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  • Trump Adopts Right-Wing Media's Flawed Robert Byrd Canard To Detract From Allegations Of Racism

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump followed right-wing media’s lead by connecting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) to mitigate the accusations that he is racist and has stoked racial tension. Conservatives have invoked Byrd’s past affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) for years to deflect from accusations of bigotry in the Republican Party, despite Byrd’s disavowal of his involvement with the hate group and his dedication of the rest of his life to atoning for his mistakes and supporting legislation to help minorities.

    After Clinton’s August 25 speech linking Trump to the “radical fringe” and accusing him of embracing a philosophy of “make America hate again,” Trump responded in an August 27 tweet, quoting supporters who lashed out at CNN for failing to mention that Clinton had once “said a KKK member was her mentor.” CNN confirmed that the supporters “referred to the last West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, a former KKK member whom Clinton mourned in 2010 as ‘a true American original, my friend and mentor.’”

    Right-wing media -- including Breitbart News and WND -- were quick to highlight the connection between Clinton and Byrd after her speech in an attempt to downplay her accusations against Trump. Independent Journal’s Frank Camp asserted that Clinton “can beat the drum against Trump over and over again, but her relationship with Senator Byrd may make those appeals ring hollow for some.” InfoWars claimed that Clinton and her campaign were “conveniently leaving out the fact that Hillary herself described Robert Byrd – a KKK leader who once called black people ‘mongrels,’ as her ‘friend and mentor.’” CNN political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes accused Clinton of having “a long track record ... of bias” because she “praised Senator Byrd.”

    This attempt at deflection is a familiar one for conservatives. In 2005, author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson explained in a Huffington Post piece that “Whenever a Republican makes a racial foot-in-the mouth gaffe, and Democrats publicly lambaste him for it, GOP leaders quickly and reflexively scream, ‘But what about Byrd,’ and pound the Democrats for having a former Klansman as a top Democrat.” However, Hutchinson noted that this flawed canard “makes Republicans seem disingenuous at best and racial hypocrites at worst” because “Byrd flirted with the Klan six decades ago” and Republicans, like Trump “flirted with them, in the past, and still do today.”

    The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart more recently pointed out that this conservative deflection is also flawed because Byrd “admitted his mistake and atoned for it in public and in policy.” The NAACP even mourned Byrd’s death in 2010 saying that he “went from being an active member of the KKK to a being a stalwart supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of seminal legislation that advanced the civil rights and liberties of our country.”

  • On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Media Highlight Plight Of Women Of Color In The Workplace

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    According to the most recently available data, African-American women on average are paid only 60 percent of what white men are paid in a year, meaning they would have to work almost nine additional months to catch up. August 23 is an annual day of action, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, focused on that issue, and numerous media outlets have noted the event by highlighting the plight of African-American women in the workforce.

  • Fox Resurrects Obamacare “Death Spiral” After News Of Aetna’s Withdrawal From Insurance Exchanges

    Right-Wing Media Warnings Of Previous “Death Spirals” All Fell Flat

    ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    Fox News exaggerated the implications of insurance giant Aetna’s decision to reduce its participation in health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” by claiming that the announcement was proof of an impending “death spiral” in insurance markets. Conservative media outlets have opportunistically used various so-called “death spiral” predictions over the last several years to falsely forecast the imminent demise of the President Obama’s signature legislation.

  • Trump’s “Fact-Free” Comments On Russia's Annexation Of Crimea Roundly Condemned

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media figures roundly condemned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump following his remarks that he would “be looking at” whether to “recognize Crimea as Russian territory.” Journalists and experts condemned Trump’s statements, saying they show either an “ignorance of a major geopolitical crisis or favoritism to Russia’s incursion,” and are “devoid of facts and divorced from traditional American and traditional European policy” regarding Russia and the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

  • Despite The Most Anti-LGBT Platform Ever, Pundits Tout Trump As A "Champion" Of LGBT Causes

    While Some Pundits Point Out The Anti-Gay Record of Trump And The GOP, Others Fall For His Superficial Outreach

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    While some media figures ignored the GOP’s anti-LGBT party platform to label Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “a champion” of LGBT causes after the candidate mentioned the LGBTQ community during his Republican National Convention acceptance speech, others called out the “fallacious and offensive” idea, and noted that “this year’s GOP platform is one of the most anti-LGBT ever.”

  • Media Call Out Trump’s “Campaign Of Fear” After Convention Speech

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Media outlets and figures slammed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s speech in which he formally accepted the nomination, writing that it was “intended to instill fear and terrify people,” that it painted the U.S. as a “dystopia” and a “land of horrors,” and that it “offered no solutions beyond his messianic portrayal of himself.”  

  • Media Condemn Trump's "Reckless Conspiracy Theory” About Obama’s Body Language

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & NINA MAST

    Media figures castigated presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for claiming that “there’s something going on” with President  Obama’s “body language,” calling the comments “another … reckless conspiracy theory” and noting this shows that Trump is “not ready to let go” of his “tinfoil hat-type” thinking. Trump was also roundly condemned for using the same line to question Obama’s response to the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June.

  • Media Highlight Trump VP Pick Mike Pence’s “Radical Obstinacy” On Abortion

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Media figures are calling out the “bizarre” and “extreme” anti-abortion record of Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN). They called Pence “the most anti-abortion presidential or VP candidate we’ve had,” and noted that he “became a conservative hero” by virtue of his “longstanding, implacable and dogged” opposition to abortion.

  • Voto Latino's Maria Teresa Kumar Slams Media's “Silo” On Latino Voices

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Voto Latino president and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar called on the media to stop leaving Latinos and other minority groups out of issues that “impact all Americans,” noting that “until we understand that we have a vested interest in all these different topics we can’t actually come together with an American agenda.”

    A Media Matters study in 2015 highlighted the media’s recurring failure to include Latino voices on Sunday News shows and to acknowledge the complexity of the Latino community, often reducing them to a constituency only concerned with immigration. Prominent advocates within the Latino community have campaigned for media to improve Latino representation, pointing out that the media fails Hispanics by not substantively covering issues that affect their lives, like the correlation between hateful rhetoric and anti-immigrant pieces of legislation.

    During a July 7 event co-hosted by HuffPost Latino Voices and Twitter about “how the media fails to see the complexities of the Latino identity,” Kumar explained that, despite being the second largest group in the American population, Latinos are often left out of surveys and media narratives, adding that “the media does a great job of wanting to silo who we are as Americans.” According to Kumar, “If you don’t know what Americans feel that means you cannot actually create policies, you cannot actually create programming, you cannot actually solve and try to understand big issues.”

    From the July 7 Huffington Post report:

    The country was once again forced to grapple with issues of race and police brutality this week. But as conversations on the future of race relations continue, Voto Latino president and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar recently advised the media to take note on how these issues impact all Americans, including Latinos.

    At the #ElectionVoices event, hosted by Twitter and HuffPost Latino Voices on Thursday, Kumar sat down with journalist Maria Hinojosa to explore the nuances of the Latino identity, the 2016 election and the importance of including Latinos in issues about race.

    In a discussion about how the media fails to see the complexities of the Latino identity, Kumar gave the example of a New York Times article she read last year which had a survey about race relations in the U.S. She said the survey in the article only surveyed African-Americans and Whites, and soon after she also discovered it wasn’t the first time a survey left out Latinos and other minority groups like Native Americans and Asian Americans.

    “Why is that a problem? That’s a problem because Latinos are the second largest group of Americans,” Kumar said, and later added that leaving Latinos and other minorities out means not getting the full picture of where all Americans stand. “If you don’t know what Americans feel that means you cannot actually create policies, you cannot actually create programming, you cannot actually solve and try to understand big issues.”

    [...]

    Kumar noted the media’s role in segregating coverage depending on the topic or issue.

    “I think the media does a great job of wanting to silo who we are as Americans,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, that’s the immigrant issue, that’s the African-American issue, that’s the Asian issue.’ No, it’s us. And until we understand that we have a vested interest in all these different topics we can’t actually come together with an American agenda.”

    Kumar added that the American agenda is currently a work in progress, as now there are people from all walks of life who are coming together for protests around LGBTQ issues, minimum wage, Black Lives Matter and more.

    “We are living a historical moment, when Americans are saying ‘we are going back into the streets because this is not the country that defines us and that we want to see,’” Kumar said. “There’s something incredibly beautiful and special about that, but we’re allowing [the media] to create our narratives instead of us taking charge of our narratives, of who we want to be as Americans in the next 100 years.”

  • Growing Consensus In Hispanic Media for Stronger Laws To Prevent Gun Violence

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    After the June 12 Orlando, FL, massacre -- which left 49 dead, a majority of them Latino -- various Hispanic media outlets and figures criticized Americans’ easy access to weapons and the National Rifle Association’s obstructive influence on gun legislation reform, making a renewed call to reform “our weak current legislation of firearms.” This response is reflective of the opinions of a majority of Latinos, who favor legislation to combat gun violence, perhaps because of statistics showing that Latinos are disproportionately victimized by guns.