Associated Press

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  • AP Got This Trump Headline Right; Other Mainstream Outlets Didn't

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Multiple media outlets published headlines that uncritically echoed a claim from President-elect Donald Trump’s spokesperson that Trump had sold his stocks, even though Trump’s team offered no actual proof that he had done so. The Associated Press correctly characterized the news by noting the lack of evidence in its headline, but many others continued a disturbing pattern of uncritically parroting false or unsubstantiated claims by Trump and his aides in their headlines, in effect giving Trump favorable coverage when he offers vague details or even spouts verifiable lies.

    Trump on December 6 tweeted that the aircraft manufacturer Boeing was “building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion,” adding, “Cancel order!” In a conference call later that day, a reporter asked Trump spokesperson Jason Miller if Trump “had investments in Boeing,” and Miller “said the president-elect had sold all of his stocks in June,” according to The Associated Press (AP).

    But there is no proof that Miller’s claim is true, given that Trump has not submitted any kind of financial disclosure since May and that, as the AP noted, Trump didn’t announce he was selling his stocks at the time. Transition officials have also refused to provide evidence of the sales:

    Trump's campaign did not announce the sell-off at the time, despite the fact that it could have been politically advantageous for the businessman to be seen taking steps to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

    Miller, as well as other transition officials and lawyers from the Trump Organization, did not respond to requests from The Associated Press to provide evidence of the transactions.

    The AP published this report with a headline that accurately paired Miller’s claim with the crucial context that he “provides no evidence”:

    But other major outlets did not note the lack of evidence in their headlines, instead reporting Miller’s comments without necessary context:

    Reuters:

    The New York Times:

    The Washington Post:

    The Wall Street Journal:

    CNN:

    These headlines continue a mainstream media pattern of publishing article titles that are favorable for Trump and that promote his claims, even when those claims are false or unsubstantiated. When Trump on November 18 falsely claimed that he prevented a Kentucky Ford plant from moving to Mexico -- even though there were never plans to move the plant -- multiple headlines ran with Trump’s bogus statement. When Trump on November 27 falsely claimed that “millions of people” illegally voted in the election, multiple mainstream outlet quoted Trump’s words in headlines and on social media without noting that they were false. And when Trump on November 30 sent a series of tweets claiming he would be leaving his business to avoid conflicts of interest, headlines ran with his statement, even though Trump offered no new information on how he would actually carry out the plan. As ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum noted, Trump has been “able to generate whatever headlines he wants based on substance-free tweets” and claims.

    It is crucial that headlines accurately explain a story because, for most people, the phrase at the top of a piece is the only part of the article they will actually read. As The Washington Post reported, “roughly six in 10 people acknowledge that they have done nothing more than read news headlines in the past week,” and “that number is almost certainly higher than that, since plenty of people won't want to admit to just being headline-gazers but, in fact, are.”

    Trump has been a documented liar throughout the course of his presidential campaign and transition. When his claims lack proof or are demonstrably false, headlines should reflect that reality, rather than giving a serial misinformer the benefit of the doubt.

  • Mainstream Outlets Rush To Give Trump Credit For Vague Tweets About His Business

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media allowed President-elect Donald Trump to, once again, take over the news narrative with his Twitter activity -- this time with a series of vague tweets in which he claimed he would be leaving his business to avoid conflicts of interest. The announcement, however, provides no details about what will become of his business holdings and distracts from news that highlights the degree to which those holdings are ripe for future conflicts.

    In a series of tweets on November 30, Trump announced that he will be “holding a major news conference” on December 15 to discuss his plans for “leaving” his “great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country.” Trump added that while he is “not mandated” to “do this under any law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”

    As The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake pointed out, “The only real news in those Trump tweets is that he’ll actually be doing a press conference,” given that Trump has already said that he would hand off management of his businesses to his children. The tweets included no new information on how Trump’s business dealings would be handled after he, allegedly, leaves them behind. But that reality didn’t stop media from making a story out of the tweets and leading with it.

    USA Today:

    CNN:

    The Associated Press:

    ABC News:

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    The tweets do nothing to squash mounting concerns over the conflicts of interest Trump could face as president, and it’s unclear whether his promised response would address these conflicts. Shortly after the election, a Trump Organization spokesperson told CNN that Trump was planning to transfer “‘management of The Trump Organization and its portfolio of businesses to Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump,’” his children. But as ethics experts explained to Politico, “installing Trump’s adult children as caretakers doesn’t eliminate conflict questions, since he’d still know what his interests were, and he’d presumably still be in contact with his children.”

    With his tweetstorm, Trump also continued his pattern of hijacking the media narrative when it suits him. In this case, Trump’s tweets give media outlets an excuse to downplay or ignore reports about the “ethical concerns” raised after the Kingdom of Bahrain reserved space in Trump’s D.C. hotel. Trump also used his tweets to continue to disseminate information on his own terms, which in the past has allowed him to avoid hard interviews and limit his press conferences.

    Media are falling into Trump’s trap again by giving his tweets the front-page treatment.

  • Right-Wing Media's Failed Attempt To Downplay The Impact Of North Carolina's Anti-LGBTQ Law In Governor's Race

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Right-wing media outlets are attempting to deny the impact of North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law House Bill 2 (HB 2) in the state’s still too-close-to-call gubernatorial race between incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper. Mainstream journalists and political scientists have repeatedly pointed to the “politically obvious” costs of the discriminatory HB 2 as a “key issue” in the governor’s race, the outcome of which could mark a potential “watershed” moment for LGBTQ equality. 

  • Conservatives Run With NY Post Story About Maid Printing Clinton's Emails, Botch Classification History

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    The New York Post published a front page report alleging that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “routinely asked her maid to print out sensitive government e-mails and documents -- including ones containing classified information,” but ignored the fact the emails in question were classified years after the fact. The report cited only two classified emails, both of which were retroactively classified at the lowest level of classification, a practice which is consistent with past State Department actions. Additionally, in both confidential emails Clinton did not request that her maid print the emails. The author of the report has a history of inaccurate reporting when it comes to Clinton’s emails.

  • The Guide To Donald Trump's War On The Press (So Far)

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    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.

  • The AP Claims Trump Apologized For His Despicable Comments About Women. He Didn’t.

    Update: AP Deletes Tweet, Admits It Lacked "Full Context"

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Associated Press is falsely claiming that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has apologized after the release of a 2005 video in which Trump discussed how he “just start[s] kissing” women he is attracted to because “when you’re a star… you can do anything” including “grab them by the pussy.” In fact, Trump said in a statement “I apologize if anyone was offended.”

    As The Washington Post reported:

    Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone — saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it” — according to a video obtained by The Washington Post.

    [...]

    “I’ve gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says.“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

    “And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

    “Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

    “Grab them by the p---y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

    In a statement released by his campaign, Trump did not apologize for his comments, which appear to describe sexual assault, but rather apologized “if anyone was offended”:

    This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course - not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.

    As CNN’s Jackie Kucinich explained, “That's not an apology. That's not, ‘I'm sorry.’ That's like, ‘If you're offended by that I guess I'm sorry about that, that you're offended.’ Not that you're sorry about what you said. And he's done this before in other -- Donald Trump doesn't apologize. He sort of tries to -- he sounds like he's apologizing but that's not an apology.”

    The AP, however, described Trump’s comments as a “rare apology."

    UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, the AP deleted its tweet because "it didn't contain the full context of what the candidate said," and produced a new tweet that accurately stated Trump apologized "if anyone was offended." 

  • AP Relies On Discredited Anti-LGBT Junk Science To Attack Transgender People

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    The Associated Press published quotes from discredited doctor Paul McHugh attacking the legitimacy of transgender identities and transgender people’s right to health care without providing any context on his reputation or history of peddling anti-LGBT junk science. Faculty members at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently disassociated themselves from McHugh -- condemning him for “mischaracterizing” scientific evidence to “further stigmatize and harm” LGBT people -- and have urged the university to do the same.

    In Pennsylvania, three transgender students are suing their school district for prohibiting them from using the appropriate restroom for their gender identity, according to The Associated Press. The October 6 article featured a quote from a 2014 essay written by Johns Hopkins professor Paul McHugh in which he argued that transgender identities are “confusions” that should not be affirmed. McHugh’s depiction of transgender people as mentally ill and in need of “prevention” treatments contradicts expert medical consensus agreed on by national organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    McHugh has a long history of peddling anti-LGBT pseudoscience and ignoring established evidence-based best practices for providing physical and mental health care for LGBT people. Most recently, McHugh published a report that smeared LGBT people with faulty attacks based on questionable analysis of existing research. McHugh’s colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found the report and methodology so “troubling” that they published an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun condemning the report for “mischaracterizing” scientific evidence in a way that will “further stigmatize and harm the health of LGBTQ communities.” In addition, nearly 700 members of the Johns Hopkins community -- including more than 30 faculty members, 264 Hopkins alumni, and more than 100 staff, medical interns, medical residents and fellows -- have formally called for Hopkins to distance itself from McHugh’s latest “misguided, misinformed attack on LGBT communities.”

    But the Associated Press article introduced McHugh as an “expert” even though he has been widely discredited, and it made no mention of his history of peddling anti-LGBT junk science, nor the controversy surrounding his recent report.

    From the October 6 AP article:

    Three transgender seniors at a Pennsylvania high school, including the oldest sibling of teen singing star Jackie Evancho, have sued their school district for making them use restrooms corresponding to their biological sex.

    [...]

    The lawsuit contends they were "designated" male or female on their birth certificates and are being discriminated against by the new policy, which their federal lawsuit seeks to reverse. They're also seeking unspecified monetary damages, other policies to avoid transgender discrimination and training for administrators.

    "The reality is Juliet is a girl, Elissa is a girl and A.S. is a boy," Gonzalez-Pagan said, noting that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has weighed in on the need to allow people to pursue their true gender identity.

    Some experts disagree, notably Paul McHugh, the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, which pioneered sexual reassignment surgery but later discontinued the practice as harmful.

    "(P)olicy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention," McHugh originally wrote in a 2014 editorial essay that's been reprinted in several publications.

  • What Media Need To Know About Mike Pence’s Economic Record

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) will face off on October 4 in a debate at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. As media outlets prepare for the only vice presidential debate of the 2016 election, they should have all facts about how Indiana really fared during Pence’s governorship.

  • This Is How Moderators Can Debunk Trump's Excuses For His Iraq War Support

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Donald Trump has attempted, and media have often allowed him, to advance the false claim that he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, but evidence Trump regularly cites as proof of his opposition occurred after the war’s authorization and after the war had already begun. Ahead of the first presidential debate, moderators should be aware of his chronologically impossible excuses and be prepared to debunk them, such as his citing of a 2004 Esquire interview where he opposed the war, claiming he said the war was “a mess” at a 2003 party, claiming he expressed some concern in a January 2003 Fox interview, and his excuse that he “was not a politician” when he made his original remarks supporting the war.

  • Myths & Facts: A Debate Guide To Donald Trump’s Most Common Lies About The Economy

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s penchant for promoting right-wing media myths and other misleading claims presents a unique challenge heading into the first presidential debate of the general election. If the September 26 debate is anything like the opening debates of 2008 and 2012, it will focus heavily on issues relating to the American economy, and both moderator and audience should be prepared for a torrent of misinformation from the GOP standard-bearer.

  • Four Reasons Trump’s Parental Leave And Child Care Plan Doesn’t Add Up

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & ALEX MORASH

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has announced that he will unveil a plan for parental leave and child care affordability, which he claims he would pay for by ending unemployment insurance fraud. The plan would include six weeks of maternity leave, tax deductions for child care, and family savings accounts. Journalists reporting on the plan should know that it does not actually include paid family and paternity leave, it favors the wealthy, it does not include sufficient funding, and it contradicts his few previous statements on child care.

  • Media React To "Insane," "Atrocious," "Absolutely Off-The-Rails" Statement From North Carolina GOP

    Party Was Responding To NCAA’s Decision To Move Games Out Of North Carolina

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    A spokesperson for the North Carolina Republican Party responded to the NCAA’s decision to move this year’s championship tournament games out of the state because of HB 2 with a statement that media figures and outlets are calling “insane” and “absolutely off-the-rails.” Multiple reporters even fact-checked the statement to ensure its authenticity and confirm that it didn’t come from “a parody account.” 

  • Associated Press Botches Its “Basket Of Deplorables” Reporting

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The Associated Press falsely suggested that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had called all Donald Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables” before saying she regretted the comment and acknowledging that “many are hard-working Americans.” Clinton actually said that she regrets “saying ‘half’” of Trump’s supporters fell into that category while reiterating that Trump’s campaign is backed by white nationalists. Further, Clinton’s original statement made the point she believes that while some Trump supporters were deplorable and “irredeemable,” others “are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

    After the wire service’s original tweet led to harsh criticism on Twitter, the AP deleted it and issued a correction.

    During a September 9 event, Clinton made the following remarks as transcribed by a pool report:

    I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think well he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?

    [Laughter/applause]

    The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

    Her remarks are backed by polls finding that significant numbers of Trump supporters hold such deplorable views. Further, there have been numerous instances of racism and sexism at Trump rallies; Trump has successfully courted the racist white nationalist/”alt-right” movement, and Trump’s own campaign manager once referred to his supporters as "downright nasty."

    Clinton today issued a statement reading, “I regret saying ‘half’ -- that was wrong” and then reaffirming both that Trump is running a deplorable campaign and has “given a national platform to hateful views and voices” and that many of his supporters “are hard-working Americans who just don't feel like the economy or our political system are working for them.” Her statement:

    Last night, I was "grossly generalistic," and that's never a good idea. I regret saying "half"—that was wrong. But let's be clear, what's really "deplorable" is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called "alt-right" movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values. It's deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people. It's deplorable that he's attacked a federal judge for his "Mexican heritage," bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black President is not a true American. So I won't stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind. As I said, many of Trump's supporters are hard-working Americans who just don't feel like the economy or our political system are working for them. I'm determined to bring our country together and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Because we really are "stronger together."

    The AP incorrectly summarized the statement by tweeting, “BREAKING: Hillary Clinton says she regrets calling Trump supporters 'basket of deplorables'; says many are hard-working Americans.”

    An AP wire story on the remarks with the timestamp 2:16 PM EDT began: “Hillary Clinton says she regrets describing Donald Trump supporters as a ‘basket of deplorables.’” Another version on the AP.org website with the timestamp 2:36 PM EDT included the “half” distinction. Neither versions at the time of their posting included the context that Clinton said yesterday that there are some Trump supporters who “are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

    At 2:46, the AP issued a “correction” alert that “Corrects APNewsAlert to reflect that her comment referred to half of Trump’s supporters.” The AP wire story that lacked the "half" language was subsequently changed.

    At 3:05, the AP tweeted: “AP deleted a tweet saying Clinton regrets calling Trump supporters `basket of deplorables.’ She referred to half. A new tweet is upcoming.” It then tweeted, “BREAKING: Clinton says she regrets calling `half' of Trump supporters `basket of deplorables.’”

    The wire service’s botched Clinton tweet follows its recent decision to delete a widely criticized 2-week-old tweet about Clinton’s meetings as secretary of state that, according to a statement, “gave a distorted picture of the secretary’s meetings and was not backed up by the AP’s own reporting.”

    Numerous journalists criticized the Associated Press on Twitter. Here is a sampling:

  • Trump Adviser Can’t Decide If Candidate Is “Too Specific” Or Intentionally Vague

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Just a week after the Associated Press quoted Stephen Moore, an economic adviser to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying Trump’s policy proposals are actually designed to be vague, Moore proclaimed that Trump’s economic plan is the “most detailed” plan from any candidate in decades and may even be “too specific.”

    During the September 9 episode of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney asked Moore to respond to a September 4 Washington Post editorial titled “Donald Trump’s bet: We are all chumps.” In it, the paper slammed the GOP candidate for his lack of accountability, his penchant for lying, and his refusal to share “basic information” with voters such as medical records, tax returns, and “serious policy proposals.” After opening the segment by suggesting that Trump had “surely released a detailed economic plan, amongst other detailed plans,” Varney ceded the discussion to Moore, who claimed that the Trump campaign has “put forward the most detailed economic plan, I think, of any candidate in 40 years.” Moore went on to claim that Trump’s plan may be “too specific,” and that Trump has “an extremely detailed plan” available to the public on the campaign’s website. From Varney & Co.:

    STEPHEN MOORE: But, back to this idea that there's no detailed plan, because I never really answered your question about that. We've put forward the most detailed economic plan, I think, of any candidate in 40 years. I mean, we've got a very detailed tax plan.

    You look at his website about how we're going to replace Obamacare, you look at his energy plan -- the media didn't pay any attention to that. We're going to drill for resources, we’re going to put coal miners back into the jobs they lost. I mean, this is a very, very -- in fact, I would say, a lot of our political people say we're being too specific, we're giving too many targets for the, for our opponents to shoot at. Because we have an extremely detailed plan, and anybody who wants to look at it, go to the website, and you're going to see -- you know, compare that with what Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton has come out with. I mean, Hillary is all bluster. She doesn't have any plan at all.

    Moore’s bizarre claim that Trump’s economic plan is “very detailed” and potentially even “too specific” comes just days after an August 29 article from the Associated Press (AP) quoted Moore claiming that Trump’s plans are supposed to be “visionary stuff” and have been left intentionally vague to avoid “a big debate” over small details. From the AP:

    But Stephen Moore, a conservative economist who has worked with Trump to shape his tax and economic plans, says the vagueness on Trump's economic policies was by design.

    "We want to talk about the big visionary stuff. We don't want to have a big debate about this loophole, that loophole," he said. "This is a campaign, it's not a write-up of a tax bill in the Ways and Means Committee."

    Contrary to Moore’s claim that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton “doesn’t have any plan at all,” the same AP article found that while Trump had “just seven policy proposals on his website, totaling just over 9,000 words,” Clinton’s campaign site outlined 38 specific issues and contained 65 policy papers totaling 112,735 words. CNN’s Reliable Sources examined the AP’s exposé on Trump’s lack of policy specifics on September 4, and host Brian Stelter even tweeted about the sharp difference.