The Lead with Jake Tapper

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  • Trump Ridiculed After Insinuating Obama Is Complicit In Orlando Attack

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media figures criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for “casually [and] darkly” suggesting that President Obama sympathizes with Islamic terrorists and was complicit in the Orlando terror attack, calling his comments “indefensible,” “distasteful,” and part of his “latest escalation in his years-long campaign to smear” Obama.

  • Right-Wing Media Defend Trump’s Racist Attack On Judge With False Comparison To Sotomayor’s Call For Diversity

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    After Donald Trump received widespread criticism for attacking the ethnicity of the judge overseeing the Trump U. case, right-wing media figures are now falsely equating Trump’s bigoted attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel to comments made in a 2001 speech made by the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, who called for more diversity in the court.

  • How Sexual Assault Stories Should Be Covered: A Tale Of Two News Reports

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    After the rape of a college student on Stanford University’s campus, a Washington Post report portrayed the attack as a “stunning fall from grace.” The Post's decision to focus on how the conviction will effect the life of the assailant is strikingly different from a CNN report that correctly identified the attack as rape, and read off a statement from the victim.  

    Brock Turner, a 20 year old former all-star swimmer at Stanford University, was convicted of raping an unconscious woman. Turner’s assault gained national attention after he was sentenced to just 6 months and Turner’s father complained that the decision would ruin his son’s life over “20 minutes of action.” After the sentence was delivered, the victim read a statement detailing her life since the rape.

    The Washington Post reporter referred to the assailant as a “baby-faced Standford freshman” whose “once-promising future remains uncertain,” and highlighted the victim’s level of intoxication. The Post detailed Turner’s career as an “All-American swimmer” with the goal of competing in the Olympics. The Post also gave space to critics of the verdict who called the sexual attack “an ambiguous and alcohol-fueled moment”:

    But critics argued that the jury was harsh on Turner and treated an ambiguous and alcohol-fueled moment with black-and-white certainty.

    “This was not a clear-cut case, and I hope the jury got it right,” commented one man on a local TV station’s coverage of the verdict. “Of course Turner made some terrible mistakes, but I will always wonder if consent happened or not.

    “I also worry the ‘face of campus sexual assault’ was being prosecuted rather than the actual defendant,” he added. “The prosecutor was playing to the demands of Stanford female activists.”

    With sentencing June 2 and an appeal possible, Turner’s once-promising future remains uncertain. But his extraordinary yet brief swim career is now tarnished, like a rusting trophy.

    In a stark contrast, a report from the June 6 edition of CNN’s The Lead, Tapper highlighted the victim’s voice and criticized the “slap on the wrist” six month sentence Turner received. Echoing the victim’s letter, Tapper also questioned whether the sentence would have been shortened had the victim been a minority at a less prominent college:    

    JAKE TAPPER (HOST): In our national lead today, the national outcry is growing after this man, a 20-year-old former Stanford University swimmer received a lenient sentence after being found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Brock Turner has been convicted on three counts of felony sexual assault after raping a woman behind a dumpster back in January 2015. She was unconscious. Turner was facing up to ten years in state prison but he was sentenced instead to only six months in county jail.  Which critics call a slap on the wrist. The case has also received attention because in court, the rape survivor read an emotional letter to her attacker, describing her life since the attack. After being told of the attack, quote, "I stood there examining my body and decided I didn't want my body anymore. I was terrified of it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else." She also describes what it has been like since she was raped. Quote, "My damage was internal. Unseen. I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice."

    [...]

    TAPPER: Let's read that letter that you referred from Turner's father pleading for leniency in a letter to the District Attorney, saying "these verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways his life will not be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life." Jeffrey, I hate to be rude, but who cares? He's the guilty person.

    JEFFREY TOBIN: Well, that's right. I mean, where do you start with a letter like that? Who is the victim here and who should we feel sorry for and how twisted do you have to be to describe the rape of an unconscious woman as 20 minutes of action? It's a pretty appalling letter and it's an appalling story.

    TAPPER: Let’s get to the point you were making, which the rape survivor also wrote in her letter, "If I had been sexually assaulted by an unathletic guy from a community college, what would his sentence be? If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be?”  And let me add to it what many people watching are probably thinking, what if it had been a black or Latino man? At a less prominent college?

    TOBIN: And I think that's really at the core of the outrage here. Because I think a lot of people believe that sentences are too long in general and a lot of people are concerned about mass incarceration. But one thing that everyone should agree on, is that the criminal justice system should treat similar offenders in similar ways. So if most rapists are getting ten years, a Stanford rapist should get ten years too.

  • Hispanic Media Figures Slam Trump For Racist Attacks On Judge

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Latino media figures are criticizing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald  Trump for his “racist,” “highly offensive” assertion that the federal judge presiding over  two civil lawsuits against the defunct Trump University, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, is biased against him because of his Mexican heritage.

  • An Extensive Guide To The Fact Checks, Debunks, And Criticisms Of Trump’s Various Problematic Policy Proposals

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY & JARED HOLT

    Over the course of the 2016 presidential primary, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has laid forth a series of problematic policy proposals and statements -- ranging from his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States to his suggestion that the United States default on debt -- that media have warned to be “dangerous,” “fact-free,” “unconstitutional,” “contradictory,” “racist,” and “xenophobic.” Media Matters compiled an extensive list of Trump’s widely panned policy plans thus far along with the debunks and criticism from media figures, experts and fact-checkers that go along with them.