The Washington Post

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  • TV Weathercasters: We Have A "Responsibility" To Educate Our Viewers About Climate Change

    In New Video, Formerly “Skeptical” Meteorologists Describe How They Came To Recognize The Truth About Global Warming

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
  • A NY Times Article Highlighted Trump’s Campaign Struggles, So He Responded By Threatening The Free Press

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump threatened to revoke The New York Times’ press credentials after the Times suggested “his approach seems to be sputtering” and that the campaign's "effort to save Mr. Trump from himself has plainly failed.” Trump’s threat, which came after the candidate said the Times “is going to hell,” is only the latest of Trump’s now-routine attacks on the media.

    An August 13 rally in Fairfield, CT, -- during which Trump also leveled disparaging remarks at CNN -- was described by ABC’s John Santucci as a “bash the media event for Trump.” Trump’s tirade against the media was reportedly triggered by a New York Times piece that highlighted the Trump campaign’s “failing mission to tame Donald Trump’s tongue.” In the August 13 article, the Times reported on efforts by Trump’s advisers to make him “stick to a teleprompter and end his freestyle digressions and insults, like his repeated attacks on a Hispanic federal judge.” According to the Times, “nearly two months later, the effort … plainly failed,” and his advisers reportedly secured his agreement to “get on track” again, just hours before his “explosive comment about ‘Second Amendment people’ taking action” if he loses:

    Joined by his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, a cluster of Mr. Trump’s confidants pleaded with him to make that day — June 20 — a turning point.

    He would have to stick to a teleprompter and end his freestyle digressions and insults, like his repeated attacks on a Hispanic federal judge.

    [...]

    Mr. Trump bowed to his team’s entreaties, according to four people with detailed knowledge of the meeting, who described it on the condition of anonymity. It was time, he agreed, to get on track.

    Nearly two months later, the effort to save Mr. Trump from himself has plainly failed. He has repeatedly signaled to his advisers and allies his willingness to change and adapt, but has grown only more volatile and prone to provocation since then, clashing with a Gold Star family, making comments that have been seen as inciting violence and linking his political opponents to terrorism.

    [...]

    Mr. Trump’s advisers believe he is nearly out of time to right his campaign. On Tuesday, hours before his explosive comment about “Second Amendment people” taking action if Mrs. Clinton is elected, his brain trust reassembled again at Trump Tower in a reprise of their stern meeting in June.

    [...]

    Mr. Trump, people briefed on the meeting said, digested the advice and responded receptively.

    It was time, he agreed, to get on track.

    Trump continued his anti-media tirade at the CT rally with a series of tweets on August 14, doubling down on his attacks against the Times, denying that he told advisers that he would change, and claiming the “disgusting and corrupt media” doesn’t cover him honestly. He also justified his threats against a free press by claiming, “It is not ‘freedom of the press’ when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false”:

    If Trump goes through with revoking the Times’ credentials, the paper would join The Washington Post and many other outlets he has blacklisted from covering his events. Trump’s “war against the First Amendment” includes plans to “open up our libel laws” and threats of using governmental power to retaliate against media outlets -- something that the Post’s executive editor Marty Baron said in May reminded him of “Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.”

    Trump’s rhetoric against the media and his practice of singling out journalists by by name to attack them personally and publicly has already had dangerous consequences: MSNBC’s Katy Tur had to be escorted to her car by the Secret Service after Trump supporters verbally harassed her at a rally in December. Many other journalists assigned to cover the Trump campaign say they’ve been targeted and verbally attacked during the nominee’s rallies where his supporters have followed Trump’s lead, telling them they “hate” them and called them “liars” and "traitor[s]."

  • Fox, Right-Wing Media Run With Conspiracy Linking Clinton To Murdered DNC Staffer

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News has followed others in right-wing media in suggesting that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich may have been murdered because he had helped WikiLeaks gain access to the DNC’s email servers. These conspiracy theories were floated after WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information on Rich’s murder, and after Trump ally Roger Stone suggested Rich was murdered for talking to the FBI about election fraud.

  • Trump Blames Clinton For Execution Of Iranian Scientist After The Right-Wing Lie Was Debunked

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Echoing a myth peddled by right-wing media, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed that there was a link between the execution of Shahram Amiri, a nuclear scientist in Iran, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which contained a couple emails that appear to discuss Amiri’s case. But there is no evidence either that Clinton’s server was hacked, which would have been necessary for Iran to see the emails, or that the email discussion of Amiri had any connection to his eventual death.

  • Myths & Facts: $400 Million Payment To Iran

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media are distorting a new report in The Wall Street Journal detailing a payment of $400 million from the United States government to the Iranian government to resolve an arms sale dispute dating to 1981. Conservative outlets are suggesting the payment “was definitely ransom” paid for American prisoners held in Iran, claiming “the administration did not reveal this to the public,” suggesting that Hillary Clinton was wrong to say the report is “old news,” and that airlifting cash to make the payment was essentially “money laundering.” But past reporting and explanations from the administration reveal “no concrete evidence that the cash payment was, in fact, a ransom,” that many of the details of the payments were made public in January, Clinton correctly noted the payment has been public for “seven or eight months,” and making the payment in cash was the only way to legally do it due to economic sanctions against Iran.

  • Trump Invokes Right-Wing Media's Voter Fraud Myth To Support Voter ID Laws

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Echoing a right-wing media myth, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed recent court rulings striking down voter restrictions would cause the presidential election to be “rigged” because voter ID laws prevent people committing in-person voter fraud by not allowing them to keep “voting and voting and voting." In reality, in-person voter fraud is extremely rare and voter ID laws disproportionately harm minority voters.

  • Wash. Post Debunks Trump’s Conspiracy Theory About The "Artificial" Employment Rate

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Matt O’Brien countered Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's "conspiracy theory" that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has "massaged" the unemployment statistics, explaining that there is "zero evidence [the BLS] has changed the numbers" and that “anyone who suggests otherwise is either uninformed, or trying to uninform others.”

    Right-wing media boasts a long history of pushing the claim that the BLS artificially manipulates employment statistics in a partisan effort to portray the Obama administration as having a positive impact on the economy. Most recently, these efforts have been spearheaded by Trump, who, with the help of his family, has attempted to downplay economic progress and hype the debunked claim that 42 percent of Americans are unemployed.

    The Post explained that, while Trump hasn’t revealed the source of his unemployment statistic, “the simplest explanation is that he's just ballparking how many adults don't work” -- a figure that, right now, is 40.4 percent. But that number is problematic because it “counts college students and stay-at-home parents and retirees as being equally ‘unemployed’ as people who are actively looking for work but can't find any.” From the July 26 article (emphasis original):

    For a year now, the alleged billionaire has insisted that the "real" unemployment rate is something like 42 percent instead of the 4.9 percent it actually is. He hasn't said how he's gotten this — maybe it's from the same "extremely credible source" who told him President Obama's birth certificate was fake? — but the simplest explanation is that he's just ballparking how many adults don't work. That's 40.4 percent right now. The problem with using that number, though, is that it counts college students and stay-at-home parents and retirees as being equally "unemployed" as people who are actively looking for work but can't find any. So it doesn't tell us too much, at least not on its own, unless you think it's a problem that we have more 70-year-olds than we used to.

    Or unless conspiracy theories are one of your favorite accessories, as seems to be the case with the father, and now the son, Donald Trump Jr. On Sunday, he told CNN's Jake Tapper that the official unemployment numbers are "artificial" ones that are "massaged to make the existing economy look good" and "this administration look good." How do they supposedly do this? By, he claimed, defining "the way we actually measure unemployment" to be that "after x number of months, if someone can't find a job, congratulations, they're miraculously off [the jobless rolls]." The only problem with this theory is it's false. The BLS hasn't changed the way it measures unemployment during the Obama years, and there is zero evidence it has changed the numbers themselves. Not only that, but Donald Trump Jr. doesn't even seem to know how unemployment is defined in the first place. As the BLS explains, everyone who doesn't have a job but is trying to find one counts as "unemployed." It doesn't matter how long you've been looking as long as you are in fact still looking.

    But that's not to say the unemployment rate tells us everything we need to know about the labor market. It doesn't. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will tell you that herself. There are still a lot of people who want full-time but can only find part-time jobs. Still a lot of people who want to work but weren't able to find anything for so long that they've given up looking for now. And still a lot of people who would want to work again if wages were high enough to make worth their while. But none of this is a secret. The BLS publishes this all, too. So-called broad unemployment includes all these people who technically aren't unemployed but aren't fully employed either. That's 9.6 percent today.

  • Wash. Post Editorial Board Excoriates Trump’s “Ignorance” And “Contempt For The Constitution”

    Post Editorial Board: “A Trump Presidency Would Be Dangerous For The Nation And The World”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an editorial titled “Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy,” The Washington Post’s editorial board excoriated the Republican nominee, warning “his contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.”

    Following Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention in which he accepted the Republican nomination for president, media called out Trump’s “campaign of fear,” with some saying the Republican Party “died” as a result of Trump’s nomination.

    After Trump’s acceptance speech, The Washington Post’s editorial board flatly stated that they “cannot salute the Republican nominee” because of Trump’s “contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends.” The Post’s editorial board added that Trump “doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power” and that electing “Mr. Trump would be to knowingly subject [the United States’ democratic system] to threat.” From the July 22 editorial:

    Donald J. Trump, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.

    Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.

    [...]

    Given his ignorance, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three. Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions should be punished . Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are “stupid,” but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.

    [...]

    Most alarming is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends. He doesn’t know what is in the nation’s founding document. When asked by a member of Congress about Article I, which enumerates congressional powers, the candidate responded, “I am going to abide by the Constitution whether it’s number 1, number 2, number 12, number 9.” The charter has seven articles.

    Worse, he doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those who criticize him will suffer when he is president. He has vowed to torture suspected terrorists and bomb their innocent relatives, no matter the illegality of either act. He has vowed to constrict the independent press. He went after a judge whose rulings angered him, exacerbating his contempt for the independence of the judiciary by insisting that the judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump has encouraged and celebrated violence at his rallies. The U.S. democratic system is strong and has proved resilient when it has been tested before. We have faith in it. But to elect Mr. Trump would be to knowingly subject it to threat.

  • Wash. Post Editorial Board Castigates Pence For His “Hypocritical Decision” To Join Trump’s Ticket

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post editorial board lambasted Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a “hypocrite” for calling himself a “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” yet agreeing to become the running mate of Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, “an uncharitable man who habitually insults minorities, religions and vulnerable people.”

    Many conservative media figures characterized Trump’s choice of Pence as “a nothingburger” and hold reservations about Pence’s abilities to explain away Trump’s controversies. According to Indiana jouranlists, Pence has had a “divisive” tenure as governor thanks in part to his efforts to limit reproductive rights in his home state and his support for a controversial “religious freedom” bill that could have given businesses license to discriminate against LGBT people.

    In a July 15 editorial, the Post wrote that Pence’s “policy record suggests he will indeed appeal to right-wing voters” that Trump has been courting, noting that the Hoosier has “waged war against Planned Parenthood while in Congress” and is a “staunch opponent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.” The paper concluded by calling Pence a “hypocrite” because he “has called himself ‘a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.’ But he has agreed to run on a ticket with an uncharitable man who habitually insults minorities, religions and vulnerable people, who wants to economically isolate the United States and who regularly displays his ignorance of the Constitution and policy”:

    Mr. Pence’s policy record suggests he will indeed appeal to right-wing voters — but perhaps not many others. He waged war against Planned Parenthood while in Congress, saying in 2011 that he was willing to shut down the government in order to defund the organization. A staunch opponent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, he favored a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman. He pressed for a constitutional amendment that would cap federal spending at 20 percent of the economy, which would badly hamstring the government as baby boomers begin drawing retirement benefits. He also voted for and defended free-trade deals of the sort Mr. Trump has incorrectly blamed for hollowing out the economy.

    Mr. Pence ran for governor as a fiscal rather than a social conservative, and he began his term by signing a large tax cut into law, which has made finding money for road construction a challenge. He has shown some practicality, taking federal money to expand Medicaid in his state under Obamacare as other GOP governors held out in irrational protest. His defining decision in Indianapolis, however, was signing into law a “religious freedom” bill that encouraged discrimination against LGBT people. He subsequently scaled the law back after a national uproar. Though this unnecessary foray into social issues hobbled him politically, he followed it up with a bill restricting abortions in Indiana. And while he condemned Mr. Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, he also tried to suspend the settlement of Syrian refugees in his state.

    Mr. Pence appears to be executing his biggest mistake, by far, right now. He has called himself “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” But he has agreed to run on a ticket with an uncharitable man who habitually insults minorities, religions and vulnerable people, who wants to economically isolate the United States and who regularly displays his ignorance of the Constitution and policy. As he campaigns with Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence will have to add “hypocrite” to his list of labels.

  • Wash. Post Editorial Board: Republicans Are Damaging Rule Of Law By Attacking FBI Director Comey

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post criticized Republicans' "disheartening" attacks on FBI Director James Comey following his announcement that he would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, arguing that Republicans, not Comey, are doing "damage ... to the rule of law" by "cast[ing] baseless aspersions on U.S. law enforcement in the service of their partisan goals."

    As the Post explained in its editorial, “Republican leaders had practically promised supporters that Ms. Clinton would be indicted” as a result of the FBI investigation into her private email server. Instead, Comey “explained that the facts of the case did not conform to the fevered partisan fantasies that have developed around them — did not, in other words, merit prosecution. So GOP leaders decided to attack the fact-finder.” Republican lawmakers have announced they will question Comey on Capitol Hill about the results of the FBI investigation.

    From the July 7 Washington Post editorial:

    If Republicans believe the FBI director is corrupt and political, they should have the gumption to say so. Instead, many have insulted James B. Comey with slimy implications and underhanded threats since Tuesday, when he announced that he would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton relating to her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

    [...]

    Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) issued a veiled threat to Mr. Comey: “If it wants to avoid giving the impression that the FBI was pulling punches,” he said, “the agency must now be more transparent than ever in releasing information gathered during its investigation,” presumably so that he and other Republicans can transfigure new details into fresh “proof” of criminality. Not to be outdone, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) will haul Mr. Comey before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for a grilling Thursday.

    Several other Republicans, meanwhile, called for a new investigation and an independent counsel. As with Benghazi, their motto seems to be: Keep investigating until we get the outcome we want.

    “It appears damage is being done to the rule of law,” Mr. Ryan said. He’s right, but the FBI director isn’t doing the damage. The wreckers are those who cast baseless aspersions on U.S. law enforcement in the service of their partisan goals.