New York Magazine

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  • Media Echo Inaccurate GOP Talking Points To Blame Obama And Biden For Republican SCOTUS Obstructionism

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media inaccurately equated President Obama's 2006 Senate filibuster vote of then-Judge Samuel Alito and Vice President Biden's 1992 comments on the Senate floor about a Supreme Court nomination in an election year to Senate Republicans' unprecedented attempts to block the president's nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

  • Conservatives Have Been Praising Merrick Garland For Years

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    On March 16, President Obama announced his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court. Garland has faced misleading and false attacks, as well as a concerted push for continued obstruction of any Supreme Court nominee chosen by Obama. However, some of the same conservative officials and pundits have previously lavished Garland with praise arguing that he would be a "consensus nominee" representing "the best scenario" for bipartisan support.

  • The Media Were The Biggest Promoters Of Marco Rubio's Doomed Campaign

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) dropped out of the 2016 Republican presidential election after losing his home state of Florida in the state's March 15 primary. The media had touted Rubio's candidacy throughout the race, despite his poor performance in debates and GOP primaries. Here's a look back at the media's promotion of the Marco Rubio presidential candidacy.

  • Media Incorrectly Equate Biden's 1992 Comments "Bemoaning Politicization" Of Hypothetical SCOTUS Nomination To GOP's Ongoing And "Unprecedented" Obstruction

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Media outlets have dubiously likened Vice President Joe Biden's 1992 speech suggesting the Senate Judiciary Committee might not hold confirmation hearings for a hypothetical Supreme Court vacancy following a resignation during an ongoing presidential campaign to the unprecedented determination by Senate Republicans that they will not consider anyone President Obama nominates after Justice Antonin Scalia's death.

  • This 1968 Report Highlights Exactly Why Reporting On Race Is Still A Disaster

    Fifty Years Later, The "White Perspective" Still Dominates Media Coverage Of Race, Racism, And Violence

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    In 1967, responding to a number of riots in black neighborhoods of cities including Detroit, Los Angeles, and Chicago, President Lyndon Johnson convened an investigatory commission to figure out how and why the riots had occurred.

    Seven months later, the commission published the informally named Kerner Report, spotlighting how institutional and explicit anti-black racism, police brutality, concentrated poverty, and political disenfranchisement had come together to spark the riots.

    The report also strongly criticized major media's shoddy coverage of the riots, warning that a "significant imbalance" between reality and news reports of the riots was exacerbating the schism between the country's "two societies, one black, one white -- separate and unequal." The report concluded:

    Along with the country as a whole, the press has too long basked in a white world, looking out of it, if at all, with white men's eyes and a white perspective. That is no longer good enough. The painful process of readjustment that is required of the American news media must begin now. They must make a reality of integration--in both their product and personnel. They must insist on the highest standards of accuracy--not only reporting single events with care and skepticism, but placing each event into meaningful perspective. They must report the travail of our cities with compassion and depth.

    Fifty years later, mainstream media continues to be defined by the "white perspective" that the Kerner Report hoped to challenge. And the media circus that surrounded the protests against police brutality in Ferguson, MO, in August 2014 and Baltimore, MD, in April 2015 shows how little has changed in the broken way the mainstream media talks about race, violence, and systemic inequality.

    Exaggerating The "Scope And Intensity" Of Protests

    The Kerner Report criticized media coverage of the 1967 riots for exaggerating the "scope and intensity of the disorders," which created "an impression at odds with the overall reality of events":

    ... there were instances of gross flaws in presenting news of the 1967 riots. Some newspapers printed scare headlines unsupported by the mild stories that followed. All media reported rumors that had no basis in fact.

    [...]

    This is not "just another story." It should not be treated like one. ... Reporters and editors must be sure that descriptions and pictures of violence, and emotional or inflammatory sequences or articles, even though "true" in isolation, are really representative and do not convey an impression at odds with the overall reality of events.

    Following Michael Brown's high-profile death at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO, and Freddie Gray's death while in the custody of Baltimore's police department, protests over the use of excessive police force and racial discrimination erupted. Though protesters clashed with police at times, the demonstrations largely consisted of civil rights leaders, activists, politicians, and residents coming together to mourn the injustices and raise awareness of the circumstances.

    TV and print media flooded their coverage of the Baltimore and Ferguson unrest with incendiary imagery, misleadingly casting the demonstration sites as war zones. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News rolled videos on loop of Baltimore buildings ablaze, police cars destroyed, and protesters in gas masks. Print newspapers led their front-page coverage with "fiery images of angry protesters attacking police vehicles, looting and burning buildings ... police in riot gear and tense moments between law enforcement and demonstrators," according to American Journalism Review. Online publications continuously posted incendiary pictures showing lawlessness and destruction.

    (Photo courtesy of American Journalism Review)

    But the sensationalized images that dominated cable and print media coverage of Baltimore and Ferguson painted a misleading picture of the crises there. As many commentators noted, the scenes in Baltimore and Ferguson were significantly calmer and less sensational than media watchers would likely have realized. ColorOfChange.org warned reporters covering Ferguson that "stories coming out of many major media outlets [painting] a picture of total lawlessness ... could not be further from the truth." The Daily Show also mocked the breathless media coverage of disorder in Baltimore.

    Baltimore resident Danielle Williams also called out this type of selective reporting during an on-the-street interview with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, saying "when we were out here protesting all last week for six days straight peacefully, there were no news cameras, there were no helicopters, there was no riot gear, and nobody heard us. So now that we've burned down buildings and set businesses on fire and looted buildings, now all of the sudden everybody wants to hear us."

    Media also often printed exaggerated headlines that were unsubstantiated by the article body. An April 2015 Economist article describing the Baltimore protests was headlined "It's Chaos" and said the demonstrations were "best described not as a riot but as anarchy."

    But the article noted that "few protesters or people [were] fighting the police or hurling stones" and that "people standing around [were] mostly taking photos on their phones." What was first labeled as "anarchy" was then chronicled as "groups of young men, boys really, wearing bandanas and hoodies ... staring at anyone passing, and occasionally throwing projectiles at cars."

    Likewise, a Wall Street Journal article was headlined "Arrests in Baltimore as Freddie Gray Protests Turn Violent." But the piece mostly hyped what was otherwise non-violent protesting, including an "impromptu 'die-in'" and "a small group [throwing] cans and plastic bottles in the direction of police officers."

    Newsrooms covering Baltimore and Ferguson also disseminated misinformation that often originated from local city and police department officials. On April 27, 2015, The Baltimore Sun reported that a mass police presence had been pre-emptively convened near a Baltimore mall because of a "flier that circulated widely" among students online advocating a "purge," referencing the 2013 movie The Purge that dramatized a night of lawlessness and anarchy.

    After Baltimore students finished school and headed toward the mall, they were greeted by police in riot gear. Because of the purge rumors, the police allegedly shut down the subway and blocked buses from leaving, leaving hundreds of students on the streets unable to get home. A violent clash ensued. Baltimore Police Department Capt. Kowalczyk said the police would identify and arrest "lawless individuals with no regard" for safety.

    But the purge rumor was immediately disputed. Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) tried tracing The Baltimore Sun's account of the flier's distribution and said the evidence was "murky at best." FAIR noted how the Sun's shaky reporting ended up "creat[ing] a perception of actual danger that the proffered evidence doesn't substantiate." Mother Jones poked holes in the police's narrative that they responded to a "rumored plan" of students executing a purge, noting that "many of the kids, according to eyewitnesses, were stuck there because of police actions" -- not because they wanted to fight.

    Such shoddy reporting does more than run counter to journalistic ethics and best practices. Back in 1968, the Kerner report said the commission was "deeply concerned that millions of Americans, who must rely on the mass media, ... formed incorrect impressions and judgments about what went on in many American cities." 

    Ignoring Systemic Inequality Behind Unrest And Protests

    The Kerner Commission also harangued media for failing to investigate how systemic and institutional racism contributed to the riots:

    The media report and write from the standpoint of a white man's world. The ills of the ghetto, the difficulties of life there, the Negro's burning sense of grievance, are seldom conveyed.

    [...]

    The media--especially television--also have failed to present and analyze to a sufficient extent the basic reasons for the disorders. ... [C]overage during the riot period itself gives far more emphasis to control of rioters and black-white confrontation than to the underlying causes of the disturbances.

    In 2014, Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation analyzed over a thousand national and local newspapers articles and cable television news transcripts to determine what percentage of race and racism coverage was "systemically aware" -- meaning it "mentions or highlights policies and/or practices that lead to racial disparities; describes the root causes of disparities including the history and compounding effects of institutions; and/or describes or challenges the aforementioned."

    The study concluded that "most of the mainstream media's racism content is not 'systemically aware,'" finding that "about two out of three articles on race and racism failed to include a perspective with any insight on systemic-level racism." It also concluded that "very rarely" did media "feature prominent, robust coverage of racial justice advocacy or solutions."

    Media coverage of the events in Baltimore and Ferguson similarly failed to investigate the role systemic inequality and institutional racism played in creating unrest, denying audiences the ability to understand those news events in context.

    A second Race Forward analysis examined media's race coverage specific to the Ferguson protests, seeking to determine "how much attention [race is] actually getting in the coverage."

    The study found that media overwhelmingly failed to contextualize the Ferguson protests in a broader discussion of racist policing practices. The Race Forward report found that although nearly half of the articles included "terms such as 'race,' 'racial,' 'racism,' 'racist,' and 'diversity,'" "only 34 of 994 articles analyzed led with a minimally systemically aware perspective."

    During a contentious interview with Fox's Sean Hannity, Adam Jackson, CEO of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, explained how this kind of reporting skewed understandings of the protests in Baltimore:

    ADAM JACKSON: The fundamental problem with the coverage of these stories is that it's mired with racist subterfuge, because to talk about the violence that's going on in Baltimore, and not talking about the systemic inequalities and racist policing practices that have led us to this point, it posits a situation where we're talking about either high violence in our communities or racist police when ... the task should be to fix both.

    Following unrest in Ferguson after Darren Wilson was not indicted, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans noted that cable news coverage of Brown's death had largely avoided a broader discussion of systemic issues like "poverty, urban gangs, aggressive drug enforcement and more":

    [T]ackling a difficult story about race in a panel debate format doesn't serve the issue and distracts from the serious questions at hand. It only serves television news networks' need for conflict among well-known opinionators.

    Trying to talk about systemic racial issues during a crisis is always much harder.

    Lack Of Diversity In Newsrooms And Reporting

    The Kerner Commission also attributed media's distorted race coverage to a lack of diversity in the newsroom:

    The journalistic profession has been shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training, and promoting Negroes.

    [...]

    If the media are to report with understanding, wisdom and sympathy on the problems of cities and problems of the black man -- for the two are increasingly intertwined -- they must employ, promote and listen to Negro journalists.

    The lack of newsroom diversity is just as germane and dire in 2015 as it was nearly 50 years ago. In 1967, "fewer than 5 percent of the people employed by the news business" were black, according to the Kerner Report. In 2015, 4.74 percent of newspaper employees were black, according to the latest data from the American Society of News Editors. Since 2000, the number of black journalists in newspaper newsrooms -- including supervisors, copy editors, producers, reporters, and photographers -- has dropped 52.3 percent.

    Some media leaders have sought to justify, or at least explain, these dismal numbers on newsroom diversity. Former Slate editor David Plotz said the recession caused newsrooms to go into "survival mode" and prioritize "saving ... jobs" over ensuring diversity. NYMag.com's Ben Williams said, "It's well-established that, in part due to economic reasons, not enough 'diverse' candidates enter journalism on the ground floor to begin with. So the biggest factor in improving newsroom diversity is getting more non-white male employees into the profession to begin with."

    But these arguments and others that invoke a so-called pipeline problem are "hollow," in the words of the Kerner Report. "The number of minorities graduating from journalism programs and applying for jobs doesn't seem to be the problem after all," Alex Williams wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review in 2015. According to his study, non-white graduates who "specialized in print or broadcasting" were 17 percent less likely to be hired by print and broadcast journalism organizations than non-minorities. "The problem," he wrote, "is that these candidates are not being hired."

    The Media As "Instruments Of The White Power Structure"

    The Kerner Report determined that the sweeping failure of media's race coverage in the 1960s had fostered a far-reaching sentiment of "distrust" in the black community for the media:

    [Persons interviewed] believe ... that the media are instruments of the white power structure. They think that these white interests guide the entire white community, from the journalists' friends and neighbors to city officials, police officers, and department store owners.

    Fifty years later, similar distrust of mainstream news media persists. A September 2014 survey by the American Press Institute found that 75 percent of African-Americans thought the press accurately portrayed African-American people and issues "moderately," "slightly," or "not at all." The authors posited that the "news ecosystem itself" -- one where the black community has scant access to black-centered news sources -- "is uneven, potentially creating uneven perceptions."

    Another survey, by the Pew Research Center, found that nearly 60 percent of African-Americans "say that news coverage of blacks is generally too negative." Conversely, 75 percent said coverage of whites was "too positive" or "generally fair." And a majority of African-Americans said the "amount of coverage news organizations give to race relations" is "too little."

    The media's flawed race coverage has real consequences. The Kerner Report warned, "If what the white American reads in the newspapers or sees on television conditions his expectation of what is ordinary and normal in the larger society, he will neither understand nor accept the black American." Today's flawed reporting continues to pose an obstacle to educating broader audiences about the realities of racial injustice, police brutality, and systemic inequality. 

    It Doesn't Have To Be This Way 

    The media hasn't always provided such skewed coverage of race, racism, and violence. During the 1950s and 1960s, the press played a key role in bringing to light the systematic discrimination of black Americans, helping to galvanize widespread reform.

    As detailed in Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff's book The Race Beat, a history of reporting during the Civil Rights era, Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish economist and sociologist sent by the Carnegie Corporation to the American South, reported in the 1940s that the plight of black Americans could be improved only if white Americans in the North became aware of their struggle. Consequently, Myrdal wrote in the book An American Dilemma, "the future of race relations ... rested largely in the hands of the American press" exposing these racial crises.

    As the civil rights movement swept the nation, the press listened. Roberts and Klibanoff explained that the way the white press reported on race conspicuously improved over the next two decades, with newspapers opening new bureaus in the South, assigning full-time staff to cover the movement, and hiring black reporters. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a prominent civil rights leader during the time, told the authors, "If it hadn't been for the media -- the print media and television -- the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings, a choir without a song."

    But when the demonstrations turned violent in the latter half of the 1960s, the authors write, the improvements in coverage slipped away. Whereas "white journalists" reporting on civil rights in the South "were threatened by white mobs and found safety in black neighborhoods," the journalists investigating rioting in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1965 "fled black mobs" and reported on the strife "from a distance, from outside the ghetto looking in." As the riots raged on, according to the book, black people saw the news "portray[ing] the militancy of black power" and "'simplistically' focusing on the violence and mayhem of the riots" without examining the underlying problems, leading to the problems detailed by the Kerner Commission and the way the media continues to report on race now.

    Fifty years ago, the Kerner Report urged the American media to begin the "painful process" of fixing its racial justice reporting. The fact that its criticisms are still so pertinent, and the historical example of responsible reporting throughout the civil rights movement, point to the need for higher standards in accurate, appropriate, and inclusive race coverage.

  • Report: The Trump Campaign Is Tearing Apart Fox News

    NY Mag Highlights Fox's "Confusion" About Trump Coverage And Its Role in 2016 Elections

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman highlighted the "confusion" at Fox News about the network's role in the "altered media ecosystem going forward," in particular over the coverage of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

    Trump has been a regular fixture on Fox News since 2011, which paved the way for his presidential run. The relationship between Trump and Fox became tumultuous following Fox's first GOP primary debate in August 2015, during which moderator Megyn Kelly questioned Trump about his history of sexism. Yet, Fox continued to give Trump more than double the airtime of any other candidate. Trump ultimately skipped Fox's second primary debate in January after the network released a mocking statement in response to his demand that Kelly be removed as a moderator. Fox chairman Roger Ailes and network personalities have since struggled with their coverage of Trump.

    A February 9 article from New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman highlighted the internal "confusion about what role" Fox News "should play in this altered media ecosystem going forward." Sherman argued, "Historically, in moments like this the strategy would be clear: Punish the person who publicly crosses Fox." But as Sherman pointed out, "network boss Ailes has tried that" and Trump has "demonstrated that disregarding Fox News doesn't spell political ruin for a Republican." Sherman also highlighted how the Trump-Kelly spar has now forced Ailes to "broker peace between Fox's biggest stars, Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly":

    With his decisive win in New Hampshire, Donald Trump dashed the GOP Establishment's hope that skipping last month's Fox News debate would sink his campaign. By claiming more than a third of the New Hampshire vote, Trump not only exceeded expectations and more than doubled the vote tally of any of his rivals -- but also demonstrated that disregarding Fox News doesn't spell political ruin for a Republican. The grip that Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and Co. have held on the GOP for nearly a generation got a little looser Tuesday night.

    Inside Fox there is confusion about what role the network should play in this altered media ecosystem going forward. According to three insiders I spoke to, the channel's hosts and producers are split over how to cover Trump. Historically, in moments like this the strategy would be clear: Punish the person who publicly crosses Fox. But network boss Ailes has tried that, and Trump not only survived the PR assaults, including one last month, but he seems to have emerged stronger than ever. The situation is even more dire because Marco Rubio, a favorite of many high-profile voices at the network, fared badly in the New Hampshire primary, only a few days after political analysts were floating the possibility that he might even beat Trump. Tuesday night, Fox's pundit class had to accept that his robotic performance during ABC's debate may have destroyed his candidacy. Charles Krauthammer even compared it to Ed Muskie's 1972 implosion.

    [...]

    In fact, Ailes's bigger problem this week is not Trump. It's figuring out how to broker peace between Fox's biggest stars, Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly. According to sources, the prime-time hosts are at war, in part over Kelly's Trump-fueled stardom. O'Reilly is said to be outraged that Kelly went on Stephen Colbert's post-Super Bowl show and seemed to criticize his program because it's taped at 5 p.m. and airs at 8 p.m." If you're not live at night -- because the show before me and the show after me are taped -- you lose a lot," she told Colbert, the comedian famous for playing a buffoonish version of O'Reilly for years. O'Reilly has also told people he's furious that Kelly hasn't shown him respect for helping make her Fox's brightest light. Things got so bad that back in September Kelly switched talent agents -- she'd been represented by longtime O'Reilly agent Carole Cooper but left for CAA. "They're at each other's throats big time," one Fox insider said. "I mean, like big time. Roger doesn't know what the hell to do." It's possibly a sign that Murdoch wants to keep Kelly in the fold that last week his book publisher HarperCollins signed her to a reported $10 million book deal.

  • David Gregory Ignora Que Rubio Ha Adoptado Una Nueva Postura Migratoria Mas Rigida Para Decir Que Podria "Acercar A Los Conservadores" Al Tema

    ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN English language version

    David Gregory, antiguo presentador de Meet the Press, argumentó en CNN que el candidato presidencial Republicano Marco Rubio podría "acercar a los conservadores, potencialmente, al tema migratorio", ignorando cómo Rubio ha cambiado su postura migratoria, retirando su anterior apoyo a una reforma migratoria comprensiva mientras gradualmente adopta posturas conservadoras más extremas.

  • David Gregory Ignores Rubio's Shift To Hardline Immigration Stance To Claim He Could "Bring Conservatives Around" On The Issue

    ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN Versión en español

    Former Meet the Press host David Gregory argued on CNN that Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio could "bring conservatives around, potentially, on immigration," failing to note that Rubio has changed his stance on immigration, walking back his previous support for comprehensive reform while gradually adopting extreme conservative positions.

  • "They Built This": Media Call Out National Review's Anti-Trump Feature For Ignoring Right-Wing Media's Role In Trump's Rise

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Media figures are calling out National Review's feature of conservatives criticizing current GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, noting that the magazine and conservative media as a whole created the conditions for Donald Trump's rise by "engendering an oppositional mode towards government," being "hostile to immigration and immigrants," and bashing "political correctness."

  • New York's Gabriel Sherman: Trump Could Boycott Upcoming Fox News Debate Over Megyn Kelly

    GOP Frontrunner Revives Feud With Fox Moderator Ahead Of Iowa Debate

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman highlighted how Fox News chief Roger Ailes has been "forced ... to make a choice between his audience and [Megyn] Kelly," since GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has threatened to boycott the next Fox News Debate, unless Kelly is dropped as moderator.

    Trump has been feuding with Fox host Megyn Kelly since the August 6, 2015 Republican debate, where Kelly, serving as a moderator, questioned Trump about past offensive statements about women. In an interview two days later, Trump attacked Kelly by saying that she had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever." He then later attacked Kelly on Twitter, saying "I liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!" and retweeting a tweet calling her a "bimbo." And while Trump is a frequent guest on Fox, Fox News chief Roger Ailes and many Fox hosts came to Kelly's defense after Trump's attacks.

    In his January 24 article, Gabriel Sherman highlighted Trump's latest salvo against Kelly, where he tweeted that Megyn Kelly's "conflict of interest and bias" should prevent her from moderating the next debate. With Trump's campaign threatening to "walk away from the debate if Fox won't exclude Kelly," Sherman wrote that while "Ailes's strategy in situations where his stars are attacked is to ... apply overwhelming force," Trump's popularity "has forced Ailes to make a choice between his audience and Kelly":

    With just five days until Fox News airs the final GOP debate before the Iowa Caucuses, Donald Trump is reigniting his war with Megyn Kelly. "Based on Megyn Kelly's conflict of interest and bias she should not be allowed to be a moderator of the next debate," Trump tweeted while campaigning in Iowa on Saturday.

    [...]

    Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, indicated that Trump could walk away from the debate if Fox won't exclude Kelly. "Let's see what happens," he told me. "It's fair to say Mr. Trump is a significant ratings driver for these debates. If we aren't on stage for some reason, they wouldn't have the record 24 million viewers and would be back with 1-2 million people."

    [...]

    In a statement to reporters, Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti said: "Megyn Kelly has no conflict of interest. Donald Trump is just trying to build up the audience for Thursday's debate, for which we thank him."

    For Fox News chief Roger Ailes, Trump's threat of a debate boycott raises the stakes in a war that Ailes has struggled to develop a playbook for. Historically, Ailes's strategy in situations where his stars are attacked is to follow a version of the Powell Doctrine: Apply overwhelming force. But Trump's popularity with the GOP base - that is, Fox viewers - has forced Ailes to make a choice between his audience and Kelly. In the wake of the first debate, Ailes was said to be rattled by the volume of anti-Kelly emails Fox News received from Trump supporters. Kelly told people she was receiving death threats, and Fox did not have a ready response. Ailes, who is less of a presence at Fox, now has to make another choice, which could result in the GOP front runner walking away.

    Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager, told me Trump could stage his own televised town hall on Thursday night and let Fox's rivals air it. "That would be a great idea," he said.