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  • The Media Keep Failing To Publish Accurate Headlines About Trump: An Updated List


    Before and since the election, media outlets have repeatedly failed to write headlines that adequately contextualize President Donald Trump’s lies. Simply echoing his statements normalizes his behavior and can spread disinformation, particularly given the high proportion of people who read only headlines. Below is an ongoing list documenting the media’s failure to contextualize Trump’s actions in headlines and sometimes on social media. Some of the initial versions were subsequently altered (and these are marked with an asterisk), but many of the updates still failed to adequately contextualize Trump’s remarks.

  • How The Media Elevated Anti-Immigrant Nativist Groups

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Throughout 2016, media outlets were complicit in mainstreaming the “nativist lobby,” made up of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA, groups with ties to white supremacists whose mission is to drastically limit both legal and illegal immigration. Even though these groups have a record of producing shoddy research and pushing misinformation about immigrants, their agenda has now inspired many of President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Many mainstream media outlets contributed to the normalization of these nativist groups by repeatedly referencing them under the pretense of balance while failing to acknowledge their insidious anti-immigrant agenda or provide context about their nativist origins.

  • Supporters Of Rex Tillerson, Trump's Pick For State, Have Exxon Ties Of Their Own

    Mainstream Outlets Tout Support Of Gates, Rice, And Baker, But Ignore Their Stakes In Exxon

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    After President-elect Donald Trump announced ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his pick for secretary of state, morning news shows and newspapers noted that prominent figures including James Baker III, Robert M. Gates, and Condoleezza Rice have expressed support for Tillerson, with some mentioning that such support adds credibility to the pick. But those outlets failed to disclose that all three figures have considerable financial ties through their businesses to Tillerson, ExxonMobil, and the oil company’s Russian business ventures.

  • Media Should Not Sanitize Trump Immigration Adviser Kris Kobach’s Extremism, Ties To White Supremacists

    Kobach “Wrote The Book” On Muslim Registry And Was Behind Anti-Immigrant SB 1070

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    A reported architect behind President-elect Donald Trump’s extreme immigration proposals, radio host and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has received significant media attention following the announcement that he was joining Trump’s transition team. However, media outlets are failing to note his ties to hate groups and nativist organizations and his attacks on immigrants and LGBTQ people.

  • Media Credulously Repeat NRA’s False Claim That Clinton Opposes Gun Ownership


    Media outlets reporting on the NRA’s new $5 million ad buy that claims Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “could take away” your “right to self-defense” failed to hold the gun organization to account for the falsity of that claim. While media reporting on the ad repeated and gave credence to the NRA’s claims, they often failed to cite Clinton’s actual positions on gun regulation or mention the fact-checkers who have debunked a nearly identical NRA ad targeting Clinton as “false.”

  • The Huge Media Failure Behind The Latest Clinton Global Initiative Pseudo-Scandal

    Despite Reporting, Bahraini Crown Prince Didn’t Give $32 Million To CGI

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Numerous media outlets covering released State Department emails pushed by the conservative group Judicial Watch falsely claimed that Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain gave the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) tens of millions of dollars, which they suggested was linked to him meeting with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In fact, none of the money in question went to the Clinton Global Initiative -- the crown prince made a “Commitment to Action” to fund the scholarship program at a Clinton Global Initiative event, and the money raised from business donors in Bahrain and elsewhere went to the crown prince’s scholarship program to educate Bahraini students.

  • Every Morning Show Except CBS’ Failed To Cover The New Allegations Against Paul Manafort

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    CBS This Morning was the only network or cable morning news show to detail new reports on Paul Manafort’s work in support of Ukraine’s previous pro-Russian government. Several print and digital outlets had produced devastating reports that Manafort -- former campaign chairman for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- received potentially illegal payments, that he worked to influence U.S. opinion of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government, and that he helped set up protests against NATO troops including U.S. service members.

  • Politico Defends Decision To Host Dirty Trickster Roger Stone

    Stone Dodges Question About Co-Author’s Accusations That Trump Is A Rapist

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Politico defended its decision to host longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone at a Republican National Convention event despite his history of making sexist, racist, and conspiratorial attacks that have gotten him banned from CNN and MSNBC.

    Stone has called Hillary Clinton a “cunt” and advocated her execution, and called media figures "stupid negro," "fat negro," “quota hires,” “elitist c*nt,” “bitch,” and “muff-diver” (among many other things). In a tweet he subsequently deleted, Stone once wrote, “Which female Politico Reporter goes commando regularly.”

    Politico hosted a July 19 discussion with Stone moderated by Mike Allen and Anna Palmer. Spokesperson Brad Dayspring defended the publication’s hosting of Stone, telling Media Matters reporter Joe Strupp: "Roger Stone is certainly a well-known commodity and a character in his own right. He is a Trump supporter, he is running a super PAC that is involved in this election. So his words speak for themselves, it is not an endorsement by Politico. We try to have speakers that speak to a broad array of topics."

    Pointing to Stone’s July 18 pro-Trump rally with 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Megerian noted of Politico hosting him, “Yesterday Roger Stone was spreading conspiracy theories with Alex Jones. Today? Given platform to riff on the news.” During the rally, Stone invoked conspiracies that the Clintons were involved in a cover-up surrounding the death of White House aide Vince Foster.

    During the Politico event, Stone weighed in on Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama in her recent speech at the Republican National Convention. Stone said voters don’t care, but “if somebody did this then it’s sloppy staff work and somebody should go.” Stone himself is a plagiarist: He wrote an April anti-Ted Cruz piece for The Daily Caller that contained at least five paragraphs in which research and language was lifted from a conservative blog. The Daily Caller subsequently removed Stone’s piece from its website.

    During the event's question and answer portion, Media Matters' Strupp asked Stone if he wanted to address his co-author Robert Morrow’s claims that Trump committed rape. Stone refused to respond, stating, “I don’t respond to questions from illegitimate news organizations. Next question.”

    Stone and Morrow co-authored The Clintons' War on Women -- Politico promoted the book during the discussion -- which claims to show "how Bill and Hillary Clinton systematically abused women and others -- sexually, physically, and psychologically -- in their scramble for power and wealth."

    Media Matters has reported that Morrow is a fringe conspiracy theorist with a history of bizarre, racist, and incendiary writings. He has wished death on Hillary Clinton and been visited by the Secret Service; posted sexual writings about the former secretary of state; called Chelsea Clinton a "slut" and imagined how she would "have sex one day" with Bill Clinton; posted about "pro-faggot JUDICIAL ACTIVISM"; and claimed the Bush and Clinton families were involved in murders and drug-running. He also has an obsession with using the slur nigger, having tweeted it over 100 times. Morrow was recently sworn in as the chairman of the GOP in Travis County, Texas.  

    Morrow and Stone have recently been feuding over Trump, with Morrow repeatedly attacking Trump as a rapist and Stone as “a hack for Donald Trump.”

    Morrow has repeatedly accused Trump of being a rapist on his Twitter account. For instance:

    Morrow wrote that Stone has been “a tad standoffish after my exposing Donald Trump for the serial rapist and child rapist this very sick man is.” He also tweeted, “Stone is a hack for Donald Trump and any of his defenses of Trump can't be taken at face value.”

    Stone responded to one of Morrow’s tweets by writing, “Morrow has lost his mind-has ZERO evidence and is courting a defamation suit.” He also tweeted at Morrow after he criticized the Trump campaign: “How would you know? You've never elected anyone to public office or held a job in your life? #Trust #Fund #Loser.”

    Media Matters’ Joe Strupp contributed reporting to this post.

  • Politico Report On Obama’s Smart Gun Plan Doesn’t Disclose Smart Gun Critic Received Gun Industry Money

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A Politico article on President Obama’s reported upcoming plan to “push” for smart gun technology quoted Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) executive director Jim Pasco attacking the technology without disclosing the FOP has received funding from the gun industry. Many of Pasco’s attacks on smart guns echoed the National Rifle Association and the gun industry.

    Politico’s article also credulously repeated the NRA’s misleading claim that it merely opposes laws that mandate the adoption of smart gun technology and not the development of smart gun technology in general.

    In an April 28 article, Politico reported President Obama “is opening a new front in the gun control debate, readying a big push for so-called smart gun technology -- an initiative that the gun lobby and law enforcement rank and file is already mobilizing against.” According to the report, “As early as Friday, Obama is set to formally release findings from the Defense, Justice and Homeland Security Departments on ways to spur the development of guns that can be fired only by their owner.”

    The article extensively quoted Pasco, who offered various attacks on smart gun technology, claiming that law enforcement officers would be used as “guinea pigs” to test the technology; that Obama’s move placed politics over officer safety; that police officers oppose the technology; and suggesting the technology could put officers in greater danger:

    “Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” said James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “We have some very, very serious questions.


    But at this point, the Obama administration already has frayed ties with rank-and-file cops, many of whom didn’t think the president took their side in his reactions to police violence and protests like those in Ferguson, Missouri. Pasco compared the push for smart guns to the decision to limit local departments’ access to surplus military equipment.

    “They sit down among themselves and decide what is best for law enforcement, but from a political standpoint, and then tell officers they’re doing it for their benefit,” Pasco said.

    Of the 330,000 officers in his union, Pasco said, “I have never heard a single member say what we need are guns that only we can fire,” noting that there might be moments in close combat when an officer would need to use a partner’s weapon or even the suspect’s.

    Politico did not disclose that FOP's charity has received money from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s trade group. According to a 2010 Washington Post investigation, NSSF gave FOP Foundation $100,000 in 2010. In 2015, NSSF announced a $25,000 contribution to FOP Foundation. NSSF senior vice president Larry Keane has attacked smart gun technology. In 2014 he published a factually inaccurate and unfounded column arguing that two Massachusetts political candidates lost their races because of support for the technology.

    The Politico article twice referenced FOP’s representation of “rank and file” police officers as explanation for FOP’s opposition to Obama’s reported proposal. But FOP has also been accused of representing corporate interests. The 2010 Washington Post profile -- which delved into Pasco’s other work as a lobbyist -- described him as “a product of the capital's revolving-door culture” with an “unusual” role as a lobbyist representing beer, cigarette, and entertainment companies that "raises questions about possible conflicts of interest," according to tax law specialists.

    According to the Post's reporting, under Pasco's leadership FOP has accepted donations from the gun industry lobby after taking positions favorable to that group, and the organization's positions have repeatedly aligned with the priorities of lobbying clients of Pasco and his wife.

    Washington Post pointed to several specific instances of apparent conflict:

    • In 2007, FOP "became pivotal to the" gun debate when it opposed the repeal of the Tiahrt amendment. The group backed other gun industry priorities in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, FOP's charity received $100,000 from NSSF.
    • In 1998, FOP opposed a bill giving the Food and Drug Administration the ability to regulate tobacco and raise the federal cigarette tax. In addition to leading FOP, Pasco at the time was a lobbyist for Philip Morris, which has paid his firm $600,000.
    • In 2005, while Pasco was receiving $200,000 from Sony to lobby on "Internet theft of intellectual property," FOP joined a legal brief backing the music industry in an intellectual-property case against a music-sharing website.

    The Politico article also repeated the NRA’s misleading claim about the gun organization’s position on smart guns, noting, “Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, are not against funding research for smart guns or putting them on shelves. But the NRA does oppose any law that would prohibit people from buying a gun that doesn’t have personalized technology.”

    The NRA’s attacks on smart gun technology go far beyond the group’s opposition to laws that mandate the adoption of the technology. While purporting to not oppose research into smart guns in a statement on its website, the NRA’s media arm routinely attacks the technology, often pushing either falsehoods about the reliability smart guns or by connecting the developing technology to conspiracy theories about the federal government.

  • Washington Post Corrects Faulty Report That Nearly 150 FBI Agents Are Investigating Clinton Emails

    The Post Now Reports "The Number Of FBI Personnel Involved Is Fewer Than 50"

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    The Washington Post has retracted its anonymously sourced claim that 147 FBI agents are detailed to the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, and is now reporting that the real number is fewer than 50. Media outlets trumpeted the Post's report of the supposedly "staggering" number of FBI agents working the investigation as bad news for Clinton.

    On March 27, the Post published a 5,000-word article detailing the FBI's investigation into Clinton's use of a private email and personal Blackberry device during her time as secretary of state. The original story reported: "One hundred forty-seven FBI agents have been deployed to run down leads, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey."

    The Post's claim spread throughout the media, with outlets frequently highlighting the 147 figure in their headlines and some using the report to attack Clinton. National Review termed the figure "a staggering deployment of manpower," while Breitbart News celebrated the "FBI recently kick[ing] its investigation into high gear." The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza highlighted the "eye-popping" 147 figure by commenting, "W-H-A-T?", adding that the reported number of agents seemed "like a ton for a story that Clinton has always insisted was really, at heart, a right-wing Republican creation," while MSNBC's Joe Scarborough called the number the "worst kept secret in DC for months." The story was also highlighted in several segments on Fox News.

    But the next day, Politico reported that the Post's story might be inaccurate. According to Politico, an official close to the investigation refuted the Post's report, saying that "The FBI does not have close to 150 agents working the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email server" and that the Post's "number is greatly exaggerated."

    The Washington Post issued a correction to both their initial story on March 29, explaining that they incorrectly reported "that 147 FBI agents had been detailed to the investigation" and that multiple U.S. law enforcement officials "have since told The Washington Post that figure is too high" and the actual number of "FBI personnel involved in the case is fewer than 50":

    CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Clinton used two different email addresses, sometimes interchangeably, as secretary of state. She used only as secretary of state.  Also, an earlier version of this article reported that 147 FBI agents had been detailed to the investigation, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey. Two U.S. law enforcement officials have since told The Washington Post that figure is too high. The FBI will not provide an exact figure, but the officials say the number of FBI personnel involved is fewer than 50.

    Cillizza issued an update to his post, changing his headline but not the text of his piece to reflect the Post's correction and stating, "I apologize for the error."

    The Washington Post joins other media outlets that have been forced to issue embarrassing corrections after publishing faulty claims on Clinton's emails based on anonymous sources. The New York Times issued two corrections on stories claiming Clinton was the subject of a "criminal probe," based in part on unnamed "Capitol Hill" sources.  

    The media continues to scandalize Hillary Clinton during the FBI's probe, even though legal experts have repeatedly explained that Clinton is unlikely to face prosecution and have termed an indictment "ridiculous."

  • Is The Media Tide Finally Turning Against The GOP's Radical Supreme Court Obstruction?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Mitch McConnell

    As Republicans cement their extraordinary desire to deny President Obama the chance to even have his next Supreme Court nominee be heard on Capitol Hill this year, there are signs that the Beltway press is finally addressing radical Republican obstructionism head-on. No longer shying away from being factually accurate in their description of an extremist Republican blockade, reporters are at last conveying to news consumers how unusual today's GOP behavior is.

    Better late than never.

    Almost since Obama's inauguration, Media Matters has been documenting how the press has so timidly danced around Republicans' incessant obstructionism. Even worse, media outlets have routinely found ways to blame Obama for the GOP's blockading ways.

    When Republicans announced hours after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death that they'd likely oppose any Obama nominee, we saw lots of examples of that tell-tale press tentativeness: Obama was picking a "fight" by merely following the Constitution by moving to fill a court vacancy.

    The New York Times in particular has seemed oddly committed to portraying the GOP's radical actions as part of a Both Sides Are To Blame confrontation.

    But now, just a week later and with Republicans putting their blockade into action, more reporters seem to have decided there's no other way to describe the Republicans' radical behavior than by being honest. (Even Fox News is telling the truth.)

    And the key here is that the accurate descriptions are showing up in straight news reports. Plenty of commentators have condemned the Republican ploy in recent days. But in the news pages the GOP's shutdown approach was often presented as a "bipartisan" bickering; as more uncontrollable gridlock.

    More reporters are clearly spelling out what's happening. Hopefully the shift is a real and sustained one. It's certainly long overdue.

    Bloomberg News [emphases added]:

    Senate Republicans emerged from a closed-door meeting Tuesday committed to maximum obstruction of any nominee by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court -- no hearings and no votes."


    The issue became heated on Tuesday as the GOP leader flashed rare emotion under intense questioning from the media about how his extraordinary blockade might play politically.

    In an unprecedented move, Senate Republicans vowed to deny holding confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee -- even promising to deny meeting privately with whomever the President picks.

    The Hill:

    The unprecedented decision, made before the president has named a nominee, marks a new chapter in Washington's war over judicial nominations.

    New York Daily News:

    Throughout American history, even the most divisive nominees for the high court have received a hearing before the Judiciary Committee, and the election-year decision to deny such a session marks a radical departure from the Senate's traditional "advise and consent" role.

    And no, there's nothing biased or misleading in any of those dispatches. They're simply factual accounts of how off-the-rails Republican behavior has become.

    The fact that Republicans' behavior is now in unprecedented territory should temper the media freak-out when the next "see, both sides do it!" gotcha video inevitably emerges.

  • As Obama Moves To Replace Scalia, The Press Enables Radical GOP Obstruction

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Supreme Court

    In the wake of Antonin Scalia's sudden death, the Beltway press almost immediately began to seamlessly frame the unfolding debate about the Supreme Court justice's replacement along the contours of Republican talking points. To do so, the press continued its habit of looking away from the GOP's stunning record of institutional obstructionism since 2009.

    Immediately after the news broke of Scalia's passing, Republican Senate leaders, GOP presidential candidates, and conservative commentators declared that the job of picking Scalia's replacement should be performed not by President Obama, but by his successor.

    Quickly suggesting that Obama was picking a "fight" with Republicans by signaling he plans to fulfill his constitutional duty by nominating Scalia's successor, the press aided Republicans by presenting this radical plan to obstruct the president as being an unsurprising move that Democrats would likely copy if put in the same position during an election year. (Given the rarity of the situation precedents aren't perfect, but it's worth mentioning that during the election year of 1988, Democrats actually did the opposite, confirming Justice Anthony Kennedy unanimously.)

    The framework for much of the coverage regarding the GOP's radical demand that Scalia's seat sit empty for a year is this: It's Obama's behavior that's setting off a showdown, and of course Republicans would categorically oppose anyone Obama nominates. But journalists often don't explain why: Why is it obvious Obama would have zero chance of getting a Supreme Court nominee confirmed when every president in the past has been able to fill vacancies?

    Is it unusual for a president to face a Supreme Court vacancy his final year in office? It is. But there's nothing in the Constitution to suggest the rules change under the current circumstances. (Obama still has 50 weeks left in office.) It's Republicans who have declared that all new rules must apply. And it's the press that has rather meekly accepted the extreme premise.

    Note that Republicans and their conservative fans in the media aren't telling Obama that a particular nominee he selects to become the next justice is flawed and will likely be rejected after hearings are held. Republicans are telling Obama that there's no point in even bothering to make a selection because the Senate will reject anyone the president names. Period. The seat will remain vacant for an entire year. That is the definition of radical. But the press still looks away.

    For instance, Politico reported the president "was facing the choice between setting off a nasty brawl with Congress by seizing the best chance in a generation to flip the ideological balance of the Supreme Court, or simply punting." The Politico headline claimed Obama had chosen to "fight" Republicans.

    But Obama faces no real "choice," and he isn't the one who decided to pick a "fight." As president of the United States he's obligated to fill Supreme Court vacancies.

    The New York Times stressed Scalia's death had sparked "an immediate partisan battle," suggesting the warfare ran both ways. But how, by doing what he's supposed to do as president, is Obama sparking a "partisan battle"?

    If Obama eventually decided to nominate an extremely liberal justice to replace the extremely conservative Scalia, then yes, that could accurately be described as sparking a "partisan battle." But what could be "partisan" about the president simply doing what the Constitution instructs him to do?

    Meanwhile, the Associated Press framed the unfolding story as Obama's announcement being "a direct rebuttal to Senate Republicans," without noting the Republican demand that a Supreme Court justice's seat sit empty for at least a year is without recent precedent.

    And BuzzFeed suggested Scalia's vacancy is different because the justice was, "as one Republican put it, 'a rock solid conservative seat,' and given the divisions on the court conservatives will be adamant that one of their own replace him."

    But that's not how Supreme Court nominations work. Obviously, while the Senate has the responsibility to advise and consent on nominees, the party out of power doesn't get to make the selection. So why the media suggestion that Republicans deserve a say in this case, or else?

    Again and again, the press has depicted Obama's expected action in the wake of Scalia's death as being highly controversial or partisan, when in fact it's Republicans who are acting in erratic ways by categorically announcing they'll refuse to even consider Obama's next Supreme Court pick.   

    The sad part is this type of media acquiescence has become a hallmark of the Obama era. Republicans have routinely obliterated Beltway precedents when it comes to granting Obama the leeway that previous presidents were given by their partisan foes in Congress.

    Yet each step along the way, journalists have pulled back, refusing to detail the seismic shift taking place. Instead, journalists have portrayed the obstruction as routine, and often blamed Obama for not being able to avoid the showdowns.

    Today's Republican Party is acting in a way that defies all historic norms. We saw it with the GOP's gun law obstructionism, the sequester obstructionism, the government shutdown obstructionism, the Chuck Hagel confirmation obstructionism, the Susan Rice secretary of state obstructionism, the Hurricane Sandy emergency relief obstructionism, and the consistent obstruction of judicial nominees.

    For years under Obama, Republicans have systematically destroyed Beltway norms and protocols, denying the president his traditional latitude to govern and make appointments. It's sad that in Obama's final year in office, the press is still turning a blind eye to the GOP's radical nature.

  • The Media's Missing Context: Obama's Push To Expand Background Checks Is Wildly Popular With Gun Owners

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    After President Obama unveiled new executive orders aimed at reducing gun violence, a constant media theme has been that the proposals are deeply controversial. But are they? Or are media outlets providing a disjointed look by giving a skewed, Republican-friendly take on the issue by stressing conflict where very little exists?

    A key component of Obama's initiative is to expand the pool of people who count as gun dealers, which would require more people to be licensed. That would mean more buyers being screened. It's the White House's concerted effort to bypass obstructionist Republicans to close the so-called "gun show loophole."

    News coverage has generally been good in terms of clearly detailing the specifics of the proposals. But the coverage falls down when it comes to the politics; when it comes to explaining why Obama has been forced to use his powers as chief executive to address gun violence. (Hint: It's because Republicans have purposefully made Congress dysfunctional.)

    Too much of the coverage has also omitted the fact that expanding background checks is wildly popular with everyone, it seems, except Republican members of Congress and the NRA's board of directors.

    Recent write-ups by NPR, Washington Post, CBS News, Wall Street Journal, and Reuters, among others, omitted any hard numbers regarding the wide, national support for background checks.

    "Gun owners overwhelmingly support background checks," Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, told the Center for American Progress last year. "And that includes gun owners who are Republicans and gun owners who are NRA members."

    By leaving out the context -- by leaving out the fact that 90 percent of Americans support background checks to cover all gun sales -- the press erroneously presents the Obama initiative as deeply controversial and deeply partisan.

    But they're not. And it's worth noting that much of the existing polling showing vast support for expanded background checks has focused on the question of whether all gun sales should be subject to a background check, but Obama's proposal doesn't even go that far.

    It's actually hard to find another high-profile public policy issue in the U.S. that enjoys as much bipartisan backing. The polling data is rather remarkable:

    *90 percent of Americans support criminal background checks for all gun sales.

    *83 percent of gun owners nationally support criminal background checks on all sales of firearms.

    *72 percent of NRA members back them.

    By often ignoring those findings, the press misreads the story.

    For instance, Politico reported Obama will have "a tricky task" convincing "gun-owning Americans" to support his background check push. But that doesn't make sense because most gun-owning Americans already support background checks.

    And by failing to distinguish the fact that the NRA and GOP politicians categorically object to any Obama attempt to address gun ownership, but most Americans, including most gun owners, do not.

    That omission highlights an ongoing newsroom failure when covering the gun debate during the Obama years: whitewashing the GOP's radical obstruction, and especially the nearly unanimous opposition to the White House-backed gun bill in the wake of 2012 Newtown school gun massacre.

    Here's how the Washington Post referred to it in a January 4 article [emphasis added]:

    His administration failed to persuade lawmakers to approve tighter legislative controls on gun sales in 2013, in the wake of the December 2012 killings of 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

    Added NPR: "Obama was stymied in his effort to promote gun control legislation three years ago in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre."

    That's not quite accurate. What happened in 2013 is Obama persuaded a majority of lawmakers to pass a gun bill, including a handful of Republicans. But a hardcore minority of Republicans in the Senate refused to allow a vote on the issue.

    Even though more than 90 percent of Americans supported the bill. Even though more than two dozen people had recently been gunned down in one day at an elementary school. Even though Obama had just become the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to win election and reelection with 51 percent of the vote or more and had made the gun bill a top legislative priority, Republicans still refused to even allow a vote on the background check bill.

    Why did Republicans refuse? Because they didn't want to be seen giving the president a victory. That, according to Republican Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, among the few who tried to help the White House fashion together a deal: "There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it."

    Ignoring that crucial background information, this week we're told rather vaguely that Congress (not Republicans) "stymied" Obama on guns. The lack of context has produced real oddities.

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    A National Rifle Association spokeswoman said before the White House's announcement that the president had failed to pass his anti-gun agenda through Congress and now is defying the will of the people by relying on executive action.

    Nine out of ten Republican senators in 2013 refused to allow a vote on a gun bill with overwhelming public support, but the NRA claims it's Obama who's "defying the will of the people"?

    Some news coverage has gotten it right. For instance, during a CNN report Monday night, an on-screen graphic documented the polling data on the topic:  

    And a USA Today article on Obama's initiative set aside space to note, "White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest pointed to recent polls showing 89% of Americans -- and 84% of gun owners -- support universal background checks."

    That's all it takes to provide the proper context. The press should at least do the minimum.

  • NBC News President Reportedly Uses Derogatory Slur "Illegals" In Meeting With Congressional Hispanic Caucus

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Politico reported that NBC News President Deborah Turness used the word "illegals" - a derogatory term viewed as an offensive slur by many Latinos - during a meeting with Hispanic lawmakers about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's appearance on Saturday Night Live.

    Several media outlets have stopped using the term "illegals" to describe undocumented immigrants. The Associated Press Stylebook instructs journalists against "the use of 'illegal' to describe a person," and The New York Times followed suit. The National Associated of Hispanic Journalists, in a March 2006 press release calling on media to stop using "illegals" as a noun, explained that using that term "crosses the line by criminalizing the person," and the Asian American Journalists Association and National Association of Black Journalists issued similar statements in 2006.

    The November 19 Politico article explained that members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were looking for an explanation from NBC of why Trump hosted SNL, after the network decided to cut all business ties with Trump in the wake of his insulting comments that Mexicans are "rapists." NBC's decision to allow Trump to host the show was met with protest by immigrant advocacy groups, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus issued a statement asking NBC to disinvite Trump from hosting. According to Politico, Turness used the term "illegals" near the beginning of the meeting "that was already expected to be tense":

    NBC News President Deborah Turness committed a major blunder -- as far as the Hispanic lawmakers were concerned -- when she described undocumented immigrants as "illegals," a term that many in the Latino community find highly offensive.

    Turness was describing NBC's integration with their Spanish-language network Telemundo, which included coverage of Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. and his interaction with a young girl who was afraid her parents would be deported because they're "illegals."

    "I'm going to stop you right there. We use the term undocumented immigrants," Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) interrupted.

    Turness apologized.

    That exchange kicked off a meeting that was already expected to be tense. Lawmakers were hoping for an explanation of why Trump hosted Saturday Night Live, despite formal protests from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. MSNBC and NBC News executives -- who are part of a separate entity from NBC's entertainment division, which oversees SNL -- came expecting to talk about the progress they've made in making their newsrooms more diverse.

    Vargas later told POLITICO, "She was saying how they've done all these great things and then boom, she said 'illegals.'"