Fox News contributor and Republican pollster Frank Luntz praised the ability of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to communicate without disclosing that both men were past clients of his.
During a Fox & Friends appearance on Wednesday, communications strategist Luntz claimed that "almost no politician is connecting right now" with voters because "the American people are so angry and frustrated with Washington." He then highlighted the supposed ability of Rubio and Ryan to connect with voters, highlighting real-time responses given by his focus group as Rubio talked about immigration and Ryan talked about federal debt.
Luntz claimed that the tone Rubio used in the remarks Luntz selected for the focus group is "why he is becoming one of the most popular politicians in America today." Luntz added that the Ryan remarks he selected for the focus group proved that Ryan "has this ability to transcend traditional partisan politics":
Luntz did not disclose that both lawmakers were formerly his clients. According to a January 2012 Wall Street Journal article, Rubio hired Luntz to help him craft his "100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future" when he was speaker of the Florida House of Representatives:
Mr. Rubio, a budding GOP activist in Miami when Mr. Gingrich unveiled the Contract With America in 1994, modeled his speakership on Mr. Gingrich's. He recruited Frank Luntz, who did polling work for the Contract With America, to help him craft his "100 Innovative Ideas." In a 2006 speech before the Florida House, Mr. Gingrich singled out Mr. Rubio, who was about to become the state's first Cuban-American speaker, as a potential national figure.
"Rubio's approach...came straight from the concept of the Contract," Mr. Luntz said, adding that Messrs. Rubio and Gingrich "shared a similar approach to governing."
And according to Federal Election Commission filings from the 2012 election cycle, Luntz received $45,000 from Ryan's congressional campaign for polling and consulting services.
Luntz previously praised Ryan in his capacity as CBS analyst while failing to disclose his financial ties to the Ryan campaign. Luntz also praised an American Crossroads anti-Obama ad during the 2012 presidential election without disclosing that Crossroads paid him for surveying and polling services.
The U-T San Diego editorial board hyped a court decision that would benefit a project to expand the San Diego Convention Center but never noted that the paper's owner, Douglas Manchester, has a financial interest in the convention center's development.
A March 11 editorial by the U-T San Diego called for the expansion project to "move forward as quickly as possible," now that the plans to finance it -- including a controversial hotel-room tax -- have been validated by Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Prager's tentative ruling. The editorial concluded that the "worst-case scenario" would be that the center does not expand at all, as "[t]ens of millions in annual tax revenue, and the creation of thousands of jobs, are at stake."
What the editorial does not say, however, is that the owner of the U-T San Diego, Douglas (Papa Doug) Manchester, is one of the driving forces behind the convention center's birth. According to Manchester's own website, "Papa Doug is considered father of the San Diego Convention Center after his generous contribution of the property for its development."
As a Media Matters report noted last year, the U-T San Diego was criticized soon after Manchester's acquisition of the paper when it ran a front page editorial hyping a "new vision" for the San Diego waterfront. The editorial said the waterfront -- where Manchester owned hotels -- should be redeveloped with more hotels, a convention center expansion, and a new NFL stadium. Although Manchester had sold the hotels near the convention center property, he owns stock in the company that purchased the hotels -- solidifying his financial stake in the development of the area.
Although the editorial touts the "thousands of jobs" that will be created as a result of the expansion, it fails to note that they will not be high quality jobs. According to a report issued last year by Murtaza H. Baxamusa, director of Planning and Development at the Family House Corporation, San Diego Building Trades, the city estimated that only 16.8 percent of the new jobs would be above the regional median wage of $18.41 and that 71.2 percent of the jobs would be below the self-sufficiency wage of $13.92. Baxamusa concludes that, "the results of this study indicate that the quality of jobs created by the project may actually depress wages, increase uninsurance and lower the standard of living in the region."
A top executive at a conservative non-profit that oversees a nationwide network of state news websites is criticizing Media Matters for reporting on the group's deep right-wing ties and funding.
Steven Greenhut, vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, offered the criticism in a March 12 piece for The Huffington Post. The Center has launched more than 50 news sites covering state government in 39 states from an avowed free-market perspective and allows other state news outlets to republish their work for free; they claim to provide 10 percent of all state government news in the United States.
Greenhut writes that while in the past he has downplayed the idea that the media has a "liberal bias," his "recent experience on the receiving end of a series of supposed exposes has left me rethinking my tendency to cut fellow journalists some slack" due to the "shoddy reporting techniques used to try to embarrass the organization where I work."
For some reason, journalism enterprises that are funded in much the same way that we are seem bothered by this. We've been so open with them that even the reporter for the left-wing Media Matters praised me for our openness. Not that it seeped into his reporting: His final piece on us last year could have been written without the months of research and interviews given that it ignored our best arguments, made connections that didn't exist and, basically, concluded that conservatives fund and work for conservative-oriented groups. No big deal.
But in mid-February, the game started again. Another left-wing, foundation-funded journalism group, the Center for Public Integrity, released a report about our funding. Media Matters wrote about us yet again, and its headline captured the gist of all these stories: "Franklin Center Top Donor Is Right-Wing's 'Dark Money ATM.'"
Greenhut is apparently upset that our reports, while providing himself and other Franklin Center leaders with the opportunity to defend the group, revealed that the organization is funded by a massive right-wing donor organization; staffed by former employees of groups backed by the Koch brothers; makes even editors who use the outlet's reports uneasy due to its ideological bent; and has had its affiliates denied credentials by some statehouse reporters associations.
Fox News cribbed research and graphics directly from a National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) press release without disclosing their origin in order to attack President Obama's purported "sequester priorities."
In a Fox & Friends Saturday interview with NRCC chairman Greg Walden, co-host Tucker Carlson claimed that he was "going through a list here" of supposedly wasteful federal spending projects and crucial programs that are impacted by the mandatory spending cuts required by sequestration, but did not explain where that list originated. Every case of both worthwhile and allegedly worthless spending they discussed had previously been highlighted in a February 28 NRCC press release.
Later in the segment, Carlson asked Walden, "wouldn't it make sense for Republicans to come up with a list, push that list over to the White House, and publicize that list of pointless programs like this that ought to be cut?" Walden replied, "Absolutely."
Throughout this segment and a second segment Fox aired on-screen graphics that mimicked images included in the NRCC release in order to criticized what they termed Obama's "sequestration priorities." Here are those images, with the Fox versions on the left and NRCC versions on the right:
The Columbus Dispatch is criticizing journalists for not informing readers about a liberal group's vested interests and involvement in the state's political process, even though the paper has spent years obscuring the origins of the American Legislative Exchange Council and downplaying the group's influence in the state.
In a February 27 editorial The Columbus Dispatch wrote:
The ability of various interest groups to have a say in politics is a critical to our democracy. But just as voters should be aware of who is funding political ads, they should be informed of the vested interests of those groups that are cited as sources of commentary.
Policy Matters Ohio, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus, often is quoted in news stories as a "research firm" and as a liberal or "progressive" think tank in news stories concerning tax and budget issues. That description, though, doesn't give a full picture of an organization that has a direct interest in steering public money to labor groups, which in turn are big-money supporters of Democratic politicians.
The Dispatch's argument is disingenuous however, since the paper has failed to cover and conduct the same research for organizations heavily involved in state policy such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
From January to October 2011, the shadowy right-wing organization had its hand in 33 bills in the state, nine of which became law. ALEC's ties in Ohio run deeper than merely crafting bills. According to ALEC's internal talking points, Gov. John Kasich, who was actively involved in ALEC in multiple capacities before becoming governor, "helped mold ALEC in its formative years" and was photographed at an ALEC event in 2010.
In 2012, ALEC was responsible for several pieces of legislation in Ohio, including a bill that weakened protections for victims of asbestos exposure, a bill which attempted to loosen firearms laws, and a bill seeking to prevent disclosure of certain ingredients in fracking fluids to the public.
ALEC also has a role in pushing big business' influence with legislators in Ohio. According to the Center for Media and Democracy's ALEC Exposed project, 41 legislators in Ohio are ALEC members. The money ALEC receives from businesses and conservative organizations goes to bringing these legislators to ALEC conventions where they can "rub elbows with rich, out-of state potential donors ... and to build similar relationships with ALEC's state corporate members."
Despite ALEC's influence and major ties to the state, The Columbus Dispatch only discussed ALEC in 7 news stories since January 1, 2011, according to a Media Matters search. When they did cover ALEC, the organization was either not identified or described as a "conservative" or "a conservative think tank that raises money from corporate and other interests to pay for legislators to meet with businesses" -- monikers that barely scratch the surface of what the organization really does.
While it's important for newspapers to disclose the ties behind organizations that have an influence on policy in the state, The Columbus Dispatch editorial board is picking and choosing which organizations should receive such scrutiny -- apparently aiming to disclose information only about the ones it disagrees with.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has published two books -- and is working on a third -- about the deaths of historical figures whose deaths were also written about by a deceased journalist and columnist.
According to the conservative site Newsmax, O'Reilly's recent output (along with co-author Martin Dugard) echoes the work of former New York Daily News reporter Jim Bishop:
The late Jim Bishop, a veteran newspaperman who once reported for the New York Daily News and later was a syndicated columnist, saw his book "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" become a runaway best-seller in 1955.
A series of similar-themed books followed, with Bishop penning "The Day Christ Died" in 1957 and then in 1968 "The Day Kennedy Was Shot" -- a minute-by-minute account of JFK's 1963 shooting in Dallas.
O'Reilly has written Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy and is reportedly working on Killing Jesus, which is scheduled for publication in September.
After the release of Killing Lincoln, Rae Emerson, the deputy superintendent for Ford's Theater (a National Historic Site) cited "the lack of documentation and the factual errors" in the book as reasons why it would not be sold in the theater's book store or at other gift shops associated with the National Park System. At the time, O'Reilly dismissed the mistakes as "minor" errors.
In the notes for Killing Lincoln, O'Reilly cites Bishop's The Day Lincoln Was Shot as a reference for "an hour-by-hour description of April 15, 1865."
UPDATE: In comments to Media Matters, Martin Dugard said the parallels to Bishop's books were "an amazing coincidence" and that the overlapping subject matter was "[c]ool, but completely coincidental."
From the February 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the February 10 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Karl Rove has recently used his various media platforms to sing the praises of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and tout his role in the brewing debate over immigration reform. Rove and Rubio have a mutually beneficial political and financial relationship that dates back several years.
Earlier this week on Fox News' Special Report, Rove suggested that if anyone is going to unite the GOP on immigration, it will be Rubio because "he's the best communicator since Ronald Reagan." In a separate appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Rove lauded Rubio for laying out "an excellent set of principles" on immigration, and said "Republicans ought to give it a very clear, strong look."
Rove has also taken his praise of Rubio to his weekly Wall Street Journal column. On February 7, Rove wrote that President Obama should "play it low-key" on immigration reform and give deference to the so-called Senate Gang of Eight, whose immigration framework "highlights the persuasive powers of Sen. Marco Rubio." In his January 31 column, Rove argued that having Rubio "as the GOP spokesman on immigration issues will hasten the GOP recovery" with Latino voters.
Rove's support of Rubio extends beyond comparisons to Ronald Reagan on national television; his American Crossroads political groups were some of Rubio's earliest financial backers, dumping nearly $3 million (by Rove's accounting) into his 2010 Florida Senate race.
Rubio has been happy to return the favor.
According to Politico, former Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is "in discussions with Fox News about becoming a contributor." Brown, who recently announced that he would not seek Secretary of State John Kerry's former Senate seat, was given a huge boost by Fox News during his previous runs for office. During his successful 2010 Senate run, the network openly advocated for his candidacy, helped him fundraise, and smeared his opponent.
If hired, Brown's trajectory with regard to Fox News would mimic that of Sarah Palin. Palin signed a Fox News contract after the network lauded her 2008 campaign as Sen. John McCain's running mate. Palin has since left Fox.
In the lead up to the January 2010 special election to fill Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat, Fox repeatedly gave Brown a platform to reach their audience. During his appearances, Brown routinely directed viewers to his website to find out "how to help with donating and volunteering." Former Fox News contributor Dick Morris took the advocacy a step further, pleading with Hannity viewers shortly before the election to "please, please help" Brown and "go to DickMorris.com ... to help elect" him.
Fox personalities like Stuart Varney and Charles Payne and the Fox Nation website all suggested a Brown win could lead to a stock market rally, with Varney telling Fox viewers, "your 401(k) could do well" if Scott Brown wins.
Fox & Friends' coverage of Brown in 2009 and 2010 was particularly fawning. The hosts speculated about Brown possibly running for president one day and once spent a segment playing with Scott Brown action figures:
After Brown took office, Fox was occasionally critical of him when he didn't adhere to a far-right legislative agenda. Nonetheless, during Brown's unsuccessful 2012 re-election campaign, Fox News once again supported him. Over the course of one three-day period in August 2012, the network spent at least 17 segments and 43 minutes of airtime smearing his opponent, Elizabeth Warren, over comments she had made about infrastructure spending and wealthy Americans.
Brown's decision not to seek Kerry's seat could open the door for Fox News contributor Keith Ablow to make his own Senate run. Ablow has indicated he would consider running for Kerry's seat if Republican leaders stand "united" around him and he does not have to face a primary challenger.
If that happens, a Fox News candidate would be turning into a Fox News contributor, allowing a Fox News contributor to become a Fox News candidate.
UPDATE: New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter reports that Brown's hiring is official. He notes that while Brown has said that he will not seek the Massachusetts Senate seat, he "could instead seek the Massachusetts governorship in 2014, but for now he'll appear pretty much exclusively on Fox, a powerful platform for anyone in the Republican party." Thus a Fox candidate has become a Fox contributor, possibly in preparation to later become a Fox candidate once again.
Fox News host Geraldo Rivera is poised to become the latest Republican to leverage their Fox News platform into a possible run at political office. During an appearance this morning on Fox & Friends, Rivera suggested that he will continue to appear on the network while he "hone[s] a message," and do so until "it's no longer legal."
On the January 31 edition of his Cumulus radio show, Rivera told listeners that he is "truly contemplating" running for U.S. Senate in New Jersey. Following a discussion this morning of various news events, including the suicide attack in Turkey, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson asked Rivera about the "firestorm" he had created by announcing a possible run. In response, Rivera launched into what co-host Steve Doocy appropriately labeled a "stump speech."
Joined by onscreen text featuring phrases like "Senator Rivera?," Rivera touted himself as a "modern Republican" that could appeal to "a point of view that is unrepresented in states like New Jersey." Calling for a "new vitalization of the Republican Party," Rivera explained his desire to cut the deficit and rein in entitlements while also indicating his support of gay marriage, Roe v. Wade, and immigration reform.
When Doocy asked Rivera if he's aware that he "can't be on TV or radio" if he officially declares his candidacy, Rivera explained that the race is "still a good year away," so he has "some time to hone a message," presumably using his Fox and WABC platforms. Later in the conversation, after Doocy encouraged him to make any official announcement on Fox & Friends, a laughing Rivera responded, "Well, I'll be here every Friday, until as such time as it's no longer legal."
Rivera is the latest in an increasingly long line of Fox News personalities who have attempted to use the network as a springboard into political office.
Politico reports that Fox News has extended Karl Rove's contract through 2016. If the past is any indication, you can expect the network to continue to be used as a fundraising and publicity vehicle for Rove-affiliated outside groups, Republican Party propaganda masked as news analysis, and repeated failure to disclose Rove'sentangled interests.
Rove, the so-called "architect" of President Bush's election wins, was hired as a Fox contributor in 2008.
During his appearances, Fox has frequently failed to inform its viewers that Rove is still an active participant in Republican Party politics -- specifically the creation and operation of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, his PAC and non-profit, respectively, that spent millions opposing Democrats in the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Rove has been reliable source of pro-Republican falsehoods on Fox during appearances in which he was often billed as an analyst, rather than as a Republican political operative with a vested interest in the outcome.
Another Fox News contributor is thinking of making a run for office as a Republican.
Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow is reportedly considering running for John Kerry's Massachusetts Senate seat in the event Kerry is confirmed as the next secretary of state. Ablow, who has a long history of making outrageous (often anti-gay) comments, is the latest in a long line of conservatives who have attempted to use their Fox News platform as a springboard into political office.
According to a report in the Boston Herald, Ablow released a statement indicating he would be open to "seriously" considering a senate run if neither Scott Brown nor William Weld run for Kerry's seat:
Ablow, 51, of Newbury, who state records show has supported the campaigns of Republican candidates for office, including Charlie Baker's failed 2010 run for governor, could not immediately be reached for comment this morning, but in a statement said: "The dysfunction in Washington and the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut are both signs this country needs help, and, if neither William Weld nor Scott Brown is the candidate to bring that help from Massachusetts to Washington, I will take those who have asked me to run much more seriously.
"It is time, on so many levels, for real leadership based on the truth," he added.
Ablow is a member of the "Fox News Medical A-Team," and a regular columnist for FoxNews.com.
In 2012 The Wall Street Journal regularly failed to disclose the election-related conflicts of interest of its op-ed writers. The paper's editorial page published op-eds from 12 writers without disclosing their roles as advisers to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. It also didn't regularly disclose columnist Karl Rove's close ties to the super PAC American Crossroads and the affiliated political organization American Crossroads GPS, two groups which spent a massive sum of money attempting to aid Mitt Romney and various Republican congressional candidates in November's elections.
According to a Media Matters review, the Journal published 2012 pieces from the following Romney advisers without disclosing their campaign ties: John Bolton; Max Boot; Lee A. Casey; Seth Cropsey; Paula Dobriansky; Mary Ann Glendon; Kevin Hassett; Michael Mukasey; Paul E. Peterson; David B. Rivkin Jr.; John Taylor; and Martin West.
An October 2 study by Media Matters found that in 70 percent of op-eds written by Mitt Romney advisers, the Journal failed to disclose the writer's connections to the Romney campaign. In several instances, the paper failed to disclose an op-ed writer's connection despite its own news section reporting that the writer is advising Romney.
The Wall Street Journal failed to disclose that a small business owner it quoted to criticize President Obama's proposal to raise marginal tax rates on high-income earners is affiliated with the National Federation of Independent Business -- which is opposed to the tax rate increase.
The Journal faced criticism during the election when it failed on many occasions to disclose the affiliations of political operatives like Karl Rove and the affiliation of many former Romney campaign advisers when they wrote about the presidential and congressional campaigns.
In a Friday article, the Journal suggested that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of income earners would adversely affect small businesses. A Journal report on deficit negotiations stated: "Small businesses are more sensitive to personal tax rates--the rates at which many are taxed, via their owners' personal returns. That helps explain why small business is more closely aligned than big business with the GOP opposition to raising personal tax rates for anyone."
However, experts maintain that only a tiny fraction -- about 3 percent -- of small businesses will be affected by the expiration of tax cuts on income above $250,000. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained that the overly broad definition of small businesses in these tax discussions includes large corporate law practices, accounting firms, and wealthy investors in financial and real-estate partnerships -- not what many people may consider to be small businesses.
The small business owner quoted by the Journal to substantiate this false claim, Albert Marce, and his business, are both members of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) -- but the Journal failed to disclose this. According to the NFIB's website, the Triple Play Café became a member of NFIB in 2009 and its part-owner Macre is "also owner of an NFIB member accounting practice."
NFIB, closely aligned with the Republican Party, has in the past actively opposed both the health care reform law and increases in the minimum wage. NFIB also helped finance a misleading study that claimed that 700,000 jobs would be lost if the marginal tax rate on the wealthiest Americans increased. It is currently lobbying against allowing the expiration of tax cuts for those making over $250,000.