A Michigan mayor who was asked by a CNN anchor whether she is "afraid" to govern "a majority Muslim-American city" told Media Matters she was caught "completely by surprise" by the line of questioning.
Karen Majewski, mayor of Hamtramck, Michigan, appeared November 23 on CNN Newsroom and was asked by anchor Carol Costello, "You govern a majority Muslim-American city. Are you afraid?" Majewski responded by explaining that she is "not afraid," and clarifying that she does not think the city is actually majority Muslim population-wise, though it did recently elect a majority-Muslim city council.
"I was very surprised," Majewski said of Costello's questioning during a Monday interview with Media Matters. "What I had expected and what people usually ask me about is the diversity of this city and the changing demographics and something about the way that reflects changing American demographics in general. So the focus on terrorism and fear caught me completely by surprise."
"We just never think about it in those terms and we don't think of our Muslim neighbors in those terms," she added. "There may be tensions, but they're not tensions over something like terrorism."
Majewski, who has served as mayor since 2006 and runs a vintage clothing shop in town, said CNN producers did not tell her beforehand about the terrorism-focused line of questioning.
"No, they didn't," she said. "I just assumed it was about the election and the kind of change from a Polish-dominated city to a city where the demographic is changing."
"I didn't ask and they didn't tell me that there was a kind of national security person who was going to be the co-interviewee," she added. "If I had known that it might have clued me to what kind of angle they were going to take." (The other person on the panel was Buck Sexton, a conservative radio host for Glenn Beck's The Blaze and CNN political commentator.)
Majewski speculated that the interview focus might have been prompted by a November 21 Washington Post article that she contends misstated that the city's population was now Muslim-majority, not just the city council, and raised unfounded terrorism fears.
"I think the misinterpretation came from the headline of The Washington Post article," Majewski said. "The article itself seemed truncated and cut off at the knees and the headline was completely misleading."
Asked if CNN or Costello had reached out to apologize or discuss the interview, Majewski said, "I imagine she might be getting some flack. I wouldn't expect any kind of apology. I just thought it was an odd line of questioning."
CNN's interview of Majewski:
Emily Miller, the chief investigative reporter for Washington, D.C.'s Fox 5 (WTTG), sparked unnecessary concerns about danger in the Washington, D.C. area on November 18 when she publicized an internal police document about the Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) seeking information on four men who appear to be Middle Eastern engaged in "suspicious activity" on D.C.'s rapid transit system.
But according to the Metro Transit Police, the "routine" document was not intended to be released to the public, and by the time Miller tweeted it to her 50,000 followers, the alert had already been resolved. MTPD says Miller did not contact the department before releasing the information.
Miller tweeted out a "BOLO" (Be On The Lookout) notice on Twitter the night of November 18 about four people sought for questioning since Sunday:
This is scary: Be On The Lookout alert for these men on DC metro at Pentagon. Note it was a warm on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/hkgTuhBgKx-- Emily Miller (@EmilyMiller) November 19, 2015
Miller's tweet quickly gained attention, garnering more than one thousand retweets and articles on Glenn Beck's news site, The Blaze, conspiracy website InfoWars, the website of conservative blogger Jim Hoft, and the Daily Mail. Several Twitter users responded to the image by raising fears about an Islamist terror attack in D.C. and making derogatory comments about Syrian refugees.
After her initial tweet, Miller responded to someone asking where the alert came from by saying the document is "an internal metro #BOLO that I got from a source who thinks it should be public."
But by the time she had distributed the internal BOLO, the four individuals had been reached by police, interviewed, and found not to be a danger to anyone, a spokesman for the Metro Transit Police told Media Matters.
"What was not reported out when it went out on the Internet last night was that those individuals had met with law enforcement yesterday, they were fully cooperative and the Bolo had been cancelled," said Dan Stessel, chief spokesman for Washington's Metro Transit Police. "They were identified by Metro Transit Police, they met with Metro Transit Police and our federal partners, again full cooperation with police just running that information to ground as we do every day and the Bolo again was cancelled."
Stressel added that the notice "was never intended to be released publicly. There are times when we do, whenever it is warranted we will not hesitate to do so. But in this case there was a report that these individuals may have acted suspiciously while in the area of the Pentagon and police checked it out."
Responding to Miller's tweet last night, MTPD tweeted that it could not confirm the authenticity of the document, because it "does not comment on non-public material." Following widespread attention given to Miller's tweet, MTPD followed up the morning of November 19 by explaining, "The 4 men in internal MTPD bolo were ID'd & contacted by us yest evening. All checked out, fully cooperative, no nexus to criminal activity." (Miller promoted the MTPD statement with a tweet.)
"We'll leave it to others to opine on the appropriateness of the release of this internal material," Stessel said. "What I can say is these individuals had done nothing criminal, there were no warrants issued, were not wanted, and the material was not intended for public release. We were not contacted prior to the information being posted to the Internet."
Asked what he would have told Miller if she had reached out for comment or to confirm the information, Stessel said, "We would have likely declined comment, but we would have taken the opportunity to advise the reporter that it was routine, the kind of material that is shared internally with law enforcement every day and that doesn't necessarily mean there is anything of concern for the public and caution any reporter that the individuals here are not suspected of any criminal activity."
He stressed that many internal alerts are issued to police on areas of concern, many of which turn out to be nothing and that is why they are not given public airing.
"That's routine," he said. "It's the kind of Bolo that is shared within law enforcement every day. It was not shared publicly because it was not a crime, no warrant and no overt reason for public concern."
Veteran media observers and political journalists are criticizing the Republican Party's recent pullout of an upcoming NBC primary debate and its push to dictate terms of the event, with one journalist calling it an effort to "bully the press."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced last week that the party had withdrawn from the NBC debate set for February 26, 2016. He said the debate would still occur, but not on the network, adding it was in response to the recent CNBC debate that was allegedly "conducted in bad faith."
In recent days, some Republican presidential campaigns have begun circulating a letter of demands to the television networks for future debates, which include control over the "parity and integrity" of questions, graphics, and time allowed for opening and closing statements. Donald Trump is reportedly planning to negotiate on his own with network executives.
For media critics and veteran political reporters, such a move by the GOP is unacceptable and will lead to debates that are not true journalism or helpful to voters.
"It's not a way to run a debate," said Ken Auletta, media writer for The New Yorker. "It's a way to present a candidate's talking points. A debate is meant to draw out what the candidates think about a range of issues, including where they differ. That's what journalists are meant to do. And while the questions and mock-superior tone of debate reporters is lamentably worthy of criticism, unworthy is the effort by candidates to intimidate journalists to lob softball questions or to ask, as some candidates have, if the reporters have ever voted in a Republican primary."
Marvin Kalb, former host of Meet the Press and a panelist for the 1984 general election debate between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale, agreed.
"It's political bravado," he said. "If the RNC wants to commit suicide they are free to do so. They need the networks, but they want them on their terms. The networks have the opportunity to stand tall on principle and stick to what they do best."
Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University and a former CNN White House correspondent, called such party demands "completely unreasonable."
"The negotiations should be done in such a way that citizens are put first, not candidates and not networks," he said.
He also said the RNC making such moves to retaliate for CNBC's debate is unfair: "It's wrong what the RNC is doing, it's responding to the pressure it's under from its base. They know NBC and MSNBC are independent from CNBC. If we want to be grown up about this we'll recognize that having 10 candidates at a time and a partisan audience further complicate the challenge to having a coherent rational conversation or debate."
David Zurawik, TV critic at The Baltimore Sun, said the debates have become such a ratings grab for networks that the revenue may make it hard for them to say no to candidate demands.
"This is a big deal, we are at a crucial point right now and maybe it's because Donald Trump is part of the mix and the audiences are exponentially larger and these debates are making so much money for these cable channels," he said. "Money changes everything. They are going to demand all kinds of stuff and if they get their way we will have nothing but campaign ads up at these podiums. Who are these debates supposed to serve? They are supposed to serve the public and I don't think they are if they go down this road."
Tim McGuire, a journalism chair at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, said the RNC's actions are bully tactics.
"Certainly the GOP is trying to bully the press but that's been going on since there were pols and reporters. The issue of approved questions is quite another matter," he said. "If candidates insist on approving questions, the press should not cover the debates -- at all."
Ed Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, mirrored that view: "Obviously, it's a tremendous affront to the notion that the media are there to be independent arbiters and asking the questions that the people would ask, they are representatives of the voters."
He said if the candidates can dictate terms, "it loses all pretense of being a discussion that is determined by disinterested questions asked by knowledgeable moderators. It loses all of the spontaneity and all of the qualities of what is supposed to be illuminated. It's gone."
For Tom Fiedler, dean of the College of Communication at Boston University and former political editor at The Miami Herald, such actions will turn it into a "party showcase."
"If the GOP chooses the format and the moderators, this event will cease to be a 'debate,'" he said, later adding, "in that case, the networks should treat such a program in the same way that they treat infomercials -- as sponsored programming suitable only for broadcast in the dead of night."
Climate activists are calling on National Geographic to hire a public editor to keep tabs on its editorial approach following the magazine's purchase by a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Murdoch has repeatedly made scientifically inaccurate comments about climate change, and recently lamented "alarmist nonsense" on the issue.
The National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox announced last month an expansion of their current partnership to include National Geographic's cable channels, its flagship magazine, and other digital and social media.
As National Geographic explained, "Under the $725-million deal, Fox, which currently holds a majority stake in National Geographic's cable channels, will own 73 percent of the new media company, called National Geographic Partners. The National Geographic Society will own 27 percent."
"We will now have the scale and reach to fulfill our mission long into the future," National Geographic Society CEO Gary E. Knell said at the time. "The Society's work will be the engine that feeds our content creation efforts, enabling us to share that work with even larger audiences and achieve more impact. It's a virtuous cycle."
In an interview with Media Matters shortly after the announcement of the deal, National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg said she was "not concerned" about News Corp.'s history and its ties to Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets that routinely promote misinformation on climate change. "21st Century Fox is an enormously large creative global company that has lots of different properties operating underneath that umbrella," Goldberg said at the time. Goldberg also stressed that James Murdoch -- not his father Rupert -- is the head of 21st Century Fox. (The younger Murdoch was installed as CEO of 21st Century Fox in July, while Rupert is now executive co-chairman of 21st Century with his other son, Lachlan.)
While both National Geographic and 21st Century Fox have pledged that National Geographic will maintain its editorial independence, at least three climate advocacy groups are urging National Geographic to hire a public editor to keep watch over its editorial product and ensure it remains a science-based news outlet, especially on the issue of climate change.
Online petitions from Climate Truth, Common Cause, and SumOfUs have drawn thousands of signatures urging National Geographic to bring in an independent observer to keep watch. The petitions were launched online shortly after the deal with 21st Century Fox was announced in September.
"[Rupert] Murdoch has a troubling history of editorial meddling, and there's no measures in place to assure his denial of climate science won't taint National Geographic's historically excellent coverage," the Climate Truth petition, which has gathered more than 25,000 signatures, states.
Brant Olson, Campaign Director for Climate Truth, said a public editor would help get concerns from readers to the editors.
"There is pretty widespread concern in the press and among our members after the announcement of the deal that one of the world's most well-respected brands of science is coming under control of a man who has not been shy about saying he doesn't believe in climate change," Olson said. "Elsewhere, when we have had concerns about coverage of climate change, we have engaged their public editor."
Olson cited two issues that were recently addressed at other media outlets when public editors and ombudsmen were contacted: The New York Times' misuse of the phrase "climate skeptics"; and PBS member stations having oil billionaire David Koch on their boards.
"Having a public editor offers a forum for readers and others to discuss matters of editorial oversight and interference," Olson added. "And why not do that at National Geographic? Historically, National Geographic has been fantastic and we hope that will continue in the future."
The magazine's recent climate change issue, which was released online earlier this month, seems to take a fair approach, with stories on reducing carbon emissions, dangerous rising sea levels, and promoting wind and solar energy.
But not everyone is willing to take for granted that the climate change issue or the magazine's past climate coverage is a sign of things to come under Fox.
Common Cause Digital Campaign Organizer Jack Mumby said his group launched its petition for a public editor to help readers keep informed fairly.
"We believe that voters need a media ecosystem where scientific truth is accurately represented," he said. "We rely on a media that gives voters the information they need to cast their ballots. We want to make sure National Geographic does everything it can to make sure it remains a source of accurate information."
Noting its petition was posted in September, Mumby declares, "It will be up until the issue is resolved." He said the goal is to "make sure that the magazine is editorially independent, we want to hear what their plan is to make sure this change in ownership does not change the independent and science-based journalism voters rely on."
SumOfUs Senior Campaigner Katherine Tu also cited National Geographic's history of playing "a vital role in the fight against climate change," and expressed concern that "Murdoch has a well-known history of meddling with media outlets that he owns and could undermine National Geographic's historically excellent coverage."
More than 100,000 SumOfUs members have joined their campaign for a public editor, which Tu told Media Matters would protect the magazine's "independence" and "represent the interests of the public."
National Geographic says it has no plans to hire a public editor or ombudsman, claiming it deserves the benefit of the doubt and has no incentive to take a wrong turn in its climate coverage.
"We think our 127-year track record of science, research and storytelling in service illuminating the wonder, as well as the issues, of the planet speaks for itself, and find it interesting as well as kind of ironic that the petition was put forward the very week our all climate change issue was published," National Geographic Society Chief Communications Officer Betty Hudson said via email. "That said, we're very comfortable with the robust governance guidelines that National Geographic Partners has in place, and would repeat our shared belief that the essence of the value of the enterprise is ultimately connected to our brand integrity."
Hudson also referred to a statement the society issued to the petition groups after their online protests were posted, laying out how 21st Century Fox and National Geographic plan to maintain "editorial autonomy and mutual institutional respect":
National Geographic has had a nearly two decade long relationship with 21st Century Fox, and during that time has enjoyed editorial autonomy and mutual institutional respect, which we fully expect to continue going forward. The terms of the transaction include an expanded and specific governance framework designed to ensure that the content, publications and activities of NG Partners remain supportive of the mission of NGS and consistent with the National Geographic brand.
National Geographic Partners will be governed by an eight person board comprised of an equal number of representatives from the Society and 21CF. NGS President and CEO Gary Knell will serve as first Chair, a role that will alternate annually. Under the trademark license, NG Partners must adhere to a 300+ page Standards Guide that articulates the principles of the National Geographic Society as well as its content vision. The Society has the right to review and approve the NGPartners annual content plan as well as the annual marketing plan, and has the right to remove the Chief Executive Officer and/or the Chief Marketing Officer should brand integrity be compromised.
But all involved have spoken to the shared belief that the very value of the enterprise in which the Partners are investing resides in that brand integrity, and anything that undermines or dilutes that integrity damages the institution, as well as the investment.
Journalists who covered the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings say the congressional investigations into Benghazi are much more partisan and more focused on damaging Hillary Clinton than finding the truth.
Last year, following extensive pressure from partisan Republicans and right-wing media outlets like Fox News, House Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of the Benghazi Select Committee. In recent weeks, the committee has faced widespread criticism after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy boasted to Sean Hannity that the committee had helped damage Clinton politically. A second Republican congressman and a conservative former committee staffer have since also come out to say that the committee is focused on hurting Clinton, rather than seeking "answers" to questions that supposedly still remain about the 2012 terrorist attacks.
Clinton is scheduled to testify before the committee again Thursday, nearly three years since she first publicly testified about the attacks.
"Benghazi initially was about a limited problem of not properly organizing security for the American ambassador and his staff, [but] it's evolved into something completely different. It's turned into an attempt to sort of nail Hillary," said Fox Butterfield, a former New York Times reporter. "A general attack on Hillary. If you are trying to find out what happened, you'd be doing something different."
Butterfield, who worked at the Times from 1969 to 2007, was part of the team that won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for Pentagon Papers coverage.
He is also among those who covered the 1987 Iran-Contra congressional hearings, which investigated the illegal selling of arms to Iran, with the profits from those sales used to arm Nicaraguan rebels.
Butterfield and others said the contrast between Benghazi and Iran-Contra is stark, both in the seriousness of the incidents and the fairness of the hearings.
"Those hearings didn't last nearly as long and they were a much larger issue than Benghazi is ostensibly about," Butterfield said, later saying of Iran-Contra, "the White House and its operatives set out to break the law, arming the Contras with weapons that we weren't supposed to have and we were dealing with the Iranians, the Republican White House was doing a backdoor deal with Iran."
Walter Pincus, who covered the Iran-Contra hearings for The Washington Post, agreed.
"I don't think there is a comparison," he said. "Iran-Contra was a misuse directed by the White House, the NSC [National Security Council], to engage in a policy of selling arms to get the release of hostages, totally opposite of American foreign policy."
Asked about Benghazi, he added, "to have seven investigations about something that apparently wasn't a violation of any law, wasn't a misuse of government property, and clearly had nothing to do with her [Clinton], somebody wants to make it into something bigger than it was and to keep it going as long as it has." He added, "the misuse of [a congressional committee] for political purposes really just corrupts the system."
John Walcott covered the Iran-Contra hearings for The Wall Street Journal and said today's Benghazi hearings are "more about scoring points and unfortunately too many in the media have gone along with that."
He also said the issues of Iran-Contra were more serious: "Selling arms for hostages and arming the Contras were more serious policy issues than the murder of an ambassador and other Americans in an unstable country ... Even if there are legitimate issues to be explored in the case of Benghazi, like everything else in the public space, this is much more partisan than Iran-Contra and it is a trend that has been going on for a long time."
Robert Parry, who reported on the Iran-Contra hearings for Newsweek, and previously covered the issue for the Associated Press, called comparisons with Benghazi "rather silly."
"It is a very limited, much smaller issue than Iran-Contra, which covered years of deceit and violations of U.S. law compared to one discreet incident," Parry said, saying that Benghazi "has been beaten into the ground by multiple investigations that have gone on endlessly ... Clearly, the Republicans have hammered [Benghazi] as far as they can for political reasons, there was a certain legitimate element, answer a few questions and be done with it. This has gone on far longer than the circumstances would warrant, there aren't that many layers to peel back in this one. In Iran-Contra, it was like an onion, the more layers you peeled back the more you found."
Stephen Engelberg, editor-in-chief of ProPublica.org, reported on the Iran-Contra hearings for The New York Times. He agreed the partisan element is much stronger with Benghazi.
"There was a sense of bipartisanship [during Iran-Contra] that is not present, at least according to what Kevin McCarthy said, in this thing," Engelberg said. "There are legitimate questions about whether or not the United States government did all it could to protect the safety of overseas diplomats. But there are clearly much narrower gauged questions than Iran-Contra -- it doesn't have the same heft."
Doyle McManus, a Tribune Media columnist and former Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, covered the Iran-Contra story for that paper. He also pointed to the overwhelmingly partisan approach with the Benghazi committee.
"The most glaring contrast between this investigation and Iran-Contra is that the Iran-Contra committees were bipartisan," he said, later adding, "This is clearly, as Kevin McCarthy said, a case of one party seeing the leading presidential candidate of another party in a vulnerable situation."
Clark Hoyt, the former Knight Ridder Washington, D.C., bureau chief during Iran-Contra, agreed: "I don't remember an investigation where the partisan divide was as great as this one."
As Donald Trump continues to wage a public fight with Fox News, several of his GOP primary rivals spoke with Media Matters at this weekend's Values Voter Summit about his feud with the conservative network and media coverage of the Republican primary.
Trump and Fox have been in a back and forth fight for much of the past two months. Last week, Trump announced that he was planning to boycott Fox News "for the foreseeable future" because the network has supposedly been treating him "very unfairly." Fox chief Roger Ailes and other "senior Fox editorial executives" are reportedly set to meet with Trump this week in an effort to smooth things over.
"All you have to do is look at the airtime, look at the airtime," former Fox News contributor Rick Santorum told Media Matters when asked about the Trump effect.
As Media Matters has documented, despite Trump's regular complaints about Fox's coverage of his campaign, he has dominated his Republican rivals in interview airtime on the network. From May through August, Trump garnered 10 hours and 21 minutes of interview airtime, more than three times as much as Santorum, who had just over 3 hours.
Asked by Media Matters when he would return to Fox, Trump said, "We'll see, we'll see. They have to treat me fairly and I'm sure they will. I'm sure they will."
Such a return is likely to keep the overwhelming media focus on Trump, prompting mixed reactions from his rivals.
"They're like a moth drawn to the flame," South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said about Fox's Trump coverage. "You can't help but cover it."
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal objected to candidates decrying media coverage, saying, "Any Republican or conservative that complains about the media, I think that's foolishness. There's nothing you can do about that, go out and talk directly to voters. "
While he was critical of Trump, Jindal conceded that he is "great for ratings."
"I've said over and over I think Trump is an egomaniac, he's not a conservative, he's not a liberal, he's not an independent," Jindal said. "He only believes in himself, I think he's great entertainment, he's great for ratings."
Former Fox News employee Dr. Ben Carson indicated he was happy with Fox News' primary coverage so far, telling Media Matters, "I've never had any problems with Fox News, I don't feel any problem, I am happy with what's going on."
Carson has good reason to be happy. Earlier this month, New York magazine reporter and Roger Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman reported that Ailes "has been impressed by Carson, a former Fox pundit, and is promoting his candidacy inside the network." Sherman also quoted an anonymous Fox personality telling him, "Roger has told producers to push Carson and put him on whenever he wants to go on."
Ron Reagan is discounting Bill O'Reilly's newest book, Killing Reagan, calling O'Reilly a "snake oil salesman" who doesn't care about truth.
O'Reilly's Killing Reagan, the latest in his ongoing series with co-author Martin Dugard, was released on September 22. Their previous books have repeatedly been called out for shoddy scholarship.
"Bill O'Reilly is not somebody who as far as I can tell really invests a lot of time or energy in the truth," Reagan told Media Matters in a phone interview on Monday. "He's a snake oil salesman, he's a huckster, he's a carnival barker, but that's about it. He's not a journalist. I don't consider him to be that. Is it annoying when anyone writes crap about your parents or your family members, loved ones? Yeah."
The president's son also criticized many of today's conservative commentators and presidential candidates for invoking his father's name and legacy to support their own views.
"It bothers me, yes, that they're using him for whatever purpose they have in mind," Reagan said. "They'll just take whatever idea they have and they'll just slap his name on it and hope that that just gets them over. Certainly I don't feel good about that. I don't pay all that much mind to it any more than I pay to, say, Bill O'Reilly's forays into history."
Reagan, who was 22 when his father was shot in 1981 by John Hinckley, Jr., said he was not aware of the book about the failed assassination attempt, telling Media Matters, "I didn't know my father was the next one to get killed in Mr. O'Reilly's universe."
According to Reagan, he's "not interested in his theories," so he does not plan to read O'Reilly's book.
Reagan thinks his father would have had a harsh view of prominent conservative media figures. "I can't imagine that he wouldn't have found them bigoted, homophobic and all the rest as they appear to be," he said. "I also think that he would find people like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity to be just hucksters. I don't think that he would be impressed by their sincerity or their intellect. I don't think that either one of them are really serious about what they say."
He also criticized the candidates for pandering to conservative media figures, something he says his father would not have done.
According to Reagan, "Unlike a lot of politicians today, he didn't need the imprimatur of some talk show host, he was very much his own man. He wouldn't be worrying about what Rush Limbaugh said about him."
The president's son said it's wrong for many of the Republican candidates and right-wing media figures to assume Reagan would have agreed with them.
"Most of the people who claim to be his followers have never even met him, never knew him," the junior Reagan said. "You see that a lot. Did Ted Cruz hang out with my father? I don't think so. The broader issue I think is the Republican Party now has become a very different animal than it was when my father was president. It doesn't make sense either to start bringing up my father -- who left office a quarter of a century ago -- and styling yourself as you'd like people to think after him. They're always asking themselves 'what would Ronald Reagan do?' in these circumstances and miraculously it always turns out that he would do exactly what they were intending to do; so clearly they're just using him to sort of validate whatever policy they have in mind."
He also agreed with the view of many observers that his father would not be welcomed into the Republican Party of today.
"That's true if you compare his record then with their rhetoric and policies now, it would seem that Ronald Reagan really wouldn't be a good fit," he said. "That's absolutely right. I don't see him being more conservative now than he was then. I don't see him if he had lived to be 100 and whatever continuing a progression in his politics that mirrors that of the Republican Party today -- it is a mean-spirited party.
"But more than that it's a party that's no longer a legitimate political party because it's forsaken any interest in governance. This is a party that when Obama came into office, of course, [party leaders] famously met ... and said 'we're going to oppose everything he does, even if it's things that we want to do, we're going to oppose it because the best way to get him out of office in four years is to just make it seem as if he can't do anything.' So that's what they set out to do, screw the country. They didn't care about that."
Asked about Reagan's immigration views, for example, his son said, "He had no hostility towards Latinos, Hispanics. He admired their culture, enjoyed it very much ... There was no kind of xenophobia of that type in him. He would've I'm sure said, 'we have a right to control our borders' and things like that and if there were issues with people just flooding across the border that that was something that needed to be dealt with but he was not hostile toward these people ... He would have been looking for a sensible, workable solution for this, not relying on the kind of jingoistic, bigoted stuff that you hear coming from Donald Trump and some of the others."
On gun violence, Reagan thinks his father would disapprove of how far to the right the National Rifle Association has driven the party on the issue, saying, "This is an instance where they have simply moved so far beyond him that he couldn't stomach it anymore ... I think he would see the NRA as becoming extremist and I think he would probably recognize as well, I'd like to hope so anyway, that they're really just shills for the gun industry."
Reagan also thinks his father would not have approved of Republicans' recent threats to shut down the government: "I think he'd be appalled actually at ... the idea of shutting down the government because you want to defund Planned Parenthood. What are these, children? As if government doesn't do anything good."
A major advertiser is distancing itself from Jan Mickelson's radio show. Last month, the Iowa radio host caused widespread controversy by suggesting undocumented immigrants should "become property of the state" if they do not leave.
Hy-Vee, a Des Moines-based grocery store chain that boasts more than 230 stores in eight states, revealed it has asked WHO radio, Mickelson's employer, to stop promoting the company on his show.
"Hy-Vee has asked WHO Radio to no longer air the recorded announcement referencing the Hy-Vee studio name during the Jan Mickelson show," Tara Deering-Hansen, Hy-Vee's Group Vice President, Communications, said in a statement issued Friday. "We have also instructed WHO Radio to no longer air pre-recorded Hy-Vee commercials during his program. We will continue our overall sponsorship with WHO Radio. And we will continue to own the naming rights to the studio, which is governed by a legal contract that does not specify the sponsoring of Mickelson's show. As with all programming, we neither support nor endorse the views expressed by a show's host or listeners."
Despite Hy-Vee's statement, an advertisement for the company recorded by WHO hosts Van and Bonnie aired on today's edition of Mickelson's program. Hy-Vee told Media Matters they are "checking into" what happened.
The move away from Mickelson's show comes after the host laid out a plan on his August 17 program that included posting signs warning undocumented immigrants they would "become property of the state" if they did not leave before a chosen deadline.
He said, in part, "So if you are here without our permission, and we have given you two months to leave, and you're still here, and we find that you're still here after we we've given you the deadline to leave, then you become property of the State of Iowa. And we have a job for you. And we start using compelled labor, the people who are here illegally would therefore be owned by the state and become an asset of the state rather than a liability and we start inventing jobs for them to do."
A second advertiser is also taking steps to distance its brand from Mickelson. When contacted by Media Matters about its ad running on Mickelson's program, a representative for Bankers Trust said, "I believe there has been a misunderstanding, as we have not been an advertiser on Mr. Mickelson's show. When we were made aware that an ad was aired by mistake we notified the station. We were assured it would not happen again."
It was a big week for Jessica Mendoza, who became the first woman to work a Major League Baseball broadcast for ESPN. And she did it twice.
On August 24, she filled in for Aaron Boone on the network's Cardinals-Diamondbacks game. Sunday night, she replaced suspended analyst Curt Schilling on Sunday Night Baseball's Dodgers-Cubs match-up. (According to ESPN, Schilling is set to return to the booth this coming Sunday.)
Unfortunately, Mendoza's groundbreaking broadcasts are still the rare exception. Women remain mostly on the outs when it comes to doing the actual play-by-play of sports.
"I just want to get to a point where it's like, 'oh she knows what she's talking about, he knows what he's talking about,' so it's not this huge deal," Mendoza told ThinkProgress last week. "On the other hand, I don't want it to be such a big deal because I want it to be the norm. How far are we right now from this being the norm?"
Apparently, pretty far.
While women are found on the sidelines and in the studio more than in the past, their place in the booth remains embarrassingly limited.
"It's mind-boggling," said Christine Brennan, who is the national sports columnist for USA Today and among the top sports scribes in the country. "I don't understand why the networks are thinking of not putting women in the booth. It's 2015, I don't understand it. Studies show the NFL audience is 40 percent women now."
Brennan broke her own barriers when she became the first Miami Herald female sports reporter in 1981, and later the first woman to cover the Washington Redskins in 1985 for The Washington Post.
"There has to be a first to have a second, or third. Why hasn't this happened before?" Brennan added. "I would hope that we are past the notion that if you did not play that specific game you cannot broadcast it. I always thought it's ridiculous in any sport."
Some strides have been made in sports, on and off the air, for women just this year. The Arizona Cardinals hired the first NFL female assistant coach, Jen Welter, last month, while the NBA's San Antonio Spurs summer league team was coached by one of its assistants, Becky Hammon, who led them to the league championship.
And two weeks before Jessica Mendoza called the ESPN games, Beth Mowins announced an Oakland Raiders pre-season NFL game. As the Associated Press points out, Mowins was actually the second woman to do play-by-play for an NFL game, following a nearly thirty-year gap after Gayle Sierens announced a game for NBC in 1987.
But female TV booth announcers and analysts in PGA Golf, NASCAR, NFL, NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball can be counted on one hand in most of those leagues, and never in their top championship events.
Tune in to Monday Night Football or the NBA Finals and the only women are usually the sideline reporters, often relegated to the quick few words during time-outs.
This limits the pool of competent, skilled, and well-spoken play-by-play announcers to just half of the population. And at a time when women have made strides in many other areas of sports journalism, the two-person or three-person broadcast booth crews should be the next natural step toward equality.
"The first thing they say is, 'how does she know about football?'" said Joan Ryan, who became the first full-time female sports columnist of a major daily newspaper when she joined the San Francisco Examiner in 1985. "But how does Bob Costas know about football? He didn't play it. How did Al Michaels know about football? Most political reporters haven't run for president or for any office and yet they cover politics. There's no question in my mind that it will change, but it will just take time."
Women in sports coverage have faced opposition going back decades, to the lawsuit filed against Major League Baseball by Sports Illustrated writer Melissa Ludtke after she was banned from the locker room during the 1977 World Series. A federal court ruling a year later forced the ban to be lifted.
"They have the women where they want them," Ludtke told Media Matters on Monday when asked about the TV booth barriers. "They have them on the sidelines, where they can dress them and talk to them in their ear."
She later added, "Until we get a place where hearing a woman's voice talking about what is predominantly male sports and believe that that voice holds authority it's going to be very difficult for them to find their way there."
The locker room case was met with the sexist claim that women just wanted to be in there to see and meet men. Others simply claimed the women who wanted key roles in TV sports journalism did not know enough about sports to cover them, even though they were already reporting on the biggest events for their news and sports outlets across the country.
The court order did a great deal to destroy those myths and prove that they were doing their jobs, the same as men. Women now cover teams in nearly every big city.
New York Yankees radio analyst Suzyn Waldman and New Jersey Devils hockey announcer Sherry Ross hold top spots in the New York market, for example, but both are on radio, not television. For some reason, the most prestigious TV sports broadcasting remains male-dominated.
Women have earned acclaim and status in most other areas of broadcasting and news. Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, and Diane Sawyer have held the coveted network news anchor chairs, and women currently hold co-anchor spots on all three major network morning news programs, although they are absent as hosts from the networks' influential Sunday talk shows.
Women have reached the top editing posts at The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Associated Press, among other major news outlets over the years. The last two presidents of the White House Correspondents Association were women, as were about half of the Pulitzer Prize winners announced this year.
At ESPN, meanwhile, women have been anchoring the channel's flagship Sportscenter program at various times for years. It is really a non-issue in almost all other areas of sports broadcasting.
But game-time announcing is still something of a mancave.
Veteran female sports reporters say if you really want to serve the listening and viewing fan, be it a man or a woman, finding the best person for the job is still the best way.
And then, when Jessica Mendoza calls a Major League Baseball game on the nation's biggest sports network, it will not be a story at all.
"Wouldn't it be great if she became the Lou Gehrig of replacements," said Brennan, referring to the great New York Yankee who went on to set a record for consecutive Major League games played after he replaced the injured Wally Pipp. "She should be a full-time voice on ESPN broadcasts. I am hoping that we have reached a turning point."
Veteran ESPN ombudsmen are weighing in on ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling's "hurtful" comments comparing Muslims to Nazis, including one who labeled him a "right-wing dummy." They're also urging the sprawling sports media empire to bring back the ombudsman position that has not been filled since late 2014.
"I think an internal critic is really, really healthy," said George Solomon, who was named the first ESPN ombudsman in 2005 and served for 21 months. "Having someone in that role is a good thing and I would hope they would reinstitute it. I think they should have kept the position, it's good to have an internal critic."
Schilling kicked off a controversy this week after a Twitter post in which he compared Muslims to Nazis, a move that caused ESPN to pull him from its Little League World Series coverage and this week's edition of Sunday Night Baseball. After ESPN announced disciplinary measures, Schilling tweeted, "I understand and accept my suspension. 100% my fault. Bad choices have bad consequences and this was a bad decision in every way on my part."
But the offending tweet wasn't a momentary lapse in judgment. Schilling has a history of posting and sharing incendiary material on social media, including suggesting Hillary Clinton is a drunk murderer, defending the confederate flag, and criticizing civil rights leaders.
Josh Krulewitz, ESPN vice president of communications, declined to say if more discipline would occur.
The incident took place at a time when ESPN has been without an ombudsman for more than eight months, having failed to replace Robert Lipsyte when his term ended in December 2014.
Lipsyte was one of three former ESPN ombudsmen who spoke to Media Matters Wednesday about Schilling, calling him a "right-wing dummy" and saying his views hurt his image on the network.
"My feeling is that if Curt Schilling can make the kind of comments that he does outside the white lines then I don't trust anything he has to say about anything," Lipsyte said. "He's obviously a right-wing dummy."
He later added, "Everybody in journalism these days is under pressure to be on social media, which also reflects on your employer. There are no personal tweets. You are reflecting whoever you represent and Curt Schilling is representing ESPN."
George Solomon, the first ESPN ombudsman hired in 2005 for 21 months, said the Muslim/Nazi comparison "can be quite hurtful to a number of people."
He added, "ESPN gives its employees, particularly its commentators, a lot of leeway and it seems sometimes that causes a problem and in Schilling's case it seems to be a problem that ESPN will have to deal with, looking at his whole body of work ... ESPN will have to decide, 'Do we want Mr. Schilling to represent us with these comments?' Coming from an era where Twitter was not a factor and social media was not part of my life that can be difficult because people who represent ESPN or other networks will put things on Twitter and other social media outlets that they would not say that can be a problem."
Asked what he would do if he was still the ombudsman, Solomon said, "I would probably comment on the remarks. To compare the Muslims with the Nazis is a stretch."
The network had employed an ombudsman regularly since 2005, with five people holding the job through the years. But the position has been empty since Lipsyte left.
Krulewitz said the network has not ruled out bringing the position back, but stopped short of offering any firm plans: "We're in the process of determining our plans for our next ombudsman. We're exploring what our options are ... we're in the midst of the process now."
Asked if the latest Schilling situation would change the plans to expedite the ombudsman, he said, "no."
"The ombudsman is an independent, someone we hire independently to review and discuss her or his viewpoint of ESPN," Krulewitz said. "We're going to go through the process and we obviously want to do the process the right way."
But the former ombudsmen who spoke to Media Matters said the position is needed, perhaps now more than ever given the recent Schilling situation.
"I can't understand what's taking them so long, with all the things," said Lipsyte. "When I left ESPN, my exit interview, the takeaway was 'why should we pay for criticism when we get so much for free.' That doesn't sound to me like an organization that really wants independent oversight. Everybody needs an ombudsman."
Solomon agreed: "I've said that from the start. Taking myself out of the mix, the ombudsmen they've had have been really valuable and informative and really good."
He also added, "I think ESPN was sensitive to what the ombudsmen, including myself, had to say. They listened, they paid attention, they were very responsive when I did the reporting for my column."
Le Anne Schreiber, another ESPN ombudsman who served from 2007-2009, urged the position's return, saying they helped many of the network's journalists who conduct in-depth reporting.
"Some of the employees are very, very serious journalists," she said. "The ombudsmen have always had their backs. Many of them said to me how much moral support they felt in their place in the institution by the presence of the ombudsman, if only for that reason. Just being a watchdog and just being a voice raised the traditional journalist values. It gave a lot of aid comfort and support to the serious journalists who are there and who deserved it."
She also said the network needs specific policies about what is allowed and what the punishment will be for these type of actions.
"ESPN needs to have a very clarified policy about what is acceptable and what is not on their airwaves and ESPN.com," Schreiber said. "ESPN should stop dealing with these ad hoc, making them up in response to public heat of the moment; make a very clear policy. It really is about a consistency of policy."