The Situation Room

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  • Right-Wing Media Lash Out At Pope Francis For Suggesting Donald Trump's Immigration Plans Do Not Reflect Christian Values

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Right-wing media criticized Pope Francis for suggesting Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's proposals for mass deportation and his promise to build a border wall are not in line with Christian values. Right-wing media personalities demanded the Pope "ask [for] Donald Trump's forgiveness," called him a socialist, and claimed he is a hypocrite due to the Vatican having a wall.

  • Media Hype A "Subdued," "Toned Down" Donald Trump As He Continues To Make Extreme Comments

    ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    As Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump campaigned in New Hampshire, media outlets hyped a "subdued" and "toned down" candidate, even going so far as to ask the presidential candidate "who are you, and what have you done with Donald Trump?" However, the media's portrayal of a different Trump is occurring as Trump continues to make extreme statements, including his support for forms of torture "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding," and his remark that he could look Syrian refugee children in the face and say "you can't come" to America.

  • The Good, The Bad, Or The Ugly: How Will CNN Cover Climate In Tonight's GOP Debate?

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    CNN will host the second GOP presidential primary debate tonight, September 16. The network has an inconsistent track record on how it has covered GOP candidates' stances on climate change -- debate host Jake Tapper has fact-checked candidates' climate denial, but the network's coverage of the issue has been problematic at times. Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly ways CNN has covered the GOP presidential candidates' positions on climate change so far this year.

  • CNN's Bizarrely Homophobic Coverage Of The Virginia Shooter

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    In its reporting on the fatal shooting of two journalists in Virginia, CNN repeatedly and needlessly mentioned the shooter's history of registering gay porn websites as evidence that he was unstable and disturbed.

    On August 27, CNN reported that Vester Flanagan II, the man who shot and killed two journalists on live television in Virginia, had set up domain names for several gay porn websites between 2007 and 2008. 

    CNN made no attempt to explain how the domain names could even be related to the shooting. The domain names were purchased years before Flanagan began working at WDBJ, the station that also employed the journalists he killed. And Flanagan openly identified as gay, so his sexual orientation was already public knowledge.

    But throughout the day on August 27, CNN repeated its report about the websites Flanagan registered. During The Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN correspondent Drew Griffin called the report "just another disturbing twist" in the story of the shooting:

    At the start of The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer teased the report while on-screen text blared the headline, "HISTORY OF INSTABILITY."

    It was CNN's Don Lemon who finally challenged his network's report during an interview with Blitzer, saying, "I don't really see the relevance of it." He added, "I don't want to gay shame him. There's nothing wrong with being gay":

    Injecting details about Flanagan's unrelated sexual history in reports about the shooting has the effect of associating homosexuality with deviancy, mental instability, and violence in the minds of viewers. 

    The practice of linking gay sexuality with violent or murderous acts isn't new or accidental. American media have a long, dark history of depicting gay sexuality as intrinsically violent and dangerous, especially when it comes to stories about brutal killings. And associating homosexuality with mental instability is a favorite right-wing tactic.

    It's not surprising that fringe conservatives are suggesting that Flanagan's homosexuality is somehow linked to his decision to murder two people. 

    Without an explanation of how Flanagan's sexual interests are relevant to this week's brutal shooting, CNN reinforced a right-wing trope about homosexuality and violence without adding to its substantive reporting on the shooting.

  • Media Should Remember: Rand Paul Has A Problem With Women's Health, Not Just Female Journalists

    Blog ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    As media outlets across the political spectrum continue to assess the implications of Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) contentious behavior toward reporters, much of the analysis does not explore what irritated the presidential candidate in two recent interviews -- the observation that support for unconditional abortion bans and fetal "personhood" laws cannot be reconciled with support for exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

    Almost immediately after announcing his candidacy, Paul's condescending behavior toward female reporters was widely criticized as sexist, when he "simplistically and condescendingly" refused to acknowledge his reversal on foreign policy toward Iran to Today Show host Savannah Guthrie -- a position that even the conservative National Review's Rich Lowry labeled a "flip-flop." Subsequent coverage of Paul's Today interview focused on his rudeness toward Guthrie, and even when outlets also noted he "bristled" and "ducked questions" in other interviews about his inconsistent record on exceptions to abortion bans, the extent of that contradiction was unexplored.

    The questions about his support for abortion ban exceptions originated in an interview with the Associated Press on the same day as his Today interview, when Paul "dodg[ed] a central question about abortion: What exceptions, if any, should be made if the procedure were to be banned?" Paul's refusal to answer whether or not his broad support for abortion bans includes an accommodation for rape, incest, or the health of the mother continued on CNN's The Situation Room. In one exchange, Wolf Blitzer directly asked whether Paul supported an exception for victims of rape and incest. In response, Paul claimed that "there will be extenuating circumstances, and I've supported legislation both with exceptions and without exceptions":

  • REPORT: TV News Coverage Of Economy Slips In Final 6 Months Of 2014

    Economists Remain Marginalized, And Coverage Of Inequality Remains Low

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & COLEMAN LOWNDES

    Coverage of the economy on weeknight television news shows during the last six months of 2014 continued to focus heavily on policies meant to boost job creation and economic growth, but discussions overwhelmingly lacked input from actual economists. Additionally, a Media Matters analysis uncovered a relative decline in the number of segments promoting the conservative media myths that Obamacare and increasing the minimum wage hurt the labor market.