The Daily Beast

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  • Media Finally Admit The Bar Is Lower For Trump. But Can They Fix It?

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Memo to the media: You cannot have it both ways on the double standard applied to presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

    After NBC’s Commander in Chief Forum, reporters and pundits proclaimed that media have held the two presidential nominees to different standards of knowledge and conduct, yet these media figures have also perpetuated the double standard by excusing Trump’s behavior and applauding him any time he shows a veneer of conventionality.

    Numerous media figures criticized Matt Lauer, host of the September 7 forum, for employing different questioning toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Lauer allowed Trump to lie about opposing the Iraq war, yet he used eight of his first nine questions for Clinton to grill her over her emails. Several media figures said Lauer’s line of questioning embodied the “double standard” that reporters across the board use to analyze the two candidates.

    If Media Figures Note The Double Standard ... 

    • MSNBC's Mike Barnicle: Trump Is The "Continued Beneficiary Of A Huge Double Standard." The morning after the forum, MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle told Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough that Lauer interviewed Trump “as if he were the co-host or the host of The Apprentice,” rather than a presidential candidate, noting, “Syria wasn’t mentioned. Aleppo wasn’t mentioned. The refugee crisis wasn’t mentioned.” He noted that the forum showed Trump is the “continued beneficiary of a huge double standard.”
       
    • Wash. Post Contributor Paul Waldman: “Hillary Clinton Gets Examined In A Very Different Way Than Donald Trump Does.” Following the forum, Washington Post contributor Paul Waldman explained that Clinton “gets examined in a very different way than Trump does” by the media. Speaking on the September 7 edition of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, Waldman faulted media for taking an “all hands on deck mentality” when reporting Clinton news -- saying that “everybody will investigate every nook and cranny to see if there’s anything there that looks untoward. And even if there isn’t, it becomes this story that drags out over the course of days and even weeks” -- as opposed to “strings of issues” about Trump that are reported once and then forgotten.
       
    • Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin: “Trump Is Being Held To A Less High Standard.” ” Prior to the forum, Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin told co-host John Heilemann that “the Clinton campaign is right” that “Trump is being held to a less high standard” by reporters and that “the press is just not holding him accountable.” Halperin continued, “Trump is doing things that if Clinton did, she would be hit a lot harder,” and he urged media to “work on fixing that.” Co-host John Heilemann agreed with Halperin, despite having defended the double standard the week prior, when he said that “sometimes … you have to set the bar low” for Trump.
       
    • NY Times' Maggie Haberman: "The Bar Has Been Lowered For Trump Repeatedly." New York Times political correspondent Maggie Haberman said on CNN’s New Day leading up to the forum that Trump “keeps getting graded on a curve” and “the bar has been lowered for Trump repeatedly.” Haberman criticized media figures who assess Trump by asking, “Does he merely pass?” And then if he does, they record it as Trump “did very well.”
       
    • NY Times’ James Poniewozik Slams Lauer For Questioning Trump On A Curve. New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik scolded Lauer for treating Clinton “like someone running for president” but Trump “like someone running to figure out how to be president, eventually.” Poniewozik wrote that after grilling Clinton on her private email server, Lauer pitched Trump “the kind of whiffle ball job-interview” questions “you ask the boss’s nephew you know you have to hire anyway.”
       
    • CNN’s Brian Stelter: “It Is True That Trump Is Held To A Different Standard Than Clinton.” The day after the forum, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter told CNN host Ashleigh Banfield that “it is true that Trump is held to a different standard than Clinton” and said that “no doubt, at the forum, there was different treatment for Trump versus Clinton.”

    ... But Have Perpetuated It ...

    Despite all this commentary, media figures have consistently perpetuated the double standard, holding Trump to a lower bar than they do Clinton in terms of behavioral and ethical conduct -- and in measures of veracity. Most recently, when a report came out that Trump paid a fine to the IRS for making an illegal $25,000 donation to the 2013 re-election campaign of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, broadcast news networks devoted a third as much as time to the matter as they provided to a flawed Associated Press story on the Clinton Foundation that proved no ethics breaches.

    Media figures have previously repeatedly pardoned Trump’s widely criticized rhetoric, policy flip-flops, and divisive comments because he’s “not a politician” and is “learning as he goes”:

    • Fox Hosts Excused Trump's Abortion Comments Because "He's Learning As He Goes." Hosts of Fox News’ Fox & Friends excused Trump’s statement in March that there should be some kind of punishment for women who obtain abortions, suggesting that Trump should not be expected to answer questions about abortion because they’re usually reserved for more experienced politicians. Co-host Steve Doocy excused Trump, saying, “He only became a politician about six or seven months ago.”
       
    • CNN’s Mark Preston: “You Have To Expect” Trump Will Abandon His Positions; He Can’t Be Thought Of In “Conventional Terms.” CNN political executive editor Mark Preston told New Day host Chris Cuomo in May that he was not surprised the presumptive nominee “took a half-step back” on banning Muslim immigrants because he can't be thought of in “conventional terms,” but rather “in Donald Trump terms.”
       
    • The Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich: “Consistency Should Be An Argument Against Donald Trump,” But Trump “Isn’t A Normal Candidate.” Daily Beast Washington bureau chief Jackie Kucinich claimed in May that while “consistency should be an argument against” Trump “in a normal political system,” Trump is “not a normal candidate” and thus his policy reversals might not affect him.

    Media have also absurdly applauded Trump any time he has appeared to assume even the slightest veneer of conventional, tempered behavior:

    • Reading A Speech From A Teleprompter: Media figures praised Trump as “presidential” in early June for delivering one speech with the aid of a teleprompter. Fox anchor Megyn Kelly praised Trump for being “a little bit more controlled using the teleprompter, which is something we almost never see him do, staying on message.”
       
    • Delivering One Speech Devoid Of Racist Attacks: Following the same speech, media figures also praised Trump as “presidential” for refraining from launching racist attacks against the federal judge presiding over Trump University lawsuits, which Trump had done for multiple days prior. CNN host Don Lemon said the “new, more presidential Donald Trump” is what “people in Washington wanted to see.”
       
    • Rebutting A Joke About His Penis Size: Fox doctor Keith Ablow praised Donald Trump for “show[ing] an incredible degree of psychological strength” in responding to a joke about the size of his hands by referencing the size of his penis.
       
    • Not Calling Then-Opponent Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”: Following Trump’s April victory in the New York primary, Fox’s Megyn Kelly and ABC’s Tom Llamas said Trump was becoming “more presidential” and “trying out a more presidential style” because he did not call his opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), “Lyin’ Ted.” Trump returned to using the phrase the next day.

    ... Will They Change? 

    Now that political media have admitted their own shortcomings in the cautionary tale of Lauer, will they level the playing field between Clinton and Trump?

    Researcher Tyler Cherry contributed research to this post.

  • Media Highlight New Study Showing That Ohio’s Abortion Restriction Runs Counter To Best Medical Practice

    Anti-Choice Restrictions Were Based On Politics, Not Science -- With Consequences For Women’s Health Care

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In March 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its dosage guidelines for medication abortion -- invalidating an anti-choice Ohio law requiring providers to administer the medications according to the label, but in a way that ran counter to best medical practices. In late August, media highlighted the results of a new study that found Ohio’s requirement not only made abortion less accessible, but also “harmed women who were forced to comply.”

  • White Supremacists Love Trump’s New Hire

    Daily Beast: Bannon Turned Breitbart Into A “Safe Space For White Supremacists”

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    White nationalists and hate group leaders are praising Donald Trump’s hiring of Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon as the new chief executive of his campaign, calling it “great news” and citing Bannon as someone who shares their views.

    An August 17 Daily Beast report detailed the disturbing list of white supremacists and hate group leaders praising the hiring of Bannon and his effort at Breitbart News to mainstream their views. White supremacist website VDARE.com editor Peter Brimelow called the hire “great news,” while white nationalist think tank leader Richard* Spencer lauded Bannon as someone whose website has shown “elective affinities” for his ideas.

    The Daily Beast further highlighted the turn Breitbart.com took towards bolstering white supremacy under Bannon’s leadership:

    Bannon didn’t just make Breitbart a safe space for white supremacists; he’s also welcomed a scholar blacklisted from the mainstream conservative movement for arguing there’s a connection between race and IQ. Breitbart frequently highlights the work of Jason Richwine, who resigned from the conservative Heritage Foundation when news broke that his Harvard dissertation argued in part that Hispanics have lower IQs than non-Hispanic whites.

    Bannon loves Richwine. On Jan. 6 of this year, when Richwine was a guest on the radio show, Bannon called him “one of the smartest brains out there on demographics, demography this whole issue of immigration, what it means to this country.”

    And, unsurprisingly, Bannon heaps praise on Pamela Geller, an activist in the counter-Jihad movement who warns about “creeping Sharia.” When she appeared on the SiriusXM Breitbart radio show that Bannon hosted, he called her “one of the leading experts in the country if not the world” on Islam.

    The white nationalist movement has been celebrating Trump throughout his campaign and used his candidacy to recruit followers, fundraise, and spread their message. The Trump campaign has frequently interacted with the white nationalist movement, providing access to their surrogates for white nationalist media, giving a white nationalist radio host press credentials, failing to condemn their support, and retweeting them.

    *name corrected

  • Texas Media Call Out Anti-Choice Logic Behind Proposed Fetal Tissue Disposal Rules

    “Texas Is Trying To Get itself Sued Again Over Abortion Rights” By Secretly Pushing Fetal Tissue Disposal Rules

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Following the Supreme Court’s 5-3 rejection of Texas’ extreme anti-choice law HB 2 in June, state lawmakers attempted to quietly pass a new abortion restriction requiring fetal tissue from any abortion -- “regardless of the period of gestation” -- be buried or cremated. On August 4, Texas health officials will hold a public hearing on the proposed restriction. Ahead of this, Texas media have consistently called out the proposal as an overt, anti-choice attack on abortion access.

  • Donald Trump's “Repulsive” Attacks On The Khan Family Condemned Across The Spectrum

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN & NINA MAST

    Media figures across the ideological spectrum condemned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an American Muslim soldier who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004, characterizing Trump’s comments as “repulsive,” and saying they show a “lack of a sense of decency” and “the gauge of his cruelty.”

  • The Daily Beast Highlights “The Shady Network” Of Nativist Organizations Trump Cited In His Speech

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Daily Beast profiled “the shady network” of nativist groups whose work and data Donald Trump cited during the anti-immigration sections of his Republican National Convention acceptance speech, noting that the groups Trump cited are “omnipresent in efforts to demonize immigrants.”

    Trump’s acceptance speech -- which the campaign made available -- includes 282 footnotes containing the sources for the candidate’s claims, with the work of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) being cited multiple times. FAIR has been classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric as well as its “ties to white supremacist groups, and eugenicists.” CIS, which FAIR’s founder John Tanton also helped found, has been repeatedly criticized for its shoddy research work and is labeled an “anti-immigrant nativist” organization by SPLC.

    As The Daily Beast points out, “CIS and FAIR provide the intellectual and organizational firepower for the immigration restrictionist movement” and their work always appears in efforts to “demonize immigrants.” The article continued, explaining that at one point anti-immigrant groups like CIS and FAIR were “pushed to the margins of the conservative conversation on immigration” but were kept relevant “thanks in part to powerful devotees in the talk-radio world and immigration-restrictionist stalwarts like Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert.” From The Daily Beast’s July 22 report:

    Trump’s team blasted out links to Trump’s remarks, including detailed footnotes showing the sources for his factual claims. And, unsurprisingly, many of Trump’s arguments are based on data from organizations funded by radical population control environmentalist activists. For instance, he cited a report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) to undergird his argument that the federal government enables crime by not deporting more undocumented immigrants.

    FAIR was founded by John Tanton, a virulently anti-immigrant nativist who has associated with white supremacists and dabbled in eugenics. He and his allies also fear that human population growth—particularly in the First World—jeopardizes the environment. Thus, they also back pro-abortion groups. This fact has left many on the right deeply concerned about citing their research or affiliating with their leaders. But not Trump.

    Trump’s speech also cited the Center for Immigration Studies—another group Tanton founded and helps fund. His team cited three different reports from CIS to support his assertions that immigration hurts American workers and that the federal government isn’t deporting enough undocumented immigrants.

    Along with NumbersUSA, CIS and FAIR provide the intellectual and organizational firepower for the immigration restrictionist movement. Their data and scholars are omnipresent in efforts to demonize immigrants, and they were all major presences during the 2013 Gang of 8 comprehensive immigration reform debate. Tanton and his funding link the three together.

    [...]

    In the pre-Trump era, these groups found themselves pushed to the margins of the conservative conversation on immigration. They never fully lost traction—thanks in part to powerful devotees in the talk-radio world and immigration-restrictionist stalwarts like Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert—but they had trouble. For several years, CPAC declined to give them airtime.

    [...]

    In the meantime, the Republican National Committee made an explicit effort to change the party’s rhetoric on immigration.

    [...]

    That dream is dead. Instead, Trump characterized immigrants as murderous, dangerous, and barbaric.

    [...]

    In his America, migrants are would-be rapists and definite job-thieves.

    It is, in the literal sense, a story of xenophobia—a view of the world predicated on the notion that anyone from a foreign country should be feared.

  • Media Highlight Trump VP Pick Mike Pence’s “Radical Obstinacy” On Abortion

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Media figures are calling out the “bizarre” and “extreme” anti-abortion record of Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN). They called Pence “the most anti-abortion presidential or VP candidate we’ve had,” and noted that he “became a conservative hero” by virtue of his “longstanding, implacable and dogged” opposition to abortion.

  • The Daily Beast Highlights Former Fox Employees’ Allegations Of Ailes' Pattern Of Sexual Harassment

    “He’s A Disgusting Pig Who’s Been Getting Away With This Shit For 20 Years”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Daily Beast highlighted allegations from several former Fox employees who described experiences of sexual harassment by Fox News CEO Roger Ailes in light of a recent lawsuit by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson.

    On July 6, Carlson, former host of Fox News’ The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, alleging that he had retaliated against her for refusing to have “a sexual relationship with him” by “ostracizing, marginalizing, and shunning her,” and ultimately “terminating her employment.” CNN reported that 10 other women have contacted Carlson’s lawyer “because they say they also have stories to share about treatment by Roger Ailes.”

    A July 7 article in The Daily Beast reported that “several women who formerly worked at [Fox] told The Daily Beast of similar encounters with” Ailes. The five women spoke “on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by Ailes and Fox News”:

    [Gretchen Carlson’s attorney Nancy Erika] Smith, for her part, said Carlson’s lawsuit has opened the floodgates of female ex-Fox News employees who say that Ailes harassed them as well.

    [...]

    Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by Ailes and Fox News, several women who formerly worked at the network told The Daily Beast of similar encounters with the defendant.

    “One time he asked me if I was wearing underwear, and was he going to see anything ‘good,’” said a former Fox News employee, who said she has spoken with other women at the network who said they were targets of Ailes’ sexually charged remarks. “It’s happened to me and lots of other women… He’s a disgusting pig who’s been getting away with this shit for 20 years.”

    A second ex-employee, who also said Ailes verbally harassed her with inappropriate comments during one-on-one meetings, said the powerful and famously combative executive has so far escaped the consequences of his alleged behavior, because “when it comes to this issue, there’s already a conspiracy of silence. The problem is you don’t want to come forward because you don’t want to be personally and professionally destroyed. You don’t want to bring down Roger Ailes’s wrath on your head.”

    [...]

    A third former Fox News employee told The Daily Beast: “When I met Ailes he wouldn’t stop staring at my legs, and at one point he asked if I was single. I was taken aback and said yes. And he was like, ‘Oh, OK, so you’re not gonna get pregnant any time soon.’ And then he asked my age.

    “And I think he could tell I was offended by the questions. And he said, ‘I know I’m not supposed to ask this—HR keeps telling me I can’t ask that because you can sue me because it’s illegal, but I don’t care. I’m [over 70] years old, if you wanna sue me, sue me.’”

    [...]

    Still, interviews on Wednesday with former Fox News employees suggested that Ailes has presided over a corporate culture that values and even demands female pulchritude—or at least Ailes’s blonde ideal of same—over other professional qualities. According to a former staffer, executive assistant-turned-Fox News vice president of programming Suzanne Scott enforces with the wardrobe and makeup departments an aesthetic that features skimpy dresses, high-heeled open-toed shoes, and big hair for the channel’s on-air women.

    [...]

    “A lot of the stuff in her [Carlson’s] suit rings very true to me,” said this person, who worked for almost a decade at the network and, like other Fox insiders quoted in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The stuff about showing of the legs—that was not even a secret—that was open company policy.

    Meanwhile, a fifth former Fox News employee told The Daily Beast that Carlson’s allegations seem credible because Ailes runs Fox News “like his personal fiefdom” and has fostered a culture that is not only sexist but menacing, something akin to a sexual North Korea.

  • Gretchen Carlson Isn’t Alone: A History Of Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Roger Ailes And Fox News

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes -- alleging he “retaliated against” her because she would not have a “sexual relationship with him” -- is only the latest in a long line of sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits against the network’s executives and on-air personalities.

  • Nine Times Reporters Botched The Facts On Hillary Clinton's Emails

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Media outlets have had to correct numerous reports on  Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state due to flawed journalistic processes that favored anonymous sourcing and failed to prioritize accuracy. With the FBI calling for no criminal charges following its probe into the use of the server, Media Matters looks back at nine corrections from seven different publications.  

  • Widespread Agreement That House GOP Benghazi Report Has No “Smoking Gun” Against Clinton

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Following the release of the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report on the 2012 terror attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, -- which was the culmination of an investigation lasting “two years and [costing] more than $7 million,” -- journalists are pointing out that the report “failed to unearth anything so damning as to change many minds about the events of that tragic night, or who is to blame for them,” and that “there doesn't seem to be a smoking gun when it comes to Hillary Clinton's culpability.”

  • A Comprehensive Guide To Benghazi Myths And Facts

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & OLIVIA KITTEL

    After nearly four years of right-wing myths about the September 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, and as Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on the attacks release their reports, Media Matters has compiled a list of more than 50 myths and facts regarding the origin of the attack, the security surrounding the compounds, the Obama administration’s handling of the attack during and after its occurrence, attacks on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other lies and misinformation regarding the Benghazi attack.

  • South Carolina’s Anti-Choice Fetal Pain Bill Is “Turning Lies Into Law”

    Nineteen-Week Abortion Ban Contradicts “Medical Consensus” About Fetal Development

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On May 17, South Carolina’s legislature passed a bill to ban abortion after 19 weeks based on the false premise that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization. Armed with a wealth of anti-choice propaganda and right-wing media myths, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) is likely to sign the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” into law with no exceptions for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest.

    Despite the wealth of scientific evidence to the contrary, assertions about fetal pain have framed right-wing media’s coverage of abortion and supplied talking points for anti-choice politicians to push medically unnecessary laws targeting abortion access. In March,  Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) invoked the idea of fetal pain to sign a dangerous bill requiring Utah doctors to administer anesthesia during abortions performed after 20 weeks. Although South Carolina’s bill does not mandate the use of anesthesia, it is based on the same disputed premise about fetal pain.

    Samantha Allen explained in an article for the Daily Beast that by signing this bill, Gov. Haley not only would make South Carolina “the 17th state in the country to institute a 20-week abortion ban,” but she would “also be turning lies into law.” According to Allen, although the South Carolina bill states that “there is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by twenty weeks after fertilization,” the majority of credible scientific evidence undermines this fallacious claim.

    Anti-choice legislators claim in the South Carolina bill that fetal reactions to stimuli at 20 weeks post-fertilization prove that the fetuses are capable of feeling pain. In particular, they claim research shows that “a functioning cortex is not necessary to experience pain.” There is little evidence to support this claim, or other claims of fetal pain prior to 24 weeks of development.

    As Allen explained, the so-called science behind anti-choice legislators’ claims contradicts “the current medical consensus that fetal pain depends on the functioning of pathways in the brain between the thalamus and the cortex.” A 2015 article in FactCheck.org found there was no causal relationship between fetal withdrawal from stimuli and feelings of pain because any “recoil is more of a reflex” that is distinct from “the experience of pain” itself.

    In an interview with Salon, Columbia University Medical Center’s Dr. Anne Davis said these warnings about fetal pain and brain development are “created concerns” that are “based in politics,” not science. According to Davis, a fetus’s brain is not sufficiently developed to perceive pain until 24 weeks gestation. Politicians “can have an opinion about that, but it doesn’t change the information,” she told Salon. A March 2010 report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists affirmed that “research shows that the sensory structures are not developed or specialised enough to experience pain in a fetus less than 24 weeks.”

    Furthermore, Allen noted, two of the three researchers whose work is cited to support fetal pain bills “have already publicly disagreed with the way in which their findings have been used by anti-abortion advocates”:

    In 2013, Dr. Merker told The New York Times that his frequently-cited research “did not deal with pain specifically.” Even Dr. Anand, who believes that fetal pain could start earlier than the literature suggests, told the Times that he used to testify in court cases on abortion bans but that he stopped because “it’s just gotten completely out of hand.”

    In Slate, writer Nora Caplan-Bricker warned that there are compounding negative effects when 20-week bans operate in conjunction with other targeted restrictions on abortion care. She argued that South Carolina’s bill “constricts an already narrow window of opportunity” for patients to access abortion because in “states with multiple restrictions on abortion -- of which South Carolina is one -- women who decide to terminate early in pregnancy can be delayed for weeks or months as they scrape together money or contend with logistics.”

    South Carolina’s anti-choice lawmakers aren’t stopping with a ban on abortion at 19 weeks. As ABC reported, the South Carolina legislature is already hard at work on its next attack on abortion access: “a bill opponents say would essentially ban abortion past 13 weeks.”