The Daily Beast

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  • Widespread Agreement That House GOP Benghazi Report Has No “Smoking Gun” Against Clinton

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Following the release of the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report on the 2012 terror attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, -- which was the culmination of an investigation lasting “two years and [costing] more than $7 million,” -- journalists are pointing out that the report “failed to unearth anything so damning as to change many minds about the events of that tragic night, or who is to blame for them,” and that “there doesn't seem to be a smoking gun when it comes to Hillary Clinton's culpability.”

  • A Comprehensive Guide To Benghazi Myths And Facts

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & OLIVIA KITTEL

    After nearly four years of right-wing myths about the September 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, and as Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on the attacks release their reports, Media Matters has compiled a list of more than 50 myths and facts regarding the origin of the attack, the security surrounding the compounds, the Obama administration’s handling of the attack during and after its occurrence, attacks on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other lies and misinformation regarding the Benghazi attack.

  • South Carolina’s Anti-Choice Fetal Pain Bill Is “Turning Lies Into Law”

    Nineteen-Week Abortion Ban Contradicts “Medical Consensus” About Fetal Development

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On May 17, South Carolina’s legislature passed a bill to ban abortion after 19 weeks based on the false premise that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization. Armed with a wealth of anti-choice propaganda and right-wing media myths, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) is likely to sign the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” into law with no exceptions for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest.

    Despite the wealth of scientific evidence to the contrary, assertions about fetal pain have framed right-wing media’s coverage of abortion and supplied talking points for anti-choice politicians to push medically unnecessary laws targeting abortion access. In March,  Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) invoked the idea of fetal pain to sign a dangerous bill requiring Utah doctors to administer anesthesia during abortions performed after 20 weeks. Although South Carolina’s bill does not mandate the use of anesthesia, it is based on the same disputed premise about fetal pain.

    Samantha Allen explained in an article for the Daily Beast that by signing this bill, Gov. Haley not only would make South Carolina “the 17th state in the country to institute a 20-week abortion ban,” but she would “also be turning lies into law.” According to Allen, although the South Carolina bill states that “there is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by twenty weeks after fertilization,” the majority of credible scientific evidence undermines this fallacious claim.

    Anti-choice legislators claim in the South Carolina bill that fetal reactions to stimuli at 20 weeks post-fertilization prove that the fetuses are capable of feeling pain. In particular, they claim research shows that “a functioning cortex is not necessary to experience pain.” There is little evidence to support this claim, or other claims of fetal pain prior to 24 weeks of development.

    As Allen explained, the so-called science behind anti-choice legislators’ claims contradicts “the current medical consensus that fetal pain depends on the functioning of pathways in the brain between the thalamus and the cortex.” A 2015 article in FactCheck.org found there was no causal relationship between fetal withdrawal from stimuli and feelings of pain because any “recoil is more of a reflex” that is distinct from “the experience of pain” itself.

    In an interview with Salon, Columbia University Medical Center’s Dr. Anne Davis said these warnings about fetal pain and brain development are “created concerns” that are “based in politics,” not science. According to Davis, a fetus’s brain is not sufficiently developed to perceive pain until 24 weeks gestation. Politicians “can have an opinion about that, but it doesn’t change the information,” she told Salon. A March 2010 report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists affirmed that “research shows that the sensory structures are not developed or specialised enough to experience pain in a fetus less than 24 weeks.”

    Furthermore, Allen noted, two of the three researchers whose work is cited to support fetal pain bills “have already publicly disagreed with the way in which their findings have been used by anti-abortion advocates”:

    In 2013, Dr. Merker told The New York Times that his frequently-cited research “did not deal with pain specifically.” Even Dr. Anand, who believes that fetal pain could start earlier than the literature suggests, told the Times that he used to testify in court cases on abortion bans but that he stopped because “it’s just gotten completely out of hand.”

    In Slate, writer Nora Caplan-Bricker warned that there are compounding negative effects when 20-week bans operate in conjunction with other targeted restrictions on abortion care. She argued that South Carolina’s bill “constricts an already narrow window of opportunity” for patients to access abortion because in “states with multiple restrictions on abortion -- of which South Carolina is one -- women who decide to terminate early in pregnancy can be delayed for weeks or months as they scrape together money or contend with logistics.”

    South Carolina’s anti-choice lawmakers aren’t stopping with a ban on abortion at 19 weeks. As ABC reported, the South Carolina legislature is already hard at work on its next attack on abortion access: “a bill opponents say would essentially ban abortion past 13 weeks.”

  • The Daily Beast: Trump’s Anti-Clinton Playbook Was Written By His Discredited, Conspiracy Theorist Friends

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi explained  that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s campaign strategy against Hillary Clinton is based on “conspiracy scrapbook[s]” written by discredited, “fabulist” authors and Trump acquaintances like Roger Stone, Robert Morrow, and Ed Klein. 

    Donald Trump’s “obsession” with disgraced conspiracy theories has been well documented, with Nuzzi spotlighting Trump’s acquaintances with Roger Stone, Robert Morrow, and Ed Klein. Stone is a plagiarist known for regularly spouting violent, racist, and sexist rhetoric, including calling Hillary Clinton a “cunt” and advocating her execution. Together, Stone and Robert Morrow dedicated a book they wrote to a Holocaust denier who blames Jews for the 9/11 attacks. And Morrow has written bizarre sexual fantasies about Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, and has wished death on Hillary. Additionally, Ed Klein, with whom Trump recently dined, writes discredited “fan fiction” about the Clintons which has been slammed by journalists from across the political spectrum as “smut”, “sewage”, and  “junk journalism.”

    In her May 13 article, Nuzzi explained that the discredited authors have “intentionally or not … written the foundational texts” for Trump’s case against Clinton, adding that these conspiracy theories have helped Trump change the narrative of the GOP primary:

    Political observers have generally fared poorly over the last year when making predictions about the election, but I’d bet my muumuu that Trump takes the insights he gleans from the curriculum produced by Stone, Morrow, and Klein to a cable chyron near you—and sometime before the July conventions. He’s already started. Last week, Trump criticized Clinton for being a “nasty, mean enabler” of her husband’s affairs—a page, literally, out of the doctrine.

    [...]

    Stone, 64, is the white-haired, body-building, fashion-obsessed, sex-club-visiting former aide to Richard Nixon with a portrait of Nixon’s face tattooed between his shoulderblades.

    Stone was introduced to Trump in the 1970s by Roy Cohn, Senator Joe McCarthy’s legal counsel, who mentored Trump politically. Stone remained in Trump’s orbit over the decades, advising him informally, before joining his presidential campaign in 2015. He left in August amid staff infighting (he butted heads, in particular, with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski), but he returned to the inner circle when Trump hired Paul Manafort, who’d been his partner at Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, a lobbying firm in D.C. that they started in the early 1980s.

    [...]

    Morrow, 51, is a towering and disheveled presence who dresses like a math teacher who’s fallen on hard times.

    He lives in Austin, Texas and serves, much to the ire of the Travis County GOP, as the chairman of the Travis County GOP. He survives on an inheritance, and when he’s not rating anime porn on a scale of 1 to 10 on Twitter, he devotes his every waking moment to uncovering and perpetuating information—most of it highly questionable, to put it politely—about public officials.

    [...]

    Unlike Stone and Morrow, Klein’s… eccentricities… aren’t apparent on the surface. He doesn’t have a Twitter account where he ranks anime “boobies” like Morrow and he’s never posed for a photoshoot dressed up as the Joker from Batman like Stone. Without reading any of his work, you might think Klein is your average veteran reporter. Just a nice 79-year-old guy with a friendly demeanor on the phone, probably somebody’s grandpa.

    [...]

    Unless Klein wired his sources and his sources were Bill and Hillary Clinton, none of this is likely to be even kind of true. It’s possible Klein is a fabulist, or it’s possible he has terrible sources. It’s also possible that he’s a looney toon and the multiple sources he’s interviewed upwards of 70 times each are all in his head.

    Who’s to say? If I were Ed Klein I might say I know that last thing for a fact.

    [...]

    I’ve written extensively about the possibility that Trump is a conspiracy theorist, and I maintain that’s likely. But likely, too, is the possibility that Trump is merely savvy.

    It was just as voters were taking to the polls in Indiana—which had been perceived, a few days before the primary, as a competitive state for Ted Cruz—that Trump went on Fox News to ask why nobody was paying attention to a National Enquirer story alleging Cruz’s dad had been with Lee Harvey Oswald just before the JFK assassination.

    And just like that, the narrative in the media changed from, Can Cruz Win Indiana? to Donald Trump Connects Cruz’s Dad to JFK Assassination.

    Who knows if Trump believed any of it, and who cares? It worked. Cruz dropped out of the race a few hours later, making Trump, effectively, the Republican nominee.

    For the general, Trump has more than just one tabloid story to knockout his opponent. He’s got an entire library’s worth of poorly-written ammo.

    And his three horsemen are more than willing to assist.

  • Media Begin To Highlight Harmful Consequences Of Anti-LGBT “Bathroom Bills”

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT & RACHEL PERCELAY

    In a departure from the misinformation and false balance that typically dominate coverage of anti-LGBT legislation, several outlets have begun modeling best practices in reporting on anti-LGBT “bathroom bills” by highlighting the harmful impacts the laws have on transgender people.

    Thus far in 2016, at least 16 different states have considered an unprecedented 44 bills targeting transgender people. Like the high-profile law (HB 2) recently passed in North Carolina, many of these bills aim to ban transgender people from public restrooms that do not correspond with the gender on their birth certificate.

    In reporting on laws regulating transgender people’s access to restrooms, media outlets have frequently failed to debunk the anti-LGBT “bathroom predator” myth peddled by proponents of the law. The talking point claims that permitting transgender people to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity would open the door for predatory men to sexually assault women and children in public bathrooms. Although the “bathroom predator” myth has been repeatedly refuted by law enforcement experts, government officials, and women's safety advocates in cities and states across the country, journalists have uncritically parroted the talking point, providing free airtime to anti-LGBT activists. Outlets also often neglect to mention the high levels of discrimination and sexual assault experienced by transgender people.

    But in a move toward more responsible journalism, national media outlets have started to actively highlight the harmful impact “bathroom bills” have on transgender people.

    In an April 18 article on North Carolina’s anti-transgender law, The Washington Post reported on research that found “the public health impact” of discriminatory bills “may be severe” for transgender people. Reporters Soshana Goldberg and Andrew Reynolds extrapolated from research and data estimates to calculate the impact of proposed or adopted “bathroom bills” in six different states, predicting that “should these bills all pass, we can expect between 7,600 and 17,101 more youth suicide attempts in these six states.”

    Samantha Allen, for The Daily Beast, reported March 17 that suicide rates rise among transgender teens when they are forced to use bathrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate. On April 20, about a month after North Carolina passed its “bathroom bill,” Allen reported that calls to a crisis call line for transgender people called Trans Lifeline had nearly doubled.

     


    [The Daily Beast, 4/20/16]

    Colin Campbell at the The Charlotte Observer reported statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute: “41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide at some point in their lives – compared to just 4.6 percent of the general population.”

    Covering anti-transgender legislation in ways that accurately reflect effects on the LGBT community isn’t just good journalism; it also gives voice to a population that has been traditionally disempowered in the media. With four states -- Illinois, Kansas, South Carolina and Tennessee -- pushing for anti-transgender bills, media outlets have the opportunity to follow the examples set by The Washington Post, The Daily Beast and The Charlotte Observer to shift coverage away from debunked myths and focus on the consequences of anti-LGBT legislation.

  • David Daleiden Is Not A Journalist

    Media Outlets Debunk CMP’s Fraudulent Claim That Its Work Is “Investigative Journalism”

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Despite the indictment by a grand jury and numerous lawsuits over Center for Medical Progress (CMP) founder David Daleiden’s attempts to smear Planned Parenthood, right-wing media have claimed that CMP’s deceptively edited videos are “investigative journalism.” Other media outlets have rejected this claim, confirming that CMP’s videos are misleading, fraudulent, and, above all, not journalism.

  • Media Takeaways About Latino Vote Post-Super Tuesday

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Media analysis of Super Tuesday results is revealing some important takeaways about the Latino vote and how it's impacting the Republican presidential primary race: It would be "close to impossible" for Donald Trump -- let alone any Republican -- to win the White House with the small percentage of the Latino vote he's expected to win in the general election and even more impossible to win with "only the white vote." Super Tuesday election turnout was "heavily white," and any hype around Republican primary victories among Latino voters overlooks the fact that the Latino voter turnout has been unrepresentative of the overall Latino population in the U.S.

  • Four Things The Media Should Know When Covering The "Benghazi Treatment" Of Planned Parenthood By Congressional Republicans

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Republicans in Congress established the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives in October 2015 following baseless allegations from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) that Planned Parenthood was involved in the sale of fetal tissue. As state investigations clear Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing but it continues to get the Republican "Benghazi treatment," here are four things the media should know when covering the congressional panel.