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  • Morning Shows Give GOP A Pass For Blocking Gun Safety Measures In Senate

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Morning news shows broadcast on ABC, NBC, and CBS inaccurately reported that the Senate rejected four “gun control measures” during procedural votes the evening of June 20.

    In fact, only two of the votes involved  “gun control” measures. Those measures were blocked along nearly party-line votes by Senate Republicans. The other two votes were on amendments offered by Republican senators. One of those amendments would have weakened the current background check system for gun purchases while the other offered an “unworkable” standard for blocking gun sales to suspected terrorists.

    Senate votes on two gun safety measures proposed by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) represent the most significant votes on gun safety legislation in the Senate since the April 2013 GOP blockade of background check legislation proposed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. Murphy’s and Feinstein’s proposals each failed to get the 60 votes necessary to break through Republican obstructionism.

    In brief news reports on June 21, however, Good Morning America, Today, and CBS This Morning all glossed over the important distinctions between the four gun amendments the Senate voted on, and in some cases reporters for the morning shows credulously repeated the GOP Senate’s false characterization of its two proposals.

    • Good Morning America reported “The Senate has rejected all four gun control measures proposed after the Orlando nightclub shooting. The measures to expand background checks and block gun sales to people on the terror watch list were voted down, mostly along party lines.”

    • Today reported, “Four votes last night on what to do about guns in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre. In the Senate on Monday, these gun control measures came up for votes, but not one got the needed 60 votes necessary to move forward. … Republicans had also offered proposals that would prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns, but the Republicans were also demanding some due process provisions that Democrats could not accept.”

    • CBS This Morning reported, “New gun control measures appear unlikely after the Senate failed last night to pass four separate bills. Each fell short of the 60 votes needed. Democratic Party bills called for expanded background checks and banning anyone on a terrorist watch list from buying a gun. The Republican versions required people on watch lists to wait 72 hours, they also supported more resources for background checks.”

    In addition to not clearly identifying Senate Republicans as the driving factor behind obstructionism of gun safety legislation, the morning show reports on the Senate votes failed to accurately explain what was in the two GOP counterproposals.

    The GOP amendment described by CBS This Morning as supporting “more resources for background checks” would have actually weakened the background check system. The amendment, authored and introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), has been in existence for years, having first been introduced as a GOP alternative during Senate votes in 2013 on background check legislation. While purporting to better fund the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the legislation would actually invalidate large numbers of records in the system that prohibit people from passing a background check due to an adjudication of severe mental illness. Grassley’s amendment has been used by GOP senators who wish to claim to support improving the background check system while not actually voting for NRA-opposed legislation that would make improvements. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has notably used this tactic for years.

    The GOP amendment that Today reported “would prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns” would not actually prevent any sales to suspected terrorists. While GOP backers of the amendment, which was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), made arguments about due process provisions  (even though the Democratic alternative also included due process protections), the language of the GOP amendment creates “an unworkable standard” for blocking dangerous sales, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. Specifically, the amendment, which Cornyn has previously put forward as an alternative to Feinstein’s “terror gap” proposal, would only give Department of Justice officials 72 hours to prove in court “not only that someone is suspected of being involved in terrorism, but that he or she will actually commit an act of terror.”

  • NRA’s Anti-LGBT Spokesmen Discuss Orlando Gay Nightclub Shooting On Sunday Shows

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The two National Rifle Association officials who appeared on Sunday political talk shows to respond to the June 12 massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, both made anti-LGBT remarks as recent as a month ago.

    One week after a gunman wielding an assault weapon killed 49 people and wounded 53 others during a terror attack at Pulse nightclub, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation and NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) executive director Chris Cox appeared on ABC’s This Week to advocate against passing stronger gun laws in response to the mass shooting.

    As in the NRA’s official response to the shooting, which was authored by Cox, both Cox and LaPierre failed to mention that the shooting targeted a gay nightclub.

    Both LaPierre and Cox made anti-gay statements during a May 20 event at the NRA’s annual meeting. During the annual NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, Cox and LaPierre both delivered speeches that led into the NRA’s endorsement of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    Cox spoke first, and attacked societal acceptance of transgender people as “perverted” and “twisted” just seconds into his remarks. Cox lamented that “the America we know is becoming unrecognizable. Everything we believe in, everything we’ve always known to be good, and right, and true has been twisted, perverted, and repackaged to our kids as wrong, backwards, and abnormal.”

    Citing examples of America’s supposed downfall, Cox went on to say, “Who are our kids supposed to respect and admire? The media tells them Bruce Jenner is a national hero for transforming his body, while our wounded warriors, whose bodies were transformed by IEDs and rocket-propelled grenades, can’t even get basic healthcare from the VA.”

    During his speech, LaPierre said the Obama administration was “in the toilet” because of efforts by the administration to prevent schools from discriminating against transgender students.

    While ostensibly an organization focused on issues relating to guns, members of the NRA’s leadership have attacked LGBT people for years, including blaming a mass shooting on same-sex marriage, claiming gay people “created” the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and labeling or supporting the depiction of gay people as “despicable,” “perverts,” and “degenerates.”

  • How The Media Helped Donald Trump Boost His Candidacy

    Harvard Professor Gives Insight Into New Shorenstein Report About How The Media Helped Trump And Hurt Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    The author of a new Harvard study on the media’s coverage of the presidential primary says the press clearly helped Donald Trump on his path to becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.

    This week, Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy released a detailed report on the media’s coverage of the presidential race in 2015, the year leading up to the first primaries. The study found that “Trump is arguably the first bona fide media-created presidential nominee. Although he subsequently tapped a political nerve, journalists fueled his launch."

    The study’s author, Harvard professor Thomas E. Patterson, told Media Matters in an interview that the massive amount of Trump coverage -- as well as its largely positive tone -- predated Trump’s rise in the polls and “helped position him to make a stronger run.”

    “In the past, to get a lot of coverage pre-Iowa you had to be pretty high in the polls, and they started to give him heavy coverage when he was way down there, in the single digits,” Patterson said in an interview. “It is virtually impossible when you go back through all the races before 2016 when you were in a multi-candidate field and you were down where he was you are almost an afterthought to journalists.”

    The study looked at coverage of the candidates prior to the caucus and primary votes by Fox News, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

    Equating the Trump coverage to advertising dollars, Patterson’s report found that Trump received about $55 million worth of positive and neutral coverage in the eight outlets studied, well ahead of the second place candidate, Jeb Bush, at $36 million.

    “It’s gold, it works in every way in [his] favor,” Patterson said. “As you start to go up in the polls, there is a circular pattern, you can raise money and it becomes easier to pull voters into your column. What was abnormal was this extraordinary amount of attention Trump got early on even though he did not appear on paper to be a credible candidate. He was far down in the polls, but he made statements that made for great stories.”

    The study found that all eight of the news outlets studied gave Trump predominantly positive or neutral coverage, from The New York Times, where 63% of stories about Trump were positive or neutral, to USA Today, which led the way with 74%.

    By the same token, Clinton received largely negative coverage across the eight news outlets during 2015. The report argues of this disparity, "Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end." 

    Patterson pointed to reporting on Clinton's use of a private email account while secretary of state and Republicans' ongoing focus on the 2012 Benghazi attacks as two of the most negatives stories.

    “In her case, the emails and the questions about the emails, how big an issue is this actually, that was a big part of her coverage,” Patterson said. “Benghazi was a bigger part of the news early on and then she had that day-long session with Congress that a lot of people thought she did quite well with. Of all the candidates of recent decades who have been front-runners, she has had the strongest headwinds of negative coverage.”

    But Patterson said the press may have over-covered the email issue and failed to put it in proper context.

    “How big an issue is the email controversy in the context of the candidate’s preparedness and ability to be president of the states?” he asked. “I think you would get some who say it is a molehill into a mountain. My own sense is that as a standalone issue the emails are pretty small potatoes in the realm of presidential preparedness. It has been a common practice in Congress and among cabinet officers to combine them one way or another. She is not an outlier on this and you could ask why the press has not brought that part of the story into it.”

    Patterson added that even apart from those controversies, Clinton’s “substantive issue coverage was more negative than the other candidates.”

    Despite the helping hand the media gave Trump during the primaries, Patterson notes that “in the past few weeks, Trump has gotten the kind of press scrutiny that if it had come earlier it would have been a drag of some kind on his candidacy, perhaps enough to make it hard for him to go into the convention with a majority.”

  • A Comprehensive Guide To The Right-Wing Media Conspiracy Theorists That Have Influenced Trump’s Campaign

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump counts among his allies a stable of fringe right-wing conspiracy theorists who’ve made a name for themselves advancing conspiracy theories that include the myth that President Obama is a secret Kenyan Muslim, Lyndon Johnson assassinated John F. Kennedy, and the CIA is paying Beyonce to create mayhem. Trump’s conspiracy theorist allies also regularly wish violence upon political and media figures who they disagree with.

    Warning: This post contains graphic language and sexual content.

  • ABC Was The Only Broadcast Network To Ignore Report That “Trump Doesn’t Pay His Bills”

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    In June 9 broadcast evening news programs and June 10 morning news programs, ABC was the only broadcast network to ignore a USA Today investigation that found “hundreds of people” who allege that Donald Trump “didn’t pay them for their work.”

    A June 9 USA Today report found that Trump, who “often portrays himself as a savior of the working class” has had at least 60 lawsuits filed accusing him and his businesses of “failing to pay” people “for their work.” From the report:

    Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

    At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.

    NBC covered the story during the June 9 edition of Nightly News with Lester Holt and the June 10 edition of Today, while CBS discussed it during the June 10 edition of CBS This Morning.

    The USA Today report noted the irony that Trump’s claims “he will bring jobs back to America” while waging legal battles “over small amounts of money that are negligible to the billionaire and his executives -- but devastating to his much-smaller foes,” including contractors, waiters, dishwashers, real estate brokers, and law firms:

    In 2007, for instance, dishwasher Guy Dorcinvil filed a federal lawsuit against Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Palm Beach, Fla., alleging the club failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime he worked over three years and the company failed to keep proper time records for employees.

    Mar-a-Lago LLC agreed to pay Dorcinvil $7,500 to settle the case in 2008. The terms of the settlement agreement includes a standard statement that Mar-a-Lago does not admit fault and forbids Dorcinvil or his lawyers from talking about the case, according to court records.

    Developers with histories of not paying contractors are a very small minority of the industry, said Colette Nelson, chief advocacy officer of the American Subcontractors Association. But late or missing payments can be devastating for small businesses and their employees.