Savannah Guthrie

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  • Media Must Not Let Trump Reduce The Orlando Conversation To Semantics About “Radical Islam”

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Several media figures allowed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to set the terms of the conversation following the terror attack at an Orlando gay nightclub, reducing the tragedy to a counterproductive conversation about “radical Islam” semantics, and eclipsing conversation about anti-LGBT violence, gun safety, and national security efforts at home and abroad.

    On June 12, a gunman stormed into an Orlando gay nightclub and murdered 49 people, leading to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

    In the wake of this senseless but targeted attack, Trump immediately resorted to a routine right-wing media talking point in an attempt to undermine President Obama and drum up anti-Muslim fear: that Obama and others won’t use the phrase “radical Islam,” and that the failure to do so is crippling national security efforts. Trump repeated the talking point on Fox News to attack Hillary Clinton, telling Steve Doocy that her inability to “utter the words” radical Islamic terror is “just following [Obama’s] exact line,” and that “unless you know the words and unless you know what’s going on, you’re never going to solve the problem.”

    Following Trump’s Fox interview, media figures questioned Clinton on Trump’s critiques, effectively letting Trump dictate and distort the terms of the conversation about the shooting.

    On NBC’s Today, host Savannah Guthrie asked Clinton, “Donald Trump in particular called you out … for not using a certain term to describe the acts: the term radical Islam. The question is, why not?”

    Similarly, on CNN’s New Day, host Chris Cuomo asked Clinton, “you are now coming under scrutiny about what you will call this … Do you believe that this is radical Islamism or radical Islamic terror? Will you use those words?” Clinton said she was not opposed to using similar terms but would not demonize an entire religion.

    Foreign policy experts and other media figures have repeatedly criticized Trump for “feed[ing] into the ISIS narrative” with his rhetoric. And foreign policy experts and government officials have also noted that trumpeting the phrase “radical Islam” alienates allies and is counterproductive to defeating terrorism at home and abroad. Not only does the U.S. practice to refrain from using the phrase “radical Islam” extend back to the George W. Bush administration, but not conflating Islam and terror is also part of a global strategy to avoid dignifying terrorists

    CNN political commentator Errol Louis poured cold water on those elevating Trump's focus on "radical Islam," asserting that Trump's "baby talk" critiques are "not something that should be taken seriously or frankly even repeated. This is the kind of chitchat you hear on right-wing radio day and night, mostly night, but it doesn't belong on a presidential debate."

    Right-wing criticism of Obama, Clinton, and others for not using this one specific phrase is a frequent and tired ploy that whips up anti-Muslim sentiments and distracts from the myriad issues at hand. Instead of embracing Trump’s critiques as the standard for conversation about Orlando -- which reduces the tragedy to semantic particulars -- media must focus on pushing politicians to find solutions. 

  • Media, Experts, And Civil Rights Groups Condemn Ted Cruz's "Blatantly Unconstitutional" Anti-Muslim Proposal

    Cruz's Call To "Patrol And Secure Muslims Neighborhoods" Met With Widespread Criticism

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media, experts, and civil rights groups are all criticizing Ted Cruz's call to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods" in the wake of terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium, seemingly inspired by ISIS. The plan has been called "counterproductive and unconstitutional" and "the exact opposite of what we need to do."

  • Media Keeps Up False Equivalency Reporting On Government Shutdown

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media outlets continue their campaign of false equivalency to misleadingly assign President Obama an equal share of the blame for not negotiating with Republicans to repeal, defund, or delay the Affordable Care Act to end the government shutdown. But polls show the American people overwhelmingly disapprove of GOP actions that led to the shutdown.

  • Uh, they are "the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans"

    Blog ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

    This morning's edition of NBC's Today show featured a segment on the midterm elections which highlighted the Democratic Party's 2010 election "campaign playbook" of "blaming Bush." During the segment, correspondent Savannah Guthrie claimed that "Democrats are banking that President Bush is even more unpopular than they are, even framing the latest battle in Congress as a fight over extending the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans."

    However, this argument is hardly a frame at all. Congress is debating whether or not to extend tax cuts passed under President Bush that fall on those earning more than $200,000. Hence, they are, indeed, fighting over "extending the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans."

    It's shocking that we have to explain this, but here goes. Congress is currently debating the extension of tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 which are due to expire on January 1, 2011. The cuts were based on proposals President Bush campaigned on, spearheaded by his administration, and signed by Bush. Additionally, a report by CNN's Dana Bash even called the original 2001 legislation Bush's "centerpiece tax-cut proposal." There is little doubt that these tax cuts are affiliated with the former President.

    Referring to these tax cuts as the "Bush tax cuts" is hardly a tool of the Democratic Party, with Republicans using the same phrase to describe them. While defending the cuts a few weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to them as "the Bush tax cuts." John McCain and Mitt Romney used the same words to describe the cuts in a January 2008 debate for the Republican presidential nomination. This isn't some sort of political trick; the tax cuts are commonly referred to by all parties as the "Bush tax cuts."

    And yes, the discussion in Congress is generally over the portion of those Bush tax cuts that fall on "wealthier Americans." While it is true that all provisions of the Bush tax cuts are set to expire by the end of the year, the debate in Congress is essentially over the tax cuts for Americans making over $200,000. Reuters reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intends to "push for a House vote before the November 2 election on whether to extend tax cuts for the middle class while letting those for wealthier citizens expire." Likewise, President Obama's proposed FY 2011 budget calls for only allowing the "tax cuts that affect families earning more than $250,000 a year to expire."

    Guthrie's suggestion that Democrats are somehow distorting the fact that Congress is debating the extension of certain provisions of the Bush tax cuts is simply bizarre.