The House of Representatives

Issues ››› The House of Representatives
  • Right-Wing Media Figures Want Trump To Shut Down The Government So They Can Blame Democrats

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Right-wing media figures are displeased after the likelihood of a government shutdown seemed to fade following a breakthrough after days of failed negotiations and speculation. Specifically, right-wing media figures cheered the idea of a shutdown because they wanted to make sure that “Democrats get blamed” and to exact revenge after, as they claimed, Democrats made previous shutdowns “as painful as possible.”

  • How CNN Helped Dozens Of TV Stations Mislead Viewers About An Attack On Internet Privacy

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    A misleading CNN Newsource report resulted in dozens of TV stations across the country misinforming viewers about Republican efforts to kill landmark online privacy protections. CNN sent a script to local stations that highlighted a former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) head minimizing the measure’s threat to privacy without informing viewers that he works on behalf of the telecommunications industry, which would benefit from the recently signed repeal at the expense of consumers. 

    As The Washington Post noted, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives last week voted to repeal “landmark online privacy protections … approved just last year that had sought to limit what companies could do with information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers. The rules also had required providers to strengthen safeguards for customer data against hackers and thieves.” President Donald Trump signed the measure on April 3.

    The repeal was heavily criticized by privacy rights organizations. The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the change means that “companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data, and hammer you with unwanted advertisements.”

    Following the legislation’s passage in the House of Representatives, CNN Newsource -- which offers content such as news copy to local television stations -- produced a misleading script downplaying privacy concerns about the measure. The report cited the claims of Jon Leibowitz -- identified only as a “former FTC head” -- who said that privacy protections will still be “in place” and officials can now “implement more streamlined regulations.” Here’s the entirety of that report:

    A former FTC head says the expected rollback of some internet privacy regulations is not a big deal.

    Last week, lawmakers overturned FCC rules that prevent internet service providers from selling customers' personal info without consent.

    But, former Federal Trade Commission chairman, Jon Leibowitz says other privacy protections are still in place. He also said that nixing the FCC rules will allow officials to implement more streamlined regulations.

    However, some Democratic lawmakers disagree with that, along with privacy advocates and tech community members. President Trump is expected to sign the bill overturning the privacy rules.

    That script was read in various forms across the country on over 30 stations from April 1 to April 4, according to a search. Stations used on-screen graphics such as the top image (via News 12 New Jersey) and this one on WOWT, NBC’s Omaha, NE, affiliate:

    But the CNN report that was echoed on local stations across the country did not mention that Leibowitz is currently working on behalf of the telecommunications industry. He heads the misleadingly named lobbying group 21st Century Privacy Coalition, which was created by broadband companies and, according to Leibowitz, is “comprised of the nation's leading communications companies.” The New York Times and Politico have both noted that the 21st Century Privacy Coalition is industry-backed and has led the campaign to change the FCC rule.

    The script echoes an April 1 story posted to CNNTech which summarized an appearance by Leibowitz that day on the CNN show Smerconish. That article also did not note Leibowitz’s financial conflict of interest -- an odd exclusion since Smerconish noted in the beginning of his segment that Leibowitz has “a dog in this fight. He chairs the 21st Century Privacy Coalition, a group of broadband providers that support privacy protections for consumers and opposes the FCC rule.”

    UPDATE: Following this post’s publication, CNN added text to its April 1 story noting that Leibowitz “now chairs the 21st Century Privacy Coalition, which opposes the rules. The coalition is funded by, among others, broadband providers including Verizon, Comcast and AT&T (whose planned acquisition of CNN's parent company, Time Warner, is under government review).” CNN also added a note at the bottom of the piece stating: "Correction: An earlier version of this story failed to identify Leibowitz as the chairman of the 21st Century Privacy Coalition, a group that opposes the FCC rules." 

    Numerous local news anchors read that report virtually word-for-word because of a news practice in which stations receive prepackaged news scripts and footage from syndication services. As The Washington Post noted of the practice, “Stations not only get prepackaged footage from such services, but a script that introduces the footage, as well. Stations then ‘localize’ the canned package by having one of their anchors read the one-size-fits-all copy. Viewers typically have no idea that a seemingly local story has come from a centralized source in New York, Los Angeles or, in this case, Washington.” 

    Here’s a sampling of news anchors reading that CNN Newsource script on April 3 on the following stations: KOKH: (Oklahoma City, OK: FOX), KOTA (Rapid City, SD: ABC), KTWO (Casper, WY: ABC), KXXV (Waco, TX: ABC), News 12 New Jersey, WTOC (Savannah, GA: NBC).

  • Journalists, Experts Agree Trump's Tax Reform Agenda Will Be Even Harder Than Repealing Obamacare


    After President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) failed to garner enough support to pass legislation that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Trump declared he had moved on to refocus his legislative priorities on tax reform. In light of Trump’s inability to get the Republican-led Congress to vote with him on health care changes, which had been a major campaign promise of virtually every elected GOP official, journalists and experts are beginning to question if Trump is capable of wrangling his caucus to tackle substantive conservative tax reform proposals that have been stagnant for decades.

  • Right-Wing Media Refuses To Blame Trump For GOP Health Care Defeat 

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Republicans “abruptly” withdrew their health care bill, which signaled the first legislative defeat for President Donald Trump. After the bill's failure, media figures blamed Democrats, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), and legislators instead of  Trump who adopted and pushed for the bill’s passage.

  • Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Rep. Nunes Vindicated Trump’s Wiretap Lie

    Trump Was Not Referring To “Incidental” Legal Surveillance

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Right-wing media figures are claiming that House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) statement that President Donald Trump’s transition aides were surveilled “vindicates” Trump and prove he “was right” about his unfounded claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. But Nunes’ report -- that Trump aides were caught in “incidental collection” while surveilling other targets -- was already widely suspected, and Nunes himself admitted it does not prove Trump’s false claim is correct. Multiple current and former government officials have said Trump’s claim is false.

  • Rep. King Finds Safe Haven For His White Nationalism On Jan Mickelson’s Radio Show

    Iowa Radio Host Mickelson Is Notorious For His Bigotry Against Muslims, LGBTQ Individuals, And Immigrants

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Rep. Steve King (R-IA) appeared on Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson’s show to address the outrage over his racist tweet in which he claimed that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Mickelson, who is notorious for his bigotry against Muslims and LGBTQ Americans, as well as for calling for undocumented immigrants to be enslaved, helped King defend his tweet, and the interview ended with King urging Mickelson’s listeners to read the novel The Camp of the Saints, which The Huffington Post called “breathtakingly racist.”

    On March 12, King drew fire after tweeting, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” in apparent support of a prominent anti-Muslim Dutch politician, Geert Wilders. King’s tweet was cheered on by white nationalists and neo-Nazis, who rallied around the Republican congressman, calling him a “hero” for “openly endorsing White nationalism.”

    King defended his tweet during a CNN interview with Chris Cuomo on Monday, saying, “I meant exactly what I said,” and again on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, where the host agreed with King’s tweet. King additionally appeared on Mickelson’s show for a nearly 20-minute interview in which Mickelson offered defenses of King’s tweet by quoting John Jay, the country's first chief justice of the Supreme Court, criticizing diversity. Later Mickelson said, “You were accused of being a white supremist” (sic), but “you’re not talking about race, are you, at all?” CNN’s KFile first reported on this interview by highlighting a comment King made in which he predicted that “Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other” before they outnumber white people in America.

    Despite his claim that the tweet had nothing to do with race, at the end of the interview King recommended that Mickelson’s listeners read a novel titled The Camp of the Saints. The Huffington Post reported earlier this month that Stephen Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, has spent years telling people that this novel explains the European refugee crisis. The article explained why it’s so alarming that someone in power is citing this book:

    The book is a cult favorite on the far right, yet it’s never found a wider audience. There’s a good reason for that: It’s breathtakingly racist.

    “[This book is] racist in the literal sense of the term. It uses race as the main characterization of characters,” said Cécile Alduy, professor of French at Stanford University and an expert on the contemporary French far right. “It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that wash ashore like the plague.”

    The book, she said, “reframes everything as the fight to death between races.”

    Upon the novel’s release in the United States in 1975, the influential book review magazine Kirkus Reviews pulled no punches: “The publishers are presenting The Camp of the Saints as a major event, and it probably is, in much the same sense that Mein Kampf was a major event.”

    Linda Chavez, a Republican commentator who has worked for GOP presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush but opposed Trump’s election, also reviewed the book back then. Forty years later, she hasn’t forgotten it.

    “It is really shockingly racist,” Chavez told The Huffington Post, “and to have the counselor to the president see this as one of his touchstones, I think, says volumes about his attitude.”

    Mickelson’s show is an interesting choice for King to defend himself from accusations of racism, given the radio host’s own bigoted statements. In late 2015, Mickelson repeatedly characterized Muslims in America as not culturally compatible with the country. Mickelson also called LGBTQ advocates “same-gender Nazis” and said they are part of a “gay Taliban,” agreed with ex-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that homosexuality is “ugly behavior,” and, years earlier, suggested that God invented AIDS to punish homosexuality. In August 2015, Mickelson suggested that the U.S. enslave undocumented immigrants who don’t leave America.