Tampa Bay Times

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  • Tampa Bay Times Exposes Anti-LGBT Extremists Scheduled To Speak Alongside Trump and Rubio

    Blog ››› ››› MARLEE PITTMAN

    The Tampa Bay Times highlighted the anti-LGBT extremists scheduled to speak alongside Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl) at a two-day event in Orlando, FL, this week. Trump and Rubio’s scheduled appearance comes just two months after a gunman killed 49 people at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando.

    The “Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project” event will be held in Orlando on August 11 and 12, the two-month anniversary of the Orlando massacre. The event is stocked with anti-LGBT extremists, including a pseudo-historian who has questioned why the government doesn’t “regulate homosexuality” like it does trans fats and a conspiracy theorist who believes that the “atheist homosexual gay agenda movement” will bring America “into an Islamic future.” The event’s host organization, the American Renewal Project, is financed by the American Family Association -- an organization designated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) -- and run by David Lane, a man who predicted that “homosexuals praying” at President Obama’s 2013 inauguration would invoke the wrath of God in the form of “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Des Moines, Iowa.”

    In an August 10 blog post about Trump’s appearance at the event, the Tampa Bay Times highlighted the event's anti-LGBT speakers. While other Florida outlets failed to report the event’s anti-LGBT extremism, the Times noted that LGBT advocates have denounced Trump and Rubio’s planned appearances as “incredibly insensitive” given its timing. The Times also reported that Mat Staver, an event speaker and chairman of the Liberty Counsel -- also an SPLC-designated anti-LGBT hate group -- previously attacked memorials for victims of the Orlando massacre.

    From the August 10 edition of the Tampa Bay Times’ blog The Buzz:

    Criticism continues to mount over an appearance of Marco Rubio — and now Donald Trump — at a religious conference in Orlando this week that comes two months after the Pulse shootings that devastated the gay community and generated international mourning.

    “Just when you think Donald Trump and Marco Rubio couldn’t go any lower, they announce plans to court anti-LGBTQ activists in Orlando. On Thursday, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are going to seek votes from people who fundamentally believe we are not equal, who support dangerous and harmful conversion therapy and who have worked to export anti-LGBTQ hate abroad,” Human Rights Campaign said in a news release.


    After the Pulse slaying, Rubio acknowledged the gay community was targeted. “We know what ISIS has done to people they accuse of being homosexual. They throw them off of buildings. They execute them,” he told The Advocate.

    But that has not quieted critics who say his appearance shows he is out of step with the country and incredibly insensitive given the timing and some of the speakers who will join Rubio.

    For instance, Mat Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel, said that some mourning after the Pulse shooting amounted to a “homosexual love fest …. That’s not something that we need to celebrate, this is a tragedy that is against all Americans.”

    Trump’s campaign would not confirm his attendance but it’s been widely reported that he will address hundreds of pastors.

    “He will speak to them about his push to repeal the Johnson Amendment. The law, which has been in place for decades, has made it more difficult for pastors to speak out on political issues and candidates from the pulpit,” read a story from Christian Broadcasting News.

  • FL Newspapers Largely Give Rubio A Pass On Scheduled Appearance With Anti-LGBT Extremists


    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is scheduled to speak alongside anti-LGBT extremists at the “Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project” event in Orlando, FL, from August 11-12. So far, the top 10 Florida newspapers have largely given Rubio a pass on his scheduled appearance, with only one original report and one wire report about Rubio headlining the event. His appearance comes nearly two months after Rubio was criticized for politicizing the massacre at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando. Event speakers include a hate group leader who criticized memorials for victims of the Orlando massacre and a pseudo-historian who has wondered why the government doesn’t “regulate homosexuality” like trans fats.

  • Spanish Language Networks Left Out Important Context Regarding Marco Rubio Running For Re-election

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    In their coverage of Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) announcement that he will seek re-election the two major Hispanic TV news networks, Univision and Telemundo, failed to report the senator’s dismal record on issues that matter to their Latino audiences -- issues local Florida papers, in contrast, rightly highlighted.

    On June 22, Rubio took to Fox News to announce his re-election bid, claiming the June 12 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando motivated his reentry into the Senate race. Previously, Rubio had declared he would be “leaving the Senate,” calling it dysfunctional. Florida papers criticized Rubio’s “thin record” and “absenteeism” from the Senate during his first term, as well as his recent votes against stricter gun safety legislation in the aftermath of the Orlando attack. The Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith called Rubio an “opportunist” and chided him for using his seat in the Senate to prepare for a “political comeback.” The Miami Herald editorial board wrote that Rubio was taking advantage of the Orlando tragedy to launch his re-election campaign and criticized him for “voting the straight NRA line this week by nixing all efforts to impose sensible control on firearms.”

    In contrast, coverage by the two major Hispanic TV news networks, Univision and Telemundo, failed to provide such context while reporting on Rubio’s decision to run. On the June 22 edition of Univision’s Noticiero Univision, coverage of Rubio’s bid spanned less than 30 seconds and consisted mainly of anchor Jorge Ramos reading from Rubio’s official statement. Telemundo’s Noticiero Telemundo also limited its coverage to Rubio’s basic talking points and the senator’s own justification for running.

    The networks’ failure to point out that Rubio’s record includes missing votes and hearings, as well as inaction on gun legislation, flip-flops on immigration, lies about undocumented immigrants, and opposition to women’s reproductive rights -- all issues that disproportionately affect the Hispanic community.

  • Tampa Bay Times: Trump Speech “Resorted To Bombastic Demagoguery” While Clinton’s Offered “Somber Steadiness”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    An editorial in the Tampa Bay Times praised presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s response to the June 12 terror attack in which a gunman entered an Orlando gay nightclub and murdered 49 people, saying “the contrast” to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s response “could not be starker nor the stakes higher for the nation’s future.”  

    Following Trump’s speech, media quickly criticized his response, calling it “horrifying,” “the scariest political speech,” and “outright fascism.” On the same day, media also criticized Trump for insinuating that Obama sympathizes with terrorists and for revoking the press credentials of The Washington Post following what Trump called “incredibly inaccurate coverage.”

    The Tampa Bay Times’ June 13 editorial took issue with Trump’s speech, stressing the need for a “sophisticated approach” to addressing the complex issue of terrorism both foreign and domestic. The paper said Trump’s “rambling” response was littered with oversimplifications of the issues and included false accusations against Clinton and President Obama. By comparison, the editorial called Clinton’s statement more “responsible” and said that it offered a more detailed policy response. From the Tampa Bay Times:

    Even as the names of those killed in the Orlando massacre continued to be released Monday, the political debate resumed over how to fight terrorism and hatred. Hillary Clinton provided somber steadiness and a thoughtful way forward. Donald Trump resorted to bombastic demagoguery, profiling and reckless political attacks. The contrast could not be starker nor the stakes higher for the nation's future.


    Fighting terrorism and hatred, keeping this nation safe and preserving our constitutional freedoms requires a sophisticated approach at home and abroad. Yet Trump has suggested President Barack Obama resign and declared Monday the nation is "led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind.'' It's hard to imagine any other presidential candidate making such a sinister insinuation about an incumbent after such a national tragedy.

    In a rambling speech Monday afternoon, Trump repeated he would unilaterally ban immigration from multiple nations to stop terrorism. He insisted Muslims in this country know who the terrorists are and should stop protecting them, and he rejected accepting any Syrian refugees regardless of their backgrounds. He mocked any new gun control initiatives, falsely alleged that Clinton wants to repeal the Second Amendment and vowed not to succumb to political correctness. Such a defiant tone and simplistic approach is not comforting to an anxious nation or a world where cultivating alliances and nurturing relationships with law-abiding members of all religions has never been more important.

    In tone and substance, Clinton provided a more detailed, responsible vision. She methodically delivered a three-pronged strategy focused on strengthening alliances to fight terrorism abroad, tightening gun controls at home and calling on Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to work with the United States to counter the radical rhetoric of Islamic extremists. These are the sorts of policy questions that should be the focus of the presidential campaign, rather than the name-calling and bigotry embraced by Trump.

  • "Do Your Job": Editorials Implore Senate GOP To Rise Above "Obstruction" And Act On Merrick Garland


    Newspaper editorials roundly urged Senate Republicans to stop obstructing the nomination process of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The editorials chastised "obstructionist" senators for their "stupendous show of political malfeasance" and warned that the obstruction is "out of sync with the nation's best interests," among other criticisms.

  • Newspaper Editorial Boards Overwhelmingly Urge Senate To "Do Your Job" And Vote On Obama's SCOTUS Nominee

    ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    Newspaper editorial boards are overwhelmingly urging GOP Senate leadership to hold hearings and vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nomination to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. A vast number of the boards have called GOP pledges to block a nomination "outrageous," "irresponsible," obstructionism rooted in "partisan self-interest" which "deeply damages the operation of the Judiciary Branch" and "represents an act of disrespect to Justice Scalia."

  • Major State Newspapers Failed To Cover The Higher Cost Burden Assumed By States That Opted Out Of Expanding Medicaid


    An October 15 Kaiser Family Foundation study highlighted the increased health care cost burden for states that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yet, in the three non-expansion states with the highest number of individuals who would benefit from expansion, the highest-circulating state newspapers failed to mention the increased state cost associated with the lack of expansion.

  • How The Florida Governor's Office Manipulated Media By Altering The Findings Of An Investigation Into Planned Parenthood

    ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    The Florida agency tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood clinics in that state found no evidence that they were mishandling fetal remains, but Gov. Rick Scott's office altered the agency's statements to remove language that exonerated Planned Parenthood, and added new language that made the organization look guilty of wrongdoing. Several media outlets unwittingly quoted the statements before the misleading edits were discovered.

  • Media Uncritically Report Jeb Bush's "Nonsense" Economic Policies


    Several media outlets parroted Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's economic message after he claimed his administration would oversee 4 percent economic growth and the creation of up to 19 million new jobs. But economists argue that his goals are unrealistic, and question the impact any single president can have on "decades-long trends."

  • New York Times Digs In On Email Double Standard And Gives Jeb Bush A Pass

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN


    The New York Times is holding Jeb Bush to a lower standard over his selective release of emails from his time as governor of Florida, taking Bush's word for it that enough emails have been "made public" despite reports that Bush hand-picked the emails he would release. At the same time, the Times is insisting that Hillary Clinton lay out the process she used to release emails from her tenure as secretary of state.

    "Under Florida's records laws, emails from Mr. Bush's personal account have been made public," the Times reported. "'His emails were available via public records requests throughout his time in office and have remained available,' Ms. Campbell [a Bush spokesperson] said."

    That's it. That's all the Times had to say about Jeb Bush's use of a non-government email account during his tenure as governor.

  • Florida Journalists: Stand Your Ground Changes Will Hurt Reporting

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Florida journalists are speaking out after their state's legislature passed a proposal making it far more difficult to report on cases involving the controversial Stand Your Ground law.  

    Florida's Stand Your Ground law has repeatedly made national headlines because of its role in the deaths of teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. On Thursday, the Florida House passed an NRA-backed proposal that includes an amendment which would expand the Stand Your Ground defense to those who fire warning shots to deter potential attacks. The bill also allows for the expunging of records in Stand Your Ground cases where charges were eventually dropped. The bill is now headed to the Florida Senate.

    As the bill makes its way through the legislative process, top Sunshine State journalists are worried that making these records unavailable to the public will damage their ability to do proper journalism. 

    Among those speaking out are top reporters and editors at the Tampa Bay Times, which conducted a lengthy 2012 investigation into Stand Your Ground that won industry praise and raised concerns about the applications of the law, including the fact that in nearly four out of every five cases involving a Stand Your Ground defense, homicides were deemed justified if the victim was black. 

    "Closing records and putting controversial cases that involve violence into the dark is a bad idea, it is against democracy," said Neil Brown, Times editor and vice president. "This would have inhibited our work further. Our work was done based on court records as well as the stories of the incidents when they occurred." 

  • STUDY: Top Florida Papers Leave Out Key Benefits Of Medicaid Expansion Ahead Of State Session

    ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    Media Matters analysis found that Florida newspapers including, The Orlando Sentinel, The Sun-Sentinel, The Tampa Bay Times, and The Tampa Tribune, largely failed to cover the key details of Medicaid expansion in the lead up to the state's legislative session, including the specific benefits of expansion and the negative impact the failure to expand would have on the state and Floridians.

  • Tampa Bay Times Largely Ignores Anti-Muslim Extremist's Influence On Anti-Sharia Bill


    The Tampa Bay Times failed to note the extremist past of David Yerushalmi -- an anti-Muslim lawyer and activist -- who authored the model legislation for a Florida bill which would attempt to ban Sharia law in the state.  

    Florida's largest paper focused its coverage of the anti-Sharia bill on the comments made by politicians on both sides of the debate in a "he said, she said" fashion, including those of the bill's sponsor, Rep. Larry Metz (R-Yalaha), who couldn't name an instance when the law would be needed, instead calling it a preventative measure.  In addition, while the paper mentioned that Yerushalmi drafted the model legislation in a blog post, it failed to go in depth into Yerushalmi's history with anti-Sharia laws and racist rhetoric. His role was not included at all in any of the paper's print coverage of the anti-Sharia bill.

    Yerushalmi, who founded the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) and is senior counsel to anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, wrote the model legislation for the Florida bill and bills in several other states, entitled "American Laws for American Courts."

    However, Yerushalmi has a history of negative rhetoric towards immigrants, Muslims and African-Americans. As the Anti-Defamation League pointed out in a report calling Yerushalmi "a driving force behind anti-Sharia efforts in the U.S.," he has previously called for creating "special criminal camps" to house undocumented immigrants, said that African-Americans are a "relatively murderous race killing itself" and discussed how some races are better "in Western societies and some better in tribal ones." He's also claimed that Muslims are our enemies and that "Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization," while demonizing millions of Muslims worldwide:

    Yerushalmi has created a characterization of Shari'a law (i.e., Islamic law) that declares there are "hundreds of millions" of Muslims who are either "fully committed mujahideen" or "still dangerous but lesser committed jihad sympathizers" who, because of Shari'a law, would be willing to murder all non-believers unwilling to convert, in order to "impose a worldwide political hegemony."

    Yerushalmi's group, SANE, has previously called on Congress to declare war on the Muslim nation and asked them to define Muslim undocumented immigrants as "alien enemies 'subject to immediate deportation.'"

    Yerushalmi also has strong connections with other anti-Muslim activists including Pamela Geller and Gaffney, both of whom have been criticized for their extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions and were quoted in the manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a Norwegian mass murder to allegedly prevent "Islamization."

    The Tampa Bay Times' oversight in not reporting Yerushalmi's influence on the Florida bill leaves its readers unaware that the bill is not a "preventative" measure as the bill's sponsor claims, but rather a systematic attempt to rid the United States of Islam by an anti-Muslim activist.