It's hard to miss the media's looming sense of bewilderment over Donald Trump's continued strong showing among Republican voters. As the bulling billionaire cements his status as this summer's star GOP attraction, many pundits and reporters have been left scratching their heads over the turn of events.
Regularly dismissed one month ago as a campaign distraction, much of the Beltway media appeared to be in agreement that Trump's campaign was nothing more than a joke and might not even be worth covering.
But now with poll after poll showing him racing to the front of the Republican pack, journalists are trying to make sense of it all. (The fallout from Trump's attack on Sen. John McCain's war record is still being calculated.)
"Everybody has been surprised that Donald Trump has seen these kind of poll numbers," noted Bloomberg's Steven Yaccino. Indeed, Trump's "surprising" frontrunner status has been a constant media theme -- especially after his campaign was first tagged as a "giant joke" and "sideshow" by some pundits. (Last month, the Washington Post pointed to Trump's favorability rating among Republicans as evidence for "Why no one should take Donald Trump seriously.")
But is Trump's run really that surprising? It shouldn't be if you've been paying attention to the radical, obstructionist turn both Republican politics and the right-wing media have taken over the last six-plus years. Yet during most of that span, the D.C. media stoically pretended the GOP hadn't taken an ugly, radical turn. And that's why so many seem baffled by Trump's rise.
Increasingly, Trump represents Fox News' Republican Party. He's holding up a mirror. But many journalists seem slow, or unwilling, to acknowledge that.
Some Beltway analysts blame the press for Trump's rise, insisting it's only because he's generating so much media attention that Republican voters are selecting him as their top choice. But that premise only works if you assume Trump doesn't connect with a certain group of voters. The fact is, most of Trump's coverage over the last month has been highly unflattering, as journalists and pundits detail his seemingly endless string of outrageous statements. (Minus Fox News, of course, where several hosts continue to fawn over him.) Yet Trump's favorable rating among Republican voters has been on the rise, suggesting that he is, in fact, connecting with the GOP base.
The idea that Trump's appeal isn't genuine or that the press has lured Republicans into supporting him is likely more comforting than acknowledging the truth: Trump, an ignorant, nativist birther, is appealing to an often-ugly streak within the conservative movement. He's winning over the illogical, demagoguery wing of the Republican Party that's been feasting off far-right media hate rhetoric for years.
This was the "grassroots" political movement that was so freaked out by Obama's ascension to power that it reached for the Nazi analogies just months into the president's first term, before he'd barely even finished filling out his cabinet positions. This is a wing of the party that views Obama as a monster of historic proportions who's committed to stripping citizens of their liberties and getting them addicted to government dependencies, like a drug dealer.
Is anyone surprised that Trump has the backing of Rush Limbaugh, even after the billionaire attacked McCain's war record? It's the same Limbaugh who claimed that if Obama weren't black he'd be working as a tour guide in Hawaii, not sitting in the Oval Office. The same Limbaugh who decried Obama as some sort of black Manchurian Candidate who ran for office because he resents white America and wants to garnish some payback. (Obama also thought Americans deserved to become infected with Ebola, according to Limbaugh.)
And you cannot underestimate Trump's previous birther charade and what that likely means for him today, politically. Note that a 2014 Economist/YouGov poll found that two-thirds of Republicans "disagree with the statement that the president was born in the United States."
Interviewing Trump's current supporters, the New York Times reported, "Some said they doubted whether President Obama was a citizen, a misrepresentation Mr. Trump has reinforced repeatedly."
And from the Daily Beast, which interviewed Trump donors:
I asked McNerney, who repeatedly referred to the president as "Obama Hussein," if he thought Obama was Muslim. He said, "I know he is." I asked if he thought Obama was born in America. He replied, "No, I don't. Probably Africa." Where in Africa, I wondered. "Wherever his father and his white mother were living." Kenya? "You got it," he said.
Earlier this month Trump told a CNN interviewer he wasn't sure where Obama was born.
Fueled by hateful rhetoric and right-wing media programming, Republicans and conservatives have veered towards extremism in recent years. If the press had honestly documented that trend, today's Trump phenomenon wouldn't come as such a shock.
Image via Michael Vadon via Creative Commons License
Since Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) announced his presidential campaign, the media has largely ignored the controversy over his attempt to gut Wisconsin's open records laws while continuing to obsess over Hillary Clinton's emails.
Walker, working with other Republicans in Wisconsin, inserted a measure in the proposed state budget that would, as the Associated Press reported, "shield nearly everything created by state and local government officials from Wisconsin's open records law, including drafts of legislation and staff communications." The provision was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats in the state, with one state senator, Robert Cowles (R - Green Bay), describing it as an "assault on democracy."
As the controversy grew, it became clear Walker's office was involved in drafting the provision. The Wisconsin State Journal noted the controversy began to heat up "barely a week before Walker was scheduled to announce a bid for the 2016 presidential nomination." The provision was then pulled.
Yet, national media largely ignored the story after months of coverage of Hillary Clinton's emails and the issue of transparency.
Around the time of Walker's July 13 presidential announcement, the open records controversy was barely mentioned. A USA Today op-ed from a Wisconsin Democrat noted it, as did the Washington Post, along with a short mention in a CNN report.
Fox's Sean Hannity interviewed Walker on the evening of his announcement, asking what he thought about "somebody that erases not only their e-mails and then their server" but never brought up Walker's open records problem or the bipartisan backlash.
At the same time, the media continued to bring up the Clinton email story - the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Fox News during Special Report, Hannity, and The Kelly File, and MSNBC on Hardball. Often the Clinton emails were still being referenced despite the absence of any relevant news. The State Department disclosure of some of the emails produced anodyne highlights like inter-office discussions about the use of a fax machine and iced tea.
As they reported on these conversations, Walker's gambit barely registered with the national press despite the furor in Wisconsin.
The media has previously exhibited this double standard on covering transparency issues within the context of covering the 2016 presidential campaign. When disclosing his emails from his time as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush omitted emails he determined were not relevant to the public record - including emails related to "politics, fundraising and personal matters while he was governor."
Even when it became known that Bush had discussed security and troop deployments using his private email, the press barely noticed, still focusing on the Clinton story.
Right-wing media praised Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker ahead of his announcement that he will seek the Republican nomination for president, highlighting his record as governor and his efforts to reduce the power of labor unions.
A Washington Post article that called Hillary Clinton's strong embrace of gun safety proposals in her 2016 White House campaign "an important evolution in presidential politics" offered an in-depth look at the politics of gun safety, but also repeated the evidence-free conventional wisdom that Democrats lose elections when they support gun safety measures.
In a July 9 article, Washington Post national political correspondent Philip Rucker reported on Clinton's campaign trail vows to "speak out against the uncontrollable use of guns in our country" and to "take on the gun lobby." Comparing Clinton's willingness to talk about guns to "timid" Democratic candidates in previous election cycles, Rucker wrote that Clinton's position "marks an important evolution in presidential politics" and is "a sign that the political environment on guns has shifted in the wake of recent mass shootings."
In discussing the history of Democratic support for gun safety proposals, however, Rucker included the oft-repeated but baseless claim that support for gun safety is a perilous position for Democrats. Rucker cites former President Bill Clinton's claim that former Vice President Al Gore may have lost the 2000 presidential election because he supported the 1994 assault weapons ban, and adds, "Many Democratic lawmakers also lost their elections after gun-control votes."
There is no evidence, however, that gun safety is a particularly politically dangerous issue for Democrats. Despite this, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has claimed for years that it can determine election outcomes for its opponents. This claim has been adopted as conventional wisdom by much of the media, even though it is without evidence.
In 2012, American Prospect senior writer Paul Waldman (a former employee of Media Matters), conducted a regression analysis of recent congressional races to determine if there is any truth to the claim that "Democrats shouldn't bring up the gun issue." After analyzing NRA spending and endorsements in federal elections in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010, Waldman concluded, "The NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections" -- an outcome that "contradict[s] a conventional wisdom propagated by Democrats and Republicans alike, which says that any discussion of the possibility of restricting gun sales in any way will lead only to electoral catastrophe for Democrats, so formidable is the NRA's power."
In The Post, Rucker also cites former President Clinton's view on the matter, writing, "In his memoir, "My Life," former president Bill Clinton suggested that his vice president, Al Gore, lost the 2000 presidential election in part because of backlash in states such as Arkansas and Tennessee over the Clinton administration's 1995 ban on assault weapons, which has since expired."
While Clinton did make this claim in his memoir, there is no statistical evidence to support it. One 2000 study found that Gore's support for gun safety measures actually offered him a slight benefit on Election Day, which suggests he lost for other reasons. In fact, a 2000 survey of Tennessee voters found that residents supported more restrictions on gun ownership as opposed to fewer restrictions by a 51 point margin. It is far more likely that the reason why Gore lost several Southern states previously won by Clinton was because of a political shift that saw Southerners leaving the Democratic party, not his stance on assault weapons.
Although it repeated some tired conventional wisdom about Democrats and gun politics, Rucker's article deserves praise for providing a detailed look at important factors surrounding the gun debate.
Media reporting on support for gun safety measures often cite generic -- but flawed -- polling that asks respondents whether it is more important to "control gun ownership" or "protect the right of Americans to own guns." This type of question presents the respondents with a false choice because measures like background checks promote gun safety without restricting gun rights.
Rucker's article goes more in depth, actually discussing poll results where respondents were asked whether they favor specific gun safety proposals. For example, Rucker found that background checks are overwhelmingly popular with the public:
A survey this year by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research found that 89 percent favor requiring background checks for all gun sales, including 85 percent of gun owners.
Rucker also reached out to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who proved the convention wisdom on Democrats and guns wrong by winning two elections in Virginia for the governor's office and a U.S. Senate seat in the face of strong NRA opposition, providing a countervailing perspective to claims that the NRA opposition is particularly dangerous in swing states:
Other Democrats argue that Clinton has nothing to lose. Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) said the NRA has become a "paper tiger," noting the elections he's won despite the NRA's vocal opposition.
"I think she has no illusion that even if she didn't say a word about guns, the NRA would be out there blasting her to say she had a conspiratorial plan to work with the U.N. to take everybody's guns away, so why not go head-on on an issue that will improve safety," Kaine said.
When the story of Hillary Clinton's private email account first broke in March, the Beltway media's response resembled barely controlled hysteria as pundits searched for adjectives to describe the impending political doom in store for Clinton.
Ron Fournier at National Journal immediately announced that perhaps Clinton shouldn't even bother running for president, the damage she faced was so grave. And New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wondered if the revelation meant Clinton had a secret political "death wish."
According to the nattering nabobs of negativism (to borrow a phrase), the revelation that Clinton had used a private email server while secretary of state was possibly the story that would doom Clinton's White House hopes.
As the media firestorm raged, the State Department announced it would release 55,000 pages of former Secretary of State Clinton's emails next January. But a U.S. District Court ordered the department to release portions of the email archive on a monthly basis. The first batch was released in May, and the second round, or roughly 3,000 emails, came late last week. Clinton has always said she welcomed the emails being made public. And now we know why.
Among the "highlights" from the latest email revelations, a story that has at times consumed the Beltway press? She once emailed then-Center for American Progress chief John Podesta to "Please wear socks to bed to keep your feet warm." She on one occasion requested some iced tea. In June 2009, she wrote aides, "I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am. Is there? Can I go? If not, who are we sending?"
That October, Clinton sent an email to longtime confidante Sidney Blumenthal, asking in the subject line, "Are you still awake?" The body of the email read, "I will call if you are." (That Clinton emailed with Blumenthal has been treated as very big news, although there's rarely a press explanation as for why it's treated that way.)
More scintillating insights? Clinton emailed an assistant to get the phone number of Judge Sonia Maria Sotomayor so Clinton could congratulate her on being nominated for the Supreme Court. Clinton once sent senior advisor Jake Sullivan an appreciative email, telling him what good work he was doing. And of course, there was the media's never-ending fax-machine coverage, detailing the trivial back-and-forth between Clinton and her aide as they struggled to get a piece of office equipment to work.
So since March, we've gone from breathless claims that Clinton's emails might end her presidential hopes, to reporting about how Clinton's emails revealed she was flummoxed by the office fax machine.
In other words, the story has traveled from scandal to farce in just four months' time.
Media coverage of Texas' restrictive anti-abortion legislation often presents a false equivalence between arguments from proponents of the legislation and women's health advocates, despite medical experts agreement that such measures are dangerous to women.
The Supreme Court temporarily blocked implementation of two provisions of Texas' extreme efforts to restrict abortion through a targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law. The provisions in question required all clinics providing abortions "in the state to meet the standards for 'ambulatory surgical centers,' including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing," The New York Times explained, and required doctors who performed the procedure "to have admitting privileges at nearby hospital[s]."
Media coverage of Texas' anti-abortion laws often provides equal coverage to both sides of the debate, at the expense of fact-checking anti-abortion proponents who claim, against the advice of medical experts, that the legislation helps women, as Amanda Marcotte noted in a July 2 post for RH Reality Check. Pointing to a recent article from NPR on the Supreme Court's move to temporarily block the state's restrictions, Marcotte explained that although the piece's efforts to quote both sides "is not, in itself, an issue," a statement from a representative from Texas Right to Life, which claimed the law was simply meant to protect women's health, went unquestioned. "What is frustrating is that there is not a whiff of an effort to provide actual real-world facts to give the audience context," wrote Marcotte. She went on:
NPR framed the story like it was two parties making value claims, with no way to measure their statements against evidence. The problem here is that the debate is not about values. Both sides claim to have the same goal--protecting women's health--and the fight is over who has a better strategy to get there.
Similarly, in their reporting on the Supreme Court's block, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal each included statements from both sides of the debate arguing that they were protecting women's health while failing to note that medical experts don't support the legislation.
Health experts have roundly backed abortion access advocates in their assertion that laws of this nature are both medically unnecessary and dangerous to women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Health Association condemned such measures in a joint amicus brief, writing that the measure to be implemented in Texas "jeopardize[s] the health of women" and "denies them access" to safe abortions. Yet despite the health community's denouncement of the provisions, the media often fails to interrogate anti-abortion proponents' false claims on the law.
A Washington Post fact-check debunks the right-wing media myth that ending controversial stop-and-frisk policies that allow police officers to stop and search pedestrians they consider to be suspicious, has led to an increase in crime, a claim frequently made on Fox News.
Several months into the 2016 presidential campaign, the media is frequently failing to fact-check statements by presidential candidates denying the science of climate change. Seven major newspapers and wire services surveyed by Media Matters have thus far failed to indicate that candidates' statements conflict with the scientific consensus in approximately 43 percent of their coverage, while the major broadcast and cable news outlets other than MSNBC have failed to do so 75 percent of the time.
Fox News downplayed a recent report on questionable business dealings made by Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush after having ignored the story in the days after it broke.
On June 28, The Washington Post reported on Bush's business dealings in the years before and after he was governor of Florida and said Bush "often benefited from his family connections and repeatedly put himself in situations that raised questions about his judgment and exposed him to reputational risk." As The Post also noted:
Five of his business associates have been convicted of crimes; one remains an international fugitive on fraud charges. In each case, Bush said he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing and said some of the people he met as a businessman in Florida took advantage of his naiveté.
On the June 30 edition of Fox & Friends, correspondent Carl Cameron downplayed The Post's reporting, saying Bush, "like any kind of businessman," has had "some ups and some downs" and "some of the downs have been in the press lately." Cameron claimed Bush's decision to release 33 years of tax returns could be a response to reporting on his business dealings:
CAMERON: 33 years of tax returns, that's a lot.
STEVE DOOCY: I'm sure it's just a coincidence it's coming out today, not raining on anybody's parade, just a coincidence, right, Carl?
CAMERON: Wouldn't dream of it. And it's also worth noting, you know, that his business career, he made a lot of money, but, you know, like any kind of businessman, there were some ups and some downs, and some of the downs have been in the press lately, so this may be answering a little bit of that, but it's also sending a message to Chris Christie ... Look out, Hillary Clinton, when it comes to transparency.
Prior to Cameron's remarks, Fox had ignored The Post's reporting completely in its primetime coverage since the story broke.
Evening news programs on cable and broadcast news channels were completely silent in the immediate aftermath of a Washington Post story about business dealings by Jeb Bush "that raised questions about his judgment and exposed him to reputational risk." Their complete lack of coverage stands in stark contrast to the nearly three hours of coverage by cable and broadcast evening news programs devoted to The New York Times' faulty allegation that Hillary Clinton's State Department was influenced by Clinton Foundation donors when it signed off on the purchase of Uranium One the same day the story came out.
Chris Christie "reduces me to a 14-year-old girl at a Beatles concert." MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, December 20, 2010.
"Chris Christie is someone who is magical in the way politicians can be magical." Mark Halperin appearing on Meet The Press, November 10 2013.
It's hard to miss the aura of a letdown that surrounds the news coverage of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's long-awaited announcement of his presidential candidacy. Set to address supporters today at his alma mater of Livingston High School in New Jersey, Christie enters a very crowded Republican field of White House hopefuls and does so with some extraordinary baggage, which explains the Hail Mary flavor of the coverage, which comes with almost a tinge of sadness, or what-could-have-been regret.
Detailing his "long-shot presidential bid," Politico noted it now revolves around a "bank-shot strategy, a narrowly tailored approach that leaves Christie with little room for error." The Associated Press headlined its article, "As He Launches 2016 Bid, Christie Embraces Underdog Role."
Starting with the Bridgegate revelations in January 2014, Christie has been riding a year-and-a-half worth of bad news that has translated into his lowest approval ratings ever in New Jersey. Christie hasn't just drifted off course. His political standing has completely collapsed to the point where it's not clear whether he will even qualify to be among the 10 candidates on the stage of the first Fox News-sponsored debate.
Yet of all the announced Republican candidates -- and those still queuing up this summer -- Christie without question enjoyed the most unique and encouraging relationship with the Beltway press corps. For years there was an almost tribal affection for Christie and his bullying personality among the Acela media class. (aka The "liberal" media.)
It was a strange, cozy relationship that's worth recalling on the eve of his candidacy. Rarely has the political pundit class bet so heavily on a particular politician. And rarely has a bet paid off as poorly as the media's wager on Christie.
The Washington Post is allowing George Will to engage in an "out-and-out conflict of interest" by promoting the work of a conservative advocacy group that's connected to him through financial grants.
Will wrote a June 25 Post piece attacking Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court's recent decision on the Affordable Care Act. For support, Will cited a lawyer for the Institute for Justice (IJ), who claimed that the United States is becoming "a country in which all the branches of government work in tandem to achieve policy outcomes, instead of checking one another to protect individual rights. Besides violating the separation of powers, this approach raises serious issues about whether litigants before the courts are receiving the process that is due to them under the Constitution."
Will and the Post did not disclose that the Institute for Justice is funded by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, where Will is a member of the board of directors. The foundation notes on its website that it "substantially supports IJ." The Bradley Foundation directly gave IJ over $500,000 from 2011-2013 (the most recent year available), according to its annual reports. It awarded IJ's president, William H. "Chip" Mellor, a 2012 "Bradley Prize" along with a stipend of $250,000. The foundation states that board members are responsible for grant-making decisions.
The lack of disclosure is perplexing given that the Post previously noted Will's financial connections to IJ. A Nexis search for "Institute for Justice" and "Bradley Foundation" in the Post did not return any results except for an August 21, 2009, correction about Will's ties ("he is a board member of the Bradley Foundation, which has contributed funding to the Institute for Justice").
Washington Post writer Erik Wemple has criticized his colleague's "out-and-out conflict of interest" in previously promoting Bradley Foundation recipients, explaining:
Here, Will touted an outlet funded generously by a group he helps to lead. And thanks to the columnist's kind words, WILL [Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty] may have an easier time finding funders outside of the Bradley Foundation. All very cozy, synergistic and, as media critics might say, an out-and-out conflict of interest -- an offense of which Will has been accused before.
Will defended himself regarding his lack of disclosure last year, claiming, in part, that "I see no reason -- no service to readers -- to disclose my several degrees of separation from the program: My tenuous connection has no bearing on what I think about what they do. There comes a point when disclosure of this and that becomes clutter, leaving readers to wonder what the disclosed information has to do with anything."
Media ethicists and journalism veterans have criticized Will for the practice, calling it a breach of journalistic ethics. As Media Matters has documented, Will has a long history of ethical misfires despite being long employed by a leading national newspaper.
Only one Republican presidential candidate reportedly made an appearance at the 32nd annual National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) convention, despite Republican National Committee and several GOP presidential hopefuls committing to reach out to Hispanic Americans. The snub comes after years of right-wing media's demonizing Hispanics and urging the GOP to take extreme positions on immigration.
The Washington Post reported on June 17 that of the more than one dozen announced and likely 2016 Republican presidential candidates, "only one -- retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson -- showed" up to the convention of elected federal, state, and local Latino leaders.
According the Post, many of the campaigns blamed "scheduling conflicts" for their absence, while "at least 13 GOP candidates plan to be in Washington this week to address the Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road to the Majority' conference, the latest in a busy series of presidential cattle-call events for social conservatives." The article continued:
"All I can say is that schedules reflect priorities," said Arturo Vargas, NALEO's executive director. "Of course they should be here."
Made up of federal, state and local elected officials, including mayors, law enforcement officers and school board members, NALEO is nonpartisan, although many of its members are Democrats. Prominent Republicans have addressed the conference in past years, including Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and the last two GOP presidential nominees, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
GOP leaders have urged the need to engage the Latino community for years, arguing that Latinos will be key to winning the presidency in 2016. After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election to President Obama, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told The New Yorker that "if Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community ... in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state." Cruz also asserted that "the Republican Party would cease to exist" if it did not do more to reach out to Hispanics.
In 2013, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus stressed that the party must reach out to minority voters. And in March of this year, presidential candidate Jeb Bush told a gathering of Tennessee Republicans that "the next Republican president that will win will reach out to the Latino community."
Similarly, in April, GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio told NPR that reaching out to "people from minority communities," like Latinos, is imperative for the Republican party because "if you think someone doesn't care or understand people like you, no matter what your policies are, it's going to be difficult to get them to listen to you, much less vote for you."
And in May, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), another Republican presidential candidate, appeared on Fox to push the importance of minority outreach, saying that he is "willing to show up" for minority communities.
Fox News contributor and radio host Laura Ingraham has repeatedly attacked Republicans for supporting immigration reform by threatening to blame them for terrorist attacks and suggesting such support could be "the end of the road" for their political careers. Rush Limbaugh explicitly urged the GOP to ignore the Hispanic vote while mocking candidates who do reach out to the Latino community. Limbaugh's idea of connecting with Latino voters includes playing "Feliz Navidad" on the radio, while Fox host Andrea Tantaros mocked Hillary Clinton's dinner at Chipotle as her attempts as "Hispanic outreach."
In 2013, The Week's Joe Gandelman outlined right-wing media's deep influence on the GOP, explaining that "[t]o truly rebrand, the GOP must extricate itself from a talk radio political culture that glorifies and rewards confrontation, brinksmanship, snarkiness, over-the-top verbal demonization and division -- and considers consensus oh, so 20th century, and compromise as something akin to treason." Gandelman continued:
The goals of the conservative media and conservative politicians don't always mesh. And herein lies the GOP's problem.
Limbaugh rapidly became less funny and more partisan. He impacted elections and created the model for partisan talk radio. When Fox News debuted in 1996, it grafted talk radio onto news. Talk radio is today as important in keeping the 21st century's divisive incarnation of conservatism intact as Republicans redistricting in many states is in ensuring a Republican House and convincing House GOPers to reject compromise if they want to avoid right-wing primary challenges.
So what can we expect? Some slight tempering of official rhetoric, maybe. But nothing more.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made news on his first official day as a GOP presidential candidate by suggesting that Pope Francis' forthcoming encyclical on climate change could inappropriately push religion "into the political realm" and declaring: "I don't get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope." But the media should be covering Bush's remarks in the context of a closed-door meeting he held with coal industry CEOs earlier this month -- an important piece of information that could shed some light on who Bush is actually getting his "economic policy" from when it comes to climate change.
Bush's June 1 appearance at the Coal & Investment Leadership Forum was first revealed in a May 29 report by The Guardian, based on materials the newspaper received from the Center for Media and Democracy, a non-profit watchdog group. As The Guardian reported at the time:
The former Florida governor is appearing at the invitation of six coalmining company owners and executives: Joe Craft III of Alliance Resource Partners, Kevin Crutchfield of Alpha Natural Resources, Nick DeIuliis of Consol Energy, Garry Drummond of Drummond Company, John Eaves of Arch Coal, and Jim McGlothlin of United Coal Company.
Between them, the six companies have spent more than $17.4m on campaigns and lobbying since the last presidential elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics Open Secrets website.
The Guardian further noted that the meeting occurred "at a critical time for the energy industry and for Bush's political ambitions," with the Environmental Protection Agency "expected to finalize new rules for carbon pollution from power plants this summer" and Bush "relatively free of fundraising disclosure requirements until the official launch of his presidential campaign."
Several media outlets parroted Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's economic message after he claimed his administration would oversee 4 percent economic growth and the creation of up to 19 million new jobs. But economists argue that his goals are unrealistic, and question the impact any single president can have on "decades-long trends."