Promoting a recent poll, CNN is treating climate change as a matter of opinion, saying Americans are divided over whether or not it is real. But the network itself has fueled such confusion, often failing to report that manmade emissions are driving climate change or giving credence to those who deny the science behind it.
The CNN/ORC International survey, released the morning after President Obama's inaugural address highlighted the need to address climate change, found that 49 percent of Americans accept that climate change is "a proven fact" and caused by manmade emissions. This represented a seven-point drop since 2007. A CNN blog suggested that this showed Americans do not "agree with Obama on climate change," and failed to clarify that decades of research have led the vast majority of climate scientists to agree that manmade emissions are causing climate change.
As President Obama seeks to fill judicial vacancies, the media have failed to acknowledge the unprecedented obstructionism of his nominees by Republican senators, a complete reversal of their former insistence that then-President George W. Bush's judicial nominees receive up-or-down votes.
On January 3, Obama re-nominated 33 previously-stalled judicial nominees to the federal courts, in an attempt to fill the 75 vacancies in the federal judiciary - 20 more than when Obama took office. Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative appointed by Bush, described 27 of the vacancies as presenting "judicial emergencies" in his annual report on the judiciary.
Media coverage of the re-nominations continues to fail to contrast GOP obstruction of Obama's nominees to Senate Democrats' treatment of Bush's nominees. CNN.com described the nominations as "likely to reignite the political battle over judges," particularly due to the re-nomination of NRA-opposed former Solicitor General of New York, Caitlin Halligan. But CNN.com failed to note that Bush similarly resubmitted his preferred judicial nominees in bulk following the Congressional elections of 2002. At that time, the Democratic-controlled Senate allowed an up-or-down vote and confirmed 20 judicial nominees -- including controversial picks -- in five days.
The Washington Times also ignored the unprecedented Republican treatment of Obama's nominees. Instead, the Times obscured the fact that Senate Republicans have made filibustering of all judicial picks routine, and described as commonplace the current situation wherein "60 [Senate votes] are needed to proceed to a floor vote." In fact, all-out Congressional obstructionism is a development unique to the Obama presidency, and the hypocrisy of Republicans attacking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's efforts to limit the use of a filibuster for judicial nominations is apparent in light of their exact reverse position after Bush's re-election.
Furthermore, both CNN.com and the Times highlight Halligan as an example of the judicial picks Republicans have denied an up-or-down vote, and uncritically repeat Sen. Mitch McConnell's accusations that Halligan -- the current General Counsel for the Manhattan District Attorney's office -- is the sort of "activist" vulnerable to the "extraordinary circumstances" test, which allows for filibusters of judicial nominees in extreme cases. But this coverage fails to note that Republicans are now engaged in unprecedented filibustering of all nominees, not just Halligan, even noncontroversial ones who have bipartisan support.
More importantly, the attacks on Halligan have been repeatedly debunked as cover for the NRA's opposition to the lawsuits Halligan was involved in prior to the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, when she successfully pressured the gun industry to accept responsibility for business practices that funnel guns to criminals. Far from an "activist," Halligan was instead fulfilling her responsibilities as the legal representative of New York in her attempts to protect the state's citizens from illegal gun violence.
The right-wing media, however, is already dredging up this discredited NRA attack, even recycling Republican Sen. Charles Grassley's opposition to Halligan because she supported current constitutional law - such as affirmative action - with which he personally disagrees. CNSNews.com's repetition of Sen. Grassley's confused description of Halligan's support for recent Supreme Court precedent as "not a mainstream position," is an example of how the right-wing media have stretched in support of their blanket opposition to Obama's judicial nominees.
As reported by legal expert Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times, the Halligan example reveals the opposition is certainly not because of the nominees' qualifications:
[T]he N.R.A. has begun to involve itself in lower court nominations as well, where it can work its will in the shadows. It has effectively blocked President Obama's nomination of Caitlin J. Halligan to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that has been vacant since September 2005, when John G. Roberts Jr. moved to a courthouse up the street. The president has submitted the name of the superbly qualified Ms. Halligan to the Senate three times.
When I wrote a year ago about the fate of Caitlin Halligan's appeals court nomination, I tried to puzzle out the basis for the opposition. Silly me, I thought it had something to do with Republicans not wanting a young (she had just turned 45), highly qualified judge sitting in the D.C. Circuit's famous launch position (hello, John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Warren Burger . . .)
Now I realize it's not about anything so sophisticated. It's about the N.R.A., which announced its opposition days before the cloture vote last December...In a previous job as New York State's solicitor general, Ms. Halligan, a former Supreme Court law clerk who is now general counsel to the Manhattan district attorney, had represented the state in a lawsuit against gun manufacturers. So much for her.
This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that July was the hottest month on record for the contiguous U.S. and that so far this year is the warmest on record. Scientists say that this record heat is partially driven by manmade climate change, yet Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, CBS Evening News, and USA TODAY did not mention climate change at all in their reports on NOAA's announcement.
These heat extremes are occurring in the context of rising global temperatures, which the vast majority of scientists agree are driven by greenhouse gas emissions. As the National Research Council explained, extensive climate research indicates that heat waves will become "more intense, more frequent, and longer-lasting" in the United States and around the globe as a result of human-induced climate change.
But not everyone in the media failed to mention these facts. The Associated Press' Seth Borenstein spoke to climate scientists, who noted that July's record heat alone would not be evidence of climate change, but that the broader pattern of record breaking heat shows global warming at work:
Fact-checkers have said that nearly every claim made in the latest Romney ad attacking green energy investments and the stimulus is misleading or false. Yet on The O'Reilly Factor, Lou Dobbs said "Basically [the ad is] true," and he and O'Reilly went on to amplify several of the misleading attacks in the ad.
After Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion upholding health care reform, the right-wing media have attacked his conservative credentials. Despite experts' statements that the opinion might have cleared the way for more rulings restricting federal power and progressive legislation, media conservatives are using this as a pretext to demand even more conservative judicial nominees. There is evidence their pressure is having an effect.
While numerous factors determine the frequency, severity and cost of wildfires, scientific research indicates that human-induced climate change increases fire risks in parts of the Western U.S. by promoting warmer and drier conditions. Seven of nine fire experts contacted by Media Matters agreed journalists should explain the relationship between climate change and wildfires. But an analysis of recent coverage suggests mainstream media outlets are not up to the task -- only 3 percent of news reports on wildfires in the West mentioned climate change.
Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.
Reporting on emails selectively released by House Republicans, numerous media outlets falsely claimed the documents show Obama donor George Kaiser -- whose family foundation invested in Solyndra -- discussing Solyndra's federal loan with the White House, with Fox going even further to claim "quid pro quo." In fact, the emails occurred after Solyndra had already received the loan guarantee and do not indicate that Kaiser discussed the loan with the White House.
After relentlessly pushing the false claim that the so-called "Climategate" controversy showed climate scientists deceitfully manipulating data, conservative media are celebrating a Rasmussen Reports poll finding that a majority of Americans believe "some scientists" have likely "falsified research data" to support "their own theories and beliefs about global warming."
The right-wing media is grasping for coherence in its attempts to portray military action in Libya as "Obama's Iraq."
In attempting to engage in what could have been an interesting discussion about the current state of American race relations, CNN made a terrible decision. CNN.com posted an article today about white racial anxiety -- a perfectly reasonable subject to discuss. What is not reasonable is interviewing and quoting figures like radio host James Edwards, whose show, The Political Cesspool, has a "Statement of Principles" that says the show "represent[s] a philosophy that is pro-White." Reinforcing the philosophy, Edwards has written in a blog post that "[i]nterracial sex is white genocide."
The show's "Statement of Principles" includes: "We wish to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility and beyond to grow the percentage of Whites in the world relative to other races." And Edwards regularly attacks Asians, Blacks, Jews, and Hispanics on his blog.
Among the things Edwards has written:
Anglos, to coin a phrase, have not yet begun to fight. They could. But will they in time?
I increasingly feel it hardly matters. This is all going to end in tears anyway.
To adapt another phrase, the historic American nation (= Anglos) will fight on the beaches, or it will fight in the hills. Even outnumbered, Anglos in Texas and America would be a formidable force -- one which probably could not be contained within the current political framework.
The most glaring problem with CNN's treatment of Brimelow and Edwards is that it presents the nature of their views as a he said/she said matter -- i.e., the Southern Poverty Law Center says they run hate groups, but they deny that. Any fair-minded look at their public statements would show that they espouse the view that minorities are inferior to white people.
Another important point about this treatment of white racial anxiety: It is completely unfair to white people who don't hold hateful views of minorities. If you are seeking perspective on "what white people think about race," you have committed journalistic malpractice by quoting people like Brimelow and Edwards. They can't be said to be in any way representative of what white people think.
Treating Brimelow and Edwards this way has the same effect as treating the New Black Panther Party as representative of black people. They're not. Plain and simple.
In a CNN.com opinion piece, CNN contributor David Frum attempted to justify the defeat of immigration reform bills, including the DREAM Act, by suggesting such measures would not help the United States attract highly skilled immigrants. In fact, both the DREAM and comprehensive immigration reform bills contain measures that would help attract such immigrants.
Fox News and right-wing blogs have attacked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for saying at a Ramadan dinner that "we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been." Bloomberg was actually echoing a statement in support of interfaith understanding that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf made during a memorial service for Daniel Pearl.
From Bloomberg's speech:
"At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, quote, 'If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one.'
"He then continued to say, 'If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'
"In that spirit, let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion." [emphasis added]
You would think that Bloomberg's statement would be applauded or at least be seen as non-controversial. Instead, right-wing websites used the remarks to continue to stir up anti-Muslim rage.
After a CNN.com opinion piece lauded Bloomberg's comments under the headline: "New York's Bloomberg: We are all Muslims," the conservative websites pounced.
For instance, Fox News' website Fox Nation featured the headline: "Bloomberg: We Are All Muslims" and accompanied the headline with an image of Bloomberg in Arabic headwear:
On June 1, CNN.com's main page posted the following graphic and headline:
CNN.com is up with a "Things to watch in today's races" feature splashed across its homepage:
The article it links to concludes with the following:
There's one major problem with CNN's analysis on the "winds" of Oregon though. Wyden is a Democrat now in his 14th year as a Senator.
How Wyden winning the "primary today and another term in the fall" would complicate the "national picture" is anyone's guess.
UPDATE: CNN.com has corrected the post. Wyden is no longer identified as an "Incumbent moderate Republican" and is instead referred to as an "Incumbent Democrat." Strangely, the bit about his impending victory "complicating the national picture" remains intact. Can anyone out there explain how Wyden winning complicates the "national picture." Am I missing something here?