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  • The Nunes memo perfectly lined up with what Hannity has been hyping for weeks prior to its release

    Hannity in early January: “All this information about” alleged FISA abuses “will finally now see the light of day”

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Almost a month before Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) chose to publicly release what was a classified and partisan memo written by intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) alleging Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses by the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ), Fox host Sean Hannity appeared to have advanced knowledge of some of the claims laid out in the Nunes memo. Almost a month prior to the memo’s public release, Hannity was hyping “shocking information … that will show systemic FISA abuse” and bragged that the media will “be forced to cover this story.”

  • News outlets promote ISIS' evidence-free claim of connection to Las Vegas shooting

    Intelligence officials quickly debunked story linking terror group to worst mass shooting in American history

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    MSNBC / Screengrab

    In an October 2 dispatch, The Associated Press promoted the terror group ISIS’ claim that it was responsible for a mass shooting in Las Vegas that left more than 50 dead and 500 others injured, even though the AP acknowledged ISIS provided no evidence to support the assertion. Other outlets rushed to parrot the AP’s report over the next few hours, until the FBI stated the shooter has no connection to ISIS or any other terrorist group.

    A 10:15 a.m. EST dispatch from the AP’s Cairo, Egypt, bureau carried the headline “Islamic State Claims Las Vegas Attack” followed by a single sentence noting that ISIS provided “no evidence” to support its claim. Moments later, a corresponding tweet from the AP reiterated the claims:

    Following the AP’s lead, Newsweek and the New York Post ran with the same misleading headline, providing varying degrees of clarification demonstrating that the claim of ISIS involvement was completely unsubstantiated. Bloomberg reposted the AP report with no alterations, while Time amended the headline to reflect that ISIS “didn’t give any proof” to support its claim. Just a few minutes after the AP flash, Fox News correspondent John Roberts also promoted the claim, speculating about how ISIS involvement, if confirmed, might change the tone of President Donald Trump’s response to the incident. Roughly one hour after AP pushed the story, NBC News legal analyst Pete Williams also discussed the unsubstantiated link to ISIS on MSNBC, but stressed that federal law enforcement and intelligence sources he has spoken with “have absolutely no reason to believe” the supposed link “is true”:

    At a press conference at roughly 11:45 a.m. EST, Aaron Rouse, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Las Vegas, said that federal officials have found “no connection to an international terrorist group.”

    After a series of extensive updates, the AP article now mentions that ISIS “often claims attacks by individuals inspired by its message but with no known links to the group.” A similarly styled report from CBS News also reflects, after several updates, that the Las Vegas gunman demonstrated “no early signs of any ties to radical Islamic groups or signs of radicalization,” and notes that ISIS “offered no proof of a link with” the gunman.

    In a series of tweets shortly after the AP published its initial report, CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank explained that ISIS is a notoriously unreliable source of information and noted that it has a history of claiming a connection to unrelated shootings and attacks. Rather than simply running with ISIS’ self-aggrandizing propaganda for the sake of adding new angles to developing stories, news outlets should refrain from publishing until all the facts are in. 

  • If you appear as a guest on Tucker Carlson Tonight, there's a good chance you'll be a target of online harassment

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    After appearing on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, several guests have reported that they were subject to waves of harassment, usually from “alt-right” and white supremacist trolls. Tucker Carlson has become cable news’s most favored hosts among neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and those in the “alt-right.” 

  • Spanish-Language News Shows Give Trump A Pass On Violation Of US Embargo Against Cuba

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    The two major Spanish-language news networks failed to accurately represent a Newsweek report indicating that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump violated the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. On their daily news shows, both networks failed to debunk false claims that the Newsweek report is inconclusive despite the existence of definitive proof that Trump violated the embargo.

    In a September 29 article, Newsweek magazine reported that a company controlled by Donald Trump “spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval.” The report published correspondence between Trump and consulting firm Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. in which the firm “instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.” Additionally, the former Trump executive admitted that they had taken a trip to Cuba “to give Trump’s company a foothold should Washington loosen or lift the trade restrictions.” From the Newsweek report:

    The fact that Seven Arrows spent the money and then received reimbursement from Trump Hotels does not mitigate any potential corporate liability for violating the Cuban embargo. “The money that the Trump company paid to the consultant is money that a Cuban national has an interest in and was spent on an understanding it would be reimbursed,’’ Richard Matheny, chair of Goodwin’s national security and foreign trade regulation group said, based on a description of the events by Newsweek. “That would be illegal. If OFAC discovered this and found there was evidence of willful misconduct, they could have made a referral to the Department of Justice.”

    Newsweek pointed out that Trump blatantly lied to Cuban-Americans about this, recalling a luncheon hosted by the Cuban American National Foundation where “he proclaimed he wanted to maintain the American embargo and would not spend any money in Cuba so long as Fidel Castro remained in power.”

    Despite clear evidence that Trump acted in violation of the embargo, neither Telemundo nor Univision refuted statements made by Republican officials on their shows that the Newsweek report was inconclusive.

    On the September 29 edition of Telemundo’s Noticiero Telemundo, correspondent Angie Sandoval failed to debunk Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)’s claim that the Newsweek report “doesn’t conclude” that “one of Donald Trump’s companies invested within the island”:

    REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART: If one of Donald Trump's companies invested within the island, this would be absolutely unacceptable. But the report that says there was possibly a violation of the law, doesn't conclude that.

    Rep. Diaz-Balart also appeared on Univision’s Noticiero Univisión to murk the findings of the report, saying that “if he effectively did business or his company did business within the island, this would be a very serious thing,” implying that the Republican presidential candidate may not have violated the embargo. The Univision report also quoted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Trump supporter, who called the Newsweek report “troubling” and said that he “will reserve judgment until we know all the facts and Donald has been given the opportunity to respond.” From the September 29 edition of Noticiero Univisión:

    VILMA TARAZONA (CORRESPONDENT): The Republican Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio, who has said he will vote for Trump, said in a statement, “The article makes serious and troubling accusations. I will reserve judgment until we know all the facts and Donald has been given the opportunity to respond.”

    Univision correspondent Vilma Tarazona did not explain that the Newsweek report already provided all of the facts and that the Trump campaign had already responded to the accusations earlier that day when Kellyanne Conway conceded on The View that “they paid money,” inadvertently admitting that he violated the embargo.

    Trump has a history of putting his business before other considerations, given that he was rooting for the housing collapse of 2008 for his own profit, he has been charged with fraud for misleading aspiring real estate investors, and has stiffed many employees and small business owners he has contracted for their work.

  • Here Are The Top Investigative Pieces Debate Moderators Should Read Before The Debates

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    In light of the upcoming presidential debates, here are some of the most important investigative pieces written about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- which debate moderators should read as part of their preparation. The articles examine possible conflicts of interests Trump could face with his businesses if elected president; look into his potential misuse of charitable funds; investigate debts he owes, including to China, which he has criticized on the campaign trail; and consider how Trump would implement his policies as president.

  • An Extensive Guide To The Fact Checks, Debunks, And Criticisms Of Trump’s Various Problematic Policy Proposals

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Over the course of the 2016 presidential primary, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has laid forth a series of problematic policy proposals and statements -- ranging from his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States to his suggestion that the United States default on debt -- that media have warned to be “dangerous,” “fact-free,” “unconstitutional,” “contradictory,” “racist,” and “xenophobic.” Media Matters compiled an extensive list of Trump’s widely panned policy plans thus far along with the debunks and criticism from media figures, experts and fact-checkers that go along with them.

  • Newsweek Dismantles Partisan Attacks On Hillary Clinton's Email

    Kurt Eichenwald: Clinton Did "The Exact Same Thing As Her Predecessors" And They "Did Nothing Wrong"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald debunked the partisan assertions that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton improperly used a private email account, pointing out that her predecessors similarly used private email accounts that received information that was retroactively classified.

    For months, conservative media figures baselessly hyped claims that Clinton violated the law by receiving State Department emails on her private email account while secretary of state. On February 4, reports emerged that Colin Powell and aides to Condoleezza Rice also used private email accounts when they served under President George W. Bush and some of their emails contained information that was subsequently classified on a retroactive basis.

    In a February 8 article for Newsweek, Kurt Eichenwald explained that Powell and Rice's aides' use of a private email account was "meaningless except that it sets up a rational conversation (finally) about the Hillary Clinton bogus 'email-gate' imbroglio" and showed that the fixation on Hillary Clinton's emails "has been a big nothing-burger perpetuated for partisan purposes." Eichenwald wrote that Powell and Rice, like Clinton, "did nothing wrong" and that "this could only be considered a scandal by ignorant or lying partisans":

    This news involving Powell and Rice is meaningless except that it sets up a rational conversation (finally) about the Hillary Clinton bogus "email-gate" imbroglio. Perhaps the partisans on each side will now be more willing to listen to the facts. From the beginning, the "scandal" about Clinton using a personal email account when she was secretary of state--including the finding that a few documents on it were retroactively deemed classified--has been a big nothing-burger perpetuated for partisan purposes, with reports spooned out by Republicans attempting to deceive or acting out of ignorance. Conservative commentators have raged, presidential candidates have fallen over themselves in apoplectic babbling, and some politicians have proclaimed that Clinton should be in jail for mishandling classified information. The nonsense has been never-ending, and attempts to cut through the fog of duplicity have been fruitless.


    So did Powell and the aides to Rice violate rules governing classified information, since the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) staff has recently determined that some of their years-old personal emails contain top-secret material? No. The rules regarding the handling of classified information apply to communications designated as secret at that time. If documents that aren't deemed classified and aren't handled through a SCIF when they are created or initially transmitted are later, in retrospect, deemed secret, the classification is new--and however the record was handled in the past is irrelevant.


    In other words, just because the FOIA staff years later labeled emails sent from Powell and Rice's aides as classified does not mean those records contain some crown jewels of critical intelligence. In fact, usually they are quite benign. I have seen emails called "top secret" that contained nothing more than a forwarded news article that had been published. (The Associated Press has reported that one of Clinton's "secret" emails contains an AP article.)


    The bottom line: Democrats may try to turn the revelations about the email accounts used by Powell and Rice's staff into a scandal. They may release press statements condemning the former secretaries of state; they may call for scores of unnecessary congressional hearings; they may go to the press and confidently proclaim that crimes were committed by these honorable Republicans. But it all be lies. Powell and Rice did nothing wrong. This could only be considered a scandal by ignorant or lying partisans.

    So there is no Powell or Rice email scandal. And no doubt, that will infuriate the Republicans who are trying so hard to trick people into believing Clinton committed a crime by doing the exact same thing as her predecessors.

    Eichenwald joins other lawmakers and media commentators who agree that the revelation that Powell and aides to Condoleezza Rice also received retroactively classified information indicates that the allegations against Hillary Clinton are part of a partisan smear campaign.

  • "The Guy Scares Me": Holocaust Survivors Warn About The Danger Of Trump's Right-Wing Media Approved Rhetoric

    Trump's Candidacy And Plans Have Been Hailed By Right-Wing And White Nationalist Media Figures

    ››› ››› LIS POWER

    On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Holocaust survivors warned about the demagoguery and rhetoric espoused by Donald Trump that they say echoes back to Nazi Germany -- the same rhetoric which has been sanctioned by right-wing media and praised by white nationalist media as "wonderful."

  • The Nation's Katha Pollitt: Newsweek "Completely Misunderstands The Fight Over Abortion In The United States"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On December 17, Newsweek published a cover story entitled: "America's Abortion Wars (And How to End Them)." The article argued that the solution to the "brutal stalemate" between pro-choice and anti-choice advocates was for both sides to let go of "bumper-sticker logic" and instead bankroll policy measures to support lower-income women who choose to give birth.

    In a December 21 response for The Nation, Katha Pollitt criticized Newsweek for mischaracterizing the debate over abortion and failing to recognize the strategies of pro-choice supporters, in particular those of reproductive justice proponents. Pointing to the long history of anti-choice violence against abortion providers, Pollitt argued that Newsweek's cover story supported a false equivalency between the goals of the pro-choice and anti-choice movements, explaining the two sides couldn't be equated because "in the so-called abortion wars, only one side is murdering the other."

    She concluded that by distorting the problem and proposing inadequate policy reforms, Newsweek problematically elevated the credibility of the anti-choice movement and minimized the actual needs of pregnant women and parents:

    Sorry, Newsweek. In the so-called abortion wars, only one side is murdering the other. Pro-choicers don't invade Christian "crisis pregnancy centers," guns blazing; they don't picket Catholic churches and scream at the people going into worship. Only one side wants to force women to do their bidding. Only one side fights broad access to birth control and realistic sex education. Only one side has allied itself with the Republican Party, which wants to cut every program and rescind every law that helps women and children and promotes gender equality in the workplace.


    But then, Eichenwald doesn't seem to know much about the actually existing reproductive-rights movement. As if drawing a rabbit out of a hat, he points out that the majority of women (69 percent) who have abortions today are poor or low-income. This will come as a surprise to few people involved with supporting abortion rights and access--or who have spent an afternoon in a clinic waiting room. He notes that a study shows that three-quarters of women choosing abortion give finances as one reason (he skips over the study's conclusion that typically women give multiple reasons, including responsibilities to others, lack of a partner and not being ready for motherhood). Since poverty is the cause, the way to end the abortion wars is for both sides to "put down their placards and open their wallets"--i.e., support laws and programs that will help poor women keep their pregnancies if they want them. "Here," he writes, "are all the new costs": an increase in the minimum wage, free government-funded daycare, free prenatal care, stronger legal protection for pregnant workers, and an end to the fight against Obamacare.

    It's a pretty minimal list--it doesn't even include paid parental leave or subsidies for low-income women who want to go to college as mothers, or help with housing or support in escaping abusive men. It doesn't consider that having a baby affects a woman's life forever, not just while she's pregnant or a new mother. And it has a strange focus on adoption as part of the solution. If he'd looked into the literature on adoption, he would have discovered that very few women (and black women least of all) are interested in having babies to give to adoptive couples--even ones who are willing to pay for their prenatal care, as he suggests. Almost all women who go through pregnancy and childbirth seem to want to keep the child.

    That he considers his list complete shows that Eichenwald hasn't spent a lot of time looking at women's lives. He's spent even less looking at the pro-choice movement, which he seems to think is a bunch of child-hating tightwads, when in fact most pro-choicers are Democrats. The anti-tax crowd is in the other party--the anti-choice party.

    Worst of all, he does not seem to know that the brilliant new idea he thinks he figured out on his own is what today's reproductive-rights movement is all about. That women need the right to have babies as well as not to have them, that freedom from poverty--and racism and violence--is part of that right, is called reproductive justice, and for 20 years it's been gradually replacing the libertarian "choice" framework for the abortion-rights movement. Today even Planned Parenthood embraces it. If only Eichenwald had picked up the phone and actually talked to some pro-choice leaders and thinkers. Loretta Ross, founder of the black-feminist organization SisterSong, where the reproductive-justice framework originated, could have set him straight in five minutes.

  • Elle Calls Out Newsweek Cover For Using Doctored Image Of A Late-Term Fetus To Represent The So-Called "Abortion Wars"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On December 17, Newsweek published a cover story featuring the digitally-manipulated image of a "relatively late-term" fetus depicted without reference to the mother. In the article, Kurt Eichenwald argued that the solution to the "brutal stalemate" between pro-choice and anti-choice groups was for both sides to bankroll policy measures (such as universal daycare) to support lower-income women who choose to give birth.

    In a December 18 article for Elle, In These Times' Sady Doyle criticized Newsweek's choice for a cover image. She explained that she "was flabbergasted" by the choice to use what she described as: "a computer-enhanced illustration of a well-developed, relatively late-term fetus with no sign of the actual person in whose uterus it is presumably housed." Doyle criticized Newsweek for using an image that looked "more like a baby" to describe the current controversy surrounding abortion access and cited a "long history of fetal images being used to scare people and rile up anti-abortion sentiment." She concluded that by minimizing the material effects of the abortion debate on the person carrying the fetus, Newsweek perpetuated a problematic narrative that ignored the decisions and experiences of many pregnant people:

    Which is why I was flabbergasted by Newsweek's cover image: a computer-enhanced illustration of a well-developed, relatively late-term fetus with no sign of the actual person in whose uterus it is presumably housed.

    At a guess, it looks to be between twelve and fourteen weeks along - just at the upper limit of the fetal age for most abortions, or a bit older - although given the nature of its digital, um, "improvements," it's hard to tell. For one thing, if the Newsweek fetus is twelve weeks along, it looks about five times bigger than the translucent, two-inch-long fetuses you normally find at that stage; this image looks less like an actual pregnancy, and more like an adorable computer-generated alien.

    Or, to be blunt: More like a baby. And, given the presence of the word "ABORTION" in all caps, we can assume it's not going to be around for long. Intentionally or not, the Newsweek cover sums up what's wrong with how we talk about abortion: Everything is about the fetus, which is humanized, and the actual pregnant person is erased.

    Granted, I'm only talking about the cover, here -- not the story inside, but there's a long history of fetal images being used to scare people and rile up anti-abortion sentiment. It's why mandatory ultrasound laws exist. It's why anti-abortion protesters hold up gory, bloody images of fetuses at protests, and why "crisis pregnancy centers" (anti-abortion organizations that market themselves as abortion and pre-natal care clinics) show unsuspecting pregnant people movies like "The Silent Scream," which purports to show an ultrasound of an abortion in progress. Supposedly, you can see the fetus screaming in pain.


    But talking about the fetus, and what it looks like, is beside the point. All of these scenarios involve a decision made by one person: a woman. (Or non-binary person, or transgender man.) Deciding whether to stay pregnant is not about the fetus. It's about them: their lives, safety, and futures. By focusing exclusively on fetuses, and promoting the imagery of endangered, persecuted "babies" in the womb, people who oppose abortion are able to totally avoid talking about the ways in which their positions endanger and persecute the actual people carrying those fetuses around.

    Newsweek may not have intended this, but putting the phrase "abortion wars" next to a fetus ignores so many of the casualties of these wars. It ignores Robert Lewis Dear's victims, murdered abortion doctors, and rape victims forced to carry their rapists' children to term. It erases poor women forced to have children they can't afford, and people who aren't able to pursue educations because they had children too early. It leaves out any person who wants to control their own body, but can't, because of abortion restrictions. Put "abortion wars" next to their faces, and you get a whole different message - one that's much closer to the truth.

  • Media Slam Trump For Invoking A Deadly, "Unabashedly Racist" Deportation Program As A Model For His Immigration Plans


    Media outlets slammed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for invoking President Dwight Eisenhower's "inhumane" and "unabashedly racist" deportation program as a blueprint for his own immigration plans, explaining that the program -- derogatorily called "Operation Wetback" -- resulted in dozens of immigrant deaths and used methods described as "indescribable scenes of human misery and tragedy."

  • Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald Calls Out Media For Enabling The Benghazi Committee's Partisan "Political Theater"

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald called out the media for promoting the misleading and "deceitful information" released by the House Select Committee on Benghazi in an ongoing effort to hurt Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, as it is becoming "increasingly clear they are enablers of an obscene attempt to undermine the electoral process."

    In his October 21 "Benghazi Biopsy," Eichenwald describes the Benghazi Committee as a "taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party's leading candidate for president." He goes on to criticize the media for parroting the committee's numerous false claims, from misleading characterizations of Susan Rice's supposedly deceptive Sunday morning show talking points, to the persistent "stand down" order myth, to the incorrect assertion that Clinton personally signed off on a cable weakening the security at the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. 

    Eichenwald points out that the media have been routinely duped by the committee's "bogus 'scoops.'" In fact, the media play a crucial role in the committee's partisan efforts to target Clinton. As Eichenwald puts it, "the modern McCarthys of the Benghazi committee cannot perform this political theater on their own -- they depend on reporters to aid in the attempts to use government for the purpose of destroying others with bogus 'scoops' ladled out by members of Congress and their staffs":

    But, as they have time and again, the Republicans on the Benghazi committee released deceitful information for what was undoubtedly part of a campaign--as Kevin McCarthy of the House Republican leadership has admitted--to drive down Clinton's poll numbers.


    The historical significance of this moment can hardly be overstated, and it seems many Republicans, Democrats and members of the media don't fully understand the magnitude of what is taking place. The awesome power of government--one that allows officials to pore through almost anything they demand and compel anyone to talk or suffer the shame of taking the Fifth Amendment--has been unleashed for purely political purposes. It is impossible to review what the Benghazi committee has done as anything other than taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party's leading candidate for president. Comparisons from America's past are rare. Richard Nixon's attempts to use the IRS to investigate his perceived enemies come to mind. So does Senator Joseph McCarthy's red-baiting during the 1950s, with reckless accusations of treason leveled at members of the State Department, military generals and even the secretary of the Army. But the modern McCarthys of the Benghazi committee cannot perform this political theater on their own--they depend on reporters to aid in the attempts to use government for the purpose of destroying others with bogus "scoops" ladled out by members of Congress and their staffs. These journalists will almost certainly join the legions of shamed reporters of the McCarthy era as it becomes increasingly clear they are enablers of an obscene attempt to undermine the electoral process.


    Unlike almost every congressional committee investigation in history, the [Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy] has insisted that much of the relevant questioning be conducted behind closed doors.


    The other reason to keep the testimony secret has rapidly become clear: so that they can selectively--and often incorrectly--portray to reporters what was said in the statements.


    Other false stories repeatedly found their way into the press. There was the "criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton" article that appeared in The New York Times; once the story was knocked down, the Times sheepishly acknowledged its sources included officials from Congress. (The "Clinton is under criminal investigation" story has continued; she's not.) The Daily Beast falsely reported that Blumenthal testified he was in Libya on the day of the Benghazi attack.

  • Conservative Media Defend Corporations' "Right" To Deceive Public On Climate Change

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    Conservative media are defending the "right" of fossil fuel companies to knowingly deceive the public about climate change, after a group of climate scientists and members of Congress called for an investigation of such companies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Contrary to claims by conservative media that these advocates are seeking to "shut down free speech," RICO would only apply to those who purposefully misled the public about climate change, with some Congressmen pointing to recent reports that ExxonMobil funded climate science denial for decades after discovering that fossil fuels drive climate change.