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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.

  • After Trump’s VA nominee withdraws, Fox panel pushes for Pete Hegseth

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    After Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the next secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), withdrew his name from consideration, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo discussed potential replacements the president could consider with a panel that included Trump sycophant and Fox News host Pete Hegseth.

    Hegseth has long been considered a possible choice to serve as VA secretary in the Trump administration. He met the president multiple times after the 2016 elections to discuss the possibility of his nomination. Even after Trump chose David Shulkin as his new secretary, the president still reportedly called Hegseth during a meeting with Shulkin to ask his opinion about reforming the VA system.

    Today, while discussing the news of Jackson’s withdrawal, Bartiromo turned to Hegseth and asked if he “would want the job.” From the April 26 edition of Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria Bartiromo:

    MARIA BARTIROMO (HOST): There's a cabal that wants to destroy Donald Trump --

    PETE HEGSETH (FOX NEWS HOST): Correct.

    BARTIROMO: -- and they want chaos around him. Your name has been floated out there.

    HEGSETH: Yeah, it has.

    BARTIROMO: Would you want the job?

    HEGSETH: Well, listen, if the president asks me to serve, great. But he hasn't until this point, so we'll see.

    Later, Fox News political analyst Gianno Caldwell said that Hegseth would make “an excellent candidate … to be the new VA secretary”:

    GIANNO CALDWELL (FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST): I’m sad to see [Jackson] go, but I know that there’s some other good people that can step in his place. I think an excellent candidate would be Pete [Hegseth] to be the new VA secretary, so --

    MARIA BARTIROMO (HOST): Well, we talked about that earlier, you’re absolutely right.

  • The trans military ban is yet another example of the White House's cozy relationships with anti-LGBTQ hate groups

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    There’s new reporting about anti-LGBTQ hate group leader Tony Perkins’ role in crafting the latest White House policy banning transgender troops from serving in the military -- and that’s only the most recent reminder that we should be very, very worried about the Trump administration’s coziness with anti-LGBTQ hate groups and extremists.

    Hours after the White House released an updated policy banning transgender service members from serving in the military, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern reported that “behind the scenes, a ‘panel of experts’” crafted a report justifying the ban. The so-called experts included Perkins, president of anti-LGBTQ hate group the Family Research Council (FRC), and the virulently anti-trans Ryan Anderson from the Heritage Foundation, who wrote an entire book dedicated to discrediting the transgender experience. Stern also reported that Vice President Mike Pence, who has a long history of anti-LGBTQ animosity and is a longtime friend of Perkins’, “played a leading role in the creation of this report.” This is yet another disturbing example of anti-LGBTQ extremists’ influence on White House policy and close relationships with the administration.

    Just one day before Trump announced the new policy, Tyson Langhofer, director of the Center for Academic Freedom at the anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), spoke at an official youth outreach event at the White House. During the event, Justice Department Office of Public Affairs Director Sarah Isgur Flores praised ADF as a “great organization” and thanked Langhofer for its work.

    Here are just some of the ways ADF and other anti-LGBTQ hate groups and extremists are directly influencing White House policy beyond the newly released ban:

    • After consulting with ADF, Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions released religious exemptions guidance making it easier for individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

    • The Justice Department issued an unusual brief on behalf of ADF’s client in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court court case.

    • ADF is reportedly in “negotiations” with the Trump administration to undo protections for incarcerated transgender people.

    • Perkins has bragged about how many times he has visited the White House.

    • Trump is nominating attorneys with ties to ADF for federal judgeships.

    • Former ADF legal counsel Matt Bowman works in the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), which has been employing more right-wing religious activists and has started a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division that makes it easier for health care providers to deny services to LGBTQ people, among others.

    • Roger Severino, who wrote an anti-trans report with Ryan Anderson at the Heritage Foundation, runs the HHS Office of Civil Rights.

    • Former Family Research Council Chief of Staff Shannon Royce has emerged “as a pivotal player” at HHS as director of its Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

    • Former ADF Communications Director Kerri Kupec is a Department of Justice spokesperson.

    • ADF client Sara Hellwege spoke at the HHS announcement of its anti-LGBTQ rule granting religious exemptions for health care providers to deny services to LGBTQ people.

    • At least four people who have worked for the Family Research Council were on Trump’s transition team.

    These groups spent years under the Obama administration pushing anti-LGBTQ policies through municipalities and states and fighting equality in court while also strategizing over how to undo the progress that has happened over the past decade at the national level. Now the current administration is welcoming them to the table and fulfilling their wish lists. Trump made a clear play for these groups and their supporters' votes when he chose Pence as his running mate, and so-called “values voters” like Perkins have repeatedly abandoned their morals to defend Trump -- and reaped the rewards in policy.

    We are witnessing a massive effort to roll back LGBTQ equality at all levels of government and on nearly every issue affecting the lives and rights of community members, and these groups are at the forefront of it. And there are repercussions outside of the policy realm: Their attacks are creating a more hostile, anti-LGBTQ environment in society at large. For the first time in four years, acceptance of LGBTQ people has decreased, and violence against the community is surging without many Americans even being aware of it.

    The trans military ban was just the latest win for anti-LGBTQ hate groups. There will certainly be more. If you haven’t been alarmed by this yet, it’s time to be now.

  • Trump’s panel of “experts” on trans military ban included anti-LGBTQ hate groups and extremists

    Blog ››› ››› REBECCA DAMANTE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    An article published in Slate highlighted the influence of anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council (FRC) and anti-trans extremist Ryan T. Anderson in crafting the White House’s newly released policy banning transgender troops from serving in the military.

    Family Research Council has a history of pushing anti-trans misinformation to justify harmful and discriminatory policies. When the transgender military ban was first announced in July 2017, FRC senior fellow Peter Sprigg published a report with the false claim that over the next ten years, allowing transgender people to serve in the military could cost “as much as $1.9 to $3.7 billion,” an estimate significantly higher than those from the Pentagon-commissioned Rand Corp study and research from the Palm Center. In the past, FRC and its representatives have also spread misinformation about transgender-inclusive restrooms, promoted conversion therapy, claimed that LGBTQ youth suicide rates would drop if the teenagers were “discourage[d] from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual,” and suggested that being transgender is a “cultural phenomenon.”

    In July, FRC president Tony Perkins admitted that FRC worked with the White House on the transgender military ban, and in August, Foreign Policy reported that FRC was lobbying Congress to keep the Pentagon from using government funds to “provide medical treatment related to gender transition.”

    Another of Trump’s “experts,” anti-trans extremist Ryan T. Anderson, has repeatedly used biased and junk science to justify bigotry against the transgender community. In February, he published When Harry Became Sally, an entire book dedicated to discrediting the transgender experience. The book falsely argues that transgender people are mentally ill and would have better outcomes if they did not transition.

    As Slate reported, “the policy issued by the White House on Friday combines anti-trans propaganda with baseless, discredited concerns about the alleged danger of open transgender service,” including false claims about military readiness, privacy, and cost. And as Slate pointed out, “given its authors, the Trump report’s conclusions are unsurprising.” From the March 24 article:

    Yet behind the scenes, a ‘panel of experts’ has been crafting a report, also released on Friday, designed to provide pretextual justification for Trump’s ban. According to multiple sources, Vice President Mike Pence played a leading role in the creation of this report, along with Ryan Anderson, an anti-trans activist, and Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ lobbying group.

    [...]

    Given its authors, the Trump report’s conclusions are unsurprising.

  • It's not just Masterpiece Cakeshop: Alliance Defending Freedom is attacking nearly every aspect of LGBTQ equality

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    On December 5, anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) will argue before the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case on behalf of a baker who refused to serve a gay couple. ADF is a highly influential, right-wing legal group that has worked to impact policy at the local, state, national, and international level, from working to ban transgender students from using the restrooms that align with their gender identity to helping write and defend the country’s most sweeping anti-LGBTQ state law in Mississippi.