Julie Alderman

Author ››› Julie Alderman
  • Conservative media use Gianforte assault to attack early voting

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative media are using Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte’s alleged assault against a reporter to push for ending early voting, because voters who have already cast their ballots in today’s election would not be able to consider the assault charge. Right-wing media have repeatedly attacked early voting, even though it allows more people to participate, results in more accurate vote counts, and reduces barriers to voting, including for people of color. Experts also say most early voters are unlikely to change their votes at the last minute.

    After Gianforte, a Republican running for Montana’s lone seat in the House, was charged on May 24 with assaulting a reporter, conservative media figures used the incident to attack early voting. CNN’s Rick Santorum called the alleged assault “another good reason” to end early voting. MSNBC contributor Katie Packer Beeson tweeted that the incident is “another argument against early voting.” HotAir editor Jazz Shaw retweeted Packer Beeson, adding, “Only one of many examples.”

    Right-wing media have a history of attacking early voting, claiming “there’s no reason” for it and saying it “inevitably increases the potential for fraud.” Some have even argued that it violates the Constitution. These claims, however, have been thoroughly debunked.

    Early voting is extremely important. The Washington Post noted that allowing citizens to vote before the official election day  “addresses systemic barriers” minority voters face, and The New York Times reported that “cutbacks in early voting periods … disproportionately affect minorities.” In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled against early voting restrictions in Ohio, pointing out that decreasing early voting disproportionately hurts voters who are “women, older, and of lower income and education attainment.”

    Additionally, experts note that those who vote early tend to do so in the two weeks leading up to an election and are firmly decided on whom they are voting for, meaning last-minute events, however shocking, are unlikely to change their opinions. And while some may come to regret their decisions come Election Day, those numbers are nothing compared to the number of people who would be disenfranchised by eliminating early voting.

  • Sebastian Gorka Was The Only Trump Official On Cable News Last Night

    Have Trump's Media Defenders Finally Had Enough?

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Barely any Republican lawmakers or administration officials defended President Donald Trump on TV news shows after The New York Times reported on a memo from former FBI Director James Comey saying that Trump asked him to halt the ongoing probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    According to the Times’ May 16 report, Comey wrote a memo “shortly after” meeting with Trump in February, saying that the president asked Comey to “shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser.” According to the Times, Trump said to Comey, “I hope you can let this go.”

    Following the release of the report, barely any Republican lawmakers or officials from Trump’s administration could be found defending the president on cable news. One exception was embattled Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, who appeared on the May 16 edition of Fox News’ Hannity claiming that the “fake news” had now turned into “dishonest news” and the press was engaged in “politics above national security.”

    A few elected Republican officials did appear on cable news, but many of the appearances seemed prescheduled. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) was the lone Republican lawmaker bent on defending Trump on cable news, lamenting to MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren that Trump “is not cut a break by anybody” and that the media is “dead set on discrediting” him.

    Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich made a prescheduled appearance at a CNN town hall on May 16. When asked about the new report, Kasich used it to explain why he didn’t vote for Trump in the election.

    Republicans were still scarce on morning news shows the next day. No Republican lawmakers or Trump administration officials appeared on the May 17 editions of the broadcast morning shows. As CBS’ Charlie Rose explained, CBS This Morning “reached out to 20 Republicans senators and representatives to appear on this broadcast. We also reported and requested that someone from the White House join us at any point during our two-hour broadcast to respond to the latest news. All declined our invitation.”

    Similarly, no Republican appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. CNN’s New Day hosted moderates Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). And Fox News hosted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, although Pruitt was not asked about the Times report.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts and SnapStream for elected Republican officials or members of Trump’s administration who appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News on May 16 from 5-11 p.m. and May 17 from 6-9 a.m.

    Media Matters also used SnapStream to search for elected Republican officials or members of the Trump administration on the May 17 editions of ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’ CBS This Morning, and NBC’s Today.

    Dina Radtke contributed research to this piece.

  • Right-Wing Media Turn To Misinformers, Hacks, And Extremists To Defend Trump's Voter Suppression Commission

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Following President Donald Trump’s announcement that he is setting up a commission to review voter fraud allegations -- which experts have decried as a pathway for voter suppression -- right-wing media repeatedly hosted and quoted guests to promote the commission and Trump’s (false) allegations of fraud. These guests and sources are noted liars, nativists, and extremists.

  • Megadonor Super PAC Parrots Media Spin To Attack Georgia’s Jon Ossoff For Out-Of-State Donations

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A Republican-aligned super PAC released an attack ad against Jon Ossoff, a Democrat running for an open U.S. House seat in Georgia, that hypes a media-fueled smear focusing on his out-of-state donations. But the ad comes from a group that relies on big-money donations, most from donors outside of Georgia.

    The Congressional Leadership Fund released an attack ad on May 9 targeting Ossoff, who is running to fill the vacant seat in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. The ad, according to Roll Call, “draws attention to the out-of-state money that has boosted Ossoff.”

    The ad echoes similar smears made by both President Donald Trump, who slammed Ossoff for raising “major outside money,” and media figures who adopted Trump’s spin and glossed over Ossoff’s primary victory by highlighting his out-of-state donations.

    But the Congressional Leadership Fund itself takes millions of dollars from major right-wing campaign donors like the Adelson family as well as dark money groups like the American Action Network. The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) pointed out that the American Action Network, an “out of state dark money” nonprofit, “contributed $3.5 million to its ‘sister’ super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund.” The PAC used over $2.5 million of that money, according to CREW, in an attempt to defeat Ossoff.

    In the 2016 election cycle, the biggest donors to the Congressional Leadership Fund -- which The Atlanta Journal Constitution described as “a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan” -- included Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who own the Las Vegas Review-Journal; Republican mega donor Paul Singer; and investor Charles Schwab. Additionally, according to the group’s pre-special election Federal Election Commission filing report, which details contributions to the PAC up until March 29, it has received only one contribution from an organization or person in the state of Georgia -- Southern Company Services, an electric and power distribution company based in Atlanta, GA, that operates “fossil fuel generating plants.” Most of the big money donations to the PAC leading up to the special election came from the American Action Network, major corporations like the oil and gas company Chevron and Geo Corrections, a for-profit prison firm based in Florida, and Republican megadonors, such as Thomas McInerney.

    In addition, despite the portrait painted by the misleading ad, many of the donations in the race overall have come from outside of Georgia and have primarily gone toward opposing Ossoff. As The Center for Public Integrity noted, ahead of the April primary, Republican-aligned super PACs had spent $5.8 million dollars opposing Ossoff or about 65 percent of all non-candidate spending. In addition, “just one of [the] outside groups spending money to influence the Georgia 6th election ... is headquartered within state lines" and it supported Ossoff to the tune of $1,070 in total. The Center for Public Integrity noted that Ossoff's opponent, Karen Handle, has also taken in outside funds and that "23 percent of Republican candidate Karen Handel's big dollar contributions -- more than $200 per donor -- came from out of state sources."

  • Local Media Covered The GOP Health Care Bill Better Than Cable News Did

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI & JULIE ALDERMAN

    Republican members of the House of Representatives on May 4 voted to gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passing a measure that would make it harder to obtain health insurance and allow states to opt out of requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. While national cable media outlets focused on the “victory” the vote represented for President Donald Trump and the GOP or on the optics of the situation, some local media outlets in states where the impact of the legislation could be immense did a significantly better job at discussing how this bill would affect Americans. Many consulted experts to find out how gutting pre-existing conditions coverage and essential health benefits would make it harder for Americans to afford insurance.

    KVRR, Fargo, ND

    KTWO, Casper, WY

    KTVA, Anchorage, AK

    KNXV, Phoenix, AZ

    KFOR, Oklahoma City, OK

    WPVI, Philadelphia, PA

    KTNV, Las Vegas, NV

    WPLG, Miami, FL

    KNBC, Los Angeles, CA

    KMGH, Denver, CO

  • After 15-Year-Old Jordan Edwards Was Shot Dead By A Police Officer, Cable News Yawned

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN & MADELINE PELTZ

    Cable news devoted minimal coverage to the killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards by a police officer in the days after his death. At a time when President Donald Trump’s administration is taking steps to drastically reduce measures that hold police accountable, the media’s job as a watchdog is of utter importance. In this case, cable news all but abdicated that role.

    Edwards was shot by Officer Roy Oliver in a Dallas suburb on April 29. He died shortly after. A statement from the Balch Springs Police Department released on April 30 stated that Edwards was in “a vehicle backing down the street towards the Officers in an aggressive manner,” which led an officer to shoot at the vehicle. On May 1, however, police “changed their story on the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting,” according to CNN.com, after body camera footage “showed the car was driving forward, away from the officers, not reversing toward them." On May 2, the Balch Springs police chief announced that the department had fired Oliver.

    A Media Matters analysis found the story has barely broken through on cable news, if at all. In the four days after Edwards’ death, MSNBC has mentioned the fatal police shooting four times, while CNN has mentioned it two times. Fox News, however, did not mention the shooting at all. All of the mentions took place on May 2 and 3, meaning the cable networks did not cover the story until it was reported that the officer had lied about his account of the shooting.

    Media coverage of police brutality and abuses of power is especially important under President Trump. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to “cut back on federal oversight of local law enforcement,” USA Today reported. In the memo, Sessions wrote, “It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.” As The Atlantic wrote, “When local governments violate the basic constitutional rights of citizens, Americans are supposed to be able to look to the federal government to protect those rights. Sessions has made clear that when it comes to police abuses, they’re now on their own.”

    With Sessions reducing federal oversight on local law enforcement, the press is one of the most prominent institutions left to hold police accountable for bad behavior. This new reality is worrisome, to say the least, as media outlets have repeatedly criminalized black and other non-white victims of police violence. Additionally, conservative media have repeatedly portrayed advocates calling for reforms to curb police brutality, including Black Lives Matter, as criminals and terrorists. The lack of coverage cable news devoted to Edwards’ death shows that, so far, media haven’t stepped up to the plate.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News on SnapStream for mentions of “Edward” or “Jordan” between April 30 and May 3 and coded for mentions of Jordan Edwards. Mentions were counted if they took place between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m.