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Hannah Groch-Begley

Author ››› Hannah Groch-Begley
  • What Has And Hasn't Changed For Women In The Media Over The Last 20 Years

    UN Highlights Lack Of Equality For Women In Worldwide News

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Rosie the Riveter

    Twenty years after 189 countries committed to improving the status of women in the media, the United Nations has found some improvements, but little overall change.

    This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women, at which representatives from 189 countries committed to a blueprint for new global policy empowering women, known as the Declaration and Platform for Action. The Platform identified "12 critical areas of concern" for women worldwide, including the media.

    In 1995, the delegates argued that the media helped perpetuate "gender-based stereotyping," and demanded that the "continued projection of negative and degrading images of women in media" be changed. Signatories committed to promoting "women's full and equal participation in the media" at all levels, from management to on-air talent, as well as promoting "balanced and diverse portrayals of women."

    Two decades later, the UN has found that there "has been some progress since the Beijing Conference." Notably, "The percentage of stories reported by women has edged up in most issue areas." Women are also highly active on social media, an important force in the media landscape.

    However, women are still far from equal in global media. Based on recent data from 108 countries, the UN released an infographic noting that on print, radio, and television news, men still dominate both news organizations and the stories those organizations report on:

    UN Infographic On Gender Diversity In News

    The UN also noted that while social media has become "a sounding horn for the feminist movement," it can also be dangerous for women. According to their data, 26 percent of women aged 18-24 "have been stalked online; 25% were targets of online sexual harassment."

    Media Matters research confirms that the inequality women face in global news media is a still reality in the United States. As we recently reported, white men now host all of the Sunday morning political talk shows on CNN and broadcast news, giving them a key platform to set the media and political agenda for the rest of the week.

    White men also make the large majority of guest appearances. A 2013 Media Matters analysis found that gender diversity on these shows was practically unchanged over the previous five years -- and the numbers are much worse for women of color. This trend has continued since:

    Female experts are also often missing from crucial media debates. In one Media Matters study, women's health experts made up only 4 percent of guests brought on to cable news to discuss key abortion legislation. Another study found that women made up only 28 percent of cable news economic guests over the course of a year. And when it comes to discussing national security and foreign affairs, women made up less than a quarter of guests in one year.

    As the UN noted, many of these problems stem from newsrooms that are not diverse. Last year, when Jill Abramson was ousted from her role as Executive Editor at the New York Times, it meant that none of the ten largest U.S. papers were led by women anymore.

    The UN is now asking signatories from the Beijing Conference to recommit to their goals from 20 years ago, noting that "even a cursory look at media content shows how far there is to go":

    Women have an equal right to participate in public debate, including in the media, and offer insights and ideas that must be heard. Everyone deserves to live free from the burden of harmful gender stereotypes.

    The media shapes our world -- but so do women, as powerful agents of change in all areas of society. It is time for media to reflect this reality.

  • Daily Caller: Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby Is A "Sexy" "Smokeshow"

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    After Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced she was charging six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, the Daily Caller reported on how she's a "sexy," "smoldering civil servant."

    Daily Caller Report On Marilyn MosbyGray's death and treatment while in police custody has sparked national outrage and contributed to riots and peaceful demonstrations in Baltimore over the last week. Mosby, who is Baltimore's chief prosecutor, announced during a May 1 press conference she had filed the charges against the officers after a medical examiner's report ruled the death a homicide.

    Daily Caller Sports Editor Christian Datoc reported on the press conference by calling Mosby a "smokeshow" with "'crazy girl' eyes":

    Throughout the presser, the 35-year-old prosecutor managed to maintain a fiery, authoritative demeanor AND flashed some serious "crazy girl" eyes, a combination which -- if truth be told -- I found incredibly sexy.

    [...]

    I wouldn't mind being unrestrained in the back of Ms. Mosby's paddy wagon.

    Datoc's post also featured tweets from individuals calling Mosby attractive, writing "it looks like we weren't the only ones smitten with this smoldering civil servant."

    The Daily Caller has an extensive history of sexist commentary demeaning women. Recently, the Caller's founder and Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson dismissed controversy surrounding an email his brother sent, which called New York City Major Bill de Blasio's female spokesperson a "self-righteous bitch" with "dick-fright." Previously, Caller writer Patrick Howley came under fire for inappropriate comments about a female reporter. The conservative website also published a sexist cartoon attacking Meghan McCain which featured a photograph of McCain with speech bubbles emerging from her breasts. Tucker Carlson told Politico in 2014 that the site frequently publishes "slideshows of the female form" because they "care about traffic."

  • FLASHBACK: When Peter Schweizer Attacked Disney For Its "Endorsement Of The Homosexual Lifestyle"

    That Time Schweizer Wrote About RuPaul And Men Dressed As Minnie Mouse

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer once attacked The Walt Disney Company for what he deemed its "endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle from a company that had traditionally been family-oriented."

    Media outlets have aggressively reported on the claims from Schweizer's upcoming anti-Clinton book, which purports to find suspicious links between donations to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's State Department policies. Several errors in the book have already been uncovered, and many outlets have admitted the book presents "little evidence" for its claims.

    The factual errors are unsurprising given Schweizer's extensive history of retractions and inaccuracies, but Schweizer's resume also includes publishing a screed against Disney's "thriving gay subculture."

    In the 1998 book Disney: The Mouse Betrayed, Schweizer and his wife Rochelle Schweizer set out to investigate the dark side of Disney, and they claim that what they uncovered "was downright disturbing -- even shocking." Their book touches on a wide range of offenses, and includes an entire chapter devoted to "growing gay activism" at the corporation.

    The Schweizers document Disney's gay-friendly hiring policies, noting "gay employees fill a variety of roles at the company," even explaining that founder Walt Disney stood by an animator arrested in the 1930s on a charge of homosexuality. But they complain that things have changed, since "in the past homosexuality among Disney artists and employees never became a political issue."

    According to them, Disney's gay activism "extends beyond company employment policy. It also exerts a strong influence on the environment at the Magic Kingdom and on the sorts of projects Mickey and his friends are now taking on." This, the Schweizers insist, is part of the "larger issue surrounding a clash between the old Disney and the new ... those who favor Disney's traditional way of entertainment and those who champion a new way that often infuses the Disney experience with gay themes, characters, and stories."

    Key among the Schweizers' fears is "the Minnie Mouse stunt," in which they claim men at Disney World secretly dress up as the female mouse to flirt with unsuspecting park visitors, "embarrassing male guests." In fact, Schweizer sees cross-dressing everywhere at Disney World:

    ...a female dancer lets a male musician perform in her stead and in her clothes; on the steps of Cinderella's Castle, a Christmas pageant is transformed into a drag show for knowing employees when male performers dress in women's costumes. RuPaul, the transvestite entertainer, has performed at Disney World.

  • ABC News Finds More Errors In Schweizer's Clinton Cash

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Peter Schweizer

    ABC News reported that it "uncovered errors" in Peter Schweizer's upcoming anti-Clinton book, Clinton Cash. Schweizer has a long history of sloppy research and reporting -- earlier this week, ThinkProgress revealed that the conservative author cites a hoax press release in the book.

    On April 23, ABC News explained that their independent review of the source material used for Clinton Cash "uncovered errors in the book, including an instance where paid and unpaid speaking appearances were conflated." The book purports to reveal connections between Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, donations to the Clinton Foundation, and paid speeches given by the Clintons, but Schweizer reportedly admits in the book he cannot prove his allegations.

    According to ABC, Schweizer "said the errors would be corrected." The book is due for release on May 5; it is unclear whether the errors will be corrected before the first publication.

    Media Matters identified ten previous instances in which Schweizer made serious factual errors, issued retractions, or relied on questionable sourcing.

  • ThinkProgress Report: Schweizer Admits He Cannot Prove Allegations In Clinton Cash

    ThinkProgress Finds First Embarrassing Error: Schweizer Cites A Hoax Press Release

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Peter Schweizer

    Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash reportedly does not prove its speculative attacks on the Clintons and even relies on a hoax press release to support a claim, according to ThinkProgress.

    Clinton Cash will be released on May 5, and media reports have already hyped the book's supposed revelations about connections between Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, donations to the Clinton Foundation, and paid speeches given by the Clintons.

    According to ThinkProgress, which obtained an advance copy of the book, "Schweizer makes clear that he does not intend to present a smoking gun":  

    Schweizer makes clear that he does not intend to present a smoking gun, despite the media speculation. The book relies heavily on timing, stitching together the dates of donations to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton's speaking fees with actions by the State Department.

    Schweizer explains he cannot prove the allegations, leaving that up to investigative journalists and possibly law enforcement. "Short of someone involved coming forward to give sworn testimony, we don't know what might or might not have been said in private conversations, the exact nature of the transition, or why people in power make the decision they do," he writes.  Later, he concludes, "We cannot ultimately know what goes on in their minds and ultimately provide the links between the money they took and the benefits that subsequently accrued to themselves, their friends, and their associates."

    ThinkProgress details several of Schweizer's claims, and highlights one major error already found in the book. According to the site, Schweizer at one point uses a press release to bolster one of his many speculative claims, citing it to suggest there may have been a link between a private company that was paying Bill Clinton for speeches (and which supposedly issued the press release) and a State Department report released when Hillary Clinton was secretary. However, ThinkProgress notes, the press release Schweizer cites was revealed as a hoax back in 2013.

    This apparently sloppy sourcing from Schweizer is nothing new. As Media Matters extensively documented, Schweizer's career as a Republican activist and researcher is riddled with errors, retractions, and investigations that find his facts "do not check out" and his sources "do not exist." Our analysis found at least 10 separate incidents in which journalists called out Schweizer for his botched reporting. 

  • Who Funds Peter Schweizer's Government Accountability Institute?

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Peter Schweizer

    Discredited Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), a conservative group with close ties to a billionaire family funding Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential run. GAI has also received substantial support from groups backed by Charles and David Koch.

    Schweizer's upcoming anti-Clinton book has garnered widespread media attention, despite the author's long history of criticism from reporters for blatant errors, retractions, and reliance on sources that "do not exist."

    Schweizer's GAI, which was behind one of the "bogus" reports Schweizer has been excoriated for, bills itself as a nonprofit devoted to investigating "cronyism and government corruption" and protecting "free markets."

    But as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow explained on her show, "[W]hen you take a closer look at Mr. Schweizer's organization and who is backing him, it is a who's who of big right-wing funders, including one of the guys behind the right-wing media site Breitbart.com, for which Mr. Schweizer has previously written -- also the billionaire family that is currently bankrolling Ted Cruz's presidential run."

    Indeed, as Crooks and Liars also noted, IRS tax forms reveal GAI is funded by some of the top donors on the right, including the billionaire Mercer family.

    Robert Mercer was described by Bloomberg News as the "ultimate behind-the-scenes kingmaker" during the 2014 midterm elections. His daughter, Rebekah Mercer, runs the Mercer Family Foundation, which "has also supported a slew of conservative causes." 

    According to IRS filings, the Mercer Foundation donated $1 million to GAI in 2013 alone. (Rebekah Mercer was listed on the GAI's board of directors in its 2013 tax documents, but is not currently listed among board members on the group's website.)

    Rebekah Mercer has close ties to potential Clinton opponent Ted Cruz. The same day Cruz announced his bid for the presidency, Mercer reportedly threw him a cocktail party at her New York City apartment to launch his fundraising tour. 

    Schweizer's GAI has also benefited from substantial donations from other Koch-linked groups. Donors Trust, described by Mother Jones as the "dark-money ATM of the right," gave $1,500,000 to GAI in 2013. Donors Trust provides individuals and organizations a way to hide their donations to various right-leaning causes and media outlets, and as Mother Jones noted, they are a key funnel for Koch funds.

    Donors Trust has also heavily funded the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, which itself has donated substantial sums to GAI, including $2 million in 2012.

    As Media Matters has noted, Schweizer gave a February 2014 address to the Charles Koch Institute. He also spoke at an undergraduate Koch Leadership program at Regent University, and according to documents originally obtained by The Nation, he spoke at the Koch's brothers "secret billionaire summit" in June 2014. At the conference, attendees reportedly "discussed strategy on campaign finance, climate change, healthcare, higher education and opportunities for taking control of the Senate." Schweizer previously served as a speechwriter for the Bush White House, as an adviser to Sarah Palin, and as a headliner for multiple Republican Party fundraisers.

  • Fox Kicks Off Clinton Announcement Weekend With Discredited Ed Klein

    Ed Klein's Anti-Clinton Books Have A "Tenuous Relationship With Reality"

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Fox News hosted discredited conspiracy theorist and widely criticized author Ed Klein to kick off the weekend that Hillary Clinton reportedly will announce her candidacy for president.

    Numerous reports announced during the day on April 10 that Clinton will officially launch her campaign on Sunday, April 12. Fox News kicked off the announcement by hosting Edward Klein on the April 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity

    Hannity responded to reports that Clinton is set to announce a presidential campaign by hyping Klein's roundly criticized, imaginary Obama-Clinton feud, stating, "the Obamas and the Clintons, as you have chronicled, they hate each other." Klein used this appearance to push his conspiracy theory that White House adviser Valerie Jarrett leaked the Hillary Clinton email story to the media.

    Klein has written multiple books attempting to smear the Clintons, and his sensationally shoddy efforts have severely damaged his reputation, even among conservatives.

    Klein's The Truth About Hillary was widely mocked; it claimed based on anonymous sources that Chelsea Clinton was conceived when Bill Clinton raped his wife, and floated the "rumor" that Hillary Clinton may be a lesbian.

    Klein's most recent "Anti-Clinton fan fiction," Blood Feud, was so ridiculous it made Megyn Kelly laugh on air, and even Rush Limbaugh and Fox's Brian Kilmeade raised questions about its sourcing.

    As The Washington Post's Jaime Fuller has noted, a "defining characteristic of Klein's biographies ... is that the salacious details revealed often have a tenuous relationship with reality -- as commentators of all ideological stripes have pointed out time and time again." 

  • CNN Quietly Updates Sloppy Report On Clinton Email Printing Costs

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    CNN has quietly revised a sloppy report on the cost and difficulty of reviewing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails, adding to an increasing list of media outlets that have been forced to walk back over-hyped, seemingly-scandalous reports on the topic.

    Clinton's emails have come under scrutiny because she used a personal email account, rather than an official government state.gov account, during her time at the State Department. This was legal and in line with State Department regulations at the time, but a misleading New York Times report has set off a media frenzy. Outlets seem desperate to find a scandal, which is leading them to publish stories before they have all the facts straight.

    On March 11, CNN published an article (which is still available in its original version on Yahoo) noting that Clinton's emails have been submitted for review for public release as printed-out hard copies, rather than electronic documents. The article compares Clinton to trial lawyers engaging in a "data dump" that is designed "to slowdown opponents by drowning them in unorganized information that's difficult to comb through." Elsewhere, CNN claimed of the printed emails (emphasis added):

    By doing it that way, Clinton has made it harder and more expensive for the federal government to quickly review her emails and decide what's OK for the public and what's not.

    As of this morning, however, this inaccurate sentence has been removed from the CNN article, and a key fact was added that was not in the original report (emphasis added):

    [A] State Department official said that printing emails is common practice because they would have to print Clinton's emails in their normal review process.

    The CNN article includes no mention that anything has been updated.

  • Mother Jones: O'Reilly's Argentina Protest Video Exposes His Fabrications

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Bill O'Reilly

    Footage newly uncovered by Mother Jones suggests that Bill O'Reilly's claim that he covered a protest in Argentina in which "many were killed" with "real bullets" is a fabrication. In the footage, which is O'Reilly's own report for CBS News from the violent incident in question, the Fox News host makes no mention of anyone dying and describes police using "tear gas," not live ammunition.

    On February 19, Mother Jones wrote that O'Reilly had never reported from "a war zone, in Argentina, in the Falklands" as he's said in the past. O'Reilly responded by claiming that when he had said he reported from a "war zone," he was specifically describing a 1982 Buenos Aires protest which broke out after Argentina surrendered in the War.

    O'Reilly has frequently hyped the violence at that protest to emphasize his own reporting bona fides, going so far as to call it a "combat situation." For example, O'Reilly claimed in a 2009 interview that during the riot the army shot at protesters with "real bullets," not "tear gas":

    When the riots broke out in the Casa Rosada ... the army was standing between the people and the presidential palace. Here in the United States, we would do tear gas and rubber bullets. They were doing real bullets. They were just gunning these people down, shooting them down in the streets. 

    In his book The No Spin Zone, O'Reilly also described the protest, writing "A major riot ensued and many were killed." And on his now-defunct radio show, O'Reilly claimed:

    I was in the middle of that riot when Argentine soldiers came out of the barracks and got into the streets and actually shot people dead in the street, because people were rioting. And it wasn't like warning shots or rubber bullets or teargas. They were shooting people dead.

    Many of O'Reilly's former colleagues who reported from the same protest, as well as reporters from other outlets and an Argentine historian, have contradicted his claim that there were fatalities.

    Mother Jones has since unearthed O'Reilly's own report from the scene, which makes no mention of live ammunition or deaths. Filed with his then-employer CBS News, O'Reilly's voice can be heard over footage of the protest specifically reporting that "police struck back, firing tear gas and rushing the crowd." He notes "some journalists" got hurt, but describes the incident as a "disturbance" and does not mention anyone dying.

    According to Mother Jones, O'Reilly's report aired on local CBS affiliates at the time.

    O'Reilly initially responded to criticism about his fabrications and exaggerations about his journalistic exploits by attacking his critics as partisan, but he and Fox News have largely fallen silent as evidence mounts against several of his tales.