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Hannah Groch-Begley

Author ››› Hannah Groch-Begley
  • DOJ Official Reportedly Contradicts Flimsy NY Times Article On Clinton Email

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    New York Times Logo

    A Department of Justice official reportedly contradicted a New York Times article on Hillary Clinton's email use, clarifying that the DOJ investigation into State Department email practices is not criminal, as was initially reported.

    On July 23, the New York Times initially cited anonymous "senior government officials" to claim former Secretary of State Clinton was the target of a DOJ "criminal investigation" for her use of a private email account while at State.

    The Times then made a major change to that report, walking it back to instead claim there was merely a referral from two inspector generals for a potential "criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account." At the time, the paper said they would not issue a correction, claiming there had been no "factual error."

    Now, however, Times' John Harwood reports a second major problem: the investigation is not actually "criminal." Harwood tweeted that a "Justice Dept official" was "contradicting earlier reports" to confirm that the "'referral' related to Hillary Clinton's email is NOT for a criminal investigation":

    Washington Post reporter Sari Horwitz similarly tweeted that the DOJ is "now correcting their earlier statement & saying the referral regarding Clinton emails was not a criminal inquiry."

    It is currently unclear whether the multiple "senior government officials" the Times initially cited in their report are the same sources now reversing their statements, or if there are several officials leaking differing information.

  • Fox Hosts Have No Idea What Planned Parenthood Does Or How Obamacare Works

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    Bill O'Reilly

    Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Andrea Tantaros advocated for entirely eliminating Planned Parenthood's federal funding, which helps provide critical women's health services across the U.S., by wildly misrepresenting what the organization spends on abortion and the services they provide.

    Congress long ago barred Planned Parenthood from using federal funds for abortion, but the release of two deceptively edited videos -- which attempt to smear the organization's legal practice of allowing women to choose to donate fetal tissues from their abortions to biomedical research -- has nevertheless reanimated anti-choice activists' campaign to defund the nonprofit. 

    Jumping off of the controversy, O'Reilly stated unequivocally on his July 22 show that "Planned Parenthood should be defunded, period. I don't want my tax dollars going to them."

    Fox contributor Juan Williams attempted to push back, explaining that by defunding all of Planned Parenthood, "you're talking about taking away medical access to millions of women." But O'Reilly insisted "It wouldn't take away anything," and Fox host Tantaros agreed:

    TANTAROS: I want to jump in on the women's health point because that's actually a crock. Look, you don't have to be pro-life to be horrified by these videos. A number of my pro-choice friends are horrified by these videos, the same way they were horrified by Kermit Gosnell. And look, here's my view on Planned Parenthood. It provides services now, those services are provided under Obamacare. So, we don't really need Planned Parenthood.

    O'REILLY: 90 percent of their services are abortion-related.

    TANTAROS: But here's my deal, I don't want to pay for it. It's a business, let private funding go to Planned Parenthood, taxpayer dollars should not have to go to crazy towns like San Francisco and to places like Planned Parenthood.

    In fact, Obamacare does not guarantee women access to the critical health services Planned Parenthood's 817 clinics across the country provide, nor are "90 percent of their services" abortion related.

    The Affordable Care Act requires that insurance companies cover preventative women's health care services and prenatal care, and has already saved women over $1 billion dollars on birth control by reducing co-pays and deductibles. The law also established funding to construct health centers to increase access to health care.

    But the law does not guarantee that there are clinics accessible to provide women these health services. Some local pharmacies may stock prescription birth control, for example, but they aren't equipped to perform pap smears, conduct exams for breast cancer, or provide treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

    That kind of critical women's health care is provided at the hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinics. According to their most recent annual report, from October 2012 to September 2013 their clinics performed almost 900,000 pap tests and breast exams, over 3.5 million birth control information and service requests, and nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for STIs.

    The same report (once again) confirmed that only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's services were abortion-related.

    Chart from Planned Parenthood showing spending breakdown

    As Vox's Sarah Kliff recently explained, Planned Parenthood receives "more than $500 million annually in government funding, mostly through Medicaid and grants," and that money is crucial to helping them provide this health care to millions of American women. "Because Planned Parenthood is such a large provider in this space," Kliff writes, "it's hard to see other clinics stepping in to fill the gap that [defunding] would leave."

    Anti-choice attempts to shutter women's health clinics -- including Planned Parenthood centers -- around the country have already created a massive health crisis in states like Texas, where 13 million women live but currently only have access to a handful of clinics. 

    Fox has repeatedly hyped this most recent deceptive campaign against Planned Parenthood, with the network devoting 10 full segments in just one day to hyping the video's false claims.

  • How Super PACs Are Trying To Buy Their Candidates Into The Fox Primary Debate

    Groups Backing Rubio And Perry Are Spending Millions On Fox Airtime

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    Marco Rubio

    Super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Marco Rubio have purchased millions of dollars of ad time on Fox News, according to data obtained by Media Matters from a media buying source. An adviser to super PACs backing Perry reportedly admitted the spending is intended to raise his profile to help him qualify for the upcoming Fox News primary debate.

    Ever since Fox declared that its August 6 debate would only include candidates "in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls," the 15 Republicans currently running (with more potentially entering the race soon) have scrambled to gain the exposure necessary to make the cut, with some super PACs reportedly changing their entire campaign strategies.

    In response to the debate rules announcement, Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus argued that Roger Ailes "will decide which candidates can compete in Republican presidential primaries next year." The debate rules are already having a tangible impact on the campaign. 

    New York Times' Nick Confessore reported July 15 that a group of super PACs supporting Rick Perry "are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising on the Fox News Channel and other cable channels to raise Mr. Perry's profile," in order to "see him on that debate stage," according to an adviser to the groups.

    Data obtained by Media Matters from a media buying source shows that a super PAC supporting Marco Rubio has also been investing in Fox News airtime.

    For ads running over the next 12 days, Opportunity and Freedom, a super PAC supporting Perry, is spending $450,000 on Fox News Channel, and an additional $50,000 on sister channel Fox Business.

    While Conservative Solutions, a group backing Rubio, will spend more than $3 million on Fox News, and $28,000 on Fox Business, for ads running between June 23 and July 27.

    "Because of the way the Fox News Channel has taken over the Republican presidential process this year," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported last night, the groups backing Perry "are completely changing the way they are trying to campaign."

    Maddow explained that Fox News now gets to "cash in" on its own rule, adding, "It's a nice racket":

    MADDOW: If Rick Perry is excluded from the Republican presidential debates, effectively he's not even running for president any more, right? If he's not in the debates, nobody is considering his nomination ... So, the Rick Perry super PAC today decided first things first -- instead of focusing on the early states, like Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina like candidates always have in the past, today, they announced that they would stop those efforts. They would start ignoring the early states and instead they're going to put all of their resources, all their money, ahundred of thousands of dollars, as fast as they can into ads for Rick Perry to run on the FOX News channel, and on other national cable networks. ... the Rick Perry super PACs are being rational. They're putting all of their eggs into that basket.


    So, FOX News set that rule for the Republican Party, and now, FOX News gets to cash in on that role, by getting all of the Rick Perry super PAC money in the form of his national ads. It's a nice racket, right? [transcript via Nexis]

    Media Matters has previously reported on Fox News' unprecedented involvement with the Republican primary. Candidates flock to the network to boost their profiles among the network's audience while also trying to win favor from its influential hosts.

    Fox host Sean Hannity has sought to become a "conservative kingmaker," with his show devoting significantly more air-time to lengthy interviews with candidates than any other program on the network.

    Our most recent data showed former reality TV host Donald Trump taking the lead in the "Fox Primary" with more on-air appearances in June than any other GOP contender. Rick Perry came in second with seven appearances; Marco Rubio only made one appearance that month.

    Several of the GOP candidates whose current polling numbers appear to leave them below Fox's threshold for participation have criticized the debate rules and the power it gives Fox, though others are using it to fundraise. Carly Fiorina wrote to supporters in May: "I need your help to get on that debate stage ... Will you donate $13 today?" In June, Lindsey Graham also asked Fox News Radio listeners to "help me" get into the debate.

  • Attack On Planned Parenthood: 3 Deceptive Edits In The Video Claiming Planned Parenthood Is "Selling Aborted Baby Parts"


    A deceptive video from a conservative group purports to show a Planned Parenthood official discussing prices for the illegal sale of fetal tissue from abortions. But the full, unedited footage and transcript released by the group undermines their sensationalist claims, showing at least three crucial edits that reveal the Planned Parenthood official was instead discussing the reimbursement cost for consensual, legal tissue donations.

  • "Simply Wrong": Another Fact Checker Blows Up A Favorite Conservative Lie About The Clinton Foundation

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    Clinton Foundation called a common conservative myth -- that the Clinton Foundation spends only a small fraction of its money on charitable works -- "simply wrong." The flimsy statistic has made the rounds on conservative media, and was most recently repeated by Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

    The fact-checking organization noted on June 19 that Fiorina had claimed that "'so little' of the charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation 'actually go to charitable works.'" When pressed for more details, a super PAC supporting her campaign* claimed that only 6 percent of the foundation's revenue goes to charitable grants, and for the rest, "there really isn't anything that can be categorized as charitable."

    But as explained, "That just isn't so. The Clinton Foundation does most of its charitable work itself." In fact, an independent philanthropy watchdog found that about 89 percent of Clinton Foundation funding goes to charity, through their in-house work. concluded the false claim "amounts to a misunderstanding of how public charities work."

    This myth surfaced earlier this year thanks to the error-filled anti-Clinton book Clinton Cash, written by discredited Republican activist Peter Schweizer. While promoting his book in May, Schweizer repeatedly claimed the Clinton Foundation gives just "10 percent" of its budget "to other charitable organizations, the rest they keep for themselves."

    As Media Matters noted at the time, several other media figures picked up Schweizer's cherry-picked statistic. Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed "85 percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff." As noted, Fox Business host Gerri Willis said only 6 percent of the foundation's revenue "went to help people." And on Fox News, The Five co-host Eric Bolling said that "only 10 cents on the dollar went to charitable uses."

    But even one of Bolling's Fox News colleagues called this statistic "incredibly misleading." When Fox correspondent Eric Shawn was asked by host Bill O'Reilly about the "accusation ... that there only 10 percent of the money raised -- and it's $2 billion -- goes to grants out to poor people or institutions," Shawn responded:

    That sounds really bad but it's actually incredibly misleading, because, the way the charity works, they don't give grants to other charities -- they do most of it themselves. So that, they actually have a rate of spending of about 80 percent, according to the IRS figures, they say 88 percent, you know Bill -- the experts for charity say that's very good.

    PolitiFact's PunditFact has also evaluated these claims, and found them to be "mostly false." 

    * originally reported that this information came from the Fiorina campaign, but has since corrected its post to note it came from the CARLY for America super PAC. Our language has been updated accordingly.   

  • Ron Paul Attacks Republican Candidates Who "Roll Over" For Fox News

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    Rand Paul on Fox News

    Former congressman Ron Paul criticized Republicans who "roll over" for Fox News. His son, presidential contender Rand Paul, has been a near-constant fixture on the network this cycle. 

    Ron Paul said he disagreed with Fox's control over the GOP debate process, Raw Story reported, and in particular the announcement that Fox will only invite ten Republican candidates to the debate based on who has the highest average polling numbers.

    "I think there has to be a better way of choosing," Paul reportedly told Larry King. "I mean it's sort of like, why do the candidates roll over and abide by the rules of some commercial organization that has an agenda? And Fox certainly has a very powerful agenda." Paul also discussed his frustrations with the network during his own 2007 run for president, adding:

    I know that even on their polling after the debates, I usually won all the polling, but they would say, well there's a mistake and they would ignore it, so I don't like the idea that somebody like Fox has sort of monopoly control of how a debate will be run.

    According to a Media Matters study, from President Obama's second inauguration to April of this year, Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Fox News' evening and primetime programming and Fox News Sunday significantly more times than any other declared and likely Republican presidential candidate. In the month of May, Rand Paul made the most appearances across all programs on Fox News of the 16 declared and likely Republican presidential candidates. He was second in total airtime.  

    Rand Paul's current standing in polls suggests he may make the cut to participate in the Republican debate on Fox in August.

  • Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces, And The College Mental Health Crisis Media Coverage Ignores

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    The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan criticizes the "Trigger-Happy Generation" in her latest column, adding to the increasingly wide range of media figures questioning the merits of "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" on college campuses. But her attacks in particular reveal a troubling element largely missing from this debate: an honest assessment of the crisis of mental health support for students. 

    Trigger warnings and safe spaces, in theory, attempt to warn and shield students from material that might remind them of past trauma or reinforce a hostile experience. In practice, they take on many different forms, giving ammunition to both defenders and critics who often see them as overzealous attempts to shield students from reality.

    In her May 21 column, Noonan places herself squarely in the critics' camp, labeling on-campus advocacy for safe spaces and trigger warnings as "part of a growing censorship movement." She specifically targets an opinion piece in a Columbia University newspaper, which described in part a survivor of sexual assault wanting greater protection after feeling triggered during a class discussion on the rape scenes in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Noonan argues that the world is an unsafe place, and that students shouldn't try to shape it into something more comforting:

    There is no such thing as safety. That is asking too much of life. You can't expect those around you to constantly accommodate your need for safety ... [I]f you constantly feel anxious and frightened by what you encounter in life, are we sure that means the world must reorder itself? Might it mean you need a lot of therapy?

    Noonan is being flippant, but her dismissive joke actually points to a growing problem: colleges don't offer students enough mental health support, which may be one explanation for the growing trend of students trying to create safe spaces and safe texts for themselves.

    May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and the same day Noonan's column was published, a report released as part of the campaign found that millennials who work (which would include many college students) have the highest rates of depression of any generation. Last year, The Washington Post noted that according to recent studies, "44 percent of college students experienced symptoms of depression, and suicide is one of the leading causes of death among college students."

    And victims of rape, intimate-partner violence, stalking, or sexual assault -- which the Columbia University student Noonan highlighted reportedly was -- are "drastically more likely to develop a mental disorder at some point in their lives," according to a 2011 Journal of the American Medical Association study, CNN reported at the time.

    These students often don't have access to help, including the therapy Noonan blithely suggested. In 2011, the American Psychological Association labeled the state of mental health on campuses a "growing crisis," and they've continued to track the concerns since. College counseling centers, they explained, "are frequently forced to come up with creative ways to manage their growing caseloads. For example, 76.6 percent of college counseling directors reported reducing the number of visits for non-crisis patients to cope with the increasing number of clients." 88 percent of campus counseling centers surveyed by the American College Counseling Association said they experienced staffing problems due to the increase in demand, the Baltimore Sun reported in 2013.

    Some see this rise in numbers as a partially good sign, as it indicates more students are aware of the services available, and that the stigma against seeking help may be diminishing.

    But as of 2012, only 56 percent of four-year colleges and universities offered on-campus psychiatric services. Fewer than 13 percent of community colleges did as well. The services can't keep up with the rise in demand.

    To be sure, not all of the students asking for safe spaces or trigger warnings on their campuses need therapy, nor are they all seeking these spaces because of a general lack of robust mental health service on their campuses. However, I know at least some of them are, because that's exactly what I did.

  • Clinton's "Second Email Address" Was Explained Months Ago, But Fox Missed The Evidence

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    Fox News report on Clinton Emails

    Fox News selectively quoted a statement from Hillary Clinton's lawyer to suggest that she lied about having a "second email account" during her time as secretary of state. But the network ignored in several segments that the supposed discrepancy was explained months ago. 

    On May 18, The New York Times published selected emails from Clinton's time at State, which appeared to show her sending emails from two private addresses: and Right-wing media immediately jumped on the story to claim that it contradicted Clinton's previous statement that she only used one email address while at State.

    Fox went so far as to suggest Clinton "was lying" about her use of email, missing key context in several of their segments on the topic. On the May 19 edition of America's Newsroom, guest co-host Gregg Jarrett asked: "Either she forgot, or she was lying. What do you think?" Fox reporter Doug McKelway also claimed that the "second email" was a "direct contradiction" to Clinton's previous statements, noting those remarks were "not made in testimony, nor was it made under oath, so perhaps there's some wiggle room there, but I'm not sure how she gets out of that."

    Later on Happening Now, McKelway highlighted a letter sent from Clinton's lawyer that stated " is not an address that existed during Secretary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State."

    However, this seeming discrepancy was explained in the same letter McKelway selectively quoted from.

    As Clinton's lawyer noted back in that March 2015 letter -- and which Fox News ignored in these segments -- Clinton changed her email address when she left State because Gawker had published emails that revealed the "HDR22" address. That was when she changed the address to "hrod17."

    According to her office, when this change occurred, the new address replaced the old address on the digital records of her previous emails. Thus, as explained in a release several months ago, when her emails were printed out and provided to the State Department, the new email address "appeared on the printed copies as the sender."

    While this context was missing from Jarrett and McKelway's morning reports, Fox Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry reported the Clinton campaign's explanation in a separate segment on America's Newsroom, saying that "when she printed out all the emails to turn over back to the government, that second account came up, even though that was not the one she was using months earlier."

    The old "HDR22" address still appears in some of the documents the Times highlighted, but seems to only occur in the text of the body of emails that were replies or forwards from other individuals. For example, a printed email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan which was published by the Times still shows "HDR22" in the text of his email, because he was replying to her original message.

    The backdating of the email addresses "led to understandable confusion" for the congressional Select Committee on Benghazi earlier this year, prompting Clinton's office to issue this explanation in March.

    The original Gawker report, which highlighted emails sent to Clinton during her time at State, also includes screenshots of those emails. The emails shown are all clearly sent to Clinton's original email account, HRD22, in keeping with Clinton office's explanation for the email address confusion.

    From Gawker, emails to Sec. Clinton

  • How Right-Wing Media Talk About Poverty In America

    From "Richness Of Spirit" To Food Stamps As A Diet Plan, 5 Ways Conservatives Are Wrong About The Poor


    Right-wing media have a plan to solve the national crisis of poverty in America -- and it's all about "personal responsibility."

    Roughly 45 million Americans live in poverty, 1 in 7 received food stamps just last year, and 20 percent of children under the age of 18 were impoverished in 2013. Politicians and media figures have offered many possible solutions to help low-income Americans break free from this systemic cycle of inequality, including expanding the social safety net and educational opportunities for all.

    But over the years, conservative media have offered their own strategies. Watch as Media Matters looks back at the five easy steps they've proposed to help Americans living paycheck to paycheck find that "richness of spirit":