Fox News | Media Matters for America

Fox News

Tags ››› Fox News
  • GOP payments, Trump venues, conflicts of interest: Fox figures’ speeches have been an ethical disaster

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Click here to access a PDF version of this report.

    For years, Fox employees have spoken at events for conservative groups and Republican Party organizations, using their cable news celebrity to help those organizations raise money and gain publicity.

    According to a new Media Matters analysis, Fox figures have taken more than $500,000 from Republican Party groups to speak at events. They have interviewed Republicans officials shortly after co-headlining events with them. And they have financially helped President Donald Trump by keynoting speeches on Trump properties.

    Here are five takeaways from an examination of speeches by Fox figures over the years:

    • Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs, Greg Gutfeld, Sean Hannity, Pete Hegseth, Laura Ingraham, and Jeanine Pirro have received over $500,000 combined in speaking fees from Republican groups while working at the network.
    • Members of Fox's purported "news" division, such as anchor Shannon Bream and Fox News Senior Vice President of business news Neil Cavuto, have also headlined conservative events, including alongside Republican officials. In one instance, Bream spoke at a conference that also featured then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (whom she later interviewed on her program).
    • Fox News employees have spoken at events that have financially benefited President Donald Trump. For instance, Chris Stirewalt -- a member of Fox’s “news” division -- spoke at an event for the petroleum industry at Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. And Jeanine Pirro has done events in which the proceeds went to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
    • Republican groups paying Fox News hosts has unsurprisingly created numerous conflicts of interest. For instance, Pete Hegseth repeatedly interviewed then-Senate candidate John James after headling a fundraiser with the Michigan Republican; and Pirro interviewed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) the day after appearing with him at a fundraiser.
    • Three Fox News hosts -- Brian Kilmeade, Pete Hegseth, and Shannon Bream -- have cancelled speeches at conservative events this year following Media Matters reporting.

    (Media Matters obtained speaking fees through searches of various government campaign finance databases. The fees were either paid to the Fox figures or to their speaking bureaus.) 

    Here are more than 50 notable examples of Fox News speeches since 2007: 

    2007-2016

    November 1, 2007. Sean Hannity speaks at a fundraising event for the Alachua County Republican Party in Florida, reportedly receiving $75,000. The GOP group’s website stated at the time that Hannity would “broadcast the Sean Hannity half of Hannity and Colmes via satellite from the Ronald Reagan Black Tie and Blue Jeans BBQ. We had lobbied the powers that be that control such thing because it will greatly de-compress the day and the event. They informed us a few days ago that we got our wish. After the reception and during the main event, the reception hall at Canterbury Equestrian Showplace will get turned in to a mini TV studio. The[re] will be no audience in the reception hall, during Hannity and Colmes. … We will be broadcasting Hannity and Colmes on our big screens in the arena.”

    August 2, 2008. Fox News Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon says in a speech aboard a cruise for Hillsdale College that he lied repeatedly during the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign when he speculated on-air "about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism." The remarks were unearthed by Media Matters three years later and caused major embarrassment for the network.

    April 15, 2009. Fox News hosts Neil Cavuto, Greta Van Susteren, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity attend tea party rallies across the country, with the network labeling them “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” Beck and Van Susteren are no longer with the network, but Cavuto, in addition to hosting programs on Fox News and Fox Business, “oversees business news content for both networks” as its senior vice president and managing editor of business news.  

    March 23, 2010. Hannity keynotes a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The GOP group stated that it “raised over $7 million” for the annual event.

    April 15, 2010. Hannity plans to broadcast his Fox News program from a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati but Fox News executives force him to abandon his plans. The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported on the event, and Media Matters added additional reporting and criticism before Hannity’s appearance was cancelled. Though Fox News executives were reportedly angry with Hannity, the Times later reported, “While there have been post-mortem discussions about the incident, it does not appear that they have resulted in any serious disciplinary measures taken against any staffers involved.”

    September 25, 2010. Tucker Carlson -- then a Fox News contributor -- reportedly speaks at an event hosted by the Moore County Republican Party in North Carolina, receiving $10,000.

    March 29, 2011. Carlson speaks at a fundraising event for the Lane County Republican Party in Oregon, receiving $23,500.

    May 25, 2011. Then-Fox News contributor Dick Morris speaks a fundraising event for the Oakland County Republican Party in Michigan. He would later treat GOP donors to a tour of Fox News and tapings of Lou Dobbs Tonight and Hannity.

    March 9, 2012. Morris speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Lake County in Florida and auctions off a personal guided tour of Fox News' New York studios for GOP donors. Fox News “reprimanded” Morris following Media Matters’ report.

    February 7, 2013. Ingraham speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County at Mar-A-Lago, FL, receiving $12,500. Trump introduced Ingraham.

    July 1, 2014. Media Matters releases a report documenting 15 Fox News hosts and contributors who have campaigned in the past few years with two political organizations created and heavily funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. The Fox employees include current Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Greg Gutfeld, Laura Ingraham, Charles Payne, and Dana Perino.

    February 21, 2015. Jeanine Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee, receiving $20,000.

    May 4, 2015. Ingraham speaks at an event for then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Blackburn became a senator in 2019.

    February 11, 2016. Ingraham speaks at a fundraising event for the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee in Illinois, receiving $12,500.

    March 20, 2016. Ingraham speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County at Mar-A-Lago. Trump, who was the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination then, also spoke at the event.

    May 5, 2016. Brian Kilmeade speaks at an event for the Queens Village Republican Club in New York.

    May 13, 2016. Carlson -- then a co-host on Fox & Friends Weekend -- speaks at an event for the Republican Party of Arkansas, receiving $23,500.


    Photo from the Republican Party of Arkansas' Facebook page

    2017

    January, February, and March: Jeanine Pirro receives a “speaker’s fee” payment of $5,000 each month, for a total of $15,000, from the New Jersey Republican State Committee for an unspecified event.

    January 26. Pete Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Brazos County in Texas, receiving $5,000.

    February 18. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Kent County Republican Committee in Delaware, receiving $12,000.

    March 4. Lou Dobbs speaks at a fundraising event for the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee in Florida, receiving $25,000.

    March 9. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Erie County Republican Committee in New York, receiving $7,579.34.

    March 13. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Georgia Republican Party, receiving $15,000.

    March 20. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth in Pennsylvania, receiving $5,284.

    March 31. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Bonneville County GOP in Idaho, receiving $14,000.

    April 21. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Snohomish County Republican Central Committee in Washington, receiving $5,547.60.  

    July 28. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Arkansas, receiving $15,000.

    July 29. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Larimer County Republican Party in Colorado, receiving $5,000  

    September 21. Host Greg Gutfeld speaks at a fundraising event for the Washington State Republican Party, receiving $36,609.41.

    October 8. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Volusia County Republican Party in Florida, receiving $20,000.

    October 13. Cavuto speaks at an event for the conservative and Koch-funded Washington Policy Center alongside Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

    October 17. Ingraham speaks at a “campaign kickoff event” for then-Senate candidate Kelli Ward (R) in Arizona. The New York Times reported, “Fox News hosts are not usually allowed to stump for candidates, but Ms. Ingraham was granted an exception because her show had not yet begun.”

    October 21. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the California Republican Party, receiving $20,000.

    November 2. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Montgomery County Republican Women's PAC in Texas, receiving $6,500.

    November 9. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Alachua County Republican Party in Florida, receiving $15,000.

    December 6. Hannity speaks and accepts an award at a United in Purpose luncheon hosted by Ginni Thomas at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

    2018

    January 18. Pirro speaks at an event for the Trumpettes USA club at Mar-a-Lago. The Washington Post reported that “the event followed the format of a Palm Beach charity ball — without the charity. [Trumpettes co-founder Toni Holt] Kramer was clear that the money would all go to the president's club.”

    February 8. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee in Illinois, receiving $13,250.

    February 17. Gutfeld speaks at an event for the Morris County Republican Committee Fundraiser at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, reportedly receiving $30,000.

    February 23. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Alabama Republican Executive Committee, receiving $10,600.

    March 5. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News’ politics editor who “helps coordinate political coverage across Fox platforms,” gives a keynote speech at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) spoke at the gathering the following day.  

    March 16. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Kern County Republican Central Committee in California that also features then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Pirro, who received $25,000 for speaking at the event, would interview McCarthy the following the day on her Fox News program without disclosing the payment.

    May 17. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Benton County Republican Central Committee in Washington, receiving $8,500.

    May 24. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Livingston County Republican Party in Michigan with then-Republican Senate candidate John James. Hegseth, who received $10,239.55 for the engagement, would later interview James on Fox & Friends Weekend on July 28, September 9, October 14, and October 28, without disclosing his financial conflict of interest.

    June 28. Hannity speaks at a Manhattan Republican Party event honoring him.

    June 30. Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes speaks alongside Republican officials at a fundraising event for the Fayette County Republican Party in Tennessee. Starnes has also worked as an anchor and reporter for Fox News Radio.

    July 2. Hannity participates in campaign rallies for two Florida Republicans: gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and congressional candidate Rep. Matt Gaetz.

    August 11. Shannon Bream speaks at the conservative Steamboat Institute’s 10th Annual Freedom Conference & Festival and praised the recently passed GOP tax bill and said that Trump has been “rolling back regulations that we've heard from businesses, from the IRS to the EPA, have made it tougher for them to survive and be profitable in America.” Bream made the remarks despite stating that she’s “in the news division” and doesn’t “have an opinion publicly.” Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also appeared at the conference; Bream interviewed Zinke on her show in November.

    October 10. Pirro speaks at an event for Scott Wagner for Governor (R) in Pennsylvania, receiving $35,000.

    November 5. Hannity and Pirro both appear and speak at a campaign rally with Trump ahead of the midterm elections. The network responded by falsely claiming it “does not condone any talent participating in campaign events.”

    2019

    January 17. The Williamson County Republican Party in Tennessee announces that “Brian Kilmeade will not be speaking at” its February 16 “Reagan Day due to scheduling conflicts.” Media Matters had earlier that month criticized the Fox & Friends host for agreeing to participate in the partisan fundraiser.

    January 24. The Bridgeport Republican Town Committee in Connecticut announces that Pete Hegseth will no longer be speaking at its April 25 fundraiser “due to circumstances beyond our control.” The cancellation came a day after Media Matters reported on the event.

    February 23. Pirro again headlines a Trumpettes USA party at Mar-a-Lago that benefits Trump’s club, as The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reported.

    March 22: The James Madison Institute announces that Shannon Bream has cancelled her speech at its April 3 fundraiser. Media Matters had previously reported on the event, noting that Bream belongs to Fox’s “news” division yet was scheduled to speak at the fundraiser for the Koch-linked group alongside Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

    May 31. Fox Nation host and Fox News contributor David Webb is scheduled to emcee a fundraising event for the Belknap County Republican Committee in New Hampshire. Webb has also emceed the committee’s events in previous years.

  • Right-wing media and abortion opponents celebrate and defend Alabama law banning abortion

    The law will likely be challenged before it takes effect

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On May 15, Alabama’s Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law banning nearly all abortions in the state with no exceptions for rape and incest. While the law will likely be challenged before it takes effect, right-wing media and abortion opponents defended the lack of exceptions and celebrated it as a sign of Roe v. Wade’s end.

    The Alabama law prohibits abortion with only limited exceptions for “serious health risk” to the life of the pregnant person or because of a “lethal” fetal anomaly. As CNN noted, before the law’s signing, Democrats in the state legislature had “re-introduced an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims, but the motion failed on an 11-21 vote.” In addition to allowing for few exceptions, the law would also it a felony “punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors” to perform an abortion. Given patients’ concerns about the immediate accessibility of abortion care, it is important to note that abortion is still legal in Alabama. As Vox’s Anna North noted, the law has been signed by the governor but “does not take effect for six months,” and there are already plans underway to challenge it in court.

    As Republicans and right-wing media have repeatedly fearmongered about Democrats advocating for expanded abortion access and the codification of Roe’s protections at the state level, anti-choice politicians have pushed increasingly extreme anti-abortion bills -- likely as an attempt to capitalize on the opportunity for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe with conservative Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch both now confirmed.

    Here are some of the extreme reactions and celebrations of right-wing and anti-abortion media to the Alabama law

    • Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, celebrated the law as a “landmark victory for the people of Alabama who, like most Americans, overwhelmingly reject the extreme status quo of abortion on demand imposed nationwide by Roe v. Wade.” She added that she believed that “the time is coming for the Supreme Court to let that debate” on the legality of abortion “go forward.”
    • Fox News’ Tucker Carlson responded to outrage over the law’s passage by characterizing it as being indicative of "the modern Democratic orthodoxy: If you love women, you will encourage them to kill their own offspring.”
    • Anti-abortion group American Life League responded to an article saying the law bans “nearly all abortions” by arguing that the law didn’t go far enough. The group tweeted: “All of them should be banned.”
    • Former Turning Point USA Communications Director Candace Owens repeated the myth that Planned Parenthood and pro-choice advocates are promoting “genocide for black America” in a tweet about the Alabama law.
    • Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano claimed on Fox & Friends that abortion opponents believe that “the time is now” to dismantle Roe and therefore return regulation of abortion to the states. Napolitano repeated the false claim that states like “New Jersey or New York” allow “infanticide.”
    • Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson:

    Caption

    • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh repeatedly defended the law’s lack of a rape exception, claiming on his podcast that “abortion helps rapists cover up their crimes.” Walsh also said on Twitter that “abortion restrictions protect rape victims” and argued (inaccurately) that Planned Parenthood uses abortion to “assist an abuser in covering up abuse.” As an example, Walsh tweeted a hypothetical scenario alleging that denying an abortion to a “12 year old” who was “raped by her father” meant that there was a better chance that “his crime will be discovered.”
    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro also defended the law’s lack of exceptions, saying on his podcast that those “concessions with regard to rape and incest” are only “a sop to public opinion rather than a principled stand about the value of human life.”
    • On Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt speculated about whether abortion laws like Alabama’s are a potential solution to address the declining U.S. birth rate, asking, “Will we see the numbers go up because more people won't be able to have access to abortions?”
    • LifeNews.com’s Steven Ertelt tweeted, “Democrats are so determined to make sure babies conceived in rape are killed in abortions. If only they were as concerned with putting the rapist in prison.” Ertelt’s outlet LifeNews.com responded to outrage over the draconian Alabama law with a tweet saying, “Funny how everyone complaining about Alabama banning abortions has already been born.”
    • National Review also praised the law:

    • On Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum, Kristan Hawkins, president of the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America, celebrated the law as a sign that Roe was on the way to becoming “a historical footnote in our country.” Hawkins also tweeted that “abortion is a war on preborn women and men” and offered an inexplicable take on why people were “freaking out” about Alabama’s law:

    • Hawkins’ organization celebrated the Alabama law as “a great step for abolishing abortion and protecting the civil rights of all people, born and preborn!”
    • The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson tweeted in defense of the law’s lack of exception, writing: “Btw the reasoning behind no exceptions for rape/incest in abortion bans is that an unborn child shouldn't lose their right to life on account of the circumstances that produced them.”
    • One America News Network’s Liz Wheeler asked, “Two questions to ask about the Alabama abortion bill. 1) When does life begin? Science says human life begins at conception. 2) If life begins at conception, what right to do we have to end that life? We don't, therefore abortion cannot be legal.”
    • On Fox News’ Fox News @ Night, conservative writer Eric Metaxas celebrated the Alabama law and other state abortion restrictions. He said these bans are “exactly what's supposed to happen. That's why Roe v. Wade is an abomination. It is not itself constitutional.”
    • Lila Rose, founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action, lauded Alabama and other states pushing anti-abortion bills and wrote, “We will make our states a safer home for mothers & children.” Rose went on to defend the Alabama law’s lack of exceptions, saying, “It’s disgusting to use the horrific trauma of child rape as pretext for the barbaric 1M legal abortions.” Rose’s organization also claimed that the law does not “go too far” even without the exceptions.
    • Religious media outlet Eternal World Television Network tweeted:

    • Michael Brown, a senior contributor to right-wing Christian site The Stream, wrote about the Alabama law in the context of a literal “civil war” that he alleged was “coming to America” and would be fought over abortion rights. Brown said that although “I hope with all my heart that it will not be a physically violent war,” he expressed concern about “violent attacks by pro-abortion extremists leading to retaliation by those being attacked. (By definition, if you are pro-life, you will not seek to take the life of an innocent person.)”
    • Kimberly Ross, a Washington Examiner contributor, tweeted that supporting rape exceptions “is not pro-life” because “You do not ‘unrape’ a woman by taking an innocent life. This confers worth on another based on feelings, not facts. What’s next?”
    • On Anderson Cooper 360, CNN senior political commentator Rick Santorum said that “it does make sense” for abortion providers to get more jail time for performing an abortion than a rapist under Alabama’s law.

    What right-wing media and abortion opponents ignore or attempt to downplay is that the impact of a post-Roe Alabama will be felt mostly by marginalized communities, including poor people and people of color, who may lack the resources to access abortion care by leaving the state. As Rolling Stone’s Alex Morris explained, this new ban -- and the disparities it would exacerbate -- adds to a health care landscape in Alabama where “over a quarter of mothers don’t receive adequate prenatal care and less than half the counties have a delivery room.” In addition, he noted that “not once but twice in the past five years,” Alabama “has ranked 50th in the country in infant mortality.”

    Despite the celebrations of so-called "pro-life" figures, these terrible outcomes are likely to be more common if Alabama's law is allowed to take effect.

  • In 2019, 92% of Trump's nationally televised interviews have been on Fox News or Fox Business

    Trump lashed out at Fox on Twitter in March but has been rewarding the network with interviews 

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In mid-March, President Donald Trump used Twitter to pressure Fox News to bring back suspended host Jeanine Pirro and lash out at three Fox anchors. Since then, Trump has given interviews to Fox Business and Fox News seven times. So far in 2019, 92% of all of his nationally televised interviews have been on Fox channels, with nearly two-thirds of them occurring after he lashed out on Twitter.

    On March 17, Trump took a shot at three Fox News anchors complaining about their coverage and saying they should move to CNN. The same day, Trump vociferously defended and lobbied for Pirro, one of his biggest sycophants, who had been suspended for making anti-Muslim comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). (Pirro returned to the channel after two weeks.) The drama was nonetheless enough to make headlines, with one article’s title asking, “Is Trump changing his tune on Fox News?”

    The short answer to that question is no.

    Trump's tendency to favor Fox channels for interviews has increased dramatically in 2019. So far this year, 11 out of 12 of the president’s national TV interviews -- 92% -- have been on Fox News or Fox Business, an increase from 2017-2018 when 67% were given to Fox-affiliated channels. Since lashing out on March 17, Trump has given seven interviews to Fox News or Fox Business.

    Notably, in a one-week period from April 25 through May 2, Trump gave four interviews to Fox. At no other point in his presidency has Trump done so many Fox interviews in such a short time frame.

    Five days after the March 17 Twitter spat, Trump sat for an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo. Trump promoted the interview multiple times on his Twitter feed and has since done another interview with her on April 28 that The Washington Post described as “so friendly that [Trump] wouldn’t stop talking.”

    Trump has also done two interviews with host Sean Hannity on March 27 and April 25. The one on April 25 was a lengthy call-in interview described as a “rambling” -- a 45-minute rant so friendly that, as The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf put it, the term softball doesn’t even apply and “T-ball is closer to the mark.”

    The president also rewarded Trish Regan on Fox Business and Catherine Herridge and Griff Jenkins on Fox News with interviews.

    Trump also promotes Fox News, a Fox personality, or a Fox show almost daily on Twitter. From March 24 -- when Attorney General William Barr sent his letter to Congress about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump-Russia investigation -- to April 29, 43% of Trump’s tweets about Mueller referenced Fox in some manner.

    Although Trump has lobbed the occasional criticism at Fox, especially when he perceives its coverage to be critical of him, he’s also been its biggest cheerleader -- whether by sitting down for interviews, calling into shows, telling people to tune in to Fox News, or simply tweeting about some of the more sycophantic hosts and shows. His message is clear: Stay loyal to the president, or he’ll lash out.  

  • ABC, NBC, and MSNBC prime-time shows ignored landmark UN report on biodiversity

    Only three of 26 prime-time news programs on major networks covered the report

    Blog ››› ››› TED MACDONALD


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The major broadcast and cable news networks largely neglected to cover a landmark United Nations report on a devastating decline in biodiversity. On the day the report was released, three of the networks -- ABC, NBC, and MSNBC -- aired no prime-time coverage of it, while the other three networks each aired one prime-time segment. Out of 26 total prime-time news programs on the networks, only three reported on the U.N. assessment.  

    Major U.N. report warns of extinction crisis that will have major impacts on humanity

    A summary report released by the U.N. on May 6 finds that about 1 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction due to expansive human development. The current extinction rate is “at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years.” The global assessment, compiled by hundreds of experts with data drawn from thousands of studies, is the most comprehensive look yet at the rapid decline in planetary biodiversity. The report points to a number of human activities that are affecting biodiversity, including overfishing, poaching, farming, mining, logging, and polluting. Climate change is also playing a large role in fueling the biodiversity crisis. And the loss of biodiversity in turn threatens humans by endangering water and food supplies and heightening the risks from floods and hurricanes.

    The full report is set to be published later in 2019. But even with this summary, the authors show that the biodiversity and climate crises are directly intertwined, ultimately painting a grim picture about the state of our natural world.

    Only one of three broadcast nightly news shows covered the U.N. biodiversity assessment

    Media Matters analyzed the major broadcast networks' nightly news programs on May 6, as well as cable news coverage from 4 p.m. to midnight.

    On the broadcast networks, neither ABC's World News Tonight nor NBC Nightly News mentioned the U.N. biodiversity assessment. Significant segments on these networks instead focused on a Russian airplane fire, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen reporting to prison, and the birth of a royal baby in Britain. CBS Evening News was the only broadcast nightly news program to air a segment on the biodiversity report.

    It should come as no surprise that ABC's flagship news program failed to cover the report; the network's news shows consistently lag behind their broadcast competitors in covering climate change. In 2018, ABC aired less than 11 minutes of climate coverage on its nightly and Sunday morning news programs, far less than its counterparts. In fact, ABC has spent less time on climate coverage than CBS and NBC every year since 2013.

    On cable, MSNBC failed to mention the biodiversity report in its prime-time coverage

    None of the prime-time news shows on MSNBC on May 6 mentioned the U.N. biodiversity assessment. Much of the news coverage on the network that night focused on the Mueller report.

    The only prime-time cable shows to mention the global assessment were CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper and Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier. Coverage on The Lead was straightforward, while Special Report's coverage was riddled with skepticism. Baier, who is billed as one of Fox's “news”-side reporters, began the segment by saying, “Many environmentalists are in a panic tonight over a new report,” but “as in all such cases, some humans say the report and the response are exaggerations.” The segment included commentary from industry-funded climate denier Marc Morano, who has no background in science. Morano downplayed the report and accused the U.N. of being a “self-interested lobbying organization.” (The Morano footage had run previously on another of Fox's “news”-side programs, Shepard Smith Reporting.)

    Overall, out of a total of 26 prime-time news shows aired on the major broadcast and cable networks on May 6, only three included coverage of the global assessment.

    By neglecting a major report about threats to life on Earth, TV networks are failing their viewers

    The extinction of threatened species will have serious human consequences. One takeaway from the U.N. assessment is the need to promote a better understanding of the fact that nature is the foundation for human development and all life on Earth. The media have a responsibility to help build an informed citizenry that understands the world it inhabits. By giving this report far too little attention, top TV networks have failed their audiences.

    Methodology

    Media Matters analyzed coverage on May 6 on the major broadcast networks' nightly news programs (ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News) and on shows airing from 4 p.m. to midnight on the major cable news networks (CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC). We identified segments on the U.N. biodiversity assessment by searching IQ Media and Nexis for the terms (nature OR biodiversity OR extinction OR extinct OR climate OR species OR planet) AND (report OR study).

  • Trump ICE pick Mark Morgan has repeatedly backed putting children in cages: “Border Patrol actually did an incredible job” and “should be applauded”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Mark Morgan, President Donald Trump’s choice to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has frequently defended the practice of putting migrant children in cages, complaining that the cages are being “disparaged as cages” and saying that “Border Patrol actually did an incredible job” and “should be applauded.”

    Trump tweeted on May 5 that he would nominate Morgan to the job, which requires Senate confirmation. He previously served as the head of the Border Patrol during the last three months of the Obama administration and also worked for other law enforcement agencies.

    In recent months, Morgan has become a regular presence in right-wing media, where he defends Trump’s immigration policies. He has appeared on Fox News at least 49 times this year and has also been a guest on online shows hosted by disgraced serial sexual predator Bill O’Reilly and Daily Caller video columnist Stephanie Hamill, a Pizzagate and Seth Rich conspiracy theorist.

    Morgan has also helped organizations devoted to pushing Trump’s agenda. He filmed an advertisement for the pro-Trump group America First Policies putting pressure on “Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) to back full funding of President Donald Trump’s border wall,” according to a news release. He also appeared at a February Washington, D.C., event with America First Policies and Women for Trump regarding immigration.

    Criticism mounted in the summer of 2018 after reports surfaced about migrant children being held in cages at a U.S. Border Patrol facility. The Associated Press, for instance, reported in June 2018 that “inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.”

    The Trump administration and its allies have disputed the cage characterization, with former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen telling Congress in March that the cages “are not cages, they are areas of the border facility that are carved out for the safety and protection of those who remain there while they’re being processed.” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) tweeted in response to Nielsen: “I saw them with my own eyes. They’re cages. With children in them.”

    During his appearances on conservative programs, Morgan has repeatedly defended the practice and said the cages aren’t cages. Here are five examples of Morgan praising and defending the policy of putting children in cages.

    Morgan: “They're not cages. They're actually really nice facilities.”

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): They asked [Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen], are children put in cages? What's your response to that -- that were built during the Obama administration?

    MARK MORGAN: Right, and that's a great -- it's totally a false narrative, it's a talking point for the Democrats. They're not cages. They're actually really nice facilities. And there are chain-link fence within the facilities, but it's designed so the Border Patrol agents working there can provide safety and security for the people that are there. And, remember, they're only there for max 72 hours before they've got to be released. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/7/19, via Media Matters]

    Morgan to Tucker Carlson: “They should be applauded” for those cages.

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): I have to ask you about a factual claim that a member of Congress recently made, that the United States is taking children, keeping them in cages, and injecting them with drugs. Have you ever seen that?

    MARK MORGAN: I tell you what, I -- I'm trying to restrain myself with this answer, because first of all, the United States Border Patrol, they should be applauded for what she’s talking about, cages.

    In 2014, when this crisis started, they did an incredible job of scrambling, throwing money and putting a facility together to actually care for them properly because their facilities were overcrowded. In 2015, the administration then were saying what an incredible great job the Border Patrol did.

    And those cages? The reason why they are designed that way is for the safety and security of the people that are in there. So, those comments she’s making are -- first of all, she is wrong. They are reckless and irresponsible. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/4/19, via Media Matters]

    Morgan: “Those so-called cages were designed to safeguard the children. … Border Patrol, they actually should be applauded.”

    MARK MORGAN: I’m still hearing this rhetoric, Gail, about the cages. That just frustrates me so much. First of all, let’s be factually, let’s be intellectually honest. Those so-called cages were actually developed under the Obama administration. And those so-called cages were designed to safeguard the children and families who’s come over because the detention facilities were so full, so crammed, they were unsafe. So CBP, specifically Border Patrol, they actually should be applauded. They scrambled and spent millions of dollars to put this facility together. And the reason why it’s designed the way it is is so that the Border Patrol can see through the areas to safeguard because they’ve got babies in there all the way up to 17-year-old kids. They have to be separated. It’s reckless when someone like AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)] is saying that and it just shows me she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, she’s misinformed, and she’s never spent a day down on that border. [KFKA, Mornings with Gail, 4/8/19]

    Morgan: “Border Patrol actually did an incredible job.”

    MARK MORGAN: The Border Patrol was never designed for this crisis. Everything about them, their training, their mission, their facilities, are all designed for adults. And part of the whole process is you apprehend them coming in illegally, you process them, and you remove them back to their country of origin. That’s what the mechanism is designed for. So in 2014, we saw the influx first of children and then family units, it really caught everybody off-guard. And Border Patrol actually did an incredible job, and DHS, CBP. And when their facilities got filled, I mean, they created these new facilities that are now -- and again this was done under Obama -- and now they’re being disparaged as cages. Those facilities were set up under Obama, and the reason? Because Border Patrol facilities were tapped out and the conditions weren’t adequate for children and so they scrambled to set up these other facilities that would better facilitate the safety and security of families and children. They actually did an incredible job to really scramble and really address an unprecedented, unpredicted crisis in 2014. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Buck Sexton Show, 4/8/19]

    Morgan: “The Border Patrol should actually be applauded for what they did.”

    SHANNON BREAM (HOST): Mark, let me ask you, though, about the conditions in which these families, these kids were held under the previous administration, under this, were they different? Were they similar? What can you tell us about that?

    MARK MORGAN: So, again, the president was absolutely right. The cages -- and I don't like that terminology at all. The Border Patrol should actually be applauded for what they did. Their facilities were crowded. They were unsafe and they were unhealthy. And so they quickly created these new facilities and they were safe conditions.

    And the reason why there were chain-link fences is so the Border Patrol agents could actually see through, because you had anywhere from babies to 17-year-old kids in there along with parents. It was actually for their health and safety the way they were designed. And they've improved over the years. [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 4/9/19]

  • Cable news cover UNCC mass shooting for less than 45 minutes

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

     Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A deadly rampage at University of North Carolina at Charlotte that left two dead and four injured got less than 43 minutes of cable news coverage from April 30, the day of the shooting, till May 3.

    On Tuesday, a 22-year-old former UNCC student opened fire on campus with a legally purchased handgun, killing two students and wounding four more. One of the victims, Riley Howell, charged the gunman after he had shot five people and pinned him to the ground until police arrived. During a press conference, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said, “Absolutely, Mr. Howell saved lives. … Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process. But his sacrifice saved lives.”

    The night the shooting occured, Fox News was the only cable network to mention it, covering the incident for just over one minute (the general lack of breaking news coverage was no doubt linked to emerging news about special counsel Robert Mueller’s letter to Attorney General William Barr).

    In the days following the shooting, from May 1 to May 3, MSNBC covered the shooting for just under five minutes, CNN devoted nearly 24 minutes, and Fox News covered it for a little over 14 minutes -- amounting to just under 43 minutes total.

    Chart by Melissa Joskow.

    On broadcast channels, during ABC News’ coverage of the shooting on May 1, World News Tonight with David Muir aired footage of a reporter attempting to question the handcuffed gunman about what happened as he was being lead away by police. This type of unnecessary focus on the gunman has been linked to a “contagion effect” in which mass shooters “model their attacks on previous incidents, and often appear to desire recognition.”

    The Sunday news shows -- CNN’s State of the Union, ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, and CBS’ Face the Nation -- all ignored the UNCC shooting.

    According to Gun Violence Archive, the shooting at UNCC is the 104th mass shooting this year in the U.S., and according to an NBC News tracker, it is the third school shooting, in 2019.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for shot, shoot, gunman, kill, murder, charged, UNCC, UNC, university, Charlotte, North Carolina, Howell, Parlier, or Terrell from 5 a.m. till midnight between April 29 and May 3 and on Sunday, May 5. Media Matters searched those same terms during the May 5 Sunday news shows. All mentions of the shooting, including teasers, headlines, and full segments, were timed.