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.
The Associated Press presented Sen. Rand Paul's false attack that "almost none" of the Clinton Foundation's spending goes to charity as an unresolved, open question. But experts say the Clinton Foundation's charitable spending is "very good" by industry standards, and attacks like Paul's are "simply wrong" and amount "to a misunderstanding of how public charities work."
There has been a lot of media discussion lately about the "winners and losers" from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which will fight climate change by placing the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. But with all of their focus on the political, financial, and legal ramifications of the carbon pollution standards, reporters are frequently overlooking the biggest winner of all: public health, particularly that of children, seniors, low-Income communities, people of color, and anyone with heart or lung disease.
As the American Lung Association (ALA) has put it, the Clean Power Plan "will directly save lives." The EPA estimates that its plan will result in up to 3,600 fewer premature deaths every year -- not to mention 90,000 fewer asthma attacks and 1,700 fewer heart attacks -- once it is fully implemented in 2030.
But the landmark policy will be even more important for certain communities that are particularly vulnerable to air pollution and the effects of climate change. According to the ALA, those most at risk include "infants, children, older adults, people with lung disease, people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, people with low incomes and anyone who works outdoors." These Americans face some of the greatest risks associated with unchecked climate change, such as worsened ozone and soot pollution.
People of color are also disproportionately impacted by climate change, as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Green for All Executive Director Nikki Silvestri have explained. According to a report by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), nearly three-quarters of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. The NAACP has also noted that African-Americans, who are more likely than whites to live in urban and coastal areas, are particularly at risk from climate impacts such as rising sea levels, food insecurity, and heat-related deaths. And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that African-Americans are three times more likely than whites to die from asthma-related causes.
Similarly, Latinos are 60 percent more likely than whites to go to the hospital for asthma and 40 percent more likely than whites to die from asthma, according to HHS. Meanwhile, the 2014 National Climate Assessment stated that new Hispanic immigrants are particularly "vulnerable to changes in climate," due to "[l]ow wages, unstable work, language barriers, and inadequate housing," all of which are "critical obstacles to managing climate risk."
For all these reasons and more, the Clean Power Plan will help address what the Natural Resources Defense Council calls "the disproportionate health impacts of dirty, coal-fired power generation on low-income communities and people of color."
So while there will be plenty of time to discuss whether cap-and-trade programs or climate science denial are politically "toxic," there should also be room in the conversation for the role the Clean Power Plan will play in making the air we breathe cleaner and safer.
Image at top via Flickr user Mike Licht using a Creative Commons License.
Major U.S. newspapers ran front page stories about devastating California wildfires alongside reports on the Environmental Protection Agency's newly-finalized Clean Power Plan, President Obama's flagship policy to address climate change. Yet with only one exception, these newspapers' wildfire articles ignored the documented role that global warming has played in worsening wildfires.
The Indiana State Department of Health found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood clinics in the state in regards to the handling of fetal tissue donations after an investigation sparked by a shady anti-choice organization's heavily edited videos was completed.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence -- a Republican who has long championed efforts to defund Planned Parenthood -- ordered an investigation by the Indiana State Department of Health in cooperation with the state's Office of the Attorney General on July 16, citing "the recent video referencing Planned Parenthood's alleged trafficking of aborted fetal tissue." The move came just days after The Center for Medical Progress released a deceptive video claiming that Planned Parenthood was "selling aborted baby parts" that was roundly called out by the media for "show[ing] nothing illegal" and having selectively edited footage. The investigation was launched despite the fact Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky "does not participate in any tissue donation program."
On July 30, Indiana officially cleared Planned Parenthood clinics in the state of wrongdoing, finding "no evidence of any laws being broken" in the handling of fetal tissue, according to an Associated Press report. Pointing to letters from the Indiana Department of Health to the clinics investigated which stated that the agency was "unable to find any non-compliance with state regulations" the report noted that "the complaint is closed":
The Indiana Department of Health said in a statement Thursday that an investigation found no evidence of any laws being broken. Health department inspectors investigated the Indiana facilities on July 21.
Letters from the health department to the three Indiana facilities dated Tuesday and released to the media by Planned Parenthood said the agency had completed its investigation into the Planned Parenthood facilities that perform abortions in Indiana. The letters said the agency was "unable to find any non-compliance with state regulations. Therefore, no deficiencies were cited." The letters say the complaint is closed.
The state has the authority to license and regulate abortion clinics and to inspect them, the Health Department said. Federal law prohibits the buying and selling of human body parts or trafficking in tissue from an aborted fetus.
Indiana's findings further underscore the flimsy nature of The Center for Medical Progress' claims and reinforce the fact Planned Parenthood has simply been discussing legal reimbursement for fetal tissue donation.
UPDATE: On July 29, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that they had also "found no evidence that" Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state were participating in fetal tissue donation programs and that the organization's health centers are "are fully compliant with state and federal laws regarding the disposition of fetal tissue ... There is no evidence that PPLM is involved in any way in the buying or selling of tissue." The investigation was requested by state Representative James L. Lyons Jr. (R), who called for an examination of Planned Parenthood based on the Center for Medical Progress' deceptively-edited undercover videos.
The Associated Press violated its own guidelines while reporting on the homicide of a transgender woman in Florida, joining several state-based news outlets in misgendering the victim and referring to her as a "man dressed as a woman." The incident is the latest in a trend of media mistreatment of transgender victims of violence.
On the morning of July 21, 25-year-old transgender woman India Clarke was found dead in a park in Tampa Bay, Florida. Clarke suffered blunt-force trauma to the upper body, though the exact cause of death is still unknown. Before her death, Clarke publicly identified as female, used female pronouns, and presented as female in her photos.
But in its news release announcing a homicide investigation surrounding Clarke's death, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office referred to Clarke as a "male dressed in women's clothing." Speaking to BuzzFeed's Dominic Holden, Detective Larry McKinnon defended the Sheriff's Office's decision to identify Clarke as male:
"We are not going to categorize him as a transgender. We can just tell you he had women's clothing on at the time," Detective Larry McKinnon, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, told BuzzFeed News. "What his lifestyle was prior to that we don't know -- whether he was a cross dresser, we don't know."
Initial calls to 911 descibed the victim as a woman but a medical examiner later identified her as male, McKinnon said.
"He is a male," McKinnon continued. "I can't tell you he is a female."
In the 24 hours following the discovery of Clarke's death, state-based news outlets and the Associated Press repeatedly misgendered Clarke, referring to her as a "man dressed as a woman" and violating journalistic standards on how to refer to transgender people. CBS, ABC, and NBC affiliates in the Tampa area followed the Sheriff's report and also referred to India as "Samuel," using male pronouns, and referring to her as a male.
The Associated Press violated its own widely-cited guidelines and referred to Clarke as a "man wearing women's clothing," referring to her as "Samuel." AP's misgendering was repeated by state media outlets' that republished AP's report:
The practice of misgendering transgender victims of violence violates guidelines established by GLAAD and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and has been widely criticized by journalism experts.
And it's a practice that's become all-too-common in 2015, a year that's seen an unprecedented string of murders of trans women.
The cycle at its worst seems to be the same: a transgender person is found dead, law enforcement officials fail to acknowledge the victim's gender identity, and local news outlets follow law enforcement's lead, misgendering the victim despite often knowing how the victim wished to be publicly identified.
But failing to report the way Clarke is publicly identified deprives audiences of the information they need to understand her death in the broader context of violence against transgender women. In instances where misgendering is intentional, it's a statement that her gender identity is little more than a deceptive costume, not worthy of being taken seriously.
Media outlets downplayed the legal concerns swirling around Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's fundraising for his affiliated super PAC prior to his formal campaign announcement in their reports on the campaign's unprecedented fundraising success.
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.