From the January 28 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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From the January 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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ABC News and CBS News helped potential GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney dredge up discredited attacks on Hillary Clinton in their reports on an upcoming speech by Romney. The attacks smear Clinton's diplomatic work with Russia as secretary of state and scandalize comments she made on trickle-down economics that were taken out of context by the media.
Reports from two news networks hyped excerpts from Romney's planned speech at Mississippi State University on Wednesday night that will be targeted at Clinton. Both ABC and CBS News articles uncritically reported that Romney will be criticizing Clinton's "clueless" efforts to "reset" U.S.-Russia relations during Mr. Obama's first term.
But the "reset" moment that media outlets frequently cite as the primary example of Clinton's dealings with Russia while serving as secretary of state does not accurately portray her tenure. Clinton's successful negotiations with Russia resulted in in an agreement that allows the "U.S. military planes to transport lethal materiel over Russia to Afghanistan," reducing reliance on Pakistan for transporting cargo. Clinton also expressed serious concerns with Russia's 2011 elections, and warned that Russia was trying to "re-Sovietize" Eastern Europe and that Vladimir Putin would attempt to consolidate Russian control over eastern Ukraine if the opportunity presented itself.
Both ABC and CBS also highlighted another misleading attack against Clinton from Romney's upcoming speech, where he will assert that Clinton "doesn't know where jobs come from in the first place," an apparent reference to a scandal invented by the media over Clinton's statement that tax breaks for the rich don't cause companies to create jobs. CBS portrayed Clinton's remarks on tax breaks for the rich as a slip-up:
In his speech text, Romney takes a swipe at Hillary Clinton for telling voters during the 2014 midterm campaign, "Don't let anybody tell you it's corporations and businesses that create jobs."
"How can Secretary Clinton provide opportunity for all if she doesn't know where jobs come from in the first place?" Romney is expected to ask. "We need a president who will do what it takes to bring more good paying jobs to the placement offices of our college campuses."
After her remarks sparked a round of mockery from her opponents on the right, Clinton claimed she misspoke and said she meant to say that the economy grows when companies create good-paying jobs in America, "not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas."
This attack on Clinton's remarks, omits crucial context used by right-wing media outlets to scandalize the comments. The full context shows that Clinton's statement was in reference to tax breaks for the rich, and argued that trickle-down economics is not successful at creating jobs (emphasis added):
CLINTON: Don't let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. They always say that. I've been through this. My husband gave working families a raise in the 1990s. I voted to raise the minimum wage and guess what? Millions of jobs were created or paid better and more families were more secure. That's what we want to see here, and that's what we want to see across the country.
And don't let anybody tell you, that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know, that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried. That has failed. That has failed rather spectacularly.
One of the things my husband says, when people say, what did you bring to Washington? He says, well I brought arithmetic. And part of it was he demonstrated why trickle down should be consigned to the trash bin of history. More tax cuts for the top and for companies that ship jobs over seas while taxpayers and voters are stuck paying the freight just doesn't add up.
From the January 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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From the January 27 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News is burying Republican policy positions that exacerbate income inequality in order to help the GOP rebrand itself as a party for the middle class. This effort follows years of Fox figures blasting Democratic policies designed to alleviate income inequality as "class warfare."
Rush Limbaugh fawned over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his potential to be the GOP's 2016 presidential nominee, seemingly impressed that some may have drawn comparisons between Walker's recent remarks and Rush's own rhetoric.
On the January 26 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh praised Walker's January 24 appearance at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a gathering of conservative activists, lawmakers, and 2016 hopefuls in Des Moines. Limbaugh raved that Walker "wowed them" at the Summit and suggested that Walker's speech was reminiscent of Limbaugh's own remarks at CPAC in 2009:
LIMBAUGH: Apparently he showed up and he made a speech on Saturday that had people telling [him] it reminded them of the speech I gave at CPAC. Now if that's true, that means that he went pedal to the metal, wall-to-wall conservativism with charisma and bold ideas and solutions based on his own policies.
Later in the show, Limbaugh instructed Republicans to treat Walker like Caesar, saying "I really think that Scott Walker is the kind of guy the Republicans need to hoist on one of those chairs they used to take Caesar through the crowds with."
Fox News contributor John Bolton will be appearing in the early Republican presidential primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming weeks while he's "considering" a presidential run. Bolton has already set up a political operation through two political action committees. Fox previously severed ties with Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson because they were getting too serious about exploring runs for president.
Bolton is the quintessential Fox News candidate. He was never elected to office, and left the Bush administration nearly a decade ago. Yet he's stayed visible with Republican primary voters through his frequent paid appearances on their favorite network.
A January 22 press release from Bolton's political action committee, Bolton Super PAC, stated he will speak tomorrow at the Iowa Freedom Summit, which "will bring together conservative activists in advance of Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses." The Iowa event, hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), features numerous other potential 2016 contenders. On February 2, he will return to New Hampshire to speak at a breakfast event.
The Washington Examiner reported on January 5 that a source "who works at Fox News" said "Bolton may be next" to leave the network to run for president. The source added that Bolton "just wants to stay at Fox as long as possible."
Robert Costa, while at National Review Online, reported in June 2013 that Bolton was setting up tours of early primary states, organizing meetings with party leaders, and launching "a few related groups that will help elevate his argument and his national profile." Costa reported months later that Bolton "has called veteran Republican strategists and friends from the Bush years, informally pitching them on what he envisions as a policy-driven, hawkish campaign. Most of the people on the other side of the line are surprised, even shocked, to hear that Bolton, a no-nonsense, private man, is serious."
How long will the press remain allergic to Hillary Clinton polling data?
It's weird, right? For decades, pundits and reporters have worshiped at the altar of public polling, using results as tangible proof that certain political trends are underway, as well as to keep track of campaign season fluctuations. And that's even truer in recent years with the rise of data journalism. Crunching the political numbers has been elevated to a new and respected art form.
But that newsroom trend seems to be losing out to another, more powerful force as the 2016 cycle gears up. No longer viewing their job as reporting the lay of the campaign land, more and more journalists seem to have embraced the idea that their role is to help tell a compelling story, even if that means making the narrative more interesting, or competitive, than it really is.
The press "desperately wants to cover some Democratic story other than the Clinton Coronation," Bloomberg's David Weigel reported last year. NBC's Chuck Todd conceded it's the Beltway "press corps" that's suffers from so-called Clinton fatigue. The Atlantic's Molly Ball was among those suggesting that Clinton's candidacy is boring and that the American people are already "tired" of the former Secretary of State.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll this week provided little in terms of narrative excitement, but it was newsworthy nonetheless. It showed Clinton with a commanding 15-point lead over former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and a 13-point lead over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, two of the best-known Republicans considering White House runs.
Nobody should think that polling results 20-plus months before an election signals certainty. But in terms of context, when the Washington Post and ABC began hypothetical polling in 2011 for Obama's re-election run, its survey showed the president enjoyed a four point lead of Romney at the time. (Obama went on to win by four points.) Today at a similar juncture, Clinton's lead over Romney stands at an astounding 15 points.
And so what kind of media response did the Clinton poll produce this week? Mostly shrugs; the press didn't seem to care. The morning the poll was published, NBC's daily political tip sheet, First Read's Morning Clips, omitted any reference to Clinton's enormous advantage in their laundry list of must-read articles for the day. On cable news, the coverage was minimal. Or put it this way, CNN mentioned the Clinton poll once yesterday, while CNN mentioned "Tom Brady" nearly 100 times, according to TVeyes.com.
"Clinton Enjoys Enormous Lead" is just not a headline the press wants to dwell on. So polling data is often tossed in the dustbin, clearing the way for pundits and reporters to form whatever storyline they want about Clinton and her possible 2016 run. (Hint: She's in trouble! Her book tour was a "disaster"!)
Five years after the Supreme Court opened the floodgates of campaign spending with its Citizens United decision, top newspapers in the three states with the most expensive judicial campaigns, Ohio, Alabama, and Texas, have largely failed to connect Citizens United with major changes in these races. The influx of money into state judicial elections following the decision has accelerated negative advertisements and campaign financing that may influence judges' decisions.
Fox News established close ties with Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, as each used one another to amplify smears against the Obama administration related to the Benghazi attacks in 2012. Now Graham is cashing in the credibility and profile Fox and Benghazi helped him build, announcing he's exploring a run for president in 2016.
This January marks the fifth anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC, the 2010 Supreme Court case that expanded the idea of "corporate personhood" by ruling that the First Amendment protects a corporation's right to make unlimited expenditures in support of political candidates as a form of speech. Network news coverage of its legal impact, however, has largely ignored how the Supreme Court continues to aggressively expand the decision.
This expansion of corporate rights has wide-ranging consequences, even outside of the context of campaign finance deregulation. The court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, for example, seemed to embrace the idea that corporations are capable of morally objecting to contraception coverage, co-opting yet another constitutional right -- that of religion -- that had previously been reserved for people, not businesses.
In terms of election law, the conservative justices further dismantled campaign finance restrictions in 2014's McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down aggregate campaign donation limits and allowed wealthy donors to contribute money to a virtually unlimited number of candidates and political parties. The court will hear yet another campaign finance case on January 20 called Williams-Yulee v. the Florida Bar, which could strike down a Florida rule that prohibits judicial candidates from directly soliciting money from donors -- a rule that was put in place in response to a serious corruption scandal that resulted in the resignations of four Florida Supreme Court justices.
Yet despite the cascade of decisions from conservative justices intent on dismantling campaign finance regulations and rewriting corporate rights -- and the majority of Americans who support a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United -- the media have largely underreported this story.
Here are four graphics that illustrate this failure.
On Fox, Bill O'Reilly excused likely presidential candidate and Fox favorite Dr. Ben Carson's recent controversial comparison of Islamic State militants to American patriots, and allowed Carson to double down on his comparison.
On January 15, Ben Carson likened American patriots to Islamic State militants in a speech at the Republican National Committee's (RNC) winter meeting. Carson equated the mentality of American patriots who were willing to die for their beliefs to those who fight for the Islamic State, asserting that "They got the wrong philosophy, but they're willing to die for what they believe, while we are busily giving away every belief and every value for the sake of political correctness." Carson's remarks were subsequently met with criticism.
On the January 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly excused Carson's controversial comparison, allowing him to double down and claimed the media had taken him "out of context." Carson insisted that he was "not saying that as a comparison between our patriots and ISIS" but that pre-revolutionary militiamen "had conviction and believed in what they were doing to the point that they were willing to die for it" much like Islamic State militants. Carson added a "warning" that like American patriots and Islamic State fighters, "we have to change" our "process of giving away all of our beliefs for the sake of political correctness." O'Reilly reassured Carson that he should not "worry about the liberal media" because "they're never going to give you a shot":
O'REILLY: Now, what did you tell the GOP in San Diego?
CARSON: I told them a lot of things. The funny thing... is I was talking about the pre-revolutionary days and how our bunch of rag-tag militia men defeated the most powerful empire on earth and how they were able to do that. Because they had conviction and believed in what they were doing to the point that they were willing to die for it. And I said, fast forward to today, and you have ISIS. And, you know, they have the wrong philosophy completely, totally disagree with them. But they also have strong conviction and are willing to die for what they believe and we at the same time are in the process of giving away all of our beliefs for the sake of political correctness and I'm saying that as a warning we have to change that. Not saying that as a comparison between our patriots and ISIS, which I've said at the time. I said, the liberal media will of course take that out of context.
O'REILLY: Well, yeah, don't worry about the liberal media, they're never going to give you a shot.
From the January 16 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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"In American politics, there's a sense you want to be new. You don't want to be too familiar. You want to be something fresh. You don't want to be something old and stale." Karl Rove discussing Hillary Clinton on Fox News, May 26, 2014.
Mitt Romney's reemergence as a possible top-tier Republican contender for the 2016 White House race has created an awkward situation for some Republicans and conservative commentators who have been dwelling on Hillary Clinton's age in recent months. The development also poses a potentially thorny issue for journalists in terms of how they treat male and female politicians.
To date, Republicans have been eager to highlight Clinton's age. "Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton's age," the New York Times reported in 2013. Just this week, conservative Washington Post contributor Ed Rogers mocked Clinton for being stuck in a cultural "time warp," circa the "tie-dye" 1960s.
So why the newfound awkwardness for spotlighting Clinton's age? Because Mitt Romney's the same age as Hillary Clinton. They're both 67 years old. (Actually, Romney's older than Clinton by seven months.)
The fact that early polling suggests the possible Republican front runner is the same age as Clinton raises interesting questions for the political press, which has carved out plenty of time and space in recent years to analyze the question of Clinton's age and to repeat Republican allegations that she might be too old for the job of president. Going forward, will the same press corps devote a similar amount of time and space asking the same questions about Romney? And if not, why not? (A recent Boston Globe article actually positioned Romney's age as a plus for the Republican: "Supporters have also noted that Romney would be 69 years old in 2016 -- the same age as Reagan when he was sworn into his first term.")