Don Lemon

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  • The Problem With The Media’s ‘Trump Is Pivoting’ Narrative

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media figures have repeatedly claimed that presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is “pivoting” to the general election every time he does something that they think makes him look or sound “presidential.” Media’s constant search for Trump’s “pivot” effectively whitewashes all of the racist, sexist, slanderous, and conspiratorial attacks Trump has doled out, and mainstreams the idea that Trump’s past diatribes can be forgiven so long as he assumes a veneer of conventional, tempered behavior.

    Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump and the media have engaged in a cycle wherein Trump launches offensive broadsides and character attacks; He gets bad press; Republican leaders clamor for Trump to tone down his rhetoric; Trump obliges, often using a teleprompter to restrain himself; Media figures claim Trump has “pivoted” and is “becoming more presidential”; and repeat.

    As MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace said, Trump constantly shatters the “pivot” narrative “by trotting out conspiracy theories” -- or, as others have noted, outrageous insults -- within hours of being lauded as “presidential.” 

    In following this pattern, the media are both applauding Trump for having simply mastered “campaign 101,” as CNN’s David Gregory noted, and excusing his past remarks as political maneuvering and electoral showmanship.

    In early June, after Trump launched a multiday racist crusade against Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over Trump University lawsuits, Republican leaders beseeched Trump to “get on message” and “quit attacking … various minority groups in the country.” That very night, Trump delivered a speech -- devoid of any attacks and with the aid of a teleprompter -- that “sought to calm fretful Republicans bolting from his side over his latest controversy,” CNN reported.

    Media figures immediately claimed that Trump’s restraint showed he was “pivoting.” NBC News reporter Ali Vitali wrote that Trump “acted presidential” in the speech, which “finalized his pivot to the general election.” CNN host Don Lemon said the “new, more presidential Donald Trump” is what “people in Washington wanted to see.” Unsurprisingly, Trump also received praise from right-wing media for sounding “more presidential than ever.”

    CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill explained the phenomenon:

    “It's kind of a good outcome for Trump, because we're not talking about a Mexican judge anymore. We're not talking about something controversial. We're talking about Trump changing the direction of his campaign. That can only be good news for him, based on what the last three weeks have been.”

    GOP leaders condemned Trump’s repeated “offensive” suggestions that President Obama had sympathies for terrorists, but changed their tune once Trump delivered his next teleprompter-guided speech following the mass shooting in Orlando, FL. Some media figures said Trump sounded “more presidential” and was “behaving like general election nominees behave,” and Trump’s slanderous accusations against the president quickly fell out of the news cycle.

    The “pivot” claim, which has repeatedly surfaced since at least February, has also helped wash away many of Trump’s past actions and comments: his doubling down on his proposed Muslim ban, his accusations that Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) father was involved in the John F. Kennedy assassination, and his questioning of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s faith.

    Some media figures have noted the journalistic malpractice associated with the constant fallback on the “pivot” narrative. New York Times Magazine correspondent Mark Leibovich, calling the narrative “absurd,” wrote:

    But really, how do you pivot away from saying that Mexicans are rapists? (Will he negotiate “great deals” with more moderate Mexican rapists?) If your campaign is a cult of personality, how can you modulate that personality and still have the cult? In Trump’s case, a “pivot” would constitute a complete overhaul of his very essence.

    Similarly, Washington Post opinion writer Kathleen Parker lambasted media’s “softening of criticism” of Trump and warned “the commentariat,” “Nothing makes Trump more acceptable today than yesterday or last week — or six months ago.”

    The "pivot" narrative has become a reset button, allowing media to excuse or forget all of Trump’s past rhetorical assaults. Media figures are essentially condoning all of his racism, sexism, and conspiracies, so long as he sounds and acts subdued and presidential.

    Image by Dayanita Ramesh and Sarah Wasko. 

  • CNN Host Ignores CNN Report To Claim U.S. Women's Soccer Team "Don't Have The Revenue That The Men's Side" Has

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    Following five members of the U.S Women's National Team in soccer filing a "lawsuit demanding pay parity" CNN host Don Lemon claimed that their demand is unjustified, because they don't generate as much revenue or interest as the men's team. 

    According to CNN, five players including Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn filed suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The five, who are representing the entire team, claim they sometimes earn "as little as between a half and a quarter of their male counterparts, depending on bonuses."

    During the April 1 edition of CNN’s New Day, host Don Lemon claimed that the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team demand for equal pay was unjustified, because “they don’t have the revenue” of “the men’s side.”

    DON LEMON (CO-HOST): Speaking of wages and salaries, the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team demanding equal pay. The players just filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming they are being discriminated against because they earn less than members of the U.S. Men's [Soccer] Team. Up to 62 percent less. Soccer Federation officials say they will address the pay gap in upcoming contract talks.

    MICHAELA PEREIRA (CO-HOST): Think about the repercussions this could have. All female athletes. I imagine there is disparity, I can't imagine the WNBA is paid the same amount that the NBA is paid --

    ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Probably not --

    PEREIRA: So this is obviously going to heat up conversations in locker rooms I am thinking --

    LEMON: But here’s the thing that I’ve been, from the other side is that people don’t watch. They don’t have the revenue that the men’s side --

    PEREIRA: So maybe they need to put more of that promotion machine behind --

    LEMON: Well you can’t, but you can’t make people watch.

    CAMEROTA: But I mean, people watched the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team when they were champions.

    LEMON: Right, right.

    CAMEROTA: It seems like it is overdue.

    However, Lemon ignored reporting by his own outlet explaining that the women's soccer team has generated more money in 2015 than the men's soccer team and are "much more successful than the men." The number cited in CNN's report came from the USSF’s 2015 financial report, which said “the women's team generat[ed] nearly $20 million more revenue last year than the U.S. men's team” and “the women are paid about a quarter of what the men earn.”

  • Memo To Media: Trump Said Abortion Should Be Punished "As A Principle"

    Media Are Falsely Claiming Trump Only Responded To Hypothetical Scenario In Which Abortion Is "Made Illegal"


    Some media figures are lending Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump credence by characterizing his remark that "there has to be some form of punishment" for abortion as based on a hypothetical scenario in which abortion is "made illegal." But MSNBC host Chris Matthews' question was, "Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?" He didn't include the premise that abortion had been officially criminalized.

  • The Worst Islamophobia Of 2015 (VIDEO)

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC WUESTEWALD

    Fleeing from terror and indiscriminate violence in parts of the Middle East, millions of people have packed up and left their homes to start safer lives for themselves and their families elsewhere. But if you tuned into Fox News anytime in the last year, you'd think the refugees themselves -- many of them Muslim -- were responsible for the violence. In fact, painting Muslims as terrorists, radicals, and tacit supporters of ISIS, baseless demonization of Islam was the channel's modus operandi in 2015. And it wasn't just right-wing media. CNN also joined the smears, asking a Muslim human rights lawyer if he supports ISIS, questioning a Michigan mayor if she's afraid of her majority Muslim-American city council, and forcing responsibility for the recent attacks in Paris onto an innocent French Muslim.

    From berating a teenager for his interest in technology to inventing so-called "no-go zones," watch how the media fearmongered about Muslims in 2015:

    As Columbia Journalism Review explains in their annual list of the worst journalism in 2015, the media has a special responsibility to get these stories right and not perpetuate Islamophobia, as inaccurate and "reactionary coverage" can "influence policy makers to take drastic measures under the guise of popular fears."