Media dragged their feet in acknowledging Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's victory in the Iowa caucus, calling the race "still too close to call" and smearing Clinton as a liar, despite the fact that the Iowa Democratic Party's caucus results show Clinton has an insurmountable lead over Bernie Sanders.
Media outlets fell for Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's Iowa caucus strategy by calling the presidential hopeful "the unofficial winner" in Iowa and declaring his third place finish a victory for his campaign.
Former Meet the Press host David Gregory argued on CNN that Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio could "bring conservatives around, potentially, on immigration," failing to note that Rubio has changed his stance on immigration, walking back his previous support for comprehensive reform while gradually adopting extreme conservative positions.
On January 27, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz announced the formation of his new anti-choice coalition: "Pro-Life For Cruz." As part of the announcement, Cruz named anti-choice extremist Troy Newman as a "national co-chair" of the group, despite Newman's problematic history of harassing abortion providers and endorsing violent rhetoric about them.
Reporting for The Nation on January 28, George Zornick detailed why Cruz's "doubling down on his connection with Newman" was as problematic as Newman's own appalling history of anti-choice activism. According to Zornick, Cruz praised Newman for having "led the charge for the pro-life cause" and being a "true inspiration." Yet Newman has a well-established history of harassing abortion providers and spouting violence-endorsing rhetoric against them.
As the president of the anti-choice organization Operation Rescue, Newman argued that "the murder of abortion doctors is legally permissible" and he openly harassed clinic employees. In his radical book Their Blood Cries Out, Newman suggested that 9/11, AIDS, and even California's historic drought were all punishments from God for allowing legal abortion. Newman's views are so extreme that, as The New York Times reported in 2015, Australia cancelled Newman's visa over "concerns that he might encourage violence against abortion providers or women seeking the procedures."
Most recently, Newman served as a board member of The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the organization responsible for propagating a smear campaign so fraudulent that the organization earned the title of Media Matters' Misinformer of the Year for 2015. Last week, the president of CMP, David Daleiden, and one of his co-conspirators were indicted by a grand jury in Harris County, Texas for their involvement in this attack on Planned Parenthood. Troy Newman is no longer on the board of CMP -- as The New York Times reported, he "resigned from the center's board when Mr. Daleiden was indicted."
As The Nation's Zornick noted, Cruz also praised Tony Perkins, the leader of known hate group Family Research Council for agreeing to lead the "Pro-Life For Cruz" coalition. From The Nation:
With the Iowa caucuses only days away, Senator Ted Cruz has announced the formation of a "Pro-Lifers for Cruz" coalition that aims to "champion every child, born and unborn."
Among the national co-chairs of that coalition is Troy Newman, one of the more malevolent figures in the anti-choice movement. He is the president of the radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, and a board member at the Center for Medical Progress, which just saw two employees indicted in Houston for deceptions conducted while creating the now-infamous "baby parts" videos that targeted Planned Parenthood.
Newman has often suggested that the murder of abortion doctors is legally permissible, and his group has been connected to several notorious anti-choice acts of violence over the past 20 years.
It would be virtually impossible not to be aware of this fact--it defines Newman's career--yet Cruz said in a statement Wednesday that "Every single national co-chair in this coalition has led the charge for the pro-life cause and is a true inspiration." Newman formally endorsed Cruz back in November, which created a small stir-up in the press, and Cruz is now doubling down on his connection with Newman.
Pro-choice advocates quickly noticed Cruz's bear hug of Newman. "Given that this announcement came out after [David Daleiden's] indictment, I'm pretty shocked that he included him," said Sasha Bruce, NARAL's vice president of campaigns and strategies. "It's not enough that he made his endorsement at a presidential level of somebody who advocates violence, he has now been indicted."
Media outlets including The New York Times and CNN have helped to temper the expectations of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's chances in Iowa by buying into his campaign's messaging that a third place finish in the Iowa caucuses would be a victory for Rubio.
Author Gail Sheehy cited "50 conversations" she has had "with Democratic women of boomer age" to ask "Why Don't Boomer Women Like Hillary Clinton?" in a New York Times op-ed (that original headline was subsequently changed to "The Women Who Should Love Hillary Clinton"). But according to polling data, an overwhelming percentage of boomer women do support Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
After opening her essay with an anecdote about being confronted by "feminist boomers" who support Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination during a cruise organized by the progressive magazine The Nation, Sheehy reported:
Mrs. Clinton, 68, has always counted on women of her generation as her rock-solid base. Polls don't quantify doubts, but anecdotally, enthusiasm for her is anemic. Ambivalence is seeping in about her authenticity and the power of her symbolism as a woman. Once again, she has been caught coasting on inevitability by a grass-roots idealist with a universal health care plan. And there's a sense that those cracks in the ceiling, from 2008, were historic enough.
Over the past several months, I have had some 50 conversations with Democratic women of boomer age.
Sheehy went on to cite a variety of rationales provided by the women she contacted for why they did not support Clinton ("not authentic; can't trust her; she lies; she's establishment; she's a hawk").
Absent from Sheehy's narrative was polling data to support her claims about Clinton's support among boomer women. In fact, polling data shows that Clinton has dominant support from that demographic. According to an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, Clinton outpolls Sanders among women over age 65 by a 63 percent to 26 percent margin and among women 45 to 64 by a 63 percent to 25 percent margin.
Indeed, just six weeks ago the Times reported that "college-educated women in their 50s and 60s" are Clinton's "most avid supporters," citing interviews with Clinton supporters -- apparently different ones than those contacted by Sheehy.
Prominent media figures are cheering Megyn Kelly's performance as a moderator in the January 28 Fox News Republican presidential debate as "brilliant," while lauding her for asking "the toughest questions" and"throwing fastballs." Such praise ignores the conservative myth-filled questions Kelly has a history of asking guests on her show the rest of the year when she's not in the presidential debate spotlight.
You can watch the Beltway media's narrative shift before your eyes, as reporters get bored with the story they've been telling and move on to something counterintuitive and new. Journalists want to tell stories, not just report facts, and the stories they choose to tell based on cherry-picked examples are often bad for progressives.
Old conventional wisdom: Bill Clinton is the greatest politician of his generation, with a unique ability to inspire audiences in his speeches.
New conventional wisdom: Bill Clinton is old, tired, and should hang it up.
Patrick Healy kicked off the change with a 1,400-word January 28 New York Times trend piece that cited a Clinton speech Healy attended in Iowa the previous night, a speech his colleague attended in Las Vegas last week, and the opinions of a handful of observers as evidence that "the old magic seems to be missing." (Other journalists who saw those same speeches came away with dramatically different interpretations of Clinton's performance; Healy wrote a similar piece last March.)
Now Mark Halperin, a key bellwether for Beltway insider journalists, has picked up the narrative. During today's edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, he called Healy's story "pretty accurate." Halperin said that he had seen Clinton at an event yesterday and that while the former president's "best moments are great," he was "not his best," with "a little bit of a rambling quality to his presentation." "I thought he was better in New Hampshire when I saw him last week," Halperin added.
Indeed. After that January 20 speech in New Hampshire, Halperin said on Morning Joe that Clinton had been "as good as I've seen him in years in driving a message." He also issued a stream of tweets describing the event as a "#ClintonClassic."
Just before the speech he attended yesterday, Halperin was calling Clinton "The Master."
Somehow, one speech and one Times article later, the narrative has shifted dramatically.
For the second time in 10 months, New York Times reporter Patrick Healy has issued a breathless piece describing former President Bill Clinton as old and out of touch on the stump. This one is based largely on Clinton's purported performance in two speeches, only one of which Healy actually attended.
After observing Clinton on the campaign trail, Healy has decided that "the old magic seems missing." That might be news to the rest of the press corps, who have been highlighting the "forceful" speeches he has given in "classic Clinton fashion."
Healy builds an entire 1,400-word January 28 trend piece about Clinton's "subdued" style and the former president's supposed inability to rally his audience around a speech Healy attended in Iowa the previous night, a speech his colleague attended in Las Vegas last week, and the opinions of a handful of observers. The reporter concludes that "the Clinton of lore, the once-in-a generation political natural who fought back to win his party's nomination in 1992 and came through in clutch moments with great speeches over the years, has yet to appear."
But other reporters covering the same events appear to have come away with a dramatically different view of Clinton's presence on campaign trail.
Healy claims that during a January 21 speech in Las Vegas, Clinton "looked smaller and his voice seemed weaker than in past campaigns" and left his audience "seeming more politely attentive than inspired." (Healy was in Iowa at the time of that speech; according to the piece, his colleague Adam Nagourney "contributed reporting from Las Vegas.") But other reporters covering that speech described him as "composed," rallying a crowd of "cheering supporters." Journalists have also described the Iowa event Healy referenced as one in which Clinton "made a forceful pitch" then "lingered on the rope line" to meet supporters.
Healy previously authored a similar Times piece from March 2015 that described Clinton's "frail frame" that "looks older than his 68 years" and buttresses GOP claims that "the Clintons are America's baby boomer past." That piece had to be corrected; it had claimed that Clinton was "chauffeured," when Clinton is actually driven by a United States Secret Service agent.
Student loan debt in America has reached a staggering $1.3 trillion, surpassing even credit card debt. But right-wing media figures have criticized efforts to combat student loan debt by pushing misinformation and blaming students for pursuing higher education.
Conservative media have labeled higher education as a "privilege" and suggested students ought to choose fictional cheaper colleges. Some outlets have even defended schools that take advantage of students and leave them with significant debt. But research shows college matters now more than ever, and the cost to attend is rising across the board. The student debt crisis is especially damaging for poor students and students of color, who more frequently attend cheaper open-access and community colleges and are still forced to borrow in higher numbers to pay for their education.
Blaming students for the student loan debt crisis ignores the facts and distracts from finding real solutions to America's skyrocketing student debt burden.
Major newspaper editorial boards urged politicians to abandon efforts to defund and slander Planned Parenthood after a grand jury indicted two members of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-choice group that released smear videos against the women's health organization.
From the January 21 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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Right-wing media figures are lashing out over Sarah Palin's endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. They say the endorsement amounts to "nothing but opportunism and ego," and that it abandons Palin's conservative Tea Party ideology because Trump is "neither a committed conservative nor an anti-establishment rogue."
The New York Times highlighted an effort by National Review's editor to persuade other "conservative thinkers" to speak out against Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump.
A January 21 New York Times article revealed that National Review editor Rich Lowry was persuading "conservative thinkers" such as "Erick Erickson, William Kristol and Yuval Levin" to "lend their names to the manifesto against Mr. Trump." The Times article continued, explaining how Lowry has urged conservatives to "write essays buttressing the argument that Mr. Trump has no commitment to restraining the role of government and possesses authoritarian impulses antithetical to conservative principles." Further, the article highlighted that Republicans "can live with Mr. Cruz" despite "believing that his nomination would leave the party divided, but manageably so" unlike Trump who "poses the most serious peril to the conservative movement since the 1950s-era John Birch Society":
The Republicans who dominate the right-leaning magazines, journals and political groups can live with Mr. Cruz, believing that his nomination would leave the party divided, but manageably so, extending a longstanding intramural debate over pragmatism versus purity that has been waged since the days of Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. They say Mr. Trump, on the other hand, poses the most serious peril to the conservative movement since the 1950s-era John Birch Society.
Rich Lowry, editor of National Review -- embracing the role of his predecessor, William F. Buckley, who in the 1950s confronted the Birch Society members -- has reached out to conservative thinkers to lend their names to the manifesto against Mr. Trump. He has drawn some of the country's leading conservatives, including Erick Erickson, William Kristol and Yuval Levin, to write essays buttressing the argument that Mr. Trump has no commitment to restraining the role of government and possesses authoritarian impulses antithetical to conservative principles.
Lowry's effort to stop Trump comes as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been gaining heavy support from right-wing talk radio, which acts as his best line of defense during Trump-hailed attacks. In turn, Cruz parrots smears and talking points originating from far-right media figures, while showering them with praise.