Reuters

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  • AP Got This Trump Headline Right; Other Mainstream Outlets Didn't

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Multiple media outlets published headlines that uncritically echoed a claim from President-elect Donald Trump’s spokesperson that Trump had sold his stocks, even though Trump’s team offered no actual proof that he had done so. The Associated Press correctly characterized the news by noting the lack of evidence in its headline, but many others continued a disturbing pattern of uncritically parroting false or unsubstantiated claims by Trump and his aides in their headlines, in effect giving Trump favorable coverage when he offers vague details or even spouts verifiable lies.

    Trump on December 6 tweeted that the aircraft manufacturer Boeing was “building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion,” adding, “Cancel order!” In a conference call later that day, a reporter asked Trump spokesperson Jason Miller if Trump “had investments in Boeing,” and Miller “said the president-elect had sold all of his stocks in June,” according to The Associated Press (AP).

    But there is no proof that Miller’s claim is true, given that Trump has not submitted any kind of financial disclosure since May and that, as the AP noted, Trump didn’t announce he was selling his stocks at the time. Transition officials have also refused to provide evidence of the sales:

    Trump's campaign did not announce the sell-off at the time, despite the fact that it could have been politically advantageous for the businessman to be seen taking steps to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

    Miller, as well as other transition officials and lawyers from the Trump Organization, did not respond to requests from The Associated Press to provide evidence of the transactions.

    The AP published this report with a headline that accurately paired Miller’s claim with the crucial context that he “provides no evidence”:

    But other major outlets did not note the lack of evidence in their headlines, instead reporting Miller’s comments without necessary context:

    Reuters:

    The New York Times:

    The Washington Post:

    The Wall Street Journal:

    CNN:

    These headlines continue a mainstream media pattern of publishing article titles that are favorable for Trump and that promote his claims, even when those claims are false or unsubstantiated. When Trump on November 18 falsely claimed that he prevented a Kentucky Ford plant from moving to Mexico -- even though there were never plans to move the plant -- multiple headlines ran with Trump’s bogus statement. When Trump on November 27 falsely claimed that “millions of people” illegally voted in the election, multiple mainstream outlet quoted Trump’s words in headlines and on social media without noting that they were false. And when Trump on November 30 sent a series of tweets claiming he would be leaving his business to avoid conflicts of interest, headlines ran with his statement, even though Trump offered no new information on how he would actually carry out the plan. As ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum noted, Trump has been “able to generate whatever headlines he wants based on substance-free tweets” and claims.

    It is crucial that headlines accurately explain a story because, for most people, the phrase at the top of a piece is the only part of the article they will actually read. As The Washington Post reported, “roughly six in 10 people acknowledge that they have done nothing more than read news headlines in the past week,” and “that number is almost certainly higher than that, since plenty of people won't want to admit to just being headline-gazers but, in fact, are.”

    Trump has been a documented liar throughout the course of his presidential campaign and transition. When his claims lack proof or are demonstrably false, headlines should reflect that reality, rather than giving a serial misinformer the benefit of the doubt.

  • Media Should Not Sanitize Trump Immigration Adviser Kris Kobach’s Extremism, Ties To White Supremacists

    Kobach “Wrote The Book” On Muslim Registry And Was Behind Anti-Immigrant SB 1070

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    A reported architect behind President-elect Donald Trump’s extreme immigration proposals, radio host and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has received significant media attention following the announcement that he was joining Trump’s transition team. However, media outlets are failing to note his ties to hate groups and nativist organizations and his attacks on immigrants and LGBTQ people.

  • Reuters Exposes Voter Suppression In North Carolina While Right-Wing Media Prop Up False Claims Of Voter Fraud

    Blog ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    A report by Reuters exposed a systematic attempt to limit early voting in North Carolina, which has been shown to disenfranchise minority voters and continue what appears to be a coordinated effort to suppress some Americans’ right to vote. Yet right-wing media ignore this reality as they focus on making unfounded claims of rampant voter fraud.

    Through a public records request, Reuters obtained emails from North Carolina Republicans that show “state and county Republican officials lobbied ... to keep early-voting sites open for shorter hours on weekends and in evenings – times that usually see disproportionately high turnout by Democratic voters.”

    Dallas Woodhouse, the North Carolina Republican Party executive director, sent emails urging “Republicans serving on county election boards to follow the ‘party line’ on curtailing the early voting period.” While local newspapers reported on the Woodhouse emails in August, the Reuters report shows his comments were not an isolated example but rather part of a pattern of “lobbying to limit voting hours.”

    For example, emails from Garry Terry, the chairman of the Republican Party for North Carolina’s First Congressional District, emphasized the partisan motivations for early voting restrictions, encouraging election board members “to act ‘in the best interest of the Republican Party’ by opposing Sunday voting and restricting early voting,” which are historically periods of increased minority turnout, Reuters reported. Elaine Hewitt, a member of the Rowan County Republican Executive Committee, sent early voting proposals that “included just one site for the first four days and no sites on Sundays,” claiming that “with all of the opportunities to vote … there is no justification for requiring election workers to work on Sundays.” Reuters noted that “state and county Republican officials lobbied members of at least 17 county election boards” to restrict early voting and Sunday voting opportunities.

    The focus on limiting early voting and Sunday voting represents the newest effort to disenfranchise minorities in North Carolina. As media outlets have noted, “This isn’t the first time that the North Carolina Republican Party has been criticized for voter suppression this election year.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reaffirmed the racial dimension of these attacks on voting rights when it struck down the North Carolina voter ID law, referred to as a “monster” law, because it “agreed with allegations that North Carolina’s omnibus bill selectively chose voter-ID requirements, reduced the number of early-voting days and changed registration procedures in ways meant to harm blacks.”

    While some have claimed that accusations of voter suppression are mere “innuendo” or hysterical speculation, these emails provide evidence of a systematic attempt to limit early voting, which fits into the broader pattern of voter suppression in North Carolina.

    While the evidence showing active efforts at voter suppression continues to pile up, right-wing media are focusing on propagating claims of voter fraud. Right-wing media figures continue to fearmonger about dead voters, in-person voter fraud, and inaccurate voter rolls, even though expert after expert has thoroughly debunked each and every voter fraud myth. The focus on promoting fears about voter fraud helps provide the rhetorical ammunition to legitimize the continuing war on voting rights.

  • Right-Wing Media Ignore Role Of Subsidies, Claim Insurance Premium Increases Are A “Death Spiral” For Obamacare 

    ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    Reports that benchmark health insurance premiums will increase by an average of 25 percent from 2016 to 2017 for plans purchased on Healthcare.gov marketplace exchanges have prompted right-wing media outlets to claim the price hike is proof of “the collapse” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and evidence of a so-called Obamacare “death spiral.” In reality, the majority of individual insurance customers will be insulated from cost increases due to proportional increases in the health care subsidies, and these premium increases are still in line with anticipated health care costs initially predicted by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 

  • Polls Show Americans Want Moderators To Fact-Check During The Debates

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    A strong majority of Americans want the moderators of the presidential debates to fact-check the candidates, according to two new polls. The will of the voters comes contrary to that of Republican nominee Donald Trump (who journalists note has engaged in an unprecedented campaign of lies), his supporters in the media, and the moderator of the third presidential debate, Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

    Media Matters has joined numerous journalists in calling on the presidential debate moderators to fact-check the candidates in real time to ensure that viewers are not left with a “he said-she said” version of the facts. That effort is more important than ever given Trump’s unprecedented willingness to lie.

    Trump and his team have pushed back against suggestions that the moderators should call out candidates when they don't tell the truth, with Trump saying, “I think that the candidates should police themselves.” Trump’s allies at Fox News have also claimed “it’s not the job” of moderators to fact-check candidates, with Wallace saying they should not serve as a “truth squad.”

    Americans disagree.

    According to a Monmouth University poll released today, “Most voters (60%) believe one of the duties of the moderators is to fact check candidates who state false information during the debates. Only 31% say the moderators should leave it to the candidates to point out any false statements by their opponent.”

    Reuters similarly reported today, “In a strong signal that most viewers will also be hoping the debates bring clarity, some 72 percent of respondents said they want to see moderators point out when a candidate says something that is untrue.”

    A voter explained to Reuters why this is so important:

    "It helps the audience, particularly me, to recognize what’s bull crap and what’s real," said Harvey Leven, 63, a teacher from Farmington Hills, Michigan. "It’s easy for the candidates to quote a statistic and people accept it."

    According to both polls, Trump supporters were less likely than backers of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to support a fact-checking moderator.

  • 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.

  • Chris Christie’s Minimum Wage Veto Was Based On Right-Wing Media Myths

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    New Jersey governor and Trump campaign adviser Chris Christie held a press conference on August 30 to announce he would veto a bill passed by the state legislature to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. During the press conference Christie attacked efforts to raise the minimum wage, citing right-wing media myths that raising wages would hurt businesses and lead to job automation.

  • A Year After Marriage Equality, It's Time For Media To Stop Giving Anti-LGBT Liars A Pass

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    In the year since the Supreme Court struck down state-level same-sex marriage bans, anti-gay extremists have continued to peddle misinformation about LGBT equality in the media. After more than 12 years of pushing lies and wildly inaccurate predictions about the consequences of marriage equality, it’s time for the media to stop letting anti-gay activists comment on LGBT rights without disclosing their proven track record of dishonest extremism.

    It’s been a year since the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015, Obergefell v. Hodges decision which found state-level same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. In the decade leading up to the decision, anti-LGBT extremists and hate group leaders peddled specious talking points about the consequences of “redefining traditional marriage.” In media appearances, these figures predicted that allowing same-sex couples to marry would cause a “slippery slope” to legalized bestiality, incest, and pedophilia; pushed the myth that gay men are more likely to engage in pedophilia than straight men; and hyped claims that pastors and churches were in danger of being forced to perform same-sex marriages.

    Several of these groups were so deceptive that in 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), designated them anti-LGBT “hate groups” for “propagating known falsehoods” and pushing “demonizing propaganda.” One of these groups was the Family Research Council (FRC), whose officials have accused gay people of trying to "recruit" children into homosexuality and endorsed a Uganda law that would have imposed the death penalty for engaging in gay sex.

    For years, major cable news networks have hosted FRC representatives to comment on LGBT equality without identifying FRC as a hate group. Despite the efforts of progressive Christians to stop outlets from letting FRC representatives conflate their extremism with mainstream Christianity, the group continues to have a significant media presence. Since last June’s Obergefell decision, mainstream media outlets have continued to call on FRC to discuss LGBT rights, including:

    • The New York Times, NPR, and USA Today all cited FRC’s commentary on the Obergefell marriage equality decision without noting the group’s history of hate.
    • ABC's This Week invited FRC's Ken Blackwell -- who previously blamed same-sex marriage for a mass murder -- to discuss the court's decision.  
    • NPR featured FRC’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg -- who spent 10 years as a "professional actor" before joining FRC -- to debate same-sex parenting.
    • FRC’s President Tony Perkins appeared on MSNBC to discuss meeting with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump assemble an “Evangelical executive advisory board,” featuring anti-LGBT extremists.

    In the past year, the media have given other anti-LGBT hate groups similar passes. In September, mainstream news outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters failed to identify Liberty Counsel, the anti-LGBT hate group representing Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, instead calling it merely a “Christian” or “conservative” organization. In April, major news outlets largely failed to identify the American Family Association (AFA) -- the group organizing a boycott of Target over its transgender-inclusive restroom policy -- as an anti-LGBT hate group.

    The few instances when mainstream media like The Associated Press and CBS News’ Bob Schieffer did properly identify hate group leaders, anti-gay conservatives were predictably outraged. Right-wing anger at journalists who expose anti-LGBT extremism illustrates why it’s so vital to disclose when sources or commentators represent hate groups. The public has a right to know that the same groups with a track record of fearmongering about children’s safety to oppose marriage equality are now those peddling the anti-LGBT movement’s new favorite myth that LGBT nondiscrimination protections endanger the safety of women and children in bathrooms.

    A year after Obergefell, it’s time for the media to stop letting the same extremists use media appearances to float new lies and recycle mythical talking points to oppose LGBT equality. Outlets seeking to provide balanced coverage of LGBT rights ought to find commentators who don’t have a decade-long track record of spreading hateful lies about LGBT people. 

  • Media Should Scrutinize Trump’s Fact-Free Claim That China Will Violate Paris Climate Agreement

    ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee and climate science denier Donald Trump told Reuters that if elected, he would renegotiate the historic Paris climate change agreement -- if not scrap it altogether -- because “China doesn’t adhere to it, and China’s spewing into the atmosphere." But media outlets should think twice before repeating Trump’s claims about China, which experts say is already well on its way toward meeting its obligations under the Paris agreement thanks to major investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.

  • An Extensive Guide To The Fact Checks, Debunks, And Criticisms Of Trump’s Various Problematic Policy Proposals

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY & JARED HOLT

    Over the course of the 2016 presidential primary, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has laid forth a series of problematic policy proposals and statements -- ranging from his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States to his suggestion that the United States default on debt -- that media have warned to be “dangerous,” “fact-free,” “unconstitutional,” “contradictory,” “racist,” and “xenophobic.” Media Matters compiled an extensive list of Trump’s widely panned policy plans thus far along with the debunks and criticism from media figures, experts and fact-checkers that go along with them.

  • Major News Outlets Fail To Identify The Hate Group Boycotting Target

    The American Family Association Has Been Designated An Anti-LGBT “Hate Group” By The SPLC

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Major news outlets have largely failed to identify the American Family Association (AFA) -- the group organizing a boycott of Target over its transgender inclusive restroom policy -- as an anti-LGBT "hate group," often only referring to the group as a "Christian" or "conservative" organization.

  • Media Push Right-Wing Myths After California's $15 Minimum Wage Announcement

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    On March 28, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) announced a legislative compromise to raise the California minimum wage gradually from $10 per hour in 2016 to $15 per hour by 2022. Right-wing media have attacked the historic wage increase, claiming it will kill jobs and that it "goes against every law of capitalism." Meanwhile, mainstream media have promoted misinformation about the minimum wage peddled by restaurant industry front groups.

  • How The National Review Pushed A Lie Into The Supreme Court Contraception Case

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On March 23, the Supreme Court heard Zubik v. Burwell, a case brought by religious nonprofits challenging the process for opting out of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) contraception mandate. Prior to oral arguments, the National Review falsely alleged that a leading expert on religious liberty law had "retracted" his support for the government's position. This falsehood was then apparently referred to during oral arguments to attack the ACA's accommodation for religiously affiliated organizations that seek an opt-out from required contraception coverage in their employer-sponsored health insurance.

  • North Carolina Editorials Slam Republican "Recklessness And Foolishness" In Rolling Back LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    North Carolina newspaper editorials roundly condemned the Republican-led North Carolina legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) for dismantling LGBT nondiscrimination protections, chastising state Republicans for their "legislative incompetence," "recklessness and foolishness," and "unwarranted intrusion" into local nondiscrimination ordinances.