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  • Breitbart’s Climate Science Misinformation Embraced By GOP-Led House Science Committee

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    On December 1, the House Science Committee -- chaired by climate science-denying “bully” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) -- tweeted out a Breitbart.com article promoting false claims about climate science and castigating “climate alarmists”:

    The Breitbart article was written by James Delingpole, who has previously disparaged climate scientists at NASA, NOAA, and other respected institutions as “talentless low-lives who cannot be trusted." In the article, Delingpole claimed: “Global land temperatures have plummeted by one degree Celsius since the middle of this year – the biggest and steepest fall on record. But the news has been greeted with an eerie silence by the world’s alarmist community.”

    As purported evidence, Delingpole cited an article by David Rose in the British tabloid Daily Mail. But Rose’s article is based on egregious cherry-picking, as climate blogger Tamino explains:

    [Rose] wants you to think that the worldwide heating we’ve seen for decades now has somehow, magically, come to an end … that it has shown some kind of “pause.” To give that impression, he had to search far and wide for one set of data from which he can cherry-pick one span of time in which he can focus on one recent event, so he can blame this year’s record-breaking heat on something other than mankind and our greenhouse-gas emissions. Thanks to the many many organizations that publish climate data, there are lots and lots and lots of data sets to choose from … so it’s no surprise he found one.

    [...]

    It’s global average temperature, not for Earth’s surface where we live, but for the lower layer of the atmosphere … not for the whole world, but for the land areas only … and it’s not all the data, it leaves out the part David Rose doesn’t want you to see.

    [...]

    Data like this, in fact almost all data, are a combination of trend — the long-term pattern that actually has some persistence — and fluctuation — the short-term ups and downs that are only temporary. And there are fluctuations. Plenty. They go up and down and down and up, but never really get anywhere.

    It’s abundantly obvious, resoundingly unambiguous, completely clear, and pretty simple, that when it comes to climate what matters is the trend, not the fluctuations. For climate deniers, what’s abundantly obvious, resoundingly unambiguous, and completely clear is what they want to avoid. Because it’s so simple, they have to bend over backwards to distract you from it. Like David Rose did.

    Breitbart has a long track record of blatant climate science misinformation, and is even considered a go-to outlet for academics who are bought off by the fossil fuel industry. So the decision by the Republican-led House Science Committee to approvingly cite Breitbart on climate change is ill-advised, to put it mildly. Indeed, it prompted a quick response from Democratic committee member Mark Takano (D-CA), who tweeted: “If Republicans on the House Science Committee are getting their science news from Breitbart, that would explain a great deal.”

    Republican committee chairman Lamar Smith, a climate science denier who has taken over $770,000 in career campaign contributions from the oil and gas and electric utility industries, has a track record of harassing and falsely attacking climate scientists -- just like Breitbart does. So it should come as no surprise that Smith has written his fair share of op-eds for Breitbart.

  • CNN Needs To Do Better Than This Trump Chyron

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    A CNN graphic that misleadingly claimed President-elect Donald Trump “deliver[ed] on [his] vow to save” jobs at Indiana-based manufacturer Carrier demonstrates the need for the network to continue using on-screen graphics as a way of fact-checking Trump during his transition and presidency.

    Carrier announced on November 29 that it had struck a deal with Trump and the State of Indiana to keep about 1,000 jobs it had planned to move to Mexico in the United States. According to The Wall Street Journal, the state will provide Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies Corp. (UTC), $7 million in tax breaks over the next decade in exchange for keeping the jobs there. In addition to the $7 million in tax breaks, Trump reportedly promised UTC CEO Greg Hayes millions more in future corporate tax reductions.

    Discussing the announcement on the December 1 edition of CNN Newsroom, panelists noted multiple problems with Trump’s actions, including that the announcement could cause a “slippery slope” where “every company will expect to get huge tax incentives to stay in the United States,” a point economists and policy experts have also made. CNN commentator and New Yorker editor Ryan Lizza agreed, noting that “the precedent here can be very dangerous,” and adding, “You basically have this sort of extortion game that companies can now play because Trump has set himself up this way.” Echoing economist Jared Bernstein, Atlantic editor Ron Brownstein argued it is “unlikely that individual interventions in the decisions of individual companies is going to make a big dent in the long-term trajectory of a more automated and globalized manufacturing supply chain.”

    However, someone looking at only the TV screen would not know these potential stumbling blocks with the deal. Instead, they would see only a graphic saying, “Trump Delivers On Vow To Save Carrier Jobs,” essentially giving Trump the talking point he wanted. That graphic presents a stark contrast from what CNN’s own Kate Bolduan noted during a later segment of At This Hour in which she stated: “1,000 jobs remaining in Indiana that would have left, that is to be celebrated. … But it is a far cry from what Trump promised … on the campaign trail.”

    During the presidential campaign, CNN repeatedly used on-screen graphics to call out Trump’s lies and misleading rhetoric, such as "Trump: Never Said Japan Should Have Nukes (He Did)," "Trump’s Son: Father Apologized To Khans (He Hasn’t)," and "Trump Calls Obama Founder of ISIS (He’s Not)." CNN was not the only network to do this, with MSNBC also joining in to fact-check Trump’s claim he watched a “video of Iran receiving cash.” MSNBC’s graphic pointed out that the video was “nonexistent.”

    As ABC News legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams noted during the campaign, this practice of fact-checking Trump in real time helped solve “one of the big problems in cable news” where things sometimes are “just not true” and need to be called out as such.

    CNN’s failure to express the nuanced issues with the Carrier announcement highlights the need for CNN and other networks to have clearer on-screen graphics and continue their practice of on-screen fact-checking. These measures are crucial in preventing misleading talking points and falsehoods pushed by Trump from gaining traction.

  • First Amendment Watch: November 2016

    Trump Ditched His Press Pool And Repeatedly Bashed NY Times And CNN On Twitter

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    During his 2016 campaign for president, Donald Trump launched an unprecedented war on the press. Since his election, Media Matters has tracked his and his team’s continuing attacks on the media as well as his breaking of presidential norms regarding press access, a dangerous threat to our First Amendment freedoms. Following is a list of President-elect Donald Trump’s attacks on the media -- and demonstrations of disregard for the press -- from Election Day through the end of November.

  • Mainstream Outlets Rush To Give Trump Credit For Vague Tweets About His Business

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media allowed President-elect Donald Trump to, once again, take over the news narrative with his Twitter activity -- this time with a series of vague tweets in which he claimed he would be leaving his business to avoid conflicts of interest. The announcement, however, provides no details about what will become of his business holdings and distracts from news that highlights the degree to which those holdings are ripe for future conflicts.

    In a series of tweets on November 30, Trump announced that he will be “holding a major news conference” on December 15 to discuss his plans for “leaving” his “great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country.” Trump added that while he is “not mandated” to “do this under any law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”

    As The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake pointed out, “The only real news in those Trump tweets is that he’ll actually be doing a press conference,” given that Trump has already said that he would hand off management of his businesses to his children. The tweets included no new information on how Trump’s business dealings would be handled after he, allegedly, leaves them behind. But that reality didn’t stop media from making a story out of the tweets and leading with it.

    USA Today:

    CNN:

    The Associated Press:

    ABC News:

    CBS News:

    NBC News:

    The tweets do nothing to squash mounting concerns over the conflicts of interest Trump could face as president, and it’s unclear whether his promised response would address these conflicts. Shortly after the election, a Trump Organization spokesperson told CNN that Trump was planning to transfer “‘management of The Trump Organization and its portfolio of businesses to Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump,’” his children. But as ethics experts explained to Politico, “installing Trump’s adult children as caretakers doesn’t eliminate conflict questions, since he’d still know what his interests were, and he’d presumably still be in contact with his children.”

    With his tweetstorm, Trump also continued his pattern of hijacking the media narrative when it suits him. In this case, Trump’s tweets give media outlets an excuse to downplay or ignore reports about the “ethical concerns” raised after the Kingdom of Bahrain reserved space in Trump’s D.C. hotel. Trump also used his tweets to continue to disseminate information on his own terms, which in the past has allowed him to avoid hard interviews and limit his press conferences.

    Media are falling into Trump’s trap again by giving his tweets the front-page treatment.

  • Monica Crowley, Possible Trump Press Secretary, Regularly Pushes Conspiracies On Fox News

    Crowley Routinely Attacks Journalists As "Corrupt" And "Leftist"

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering Fox News contributor Monica Crowley for White House press secretary. Crowley has long derided journalists as “corrupt” and “leftist,” and has pushed numerous conspiracy theories concerning President Obama’s race, religion, parentage, and birthplace; former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s health; and various progressive pieces of legislation and administrative actions.

    With the recent reporting on Trump’s potential corruption, it may be surprising that Crowley would want to serve in a Trump administration, given this declaration she made in 2012:

    But Crowley shares Trump’s disdain for journalism, and she praised Trump for trolling of reporters by calling a phony news conference to supposedly put his birther claims to rest, calling Trump’s actions a “masterstroke.” She also defended Trump from the numerous sexual harassment and assault allegations against him during the presidential campaign, claiming they were “a classic political hit job.”

    Crowley Regularly Disparages The Press As Corrupt And “Leftist”

    Crowley Has Often Tarred The Media As “Corrupt.”

    Crowley: “Obama Has Gotten Away [With] Bloody Murder,” “Literally,” With “The Protection Of The Press.”

    Crowley Accused Media Of Running “Mafia-Like Protection Racket” On Behalf Of President Obama.

    Crowley Frequently Derides Media As “Leftist.”

    Crowley Is A Conspiracy Theorist

    Crowley Supported Trump’s Birtherism And Pushed Other Conspiracy Theories About President Obama’s Race, Faith, And “Real Father”

    Crowley: Trump’s Birtherism “Gaining Traction” Because Obama Has “Adopted Some Policies That Are Seriously Antithetical To American Values.”

    Crowley: Trump’s Questions About Obama’s Birth Certificate And Educational History Are “Very Legitimate.”

    Crowley: “Issues About [Obama’s] Origins … Have Traction” Because He Does "Un-American" Things That Give Impression He's "Not One Of Us."

    Crowley Questioned Whether Obama Is A “Natural-Born Citizen” And Eligible To Be President.

    Crowley Enthusiastically Endorsed “Dynamite” Conspiracy Theory Film Alleging Obama’s Real Father Is Communist Frank Marshall Davis. [Media Matters, 10/25/12]

    Crowley Claimed Obama Is An Arab, Not Black, And That He’s Lying By Presenting Himself As African-American. [Media Matters, 6/26/08]

    Crowley Pushed Myth That Obama Is Muslim By Falsely Claiming His Half-Brother Told The Jerusalem Post That “Obama’s Got A Really Solid Muslim Background.” [Media Matters, 6/20/08]

    Crowley Pushed Clinton Health Conspiracy Theories

    Crowley Pushed Conspiracy Theory That Clinton Faked Illness And Concussion To Avoid Benghazi Testimony.

    Crowley Helped Push Conspiracy Theory About Clinton’s Health During Presidential Campaign By Highlighting “Major Coughing Fits.”

    Crowley Routinely Pushes Claims Of Democratic Takeover Of Americans’ Daily Lives Through Legislation And Administrative Action

    Crowley: 2009 Cap And Trade Legislation Was “Really About … The Government Taking More And More Control Over Your Life.”

    Crowley On Health Care Reform Debate In 2009: “We’re Talking About Nationalizing … Health Care.”

    Crowley: Obama Was Trying To “Indoctrinate Our Children” With 2009 Education Speech; “This Is What Chairman Mao Did.”

    Crowley Pushed Conspiracy Theory That ATF’s Fast & Furious Operation Was Meant To Create Conditions For Passing Stronger Gun Laws.

    Crowley: The Social Safety Net’s Purpose Is To Create A "Cult Of Victimhood And Dependency."

    Crowley: Obama’s “Whole Objective Is To ... Get People Dependent On Government."

    Crowley Has Made Inflammatory And Offensive Statements About The LGBTQ Community, President Obama, And Others

    Crowley: Justice Sonia Sotomayor Was “Basically Alexander Hamilton In Drag” During 2009 Senate Confirmation Hearing.

    Crowley: Justice Department’s Decision Not To Defend DOMA Is A “Form Of Dictatorship From “Mubarak Obama.”

    Crowley Insinuated Sandra Fluke Was Gay And Later Apologized After Outcry.

    Crowley Said Obama And Accused Murderers Have A Similarly Negative Influence On Children.

    Crowley: “From A Conservative Perspective,” Obama’s Re-Election “Was A National Suicide.”

    Crowley Called 2011 Shooting Of Rep. Gabby Giffords A “Personal Tragedy … Not A National Tragedy,” Dismissed Memorial Service For Slain As An Obama Campaign Rally.

    Crowley: Syrian Refugee Crisis “Is Not A Migrant Crisis. This Is An Invasion.”

  • Trump's Other Putin-Praising, Anti-Muslim National Security Pick K.T. McFarland Has Supported Torture And War With Iran

    McFarland Is The Latest Fox News Personality To Be Named To New Trump Administration

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President-elect Donald Trump has named Fox News analyst K.T. McFarland as his pick for deputy national security adviser, joining frequent Fox guest and fellow anti-Muslim Putin fan retired Gen. Michael Flynn on Trump’s White House national security team. McFarland has repeatedly advocated for war with Iran and misled about its nuclear program, expressed support for torture, and has made bizarre and incendiary statements about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other topics.

    McFarland’s Praise Of Russia’s Putin

    McFarland: “Vladimir Putin Is The One Who Really Deserves That Nobel Peace Prize.” In a September 10, 2013, FoxNews.com column, K.T. McFarland credited Putin with offering Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry "a way out of the mess they'd created" with a proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control. McFarland went on to say "the world knows that Vladimir Putin is the one who really deserves that Nobel Peace Prize" for saving "the world from near-certain disaster." [Media Matters, 9/10/13]

    McFarland Lauded Putin For Seizing Ukraine’s Crimea: “Winners Write History.”

    McFarland’s Support For Profiling Muslims

    McFarland Blamed Charlie Hebdo Terror Attack On "Political Correctness," Called For More Profiling To Prevent Future Attacks.

    McFarland’s Response To Brussels Terror Attack: “Political Correctness” By Not Discriminating Against Muslims “Is Getting Us Killed.”

    New York’s Muslim Surveillance Program Failure Shows Profiling American Muslims Doesn’t Work. An April 2014 New York Times report on the shuttering of the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program admitted that after years of collecting information on Muslims in the city, "the police acknowledged that it never generated a lead." The extensive program had police mapping “communities inside and outside the city, logging where customers in traditional Islamic clothes ate meals and documenting their lunch-counter conversations.” [Media Matters, 11/19/15]

    McFarland’s Support For War Against Iran And Opposition To Nuclear Deal

    Since 2008, McFarland Repeatedly Claimed Iran Is A Year Or Two Away From Nuclear Weapons. In December 2008, McFarland claimed “Iran is probably two years away from a nuclear weapon.” In April 2010, McFarland said, “In a couple of months time -- 6 months, 9 months -- we're going to be faced with this choice: bombing Iran or letting Iran get the bomb." And in June 2012, McFarland said Iran is “on the verge of getting nuclear weapons." [Media Matters, 2/21/12; 6/6/12]

    McFarland In 2012: “Either Bomb Iran, Or Let Iran Get The Bomb."

    McFarland: “The Military Option Should Not Be Off The Table” For Dealing With Iran. On the October 11, 2011, edition of Fox News’ America Live, McFarland said:

    MEGYN KELLY (HOST): I want to pick up on your point then that if this is, or can be considered, an act of war, what is that mean? Is that a decision that our government will make, whether to use that terminology, and if they do, does that not raise the stakes?

    McFARLAND: It raises the stakes enormously. What are things that we might do other than sanctions? I mean, we can scold them, but that's not very effective. We could put a blockade around Iran. You know, it's certainly -- if Iran continues with its nuclear weapons program and sort of thumbs its nose at the world, it lends credibility to the idea that the military option should not be off the table, for example. [Media Matters, 10/14/11]

    Numerous Nuclear And Military Experts Supported Nuclear Deal With Iran. In August 2015, the nonpartisan Arms Control Association released a statement from nuclear nonproliferation specialists backing the Obama administration’s deal with Iran over its nuclear program, calling the agreement "a net-plus for nonproliferation." The statement, which was signed by 75 experts, called the agreement "strong, long-term, and verifiable" and noted that it "advances the security interests" of the United States and its allies. Many retired generals and admirals also released an open letter in August 2015 in support of the deal, which they described as “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." [Media Matters, 8/18/15]

    McFarland’s Support Of Torture

    McFarland Defends Waterboarding: "Even If It's Torture, It's Probably Worth Doing"

    McFarland Criticized Senate’s Publication Of Torture Report: It “Was Completely Political.”

    Click here for the testimonies of numerous experts regarding how techniques like waterboarding are ineffective.

    McFarland’s History Of Incendiary And Bizarre Comments

    McFarland Said Of Hillary Clinton: You Have “Blood On Your Hands” From Benghazi Attack.

    McFarland Claimed Obama Administration Made “Political Decision Not To Rescue” Americans Killed In Benghazi. [Media Matters, 10/10/12]

    McFarland: Saudi Arabia Was Hiding Opposition To Iran Nuclear Deal Because “They’re Arabs” And Thus Dishonest.

    McFarland: "We Should Eventually Take Our Troops Out Of Europe And Put Them On The Mexican Border."

    McFarland Claimed During 2006 Senate Run That Clinton “Had Helicopters Flying Over My House.” TPM Media’s Josh Marshall noted that during her 2006 attempt to run against Clinton for Senate in New York, “McFarland claimed that Clinton was so worried about her candidacy that she sent secret helicopters to spy on her house in the Hamptons and also cased her apartment Manhattan. ‘Hillary Clinton is really worried about me, and is so worried, in fact, that she had helicopters flying over my house in Southampton today taking pictures.’" [TPM Media, 11/25/16]

    McFarland Fell For Obviously Fake Rudy Giuliani Twitter Account.

  • “Nixonian”: Journalists React To Trump’s Declaration That As President, He “Can’t Have A Conflict Of Interest”

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    During an on-the-record meeting with The New York Times staff, President-elect Donald Trump declared that there is no legal need for him to free himself of his international business affairs to avoid conflicts of interest, flatly saying that presidents “can’t have a conflict of interest.” Journalists responded to Trump’s declaration by calling it “Nixonian,” referencing former President Richard Nixon’s comment to journalist David Frost that “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

    Times reporters live-tweeted the meeting between Trump and newspaper staff, where he was asked about the numerous conflicts of interest he is facing with his business ties and his plans to turn over his businesses to his children while simultaneously involving them in his White House transition. In his replies, Trump said it’s not necessary for him to put his businesses in any kind of trust and that, as president, he “can’t have a conflict of interest” -- echoing an argument made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani that financial conflict-of-interest laws don’t apply to the presidency.

    Journalists responded to Trump’s declaration by calling it “Nixonian” in nature, a reference to President Richard Nixon telling David Frost in a May 1977 interview that “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal”:

    In fact, legal experts across the political spectrum have warned that presidential conflicts of interest of this type “could violate a crucial constitutional protection against corruption and influence by other governments,” specifically the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution -- “essentially an antibribery rule, which forbids public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign powers without explicit congressional approval.”