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Meanwhile, The White House Freeze-Out Of CNN Continues
The Trump administration offered White House senior adviser Stephen Miller -- and reportedly no one else -- to appear on the Sunday morning political talk shows of ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox Broadcasting Co. In his appearances on the four shows, Miller repeatedly dodged questions, made blatantly false claims, and attacked the media. Recent profiles of Miller have highlighted his extreme ideological views, his close relationship with Stephen Bannon, and the “enthusiasm” of white nationalists like Richard Spencer over his role in the administration.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace failed to mention any of the constitutional and diplomatic problems with President Donald Trump’s executive action banning visitors, immigrants, and refugees from several Muslim-majority countries in an interview he conducted with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway about the order.
According to CNN, the executive order “bars all persons from certain ‘terror-prone’ countries from entering the United States for 90 days and suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated ‘only for nationals of countries for whom’ members of Trump's Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.” The executive action impacts immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. The order has a religious exception, giving “the Department of Homeland Security leeway to prioritize refugee claims made by people ‘on the basis of religious based persecution.’” Trump himself said he will prioritize Christians refugees over Muslims refugees in an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network.
After Trump’s executive action caused chaos for incoming refugees and immigrants at airports nationwide, a federal judge “blocked deportations nationwide late Saturday of those detained on entry to the United States after” Trump had already signed the order.
Many cable and network news shows on Sunday explained the array of legal and diplomatic problems associated with Trump’s order. NBC’s Chuck Todd questioned the constitutionality of green card holders reportedly also being subject to the executive order. CBS’ John Dickerson grilled White House chief of staff Reince Priebus about the diplomatic backlash of the order from allied countries. ABC’s Terry Moran explained that Trump’s insistence that Christians would receive special treatment is “probably unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause.” On CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, ACLU president Anthony Romero gave a thorough explanation of how Trump’s executive order violates international treaties, several clauses and amendments of the Constitution, and federal statutes. And Republican strategist and CNN commentator Ana Navarro pointed out that the order amounts to -- and is perceived widely as -- a Muslim ban.
Yet Wallace noted none of those constitutional and diplomatic problems in his interview with Conway. He briefly mentioned the judges that temporarily blocked some parts of the order, but neglected to explain why, and allowed Conway to dismiss the effect of the rulings on Trump’s order without any pushback. Watch Wallace’s interview of Conway about the executive order below:
Most Sunday news shows gave little attention to reports detailing the Office of Government Ethics’ (OGE) concerns that it will not be able to complete background checks on all of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees in time for their confirmation hearings. Despite the confirmation hearings beginning this week, CBS’ Face the Nation was the only show to devote significant time to the story.
Sunday morning political shows almost entirely ignored the unprecedented move by North Carolina Republicans to significantly limit the executive powers of the incoming Democratic governor.
On December 14, Republicans in the North Carolina state legislature launched a three-day special session for the sole purpose of introducing “a flurry of bills … to undermine [incoming Democratic Governor Roy] Cooper by stripping him of his ability to make key appointments to state and local boards and mandating, for the first time, legislative approval of his cabinet,” The New York Times reported. The Times added that the “significant shackling of the governor’s authority” may result in lawsuits from the incoming administration against the state legislature.
CNN.com reported that the Republican legislature's "unprecedented power grab" includes legislation to “block Cooper from appointing any members to the state Board of Education and to the board of trustees for the University of North Carolina system,” and to slow lawsuits from reaching the majority Democratic-appointed state Supreme Court. The legislation also will revert to a partisan election process for filling vacancies at appellate level state courts.
Despite North Carolina Republicans’ “brazen bid for permanent power,” the Sunday morning political shows of December 18 all but ignored their unprecedented actions. A Media Matters review of ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, CNN’s State of the Union, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday found that only Meet the Press discussed the situation in one brief segment that lasted less than three minutes.
Host Chuck Todd opened a discussion on Meet the Press about the events in North Carolina by describing them as “perfectly legal” due to Republicans’ “veto-proof majority.” (In fact, a legal challenge against North Carolina Republicans’ actions may be looming.) The segment also featured misinformation from CNBC’s Rick Santelli, a right-wing commentator sometimes credited for “launching the tea party movement,” who bizarrely transformed a story about a state political party’s power grab into a complaint that “the federal government gets too much control in various states.”
Other national and internet media outlets have given this story the detailed reporting and thoughtful analysis it demands. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern wrote that the “last-minute power grab marks an alarming departure from basic democratic norms” and is “a blatant attempt to overturn the results of an election by curtailing judicial independence and restructuring the government to seize authority lawfully delegated to the incoming Democratic governor.” The New York Times and Washington Post editorial boards excoriated North Carolina Republicans’ "novel strategy to subvert the will of the voters" in a “graceless power grab.” And as elections law expert Rick Hasen explained, some of the measures are so extreme that they could spur “potential Voting Rights Act and federal constitutional challenges” on the basis that “the legislature would potentially be diluting minority voting power and making minority voters worse off."
Nonetheless, Sunday shows appear to be following the poor example set by broadcast news shows, which Media Matters previously found completely ignored the story for several days.
Media Matters searched Snapstream and iQ Media for mentions of “North Carolina” on the December 18 editions of CNN’s State of the Union, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday.
Studies have shown that most Americans don’t read beyond the headlines of news articles, most people who share articles on social media haven’t actually read them, and misleading headlines misinform people even when the body of the article gets the facts right. And that’s a huge problem when major outlets’ headlines are framed around President-elect Donald Trump’s latest false claims about climate change.
During a December 11 appearance on Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, Trump declared that “nobody really knows” whether human-induced climate change is happening. As is often the case in TV interviews with climate science deniers, host Chris Wallace didn’t challenge Trump’s claim, which blatantly misrepresents the consensus of the world’s leading scientific institutions that human activities such as burning fossil fuels are the main cause of global warming. But Wallace’s silence was just the first media misstep.
In the hours that followed, major media outlets including The Washington Post, CNN.com, United Press International, and International Business Times produced online headlines about Trump’s remarks that didn’t mention that they were false:
Each of these outlets noted in the body of the articles that the vast majority of climate scientists would dispute Trump’s claim that “nobody really knows” whether man-made climate change is real (the initial version of the Post article apparently did not, but it was updated). Nonetheless, the damage had already been done by the headlines.
When Trump makes comments like these, the news story should be that the the president-elect told a whopper about climate change, not that the science of climate change is suddenly in doubt. And if media outlets want to avoid confusing their readers, their headlines should reflect that reality.
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UPDATE: Hours after the Sunday political talk shows ignored the story, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they will deny the current route for the pipeline in favor of exploring alternate routes.
Sunday morning political talk shows entirely ignored the ongoing demonstration at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, continuing a troubling pattern of scant media attention being paid to the historic protests and the violent crackdown on the movement for environmental, civil, and Native peoples’ rights.
Law enforcement and private security officers armed with rubber bullets, water cannons, and dogs have clashed with peaceful protesters at the reservation in North Dakota, where Native demonstrators known as water protectors have sought to delay, and ultimately redirect or derail, construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is currently slated to run near the reservation. The pipeline, which was originally supposed to be built near Bismarck, was redirected near the reservation after residents of Bismarck raised concerns that the pipeline would contaminate their water supply. The protest has become “the longest-running protest in modern history” with “the largest, most diverse tribal action in at least a century, perhaps since Little Bighorn.”
On December 3 and 4, thousands of U.S. veterans arrived at Standing Rock to support the Native water protectors, join their cause, and “call attention to the violent treatment that law enforcement has waged on the protesters.” The Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the water protectors to vacate the site on their own reservation by December 5.
Despite the ongoing violent retaliation against the activists by law enforcement personnel, the December 4 editions of the major Sunday morning political talk shows -- including ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox’s Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press -- entirely ignored the events at Standing Rock.
The Sunday political talk shows’ outrageous Standing Rock blackout is in line with how cable news has covered, or not covered, the protests. From October 26 through November 3, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC combined spent less than an hour covering the ongoing demonstration and violent law enforcement response. Fox News stood out for its minimal coverage, devoting just four and a half minutes to reporting on the events during the time frame analyzed. A review of internal Media Matters records shows that the five main Sunday shows have failed to devote time to the events at Standing Rock since at least September.
CNN’s media criticism show, Reliable Sources, discussed the media blackout on Standing Rock and provided some guidance on how cable news should cover the gathering moving forward. The show’s host, Brian Stelter, lamented that “one of the most important civil and environmental rights stories of our time” was receiving “off and on attention from the national media,” noting that too often, the story seems to completely “fall off the national news media’s radar.”
Stelter’s guest -- Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, who was charged with trespassing while reporting live on the ground -- implored "all the media” to be "there on the ground giving voice to the voiceless” and said that “all the networks” “have a responsibility” to show images of police cracking down on protesters. Goodman also linked the media’s Standing Rock blackout to the national political media’s silence about climate change during the presidential campaign: “Not one debate moderator raised that as a question,” Goodman decried. “This is a key issue.”
Some shows on MSNBC did cover the events at Standing Rock, with Al Sharpton giving a “shoutout to the protestors” and noting that, “until recently, they weren't getting any attention from the outside world.” Joy-Ann Reid, who said that “there needs to be a lot more reporting on this,” provided exemplary coverage of the protests, inviting a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to be interviewed by MSNBC’s Cal Perry on the ground in North Dakota. Reid’s segment -- by devoting time to Standing Rock in the first place, talking with a person directly affected, and having a media presence at the site -- is a model for all news shows to follow. Reid also covered the “grossly underreported story” the week prior.
Online publications and public media have given some coverage to the actions against the pipeline amid the national news media’s virtual blackout, bringing videos and images of the clashes directly to the nation in ways TV news networks are not. And Democracy Now, which has diligently reported on the activity at Standing Rock, posted a video of private security hired by the Dakota Access Pipeline Company attacking protesters with dogs and pepper spray that has over one million views on YouTube.
NowThisNews’ Facebook page has an informational video about the protests, including images of violent attacks by law enforcement personnel on the protesters and interviews from activists, that also has over one million views.
Media have a responsibility to provide coverage of the environmental and human rights battles occurring at Standing Rock. Denying the activists due coverage allows right-wing spin to infiltrate the conversation, plays into a long-standing problem of both the lack of representation of people of color in media and a double standard in covering progressive protesters, and is a barrier to generating the public pressure necessary to induce change.
Sunday morning political shows barely addressed -- or completely ignored -- the recent settlement in the class-action fraud lawsuit against Trump University and President-elect Donald Trump. In doing so, these outlets are continuing a pattern by broadcast and cable news of ignoring important revelations about Trump’s business and charitable practices.
On November 18, Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle the class-action fraud lawsuit against the now-defunct Trump University in which the defendants alleged, according to the Los Angeles Times, that Trump “defrauded customers into thinking they would learn real estate secrets from professors he had ‘handpicked.’ The students said they learned little and instead were subjected to hard-sell tactics urging them to spend thousands of dollars on classes.”
As NBC reported, “The settlement likely means that Trump will avoid becoming possibly the first sitting president to testify in open court.” The New York Times called the settlement “a remarkable concession” for Trump, “who derides legal settlements and has mocked fellow businessmen who agree to them.” The Times also pointed out that the settlement is a “significant reversal from Mr. Trump, who had steadfastly rejected the allegations and vowed to fight the lawsuits,” and that he “doubled down” on that response when “political opponents pressed him on the claims during the campaign, saying he would eventually reopen Trump University.”
Despite the unusual nature of a president-elect settling a multimillion-dollar fraud lawsuit, the November 20 editions of the Sunday morning political talk shows -- including ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox’s Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press -- barely covered the settlement. Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday did not mention the settlement at all, while This Week, State of the Union, and Meet the Press spent a combined total of merely four minutes and eight seconds on the news.
Media Matters searched Nexis and Snapstream for mentions of Trump University or Trump U. on the November 20 editions of ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox’s Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press. Mentions were coded and timed for length on Snapstream.
On Fox News Sunday, radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham -- who is under consideration for White House press secretary -- was confronted with concerns over President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Ingraham deflected, claiming that “these types of lines against true patriots” are “the kind of stuff that has turned people against Washington, D.C.” By ignoring Flynn’s conflicts of interest and concerns about him raised by members of the intelligence community, Ingraham previewed the opaque and adversarial way she would handle criticism of the Trump administration as press secretary.
Last week, Trump offered Flynn the position of national security adviser in his administration. Flynn, who gained prominence in the Republican Party with frequent appearances on Fox News, has conflicts of interest with Russia and Turkey and has a long history of anti-Muslim statements, including that “fear of Muslims is rational.”
On November 20, Fox News’ Juan Williams highlighted concerns from members of the intelligence community that Flynn is “unhinged” and shares “facts that don't comport with what others in the intelligence community believe to be true.” Williams also pointed out that “Americans … are concerned” by Flynn’s “ties to Russia” and “ties to Turkey.” Specifically, Flynn recently had dinner with Russian president Vladimir Putin at Russian state news site Russia Today’s gala and has a lobbying firm that has accepted money from an ally of the Turkish president. Ingraham sidestepped Williams’ arguments, instead questioning his intentions and telling him that comments like his are “the kind of stuff that's turned people against Washington.” From the November 20 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday:
JUAN WILLIAMS: I think the question really is about the appointments and the appointment process. So you have people who I would say don't fit into exactly a team of rivals, but to many people a team of radicals -- a team of radicals in terms of what are these people representing? Flynn, Mike Flynn, I don't think he could be confirmed, so he's getting the national security adviser job. I think his past in national security and a number of people --
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): Defense Intelligence Agency.
WILLIAMS: Yes, specifically as head of Defense Intelligence, and the way that he left there and questions about his management style and about sharing information and what some in the intelligence community call “Flynn facts,” which is facts that don't comport with what others in the intelligence community believe to be true. Colin Powell writing in the WikiLeaks leak that he thought he was unhinged. I think this tells you it would be very difficult.
I think when you think about someone like Flynn, Americans, Lisa, are concerned when you look at his ties to Russia, his ties to Vladimir Putin. When they think about his ties to Turkey --
LAURA INGRAHAM: What are they, Juan? What are you talking about? You’re just throwing out these --
WALLACE: He did go to a dinner.
WILLIAMS: Thank you. He not only go to a dinner, he went to a dinner for Russia Today and was with Putin, and he was taking money from the Turkish government. These are facts, Laura.
INGRAHAM: Here’s what I think --
WALLACE: We’re almost out of time, so a quick answer.
INGRAHAM: Well, OK, there was a lot said by Juan, but you said “team of radicals.” This is the kind of stuff that has turned people against Washington, D.C., and these types of lines against true patriots who sacrificed for their country, who are beloved among the men and women in the military, who actually do the heavy lifting for all of us. [James] Mattis, General Mattis, is one of the most beloved Marines of the last 50 years. General Flynn is considered one of the pre-eminent intelligence experts of our age. So to throw out these lines, “a team of radicals,” that serves nobody's interest. If you have a substantive disagreement with their approach to fighting terror or their approach to intelligence, that's fine. But these blithe comments, I think, have poisoned political discussion in this country, and I think it's exactly why people despise this city.
Ingraham, who is reportedly under “serious consideration” to be White House press secretary in President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration, has repeatedly expressed disgust of members of the media who report things she deems negative about Trump. Ingraham’s media appearances have also included numerous attacks on Latinos, civil rights groups, LGBTQ people, and others.
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During the presidential campaign, a cross-section of media figures argued that if Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were to win the election, she should include Republican appointees in her cabinet and other top positions in order to help unify the country. Will the media now push President-elect Donald Trump -- who said during the campaign that he wouldn’t consider offering any top positions to Democrats -- to meet that same standard?
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.
In their final editions before the 2016 election, over 80 percent of guests on the five Sunday morning political talk shows were white. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s racism has been a consistent theme of the race, but those shows hosted only 10 people of color out of 53 total guests.
CBS’s Face The Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday each hosted only one person of color on the November 6 edition of their show, with Jamelle Bouie, Van Jones, and Juan Williams each appearing in panel discussions. NBC’s Meet The Press hosted three people of color: reporter Kristen Welker and panelists Jose Diaz-Balart and Fred Yang. ABC’s This Week set a higher bar, with four out of 12 guests being people of color. Two of those guests, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), appeared in a panel discussion.
Here are the major political panels on each of those programs:
Trump’s historic racism has been well documented. He began his recent political career in 2011 by spreading the racist and baseless accusation that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States; used his first campaign speech to call Mexicans criminals and rapists; said a federal judge could not be fair to him because of his “Mexican heritage”; lashed out at Muslim Gold Star parents; has been celebrated by white nationalists; hired Steve Bannon, who oversaw Breitbart News’ attempts to normalize and embrace the white nationalist movement; and last week was endorsed by “one of the most prominent newspapers of the Ku Klux Klan.”
Indeed, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria opened the November 6 edition of his show by highlighting Trump’s unprecedented racism as part of “the core views of Donald Trump,” noting that “Trump has consistently expressed himself -- in word and deed -- in ways that can only be described as racist.” Zakaria expanded on Trump’s history of racism, including being sued by the Justice Department for “allegedly denying housing to qualified black people” and his “striking” refusal to accept the innocence of the Central Park Five.
In 2015, Media Matters’ annual Sunday shows report found that white men represented more than 50 percent of all guests on the five shows and that white persons in general made up more than 75 percent of the guests on each show.
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