Associated Press

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  • A Comprehensive Guide To Benghazi Myths And Facts

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & OLIVIA KITTEL

    After nearly four years of right-wing myths about the September 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, and as Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on the attacks release their reports, Media Matters has compiled a list of more than 50 myths and facts regarding the origin of the attack, the security surrounding the compounds, the Obama administration’s handling of the attack during and after its occurrence, attacks on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other lies and misinformation regarding the Benghazi attack.

  • In Reporting On Trump’s Call For Armed Clubgoers, Some Media Miss NRA’s Extremism On Guns In Bars

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    After presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said clubgoers at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, where a gunman killed 49 people June 12, should have been carrying guns, many media outlets noted that Trump had staked out a position on guns in bars that was even more extreme than the National Rifle Association’s.

    Several media outlets, however, also incorrectly reported that the NRA opposes guns in bars generally.

    In fact, for years the NRA has made state-level efforts to allow concealed guns to be carried in bars so long as the person with the gun does not consume alcohol. The alcohol prohibition would largely operate on an honor system, as most concealed carry laws require that the gun remain concealed at all times unless being used for lawful self-defense or some other legal purpose.

    In recent years, the NRA has backed legislative efforts to allow guns in bars in states including Tennessee, Ohio, and Georgia.

    On June 17, Trump said while discussing the Orlando mass shooting, “If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here -- right to their waist or right to their ankle -- and … one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes 'boom, boom,' you know what? That would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight." (Trump later dishonestly claimed he was referring only to the arming of employees or security guards.)

    Two NRA officials were asked about Trump’s remark during Sunday show appearances on June 19. NRA Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox said people drinking in clubs should not carry guns while NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said, “I don’t think you should have firearms where people are drinking.” The NRA later clarified that LaPierre was expressing opposition only to people drinking while carrying guns in bars.

    So while Trump’s position is further out there compared to the NRA’s position, the NRA’s position itself is out of the mainstream.

    Several outlets misreported the NRA’s extreme position in guns in bars, amid confusion over both Trump and LaPierre attempting to “clarify” remarks made about guns in bars:

    • USA Today: “But NRA officials said Sunday that having armed patrons in bars with alcohol was not such a good idea.”

    • NBC’s Peter Alexander on the June 20 broadcast of Today: “Trump’s argued that if more people at that Orlando nightclub were armed with guns strapped to their waist, and that they fired back at the shooter, the carnage would have been much less. But even the NRA pushed back against that, insisting it does not believe people should carry guns in drinking establishments.”

    • Associated Press: “Donald Trump is backtracking from his contention that victims of the Orlando massacre should have been allowed to carry arms into the nightclub where they were attacked -- a stance even the NRA says is untenable.”

  • AP Uses GOP Donor As Sole Source To Claim “Security Experts” Say Clinton Could Have Compromised CIA Names

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    The Associated Press published a June 8 report that cited “security experts” who AP says claim that Clinton’s private email server may have compromised “the names of CIA personnel.” The report referenced three sources, but one of them said the risk was “theoretical” and another said he didn’t see “any particular vulnerability.” The third source, who suggested that CIA personnel names may have been compromised, was an appointee in the Bush administration and has donated to numerous Republican candidates.

    The AP report’s claim relied solely on Stewart Baker, identified only as “a Washington lawyer who spent more than three years as an assistant secretary of the Homeland Security Department and is former legal counsel for the National Security Agency.” Baker said that “foreign intelligence services discovered and rifled Hillary Clinton’s server” and that they would have a key to finding the names of CIA personnel due to redacted names in released emails.

    The AP did not note that Baker was appointed by Bush to the DHS and has donated thousands of dollars to Republican candidates over the past two decades, including former President Bush and GOP presidential candidates Sen. Bob Dole, Sen. John McCain, Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Gov. Chris Christie. From the article:

    "Start with the entirely plausible view that foreign intelligence services discovered and rifled Hillary Clinton's server," said Stewart Baker, a Washington lawyer who spent more than three years as an assistant secretary of the Homeland Security Department and is former legal counsel for the National Security Agency.

    If so, those infiltrators would have copies of all her emails with the names not flagged as being linked to the agency.

    In the process of publicly releasing the emails, however, classification experts seem to have inadvertently provided a key to anyone who has the originals. By redacting names associated with the CIA and using the "B3 CIA PERS/ORG" exemption as the reason, "Presto — the CIA names just fall off the page," Baker said.

    Although the AP said multiple experts suggested that Clinton’s email server could have compromised CIA names, the other two sources cited in the report dismissed these claims as unlikely. One anonymous “U.S. official” said the risk of names being revealed is “theoretical and probably remains so at this time.” A second source, Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy director Steven Aftergood, asserted, “I don’t think there’s any particular vulnerability here.” AP also noted that Aftergood “said even if any identities were revealed, they might be the names of analysts or midlevel administrators, not undercover operatives.”

    AP’s baseless, theoretical claim follows numerous debunked theories that Clinton’s server was hacked and that it exposed human intelligence agents, mostly stoked by other conservative and unreliable sources. No evidence has come to light that Clinton’s server was hacked.

  • Media Call Out Trump’s Glaring Teleprompter Hypocrisy

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media outlets highlighted presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s hypocritical use of a teleprompter during a campaign speech, noting that he “has previously derided [teleprompters] for being a tool of entrenched politicians” and “routinely mocks his rivals for using" them.

  • An Extensive Guide To The Fact Checks, Debunks, And Criticisms Of Trump’s Various Problematic Policy Proposals

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY & JARED HOLT

    Over the course of the 2016 presidential primary, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has laid forth a series of problematic policy proposals and statements -- ranging from his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States to his suggestion that the United States default on debt -- that media have warned to be “dangerous,” “fact-free,” “unconstitutional,” “contradictory,” “racist,” and “xenophobic.” Media Matters compiled an extensive list of Trump’s widely panned policy plans thus far along with the debunks and criticism from media figures, experts and fact-checkers that go along with them.

  • Will Media Give Trump A Pass On Not Releasing His Tax Returns?

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is taking an unprecedented step for any recent American presidential candidate, stating that he doesn’t plan to release his tax returns to the public before the general election in November. Media have previously criticized candidates who have not released tax returns, but will they continue to give Trump a pass on this unusual move?

    A May 11 report from the Associated Press noted that Trump “doesn’t expect to release his tax returns before November.” Trump previously stated that he has “very big tax returns” that are “extremely complex” and that he wouldn’t release his returns until an ongoing tax audit is completed, a claim that the IRS disputed and Forbes has called out as not “a real excuse.” There is a long precedent for presidential candidates to release their tax returns, including Richard Nixon who released his returns while being audited.

    Media -- and Donald Trump himself -- have previously criticized Mitt Romney, who also said he would not release his tax returns. In 2012 Fox contributor Laura Ingraham hounded Romney on the issue of tax returns, saying Romney’s refusal to release them “does not make Romney look good.” Trump’s failure to release his tax returns also contrasts with his own advice to Romney in 2012, when during an interview with Fox’s Greta Van Susteren Trump claimed Romney “was hurt really very badly by this whole thing with the income tax returns,” adding that Romney “should have given them April 1” because “April 1st historically is the time that everybody gives them.”

  • Fact-Checkers And Education Writers Were Never Fooled By Trump’s Education Lies

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made hardly any statements about his policy positions on education issues. But the claims he has made, mostly about the Common Core state standards and the federal role in education policy, have been routinely debunked by fact-checkers, education reporters, and prominent education scholars.

     

  • Donald Trump Returning To Hannity For Another Softball Interview

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Fox News’ Sean Hannity is slated to interview Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on the April 25 edition of his show, for Trump’s reaction “to Kasich and Cruz teaming up against him” in upcoming primary elections. Hannity has received widespread criticism for his relationship with Donald Trump and has repeatedly admitted he gives “soft” interviews to Republican candidates.

    Hannity has received widespread and bipartisan criticism for giving Trump a “friendly outlet” and treating him “in a way that’s gentle in order to get him to come back.” On April 11,ThinkProgress pointed out that Trump has appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show “an astonishing 41 times since he announced his campaign,” giving him a nearly yearlong platform to target GOP voters. Conservative website RedState claimed ThinkProgress' report showed that Hannity “has become, for all intents and purposes, part of Trump’s campaign apparatus.” On April 23, the Associated Press reported that Hannity had a “nasty spat” with Cruz “following criticism from both the left and right about his interviews with Donald Trump" (Hannity will also interview Cruz tonight).

    After being criticized for being a “very soft interviewer,” Hannity defended himself by asserting, “I’m not a journalist, I’m a talk show host.” Hannity doubled down on his radio show, saying he’s not critical of Trump or Cruz because he wants the Republican nominee to win. He has also said he “absolutely plead[s] guilty” to “going soft in interviews on Republicans.”

    Indeed, the neologism "Hannitize" was coined to describe efforts by conservatives "to clean up a messy situation with a softball interview, typically one conducted by Sean Hannity." Trump has frequently appeared on Hannity's program to receive positive treatment for his efforts to rebound from gaffes or scandals.

  • Right-Wing Media Can't Believe Hillary Clinton Has Hot Sauce In Her Bag

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Right-wing media figures attacked Hillary Clinton for saying that she always carries hot sauce with her during an interview with a New York hip-hop radio show, attacking her for “pandering” and “casual racism.” But Salon reports that Clinton “has been talking about carrying hot sauce since 2008,” and various outlets over the years have reported that Clinton “packed pepper sauce” in her bag and had “a collection of more than 100 hot sauces” when she was first lady.

  • Mississippi Newspapers Criticize State Legislature For Passing Anti-LGBT Law

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Mississippi newspapers spoke out against state legislation that allows individuals, businesses, religious organizations, the state government, and its employees to refuse service to LGBT people, as well as those who have extramarital sex, based on "religious belief or moral convictions." Gov. Phil Bryant claimed he was "protecting religious freedom" in signing the bill, but state newspaper editorials and publishers called the measure "unnecessary," said it was harmful to the state's image and reputation, and dubbed it the state's "latest Jim Crow law."

  • Conservatives Are Already Preparing To Cry "Cover-Up" If Hillary Clinton Isn't Indicted

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Right-wing media figures have been laying the foundation to allege a "scandal" and "cover-up" if the FBI's investigation into Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton's email server does not result in Clinton's indictment, thus setting her up for a lose-lose situation. Yet multiple law experts have explained that an indictment is highly unlikely.

  • Media Push Right-Wing Myths After California's $15 Minimum Wage Announcement

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    On March 28, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) announced a legislative compromise to raise the California minimum wage gradually from $10 per hour in 2016 to $15 per hour by 2022. Right-wing media have attacked the historic wage increase, claiming it will kill jobs and that it "goes against every law of capitalism." Meanwhile, mainstream media have promoted misinformation about the minimum wage peddled by restaurant industry front groups.

  • Ten Journalists Who Have Called Out Trump's "Shocking" Phone "Advantage"

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & JARED HOLT

    As scrutiny has mounted against cable and network news programs regularly allowing Donald Trump to call in to their broadcasts, rather than appearing in person or by satellite, several journalists have said they will no longer allow him that privilege. Others have called for an end to the "shocking" special treatment across all networks and pointed out the ways the practice gives Trump a strategic "advantage."

  • Media Hype LA Times Report On Clinton Emails Even Though It Says Prosecution Unlikely

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Fox's Andrew Napolitano and Andrea Tantaros and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough cited a March 27 report from the Los Angeles Times to push the possibility that Hillary Clinton used a private email server unlawfully, claiming she "might be a criminal defendant in a felony prosecution." But the Times article quotes legal experts who say there is "no reason to think Clinton committed any crimes with respect to the use of her email server," and the piece says the chances of a finding of criminal liability are "low."

  • AP Highlights The Growing Backlash To Trump's Reliance On Phone Interviews

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Associated Press highlighted the backlash to Donald Trump's "fondness" for phone interviews, writing that the practice "is changing habits and causing consternation in newsrooms, while challenging political traditions."

    Media critics have called out news channels' new habit of granting phone interviews to Trump -- an advantage AP explains has not been granted by Sunday political talk shows to any other candidate -- arguing that the format "lacks the balance of a face-to-face exchange because the audience and the interviewer are not allowed to see Trump's expressions and reactions" and "is also more difficult to follow-up and put the subject on the spot to answer questions more directly." Bloomberg View columnist Al Hunt also pointed out that "a phone interview is a lot easier than an in-person interview, and Trump almost always does well in those situations." As AP reported, Media Matters and MomsRising have launched petitions to ask the media to end Trump's phone privilege.

    In a March 26 article, AP examined Trump's phone interview privileges with the media and the growing backlash to them, writing that the practice "often put an interviewer at a disadvantage, since it's harder to interrupt or ask follow-up questions, and impossible to tell if a subject is being coached." AP also noted that Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace and Meet the Press' Chuck Todd are refusing to grant Trump phone interviews:

    In television news, a telephone interview is typically frowned upon. Donald Trump's fondness for them is changing habits and causing consternation in newsrooms, while challenging political traditions.

    Two organizations are circulating petitions to encourage Sunday morning political shows to hang up on Trump. Some prominent holdouts, like Fox's Chris Wallace, refuse to do on-air phoners. Others argue that a phone interview is better than no interview at all.

    Except in news emergencies, producers usually avoid phoners because television is a visual medium -- a face-to-face discussion between a newsmaker and questioner is preferable to a picture of an anchor listening to a disembodied voice.

    It's easy to see why Trump likes them. There's no travel or TV makeup involved; if he wishes to, Trump can talk to Matt Lauer without changing out of his pajamas. They often put an interviewer at a disadvantage, since it's harder to interrupt or ask follow-up questions, and impossible to tell if a subject is being coached.

    Face-to-face interviews let viewers see a candidate physically react to a tough question and think on his feet, said Chris Licht, executive producer of "CBS This Morning." Sometimes that's as important as what is being said.

    Trump tends to take over phone interviews and can get his message out with little challenge, Wallace said.

    "The Sunday show, in the broadcast landscape, I feel is a gold standard for probing interviews," said Wallace, host of "Fox News Sunday." ''The idea that you would do a phone interview, not face-to-face or not by satellite, with a presidential candidate -- I'd never seen it before, and I was quite frankly shocked that my competitors were doing it."

    [...]

    Chuck Todd, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," has done phoners with Trump but now said he's decided to stick to in-person interviews on his Sunday show. He's no absolutist, though.

    "It's a much better viewer experience when it's in person," Todd said. "Satellite and phoners are a little harder, there's no doubt about it. But at the end of the day, you'll take something over nothing."

    [...]

    Since the campaign began, Trump has appeared for 29 phone interviews on the five Sunday political panel shows, according to the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America. Through last Sunday, ABC's "This Week" has done it 10 times, CBS' "Face the Nation" seven and six times each on "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union."

    None of these shows has done phoners with Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, said Media Matters, which is urging that the practice be discontinued.

    The activist group MomsRising said the disparity "sends the message that some candidates can play by different rules, without consequences, and that's just un-American."