Since Donald Trump began attacking Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's participation in the network's January 28 GOP presidential primary debate, Fox has given him nearly 40 minutes of free airtime, amounting to about $1 million.
According to a Media Matters analysis, Trump has been hosted by the network four times since he tweeted on January 23 that "Based on @MegynKelly's conflict of interest and bias she should not be allowed to be a moderator of the next debate." Trump has since said that he would not participate in the debate, citing Kelly's participation and Fox News' response to his criticisms.
Following his tweet, he appeared on Justice on January 23, MediaBuzz on January 24, Special Report with Bret Baier on January 26, and The O'Reilly Factor on January 27, for a total of 39 minutes, 47 seconds of free airtime. According to IQ Media, which uses price data for advertising from Sqad to determine an equivalent advertising rate, those appearances were worth $936,347.76.
While many affiliated with Fox News criticized Trump's decision to boycott the debate, other conservative media figures applauded the move. On Trump's nearly 16-minute appearance with Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News host repeatedly urged the candidate to return to the debate stage. That appearance alone netted Trump more than $500,000 in free airtime.
Prior to his latest feud with Fox News, the network had given Trump nearly $30 million in free airtime from May 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015.
Media Matters used IQ Media to ascertain the viewership and monetary value of Donald Trump's appearances on Fox News Channel from January 23, 2015, (the day Trump floated the idea that he might not participate in the January 28 debate) through January 27, 2015, between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.. The study includes all original appearances; repeat appearances were counted if they aired on a new day. Previous Media Matters studies have used a different program to calculate television dollar value.
In recent weeks, Fox News has been aggressively promoting Michael Bay's myth-filled Benghazi movie in an effort to criticize the Obama administration and damage Hillary Clinton's presidential run. Megyn Kelly, the host that Fox News tries to position as more news-minded than the network's most opinionated personalities, has been leading the charge.
According to a Media Matters study, from January 4 through January 19, Fox News devoted more than 2 hours and 53 minutes to discussing Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The Kelly File made up nearly half of that time, with more than 1 hour and 22 minutes of coverage. (By comparison, The Five, the show that devoted the second most time to promoting 13 Hours, spent less than 24 minutes on the movie.)
Kelly showed Fox's hand early, kicking off a segment about the movie on her January 4 program by touting an "exclusive" report on "the gripping new film that may pose a threat to Hillary Clinton's hopes for the White House." The idea that the film might have an impact on Clinton's presidential run was a regular feature of The Kelly File's coverage, coming up in seven segments.
The effort to use Bay's movie to hurt Clinton politically comes a few short months after the Republicans' House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing featuring hours of Clinton testimony fell "flat on its face." Though Hillary Clinton is not mentioned in Bay's movie, Kelly was nonetheless intent on making her 13 Hours coverage about Clinton.
The Kelly File revived the myth that Clinton dismissed the deaths of the four Americans killed in the Benghazi attack during a congressional hearing. In seven separate segments, Kelly or her guests raised the myth that Clinton and senior White House officials deliberately lied about the attackers' motives. Kelly's show also featured five segments promoting the myth that the Obama administration issued a "stand down" order during the attacks.
At times, Kelly sounded more like a paid spokeswomen for the film, rather than a news anchor. She introduced her January 18 hour-long special on the film by calling 13 Hours "a blockbuster movie ... that could change everything you thought you knew about Benghazi. And directly impact the 2016 race for the White House." She also called the movie "extraordinary" and "a dramatic, compelling, white knuckled experience," while advising her viewers "don't plan on getting popcorn, don't plan on needing to use the restroom, because you will not leave your seat for two hours."
As The Hollywood Reporter noted, Kelly's praise of the film was so strong that Paramount Pictures, the studio which released the film, "even inserted quotes from Kelly ('riveting') and Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes ('extraordinary') into a TV commercial for 13 Hours ... presumably because these two news personalities are more trusted by conservatives than are the movie critics who typically show up in such advertising." The studio also reportedly "supplied Fox News behind-the-scenes footage" that Kelly used on-air, and "arranged for Kelly to interview three of the real-life heroes portrayed in the film."
According to a Media Matters analysis, Kelly also promoted the movie more on her show from January 4 through January 19 than the syndicated entertainment news shows Extra!, Entertainment Tonight, and Access Hollywood combined. Those shows covered the movie for a total of 7 and a half minutes over the same period.
Kelly's dedication to promoting right-wing misinformation surrounding the Benghazi attack is unsurprising given her track record at the network. As an otherwise-glowing profile of Kelly in Vanity Fair highlighted earlier this month, despite Kelly's attempt to cast her show "as a 'news' show as opposed to an opinion show, like Hannity or The O'Reilly Factor, [it] is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time." As Media Matters noted in 2013 when Kelly's new time slot was announced, Kelly regularly uses her perceived journalistic bona fides to cast conservative misinformation as "news."
The Washington Post's Erik Wemple noted of the network's 13 Hours coverage: "Fox News, even after hyping the bona fide revelations in the book version of '13 Hours,' is promoting the Bay movie for its potential to revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton. In so doing, Fox News isn't acting as a news organization, which reports events as they arise; it's acting as an advocacy organization, verily rooting for the movie to tilt the contemporary political debate."
Media Matters searched for the terms "Benghazi" and "13 Hours" in IQ Media from January 4, 2015 to January 19, 2015 in the shows, Extra!, Access Hollywood, and Entertainment Tonight. For the methodology for the original study, click here.
Fox News gave GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump at least $29.7 million in free airtime from May 2015 through the end of the year.
According to a previous Media Matters analysis, Trump far outpaced the other Republican presidential candidates in Fox News interview airtime in the second half of 2015. From May through December 15, Trump appeared on the network for nearly 23 hours -- no other candidate had more than 10 hours on the network during that time period.
For this study, we updated Trump's airtime totals through the end of 2015, which brought his time on the network to well over 24 hours for the year. Using this platform, including partaking in several-hour long interviews which were subsequently re-broadcast, Trump was able to benefit from at least $29.7 million in free airtime on the network and broadcast his message to a total audience of 306,104,725, according to media monitoring service IQ Media.
IQ Media uses Nielsen data to determine the viewership of a given program and price data for advertising from Sqad to come up with an equivalent advertising rate. The total audience number does not represent unique viewers but the total aggregate viewership number -- including viewers who likely watched the same programs on multiple days -- during the study period.
Trump himself has boasted about needing to spend very little on advertising because of the nearly constant coverage Fox News and other networks have given him. While Trump released a campaign ad earlier this month -- which has garnered millions more in free airtime through media coverage -- as of December, Trump and his allies had spent significantly less on TV ads compared to several other candidates and the groups supporting them.
Media Matters used IQ Media to ascertain the viewership and monetary value of Donald Trump's appearances on Fox News Channel from May 1, 2015- December 31, 2015 between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. The study includes all original appearances and repeat appearances were counted if they aired on a new day. Appearances during early morning post-debate specials were counted.
Due to a technical glitch in IQ Media's software, Donald Trump's appearance on Fox and Friends on December 22, 2015 was not included in the study data. His appearance as part of Fox News' New Year's Eve celebration was also not included. Previous Media Matters studies have used a different program to calculate television dollar value.
Iowa-based radio host Steve Deace, a key endorser for Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) presidential campaign, attempted to deflect criticism he received following a vulgar tweet he sent during the December 15 Republican presidential debate by bringing up the deceptively-edited Planned Parenthood videos.
During the December 15 GOP debate, Deace tweeted in response to Carly Fiornia's opening statement, "Wow ... Fiorina goes full vagina right away." Deace, who has a history of making offensive and intolerant comments, later apologized, saying that his wife told him his tweet was "too vulgar."
After receiving a media backlash, Deace attempted to deflect from his comments by bringing up the widely debunked and deceptively-edited Planned Parenthood videos produced by the anti-choice fringe group Center for Medical Progress (CMP):
Deace also claimed it was "intellectually dishonest" to link his comments to Cruz.
But Deace has a close relationship with the Texas senator, which began well in advance of Deace's official endorsement in August. Since his endorsement, Deace has helped the Cruz campaign by introducing the candidate at the opening of one of Cruz's campaign offices and was with him prior to the October 28 GOP presidential debate "discussing [the] debate."
An editorial published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail purporting to fact-check AFL-CIO radio ads targeting so-called "right-to-work" laws being pushed by West Virginia legislators identified no errors in the advertisements, but still attacked the labor union by promoting flawed and biased studies funded by anti-union donors.
The December 14 editorial was authored by the editorial board of the Charleston Daily Mail (in July the Charleston Daily Mail and Charleston Gazette merged to form the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The paper retains two independent editorial boards).*
The editorial discussed a West Virginia radio network's decision to pull three AFL-CIO ads from its airwaves, which reportedly cited them as "inflammatory." The editorial board claims the ads "mislead by quoting studies that don't necessarily address correlation and causation." The editorial continues by juxtaposing the claims in the AFL-CIO ad with "conservative" studies in an attempt to prove the AFL-CIO's claims are flawed:
The 54 percent increase in injury and death statistic comes from a 2014 AFL-CIO report "Death on the job, the toll of neglect," using Bureau of Labor statistics.
Yet a 2012 study by the conservative Meighen Institute suggests that union workplaces have more injuries than non-union workplaces. And a 2012 report from a Michigan group supporting right-to-work legislation cites a reduction in injuries and illnesses in Oklahoma over a 10-year period after right-to-work laws went into effect in 2001.
"It's true that right-to-work states have a greater incidence of fatal workplace injuries, but the very dangerous occupations are concentrated ... in occupations like farming, fishing and forestry regardless of whether the state has a right-to-work law," the CAPCON report says.
The AFL-CIO says that right-to-work states have lower average wage rates. That too is true, but as Daily Mail columnist Laurie Lin covered last week, those states also generally have much lower cost-of-living rates.
"When adjusting for cost of living, workers in right-to-work states have 4.1 percent higher per-capita personal incomes than workers in non-right-to-work states," reports the Mackinac Institute.
The editorial notes multiple times that the AFL-CIO's statements are true, even citing sources that back up the union's claims.
For example, the editorial cites "CAPCON" or Michigan Capitol Confidential -- an online outlet created by the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy to push the organization's studies -- agreeing with the AFL-CIO's argument that states with so-called "right-to-work" laws have higher incidences of fatal workplace injuries. CAPCON and the editorial noted that "It's true that right-to-work states have a greater incidence of fatal workplace injuries," but caveat the fact by claiming these right-to-work states engage in more dangerous occupations without providing any evidence of the fact. The studies and reports cited by the editorial fail to adequately counter the claims made by the AFL-CIO, as neither of the sources cited by the paper address workplace fatalities in their data, except to agree with the AFL-CIO's argument that right-to-work states lag behind other states in terms of workplace safety.
The editorial also claimed that the AFL-CIO's contention that "right-to-work states have lower average wage rates [...] is true," but defended the typically low wages of states with right-to-work laws by claiming that these states "generally have much lower cost-of-living rates."
The AFL-CIO's claim of higher workplace fatalities in states with anti-union laws is backed up by several studies, including one published in the American Journal of Public Health, which found similarly that, "Higher rates of fatal occupational injury were associated with a state policy climate favoring business over labor."
In addition, as a report in the Kennedy School Review notes, one study looking at unionization and coal mine safety from 1993 to 2010, found that "unionization predicted a substantial and significant decline in fatalities and traumatic injuries." The report also notes that while unionization also coincided with an increase in injury reporting, the phenomenon is most likely due "to more stringent injury reporting practices in union versus non-union mines." In essence, the Kennedy School Review found that injury reporting was held to higher standards after unionization, causing such reports to increase, while safety standards were also improved as a result of unionization, causing fatalities to decrease.
The AFL-CIO's claim that right-to-work states have lower average wages is also backed up by evidence, which contradicts the Mail's claim that incomes in states with restrictive union laws are higher after adjusting for cost-of-living. As the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) pointed out in an April 22 report, when accounting for a larger set of variables, not just cost-of-living differences, and "subject[ing] the results to a series of robustness tests," the AFL-CIO claim holds true - "wages in RTW (right-to-work) states are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-RTW states."
The Mail's failed attempt to discredit the AFL-CIO relied on a number of biased anti-union sources. The Mackinac Center, part of the conservative State Policy Network group of think tanks, has received millions of dollars from anti-union donors such as the DeVos family, the Walton family, and Donors Capital Fund -- the "dark money ATM" of the conservative movement funded in part by the anti-union Koch brothers. Lastly, as SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, explains, Michigan Capitol Confidential (CAPCON) "produces articles and blog posts intended to appear like those of traditional news sources, but with a demonstrated conservative bias and pushing a right wing agenda."
*This piece has been updated throughout to clarify the relationship between the Charleston Gazette-Mail and its multiple editorial boards.
In the aftermath of the Charleston, SC shooting, iHeartMedia is planning a concert to "kick off A+E Networks' campaign to confront issues of race, and promote unity and progress on racial equity." However, a large part of iHeartMedia's brand is built on its syndication of several right-wing radio hosts -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Michael Berry -- who consistently take racially inflammatory positions on their shows and denigrate civil rights advocacy.
A study of CNBC's coverage of the crisis of money in politics ahead of its October 28 Republican presidential debate reveals that the network has rarely explored the implications of an out-of-control campaign financing system and its effect on the political process. Media Matters analyzed the financial news network's content beginning on March 23, when the first 2016 presidential candidate officially entered the race and found that it has failed to report on the expanding influence of wealthy individuals and corporations who donate to campaigns, or the impact of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which began a rollback of campaign finance reform measures that is negatively impacting not just elections, but the economy as well.
A New Hampshire Union Leader editorial raised several questions that were answered long ago about the September 11, 2012 attacks on American diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in an effort to attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prior to her October 22 hearing before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The newspaper has a history of right-wing bias in its reporting and on its opinion page, and has often pushed Benghazi myths but never corrected its errors when facts proved those myths false.
The October 22 editorial claimed that the "Obama Administration has been lying about the attack since it happened" and suggested several questions members of the select committee should ask Clinton during her testimony:
Why did Clinton ignore Stevens' requests for more security? Why did Clinton push the White House to blame a fringe YouTube video for the attack, rather than radical Islamic terrorists? Why has Clinton been stonewalling attempts to get to the truth for the past three years?
The problem with the Union Leader editorial board's questions -- and for that matter, its longtime position on Benghazi -- is that these questions have already been asked and answered.
As the Washington Post and other media outlets reported, Clinton told Congress during previous testimony that the concerns over security at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi had not been brought to her attention prior to the attack, which the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board report confirmed in its finding that the security situation had "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department." Even so, Clinton admitted responsibility for the attacks, calling the violence and its consequences "painful, absolutely painful" for her.
As a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review of Benghazi found, several pieces of intelligence were revealed after the attacks, including some that "suggest[ed] the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video..."
In addition, as The New York Times reported, the people who carried out the attacks "told bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the video," and the suspected ringleader, Abu Khattala, "told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him."
The Union Herald seems to have decided to ignore these and other facts in the public record when they penned this editorial. Ten separate congressional committees have conducted Benghazi investigations, amounting to 32 hearings, approximately 54 hours of publically-available testimony, 2,780 questions asked of 204 witnesses, and 11 reports spanning 784 pages on the attacks.
This latest editorial continues the newspaper's tradition of repeating debunked reports to push its right-wing agenda on Benghazi.
An editorial in the Houston Chronicle called out the recent decision by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood over deceptively-edited videos, saying the decision "is about politics" not about "fighting for taxpayers or setting good policy."
An October 19 editorial by the Houston Chronicle discussed the circumstances around Abbott's decision to attempt to cut funding to the organization saying the decision was made due "to a series of surreptitiously recorded videos released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress" -- videos that have been thoroughly debunked despite being continuously touted by right-wing media. The editorial further explained that it was unlikely the state would find anything unpropitious happening in Texas because Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state do not participate in the fetal tissue donation program and other "[i]nvestigations in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts and South Dakota found no evidence of lawbreaking." Ultimately, the editorial explained that "the whole fight takes aim at an invented fear" that the reproductive health provider is using federal funds for abortion when "[w]hat Medicaid does fund is family planning services that help make abortions unnecessary":
The reason behind the Medicaid cut, according to inspector general Stuart Bowen, rests upon a series of surreptitiously recorded videos released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress. Those videos, which were made public this past July and August, purported to show illegal trafficking of fetal tissue. Abbott quickly responded by instructing the Health and Human Services Commission to launch its own investigation into Planned Parenthood.
Investigations in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts and South Dakota found no evidence of lawbreaking. The Texas Attorney General's Office has yet to complete its own investigation into those videos, but it isn't hard to guess what they'll find - nothing. That's because Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas don't currently collect fetal tissue for medical research.
This whole fight takes aim at an invented fear. And even if the Texas Health and Human Services Commission successfully cut Planned Parenthood from its distribution of federal Medicaid dollars, abortion services will remain at the same funding level of essentially zero. The federal family planning program, Title X, provides no money for abortions. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, prohibits Medicaid from spending money on abortions except in the rare cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother.
What Medicaid does fund is family planning services that help make abortions unnecessary.
But in the war against abortion, fighting Planned Parenthood is easier than actually reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. So instead of better sex education or broader access to birth control, Texas will get another lawsuit. That won't do much to help everyday Texans, but politicians will be able to count it as a win. If only they could share the spoils of victory with a young woman who can't afford basic health care.
The National Review Online (NRO) published a blog and an op-ed authored by apparent non-scientists that attacked "Science Guy" Bill Nye for a recent video in which he explained the questionable science behind anti-choice legislative "personhood" proposals.