MSNBC is giving Chris Hayes the network's 8 p.m. primetime weekday slot beginning in April. Hayes' current program, Up with Chris Hayes, has provided a beacon of diversity compared to the Sunday morning political talk shows on other major broadcast and cable networks, which overwhelmingly feature white men.
The Sunday morning edition of Up with Chris Hayes, which runs from 8 to 10 a.m., is currently more diverse than any of the Sunday morning talk shows on the other networks, as a Media Matters examination of guests since January 1 demonstrates. Most tellingly, white men make up 41 percent of total guests on Up with Chris Hayes (according to data from the U.S. Census, white men make up roughly 31 percent* of the U.S. population). In contrast, CBS' Face the Nation, Fox's Fox News Sunday, NBC's Meet the Press, CNN's State of the Union, and ABC's This Week host white men 66 percent, 64 percent, 64 percent, 67 percent, and 61 percent of the time, respectively.
Further, Up with Chris Hayes has more than double the proportion of African-American guests -- 21 percent -- as compared to each of the other programs. In all, 34 percent of guests on Up with Chris Hayes are non-white. Hayes also hosts more women -- 37 percent -- than any of the other networks' shows.
*This report originally stated that white men represented 39 percent of the U.S. general population. The correct figure is 31 percent. Media Matters regrets the error.
Fox News hosts cited a widely criticized Bob Woodward column to falsely claim President Obama's proposal to avert looming government spending cuts -- known as sequestration -- "moved the goalposts" because it offsets some of the cuts with new revenue. In fact, the administration's proposal to avert the sequestration has always included a balanced deficit reduction plan that included additional revenues.
Washington Post editor Bob Woodward pushed back on Fox News political analyst Karl Rove's attempt to blame the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester on President Obama.
Woodward wrote in his 2012 book that the White House first proposed the sequester during negotiations that resulted from the Republican congressional leadership's decision to refuse to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts. Republicans and their allies in the conservative media have recently used Woodward's book in an attempt to blame Obama for the forthcoming cuts and the damage they will do to the economy if implemented.
But when Karl Rove tried to do so during a panel discussion on the February 17 Fox News Sunday, Woodward pushed back:
ROVE: Let's be honest about this. This was a bad idea foisted on us by the President of the United States, who has had 18 months to lead the country in a way that we could make smart cuts, not stupid cuts.
JUAN WILLIAMS (Fox News contributor): How can you call this the President's sequester when most of the Republicans --
ROVE: Because I read Bob Woodward's book!
WOODWARD: The White House -- and they really don't want to talk about the origins of the sequester now. But the Republicans definitely have a role in this.
Fox News' Chris Wallace challenged National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre's false claims about strengthening gun laws, even going so far as to describe one of his talking points as "ridiculous." Wallace's treatment of LaPierre is a departure from his Fox colleagues who have allowed LaPierre to push his agenda without challenge.
On Fox News Sunday, Wallace challenged LaPierre's attempt to mislead on criminal background checks for gun sales and debunked the NRA claim that the Obama administration wants to create a national registry of gun owners. Wallace also dismissed LaPierre's defense of an NRA advertisement that charged President Obama with hypocrisy for protecting his children with armed guards, responding to the NRA leader's comparison between threats faced by the president's children and school children nationwide by saying "that's ridiculous and you know it, sir."
The refusal of Wallace to acquiesce to all of LaPierre's claims during Fox News Sunday was markedly different from Fox's typical treatment of the gun issue, which has included giving the NRA a platform to spread falsehoods.
During the interview, Wallace dismissed LaPierre's attempt to obfuscate the fact that over a million people have been stopped from obtaining a firearm since 1999 after failing a criminal background check by stating, "It worked enough that 1.7 million people were denied."
LAPIERRE: I don't think you can say that those 1.7 million people have been stopped from getting a gun at all because the government didn't prosecute virtually any of them. They let them walk in, they were denied, they let them walk out. And who really thinks if they really wanted to commit a crime they didn't go on and get a gun.
WALLACE: I don't know. It seems to me if 1.7 million people were denied. I understand the hardened criminal. But the disturbed person. The Adam Lanza in Newtown. The James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado. Those aren't hardened criminals, and if they are stopped from getting a gun by a universal background check won't that make a difference?
LAPIERRE: You know the instant check was actually the NRA's proposal. We offered it as an amendment to the Brady Bill to put it on dealers. And I've been in this fight for 20 years, we supported it, we put it on the books. But I have finally become convinced after fighting to get the mental records computerized for 20 years and watching the mental health lobby, the HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] laws, and the AMA [American Medical Association] oppose it, I don't think it's going to happen. I mean the fact is the check now, these people are not --
WALLACE: It worked enough that 1.7 million people were denied. I mean I completely agree with you, I mean as Captain Kelly pointed out [Tucson shooter] Jared Loughner was able to pass the test. So there are holes in it, but that doesn't mean, you know, because it's not perfect doesn't mean that it doesn't work.
As Wallace pointed out, there is a logical fallacy in LaPierre's argument that because background checks will not stop all criminals there is no value in attempts to improve the background check system.
LaPierre's attack on the effectiveness of the background check system also exposes the hypocrisy of the NRA's opposition to requiring criminal background checks on every gun sale. LaPierre speculated that individuals denied a firearm by a background check were still able to "go on and get a gun." A loophole in federal law allows a significant proportion of firearms to be obtained through private sales where no background check is required, with one 2004 study indicating that criminals are even more likely to use private transactions to obtain firearms.
Fox News Sunday will host a retired general with a record of Islamophobic comments that drew criticism from President George W. Bush to provide "expert" commentary on the recent decision to allow women in the armed forces to serve in combat roles.
According to a promotion that ran on Fox News, retired Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin will appear on the January 27 edition of Fox's flagship Sunday morning political news show. The ad describes Boykin as providing "expert insight" on whether women serving in combat is "the right move going forward."
As we've previously noted:
Boykin received international attention in 2003 after the Los Angeles Times and NBC News reported on speeches he had given in full military dress at religious events suggesting that the United States was fighting a "spiritual battle" in the Middle East against "a guy called Satan" who "wants to destroy us as a Christian army." Boykin also said of a Somali fighter who said that Allah would protect him from Americans, "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."
(Boykin later apologized and claimed that he had meant that the man's God was "money and power.")
Boykin's remarks drew widespread criticism, including from President Bush, who said that Boykin "doesn't reflect my point of view or the point of view of this administration." Later that year a Defense Department investigation found that Boykin's speeches had violated regulations and called for the taking of "appropriate corrective action." In 2010, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Boykin to testify on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, then revoked that invitation following media reports of the pending testimony, with a spokesman stating that the 2003 comments "would be used to distract" from Kagan's record.
Following his retirement, Boykin has continued to offer up Islamophobic commentary, saying that "Islam itself is not just a religion -- it is a totalitarian way of life," which "should not be protected under the First Amendment"; calling for "no mosques in America" because a "mosque is an embassy for Islam and they recognize only a global caliphate, not the sanctity or sovereignty of the United States"; and stating that "Islam is evil."
Because of this history of rhetoric, the announcement that he had been selected to host a prayer breakfast at the United States Military Academy at West Point last year drew criticism from cadets, faculty, Muslim organizations, and progressive veterans groups, ultimately forcing him to withdraw.
Boykin, now executive vice president at the Family Research Council, opposes allowing women to serve in combat units, calling the decision to allow them to do so a "social experiment" from people who "have never lived nor fought with an infantry or Special Forces unit" -- a critique similar to his rationale for opposing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The decision to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule came after the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously supported that policy.
Fox News Sunday included as a featured guest Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, despite the history of inflammatory rhetoric and extremist links that Pratt and his organization are associated with.
The opening segment of the January 13 edition of Fox News Sunday featured Pratt and Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress discussing issues of gun rights in the wake of the Newtown massacre. Pratt argued against banning weapons and expanding background checks, and he said that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was "not speaking from a constitutional perspective" when he said that Second Amendment rights are not unlimited.
While host Chris Wallace did confront Pratt about his comparison of President Obama to King George III, he made no mention of other, more extreme rhetoric and connections Pratt and his organization are linked to:
On January 11, Pratt said on a radio show that Obama should be impeached if he uses an executive order to restrict gun rights.
Pratt has also said that legislation denying firearms to the dangerously mentally ill was "a dictatorial power" that "they use[d] ... in Nazi Germany."
Pratt was removed as national co-chair of Pat Buchanan's 1996 presidential campaign after his associations with white supremacists were revealed. Pratt also served as a contributing editor of a publication described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-Semitic.
On Fox & Friends, John Velleco, GOA's director of federal affairs, falsely claimed: "Every time a state tries to relax concealed carry laws, we hear the Chicken Littles of the world saying that blood is going to flow in the streets, and it just doesn't happen. In fact, crime doesn't go up, crime goes down, because criminals don't know who is carrying a firearm to defend themselves.
Velleco also suggested that gun owners should be allowed to carry their weapons at events where the president of the United States is speaking.
Michael Hammond, GOA's legislative counsel, warned that a "government psychiatrist" could determine who is allowed to possess a gun, citing the example of returning Iraq War veterans who are not allowed to have guns due to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace allowed Bill Kristol to attack the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary without disclosing that Kristol is currently waging a full-scale campaign to oppose the nominee. Wallace further failed to challenge Kristol on his previous support of Hagel until he publicly supported a withdrawal from the Iraq War.
Fox News contributor Bill Kristol has been leading a relentless attack campaign against former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for defense secretary. During television appearances and on his site The Weekly Standard, Kristol is actively encouraging the Senate to block Hagel's nomination. The Emergency Committee for Israel, a political advocacy group Kristol founded, has even launched an anti-Hagel website complete with attack ads.
Yet on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Kristol to opine on Hagel's nomination without any mention of his advocacy to prevent Hagel from becoming defense secretary. After saying Hagel is a "controversial pick for defense secretary," Wallace directed Kristol: "Your comments on Hagel?" Kristol replied, "I don't think Chuck Hagel is the right man to be secretary of defense. We'll see if the United [States] Senate agrees with that." Kristol opposes the nomination on the false grounds that Hagel is hostile to Israel and sympathetic to Iran.
Kristol even interjected Hagel attacks into unrelated conversations.
A Media Matters analysis finds that news coverage of climate change on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX remained low in 2012 despite record temperatures and a series of extreme weather events in the U.S. When the Sunday shows did discuss climate change, scientists were shut out of the debate while Republican politicians were given a platform to question the science.
Fox News correspondent John Roberts ignored Sen. Ted Cruz's inaccurate claim that gun violence prevention is "unconstitutional" while guest hosting Fox News Sunday. The following morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough highlighted Roberts' failure to correct Cruz's extreme talking point, one that even conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejected in District of Columbia v. Heller.
From the January 6 edition of Fox News Sunday (via Nexis):
ROBERTS: Gun control -- you probably heard the last segment. We're talking about 10 bills introduced in the House of Representatives regarding gun control. Joe Biden is leading a study group at the White House. You are a fierce defender of Second Amendment rights. You were in like 2010, given the NRA's Freedom Fund Award.
Is there any new gun control that you would accept?
CRUZ: The reason we are discussing this is it the tragedy in Newtown. And every parent, my wife and I, we've got two girls aged 4 and aged 2 -- every parent was horrified at what happened there. To see 20 children, six adults senselessly murdered, it takes your breath away.
But within minutes, we saw politician running out and trying to exploit this tragedy, try to push their political agenda of gun control.
I do not support their gun control agenda for two reasons. Number one, it's unconstitutional.
ROBERTS: But is there that you would accept?
CRUZ: I don't think the proposals being discussed now makes sense.
Cruz's repetition of the NRA talking point on Fox News Sunday that the "gun control agenda" is "unconstitutional" was especially notable because he is a well-credentialed attorney who clerked for former Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that "gun control" is not unconstitutional, most recently in the landmark ruling of Heller that clarified the individual right to possess firearms. In fact, Cruz's endorsement of the NRA position is not only legally incorrect, it contradicts Justice Scalia's majority opinion:
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
[N]othing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. [United States v.] Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those "in common use at the time." We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of "dangerous and unusual weapons.
Because Cruz, a new Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is expected to know very recent and high-profile Supreme Court precedent, Fox's Roberts should have given Cruz an opportunity to correct himself on the constitutionality of "gun control." As explained by The New York Times in reference to the reports of the gun violence prevention task force recommendations that Cruz was commenting on, "[a]lthough the N.R.A. is sure to cry "Second Amendment!," the truth is that there's not a single Second-Amendment restriction in Mr. Biden's law-enforcement approved list."
Instead, that task fell to Scarborough and fellow Morning Joe regulars, who questioned how Cruz and Fox News Sunday could botch Heller without any explanation or follow-up:
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you a question, Mark Halperin. You know Ted Cruz, right?
MARK HALPERIN: I do.
SCARBOROUGH: A smart, gifted guy?
HALPERIN: He's a very smart man.
SCARBOROUGH: Has he ever read the Constitution, do you know?
HALPERIN: I'm certain that he has.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn't he like a lawyer, or something like that?
HALPERIN: He is, he's an esteemed lawyer, he was Solicitor General of Texas...
SCARBOROUGH: He's a Harvard Law graduate. So you think he's probably read a Supreme Court case before?
HALPERIN: I'm certain he has.
SCARBOROUGH: You think maybe he's read Heller, the Supreme Court...
SCARBOROUGH: Seminal case on the Second Amendment, on the definition of what's constitutional and unconstitutional, you think he's read that?
SCARBOROUGH: It's hard to know, but you would think he probably would, right? Because if he had...
HALPERIN: He would know?
SCARBOROUGH: He would not say that background checks are unconstitutional. Or any of the things that have been brought up are unconstitutional. Because the Supreme Court clearly and unequivocally said that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms, and that means keeping handguns in their home. That means being able to protect their families in their home. But they gave wide latitude to the government to regulate guns in every way that people determine.
I disagree with a lot of [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein's suggestions and recommendations, but background checks, the banning of military-style assault weapons, the banning of high-capacity magazine clips, it's all constitutional under Heller. It's not even a close call.
Members of the media have been quick to push the myth that the National Rifle Association can remove politicians from office who support new gun violence prevention measures in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The influence wielded by the NRA has been overblown by the media for years, a fact further evidenced by the organization's poor showing during the 2012 elections.
The hosts of Fox News Sunday and Meet The Press pushed the myth that Democratic support for gun violence prevention measures was a significant factor in their 1994 and 2000 electoral defeats.
These claims echo a false media narrative that the National Rifle Association is able to influence electoral outcomes and punish politicians who refuse to line up with the pro-gun organization. This narrative is faltering following the 2012 elections where the NRA spent tens of millions of dollars in a largely unsuccessful attempt to defeat candidates in favor of gun violence prevention policies. Furthermore, there is strong public support for specific gun violence prevention measures and claims that Democrats paid a price for supporting gun violence prevention in 1994 and 2000 are overblown.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace claimed during an interview with Al Gore's 2000 running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who advocated for universal background checks on gun sales and renewal of the assault weapons ban on the show, that support for such policies contributed to his 2000 defeat:
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Back in the 90's you supported the Brady law which called for a five day waiting period.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN: Right.
WALLACE: You supported the assault weapons ban. Then in 2000 you and Al Gore campaigned around the country and you lost, and a lot of people took as a lesson, part of it was in states like Tennessee and West Virginia, the fact that you were pro-gun control. And quite frankly ever since Democrats have been scared of touching that issue.
From the December 9 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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Fox's Chris Wallace falsely claimed that President Obama has proposed a plan where Congress would give up its power to control the debt limit. In fact, under the proposal Congress would still have a role in authorizing debt ceiling increases, while making it more difficult for legislators to cause economically harmful and potentially disastrous crises by holding up necessary increases in borrowing authority.
Wallace claimed on Fox News Sunday that the White House is proposing "in effect that Congress gives up its power over the debt limit." He also said to House Speaker John Boehner that Obama and Democrats "want you, Congress, to give up any powers over voting an increase in the debt limit forever."
In reality, according to reporting from The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, the administration's proposal maintains a role for Congress in approving debt limit increases. The proposal would subject attempts by the president to raise the debt limit to a congressional vote. The president can veto a resolution denying the increase in borrowing authority, and Congress can still prevent the ceiling from rising by overriding the veto.
According to Klein, the proposal "could do more to protect our economy than anything else in the debt deal." That's because a fight over the debt limit, like the one that occurred in the summer of 2011, can have negative economic consequences even if the issue is resolved before the administration loses the ability to finance government spending.
The Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that that episode cost taxpayers nearly $19 billion in additional interest costs. If Congress doesn't allow the debt limit to rise, and the U.S. was unable to pay the interest on its debt, "financial markets would unravel and the U.S. and global economy would enter another severe recession," in the words of economist Mark Zandi.
From the November 25 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberley Strassel claimed that President Obama has "moved the goalposts" by calling for ending the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent of taxpayers -- despite the fact that Obama has advocated for that policy in both his 2012 and 2008 presidential campaigns.
On the November 18 edition of Fox News Sunday, Strassel criticized Obama for supposedly insisting that tax rates on upper-income taxpayers must rise to the level they were during the Clinton administration as part of a deficit reduction plan, stating, "The president has now moved the goalposts and said, 'Well, it isn't just revenue, it has to be a specific kind.' " When host Chris Wallace pointed out that Obama "did mention this once or twice during the campaign," Strassel responded, "Yeah, he did, except for the question is, are you going to stick on what you campaigned on, or are you going to find a compromise in the end?"
As Wallace correctly noted, Obama regularly advocated ending the Bush tax cuts for wealthier taxpayers during the campaign, which contradicts Strassel's assertion that Obama "moved the goalposts." A July 9 USA Today article, for instance, reported that "In a White House ceremony, Obama said lower tax rates should end for Americans making more than $250,000 a year." Obama is continuing to advocate the same position: Politico reported on November 17 that Obama "repeated his call Saturday for Congress to extend the Bush-era middle-class tax cut without delay" and urged Congress not to "hold the middle class hostage while Congress debates tax cuts for the wealthy."
Obama, in fact, has been advocating the end of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy long before the 2012 campaign:
Further, contrary to Strassel's suggestion that Obama's continued advocacy for ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy precludes him from reaching "a compromise in the end," Obama has said he's "open to new ideas" if another solution achieves his goals. The Associated Press reported on November 14: "Asked if he viewed it as a deal-breaker if Republicans refused to allow the top tax rate to revert to 39 percent from the current 36 percent, [Obama] said, 'I just want to emphasize I am open to new ideas if the Republican counterparts or some Democrats have a great idea for us to raise revenue, maintain progressivity, make sure the middle class isn't getting hit, reduces our deficit.'"