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60 Minutes Producer: “We Can Never Lie About Who We Are Or Why We’re Someplace” And Were “Prepared To Come Clean If Confronted”
Last summer, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of deceptively edited videos, baselessly alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue-- earning CMP and its founder, David Daleiden, the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year. Although CMP’s work has been largely discredited, the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives has consistently cited illegally obtained and entirely unauthenticated documents provided by CMP as evidence.
This week, CBS News’ 60 Minutes released their report, “Dialing for Dollars,” an undercover investigation using hidden camera footage to report on the “relentless pressure on members of Congress to constantly raise money.” Although 60 Minutes conducted their investigation in a highly-transparent way -- releasing an accompanying video report about their methods called “60 Minutes’ Decision To Use A Hidden Camera This Week” -- right-wing media figures have already compared this investigatory journalism to CMP’s deceptive work.
In a series of tweets, Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway wrote: “Good news everyone! OK for journalists to secretly film again” and noted that CBS “not only edited the video, but used B roll for context (like we allow for 100% of non-fetal market stories)":
Good news everyone! OK for journalists to secretly film again.* https://t.co/zG4oVCqb6P *offer not applicable to one side of abortion issue
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 25, 2016
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 25, 2016
Yep! And use B-roll and everything!* *so long as you’re not exposing the abortion industry https://t.co/tIbTwzqndt
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 25, 2016
— LifeNews.com (@LifeNewsHQ) April 25, 2016
Daleiden also retweeted Hemingway:
— David Daleiden (@daviddaleiden) April 25, 2016
CMP and the right-wing media who carry water for its work have defended CMP’s deceptively edited videos as “investigatory journalism.” Notably, Fox News hosts Steve Doocy and Bill O’Reilly have both compared CMP’s work to that of 60 Minutes. During a January 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Doocy argued that “journalists use these [undercover] techniques everyday” and gave the examples of “60 Minutes” and “20/20.” Similarly, in a March 6 segment from The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly alleged that if Daleiden was indicted for using fraudulent IDs, “all of 60 Minutes would be in jail, because they did stings all the time.”
The form and substance of 60 Minutes’ investigation, however, was radically different than CMP’s ideologically motivated smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. In the supplementary report explaining their methodology and rationale for going undercover, correspondent Norah O’Donnell and 60 Minutes producer Pat Shevlin explained that “the decision to use a hidden camera wasn’t taken lightly” and that they were “scrupulous” about the process.
There are at least three key ways that 60 Minutes’ use of hidden cameras differs from CMP’s: 60 Minutes did not conceal their identities to gain access, did not identify people on camera without consent, and did not alter their material to fit an ideological goal.
Unlike CMP’s deceptively edited videos -- where Daleiden and his associates intentionally misled clinic staff about their identities and intentions, steps which included creating a fake company and fake identities -- 60 Minutes never portrayed themselves fraudulently or lied about who they were or what they were doing to the people they filmed. In the accompanying 60 Minutes Overtime video report Shevlin said 60 Minutes “can never lie about who we are or why we’re some place” and that if you’re “challenged, you can’t give a false reason for why you’re there.”
60 Minutes representatives gained access to the congressional call center legally and without misrepresenting themselves. CMP, on the other hand, cannot make such a claim. On January 26 a Houston grand jury indicted David Daleiden and one of his associates for gaining access to a Planned Parenthood clinic under deceptive pretenses using false identification. Meanwhile, over 13 state investigations have consistently cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.
In accordance with the advice from lawyers, 60 Minutes did not release footage with “identifiable faces” to the public.
In CMP’s deceptively edited videos, however, Daleiden not only filmed providers without their consent he also provided additional identifying information. These efforts to identify providers plays into a long history of anti-choice violence against abortion providers.
In CMP’s deceptively edited videos, however, Daleiden not only filmed providers without their consent he also provided additional identifying information including their names. These efforts to identify providers by name plays into a long history of anti-choice groups targeting abortion providers for harassment which has led to doctors who were later murdered or shot by anti-choice activists.
More recently, the Congressional select panel has issued wide-ranging subpoenas targeting not only abortion providers but also "researchers, graduate students, laboratory technicians, and administrative staff who are in any way involved in fetal tissue research." Democrats and reproductive rights advocates have warned that by collecting these names "Congress could be putting lives in danger."
In the 60 Minutes report, correspondent Norah O’Donnell investigates a congressional representatives being told their “first responsibility” is not to serve their constituents, but instead to “spend around 30 hours a week” in a call center soliciting donations. O’Donnell explained the purpose in seeing these call centers, as that’s how “lawmakers are spending a lot of their time … that they could be in their office on Capitol Hill doing the people’s business.”
Although CMP has argued their intentions were to bring a matter of public interest to the attention of authorities -- including their claims that laws involving sale of fetal tissue were being broken -- a February 5 decision by federal judge William H. Orrick strongly rebuts this claim. Orrick issued a preliminary injunction barring CMP from releasing further videos utilizing footage of National Abortion Federation (NAF) employees. According to Orrick, this injunction was justified because CMP did not “-- as Daleiden repeatedly asserts -- use widely accepted investigatory journalism techniques” to reveal a matter of public interest.
Instead, Orrick argued that CMP relied on “repeated instances of fraud, including the manufacture of fake documents, the creation and registration with the state of California a fake company, and repeated false statements to a numerous NAF representatives and NAF members in order to infiltrate NAF and implement their Human Capital Project.” Orrick concluded that because of these deceptive means, the resulting videos were not “pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions … of criminal conduct.”
60 Minutes’ reporting -- and their effort to make clear why it meets common standards of journalistic integrity -- reaffirms the findings of many other journalists and media ethicists who argue that CMP’s work “can be called many things, but ‘journalism’ probably isn’t one of them.”
Economists Made Up 1 Percent Of Guests In The First Quarter Of 2016, While Shows Focused On Campaigns, Inequality
Expertise from economists was almost completely absent from television news coverage of the economy in the first quarter of 2016, which focused largely on the tax and economic policy platforms of this year’s presidential candidates. Coverage of economic inequality spiked during the period -- tying an all-time high -- driven in part by messaging from candidates on both sides of the aisle, but gender diversity in guests during economic news segments remained low.
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A Media Matters analysis of the broadcast evening and weekend TV news coverage of mass protests against money in politics organized by Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring revealed that the networks devoted only two segments -- a total of 29 seconds of airtime -- between April 11 and April 18 to the week-long demonstrations.
Meet The Group That Has A History Of Targeting Abortion Providers, Has Connections To Violent Anti-Choice Groups, And Is Now Feeding Misinformation To A Congressional Panel
Following in the footsteps of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Protest ABQ is the latest anti-choice group feeding misinformation to Republicans on the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. Protest ABQ is a radical anti-abortion group with connections to Operation Rescue, an extremist group with a history of ties to anti-choice violence. Here is what the media should know about these groups, their efforts to mobilize violence against abortion providers, and their connections to Congress’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.
The Obama administration has released a comprehensive new scientific report detailing how climate change affects human health, presenting the broadcast networks' nightly news programs with a good opportunity to cover a critical topic that they rarely addressed last year.
The Climate and Health Assessment, which is the result of three years of research by approximately 100 health and science experts in eight federal agencies, builds on the findings of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's National Climate Assessment and signifies increased "scientific confidence in the link between climate change and a broad range of threats to public health."
These threats include some of the most severe effects of global warming, such as increased incidence of death from extreme heat waves and worsened air quality, as well as some less discussed impacts, including the potential for carbon pollution to make our food crops less nutritious and the toll that weather-related disasters can take on our mental health. The report also details how climate change will increase or otherwise alter the risks of suffering from various diseases and illnesses, including Lyme disease from ticks, West Nile virus from mosquitos, water-borne illnesses, and Salmonella poisoning from food.
Any of these topics could provide fodder for an important and informative nightly news segment that would help viewers better understand the threats and challenges posed by climate change.
NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News did each provide a substantial report last year on the ways climate change is impacting allergies and asthma, respectively. But here, too, the Obama administration report provides opportunities for additional coverage.
For instance, the networks could examine these issues from an environmental justice perspective; the report finds that minority adults and children "bear a disproportionate burden associated with asthma as measured by emergency department visits, lost work and school days, and overall poorer health status." And when considering all of the various health impacts, the report identifies many specific populations that are "disproportionately vulnerable" to climate change:
[C]limate change exacerbates some existing health threats and creates new public health challenges. While all Americans are at risk, some populations are disproportionately vulnerable, including those with low income, some communities of color, immigrant groups (including those with limited English proficiency), Indigenous peoples, children and pregnant women, older adults, vulnerable occupational groups, persons with disabilities, and persons with preexisting or chronic medical conditions.
The networks could also cover some of these public health findings alongside a distressing new study on sea level rise, which projects severe impacts on coastal cities that will undoubtedly have profound implications on the health and well-being of millions of Americans. Or they could address the public health benefits of the most significant U.S. climate policy in U.S. history, the Clean Power Plan, which the networks infrequently covered in 2015 -- and which polluting fossil fuel industry groups and allied attorneys general are now fighting in court.
Major news outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Guardian, Time magazine, The Associated Press, and McClatchyDC have already covered the new White House report. Now is the time for the broadcast networks' nightly news programs to improve on last year's coverage and educate their viewers about the myriad ways that a changing climate is affecting our health.
Image at top via Flickr user Graeme Maclean using a Creative Commons license.
The six major broadcast and cable news networks hosted Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump for 13 hours and 43 minutes over 63 interviews in March.
Media outlets have been widely criticized for showering Trump with nearly endless coverage. According to a study by The New York Times, Trump has received nearly $2 billion in free earned media over the course of the campaign.
Media Matters reviewed video for the weekday morning news, evening news, and Sunday morning political talk shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC as well as all-day programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC, looking for interview appearances by Trump in March. The candidate was a regular presence on the airwaves during the month.
Cable news outlets and the broadcast networks have also faced backlash for allowing Trump to call in to shows for interviews (rather than requiring that he appear in person or on satellite video). During March, the outlets studied conducted 39 phone interviews with Trump -- only CBS did not interview Trump by phone during the month.
Fox News provided the most interview airtime to Trump, with 6 hours and 15 minutes, which is nearly the same amount of time that the network devoted to him in February. (Trump has dominated Fox News' airwaves since last May.) In 16 of his 28 interviews on Fox, Trump called in by phone.
CNN and MSNBC followed with 3 hours and 50 minutes and 1 hour and 53 minutes, respectively. Both networks recently hosted hour-long town hall specials featuring Trump and other candidates, which helped inflate his airtime totals. Like on Fox News, Trump's interviews on MSNBC were conducted primarily over the phone, and most of those were on the network's flagship morning talk show, Morning Joe, which media have criticized as friendly to Trump. (Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have defended the practice of allowing Trump to call in for interviews, saying any candidate would be welcome to do so.)
On broadcast, ABC devoted the most interview time -- 58 minutes -- to Trump. Unlike the other networks, ABC interviewed Trump only by phone in March -- nine times in total. NBC followed with 30 minutes of airtime, and four of its five interviews with Trump were conducted over the phone. Meet the Press host Chuck Todd told New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg last month that the show "will no longer allow Mr. Trump to do prescheduled interviews by phone." His show's interview with Trump in March was conducted via satellite, but all four of Trump's interviews on NBC's Today were conducted over the phone.
CBS spent the least amount of time interviewing Trump, devoting just 17 minutes to the candidate. CBS' morning show, CBS This Morning, made headlines in early March after refusing to allow -- unlike several rival networks -- Trump to change interview format from satellite to phone at the last minute.
Overall, on four of the six networks, more than half of Trump's interviews were conducted by phone: 100 percent on ABC, 80 percent on NBC, 71 percent on MSNBC, and 57 percent on Fox News.
Media Matters previously reported that out of all the remaining presidential candidates, both Democratic and Republican, only Trump had called in to any of the five Sunday morning political talk shows. ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, and CNN's State of the Union together have interviewed Trump by phone 30 times between January 1, 2015, and March 27, 2016. Only Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday has declined to allow interviews by phone for any candidate.
Media Matters has launched a petition asking news networks to end their practice of conducting phone interviews with Trump.
Media Matters searched the Nexis transcript database and our interview video archive for interview appearances by Trump on ABC's Good Morning America, World News with David Muir, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos; CBS' CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and Face the Nation with John Dickerson; NBC's Today, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd; and all-day programming between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. All original interview appearances were counted. Repeats were counted only if they aired on a separate date. Special presentations and post-debate interviews were included.
Charts by Oliver Willis.
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Charlie Rose Has Previously Allowed Kelly To Whitewash Her History Of Right-Wing Chicanery To Claim She's A Straight Newsperson
A CBS Sunday Morning profile of Megyn Kelly extolled the Fox News host as an "independent" "rising star" with a "reputation for asking tough questions to anyone," but interviewer Charlie Rose failed to mention Kelly's record of misinformation, fearmongering, and problematic racial rhetoric. CBS' interview follows a series of other laudatory profiles of Kelly -- including a previous interview by Rose -- that have omitted key details of Kelly's problematic journalistic record and conservative advocacy.
During an April 3 interview of the Fox host on CBS Sunday Morning, host Charlie Rose described Kelly as "a self-described independent with a reputation for asking tough questions to anyone, Democrat and Republican alike." Rose further added, "her legal skills, along with a willingness to take on some of America's big name conservatives, quickly made Kelly a rising star" at Fox News.
Kelly has a long history of scandalmongering and promoting her personal views on air, despite previously insisting that she's "not an opinion-maker" or an "issue advocate," but rather, a straight "newsperson." She has frequently hosted an anti-LGBT hate group leader on her show, made flippant comments about racism and police brutality, and promoted conservative falsehoods about Planned Parenthood and the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Kelly is notorious in her own right for shaming and blaming black victims of police brutality, once suggesting that Sandra Bland's death could be due in part to her failure to obey the police officer, arguing that her death could have been averted if she had just "compl[ied] and complain[ed] later." Kelly also interjected that the black teenage girl manhandled by a McKinney, Texas, police officer "was no saint either," after bemoaning that people had "made this into a race thing."
CBS Sunday Morning's profile is just the latest in a series of laudatory profiles that describe Kelly as someone who "buck[s] the conservative party line" while often ignoring her history of problematic coverage. Rose's previous interview of Kelly in October allowed her to present herself as "different than O'Reilly and Hannity" because "they are opinion guys" and she, supposedly, is not. Evgenia Peretz lionized Megyn Kelly in a glowing February Vanity Fair profile, calling her a "feminist icon of sorts," and suggesting her "star power" is similar to that of Julia Roberts, but nearly a month later followed up her praise with some of the less laudatory aspects of Kelly's right-wing rhetoric that were left out of the original piece.
Peretz demonstrated that when positive press praise Kelly's "occasional, yet highly entertaining, bucking of the conservative party line," they downplay the fact that her show "is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows," -- a fact that even Peretz acknowledged -- albeit buried -- amid her own glowing Kelly profile.
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A new climate change study "jolts sea-rise predictions," according to The Washington Post, with sea levels projected to increase so much that The New York Times says they would "likely provoke a profound crisis within the lifetimes of children being born today." This disturbing news made the top-fold front pages of the Post and the Times, but it was completely ignored by the broadcast television networks' nightly news programs.
The study, published on March 31 in the journal Nature, found that global warming could cause the Antarctic ice sheet to collapse, in part through a process previously "underappreciated" in sea level rise models. Combined with ice melting in other areas, the study projects that sea levels could rise about six feet by the end of the century, an estimate roughly double that of the most widely cited worst-case scenario. This amount of sea level rise would put hundreds of millions of people in cities and coastal areas around the world at risk of inundation, including New York City, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, and other major U.S. cities. (As Gizmodo bluntly put it, "Florida is screwed."). The study also projects that seas will rise nearly 50 feet by 2500, which as the Post's Capital Weather Gang noted, would result in even more catastrophic consequences:
In the study's projection for 2500, almost the entire state of Delaware would disappear. Much of Manhattan and Brooklyn would be reduced to just slivers of their current selves. The southern coast of Florida would end north of Lake Okeechobee. California's Central Valley would flood from Modesto to Colusa, and the state capital of Sacramento would be entirely under water.
The new study does come with a silver lining, according to the Times: "A far more stringent effort to limit emissions of greenhouse gases would stand a fairly good chance of saving West Antarctica from collapse, scientists found. That aspect of their paper contrasts with other recent studies postulating that a gradual disintegration of West Antarctica may have already become unstoppable."
The nightly newscasts' failure to cover this study follows a paltry year of climate change coverage on the broadcast networks in 2015. A Media Matters study found that ABC, CBS, and NBC collectively devoted less time to covering climate change during their nightly news and Sunday show broadcasts than they did in the previous year, even though 2015 was a landmark year for climate-related news that included the EPA finalizing the Clean Power Plan, Pope Francis issuing a climate change encyclical, President Obama rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, and 195 countries around the world reaching a historic climate agreement in Paris.
Unlike the network news broadcasts, CNN and MSNBC both aired segments about the new study. On CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper, Tapper introduced a segment about the study by stating that the West Antarctic ice sheet is "disintegrating so fast your kids and your grandkids, well, they might not be able to dream about living in New York City or Philadelphia or Washington or Miami because there might not be a New York City or Philadelphia or Washington or Miami at the turn of the century":
Similarly, on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, Hayes reported that "there's new evidence that ... the nightmare, worst case scenario" about global warming "will unfold in decades rather than centuries," and interviewed Columbia University climate scientist Radley Horton to discuss the sea level study's significance:
Journalists and foreign policy experts criticized the "unintelligble" foreign policy positions Donald Trump described during interviews with The New York Times and The Washington Post, and called the GOP presidential front-runner's "ignorance" "breathtaking," saying he has "no understanding of the post-war international order that was created by the United States."