Following the October 28 CNBC Republican presidential debate, Fox News repeatedly championed the performance of Sen. Marco Rubio and his claim that Hillary Clinton "got exposed as a liar" during her Benghazi testimony for supposedly misleading the public about the cause of the Benghazi attacks. That allegation has been repeatedly debunked by journalists at numerous media outlets for disregarding the fact that intelligence was rapidly evolving in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and ignoring the possibility that "the attacks could be both an example of terrorism and influenced by outrage over the video."
Media outlets refuted Gov. Chris Christie's (R-NJ) claims that a lack of support from President Obama and increased scrutiny of police are leading to an increase in crime, explaining that "2015 is actually on pace to have near-record low levels of deadly violence against police." The so-called "Ferguson Effect," that Christie alluded to, is a right-wing media myth that has used flawed or cherry-picked data to link supposed increases in crime rates to the increased scrutiny of police following episodes of police brutality and has been roundly debunked by experts
Media outlets refuted Rep. Jim Jordan's (R-OH) baseless claim that Hillary Clinton deliberately misled the public about the cause of the Benghazi, explaining that his allegations disregarded how intelligence evolved in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and ignored the possibility that "the attacks could be both an example of terrorism and influenced by outrage over the video."
CBS' Face the Nation was the sole network news Sunday political talk show to ignore the claims of a former staffer for the House Select Committee on Benghazi alleging that the committee has turned into a "partisan investigation" with a "hyper-focus on Hillary Clinton."
On October 10, The New York Times reported that Bradley Podliska, who worked as an investigator for the Benghazi committee and was allegedly fired unlawfully, accused the committee of focusing "primarily on the role of the State Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton" instead of leading a comprehensive investigation into the September 2012 Benghazi attack that killed four Americans.
CNN's State of the Union treated the story as breaking news and opened with an exclusive television interview of Podliska. In his CNN interview, Podliska said that the Benghazi probe "has become a partisan investigation," that has shifted its focus "to go after Hillary." On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace questioned Benghazi committee member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) about the accusations made by Podliska. On NBC's Meet the Press, Chuck Todd briefly mentioned Podliska's accusations, noting that both Podliska and the Republicans on the committee "agree that Hillary Clinton was being targeted," and asked, "doesn't that hurt the committee?" And on ABC's This Week, Martha Raddatz asked Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) about Podliska's statement that "he was fired from that committee because he was told to focus too much on Hillary Clinton instead of finding out answers about Benghazi."
But John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation, failed to mention this news at all. The only mention of Benghazi came from panelist Ron Fournier, who also neglected to mention this news story, despite bringing up both Clinton and Benghazi:
RON FOURNIER: Let me talk a little bit about emails if I could, which is her untrustworthy problem, and the Democrats are pointing at Republicans, and McCarthy is saying we just want to bring her down as mitigating for her. We have two sets of facts. One is, we know that the Republican Party did everything they could to destroy Hillary Clinton with Benghazi -- hyper-partisan Republican Party. And they caught Hillary Clinton red handed creating a improper covert server that undermined the Freedom of Information Act, that subverted legislative oversight, and jeopardized U.S. secrets.
Both of those things can be true. As a matter of fact, both of those things are true, but the Democrats try to use the one thing to mitigate them, and the Republicans try to use the other to mitigate them. And meanwhile, both parties think that - most voters think that the leaders of the parties are lying to them, because they are.
After the Department of Justice (DOJ) told a federal court that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had full authority to delete what she determined to be personal emails without involvement from the agency, most of the Sunday political talk shows covering the Clinton email story failed to mention this development.
A Media Matters analysis of the Sunday morning political talk shows found a plurality of the guests hosted to discuss the Iran nuclear agreement since it was announced in July opposed the deal. Notably, 63 percent of guests hosted on Fox News Sunday to discuss the deal opposed it, while only 13 percent supported it.
From the August 9 edition of CBS' Face The Nation:
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In an interview with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Face the Nation host John Dickerson ignored new controversial comments from the former Arkansas governor and Fox News host about using the FBI or U.S. military forces to stop legal abortions throughout the country.
On July 31, The Topeka Capitol-Journal reported that Huckabee stated that if he was elected president, he would stop legal abortions from being performed. When questioned by reporters during two campaigns stops in Iowa if he would use federal troops or the FBI in order to prevent abortions, Huckabee stated he would resort to utilizing all means available to end constitutionally protected abortions (emphasis added):
In response to a question from the audience at the Pizza Ranch in Jefferson, Iowa, Huckabee said he would "invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendments for the protection of every human being."
Both amendments contain due process protections against depriving people of life without due process of law.
"Would that be a huge controversy?" the former Arkansas governor asked. "Yes."
But he argued that scientific advancements have now verified that unborn babies are human beings -- information he said wasn't necessarily available when the Supreme Court issued its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
"I will not pretend there is nothing we can do to stop this," Huckabee said at the event, where a Topeka Capital-Journal correspondent was present.
At his next stop, in Rockwell City, Huckabee answered follow-up questions from the correspondent, saying: "All American citizens should be protected."
Asked by another reporter how he would stop abortion, and whether this would mean using the FBI or federal forces to accomplish this, Huckabee replied: "We'll see, if I get to be president."
He said he would use all resources available to protect U.S. citizens.
On the August 2 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, host John Dickerson failed to confront Huckabee on his suggestion that he might order troops to interfere with women's reproductive health decisions. Dickerson instead focused on Huckabee's July 25 remarks comparing President Obama's negotiations of the Iran deal to the Holocaust. Watch the full interview below:
Following last week's mass shooting at a Louisiana movie theater, Republican presidential candidate and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal claimed that because of "tougher laws" in his state, the gunman's mental health record would have been entered into the national background check system, which would have prevented him from legally buying a gun. The New York Times unquestioningly repeated Jindal's claims, even though Louisiana has submitted less than 3 percent of eligible disqualifying mental health records into the system, and Jindal has presided over a weakening of Louisiana's already lax gun laws.
En un nuevo informe sobre el "síndrome monotemático", Media Matters encontró que los programas dominicales en español continúan dedicando considerable atención al tema migratorio, aparentemente a expensas de temas que son de igual importancia para la comunidad latina. Adicionalmente, a pesar de que los latinos constituyen más del 17 por ciento de la población estadounidense, solo cuatro por ciento de los invitados a los programas dominicales en inglés entre el 4 de enero y el 3 de mayo de 2015 eran latinos - una reducción de un 42 por ciento en los niveles de participación para finales de 2014.
A new Media Matters report on the "single issue syndrome" found that Spanish-language Sunday shows continue to devote considerable attention to immigration at the apparent expense of issues equally important to the Latino community. In addition, although Latinos make up more than 17 percent of the U.S. population, only 4 percent of guests on English-language Sunday shows between January 4 and May 3, 2015 were Hispanic - a drop of 42 percent from their 2014 appearances over a similar time period.
Amid widespread condemnation of Donald Trump from his fellow Republican presidential candidates following his attack on Sen. John McCain's military service, media are highlighting Republicans' collective failure to denounce Trump's past bigotry and xenophobia.
A new Media Matters study has found that outside of MSNBC, major broadcast and cable television outlets are failing to fact-check climate science denial by presidential candidates 75 percent of the time. But it's worth taking a closer look at how television program hosts have handled their face-to-face interviews with presidential candidates, since these high-profile interviews often get a substantial amount of attention and can shape media discussions for days or even weeks to come.
So how are TV hosts responding when presidential candidates spout climate science denial in real time? It depends which channel you're watching.
CNN's Jake Tapper has offered an instructive example of how to address presidential candidates' climate denial during his interviews with real estate mogul Donald Trump and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). On the June 28 edition of CNN's State of the Union, Tapper responded to Trump's declaration that he is "not a huge believer in the global warming phenomenon" by telling Trump that "the overwhelming majority of scientists say it's real and it's man-made."
Tapper also brought up the scientific consensus during a June 4 interview with Santorum on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper. Noting that Santorum had responded to Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change by commenting that "the church has gotten it wrong a few times on science" and that "we're probably better off leaving science to the scientists," Tapper proceeded to ask Santorum: "[I]n terms of leaving science to the scientists, I think a lot of people would agree with you. So why not take the overwhelming majority of scientists at their word and take seriously that humans are contributing to climate change, with potentially disastrous results?"
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace similarly challenged Santorum's remarks about the pope's encyclical during a June 7 interview. Wallace told Santorum that the vast majority of "scientists who have studied this say that humans, man -- human activity, contributes to climate change." Wallace then added, "So, I guess the question would be, if [the pope] shouldn't talk about [climate change], should you?"
Unfortunately, Wallace has not consistently described humans' role in climate change as a matter of scientific consensus. During an interview with Cardinal Donald Wuerl on the June 21 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace suggested a false balance between the 97 percent of climate scientists who say humans are causing global warming and, in Wallace's words, the "experts on the other side" who question it. Wallace asked Wuerl: "While the Holy Father says a number of scientific studies hold that the world is warming and human activity is a major role, there are certainly experts on the other side who question, really, whether there is a consistent pattern of warming, as opposed to just sort of the variations of climate over the ages, and how much human activity plays a role. What does the pope say to those people?"
Although his program wasn't included in Media Matters' study, Fusion's Jorge Ramos also forcefully refuted climate science denial by a presidential candidate. During an interview with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on the April 21 edition of America with Jorge Ramos, Ramos brought up Rubio's stated view that human activity is not "causing these dramatic changes to our climate," and then told Rubio, "97 percent of the studies on climate change say that you are wrong."
But on two of the major networks' Sunday news programs, candidates' climate science denial went unanswered. The very same week that Ramos corrected Rubio, Bob Schieffer let Rubio get away with denying the science on CBS' Face the Nation. In an April 19 interview, Schieffer asked Rubio if he has said that "humans are not responsible for climate change," and Rubio replied, "What I said is that humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe, for the following reason: I believe the climate is changing, because there's never been a moment where the climate is not changing. The question is what percentage of that -- or what is due to human activity?" Rather than pointing out that the vast majority of climate scientists say human activities are the primary factor in climate change, Schieffer quickly moved on to a discussion of social issues.
NBC's Chuck Todd similarly dropped the ball during his interview with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on the June 21 edition of Meet the Press. Asked by Todd whether he believes climate change is man-made, Huckabee brought up the red herring frequently used by climate science deniers that scientists predicted "a global freezing" in the early 1970s, and stated, "Science is not as settled on [climate change] as it is on some things." Todd did not indicate that the vast majority of climate scientists agree humans are driving climate change, instead simply replying, "All right, so, if president, climate change is not in your top of your agenda."
Perhaps less surprising is the comfortable treatment climate-denying candidates received during their interviews with Fox News' Sean Hannity, who was the only media figure to let multiple candidates get away with denying the science during the timeframe of our study. In an interview with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on the June 16 edition of Hannity, the Fox News host asked Bush, "The president says that the science is in. It's all been determined. Are you there? Where are you on climate change?" Bush replied, "I think there's a debate about that" and then praised American ingenuity and natural gas production for reducing the country's carbon footprint. Hannity then moved on to a question from the audience on another topic.
The next day, Hannity interviewed Trump and not only failed to fact-check Trump's climate science denial, but also agreed with him that concerns about global warming are no more credible than past warnings of an impending "ice age."
As Americans across the country feel the growing effects of climate change, the next president will largely determine whether the United States continues to take action on climate change or chooses to ignore it. So when media figures have the opportunity to interview candidates on the issue, they simply cannot let candidates get away with denying the science and pretending the problem doesn't even exist.
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.
While most of the Sunday political news shows ignored accusations that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) may be unlawfully coordinating with his super PAC, CBS' Bob Schieffer asked the prospective presidential candidate if he was "violating the spirit of the law."
Bush has recently come under scrutiny for coordinating with his super PAC, Right to Rise. As the Washington Post reported, "Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center -- sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch [on May 27] asking that the Justice Department investigate whether Bush and his PAC 'are engaged in knowing and willful violations of federal campaign finance laws.' The groups are calling on Lynch to appoint an independent Special Counsel to investigate potential violations."
In a May 31 editorial, The New York Times editorial board endorsed the idea and urged the Justice Department to get involved, describing Bush's relationship with Right to Rise as "brazen," and "cynical" and noted that Bush is "obviously" running for president:
Ideally, the F.E.C. should be doing its enforcement job. Given that agency's dereliction, the Justice Department must exercise its authority to enforce the law. The abuses of runaway political money will only grow when candidates believe there's no one to stop them.
During the May 31 edition of Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer questioned Bush over his questionable PAC coordination. Asserting that it was "pretty obvious" that Bush was running for president, Schieffer pointed to criticism and requests for investigation into his dealings with Right to Rise, asking if he thought he "may be just at least violating the spirit of the law" by coordinating with the group. Bush dismissed Schieffer, claiming that he "wouldn't ever do that" and simply was "trying to get a sense of whether [his] candidacy would be viable or not" prior to deciding if he would officially run for president:
The media have largely continuously ignored that likely Republican presidential contenders in 2016 are using dark money and secretive nonprofit groups to sidestep campaign finance laws. Face the Nation was the only Sunday broadcast network political show to even broach the subject.
In March, Bush gave his "tacit endorsement" to Right to Rise Policy Solutions, a nonprofit organization that allows him to side-step campaign finance laws that cap donations from individual donors and require donations to political action committees (PACs) to be publicly reported, permitting "individuals and corporations" to "give as much as they want while remaining anonymous," according to the Post. The news garnered little media attention at the time, with just a scattering of articles and two segments on broadcast and cable news outlining the dark money connections.