Chuck Todd

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  • TV News Takes The Bait On Trump’s Climate Remarks, Ignoring Ample Warning Signs

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    When President-elect Donald Trump made seemingly open-minded remarks about climate change during a November 22 meeting with staff of The New York Times, it set off a wave of television coverage about how Trump had supposedly “reversed course” on climate change. But few of these reports addressed any of the substantive reasons that is highly unlikely, such as his transition team’s plan to abandon the Obama administration’s landmark climate policy, indications that he will dismantle NASA’s climate research program, and his appointment of fossil fuel industry allies as transition team advisers -- not to mention the full context of Trump’s remarks to the Times.

    In his interview with reporters, editors and opinion columnists from the Times, Trump contradicted his long-held stance that climate change is a “hoax” by stating that he thinks “there is some connectivity” between human activities and climate change (although even that statement doesn’t fully reflect the consensus view of climate scientists that human activities are the “dominant cause” of global warming). Trump also declined to reaffirm his earlier statements that he would “renegotiate” or “cancel” the international climate agreement reached in Paris last year, instead saying that he has an “open mind” about how he will approach the Paris agreement.

    But there are many reasons to take these comments with a grain of salt. For one, Trump has given no indication that he will preserve the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which is the linchpin of the United States’ emissions reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement. To the contrary, The Associated Press reported that internal documents from Trump’s transition team “show the new administration plans to stop defending the Clean Power Plan and other recent Obama-era environmental regulations that have been the subject of long-running legal challenges filed by Republican-led states and the fossil fuel industry.” Moreover, a senior Trump space policy adviser recently indicated that the Trump administration plans to eliminate NASA’s climate change research program, a move that would likely be accompanied by significant funding cuts to climate research.

    Additionally, Trump has appointed Myron Ebell, a climate science denier from the fossil fuel-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, to lead his EPA transition team, and two other close allies of the fossil fuel industry, Kathleen Hartnett White and Scott Pruitt, are reportedly Trump’s leading contenders to run the EPA. Trump also named Thomas Pyle, president of the fossil fuel-funded American Energy Alliance, to head his Energy Department transition team. According to The Washington Post, “Hartnett-White, Pyle and Ebell have all expressed doubt about climate change and have criticized the findings of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”

    Then there are Trump’s Times comments themselves, which have been “wildly misinterpreted” in the media, as Grist’s Rebecca Leber has explained. In addition to saying there is “some connectivity” between human activities and climate change, Trump said during the Times interview that there are “a lot of smart people” on the “other side” of the issue, and added: “You know the hottest day ever was in 1890-something, 98. You know, you can make lots of cases for different views.” Trump also appeared to reference the thoroughly debunked “Climategate” scandal about emails among climate scientists at a U.K. university, stating, “They say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists.”

    Nonetheless, Trump’s two seemingly climate-friendly remarks to the Times -- that he has an “open mind” about the Paris climate agreement and that humans play some role in climate change -- generated a tremendous amount of uncritical television coverage:

    • ABC: On the November 23 edition of ABC’s morning show, Good Morning America, correspondent David Wright stated that Trump “hit hard” on climate change during the campaign but is “now more noncommittal” about it. Later that day, on the network’s evening news program, World News Tonight, congressional correspondent Mary Bruce reported that Trump was “softening on a host of campaign promises,” including his pledge to “pull out of the Paris climate change deal.” And in an interview with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the November 27 edition of ABC’s Sunday news show, This Week, chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz said that Trump had “changed his tune” on climate change.
    • CBS: On the November 22 edition of CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley stated that Trump “revised” his position on climate change, and national correspondent Chip Reid reported that Trump “changed his tune on the issue of climate change, and whether it`s caused by human activity.” The following morning, on CBS Morning News, correspondent Hena Daniels said that Trump “reversed course on the issue of climate change,” and on that day’s episode of CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King similarly said that Trump is “reversing” his campaign position on climate change.
    • NBC: On the November 27 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd asked: “From the border wall to global warming, is there a change in the air?” Todd also listed climate change as one of the issues on which Trump “has either backed away from some of the rhetoric or just stayed silent.”

    Trump’s climate remarks also received wall-to-wall coverage on cable news, although unlike the broadcast networks’ reports, several of the cable segments did feature pushback on the notion that Trump had actually changed his position on the issue.

    Trump’s climate comments were uncritically covered on several CNN programs, including New Day, Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. And on the November 27 edition of Inside Politics, host John King and senior political reporter Manu Raju agreed that Trump’s climate remarks were a “big deal.” Some of these programs included speculation about whether Trump truly meant what he said to the Times or whether it was a negotiating ploy, but none mentioned any specific steps Trump has taken since the election that undermine claims that he has reversed course on climate change.

    By contrast, several other CNN programs included pushback on the notion that Trump had “softened” or “reversed” his position on climate change. For instance, on the November 23 edition of Erin Burnett Outfront, CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein cited Trump’s plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan as evidence that although Trump is “signaling a different tone” on climate change, “when you get into the guts of the policy, he is going in the same direction”:

    Brownstein made the same point during appearances on the November 22 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room and the November 27 edition of CNN Newsroom.

    Similarly, in an interview with NextGen Climate founder Tom Steyer on the November 27 edition of Fareed Zakaria GPS, host Zakaria noted that despite his comments to the Times, Trump “still has a leading climate change denier [Myron Ebell] as the head of his EPA transition, [and] his actions and contradictory words have climate change activists concerned.” Zakaria added that Trump “does say he's going to reverse a lot of these executive actions that Obama has taken, whether it's on coal-fired plants or vehicle emissions.”

    A couple of CNN guests also challenged the premise that Trump had shifted his stance on climate change. On the November 22 edition of CNN’s Wolf, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said of Trump’s climate remarks to the Times, “The real test is who is he appointing and what will his policies be.” And on the November 23 edition of CNN’s At This Hour, Michael Needham of Heritage Action for America (the sister organization of the fossil fuel industry-funded Heritage Foundation), pointed to other remarks Trump made to the Times in order to dispute the idea that Trump had accepted that climate change is “settled science.” Needham stated:

    I read the actual transcript of this thing. If you look at what [Trump] says on climate change, it's pretty much what we would have said at Heritage. He said there are questions that need to be looked at, there's research on both sides of the issue, this is not settled science the way some people on the left want to say.

    Finally, all of the prime-time MSNBC shows that featured substantial discussions of Trump’s climate remarks included proper context. For instance, on the December 2 edition of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, Hayes explained that incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus had “clarif[ied]” that Trump’s “default position” on climate change is “that most of it is a bunch of bunk.” Hayes also explained that a senior Trump adviser had indicated that “NASA would be limited to exploring other planets rather than providing satellite information and data about what’s happening on the only planet we currently inhabit”:

    Similarly, on the November 30 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews, Matthews aired a clip of Priebus confirming that Trump’s “default position” on climate change is that “most of it is a bunch of bunk.” And on the November 22 edition of MTP Daily, guest host Andrea Mitchell pointed out that Trump “appointed somebody from a very conservative, climate-denying, Koch-sponsored organization, policy institute, to lead the transition on energy and climate issues,” although Mitchell nonetheless maintained that Trump’s statement that he is now open to the Paris climate agreement was “a very big signal internationally.”

  • Television News Praises Trump’s “Symbolic Coup” In Carrier Jobs Announcement

    Indiana-Based Company Convinces Trump To Give It Taxpayer Money, Still Moves Many Of Its Jobs To Mexico

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Broadcast and cable news personalities rushed to credit President-elect Donald Trump for closing a deal with the Indiana-based manufacturer Carrier that provides the for-profit company with millions of taxpayer dollars while allowing it to still outsource hundreds of jobs to Mexico. Journalists and reporters framed the agreement as a “symbolic coup” and “unadulterated win” for Trump’s incoming administration even as they acknowledged that supporting a relatively small number of jobs at taxpayer expense is an unsustainable manufacturing policy.

  • Why Is Meet The Press Asking The Clinton Campaign To Release Emails In FBI’s Custody?

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    NBC’s Chuck Todd and his guests on Meet the Press suggested that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign could end the media freakout over the FBI’s announcement that it has discovered emails on a device belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband that may or may not be significant in the bureau’s probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server by simply releasing Abedin’s emails themselves. This inane request ignores the fact that the computer is in the FBI’s custody, and not Abedin’s.

    FBI Director James Comey released a letter to congressional leaders on October 28 stating, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” and “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” Comey noted that he was not sure how long the review will take and the FBI “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”

    As The Washington Post explained on October 29, the emails were found on a device that belonged to Abedin’s estranged husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is the target of an investigation unrelated to Clinton’s emails. According to the Post, law enforcement officials “said it was possible the messages could be duplicates to others already recovered.”

    On the October 30 edition of Meet the Press, Todd, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence all asked why the Clinton campaign couldn’t simply release the emails themselves, despite reporting that explained that the FBI seized the device in question.

    During an interview with Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, Todd stated: “There’s an easy way for you guys to clear some of this up. Huma Abedin is a vice chair of the campaign. Does she have access to her emails now? ... Can you guys release all of Huma’s emails yourselves? Why wait for Comey to do it?”

    Later in a panel discussion, Kudlow asked, “Why doesn’t Huma have a press conference, and say here are the emails?” While Todd expressed amusement at the idea of a campaign staffer holding a press conference, he didn’t question the idea of Huma releasing emails that are currently in FBI custody.

    And during an interview earlier in the program, Pence asked, with no pushback from Todd, why doesn’t Clinton “ask her senior aide to release all these emails?”

  • The Guide To Donald Trump's War On The Press (So Far)

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has an extensive history of attacking the media, and his campaign and supporters have joined in the fight throughout the election. The nominee, his surrogates, and his supporters have called media outlets and reporters across the spectrum “dishonest,” “neurotic,” “dumb,” and a “waste of time,” and until recently, the campaign had a media blacklist of outlets that weren’t allowed into campaign events.

  • “A New Low In American Democracy”: Journalists And Pundits Condemn Trump’s Threat To Jail Clinton

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Journalists condemned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s threats, made during the second presidential debate, that he would jail Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton if he were elected, saying they were the sort of thing you would hear in “countries with dictators” and “authoritarian countries” and calling them “stunning” and “a new low in American democracy.”

  • Glenn Beck Uses Meet The Press To Rewrite His History Of Smearing Progressives As Nazis

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Glenn Beck falsely rewrote his frequent references to the Nazis as a prescient warning about the rise of the white nationalist “alt right” activists that support Donald Trump’s campaign. In fact, the former Fox News host used his media platform for years to smear progressives as Nazis and Democratic policies as fascism.

    Beck appeared on the October 2 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press to talk about feeling disenfranchised by the current election season. But early in the segment, Beck complained he had been mocked for “bringing up Nazis,” which he claimed to have done to “warn about the rise of the uber right in Europe that would bleed into America, and it’s happening.” 

    This is an easily disprovable lie. Between 2009 and 2011, Beck regularly compared progressivism to Nazism on his Fox and radio shows. He likened former Vice President Al Gore and former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. He compared the auto bailouts in 2009 to “the early days of Adolf Hitler,” warned that the Troubled Asset Relef Program was “exactly what happened to the lead-up with Hitler,” and claimed the Democrats’ health care reform could lead to a Nazi-like eugenics program. He compared a Democratic proposal to expanded service programs like AmeriCorps to the SS. He suggested that Fox News and Tea Party activists were similar to Nazi Germany’s victims. And while criticizing comments President Obama made about health care reform, Beck begged his audience to “read Mein Kampf” and to “take this man for what he says,” unlike the German reaction to Hitler.

    The mockery Beck complained about was richly deserved because he was citing Hitler and Nazi Germany to attack progressives so much that, as comedian Lewis Black highlighted on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, Beck had “Nazi tourette’s.” Here is the video of Black detailing Beck's Nazi analogies:

    Beck also routinely used anti-Semitic stereotypes to attack progressives, especially George Soros -- who is Jewish. He lashed out against Jewish organizations that criticized him for his rhetoric and smears; he said the Anti-Defamation League would “destroy themselves,” and suggested the views of Jewish Funds for Justice would “lead to death camps.”

    Any interviewer remotely familiar with Beck’s past rhetoric would have recognized his lie. But this is not the first time Chuck Todd has allowed Beck to reinvent himself on Meet the Press. On July 17, Todd gave Beck a platform to present himself as an opponent to Trump, but failed to disclose Beck’s history of being a racist, reckless conspiracy theorist.