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  • Debate Moderators Owe It To Florida Latinos To Bring Up Climate Change

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Moderators of the Republican and Democratic presidential primary debates in Florida are being urged to ask candidates about climate change. The topic is especially significant in Florida, a state at risk from rising sea levels where Latino voters make up an important portion of electorate and consistently indicate that climate change is "extremely or very important" to them.

    Democratic and Republican presidential primary debates will take place in Miami, Florida on March 9 and 10, respectively. The Democratic debate will be hosted by Univision and The Washington Post, featuring Univision's Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas and The Post's Karen Tumulty as moderators -- it will be cast simultaneously on CNN. The Republican debate will be hosted by CNN, Salem Radio, and The Washington Times, and be moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper, with Dana Bash, Salem Radio's Hugh Hewitt, and The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan joining as questioners.

    According to the Pew Research Center, Latino voters in Florida play a crucial role in "determining the outcome of the state's presidential vote." Latinos make up 18.1 percent of eligible voters in Florida.

    Climate change is one of the issues that the Latino voting bloc cares about the most -- even more than non-Hispanic whites, according to a February 2015 poll by The New York Times, Stanford University, and the nonpartisan Resources for the Future. As the Times noted, the poll indicated that a majority of Hispanics rate climate change as "extremely or very important to them personally," and 63 percent think "the federal government should act broadly to address global warming." More recently, a September 2015 Latino Decisions poll found that 76 percent of registered Latino voters in Florida are in favor of national clean energy standards, while 74 percent "strongly support" measures to combat climate change.

    Florida Latinos care deeply about climate change because they stand to suffer some of its worst consequences. The Latino population is more likely to live in counties near the coastline -- such as Miami-Dade or Broward, where Hispanics are more than 25 percent of the total population. As the Sun Sentinel has noted, in just the next 15 years climate change-induced sea level rise in South Florida will result in "a range of hardships, from endangered drinking water supplies to a degradation of public services." And according to some mapped projections of rising sea levels, large portions of these counties could be underwater by 2100.

    Yet, climate change has been repeatedly glossed over in presidential debates this primary season, prompting a bipartisan group of 21 Florida mayors to call on debate moderators to address the issue in the upcoming presidential debates in the state.

    As New Climate Economy's Helen Mountford wrote in a March 5 letter to the editor in The Miami Herald, "Florida is the right place" to make climate change a "major focus" of a presidential debate, since Florida, with its "more than 1,350 miles of coastline," is already experiencing the damaging effects of rising sea levels.

  • "Wow ... That's Interesting": Trump Entertained Scalia Conspiracy On A Second Radio Show

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump appeared on Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher's radio program and entertained Gallagher's conspiracy theory about the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump has been receiving criticism for appearing on Michael Savage's program and claiming that one of the reported details of Scalia's death was "pretty unusual." 

    Trump guested on the February 15 broadcast of Salem Radio Network's The Mike Gallagher Show. Gallagher claimed to not be "a conspiracy theorist, I don't think you are either, but boy it seems peculiar that there doesn't seem to be an autopsy planned." Trump replied, "Wow ... I had just heard this from you, Mike, that's interesting." Trump didn't refute Gallagher's conspiracy mongering -- instead, he declared the supposedly suspicious circumstances surrounding Scalia's death to be "big stuff." 

    GALLAGHER: I have to say, and my audience, the phone lines are burning up and people are questioning the circumstances behind Justice Scalia's death and you know, this is a beloved man -- a husband, father, grandfather, found lying in bed with a pillow over his head. It's all over the Drudge Report. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I don't think you are either, but boy it seems peculiar that there doesn't seem to be an autopsy planned --

    TRUMP: Wow.

    GALLAGHER: -- for the death of such an important person. I mean -- this is, like, pretty shocking stuff, don't you think? 

    TRUMP: Well I had just heard this from you, Mike, that's interesting. This is the new theory that came out as of this morning.

    GALLAGHER: Well it is and the owner of the ranch, he was quoted as having found Justice Scalia in bed. There were no marshals, he had no protection, and he was found according to the owner of the ranch with a pillow over his head, looking like peaceful repose. He was declared dead over the phone by a justice of the peace who was not even there in person. There's just -- it just seems to me that if there was a liberal Supreme Court justice who passed away and we would have this debate on the other side, there would be cries for an investigation --

    TRUMP: Wow.

    GALLAGHER: -- an autopsy. I mean no autopsy being planned?

    TRUMP: That's big stuff. Especially since it's really the turn of the court. You know, you're really talking about the balance of the court, that's big stuff. Wow.

    GALLAGHER: This is history, this is history, it's huge.

    TRUMP: That'll be a new topic. That'll be a new topic --

    GALLAGHER: Well, yeah, I hope you have a chance to look into it. 

    TRUMP: -- to increase your ratings even further.

    GALLAGHER: Yeah, and maybe spend some time on it as you delve into that.  

    Trump concluded the interview by thanking Gallagher for being "so supportive and so nice" to him.

    Trump also appeared on the February 15 broadcast of The Savage Nation, during which Savage told Trump that Scalia might have been "murdered." When Savage asked Trump if he would support "the equivalent of a Warren Commission" to investigate Scalia's death, he replied that he "just heard" that "they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow. I can't tell you what -- I can't give you an answer."  

  • "Hollywood Asshole": The Celebrities Conservative Media Went After In 2015

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CYDNEY HARGIS

    Right-wing media spent much of 2015 lashing out at celebrities. From seething over celebrities who spoke out against sexism and pay inequality in Hollywood and supported the Black Lives Matter movement, to objectifying female bodies, bashing the Pope, and telling an actress to "deport herself," Media Matters looks back at some of conservative media's most outrageous temper tantrums of 2015:

  • In Wake Of Attack On Planned Parenthood, Conservative Media Hide History Of Violent Rhetoric By Anti-Choice Advocates

    ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    Following the November 27 attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood that killed three people and injured several more, right-wing media pundits immediately denied that violent anti-choice rhetoric may have motivated the shooter. However, anti-choice groups have a history of promoting violence to support their cause. After it was reported that the alleged shooter made comments about "no more baby parts" during questioning, right-wing media echoed the repeatedly debunked anti-choice claim that Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue, arguing that Planned Parenthood "deserves much of the harsh criticism directed toward it."

  • How Right-Wing Media Championed A Ted Cruz Presidential Campaign Long Before Actual Launch

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL, EMILY ARROWOOD & OLIVIA KITTEL

    Right-wing media has a long history of serving as Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) biggest cheerleaders, dating back to Cruz's 2012 Senate victory which he credited to Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck, showcasing the influence of conservative media in shaping election outcomes.

    Following Cruz's announced bid for the 2016 GOP nomination for president, Media Matters looks back at some of right-wing media's most effusive praise of Cruz.

    Sean Hannity

    After Cruz announced his candidacy, Hannity featured the senator in an hour-long special on the March 23 of edition his Fox News show. Hannity highlighted Cruz's campaign announcement speech, and allowed Cruz to promote his platform.

    Hannity has fantasized about a Cruz campaign for years before the official campaign launch. During Cruz's February 26 speech at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Hannity jumped on the main stage to proclaim that with Cruz, "we can fundamentally transform America" in 2016.

    Rush Limbaugh

    After Cruz announced the launch of his campaign, Rush Limbaugh praised Cruz, suggesting that he "might be the smartest man in Congress."

    In July 2014, Rush predicted that if Ted Cruz continued his rise in "dominant influence," he would lead a nascent Republican "revival" that is "just awaiting leadership."

    In September 2013, Limbaugh lashed out at Fox News' Brit Hume for alleging that Cruz was influenced by Limbaugh and other conservative media in his repeated efforts to defund Obama's health care law. Limbaugh defended Cruz, asserting that "Ted Cruz isn't afraid of anybody," and went on to praise the Republican senator, saying "Ted Cruz is fighting for freedom in the greatest tradition of American freedom fighters." Limbaugh added that in his efforts to defund the health care law, "Ted Cruz is attempting to [] marshal the support of the American people ... in the greatest traditions of the American founding and the existence of the country."  

    Glenn Beck

    Beck praised Ted Cruz after the launch of his campaign, championing Cruz's "long, long, impressive resume," saying "you can't pigeonhole him as stupid," adding "I can't wait to see him in a debate."

    On his radio show in December 2013, Beck likened Cruz to Ronald Reagan saying, he "may be our Ronald Reagan because that guy does not take prisoners. That guy is a thousand times smarter than 99 percent of the politicians I have ever met."

    Laura Ingraham

    After Cruz announced his candidacy, Laura Ingraham applauded him for "stand[ing] firm for the constitution," and claimed Cruz will be tough competition for Republicans because he represents "more of a traditionalist point of view" and a more "Reagan-esque" form of conservatism.

    Mark Levin

    Levin railed against Fox News for "trashing" Ted Cruz after the senator launched his campaign, likening Cruz to Reagan, and asserting that like Cruz, Reagan would have been "trashed all over" Fox News.

    In August 2013, Levin declared Cruz "one of the bright lights of the Republican Party" for "exciting the base" after he "demonstrated that he can beat the establishment as he did" during his 2012 Senate campaign. Levin defended Cruz from a "vicious, vile, poisonous attack by the establishment including Bush staffers." 

    Hugh Hewitt

    In June 2014, Hugh Hewitt proclaimed that Cruz "may be the smartest senator," telling Joe Scarborough on his radio program, "he's just not gonna back down and we need some of that in our party." Hewitt went on to compare Cruz to Reagan, saying he has "the same demeanor" as Reagan, "the same kind of charisma, easy affability and smart, smart, smart." 

  • Fox's Allen West Attacks Decorated Vet Rep. Tammy Duckworth: I "Don't Know Where Her Loyalties Lie"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News contributor Allen West questioned the "loyalties" of decorated veteran and Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth for serving with her fellow Democrats on the Benghazi select committee.

    West attacked the recently announced Democratic members of the newly formed committee for dismissing the importance of Benghazi during an appearance on the May 21 broadcast of The Janet Mefferd Show.

    West remarked of Duckworth: "I just don't know where her loyalties lie. You know, for her to have been a veteran, a wounded warrior for the United States Army, she should know that this is not the right thing. And hopefully, you know, she will remember the oath of office that she took as an Army officer and not the allegiance I guess she believes she has to the liberal progressives of the Democrat Party."

    As her congressional biography notes, Duckworth "was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom until her helicopter was hit by an RPG on November 12, 2004. Duckworth lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion and was awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries." She became a well-known advocate for veterans, and served as the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs and then Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the federal level. She is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.

    West is also a decorated veteran of the war in Iraq, albeit one whose service ended in controversy. He subsequently served one term in Congress, becoming a Fox News contributor after Florida voters declined to reelect him. During the interview, he also attacked Reps. Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff, Adam Smith, and Linda Sanchez, the other Democratic appointees to the Benghazi select committee. West claimed that Smith is "one of those geeky little debaters that is going to try to micromanage every single detail," while Sanchez has a "very whiny way." 

    West has said Congress should consider impeaching President Obama over Benghazi. In a fundraising email for his political action committee, he accused the Obama administration of lying to the public and participating in "an ongoing cover-up to hide the truth." He's also claimed the administration has been disingenuously caring about the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls to distract the public from Benghazi.

  • Fox News Host Wallace: Conservatives Jumped On Bundy "Bandwagon Way Too Quickly"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace criticized conservatives for lionizing Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose outlaw campaign against the federal government further collapsed when he was caught in a racist tirade against blacks.  

    Wallace told radio host and Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher, "some of your colleagues on the conservative side jumped on this bandwagon way too quickly, way too -- and, you know, I've never quite understood why this guy was a hero."

    Wallace added that he agreed with Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, who similarly criticized conservatives for championing Bundy. Krauthammer remarked yesterday on Fox News: "Do I have the right to go in to graze sheep in Central Park? I think not. You have to have some respect for the federal government, some respect for our system. And to say you don't and you don't recognize it and that makes you a conservative hero, to me, is completely contradictory, and rather appalling."

    While Wallace did not single out specific conservatives, many of Bundy's biggest champions work for Fox News. Fox News' senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitano, called Bundy a "patriotic, heroic American." Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes defended Bundy by claiming "they used to string folks up" for what the government did to Bundy.

    And Fox News host Sean Hannity spent weeks pushing Bundy's cause and hosted him multiple times. His fervent support for Bundy drew criticism and mockery, causing Hannity to respond that "we're not ashamed of our coverage. We're actually proud of our coverage." When the racist tirade surfaced, however, Hannity was forced to renounce Bundy's comments, while claiming government overreach is still the real issue.