The Hill

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  • Fox News Misses Important Context On Economic-Based Election Predictions To Claim GOP Victory

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. left out important context during a discussion of economic models that predict a GOP victory in the presidential election. Johnson seemed to be drawing his information from The Hill, which had reported on the models the day before, but he failed to mention the paper's point that the models "are being challenged like never before by the presence" of Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

    On the April 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Johnson discussed a story first reported by The Hill, which detailed how three economic models -- from Yale University economist Ray Fair, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz, and Moody's Analytics -- can be used to predict election outcomes. Johnson, who did not credit The Hill for the story, said that "whether it's Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ... or any of the other candidates that are now running, the Republicans win according to these models":

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): The numbers don't lie. A Republican in the White House, no matter the nominee, is a mathematical certainty--that's what two highly respected economic models are saying this morning. These models have picked the winner in nearly every presidential contest for decades, but what makes them so sure this time? Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. joins us now to weigh in on this.

    PETER JOHNSON JR.: Good morning. This is really fascinating. They're saying whether it's Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, whether it's any of the candidates that are now running, the Republicans win. So let's look at the models and why they're saying it, because you'll find it interesting. So, the first model is the Ray Fair election model. It says the GOP wins. The Alan Abramowitz election model -- he's from Emory University -- says the GOP wins. And then Moody's has a model; they say the Democrats win. Let's look at what they're saying here. The Fair election model, created by Yale professor Ray Fair, it's correctly forecast all but three presidential elections since 1916. And so, let's talk about the factors with regard to that. In his model, the per capita growth rate before the election of the GDP, inflation over the entire presidential term, and the number of quarters the per capita GDP grows. So it's all, Ainsley, economically based. Not based on individual personalities, not based on current poll numbers at all.

    EARHARDT: What about some of the other models? What are the factors?

    JOHNSON: There's another model, Professor Abramowitz's election model, he's an Emory professor. He's predicted every presidential election, since it launched in 1992, accurately. And his factors include an incumbent president's job approval rating, the economy's growth during the first half of the year, how long the incumbent party has been in the White House. And based on those factors, he says he's able to predict that the Republicans will win. Now, there's a lot of volatility obviously in this race. We have two of the highest negative presidential campaigns that we might see as nominees in the end, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They both carry a lot of negatives. So what effect will that have on the economics?

    EARHARDT: And they don't predict which Republican candidate will win; they just say a Republican.

    JOHNSON: It's based on income. It's based on economic growth. It's based on voters being affected by the statistics in a visceral way. In a real way. The final look at it is Moody's. Moody's says they're going to judge it by electoral college votes, income growth by state, home gasoline prices by state, and presidential approval numbers currently. Their particular model says that the Democrat wins. So most of these models are pointing to the Republicans, but Moody's say it's a Democrat. So by the numbers, the Republicans win, according to these models.

    But The Hill notes that this year's unusual campaign is casting uncertainty on the economic models, saying that Trump's presence has "shaken up politics," and that his fights with his opponents "have electrified his supporters but have turned off other voters."

    Supporting that point, Ray Fair told The Hill, "If there's any time in which personalities would trump the economy it would be this election." The New York Times also recently reported on his prediction, noting that Fair "says his model may well be wrong about this election. 'Each election has weird things in it, yet the model usually works pretty well,' he said. 'This year, though, I don't know. This year really could be different.'"

    Regarding the Abramowitz model, The Hill pointed out that "the Democratic candidate can expect to receive 48.7 percent of the vote -- with Obama's approval rating at 50 percent," but it also mentioned that since Abramowitz's last prediction, President Obama's approval rating has gone up to 52 percent. The article even cited a recent quote from Abramowitz in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he noted that the president's rising approval rating may be "significant for the general election."

    The Hill also quoted economist Dan White from Moody's, who explained that "there's a lot more uncertainty" in this election "that could upset the balance and the historical relationship of how marginal voters vote." The Moody's model predicts that "the Democratic nominee would take 332 electoral votes compared to 206 for the Republican nominee," The Hill explained -- the same Electoral College outcome witnessed in 2012. White told the paper that a factor in the prediction was the president's increased approval rating, which he said may have been boosted by "the unruly GOP."

  • The Hill Uncritically Repeats Judicial Watch's Clinton Email Smear

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, The Hill added the following editor's note to the article: "This story was corrected on March 23 to reflect that the 'commitments to action' included non-monetary assistance. A previous version contained incorrect information."

    The article previously read:

    A conservative legal watchdog has released documents that show staffers to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interacting with the Clinton Foundation.

    Judicial Watch said the internal State Department documents show Clinton's aides helping orchestrate her public thanks to Clinton Global Initiative project donors in 2009.

    It now reads (emphasis added):

    A conservative legal watchdog has released documents that it says show staffers to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interacting with the Clinton Foundation. 

    Judicial Watch said the internal State Department documents show Clinton's aides helping orchestrate her public thanks to organizations who had made a commitment to help the Clinton Global Initiative. Those "commitments to action" can include donations and non-monetary assistance, according to the Foundation's website.

    Original post:

    The Hill uncritically reported the latest smear from the conservative organization Judicial Watch, suggesting inappropriate behavior involving Hillary Clinton's emails and the Clinton Global Initiative.

    On March 22, The Hill reported that Judicial Watch released documents which showed "Clinton's aides helping orchestrate her public thanks to Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) project donors in 2009." The Hill claimed that "Clinton addressed Clinton Foundation donor commitments during the Clinton Global Initiative Closing Plenary in September 2009":

    A conservative legal watchdog has released documents that show staffers to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interacting with the Clinton Foundation.

    Judicial Watch said the internal State Department documents show Clinton's aides helping orchestrate her public thanks to Clinton Global Initiative project donors in 2009.


    Clinton addressed Clinton Foundation donor commitments during the Clinton Global Initiative Closing Plenary in September 2009.

    "This is an exceptional gathering of people who have made exceptional commitments to bettering our world," she said on September 25, 2009, at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in New York, N.Y.

    In reality, Clinton did not discuss donors in her speech, and the emails in question show that the "commitments" The Hill describes as donors are in fact organizations promising a commitment to action to address issues and CGI initiatives around the globe. On the CGI website, "Commitments to Action" are described as, "a plan for addressing a significant global challenge. Commitments can be small or large and financial or nonmonetary in nature."

    The Hill's uncritical reporting on Judicial Watch's claims are not the first time the group's anti-Clinton smears have been parroted by the media. In September 2015, The New York Times also fell for Judicial Watch's chicanery, only to be forced several days later to correct the false report. 

    Judicial Watch has also peddled in conspiracy theories claiming the Department of Justice was organizing rallies against George Zimmerman, that ISIS set up a terrorist camp "just a few miles from El Paso, Texas," and it was also a leading voice in the false outrage over President Obama's "czars."

  • Media Echo Inaccurate GOP Talking Points To Blame Obama And Biden For Republican SCOTUS Obstructionism

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media inaccurately equated President Obama's 2006 Senate filibuster vote of then-Judge Samuel Alito and Vice President Biden's 1992 comments on the Senate floor about a Supreme Court nomination in an election year to Senate Republicans' unprecedented attempts to block the president's nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

  • 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.

  • Los Medios Señalan A Rubio Por Moverse A La Derecha En Inmigración

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF English language version

    Los medios están señalando al senador Marco Rubio (R-FL) por su "cambio acelerado hacia la derecha" en inmigración luego de que prometiera -- en el "primer día de su mandato" -- que terminaría con el programa Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA por sus siglas en inglés), instituido por el presidente Obama para proteger a ciertos inmigrantes indocumentados de ser deportados. Los medios conservadores han presionado a Rubio para que endurezca su postura migratoria debido a su pasado apoyo de una reforma migratoria bipartidista.

  • Media Call Out Rubio For Shift Right On Immigration

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN Versión en español

    Media are calling out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his "mad rush to the right" on immigration after he promised to -- on his "first day in office" -- end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted by President Obama to protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation. Right-wing media have pushed Rubio to take a stronger stance on immigration because of his past sponsorship of bipartisan reform.

  • Media Glossing Over Climate Science Denial By GOP "Establishment" Candidates

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Rubio Bush Kasich

    In recent weeks, media outlets including The New York Times, PolitiFact, and The Hill have failed to recognize that so-called "establishment" Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich have all made remarks about man-made climate change that conflict with the strongly held consensus of the scientific community. While all three candidates have at one point or another acknowledged some human role in climate change, none accept the community's consensus that humans are the primary cause of global warming.

    In a January 23 article purporting to explain "where the GOP field stands" on climate change, The Hill reported that Rubio "has said that he believes in the science behind climate change," Bush "says he believes the science behind climate change and mankind's role in causing it," and Kasich "acknowledges climate change." And on February 9 and February 13, respectively, PolitiFact and The Times took issue with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' statement that no Republican candidate acknowledges that "climate change is real," arguing, in PolitiFact's words, that both Bush and Kasich have said climate change is "real" and "man-made." None of these articles noted that Rubio, Bush, and Kasich have all contradicted the scientific consensus by questioning the extent to which humans impact the climate.

    For these media outlets, simply establishing that Rubio, Bush, and Kasich acknowledged humans play some role in climate change was sufficient proof that they are not climate science deniers. But the consensus view of the scientific community -- including major scientific institutions like NASA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- is that human activities such as burning fossil fuels are the primary cause of global warming. The IPCC has determined with at least 95 percent probability that human activities are the "dominant cause" of climate change, which is equal to the amount of certainty scientists have that cigarettes are deadly.

    Rubio came closest to acknowledging this scientific reality during a May 2014 interview on Fox News, in which he said: "There is a majority of scientists that say that global carbon emission by humans causes some changes in the climate." But in his next breath, he added that "there is no consensus" on how much of climate change "is directly attributable to human carbon emission." Similarly, in an April 2015 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Rubio said: "[T]here's never been a moment where the climate is not changing. The question is what percentage of that -- or what is due to human activity?"

    In other media appearances, Rubio has been more overt in his climate science denial, such as when he told ABC News, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it." That comment earned Rubio a "false" rating on PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter.

    As evidence that Bush believes climate change is "real," PolitiFact pointed to his July 2015 remark, "Human activity has contributed to it." The Times cited a more recent remark, from February 2016, in which Bush said: "I think the climate is changing. It is inconceivable to me that five billion people living on this planet don't have an impact on that." However, neither outlet mentioned other remarks Bush has made that show he "does not acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity drives climate change," as National Journal put it. For instance, in May 2015, The Washington Post noted that Bush said of climate change: "I don't think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted." Other newspapers, including the Union Leader and Valley News in New Hampshire, have similarly reported that Bush either questioned the "percentage of human involvement" in climate change or claimed "scientists haven't determined how much of it is attributable to people."

    Bush has even made some remarks that seemed to leave open the possibility that human activity could play no role in climate change, saying in June 2015: "Because the climate is changing, whether men are doing it or not - in the case of the sea level rising in Miami - is kind of irrelevant." He's also contradicted the upper range of sea level rise projections in the National Climate Assessment -- and the worst case scenario calculated by four Florida counties -- by declaring that "the sea level is not going to rise by six feet. It might, you know, a thousand years from now, who knows, but it's not going to rise in the near term, in the next 30 years or 50 years."

    Finally, in its "fact-check" of Sanders' remarks, The Times highlighted a quote from Kasich that actually shows he does not acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activities are the primary cause of global warming: "I do believe there is climate change, and I think that human beings impact it. But I also don't know to what degree we impact it." Kasich more directly denied the scientific consensus in September 2015 remarks in New Hampshire, in which he said, "I don't believe that humans are the primary cause of climate change." And when asked during an August 2015 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press whether he agrees with Pope Francis that climate change is man-made, Kasich claimed that "man absolutely affects the environment," but there is a "legitimate debate" about "the overall impact." He also said: "We don't want to destroy people's jobs, based on some theory that is not proven."

    In its piece, PolitiFact also challenged the other portion of Sanders' remark, which was that the GOP candidates refuse to recognize "that we need to transform our energy system" to deal with climate change. But unable to point to climate policies that Bush and Rubio favor, PolitiFact cited Bush's "calls for the repeal or reform" of the Clean Power Plan and Rubio's desire to "get rid of some anti-pollution rules and use the free market" to encourage conservative and efficiency as evidence that they "have offered support for actions to deal with [climate change]."

    Hopefully media outlets will more deeply explore how well the candidates' comments square with climate science going forward, particularly in articles that purport to be "fact-checks." Splitting the GOP field into "outsider" candidates who reject climate science and "establishment" candidates who accept it might make for a compelling media narrative. But it doesn't make for an accurate one.

    Image at top via Flickr user Gage Skidmore using a Creative Commons license.

  • Network Evening News Programs Yet To Address What Exxon Knew About Climate Change


    In recent months, media investigations have revealed that Exxon Mobil peddled climate science denial for years after its scientists recognized that burning fossil fuels causes global warming, prompting New York's Attorney General to issue a subpoena to Exxon and all three Democratic presidential candidates to call for a federal probe of the company. But despite these developments, the nightly news programs of all three major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- have failed to air a single segment addressing the evidence that Exxon knowingly deceived its shareholders and the public about climate change.

  • Media Call Out Rubio's Shift On Immigration Reform, A Change Right-Wing Pundits Have Demanded

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media outlets are pointing out Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) shifting position on immigration reform after the presidential hopeful changed his position on ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). While Rubio previously supported eliminating the program after comprehensive immigration reform was in place, he recently stated he'd eliminate it regardless. This shift follows a push by conservative media figures who have long criticized Rubio for his immigration stances.

  • Media Matters' James Carville: We'd Be Glad To Sponsor A GOP Debate Moderated By Talk Radio "Circus Clowns"

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    In a blog post for The Hill, Media Matters contributor James Carville proposed that Media Matters "sponsor a fair GOP presidential debate" alongside Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham following the suggestion of conservatives who baselessly claimed previous Republican presidential debates have been moderated by "left-wing operatives."

    Unhappy with the October 28 CNBC Republican presidential primary debate, GOP politicians and campaigns have rallied to seek greater control over future debate formats. Their proposals, including a list of debate demands, have been openly mocked by the media. One recommendation, pitched by presidential candidate Ted Cruz, to hold a Republican "debate moderated by Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Rush Limbaugh" has been echoed across right-wing media, who have called for more conservative influence in the debate process.

    Carville explained November 4 that after the CNBC debate, "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the CNBC moderators 'left-wing operatives' who were out to sabotage the debate," and suggested "that Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin should come together to moderate" the next one. Carville wrote that Media Matters would be "glad to step in and help sponsor a fair GOP presidential debate" moderated by Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, and Ingraham, saying "we could not be happier than to allow the clowns of right-wing radio to speak straight to the masses and reveal their true colors. Noting that these right-wing talk radio hosts have a problematic history when it comes to their coverage of most issues, Carville concluded, if "these are the folks that you want representing your movement, we're in":

    After the debate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the CNBC moderators "left-wing operatives" who were out to sabotage the debate. Now folks, I don't know about you, but I don't think of a network that is full of hosts that regularly deny that climate change is real and is home to Rick Santelli who basically launched the Tea Party with an on-air rant is OUT TO GET the GOP candidates.

    Ladies and gentlemen I've seen a lot of things in my time. But I never thought I'd see a day when my colleague Joan Walsh agreed with Ted Cruz. And you know what, I do too. He made an interesting suggestion that Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin should come together to moderate a GOP debate. The Nation's Walsh had it right when she said of Cruz's suggestion, "I think the world should get a clear look at the unvarnished spectacle of a Republican Party that is now run by the 'conservative entertainment complex.'"


    Folks, I've been authorized by Media Matters Chairman David Brock to make the following proposal:

    We would be glad to step in and help sponsor a fair GOP presidential debate alongside those "real journalists" Ted Cruz is so fond of, and the circus clowns who would be joining us. Let's see who we'd have:

    Rush Limbaugh -- You know the guy who once called a law student a slut for believing she deserved access to birth control, regularly calls high powered women "feminazis," who, on at least one occasion, said he hoped that President Obama "fails," and has a long history of attacking the LGBT community.

    Sean Hannity - The guy who in 2008 said it was "my job" to lead "the 'Stop Hillary Express.' By the way, now it's the 'Stop Obama Express.'" Later that year, Hannity received Media Matters' misinformer of the year award - and repaid us by giving Media Matters his "first annual Left-Wing Obamamania Media Propaganda PC Police Award." Hannity also has a history of race bating, fueling the birther movement, and defending attacks on Islam. Quite a stand up guy. And good news folks, Hannity says he's in!

    Mark Levin - The right-wing radio host who consistently complains that conservatives aren't conservative enough -- calling then-Speaker Boehner the "Benedict Arnold" of the Republican Party for attempting to compromise with Democrats and attacking incoming House Speaker Ryan for not being conservative enough.

    Laura Ingraham -- For good measure, let's also throw in this conservative radio host, who, on her show [Monday], endorsed the idea of co-moderating a GOP debate with fellow right-wing radio hosts. Ingraham claimed she would "be fair to all the candidates" -- but the Fox contributor has repeatedly attacked GOP candidates including Jeb Bush-- saying "there has to be something wrong with" him, that she's "not a fan," and suggesting that Bush and Hillary Clinton run on the same ticket. That's how "fair" she'd be as a debate moderator.

    So yes, Republican Party, if these are the folks that you want representing your movement, we're in. Media Matters would love to join with the GOP and expose for the public the true beliefs of the "real" conservative media.