A majority of federal rulings on the substance of President Obama's health care reform law have found it to be constitutional, including the law's mandate that individuals purchase health insurance. But a Media Matters review of the five largest newspapers and the flagship CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news programs finds that the media overwhelmingly focused on rulings that struck down the law in whole or in part -- 84 percent of segments on the broadcast and cable programs reviewed and 59 percent of newspaper articles that reported on such rulings -- while largely ignoring rulings that found it constitutional or dismissed the case.
Mitt Romney's remarks at Solyndra were full of falsehoods that went unchecked by many major media outlets. The media also largely failed to point out that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney invested in several companies that subsequently went bankrupt or defaulted on state loans.
In the wake of President Obama's declaration of support for marriage equality and the passage of North Carolina's anti-gay marriage amendment, CNN broadcast a variety of segments focusing on the historic implications of this week's events. Three of CNN's most recognizable faces hosted Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council (FRC), to discuss the issue of same-sex marriage.
Although Piers Morgan, Wolf Blitzer, and Soledad O'Brien failed to identify Perkins as a hate group leader, they did challenge him on several of his anti-gay talking points. O'Brien and Morgan were particularly assertive in challenging his failed logic.
Watch Perkins being interviewed by CNN's Morgan on Tuesday:
Watch Perkins being interviewed by CNN's Blitzer on Wednesday:
Watch Perkins being interviewed by CNN's O'Brien on Thursday:
Hernon Graddick, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), published a column Thursday criticizing CNN's decision to welcome the hate group leader, arguing that the media needs to do a better job of providing context for Perkins' appearances:
[W]ith a wealth of political thinkers, analysts and strategists to go to -- why has CNN turned to Tony Perkins three times in the last few days to represent the "other side?" He was on with Piers Morgan Tuesday night to talk about the vote in North Carolina. He appeared with Wolf Blitzer Wednesday evening to talk about the President's support for marriage equality, and then was interviewed by Soledad O'Brien Thursday morning on the same topic.
All of this is fine, as long as Perkins is put into the proper context. Which he sort-of was by Morgan and O'Brien, but Blitzer didn't even come close.
Here's the crux of the problem -- and the exact reason why GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project was born. Tony Perkins and others of his ilk cannot be used to exemplify those who simply oppose marriage equality. CNN is more than welcome to interview him on the issue of marriage equality, of course. His is unquestionably one of the loudest voices in the nation speaking about the issue.
But when Perkins gets interviewed, a responsible journalist needs to tell the audience exactly who Perkins is speaking for. Based on his own statements -- Tony Perkins represents people who believe supporting LGBT equality is akin to being a terrorist. Who believe marriage equality is the same as bestiality. Who say that gay people are "vile," "hateful," "spiteful" "pawns of the enemy." Tony Perkins does not represent people who oppose marriage equality. Tony Perkins represents those who oppose LGBT people -- period.
If CNN wants that side represented in this discussion, then Perkins is absolutely the right man for the job. But they need to make it clear to the audience that that's what he's there for. And by not doing so, they have not told the whole story.
On Thursday, MSNBC's Chris Matthews demonstrated a good example of how cable news hosts should handle Perkins when he appears on their shows.
Several media outlets have distorted comments by an EPA official, falsely suggesting that he said "oil companies should be crucified." In fact, the official was using an analogy, which he has since apologized for, to describe a common approach to regulatory enforcement: making examples out of those who break the law.
During a Situation Room segment on Thursday, Wolf Blitzer led a discussion between CNN contributors Mary Matalin and Donna Brazile about controversial comments Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) made regarding the Tea Party. When Blitzer turned to Matalin for her opinion, seemingly apropos of nothing, Matalin brought up Glenn Beck and what she called his "astounding, remarkable series on the civil rights struggle in this country including black founding fathers."
This set off a heated back-and-forth about Beck between Matalin and Brazile over the course of the 11-minute segment. When confronted about Beck's notorious comment that President Obama has a "deep-seated hatred of white people," Matalin made a series of equivocating statements that mostly excused Beck's comment, saying he made it in the "context" of "a number of things that were in Barack Obama's background which hadn't been condemned, that Barack Obama didn't condemn."
According to her CNN bio, Matalin is the editor-in-chief of Threshold Editions, an imprint of publisher Simon & Schuster. Threshold has published most, if not all, of Beck's recent books. In fact, it's publishing Beck's The Snow Angel next month.
That fact didn't come up as Matalin randomly injected Beck into the conversation on CNN.
Is Matalin concerned about the flagging profile of one of her most productive authors now that his Fox News show has ended and his rally in Israel was met with little fanfare?
From the November 5 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
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From the October 1 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
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President Obama has long advocated allowing the Bush income tax cuts that only benefit the wealthiest 2 percent to expire, while maintaining those that help everyone. And conservative media figures routinely respond to the prospect of higher taxes on the wealthy by arguing that the rich aren't actually rich, the latest being CNN's resident crotchety old man, Jack Cafferty.
Asking viewers of The Situation Room, "is it a mistake to raise taxes on the so-called wealthy?," Cafferty explained that "by [Obama's] definition, wealthy translates to couples making more than $250,000 a year, individuals making more than $200,000." He added:
Those numbers are very arbitrary, Wolf, depending where you live in this country. Two hundred thousand dollars, if you live in Manhattan, ain't all that much money. A couple hundred thousand dollars in Fargo would probably buy you half the town.
Cafferty claims two hundred thousand dollars "ain't all that much money" in Manhattan. According to a September 2009 NY Daily News article, census data show that "the median household income in NYC was $51,116 last year, slightly lower than the national average of $52,029. In Manhattan, it was $69,017." So half the households living in Manhattan make less than $69K, yet Cafferty thinks you can earn more than three times that amount and still not have "that much money"?
There's just no city you can go to in this country where an income of $250,000 isn't a lot higher than the vast majority of families, regardless of whether you know someone who makes even more.
FYI, here's what our national income distribution looks like (from Census Bureau data):
The ones in red are those who will see a less-large income tax cut next year, under Obama's plan. Cafferty can argue against that change, but he can't deny that those affected represent just 2 percent of taxpayers.
From the September 8 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
From the August 4 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
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Media conservatives have seized on the financial crisis in Greece to recycle attacks on progressive initiatives in the United States. For example, Stephen Hayes and Charles Gasparino referenced the crisis in order to criticize health care reform.
From the April 20 broadcast of CNN's The Situation Room:
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From the March 5 edition of CNN's Situation Room:
From the March 4 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
From The Fox Nation on February 25:
Right-wing pundits are pointing to Martha Coakley's loss in the Massachusetts Senate race as evidence that President Obama and congressional Democrats should move to govern from the center, despite the fact that exit polls show that the Massachusetts election was not a referendum on Obama.
From the January 19 edition of CNN's The Situation Room: