CNN will host the second GOP presidential primary debate tonight, September 16. The network has an inconsistent track record on how it has covered GOP candidates' stances on climate change -- debate host Jake Tapper has fact-checked candidates' climate denial, but the network's coverage of the issue has been problematic at times. Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly ways CNN has covered the GOP presidential candidates' positions on climate change so far this year.
CNN's Jake Tapper called out Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker for claiming to be able to take on special interests, pointing out Walker's ties to "Republican special interests like the Koch brothers."
During a September 13 interview on CNN's State of the Union, Tapper questioned Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) claim that he "can take on special interests" by pointing out Walker's close ties to the billionaire conservative Koch brothers (emphasis added):
GOV. SCOTT WALKER: If you want someone who will fight and win, not just win three elections in four years in a blue state like we did, but win and get results without compromising common-sense conservative principles, then I'm the candidate. I've shown I can take on those same powerful special interests. They spent in three elections almost $100 million dollars trying to take me out, it was the big government union bosses and the liberal special interests in Washington.
JAKE TAPPER: I respect that you've taken on Democratic special interests in Wisconsin, but you've been backed by Republican special interests like the Koch brothers, right? How does that square with what you're saying about taking on special interests or do you think only liberal special interests are the ones worth taking on?
WALKER: I'm taking on the ones in Washington. In my state I didn't just take on the unions and Democrats, early on there was great support from the assembly and some from the Senate, people like State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, but there were some senators, including some who'd been in the leadership, who didn't want to do the kind of reforms. I'm willing to take on anyone. I stood up to 100,000 protesters, I took on the death threats, I took on threats [on] my family. We pushed back when they took us to federal and state court, we pushed back when they went after our state senators. They went after me in a recall election and we won, and they made me the number one target in America, number one in America last year.
TAPPER: But aren't the Koch brothers special interests too? Can you give me an example of one time that you took on a conservative special interest?
WALKER: I tell you flat out, when I took on the $100 million dollars or so, I raised $80 million dollars in three elections in four-and-a-half years, and 70 percent of it came from people who gave me $75 dollars or less. We raised it from more than 300,000 donors in all 50 states, that's grassroots, that's not allegiance to one group or another.
Tapper touched on the nexus between Walker and Charles and David Koch, which is evidenced by the millions of dollars the Kochs directly and indirectly donated to Walker's gubernatorial campaign. A right-to-work bill signed by Walker was nearly a word-for-word replica of model legislation crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that receives large sums of money from the Koch brothers. Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a Koch-funded group, "deployed hundreds of volunteers" to help spread Walker's message while buying television and digital ads. And in January, Walker was one of only four GOP presidential hopefuls invited to attend an exclusive Koch brothers' event featuring wealthy conservative political donors.
A Media Matters analysis of the Sunday morning political talk shows found a plurality of the guests hosted to discuss the Iran nuclear agreement since it was announced in July opposed the deal. Notably, 63 percent of guests hosted on Fox News Sunday to discuss the deal opposed it, while only 13 percent supported it.
CNN host Jake Tapper failed to correct a Republican congresswoman's false claim that 94 percent of Planned Parenthood's health services are related to abortion, instead telling his guests to "agree to disagree."
A new Media Matters study has found that outside of MSNBC, major broadcast and cable television outlets are failing to fact-check climate science denial by presidential candidates 75 percent of the time. But it's worth taking a closer look at how television program hosts have handled their face-to-face interviews with presidential candidates, since these high-profile interviews often get a substantial amount of attention and can shape media discussions for days or even weeks to come.
So how are TV hosts responding when presidential candidates spout climate science denial in real time? It depends which channel you're watching.
CNN's Jake Tapper has offered an instructive example of how to address presidential candidates' climate denial during his interviews with real estate mogul Donald Trump and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). On the June 28 edition of CNN's State of the Union, Tapper responded to Trump's declaration that he is "not a huge believer in the global warming phenomenon" by telling Trump that "the overwhelming majority of scientists say it's real and it's man-made."
Tapper also brought up the scientific consensus during a June 4 interview with Santorum on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper. Noting that Santorum had responded to Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change by commenting that "the church has gotten it wrong a few times on science" and that "we're probably better off leaving science to the scientists," Tapper proceeded to ask Santorum: "[I]n terms of leaving science to the scientists, I think a lot of people would agree with you. So why not take the overwhelming majority of scientists at their word and take seriously that humans are contributing to climate change, with potentially disastrous results?"
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace similarly challenged Santorum's remarks about the pope's encyclical during a June 7 interview. Wallace told Santorum that the vast majority of "scientists who have studied this say that humans, man -- human activity, contributes to climate change." Wallace then added, "So, I guess the question would be, if [the pope] shouldn't talk about [climate change], should you?"
Unfortunately, Wallace has not consistently described humans' role in climate change as a matter of scientific consensus. During an interview with Cardinal Donald Wuerl on the June 21 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace suggested a false balance between the 97 percent of climate scientists who say humans are causing global warming and, in Wallace's words, the "experts on the other side" who question it. Wallace asked Wuerl: "While the Holy Father says a number of scientific studies hold that the world is warming and human activity is a major role, there are certainly experts on the other side who question, really, whether there is a consistent pattern of warming, as opposed to just sort of the variations of climate over the ages, and how much human activity plays a role. What does the pope say to those people?"
Although his program wasn't included in Media Matters' study, Fusion's Jorge Ramos also forcefully refuted climate science denial by a presidential candidate. During an interview with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on the April 21 edition of America with Jorge Ramos, Ramos brought up Rubio's stated view that human activity is not "causing these dramatic changes to our climate," and then told Rubio, "97 percent of the studies on climate change say that you are wrong."
But on two of the major networks' Sunday news programs, candidates' climate science denial went unanswered. The very same week that Ramos corrected Rubio, Bob Schieffer let Rubio get away with denying the science on CBS' Face the Nation. In an April 19 interview, Schieffer asked Rubio if he has said that "humans are not responsible for climate change," and Rubio replied, "What I said is that humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe, for the following reason: I believe the climate is changing, because there's never been a moment where the climate is not changing. The question is what percentage of that -- or what is due to human activity?" Rather than pointing out that the vast majority of climate scientists say human activities are the primary factor in climate change, Schieffer quickly moved on to a discussion of social issues.
NBC's Chuck Todd similarly dropped the ball during his interview with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on the June 21 edition of Meet the Press. Asked by Todd whether he believes climate change is man-made, Huckabee brought up the red herring frequently used by climate science deniers that scientists predicted "a global freezing" in the early 1970s, and stated, "Science is not as settled on [climate change] as it is on some things." Todd did not indicate that the vast majority of climate scientists agree humans are driving climate change, instead simply replying, "All right, so, if president, climate change is not in your top of your agenda."
Perhaps less surprising is the comfortable treatment climate-denying candidates received during their interviews with Fox News' Sean Hannity, who was the only media figure to let multiple candidates get away with denying the science during the timeframe of our study. In an interview with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on the June 16 edition of Hannity, the Fox News host asked Bush, "The president says that the science is in. It's all been determined. Are you there? Where are you on climate change?" Bush replied, "I think there's a debate about that" and then praised American ingenuity and natural gas production for reducing the country's carbon footprint. Hannity then moved on to a question from the audience on another topic.
The next day, Hannity interviewed Trump and not only failed to fact-check Trump's climate science denial, but also agreed with him that concerns about global warming are no more credible than past warnings of an impending "ice age."
As Americans across the country feel the growing effects of climate change, the next president will largely determine whether the United States continues to take action on climate change or chooses to ignore it. So when media figures have the opportunity to interview candidates on the issue, they simply cannot let candidates get away with denying the science and pretending the problem doesn't even exist.
CNN reporter Dana Bash missed the opportunity to press Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush on a 2001 Florida law he allowed to pass as governor that required single mothers to list their sexual histories in a newspaper before allowing children to be adopted.
In a prerecorded interview that aired on the June 14 edition of CNN's State of the Union, Dana Bash questioned Bush about his campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, including how he will distinguish himself from his family's political record, but failed to press Bush on his record as governor of Florida.
Just days earlier, however, Bash highlighted Bush's record as governor, noting that he is "facing questions about a 2001 so-called Scarlet Letter law in Florida when he was governor, requiring single mothers to put a notice in the newspaper before they could give up a child for adoption."
Bash also highlighted a statement from Bush's 1995 book Profiles in Character, in which he "argued for the 'restoration of shame' in society." From Bush's book:
One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior. There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.
According to Huffington Post's Laura Bassett, Bush's book "points to Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter, in which the main character is forced to wear a large red 'A' for 'adulterer' on her clothes to punish her for having an extramarital affair that produced a child, as an early model for his worldview."
And, as Bassett explained, Florida's Scarlet Letter law was an "opportunity to test his theory on public shaming," when he "declined to veto a very controversial bill," -- that Marco Rubio and five members of Congress also voted for -- "that required single mothers who did not know the identity of the father to publish their sexual histories in a newspaper before they could legally put their babies up for adoption."
NPR reported that part of Bush's rationale for the law was to decrease uncertainty about adoptions by "provid[ing] greater finality once the adoption is approved, and to avoid circumstances where future challenges to the adoption disrupt the life of the child."
But a 2004 Notre Dame Law Review article explained that the personal information required by the law to be listed in newspapers was extensive:
"The notice ... must contain a physical description, including, but not limited to age, race, hair and eye color, and approximate height and weight of the minor's mother and of any person the mother reasonably believes may be the father; the minor's date of birth; and any date and city, including the county and state in which the city is located, in which conception may have occurred."
And according to NPR, the ad "had to run once a week for a month, at the expense of either the mother or the people who wanted to adopt the baby, as that 2004 article explains."
While Bush objected to parts of the law, in part because, "there is a shortage of responsibility on behalf of the birth father," the 2001 law wasn't replaced until after a Florida court "declared the provision requiring women to list their sexual encounters unconstitutional because it was deemed an invasion of privacy."
Los programas dominicales, tanto en inglés como en español, tratan a los hispanos como un bloque monotemático, enfocado mayormente en la inmigración, según un análisis de Media Matters que examinó las discusiones hechas y los invitados a programas desde el 31 de agosto al 28 de diciembre de 2014. A pesar de que los latinos constituyen más del 17 por ciento de la población estadounidense, el reporte encontró que solamente siete por ciento de los invitados a los programas dominicales en inglés, son hispanos, de los que un 46 por ciento habló específicamente sobre inmigración. El reporte también señaló que a pesar de que los programas dominicales en español dedican atención significativa al tema migratorio, cubren muchísimo menos otros temas de similar importancia para la comunidad latina. Confinar las perspectivas de los latinos a un único tema va en detrimento de su habilidad de involucrarse en discusiones sobre otros temas que les afectan tanto a ellos, como al electorado en general.
Sunday shows in both English and Spanish treat Hispanics as a single-issue constituency focused on immigration, according to a Media Matters analysis that examined the shows' discussions and guests from August 31 to December 28, 2014. While Latinos make up more than 17 percent of the U.S. population, the report found that only 7 percent of guests on English-language Sunday shows were Hispanic, of which 46 percent spoke specifically about immigration. The report also found that while the Spanish-language Sunday shows devoted great attention to immigration, they gave much less coverage to issues of similar importance to the Latino community. Confining Latinos' perspectives to a single issue damages their ability to engage in discussions about the other equally important issues that affect them and the general electorate.
White men overwhelmingly dominated guest appearances on five Sunday morning political talk shows in 2014 - like they did in 2013 - according to a Media Matters analysis.
A two-year investigation by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee that debunked several prominent right-wing myths about the Benghazi attacks was largely ignored by the four major broadcast networks' Sunday shows.
Sunday news shows on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox failed to cover the People's Climate March, a massive protest against climate change being held September 21 in New York City in conjunction with events in more than 150 countries worldwide.
Meet the Press, Face the Nation, State of the Union, and Fox News Sunday ignored the event, which is being touted by participants as "the largest mobilization against climate change in the history of the planet." The Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel briefly mentioned the march on ABC's This Week while arguing that national security concerns surrounding climate change are not receiving adequate attention.
Environmental group 350.org has estimated that "hundreds of thousands" of people will participate in the event. According to MSNBC.com, "participants include dyed-in-the-wool environmental activists, but also elected officials, union members, nationwide community organizing groups, LGBT groups, members of indigenous communities, students, clergy members, scientists, private citizens, and a plethora of other concerned parties" all representing 1,400 partner organizations.
While environmentalists and others march in New York, activists worldwide will participate in 2,700 events held across more than 150 countries. The march comes days before world leaders will meet on September 23 at the United Nations to hold a climate summit. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will join marchers during the September 21 event in New York, saying at a news conference, "I will link arms with those marching for climate action."
Newt Gingrich is accusing President Obama of cowardice for delaying planned executive action on immigration reform, the same proposed executive action Gingrich previously deemed "unconstitutional" and indicative of a "Venezuelan-style-anything-I-want-is-legal-presidency."
On September 6, the White House confirmed that President Obama will delay taking executive action on immigration reform until after the 2014 midterm elections. First discussed this summer, the executive order will reportedly provide temporary relief for millions of law-abiding undocumented immigrants.
Crossfire host Newt Gingrich blasted Obama's decision to delay on CNN's State of the Union the next day. According to Gingrich, the president is "cowardly" for delaying the executive action, compared to his previously "decisive" rhetoric on an immigration order (emphasis added):
GINGRICH: First of all, I think he was pretty honest today in saying, in an interview, that the flood of children coming in this summer changed all the equations and all the emotions. It suddenly became much harder to do something. And in the red states where he has Democrats who are in trouble in the Senate, virtually all of them were saying, 'please, don't do this.' But I think there's a bigger narrative here.
This is one more example of Obama being incapable of figuring out how to do whatever he promises he's going to do. And you go to Ukraine, you go to Iraq, you go to Estonia this week, you go to all sorts of things and you get the Maureen Dowd kind of columns, that are so scathing that it's a little bit hard to believe she'd write it about a Democrat. This is just going to pile on more because his language in the summer was so decisive, and his behavior now is so cowardly, that the gap between those two is just astonishing.
Yet Gingrich previously charged that this same executive action -- which Obama is now "cowardly" for not taking -- amounted to an "unconstitutional executive order."
On the August 3 edition of State of the Union, Gingrich claimed that "the president, I suspect, is preparing an unconstitutional executive order ... that legalizes five million people." When another panelist accused him of "overstating, again, the extent to which the president is operating outside the boundaries of the constitution," Gingrich replied, "You're kidding."
Gingrich has repeatedly urged Republicans to make Obama's pending executive action on immigration a top campaign issue, portraying it as a "fiat" and "Venezuelan-style" overreach of executive power. On Meet The Press on August 10, he advised:
GINGRICH: If [Obama] comes in around Labor Day with some grand scheme by executive order, the right thing for the Republicans to do is pass a bill saying it's wrong in the House, taunt the Senate Democrats who are up for reelection to get the bill through the Senate, and say to American people you want to stick with the Venezuelan-style-anything-I-want-is-legal-presidency, or do you want go back to the constitution, these are your two parties in November, and then in January the Republican Senate and Republican House just cuts off the money.
And appearing on The Laura Ingraham Show in May, Gingrich argued that Republicans' message in the 2014 election should be, "the President of the United states should allow millions and millions of people -- as many as he wants -- to come into the United States and to be legal residents by fiat of his pen, vote Democrat."
While Gingrich turns from attacking Obama as ruling "by fiat" to "cowardly" for delaying action, experts have confirmed the president has broad authority to issue such executive orders on immigration.
From the June 22 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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Since the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, media have scandalized the administration's negotiations with the Taliban, conducted through a third-party, despite the fact that foreign policy experts and military leaders have long acknowledged the necessity of such negotiations.
Media responded to the news that the Obama administration secured the release of prisoner of war (POW) Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban by parsing whether or not the administration violated longstanding policy by negotiating Bergdahl's release. In reality, experts say the U.S. has a long history of such negotiations, and Bergdahl's release was conducted using an intermediary nation.