NBC's Today show proved that smart reporting can turn even high-profile, sensationalist transgender news stories into opportunities to enlighten viewers about important issues affecting the transgender community.
During the July 24 edition of the Today show, host Matt Lauer introduced a new installment of NBC's "Undercovered" series, which aims to draw attention to stories and issues that don't typically get major media attention. Lauer noted that while the media has focused heavily on Caitlyn Jenner's public transition, "the reality for other transgender Americans, far from the spotlight, can look very different."
MSNBC's Ronan Farrow then introduced viewers to one of those transgender Americans -- a college student named Eve who is beginning hormone replacement therapy as part of her transition:
EVE: We're not all living the glamorous life. We don't all necessarily look that pretty. I imagine people find it very weird and strange when I say I'm a woman. I mean, I don't look like Caitlyn Jenner.
Eve described her struggle with harassment, suicidal thoughts, and fears that her family will reject her. She also allowed cameras to follow her to her first session of hormone treatment, giving the audience a glimpse of an aspect of transitioning that viewers of mainstream media might be unfamiliar with.
The segment is a perfect example of relevant, responsible transgender media coverage -- Today used a high-profile news story as an opportunity to shine a light on issues and stories that are typically ignored by major news networks. Rather than resort to sensationalism -- which has characterized much of the media's coverage of Caitlyn Jenner's transition so far -- NBC used Jenner's story as a shared reference point, introducing audiences to a story that more closely resembles the lived experiences of many transgender people.
The ability to move beyond fixation on high-profile transgender figures is an important part of responsible transgender coverage. As Eve explained, Jenner's experience as a trans woman -- her financial resources, easy access to health care, and "glamorous life" - is highly specific. What NBC's Today show did -- use Jenner's story as a springboard to elevate the experiences of everyday trans people -- raises the bar for smart coverage of LGBT issues.
Mainstream media consistently fail to question GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie's self-promotion as a "straight talking" "truth-teller," but he consistently lies and misrepresents his record in interviews and speeches.
NBC's Today Show suggested that Hillary Clinton's personal wealth "is a liability like Mitt Romney in 2012," ignoring the former senator's extensive history championing policies that help the middle class and attempts to address income inequality in order to compare her to Romney, who called for huge tax cuts for the rich during his last failed presidential run.
Fox News and NBC ignored Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) record of opposing gender equality legislation during interviews with the Republican presidential candidate's wife, in which Kelley Paul attempted to dismiss accusations that he looks down on women.
Kelley Paul, the wife of 2016 hopeful Rand Paul, appeared on Fox News and NBC's Today for multiple interviews April 14 to discuss her husband's presidential bid and her new book.
The hosts of Fox & Friends turned the discussion to recent accusations that Rand Paul is sexist, after the candidate infamously lectured Today's Savannah Guthrie for asking about his foreign policy positions earlier this month, a testy exchange that came on the heels of Paul shushing CNBC's Kelly Evans during an interview in February.
"You know how it works," co-host Steve Doocy told Kelley Paul. "The mainstream media's just trying to disqualify him. They see that thing, they put it all together, they say, 'oh he's a sexist, he can't be president.'"
Paul defended her husband's treatment of women, saying his "entire professional career is working with female surgeons" and noting a longtime partner in his ophthalmology practice was a woman.
Later on The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson asked Paul,"What do you make of the fact that some people are saying that your husband may not be able to connect as well with women?" Paul again cited her husband's female work partner as evidence that he has no issues with women, describing the accusations of sexism as a "false narrative -- a construct sort-of created on the Democrat side."
Meanwhile, NBC's Hoda Kotb asked Paul on Today to discuss her husband's relationship with women and respond to his previous treatment of Guthrie which sparked widespread backlash. Paul again pointed to her husband's longtime female colleague.
The examination of Paul's professional record as a means of predicting how a Paul presidency would benefit women overlooked his more recent professional activities.His legislative history contains red flags for anyone hoping to characterize him as an advocate for women -- issues that weren't raised by Kotb, Carlson, or the Fox "friends."
Paul is on record opposing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which would provide protections and resources to victims of domestic violence. He wrote a letter in 2012 arguing that the issue should be addressed at the state level, not by the federal government.
It's also noteworthy that Fox's defense of Paul came on April 14, Equal Pay Day, because the senator has voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act multiple times. As ThinkProgress noted, Paul compared the legislation "to the Soviet Politburo dictating wages and the prices of goods" and added that the wage landscape is better when "the marketplace decides what wages are."
Most of the largest newspapers in the Northeast corridor did not publish a single piece covering this winter's major snowstorms in the context of global warming, despite strong scientific evidence that climate change creates the conditions for heavier snowstorms. The major broadcast networks and cable news channels also provided scant mention of climate change in their discussions of the snowstorms, with the notable exception of MSNBC, which provided extensive coverage of the topic. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Fox News, the Boston Herald and the Providence Journal featured content that used the snowstorms to deny climate science.
From the April 8 edition of NBC's Today:
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The New York Times accused Hillary Clinton of potentially violating federal law pertaining to the preservation of e-mail records while acting as Secretary of State, but requirements to maintain such records did not exist during her tenure.
In the five years since President Obama's health care reform plan -- which became the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- was first introduced, the right-wing media has waged a continuous campaign to attack the law through misinformation, deception, and outright lies.
In the first month following the opening of healthcare exchanges -- a key component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- broadcast news programs have largely ignored the role of expanded health care in reducing economic insecurity, instead placing overwhelming focus on glitches in the Healthcare.gov website.
From the May 31 edition of NBC's Today:
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Media ignored economists in their reports leading up to the initiation of the economically damaging across-the-board spending cuts commonly known as sequestration.
If Congress fails to act by midnight, across-the-board spending cuts of up to $85 billion in 2013 alone will take effect. While sequestration is inherently an economic issue, media are ignoring the last chance to have economists weigh in on the consequences.
Media Matters reviewed news coverage leading up to the sequestration deadline, specifically the February 28 evening news broadcasts; March 1 reports from The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times; and the March 1 morning news programs on the major cable and broadcast networks. We found that economists have been almost completely shut out. Of 122 total guests and quoted figures appearing in a total of 43 articles or television segments, one lone economist was mentioned, Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner in a report from the Journal.
In response to Mitt Romney's debate claim that the Navy's fleet "is smaller now than any time since 1917," President Obama noted that military also has fewer bayonets and horses because it has modernized. Rather than discuss President Obama's accurate point about military strength, members of the media are trying to figure out how many bayonets the military actually uses.
Hosting Rep. Paul Ryan on the Today show this week, Matt Lauer asked the Republican vice presidential candidate whether he would concede that some of the statements he made in his convention speech in Tampa last week "were not completely accurate."
Specifically, Lauer pressed Ryan on his controversial assertion suggesting president Obama was responsible for the closing of a General Motors plant in Janesville, WI., when in fact GM made the plant-closing announcement in June 2008, while President Bush was still in office. (The plant halted its production of SUVs in December 2008; also while Bush was in office.)
Ryan's easily debunked attack on Obama has put the candidate on the defensive. It's also sparked a debate within the media about fact-checking and how to cover candidates who campaign while aggressively removed from the truth.
And yet despite the GM controversy, and through the endless debunking, Ryan has remained loyal to the issue, even tweeting about the plant closing this week:
Questioned by Lauer about the controversy, Ryan's told him to go "read the speech," and then mounted this defense [emphasis added]
RYAN: What I was saying is, the president ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After our plant was shut down, he said that he would lead an effort to retool plants like the Janesville plant to get people back to work. It's still idle; people are still not working there.
But that's not what Ryan said in his speech last week.
In Tampa, Ryan quoted candidate Obama speaking at the auto plant on February 13, 2008, months before it was shut down. Then on Today, Ryan told Lauer he had referenced comments Obama made "after our plant was shut down." [emphasis added]
Hammered for dishonest comments he made in his convention speech about the closing of a GM plant, Ryan went on national television this week and compounded that dishonesty by revising what he said in his convention speech.
How is the press supposed to cover a post-truth politician like that? And should they trust Ryan's assertions in the future?
From the August 2 edition of NBC's Today:
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When Matt Drudge released his report yesterday that Condoleezza Rice was the new top contender for the GOP vice presidential nomination, pretty much everyone saw it for what it was -- an attempt to distract the press from the mounting controversy over Mitt Romney's departure date from Bain Capital. It was so transparent and so improbable that even conservatives like Erick Erickson, while appreciative of the intent, were calling it "silly." But it worked: major newspapers and the network morning shows jumped on the Drudge rumor.
This morning on Today, NBC correspondent Peter Alexander reported on the "new VP speculation" and said the Romney campaign and Drudge wanted to "switch the topic," but never explained specifically why they wanted the topic switched, noting simply that Romney was "forced to defend his business experience."