Media are saying GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump's victory in the New Hampshire primary is a result of his "appeal to large masses of Republican voters," noting that, despite the GOP vowing "just four years ago to be more inclusive," Trump's victory shows "how far the Party of Reagan has drifted from its moorings."
Media are calling Marco Rubio "robotic," and criticizing his "disastrous Republican debate gaffe" after the presidential hopeful "awkwardly pivoted four times to a well-rehearsed line," in an exchange with Gov. Chris Christie at the final Republican debate before New Hampshire voters cast ballots in the first primary of the election season.
Media criticized Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's reaction to President Obama's address at the Islamic Society of Baltimore for "contort[ing]" Obama's speech while being steeped in "seemingly Islamophobic" rhetoric that left open "the possibility for dog whistling."
Officials from the Koch brothers' funding arm have announced a new "venture philanthropy" project called Stand Together, with aims of "strengthening the fabric of American society," and focusing on "poverty" and "educational quality," according to USA Today. Media should know that: previous Koch-backed poverty and education efforts have been coupled with ideological proselytizing, Stand Together's executive director is a Koch veteran and former Republican congressional candidate who repeatedly fearmongered about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the group's top collaborator is associated with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan's sham "anti-poverty" efforts.
Since Iowa based radio host Steve Deace endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in August, national media outlets have continued to rely on him as an election analyst, often without disclosure of his endorsement. Television outlets like CNN and MSNBC as well as major newspapers including the Washington Post allowed him to promote Cruz's brand and attack his opponents while providing analysis ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
In endorsing Cruz in August Deace claimed that the senator was exactly "what we have been waiting for," signaling to Deace's supporters that Deace's own brand of anti-gay views and extreme rhetoric best matched Cruz's platform. However, Deace's support for Cruz was clear long before his endorsement. In March, The Des Moines Register reported that "Deace has served as an informal, unpaid consultant" to Cruz. After his endorsement, Deace advised Cruz and appeared in promotional videos for Cruz's campaign.
Yet interviews with Deace in mainstream media would overlook his attacks on the LGBT community such as his use of phrases like "rainbow jihad" to describe their advocates, Deace's support of the deceptively edited Planned Parenthood videos, or his likening of ESPN to Nazis. Media gave Deace a pass and solely focused on his position in Iowa as a "conservative hitmaker - and hitman," and a "gatekeeper."
Beyond ignoring his rhetoric, media allowed Deace to promote Cruz for months, often without disclosure of his support of Cruz. While Deace was providing analysis on the Iowa race to national media audiences he was busy consistently promoting Cruz on his radio show and across conservative blogs and outlets including The Washington Times and Conservative Review. By April 2015 it was clear that Deace was backing Cruz; however the media failed to disclose Deace's ties to the candidate during interviews with him.
The Washington Post quoted Deace as he attacked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in an April 24 article on the senator's immigration plan which Deace said was "one of the worst squanderings of political capital I've ever witnessed." The Post again quoted Deace as he attacked Donald Trump on August 13 as the host dismissed Trump's pull with evangelical voters, saying, "Everyone was paying attention, especially those who are fed up with the Republican Party, but he didn't sell them."
Though they disclosed his endorsement of Cruz, the Los Angeles Times allowed Deace to attack Carly Fiorina on September 25 by quoting Deace saying "You don't have to dig very far if you're a conservative to see some things that are troubling ... She needs to show these are not campaign conservative conversions."
USA Today disclosed Deace's endorsement but still gave Deace a post-debate analysis column that provided him free reign to attack Cruz's opponents while claiming the senator was a top performer in each analysis. After the August debate in Cleveland, Deace wrote, this time without disclosure of his Cruz endorsement, that "Jeb is Dead," "Rand Paul is on life support," and Carly Fiorina was just the "flavor of the month." In the most recent debate which many felt Cruz lost, Deace stated that "nobody really laid a glove on him."
Outlets like CNN and MSNBC also provided Deace with a television platform that allowed him to attack Cruz's opponents. In a January 26 interview, Deace was assisted in his effort when he was asked if it was "fair to pull something Trump said 17 years ago" for use in an attack ad. Deace wasted no time going after Cruz's opponent, saying Trump's comments on abortion were fair game today.
Deace has also managed to appeal to multiple audiences in different ways. For example, Deace has restrained his extreme views in order to deliver his message of support for the senator to a wider audience, such as refering to Secretary Clinton as "Killary" in his blogs and on his radio show, but reverting to "Hillary" when on national TV. Deace's code switching -- suppressing his far-right views for the camera and changing his language -- allows him to continue to be palatable for national broadcasts while providing conservative red meat to his Iowa audience.
Cruz's victory in Iowa may mean that Deace could play a larger role as surrogate for the candidate. Media outlets should note his long history of extreme rhetoric and should be wary of presenting Deace as an election analyst.
Newspaper editorial boards are urging support for President Obama's executive actions to curb gun violence, calling them "an important step," and "the beginning of sensible reform."
A Media Matters analysis found that four of the ten largest-circulation newspapers in the country published op-eds, editorials, or columns that denied climate science while criticizing the international climate change negotiations in Paris, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Post, and The Orange County Register. Altogether, 17 percent of the 52 opinion pieces that the ten largest newspapers published about the Paris conference included some form of climate science denial, and many of them repeated other myths about the climate negotiations as well.
The USA Today editorial board likened GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)'s "dogmatic, confrontational and hyperpartisan" rhetoric and tactics to those of Donald Trump, writing "only in comparison with Trump does Cruz look like an attractive alternative." The board further wrote that "if Trump represents a train wreck for the GOP, a Cruz candidacy carries the potential for a multicar pileup."
Cruz has recently seen increased support in GOP primary state and national polls, while "adeptly tapping into GOP primary voters who want an anti-establishment candidate and smaller government." Cruz, who "has cleverly positioned himself to capitalize should Trump's shameless candidacy falter," has mirrored Trump's harsh rhetoric, calling for a Christian litmus test for Syrian refugees and equating President Obama's defense of Islam to defense of terrorism.
On December 14, the USA Today editorial board excoriated Cruz for embodying "the compromise-is-a-dirty-word attitude that has left Washington gridlocked." The board wrote that "Donald Trump is a problem for the GOP, but Cruz might not be the solution" because he would "start his presidency with animosity from many of the lawmakers, from both parties, whose help he'd need to get things done on Capitol Hill." The board also spotlighted that Cruz's approach to foreign policy "ignores a number of practical realities" and his 2013 government shutdown stunt was "a doomed-from-the-start effort":
Donald Trump is a problem for the GOP, but Cruz might not be the solution.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is the latest Republican presidential candidate to generate that priceless commodity in politics: buzz. Three recent polls show him leading in Iowa and most show him running second nationally to Donald Trump. Cruz has raised nearly $65 million, the second most in the GOP race. He is adeptly tapping into GOP primary voters who want an anti-establishment candidate and smaller government. And he has cleverly positioned himself to capitalize should Trump's shameless candidacy falter.
Even so, as the Republican hopefuls gather for their party's fifth and final debate of 2015 on Tuesday night, only in comparison with Trump does Cruz look like an attractive alternative. If Trump represents a train wreck for the GOP, a Cruz candidacy carries the potential for a multicar pileup.
Cruz, a skilled debater and Ivy League-educated lawyer, lacks some of the basic attributes needed to win a national election and govern effectively. Like Barack Obama in 2008, he is a first-term senator who has never run anything bigger than his own office. Dogmatic, confrontational and hyperpartisan, Cruz embodies the compromise-is-a-dirty-word attitude that has left Washington gridlocked on so many of the important problems facing the nation.
He was a key architect of the 2013 government shutdown, a doomed-from-the-start effort to force the repeal of Obamacare. That episode earned Cruz plaudits from the Tea Party movement -- and the enmity of many of his Republican colleagues, who saw a shutdown as a bad idea and his behavior as abrasive. This fall, Cruz pushed for another shutdown, this one to demand the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
On numerous occasions, he has advocated allowing the U.S. Treasury to default if the Democrats don't accede to his positions. If nothing else, he would start his presidency with animosity from many of the lawmakers, from both parties, whose help he'd need to get things done on Capitol Hill.
Cruz is also wont to promote facile and unrealistic ideas on foreign policy. He would, for example, carpet bomb the Islamic State terrorist group "into oblivion." To that end, he recently told an Iowa audience: "I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out."
This approach ignores a number of practical realities. In cities where ISIL has entrenched itself with the population, civilian casualties would be horrendous. The number of refugees fleeing to the West would greatly increase. And aerial bombardment's success, in the absence of a coordinated ground campaign, has been mixed at best.
Cruz's political argument is that Republicans can win a general election only by nominating a real conservative like himself who could turn out evangelicals and other staunch conservatives in record numbers, unlike the more moderate GOP nominees who have lost recent presidential elections.
In reality, though, his hard-line positions on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage would just as likely energize voters on the left while giving centrists an excuse to vote Democratic or stay home, particularly in battleground states where swing voters prefer uniters to dividers.
By virtue of his rising poll numbers, Cruz will be standing at Tuesday's debate next to Trump, who has dominated the headlines with his odious call for barring all non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States. Cruz says he disagrees with Trump's approach but still calls the billionaire "terrific."
Cruz obviously does not want to antagonize Trump's supporters, some of whom might be shopping around for someone else. There comes a time, however, when even ambitious politicians should be expected to say and do what is right, not what's merely expedient.
Global leaders convened in Paris for the United Nations climate summit, where they reached a historic international agreement to act on climate change. Conservative media continue to respond with a series of climate-related myths, but here are the facts.
Media outlets roundly urged Congressional leaders to pass gun safety legislation in the wake of the deadly San Bernardino mass shooting -- including stronger gun violence prevention laws on military-style weapons, background checks, and rolling back concealed-carry laws -- and chastised politicians for their complicity in the "crisis in American society" where "gun carnage ... has come to define America."
In recent months, media investigations have revealed that Exxon Mobil peddled climate science denial for years after its scientists recognized that burning fossil fuels causes global warming, prompting New York's Attorney General to issue a subpoena to Exxon and all three Democratic presidential candidates to call for a federal probe of the company. But despite these developments, the nightly news programs of all three major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- have failed to air a single segment addressing the evidence that Exxon knowingly deceived its shareholders and the public about climate change.
The USA Today editorial board denounced Republican candidates' "reckless" tax plans and "iffy economics" that would cost trillions of dollars, "wreck budgets," and reverse the current trend of a shrinking deficit.
The tax plans proposed by many of the Republican presidential candidates have been scrutinized for the negative effects they would have on the national debt and overall economic growth. Although some media outlets have mischaracterized Republican tax proposals as "populist," they in fact disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans.
In a November 11 editorial, USA Today's editorial board lambasted the GOP tax plans and highlighted the disconnect between the idea of Republicans as "the party of fiscal responsibility" and the reality that some of their tax plans would reduce the federal revenue by trillions of dollars. The editorial explained how "[s]tudies and real-world experiments" reveal that the tax-cuts Republicans champion "don't reliably spur growth, but they surely wreck budgets." Moreover, the board noted that Republican "proposals would reverse" the trend of a falling federal deficit under President Obama. From the editorial:
If Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility, as opposed to those big-spending Democrats, you wouldn't know it from the GOP candidates' reckless tax-cut proposals. Donald Trump's plan would reduce federal revenue by a staggering $10 trillion over 10 years, Marco Rubio's by $2.4 trillion and Jeb Bush's by $1.6 trillion, according to analyses by the non-partisan Tax Foundation.
One of the scariest moments in Tuesday's GOP presidential debate came when Ted Cruz suggested his proposal was more responsible because it would cost only about three-quarters of a trillion dollars over 10 years.
Even worse, these numbers depend on the economic growth the candidates claim their plans will create. Studies and real-world experiments show that big tax cuts don't reliably spur growth, but they surely wreck budgets.
Candidates always claim they'll offset revenue losses with spending cuts, yet that promise rarely gets fully detailed, much less fulfilled.
Ironically, the candidates are proposing these plans when the federal deficit is falling, a trend their proposals would reverse.
The USA Today editorial board debunked the conservative "Ferguson Effect" myth, arguing that it is "way too early, and probably wrong" to blame scrutiny of police for a rise in violence in some cities, noting it "shouldn't be done without firm data to back it up."
Right-wing media have latched onto the "Ferguson effect" myth that supposed increases in crime rates are linked to increased scrutiny of police following episodes of police brutality, despite the fact that it has been debunked by experts and media outlets as baseless.
The USA Today editorial board condemned the spurious link between police critics and rising crime in an November 2 editorial, writing it "is way too early, and probably wrong" to make such a connection. The board continued that "without firm data to back it up" it is "unwarranted" to make this assumption, noting that the data "do[es] not support [the] claim now":
[N]ow that preliminary data show an increase in violent crime in certain large cities this year, one man says he already knows why. FBI Director James Comey says the spike is at least in part the result of what is being called the "Ferguson effect" -- the increased scrutiny of officers in the wake of several highly publicized police brutality cases, including the shooting of an unarmed man in Ferguson, Mo., last year. This scrutiny, Comey says, is causing police to be more cautious and criminals to be more emboldened.
It is possible, of course, that Comey is on to something and will be proved right over time. Surely, no officer wants to be the next YouTube sensation. But given the history of crime theories, confidence in a gut-sense explanation is unwarranted. Blaming the crime rise on police criticism is provocative and shouldn't be done without firm data to back it up.
The data, as Comey readily admits, do not support his claim now, and they may never. The increase might be short-lived, like the one of 2005-06. It might be the result of some other factors, such as persistent economic woes, or a recent drop in the prison population, or the spread of synthetic drugs. The one thing we do know is that the data are very uneven. Some cities report substantial increases in crime and some do not. Some report increases in certain types of violent crime but not others.
The move to blame criticism of police for rising crime has a familiar ring to it. In the late 1960s, segregationists argued that an increase in race riots and other urban crimes was the result of the civil rights movement, which was calling for policing reforms.
USA Today botched a poll graphic about the top descriptions "likely Democratic primary voters" used about current and potential Democratic presidential candidates, which purportedly included "Liar/Dishonest," "Unfavorable/Dislike," and "Idiot/Joke." The paper misread its own poll: those top descriptions included Republican respondents, and Democrats infrequently responded with those terms.