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  • Media Matters’ Do’s And Don’ts For Moderators And Media Covering The 2016 Presidential Debates

    ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    The 2016 presidential debates will kick off on September 26, giving voters one of their last chances to judge the candidates on the substance and breadth of their policy proposals. With over 100 million people expected to watch, the stakes could not be higher. Voters are mere months away from selecting the person who will become the president of the United States and whose actions will have an immense impact on their everyday lives. Informing this decision is a responsibility that media cannot afford to take lightly.

  • The Bar Gets Lower: Media Reinforce Double Standard For Trump Ahead Of First Debate

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    As the first presidential debate approaches, media figures across the political spectrum are actively lowering the bar for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, both by setting lower standards themselves and by pushing the lower-standard narrative. Yet at the same time, many media figures are acknowledging that the press is employing a double standard in its treatment of Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

  • Sunday News Shows Omit Coverage Of Trump Foundation Investigation, Conflicts Of Interest

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Sunday morning political news programs neglected two major news stories that raise ethical questions about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s family charity and his business interests, including reports that Trump’s charitable foundation is under investigation by the New York Attorney General and the conflicts of interest the Trump Organization would raise in a Trump presidency.

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a September 13 CNN interview that his office is investigating Trump’s charitable foundation over concerns that it “engaged in some impropriety” as related to New York charity laws. The investigation launched amid reports from The Washington Post that Trump spent money from his charity on items meant to benefit himself, such as a $20,000 oil painting of himself and a $12,000 autographed football helmet, and also recycled others’ contributions “to make them appear to have come from him” although he “hasn’t given to the foundation since 2008.”

    In Newsweek’s September 23 cover story, Kurt Eichenwald reported that Trump’s business interests “will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States” if Trump wins the presidency and does not sever all connections to the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization, Eichenwald reported, has been “largely ignored” by media, yet would cause “serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires” in nearly all foreign policy decisions a president Trump would make. Eichenwald’s report explains that the Trump Organization’s enterprise includes “deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals,” and “reveals a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled” which could conflict with major national security decisions and negotiations required by the presidential elect.

    Yet none of the Sunday morning political news shows dedicated substantial coverage to either report on September 18.

    NBC’s Meet The Press briefly alluded to reports that the Trump Organization could pose conflicts of interest without mentioning the Newsweek report directly. Host Chuck Todd asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway whether Trump would offer an “explanation of how he will wall off his business so that there are not even illusions or any sort of cloud that would hang over foreign policy decisions and his international business dealings.”

    But ABC’s This Week, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox Broadcasting’s Fox News Sunday, and CBS’ Face the Nation all completely ignored the stories about Trump’s foundation and business empire, even though each featured interviews with Trump surrogates who could have been asked about them. Meet the Press did not reference Trump’s foundation.

    Journalists have been criticized for the “double standard” in the ways they cover Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Earlier this month, cable news programs devoted 13 times more coverage to Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis as The Washington Post’s reporting about the Trump Foundation. This week, both the Trump Foundation and Trump Organization stories were given short shrift by the broadcast news programs in favor of coverage of Donald Trump’s Dr. Oz stunt.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters conducted a SnapStream search for any coverage of both reports on Sunday morning political news shows including: ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face The Nation, NBC’s Meet The Press, Fox Broadcasting’s Fox News Sunday, and CNN’s State of the Union. The search was conducted using search terms “Newsweek,” “Eichenwald,” “Trump Organization,” “Fahrenthold,” “Trump Foundation,” “Trump Charity,” and “Charity.” 

  • Census Report On Median Income, Poverty Gives Broadcast News A Chance To Prove Itself

    Generally Strong Coverage Of Census Data Shows TV News Outlets Can Still Cover The Economy Well When They Try

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    The major broadcast evening news programs each provided great examples of how network news can still be a source of concise and informative coverage on the economy this week when they covered new data releases from the Census Bureau.

    On September 13, the U.S. Census Bureau released annual updates to its ongoing reports on income and poverty and health insurance coverage in the United States. The reports revealed stunning positive news about the state of the American economy: a record-setting 5.2 percent increase in median household income from 2014 to 2015, median income at its highest point since before the Great Recession, a drop in the official poverty rate of 1.2 percentage points, more than 3.5 million Americans lifted out of poverty, a 1.3 percentage point drop in the uninsured rate, and roughly 4 million fewer uninsured Americans. In response to the data, Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) noted that 2015 marked just the second year since 1988 “that brought simultaneous progress on poverty, median income, and health insurance.”

    Print and online coverage of the Census data was overwhelmingly positive, with CNNMoney writer Tami Luhby and Washington Post contributor Paul Waldman both noting that the data undermine a key (albeit, “false”) talking point frequently used by Republicans: that there has been wage stagnation, and President Obama is to blame.

    Just as importantly, the positive coverage continued during the September 13 editions of major nightly broadcast news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS, which collectively draw more than 20 million daily viewers. Only ABC failed to note all three of the key Census data findings -- the increase in median income, the drop in poverty, and the drop in the uninsured rate -- during its reporting.

    As is often the case, PBS NewsHour offered the most in-depth and detailed discussion of the Census reports. Correspondent Lisa Desjardins spent just under three minutes detailing the data and discussing its possible political ramifications and effect on the upcoming election. The segment even included some cautionary notes, including reasons that some Americans have not seen a boost in take-home pay despite the surge in median earnings and some potential problems faced by customers on the private insurance market.

    Next in terms of quality of coverage were CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, both of which discussed all of the key takeaways from the data. CBS anchor Scott Pelley said the Census reports were “great news” and stood as proof that “more Americans are cashing in on the recovery.” NBC anchor Lester Holt added that “middle class incomes had their fastest rate of growth ever recorded” and “incomes increased across all racial groups.”

    ABC’s World News spent the least amount of time on the topic, mentioning the Census data as just part of a discussion about the stock market, but anchor David Muir still noted that the 5.2 percent median income increase was “the largest rise in nearly 50 years.”

    The individual segments might not seem like cause for celebration, but, according to recent Media Matters analyses of broadcast news coverage, each segment should serve as an example of how these programs can adequately discuss the economy.

    Overall coverage of the economy fell considerably from the first to second quarter of 2016, as the major networks focused more of their limited time on horse-race political coverage detached from the economic issues that actually drive voter behavior. Coverage of economic inequality and poverty also decreased from the first to second quarter of the year overall -- only ABC and CBS focused more attention on those crucial subjects from April through June than they had in the first three months of the year:

    Unfortunately, throughout the first half of the year, major news outlets have been focusing less and less attention on the economy, creating a void that can easily be filled with misinformation. As broadcast and cable outlets retreated from covering the economy, misleading and biased stories emanating from Fox News and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump accounted for a higher proportion of coverage.

    Broadcast evening news shows face considerable challenges in trimming segments down to fit abbreviated commercial schedules, but their coverage on September 13 demonstrated that the flagship programs can still balance brevity and substance when they try.

  • Trump Hijacked The Media Narrative With His Dr. Oz Show Stunt

    Media Turned Away From Covering Damaging Reports About Trump’s Foundation And Business Entanglements

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump successfully deflected media’s attention away from damaging investigative reports about his foreign business practices and his charitable foundation by fashioning a publicity stunt out of an appearance on The Dr. Oz Show.

    On September 14, broadcast morning shows, including NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning spent 14 minutes and 55 seconds on new developments surrounding possible illegal activity from the Trump Foundation. This reporting came the day after New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that his office is investigating the Trump Foundation “to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York.” Schneiderman’s investigation comes amid a series of reports from The Washington Post that examined how the foundation “collects and spends money in a very unusual manner.” Reporter David Fahrenthold found that, unlike with most personal foundations, “The Trump Foundation’s money doesn’t actually come from Trump’s own pocket.” In a September 14 report, Fahrenthold wrote that Trump “may have violated IRS rules against ‘self-dealing,’ which prohibit nonprofit leaders from spending charity money on themselves” when he spent $20,000 from his charity to buy a portrait of himself in 2007.

    The broadcast morning shows also devoted some time, albeit only 46 seconds, to a September 14 Newsweek report that detailed how Trump’s business entanglements have often intersected with unfriendly foreign governments. Reporter Kurt Eichenwald explained his piece on CNN, saying that “there has never been a president in the history of the United States who has had these kinds of conflicts of interest.” He added that Trump’s entanglements “often go directly against the interests of American national security.”

    But news outlets virtually ignored the damaging reports once Trump appeared for a September 14 taping of The Dr. Oz Show in which the “scientifically dubious” Dr. Mehmet Oz examined the results of the Republican nominee’s latest physical. The broadcast nightly news programs, including ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC’s Nightly News, and CBS’ Evening News, spent 7 minutes and 11 seconds on Trump’s publicity stunt. It caused the programs to cast aside the investigative reports, spending only 2minutes and 15 seconds on the reports about the Trump Foundation and 43 seconds on Eichenwald’s look into Trump’s foreign business entanglements.

    On September 15, the broadcast morning news programs all but forgot the reports, instead obsessing over Trump’s appearance with Dr. Oz, which garnered 12 minutes and 5 seconds of coverage between all three shows. Only Today continued to discuss the series of questions raised about the Trump Foundation, spending 2minutes and 48 seconds on the topic. However, that is less than half the time they spent on Trump’s Dr. Oz Show appearance, which accounted for 6 minutes and 30 seconds of airtime.

    By brushing aside the damaging investigative reporting about Trump in order to cover his gimmick with Dr. Oz, the broadcast news shows played right into the candidate’s hands. As CNN media critic Brian Stelter pointed out, Trump’s appearance on Oz’s show “wasn’t actual transparency” about his health -- “it was the appearance, the semblance of transparency.” Stelter added that it “shows Trump’s style, his media savvy” and noted that “we should know this was for show, and it was very effective.”

    Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of Trump from the September 14 and 15 editions of ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, and CBS This Morning as well as the September 14 editions of ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC’s Nightly News, and CBS’ Evening News and coded segments relating to new details surrounding Trump’s foundation, the Newsweek report on Trump’s business entanglements, and his appearance on Dr. Oz.

  • ABC World News Tonight Ignores Report On New Investigation Into Trump Foundation

    CBS And NBC Devote Segments To The Breaking News Story

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    While broadcast news programs on NBC and CBS covered reports that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating whether Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s charitable foundation complied with laws governing charities in New York, ABC’s World News Tonight failed to report on the development. 

    On September 14, Schneiderman told CNN his office is investigating The Donald J. Trump Foundation over concerns that the charity may have “engaged in some impropriety” regarding New York state non-profit regulations.

    Reports of the Attorney General’s investigation followed a series of reports by The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold that stated Trump’s charity appeared “to have repeatedly broken IRS rules,” contained little of Trump’s own money, and occasionally purchased things “that seemed to benefit only Trump.” Fahrenthold also reported that Trump’s charity had been “retooled” to “spend other people’s money” on things such as a $20,000 portrait of Trump and a $12,000 autographed football helmet, therefore allowing “a rich man to be philanthropic for free.”

    NBC and CBS both included segments about Schneiderman’s inquiry during their September 14 evening news programs, but ABC neglected to include the report in its network’s programing.

    Media have brushed aside revelations about the Trump Foundation to devote airtime to hyping questions about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton

  • As Vintage Trump Pushes Conspiracy Theories And Uses Racial Slurs On CNBC, NBC Touts “A New Donald Trump”

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    NBC Today host Savannah Guthrie commended Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for not attacking Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her recent pneumonia diagnosis, touting his so-called “restraint” as evidence of “a new Donald Trump.” Minutes later, the candidate engaged in vintage Trump behavior on NBC’s sister network CNBC, hurling racial slurs and outlandish conspiracy theories and once again flouting the media’s tendency to declare a Trump pivot.

    Trump and his surrogates plan “to refrain from commenting” on Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis, as Bloomberg reported. For Guthrie, “this is a new Donald Trump.”

    NICOLLE WALLACE: Let me just say what I think the glaring, banner-worthy breaking news is this morning. Donald Trump hasn't tweeted about [Hillary Clinton's pneumonia diagnoses]. Donald Trump hasn't raged against her. Donald Trump hasn't called her a name. We are seeing, to me, the most dramatic 24-hour transformation of her opponent since he began running for president. I can't wait to see what his first comments are and if he's able to show restraint. That will mark, really to me, the most dramatic development in this campaign so far.

    SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (CO-HOST): Well, Nicolle, ask and ye shall receive. I've been told he did at an appearance this morning on another network and said, "I hope she gets well soon," and looks forward to seeing her at the debate. So Mark, this is a new Donald Trump.

    Right after Guthrie lapsed into the media’s persistent tendency of proclaiming a Trump “pivot,” the presidential candidate appeared on CNBC and lobbed his typical racial insults, speculated about corruption at the Federal Reserve, and suggested the presidential debates will be rigged, defying any semblance of a “new Donald Trump.” Here are a few examples of the vintage Donald Trump who appeared on CNBC just after NBC declared him “new”: 

    He Called Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”

    Trump referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as “Pocahontas,” a racist slur he has used repeatedly on the campaign trail. Right-wing media have adopted Trump’s line of attack against Warren.

    BECKY QUICK (CO-HOST): Just last week Senator Elizabeth Warren was working with a group called Fed Up where they’re trying to put constraints on the Fed and get their arms around it a little more. I wonder in a Trump administration would you be trying to put more constraints on the Fed as well?

    DONALD TRUMP: What I would want to do is have a policy -- I wouldn't go by what Pocahontas wants you to do, because her agenda is obvious. I mean, she's a disaster. She’s also one of the least effective senators in the United States Senate. Nobody really understands that, but she's done nothing.

    He Claimed Fed Chair Janet Yellen Is Manipulating Interest Rates “Because She’s Obviously Political”

    Trump baselessly accused Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen of keeping interest rates “at zero because she’s obviously political and she’s doing what [President] Obama wants her to do,” even though the Federal Reserve operates independently of the White House. 

    JOE KERNEN (CO-HOST): Did you come to the conclusion that maybe [interest rates] can't stay at zero forever, and what do you think [the Federal Reserve] should do in September?

    DONALD TRUMP: Well it's staying at zero because she's obviously political and she’s doing what [President] Obama wants her to do and I know that's not supposed to be the way it is. But that's why it's low, because as soon as they go up your stock market’s going to go way down most likely, or possibly. And don't forget, I called Brexit. I did a lot of calling and what they are doing is, I believe it's a false market. Because money is essentially free.

    [...]

    I think they are keeping them down and they will keep them down even longer and any increase at all will be a very, very small increase, Joe, because, you know, they want to keep the market up so that Obama goes out and let the new guy, whoever that new-- let's call it the new guy, you know, OK, because I like the sound of that much better. But that the new person becomes president, let him raise interest rates or her raise interest rates and watch what happens to the stock market when that happens, OK, because you have no choice. The people that were hurt the worst are people that saved their money all their lives and thought they were going to live off their interests and those people are getting just absolutely creamed. In other words, the ones that did it right, they saved their money, they cut down on their mortgages, they did all of the things they did everything exactly right, and now they are getting practically zero interest on the money that they worked so hard for over 40 years. I mean, those people have really been -- you can almost say discriminated against. Now the interest rates are kept down by President Obama. I have no doubt that that's the reason that they are being kept down.

    He Claimed Clinton Is “Gaming The System” And Rigging The Presidential Debates

    Trump speculated that Clinton and her allies are “gaming the system” to try to rig the presidential debates. He said they’re accusing Matt Lauer of being “nice” to Trump during a forum he hosted between the two candidates, so that “the new person is going to try and be really hard on Trump just to show the establishment what he can do.” Trump floated the idea that there should be “no moderator” for the debates, and instead it should be “just Hillary and I sitting there talking.” Trump has baselessly asserted several times that various aspects of the election are or will be rigged.

    JOE KERNEN: I want to talk about the debates and how you are prepping for those, whether you like the moderators that are selected.

    [...]

    DONALD TRUMP: As far as the debates are concerned, the system is being gamed because everybody said that I won the so-called forum that your group put on, but they all said I won and that Matt Lauer was easy on me. Well he wasn't. I thought he was very professional, I have to be honest. I think he has been treated very unfairly. But they all said that I won. And what they’re doing is they’re gaming the system, so that when I go into the debate I’m going to get -- be treated very, very unfairly by the moderators.

    [...]

    They are saying about how Matt Lauer was nice to Trump. He wasn’t nice to me. He was tough on me. He gave me tough. I answered them better than she did. The fact is that they are gaming the system, and I think maybe we should have no moderator. Let Hillary and I sit there and just debate. Because I think the system is being rigged so it's going to be a very unfair debate. And I can see it happening right now because everybody was saying that he was soft on Trump. Well now the new person is going to try and be really hard on Trump just to show the establishment what he can do. So I think it's very unfair what they are doing. So I think we should have a debate with no moderator, just Hillary and I sitting there talking. 

  • STUDY: Networks Focus Less On Poverty As Coverage Of Inequality Drops

    PBS Sets Itself Apart From Broadcast Outlets On Inequality And Poverty, Fox News Remains Major Source Of Misleading Coverage

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    In the second quarter of 2016, prime-time and evening weekday news programs on the largest broadcast and cable outlets dedicated significantly less time to economic inequality and poverty than they had in the first quarter of the year. The weekday drop-off was led by CNN and MSNBC, which dramatically reduced their programming on inequality. PBS remained the gold standard among broadcast outlets in terms of covering inequality and poverty, while Fox News remained a prevalent source of misinformation on the same topics.

  • Meet The Iraq War Architect: Paul Wolfowitz Uses Opportunity On NBC To Re-litigate Iraq Invasion

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    NBC’s Meet the Press hosted Paul Wolfowitz, one of the discredited architects of the Iraq War, on the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Wolfowitz took advantage of the platform to downplay his role in starting the conflict. He also used his appearance on the program to object to statements that President George W. Bush misled America before the war, despite a Senate intelligence report which concluded that the Bush administration made its case for war with statements not supported by the intelligence available at the time.

    Wolfowitz, who served in the Bush administration from 2001 through 2005 as Deputy Secretary of Defense, is universally recognized as one of the original architects of the Iraq invasion. He infamously predicted the war reconstruction effort could pay for itself from Iraqi oil revenue (for reference, the cost of the Iraq War is now estimated to be more than $2 trillion), and publicly accused Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) long after the intelligence community had informed the Pentagon that he did not. Later, Wolfowitz claimed that the conflict was primarily about liberating the Iraqi people rather than confronting the supposed WMD threat, while also making the assertion -- without evidence -- that without the invasion, "we would have had a growing development of Saddam's support for terrorism."

    On his September 11 appearance on Meet the Press, Wolfowitz said he rejects the title of “architect of the Iraq war,” because he “was not the commander-in-chief, or even the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, or national security advisor.”

    Wolfwowitz also whitewashed President Bush’s misleading statements leading up to the war. Wolfowitz said: “People who say after the fact that Bush lied and got us into a war, he wasn’t lying. He was saying what everyone believed” about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Host Chuck Todd responded by asking, “Who lied? … Somebody got us into this, and somebody convinced the United States Congress that weapons of mass destruction were imminent in Iraq.”

    But instead of asking an Iraq War architect to deflect blame from the administration he served in, Todd could have referenced the Senate Intelligence Committee report that was covered by news outlets when it was released in June 2008. The report found that some statements by President Bush and senior members of the administration about Iraq, terrorist organizations, and weapons of mass destruction were “contradicted by available intelligence information,” “did not accurately convey the intelligence assessments,” and “were not substantiated by the intelligence.”

    From the June 5, 2008, United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, titled Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information:

    (U) Conclusion 12: Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa'ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa'ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

    Intelligence assessments, including multiple CIA reports and the November 2002 NIE [National Intelligence Estimate], dismissed the claim that Iraq and al-Qa'ida were cooperating partners. According to an undisputed INR [State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research] footnote in the NIE, there was no intelligence information that supported the claim that Iraq would provide weapons of mass destruction to al-Qa'ida. The credibility of the principal intelligence source behind the claim that Iraq had provided al-Qa'ida with biological and chemical weapons training was regularly questioned by DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], and later by the CIA. The Committee repeats its conclusion from a prior report that "assessments were inconsistent regarding the likelihood that Saddam Hussein provided chemical and biological weapons (CBW) training to al-Qa'ida."

    (U) Conclusion 13: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq's contacts with al-Qa'ida were substantiated by intelligence information. However, policymakers' statements did not accurately convey the intelligence assessments of the nature of these contacts, and left the impression that the contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation or support of al-Qa'ida.

    [...]

    (U) Conclusion 15: Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

    The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Saddam Hussein did not have nuclear weapons, and was unwilling to conduct terrorist attacks [sic] the US using conventional, chemical or biological weapons at that time, in part because he feared doing so would give the US a stronger case for war with Iraq. This judgment was echoed by both earlier and later intelligence community assessments. All of these assessments noted that gauging Saddam's intentions was quite difficult, and most suggested that he would be more likely to initiate hostilities if he felt that a US invasion was imminent.

  • After Clinton Feels Overheated At 9/11 Event, Media Issue “Special Reports” And Continue To Mainstream Health Conspiracies

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    NBC News Special Reports have usually been about significant international issues like the terrorist attack in Nice, France, the attempted coup in Turkey, the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Cuba after being closed for over fifty years, or significant events like the arrival of the Pope, the death of singer Prince, and reports of mass shootings.

    On September 11, the network issued two special reports because Hillary Clinton felt overheated at a memorial event.

    While attending the memorial service commemorating the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Clinton left early after feeling “overheated,” according to campaign spokesman Nick Merrill. In a statement, Merrill said, “Secretary Clinton attended the September 11th Commemoration Ceremony for just an hour and thirty minutes this morning to pay her respects and greet some of the families of the fallen. During the ceremony, she felt overheated, so departed to go to her daughter's apartment and is feeling much better.”

    A few hours later, Clinton left Chelsea Clinton’s apartment. She was filmed waving to the crowd and told the press assembled outside, “It’s a beautiful day,” and said she was “feeling great.” She then posed for a photo with a young girl.

    In addition to NBC’s Special Reports, the media took the incident as an opportunity to continue to legitimize conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health that have circulated in the conservative media.

    Fox’s Sean Hannity has perhaps been beating the drum the loudest, claiming that “coughing fits” from Clinton are signs of a serious medical condition, while also claiming that it is possible that she had a “stroke.” Rush Limbaugh, along with the Drudge Report, Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website Infowars, and others recently pushed an internet survey from a fringe conspiracy group to claim that Clinton’s health disqualifies her from the presidency. Trump campaign surrogates have also promoted baseless health conspiracies in appearances on cable news.

    At the same time, reporters who have been in frequent contact with Clinton on the campaign trail have said that the allegations and conspiracies are baseless.

    Despite this background, several media outlets used news of Clinton’s overheating to give the conspiracy theories more oxygen.

    On Meet the Press, NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw referenced the “very vigorous campaign both aboveground and belowground” by Republicans to “raise questions about her health,” and said he thought Clinton should “go to a hospital” and “see a neurologist and get a clean report if it’s available to her.”

    The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote a piece headlined, “Hillary Clinton’s health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign.” He said the episode had “changed the conversation in the race about Clinton’s health” and would “catapult questions about her health from the ranks of conservative conspiracy theory to perhaps the central debate in the presidential race over the coming days.” Cillizza went on to claim, “Taking the Clinton team's word for it on her health -- in light of the episode on Sunday morning -- is no longer enough.”

    New York Times Los Angeles bureau Chief Adam Nagourney tweeted that it “Feels like a good day for Clinton to release her medical records and call on Trump to do same.”

    During CNN’s coverage, correspondent Jeff Zeleny said, “You have to wonder: Will they be sort of forced to release more medical records here because she is being criticized by her opponents here. The questions have been out there: Is she healthy?”

    Both Zeleny and NBC’s Chuck Todd noted in their reporting that Clinton has released more of her medical information than Donald Trump has. Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter noted the media “should not give oxygen to” conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health that have appeared online and in supermarket tabloids, but made the distinction that “there are legitimate questions” to be asked by reporters about Clinton’s health.

    Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik told Reliable Sources the possible implications of inaccurate reporting on the topic would be “awful” and “on something like this, Brian, you wait until you have at least two sources you’re comfortable with.”

  • La Opinión Highlights The Need For A Latino Presidential Debate Moderator

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In reporting on the moderators for the 2016 presidential debates, La Opinión pointed out that the selection for the “political show of the century” includes “zero Latinos” “despite immigrants and Mexicans in particular becoming a central theme of the campaign” and noted the ways a Latino moderator would have been “very positive” for both the Latino community and the debate.

    The September 7 article reported that “in the diverse panel of the five selected journalists there are women, an Asian[-American], an African-American … and zero Latinos” and highlighted the backlash this selection inspired among prominent Latinos in the media such as the president of Univision Randy Falco, who “sent a letter to the [Commission of Presidential Debates] indicating his ‘disappointment’ with the lack of Latinos.” The article highlighted Falco’s disapproval with the commission’s failure to take into account “demographic patterns and the important role that Latinos play in the economy and socially” and quoted others who underscored the significance of lifting up Latino journalists.

    This “disappointing” moderator selection comes after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump launched his most recent attempt to shield himself from scrutiny by conditioning the moderator selection with unfounded predictions of bias. Trump has been critical of Latinos for possible bias, citing his promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as a reason that could compromise the neutrality a judge of Hispanic heritage. Translated from the September 7 article in La Opinión:

    There are some who say that it is not a relevant criterion in the selection of moderators for the important presidential debates, but the truth is that in the diverse panel of the five selected journalists there are women, an Asian, an African-American … and zero Latinos.

    In a little more than two weeks, the world will watch for the first time the presidential candidates Donald Trump and  Hillary Clinton face off on the same stage in the first of three presidential debates that are promising to become the “political show of the century.”

    Nonetheless, and despite immigrants and Mexicans in particular becoming a central theme of the campaign, mainly that of Republican [presidential nominee] Trump, none of the debates will be moderated by a journalist of Latino origin.

    [...]

    By that calculation, there are two women, one African-American (Holt is part Jamaican), and one Asian[-American]. [There are] [z]ero Latinos or Mexican blood or from any other place in Latin America.

    The decision was not taken generously by the president of Univision Randy Falco who sent a letter to the commission indicating his “disappointment” with the lack of Latinos in the debate panels. Falco pointed out in the letter that “taking into account the demographic patterns and the important role that Latinos play in the economy and socially in this nation.”

    Falco accused the commission of “abdicating its responsibility to represent the largest and most influential communities in the country.”

    [...]

    Stephen Nuño, associate professor of political science at Northern Arizona University, said that the presidential debates are something “very symbolic and important” in the electoral contest. “I think the most disappointing part is that it seems like the representation of minorities and women is not taken into account as one of the parameters.”

    [...]

    During the multiple debates that took place in the primaries, there were few Latinos asking questions, like José Diaz Balart, who represented Telemundo in its sister channel NBC’s debate and a debate organized by a Spanish-language network, Univision, of the democratic candidates, but not of Republicans.

    [Jorge] Ramos, of Univision, recently said that there are many Latino journalists on television that could have done the honors besides him, including his colleague María Elena Salinas, Díaz Balart, of Telemundo, Tom Llamas y Cecilia Vega of ABC or María Hinojosa of NPR.

  • Trump’s Victim Blaming Shouldn’t Be A Surprise -- He’s Surrounded By Misogynist Media Advisers

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    During NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump defended comments he made in 2013 suggesting that the incorporation of women into the military was to blame for sexual assault in the military. Trump’s remarks highlighted the misogyny that is a feature, not a bug, of his campaign, which is being run and advised by conservative media figures who have been accused of sexual harassment and assaulting women.

    During the September 7 forum, moderator Matt Lauer confronted Trump with a tweet he wrote in 2013 suggesting that “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military” were the result of “put[ting] men & women together.” When Lauer offered Trump the chance to address the comment, Trump responded that it was “a correct tweet. There are many people that think that that’s absolutely correct.”

    Trump’s defense of his tone-deaf comments on sexual assault is emblematic of his tendency to default to victim-blaming in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The candidate’s remarks on sexual assault are also unsurprising given the advisers he turns to and campaign staff he’s hired. Roger Ailes, Stephen Bannon, and Corey Lewandowski all currently work for or with Trump’s campaign and are all right-wing media figures who have been accused of sexual harassment or assaulting women.

    • Roger Ailes, the former Fox News CEO recently ousted following a sexual harassment lawsuit, laid the groundwork for Trump’s campaign and put Fox “squarely behind the candidacy of Donald Trump.” Since leaving Fox, Ailes has reportedly stepped in to help Trump with debate prep. Despite the campaign’s efforts to deny Ailes’ official involvement, multiple reports point out that “Ailes has become one of the most influential voices in the room” advising the Republican candidate as he prepares for debates. During his tenure as Fox chairman, Ailes allegedly perpetuated an environment of rampant misogyny at Fox News by promising women promotions in exchange for sex, asking about the sex lives of employees, and making wildly inappropriate sexual comments to female employees.

    • Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News executive chairman whom Trump brought in as campaign CEO, once referred to a woman who worked with him as a “bimbo,” and like Ailes, like Ailes, has been accused of sexual harassment. Additionally, in 1996 he was “charged with domestic violence and battery” against his ex-wife, and while the charges were eventually dropped, Vox notes that “police reports from the time detail a story of repeated mental and physical abuse by Bannon.”

    • Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager and a current CNN commentator, reportedly still advises the candidate, is helping prep Trump for the debates, travels with Trump to campaign stops, and continues to receive payments from Trump, all while receiving a salary from CNN. Lewandowski allegedly assaulted reporter Michelle Fields in March, and when Fields filed charges against Lewandowski, he verbally attacked her, calling her “totally delusional.”

    As Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox pointed out in her August 26 article, one of the most concerning aspects of Trump’s association with Ailes, Bannon, and Lewandowski is that he “chooses not only to associate” with them, but that they “influence his campaign at the highest levels:”

    But Trump’s “woman problem” goes far deeper than his electoral appeal. The real problem is that Bannon, Ailes, and Lewandowski are the kinds of individuals Trump chooses not only to associate with, but to influence his campaign at the highest levels. It’s a troubling judgment call—one he’s made over and over again. People show you who they are the first time. The third and fourth and fifth time? That’s just showing off.