The Associated Press violated its own guidelines for how to refer to transgender people in a report on a transgender man who was shot and killed by police in Arizona.
Kayden Clarke was shot and killed by police who were responding to a suicide call in his Mesa, AZ, home on February 4.
In a February 6 article, "Woman killed by Phoenix-area police had popular online video," the Associated Press violated its own guidelines for writing about transgender people, which state that transgender people should be identified by their preferred pronouns. Instead, the article repeatedly misgendered Clarke, calling him "she," even while acknowledging that Clarke was "hoping to transition from female to male and was known to friends as Kayden Clarke:"
Police in a Phoenix suburb shot and killed a knife-wielding woman whose struggles with Asperger's syndrome went viral last year when she posted an online video showing her service dog comforting her.
Two officers responding to a report of a suicidal woman were carrying stun guns but fired their weapons because they felt threatened as Danielle Jacobs, 24, lunged at them with a 12-inch kitchen knife in her home Thursday, Mesa Detective Esteban Flores said.
"They had a lethal weapon coming at them," Flores said Friday. "They were threatened."
Although police used her legal name, the Arizona Republic reported Friday night that she was hoping to transition from female to male and was known to friends as Kayden Clarke.
[Heather Allen, founder of HALO Animal Rescue] said she called police Thursday to ask that they check on Jacobs after the 24-year-old sent a suicidal email that morning asking that someone care for her dog, Sampson.
Allen questioned whether it was necessary to shoot Jacobs.
"I wasn't there, so I don't know how she was behaving," Allen said. "I wish they had been able to use non-lethal restraint, if they could have used a Taser or a beanbag gun.
"She didn't have a gun. She had a knife," Allen said. "It just seems to me there could have been a better way."
One of the officers responding to the call was retrieving a bean bag gun when the shooting occurred, Flores said. Two officers stayed in the apartment, including one who had training in crisis intervention to deal with such situations.
CNN, The Washington Post, and People all correctly identified Clarke as male in their reports on the shooting. (CNN had published an earlier article that misgendered Clarke but has since noted that the article was published before the outlet realized Clarke was transgender.)
Despite its clear guidelines requiring reporters to identify transgender people using their preferred names and pronouns, the Associated Press has recently misgendered transgender people in multiple reports.
The Associated Press profiled the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the anti-choice group responsible for releasing undercover footage as part of a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, after the founder and an associate were indicted on felony charges. Yet, the AP report failed to note that the videos were deceptively edited or that CMP and its senior members have extremist ties.
Right-wing media are hyping a letter from the intelligence community's inspector general claiming some of Hillary Clinton's emails from her time as secretary of state contained information classified above "top secret." However, the development that Clinton's emails reportedly mention widely-known public information about the country's drone operation was already covered by the media in 2015.
An Associated Press profile of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz's history of firearm ownership and views on firearm regulation failed to mention that Cruz is closely associated with Gun Owners of America (GOA), an extremist group that was once linked to white supremacists and whose leader has repeatedly said pro-gun safety politicians should fear being shot.
The Associated Press chronicled Cruz's history with guns in a January 19 article that noted "Cruz has made the defense of Second Amendment rights a cornerstone of his presidential campaign," but also raised questions about his bona fides as an anti-gun regulation absolutist, characterizing a legal brief filed by Cruz in the landmark 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court case as "nuanced" because it accepted that prohibitions on felons owning firearms, and some other restrictions on gun ownership, are constitutional.
(The AP article glossed over Cruz's record in the Senate, failing to mention that he has repeatedly credited himself as the driving force behind defeating overwhelmingly popular legislation in the U.S. Senate to expand background checks on gun sales following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.)
The article also noted that the first written reference to Cruz owning a gun occurred in 2003 and that Cruz's first hunting license on record was issued in 2006, suggesting that Cruz's "passion for the issue emerged relatively recently in his life, coinciding with his ascent in Republican circles in Texas."
The article devoted a great deal of space to establishing whether Cruz is or is not a devoted hunter, garnering comments from a campaign spokeswoman, but failed to mention Cruz's relationship with GOA, only noting support from the National Rifle Association on his campaign website. Cruz has significant ties to GOA, a gun rights group that is widely considered to be to the right of even the NRA, and which has called for the abolishment of all background checks on gun sales.
During a May 2015 GOA "Tele-Town Hall" event, Cruz -- the only Republican presidential candidate to participate -- said GOA was "critical" to his election as a U.S.Senator and said "one of the things I love about GOA is GOA has never been accused of painting in pale pastels." GOA in turn endorsed Cruz in September 2015 in a statement filled with conspiratorial and anti-immigrant undertones. Cruz has touted GOA during GOP debates, stating that he is "honored" to be endorsed by the group.
It is hard to overstate the extremism of GOA head Larry Pratt, who has repeatedly suggested that politicians should fear being shot by a GOA supporter, has claimed the Second Amendment was "designed" for people like President Obama, has supported putting guns in kindergarten classrooms, and has warned the federal government that "we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically."
Pratt has also flirted with conspiracy theories that suggest the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre and 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School were staged by the government to build support for more gun regulation, and has given credence to the claim that Obama will start a race war.
Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan in 1996 after The New York Times reported he "had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements" during the rise of the militia movement in the 1990s. Pratt has been a "contributing editor" to an anti-Semitic publication, and his articles on gun ownership have appeared in a white supremacist "tabloid" published by the racist Christian Identity movement. The GOA donated "tens of thousands of dollars" to a white supremacist group during the 1990s, under Pratt's direction.
Conservative media are seizing on comments made by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi in order to repeat debunked claims that American military forces were ordered to "stand down" and not help rescue those attacked on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, numerous congressional investigations found that no such order was given to American military forces.
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt dubiously claimed that a newly released email shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke a "statute [that] prohibits misuse of classified information" because she allegedly "directed [an aide] to alter and send [a document] over a non-secure system." Yet, according to a State Department review, officials "found no indication the document in question was sent to Secretary Clinton using nonsecure fax or email."
Right-wing media figures immediately attacked President Obama and Hillary Clinton, following North Korea's announcement that they conducted a nuclear test. Right-wing media pundits blamed Obama, Bill, and Hillary Clinton for North Korea's Nuclear proliferation, ignoring that North Korea's first successful nuclear test occurred under the George W. Bush's administration in 2006.
Media are comparing Hillary Clinton's debate claim that ISIS recruiters are "showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam" to Trump's falsehood that thousands of Muslims celebrated the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Desperate to declare that both parties are engaged in the same behavior, these outlets are pushing a false equivalence that ignores that Trump's bigoted comments are fomenting and sought to capitalize on anti-Muslim sentiment that experts agree is being used by ISIS to attract recruits, while Clinton's comment sought to bring attention to that behavior.
Right-wing media trumpeted a front-page New York Times piece that used unnamed sources to claim that one of the San Bernardino attackers "talked openly on social media" about violent jihad. These claims made their way into the December 15 CNN Republican debate, where candidates claimed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was prohibited from reviewing the social media of potential visa applicants out of concern for "political correctness." But the FBI and DHS explained that they are not prohibited from reviewing social media, and FBI Director James Comey found no evidence that the San Bernardino terrorists made any public "pro-Jihad" posts on social media.
Media fact checks of statements made by Republican presidential candidates during the fifth GOP primary debate debunked multiple false claims from the candidates about immigration and the vetting process for Syrian refugees.
Fox News and CNN virtually ignored reports that alleged Planned Parenthood shooter Robert L. Dear admitted "I'm guilty," and said "I'm a warrior for the babies" during his first courtroom appearance, where he is charged with killing three and wounding nine. A Media Matters analysis of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News determined that Fox spent just 30 seconds covering Dear's statements--after leading the charge in frequently airing the phrase "baby parts," that the shooter reportedly used. CNN devoted less than 3 minutes of coverage to Dear's statements, while MSNBC spent over 21 minutes noting his admission of guilt and claim that he is "a warrior for the babies."
Right-wing media have defended Donald Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering into the United States, despite multiple legal experts arguing the ban is likely unconstitutional, illegal, or lawless. Right-wing media have also cited prior country-specific restrictions on immigration to defend Trump's plan, despite the fact that these policies did not ban people based on their religious affiliation, and would be unlikely to survive judicial scrutiny today.
On December 9, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Fisher II), which challenges the university's use of race in admissions policies. Many media outlets connected the case to recent campus unrest and cited research on racial representation in higher education, ultimately urging the Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action policies that enhance student diversity and are "crucial to the success of [an] institution and its students," while warning that banning affirmative action would "leave universities without the tools they need" to properly educate future leaders.
The Associated Press purported to fact-check Hillary Clinton's statement that "nearly 3,000 people have been killed by guns" over the past month but did so by erroneously citing a source that only counts about one-third of total gun deaths. According to the federal government, around 33,000 Americans die in gun-related incidents each year, meaning Clinton's statement aligns with the available data.
During the November 14 Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Clinton said, "Since we last debated in Las Vegas, nearly 3,000 people have been killed by guns. Two hundred children have been killed. This is an emergency." The Las Vegas debate took place on October 13.
In a November 15 article, the AP falsely wrote that Clinton's "claim appears to be unsupported on all counts," and claimed Clinton's statistic was "highly exaggerated." To support its conclusion, the AP cited the Gun Violence Archive, which counted "an average of just under 1,000" gun deaths "per month" in 2015:
THE FACTS: The claim appears to be unsupported on all counts.
The Gun Violence Archive has recorded 11,485 gun deaths in the U.S. so far this year, an average of just under 1,000 per month, making Clinton's figure appear to be highly exaggerated. The archive had more detailed data for children and teenagers, showing 70 from those age groups killed by firearms since the Democratic candidates debated Oct. 13 - not 200 as she claimed.
The AP erred by citing the Gun Violence Archive as a source for the total number of gun deaths. While the Gun Violence Archive is a valuable resource for a number of reasons -- especially because it aggregates detailed information about individual shootings -- it's not a comprehensive count of the total number of gun deaths in the United States because its methodology does not capture every shooting.
Researchers on the issue of gun violence have known that for years the gold standard for a total count of gun deaths in the United States comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS).
WISQARS found that in 2013, the most recent year in which complete data is available, there were 33,636 gun deaths in America. This figure is consistent with the number of gun deaths over the past 10 years - although the death toll is steadily climbing - and indicates that Clinton's figure aligns with the best available data:
In its article, the AP also wrote, "The archive had more detailed data for children and teenagers, showing 70 from those age groups killed by firearms since the Democratic candidates debated Oct. 13 - not 200 as [Clinton] claimed."
Again, this criticism of Clinton is erroneous because it treats the Gun Violence Archive as a comprehensive source.
The botched AP fact check was subsequently touted by the National Rifle Association.
Chart by Oliver Willis.