher rates of promiscuity and incest, Potok said, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. The firm opposes laws banning hate crimes and supports discredited conversion therapies that purport to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals. Staver once declared that the Boy Scouts would become a "playground for pedophiles" once it allowed gay troop leaders.
A Wall Street Journal op-ed falsely claimed that there is no gender-based pay-inequality in the United States and therefore no need for California's Fair Pay Act, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign this month. However, California media outlets that have covered the wage issue stand behind the new law because research shows that the gender pay gap does exist, and hurts both women and the economy as a whole.
From the September 25 edition of NPR and WNYC's On the Media:
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The Associated Press recently updated its Stylebook by instructing AP writers to avoid using the term "denier" to describe those who reject the firmly-held scientific consensus on climate change. The AP's Stylebook change was celebrated by several well-known climate science deniers, but criticized by prominent scientists and journalists who say the new AP-approved term "climate change doubters" grants undeserved legitimacy to those who refuse to acknowledge the consensus.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nation's nuclear energy arm, asserted that it is "fully confident that the process and the result so far" of Iran's probe into their Parchin military complex has been "fully in line with safeguards practices" -- contradicting conservative media's fearmongering about this aspect of the recently signed nuclear agreement.
On August 19 the Associated Press published a flawed article claiming that an agreement between the IAEA and Iran allowed the country to use its own inspectors to take samples at the Parchin military base and that IAEA inspectors would be "barred from physically visiting the site." Conservative media ran with the story, claiming that the deal with the IAEA would prevent international inspectors from accessing all nuclear sites, despite the fact that it only refers to past activity at one site and still requires confirmation that Iran is meeting the promises it made in the nuclear agreement.
A second article from the Associated Press, on September 21, further undermined conservative media's attempts to stoke fears about the agreement, quoting IAEA officials who said that Iran's sampling procedures at Parchin meet "strict agency criteria that ensure 'the integrity of the sampling process and the authenticity of the samples.'" IAEA Deputy Director General Tero Varjoranta also noted that there "have been over 40 instances of letting a country being inspected use their own nationals to do their own sampling" and that the agency "feel[s] fully confident that the process and the result so far are fully in line with our safeguards practices":
Deputy IAEA Director General Tero Varjoranta said that there have been over 40 instances of letting a country being inspected use their own nationals to do their own sampling and that the process is only a small part of a rigid regimen established by the agency to make sure there is no cheating.
He said the criteria at Parchin included: invasive monitoring by video and still cameras while the sampling took place; GPS tracking of the sampling process; IAEA agreement on where the samples were to be taken; review by unspecified peers of the inspection process; risk assessment and strict observance to make sure that procedures were followed step by step.
"We feel fully confident that the process and the result so far are fully in line with our safeguards practices," he said, standing next to Amano at a Vienna news conference.
The Iran arrangement was first revealed in a confidential draft agreement between the sides seen last month by The Associated Press. The draft said that Iranian experts, monitored by video and still cameras, would gather environmental samples at the site and hand them over to the agency for analysis.
Iran's atomic energy agency spokesman, Behrouz Kalmandi, said IAEA experts were not physically present during the sampling. But Amano said the procedure meets strict agency criteria that ensure "the integrity of the sampling process and the authenticity of the samples."
The Associated Press called out Republican presidential candidates who engage in populist campaign talk but present tax proposals that would "overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest" -- a trap media often fall into in their reporting on economic policy.
On September 8, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush debuted his tax plan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, attacking what he called an "anemic economy" under the Obama administration and claiming that the only way to guarantee "accelerating [economic] growth" is a complete overhaul of the U.S. tax code." Bush's so-called "overhaul" includes reducing the top marginal income tax rate to 28 percent, reducing corporate tax rates to just 20 percent, and eliminating what he called "lobbyist-created loopholes" in the tax code that advantage high-income filers. Following the release of Bush's plan, media jumped to paint the proposal as a "populist" approach to taxes, despite experts noting that it will mostly privilege the rich.
In a September 14 article, the Associated Press highlighted the problem with labeling GOP candidates' proposals as "populist," explaining that in reality, the plans presented by Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) all "overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest." Focusing on Bush's proposed tax plan, the article noted that even conservative organizations such as the Tax Foundation concluded that "his plan would initially help the top 1 percent of earners 10 times as much as it would those in the bottom 10 percent":
Jeb Bush went to Detroit and talked about leveling the playing field. Marco Rubio wrote a book about helping the working class. Rand Paul is promising to expand the Republican Party beyond its traditional base.
Yet all three Republican presidential candidates have offered tax proposals that would, for reasons such as nomination politics and tax rate realities, overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest.
In doing so, they have drawn criticism from Democrats who call it proof that the GOP's eventual nominee will mainly try to help the rich.
Even some conservatives expressed concerns after Bush released his proposed tax cut last week. Then there was the analysis Thursday from the Washington-based Tax Foundation that concluded his plan would initially help the top 1 percent of earners 10 times as much as it would those in the bottom 10 percent.
"Republicans should be countering the caricature of themselves as slavishly devoted to the interests of rich people and corporations, not playing into it," according to an editorial in the conservative National Review. The magazine nonetheless praised Bush's effort to reduce income and business tax rates.
The trio's tax plans do contain elements aimed directly at middle- and working-class voters. Rubio proposes to expand the child tax credit and Bush wants to double the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is designed to help the working poor.
But experts note that any broad income tax cut inevitably will benefit the rich more than anyone else, because they pay much more in federal income taxes than the middle class or poor.
Media outlets reported on congressional Republicans' plan to delay implementation of the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran by alleging President Obama inappropriately failed to provide details of the "side deals" between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Congress. But those outlets failed to note that the IAEA deal with Iran is confidential, which is "standard operating procedure" for agreements of this type.
With the U.S. Senate considering a Republican-backed resolution of disapproval over the historic nuclear agreement with Iran, Media Matters debunks the myths that have pervaded the media debate on the deal.
News outlets are calling out a misleading conservative media claim that Hillary Clinton's email use mirrors the improper acts of former CIA Director John Deutch, who intentionally created and stored top secret material on unsecure systems. By contrast, "State Department officials say they don't believe that emails [Clinton] sent or received included material classified at the time," which is why experts conclude the Deutch case does not "fit the fact pattern with the Clinton e-mails."
It was a big week for Jessica Mendoza, who became the first woman to work a Major League Baseball broadcast for ESPN. And she did it twice.
On August 24, she filled in for Aaron Boone on the network's Cardinals-Diamondbacks game. Sunday night, she replaced suspended analyst Curt Schilling on Sunday Night Baseball's Dodgers-Cubs match-up. (According to ESPN, Schilling is set to return to the booth this coming Sunday.)
Unfortunately, Mendoza's groundbreaking broadcasts are still the rare exception. Women remain mostly on the outs when it comes to doing the actual play-by-play of sports.
"I just want to get to a point where it's like, 'oh she knows what she's talking about, he knows what he's talking about,' so it's not this huge deal," Mendoza told ThinkProgress last week. "On the other hand, I don't want it to be such a big deal because I want it to be the norm. How far are we right now from this being the norm?"
Apparently, pretty far.
While women are found on the sidelines and in the studio more than in the past, their place in the booth remains embarrassingly limited.
"It's mind-boggling," said Christine Brennan, who is the national sports columnist for USA Today and among the top sports scribes in the country. "I don't understand why the networks are thinking of not putting women in the booth. It's 2015, I don't understand it. Studies show the NFL audience is 40 percent women now."
Brennan broke her own barriers when she became the first Miami Herald female sports reporter in 1981, and later the first woman to cover the Washington Redskins in 1985 for The Washington Post.
"There has to be a first to have a second, or third. Why hasn't this happened before?" Brennan added. "I would hope that we are past the notion that if you did not play that specific game you cannot broadcast it. I always thought it's ridiculous in any sport."
Some strides have been made in sports, on and off the air, for women just this year. The Arizona Cardinals hired the first NFL female assistant coach, Jen Welter, last month, while the NBA's San Antonio Spurs summer league team was coached by one of its assistants, Becky Hammon, who led them to the league championship.
And two weeks before Jessica Mendoza called the ESPN games, Beth Mowins announced an Oakland Raiders pre-season NFL game. As the Associated Press points out, Mowins was actually the second woman to do play-by-play for an NFL game, following a nearly thirty-year gap after Gayle Sierens announced a game for NBC in 1987.
But female TV booth announcers and analysts in PGA Golf, NASCAR, NFL, NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball can be counted on one hand in most of those leagues, and never in their top championship events.
Tune in to Monday Night Football or the NBA Finals and the only women are usually the sideline reporters, often relegated to the quick few words during time-outs.
This limits the pool of competent, skilled, and well-spoken play-by-play announcers to just half of the population. And at a time when women have made strides in many other areas of sports journalism, the two-person or three-person broadcast booth crews should be the next natural step toward equality.
"The first thing they say is, 'how does she know about football?'" said Joan Ryan, who became the first full-time female sports columnist of a major daily newspaper when she joined the San Francisco Examiner in 1985. "But how does Bob Costas know about football? He didn't play it. How did Al Michaels know about football? Most political reporters haven't run for president or for any office and yet they cover politics. There's no question in my mind that it will change, but it will just take time."
Women in sports coverage have faced opposition going back decades, to the lawsuit filed against Major League Baseball by Sports Illustrated writer Melissa Ludtke after she was banned from the locker room during the 1977 World Series. A federal court ruling a year later forced the ban to be lifted.
"They have the women where they want them," Ludtke told Media Matters on Monday when asked about the TV booth barriers. "They have them on the sidelines, where they can dress them and talk to them in their ear."
She later added, "Until we get a place where hearing a woman's voice talking about what is predominantly male sports and believe that that voice holds authority it's going to be very difficult for them to find their way there."
The locker room case was met with the sexist claim that women just wanted to be in there to see and meet men. Others simply claimed the women who wanted key roles in TV sports journalism did not know enough about sports to cover them, even though they were already reporting on the biggest events for their news and sports outlets across the country.
The court order did a great deal to destroy those myths and prove that they were doing their jobs, the same as men. Women now cover teams in nearly every big city.
New York Yankees radio analyst Suzyn Waldman and New Jersey Devils hockey announcer Sherry Ross hold top spots in the New York market, for example, but both are on radio, not television. For some reason, the most prestigious TV sports broadcasting remains male-dominated.
Women have earned acclaim and status in most other areas of broadcasting and news. Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, and Diane Sawyer have held the coveted network news anchor chairs, and women currently hold co-anchor spots on all three major network morning news programs, although they are absent as hosts from the networks' influential Sunday talk shows.
Women have reached the top editing posts at The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Associated Press, among other major news outlets over the years. The last two presidents of the White House Correspondents Association were women, as were about half of the Pulitzer Prize winners announced this year.
At ESPN, meanwhile, women have been anchoring the channel's flagship Sportscenter program at various times for years. It is really a non-issue in almost all other areas of sports broadcasting.
But game-time announcing is still something of a mancave.
Veteran female sports reporters say if you really want to serve the listening and viewing fan, be it a man or a woman, finding the best person for the job is still the best way.
And then, when Jessica Mendoza calls a Major League Baseball game on the nation's biggest sports network, it will not be a story at all.
"Wouldn't it be great if she became the Lou Gehrig of replacements," said Brennan, referring to the great New York Yankee who went on to set a record for consecutive Major League games played after he replaced the injured Wally Pipp. "She should be a full-time voice on ESPN broadcasts. I am hoping that we have reached a turning point."
There's no evidence Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or her aides violated any laws with her use of a private email server while secretary of state, according to government secrecy experts cited by the Associated Press.
Conservative media have tried their best to spin Clinton's email use into accusations that she committed a crime by mishandling classified information, even baselessly comparing her to those who did, such as former Gen. David Petraeus and John Deutch, despite the fact that this smear has been debunked.
Yet intelligence and government secrecy law experts refute claims that Clinton could face criminal action for the handling of her emails, according to the Associated Press on August 31. As AP explained, "[T]o prove a crime, the government would have to demonstrate that Clinton or aides knew they were mishandling the information -- not that she should have known," and as one expert noted, "A case would be possible if material emerges that is so sensitive Clinton must have known it was highly classified, whether marked or not," but "no such email has surfaced":
Experts in government secrecy law see almost no possibility of criminal action against Hillary Clinton or her top aides in connection with now-classified information sent over unsecure email while she was secretary of state, based on the public evidence thus far.
Some Republicans, including leading GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, have called Clinton's actions criminal and compared her situation to that of David Petraeus, the former CIA director who was prosecuted after giving top secret information to his paramour. Others have cited the case of another past CIA chief, John Deutch, who took highly classified material home.
But in both of those cases, no one disputed that the information was highly classified and in many cases top secret. Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor; Deutch was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.
By contrast, there is no evidence of emails stored in Hillary Clinton's private server bearing classified markings. State Department officials say they don't believe that emails she sent or received included material classified at the time. And even if other government officials dispute that assertion, it is extremely difficult to prove anyone knowingly mishandled secrets.
Although political controversy has centered on Clinton's use of private email instead of an unsecured government account, the distinction matters little in the context of classified information. Clinton says State Department rules allowed her to use private email and officials knew about it.
More media outlets are debunking misinformation surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of private email, dismantling three main talking points used to accuse Clinton of malfeasance by highlighting that Clinton used her email in a "common" manner, that her situation isn't criminal, and that her handling of email is not comparable to what retired Gen. David Petraeus was convicted of.
Conservative media are seizing on a flawed, and later revised, Associated Press report to claim the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will allow Iran to conduct investigations of its own nuclear sites, leaving out important context that explains the agreement does not compromise the long-term inspection regime agreed upon in the international Iran nuclear deal, nor the ability of inspectors to observe the rest of the country's nuclear facilities, and pertains only to past nuclear activity at the Parchin military site. In fact, the agreement still requires "confirmation that Iran is keeping promises" for the country to receive international sanctions relief.
In coverage of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) newly-proposed standards to lower methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, several major media outlets uncritically quoted oil industry officials who claim that the new rules are unnecessary because the industry is already effectively limiting its emissions. By contrast, other outlets mentioned a new study by the Environmental Defense Fund showing that methane emissions are far higher than official estimates, part of a body of evidence that undercuts the industry's claim.