During the Sunday news shows on November 22, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and John Kasich were all challenged by hosts over the fact that under current federal law, people who are on the FBI's consolidated terror watch list are not legally prohibited from buying guns. The questions over what is known as the "terror gap" followed widespread media discussion of legislation in Congress -- opposed by the National Rifle Association -- that would prohibit people on terror watch lists from buying guns.
Right-wing Colorado pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson suggested that the terrorist attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris was "a message from God" and posed a question to the "concert-goers, at least those who survived: 'Did you love the devil and did you love the devil's works as your friends were being shot up in that massacre?'"
On the November 19 edition of his show Generations Radio, Swanson said he was "deadly serious" about wanting to ask survivors of the terrorist attack, which occurred during a concert by the Eagles of Death Metal, whether they "appreciate[d] the works of the devil as their friends where being shot up in that concert" (emphasis added):
SWANSON: These events are important. I think it's important to analyze them. They're symbolic to what's happening in our entire society today, and when you get a wake up call like what happened at France's 9/11 last Friday night, at the concert I think we all need to pay attention to what's happening. This is a message from God. God is shooting a shot across the bow and we better be paying attention to this. Music matters, culture matters. Culture ultimately is a reflection of world view, and so if you want to know world view just take a look at the culture and say 'oh that's what the world view is all about.'
SWANSON: It's a warning. Certainly a providential irony here. These are the works of the devil, the mass murder itself, are the works of the devil. In other words, there was a demonstration of the devil and his works happening at the time that they were singing the song "who'll love the devil, who'll sing his song, I'll love the devil, I'll sing his song." At the moment they were singing that, the devil himself or at least the devil influencing these murderers and entered in showed the concert-goers the works of the devil. Now at that point, I think we need to ask concert-goers, at least those who survived "Did you love the devil and did you love the devil's works as your friends were being shot up in that massacre?" I think we ought to ask the question right now. And I'm very serious, I'm deadly serious asking this question. "You were dancing to this worship service to the devil, the devil came in, the devil did what the devil does best: he killed, he massacred, he destroyed. As the devil did his works," again, the microphone is in the face of those who were attending the conference [sic] right now, I'm asking the question of those attending that concert "did you appreciate the works of the devil as your friends where being shot up in that concert?"
Swanson has a track record of inflammatory rhetoric, as well as being an influential figure in right-wing political circles. According to Right Wing Watch, during his closing remarks at the November 7 National Religious Liberties Conference he organized, Swanson declared that the Bible called for the death penalty as the punishment for homosexuality. The conference was attended by Republican presidential candidates including Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and then-candidate Bobby Jindal.
Swanson's extreme rhetoric has drawn media attention to the GOP candidates who attended his November conference. During the November 5 edition of CNN's The Lead, host Jake Tapper asked Ted Cruz if his alliance with Swanson wasn't "in some ways" an endorsement for "conservative intolerance." During the November 9 edition of her show on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow also blasted the conference's homophobic content and criticized the three Republicans attending, asking whether Fox Business would push candidates to explain their stance during the November 10 debate (emphasis added):
This was a conference about the necessity of the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality. This religious liberties conference in Iowa this weekend. And there were pamphlets about why gay people should be executed. There were multiple discussions about it from the stage.
There were at least two other speakers besides the host of the event who have publicly called for gay people to be executed. There was discussion at the event in print about whether or not -- there was discussion at the event by people who have described the finite differences between the different methods of execution that should be used to kill people should they be thrown off cliffs, should they be stoned to death? Apparently both of those are sanctions means of execution for the crime of being gay.
And again, this host of the event who interviewed three Republican presidential candidates on stage, who convened the entire event, he has spoken in the past about the need to execute gay people in order to live in a properly Christian society. He did not hide that light under bushel once the candidates were there. He talked about that repeatedly at this event from the same stage that these candidates appeared.
And Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are going to be at the kids' table at the next Republican debate, which is tomorrow night in Milwaukee. Ted Cruz will be on the main stage because Ted Cruz is now polling third in a number of polls nationwide.
I don't know if that is considered to be a scandal anymore in Republican politics. I mean, it will be interesting to see if it comes up in tomorrow night's debate, right? I don't know if our friends over at the Fox Business Channel will feel comfortable raising this issue with Senator Cruz or with any of the other candidates who went to the "kill the gays" event this weekend.
Eagles of Death Metal is a side project of Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, who is raising money for the families of those killed during the attacks.
From the November 19 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:
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Media should be careful about aiding Jeb Bush's criticism of Democrats for not using the phrase "radical Islam" by failing to note that President George W. Bush's administration followed the same practice.
Moderators of Republican presidential debates have repeatedly used the slur "illegal immigrants" to refer to the undocumented immigrant population living in the United States, despite recommendations of Hispanic journalists' advocacy organizations to the contrary and the growing trend among news organizations moving away from use of the term.
During the November 10 Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox Business Network in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, moderator Maria Bartiromo asked candidate Donald Trump what he would do about "the effect that illegal immigrants are having on our economy," using a term that "many in the Latino community regard as a racial slur" to refer to a significant portion of the nation's population.
Despite recommendations from the Associated Press Stylebook which advises the term "illegal" only be used in reference to an action and not to people, and calls from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) for the media to stop the use of "illegal immigrants" and similar smear terms like "illegal alien" or "illegals," the slur has been used by moderators in three out of the four Republican presidential debates to this date. According to Mekahlo Medina, president of NAHJ, "Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed."
During the first debate, hosted by Fox News Channel, host Chris Wallace repeatedly used the term "illegal" in reference to immigrants, including when he pressed candidate Jeb Bush on a statement about "illegal immigrants," and later asked candidate Marco Rubio whether "all of these illegals coming over are criminals."
In the second debate, hosted by CNN, moderator Jake Tapper referred to undocumented immigrants as "illegal immigrants" while questioning candidate Ben Carson. Tapper's use of the term followed CNN Vice President of Diversity Geraldine Morida's statement -- made in response to the NAHJ petition -- that "the word illegal alone should never be used as a standalone noun to refer to individuals with documented or undocumented immigration status."
Jorge Ramos set the gold standard for media figures when he pushed back on candidate Donald Trump's use of the word during an August 25 press conference, stating "no human being is illegal." When moderators introduce the slur, they can effectively close the window of opportunity to pushback on candidates' use of disparaging language.
While many media outlets are moving away from or have banned altogether the use of the "illegal immigrant" slur and substituting it with the more humane term "undocumented immigrant," Fox has a history of clinging to the disparaging term and praising its use. Neil Cavuto, one of the moderators of the fourth Republican debate, has previously ridiculed concerns that disparaging language could be dehumanizing to immigrants, saying "what's dehumanizing" is "all these people being here illegally."
From the October 22 edition of CNN's The Lead:
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From the October 17 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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From the October 11 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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From the October 4 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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CNN host and Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper used the term "illegal immigrants" during the network's September 16 Republican presidential debate, in violation of the network's own guidelines and despite the advice of immigration and Hispanic journalists' advocacy organizations that have called on the network to discontinue the use of term.
Tapper used the term "illegal immigrants" while posing a question to 2016 GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, saying, "I want to bring in Dr. Carson because he too has been skeptical of your plan to immediately deport 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants," in allusion to Donald Trump's immigration proposal.
Prior to the debate, CNN's Vice President of Diversity Geraldine Morida asserted, "The word illegal alone should never be used as a standalone noun to refer to individuals with documented or undocumented immigration status." Morida's assertion was in response to the September 14 joint statement from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) and immigration advocacy organization Define American calling on CNN to "modernize and improve the accuracy of its editorial guidelines and discontinue the use of the word 'illegal' when referring to undocumented immigrants."
Morida's response is also in line with the Associated Press Stylebook which advises the term "illegal" only be used when referring to an action, not a person.
Derogatory terms like "illegal" and "alien" are frequently used by conservative politicians and media outlets like Fox News to describe undocumented immigrants despite calls to discontinue use of the term.
Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that will remove the word "alien" from the state's labor code due to concerns that its usage "dehumanizes the people affected," and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin questioned The New Yorker's use of the term in an August 5 column, concluding, "There does seem to be a consensus against the use of the term by the people most affected by it, who happen to be a vulnerable minority seeking a better life, and that's good enough for me. Personally, I'm dropping the use of the term 'illegal immigrant.'"
CNN will host the second GOP presidential primary debate tonight, September 16. The network has an inconsistent track record on how it has covered GOP candidates' stances on climate change -- debate host Jake Tapper has fact-checked candidates' climate denial, but the network's coverage of the issue has been problematic at times. Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly ways CNN has covered the GOP presidential candidates' positions on climate change so far this year.
CNN's Jake Tapper called out Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker for claiming to be able to take on special interests, pointing out Walker's ties to "Republican special interests like the Koch brothers."
During a September 13 interview on CNN's State of the Union, Tapper questioned Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) claim that he "can take on special interests" by pointing out Walker's close ties to the billionaire conservative Koch brothers (emphasis added):
GOV. SCOTT WALKER: If you want someone who will fight and win, not just win three elections in four years in a blue state like we did, but win and get results without compromising common-sense conservative principles, then I'm the candidate. I've shown I can take on those same powerful special interests. They spent in three elections almost $100 million dollars trying to take me out, it was the big government union bosses and the liberal special interests in Washington.
JAKE TAPPER: I respect that you've taken on Democratic special interests in Wisconsin, but you've been backed by Republican special interests like the Koch brothers, right? How does that square with what you're saying about taking on special interests or do you think only liberal special interests are the ones worth taking on?
WALKER: I'm taking on the ones in Washington. In my state I didn't just take on the unions and Democrats, early on there was great support from the assembly and some from the Senate, people like State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, but there were some senators, including some who'd been in the leadership, who didn't want to do the kind of reforms. I'm willing to take on anyone. I stood up to 100,000 protesters, I took on the death threats, I took on threats [on] my family. We pushed back when they took us to federal and state court, we pushed back when they went after our state senators. They went after me in a recall election and we won, and they made me the number one target in America, number one in America last year.
TAPPER: But aren't the Koch brothers special interests too? Can you give me an example of one time that you took on a conservative special interest?
WALKER: I tell you flat out, when I took on the $100 million dollars or so, I raised $80 million dollars in three elections in four-and-a-half years, and 70 percent of it came from people who gave me $75 dollars or less. We raised it from more than 300,000 donors in all 50 states, that's grassroots, that's not allegiance to one group or another.
Tapper touched on the nexus between Walker and Charles and David Koch, which is evidenced by the millions of dollars the Kochs directly and indirectly donated to Walker's gubernatorial campaign. A right-to-work bill signed by Walker was nearly a word-for-word replica of model legislation crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that receives large sums of money from the Koch brothers. Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a Koch-funded group, "deployed hundreds of volunteers" to help spread Walker's message while buying television and digital ads. And in January, Walker was one of only four GOP presidential hopefuls invited to attend an exclusive Koch brothers' event featuring wealthy conservative political donors.
CNN host Jake Tapper failed to correct a Republican congresswoman's false claim that 94 percent of Planned Parenthood's health services are related to abortion, instead telling his guests to "agree to disagree."
After Hillary Clinton called out Jeb Bush for his immigration stance, media are defending the Republican presidential contender by pointing out that he is married to a Mexican immigrant, despite the fact that Clinton accurately explained how Bush does not favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
A new Media Matters study has found that outside of MSNBC, major broadcast and cable television outlets are failing to fact-check climate science denial by presidential candidates 75 percent of the time. But it's worth taking a closer look at how television program hosts have handled their face-to-face interviews with presidential candidates, since these high-profile interviews often get a substantial amount of attention and can shape media discussions for days or even weeks to come.
So how are TV hosts responding when presidential candidates spout climate science denial in real time? It depends which channel you're watching.