The New York Times

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  • NY Times Editorial Board Calls Out Texas Attorney General’s “Legal Assaults” On Transgender Equality

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    The New York Times' editorial board criticized Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s recent “bigot[ed]” attacks on transgender people that are based on the “specious” right-wing myth that nondiscrimination protections for transgender people threaten others’ safety.

    On August 23, Paxton filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services seeking to overturn a section of the Affordable Care Act that bars discrimination against transgender people in health insurance and by health providers accepting federal funds. In May, Paxton led another lawsuit challenging the education and justice departments’ joint guidance directing all public schools to provide transgender students with access to sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms, that are consistent with a student’s gender identity.

    In an August 24 editorial, the Times’ editorial board slammed Paxton for his continued attacks on transgender equality. The board noted that Paxton’s team actively “encouraged” a school district to adopt an anti-transgender policy -- even though “there was no controversy surrounding transgender students” in the district-- because the state’s lawyers knew a case there would be assigned to a favorable judge. The board called out Paxton’s lawsuits for being “based on bigotry” and the “specious claim that” transgender protections “pose a threat to the safety of others,” a debunked talking point peddled by anti-LGBT extremists and right-wing media outlets and figures that the Times’ editorial board has repeatedly called out.

    From the editorial:

    Just days after the federal Department of Education in May issued sensible antidiscrimination guidelines for accommodating transgender students, Texas’ attorney general, Ken Paxton, set out to challenge them.

    His team reached out to tiny school districts in North Texas to persuade them to adopt policies that would require transgender students to use bathrooms according to the gender on their birth certificates — which would put them at odds with the Education Department’s new transgender guidelines. Those guidelines direct educators to investigate harassment of transgender students promptly; to use pronouns and names consistent with a student’s gender identity; and to allow transgender students to use restrooms based on their gender identity.

    [...]

    Zeroing in on North Texas, the attorney general’s office encouraged the Harrold Independent School District to adopt an anti-transgender bathroom policy. The choice of district was no accident. Though there was no controversy surrounding transgender students in Harrold, the state’s lawyers knew that any case challenging the federal policy brought there would be assigned to Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

    [...]

    Judge O’Connor on Sunday issued a preliminary injunction that prohibits the Education Department from enforcing its guidelines nationwide. In a 38-page order, he barred the federal government from taking enforcement action against discriminatory policies or practices.

    The ruling, which the Justice Department is expected to appeal, may lead educators around the country to question whether they need to follow the Education Department’s transgender guidelines as the new school year starts. They would be wrong not to; the rules provide a common-sense approach that makes harassment and stigmatization of transgender students less likely.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Paxton is determined to block another important protection for transgender people. On Tuesday, his office filed a new lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services over a regulatory change that sought to expand access to medical care for transgender Americans. This case, too, has been assigned to Judge O’Connor.

    These legal assaults on equal protection for transgender Americans are based on bigotry and the specious claim that they pose a threat to the safety of others. The toll exacted on this vulnerable population is heavy and will remain so as these cases and other litigation involving transgender laws move through the courts.

  • The New York Times And Trump’s Loopy Note From His Doctor

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Donald Trump

    With Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his media surrogates making unfounded allegations about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s mental and physical well-being and demanding she release more medical records, The New York Times recently addressed the issue of candidate health. In a story headlined "Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Ages 68 and 70, Share Few Health Details," the newspaper claimed that both Trump and Clinton “have been more secretive and selective than many recent presidential nominees in providing up-to-date details about their personal health.”

    The Times article quickly conceded that Trump has been less forthcoming than Clinton. But it’s wildly misguided to suggest Trump and Clinton have treated the issue of medical disclosures in a remotely similar fashion. Yes, each candidate has released a letter from his or her personal doctor evaluating the candidate’s current health. But it’s fantasy to pretend that the two doctors’ letters are comparable.

    And that’s where the Times examination really stumbled, by trying to take seriously the dubious letter from Trump’s doctor that was released last December -- a letter that has been widely derided as a joke. “It purports to be a medical letter, but it is one of the most ridiculous documents ever to emerge in any political campaign,” Kurt Eichenwald recently wrote for Newsweek.

    So committed was the paper to the narrative that both Clinton and Trump were hiding their medical past, the Times ignored the real story: Trump has released no verifiable information about his medical history. None. Because to date, Trump’s only medical release is his very weird doctor’s letter, which remains a completely useless document.

    The brief, vague letter was released 11 days after Trump vowed in December to make public a “full medical report” about his physical health and fitness to serve as president. He bragged that the medical report would “show perfection.”

    To date, there’s been no medical report, just the weird, uninformative letter penned by Dr. Harold N. Bornstein.

    Accentuated by typos -- including a very odd “To Whom My Concern” salutation -- and featuring a website URL that doesn’t work, Trump’s four-paragraph medical letter was filled with strange terms like “astonishingly excellent,” which convey no medical meaning.  

    Dr. Jennifer Gunter dissected the Trump letter for The Huffington Post, noting that doctors "just don't typically write vague, quasi-medical things in letters. ... I would never write anything this terrible for a jury duty excuse or a back to work note. ... It’s medically illiterate.”

    At one point, Trump’s doctor boasted that the Republican nominee’s “physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.” But the doctor never explained how he measured Trump’s stamina and strength. Bornstein also claimed Trump had lost “at least fifteen pounds” in the previous year, but he never listed the candidate’s current weight.

    Another gaping hole, as noted by Eichenwald:

    The letter from the Trump campaign mentions nothing about family history, as any normal letter assessing someone’s medical condition would. (Clinton’s does.) Family history is critical in understanding possible diseases that may emerge, particularly those with a genetic link. Trump’s father, Fred Trump, died from complications of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

    Meanwhile, Bornstein in the letter says he’s been treating Trump for decades. But note that the physician is a gastroenterologist, a doctor who treats digestive tract problems. If Trump is in such “astonishingly excellent” health, why has he been going to see a gastroenterologist for nearly half his life? (Clinton’s letter of medical evaluation was written by Lisa Bardack, director of internal medicine in the Mount Sinai Health System at CareMount Medical.)

    None of it makes any sense, which is why the Trump letter has been widely derided as a joke. Yet this week the Times opted to treat the letter as legitimate in an effort to portray Trump and Clinton as equally secretive.

    The truth is, Clinton has released about as much medical information as President Obama did when he ran for president in 2008. By contrast, Trump has released only a baffling, useless document from his gastroenterologist. “The letter provides essentially no medical information,” wrote Gunter.

    The Times is right that there is a candidate in this race who’s being “more secretive and selective” about releasing medical information. But it’s not Clinton.

  • Every Morning Show Except CBS’ Failed To Cover The New Allegations Against Paul Manafort

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    CBS This Morning was the only network or cable morning news show to detail new reports on Paul Manafort’s work in support of Ukraine’s previous pro-Russian government. Several print and digital outlets had produced devastating reports that Manafort -- former campaign chairman for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- received potentially illegal payments, that he worked to influence U.S. opinion of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government, and that he helped set up protests against NATO troops including U.S. service members.

  • NY Times Contributor Highlights How Unionization Helps Fight Economic Inequality, Gender Pay Gap

    Unions Benefit All Workers With Better Pay And Stable Shifts, Collective Bargaining Reduces The Gender Pay Gap

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    A New York Times contributor shared her experience working as a cocktail server in Las Vegas, where she saw how unions helped workers -- especially women and immigrants -- receive better pay, benefits, and job security.

    Brittany Bronson, a Times contributor and an instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) highlighted the importance of unions in an August 17 op-ed, discussing how unions provide many benefits that specifically help women in the workplace. Bronson reported from her own experience that “unions are strong in Las Vegas,” providing workers in the casino and hospitality industry “benefits that cocktail servers and hotel workers in other states can only dream of.” These benefits and protections -- including good wages, health care packages, and stable scheduling -- are why Bronson saw “so many lifers in [the] industry.” The op-ed also discussed how union seniority helped women maintain their rights at work -- something that “runs counter to most American workplaces, where women tend to lose power as they age” and the gender pay gap widens for women as they get older.

    The role unions can play in tackling pay disparities and overall economic inequality is frequently dismissed by right-wing media, which deny the existence of a gender pay gap and misleadingly blame unions for contributing to economic deterioration. Working women in the United States earned “just 79 percent of what men were paid” in 2014, according to a Spring 2016 report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Pay disparities follow women throughout their careers, depressing their earnings potential and contributing to elevated rates of poverty in retirement. Union seniority rights and collective bargaining opportunities could be an important part of ending the gender pay gap by preventing pay discrimination against women -- as the op-ed pointed out, the Pew Charitable Trust found that the gender pay gap narrows in union shops, where women are paid roughly 88 percent as much as their male counterparts. From the August 17 edition of The New York Times:

    Unions are strong in Las Vegas, and they bring benefits that cocktail servers and hotel workers in other states can only dream of: Beyond better wages and health care packages, union members are ensured set schedules and their first choice of coveted shifts, based on seniority. It’s why there are so many lifers in my industry: At the top of our cocktailing matriarchy was a woman who had joined the union in 1973.

    [...]

    The Las Vegas casino scene runs counter to most American workplaces, where women tend to lose power as they age. According to research by the recruiting site Glassdoor, the pay gap, even after it’s adjusted for things like occupation, increases with age — from 2.2 percent for women ages 18 to 24 to 10.5 percent for women between 55 and 64. Family obligations and gender discrimination take women out of the American work force, meaning fewer promotions, fewer women in management and ultimately fewer raises.

    [...]

    The benefits ripple outward, in the form of family wealth building and educational opportunities. According to a March 2015 New York Times report, a girl in a poor family who grows up in Las Vegas will make 7 percent more than she would elsewhere by age 26. Income mobility for women is better in Clark County, where Las Vegas is, than it is in 71 percent of counties nationwide.

  • CBS And ABC Nightly News Ignore Trump Campaign Chairman’s Ties To Pro-Russian Ukrainian Politicians

    NBC Nightly News Only Broadcast Network Program To Cover Bombshell Claims

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    ABC and CBS broadcast nightly news programs failed to mention a New York Times report detailing alleged payments to Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from 2007-2012.

    On August 14, the New York Times reported that Paul Manafort allegedly received “$12.7 million in undisclosed payments” from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s “pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012.”

    NBC was the only nightly news program to mention the payments on the August 15 edition of Nightly News with Lester Holt noting how the allegations "blunted" a foreign policy speech made by Donald Trump.

    KATY TUR: Trump's message on ISIS blunted today by new questions over his campaign chairman's business ties to Ukraine. The New York Times reported that Ukraine's anti-corruption task force uncovered a ledger, allegedly documenting $12.7 million in off the books cash payments from Ukraine's past pro-Putin president to Paul Manafort.

    Manafort denied receiving such payments, calling the allegation "silly" and "nonsensical."

    Though national security analysts characterized the report as “damning” and “staggering,” ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir and CBS’ Evening News with Scott Pelley did not include any mention of the payments to Manafort.

  • A NY Times Article Highlighted Trump’s Campaign Struggles, So He Responded By Threatening The Free Press

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump threatened to revoke The New York Times’ press credentials after the Times suggested “his approach seems to be sputtering” and that the campaign's "effort to save Mr. Trump from himself has plainly failed.” Trump’s threat, which came after the candidate said the Times “is going to hell,” is only the latest of Trump’s now-routine attacks on the media.

    An August 13 rally in Fairfield, CT, -- during which Trump also leveled disparaging remarks at CNN -- was described by ABC’s John Santucci as a “bash the media event for Trump.” Trump’s tirade against the media was reportedly triggered by a New York Times piece that highlighted the Trump campaign’s “failing mission to tame Donald Trump’s tongue.” In the August 13 article, the Times reported on efforts by Trump’s advisers to make him “stick to a teleprompter and end his freestyle digressions and insults, like his repeated attacks on a Hispanic federal judge.” According to the Times, “nearly two months later, the effort … plainly failed,” and his advisers reportedly secured his agreement to “get on track” again, just hours before his “explosive comment about ‘Second Amendment people’ taking action” if he loses:

    Joined by his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, a cluster of Mr. Trump’s confidants pleaded with him to make that day — June 20 — a turning point.

    He would have to stick to a teleprompter and end his freestyle digressions and insults, like his repeated attacks on a Hispanic federal judge.

    [...]

    Mr. Trump bowed to his team’s entreaties, according to four people with detailed knowledge of the meeting, who described it on the condition of anonymity. It was time, he agreed, to get on track.

    Nearly two months later, the effort to save Mr. Trump from himself has plainly failed. He has repeatedly signaled to his advisers and allies his willingness to change and adapt, but has grown only more volatile and prone to provocation since then, clashing with a Gold Star family, making comments that have been seen as inciting violence and linking his political opponents to terrorism.

    [...]

    Mr. Trump’s advisers believe he is nearly out of time to right his campaign. On Tuesday, hours before his explosive comment about “Second Amendment people” taking action if Mrs. Clinton is elected, his brain trust reassembled again at Trump Tower in a reprise of their stern meeting in June.

    [...]

    Mr. Trump, people briefed on the meeting said, digested the advice and responded receptively.

    It was time, he agreed, to get on track.

    Trump continued his anti-media tirade at the CT rally with a series of tweets on August 14, doubling down on his attacks against the Times, denying that he told advisers that he would change, and claiming the “disgusting and corrupt media” doesn’t cover him honestly. He also justified his threats against a free press by claiming, “It is not ‘freedom of the press’ when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false”:

    If Trump goes through with revoking the Times’ credentials, the paper would join The Washington Post and many other outlets he has blacklisted from covering his events. Trump’s “war against the First Amendment” includes plans to “open up our libel laws” and threats of using governmental power to retaliate against media outlets -- something that the Post’s executive editor Marty Baron said in May reminded him of “Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.”

    Trump’s rhetoric against the media and his practice of singling out journalists by by name to attack them personally and publicly has already had dangerous consequences: MSNBC’s Katy Tur had to be escorted to her car by the Secret Service after Trump supporters verbally harassed her at a rally in December. Many other journalists assigned to cover the Trump campaign say they’ve been targeted and verbally attacked during the nominee’s rallies where his supporters have followed Trump’s lead, telling them they “hate” them and called them “liars” and "traitor[s]."

  • News Outlets Hyping New Clinton Judicial Watch Email Story Ignore New Development Undermining It

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN & CAT DUFFY

    Several news shows and outlets covering a new email dump by conservative group Judicial Watch have ignored developments undermining the group’s claims that emails show the State Department rewarded Clinton Foundation donors with access at the foundation’s request. Judicial Watch baselessly suggested that Doug Band, an aide to Bill Clinton, worked as an agent of the Clinton Foundation to facilitate a donor’s meeting with a U.S. ambassador. Numerous media outlets have reported on the story without noting that the ambassador has since explained that he never met with the donor.

  • Running With Judicial Watch’s Storyline, Media Manufacture Another False Clinton Email Scandal

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media are rushing to promote a new email dump from the conservative group Judicial Watch that they suggest, in the words of The New York Times, shows that the Clinton Foundation “worked to reward its donors with access and influence at the State Department” under Hillary Clinton. But a closer look at the Judicial Watch emails suggests there is far less to the story than it appears and brings into question the conclusions the Times and other outlets have inferred from the newly released emails. Indeed, the very details that undermine those conclusions are frequently included in the reports themselves.

    Judicial Watch’s press release framed the emails as showing “Clinton Foundation Donor Demands on State Department,” and focused on two email exchanges in particular:

    The new documents reveal that in April 2009 controversial Clinton Foundation official Doug Band pushed for a job for an associate. In the email Band tells Hillary Clinton’s former aides at the State Department Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin that it is “important to take care of [Redacted]. Band is reassured by Abedin that “Personnel has been sending him options.” Band was co-founder of Teneo Strategy with Bill Clinton and a top official of the Clinton Foundation, including its Clinton Global Initiative.

    Included in the new document production is a 2009 email in which Band, directs Abedin and Mills to put Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire and Clinton Foundation donor Gilbert Chagoury in touch with the State Department’s “substance person” on Lebanon. Band notes that Chagoury is “key guy there [Lebanon] and to us,” and insists that Abedin call Amb. Jeffrey Feltman to connect him to Chagoury.

    Media outlets across the spectrum immediately ran with the story, speculating the emails may, as the Times put it, raise “questions about whether [the Clinton Foundation] worked to reward its donors with access and influence at the State Department.” The Wall Street Journal ran the headline “Newly Released Emails Highlight Clinton Foundation’s Ties to State Department.” A CNN.com article stated, “Newly released Clinton emails shed light on relationship between State Dept. and Clinton Foundation.”

    On New Day, CNN’s Brianna Keilar called the Times’ allegations “unseemly at best,” suggesting the emails may have been inappropriate. Co-host Chris Cuomo said the Times’ report “show[s] pretty clear overlapping between what was going on at the Clinton Global Initiative and what was going on with Secretary Clinton.”

    Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, called the emails “fairly significant” and said they show at least “one example of the Clinton Foundation getting probably millions of dollars … and then having the foundation pick up the phone and say ‘help our donor over here.’”

    Co-host of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Steve Doocy said, “when you look at these particular email that you have released, it's pretty clear, if you want access to the State Department officials, big top government people, or even jobs, just give the Clinton family foundation a lot of money.”

    These accounts adopt Judicial Watch’s frame that Band, acting as an agent of the Clinton Foundation on behalf of Clinton Foundation donors, was wielding influence in the State Department. But Band was also a personal aide to President Clinton during this time period, and, as the Times noted, the Clinton campaign says he was acting in that capacity in these emails, which they say do not “involve the secretary or relate to the foundation’s work.” A fact sheet distributed to surrogates by the Clinton campaign and obtained by Media Matters states that Band sent the emails “on behalf of President Clinton from his presidentclinton.org email, not on behalf of the Foundation.”

    Moreover, neither the emails nor the news reports provide any evidence that Clinton Foundation donors impacted decisions Clinton made at the State Department. According to the Times, Band attempted to “connect” Chagoury with someone at the State Department to discuss “his interests in Lebanon.” But the actual email exchange provides no support for this claim -- Band gives no explanation for why Chagoury wants to speak to a “substance person re Lebanon.” The Clinton surrogates fact sheet states that Chagoury, who is of Lebanese descent, “was simply seeking to share his insights on the upcoming Lebanese election with the right person at the Department of State for whom this information might be helpful. In seeking to provide information, he was not seeking action by the Department.”

    Nor does the Times explain what Chagoury’s “interests in Lebanon” are -- while the language suggests he has business interests in the country, the paper provides no evidence that is the case. Chagoury has engaged in philanthropic ventures in Lebanon. In 2008, Chagoury made a $10 million donation “to fund the medical school” at the Lebanese American University and has been involved with a charity called In Defense Of Christians, which, according to its mission statement, seeks “to ensure the protection and preservation of Christianity and Christian culture in the Middle East.”

    Likewise, the Times report and other similar accounts also allege that “the foundation” attempted to influence Clinton aides to “help find a job for a foundation associate,” based on a Band email highlighted by Judicial Watch. But the email exchange these reports are pointing to clearly shows the “foundation associate” the Times refers to was never employed by the Clinton Foundation, according to the Clinton campaign, and the email exchanges themselves indicate that the State Department aides were already intending to offer the candidate a position. In comments to ABC News, State Department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau also noted that the State Department “hires political appointees through a ‘variety of avenues’ and suggested there was nothing unusual about this exchange,” adding “State Department officials are regularly in touch with a range of outside individuals and organizations including non-profits, NGOs, think tanks, and others.”

    Judicial Watch is a right-wing organization with a history of duping the press on Clinton email stories. The media should not be so quick to adopt their framing as the truth.

  • NY Times Highlights New Evidence That Obamacare Reduces Medical Debt, Benefits Public Health

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The New York Times highlighted a new study showing states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) saw noticeable improvements in public health outcomes relative to states that did not enact the expansion -- adding to mounting evidence debunking right-wing media paranoia about the inevitable demise of Obamacare.

    On August 9, the Times reported that a new article in JAMA Internal Medicine -- a subsidiary of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) -- points to the ACA as a component in improving American public health through Medicaid expansion and increasing access to health care. The newspaper noted that this report comes after multiple studies have shown the ACA has been reducing Americans’ medical debt and encouraging more Americans to see a doctor for regular preventative services -- showing that the law is effective at accomplishing its goal of assisting Americans’ access to quality health care. From The New York Times:

    A few recent studies suggest that people have become less likely to have medical debt or to postpone care because of cost. They are also more likely to have a regular doctor and to be getting preventive health services like vaccines and cancer screenings. A new study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, offers another way of looking at the issue. Low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid insurance to everyone below a certain income threshold, appear to be healthier than their peers in Texas, which did not expand.

    [...]

    Their survey found people in Arkansas and Kentucky were nearly 5 percent more likely than their peers in Texas to say they were in excellent health in 2015. And that difference was bigger than it had been the year before.

    No two states are exactly the same, of course. There are many differences between Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky, besides their decisions on this part of the Affordable Care Act. The authors cautioned that their results can’t prove that Medicaid expansion caused people to be healthier.

    These findings come one month after JAMA published an article President Obama wrote about the accomplishments of his signature legislation since it became law in 2010. The president’s article, the first scholarly work ever authored by a sitting president, noted that the uninsured rate has dropped 43 percent (from 16.0 percent in 2010 to 9.1 percent in 2015), that the law has contributed to greater financial security for Americans, and that it has actually led to better public health.

    These latest reports directly contradict past right-wing media fearmongering that the law would not help Americans and would ultimately fail to provide stable, affordable, and expanded access to health care. For years, conservative media promoted the lie that Obamacare created so-called “death panels” that would ration health care for the sick and elderly. They falsely claimed that the law would weaken the economy, fail to attract participants, have no effect on uninsured rates, significantly increase health care costs, and irrevocably undermine the fabric of society. All of the catastrophic predictions failed to materialize.