Rachel Maddow: "How Can The Republicans Possibly Defend" Voting To Confirm Scott Pruitt Before His Emails With Oil Companies Are Released?
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Analysis From Morning Cable Shows: Fox Performed The Worst
On February 16, businesses around the country closed and many immigrants vowed to not spend any money in a demonstration known as “A Day Without Immigrants” to highlight the vital contributions immigrants make to the U.S. economy and culture. The demonstration was a response to anti-immigrant sentiment and policies enacted by President Donald Trump and his team. During their morning coverage -- from 6 a.m. and noon -- MSNBC and CNN both sent reporters to cover the protest, while Fox News dedicated less than a minute to the story during a series of headlines.
The New York Times reported that “what began as a grass-roots movement quickly reached the highest levels of federal government,” noting that the effort spread from places like construction sites in New York City all the way to federal government offices including in the Pentagon. The Washington Post wrote that the strike is a response “to a new administration that has taken a hard-line stance on immigration policies.” According to NPR, the protest also comes “after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents alarmed immigrant rights advocates by arresting some 680 people in raids across the U.S. last week.”
On morning cable news, MSNBC and CNN both sent reporters to cover the boycott, with MSNBC providing the only original interview related to the strike among the cable news channels. In the span of the 6 hours analyzed by Media Matters, MSNBC dedicated only close to 4 minutes to the story, while CNN dedicated just over 1 minute and 30 seconds. Fox News’ Heather Nauert reported on the story twice for a total of 40 seconds, both in news headline reads during Fox & Friends. MSNBC was the only network to feature the story in more than one show, mentioning it in three.
Fox News’ coverage dismissed the movement as immigrants “giving themselves a day off work,” and FoxNews.com quoted anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) as one of the protest’s “several detractors.”
On the other hand, MSNBC’s Gadi Schwartz interviewed immigrant business owner Lorena Cantarovici in Denver, CO, who shut down her restaurant as part of the protest. Cantarovici recounted her story of coming to the country with “just a backpack, less than $300,” and described how she is in the process of opening her third restaurant. Her interview illustrated the job opportunities immigrants create for others and highlighted the real life consequences of Trump’s policies, with Cantarovici adding that she is “part of the model of the small business economy here”:
LORENA CANTAROVICI: Maria Empanada is an American business, and it's a dream that came through an immigrant that came to this country trying to look for a better life. So this is not something that is made only by me. I have a team. And all those people have the same ethic, and they want to work hard, and they want to be part of this dream also. So, I don't want to forget that I'm an immigrant. And that's why I'm supporting this day.
GADI SCHWARTZ: And you were saying that an immigrant started this. That's you. You came here with a backpack on. Tell me a little bit about that.
CANTAROVICI: Just with a backpack, less than $300, and now I'm opening my third location very soon. I am giving job opportunities to people. I’m trying to motivate them every single day, and I'm part of the model of the small business economy here. So yeah, that's what we are doing.
SCHWARTZ: And what does this mean to the people that work here? What have they told you?
CANTAROVICI: Well, the decision was made by all of us, and it was very important for me to hear my people, right? So this is a very specific way to demonstrate that immigrants here are very important, and a day without immigrants can create a very big impact. So this is a country that is made by immigrants. Imagine all of us making just a silence for a day? I decided to make a silence.
Right-wing media figures, however, took to Twitter to criticize the protest. Conservative author Dinesh D’Souza asked, “Will illegals guarantee not to rob or murder any US citizens today? #DayWithoutIllegals.” Right-wing radio host Steve Deace tweeted that “we are not a nation of immigrants. We are a nation of citizens. #DayWithoutImmigrants.” Radio host Wayne Dupree wrote that “anyone falling for this stupid day should be deported”:
Anyone falling for this stupid day should be deported. Nobody is against immigration, we're against illegal aliens #DayWithoutImmigrants
— Wayne Dupree (@WayneDupreeShow) February 16, 2017
As of 2013, “more than 41 million immigrants lived in the U.S.,” which makes coverage of immigration of crucial interest to a significant segment of the total population. Meanwhile, news outlets elevated nativist hate groups and their xenophobic sentiments throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and afterwards. Trump started his candidacy by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and criminals, and harassment against immigrants was the “top type of harassment reported” in a spike after Election Day. Despite reporting on “A Day Without Immigrants” for only 4 minutes, MSNBC set the bar for the protest’s cable coverage by highlighting an immigrant voice and covering the story throughout the day.
Media Matters searched Snapstream’s CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News transcripts between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. on February 16 for mentions of the word “immigrant” or the phrase “day without.”
Moments after President Donald Trump concluded a press conference at which he unleashed numerous attacks on the press, his fundraising committee circulated a “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey” urging supporters to “do your part to fight back against the media’s attacks and deceptions.”
Trump and his administration have engaged in an unprecedented war on the press. The president routinely singles out legitimate outlets and reporters as “fake news,” and his chief strategist has labeled the press the “opposition party.” During his February 16 press conference, Trump was particularly "combative" with reporters, turning the event -- which was ostensibly to announce a new labor secretary nominee -- into a “screed against the media.”
The email blast from the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which presumably is also an attempt to build its email list, calls his supporters “our last line of defense against the media’s hit jobs” and urges readers to fill out a “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey” in order to “do your part to fight back against the media’s attacks and deceptions”:
The survey asks respondents whether they “trust” CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC to “report fairly on Trump's presidency” and asks, “On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans”:
The survey also includes laughable push-poll questions such as, “Were you aware that a poll was released revealing that a majority of Americans actually supported President Trump's temporary restriction executive order?”; “Do you believe that political correctness has created biased news coverage on both illegal immigration and radical Islamic terrorism?”; and “Do you believe that contrary to what the media says, raising taxes does not create jobs?”
The survey contains at least one serious grammatical error:
The last question of the survey asks, “Do you believe that our Party should spend more time and resources holding the mainstream media accountable?”
Submitting the survey leads the user to a fundraising pitch for Trump Make America Great Again Committee, “a joint fundraising committee composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (‘DJTP’) and the Republican National Committee (‘RNC’).”
During the campaign, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee sent out a similar “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey,” complaining that the media was “trying to rig this election against us”:
The full February 16 survey:
After Roger Stone was banned from appearing on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN for nearly a year because of his wildly unreliable claims and offensive behavior, NBC News appeared to reverse its decision, hosting the former adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign for two appearances, one on MSNBC and one on NBC, despite his pattern of spouting bigotry and lies and pushing conspiracy theories.
On February 16, NBC’s morning show, Today, hosted Stone to discuss renewed allegations that Trump aides, including Stone himself, had regular contact with Russian officials during the campaign. Stone is a racist, misogynist conspiracy theorist who is reportedly being investigated by the FBI for possible illegal dealings with Russia.
Stone's disreputable past and history of making false claims (such as his conspiracy theories that the Clintons are “plausibly responsible” for the deaths of about 40 people, the Bush family “tried to kill” Ronald Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy) were not mentioned in the Today interview. Nor were his January suggestions that former CIA Director John Brennan is a "Saudi mole" and that he has proved that Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) father "was working side by side with Lee Harvey Oswald" as a CIA operative.
Instead, Stone “categorically, positively, … absolutely” denied the allegations of his collusion with Russian officials on behalf of Trump to co-hosts Matt Lauer and Hallie Jackson. Later in the day during a rambling press conference, Trump referenced Stone's denials to attack "the failing New York Times."
Since the allegations were first reported by The New York Times on January 19, Stone has gone on the Russian-owned RT to defend Russian officials from allegations that they were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ("The entire notion that the Russians hacked this election and did so in order to affect the result is a falsehood, is a canard"), and appeared on the show of fellow conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Alex Jones to attack the role of Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff as "an enormous mistake."
Stone is also currently promoting a new book about the Trump campaign. His previous books, columns, and research have been widely dismissed as “discredited,” “Pants on Fire” false, and/or plagiarized.
Stone had previously claimed that he was in communication with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and had tweeted that it would be Hillary Clinton’s then-campaign chairman John Podesta’s “time in the barrel” shortly before the release of his hacked emails, a pattern of leaks that was repeatedly associated with Russian intelligence efforts.
The night before Stone appeared on Today, MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes also hosted him. Hayes noted that Stone had been banned from the network “because of numerous incredibly offensive, bigoted, and objectionable tweets,” but that he was interviewing Stone because he was “once again in the middle of the news” -- a reference to the fact that Trump’s inner circle has been implicated in the investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Shortly after the MSNBC interview aired, Stone took to Twitter to call CNN's Ana Navarro a "stupid bitch" for her comments on former national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn's recent resignation, which occurred after it was revealed that Flynn possibly lied about contacts he had with Russian officials in the transition to the Trump presidency.
Stone previously attacked numerous NBC personalities with racist and vile taunts. He tweeted that MSNBC host Al Sharpton is a "professional negro" who ate fried chicken, NBC's Tom Brokaw is "senile," and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is "Rachel the muff-diver." Stone also wrote that former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly -- now with NBC -- has a "nice set of cans.” He twice offered a cash reward to anyone who "punches out" MSNBC host Chris Matthews. Stone later deleted most of those tweets.
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled against President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, confirming that Trump and his supporters’ previous public statements expressing their intent to unconstitutionally discriminate against Muslims can “be used in proceedings.” Media Matters has compiled 21 quotes from Trump, his team, his cable news surrogates, and figures on Fox News admitting that the ban’s original intent was to single out Muslims.
Since President Donald Trump signed a controversial executive order banning visitors and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, conservative media figures have defended him as being “within his mandate” as president and claimed the constitutionality of the order is “crystal clear,” but the recent federal appeals court decision against his order proves otherwise. Here are some of the right-wing media myths -- and the corresponding facts -- on Trump’s Muslim ban:
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Fox News And NBC Ignored The Reports, While CNN’s Coverage Led The Way
Morning news programs on cable and broadcast television largely ignored reports that President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn seemingly engaged in “inappropriate and potentially illegal” communications with the Russian government, spending less than 30 minutes on it across 15 hours of programming.
The Washington Post reported on February 9 that Flynn “privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office.” The Post explained that “Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin.” The New York Times pointed out that the conversations “raise the prospect that Mr. Flynn violated a law against private citizens’ engaging in diplomacy, and directly contradict statements made by Trump advisers.”
However, the story was all but neglected on morning shows across broadcast and cable news networks, with the exception of CNN. The February 10 editions of ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’ CBS This Morning, and NBC’s Today spent a combined total of 2 minutes and 26 seconds on the story, with Good Morning America spending 1 minute and 32 seconds on it and CBS This Morning devoting only 54 seconds to the story. The story wasn’t mentioned at all on NBC’s Today.
On cable news, Fox News’ Fox & Friends also spent no time on the reports during the February 10 edition. MSNBC’s Morning Joe barely fared better, discussing the story for only 3 minutes and 3 seconds during the three hour show. CNN’s New Day, on the other hand, led the pack, spending 20 minutes and 2 seconds discussing the new reports.
Fox News and NBC’s decisions to ignore a story that is problematic for the Trump administration on their morning shows also fits into their patterns of providing favorable coverage to Trump and normalizing his incredibly abnormal administration.
During the campaign, broadcast and cable news were reluctant to devote a significant amount of time to investigative reports about Trump and those around him. Instead, outlets consistently allowed Trump to hijack the media narrative and drown out negative coverage through his tweets and antics.
Graphs by Sarah Wasko
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Right-wing media figures took to Twitter to lament over the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision not to reinstate President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries, calling the decision “judicial tyranny” and the judges “pro-terrorists activists.”
Prime-time cable news shows virtually ignored Muslim voices when they hosted guests to discuss the fallout from President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. This failure fits into a larger media pattern of ignoring Muslims when discussing issues that are particularly impactful to them, while at the same time painting false portraits based on stereotypes. Given how few Americans actually know a Muslim person -- and that the religion is already incredibly vilified -- cable news would do better to follow the precedent set by print media and highlight personal stories from Muslims who have been impacted by the ban.
On January 27, Trump signed an executive order that banned people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days. While the order does not specifically single out Muslims, media figures and experts agreed that it’s a Muslim ban. That intent seems particularly clear given that during the campaign Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” and that Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani boasted on Fox News that Trump asked him to show him “the right way” to “legally” implement a “Muslim ban.”
In the week after Trump signed the executive order, prime-time cable news programs hosted 176 guests (some repeat) for significant discussions about the policy, but only 14 guest appearances were Muslim. CNN hosted seven Muslim guests while MSNBC hosted two. Fox News hosted five Muslims, all during the February 3 edition of The First 100 Days. Of CNN’s guests, anchor Fareed Zakaria accounted for two of the seven appearances.
This failure falls into a broader pattern of cable news neglecting to present representative voices, especially of Muslims. In the 24 hours after the June 12, 2016, mass shooting in Orlando, FL, in which a Muslim man killed 49 people and injured 50 after opening fire at an LGBTQ nightclub, cable news hosted only a few Muslim guests. In the month after the election, only 21 percent of the guests who appeared on evening cable news to discuss Islam were Muslim.
A 2014 Pew Study found that only 38 percent of Americans know someone who is Muslim, and it’s likely that even fewer know anyone impacted by Trump’s ban. Thus for many Americans, media portrayals are the only way they can get to know the Muslim community, yet the media often falsely frame Muslims as criminals. A 2015 YouGov poll found that 55 percent of Americans have a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of Islam, while 50 percent said they understand the religion “not too well” or “not well at all.”
There were several segments on cable news -- not just during prime-time -- discussing the ban that could have used a Muslim guest to add perspective and personal experience to the conversation. On Fox News’ The Five, for example, hosts suggested that those who were affected by Trump’s ban “don’t have rights”:
CNN hosted Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which is part of what the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated “the nativist lobby.” Krikorian used his platform to defend the ban and baselessly claim that “there are plenty of people with Iraqi nationality who want to commit terrorist acts in the United States”:
On his show, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly stated that he doesn’t care if “any Muslim … is alienated by the United States” due to the ban while speaking to two non-Muslim guests:
While cable news has utterly failed at providing a representative view of people impacted by the ban, online and print media have done a much better job speaking to Muslims who experienced firsthand the impact of this policy and reporting their stories:
The New York Times put together a series of vignettes about people impacted by the ban, including Fuad Shareef, who worked with American officials as a translator after the invasion of Iraq. After selling the family home and car and spending $5,000 on flights, he was told that he could not go as planned to resettle in the United States.
BuzzFeed collected stories from LGBTQ refugees who “felt their dreams crushed as they heard the news” of the ban. Hamid, a gay man who fled his home in Iran and was cleared to resettle in the U.S., told BuzzFeed that he was “going to die here” while hiding out in Turkey.
ThinkProgress relayed the story of Roozbeh Aliabadi, a soon-to-be doctoral student who said the “order is keeping him from his wife, who lives in Iran.” Aliabadi told ThinkProgress, “‘I haven’t seen my wife for about seven months, and this, in a way, gives us two options. Number 1: I have to move out of the U.S. Or we have to get divorced. I don’t think the latter is an option.’”
Media Matters used Nexis to search for all guests appearing on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. from January 30 through February 3 in segments where there was significant discussion of Trump’s travel ban, using the phrases "refugee," "ban," "Muslim," "Islam," and "vetting." Network anchors like Fareed Zakaria who appeared as a guest on a program that they did not anchor were coded as guests in the analysis. Network analysts were also included as guests. Network correspondents and reporters were not counted as guests. Pre-taped interviews where there was no significant dialogue between the reporter and guest were excluded from the analysis. Reruns of interviews from previous programming were excluded from the analysis. Guest appearances were coded for whether the guests self-identified as Muslim either in the segment or prominently elsewhere in the media. Guests were counted once per episode.
Graph by Sarah Wasko