Julie Alderman

Author ››› Julie Alderman
  • By The Numbers: 100 Days In, A Look At The Trump Administration's Conflicted Relationship With The Media

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    As President Donald Trump reaches his 100th day in office, his administration’s relations with the press have not improved. Here’s a look at some numbers that exemplify the conflicts, 100 days into his tenure:

    • At least 130: number of times Trump or his administration have attacked the press, per Media Matters’ running tally. [Media Matters, 4/27/17]
    • 30: number of times Trump has used the phrase “fake news” on Twitter since his inauguration. [ProPublica, accessed 4/27/17]
    • Eight: number of times Trump has referred to the “dishonest media” since his inauguration. [ProPublica, accessed 4/27/17]
    • 11: number of national TV interviews the president has done between his inauguration and his hundredth day, according to a Media Matters count.
    • Eight out of 11: number of Trump’s national televised interviews that will have aired on Fox News or Fox Business in his first 100 days, according to a Media Matters count.
    • 16: number of press briefings the State Department has held during the first 100 days of the administration. Under President Barack Obama, the State Department had 63 press briefings within the first 100 days. [The State Department Bureau of Public Affairs, accessed 4/24/17, 4/24/17]
    • At least 14: number of times White House press secretary Sean Spicer has lied to the press during his daily press briefings. [Media Matters, 1/25/17]
    • 27: number of times Spicer has called on the conservative news outlet One America News Network during his press briefings in the first 100 days of the administration according to a Media Matters count. During that same time period, Spicer called on Breitbart 12 times.
    • 50: number of “years of practice” from which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson departed in his decision to travel on an official foreign trip without a press pool, according to The Associated Press. [The Associated Press, 3/14/17]
    • Approximately six: hours of cable news Trump watches per weekday, according to a report compiled by The Washington Post and Axios. [The Washington Post, 1/24/17]
    • 12: number of times Trump has either tweeted at the program Fox & Friends or retweeted the show’s tweets in his first 100 days in office. [ProPublica, accessed 4/24/17]
    • At least four: number of former Fox News personalities Trump has appointed to serve in his administration (Heather Nauert, Ben Carson, Monica Crowley, and KT McFarland). [Fox News, October 2013; NBC, 11/25/16; CNN, 12/15/16; USA Today, 4/25/17]

    Methodology

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

    To determine how many national televised interviews Trump has conducted, Media Matters kept track of all TV appearances and compared the results to a search on Nexis.

    To determine how many times Spicer called on One America News Network and Breitbart during press briefings, Media Matters tracked questions Spicer has answered during the press briefings, coding for the name of the journalist and the outlet the journalist is reporting for.

    To find out how many tweets Trump has sent about Fox & Friends, Media Matters searched the ProPublica database for mentions of “fox” in Trump’s tweets.

  • 4 Women In Sports Journalism Exposing The Truth On Sexual Assault And Domestic Violence In Sports

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Many women reporting on sports in the media have done an incredible job shining a light on the truth regarding the intersection of sports and sexual assault and violence against women. Four women in particular have been unrelenting in their quests to hold those in charge accountable for the systematic mistreatment of women by athletes, some even using their own experiences to better empathize with survivors in their coverage. While women are largely shut out of ESPN’s coverage of these issues, these women deserve recognition for their unique perspectives and insightful commentary.

    Jessica Luther

    Jessica Luther has written extensively on how rape culture intersects with sports, especially at the collegiate level. In her book, Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape, Luther outlines what she calls the “playbook" of how universities and their athletic departments respond to cases of domestic violence or sexual assault, and she creates a new one for addressing sexual assault and college football. Writing for The Dallas Morning News, Luther states, “The first play in this new playbook has to be about consent, because we just don't talk about it enough. Honestly, it's hard to imagine that we could talk about it too much.”

    Luther also outlined her own struggles as a Florida State football fan in navigating “the overlapping of football culture and rape culture,” after a female student said quarterback Jameis Winston raped her, writing in Rewire:

    Football culture clouds our ability to see him as anything other than a famous kid with a nice-guy persona and amazing athletic skills. Rape culture demands that we mistrust the victim, question her credibility, and try to poke holes in her story. It creates this familiar narrative in which people who have invested their own hopes and dreams in Winston claim his innocence immediately and refuse to hear anything else.

    Luther’s innovation and public soul-searching make her an invaluable reporter in this area.

    Amelia Rayno

    Amelia Rayno, now a features writer for Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, is a former sports reporter who invoked her own experience to strengthen the newspaper’s coverage of sexual assault and sports. After Norwood Teague, the University of Minnesota athletic director, resigned amid sexual harassment complaints, Rayno wrote for the paper about a time when Teague had harassed her. In the August 11, 2015, piece she explained:

    Teague asked me about my longtime boyfriend, as he often did. My mistake was acknowledging that we had just broken up. The switch flipped. Suddenly, in a public and crowded bar, Teague tried to throw his arm around me. He poked my side. He pinched my hip. He grabbed at me. Stunned and mortified, I swatted his advances and firmly told him to stop. He didn’t.

    “Don’t deny,” he said, “our chemistry.”

    I told him that he was drastically off base, that my only intention in being there was as a reporter – to which he replied: “You’re all strictly business? Nothing else?”

    I walked out. He followed me. I hailed a cab. He followed me in, grabbing at my arm and scooting closer and closer in the dark back cabin until I was pressed against the door. I told him to stop. I told him it was not OK. He laughed. When I reached my apartment, I vomited.

    Later that night he texted: “Night strictly bitness.’’

    Rayno called the accounts from women who said Teague harassed them “troubling,” “gross,” and “more of the same, all over again.” Rayno’s ability to write about her personal experience as a survivor of sexual harassment to empathize with others and give a deeper account of the story makes her writing on this issue especially important.

    Katie Nolan

    Katie Nolan of Fox Sports has been one of the most outspoken advocates for women in all of sports media. In October, Nolan slammed the NFL and the New York Giants for taking more action against a player who abused a kicking net than against John Brown, a Giants player who admitted in his journal that he had physically and emotionally abused his wife. Nolan called on the league to “get serious” about addressing domestic violence and encouraged officials to adopt a policy where players must participate in counseling and support programs.

    Nolan has also called out a lack of agency among women in sports media, saying in a 2014 video:

    KATIE NOLAN: Women in sports television are allowed to read headlines, patrol sidelines, and generally facilitate conversation for their male colleagues. Sometimes, they even let us monitor the internet from a couch. And while the Stephen A. Smiths, Mike Francesas, Dan Patricks and Keith Olbermanns of the world get to weigh in on the issues of the day, we just smile and throw to commercial.

    Nolan also criticized journalists who asked Dallas Cowboys player Greg Hardy, whose girlfriend said he strangled her, if he found particular women “attractive,” saying they failed to “act with just a shred of human decency.” Nolan’s insightful commentary and willingness to call out the media’s role in normalizing violence against women makes her work impactful.

    Julie DiCaro

    Chicago-based journalist Julie DiCaro has done strong work highlighting sexual assault and reporting on the ways female sports journalists are targeted online. DiCaro has written about her own sexual assault and said it helped her understand the struggles survivors go through, writing for HuffPost:

    I don’t know what happened between Jameis Winston and his accuser. I do know that, after a woman is raped, the prospect of a police interrogation and cross-examination second-guessing your behavior is paralyzing frightening. So frightening in fact, that many of us choose to keep quiet. And I know that every time we see one of these “we can’t prove it” press conferences, it confirms what many of us believe: That unless there are severe injuries and/or witnesses to your rape, you might as well not even bother reporting it.

    DiCaro was also one of the two women behind a 2016 viral video which highlighted the barrage of sexual harassment and threats women in sports journalism face on a daily basis, especially online. DiCaro’s empathy and willingness to bring unsavory issues to the forefront makes her a valuable voice in sports journalism.

    Correction: This piece was updated to correctly identify Julie DiCaro's work affiliation.

  • ESPN’s Repeated Airing Of Duke Lacrosse Documentary Reinforces Myths About Sexual Assault

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A Media Matters analysis found that nearly one-third of the total time that ESPN and its three sister channels devoted to coverage of sexual assault and domestic violence in the beginning of 2017 consisted of repeatedly airing a documentary on sexual assault allegations made against the Duke lacrosse team in 2006. By devoting so much time to one case in which the charges were dropped, ESPN gave fuel to the conservative myth that men are often targeted by women who baselessly accuse them of sexual misconduct.

    Media Matters found that across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN News, the documentary Fantastic Lies aired 11 times in the first three months of 2017. The 2016 ESPN-produced documentary revisits statements made by Crystal Mangum, a black woman who was hired as an exotic dancer, that three members of the Duke lacrosse team raped and sexually abused her. The lawsuit against the three players, who were all white, was later dropped after prosecutors couldn’t substantiate what Mangum had said.

    The same Media Matters analysis found that reports of sexual assault and domestic violence by athletes were prevalent in the first three months of 2017, and that ESPN and its sister channels devoted minimal time to the subject. By frequently airing Fantastic Lies and not covering current cases fully, the ESPN networks are feeding into the conservative myth that women often falsely accuse men of sexual assault. For years, right-wing media figures have been pushing this myth to minimize the ongoing sexual assault epidemic on college campuses. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, only between 2 and 10 percent of rape accusations are falsified. This statistic, however, may include reports that were true but unverified, which the International Association of Chiefs of Police says should not be counted as false allegations.

    And sexual assault is an epidemic. As much as right-wing media continue to downplay it, sexual assault is rampant on college campuses. The Centers for Disease Control found that one in five women will experience sexual assault while they are in college. Just this year, the University of Texas at Austin reported that 15 percent of its female undergraduate students have been raped.

    The Duke lacrosse case specifically has become a focal point for the far right and is emblematic of the stereotypes that men’s rights activists and “alt-right” figures highlight in defense of their movements’ misogyny. The Duke case has now become “a dog-whistle to many on the far right,” according to New York magazine. “Alt-right” leader Richard Spencer told New York magazine, “The Duke lacrosse case changed the course of my career," after he was commissioned to write about the piece for The American Conservative. Spencer later dropped out of college to write for the magazine full time. And Stephen Miller, who is now an adviser to President Donald Trump and has white nationalist ties, became one of the most vocal advocates for the lacrosse players 10 years ago.

    By airing Fantastic Lies so frequently, ESPN is skewing the way people view sexual assault. ESPN’s viewers, who are overwhelmingly male, are presented with a documentary, repeatedly, that reinforces conservative myths about sexual assault. Denying and downplaying this epidemic is irresponsible and no way to reduce the trauma that thousands of women experience.

    Dayanita Ramesh created the graphic for this piece.

  • Right-Wing Media Misinterpret North Carolina Post-Election Audit To Fearmonger About Voter Fraud

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Right-wing media are citing a North Carolina statewide audit of votes cast in the 2016 election to stir fears of widespread voter fraud. The audit itself, however, found that ineligible votes “represented a small fraction of the 4.8 million ballots cast” and found no evidence of rampant voter fraud in North Carolina, conclusions that align with other studies that have also found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

  • STUDY: ESPN's Coverage Of Sexual Assault And Violence Against Women Is Disproportionately Provided By Men

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A Media Matters analysis found that during the first quarter of 2017, ESPN networks relied disproportionately on male guests to discuss domestic violence and sexual assault. Additionally, about one-third of the minimal coverage across ESPN networks was the re-airing of an ESPN documentary highlighting false rape accusations made against the Duke lacrosse team.

  • Fox News Didn't Care About Sexual Harassment Until You Knew About It

    Fox’s Decision To Fire Bill O’Reilly Was Entirely Profit-Driven

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    As Fox News parts ways with longtime host Bill O’Reilly, some may be tempted to claim that his departure is a sign that the network and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, care about women who have been sexually harassed. But the decision has nothing to do with the systemic toxic misogyny Fox News traffics in; it’s about the bottom line.

    Following an April 1 New York Times story reporting that O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox together paid a total of $13 million to five women who said O’Reilly sexually harassed them, dozens of advertisers began to pull their ads from his Fox News program, The O’Reilly Factor. Estimates suggest that the boycott could cost the network nearly $40 million in advertising revenue. It wasn’t until it was faced with this loss in revenue that the media company decided to part ways with O’Reilly.

    If Fox cared about creating a safe workplace culture for women, O’Reilly would have been gone years ago. According to the Times, O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox paid a $9 million settlement in 2004 to O’Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris who reported that O’Reilly harassed her. 21st Century Fox continued to employ O’Reilly and other serial harassers and enablers for more than a decade after that settlement, even re-signing his contract with Fox News through 2020 just weeks ago.

    It’s no secret that Fox News fosters a culture of toxic misogyny. In the past year, several women have come forward saying former CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed them. And the men who went on to replace Ailes have their own histories of covering up serial harassment or reportedly engaging in harassment themselves. The network has continued to hide behind the investigation it commissioned the law firm Paul, Weiss to conduct after women spoke up about Ailes, but that examination has been revealed as a total sham.

    Fox is not even hiding its sexist crap behind the scenes. Just hours after the network announced that O’Reilly was leaving, Fox co-host Greg Gutfeld -- part of The Five, which will soon take over a 9 p.m. slot on the network in the aftermath of O’Reilly’s firing -- engaged in textbook sexual harassment by telling his female colleague that she was giving America an erection. And the other men filling prime-time slots in O’Reilly’s wake are sexist pigs, too.

    Fox News didn’t fire O’Reilly until he was losing the network money. Even then, the top executive was hesitant to let him go. While losing O’Reilly makes Fox a safer place for women to work without fear of harassment, that wasn’t what drove this decision. It was money.

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko

  • Right-Wing Outlets Fabricate A Ben Carson Story

    Conservative Media And Fake News Purveyors Credit Carson With HUD Audit Actually Ordered Under Obama By The Inspector General

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Fringe outlets, forums, fake news purveyors, and right-wing media outlets incorrectly credited House and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson for an audit that found errors in financial statements at the agency. Carson had nothing to do with the audit, which was actually conducted during former President Barack Obama’s administration by the Office of the Inspector General.

  • Media Figures Adopt Trump’s Spin To Whitewash Ossoff’s Showing In Special Election Primary

    Reports On Ossoff’s Fundraising Ignore Advantage Republicans Have From Outside Spending

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Following the special election primary for a vacant House seat in Georgia, media figures are repeating President Donald Trump’s spin highlighting out-of-state donations that helped Democrat Jon Ossoff. The focus on Ossoff’s fundraising, however, ignores the disproportionate advantage the Republican Party and Republican candidates got from outside groups in the race.

  • STUDY: Cable News’ Sporadic Coverage Of Trump's Hidden Tax Returns

    Nearly Half Of Cable News Discussion Of Trump Tax Returns Since Inauguration Occurred Within A Week Of Rachel Maddow’s Tax Exclusive

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A Media Matters study found that between President Donald Trump’s January 20 inauguration and Tax Day, April 18, evening cable news has dedicated only sporadic coverage to Trump’s failure to release his tax returns. And of the 110 segments spread out over three months, nearly half came within a week after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow revealed two leaked pages of Trump’s 2005 tax documents. This inconsistent coverage comes as pressure mounts from activists and Republican lawmakers for the president to release his tax returns, and highlights the media’s inability to consistently report on this story.

  • Iowa Newspapers Largely Fail To Explain How New Bill Will Roll Back Voting Rights

    Papers Also Omit The Cost Of The Bill From Reports

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Iowa newspapers have largely failed to explain the components of a new strict voter ID law aiming to restrict voting rights that Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, is expected to sign this week. By neglecting to mention these provisions in a majority of their news stories, Iowa outlets are omitting information about how the law could disenfranchise an estimated 260,000 voters in Iowa in upcoming elections and add to the state’s ongoing budget problems.

    Branstad is expected to sign a bill that would require Iowans to present specific types of government-issued photo ID to vote. Additionally, the bill includes provisions to cut down early voting, eliminate straight-ticket voting, and reduce the number of days for absentee voting. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate's office estimates that the law “would cost about $1 million to fully implement” even as the “lawmakers already had to make budget cuts” as the state faces “a roughly $110 million shortfall.”

    The top three Iowa newspapers, however, largely failed to include these details in their reporting on the bill between February 1 and April 14. A Media Matters analysis found:

    • Only 11 out of 30 news articles included information about changes to absentee voting.

    • Only 6 out of 30 news articles included information about changes to early voting.

    • Only 12 out of 30 news articles included information about the elimination of straight-ticket voting.

    • Only 11 out of 30 news articles included information about the cost of the bill.

    • Only 9 out of 30 news articles included information about the possible widespread voter disenfranchisement the law could cause.

    The results did vary from paper to paper. For example, the Des Moines Register generally covered these changes and impacts in news articles more than the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Quad Cities Times. However, the Quad City Times published significantly fewer news articles than either the Register or the Gazette, which published nearly the same amount.

    All these provisions that top Iowa newspapers largely failed to report have consequences for voters. In Iowa alone, nearly 700,000 voters requested absentee ballots during the 2016 election. If the bill passes, the changes to absentee voting would likely disenfranchise many of those voters. Early voting is also extremely important, especially for voters of color. As The Washington Post reported, early voting “addresses systemic barriers” minorities face when it comes to voting, adding, “costs associated with voting — in lost pay, in childcare, in transit fares — are higher for minorities and the poor. Which is why they are among the largest beneficiaries of early, flexible voting.” And straight-ticket voting is also an important resource for voters. In a decision that placed an injunction on Michigan’s straight-ticket voting ban, a federal judge wrote that “straight-party voting helps to save time in the voting process,” and banning the practice “would have a larger impact on African-American populations than white ones.”

    Several articles did call out the false notion of voter fraud, which Republicans used to argue for this bill. Eleven of 30 articles noted that widespread voter fraud does not exist. Two articles referenced a specific report by the Associated Press which found that the state had "only been informed of 10 votes that were potentially improper out of 1.6 million cast statewide" in 2016. The report noted that "most of the instances were mistakes rather than fraud, and may not have been stopped by an identification requirement."

    Additionally, the coverage largely neglected to explain the widespread voter disenfranchisement the law could create. Only nine of the 30 articles mention the fact that thousands are at risk of being ineligible to vote. Most of those mentions explained specifically that voters could be ineligible because they may not have the proper ID. According to The Nation, the bill could disenfranchise the 260,000 eligible voters in the state who “don’t have a driver’s license or non-operator ID.”

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa found that the Iowa bill “would make voting more difficult and more confusing for voters.” Voter disenfranchisement has been a consequence of similar voter ID laws, often hitting minority voters the hardest. By not explaining the specific measures in the bill, and the costs attached when it becomes the law, Iowa newspapers largely failed to equip their readers with the proper knowledge about the proposed legislation.

    Methodology

    Media Matters used Nexis to search The Des Moines Register, The Quad City Times, and The Cedar Rapids Gazette for all permutations of the word “vote” within 50 words of either “ID” or “identification” in articles between February 1 and April 14. News articles were included in this study if they were primarily about the state’s proposed voting rights law.

    Articles were then coded for mentions of the cost of the bill and changes made to absentee voting, early voting, and straight-ticket voting, as well as mentions of the fact that voter fraud is not widespread, the ability for the law to disenfranchise voters, and the AP report on the lack of voter fraud in Iowa in 2016.

    Chart by Sarah Wasko