Several months into the 2016 presidential campaign, the media is frequently failing to fact-check statements by presidential candidates denying the science of climate change. Seven major newspapers and wire services surveyed by Media Matters have thus far failed to indicate that candidates' statements conflict with the scientific consensus in approximately 43 percent of their coverage, while the major broadcast and cable news outlets other than MSNBC have failed to do so 75 percent of the time.
From the April 1 edition of CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront:
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From the March 31 edition of CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront:
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From the May 14 edition of CNN's OutFront:
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From the May 13 edition of CNN's OutFront:
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From the March 5 edition of CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront:
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CNN host Erin Burnett attempted to downplay the consequences of reaching the debt ceiling, ignoring both the reporting of her CNN colleagues and experts who warn that passing the debt ceiling would result in default and economic harm.
On the October 8 edition of CNN's OutFront, Burnett argued that the conversation around reaching the debt limit had become "hyperbolic," claiming "experts tell us you can reach the debt ceiling without defaulting on the debt" because "if the debt ceiling is breached, there is enough money to fund half to two-thirds of the economy." Burnett repeated one economist's claim that "The bottom line is there is enough money coming in to pay the interest on the debt, the military, and up to two-thirds of government activity":
Earlier in the day, however, CNN anchor Christine Romans argued against proponents of prioritization, saying: "You hear people like Congressman Ted Yoho and others talk about, you know, 'Oh, they'll just have to prioritize.' You can't. There's not enough money that we finance the operations of the government. It would be instant austerity that many economists say could send us into a recession if they don't work this out":
Experts have also pointed out that the prioritization plan Burnett pushed would not prevent default. Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin wrote in a Treasury Department blog that prioritizing debt payments "would not actually prevent default":
While well-intentioned, this idea is unworkable. It would not actually prevent default, since it would seek to protect only principal and interest payments, and not other legal obligations of the U.S., from non-payment. Adopting a policy that payments to investors should take precedence over other U.S. legal obligations would merely be default by another name, since the world would recognize it as a failure by the U.S. to stand behind its commitments. It would therefore bring about the same catastrophic economic consequences Secretary Geithner has warned against.
A Business Insider post also pointed out: "It's not true that on all days the Treasury has more money coming in than it has to pay out. ... The U.S. might be able to prioritize for a few days, but come November the U.S. would have to pay way more than was coming in that day, and we'd have a real breach no matter what." The post included a chart that compiled data from Goldman Sachs and the Treasury Department, showing that by early November, the combination of headroom under the debt ceiling and cash balance would reach zero by early November:
Another of Burnett's CNN colleagues pointed out that the consequences of reaching the debt ceiling would have a devastating effect on the stock market. During the October 8 edition of The Lead, CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik responded to a question about the debt ceiling's effect on the economy by noting that "if a default happens, there's one analyst who says that the S&P 500 could drop 45 percent":
MSNBC host Chris Hayes released a documentary on climate change Friday, continuing relatively in-depth coverage of what he calls "the single greatest threat that we face." In fact, Media Matters found that even prior to this documentary, Hayes dedicated over 1 hour and 40 minutes to climate change since the launch of his primetime show -- more than three times that of four shows on CNN and Fox News combined in that same time period. Including the coverage that Hayes dedicated to previewing and airing the documentary "The Politics of Power" on Thursday and Friday, Hayes has covered climate change for over 3 hours -- about nine times those shows combined.
From April 1, when the show All In with Chris Hayes premiered, to August 14, Hayes discussed climate change 19 times, devoting approximately 1 hour and 42 minutes to the issue*. By contrast, CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront only mentioned climate change once for about two minutes, Anderson Cooper 360 didn't mention it at all, and Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity only mentioned climate change dismissively, devoting twelve and seven minutes to the topic, respectively. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow also devoted more coverage than these other four primetime shows combined, discussing climate change eight times for a total of 32 minutes.
During this time period, President Barack Obama gave a major speech on climate change, carbon dioxide levels exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in human history, wildfires in the West and flooding in the Midwest were worsened in the context of this carbon pollution, and Republican politicians made several colorful claims denying the overwhelming science on climate change as a pro-Obama group conducted a campaign to highlight exactly these types of remarks.
CNN's special The Truth About Benghazi pushed long-debunked myths about the September 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, with host Erin Burnett and CNN correspondent John King asking questions that were answered months ago -- often by CNN itself -- and leaving important context out of many claims.
CNN's initial reporting on its Benghazi special raises serious questions about the integrity of the special, as factual inaccuracies and uncritical reporting privileges the conservative witch hunt.
At 10 PM on August 6, CNN's Erin Burnett will host an hour-long special, The Truth About Benghazi. To preview the special, Burnett appeared on The Situation Room. When asked by host Wolf Blitzer, "What's the biggest takeaway that you take yourself from this documentary?" Burnett responded, "Among our conclusions, Wolf, is that the administration was focused foremost on re-election. It's a painful truth, but it appears to be the case."
If that is one of Burnett's biggest takeaways from her special, it does not bode well for the factual accuracy of the upcoming report. The day following the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, President Obama addressed the nation in the Rose Garden where he referred to the attack as an "act of terror." Obama then referred to the attack as an "act of terror" twice on September 13, 2012, once in Colorado and once in Nevada.
Furthermore, on October 4, 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton convened an Accountability Review Board "to examine the facts and circumstances of the attacks." Additionally, the FBI began its investigation in the first days following the attack.
Hardly the work of an administration "focused foremost on re-election."
Earlier in the day, CNN's John King previewed the special with a CNN.com piece that was also full of manufactured Benghazi controversies that have been debunked numerous times. King's piece included questions such as "Why, especially given the weeks of threat warnings, there was no viable military option to assist the State Department personnel at the Benghazi mission," and "the warnings didn't reach the point where the State Department either sent more security help or ordered the Benghazi mission closed."
King's question regarding the lack of military options to assist the Benghazi mission has been answered numerous times, but most recently by Marine Corps Colonel George Bristol who told a congressional panel in late July that the site security team in Tripoli was given initial freedom of action to respond to the attack.
Also, King's query into the supposed warnings of a potential attack on the mission has no basis in fact. In September 2012, the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers (R-MI), appeared on Fox & Friends and declared, "I have seen nothing yet that indicates that they had information that could have prevented the attack."
Additionally, as The New York Times reported in October, 2012, there were no warnings that the embassy in Benghazi was going to be targeted:
Interviews with American officials and an examination of State Department documents do not reveal the kind of smoking gun Republicans have suggested would emerge in the attack's aftermath such as a warning that the diplomatic compound would be targeted and that was overlooked by administration officials.
State Department officials have asserted that there was no specific intelligence that warned of a large-scale attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, which they asserted was unprecedented. The department said it was careful to weigh security with diplomats' need to meet with Libyan officials and citizens.
"The lethality of an armed, massed attack by dozens of individuals is something greater than we've ever seen in Libya over the last period that we've been there," Patrick F. Kennedy, the State Department's under secretary for management, told reporters at a news conference on Oct. 10.
Burnett and King's inaccurate reporting isn't the only reason to doubt the veracity of the forthcoming CNN special. A "Benghazi attack timeline" posted on CNN's website in preparation for the event features multiple errors. CNN gets the name of the deputy chief of mission in Libya wrong (his name is Gregory Hicks, not Gregory Wallace, as CNN claims). The timeline also states that the final attack on the annex began at 4:00 a.m. local time; both the State Department's Accountability Review Board and the Pentagon say it began at 5:15 a.m.
The research consistently cited by media figures to support cutting government spending has recently been invalidated, raising questions about how mainstream coverage of economic policy promoted incorrect data.
In January 2010, economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff released a study that suggested when countries reach debt levels of 90 percent relative to GDP, economic growth would be compromised. Conservatives in politics and media alike repeatedly cited the figure in discussions about the economy.
A study released on April 16, however, found that the conclusions reached by Reinhart and Rogoff were based on data that was riddled with errors. Reinhart and Rogoff's response to the critique -- in which they maintain they never implied that rising debt caused lower growth, just that the two were associated -- shows that media's handling of the figure was wrong all along.
These new developments show that media consistently used an apparently incorrect figure for the past few years to call for austerity measures. Here's a look back at how major cable networks cited the figure in its coverage of the budget and economic policy:
Video by Alan Pyke.
CNN's Erin Burnett suggested that media "on the left" may have failed to cover the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell for political reasons -- even though Burnett herself had never previously covered Gosnell's story.
Gosnell is currently on trial for murder, accused of grotesque behavior in providing illegal late-term abortions. Conservative media have been engaged in a campaign to pressure the media for providing what they consider insufficient coverage to the trial.
On the April 12 broadcast of her show, Burnett hosted a segment to examine why the story "hasn't gotten much attention in the media at all, it seems." While discussing the trial with Salon reporter Irin Carmon, Burnett said:
BURNETT: [T]here are many people out there, as you're aware, on the right who are saying, "Look, it's pro-choice people on the left who aren't going to cover this story, because they're pro-choice and this hurts their agenda. It's such an awful, horrific thing. It'll make people more adverse to abortion. That's bad for them, so they're not covering it." What do you say to those people as someone who reports on this issue?
Burnett then acknowledged that CNN's own research showed there were almost no media outlets that had run stories "which mentioned [Gosnell's] name more than three times," indicating that the story wasn't being covered "only on the right, obviously."
Yet moments later, she asked guest Donna Brazile, "Do you reject the argument that is being made by many on the right ... that, they say, the mainstream media and those who are pro-choice have ignored this story because it makes abortion look horrific?"
According to a Nexis search, Burnett's own show has never, before this broadcast, covered Gosnell's story.
CNN host Erin Burnett didn't ask NRA board member Ted Nugent a single question about his recent violent remarks concerning gun policy, which included doubling down on his previous claim that he would be "dead or in jail" if Obama was reelected.
Burnett hosted Nugent on the April 11 broadcast of her show Erin Burnett OutFront to discuss pending gun safety legislation.
At no point did Burnett ask Nugent about comments he made during an April 8 interview on NRA News, when he complained that not enough was done to stop Obama's reelection and asked, "When I kick the door down in the enemy's camp, would you help me shoot somebody?" Nugent clarified that his reference to shooting people was "a metaphor" and that he's "not recommending shooting anybody." He also doubled down on his claim last year that he would be "either dead or in jail" in a year if the president was reelected.
Nugent is not a credible voice in the gun policy debate, as evidenced by his long history of inflammatory rhetoric and misinformation about gun violence. Nevertheless, Burnett has attempted to mainstream Nugent before. In February, Burnett's show featured an interview with Nugent where he suggested the government could confiscate firearms, a conspiracy theory that Burnett and CNN reporter Deb Feyerick later treated as a serious argument.
During the April 11 interview, Burnett experienced some of Nugent's inflammatory rhetoric firsthand when Nugent asked Burnett if she would "support my recommendation that we arrest Eric Holder" in order to "stop gun trafficking."
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent will reportedly appear tonight on CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront to discuss firearm policy, despite his history of inflammatory rhetoric and misinformation about gun violence. In February, OutFront featured an interview with Nugent where he suggested the government could confiscate firearms, a conspiracy theory that host Erin Burnett and CNN reporter Deb Feyerick later treated as a serious argument.
Nugent's appearance comes just days after he doubled down on his infamous comments that he would be "dead or in jail" because of President Obama's gun policies. During that interview on NRA News, Nugent also complained that not enough was done to stop the reelection of Obama, asking, "When I kick the door down in the enemy's camp, would you help me shoot somebody?" Nugent clarified that his reference to shooting people was "a metaphor" and that he's "not recommending shooting anybody."
Nugent is not a credible figure in the debate over gun laws.
In a February 13 column for birther website WND, Nugent revived false reports to allege that the perpetrator of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre used handguns rather than an assault weapon during his attack. Nugent's claim was based on an erroneous news report often cited by individuals promoting the conspiracy theory that the mass shooting was a hoax. In that same column, Nugent also downplayed the damage done by assault weapons by falsely claiming the AR-15 has more in common with a "squirrel rifle" than a military assault rifle.
In addition to his long history of hateful rhetoric on the topic of race, Nugent has compared the alleged plight of gun owners to civil rights icon Rosa Parks and blamed gun violence on "leftist stooges." By contrast, Nugent has also compared Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder to serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer after they were chosen to lead the administration's gun violence prevention efforts. No stranger to violent rhetoric, Nugent claimed in January that the Obama administration "is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George" and that "if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies."
Despite the clear scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that humans are causing it, CNN's Erin Burnett treated climate change as the subject of debate.
Throughout the segment, Erin Burnett OutFront aired a badly misleading graphic suggesting that global warming is "on ice" because public opinion has changed. The phrase carried a question mark during most of the discussion, but eventually dropped it:
In contrast, here's a chart from the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change showing the long-term change in global temperature:
Last year was also the hottest year on record in the U.S.