On All In, Media Matters' Eric Boehlert Discusses "Over The Top" Coverage Of Hillary Clinton's Campaign
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Media Largely Ignore Negotiations Of Sweeping Free Trade Deal
Broadcast nightly news programs have remained silent on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) over the past three months of weekday programming, even as Congress is scheduled to vote this week on whether to grant President Obama authority to finalize the terms of the massive trade deal. The coverage blackout continues a trend extending back to 2013.
On May 12, the Senate plans to vote on legislation that would grant "fast-track" trade promotion authority to Obama as he attempts to complete negotiations among the 12 member nations that comprise the TPP. "Once Congress grants a president trade promotion authority, lawmakers have the ability to vote up or down on a final trade agreement, but they forfeit the right to amend the deal or filibuster it," The New York Times explained.
Debates over the merits of the deal itself and of granting the president trade promotion authority have erupted among Democratic and Republican members of Congress, but coverage of the negotiations has been largely absent from evening news programming on the major broadcast networks.
A Media Matters analysis of ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC's Nightly News from August 1, 2013, through May 10, 2015, found that the programs completely ignored the trade negotiations and related policy debates. Only PBS NewsHour devoted substantive coverage to the TPP, with 14 total segments:
Coverage of the TPP among major cable outlets has been similarly one-sided. Since August 1, 2013, MSNBC has mentioned the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 124 evening and primetime segments, the overwhelming majority of which (103) came during The Ed Show. Fox News trails far behind with just 12 mentions of the TPP over that time period, 10 of which have come since February 1, 2015. CNN has been almost completely absent from the discussion, registering only 2 mentions of the trade negotiations:
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Trans-Pacific Partnership Barely Noticed By Weeknight News Over The Past 18 Months
Weeknight television news programs have given little attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and 10 nations from the Asia-Pacific region. Although the nations involved in the negotiations create a huge amount of economic activity, only PBS and MSNBC have devoted any significant coverage to the TPP since August 2013.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is calling for his viewers to boycott Mexico, though his four-year boycott of France during the Iraq War was a failure despite his false and conflicting claims to the contrary.
On the June 18 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly declared that Mexico "is not our friend" and that Americans "should stop going there" because the country is allegedly allowing human trafficking into the United States and because the Mexican president is "giving us the middle finger" over the case of a U.S. Marine jailed in Mexico for allegedly inadvertently crossing the border. O'Reilly urged viewers to boycott the country, telling them, "Let's stop rewarding Mexico until they stop hurting us."
O'Reilly previously threatened a boycott of Mexico in 2006 over its promise to sue the United States if evidence emerged that the National Guard had directly helped to detain Mexican citizens trying to illegally enter the United States. But O'Reilly's longest-lasting boycott was against France for opposing the Iraq War; he began his boycott in March 2003 and lifted it in May 2007 after the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as French president.
During the boycott period, O'Reilly made numerous claims about its purported success that proved to be either conflicting or completely wrong:
Congress is debating whether to give the president the authority to fast-track a massive free trade agreement -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- between the U.S., Canada, and 10 nations from the Asia-Pacific region. The nations involved in the talks account for nearly 40 percent of the world's GDP and 26 percent of the world's trade, but weekday evening television news broadcasts have largely ignored the topic.
Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.
At tonight's presidential debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked Mitt Romney about his statement that he would declare China a currency manipulator his first day in office: "If you declare them a currency manipulator on day one, some people are saying you're just going to start a trade war with China on day one. Is that -- isn't there a risk that that could happen?" It's curious that Schieffer characterized this criticism as coming from "some people" when it was made directly to Schieffer himself yesterday morning by none other than Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of Romney's chief surrogates.
Appearing on CBS' Face The Nation Sunday, Rubio told Schieffer regarding labeling China a currency manipulator: "A trade war is not the right way to approach it and I think that if you label them a currency manipulator, that's what it may result in, it would hurt American businesses."
Again, Rubio is a top Romney campaign surrogate and an important Republican voice on Capitol Hill. Seems like Schieffer should have mentioned the source of that China criticism.
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"Economic growth is a good thing, even when it's lubricated by graft."
So argued Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, dismissing concerns about corporate bribery raised amid reports that Wal-Mart officials have covered up evidence tying the company to bribery in Mexico. Chapman's Sunday column defended Wal-Mart, whose largest subsidiary (Wal-Mart de Mexico), is under investigation by the Justice Department (DOJ). The New York Times reported:
In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company's largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.
The allegations of illicit payments put Wal-Mart under the jurisdiction of DOJ, which is investigating potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, a law that has been described as an "anti-bribery, anti-corruption measure enacted...to prohibit American companies from paying off foreign officials and to create an international example for ethical business practices."
The law has been in effect for 35 years, but Chapman questioned the wisdom of using U.S. law to govern corporate behavior overseas:
The question is why it's the duty of the U.S. government to dictate business practices in nations with very different business climates. You would think the Justice Department has plenty to do enforcing American laws on American soil without trying to sanitize the rest of the world.
Our idea of appropriate business practices ought to prevail in America, but less developed countries are entitled to do things their own way. If Mexico doesn't police bribery and can't change its economic culture, why should Uncle Sam take on the job? [...]
By deterring American companies from investing in such places, we deprive their citizens of goods and jobs that would improve their lives.
When extortionate officials block Wal-Mart from opening stores in Mexico, ordinary Mexicans suffer. Economic growth is a good thing, even when it's lubricated by graft.
CORRECTION: Media Matters has identified a serious error that resulted in the omission of several Charlotte Observer columns and articles discussing municipal broadband during the time of this debate. We cannot support our earlier conclusion that the Charlotte Observer did not inform its readers on the issue of North Carolina's "digital divide" over the past two years. Media Matters prides itself on a long history of accuracy in its media studies, and we apologize for the error.
Fox & Friends claimed that the Obama administration is using the European economic crisis as "an excuse" to explain continued economic struggles in the U.S., saying that Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod is "totally wrong" to be concerned about "what happens in Europe." In fact, economists and experts agree that European recessions and the declining value of the euro are having a large negative impact on the U.S. economy -- as did other global events, like the earthquake in Japan and the Arab Spring.
On August 24, federal agents entered the Tennessee factories of the Gibson Guitar Corporation and confiscated wood, hard drives, and guitars on the suspicion that Gibson had illegally imported Indian hardwood. The story is newsworthy to be sure, and it was covered by the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN and others. But Fox stands apart from the rest for both the volume and tone of its coverage.
Fox discussed Gibson 24 times in a little over two weeks, including both the Fox News Channel (14) and the Fox Business Network (10). By contrast, CNN reported on the story 8 times, 7 of which were the same taped news report aired during different hours of programming over three days.
Unlike the other news outlets, Fox speculated that the raid was politically motivated, citing the Gibson CEO's Republican party identification. At the same time, Fox largely omitted important background information that sheds light on why Gibson may have been targeted. Fox also linked the story to narratives about the Obama administration, regulation and jobs -- in line with Congressional Republicans who have incorporated the Gibson case into their broader criticisms of the administration.
Right-wing media are once again pinning stock market fluctuations on President Obama, specifically his jobs speech last night.
Here's Drudge's take:
And here's Fox Nation:
Incidentally, both the articles Drudge and Fox Nation link to linked the market sell-off to turmoil in European markets and uncertainty about the health of Greece's economy.
The right-wing has labeled the Department of Justice's decision to block the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile as politically motivated and anti-jobs. In fact, experts say the DOJ's decision was based on clear violations of antitrust laws and would both protect consumers and prevent significant job loss.