Fox News' Fox & Friends seized on the latest testimonies of Hillary Clinton aides before the House Select Committee on Benghazi to push the long debunked myths that Obama administration officials altered talking points on the attack to cover up or alter the facts for political purposes, and falsely blamed an inflammatory anti-Islam video for inciting the attack. In reality, a bipartisan Senate review of the attack determined there was no effort by the Obama administration to alter their talking points for political purposes, and U.S. intelligence, suspected attackers, and witnesses have repeatedly linked the inflammatory video to the attack.
During an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius thoroughly debunked arguments that Hillary Clinton should be charged with a crime as a result of her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state. When MSNBC re-aired the first hour of its program later in the morning, the bulk of Ignatius' debunking had been edited out.
On the September 4 edition of Morning Joe, co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski continued their efforts to stoke controversy around Hillary Clinton's email practices while serving as secretary of state. Both Scarborough and Brzezinski suggested that guest David Ignatius was simply "getting tired" of the wall-to-wall media coverage directed at Clinton after the columnist authored an August 28 op-ed in The Washington Post arguing that "this 'scandal' is overstated." Ignatius responded by explaining that experts he spoke with dismissed as far-fetched claims Clinton committed a criminal offense.
But during the rebroadcast of the segment, Morning Joe cut away from Ignatius' explanation mid-sentence. During the initial broadcast, Ignatius said (emphasis added), "As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution."
When the segment re-aired, Ignatius is heard saying, "As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this," before the show skipped forward to a remark by co-host Mika Brzezinski about Clinton aide Cheryl Mills.
Significantly, the rebroadcast failed to include the conclusion of Ignatius' thought, which is that Clinton's email practices do not amount to a prosecutable offense, according to several expert attorneys he talked to. Here are Ignatius' unedited remarks (emphasis added):
JOE SCARBOROUGH: David, so you have over the past week or two turned a bit in some of your editorial, in some of your op-eds, you've said you would rather hear Hillary's policy positions than more talk about the servers, you said you don't think she faces any criminal prosecution. You haven't exactly said nothing is here, move along, move along, but you've certainly --
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Getting tired of it, which is what they're hoping.
SCARBOROUGH: -- Yeah, I mean aren't you playing into what the Clinton sort of scandal response team wants, which is so much stuff comes at you that at some point you just say, "Come on, let's just move on."
DAVID IGNATIUS: Joe, I've tried to respond as a journalist but in particular I've tried to look at what is a real prosecutable offense here. There are violations clearly both of administrative procedure and probably technically of law and how classified information was handled. As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution.
SCARBOROUGH: But this isn't happenstance. This is a very calculated move to say if you want to communicate with the Secretary of State, as Edwards Snowden said, whether you are a foreign diplomat or a spy chief from another country or a leader of another country, which they all did, you've got to come to this unsecured server, whether it is in Colorado or wherever it is, and there is a standard in the U.S. Code under prosecutions for this sort of thing which is gross negligence. It's not a know or should have known -
IGNATIUS: This issue comes up surprisingly often because there is an administrative problem where people do these things and their security officers summon them and warn them and issue reprimands and it goes in their file and it's a serious personnel administrative problem. My only point is I couldn't find a case where this kind of activity had been prosecuted and that's just worth noting as we assemble our Clinton e-mail - and more thing, Joe, legally there is no difference between her using her private server and if she'd used State.gov, which is also not a classified system. The idea that, oh this would have been fine if she used State.gov, not legally, no difference.
Here is how Morning Joe re-aired the segment:
Scarborough, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, has a long history of hyping the supposed Clinton email "scandal" despite all evidence to the contrary. He recently claimed that Clinton intentionally timed a press conference to coincide with a mass-shooting in Virginia and falsely claimed that Clinton whitewashed a foreign country's ties to international terrorism in exchange for a charitable donation to her family foundation.
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called out Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for the "insidious political crime" of increasingly "attacking the First Amendment's protection of a free press by menacing journalists."
In an essay for The Washington Post's PostEverything section, Abdul-Jabbar detailed Trump's increasingly hostile attacks on the press. On two separate occasions, Trump has thrown Hispanic journalists out of his press conferences. When Fox News' Megyn Kelly asked him during the first GOP debate to account for his offensive rhetoric towards women, Trump repeatedly castigated her for being "unfair" to him, even telling CNN's Don Lemon, "You could see the blood coming out of her eyes ... Blood coming out of her wherever" before declaring Kelly owed him an apology. Even local media outlets are not immune from Trump's ire -- the candidate banned the Des Moines Register from an Iowa campaign event after he was criticized in an editorial.
"If Americans learned that a leader in another country was threatening reporters, we would be outraged," Abdul-Jabbar wrote, "Yet here it is. Right here. Right now." Trump's goal is presumably "to stifle other journalists who might want to ask tough but reasonable questions":
Attempting to bully the press to silence criticism of him is anti-American. He followed up this salvo on the First Amendment with a strike at the 14th Amendment, asserting that he'd like to deny those born in the country their citizenship. The biggest enemy to the principles of the Constitution right now is Trump.
Trump's rationale for avoiding Kelly's debate question - that neither he nor America has time for "political correctness" - taps into a popular boogeyman. The term "political correctness" is so general that to most people it simply means a discomfort with changing times and attitudes, an attack on the traditions of how we were raised. (It's an emotional challenge every generation has had to go through.) What it really means is nothing more than sensitizing people to the fact that some old-fashioned words, attitudes and actions may be harmful or insulting to others. Naturally, people are angry about that because it makes them feel stupid or mean when they really aren't. But when times change, we need to change with them in areas that strengthen our society.
Although each absurd, uninformed or just plain incorrect statement seems to give Trump a bump in the polls, there are only so many times supporters can defend his outrageous assault on decency, truth and civility. Yes, a few will remain no matter what. (One 63-year-old woman told CNN that the Republicans were out to discredit Trump: "They twisted what the words were, because they're trying to destroy him." No one has to twist his words because what he says is twisted enough. He speaks fluent pretzel.) But voters will eventually see the light.
Trump subsequently responded to the essay, with personal attacks that Abdul-Jabbar called "the best, though inelegant, support for my claims. Here again, he attacks a journalist who disagrees with him, not by disputing the points made but by hurling schoolyard insults such as 'nobody likes you.' Look behind the nasty invective and you find an assault on the Constitution in the effort to silence the press through intimidation." Trump wrote:
Now I know why the press always treated you so badly -- they couldn't stand you. The fact is that you don't have a clue about life and what has to be done to make America great again!
Morning shows seized on a faulty Washington Post headline to allege that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton inappropriately wrote and sent classified emails during her time as secretary of state, whitewashing the fact that her emails were only retroactively marked "classified" and the opinion of experts that the existence of potentially classified information is not inherently obvious.
News outlets are calling out a misleading conservative media claim that Hillary Clinton's email use mirrors the improper acts of former CIA Director John Deutch, who intentionally created and stored top secret material on unsecure systems. By contrast, "State Department officials say they don't believe that emails [Clinton] sent or received included material classified at the time," which is why experts conclude the Deutch case does not "fit the fact pattern with the Clinton e-mails."
Journalists should be careful when reporting on the Republican Party's relationship with Hispanic voters not to downplay the potential harm GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump may be inflicting on the party's brand with his anti-immigrant campaign platform.
The Washington Post has run two recent articles that make a case that Trump's consistently hostile remarks about immigrants is having no measurable effect on Latino voters' general opinion of the GOP.
On August 23, a Post piece claimed that polls weren't showing any negative effect of Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric among Hispanic voters. According to The Post:
But the worst fears of the Republican establishment, that Trump's unapologetic condemnations of immigration will scuttle their shot at retaking the White House, so far aren't revealing themselves in polling.
For all of the polling that's been done in the 2016 races so far, there are a lot of gaps. A big one is that most polls don't include large samples of Hispanic voters, making it hard to isolate the views of members of that community. Often, Hispanic voters are grouped with black and Asian voters to form a statistically significant group of "non-white" voters.
If Trump's comments were hurting him and/or Republicans with voters, we'd expect to see them faring worse after the June/July period in which the comments became public -- and Trump rose in the polls.
A follow-up Post piece on August 26 headlined, "No, Donald Trump isn't hurting Republicans with Latinos," relied on a Gallup Poll to conclude that Trump's "strongly negative image" among U.S. Hispanics hasn't "damaged other Republicans." The article failed to mention the poll's finding that most Hispanics are "still getting to know most of the Republican contenders for president," which means Trump's effect on the GOP-Latino voter dynamic can't be accurately measured yet.
The Post reached its conclusions despite a high-profile incident a few days earlier, when Trump kicked out Univision and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos, the country's most prominent Hispanic journalist, from a press conference he was holding in Iowa. The Post addressed the incident's potential effect on Hispanic voters by questioning the supposed "guilt by association" theory, which holds that Hispanics will connect Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric to the entire GOP brand.
A Univision poll bolsters Gallup's findings that Latinos have yet to make up their minds about many GOP candidates, providing more evidence that suggesting Trump's effect on the GOP brand is benign is premature at best, and flat wrong at worst.
Many media outlets, including Politico, have suggested that Trump and his anti-Latino platform positions may actually be "setting the GOP agenda," noting that "practically every candidate in the race is now engaging in and losing a war of insults, aping Trump's issue agenda and in some instances pilfering his best lines." As evidence of Trump's ability to "influence" other Republicans, NPR ran a segment that featured several conservative Latinos who said they feel alienated by Trump's rhetoric.
And Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Herald reposted an analysis by Spanish-language news agency EFE that places Trump well within the Republican camp, suggesting that at least some Hispanic media outlets doesn't consider Trump all that different from his Republican competitors:
Unfortunately for the other candidates like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, Donald Trump has captured the protagonist's spotlight within the Republican party since he called immigrants "rapists and drug traffickers," defended the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants and proposed building a wall along the Mexican border.
Additionally, journalists who use the lens of Trump's candidacy to examine the GOP's troubles with Hispanic voters should remember that there has long been a divide between the party and the Latino community. In other words, Trump isn't causing a new Republican rift with this voting bloc, he's exacerbating an existing one.
That rift was closely examined from within the party itself in a 2012 GOP autopsy report, which concluded that Republicans needed to rebrand themselves with Latinos and "put significant effort and resources into reaching out to Hispanic media and news outlets" as part of a Hispanic outreach effort, after a disastrous loss to Democrats in the general election:
The RNC must put significant effort and resources into reaching out to Hispanic media and news outlets. This needs to be a high-level presence on all Latino media. The RNC must rebuild an updated, working list of Hispanic surrogates, not just RNC staff, to help carry and sell our message to the Hispanic community.
We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities. But it is not just tone that counts. Policy always matters.
If we believe our policies are the best ones to improve the lives of the American people, all the American people, our candidates and office holders need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms and we need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case. We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.
If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. In the last election, Governor Romney received just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. Other minority communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, also view the Party as unwelcoming. President Bush got 44 percent of the Asian vote in 2004; our presidential nominee received only 26 percent in 2012.
More media outlets are debunking misinformation surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of private email, dismantling three main talking points used to accuse Clinton of malfeasance by highlighting that Clinton used her email in a "common" manner, that her situation isn't criminal, and that her handling of email is not comparable to what retired Gen. David Petraeus was convicted of.
Washington Post opinion writer David Ignatius checked the "overstated" uproar over Hillary Clinton's email use as secretary of state, citing national security legal experts who roundly dismiss the idea that any criminal mishandling of classified information occurred.
In an August 28 post describing "The Hillary Clinton e-mail 'scandal' that isn't," Ignatius cited legal experts and agency officials to explain how Clinton's use of a private server is "not something a prosecutor would take to court" and how transmitting unmarked, then retroactively classified emails does "almost certainly not" constitute a crime:
Does Hillary Clinton have a serious legal problem because she may have transmitted classified information on her private e-mail server? After talking with a half-dozen knowledgeable lawyers, I think this "scandal" is overstated. Using the server was a self-inflicted wound by Clinton, but it's not something a prosecutor would take to court.
"It's common" that people end up using unclassified systems to transmit classified information, said Jeffrey Smith, a former CIA general counsel who's now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.
Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state has been a nagging campaign issue for months. Critics have argued that the most serious problem is possible transmission of classified information through that server. Many of her former top aides have sought legal counsel. But experts in national-security law say there may be less here than it might appear.
First, experts say, there's no legal difference whether Clinton and her aides passed sensitive information using her private server or the official "state.gov" account that many now argue should have been used. Neither system is authorized for transmitting classified information. Second, prosecution of such violations is extremely rare. Lax security procedures are taken seriously, but they're generally seen as administrative matters.
Informal back channels existed long before e-mail. One former State Department official recalled the days when most embassies overseas had only a few phones authorized for secret communications. Rather than go to the executive office to make such a call, officers would use their regular phones, bypassing any truly sensitive details. "Did we cross red lines? No doubt. Did it put information at risk? Maybe. But, if you weren't in Moscow or Beijing, you didn't worry much," this former official said.
Back channels are used because the official ones are so encrusted by classification and bureaucracy. State had the "Roger Channel," named after former official Roger Hilsman, for sending secret messages directly to the secretary. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had a similar private channel. CIA station chiefs could send communications known as "Aardwolves" straight to the director.
Are these channels misused sometimes? Most definitely. Is there a crime here? Almost certainly not.
Ignatius also knocked down conservative media's oft-repeated refrain that Clinton's email use was akin to David Petraeus' crimes, noting how intent to mishandle classified information is central to culpability:
Potential criminal violations arise when officials knowingly disseminate documents marked as classified to unauthorized officials or on unclassified systems, or otherwise misuse classified materials. That happened in two cases involving former CIA directors that are cited as parallels for the Clinton e-mail issue, but are quite different. John Deutch was pardoned in 2001 for using an unsecured CIA computer at his home to improperly access classified material; he reportedly had been prepared to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. David Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in April for "knowingly" removing classified documents from authorized locations and retaining them at "unauthorized locations." Neither case fits the fact pattern with the Clinton e-mails.
Right-wing media slammed ESPN for suspending baseball analyst Curt Schilling over his tweet comparing Muslims to Nazis, calling Schilling's suspension "outrageous" and a "disgrace."
Fox & Friends joined The Daily Caller in an effort to make alleged terrorists Anwar al-Awlaki and Yaser Hamdi the face of birthright citizenship, falsely claiming the men were born in the U.S. to "illegal parents" and able to pursue terrorist activities without retaliation because their citizenship protected them.
The Washington Post called out "the myth of the 'anchor baby'" for being a "largely a mythical idea" with little basis in the law.
On August 17, Donald Trump released the details of his immigration plan, which calls for Mexico to pay for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and seeks to end birthright citizenship in the United States. The following night on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Trump defended his extreme immigration proposals by repeatedly referring to children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants as "anchor babies" and insisting that they are not U.S. citizens. Conservative media have since applauded the presidential candidate for using the derogatory term as other candidates such as Jeb Bush and Bobby Jindal also embraced it.
But, as The Washington Post explained in an August 20 article, "the anchor baby, while potent politically, is largely a mythical idea." Writing that the term has "little legal underpinning" as "being the parent of a U.S. citizen child almost never forms the core of a successful defense in immigration court," the articles notes that most children born in the U.S. to undocumented parents "must wait until their 21st birthday to begin the lengthy process" of helping their parents become citizens:
But usually the debate has been about the residency of the parents, who after all are supposed to be using the child as their "anchor."
This is the definition that has little legal underpinning. For illegal immigrant parents, being the parent of a U.S. citizen child almost never forms the core of a successful defense in an immigration court. In short, if the undocumented parent of a U.S.-born child is caught in the United States, he or she legally faces the very same risk of deportation as any other immigrant.
The only thing that a so-called anchor baby can do to assist either of their undocumented parents involves such a long game that it's not a practical immigration strategy, said Greg Chen, an immigration law expert and director of The American Immigration Lawyers Association, a trade group that also advocates for immigrant-friendly reforms. That long game is this: If and when a U.S. citizen reaches the age of 21, he or she can then apply for a parent to obtain a visa and green card and eventually enter the United States legally.
If a person has lived in the United States unlawfully for a period of more than 180 days but less than one year, there is an automatic three-year bar on that person ever reentering the United States -- and that's before any wait time for a visa. So that's a minimum of 21 years for the child to mature, plus the three-year wait.
And, for the vast majority of these parents, a longer wait also applies. If a person has lived in the United States illegally for a year or more, there is a 10-year ban on that person reentering the United States. So, in that case, there would be the 21-year wait for the child to mature to adulthood, plus the 10-year wait.
All told, the parents of the so-called anchor baby face a 24-to-31-year wait to even enter the United States, much less obtain a visa and green card or become a citizen.
From the August 19 edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports:
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Right-wing media figures jumped to the false conclusion that 305 Clinton emails contained classified information after the State Department announced that those emails were under review by intelligence agencies. In reality, it is not yet clear how many of the emails, if any, contained classified material, and such reviews are "common in large FOIA requests that involve documents from multiple agencies."
Conservative media outlets are praising Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's immigration proposals -- which include mass deportation and ending birthright citizenship -- despite mainstream and Hispanic media outlets pointing out that the plan would cost billions of dollars, dismantle the labor force across the country, raise the undocumented immigrant population exponentially, and be "clearly unconstitutional."
A Washington Post article headlined, "Minimum-wage offensive could speed arrival of robot-powered restaurants," alleged that increasing the minimum wage would accelerate automation in the fast food and restaurant industries, destroying jobs in the process, despite little evidence linking minimum-wage increases to decreased employment.
In an August 17 article, The Washington Post suggested that a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in Washington, D.C., combined with similar efforts in cities around the country, could threaten millions of food service workers whose positions might be replaced by machines:
The industry could be ready for another jolt as a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour nears in the District and as other campaigns to boost wages gain traction around the country. About 30 percent of the restaurant industry's costs come from salaries, so burger-flipping robots -- or at least super-fast ovens that expedite the process -- become that much more cost-competitive if the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is doubled.
Many chains are already at work looking for ingenious ways to take humans out of the picture, threatening workers in an industry that employs 2.4 million wait staffers, nearly 3 million cooks and food preparers and many of the nation's 3.3 million cashiers.
The Post's decision to label minimum-wage campaigns -- like the Fight for $15 -- as a threat to fast-food workers is confusing. The Post quotes one kitchen equipment supplier as saying, "The innovation and the automation, they're going after it even before the wages go up. Why wait?" The article admits that productivity gains and increased efficiency have led to a decline in the number of workers per store for decades, noting that McDonald's restaurants in 1966 employed "70 or 80" staff members "as opposed to the 30 or 40 there today." The Post even cites market research showing a more than 10 percent decline in the average number of employees per fast-food restaurant over the last decade; the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour has been constant since July 2009.
The truth of the matter is that raising the minimum wage has a negligible effect on employment. In February 2013, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) published a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between employment and the minimum wage and concluded that "the minimum wage has little or no discernible effect on the employment prospects of low-wage workers." One study included in CEPR's analysis reviewed nearly 1,500 employment estimates from minimum-wage studies, finding that the overwhelming majority of "the most precise estimates were heavily clustered at or near zero employment effects":
A recent study from researchers at Purdue University found that increasing the minimum wage of fast-food workers to $15 per hour would only result in a 4.3 percent increase in restaurant prices. To put that in perspective, a 4.3 percent increase in the cost of a Big Mac would be roughly 20 cents.
Blaming increased wages for the adoption of so-called "labor saving technology" is misleading; employers have other costs to consider beyond entry-level wages, and the move toward automation has always been a staple of labor-intensive industries. The "burger-flipping robots" that The Post attributes to increased salaries actually already exist. Momentum Machines claims that its automated sandwich machine can produce "custom meat grinds for every single customer" at a rate of one burger every 10 seconds -- far faster than a human line cook. But, according to Business Insider, the company believes that any jobs displaced by the product will be more than made up by increased productivity in other areas:
The issue of machines and job displacement has been around for centuries and economists generally accept that technology like ours actually causes an increase in employment. The three factors that contribute to this are 1. the company that makes the robots must hire new employees, 2. the restaurant that uses our robots can expand their frontiers of production which requires hiring more people, and 3. the general public saves money on the reduced cost of our burgers. This saved money can then be spent on the rest of the economy.