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.
Some conservative media pundits suggested 2016 presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) may have disqualified himself from the presidency after his opposition to the National Security Agency's bulk phone collections program caused parts of the PATRIOT Act to lapse.
Fox News has been on the air nearly two decades and some Beltway journalists are still denying the transparent truth about the cable channel and its intricate political machinations. Even some longtime conservatives, such as historian and former Reagan aide Bruce Bartlett, now concede Fox News is "brainwashing" the conservative electorate, and that the GOP is being harmed by the network.
Responding to Bartlett at Politico, senior media writer Jack Shafer insists, "Fox in its current incarnation is neither a help nor a hindrance" to the Republican Party. Shafer argues the network, "a news-entertainment hybrid," doesn't really have much impact on the GOP and has not moved the party to the far right. "The Fox tail does not wag the Republican dog," Shafer concludes. Instead, Fox News is just trying to make a buck. Yes, it ventures into partisan politics with "combative programming," according to Shafer. But people like Bartlett who claim the channel's changed or damaged the Republican Party are overstating their case.
The truth is, as Media Matters has documented for years, the over-the-top programming on Fox News, anchored by baseless claims and wild attacks, routinely mirrors Republicans' legislative agenda. The focused misinformation trademarked by Fox News doesn't exist in a vacuum; it's not merely "entertainment" concocted to sell advertising. (Although it does that quite well.)
The programming on Fox News is designed to shape and change American politics, plain and simple. It's designed to do damage to Democrats and Democratic initiatives. It's built to be the marketing arm for the Republican Party, as it hurdles further and further towards the radical right. And quite often, Fox News is successful.
There's a reason that Fox contributor Newt Gingrich once told conservative activists that Fox News helped make Republican Scott Brown's senate "insurgency possible" in 2010. And there's a reason Fox News drafted the theme of the 2012 Republican convention, "You Didn't Build That."
I'm not sure tails can wag much harder than that.