Media Structures & Regulations

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  • Right-Wing Media Shouldn't Be Surprised At Trump's Escalating Issues With The Press

    A History Of The Trump Campaign's Battle With The Fourth Estate

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    An alleged March 8 incident involving GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump's campaign manager and a reporter is the latest salvo in an increasingly aggressive -- and now violent -- battle between Trump's campaign and the press.

    On March 9, Politico reported that Michelle Fields, a Breitbart News reporter, was "forcibly grabbed on her arm" by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, which nearly caused her to fall to the ground. After Lewandowski denied the events and called Fields an "attention seeker," Politico released audio supporting "the reporter's version of the events." Dismissing the evidence, which also includes photos of bruising on Fields' arm, Trump doubled down against the reporter, claiming that "nobody saw anything" and suggesting that "perhaps she made the story up."

    Many right-wing media figures expressed shock at the events and heavily criticized the Trump campaign. The Blaze's Dana Loesch tweeted that if conservative media "don't call this what it is," they are "treading dangerous new ground." Breitbart News' Ben Shapiro asked, "Since when is it okay for campaign managers to assault journalists? What the hell is wrong with these people?" Fox's Katie Pavlich also responded on Twitter: "Press being able to work freely is a crucial America value. The man running for President, Trump, & his campaign manager don't believe in it."

    The Fields incident is just the latest in what has become a pattern by the Trump campaign, which has battled the press for months. For a candidate who has said the Constitution is "set in stone" and whose son has referred to him as a "great Constitutionalist," here's a look back at Trump's ironic history of attacking the First Amendment and the reporters who use it to do their jobs:

    June 30: Donald Trump sued Univision for $500 million for dropping its coverage of his Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants following Trump's disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants.

    July 27: Trump's attorney Michael Cohen threatened a Daily Beast reporter: "So I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?"

    August 7: Trump said Megyn Kelly has "blood coming out of her wherever" after being unhappy with her debate question pressing him on sexist comments.

    August 25: Trump booted Univision anchor Jorge Ramos out of a news conference after he asked about Trump's controversial immigration proposals.

    September 23: Trump tweeted that he would boycott Fox News for "treating me very unfairly."

    October 15: Trump threatened to not participate in the CNBC Republican debate if the network did not limit the timing to two hours and give the candidates opening and closing statements.

    October 16: CNBC gave in to demands on length and opening statements for its Republican debate.

    November: The Daily Beast's Olivia Nuzzi was blacklisted from Trump events and "kicked off the press email list."

    November 18: CNN's Noah Gray tweeted a video showing Corey Lewandowski threatening to "pull [press] credentials" if reporters left the press pen.

    November 24: NBC's Katy Tur tweeted that media being confined to "the pen" is "official policy that the secret service is enforcing."

    November 24: Trump mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski's disability after Kovaleski expressed doubts about Trump's claim that thousands of Muslims cheered in New Jersey during the 9/11 attacks.

    December 7: Trump pointed out NBC journalist Katy Tur in front of a South Carolina rally crowd, which booed, and he called her a "third-rate journalist."

    December 8: Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for "running his country" and being "a leader" when pressed about Putin's alleged killing of critical journalists.

    January 26: Trump dropped out of the second Fox Republican primary debate due to Megyn Kelly's presence as a moderator.

    January 28: Mother Jones' Pema Levy penned a piece on being banned from a Trump rally along with other journalists.

    February 26: Trump promised to sue the media for negative stories about him if he's elected president.

    February 29: Time magazine photographer Chris Morris was choked by a Secret Service agent at a Trump rally in Virginia.

    March 8: Breitbart's Michelle Fields was allegedly forcibly grabbed by campaign manager Lewandowski.

  • Fox's Stuart Varney: FCC Proposal To Expand Internet Access For Needy Families Is "Ridiculous"

    Fox Continues Smear Campaign Against "Obamaphone" Program

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Stuart Varney smears FCC Lifeline program

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney continued Fox News' smear campaign against the Reagan-era affordable telephone service program for low-income Americans known as Lifeline, which conservatives derisively refer to as "Obamaphones," with a segment attacking a proposed expansion to allow the subsidy to be used toward the purchase of mobile data or broadband Internet.

    On the March 10 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., Stuart Varney and conservative journalist Jillian Melchior derided the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proposal to expand the use of the Lifeline telecommunications subsidy for low-income households to include mobile data and broadband Internet. Varney lambasted the program as "ridiculous," while Melchior referred to the proposed subsidy providing qualifying families with access to the Internet as "insane." Melchior also described Lifeline as "one of the worst programs" in the government.

    Contrary to Fox's extreme rhetoric, expanding the $9.25-per-month Lifeline subsidy to include its use for the purchase of broadband for low-income Americans is an important step toward alleviating poverty. According to a May 28 report from The New York Times, when the Lifeline program expansion was first floated, the proposed change would have represented the "strongest recognition yet" from the FCC "that high-speed Internet access is as essential to economic well-being as good transportation and telephone service." Citing research from Pew, The Times highlighted how low-income and minority communities lag far behind the rest of the country in broadband access.

    In an exclusive March 9 interview with The Verge, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler mentioned the importance of giving low-income families "access to 21st century networks" by expanding Lifeline. Wheeler also argued in a March 8 blog post with FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn that "Internet access has become a pre-requisite for full participation in our economy and our society." On March 1, 17 public interest groups joined six broadband providers by signing a joint letter of support urging the FCC to go ahead with the expansion, stating that providing Internet access to needy families will help increase access to job training, employment opportunities, and education services. On February 29, Education Week reported on how the expansion could positively affect education by reducing the so-called "homework gap" faced by children in low-income households. According to Education Week, "70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires Internet access" but almost 5 million low-income households with children lack reliable, high-speed connections at home, which creates an additional obstacle for millions of "already disadvantaged students."

    Fox News and its right-wing media allies have a long history of shaming the poor by complaining that vital anti-poverty programs are actually "trapping people" in poverty and hyping isolated instances of fraud or abuse to disparage successful anti-poverty programs. The mythical "Obamaphone" program has become one of Fox's favorite targets. In 2012, the network promoted a video of an Obama supporter praising her so-called "Obamaphone" as proof that Democrats "bribe people" to vote for them. Fox's misleading portrayals of the poor and of so-called "Obamaphones" even garnered a mocking response from President Obama during a May 12 summit on poverty. The president's biting criticism didn't stop Fox from returning to its "Obamaphone" myth-making just weeks later, when Fox Business host Charles Payne used a May 29 appearance on Fox & Friends to attack the very same Lifeline expansion proposal that Varney and Melchior attacked again today.

    See the full segment from Varney & Co. below:

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Do you remember the Obamaphone program? Cell phones for the poor, subsidized by you from a tax on your phone bill? Remember that? Still around. Now we hear that program could expand to Internet service. Joining us now, Heat Street political editor Jillian Melchior. Jillian, welcome back.

    JILLIAN MELCHIOR: Thank you.

    VARNEY: What?

    MELCHIOR: It's insane.

    VARNEY: I mean, it was insane. Free phones were ridiculous, now free Internet?

    MELCHIOR: Yes, the FCC wants to expand this program. They are probably going to get their way when the vote comes down on March 31. They want to expand it to include Wi-Fi, and already the GOP commissioners are saying that this is insanity, that this is a program riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse. And we're not going to cut it back, we're going to grow it.

    [...]

    MELCHIOR: FCC wants to grow the program budget to $2.25 billion a year, that's up from $1.5 billion. Saying they think --

    VARNEY: Wait a second, $1.5 billion to $2.25 billion?

    MELCHIOR: $2.25 billion. Yes, and they want to sign up as many as 5 million totally new beneficiaries for this. So this is growing a program, and it's one of the worst programs in government

  • Media Figures Highlight The Contrast Between Two Of Trump's Statements On Media Practices

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media figures are spotlighting the contrast in Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's various statements on the media and media processes. They note that days after Trump vowed to expand libel laws so it would be easier to sue the media, he claimed to have too much respect for the press and its off-the-record process to release the controversial record of an off-the-record meeting he had with The New York Times' editorial board.

  • Network Evening News Programs Ignore Crucial Facts In Reports On Clinton Aide's Immunity Agreement

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    In a March 2 report, the Washington Post reported that the Department of Justice granted immunity to Bryan Pagliano, an aide of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who allegedly set up her private email server. In their coverage of the report, nightly news programs on CBS, ABC, and NBC hyped claims that Pagliano's immunity signaled a troubling development for Hillary Clinton -- while neglecting to inform viewers that Pagliano's "limited immunity" is commonly requested and received in these types of investigations, and is "not indicative of guilt."

  • Rupert Murdoch: GOP "Would Be Mad Not To Unify" Around Donald Trump If He Becomes Inevitable

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Rupert Murdoch, the executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company, wrote on Twitter that the Republican "establishment ... would be mad not to unify" around the Republican front-runner Donald Trump if he continues his string of electoral successes following Trump's win of seven Super Tuesday primary contests. His call for unity behind Trump stands in sharp contrast to other right-wing media figures who have called for unity to stop Trump from winning nomination.

    Following Trump's win of seven Super Tuesday primary contests, Murdoch commented in a March 2 tweet that the Republican "establishment" would be "mad not to unify" around Trump if he becomes the inevitable nominee.

    Other conservative media figures have responded to Trump's victories by advocating several tactics to defeat Trump. After his dominant Super Tuesday performance, conservative media personalities warned that a Trump nomination would mean "the GOP in its current form ends," called for the GOP to "go all in against him," and a growing number of conservative pundits have vowed not to support Trump if he is the nominee.  Even Rush Limbaugh urged the Republican Party to "unify behind Ted Cruz," calling it the party's "smartest move." Right-wing media personalities have also begun to call on Republican presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to unite in their opposition to Trump and combine on the same ticket.

    Murdoch's call for establishment Republicans to unify behind Trump comes 3 days after he asked establishment Republicans and Trump to "cool it and close ranks to fight the real enemy."

  • CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves Reveals Why Media Won't Stop Giving Wall-To-Wall Coverage To Donald Trump

    Moonves: Trump "May Not Be Good For America, But It's Damn Good For CBS"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    As The Hollywood Reporter noted on February 29, CBS executive chairman, president, and CEO Leslie Moonves "can appreciate" the ad money Donald Trump's presidential campaign and his competitors bring to networks. Moonves said of the presidential election "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."

    This is not the first time Moonves cheered Trump's political ascent in the name of advertising dollars: according to a December 10, 2015, report from The Intercept's Lee Fang, Moonves said "Go Donald! Keep getting out there! ...this is fun, watching this, let them spend money on us" during an investor presentation.

    CBS is not the only network interested in the ratings Donald Trump can bring. Fox News has consistently given the candidate a disproportionate amount of coverage. Fox News spent nearly 4 hours interviewing Trump in January alone, and the candidate holds a massive lead in overall interview airtime since May 2015 (28 hours and 40 minutes, 16 hours more than any other candidate).

    Experts like Hector Sánchez -- chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda -- have pointed out that media's ratings-driven response to Trump could have "a deep impact in the quality of life of the Latino community."

    From The Hollywood Reporter on February 29, 2016, (emphasis added):

    Leslie Moonves can appreciate a Donald Trump candidacy.

    Not that the CBS executive chairman and CEO might vote for the Republican presidential frontrunner, but he likes the ad money Trump and his competitors are bringing to the network.

    "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS," he said of the presidential race.

    Moonves called the campaign for president a "circus" full of "bomb throwing," and he hopes it continues.

    "Most of the ads are not about issues. They're sort of like the debates," he said.

    "Man, who would have expected the ride we're all having right now? ... The money's rolling in and this is fun," he said.

    "I've never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going," said Moonves.

    "Donald's place in this election is a good thing," he said Monday at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco.

    "There's a lot of money in the marketplace," the exec said of political advertising so far this presidential season.

  • A Journalist Explains How Donald Trump Uses Twitter To Manipulate The Media

    Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson: Trump Masterfully Uses His Twitter Feed To Drive Cable News

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a tweetstorm on March 1, Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson explained how Donald Trump uses his Twitter feed to masterfully push narratives and drive the news:

    It has been previously reported that journalists are the largest group of verified users on Twitter, and there are regularly published lists of the most influential Twitter political journalists.