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  • Omarosa's coverage by cable news drowned out other stories

    Cable news spent 34 hours covering the former White House aide over a 7-day period

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    For a week now, Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former reality show star turned White House staffer turned ex-White House staffer, has been one of the main stories on cable news. Over a seven-day period, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News spent a combined 34 hours and 28 minutes covering Manigault Newman and news generated by her. And while some of the allegations she has put forth are certainly newsworthy, the extent to which the obsessive Manigault Newman coverage drowned out major stories of national interest is staggering.

    Coverage of Manigault Newman started to kick into high gear last week when it was reported that she might have tapes from her time in President Donald Trump’s White House. What started as a slow trickle of coverage on Thursday by both CNN and MSNBC turned into a monsoon of coverage by all three cable networks as Manigault Newman began sitting down for interviews to promote her new book and made public some tapes to back up allegations made in her book. During the same time period, stories of arguably more importance received significantly less coverage.

    Media Matters tracked the amount of time devoted to coverage of Manigault Newman between August 9 through August 15. Additionally, we tracked the coverage of four other stories throughout that time period: reporting that three of President Donald Trump’s "Mar-a-Lago buddies are secretly running the V.A.”; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s attempt to roll back an Obama-era rule aimed at curbing housing segregation; any reporting about Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whose confirmation hearings have been scheduled even though many of his records are still not public; and the ongoing family separation crisis in which the most recent numbers show that over 500 immigrant children are still separated from their families.

    From August 9 through August 15, Manigault Newman received over 34 hours of coverage on the three cable news networks combined. MSNBC, which got a package deal of interviews with the former White House staffer, had the most coverage, spending nearly 16 hours discussing or interviewing her. CNN was next, with 13 hours of coverage, and Fox News devoted just over five and a half hours of programming to discussing Manigault Newman.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    While the three cable networks covered Manigault Newman for over 34 hours in total, the four other stories combined received just three hours of coverage.

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Discussions about Kavanaugh, the nominee for the Supreme Court, amassed under two hours of coverage across the cable networks between August 9 through August 15. Fox News had the most coverage, with nearly an hour devoted to Kavanaugh. MSNBC spent nearly 40 minutes on Kavanaugh while CNN covered Kavanaugh for just over 10 minutes. This Supreme Court vacancy will have dramatic and lasting impacts on America, but it was barely able to break through the coverage of Manigault Newman.

    The ongoing family separation crisis received just over one hour of coverage in the same time period. MSNBC devoted 45 minutes of coverage to the crisis, CNN spent 18 minutes discussing the separated children, and Fox News gave just five minutes to family separation.

    New reports that were just coming out about the goings-on of the Trump administration and cronyism were almost completely lost in the Manigault Newman news. The story about three of Trump’s buddies from Mar-a-Lago (Bruce Moskowitz, a doctor; Ike Perlmutter, the chairman of Marvel Entertainment; and Marc Sherman, an attorney) essentially dictating policy for the Department of Veterans Affairs received just seven minutes of coverage between CNN and MSNBC combined. Fox News didn’t even mention it. Even worse, the story about HUD trying to roll back policy that aims to prevent housing segregation received only 23 seconds of coverage across the three cable networks.

    Here’s how the coverage of the stories broke down on each network:

    Tyler Monroe, Sanam Malik, Grace Bennett, Gabby Miller, Shelby Jamerson, and Zach Pleat contributed to this research.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched the Snapstream video database from August 9, 2018, to August 15, 2018, looking at  the three major cable news networks -- CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC -- for five competitive stories that broke or had significant updates at the beginning of the period studied:

    1. Omarosa Manigault Newman’s new book and secret-tape revelations about President Donald Trump
    2. Announcement of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings
    3. The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy of separating parents and children at the southern border
    4. The Trump administration’s intent to change the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule that fights segregation in housing
    5. The revelations that three Mar-a-Lago club members are effectively directing policy at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the first story, Media Matters searched for mentions of “Omarosa,” including misspellings. For the second story, we searched for “Kavanaugh” (including misspellings) or “Supreme Court” within close proximity to “nominate,” “nominated,” “nominee,” or “justice.” For the third story, we searched for variations of “immigration,” “immigrant,” “children,” “family,” “parents,” “kids,” or “border” within proximity to variations of “reunited,” “reunify,” and “separate.” For the fourth story, we searched for “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” “Fair Housing Act,” “Housing and Urban Development,” “HUD,” “Carson,” or “housing” within close proximity to “segregation.” For the final story, we searched for “Moskowitz” within close proximity to “Bruce” or “doctor,” “Perlmutter” within close proximity to “Ike” or “Marvel,” “Sherman” within close proximity to “Marc” or “lawyer,” “President” within close proximity to “club,” “Veteran’s Affairs,” or  variations of “V.A.”

    For each transcript found, we timed only the relevant speech for each story. We included all mentions, teases, segments, panels, and interviews that fully or partially touched on any of these five stories, including during shows that were being reaired.

  • Video: There's a housing discrimination crisis in America -- and coverage of the issue should reflect that

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    The Fair Housing Act was passed 50 years ago, but housing discrimination is still rampant, and media coverage of the issue is overly focused on President Donald Trump’s history of racism and discrimination in this arena. While his past is notable, it’s important for mainstream outlets to inform viewers about the widespread and complicated nature of housing discrimination by interviewing victims and highlighting fair housing research.

    The Fair Housing Act was supposed to protect the right to fair housing for all people. And yet the act is not fulfilling its goals, with unprecedented attacks from the Trump administration and continued discrimination by banks, lenders, landlords, and/or developers, against Black and Latinx people, the poor, the formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and single women who are looking to rent or buy a home. There were 28,181 reported complaints of housing discrimination in 2016, but according to the National Fair Housing Alliance, housing discrimination is seriously underreported. The organization estimates that there are actually over 4 million cases of housing discrimination each year in America.

    Mainstream television coverage of housing discrimination has been overly focused on Trump's personal history with discrimination. Mainstream news outlets are right to warn viewers about his history of racism and discrimination against Black people. However, mainstream outlets such as MSNBC and CNN should follow the lead of PBS and Democracy Now and use these opportunities to inform viewers about the issue, including by interviewing victims of housing discrimination and highlighting important fair housing research.

  • Experts And Media Observers Stunned By Trump’s Budget Proposal

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Economic policy experts, advocacy groups, and media outlets scrambled to respond to President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year, which includes $54 billion in new defense spending to be offset by dramatic cuts to the entire non-defense discretionary budget. Many observers were quick to point out that the president’s so-called “America First” budget will worsen the suffering of at-risk communities, including many low-income regions that supported his election and are kept afloat economically by federal spending programs.

  • Trump Picks Former Fox News Contributor Ben Carson To Serve As Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development

    Carson Has Repeatedly Expressed Opposition To Government Aid For Poor Americans

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CAT DUFFY

    President-elect Donald Trump has selected Dr. Ben Carson to serve as his secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Carson, a former Fox News contributor, has repeatedly said he opposes government efforts to eradicate poverty, and he has a long history of making off-color and offensive remarks during his stint with the network.

  • Trump's Economic Policy Team Spreads Right-Wing Media Lie Tying Clintons To Housing Crisis

    Larry Kudlow And Stephen Moore Attempt To Distract Media Scrutiny Of Trump’s Statement On Housing Crisis By Attacking Clintons

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Right-wing economic pundits Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore claimed that Bill and Hillary Clinton are partly to blame for the housing crisis that rocked the economy during the Bush administration because of their support of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a program intended to expand American home ownership. Kudlow and Moore, who both have served as economic policy advisers to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, pushed this repeatedly debunked myth while attempting to deflect attention from Trump's 2006 statement relishing the potential profits he could reap during a housing and financial crisis.

    Kudlow and Moore falsely claimed Hillary Clinton was partly responsible for the housing crash in a May 29 op-ed in The Washington Times, adding that she has no right to lambast Trump for stating in 2006 that he had hoped the housing market crashes so he could buy properties cheaply. Trump has faced continued scrutiny over this statement. New York magazine even called it “a new, lurid reason why he should never be president” and media interest only grew after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called the GOP front-runner “a small insecure money grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt so long as he makes money off it.” From Kudlow and Moore’s Washington Times piece:

    It turns out that Donald Trump has been very good at buying low and selling high, and it helps account for his amazing business success.

    Now Hillary Clinton seems to think it’s a crime. Campaigning in California last week she’s wailed that Mr. Trump “actually said he was hoping for the crash that caused hard working families in California and across America to lose their homes, all because he thought he could take advantage of it to make some money for himself.” She’s assailing Mr. Trump for being a good businessman — something she would know almost nothing about because she’s never actually run a business, though she did miraculously turn $1,000 into $1 million in the cattle futures market many years ago.

    [...]

    What is so hypocritical about the Clinton attacks is that it wasn’t Trump, but Hillary, her husband, and many of her biggest supporters who were the real culprits here.

    Kudlow and Moore’s anti-Clinton attack is based on their claim that expanding access to mortgages to help low-income Americans buy homes was part of the catalyst for the housing crisis. The two also claimed that then-Sen. Hillary Clinton “went to bat for the housing industry” -- ignoring that Clinton actually pushed for tougher regulations on the financial industry in 2007.

    Top economists reject the idea that President Clinton and his policies are to blame for the financial crisis -- including the current and former Federal Reserve chairs from Republican and Democratic administrations. Former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke disputed this myth in a November 2008 statement demonstrating that after studying the CRA for over 30 years the Federal Reserve's findings “runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of ... current mortgage difficulties." Current Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen found that the CRA did not cause problems but instead the CRA increased “responsible lending” in a March 2008 speech when she was the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

    Kudlow and Moore have a long and well-documented history of distorting facts on the economy. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has spent years documenting Moore's repeated failures in economic policy, recently slammed the right-wing commentator’s "impressive lack of even minimal technical competence." Kudlow has made many statements berating Americans and even lectured single parents about poverty at an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) -- even though he admitted to having "virtually no knowledge in this field."

  • Fox Takes Clinton Out Of Context In Effort To Distract From Trump’s Hope For Housing Crisis

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox & Friends deceptively edited a 2007 video of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to claim that Clinton blamed homeowners for the housing market crash and that she is “flip flopping now” to blame Wall Street. But the speech transcript shows that Clinton indeed blamed Wall Street and a host of other financial actors, saying Wall Street “helped create the foreclosure crisis” and bears “responsibility” for the crash. Fox also downplayed Donald Trump’s expressed hope for a financial crisis in 2006, instead blaming former President Bill Clinton for a market crash and historic recession that occurred during the waning days of the Bush administration.

  • Fox Segment Fearmongers Over Affordable Housing In Affluent Neighborhoods

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News' Special Report criticized a plan to put affordable housing in affluent neighborhoods arguing that "a lot of people" in Baltimore "are not too happy about the plan," while ignoring the benefits of the program.

    On the April 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Leland Vittert detailed a plan in Baltimore County, Maryland that would "spend $30 million over the next ten years to build 1,000 homes in more affluent neighborhoods." Vittert started the segment discussing the crime rates that have "skyrocketed" in "the rougher parts of Baltimore," adding that it is "no surprise, the folks who live" in low-income parts of Baltimore "want out of the poverty." Vittert interviewed Maryland state delegate Pat McDonough who claimed the idea is "social engineering on steroids":

    The plan stemmed from a case where the City of Baltimore had been accused of "perpetuating segregated clusters of minority renters with government subsidies by failing to expand affordable options in prosperous neighborhoods." While the segment focused on those who were "not too happy" about the plan, it ignored the benefits to the community. As Doug Donovan reported for The Baltimore Sun:

    The agreement resolves a federal housing complaint filed in 2011 by the local NAACP branch, Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc. and three county residents. They accused the county of perpetuating segregated clusters of minority renters with government subsidies by failing to expand affordable options in prosperous neighborhoods.

    The complainants alleged that the county had maintained policies that kept low-income and minority residents out of the best neighborhoods by spending most of its federal housing money on housing for the elderly occupied primarily by whites, demolishing and failing to replace 4,100 subsidized housing units for families since 1995, and locating Section 8 voucher holders in poor and segregated neighborhoods.

    [...]

    Housing organizations are hopeful that the work will help to provide more families access to better schools for their children. Research shows that can improve their chances of escaping poverty.

    "What we have today is justice in housing in Baltimore County," said Robert Strupp, executive director of Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc.

    "The lives of residents in the housing development improved markedly after they moved to the affluent suburb," according to The Atlantic which found that "location matters" when determining whether a child will escape poverty:

    What's more, the lives of residents in the housing development improved markedly after they moved to the affluent suburb. An increasing amount of data seems to show that location matters just as much as income in determining a child's likelihood of escaping poverty. As I've written about before, children from low-income families who move to more affluent suburbs are more likely to graduate from high school, attend four-year colleges, and have jobs than their peers who stayed in the city. And cities that have made an effort to keep schools desegregated have enjoyed less race-based strife than peer cities.

    Fox News has also criticized the broader federal plan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that aims to increase diversity in American neighborhoods, with some anchors saying the president's plan is strong-arming communities that are "too white [and] too privileged."

  • Despite Right-Wing Media Smears, NYC Posts Best Job Creation In Half A Century Under "Uber Liberal" De Blasio

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Since progressive New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio replaced business-friendly billionaire Michael Bloomberg in January 2014, right-wing media have repeatedly claimed that the new mayor's policies have hurt the city's economy. In fact, according to The New York Times, two years into de Blasio's tenure, New York City has witnessed some of its strongest economic numbers in a half-century. Homelessness remains an issue in the city, but The Times reports that the problem is mostly due to a strong real estate market, and the de Blasio administration has invested in tackling the problem.

  • The Year In Right-Wing Media Poor-Shaming

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    In 2015, conservative media outlets -- led by Fox News -- set a new standard for attacking the least fortunate members of American society, targeting low-income workers, recipients of government assistance, and the homeless in a campaign of misinformation. The campaign was so pervasive that President Obama personally addressed it during a leadership summit dedicated to alleviating poverty. In recognition of their exemplary efforts to distort the public discourse on poverty, here are five of the worst trends in right-wing media poor-shaming from 2015.

  • Conservatives Outraged At New DC Program That Tries To End Homelessness Efficiently

    Expanded Program Is Part Of An Initiative To End Homelessness In The Nation's Capital

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Fox News broadcast misleading reports about a Washington, D.C. initiative to transition homeless families from emergency shelters to year-round housing, hyping the supposed cost to "taxpayers" and mocking the city for "indefinitely" housing homeless families in "hotels."