Bob Schieffer | Media Matters for America

Bob Schieffer

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  • On foreign trip, media figures praise Trump as “presidential” for not acting like a child

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Media figures praised President Donald Trump as “presidential” for not yet causing an international controversy on this week’s five-country trip, his first venture out of the country since the inauguration. They said the trip was “uncharacteristically normal” and praised Trump for not sounding “like the guy at the end of the bar popping off.”

  • Here Are The Abortion Questions That Should Be Retired From Presidential Debates

    In 56 Years Of Presidential Debates, Moderators Have Frequently Asked Abortion Questions That Reduce The Topic To Religion Or Judicial Appointments Or Perpetuate Stigma


    A coalition of reproductive rights groups is campaigning for the inclusion of more timely and substantive questions about abortion in the presidential and vice presidential debates of 2016, arguing that the abortion questions that have been asked in the past are insufficient for today. Indeed, a Media Matters review of presidential and vice presidential debates from 1960 to 2012 shows that 68 percent of all abortion questions repeated the same three themes, which are overly abstract, stigmatize the issue or ignore the escalating assault on reproductive health care access.

  • Journalists Call On Debate Moderators To Fact-Check Candidates

    Journalists: Debate Moderators Should “Be Well-Prepared Enough To Assert The Truth In Real Time”

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Prior to the first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump, journalists are advising the debate moderators to “Be well-prepared enough to assert the truth in real time,” and arguing that a moderator should not “abdicate” their “role as a truth-seeker and a journalist” because moderators “play a constructive and vital role” in presidential debates.

  • A Comprehensive Guide To Benghazi Myths And Facts


    After nearly four years of right-wing myths about the September 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, and as Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on the attacks release their reports, Media Matters has compiled a list of more than 50 myths and facts regarding the origin of the attack, the security surrounding the compounds, the Obama administration’s handling of the attack during and after its occurrence, attacks on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other lies and misinformation regarding the Benghazi attack.

  • A Year After Marriage Equality, It's Time For Media To Stop Giving Anti-LGBT Liars A Pass

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    In the year since the Supreme Court struck down state-level same-sex marriage bans, anti-gay extremists have continued to peddle misinformation about LGBT equality in the media. After more than 12 years of pushing lies and wildly inaccurate predictions about the consequences of marriage equality, it’s time for the media to stop letting anti-gay activists comment on LGBT rights without disclosing their proven track record of dishonest extremism.

    It’s been a year since the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015, Obergefell v. Hodges decision which found state-level same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. In the decade leading up to the decision, anti-LGBT extremists and hate group leaders peddled specious talking points about the consequences of “redefining traditional marriage.” In media appearances, these figures predicted that allowing same-sex couples to marry would cause a “slippery slope” to legalized bestiality, incest, and pedophilia; pushed the myth that gay men are more likely to engage in pedophilia than straight men; and hyped claims that pastors and churches were in danger of being forced to perform same-sex marriages.

    Several of these groups were so deceptive that in 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), designated them anti-LGBT “hate groups” for “propagating known falsehoods” and pushing “demonizing propaganda.” One of these groups was the Family Research Council (FRC), whose officials have accused gay people of trying to "recruit" children into homosexuality and endorsed a Uganda law that would have imposed the death penalty for engaging in gay sex.

    For years, major cable news networks have hosted FRC representatives to comment on LGBT equality without identifying FRC as a hate group. Despite the efforts of progressive Christians to stop outlets from letting FRC representatives conflate their extremism with mainstream Christianity, the group continues to have a significant media presence. Since last June’s Obergefell decision, mainstream media outlets have continued to call on FRC to discuss LGBT rights, including:

    • The New York Times, NPR, and USA Today all cited FRC’s commentary on the Obergefell marriage equality decision without noting the group’s history of hate.
    • ABC's This Week invited FRC's Ken Blackwell -- who previously blamed same-sex marriage for a mass murder -- to discuss the court's decision.  
    • NPR featured FRC’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg -- who spent 10 years as a "professional actor" before joining FRC -- to debate same-sex parenting.
    • FRC’s President Tony Perkins appeared on MSNBC to discuss meeting with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump assemble an “Evangelical executive advisory board,” featuring anti-LGBT extremists.

    In the past year, the media have given other anti-LGBT hate groups similar passes. In September, mainstream news outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters failed to identify Liberty Counsel, the anti-LGBT hate group representing Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, instead calling it merely a “Christian” or “conservative” organization. In April, major news outlets largely failed to identify the American Family Association (AFA) -- the group organizing a boycott of Target over its transgender-inclusive restroom policy -- as an anti-LGBT hate group.

    The few instances when mainstream media like The Associated Press and CBS News’ Bob Schieffer did properly identify hate group leaders, anti-gay conservatives were predictably outraged. Right-wing anger at journalists who expose anti-LGBT extremism illustrates why it’s so vital to disclose when sources or commentators represent hate groups. The public has a right to know that the same groups with a track record of fearmongering about children’s safety to oppose marriage equality are now those peddling the anti-LGBT movement’s new favorite myth that LGBT nondiscrimination protections endanger the safety of women and children in bathrooms.

    A year after Obergefell, it’s time for the media to stop letting the same extremists use media appearances to float new lies and recycle mythical talking points to oppose LGBT equality. Outlets seeking to provide balanced coverage of LGBT rights ought to find commentators who don’t have a decade-long track record of spreading hateful lies about LGBT people. 

  • STUDY: How Broadcast Networks Covered Climate Change In 2015


    ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox collectively spent five percent less time covering climate change in 2015, even though there were more newsworthy climate-related events than ever before, including the EPA finalizing the Clean Power Plan, Pope Francis issuing a climate change encyclical, President Obama rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, and 195 countries around the world reaching a historic climate agreement in Paris. The decline was primarily driven by ABC, whose climate coverage dropped by 59 percent; the only network to dramatically increase its climate coverage was Fox, but that increase largely consisted of criticism of efforts to address climate change. When the networks did discuss climate change, they rarely addressed its impacts on national security, the economy, or public health, yet most still found time to provide a forum for climate science denial. On a more positive note, CBS and NBC -- and PBS, which was assessed separately -- aired many segments that explored the state of scientific research or detailed how climate change is affecting extreme weather, plants, and wildlife.

  • The Best And Worst Media Interviews With Climate-Denying Presidential Candidates

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    A new Media Matters study has found that outside of MSNBC, major broadcast and cable television outlets are failing to fact-check climate science denial by presidential candidates 75 percent of the time. But it's worth taking a closer look at how television program hosts have handled their face-to-face interviews with presidential candidates, since these high-profile interviews often get a substantial amount of attention and can shape media discussions for days or even weeks to come.  

    So how are TV hosts responding when presidential candidates spout climate science denial in real time? It depends which channel you're watching.

    CNN's Jake Tapper has offered an instructive example of how to address presidential candidates' climate denial during his interviews with real estate mogul Donald Trump and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). On the June 28 edition of CNN's State of the Union, Tapper responded to Trump's declaration that he is "not a huge believer in the global warming phenomenon" by telling Trump that "the overwhelming majority of scientists say it's real and it's man-made."

    Tapper also brought up the scientific consensus during a June 4 interview with Santorum on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper. Noting that Santorum had responded to Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change by commenting that "the church has gotten it wrong a few times on science" and that "we're probably better off leaving science to the scientists," Tapper proceeded to ask Santorum: "[I]n terms of leaving science to the scientists, I think a lot of people would agree with you. So why not take the overwhelming majority of scientists at their word and take seriously that humans are contributing to climate change, with potentially disastrous results?"

    Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace similarly challenged Santorum's remarks about the pope's encyclical during a June 7 interview. Wallace told Santorum that the vast majority of "scientists who have studied this say that humans, man -- human activity, contributes to climate change." Wallace then added, "So, I guess the question would be, if [the pope] shouldn't talk about [climate change], should you?"  

    Unfortunately, Wallace has not consistently described humans' role in climate change as a matter of scientific consensus. During an interview with Cardinal Donald Wuerl on the June 21 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace suggested a false balance between the 97 percent of climate scientists who say humans are causing global warming and, in Wallace's words, the "experts on the other side" who question it. Wallace asked Wuerl: "While the Holy Father says a number of scientific studies hold that the world is warming and human activity is a major role, there are certainly experts on the other side who question, really, whether there is a consistent pattern of warming, as opposed to just sort of the variations of climate over the ages, and how much human activity plays a role. What does the pope say to those people?"

    Although his program wasn't included in Media Matters' study, Fusion's Jorge Ramos also forcefully refuted climate science denial by a presidential candidate. During an interview with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on the April 21 edition of America with Jorge Ramos, Ramos brought up Rubio's stated view that human activity is not "causing these dramatic changes to our climate," and then told Rubio, "97 percent of the studies on climate change say that you are wrong."

    But on two of the major networks' Sunday news programs, candidates' climate science denial went unanswered. The very same week that Ramos corrected Rubio, Bob Schieffer let Rubio get away with denying the science on CBS' Face the Nation. In an April 19 interview, Schieffer asked Rubio if he has said that "humans are not responsible for climate change," and Rubio replied, "What I said is that humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe, for the following reason: I believe the climate is changing, because there's never been a moment where the climate is not changing. The question is what percentage of that -- or what is due to human activity?" Rather than pointing out that the vast majority of climate scientists say human activities are the primary factor in climate change, Schieffer quickly moved on to a discussion of social issues.

    NBC's Chuck Todd similarly dropped the ball during his interview with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on the June 21 edition of Meet the Press. Asked by Todd whether he believes climate change is man-made, Huckabee brought up the red herring frequently used by climate science deniers that scientists predicted "a global freezing" in the early 1970s, and stated, "Science is not as settled on [climate change] as it is on some things." Todd did not indicate that the vast majority of climate scientists agree humans are driving climate change, instead simply replying, "All right, so, if president, climate change is not in your top of your agenda."  

    Perhaps less surprising is the comfortable treatment climate-denying candidates received during their interviews with Fox News' Sean Hannity, who was the only media figure to let multiple candidates get away with denying the science during the timeframe of our study. In an interview with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on the June 16 edition of Hannity, the Fox News host asked Bush, "The president says that the science is in. It's all been determined. Are you there? Where are you on climate change?" Bush replied, "I think there's a debate about that" and then praised American ingenuity and natural gas production for reducing the country's carbon footprint. Hannity then moved on to a question from the audience on another topic.  

    The next day, Hannity interviewed Trump and not only failed to fact-check Trump's climate science denial, but also agreed with him that concerns about global warming are no more credible than past warnings of an impending "ice age."  

    As Americans across the country feel the growing effects of climate change, the next president will largely determine whether the United States continues to take action on climate change or chooses to ignore it. So when media figures have the opportunity to interview candidates on the issue, they simply cannot let candidates get away with denying the science and pretending the problem doesn't even exist.

  • STUDY: How The Media Is Covering Presidential Candidates' Climate Science Denial


    Several months into the 2016 presidential campaign, the media is frequently failing to fact-check statements by presidential candidates denying the science of climate change. Seven major newspapers and wire services surveyed by Media Matters have thus far failed to indicate that candidates' statements conflict with the scientific consensus in approximately 43 percent of their coverage, while the major broadcast and cable news outlets other than MSNBC have failed to do so 75 percent of the time.