Media responded to the news that the Obama administration secured the release of prisoner of war (POW) Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban by parsing whether or not the administration violated longstanding policy by negotiating Bergdahl's release. In reality, experts say the U.S. has a long history of such negotiations, and Bergdahl's release was conducted using an intermediary nation.
Two dozen women leaders and organizations have signed a letter to the six network and cable news heads expressing their concern for the lack of gender diversity on Sunday morning political talk shows.
A Media Matters report found that in 2013, men made up more than 70 percent of the guests on ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, NBC's Meet the Press, and CNN's State of the Union. Only MSNBC's Up and Melissa Harris-Perry reached near parity, with women making up 44 percent of total guests. Women also represented an even smaller percentage of solo interview guests, being featured less than 15 percent of the time. The top ten recipients of Sunday show solo interviews were all men. Media Matters also found that gender diversity has not improved on the broadcast political talk shows in the past five years.
The heads of 24 organizations which advocate for women and women's representation in media wrote to the Presidents and Chairs of the broadcast and cable networks, expressing "deep concern" for the lack of diversity and urging them to take action to ensure the morning political talk shows "more accurately reflect the demographics of our diverse nation":
With male guests vastly outnumbering female guests on Sunday morning broadcasts, women lose out in shaping the national discourse, and your viewers miss important points of view.
There are qualified women to speak on issues affecting all Americans, including national security, economic growth, climate change, education and many others. But when it comes to reproductive health, equal pay, and other subjects disproportionately affecting women, it becomes increasingly imperative that Sunday political talk shows reflect our democracy. This is particularly important since these shows frequently set the tone for how these topics are covered later in the week.
The full letter can be read below.
White guests greatly outnumbered all other guests on the broadcast and CNN Sunday morning talk shows in 2013. Melissa Harris-Perry continued to be the most ethnically diverse program.
Male guests vastly outnumbered female ones on the Sunday morning broadcast and CNN political talk shows in 2013, according to a Media Matters review. MSNBC's programs gave women a significantly greater opportunity to voice their opinions.
A Media Matters review of the Sunday morning political talk shows finds that white males largely dominated the guest lists in 2013. MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry and Up with Steve Kornacki achieved greater ethnic and gender diversity than the broadcast shows or CNN's State of the Union. Overall, conservatives outnumbered progressives on the four broadcast Sunday morning shows.
CNN's State of the Union misleadingly hyped congressional Republican demands to interview survivors of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The report ignored, however, that multiple key witnesses to the attack have already testified before Congress and more are scheduled to testify in the future.
Conservative activist Grover Norquist falsely claimed that "nobody is keeping anybody out" of the Affordable Care Act and that "the idea that Republicans have not been trying to help is wrong." Norquist's rhetoric ignores Republican efforts to delay implementation of the program, attempts to repeal the law, and activist campaigns discouraging enrollment.
From the August 18 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
In fact, Republicans and conservatives have made multiple attempts to discourage adoption of the program by citizens.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell in order to dissuade the league from taking part in a public service campaign to educate consumers about the law.
The House Republican Conference suggested members engage in media tours to "to emphasize the need to repeal ObamaCare" during the August recess.
26 states with Republican governors or Republican dominated legislatures have refused to set up insurance exchanges in their states, delaying implementation of the law. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of March 2013, "10.8 million uninsured under the new Medicaid expansion limit reside in states where governors oppose the expansion or ar still weighing options."
Outside groups are also working against enrollment, as reported by Reuters:
FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative issue group financed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, known for funding conservative causes, are planning separate media and grassroots campaigns aimed at adults in their 20s and 30s - the very people Obama needs to have sign up for healthcare coverage in new online insurance exchanges if his reforms are to succeed.
"We're trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange," said Dean Clancy, vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, which boasts 6 million supporters. The group is designing a symbolic "Obamacare card" that college students can burn during campus protests.
Furthermore, Reuters also reports that Crossroads GPS, the pressure group backed by Fox News pundit Karl Rove, plans a dishonest campaign "aimed at elderly voters" that will claim Medicare funds are being used to pay for the new law. A Crossroads spokesman told Reuters that they hope "there may be some traction to repeal the worst parts of the law and eventually repeal the law entirely."
From the May 19 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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Broadcast and cable Sunday political talk shows featured previously debunked myths about the September 11, 2012 attacks on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
CNN's Candy Crowley asked Sunday if President Obama pursued immigration reform "at the risk of not focusing on the economy," ignoring the fact that experts agree immigration reform will strengthen the economy, leading to higher wages, more jobs, and more tax revenue.
On CNN's State of the Union, Crowley pointed to the contraction in GDP in the last quarter of 2012 and the small increase in unemployment in January, and implied President Obama was not focused on these issues, saying "we've heard since the beginning of January gun control and immigration reform ... Does the President pursue immigration and gun control at the risk of not focusing on the economy?"
In fact, experts agree immigration reform will strengthen the economy. According to UCLA professor and immigration expert Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, passing comprehensive immigration reform would add at least $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy over ten years, generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue, and create 750,000 to 900,000 new jobs. Labor economist Richard Vedder of Ohio University also found that higher levels of immigration coincide with lower levels of unemployment, and a Brookings Institution report concluded that immigrants raise the standard of living of American workers "by boosting wages and lowering prices."
In a post on The Washington Post's Wonkblog, Ezra Klein pointed out that immigration could ease many of the economic problems associated with an aging population and low birth rate:
The economic case for immigration is best made by way of analogy. Everyone agrees that aging economies with low birth rates are in trouble; this, for example, is a thoroughly conventional view of Japan. It's even conventional wisdom about the U.S. The retirement of the baby boomers is correctly understood as an economic challenge. The ratio of working Americans to retirees will fall from 5 to 1 today to 3 to 1 in 2050. Fewer workers and more retirees is tough on any economy.
There's nothing controversial about that analysis. But if that's not controversial, then immigration shouldn't be, either. Immigration is essentially the importation of new workers. It's akin to raising the birth rate, only easier, because most of the newcomers are old enough to work. And because living in the U.S. is considered such a blessing that even very skilled, very industrious workers are willing to leave their home countries and come to ours, the U.S. has an unusual amount to gain from immigration. When it comes to the global draft for talent, we almost always get the first-round picks -- at least, if we want them, and if we make it relatively easy for them to come here.
President Obama has proposed immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, better enforcement of immigration laws, and reforming the legal immigration system. According to recent polls, a majority of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favor allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens.
CNN's State of the Union downplayed the economic consequences of not raising the debt ceiling, claiming "there is a way" for the federal government "to pay the bills." Economists, however, have warned that a default would have catastrophic effects. Moreover, even if the federal government could stave off default by prioritizing interest payments, the decline of government spending would create "a massive demand shock to the economy."
On State of the Union, during a discussion of the consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore downplayed the impact of a default, arguing: "There's no default. The Treasury bills get paid before anything else does." Host Candy Crowley responded by saying, "There is a way to pay the bills, but it is unsettling, you would agree."
But in fact, economists have warned that not raising the debt ceiling would be economically calamitous for the United States. Following Republican threats not to raise the debt ceiling in 2011, Moody's analytics chief economist Mark Zandi warned of the economic ramifications of a possible default, writing that "financial markets would unravel and the U.S. and global economy would enter another severe recession." A June 2011 letter to congressional leaders, signed by 235 prominent economists, warned of the deleterious impact to the U.S. economy if the debt ceiling was not raised:
Failure to increase the debt limit sufficiently to accommodate existing U.S. laws and obligations also could undermine trust in the full faith and credit of the United States government, with potentially grave long-term consequences. This loss of trust could translate into higher interest rates not only for the federal government, but also for U.S. businesses and consumers, causing all to pay higher prices for credit. Economic growth and jobs would suffer as a result.
The Economic Policy Institute noted that even if the federal government were able to prevent default by prioritizing interest payments on the debt, the resultant ceasing of government spending would create "a massive demand shock to the economy." EPI explained:
Even if the Treasury were able to avoid officially defaulting on the debt by prioritizing interest payments, the government would have to immediately cut expenditures by roughly 10 percent of that month's GDP, and more than that as time went on. This means Social Security checks would be cut, doctors would not be reimbursed in full for seeing Medicare and Medicaid patients, and private contractors doing business with the federal government would not be paid. All of this would constitute a massive demand shock to the economy.
A Treasury Department report, titled "Debt Limit: Myth v. Fact," stated that efforts to prioritize payments on the national debt above other legal obligations "would not prevent default, since it would seek to protect only principal and interest payments and not other legal obligations of the United States from non-payment":
Suggestions that Congress could somehow evade responsibility for raising the debt limit by passing legislation to "prioritize" payments on the national debt above other legal obligations of the United States are simply not true. This would not prevent default, since it would seek to protect only principal and interest payments and not other legal obligations of the United States from non-payment. Adopting a policy that payments to investors should take precedence over other U.S. legal obligations would merely be default by another name, since the world would recognize it as a failure by the United States to stand behind its commitments. It would therefore bring about the same catastrophic economic consequences.
CNN host Candy Crowley gave cover to the Republican claim that Americans don't support increasing taxes, allowing Representative Marsha Blackburn to say that Americans "don't want our taxes to go up." In fact, a majority of Americans support increasing taxes on upper-income earners.
On State of the Union, Blackburn (R-TN) argued against President Obama's plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest two percent of Americans, claiming he does not have support for his proposals. Blackburn said that, in re-electing a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, "the American people have clearly said, we don't want our taxes to go up."
Crowley made no effort to point out that a majority of Americans support increasing taxes on wealthier Americans, a fact her own network has previously noted.
On December 6, CNN reported that a majority of Americans support raising taxes on incomes over $250,000 per year as part of a deficit reduction deal.
Furthermore, national exit polling from the 2012 election revealed that six in ten voters favor increasing taxes. That echoed an October 12 Pew Research Center survey finding that 64 percent of Americans support increasing taxes on households making more than $250,000, and a December 2011 survey concluding that 57 percent of Americans feel the wealthy don't pay their fair share of taxes.
The Washington Post, citing a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll, reported that "nearly 2 to 1" of Americans will blame Republicans, not Obama, if a deal to avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled for January is not reached.
Four of the five major Sunday morning political shows ignored the issue of job creation and economic growth, which economists and voters say are the most important economic issues facing the nation. Instead, the economic discussion on the November 11 editions of these shows focused almost exclusively on the debate over how to achieve deficit reduction.
Among the participants in the major Sunday shows, NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Fox Broacasting's Fox News Sunday, and CNN's State of the Union, only This Week guest Katrina vanden Heuvel pointed out that the exit polls found that voters say the government should focus on job creation rather than deficit reduction.
By contrast, Meet the Press guest Bob Woodward identified deficits and debt as " the big issue" the government must solve. Woodward went on to suggest that Obama should be looking for a "payoff for everyone in the community, not just his base."
WOODWARD: I think the big picture here is that President Obama has got to deliver on the big issue, which is fixing the financial house of the U.S. federal government. It is in disarray. It's not just the fiscal cliff, it's $16 trillion in IOUs out in the world. In a couple of months, in February or March, they are going to have to renegotiate an authority -- lending and borrowing authority -- for another trillion or two dollars, and if the president can fix that and put us on some sort of path of restoration for the economy, that is a payoff for everyone in the community, not just his base.
And he's got to think much more broadly. The job of the president is to find the next stage of good for a real majority and he's capable of doing it.
The Associated Press analyzed data of national exit polls following the presidential election and found that 59 percent of voters interviewed listed the economy as the biggest issue facing the country. In comparison, only 15 percent said that deficits were the most important issue. Similarly, when asked about specific economic concerns, nearly 40 percent of voters said unemployment was the "biggest economic problem facing voters like them."
Economists and other experts also say that job creation and economic growth are the most important issue facing the country.
CNN's Candy Crowley is giving cover to the Republican claim that businesses will not hire due to "uncertainty" over the implementation of the health care law, which has now been endorsed by all three branches of the federal government. In reality, the only uncertainty surrounding the law is being created by Republican threats to repeal it.
On State of the Union, Crowley aided National Republican Senatorial Committee Vice Chair Carly Fiorina's claim that uncertainty over Obamacare would continue to prevent companies from hiring. Crowley said, "And this has been part of the Republican mantra was that big business doesn't know where tax reform is going, they don't know how much new regulation is going to cost them, what kind of infrastructure they'll have to put into their own -- so they're kind of sitting on all this money and not hiring."
By contrast, a June 28 Associated Press article noted that "the health industry -- and company stocks -- still face uncertainty, at least until the November's presidential election. Republicans want to scrap the law."
Furthermore, economists and small business owners say a lack of demand is holding back hiring, not uncertainty.
From the May 20 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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