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Julie Alderman

Author ››› Julie Alderman
  • Gerrymandering is ruining our democracy. Will television news ever care?

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Broadcast and cable news’ reluctance to talk about gerrymandering, let alone address the outsized impact it has in state and federal elections, has allowed American democracy to quietly become less representative. As movements build behind redistricting reform, the question remains: Will TV news ever care about gerrymandering?

    A yearlong Media Matters study found that cable news shows brought up gerrymandering in only five segments between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. During that same time period, broadcast morning news programs and nightly newscasts didn’t discuss gerrymandering at all. And this isn’t a new trend; for years, media have shown a reluctance to discuss gerrymandering and redistricting. Given the outsized influence partisan and racial gerrymandering has on American democracy, these issues deserve more coverage.

    Partisan gerrymandering is not exactly new, but since 2010, Republicans have taken it to a new level. The Associated Press (AP) found that in the 2016 election, gerrymandering helped create the conditions that led to “four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones.” Additionally, “among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.” As University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone wrote for HuffPost, “Although partisan gerrymandering has been with us from the beginning, it is now worse than ever, because computer modeling enables legislators to design districts that almost precisely maximize their political advantage.”

    Racial gerrymandering -- which involves "spreading minorities across voting districts, leaving them too few in number in any given district to elect their preferred candidates," or "concentrating the minority vote in certain districts" -- has also helped Republicans hold on to their majority. As The Washington Post's Wonkblog explained, "Since the minority electorate leans liberal, packing minorities has the same effect as packing Democrats, causing the district map to favor Republicans in the same way it favors whites." The New York Times’ editorial board described the radical racial gerrymandering that resulted in unconstitutional districts in North Carolina as the GOP’s “unscrupulous efforts to fence off black communities.”

    While Republicans have been attacking the heart of American democracy, media coverage has been lacking, to say the least. At the same time, activists and politicians from both sides of the aisle have been calling for independent, nonpartisan groups to take the charge on redistricting in the near future. With momentum rising, the question remains: Will media, specifically broadcast and cable news, ever care about gerrymandering? So far, the answer appears to be no.

  • Administration officials proved their loyalty by pushing lies and propaganda about voting

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Officials in President Donald Trump’s administration and those who worked for his presidential campaign took to broadcast and cable news over the past year to spread lies and propaganda about voting, often defending Trump’s debunked claims about massive noncitizen voting and widespread voter fraud.

    Before and after the election, Trump repeatedly hyped debunked theories that widespread voter fraud and massive noncitizen voting “rigged” the election against him and cost him the popular vote. Given the president’s affection for his staunchest cable news defenders, his “TV addiction,” and his desire for loyalty, it makes sense that those seeking to curry favor with Trump took to TV to hype lies about voting. According to a Media Matters analysis of broadcast morning and nightly news as well as prime-time cable news, at least 11 different Trump loyalists made television appearances, often on Fox News, in which they misinformed viewers about voter fraud nearly 120 times:

    • Ben Carson, who now serves as Trump’s secretary for housing and urban development, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news twice from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those two appearances, Carson made two statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made one statement falsely alleging that voter ID laws do not suppress minority turnout in elections.

    • Boris Epshteyn, who previously served as one of Trump’s press officers, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news three times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those three appearances, Epshteyn made four statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made two statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting. Additionally, Epshteyn made two statements falsely claiming that voter ID laws prevent voter fraud and one statement falsely claiming that voter ID laws do not suppress minority turnout in elections.

    • Corey Lewandowski, who previously served as Trump’s campaign manager, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news four times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those four appearances, Lewandowski made 10 statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made four statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

    • J. Christian Adams, who now serves on Trump’s election integrity commission, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news twice from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those two appearances, Adams made six statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting. He also made two statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

    • Jason Miller, who previously served as a senior communications adviser on Trump’s campaign, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news three times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those three appearances, Miller made seven statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made one statement falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting and two statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

    • Jeff Sessions, who now serves as Trump’s attorney general, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news twice from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those two appearances, Sessions made three statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made two statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting and one statement falsely claiming that voter ID laws prevent voter fraud.

    • Kellyanne Conway, who now serves as Trump’s senior counselor, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news 11 times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those 11 appearances, Conway made 13 statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. She also made four statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting and two statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

    • Kris Kobach, who now serves as vice chair of Trump’s election integrity commission, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news four times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those four appearances, Kobach made 12 statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made seven statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting and one statement baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud. Additionally, Kobach made one statement falsely claiming that voter ID laws prevent voter fraud and four statements falsely claiming that voter ID laws do not suppress minority turnout in elections.

    • Michael Cohen, who served as a surrogate during the presidential campaign, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news once from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. During his appearance, Cohen made six statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made three statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

    • Mike Pence, who now serves as Trump’s vice president, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news four times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those four appearances, Pence made 12 statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud (but also one statement correctly stating that widespread voter fraud does not exist). He also made two statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

    • Mike Pompeo, who now serves as Trump’s CIA director, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news once from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. During his appearance, Pompeo made one statement falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made one statement falsely claiming that voter ID laws prevent voter fraud.

    Methodology

    Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts for evening cable news programs and broadcast morning news and evening newscasts from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. We included the following programs in the data: ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight, CBS’ CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News, NBC’s Today and NBC Nightly News, CNN’s The Situation Room, Erin Burnett OutFront, Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN Tonight, Fox News’ The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren*, On the Record with Brit Hume*, Tucker Carlson Tonight*, First 100 Days*, The Story*, The O’Reilly Factor*, The Kelly File*, and Hannity, and MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily, For the Record with Greta*, Hardball with Chris Matthews, All In with Chris Hayes, The Rachel Maddow Show, and The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell. Due to the substantial reorganization of Fox News’ programming during the study period, programs that were either added or removed from the network during the study period are marked with an asterisk. During the study period, Greta Van Susteren moved to MSNBC and began hosting a program there; unlike with the network’s previous 6 p.m. programming, the transcripts for this program were included in the Nexis database, and thus were included.

    For this study, Media Matters included only those segments where the stated topic of conversation was voting rights or issues related to voting, or where “substantial discussion” of these topics occurred. We defined “substantial discussion” as that where two or more speakers had at least one direct exchange on the topic. Host monologues were also included only when the speaker made two independent mentions of voting or voting rights within the same segment. We did not include statements made in news or video clips in edited news packages except those made by a network correspondent. If news packages aired more than once, Media Matters coded only the first unique appearance. Similarly, if a live event -- such as a town hall or public forum -- was held during regularly scheduled programming, these segments were also excluded because the participants were not network or media guests.

    The resulting 561 segments were then coded for the mention of one or more of four general topics of conversation: logistical barriers to voting on the state level, the election, legal issues, and gerrymandering. Segments were also coded for the number of accurate or inaccurate statements each speaker made about six topics: widespread voter fraud, massive noncitizen voting, voter ID laws, voter registration inaccuracies, early voting, and gerrymandering. The statements coded for were:

    • There is widespread voter fraud (inaccurate).

    • Widespread voter fraud does not exist (accurate).

    • There is massive noncitizen voting (inaccurate).

    • Massive noncitizen voting does not exist (accurate).

    • Voter ID laws are useful to fight voter fraud (inaccurate).

    • Voter ID laws would do little combat voter fraud (accurate).

    • Voter ID laws do not affect voter turnout (inaccurate).

    • Voter ID laws disenfranchise voters, especially minority voters (accurate).

    • Voter registration inaccuracies lead to voter fraud (inaccurate).

    • Voter registration inaccuracies are different from voter fraud (accurate).

    • Early voting leaves elections more susceptible to voter fraud (inaccurate).

    • Early voting does not leave elections more susceptible to voter fraud (accurate).

    • Gerrymandering has not contributed to an outsized Republican majority on a federal and state level (inaccurate).

    • Gerrymandering has contributed to an outsized Republican majority on a federal and state level (accurate).

  • CNN’s voting rights coverage demonstrates its Trump sycophant problem

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Over the past year, CNN diluted its coverage of voting issues by stocking its discussion panels with pro-Trump sycophants who consistently lied to prop up the president’s false claims about voter fraud in the 2016 election. CNN’s panelists stood in contrast to the channel’s reporters, who were somewhat more proactive in calling out Trump’s debunked claims of widespread voter fraud and illegal voting.

    During (and since) the election, CNN was widely criticized for adding as commentators a roster of Trump loyalists, including former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), conservative commentators Scottie Nell Hughes and Kayleigh McEnany, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and Jeffrey Lord, former White House staffer under then-President Ronald Reagan (Hughes and Lewandowski have since left CNN). Over the past year, these sycophants have used their platform on the network to spew lies about voting and have repeatedly defended Trump’s debunked claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election.

    • Lewandowski made 14 false statements about voting during his four appearances on CNN between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, to discuss the topic.

    • Lord made 21 false statements about voting during his 13 appearances on CNN between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, to discuss the topic.

    • McEnany made 41 false statements about voting during her 11 appearances on CNN between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, to discuss the topic

    • Santorum made eight false statements about voting during his one appearance on CNN between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, to discuss the topic.

    • Hughes made three false statements about voting during her one appearance on CNN between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, to discuss the topic.

    This barrage of lies from CNN’s pro-Trump coalition stands in contrast to the network’s reporters, who made somewhat of an effort to call out Trump’s lies about voting. During the same period, CNN correspondents Jeff Zeleny, Jim Acosta, Dana Bash, and Drew Griffin made a total of 85 true statements about voting and refrained from repeating any of the falsehoods their conservative colleagues pushed.

    Ideally, panelists are supposed to engage in a healthy discussion based on a shared set of facts. But CNN’s Trump surrogates prop up lies when they discuss voting, often to defend the president and his alternate reality.

    Methodology

    Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts for evening cable news programs and broadcast morning news and evening newscasts from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. We included the following programs in the data: ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight, CBS’ CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News, NBC’s Today and NBC Nightly News, CNN’s The Situation Room, Erin Burnett OutFront, Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN Tonight, Fox News’ The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren*, On the Record with Brit Hume*, Tucker Carlson Tonight*, First 100 Days*, The Story*, The O’Reilly Factor*, The Kelly File*, and Hannity, and MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily, For the Record with Greta*, Hardball with Chris Matthews, All In with Chris Hayes, The Rachel Maddow Show, and The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell. Due to the substantial reorganization of Fox News’ programming during the study period, programs that were either added or removed from the network during the study period are marked with an asterisk. During the study period, Greta Van Susteren moved to MSNBC and began hosting a program there; unlike with the network’s previous 6 p.m. programming, the transcripts for this program were included in the Nexis database, and thus were included.

    For this study, Media Matters included only those segments where the stated topic of conversation was voting rights or issues related to voting, or where “substantial discussion” of these topics occurred. We defined “substantial discussion” as that where two or more speakers had at least one direct exchange on the topic. Host monologues were also included only when the speaker made two independent mentions of voting or voting rights within the same segment. We did not include statements made in news or video clips in edited news packages except those made by a network correspondent. If news packages aired more than once, Media Matters coded only the first unique appearance. Similarly, if a live event -- such as a town hall or public forum -- was held during regularly scheduled programming, these segments were also excluded because the participants were not network or media guests.

    The resulting 561 segments were then coded for the mention of one or more of four general topics of conversation: logistical barriers to voting on the state level, the election, legal issues, and gerrymandering. Segments were also coded for the number of accurate or inaccurate statements each speaker made about six topics: widespread voter fraud, massive noncitizen voting, voter ID laws, voter registration inaccuracies, early voting, and gerrymandering. The statements coded for were:

    • There is widespread voter fraud (inaccurate).

    • Widespread voter fraud does not exist (accurate).

    • There is massive noncitizen voting (inaccurate).

    • Massive noncitizen voting does not exist (accurate).

    • Voter ID laws are useful to fight voter fraud (inaccurate).

    • Voter ID laws would do little combat voter fraud (accurate).

    • Voter ID laws do not affect voter turnout (inaccurate),

    • Voter ID laws disenfranchise voters, especially minority voters (accurate).

    • Voter registration inaccuracies lead to voter fraud (inaccurate).

    • Voter registration inaccuracies are different from voter fraud (accurate).

    • Early voting leaves elections more susceptible to voter fraud (inaccurate).

    • Early voting does not leave elections more susceptible to voter fraud (accurate).

    • Gerrymandering has not contributed to an outsized Republican majority on a federal and state level (inaccurate).

    • Gerrymandering has contributed to an outsized Republican majority on a federal and state level (accurate)

  • STUDY: Voting rights coverage was dominated by Trump's lies and ignored systemic problems

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs and broadcast morning shows and nightly newscasts found that discussions of voting rights and issues related to voting featured misinformation pushed by Republican lawmakers and were dominated by President Donald Trump’s false claims about voter fraud and noncitizen voting. Additionally, coverage also lacked discussions of gerrymandering, the impact of voter suppression on the 2016 election, and laws on the state level to curb voting rights.

  • 6 key mistakes media made in covering the health care debate

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    In the wee hours of the morning of July 28, Democrats, activists, and three Republican senators just barely thwarted the GOP’s attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Ever since President Donald Trump pledged to make repealing the ACA one of his first priorities as president -- and Republicans retreated to secrecy to take health care away from tens of millions of people -- media have continuously made six key mistakes in their health care coverage.

    Ignoring diversity and intersectionality

    During the health care debate, broadcast and cable news largely marginalized key perspectives from those who would be among the most affected by the legislation. This, in turn, correlated with a lack of coverage on how those same people would be affected by the legislation. Like the GOP, broadcast and cable news relied almost solely on white men to discuss the bill. This absence of diverse voices correlated with little to no coverage of how the legislation would affect marginalized groups, like the LGBTQ community and people of color.

    At its core, health care is an intersectional issue. As the American Medical Association noted, “Intersectionality has much to offer to population health in providing more precise identification of inequalities, in developing intervention strategies, and ensuring results are relevant within specific communities.” But this message was absent from most broadcast and cables news coverage of the GOP health care plans.

    Focusing on process over consequences

    Throughout the debate, media were focused heavily on the process behind the bill, highlighting vote counts and speculating about support. At the same time, key consequences of the bills were barely noted. A Media Matters study found that on cable news, the negative impacts of the bills were drowned out by discussion of the process. Cable and broadcast networks also largely ignored personal stories by those who would be most impacted by the bills. At every stage, the impact of the bills was whitewashed by the media, including Sunday morning political shows, national newspapers, cable morning shows, and some local newspapers.

    Letting the GOP off the hook for sabotage efforts

    Right-wing media also adopted the GOP’s revisionist history when it came to the ACA and allowed Republican lawmakers to escape responsibility for their years-long efforts to sabotage the health care law. Right-wing media repeatedly pointed to things like insurer withdrawals from the exchanges and slight downturns in gains brought about by the law to claim the ACA was “struggling,” or even in a “death spiral.” In doing so, right-wing media conveniently forgot that the GOP has sabotaged the law every chance it could by eliminating the risk corridor provision of the law, refusing to build insurance markets in several states, rejecting federal dollars to expand Medicaid, and not appropriating “dedicated funds” to implement the law.

    The Trump era has seen even more extensive sabotage efforts. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities chronicled over a dozen ways the Trump administration has already weakened the law. And recently, Trump renewed his threat to end cost sharing payments to insurers, a move that would put the market in shambles.

    Not challenging Republicans

    Not only were Republicans relatively unscathed by their efforts to sabotage the ACA, but television reporters and hosts also allowed them to push misinformation by failing to debunk their claims. Throughout the debate, Republicans took to broadcast and cable news to push falsehoods in order to gain support for their various plans to repeal and replace the ACA. Sunday shows, in particular, proved to be a fruitful platform for GOP lawmakers to lie about the law.

    When Trump gave a blockbuster interview on July 19 to The New York Times, all three reporters failed to push the president on health care policy as the bill was coming to a vote in the Senate. Similarly, MSNBC’s Morning Joe allowed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to push a nonsense claim that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which found the bills would throw tens of millions of people off insurance, had a methodology akin to astrology.

    Pushing unworkable solutions

    Right-wing media used the debate to push some of their favorite health care policies, even though they all fall somewhere between unworkable and disastrous. One of the most popular policy proposals was high-risk pools, which have “a lousy history” and have been “prohibitively expensive for consumers.” Additionally, Fox News’ Marc Siegel praised health savings accounts, which “primarily benefit the wealthy, the healthy, and the educated,” not the uninsured.

    Perhaps the most dangerous solution pushed by right-wing media was one that almost became law: repealing the ACA without a replacement plan. The CBO said such a move would have left 32 million people uninsured and premiums doubled, by 2026.

    Ignoring the debate all together

    Perhaps the most ridiculous mistake television and print media made during the health care debate was ignoring it. While Senate Republicans used an “almost-unprecedented opacity” to craft the bill, media let them get away with it by either not reporting or burying reports on the legislation. One of the worst offenders of this strategy was Fox’s Sean Hannity who somehow discussed Hillary Clinton more than the health care bill as the Senate was voting on it.

  • How Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson are (still) ignoring the health care debate

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    As Senate Republicans began holding votes to take away health care from tens of millions of Americans, Fox News’ Sean Hannity still chose to focus primarily on phony Clinton pseudo-scandals. Similarly, Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight focused on irrelevant and often offensive stories while largely ignoring health care. Even The Five, which did discuss health care at length, made time for a segment hyping Democratic frustrations with Hillary Clinton.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on July 24 that the Senate would be holding a vote on whether to proceed to debate on the various Republican proposals to repeal and, in some cases, replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which have been projected to take away health care from upward of 22 million people ("straight repeal" would strip away insurance from 32 million). On July 25, the Senate narrowly approved a motion to proceed to debate and then rejected the first plan McConnell put up to a vote.

    Despite the new actions on health care, Fox News’ prime-time shows focused nearly as much on bogus Clinton scandals and political intrigue as they did on health care on July 24 and July 25. A Media Matters analysis found that Fox’s prime-time line-up of Hannity, The Five, and Tucker Carlson Tonight spent 35 minutes and 49 seconds discussing health care while devoting 34 minutes and 56 seconds to discussions of the Clintons.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Of the three programs, Hannity’s coverage, unsurprisingly, was the most skewed. Over the two-day period, Hannity spent 13 minutes and 4 seconds on health care while devoting 30 minutes and 42 seconds to the Clintons. Even as senators were taking votes on health care, Hannity ran two full segments on the Clintons and spoke about health care in brief spurts of less than two minutes throughout the show.

    Meanwhile, while the Senate was voting on health care, Tucker Carlson avoided discussing it at all. On the July 25 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host went live to President Donald Trump’s rally in Ohio for 10 minutes and 57 seconds. Carlson did manage to spend 17 seconds on health care during his July 24 broadcast, which was mainly a video of Trump lamenting Obamacare.

    Instead of covering health care or the Clintons, Carlson focused his attention on stories that were either offensive or non-urgent.

    Unlike the other prime-time shows, Fox News’ The Five spent a significant amount of time discussing the health care bills. But the hosts also made time for a segment on Democrats criticizing Hillary Clinton.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of health care, healthcare, Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA, Senate health, GOP health, or Republican health, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Obama care, and Obamacare, as well as Bill, Hillary, and Clinton on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Five, and Hannity on July 24 and 25.

    Conversations were included in this study if health care or the Clintons was the stated topic or discussion or if two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed health care or the Clintons with one another. If a speaker mentioned health care or the Clintons in a multitopic segment and no other speaker in that segment engaged with the comment, then it was excluded from the analysis as a passing mention. All teasers of upcoming segments about health care or the Clintons were excluded from the analysis.

    The amount of time spent on Trump’s rally was calculated by monitoring it from beginning to end on Tucker Carlson Tonight.

  • Fox & Friends leaves out that Obamacare mother actually benefited from the law

    Hosts also pressure Republicans and deflect blame from Trump

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    As the Senate Republicans prepared to vote on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Fox & Friends spent the morning misleading its audience about congressional procedure heading into the vote, omitting key details in an interview with a critic of the ACA (a mother who blamed health care reform for a lack of options for her son's care), and failing to mention that the GOP sabotaged the ACA for years. The hosts also, directly and indirectly, pressured Republicans into voting for the bill while shifting blame away from President Donald Trump if it fails.

    One of the first health care segments on the July 25 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends was an interview with Marjorie Weer, a mother who was invited to the White House on July 24 to serve as an example of someone victimized by Obamacare.

    During the interview, Weer discussed her son’s disability and said the ACA has made it more difficult for her son to get care. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt, who conducted the interview, left out a few previously reported details of Weer’s story wherein her family directly benefitted from health care reform. A July 24 article in The Post and Courier pointed out that Weer and her family “benefited from the Obamacare provision that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to an individual because of a preexisting condition.” The Weer family also benefited from another provision banning “lifetime spending limits.”

    Additionally, Earhardt failed to note that cuts to Medicaid in the Republican-authored bills under consideration in Congress would cause sweeping cuts to special education programs, which would presumably be important to many families with a child who has a disability. During her Post and Courier interview, Weer admitted that her son has actually benefitted from Medicaid, which she called a “lifesaver” before endorsing efforts to “rein it in.” The Post and Courier added: "Ultimately, Weer said, she felt fairly confident that under the Senate Republican bill, preexisting conditions protections would be preserved, along with the ban on lifetime spending caps. Whether the legislation sufficiently accomplishes these goals is, in fact, subject to debate between supporters and critics."

    The topic of health care also came up when the hosts of Fox & Friends interviewed Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) later on in the program.

    In the interview, co-host Steve Doocy attempted to pressure Manchin into voting for a motion to proceed to a debate for legislation to replace the ACA by misleadingly suggesting that senators “can offer up amendments and change it to anyway you want it.” Doocy added that it appeared as if Democrats “are a party of no” because they do not support a motion to proceed. Manchin corrected Doocy, telling him, “That’s not the way it works in the real world.” Manchin pointed out that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would be able to control what amendments are in the bill and would have the power to exclude Democratic amendments.

    During a later segment, co-host Ed Henry also framed the Senate vote by laying out the current state of Obamacare, saying that the health care system was “struggling” with costs and falsely claiming, “the exchanges are falling apart.”

    Henry also brought up “the destruction of the exchanges” again when he was recapping Weer’s interview.

    Henry left out some important context. The challenges the exchanges face today are largely due to Republican sabotage at the state and federal level. As The Washington Post noted, Republicans in Congress blocked funding to build a federal exchange and urged Republican-led states to “refuse to build their own insurance marketplaces.” Additionally, Politico reported, “Congressional Republicans refused repeatedly to appropriate dedicated funds" needed for the federal government to "take at least partial responsibility for creating marketplaces serving 36 states" that “declined to create their own state insurance exchanges.” Republican stonewalling left "the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies to cobble together HealthCare.gov by redirecting funds from existing programs," according to Politico.

    Fox & Friends also spent time pressuring Republican senators, either directly or indirectly, to support the bill. In an interview with Fox contributor Newt Gingrich, Doocy suggested that if they don’t support the bill, Republicans could look like they were “fibbing” when they promised for years to repeal the ACA.

    And in an interview with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has spoken out against both the health care reform law and numerous GOP replacement plans, Doocy said that “millions of people who voted for you guys are going to be disappointed” if any Republican senators object to proceeding with debate.

    As Obamacare’s fate is uncertain for the time being, the hosts covered their bases and attempted to deflect blame from Trump if the bills under consideration in the Republican-controlled Congress fail. Earhardt asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders if Trump would “take the blame” if a repeal bill does not pass, leaving Huckabee Sanders to defend her boss and pre-emptively slam congressional Republicans.

  • ABC's This Week to host Eric Bolling, a misogynistic, bigoted birther from Fox News

    Fox luminary to join Sunday show panel

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Fox News host and Trump shill Eric Bolling is scheduled to appear as a panelist on ABC’s This Week. Aside from cheerleading everything President Donald Trump says and does, Bolling was a prominent birther who challenged former President Barack Obama’s legitimacy, as well as a racist, sexist and Islamophobic conspiracy theorist.

    Bolling has been one of Trump’s most outspoken media sycophants, even on Fox News. He’s dismissed Trump’s lies, downplayed the controversies surrounding the president, and deflected blame from Trump and his allies. Even his colleagues at Fox News have called him a “Trump apologist.” Bolling has also criticized the integrity of the host of This Week, George Stephanopoulos. In October, Bolling speculated that Good Morning America, ABC’s morning show which Stephanopoulos also hosts, did not cover hacked emails from former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s top aides released on WikiLeaks because Stephanopoulos used to work for former President Bill Clinton.

    Bolling’s affection for Trump makes sense. After all, they both have a history of using racist, sexist and Islamophobic rhetoric, as well as a pattern of hyping conspiracy theories.

    “Boobs on the ground” and more casual sexism

    Bolling had a pattern of making sexist remarks as a co-host of Fox News’ The Five. In 2014, Bolling had to apologize for asking if the first female pilot for the United Arab Emirates, who conducted bombing against Islamic State terrorists, “would … be considered boobs on the ground.” Later that year, Bolling said men are “more successful ... and better leaders” than women. In 2013, he lamented that allowing young girls to play football was part of “the wussification of American men.” The year before, he had criticized a story of a 9-year-old girl playing football, saying, “Let the boys be boys, let the girls be girls.” And in 2015, Bolling cackled in response to co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle’s remark that “anything a guy can do, a woman can do better.”

    “Step away from the crack pipe” and other racist remarks

    Bolling also has a history of racist remarks. In 2012, Bolling told Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who is African-American, that she should “step away from the crack pipe.” Bolling also lectured "rappers" last year, saying that they should be happy because white people are “financing their lifestyles” by buying their music. When the Gabonese president Ali Bongo visited the White House during the Obama administration, Bolling characterized it as "a hoodlum in the hizzouse." Bolling also criticized Obama's leadership in 2011 by claiming the first African-American president was "chugging a few 40s" instead of doing his job. 

    Bolling has said that racism doesn’t exist anymore, because the U.S. elected a black president and there are “black entertainment channels.” He has also argued, “There’s no racial aspect of [police] profiling” and called Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder “race merchants” for defending the Voting Rights Act.

    “Every terrorist on American soil has been a Muslim,” and other everyday Islamophobia

    Bolling has also made a series of Islamophobic remarks on Fox News. In 2012, Bolling alleged that “every terrorist on American soil has been a Muslim.” Bolling also opposed the proposal to build a Muslim community center near ground zero in New York City, suggesting it could be “a meeting place for some of the scariest minds,” even “some of the biggest terrorist minds.”

    In addition to his own rhetoric, Bolling has defended Islamophobic remarks made by others. After then-presidential candidate Ben Carson said in 2015 that the U.S. shouldn’t elect a Muslim president, Bolling defended him, saying, “Unless you’re willing to denounce Sharia law as the governing law over yourself, and anyone you oversee, I wouldn’t vote for a Muslim either.” Bolling also defended Trump’s false claim that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheered on 9/11 as the twin towers came down, alleging, “I know there were Muslims and Muslim groups who were happy that the World Trade Center came down.”

    Birtherism, Muppets, and other conspiracy theories from Bolling

    During his time at Fox News, Bolling has pushed a number of conspiracy theories. He was a big force behind the “birther” conspiracy theory that alleged that Obama was not born in the U.S. After Obama released his long-form birth certificate, Bolling still claimed, that “there is a legitimate question as to whether or not the president of the United States is allowed to be president of the United States.” Bolling took it upon himself to thoroughly examine Obama’s birth certificate on air, even speculating that the certificate’s border showed it may have been photoshopped.

    Bolling also speculated about the death of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich who was murdered in 2016, dismissing the police conclusion that his death was the result of a botched robbery: “It’s clearly not a robbery. There wasn’t a robbery. … This was a hit.” Bolling concluded that there’s “lots of smoke right now” and that the death was “like an episode of Homeland.”

    Beyond that, Bolling has pushed a number of other conspiracy theories, alleging that Obama was trying to “bring people closer to the cities” to keep an eye on them and questioning whether Obama “let” an oil rig leak so he “could renege on his promise” to “allow some offshore drilling.” Perhaps his most entertaining conspiracy theory came in 2011 when Bolling wondered if “liberal Hollywood was using class warfare [in a Muppets movie] to brainwash our kids”:

    Just this week, Bolling lived up to his reputation when he suggested that “maybe the Russians were colluding with Hillary Clinton to get information on Donald Trump,” claimed he was unsure “if the climate’s getting warmer or colder,” and attempted to deflect from reports of a previously undisclosed meeting Trump had with Russian President Vladimir Putin at last week’s G-20 conference, calling it a “fake news headline” “generated by the biased left media.”

  • Somehow, Sean Hannity managed to talk about Hillary Clinton more than health care in the last week

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Over the past week, Senate Republicans worked tirelessly to take health insurance away from 32 million people -- or slightly fewer, paired with giant tax cuts for their wealthiest friends. However, Hannity viewers might have thought we were still in the election cycle of 2016 and that the news of the week actually revolved around former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

    A Media Matters analysis found that from July 13 to 19, Fox News’ Sean Hannity devoted more time to so-called “scandals” surrounding Hillary Clinton than to health care -- spending 1 hour, 7 minutes and 51 seconds on his prime-time show on the Clintons compared to 44 minutes and 34 seconds on health care.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Although one whose main source for news is Hannity might not realize it, there has been a lot of health care news in the past week. On July 13, the Senate finally unveiled its newest plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). By July 17, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) had announced they wouldn’t be supporting the motion to proceed on the bill, effectively killing the legislation. The same night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that Republicans would move forward with a straight repeal, an idea that met its demise the next day. The Senate GOP’s health care bills have been almost universally criticized and marred by bad poll numbers. Amid the negative coverage of the latest bill, it appears as if Hannity chose instead to focus his attention, and his viewers’, on a common right-wing foe instead: Hillary Clinton.

    Hannity’s obsessive Clinton chatter focused on bogus and debunked smears, including accusations that she colluded with Ukraine:

    Hannity also hyped a previously debunked smear from the error-filled book Clinton Cash that as secretary of state, Clinton approved the transfer of up to 20 percent of America’s uranium to Russia:

    Hannity’s absurd focus on Clinton and sycophantic coverage of President Donald Trump are nothing new. But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Hannity’s Clinton crusade is an attempt to paint an alternate reality for his viewers -- a reality where Clinton “scandals” are more relevant than Trump’s disastrous policy agenda. It’s clear that not only is Hannity incapable of moving past the 2016 election, but that the only move he has in his playbook is attacking Clinton.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts and SnapStream for mentions of health care, healthcare, Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA, Senate health, GOP health, or Republican health, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Obama care, and Obamacare, as well as Bill, Hillary, and Clinton on Fox News’ Hannity between July 13 and 19.

    Conversations were included in this study if health care or the Clintons was the stated topic or discussion or if two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed health care or the Clintons with one another. If a speaker mentioned health care or the Clintons in a multitopic segment and no other speaker in that segment engaged with the comment, then it was excluded from the analysis as a passing mention. All teasers of upcoming segments about health care or the Clintons were excluded from the analysis.

  • 6 months later: Trump’s war on the press, by the numbers

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN


    Sarah Wasko/Media Matters

    President Donald Trump and his administration have waged an unprecedented war on the media since he took office. Here’s a look at some numbers that exemplify the conflicts, six months after his inauguration:

    • Over 200: number of times Trump or his administration have attacked the press, per Media Matters’ running tally. [Media Matters, accessed 7/20/17]

    • 69: number of times Trump has used the phrase “fake news” or “fakenews” on Twitter. [Trump Twitter Archive, accessed 7/20/17]

    • 16: number of national TV interviews the president has done between his inauguration and the six-month anniversary of his inauguration, according to a Media Matters count.

    • 10 out of 16: number of Trump’s national televised interviews that aired on Fox News or Fox Business in his first six months in office, according to a Media Matters count.

    • 21: number of days since the last on-camera White House press briefing, according to The Associated Press. [The Associated Press, 7/17/17]

    • 46: number of times Trump has either tweeted at the program Fox & Friends or retweeted the show’s tweets in his first six months in office. [Trump Twitter Archive, accessed 7/20/17]

    • One: number of solo press conferences Trump has held since inauguration. [The American Presidency Project, accessed 7/20/17]

    • 43: percentage of people who trust Trump more than CNN, according to a SurveyMonkey poll. [Axios, 7/4/17]

    • 50: percentage of people who trust CNN more than Trump, according to a SurveyMonkey poll. [Axios, 7/4/17]

    • 22: percent of the accounts Trump follows on Twitter that are or have been affiliated with Fox News. [Twitter, accessed 7/20/17]

    Methodology

    To determine how many times Trump has tweeted the words “fake news” since his inauguration, Media Matters searched the Trump Twitter Archive database for Trump’s tweets containing the phrase “fake news” and “fakenews.”

    To determine how many national televised interviews Trump has conducted since his inauguration, Media Matters searched ProPublica’s database for the interviews Trump conducted.

    To determine how many tweets Trump has sent about Fox & Friends since his inauguration, Media Matters searched the Trump Twitter Archive database for mentions of the show’s Twitter handle, “@foxandfriends,” in Trump’s tweets.