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  • The Media Keep Failing To Publish Accurate Headlines About Trump: An Updated List

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Before and since the election, media outlets have repeatedly failed to write headlines that adequately contextualize President-elect Donald Trump’s lies. Simply echoing his statements normalizes his behavior and can spread disinformation, particularly given the high proportion of people who read only headlines. Below is an ongoing list documenting the media’s failure to contextualize Trump’s actions in headlines and sometimes on social media. Some of the initial versions were subsequently altered (and these are marked with an asterisk), but many of the updates still failed to adequately contextualize Trump’s remarks.

  • Lindy West Leaves Twitter: “Get Back To Me When Your Website Isn’t A Roiling Rat-King Of Nazis” 

    Writer Denounces Platform’s Refusal To Protect Users From “Alt-Right” Harassment

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Writer Lindy West, who spent years cultivating a reputation for engaging with (and frequently demolishing) social media trolls, has announced she’s leaving Twitter because of the “global repercussions” of the platform’s “refusal to stop” harassment campaigns launched by the white supremacist, misogynist “alt-right” movement.

    In a January 3 opinion piece at The Guardian, West explained that she had deactivated her Twitter account after “half a decade of troubleshooting” to curb personal harassment and threats from anonymous users trolling her on the social media platform. West, who regularly engaged with her tormentors on Twitter and even confronted a user who harassed her while posing as her dead father, concluded that Twitter was “unusable for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators.”

    West explained that her decision to leave Twitter didn’t stem from simply reaching a breaking point when it came to trolls, but rather that it represented her disgust with Twitter’s “refusal” to “intervene and start protecting its users” from coordinated harassment campaigns led by members of the so-called “alt-right.” As West pointed out, “Twitter executives did nothing” for years in which the “alt-right” was “beta-testing its propaganda and intimidation machine on marginalised Twitter communities.” This harassment included the deeply racist and misogynist campaign against black actress Leslie Jones last summer, led by “alt-right” Breitbart.com editor and serial harasser Milo Yiannopoulos, and the similarly misogynist Gamergate “hate-storm” in 2014.

    Recent “alt-right” manipulation of Twitter represents a dangerous escalation of the sort of Twitter harassment, abuse, and disinformation West has fought for years. A combination of trolls (e.g., anonymous users goaded and led by the ideologically hateful “alt-right”), robots (bot and spam accounts created specifically, often by the trolls, to amplify the abuse or disinformation), and dictators (or at least leaders with authoritarian tendencies) are using the platform to rile users with fake news stories and general misinformation, confirming and encouraging harmful views that justify the abuse of others. It’s created an ecosystem that’s “feeding into the worst instincts of humanity,” and Twitter’s inaction has amounted to a stamp of approval that West said she can longer accept.

    From West’s January 3 op-ed (emphasis added):

    I hate to disappoint anyone, but the breaking point for me wasn’t the trolls themselves (if I have learned anything from the dark side of Twitter, it is how to feel nothing when a frog calls you a cunt) – it was the global repercussions of Twitter’s refusal to stop them. The white supremacist, anti-feminist, isolationist, transphobic “alt-right” movement has been beta-testing its propaganda and intimidation machine on marginalised Twitter communities for years now – how much hate speech will bystanders ignore? When will Twitter intervene and start protecting its users? – and discovered, to its leering delight, that the limit did not exist. No one cared. Twitter abuse was a grand-scale normalisation project, disseminating libel and disinformation, muddying long-held cultural givens such as “racism is bad” and “sexual assault is bad” and “lying is bad” and “authoritarianism is bad”, and ultimately greasing the wheels for Donald Trump’s ascendance to the US presidency. Twitter executives did nothing.

    On 29 December, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted: “What’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017?” One user responded: “Comprehensive plan for getting rid of the Nazis.”

    “We’ve been working on our policies and controls,” Dorsey replied. “What’s the next most critical thing?” Oh, what’s our second-highest priority after Nazis? I’d say No 2 is also Nazis. And No 3. In fact, you can just go ahead and slide “Nazis” into the top 100 spots. Get back to me when your website isn’t a roiling rat-king of Nazis. Nazis are bad, you see?

    Trump uses his Twitter account to set hate mobs on private citizens, attempt to silence journalists who write unfavourably about him, lie to the American people and bulldoze complex diplomatic relationships with other world powers. I quit Twitter because it feels unconscionable to be a part of it – to generate revenue for it, participate in its profoundly broken culture and lend my name to its legitimacy.

  • Twitter Restores Accounts Of White Supremacists

    "Alt-Right" Leader Richard Spencer Resumes Tweeting From Verified Account

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Some Twitter accounts belonging to white supremacists that were suspended earlier this year have been reinstated and have since gone back to sending out bigoted tweets. Some of the accounts have also been verified again by Twitter.

    The Washington Post reported on November 16 that Twitter accounts of prominent so-called “alt-right” white supremacists were suspended following the July barring of Breitbart.com editor Milo Yiannopoulos from Twitter for his harassment campaign against actress Leslie Jones. Included among the suspended accounts, reported the Post, “was the verified account of Richard Spencer,” who the paper previously described “as a leader of the alt-right and ‘one of the most media-savvy thinkers in the movement.’” Twitter had also suspended the accounts of the National Policy Institute, which the Post described as “an alt-right white nationalist think tank of which Spencer is the president,” and that of the Radix Journal, “a magazine run by Spencer.” Other white supremacists accounts such as “Paul Town, Pax Dickinson, Ricky Vaughn and John Rivers also had their accounts suspended.”

    Spencer’s account was reactivated on December 10. BuzzFeed News reported that Spencer had run afoul of Twitter’s policy against “creating multiple accounts with overlapping use,” and after Spencer selected one account to reactivate, it was turned back on. His account has also been verified. BuzzFeed also noted that Spencer was already “back to form” on Twitter:

    Twitter’s hateful conduct policy supposedly does not allow “promot[ing] violence against or directly attack[ing] or threaten[ing] other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.”

    In addition to Spencer, Paul Town’s Twitter account has also been reinstated, but he has blocked tweets from public view. Ricky Vaughn, who has spoken of his support for creating all-white communities and the shunning of interracial marriages “to maintain our unique culture and racial heritage,” has been actively tweeting again for weeks. Most of his tweets have simply been in support of President-elect Donald Trump, but his account includes several retweets that push fear of Muslim refugees and immigrants, or are supportive of Trump’s lie that thousands of American Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey.

    The accounts for the National Policy Institute, Radix Journal, Yiannopoulos, and Dickinson remain suspended.

    Update:

    As noted by Twitter user Liam Hogan, Twitter has also verified Matthew Heimbach, who the Southern Poverty Law Center described as "the face of a new generation of white nationalists."

  • Why Is The Daily Caller Using Images Of Black People With Obama Poster In Story About Food Stamps?

    Tweet Could Encourage "More Hostile Views Toward Government Programs To Assist Black People"

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    The Daily Caller included racial imagery in a story and accompanying link to a post entitled “Republicans Hint At Food Stamp Reform But Stop Short Of Calling For Overhaul” featuring an image of two black people holding “replicas of food stamps” in front of a Shepard Fairey-style poster of President Obama. 

    TV One’s Roland Martin took on the racially offensive tweet, noting they tweeted a food stamp story and show “two Black people & Obama poster. I see y’all @TuckerCarlson!”

    The Daily Caller has routinely used racially charged headlines such as “White man overruns indigenous peoples with superior technology,” which was later changed, and “Barack Obama, Wife Beater," used in a gallery of images of the President where a sleeveless shirt was visible underneath his shirt and tie.

    Vox’s Dylan Matthews reported on the problematic use of racially charged imagery in stories about government programs by highlighting a book by Princeton professor Tali Mendelberg which found images associating black people with poverty led study participants to “express significantly more hostile views toward government programs to assist black people,” and specifically that “the effect on their expressed racial views was stronger than the effect on their expressed opinions on welfare.”

    The Daily Caller is owned by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who was previously also the site’s Editor-in-Chief, a role he resigned in order to begin hosting Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News. Since the show’s debut three weeks ago Carlson has already used his prime-time platform to defend the racist past of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-AL) by attacking the “totally discredited” NAACP, claim that “the American Nazi Party and the KKK don't really exist in a meaningful [way],” and allow a guest to proclaim that “there is very little evidence of classic racism anymore.” Carlson has recently come under fire after lecturing The New York Times about tweets from Times reporters he deemed crossed the line while ignoring the hateful rhetoric coming from his own news outlet. 

  • Trump Admitted He Tweets To Avoid Reporters -- Media Shouldn’t Let Him Get Away With It

    Blog ››› ››› CAT DUFFY & KATIE SULLIVAN

    On NBC’s Today, President-elect Donald Trump admitted he uses Twitter to bypass reporters, claiming it allows him to get his messages out “much more honestly.” Trump’s Twitter account is riddled with false claims, vague statements, and fake news stories, but media outlets have nevertheless treated it as a source of credible information, allowing his tweets to drive the news cycle.

    During an interview on NBC’s morning show, Today, host Matt Lauer asked Trump about his continued use of Twitter after the election, despite his promise to “be much more restrained as the president.” Trump conceded that he uses Twitter as a mechanism for bypassing the press, claiming it’s a “modern-day form of communication” that allows him to communicate his messages to the public “much faster” and “much more honestly than dealing with dishonest reporters, because so many reporters are dishonest.”

    Trump has successfully used his Twitter account to inject favorable stories into the media, such as announcing a deal he made with Carrier Corp. to keep 700 jobs from moving to Mexico. But the Carrier deal included giving $7 million in tax breaks to the private company and doesn’t prevent 1,300 other Carrier jobs from offshoring, which Trump did not discuss in his Twitter announcement. By tweeting the deal, Trump avoided follow-up questions from reporters and was not forced to address the details of the deal or how it was made -- but he did successfully drive the news cycle. CNN ran an on-screen graphic that read “Trump delivers on vow to save Carrier jobs” for part of the day.

    Similarly, Trump proposed canceling a deal with Boeing to build a new Air Force One plane for future presidents, claiming that “costs are out of control.” Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler broke down the tweet, noting that “Trump is not a stickler for accuracy, but there are number of inaccuracies in his tweet.” Trump has also tweeted fake news stories, including that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” That claim was based on an evidence-free claim from a Twitter user that was picked up by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

    Trump has sought to turn his Twitter feed into one of only a few sources of information for the media on him and his transition. His war on the press began during his campaign and has continued into his transition to the presidency. He has not held a press conference since July (he announced a news conference scheduled for December 15, but has not said whether he will take questions from reporters); has continued to harangue the media at campaign-style rallies during his “victory tour”; and has on more than one occasion ditched his protective pool, which is supposed to follow him in order to, among other functions, be on the scene to report in case of major events. At the same time, he and his team have repeatedly refused to answer questions about his and his family’s questionable international business dealings and interactions with foreign leaders, forcing the American press to rely on foreign media for details surrounding Trump’s meetings and calls with foreign leaders.

    He recently responded to criticism of his antagonistic attitude toward the media on Twitter, claiming that “if the press would cover me accurately [and] honorably, I would have far less reason to ‘tweet.’” But some media experts have suggested Trump’s attacks on the media are not actually driven by a desire to spread honest information, but rather are a concerted effort to discredit the media in order to “inoculate” himself from reporting that could be damaging. On CNN’s Reliable Sources, former Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief John Huey argued that Trump used “demagogic techniques” that “smack of authoritarianism” during the campaign because “the media poses a real threat to him”:

    JOHN HUEY: Well, I've seen a continuation of what he's been doing since the very beginning. And the last time I spoke to you, I was stressing the concept of a demagogue and the classic techniques of a demagogue. And one of those is, you have to have a scapegoat, you have to create the idea that someone out there is the enemy. And he started out with Mexicans, he moved on to Muslims, and sometime in the middle of the summer, he really started to focus on the media. And you were one of the first people to pick up on that, and also the election rigging. The media was part of the election rigging. So, these are demagogic techniques, and you can look at them very seriously because they do smack of authoritarianism.

    […]

    One other point, quickly, the reason he has settled on the media over the Mexicans and the Muslims is, the media poses a real threat to him. The media are the people who investigate his charitable giving. They're the ones who look at what we can learn about his tax returns. They're the people who cover the fraud trial of Trump University. So it's very much in his interest to discredit the messenger for those messages.

    Trump’s admission that he uses Twitter to bypass reporters and the media should indicate to the press that they cannot simply report on his tweets without providing proper context or fact-checking. The current compulsion to do so often results in the wholesale repetition of his claims, even when they are inaccurate. 

  • While Journalists Report Trump Was Booed At His Polling Place, Fox Claims Crowds Were "Cheering Him On"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News reported that crowds at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s polling place were “cheering him on” as he went to vote, even though multiple reporters from other outlets noted that he was booed.

    As Trump exited his motorcade, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum reported that “you can hear crowds cheering him on as he goes in to vote.” From the November 8 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom

    MARTHA MACCALLUM (CO-HOST):  There he is, waving to the crowd. But he has been a committed campaigner throughout the course of this journey. You hear the crowds cheering him on as he goes in to vote, extraordinary moment for Donald Trump. Melania, his wife, by his side.

    Despite MacCallum’s account, several journalists on Twitter reported that Trump was booed, not cheered, at his polling place:

     

  • The Bigotry Of Howie Carr, Donald Trump’s Friend And Town Hall Host

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Boston area right-wing talk radio host and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr -- one of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters in media -- will moderate a town hall event in New Hampshire with Trump. Carr has extensively used his media platforms to promote Trump’s campaign and frequently deploys discriminatory rhetoric against racial and religious minorities as well as women to support Trump’s divisive campaign.

  • Cable Networks Were "Played Like A Fiddle" By Donald Trump’s “20-Second” Birther Statement

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    A slew of media critics and commentators shamed cable news networks for being “played” into providing free live coverage of a campaign event for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. After Trump teased a “major announcement,” cable news networks provided wall-to-wall coverage in anticipation that Trump would address criticism over his role in pushing conspiracy theories that President Obama was not born in the U.S. Trump’s mere seconds-long statement “came only after a lengthy campaign event featuring military officers and award winners who have endorsed him,” turning it into “a de facto commercial for the GOP candidate.”

  • Media Figures Praise Optics Of Trump’s Mexico Visit, Ignoring Trump Campaign’s Bigotry Toward Mexicans

    ››› ››› NINA MAST & CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Media figures across the political spectrum praised Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s joint press conference in Mexico with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, which Trump’s aides reportedly said was specifically designed as a “photo opportunity” to make Trump appear “presidential.” Numerous figures accordingly praised Trump as “presidential.” Regardless of optics, Trump has a long history of anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican rhetoric and xenophobia.

  • A Comprehensive Guide To The Right-Wing Media Conspiracy Theorists That Have Influenced Trump’s Campaign

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump counts among his allies a stable of fringe right-wing conspiracy theorists who’ve made a name for themselves advancing conspiracy theories that include the myth that President Obama is a secret Kenyan Muslim, Lyndon Johnson assassinated John F. Kennedy, and the CIA is paying Beyonce to create mayhem. Trump’s conspiracy theorist allies also regularly wish violence upon political and media figures who they disagree with.

    Warning: This post contains graphic language and sexual content.

  • Conservative Media Lash Out At John Boehner For Calling Ted Cruz “Lucifer In The Flesh”

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media condemned former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) for referring to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) as “Lucifer in the flesh” and the most "miserable son of a bitch” he has ever worked with.

    Former House Speaker John Boehner Calls Ted Cruz “Lucifer In The Flesh”

    NY TimesBoehner Described Ted Cruz As Lucifer In The Flesh, The Most "Miserable Son Of A Bitch” He Ever Worked With. The New York Times reported on April 28 that Boehner “described Senator Ted Cruz as ‘Lucifer in the flesh’ … and said that he would not vote for” Cruz if he became the Republican presidential nominee:

    Former House Speaker John A. Boehner described Senator Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh” during a forum at Stanford University on Wednesday and said that he would not vote for the Texas Republican if he is the party’s presidential nominee.

    [...]

    Mr. Boehner’s harshest assessment was saved for Mr. Cruz, who he has not forgiven for spearheading the 2013 government shutdown.

    “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends,” Mr. Boehner told David Kennedy, an emeritus history professor, at the event. “I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” [The New York Times4/28/16]

    Conservative Media Lash Out At Boehner, Call His Comments A “Witless Cheap Shot”

    National Review Editors: Boehner’s Comments Are “A Witless Cheap Shot” And “Petty Grudge-Holding. National Review’s editorial board wrote on April 28 that Boehner’s characterization of Cruz was a “witless cheap shot.” The editors said the comments were “petty grudge-holding” and speculated that these “knee-jerk responses … though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals”:

    We get it. John Boehner doesn’t like Ted Cruz. In a witless cheap shot, Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh” at an event at Stanford University. Boehner’s attitude is widespread among Republican insiders who are foolishly allowing personal ill will to cloud their reasoned judgment about who, among the candidates left in the GOP race, is the best representative of conservative principles and policies, and about who would be the best candidate in the upcoming general election.

    [...]

    [P]rominent conservatives who might not be counted among Cruz’s friends — Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush come to mind — have urged the party to rally around Cruz as the only reliable conservative left in the race.

    They’re right to do so, and not to give in to the petty grudge-holding of John Boehner. In 2013, when Cruz was engineering his ill-fated government shutdown, his Republican critics, including us, warned against interpreting tactical disagreements as evidence of disagreements about objectives. We encouraged conservatives not to indulge in knee-jerk responses that, though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals. That argument works in both directions. Whatever his personal feelings, Boehner agrees with Cruz on most questions of principle and policy, and it’s a shame he can’t act accordingly. [National Review4/28/16]

    Sean Hannity: “John Boehner, Shut Up … You Failed The Republican Party.” On the April 28 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity told Boehner to “shut up,” calling his performance as speaker “weak, timid, feckless, visionless.” Hannity asserted that Boehner “failed the Republican Party,” concluding, “We don’t need lectures from you”:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST):  All right, I’ve got to tell you something. I can't say this strongly enough. John Boehner, shut up. You know what? You gave us $4 trillion in debt. You were weak, timid, feckless, visionless. And I’ve got to be honest, you want to know why Cruz and Trump are doing so well? Look in the mirror, because you are afraid of your own shadow that you might get blamed for a government shutdown, so you wouldn't defund Obamacare, you wouldn’t use the power of the purse, you wouldn’t defund executive amnesty, which was -- which Republicans ran on in 2014. You failed the Republican Party. We don't need lectures from you against presidential candidates that are resonating with the American people, thank you very much. [Fox News, Hannity4/28/16]

    Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter: Boehner “Today Just Demonstrated His Utter Contempt For” The People On The Right. During the April 28 edition of NRA News’ Cam & Company, conservative Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter said Boehner’s remarks “proved” that he was “a giant waste of air.” Schlichter concluded, “The people on the right are angry … at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them”:

    CAM EDWARDS (HOST): How about that? “Lucifer in the flesh.” So, I saw that description today, and for whatever reason, Kurt, the phrase “Goldwater’s baby” came to mind --

    KURT SCHLICHTER: Its eyes! Its eyes! What did you do to its eyes!

    EDWARDS: I want somebody to use that as an insult this year, I just want to hear somebody call someone else “Goldwater’s baby.”

    SCHLICHTER: Oh my gosh. You know, with Boehner, sometimes it's like, you know, we all knew it, and then it happens. This guy literally says he would vote for Hillary Clinton before one of the nominees by the other Republicans. This was our speaker. We were all saying you know, this guy is a giant waste of air, and then he comes out and just completely proves it.

    [...]

    SCHLICHTER: The people on the right are angry. They’re angry at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them. And they always knew it, and there were people saying, "No, no, no, he really doesn’t feel that way." And well I said, “You know, I kind of think he does.” And now he’s kind of proved it. I think people are justifiably angry. They’re not going to -- to quote Roger Daltrey, "won't be fooled again!" [NRA News, Cam & Company4/28/16]

    Fox’s Laura Ingraham: “I Don’t Like That Comment By John Boehner. At All.” On the April 29 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group’s The Laura Ingraham Show, host Laura Ingraham decried Boehner’s comments as “not helpful.” Ingraham called Boehner and “establishment” Republicans “devils,” saying, “I have the idea it’s devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different”:

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): This John Boehner comment about Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh"? Not helpful. I said yesterday when I saw that this had been said that, I mean, John Boehner should just button it. It's not helpful. Now, you see, I have the idea it's devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different. I think that's very deceiving, as the devil is deceiving. Ted Cruz actually said he was going to run on some basic principles, and for the most part it seems like Ted Cruz actually, you know, tried to fulfill his Senate duties with those principles in mind. Now that's “Lucifer in the flesh”? What? It seems like the revolt against the establishment is making it pretty clear who people think the devils are. The devils are the people who say they’re going to oppose Obama only to fund his entire budget. The devils are the people who say they’re pro-life only to fund Planned Parenthood. The devils are the people who spend most of the good part of an entire year pushing Obama's Trade Promotion Authority. The devils are the people who say they’re going to get rid of Obamacare only to allow Obamacare to be funded. Those are the devils. The devils are the people who call the people the loud people, or make fun of them and say “it’s too hard,” like John Boehner did. So I don't like that comment by John Boehner. At All. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show4/29/16]

    Conservative Radio Host Hugh Hewitt: “Despicable Is My Term For [Boehner’s] Attack On [Cruz].

    [Twitter, 4/29/16]

    Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell: “Boehner Doesn’t Have The Guts To Apologize. He Is A World-Class Coward.”

    [Twitter, 4/29/16]

    The Blaze’s Dana Loesch: “John Boehner Gets Along With Every Beltway Elitist -- But Not The Average American. This Is Why He’s Out To Pasture.”

    [Twitter, 4/28/16]