Rush Limbaugh criticized Politico and other media outlets for reporting on his remarks that NASA's discovery of water of Mars was part of a "left-wing agenda," claiming the remarks were taken out of context. However, when asked by Politico to explain how, a Limbaugh spokesman refused to explain.
On the September 28 edition of his show, Limbaugh, talking about NASA's announcement that day it had discovered liquid water on Mars, claimed NASA had been "corrupted by the current regime" and, referencing global warming, asked, "what's to stop them from making up something that happened on Mars that will help advance their left-wing agenda on this planet?" Limbaugh doubled down on his remarks the next day, claiming Media Matters took his remarks "out of context" and that "Obama has turned NASA over to Muslim outreach."
Politico's Eliza Collins, writing about Limbaugh's criticism of the media reports on his remarks, noted "It's not clear, however, how exactly Limbaugh felt he was being misinterpreted." Collins added a Limbaugh spokesman "declined to elaborate." She also noted "[a] transcript posted on Limbaugh's own website, however, matches Media Matters' version word for word":
Rush Limbaugh took a swipe Tuesday at POLITICO and others who had reported on his recent comments about the discovery of water on Mars -- saying that his remarks about how NASA's findings would be used to "advance a leftist agenda" were being misinterpreted.
"POLITICO has a story: 'Rush Limbaugh Pans Evidence of Water on Mars as Part of Leftist Agenda,' and they take it out of context, too, which is typical," he said on his show Tuesday. "I don't think this guy, Eliza Collins... I doubt that he went to my website to find out what I really said. Just looked at these 'watchdog' websites and took it from there."
On Monday, POLITICO wrote about a lengthy segment of the conservative radio host's show in which he predicted that the Mars discovery would be used to promote liberal views about climate change.
The original story on POLITICO cited a transcript and video of Limbaugh from the left-leaning website Media Matters, a long-time critic of the radio host that has called on advertisers to boycott his program. A transcript posted on Limbaugh's own website, however, matches Media Matters' version word for word.
"This Mars thing is just totally all over the place out there, and every one of these people talking about it, from local TV news, say, in Dallas, or The Politico, are getting it totally out of context from our old buddies at Media Matters for America, which wouldn't know the truth if it knocked them unconscious," Limbaugh said Wednesday.
It's not clear, however, how exactly Limbaugh felt he was being misinterpreted. A spokesman for the radio host declined to elaborate.
Listen to Limbaugh's original remarks here:
An article in Politico uncritically repeated Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's claim that he would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans as president, but also reported that Trump's plan would actually reduce the top marginal income tax rate from 39.6 to 25 percent and lower the corporate income tax rate to 15 percent.
During a September 27 appearance on CBS News' 60 Minutes, Trump claimed that his tax policy would raise taxes on the "very wealthy." This claim apparently inspired Politico to use the headline, "Trump plans to hike taxes on the wealthy" for a September 28 article describing his tax plan that said publicly-available information about Trump's tax plan -- set to be released in full on September 28 -- indicated that the wealthiest Americans would actually receive a tax cut:
Under a President Donald Trump, some Americans will pay no income tax and the corporate income tax will fall to 15 percent, while the Treasury Department will maintain or even increase current revenue.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which obtained more details ahead of the plan's formal release, individuals making less than $25,000 and married couples making less than $50,000 will not have to pay taxes. The current highest income-tax rate--39.6 percent--would drop to 25 percent. Overall, the number of rates would decrease from the current seven to four, at 0, 10, 20 and 25 percent. While 36 percent of American households do not pay income tax currently, that share would jump to 50 percent.
The gulf between Politico's headline and its reporting on the publicly-available details of Trump's tax plan doesn't stand up to even modest scrutiny, and its failure to get the math right was rightly mocked by conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin on Twitter.
Despite what Trump told 60 Minutes, the numbers don't add up. According to a detailed summary of the billionaire businessman's plan in The Wall Street Journal, Trump also says he would reduce the top capital gains rate from 23.8 to 20 percent, and claims his proposed 15 percent corporate income rate is "among the lowest that have been proposed so far" by any candidate from either party. According to The Journal, Trump's tax plan would eliminate or cap some tax deductions that cater to the wealthy but with major reductions in baseline rates it is unclear how limiting deductions would amount to a tax "hike."
UPDATE: Following a September 28 speech in which Trump revealed his full tax reform plan, Politico updated its article with a new headline and additional reporting, including praise of the plan from Americans for Tax Reform, which opposes any increases of marginal tax rates for any individual or business. The new headline still takes Trump at his word that his tax proposals are "going to cost [him] a fortune," despite the underlying article reaffirming Trump's proposed rate reductions for corporations and high income earners. Politico also confirmed Trump's plan to eliminate the estate tax, which the publication referred to as the "death tax." Eliminating the estate tax would be a major tax policy victory for the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
In a new report about the FBI's investigation into the security of the private server Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state, Politico briefly mentioned the fact that the Department of Justice confirmed in a legal brief that Clinton had the authority to review and delete her personal emails. But Politico incorrectly went on to claim that the brief "stopp[ed] short" of confirming the appropriateness of such actions after Clinton left the State Department -- a claim contradicted by the brief itself.
Politico reported on Hillary Clinton's statement to the Des Moines Register editorial board that she would not use a private email account if she became president. But Politico failed to note that not only was her use of a private email account as a cabinet secretary allowed, her statement to the Register was an unremarkable confirmation of presidential record-keeping requirements -- presidents generally cannot use private email accounts.
Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are being called out by the media for making false and misleading claims during CNN's Republican presidential debate about side deals, inspection criteria, and sanctions relief in the Iran nuclear deal.
The Florida agency tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood clinics in that state found no evidence that they were mishandling fetal remains, but Gov. Rick Scott's office altered the agency's statements to remove language that exonerated Planned Parenthood, and added new language that made the organization look guilty of wrongdoing. Several media outlets unwittingly quoted the statements before the misleading edits were discovered.
Media outlets reported on congressional Republicans' plan to delay implementation of the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran by alleging President Obama inappropriately failed to provide details of the "side deals" between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Congress. But those outlets failed to note that the IAEA deal with Iran is confidential, which is "standard operating procedure" for agreements of this type.
An independent analysis commissioned by Planned Parenthood and conducted by forensic experts has found evidence that the anti-choice organization, Center for Medical Progress (CMP), "manipulat[ed]" footage in both the edited and supposedly full-length videos it has released in its campaign to smear the health care provider.
The Center for Medical Progress has released eight videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood "selling aborted baby parts." Although the videos have been roundly called out by the media for "show[ing] nothing illegal" and containing selectively-edited footage -- and multiple state and federal investigations have cleared the health care provider of any wrongdoing -- the videos nonetheless continue to prompt calls from conservatives to defund Planned Parenthood.
The independent forensic analysis of CMP's short, edited videos, as well as what the group claimed are the full, unedited versions, provides the strongest proof yet that the anti-choice organization is manipulating the truth about Planned Parenthood. The analysis found that the videos "contain intentionally deceptive edits, missing footage and inaccurately transcribed conversations," according to an August 27 article from Politico, which obtained a copy of the report. The forensic analysis was conducted by independent transcription experts working for the research firm Fusion GPS, which was retained by Planned Parenthood. The experts found "42 instances in which CMP edited out content from the short as well as so-called full versions of the tapes" and that "at least two of the filmed interviews with Planned Parenthood officials are missing at least 30 minutes of content":
Fusion GPS outlined 42 instances in which CMP edited out content from the short as well as so-called full versions of the tapes, several of which were secretly recorded. The company also identified instances in which context was eliminated, minutes of film were deleted and transcripts released by CMP did not match what was said on the tapes.
The report concludes that the degree of manipulation means the videos have no "evidentiary value" in a legal context, can't be used in "official inquiries" and lack credulity as journalism. Those findings are a direct response to CMP's arguments in court -- while fighting efforts to prevent it from releasing more video -- that it is protected by the First Amendment.
But the firm also wrote that it is impossible to characterize the extent to which the edits and cuts distort the meaning of the conversations depicted and that there was no "widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation."
Fusion GPS found that at least two of the filmed interviews with Planned Parenthood officials are missing at least 30 minutes of content. It speculates that the cuts could include moments in which CMP activists, who were posing as representatives of a fictitious tissue procurement company, said things to lead the officials into damning statements
Politico helped legitimize the Center for Medical Progress' (CMP) David Daleiden in a recent interview with the founder behind the anti-choice organization that released a string of deceptively edited videos attempting to smear Planned Parenthood, failing to note how Daleiden's videos have been roundly exposed as highly edited and discredited and how CMP has ties to violent extremism.
In an August 26 article, Politico interviewed anti-choice activist David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, about his organization's string of undercover videos attempting to smear Planned Parenthood by falsely "accusing the women's health organization of illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue." The article highlighted Daleiden's attacks on Planned Parenthood and intent to push out "four more videos" ahead of the upcoming fight to pass a government spending bill, but failed to note that the videos have been debunked as highly edited. The article went on to provide no counter to Daleiden's assertions about Planned Parenthood's activities aside from a statement provided by the health care provider and note that it has "explicitly denied any illegal activity, saying it legally donates fetal tissue for medical research only after receiving patient consent." Instead, Politico claimed:
Some had predicted diminishing returns if the shock value of the videos wore off, the group was discredited or the tapes simply stopped coming. But to the consternation of Planned Parenthood and its allies, that has yet to happen despite their insistence that the videos are full of distortions.
But numerous media outlets and investigations have backed up Planned Parenthood's explanation that the organization has done nothing illegal. Multiple media outlets, including The New York Times¸ The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast, have blasted the Center for Medical Progress' deceptively edited videos as the anti-choice organization continues to release them, noting that they show "nothing illegal" and that the full-footage contradicts allegations made in the shorter versions.
After the first video was released, FactCheck.org also debunked CMP's claim that Planned Parenthood was "selling aborted baby parts," detailing how it was inaccurate and unfounded.
What's more, a growing list of state and federal investigations have also thrown cold water on CMP's phony claim that Planned Parenthood receives a profit from fetal tissue donation. Despite investigations sparked by the string of deceptively edited videos being launched in at least 11 states, no evidence has yet been produced to back up CMP's assertions. The Department of Health and Human Services similarly found no violations of fetal tissue laws when it comes to tissue obtained from nonprofits after their own investigation.
Presenting Daleiden as a legitimate voice ignores the activists ties to other discredited anti-choice organizations, as well his own Center for Medical Progress, that he has to noted extremists. Daleiden formerly acted as the director of research for the discredited anti-abortion group Live Action, which has been criticized before for deceptively editing undercover footage of abortion clinics in an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood. Serving on the board of Daleiden's CMP sits another extremist -- Operation Rescue's President Troy Newman -- who previously called the murder of abortion clinic doctors a "justifiable defensive action" and stalked clinic workers.
Mainstream media cited a new Quinnipiac poll to claim that voters in swing states "overwhelmingly oppose" the Iran nuclear deal. However, Quinnipiac's polling on the Iran deal provided no context, and a recent CNN poll showed when voters are given details of the deal, a majority support the nuclear agreement.
Media reporting on a National Rifle Association-backed bill introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to change the national background check system for gun purchases should know that the bill would actually weaken the system by making it easier for some people with serious mental health issues to buy guns.
Fox News has consistently helped Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush run defense for many of his controversial remarks, including his assertions that he would have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that Americans "need to work longer hours" to boost the economy, and that the federal government spends "too much" on women's health.
Politico published inaccurate information about emails between Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal provided to the outlet by an anonymous source who distorted the emails' contents with the intention of damaging the former secretary of state, according to Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
The Republican-led committee was formed more than a year ago with the mandate to investigate the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya -- attacks which had already been subject to investigations by the State Department and numerous House and Senate committees. Critics have argued that the committee's actions since its formation demonstrate a "singular focus on attacking Hillary Clinton and her bid for president."
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the Committee, writes in a July 6 letter that "a Member of the Committee, a staffer on the Committee, or someone who has been given access to the Committee's documents inaccurately described to the press email exchanges obtained by the Committee in a way that appeared to further a political attack against" Clinton. Cummings describes this as "only the latest in a reckless pattern of selective Republican leaks and mischaracterizations of evidence relating to the Benghazi attacks."
Cummings' letter specifically details inaccuracies in a June 18 Politico story that relied on "a source who has reviewed the email exchange" between Clinton and Blumenthal, a Media Matters consultant and former Clinton White House aide. In its original version, the story claimed:
While still secretary of state, Clinton emailed back and forth with Blumenthal about efforts by one of the groups, Media Matters, to neutralize criticism of her handling of the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, sources tell POLITICO.
"Got all this done. Complete refutation on Libya smear," Blumenthal wrote to Clinton in an Oct. 10, 2012, email into which he had pasted links to four Media Matters posts criticizing Fox News and Republicans for politicizing the Benghazi attacks and challenging claims of lax security around the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, according to a source who has reviewed the email exchange. Blumenthal signed off the email to Clinton by suggesting that one of her top aides, Philippe Reines, "can circulate these links," according to the source. Clinton responded: "Thanks, I'm pushing to WH," according to the source.
The emails were not included in documents originally turned over by the State Department.
Cummings notes that Clinton's email reading "Thanks, I'm pushing to WH" came not in response to Blumenthal's email with the Media Matters links, as Politico indicated, but rather in response to a "completely different" Blumenthal email from nine days earlier "forwarding an article from Salon.com reporting that Republicans were planning to claim inaccurately during the presidential debates that the White House had advance knowledge about the Benghazi attacks and failed to act on it."
The day after publication, Politico updated its story with a correction noting that "A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a Clinton email as a response to the Blumenthal email." As MSNBC.com's Steve Benen notes, "Politico obviously didn't make this up; it relied on a source that provided misleading information, apparently with a specific partisan agenda in mind."
Politico was also wrong to report that Clinton's email was "not included in documents originally turned over by the State Department," according to Cummings. He explained that "that email was turned over to the Select Committee by the State Department on February 13, 2015, marked with Bates number STATE-SCB0045548-SCB0045550. The Select Committee has had that email for four months."
As both Cummings and Benen point out, this is not the first time reporters have fallen from deceptive Benghazi leaks that appear to come from Republican sources. Reporters who relied on sources' characterizations of Benghazi-related documents rather than reviewing them directly have previously had to issue embarrassing corrections.
Some media outlets are distorting comments made by President Obama claiming he admitted he doesn't have a "complete strategy" to fight the terrorist group the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). But the full context of the remarks -- which were reported correctly by a number of media outlets -- shows that Obama was only referencing the complete strategy of training and equipping of Iraqi soldiers.
Conservative media are praising actor Vince Vaughn for repeating a debunked right-wing talking point that falsely claims most mass shootings occur in "gun-free zones."
Vaughn is receiving widespread attention for an interview he gave to British GQ in which he advocated the carrying of guns in public and in schools, declared that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to defend against an "abusive government," and claimed that mass shootings have "only happened in places that don't allow guns."
According to Vaughn:
All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They've only happened in places that don't allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds.
Vaughn's claim, which suggests that possibly none but at most two mass shootings since 1950 have happened in a place where guns were allowed, is a variation on a claim about public mass shootings over the last half-century that was first made by discredited gun researcher John Lott.