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  • Public Media Executives: Trump's "Foolish" Public Broadcasting Cuts Will Hurt “Small-Town America”

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    President Donald Trump’s proposal to gut funding for public broadcasting in his new budget released Thursday would mostly harm residents of small rural towns, many of who are Republican voters, according to public TV and radio executives.

    The 2018 budget plan from the White House would eliminate all federal subsidies for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which was allotted $445 million to fund local National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations and productions in the 2017 federal budget. Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services -- which totaled more than $500 million in the 2017 budget -- would also be eliminated. 

    While some of the larger stations would see a smaller reduction in their budgets -- between 2 percent and 7 percent -- some smaller stations in rural areas depend on the funding for up to 30 percent of their operating costs, station managers say. And many of those stations are often one of the few sources for news and information in their locations.

    “At smaller radio stations, there is no question the cuts would be more significant, for stations in rural areas particularly where there are strong constituents for Donald Trump, one of the ironies,” said Bill Davis, president of Southern California Public Radio, which operates several stations led by KPCC in Pasadena. “It would be a significant hit at every level of decentralized public media we have here. You are going to have different impacts, but they are all pretty significant.”

    For his stations, it would mean a $1.2 million to $1.4 million annual reduction. “That would be a cut of about 12 employees,” he said. “It’s a real hit. Even at the largest station level, this will have potential significant consequences.”

    William J. Marrazzo, CEO of Philadelphia's WHYY-TV and WHYY-FM, agreed.

    “The lion’s share of the money does find its way into local station hands and the term is Community Service Grants,” he said. “The CPB makes definite grants to local public television and local public radio stations.”

    He said about 7 percent of his budget comes from the federal government, around $2.5 million per year. But smaller stations need it even more.

    “It puts more of the money into communities that don’t have that local infrastructure to build out that universal access model,” Marrazzo said. “It hurts. It’s a very tiny percentage of the federal appropriation and any cut of any size is coming at a time when there is growing evidence that the American public wants more and more from its local public media companies. It is clear by all the research that we conduct that public media has the most trusted form of news and information, that public media has the easiest portal to giving people access to creative expression.”

    Public broadcasting veterans and local executives stressed that the biggest impact of such cuts will be on the most needy citizens, those with few free broadcasting options.

    “Public stations provide truthful journalism, cultural, educational content throughout the country and today, 170 million people from urban and rural areas alike enjoy and learn from their local public stations that provide content that commercial broadcasting cannot produce,” Anthony Brandon, president and general manager of WYPR Public Radio in Baltimore, said via email. “De-funding public media is foolish and hurts local stations in red and blue states. We hope Congress will think of the origins of the CPB while the funding debate goes on.”

    Jeffrey Dvorkin, a former vice president of news and information at NPR and former NPR ombudsman, called the cuts “very disturbing.”

    “In the past, public broadcasting has had very strong support in Republican districts. They are listening and it is reasonably balanced,” he said. “In my time at NPR I heard from a lot of conservatives who did not always agree, but they liked the programming. In some important ways public broadcasting is infrastructure, it is important.”

    He said CPB pays for up to 30 percent of operational budgets for many stations in smaller areas with smaller populations.

    “Small-town America in the middle of the country, in Alaska, where there’s a large population of people who depend on broadcasters for an informational lifeline,” Dvorkin said. “The whole concept of what is in the public interest has been hijacked by conservative think tanks and thinking.”

    Asked what will happen if the funding is cut so dramatically, Dvorkin said, “It will be a monopoly situation for talk radio because as some of these stations are finding out now they cannot exist. As these stations are driven close to bankruptcy, their license will be picked up by talk radio and commercial TV.”

    Alicia Shepard, a former NPR ombudsman, called this funding threat among “the most serious” in NPR and PBS history.

    "This is not the first time, they are threatened. But it is the most serious,” she said via email. “It would be a big mistake to eliminate funding for NPR and PBS.  The amount that goes to fair, balanced and thoughtful reporting is minuscule in comparison to the defense budget.” She also noted, “let's not forget that PBS and NPR act as the government's emergency broadcasting network. And in rural areas, PBS and NPR might be all people have access to."

    Leaders of the CPB and PBS each issued strong criticisms of the budget plan today.

    "PBS and our nearly 350 member stations, along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said in her statement. “We have always had support from both parties in Congress, and will again make clear what the public receives in return for federal funding for public broadcasting. The cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse."
     
    She also cited two new national surveys -- by conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports and from collaboration of Republican polling firm American Viewpoint and Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates -- that revealed voters “across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose eliminating federal funding for public television. Rasmussen shows that just 21% of Americans – and only 32% of Republicans –favor ending public broadcasting support. In the PBS Hart Research-American Viewpoint poll, 83% of voters – including 70% of those who voted for President Trump – say they want Congress to find savings elsewhere.”

    Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the CPB, stated:

    There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services. The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions for Americans in rural and urban communities alike.

    Public media is one of America’s best investments. At approximately $1.35 per citizen per year, it pays huge dividends to every American. From expanding opportunity, beginning with proven children’s educational content to providing essential news and information as well as ensuring public safety and homeland security through emergency alerts, this vital investment strengthens our communities. It is especially critical for those living in small towns and in rural and underserved areas.

    Viewers and listeners appreciate that public media is non-commercial and available for free to all Americans. We will work with the new Administration and Congress in raising awareness that elimination of federal funding to CPB begins the collapse of the public media system itself and the end of this essential national service.

    Bill Moyers, the award-winning PBS host and news legend, also spoke out against the proposed cuts. He told Media Matters that a decades-long crusade by some conservatives to eliminate public broadcasting may succeed "now that they control the White House, the House, and the Senate," while also offering a measure of hope, predicting that "it won’t be the end of us. There’s strong support across the country for public television –- especially children’s and cultural programming –- and even stronger appreciation for NPR’s news and public affairs programming." 

    Moyers added that the proposed cuts would mean "many of the smallest stations around the country will struggle and likely perish and the people who supported Trump outside the large metropolitan areas will lose a cultural presence in their lives that they value." He concluded, "Still, I can’t believe the public at large wants to see public television or public radio disappear and will rally to support both public television and radio in new ways."

  • Reuters Foundation Exposes An Anti-LGBTQ Hate Group Representing America At UN Women’s Rights Event

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    The Thomas Reuters Foundation spotlighted the State Department’s decision to send a representative of an anti-LGBTQ hate group as one of the U.S.’s public delegates to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

    The State Department announced on March 13 that one of the U.S.’s two public delegates to the 61st session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women would be Lisa Correnti, executive vice president for the Center for Family & Human Rights (C-FAM). The commission -- described on its website as “the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women” -- is being held at the U.N. headquarters in New York, NY, from March 13 through 24.

    Founded in 1997 to “monitor and affect the social policy debate at the United Nations,” C-FAM -- formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute -- has been designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for five years due to its extreme rhetoric and spread of demonizing lies about LGBTQ people. C-FAM president Austin Ruse has proven himself so extreme that another anti-gay hate group cut ties with him in 2014 after Ruse said that liberal academics "should all be taken out and shot." Ruse has also served as a resident anti-gay columnist for Breitbart.com, where he voiced his support for laws criminalizing homosexuality, peddled the debunked conspiracy theory that the hate crime murder of gay teen Matthew Shepard was a hoax, and used the anti-transgender slur “trannies” to mock a 15-year-old transgender girl.

    Thomas Reuters Foundation -- the charitable arm of the Thomas Reuters news wire -- spotlighted C-FAM’s extremism and hate group designation in a March 15 article detailing C-FAM’s delegate status at the U.N. commission. The article also noted fears about the rollback of LGBTQ equality under President Donald Trump, who has surrounded himself with anti-LGBTQ extremists and hate group leaders. While not mentioned by the Reuters Foundation, the largest anti-LGBTQ hate group in the U.S. -- the Alliance Defending Freedom -- has had special consultative status at the U.N. since 2010.

    From the March 15 Reuters Foundation article:

    The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) was named this week by the U.S. State Department to attend the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women, an annual set of high-level meetings on women's equality and empowerment.

    C-FAM has been listed as an anti-LGBT hate group by nonprofit civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for at least five years, said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project.

    [...]

    The move comes as decisions by President Donald Trump's new administration raise fears of a rollback of LGBT rights.

    Trump has voiced support for LGBT rights, but his administration has revoked federal guidelines that let transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice. Vice President Mike Pence has expressed staunch opposition to gay rights.

    [...]

    Beirich said the inclusion of C-FAM "is taking the State Department in a very ugly direction" and failing to address the violence and discrimination faced by LGBT people in some places.

    [...]

    Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, an LGBTI rights group, said C-FAM "regularly releases homophobic vitriol" on its website.

    "Maybe the violent mentality that got C-FAM labeled a hate group successfully panders to their base, but the U.S. government must ensure protection for the world's most vulnerable people," Stern said in a statement. [Thomas Reuters Foundation, 3/15/17

  • CNN’s Dana Bash Debunks All Of Tom Price’s Inaccurate Claims About Planned Parenthood -- Except One

    During CNN’s Health Care Town Hall, Only Price’s Misleading Claim About The Fungibility Of Planned Parenthood’s Funds Goes Unchecked 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    During CNN's March 15 town hall with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, CNN's Dana Bash soundly debunked Price's inaccurate arguments about Planned Parenthood in all instances but one: Price's claim that money given to Planned Parenthood was "fungible."

    Price -- who has a long history of pushing disastrous health care policies -- used the town hall as an opportunity to mislead viewers about the accessibility of essential care without Planned Parenthood, arguing that community health centers (CHCs) can handle the demands of providing essential care services. He also claimed that defunding Planned Parenthood is necessary because some Americans are concerned that “their federal tax dollars [are] used for abortion services.” Bash rebuked several of Price’s assertions, noting that the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding for abortion and that CHCs could not possibly fill the gap left behind by defunding Planned Parenthood. Bash explained that “105 counties across the country have Planned Parenthood and that is the only clinic offering a full range of contraceptive methods to women.”

    Unfortunately, Bash and co-moderator Wolf Blitzer did allow Price to get away with one inaccuracy by letting him claim -- uncorrected -- that eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood is necessary because “that money is fungible," implying that federal funds that go to Planned Parenthood support abortion, even if indirectly. Despite providing robust pushback and asking important follow-up questions during the rest of the forum, Bash and Blitzer moved on from this comment without addressing Price’s dangerous claim.

    Voices on the right have long used the argument that money is fungible to discredit Planned Parenthood and call for the defunding of its clinics across the country, suggesting that federal support for the organization’s services indirectly enables or contributes to its ability to provide abortions. But as the Guttmacher Institute points out, this logic is flawed: “Fungibility is an inherent possibility when involving the private sector in any government-subsidized activity, and the only way to avoid it would be for government agencies to exclusively provide any and all such services.” The organization also notes that it is “hypocritical” to claim the “fungibility” problem only in relation to abortion providers, but not with regard to other federally subsidized organizations including religious groups and charities. 

    Planned Parenthood is an essential care provider for millions of Americans nationally, 60 percent of them low-income patients covered through programs including Medicaid. When this many people risk losing access to care, it is imperative for media to use extreme care in addressing the topic, including correcting those like Price when they spread misinformation about the consequences of Republicans’ efforts to upend the American health care system. 

  • Why News Outlets Only Sometimes Push Back Against Climate Denial

    The Atlantic: Backlash Against Scott Pruitt’s “Extremely Wrong” Climate Denial Highlights Media’s Failure To Call Out Trump Nominees’ “Milder” Form Of Denial

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer wrote that the backlash against Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s “extremely wrong” statement that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to climate change stands in stark contrast to the tepid criticism Pruitt and other Trump cabinet members received for their “milder” form of climate denial during nomination hearings.

    On the March 9 edition of CNBC’s Squawk Box, Pruitt roundly denied the scientific consensus on climate change by claiming that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor. In his March 15 article, Meyer questioned (and addressed) why some media outlets “rushed to correct this untruth” when they paid less attention to past similar comments. He noted that Pruitt, as well as then-Trump nominees Rex Tillerson and Ryan Zinke, had made previous statements at odds with the scientific consensus that human activity is the dominant cause of climate change by employing what multiple outlets identified as Republicans’ new tactic on climate denial.

    Meyers described this “milder” form of denial as consisting of two parts: “A nominee first recognized the reality of ‘some’ global warming—sounding appropriately grave and concerned about it—before they pivoted to casting doubt on whether humans were behind this warming, or even whether a human influence could ever be known at all.”

    Yet Meyer noted that “even as scientists and some journalists shook their heads, Trump nominees’ statements were amended, and not outright rejected, in the broader public conversation,” adding, “My own work testifies to that: My headline about Tillerson’s hearing announced that he believes in climate change, even as I corrected what was incorrect about his scientific summary.” Indeed, The Atlantic was not the only mainstream outlet to describe Pruitt, Tillerson, and Zinke as believing in climate change in its headline, as articles in USA Today, Time, and Politico did the same. And even though these outlets noted in the articles that the Trump nominees’ statements were at odds with the scientific consensus on climate change, this sort of coverage is still problematic because studies show that most Americans don’t read beyond the headlines of news articles, most people who share articles on social media haven’t actually read them, and misleading headlines misinform people even when the body of the article gets the facts right.

    Meyer concluded that part of the difficulty in adequately calling out this new form of denial is due to journalists having to regularly correct “obviously wrong Republican claims” on climate change:

    Journalists covering climate change are constantly correcting obviously wrong Republican claims. This makes it harder for many to fact check the other, more waffley quotes that waft by. Many are loosely phrased and reasonable-sounding, but they contain little truth content. An example is Pruitt’s line from his confirmation hearing: “The human ability to measure with precision the extent of [the human] impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue, as well they should be.”

    There is some kind of invisible consensus around questions of climate change. Say an obvious untruth and be mocked the world over. Say a non-commital (sic) vapidity—which has the same import as an outright lie—and you don’t wind up on Colbert. I suspect that an effect like this exists across politics, but it is surprising to see it so clearly on this one issue, where scientific agreement on reality is so strong.

    From The Atlantic:

    In January of this year, a ritual took shape on Capitol Hill, as one Trump nominee after another sat down a Senate committee for their confirmation hearing. The nominee shuffled his papers, greeted the lawmakers, and delivered conciliatory pablum about climate change.

    As many soon noticed, these statements were often… surprisingly similar. They seemed to attest more to careful pre-briefing than to some new cross-party consensus. With tremendous reliability, every answer about the issue consisted of two parts. A nominee first recognized the reality of “some” global warming—sounding appropriately grave and concerned about it—before they pivoted to casting doubt on whether humans were behind this warming, or even whether a human influence could ever be known at all.

    “Science tells us that the climate is changing and human activity in some manner impacts that change,” said Scott Pruitt, the future administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. (That’s part one.) “The human ability to measure with precision the extent of that impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue, as well they should be.” (Part two.)

    “The risk of climate change does exist. The increase in greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is having an effect,” said Rex Tillerson, future secretary of state. (Part one.) “Our ability to predict that effect is very limited.” (Part two.)

    “I do not believe it is a hoax,” said Ryan Zinke, the future secretary of the interior. (Part one.) “I think where there’s debate on it is what [the human] influence is, what can we do about it.”(Part—well, you know.)

    These answers weren’t necessarily true, but they were milder and more reasonable than outright denial. They prompted coverage in The New York Times and The Washington Post, which noted the new position was “more nuanced” and “less urgent” while also noting that it wasn’t, well, correct. As Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, told the Post: “It sounds like an orchestrated campaign of head-in-the-sand. The scientific consensus is clear: Most of the warming since 1950 is the result of the buildup of the human-made greenhouse gases.”

    But even as scientists and some journalists shook their heads, Trump nominees’ statements were amended, and not outright rejected, in the broader public conversation. My own work testifies to that: My headline about Tillerson’s hearing announced that he believes in climate change, even as I corrected what was incorrect about his scientific summary. I also wondered if his kinder, softer line pointed to a “potential shift in the Republican Party’s treatment” of the issue. 

    Compare that to what happened last week. On Friday, Scott Pruitt told a CNBC host that he didn’t believe carbon dioxide to be a primary contributor to modern-day climate change. He also said he hoped for more study and debate of the issue.

    This is extremely wrong. Decades of research have established that carbon dioxide, emitted by human industrial activities, traps heat in the atmosphere and boosts global temperatures. It is a scientific fact, as surely as the simple pull of gravity or the miracle of photosynthesis is a scientific fact. But if you go back and read Pruitt’s comments from January above, he doesn’t contradict himself.

    And yet this time, the public leaped in to correct him. My inbox soon filled up with comments from pastors, politicians, well-known scientists, and former military leaders. So many people called Pruitt’s main telephone number to complain that the EPA had to set up an impromptu call center. And Keith Seitter, the executive director of the American Meteorological Society, wrote a public letter to Pruitt.

    [...]

    Journalists covering climate change are constantly correcting obviously wrong Republican claims. This makes it harder for many to fact check the other, more waffley quotes that waft by. Many are loosely phrased and reasonable-sounding, but they contain little truth content. An example is Pruitt’s line from his confirmation hearing: “The human ability to measure with precision the extent of [the human] impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue, as well they should be.”

    There is some kind of invisible consensus around questions of climate change. Say an obvious untruth and be mocked the world over. Say a non-commital vapidity—which has the same import as an outright lie—and you don’t wind up on Colbert. I suspect that an effect like this exists across politics, but it is surprising to see it so clearly on this one issue, where scientific agreement on reality is so strong.

  • How Sean Spicer Packs His Press Briefings With “Skypeophants”

    Eight Of The 20 “Skype Seat” Questioners Have Been Right-Wing Commentators

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    When the White House press corps convenes today for press secretary Sean Spicer’s daily briefing, the journalists in the room will be joined via Skype by Bryan Crabtree, an Atlanta-based right-wing talk radio host who wrote last year that Donald Trump is “the future of this country” and that if he was not elected president, “America as we know it is ‘done.’

    In recent columns for the conservative website TownHall.com, Crabtree has called for the purge of federal employees in response to the “system-wide effort to sabotage President Trump's White House”; predicted that Trump will destroy the Democratic Party by “produc[ing] an economy that he has promised”; and claimed that protesters at the Women’s March on Washington were “stuck between delusional and mental instability.”

    In late January, Spicer announced that he planned to occasionally provide “Skype Seats” to “a diverse group of journalists” who live outside of the Washington, D.C., area, in order to “benefit us all by giving a platform to voices that are not necessarily based here in the Beltway.” CNN media reporter Brian Stelter warned at the time that the development “could be a great thing, or it could be a way to stack the room with pro-Trump media outlets.”

    Two months later, it is clear that Spicer is using this innovation to pack the briefings with what SiriusXM White House correspondent Jared Rizzi has termed “Skypeophants”: “super-friendly questioner[s] used to burn up briefing time.”

    Twenty people have been hand-picked by Spicer to ask questions at briefings via Skype thus far. Twelve were mainstream journalists from regional outlets, like WMUR political director Josh McElveen, KXTX-Dallas news anchor Norma Garcia, and Hearst Connecticut Media Group reporter Neil Vigdor.

    The other eight were right-wing political commentators who have provided Spicer with a way to reward supporters while ensuring that he has a respite from tough questions. At least one right-wing talking head has asked a question at each “Skype Seats” session.

    In the first of these briefings, conservative talk radio host Lars Larson and newspaper publisher Jeff Jobe, a Trump endorser who has run for office as a Republican, were among the lucky recipients. Larson asked whether Trump could “tell the Forest Service to start logging our forest aggressively again to provide jobs for Americans.” Jobe prefaced his question by saying that “anyone paying attention will see that President Trump is aggressively acting on his campaign promise” before asking when the president plans to reverse coal mining restrictions.

    Boston Herald Radio columnist Adriana Cohen is a Trump supporter perhaps best known for blowing up a CNN segment during the Republican primary by citing the National Enquirer to accuse fellow panelist Amanda Carpenter of having had an affair with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). On February 8, Spicer rewarded her with a Skype Seat, and she asked about Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s “vow to house illegal immigrants in Boston City Hall to shield them from the Trump administration.”

    The next week, Jason Stevens, an author for the hyperpartisan right-wing website the Federalist Papers Project, had the privilege to attend via Skype. After stating that his readers want to return “the country to the first principles of republican government as understood by the American founders,” he asked, “What are the president’s future plans for rolling back the expensive and burdensome regulations of the administrative state, most of which are the product of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who never received the consent of the governed to do anything, let alone make law?”

    Conservative talk radio hosts Dale Jackson, Michael MedvedSteve Gruber, and Joyce Kaufman round out the list.

    Spicer isn’t simply creating the space for more geographic and ideological diversity in the White House press briefing room -- as SiriusXM’s Rizzi told The New Yorker, he’s creating “diversity of journalistic practice” by hand-picking friendly commentators, rather than reporters, to ask questions at the briefings.

    The press secretary’s actions seem geared toward creating an equivalence between those right-wing voices and the reporters in the press briefing. In doing so, Spicer suggests that he is simply providing a counterpoint to purportedly left-wing reporters for outlets like The New York Times and CNN.

    As implemented, the Skype Seats represent another salvo in the White House’s effort to delegitimize credible press outlets and lift up voices that bolster Trump’s worldview.

    Trump and his officials are at war with the media, lashing out at journalists on a near-daily basis for providing information critical of the president. At the same time, they are encouraging pro-Trump outlets to attend the briefings to troll journalists; handing out passes to “alt-right” figures; and, at times, calling solely on right-wing outlets at press conferences.

    As the administration flounders and the president pushes absurd conspiracy theories, Spicer is defending the indefensible on a daily basis. It helps to be able to phone a friend.

    UPDATE: After being grilled with a series of questions about Trump's baseless claim that President Barack Obama tapped his phones, Spicer bailed out by calling on Crabtree, who thanked him for "taking questions from a talk radio host right here in Georgia, and not in the D.C. swamp." While earlier press briefings featured multiple "Skype Seat" recipients, this was the second time in a row that a conservative radio host was the only hand-picked person to call in.

    Media Matters Research Analyst Rob Savillo provided data for this piece.

  • Breitbart Has A Glenn Beck And Rush Limbaugh Problem: Advertisers Despise Hate

    1,200 Advertisers Have Reportedly Sworn Off The Site

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Recent visitors to Breitbart.com have been inundated with ads for products at the site's official store, like the tasteful "RINO Hunter Jumbo Coffee Cup." But one thing that has been noticeably absent from President Donald Trump’s loyal "alt-right" media hub this year: ads from big-name companies.

    “A recent check of the Breitbart site showed there are few if any ads for large consumer brands,” Fortune recently confirmed. “Most of the advertising appears to consist of ads for diet supplements and conservative newsletters, among other things.”

    Breitbart staffers concede the ad boycott has hurt business. “People inside Breitbart say while the website may in fact be profitable, it is also suffering from a business standpoint with advertising dollars shrinking significantly,” Fox Business reported last month.

    So it’s official: Breitbart now has a Glenn Beck and a Rush Limbaugh problem. Its unapologetically offensive content has driven away hundreds and hundreds of advertisers, according to a tally kept by the group Sleeping Giants. And based on Beck and Limbaugh’s previous boycott struggles, it’s probably safe to predict those advertisers are never coming back.

    To recap: Following Trump’s November victory and Breitbart’s emergence as the center for the hateful "alt-right" movement, an online crowd-sourcing campaign led in part by Sleeping Giants began contacting companies whose products were popping up in ads on Breitbart -- ads surrounded by odious content -- and the site’s equally hateful online community. (One former Breitbart editor called the site’s comments section a “cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.”)

    When contacted by progressive activists, companies seemed unaware that their ads were running on Breitbart.

    Why? CNET explained:

    Most online ad placement services use "programmatic advertising," which targets people instead of websites. That's why when you're online shopping for something like shoes, you may see an ad for those shoes across various sites you visit. With programmatic advertising, those shoes seemingly walk in your footsteps around the internet.

    Previously, companies and ad agencies made sure their programmatic ads didn’t appear on porn sites, for instance. But they hadn’t made provisions to keep their ads off race-baiting, homophobic, "alt-right" sites like Breitbart.

    For lots of companies, the decision to ditch Breitbart was apparently an easy one. “We determined that the site violates our hate speech prohibition,” an AppNexus spokesman told The Los Angeles Times.

    Progressive groups that have been involved in the boycott efforts – including Avaaz, MoveOn, Ultraviolet, and SumOfUs – have recently focused their attention on Amazon and Google, two companies that continue to maintain relationships with the conservative site.

    Here’s the bottom line: Breitbart’s online traffic has undeniably surged as the site has ridden the right-wing Trump wave, but that traffic isn’t being monetized. Breitbart’s recent rise in popularity is not only not attracting more advertisers, it’s running concurrent with a mass exodus of advertisers.

    Note that Breitbart recently surpassed ESPN.com in terms of reader traffic. But does anyone think Breitbart, facing a reported 1,200-company ad boycott, is banking more ad revenue that ESPN.com? I certainly don’t. And I’m not alone.

    “[P]eople inside the publication say the divergence between its web traffic and its ad revenues is fairly significant,” according to Fox Business.

    It’s worth noting that Breitbart’s response to the ad boycott has shifted over time. One of the first high-profile advertisers to pull out from Breitbart was Kellogg’s, which announced its exit in November. (Breitbart wasn’t “aligned” with Kellogg’s' values, according to the company.)

    Breitbart quickly swung into action, loudly denouncing the food giant by issuing a declaration of "war” against the “un-American” company and introducing the #DumpKelloggs rallying cry.

    But as hundreds of additional advertisers followed Kellogg’s lead and bolted, it became clear that Breitbart’s initial defiant strategy didn’t work. Today, executives are noticeably mum about the sweeping ad boycott. 

    And the bad news for Breitbart? Once a flood of advertisers decides to leave offensive, right-wing media outlets, those advertisers rarely return.

    Just ask Beck and Limbaugh.

    Beck lost his Fox News show because the cable channel simply couldn’t find advertisers willing to support the wildly offensive host. (Especially after Beck called President Barack Obama a “racist” who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.") Fox News found out that having a show like Beck’s that attracted 2 million viewers was great. Having a show with 2 million viewers that couldn’t land advertisers didn’t make sense.

    Limbaugh has also watched as hundreds of radio advertisers fled his program and wrecked his business model. Madison Avenue’s rejection of Limbaugh was sparked by the AM talker’s days-long sexist meltdown over Sandra Fluke in 2012. Unable to land advertisers, Limbaugh was soon demoted in major radio markets such as Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis, where he was shipped off to weaker, underperforming stations.

    Today, the larger question for Breitbart is, how much does this matter? Because here’s the truth about Breitbart: It behaves more like an "alt-right" think tank, or a super PAC, than a news organization. And like lots of purely partisan conservative entities, Breitbart is privately funded by rich ideologues, with a mission to drive a political agenda, not to publish journalism.

    Robert Mercer has reportedly given Breitbart “at least $10 million.” Mercer is a billionaire hedge fund manager, and he and his family’s foundation (which is headed by his daughter Rebekah) have emerged as key Trump allies who have given millions of dollars to far-right causes in recent years, causes like the Heritage Foundation, Citizens United, the Media Research Center, and the Cato Institute. Note that there's no record of the Mercers doling out millions of dollars to nonpartisan journalism enterprises. They dole out millions to purely partisan, right-wing political operations.

    Like Breitbart.

    In truth, there’s little indication that without rich donors Breitbart could survive in the marketplace as an advertising-driven entity. Like the New York Post and other conservative outlets with failed business models, Breitbart needs the support of deep-pocketed ideologues to stay afloat.

    So for now, Breitbart relies on people like Mercer to pay the bills, while more than a thousand advertisers insist they want nothing to do with the "alt-right" site.

  • Trump’s Interview On Fox Was A Good Reminder Of Why NBC Needs To Cut Ties With Him

    On CNN’s New Day, Poppy Harlow Questions Trump’s Logic Of Attacking NBC’s Coverage Because He “Makes Money For The Network”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an interview with Fox News, President Donald Trump called NBC “despicable” for their coverage of him because he “made a fortune for NBC with The Apprentice,” demonstrating once more why NBC needs to end its financial relationship with the president immediately.

    CNN’s New Day highlighted the conflict of interest, with guest host Poppy Harlow questioning Trump’s logic that he should get favorable coverage from NBC because he “makes money for the network.” CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter added, “It seems he thinks NBC is on the hook now with him forever. It's a reflection of his business mindset, his business relationships.”

    NBC allowed Trump to remain as an executive producer of The Celebrity Apprentice, which raises a conflict of interest for the network as they have an incentive to weigh the costs of aggressively reporting on the president against the revenue that could be lost if Trump’s reputation is damaged.

    Contrary to Trump’s complaining about NBC News, many at the network have gone out of their way to normalize Trump. Indeed, on the same day that Trump complained about NBC, Trump was accompanied on Air Force One by MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin.

    From the March 16 edition of CNN’s New Day:

    POPPY HARLOW (CO-HOST): Also I want to get your guys’ take on this interview [Trump] did. He’s done very few, but the ones he’s done have been with friendly outlets. Here’s what he told Tucker Carlson on Fox just last night about how he talks to the American people. Listen.

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    DONALD TRUMP: I think that maybe I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Twitter because I get such a fake press, such a dishonest press. I mean, if you look at -- and I'm not including Fox because I think Fox has been fair to me -- but if you look at CNN and if you look at these other networks, NBC -- I made a fortune for NBC with The Apprentice. I was very good to NBC, and they are despicable. They're despicable in their coverage. CBS, ABC, -- you take a look at what's going on, I call it the fake press, the fake media. It is a disgrace, what's happening.

    [END VIDEO]

    HARLOW: So let me get this straight, Brian Stelter. If one makes money for a network, that entity should not objectively cover that said person who happens to be commander in chief. What kind of logic is that?

    STELTER: It seems he thinks NBC is on the hook now with him forever. It's a reflection of his business mindset, his business relationships. This is a president who uses language differently than other presidents. But now, as Bill was saying, that’s coming back to haunt him in various ways. There’s even moments where President Trump tries to parse language when it benefits him. He said to Tucker Carlson, “When I was talking about wiretapping, I used the word wiretap in quotes so it could mean many different things.” Well, actually, in his tweets he did quote the word wiretap once, didn’t quote it twice -- two other times. So he was trying to use a sort of predictable presidential parsing of language when it benefits him, but at other times he’s so loose with words. I noticed at his rally last night, what he’s doing is saying “We will do this, we will do this,” still acting -- still talking like he’s campaigning.

    Click here to tell NBC to Dump Trump

  • Trump Praises Fox & Friends: "I Like That Group Of Three People"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    At a campaign rally in Nashville, Tennessee on March 15, President Donald Trump repeatedly attacked the press, saying, “They’re bad people, folks!” and calling the press “the fake, fake media.” Minutes after the rally, Trump appeared in a pre-taped interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and praised the hosts of the network’s morning show, Fox & Friends. In the past, Trump has credited Fox & Friends as a significant aide in his becoming president.

    DONALD TRUMP: I saw this morning on Fox & Friends, I watch -- I like that group of three people, but they had a man who was saying "Trump is the greatest president ever, and there will never be one like him." Now, the thing is, I've only been there for like 50 days, but he was very enthusiastic, but he was talking -- he is a manufacturer, and I have taken off regulations by the thousands. And we are just -- we are just starting. We are just starting. So, there is great optimism about the economy, but we have to get the taxes reduced.

  • This Is The Fox News Appearance That May Have Doomed The Muslim Ban -- A Second Time

    Judges Highlight Senior Trump Advisor Stephen Miller's Statement On Fox As A Reason “Muslim Ban 2.0” Could Be Just As Unconstitutional As The Original

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Senior presidential advisor Stephen Miller’s February 21 admission of intent on Fox News has ensnared President Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim ban in its second attempted rollout.

    The Trump administration’s first version of the likely unconstitutional Muslim ban was previously blocked by multiple federal judges, and one of the decisions was already unanimously upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The 9th Circuit court noted that Trump and his supporters’ previous statements expressing their intent to discriminate on the basis of religion and ban Muslim immigration can “be used in proceedings” to prove the policy’s unconstitutionality.

    For example, Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani admitted to Fox News that after Trump announced the original “Muslim ban” the then-presidential candidate asked Giuliani to show him “the right way to do it legally.”

    On March 6, Trump enacted a slightly altered version of the first Muslim ban, hoping to avoid judicial concerns with the possible unconstitutionality of the original. This new “Muslim Ban 2.0” was also immediately challenged and on March 15, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order on the ban.

    In addition to referencing Giuliani’s admission of the unconstitutional religious discrimination behind the original ban, the district court’s decision also cites Miller’s February 21 appearance on Fox News. In that interview, while defending the second version of the Muslim ban currently under challenge, Miller argued that “nothing was wrong with the first executive order” and admitted to host Martha MacCallum that this redraft of Trump’s executive order would be designed to “have the same basic policy outcome” as Trump’s original rejected Muslim ban.

    As the court explained, "These plainly-worded statements, made in the months leading up to and contemporaneous with the signing of the Executive Order, and, in many cases, made by the Executive himself, betray the Executive Order’s stated secular purpose. Any reasonable, objective observer would conclude, as does the Court for purposes of the instant Motion for TRO, that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, 'secondary to a religious objective' of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims."

    From the February 21 edition of Fox News’ The First 100 Days:

    MARTHA MACCALLUM (HOST): So, everybody is anticipating the next rollout of the next executive order, which is supposed to clarify some of the issues that were perhaps wrong with the first one and then got too caught up in the courts. So how is it going to be different this time?

    STEPHEN MILLER: Well, nothing was wrong with the first executive order. However, there was a flawed judicial ruling that was erroneous. The president recently read the statute from the Immigration and Nationality Act, which clearly states, he has the power as president to impose any restrictions he deems necessary when it's in the national interest.

    However, because of the exigency of the situation and the need to protect our country, and to protect our citizens, the president is going to be issuing a new executive action based off of the judicial ruling, flawed though it may be, to protect our country and to keep our people safe, and that is going to be coming very soon.

    MACCALLUM: Alright. Grant Burschet is 18 years old, but he wants to know specifically how the second order is going to be different.

    MILLER: Well, one of the big differences that you're going to see in the executive order is that it's going to be responsive to the judicial ruling, which didn't exist previously. And so these are mostly minor technical differences. Fundamentally, you're still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country, but you're going to be responsive to a lot of very technical issues that were brought up by the court and those will be addressed. But in terms of protecting the country, those basic policies are still going to be in effect.

    UPDATE: A March 16 decision from a federal court in Maryland, which blocked the revised Muslim ban as well, also cited Miller’s quote that the revised ban would keep the “basic policies … in effect.” The ruling noted, “The history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the Second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban. The Trump Administration acknowledged that the core substance of the First Executive Order remained intact. ... These statements thus continue to explain the religious purpose behind the travel ban in the Second Executive Order. Under these circumstances, the fact that the Second Executive Order is facially neutral in terms of religion is not dispositive.”

  • Trump Supporters On 8chan Launch Harassment Campaign Against Reporter

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    The reporter who received an excerpt from President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax documents is being harassed by Trump supporters after his home phone number and address were posted on the anonymous forum 8chan. Forums like 8chan, 4chan, and Reddit are home to many in the “alt-right” and have been the base for many other harassment campaigns.

    Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston revealed on March 14 that he received two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax forms in the mail, unsolicited. According to The Associated Press, the documents showed that Trump “earned $153 million and paid $36.5 million in income taxes in 2005, paying a roughly 25 percent effective tax rate thanks to a tax he has since sought to eliminate.” The White House confirmed the veracity of the documents and publicly released Trump’s 2005 tax details before Johnston explained the findings on the March 14 edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.

    On March 15, Johnston wrote on Twitter that “Trump fans” were calling and harassing his wife and one of his children because of the story.

    Some of the threats appeared to have originated from 8chan's "/pol/" message board, which Mic has described as “one of the nexuses of the alternative right.” A thread on the message board included Johnston’s home address and home phone number, asking if users were “BRAVE ENOUGH TO CALL THAT NUMBER??” Others said they called the number, and they posted tips for those who also intended to call.

    Forums like 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit are hotbeds of harassment by those in the so-called “alt-right,” a self-designated term for a faction of the white nationalist movement. The forums have been used by Trump supporters to launch harassment campaigns against anti-Trump individuals, as well as to troll Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, and undocumented immigrants. 8chan was also one of the forums used by those involved in the Gamergate movement to harass those who, according to The Washington Post, advocated “for greater inclusion in [video] gaming.”