Media Structures & Regulations

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  • Gertz: Americans Are "Mired In A Campaign Dominated By Trump" Because "The Media Made It So"

    Gertz: Americans Are "Mired In A Campaign Dominated By Trump" Because "The Media Made It So"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an op-ed for U.S. News & World ReportMedia Matters research director Matt Gertz described how Donald Trump mirrors longstanding pillars of right-wing media and how mainstream media enables him to dominate the airwaves.

    In an April 1 op-ed for U.S. News' "Debate Club," Media Matters' Matthew Gertz explained that "conservative media created the platform and mentality on which Trump built his campaign," while the mainstream media gave Trump unprecedented legitimacy to "boost their ratings":

    Conservative media created the platform and mentality on which Trump built his campaign, and television executives have buttressed it, treating the businessman as a spectacle they could use to boost their ratings.

    Since President Barack Obama's election, right-wing media have made fervent opposition to the president and the progressive movement their overwhelming priority, regularly attacking any Republican politician who steps out of line. They have doubled down on their obsessive opposition to immigration reform and anti-Muslim attacks. And Trump's extreme positions and violent rhetoric mirror those priorities.


    While the conservative media's support for Trump has been based on ideology, the mainstream media's enthusiasm has been based on commercialism. Trump has enjoyed the benefit of a complacent television news industry that is reaping the rewards of the high ratings and resulting ad revenue the GOP front-runner creates. As CBS executive chairman Les Moonves put it, "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS. ... 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."

    When the networks aren't broadcasting Trump speeches, rallies and interviews, they are talking about Trump's latest comments, allowing the candidate to dictate the conversation. According to the media tracking firm mediaQuant, Trump has received nearly $2 billion in earned media during the presidential campaign. By comparison, Sen. Ted Cruz has received $313 million.

    The GOP front-runner also benefits from the many broadcast and cable news shows that are willing to let him call in to their programs, rather than appearing in person or by satellite. This unprecedented practice allows him to dominate interviews, talking through tough questions without having to worry that his facial reactions or body language could compromise his performance.


    With seven months to go before Election Day, we are mired in a campaign dominated by Trump. We got there in part because the media made it so.

  • Despite Saturating The Airwaves, Trump Has Yet To Sit Down With Hispanic Media

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ Versión en español

    Despite giving generous amounts of interview time to nearly every other broadcast news network, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has yet to sit down with the largest Spanish-language news network.

    In roughly nine months of campaigning, Trump has saturated the airwaves with all sorts of media appearances, even taking advantage of unprecedented phone-interview privileges on nearly every major broadcast news network. Yet, the candidate has not granted Univision, the largest Spanish-language network, a single interview, and his campaign has repeatedly blocked Hispanic media journalists from attending his events or asking questions at them, even while granting press credentials to white nationalist media.

    Univision's Jorge Ramos first attempted to get face time with Trump in June, seeking to confront him for his vitriolic anti-immigrant remarks, but Trump responded by publishing the journalist's personal contact information online and mocking Univision for "begging" him for an interview. In August, Trump threw Ramos out of a press conference in Iowa, saying, "Go back to Univision," after Ramos attempted to question the candidate about his immigration plan. One day after settling a lawsuit with the network in February, Trump vowed to grant Ramos an interview, but Ramos told CNN's Reliable Sources on March 20 that he is "'still waiting.'"

    Ramos hasn't been the only Hispanic journalist targeted by Trump's anti-press antics. The candidate also shut down Telemundo's José Díaz-Balart, another highly visible Hispanic journalist in the United States, during a press conference, calling on the reporter only to tell him, "You're finished!" and to say that Telemundo should be "ashamed," before touting his $500 million lawsuit against Univision. Trump did sit for an interview with Diaz-Balart in June, prior to the press conference.

    Hispanic media has contributed meaningful coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign, by conducting fact checks and relentlessly holding candidates accountable, and many Latinos say Univision is their most trusted institution, second only to the Catholic Church.

    Data demonstrates that in order to win the White House, Republican presidential candidates will need to garner at least 40 percent of the Latino vote, which makes Donald Trump's decision to ignore the platforms that can effectively reach this important constituency particularly perplexing.

    CORRECTION: The original piece erroneously stated that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had not done interviews with either Univision and Telemundo. In fact, while the candidate has not submitted to an interview with Univision, the biggest Spanish-language network, he sat for one interview with Telemundo in June.

  • Huffington Post: Media Has Not Asked Trump About Disturbing Allegations Against His Campaign Manager

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A Huffington Post report found that in over a dozen TV interviews with Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, not a single network has asked him about the alleged assault of Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields by Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

    Fields filed a police report against Lewandowski Friday after she was allegedly forcefully grabbed by Lewandowski at a Trump rally while asking a question. Breitbart News' weak response to the incident led to Field and others resigning from the outlet. On the March 14 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, Fields claimed that her former editor told her the incident would be "great" because it would lead to "more access to Donald Trump."

    Donald Trump's campaign has a history of problems with the press, including a Time magazine photographer being choked by a Secret Service agent. Lewandowski himself has been previously accused of making "sexually suggestive and at times vulgar comments to -- and about -- female journalists." Media Matters previously found that the March 13 Sunday political talk shows on NBC, CNN, Fox, and CBS failed to ask Trump about the incident.

    The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone wrote in a March 17 article that "Fields' charge hasn't come up once" in "more than a dozen TV interviews [with Trump] amounting to over two and a half hours of airtime." Calderone noted that "Trump notably brought Lewandowski up on stage during his Tuesday night victory speech in Florida, praising him while he berated the reporters in attendance as 'disgusting' and 'horrible people'":

    Since former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields filed a police report Friday alleging that Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski assaulted her after a press conference, the GOP front-runner has done more than a dozen TV interviews amounting to over two and a half hours of airtime.

    And in all that time, Fields' charge hasn't come up once.

    Neither have more recent allegations against Lewandowski. Politico reported Tuesday that the top Trump aide has treated reporters roughly and made "sexually suggestive and at times vulgar comments" to and about female journalists covering the campaign. Lewandowski denied the claims.

    As Lewandowski's behavior has gone unquestioned in Trump's recent interviews on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN, the business mogul has only helped thrust his campaign manager further into the national spotlight.

    Trump notably brought Lewandowski up on stage during his Tuesday night victory speech in Florida, praising him while he berated the reporters in attendance as "disgusting" and "horrible people." Lewandowski enjoyed the media-bashing while Trump refused to take reporters' questions, even though the gathering was purportedly a "press conference." One of the Politico reporters behind Tuesday's story was barred from the event, the latest in a pattern of retribution against news outlets that are critical of Trump.

    Television journalists have subjected Trump to tough questions over the past week about encouraging violence at his events, with Friday night's cable news takeover understandably focused on the candidate's decision to cancel a Chicago rally. Some have also pressed Trump on the $40 million fraud lawsuit involving Trump University, his employment of foreign workers, his lack of a foreign policy team, and his past misogynistic remarks, resurrected in a new ad from an anti-Trump super PAC. They've also, of course, asked about Trump's recent victories and the state of the primary race.

    Still, the lack of questions about the police report Fields filed against Lewandowski has been maddening to Trump's critics, who see it as a serious issue that's going completely unaddressed. Several journalists have pointed out when TV interviewers fail to bring it up, despite the incident's relevance to other questions about violence at Trump's campaign events and his treatment of women.

  • Vox Study: Female Experts Widely Ignored In The Media

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Vox's Amanda Taub highlighted new studies and Media Matters research showing that women are widely underrepresented as experts in print and TV news coverage.

    In her March 16 article, Taub highlighted research from Media Matters demonstrating the glaring lack of gender parity on prime-time cable news programs and Sunday political talk shows during segments focused on national security and foreign affairs. The research, which was presented at the New America Foundation in recognition of International Women's Day on March 8, found that just 21 percent of guests during such segments last year were women -- echoing prior Media Matters analysis of gender disparity during discussions of foreign policy, and the economy.

    Additionally, Taub points to research noting "80% of the political scientists quoted" in The New York Times' presidential primary coverage were men. Taub also noted that the underrepresentation of women in in the media, "often mirrors their underrepresentation among university faculty, think tank scholars, and business leaders":

    Recently, a group of female scholars analyzed the New York Times's coverage of the presidential primary, looking at every article from March 2015 through January 2016. They found something striking: 80 percent of the political scientists quoted in those articles were men.

    And it's not just the Times: Male experts dominate media coverage. On primetime cable and Sunday news shows, for another example, 75 percent of national security and foreign affairs commentators have been men, according to a Media Matters for America study.

    These sorts of things look bad, but they also are bad: Prioritizing male experts devalues women's work, depriving them of the recognition and public acclaim they might get if they were male. It also reinforces a general impression that men are the experts worth listening to, and women's roles, if anything, are just to assist men in their important work.


    The core problem isn't journalists forgetting to quote more women, even though that does happen and should be corrected. Rather, like so many issues of inequality, the underrepresentation of women in media is the result of vast cultural and institutional biases that hold women back every step of the way.

    After all, it's not as if women in academia and other "expert" institutions existed in a state of pure gender equality that was undisturbed until panel organizers or journalists declined to call them. No, as these women will often tell you, they face countless forms of gender bias long before they reach the point in their professional development where they become quotable, panel-ready experts.

    The sad fact is that women's underrepresentation in the media often mirrors their underrepresentation among university faculty, think tank scholars, and business leaders. That's not to say that journalists are blameless -- we're not. But women's underrepresentation in media is just the expression of a much deeper problem.

    *This post has been updated.