Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
NBC Nightly News will be anchored tonight from Trump Tower, where Lestor Holt will interview Donald Trump, in the latest example of how the television news media has bent over backwards to accommodate the presumptive GOP nominee. It’s unclear why NBC News would go to Trump’s office instead of demanding that he travel the half-mile south to their studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Lester Holt interviewing Trump from Trump Tower. Will anchor broadcast from there too, which is interesting optics. pic.twitter.com/T2oy4pszfR
— Kyle Blaine (@kyletblaine) May 4, 2016
On Twitter, the news drew surprise and criticism:
NBC News throwing in the towel, broadcasting the entire evening news from Trump Tower https://t.co/fN6YJE5j7d
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) May 4, 2016
Trump Tower is literally 6 blocks away from 30 Rock. Trump making Holt come to him to prove a point. https://t.co/fN6YJE5j7d
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) May 4, 2016
Seriously, why is NBC Nightly News broadcasting live from Trump Tower tonight? pic.twitter.com/qEF7sEypy8
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) May 4, 2016
NBC’s @LesterHoltNBC is anchoring tonight from Trump Tower, with a Trump interview. This seems like a first.
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) May 4, 2016
If you believe TV news bolstered Trump, here's fodder: Lester Holt will anchor NBC Nightly News from Trump Tower shortly.
— Trip Gabriel (@tripgabriel) May 4, 2016
Cable and broadcast news programs have frequently allowed Trump unprecedented opportunities to regularly call in to their programs, rather than appearing in person or by satellite -- a practice that has drawn criticism from media critics and prominent journalists.
Hours after he was declared the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump took to the broadcast network morning shows to defend a conspiracy theory from the National Enquirer, the tabloid with which Trump has a cozy relationship.
Trump took a victory lap early on May 4 after Sen. Ted Cruz suspended his campaign and Trump was declared the presumptive GOP nominee, giving interviews on NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America. During the interviews, which took place over the phone, hosts asked Trump about a conspiracy theory he pushed from the National Enquirer, which claimed that Cruz’s father was linked to Lee Harvey Oswald three months before Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Trump had hyped the conspiracy theory on his May 3 phone-in appearance on Fox & Friends. During the May 4 interviews, Trump continued to push the conspiracy theory as “a major story in a major publication,” and he falsely claimed that the Cruz campaign “didn’t deny” the allegations.
CNN’s senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, pointed out that this is not the first time Trump has repeated “something from a highly questionable source as if it’s fact,” noting that the “Enquirer has a checkered history.” After the tabloid asserted on March 23 that Cruz was “hiding FIVE different mistresses,” Trump defended the publication, saying that while he had “no idea whether or not” the Cruz affair story “is true or not,” the National Enquirer was “right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others.”
Trump has a cozy relationship with the National Enquirer. In March, the publication gave the nod to Trump in its first ever presidential endorsement. Trump has also written for the tabloid on multiple occasions. According to New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman, Trump and David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer, “have been friends for years.” In 2013, Trump tweeted that Pecker should become the CEO of Time magazine, writing, “nobody could bring it back like David!”
Donald Trump phoned in to the morning news programs on ABC, MSNBC, NBC, and Fox News for interviews following his victory in the May 3 Indiana primary, which cemented his role as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for the general election. Journalists and media critics have called out cable and broadcast news shows for allowing Trump this “shocking” “advantage,” and several programs -- including CBS’s morning show -- have banned the practice.
Trump’s most recent round of phone interviews is only the latest example of a newly common type of media malpractice unique to the candidate. The practice of letting a presidential candidate largely eschew on-camera interviews in favor of phoning in is unprecedented in American politics. News networks have overwhelmingly allowed Trump -- and Trump only -- to call in to Sunday morning political talk shows. In total, Trump conducted 69 phone interviews on news programs in the first 69 days of 2016.
In March, CBS This Morning and NBC’s Meet The Press announced they would no longer allow Trump to phone in for interviews, joining Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday. During that same month, the six major broadcast and cable news networks allowed Trump to phone in for 39 of his 63 interviews. On ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and Fox News, more than half of Trump's interviews were conducted by phone.
Media critics and prominent journalists have criticized the media’s willingness to grant Trump phone interviews, noting that the practice "is a signal of the extent to which the television cable networks contort themselves to accommodate Trump." Trump’s phone interviews have given him an obvious advantage over his rivals, allowing him to ignore hosts' visual cues and body language, dodge or shout over interviewers' questions, and avoid awkward confrontations.
Loading the player reg...
Economists Made Up 1 Percent Of Guests In The First Quarter Of 2016, While Shows Focused On Campaigns, Inequality
Expertise from economists was almost completely absent from television news coverage of the economy in the first quarter of 2016, which focused largely on the tax and economic policy platforms of this year’s presidential candidates. Coverage of economic inequality spiked during the period -- tying an all-time high -- driven in part by messaging from candidates on both sides of the aisle, but gender diversity in guests during economic news segments remained low.
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd and panelists on his NBC show cited Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s claim that he opposes anti-LGBT “bathroom bills” as evidence that Trump is moderating his views as he looks toward the general election. But at no point was it mentioned that Trump backpedaled later, saying that states should decide whether to enact “bathroom bills” that discriminate against their LGBT residents.
“Bathroom bills” -- legislation that often aims to ban transgender people from public restrooms that do not correspond with the gender on their birth certificate -- are increasingly in the news as 44 bills in 16 different states targeting transgender people have been introduced as of February 2016. An anti-LGBT “bathroom bill” in North Carolina, HB 2, has come under particular scrutiny.
Trump commented on North Carolina’s law during an April 21 appearance on NBC’s Today, apparently opposing the law by stating, “there have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble. … . Leave it the way it is.” But he reversed himself during an appearance on Fox News’ Hannity later that day, stating, “I think that local communities and states should make the decision.” In Trump’s new view, states would be within their rights to pass discriminatory anti-LGBT legislation.
Media coverage which cites Trump’s first position on “bathroom bills” while omitting his later comment comes as Trump tries to convince the media that he will be more “presidential” throughout the rest of his presidential campaign.
NBC's Meet the Press seemed to fall for Trump’s ploy, with Todd referencing Trump’s first answer to NBC to ask, “Is Trump pivoting to a general election?”
During a panel discussion of Trump’s comment to NBC, Republican strategist and NBC News political analyst Nicole Wallace said, “Trump’s answer made so much sense, and I think what is also on the line in this cycle is the power and the saliency of social issues, and I think if Trump wins it delivers a massive blow to the idea that you have to be up and down on social issues to be the Republican nominee.”
Robert Costa, a reporter for The Washington Post, added, “Trump’s answer tells us a lot about how he would be in a general election, this is someone who has not climbed the ladder, forming relationships with social conservatives along the way.”
Costa went on to claim of Trump, “he has relationships with all kinds of people, he’s not just someone who surrounds himself with Republicans and conservatives, and that actually strangely worries Democrats, that he would be appealing to moderates.”
Wallace ended the segment by saying, “Trump’s answer got him a lot of credit with a lot of people,” with Todd agreeing, “It did.”
During the segment an on-screen graphic read, “Trump Campaign: More Accepting On ‘Bathroom Laws’.”
At no point was there mention that Trump had amended his stance to favor allowing states to pass discriminatory anti-LGBT laws or that Trump has for months said that as president he would sign into law the First Amendment Defense Act, a piece of Republican-sponsored legislation that would nullify existing federal LGBT protections and allow anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.
Trump’s Support For State-Sponsored Anti-LGBT Laws Does Not Make Him LGBT Friendly
In a segment discussing North Carolina's discriminatory anti-LGBT "bathroom bill" legislation, NBC's Hallie Jackson claimed that Donald Trump "is considered one of the more LGBT-friendly Republican candidates." Jackson’s misleading description of Trump as LGBT friendly comes as the Republican front-runner attempts to re-brand himself as a more moderate candidate heading into the general election and ignores Trump’s long-standing position as an opponent of marriage equality.
While Jackson described Trump as “one of the more LGBT friendly Republican candidates,” a closer look finds his stance in line with supporters of the law. During an April 21 interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Trump said "local communities and states" should be able pass discriminatory legislation barring transgender people from using a bathroom associated with the gender they identify with. Trump’s stance that states should be allowed to pass these discriminatory laws is in line with North Carolina’s passing of the state-sponsored anti-LGBT law:
HALLIE JACKSON: Ted Cruz, in a new online video, taking aim at Donald Trump's criticism of a transgender bathroom ban in North Carolina.
TED CRUZ: This is not a reasonable debate over public policy. This is political correctness run amok.
JACKSON: Cruz, using Trump's comments to try to boost his own conservative credentials, while hitting his rivals with a new online polling showing 64 percent of Republicans support the ban. But some of Trump's backers aren't bothered by it.
JACKSON: A top Trump aide, dismissing Cruz's criticism, telling NBC News the senator is simply trying to stay relevant. Trump himself, not backing down.
DONALD TRUMP: Local communities and states should make the decision. And I feel very strongly about that.
JACKSON: While Trump is considered one of the more LGBT-friendly Republican candidates, he hasn't talked much about those issues on the campaign trail. Not a typical part of his stump speech, and not mentioned tonight at his rally here in Delaware.
Jackson's NBC Nightly News report ignores Trump's history of bigoted and extreme positions on LGBT issues, including his support for the anti-LGBT "First Amendment Defense Act," Trump's promise to "strongly consider" appointing Supreme Court justices to overturn its recent ruling in support of marriage equality, and his previous support for Kim Davis, a Kentucky County clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Furthermore, the NBC segment plays into comments made by Trump’s new campaign manager, Paul Manafort. During an April 21 meeting of Republican leaders, Manafort attempted to assure those assembled that Trump’s outrageous rhetoric was the candidate simply “projecting an image” and that “the image is going to change.”
Loading the player reg...
Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are feuding over the portion of North Carolina’s unprecedented anti-LGBT law regulating public bathroom access for transgender people. Journalists covering the spat should know that the “bathroom predator” concept Cruz referenced is an anti-LGBT myth.
Last month, following a special session convened by North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill (HB 2) targeting the transgender community by banning people from using certain public restrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. Despite the intense backlash to HB 2 and economic harm caused by the law over the past several weeks, legislators in at least in four other states are pushing for similar laws regulating transgender people's access to public restrooms.
On April 21, Trump and Cruz feuded over the North Carolina law. When asked about HB 2 during an April 21 town hall on NBC’s Today Show, Trump argued against the measure, saying that there has been “so little trouble” allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity that it should be left “the way it is.”
Cruz quickly attacked Trump’s comments, asking if the country had gone "stark raving nuts." Cruz centered his support for North Carolina’s law on the myth that allowing transgender people access to facilities that match their gender identity will allow male predators to enter women’s bathrooms and commit sexual assault. During a radio interview with Glenn Beck, Cruz argued that “the idea that grown men would be allowed alone in a bathroom with little girls -- you don't need to be a behavioral psychologist to realize bad things can happen.”
Cruz’s appeal to women’s safety through the idea of a “bathroom predator” is the favorite tactic of anti-LGBT activists working to pass so-called “bathroom bills.” It’s also a well-debunked myth. Law enforcement experts, government officials, and women's safety advocates in cities and states across the country have thoroughly rejected the talking point, calling it “beyond specious.” The same day Cruz peddled the talking point, a coalition of over 250 groups working to end sexual assault and domestic violence condemned anti-transgender bathroom bills and the “bathroom predator” myth, writing:
Those who are pushing these proposals have claimed that these proposals are necessary for public safety and to prevent sexual violence against women and children. As rape crisis centers, shelters, and other service providers who work each and every day to meet the needs of all survivors and reduce sexual assault and domestic violence throughout society, we speak from experience and expertise when we state that these claims are false.
Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state. We operate and advocate for rape crisis centers and shelters all over the country, including in cities and states with non-discrimination protections for transgender people. Those protections have not weakened public safety or criminal laws, nor have they compromised their enforcement.
Given the overwhelming research and consensus debunking the myth, journalists covering the spat between Cruz and Trump should report the truth on the “bathroom predator” talking point. Giving any false balance to claims of transgender bathroom boogeymen distorts reality and helps spread a baseless, harmful lie.
In an April 21 town hall event, NBC’s Today co-hosts allowed Donald Trump to mislead about his past support for invading Iraq, his position on abortion, and his tax plan.
As Donald Trump won the New York primary, media covering the news repeatedly said Trump sounds "more presidential" and "more disciplined," downplaying the bigoted, racist, and sexist things that the GOP front-runner has said throughout the course of his campaign.
A Media Matters analysis of the broadcast evening and weekend TV news coverage of mass protests against money in politics organized by Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring revealed that the networks devoted only two segments -- a total of 29 seconds of airtime -- between April 11 and April 18 to the week-long demonstrations.