Politico

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  • Right-Wing Media Scandalize Purpose Of “Limited Immunity” To Create New Clinton Email Conspiracy

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    House Republicans are selectively pushing new information that long-time Clinton aide Cheryl Mills was granted a limited form of immunity in the now-closed FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Right-wing media have seized on these efforts to falsely claim the immunity was broad and stands as proof of criminal wrongdoing, while ignoring the reasons for why the limited immunity was recommended by both the FBI and Mills’ attorney.

  • The Lowest Possible Bar: Politico Declares “Just By Showing Up, Trump Has Already Kind Of Won”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Nearly three hours prior to the first presidential debate, a Politico reporter posed the question, “Has [Donald] Trump already won?” The reporter concluded that “just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won” because he “could have a bad night” due to his lack of “intimate knowledge” of domestic or foreign policy, but he still won his party’s nomination. Politico’s question underscores the common theme among the media of setting different bars for Hillary Clinton and Trump to meet in order to judge their performance at the debate a success. From the September 26 Politico live blog:

    Donald Trump -- the reality TV star who announced his candidacy after awkwardly gliding down an escalator, and then proceeded to call Mexican immigrant rapists and criminals -- is about to stand on the debate stage next to Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee of a major party, a woman who has been at the pinnacle of American public life for three decades.

    And that alone is a victory. Trump overcame long odds to get here, breaking all the rules of politics and offending a lot of people along the way.

    […]

    So, yeah -- of course Trump could have a bad night. He’s not likely to impress voters with his intimate knowledge of entitlement programs or Syrian rebel groups. And Clinton is an experienced and canny debater who knows domestic and foreign policy backwards and forwards. But just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won.

  • Report: Bloomberg TV Comes Forward As Only Network To Fact-Check Candidates During Debate

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Bloomberg TV told Politico it would run on-screen fact checks during the September 26 presidential debate between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    In deciding to fact-check candidates with on-screen graphics, Bloomberg breaks ranks with all other major cable news outlets, which have widely rejected on-screen fact-checking during the debate, despite having repeatedly used live fact checks to debunk false information in the past. Bloomberg TV's announcement follows Media Matters' call for the debate moderators to use on-screen text and graphics to fact-check the candidates in real-time in our "Do's and Don'ts" for moderators.

    The New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico have published independent reports that amplified the importance of fact-checking candidates during the debates. They reviewed one week of Trump’s “blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies,” and found that Trump “averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds.” 

    Politico’s Kelsey Sutton reported September 26 that Bloomberg TV said it would “conduct on-screen fact checks” during its presidential debate coverage. Sutton reported that the decision “sets Bloomberg apart from the other major TV networks,” which have chosen not to fact-check during the debate, claiming it would be “hard to execute in real-time.” Other networks’ decision not to correct lies, Sutton reported, “leaves the real-time fact-checking up to NBC’s Lester Holt, the debate moderator, or Clinton herself.” Sutton wrote:

    Bloomberg TV will conduct on-screen fact checks of statements made by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during Monday night’s debate, POLITICO has confirmed.

    The channel’s decision to conduct an on-screen fact-check sets Bloomberg apart from the other major TV networks, none of whom have committed to doing on-screen fact checks during the debate. Most will leave the fact-checking to segments in the post-debate analysis coverage.

    [...]

    Spokespeople for the networks told POLITICO that on-screen fact checks would be hard to execute in real-time, which is why they were opting out. That leaves the real-time fact-checking up to NBC’s Lester Holt, the debate moderator, or Clinton herself.

  • New Roundups Of Trump’s Lies Prove Why Fact-Checking Is Vital During Presidential Debates

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico all independently published on September 24 and 25 reviews of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies” in just the last week. Given that Trump’s “mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration” is so “frequent,” these reports of Trump’s “untruths” bolster the case for debate moderators to fact-check the candidates during the presidential debates.

    Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are set to debate on September 26 in the first of three meetings. Given that Trump has a startling penchant for lying and that Trump’s debate prep team is filled with conspiracy theorists and disreputable political operatives, journalists and veteran debate moderators have called on the moderators to hold the candidates to a high level of truth-telling and fact-check their inaccurate statements.

    Media Matters has also called on the debate moderators to fact-check the candidates in real-time, so a debate over settled fact does not become a “‘he said, she said’” situation. Failing to fact-check Trump’s lies during the debate will also feed into the growing media tendency to lower the bar for Trump and hold the two candidates to different standards.

    Those calls for asking “tough follow-up questions” have been given even more importance with these new studies. Trump, according to a five-day Politico analysis of his most recent remarks, “averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds.” The Politico analysis found 87 different lies of Trump’s, including on issues such as the economy, health care, national security, immigration, and Clinton, among others. The study also noted Trump’s September 16 lie that “he was not the person responsible for the birtherism campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency.” 

    The New York Times also “closely tracked Mr. Trump’s public statements from Sept. 15-21, and assembled a list of his 31 biggest whoppers, many of them uttered repeatedly.” The Times spotlighted Trump’s “most consistent falsehood he tells about himself” -- “that he opposed the war in Iraq from the start” -- which the “evidence shows otherwise.” The Times also highlighted Trump’s “unfounded claims about critics and the news media,” “inaccurate claims about Clinton,” and “stump speech falsehoods.”

    The Washington Post similarly examined “one week of Trump’s speeches, tweets and interviews” and found that Trump “continues to rely heavily on thinly sourced or entirely unsubstantiated claims.” The Post’s roundup of Trump’s recent “false or questionable claims” and “controversial and debunked statements” included his erroneous assertion that the black community is “in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before, ever, ever, ever” and his false claim that law enforcement cannot question a person suspected of carrying an explosive.

    Though print media outlets are becoming increasingly comfortable spotlighting Trump’s compulsive lying, his habit is not new: PolitiFact found that 70 percent of Trump’s assertions throughout his campaign have been “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire.” The Times, Post, and Politico’s roundups of Trump’s lying just in the past week show how crucial it is for debate moderators to be vigilant fact-checkers during the debate.

  • Myths & Facts: A Debate Guide To Donald Trump’s Most Common Lies About The Economy

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s penchant for promoting right-wing media myths and other misleading claims presents a unique challenge heading into the first presidential debate of the general election. If the September 26 debate is anything like the opening debates of 2008 and 2012, it will focus heavily on issues relating to the American economy, and both moderator and audience should be prepared for a torrent of misinformation from the GOP standard-bearer.

  • Trump’s 12 Biggest Lies That Debate Moderators Should Be Prepared To Address

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Independent fact-checking services have found that 70 percent of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s statements are “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire” lies.  As the candidates prepare to face off in the presidential debates, debate moderators must be aware of, and prepared to address, Trump’s biggest and most common lies that have been debunked time and again.

  • Trump’s Extreme New Anti-Choice Agenda Is Full Of Right-Wing Media’s Favorite Misinformation

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On September 16, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released a letter announcing a new “pro-life coalition,” led by a known anti-choice extremist. As part of the announcement, Trump also pledged a commitment to four anti-choice policy priorities that have been long promoted by right-wing media, involving defunding Planned Parenthood, banning abortion, and entrenching the Hyde amendment as federal law.

  • The Trump Birther Headlines Problem

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Scanning media headlines after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s statement about his racist birther crusade, one could reasonably come away thinking Trump had fully renounced and apologized for his years-long offensive campaign to delegitimize President Barack Obama. That was not the case -- Trump did not apologize and in fact blatantly lied in his 26-second remarks -- but media’s collective failure to accurately describe the event in their headlines may have left readers thinking Trump shut the door on his birtherism.

    After building “suspense” that he was going to definitively address his racist accusations that President Obama was not born in the United States, Trump used his “circus” of an event to briefly say that “President Obama was born in the United States. Period" and to falsely accuse “‘Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008” of starting “the birther controversy.” Trump also erroneously claimed he had “finished” the controversy by forcing President Obama to release his birth certificate.

    Online and print headlines largely failed to contextualize the event or note Trump’s lie about Clinton:

    The New York Times:

    CNN:

    The Hill:

    The Los Angeles Times:

    The Associated Press:

    The New York Times did eventually change its headline to: “Trump Drops False ‘Birther’ Theory, but Floats a New One: Clinton Started It.”

    Though the original headlines are not technically incorrect, the lack of context -- Trump’s brief comments after taking the media for a ride, his outright lie about Clinton starting birther rumors, and his false assertion that he had “finished” the birther controversy -- likely misled readers.

    Conversely, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post got it right:

    As former senior adviser to President Obama and current CNN contributor Dan Pfeiffer noted:

    The Washington Post’s David Weigel wrote in a September 15 column that Trump, whom he called “the chyron candidate,” has “never failed to offer enough detail to fit in a headline or cable news chyron,” and that although most reporters make key distinctions and include crucial context “in the body of their stories,” context is often “elided” in “headlines or tweets.” Weigel pointed to the issue of the candidates’ disclosures of their medical information as an example:

    That matters. If, like many people, you only glance at the news (yes, we know how long readers spend finishing articles), you come away with the impression that Trump is trading Clinton blow for blow and white paper for white paper. If either candidate released their entire medical history, or Trump revealed his entire tax returns, only a handful of voters might even read them. They'd depend on the press to find the story and the lede. Most coverage of campaigns needs to be shrunk to fit a chyron, anyway; Trump's innovation has been to preshrink the news.

    Headlines matter in a Twitter-driven, fast-paced media landscape. Offering crucial details in articles -- but not in headlines -- may not be enough anymore, particularly in the age of Trump.

  • The Eight Things Media Should Know About The “Scientifically Dubious” Dr. Oz

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of ABC’s The Dr. Oz Show, hosted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to purportedly discuss the results of a recent physical exam and go through “a full review of [Trump’s] systems.” Media organizations should be aware that Oz is infamous for “dubious medical advice” unsupported by evidence, that he has promoted discredited “ex-gay” therapy, and that he is a registered Republican who “donated handsomely” to GOP candidates.

  • Interviewers Let Trump Surrogates Blatantly Lie About Public Desire To See His Tax Returns

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Mainstream media figures have repeatedly failed to challenge claims by surrogates for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that “no one is asking about” Trump’s taxes and that they “don’t hear a lot of interest from people” on the subject. Recent polling data shows that majorities of both likely voters and likely Republican voters want Trump to release his tax returns.

  • Report: According To Network Executives, Debate Moderator Choices Meant To “Appease” Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Politico reported that according to network news executives, presidential debate moderators Chris Wallace of Fox News and Lester Holt of NBC were chosen with the intention of keeping Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump comfortable and to ensure he shows up.

    Trump has repeatedly complained that the media is biased against him, even as the coverage of his scandals is minimized under the pretense of false balance. Trump’s complaints also reportedly made the commission struggle to select moderators. The moderator choices, which excluded Latino journalists but included Fox’s Wallace despite his glaring conflict of interest, seem to indicate Trump successfully influenced the debate commission. Wallace has publicly acknowledged he has no intention of becoming “a truth squad” for the candidates during the debates and has in the past twice enabled Trump to lie about his stance on the Iraq war during live interviews on Fox.

    A September 12 Politico article reported that media executives share the belief that the debate commission took Trump’s feelings into consideration in the choice of NBC’s Lester Holt “who Trump is comfortable with” and believe Wallace “was tapped to moderate the third and final debate to lessen the likelihood that Trump skips it.” As reported by Politico:

    Indeed, the media industry as a whole has become addicted to the television ratings and higher click-rates generated by Trump. And among media executives, the treatment of Trump by some networks and reporters is directly related to the leverage he holds, and he knows it.

    “[Trump] is personally more involved in the process than most candidates are or at least admit to be,” said one network news executive, granted anonymity to speak privately. “His team is very keen on making sure he’s comfortable with who the interviewer is and the placement of the news cycle. He understands news very well. He’s more involved directly in booking than a typical candidate has been. They say yes a lot more, that’s not a surprise, a lot more than Hillary.”

    While that executive said Trump asks for specific anchors or moderators less than others, the GOP nominee is clear about which ones he prefers. It’s hard to envision Trump agreeing to last week’s NBC forum were Rachel Maddow or Chuck Todd asking the questions. And there is wide speculation among media executives that NBC’s Lester Holt, who Trump is comfortable with, was chosen to moderate the first debate with Clinton later this month in order to appease the GOP nominee. Similarly, some also believe that Fox News’ Chris Wallace was tapped to moderate the third and final debate to lessen the likelihood that Trump skips it.

    In February, CBS News president Les Moonves’ admission that Trump’s campaign “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS” laid bare the motivation behind many networks non-stop Trump coverage and the imperative of keeping him reasonably happy.

  • Mainstream Media Echo Conservatives’ Claim That Clinton’s Pneumonia Legitimizes Their Conspiracy Theories

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media across the spectrum are claiming that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s diagnosis of pneumonia “vindicated” conservative conspiracy theorists who have long made baseless assertions about Clinton’s health. These claims have recently been mainstreamed by non-partisan outlets despite having been debunked time and time again.

  • What Media Are Missing About Planned Parenthood And The Controversy Over Zika Funding

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On September 6, Congress again failed to approve a federal response to the Zika virus after Republicans included a legislative “poison pill” designed to exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving funding. In spite of the essential role Planned Parenthood plays in Zika response and prevention, media framed the controversy as an example of Democratic obstruction. Here’s what the media are missing about the Zika funding controversy.

  • Right-Wing Media’s Supposed “Benghazi Bombshell” Of 30 New Clinton Emails Falls Flat

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    State Department lawyers announced that 30 emails the FBI recovered from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private server regarding the September 2012 Benghazi attacks contained only one “all-new” email, which was a personal message to Clinton. The announcement contrasts right-wing media hype that scandalized the emails as a “Benghazi bombshell” and fodder for conspiracy theorists, and implied that they might reveal new information to negatively implicate Clinton in the Benghazi attacks.

  • FBI’s Clinton Email Findings Show That Fox Got Played By Running With Imprisoned Hacker’s Lie

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Recently released FBI notes pertaining to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server reveal that Fox News’ interview and subsequent hyping of claims made by imprisoned Romanian hacker Marcel Lehel Lazar were all based on a lie. The FBI report states that “analysis” showed no “evidence that Lazar hacked the server,” and also notes that Lazar “admitted to lying to FOX News.” Fox’s willingness to report an imprisoned hacker’s claims as fact doesn’t represent the first time the network has been burned by sources in an attempt to scandalize Clinton’s use of a private email server.