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  • Amid Economic Turmoil, Right-Wing Media Spin Brexit As Good For Trump

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & NINA MAST

    Right-wing media are reacting to the U.K. referendum to leave the European Union -- commonly referred to as Brexit -- by labeling the result a “very, very ominous sign for Democrats in the United States,” saying Donald Trump “looked like a genius” for saying the U.K. should leave the European Union, and claiming that “Hillary [Clinton] lost and Trump won.” Meanwhile, mainstream media warn of economic ramifications from the vote.

  • Morning Shows Give GOP A Pass For Blocking Gun Safety Measures In Senate

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Morning news shows broadcast on ABC, NBC, and CBS inaccurately reported that the Senate rejected four “gun control measures” during procedural votes the evening of June 20.

    In fact, only two of the votes involved  “gun control” measures. Those measures were blocked along nearly party-line votes by Senate Republicans. The other two votes were on amendments offered by Republican senators. One of those amendments would have weakened the current background check system for gun purchases while the other offered an “unworkable” standard for blocking gun sales to suspected terrorists.

    Senate votes on two gun safety measures proposed by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) represent the most significant votes on gun safety legislation in the Senate since the April 2013 GOP blockade of background check legislation proposed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. Murphy’s and Feinstein’s proposals each failed to get the 60 votes necessary to break through Republican obstructionism.

    In brief news reports on June 21, however, Good Morning America, Today, and CBS This Morning all glossed over the important distinctions between the four gun amendments the Senate voted on, and in some cases reporters for the morning shows credulously repeated the GOP Senate’s false characterization of its two proposals.

    • Good Morning America reported “The Senate has rejected all four gun control measures proposed after the Orlando nightclub shooting. The measures to expand background checks and block gun sales to people on the terror watch list were voted down, mostly along party lines.”

    • Today reported, “Four votes last night on what to do about guns in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre. In the Senate on Monday, these gun control measures came up for votes, but not one got the needed 60 votes necessary to move forward. … Republicans had also offered proposals that would prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns, but the Republicans were also demanding some due process provisions that Democrats could not accept.”

    • CBS This Morning reported, “New gun control measures appear unlikely after the Senate failed last night to pass four separate bills. Each fell short of the 60 votes needed. Democratic Party bills called for expanded background checks and banning anyone on a terrorist watch list from buying a gun. The Republican versions required people on watch lists to wait 72 hours, they also supported more resources for background checks.”

    In addition to not clearly identifying Senate Republicans as the driving factor behind obstructionism of gun safety legislation, the morning show reports on the Senate votes failed to accurately explain what was in the two GOP counterproposals.

    The GOP amendment described by CBS This Morning as supporting “more resources for background checks” would have actually weakened the background check system. The amendment, authored and introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), has been in existence for years, having first been introduced as a GOP alternative during Senate votes in 2013 on background check legislation. While purporting to better fund the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the legislation would actually invalidate large numbers of records in the system that prohibit people from passing a background check due to an adjudication of severe mental illness. Grassley’s amendment has been used by GOP senators who wish to claim to support improving the background check system while not actually voting for NRA-opposed legislation that would make improvements. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has notably used this tactic for years.

    The GOP amendment that Today reported “would prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns” would not actually prevent any sales to suspected terrorists. While GOP backers of the amendment, which was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), made arguments about due process provisions  (even though the Democratic alternative also included due process protections), the language of the GOP amendment creates “an unworkable standard” for blocking dangerous sales, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. Specifically, the amendment, which Cornyn has previously put forward as an alternative to Feinstein’s “terror gap” proposal, would only give Department of Justice officials 72 hours to prove in court “not only that someone is suspected of being involved in terrorism, but that he or she will actually commit an act of terror.”

  • In Reporting On Trump’s Call For Armed Clubgoers, Some Media Miss NRA’s Extremism On Guns In Bars

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    After presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said clubgoers at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, where a gunman killed 49 people June 12, should have been carrying guns, many media outlets noted that Trump had staked out a position on guns in bars that was even more extreme than the National Rifle Association’s.

    Several media outlets, however, also incorrectly reported that the NRA opposes guns in bars generally.

    In fact, for years the NRA has made state-level efforts to allow concealed guns to be carried in bars so long as the person with the gun does not consume alcohol. The alcohol prohibition would largely operate on an honor system, as most concealed carry laws require that the gun remain concealed at all times unless being used for lawful self-defense or some other legal purpose.

    In recent years, the NRA has backed legislative efforts to allow guns in bars in states including Tennessee, Ohio, and Georgia.

    On June 17, Trump said while discussing the Orlando mass shooting, “If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here -- right to their waist or right to their ankle -- and … one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes 'boom, boom,' you know what? That would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight." (Trump later dishonestly claimed he was referring only to the arming of employees or security guards.)

    Two NRA officials were asked about Trump’s remark during Sunday show appearances on June 19. NRA Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox said people drinking in clubs should not carry guns while NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said, “I don’t think you should have firearms where people are drinking.” The NRA later clarified that LaPierre was expressing opposition only to people drinking while carrying guns in bars.

    So while Trump’s position is further out there compared to the NRA’s position, the NRA’s position itself is out of the mainstream.

    Several outlets misreported the NRA’s extreme position in guns in bars, amid confusion over both Trump and LaPierre attempting to “clarify” remarks made about guns in bars:

    • USA Today: “But NRA officials said Sunday that having armed patrons in bars with alcohol was not such a good idea.”

    • NBC’s Peter Alexander on the June 20 broadcast of Today: “Trump’s argued that if more people at that Orlando nightclub were armed with guns strapped to their waist, and that they fired back at the shooter, the carnage would have been much less. But even the NRA pushed back against that, insisting it does not believe people should carry guns in drinking establishments.”

    • Associated Press: “Donald Trump is backtracking from his contention that victims of the Orlando massacre should have been allowed to carry arms into the nightclub where they were attacked -- a stance even the NRA says is untenable.”

  • Media Must Not Let Trump Reduce The Orlando Conversation To Semantics About “Radical Islam”

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Several media figures allowed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to set the terms of the conversation following the terror attack at an Orlando gay nightclub, reducing the tragedy to a counterproductive conversation about “radical Islam” semantics, and eclipsing conversation about anti-LGBT violence, gun safety, and national security efforts at home and abroad.

    On June 12, a gunman stormed into an Orlando gay nightclub and murdered 49 people, leading to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

    In the wake of this senseless but targeted attack, Trump immediately resorted to a routine right-wing media talking point in an attempt to undermine President Obama and drum up anti-Muslim fear: that Obama and others won’t use the phrase “radical Islam,” and that the failure to do so is crippling national security efforts. Trump repeated the talking point on Fox News to attack Hillary Clinton, telling Steve Doocy that her inability to “utter the words” radical Islamic terror is “just following [Obama’s] exact line,” and that “unless you know the words and unless you know what’s going on, you’re never going to solve the problem.”

    Following Trump’s Fox interview, media figures questioned Clinton on Trump’s critiques, effectively letting Trump dictate and distort the terms of the conversation about the shooting.

    On NBC’s Today, host Savannah Guthrie asked Clinton, “Donald Trump in particular called you out … for not using a certain term to describe the acts: the term radical Islam. The question is, why not?”

    Similarly, on CNN’s New Day, host Chris Cuomo asked Clinton, “you are now coming under scrutiny about what you will call this … Do you believe that this is radical Islamism or radical Islamic terror? Will you use those words?” Clinton said she was not opposed to using similar terms but would not demonize an entire religion.

    Foreign policy experts and other media figures have repeatedly criticized Trump for “feed[ing] into the ISIS narrative” with his rhetoric. And foreign policy experts and government officials have also noted that trumpeting the phrase “radical Islam” alienates allies and is counterproductive to defeating terrorism at home and abroad. Not only does the U.S. practice to refrain from using the phrase “radical Islam” extend back to the George W. Bush administration, but not conflating Islam and terror is also part of a global strategy to avoid dignifying terrorists

    CNN political commentator Errol Louis poured cold water on those elevating Trump's focus on "radical Islam," asserting that Trump's "baby talk" critiques are "not something that should be taken seriously or frankly even repeated. This is the kind of chitchat you hear on right-wing radio day and night, mostly night, but it doesn't belong on a presidential debate."

    Right-wing criticism of Obama, Clinton, and others for not using this one specific phrase is a frequent and tired ploy that whips up anti-Muslim sentiments and distracts from the myriad issues at hand. Instead of embracing Trump’s critiques as the standard for conversation about Orlando -- which reduces the tragedy to semantic particulars -- media must focus on pushing politicians to find solutions. 

  • ABC Was The Only Broadcast Network To Ignore Report That “Trump Doesn’t Pay His Bills”

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    In June 9 broadcast evening news programs and June 10 morning news programs, ABC was the only broadcast network to ignore a USA Today investigation that found “hundreds of people” who allege that Donald Trump “didn’t pay them for their work.”

    A June 9 USA Today report found that Trump, who “often portrays himself as a savior of the working class” has had at least 60 lawsuits filed accusing him and his businesses of “failing to pay” people “for their work.” From the report:

    Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

    At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.

    NBC covered the story during the June 9 edition of Nightly News with Lester Holt and the June 10 edition of Today, while CBS discussed it during the June 10 edition of CBS This Morning.

    The USA Today report noted the irony that Trump’s claims “he will bring jobs back to America” while waging legal battles “over small amounts of money that are negligible to the billionaire and his executives -- but devastating to his much-smaller foes,” including contractors, waiters, dishwashers, real estate brokers, and law firms:

    In 2007, for instance, dishwasher Guy Dorcinvil filed a federal lawsuit against Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Palm Beach, Fla., alleging the club failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime he worked over three years and the company failed to keep proper time records for employees.

    Mar-a-Lago LLC agreed to pay Dorcinvil $7,500 to settle the case in 2008. The terms of the settlement agreement includes a standard statement that Mar-a-Lago does not admit fault and forbids Dorcinvil or his lawyers from talking about the case, according to court records.

    Developers with histories of not paying contractors are a very small minority of the industry, said Colette Nelson, chief advocacy officer of the American Subcontractors Association. But late or missing payments can be devastating for small businesses and their employees.

  • Media Call Out Trump’s Glaring Teleprompter Hypocrisy

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media outlets highlighted presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s hypocritical use of a teleprompter during a campaign speech, noting that he “has previously derided [teleprompters] for being a tool of entrenched politicians” and “routinely mocks his rivals for using" them.