In recent months, media investigations have revealed that Exxon Mobil peddled climate science denial for years after its scientists recognized that burning fossil fuels causes global warming, prompting New York's Attorney General to issue a subpoena to Exxon and all three Democratic presidential candidates to call for a federal probe of the company. But despite these developments, the nightly news programs of all three major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- have failed to air a single segment addressing the evidence that Exxon knowingly deceived its shareholders and the public about climate change.
On the November 10 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, host George Stephanopoulos allowed GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to greatly exaggerate the nation's unemployment rate when he falsely claimed that "unemployment is probably close to 20 percent." Trump has a history of trumpeting debunked right-wing media myths as campaign talking points. He previously claimed that the unemployment rate "might very well be" 40 percent or more, echoing Rush Limbaugh. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, October's unemployment rate stood at just five percent, the lowest rate since April 2008.
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From the September 17 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:
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The New York Times accused Hillary Clinton of potentially violating federal law pertaining to the preservation of e-mail records while acting as Secretary of State, but requirements to maintain such records did not exist during her tenure.
Each year, Republican Senator Tom Coburn releases a "Wastebook" reviewing government projects that he views as wasteful, and each year, the media eagerly promote his report. Yet television news ignored a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) finding that U.S. taxpayers are being stiffed by coal companies buying federal land for less than its worth, which a previous report estimated has cost taxpayers nearly $30 billion over the last 30 years.
On Tuesday, the GAO found that the Bureau of Land Management was not adequately documenting reasons for accepting bids below the determined market value. Furthermore, as many states are not considering exports in their market value analyses, they may be underestimating the value in the first place. Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), who requested the study, stated that "Given the lack of market competition in coal leases" -- the GAO found the vast majority did not have a single competitor, as seen in the chart below -- "if the fair market value set by Interior is low, it can lead to significant losses for taxpayers. For instance, for every cent per ton that coal companies decrease their bids for the largest coal leases, it could mean the loss of nearly $7 million for the American people."
Based on the report, Sen. Markey's office estimated that recent leases could have yielded an additional $200 million in revenue and "possibly hundreds of millions more." A previous report from the Institute for Energy Economics estimated that selling federally-owned coal for less than fair market value has cost taxpayers $28.9 billion in lost revenue over the last 30 years. That finding adds to the economic damages that coal pollution and disasters exact on the economy. A 2011 study, for instance, found that air pollution from coal-fired power plants imposes more costs on society than the value added to the economy by the industry -- and that study did not include climate change damages. Recently, the spill of a chemical used to clean coal in West Virginia cost the local economy $61 million, according to a preliminary study that did not include the cost of clean-up or emergency expenditures.
Yet none of the major television networks covered the GAO report confirming that coal companies are underpaying the federal government*.
The "Wastebook" received considerably more attention when it was released in December 2013, drawing uncritical coverage from all the major television networks except MSNBC (ABC, CBS, CNN, and Fox News uncritically touted the report at least once, and NBC hosted Sen. Coburn where he raised the report without pushback). LiveScience reported that nearly a quarter of the projects Sen. Coburn's office listed in 2013 were science-related and that the "Wastebook" often distorts the studies. Last year, for instance, Fox News promoted the Wastebook's attack on a "government study" on Tea Party intelligence that was actually a non-government funded blog post. CNN's S.E. Cupp and others also attacked a study of duck penises included in the "Wastebook," contributing to the pattern of basic research being cut in the face of what MSNBC's Chris Hayes called "ignorant mockery."
In the first month following the opening of healthcare exchanges -- a key component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- broadcast news programs have largely ignored the role of expanded health care in reducing economic insecurity, instead placing overwhelming focus on glitches in the Healthcare.gov website.
Media ignored economists in their reports leading up to the initiation of the economically damaging across-the-board spending cuts commonly known as sequestration.
If Congress fails to act by midnight, across-the-board spending cuts of up to $85 billion in 2013 alone will take effect. While sequestration is inherently an economic issue, media are ignoring the last chance to have economists weigh in on the consequences.
Media Matters reviewed news coverage leading up to the sequestration deadline, specifically the February 28 evening news broadcasts; March 1 reports from The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times; and the March 1 morning news programs on the major cable and broadcast networks. We found that economists have been almost completely shut out. Of 122 total guests and quoted figures appearing in a total of 43 articles or television segments, one lone economist was mentioned, Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner in a report from the Journal.
When Matt Drudge released his report yesterday that Condoleezza Rice was the new top contender for the GOP vice presidential nomination, pretty much everyone saw it for what it was -- an attempt to distract the press from the mounting controversy over Mitt Romney's departure date from Bain Capital. It was so transparent and so improbable that even conservatives like Erick Erickson, while appreciative of the intent, were calling it "silly." But it worked: major newspapers and the network morning shows jumped on the Drudge rumor.
This morning on Today, NBC correspondent Peter Alexander reported on the "new VP speculation" and said the Romney campaign and Drudge wanted to "switch the topic," but never explained specifically why they wanted the topic switched, noting simply that Romney was "forced to defend his business experience."
From the November 9 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:
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A story touted as "an ABC News exclusive" actually rehashes a flawed narrative pushed by Fox News more than two years ago.
In collaboration with iWatch News, Brian Ross and ABC's "investigative unit" reported late last week that Fisker Automotive, a hybrid car maker that received a federal loan, "is assembling its first line of cars in Finland." The loan itself, however, can only be used to support operations based in the U.S.
ABC published the story, titled "Car Company Gets U.S. Loan, Builds Cars In Finland," on Thursday night and Ross reported the "ABC News exclusive" on Friday's edition of Good Morning America. Ross said that World News and Nightline would also feature the story on Friday, but ABC did not run those segments.
Instead, Ross appeared on the Fox Business Network Friday night, where he told host David Asman that those in the administration criticizing his reporting "just don't like the takeaway, which is that they got the loan and they're building the car in Finland."
But this news isn't new. In fact, it was explained by the Department of Energy (DOE) in a September 2009 press release announcing the conditional loan. According to the release, "final assembly" of the high-end Fisker Karma "will be done overseas." Indeed, Fisker had a contract to assemble the Karma in Finland before the company ever received funds from DOE. ABC failed to note this fact and the misunderstanding was compounded by other news outlets covering ABC's report.
The loan supports design work carried out in Michigan and California for the Karma, as well as the assembly of Fisker's lower-cost hybrid, Project Nina, which will take place at a former GM factory in Wilmington, Deleware. Fisker began hiring for the Delaware plant in June.
On yesterday's edition of The Five, Eric Bolling gave a decidedly skewed version of history when he said, "America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don't remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that period of time."
Media conservatives have done this before.
Today, Ann Coulter appeared on ABC's Good Morning America to promote her new book, Demonic. According to the Nexis database, Coulter was last interviewed on Good Morning America in 2009. And with her history of offensive and inflammatory rhetoric, it is disappointing to see that ABC chose to give her a platform to promote her book.
In 2007, Coulter's inflammatory commentary led CNN's Howard Kurtz, host of Reliable Sources, to question why news networks continue to host the conservative author. Kurtz stated: "[S]he can say whatever she wants, but there's no constitutional right to appear on a television show." At the time, Coulter had recently said: "we" Christians "just want Jews to be perfected, as they say."
And Coulter has not changed her tune since then. Here are some examples of what she has said since then:
- Just yesterday, Coulter described the Kent State massacre as "what you do with a mob." She also stated: "The whole country was embarrassed [about Kent State], well I'm not embarrassed."
- In February 2011, Coulter labeled current U.S. President Barack Obama "a crazy Muslim."
- In February 2011, Coulter also attacked the "INS" for choosing "illiterate Pakistanis" rather than "Swiss scientists" for immigration "because we need more New York City valets." In the same episode of Hannity, Coulter also stated that "liberals have been using one special interest group after another" like "the gays" "for their attacks on the family."
- In November 2009, Coulter advocated for racial profiling stating: "The one thing we won't look at is who is doing this." She then added, terrorists "all look alike. They're all foreign-born...they're all Muslim."
- In October 2009, the conservative author compared Jennings writing the forward of a book to Polanski "anally raping a 13-year-old."
- In August 2009, Coulter stated: "Zeke Emanuel is on my death list."
On Good Morning America today, Coulter did what she always does. She continued to say things that are inflammatory without in any way being informative or even interesting.
Right-wing media have been hyping reports from an Indian news agency that President Obama's upcoming trip to India will cost $200 million a day and will require 34 warships to be stationed off the Indian coast. In fact, the White House, the Secret Service and the Pentagon have called the claims false, and numerous U.S. media sources question the numbers.
From the September 14 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:
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On her radio show, Laura Ingraham attempted to explain her evolving position on Park51, the Islamic cultural center proposed near Ground Zero, saying that while she previously told one of the co-founders she "like[ed] what you're trying to do," "legitimate questions" have since arisen about the project. However, Ingraham's "legitimate questions" are nothing but the same smears and falsehoods that conservative pundits have been pushing for weeks.