Dana Bash | Media Matters for America

Dana Bash

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  • CNN panel falsely claims that Democrats haven’t offered a plan on border security

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    Less than one week after CNN reported on a border security proposal by Democratic leadership, a CNN host and panelist falsely claimed that Democrats “haven’t offered any kind of plan whatsoever” on border security. The Democrats’ proposal includes 1,000 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers; “new imaging technology at land ports of entry to scan for drugs, weapons, and contraband”; “increased resources and technology at mail-processing facilities to intercept opioids and fentanyl”; and the “expansion of Air and Marine Operations on the border and in US waters.” The proposal, which describes the treatment of migrants in U.S. detention as a "humanitarian crisis" and "the only real crisis at the border," would also involve the "bolstering of CBP’s resources in handling detained migrants apprehended at the border.”

    From the February 4 edition of CNN’s Inside Politics:

    ANNIE LINSKEY (WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL REPORTER): There also is some polling though, that Republicans have lost ground on the border, which I found quite interesting. The Washington Post did a poll earlier in the last few days that showed Democrats, amazingly, had a slight edge among -- Americans believe that Democrats have a slight edge on how they would handle immigration, which is something that Democrats traditionally have had been down by nine points. So there is quite a lot of turmoil right now on that issue, and I think that you're right, that the president is going to want us to recapture it because it would be quite concerning to see Democrats, suddenly -- especially since they haven't offered any kind of plan whatsoever, but if Americans are beginning to think, “Wow, Democrats might do a better job.”

    DANA BASH (GUEST HOST): You know, you mentioned the Democrats haven't offered a plan. That's a really important point and it has gotten a little bit lost in the fact that there was such a robust political fight over on the president's terms, on what he wants. And if it had gone on longer, perhaps more discussion would have happened over, “Well, what are the Democrats offering?”

    Previously:

    CNN panel compares Medicare for all policy proposals to Trump’s wall and GOP “repeal-and-replace slogan”

    CNN anchor suggests "bold" policies like Medicare for all might pull Democrats "too far to the left"

    CNN host tells Democratic lawmaker that not giving in to Trump's border wall demand is "just not working"

  • Sunday shows finally talk about climate change (but that doesn’t mean the coverage was good)

    After bombshell climate report, Sunday political talk shows bring on climate deniers

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER



    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Trump administration tried to bury a major government report on climate change by releasing it on the day after Thanksgiving, but the bombshell report still received substantial media attention, including coverage on all five of the major Sunday morning political talk shows.

    The latest National Climate Assessment report -- a 1,600-page, congressionally mandated document produced by some 300 scientists from 13 federal agencies -- paints a dire picture of how climate change is already affecting the U.S. and how its catastrophic impacts will intensify in coming years. The report was expected to be released in early December, but three knowledgeable sources told The New York Times' Coral Davenport that "administration officials hoped to minimize the impact by making the assessment public on the afternoon of Black Friday, the big shopping day after the Thanksgiving holiday, thinking that Americans might be unlikely to be paying attention."

    But by publishing the report during a slow news period, the Trump team might have inadvertently caused it to get more media attention than it otherwise would have.

    Yesterday was the first time this year that the five major Sunday shows discussed climate change on the same day. ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, CNN's State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and NBC's Meet the Press all included segments on the new report.

    That's more than the number of Sunday shows that covered another major climate report released in early October by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Only three of the Sunday shows -- This Week, Face the Nation, and State of the Union -- covered that IPCC report.

    Though the Sunday shows covered the new climate report, much of the coverage was poor

    Even though the five big Sunday shows covered the new National Climate Assessment, the quality of the coverage in many cases was downright poor. Some of the hosts invited climate deniers to discuss the report, failed to question them about their denial, and allowed guests to spout denialist talking points with little to no pushback, while other hosts spent only a little time on the report.

    The panel that NBC's Chuck Todd invited to discuss the climate report on NBC's Meet the Press included Danielle Pletka of the Koch-backed American Enterprise Institute, who asserted easily debunked nonsense about the last two years being the coldest in recent history. Todd also asked Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) about the report during an interview, without noting that Lee has questioned basic climate science.

    CNN's State of the Union hosted two climate deniers to discuss the National Climate Assessment: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and former senator and CNN contributor Rick Santorum. In response to host Dana Bash’s question about how climate change could harm agriculture in Iowa, Ernst engaged in lukewarm climate denial, stating, "We know that our climate is changing. Our climate always changes, and we see those ebb and flows through time." Meanwhile, Santorum praised the Trump administration’s attempt to bury the report and claimed that the scientists who produced it were “driven by money,” an assertion that was widely derided on social media.

    On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) to discuss the climate report’s findings. Sasse decried climate "alarmism," easily dodged Wallace's questions, and pivoted to arguing for further environmental deregulation.

    George Stephanopoulos of ABC's This Week addressed the report during an interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), but only spent about two minutes on it.

    Margaret Brennan of CBS' Face the Nation questioned NASA's Steven Clarke about the report, but the exchange about climate change was brief and came in the midst of a discussion about NASA's Mars probe. Still, it marked the first time in nearly three years that any of the broadcast Sunday shows included a scientist in a discussion about climate change; the last time a scientist appeared in a broadcast Sunday show climate segment was the December 13, 2015, episode of Face the Nation. Brennan also discussed the climate report with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

    The fact that most Sunday show hosts only briefly discussed the National Climate Assessment’s urgent findings -- rather than giving them more in-depth coverage with a panel of experts -- is right in line with trends Media Matters has documented in recent years. In the rare instances when Sunday shows address climate change, it is usually within a narrow political framework and includes a similarly narrow range of politicians and political pundits.

    The attempt by the Trump team to bury the report and keep information about climate change out of the public eye is also in line with observed trends. The White House has systematically removed climate change information from federal government websites, especially the site of the Environmental Protection Agency, and EPA officials last year told members of a scientific advisory committee that climate change would be de-emphasized by the administration.

  • After Rep. Ron DeSantis said Andrew Gillum would “monkey” up Florida, conservative media trotted out their playbook to spin away racist comments

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conservative media resorted to their tired playbook of spinning and obfuscating right-wing figures’ clearly racist remarks after Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), the Republican Party nominee for governor in Florida, said that his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, would “monkey” up the state. While a spokesperson for DeSantis said it was a term the congressman “frequently” uses, there is no evidence for that claim. Right-wing media figures frequently run defense for high-profile conservatives caught making racist comments.

  • The dumb Trump pivot narrative is on its way back

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    UPDATE: Speaking to the press before a January 10 cabinet meeting, President Donald Trump claimed he had received "letters" from news anchors praising his performance yesterday as "one of the greatest meetings they've ever witnessed." He presented this as evidence that those anchors had changed tact and started to criticize him after they were "called by their bosses," adding, "they probably wish they didn't send us those letters of congratulations." 

    This seemed obviously false, and in fact it was. Asked to provide evidence to support this claim, the White House circulated a list of video clips from the previous day's coverage and tweets from various journalists, including the comments from CNN's Dana Bash and ABC's Rick Klein discussed below. The president was lying about "letters," but some reporters did provide him with unearned positive coverage yesterday.

    Original article below

    One week ago, President Donald Trump appeared to threaten a nuclear strike on North Korea and simultaneously comment on the size of his penis in a tweet seemingly responding to a cable news segment he had been watching at the time. In the days since, journalists, pundits, and even lawmakers have discussed whether the president is mentally fit to serve (according to the president, he is a “very stable genius”).

    But today, the president apparently put those fears to the rest in the eyes of some by successfully making it through a meeting without mentioning -- or metaphorically stepping on -- his member. Several journalists have praised the optics of the meeting, during which Trump and congressional leaders discussed immigration policy. The Trump “pivot” narrative is on the verge of roaring back.

    This was a deliberate effort by Republicans to beat back a damaging news cycle for the president, offering up a shred of normalcy with the assumption that some reporters would bite. It worked.

    "I'm sure I'm going to get hit for this, and I don't really care. I think that the bottom line is that this is -- a year ago, this is the presidency that many people thought Donald Trump was capable of,” CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash said after the conclusion of the meeting. “We don't know if this is going to be a results-driven debate, but just the notion of him being in command, of him wanting the cameras in there and wanting the cameras to see him sitting at a table with Democrats and Republicans playing the role of a deal maker -- whether it sees fruition or not -- this is what people who had high hopes for the Trump presidency thought it would be. Meeting after meeting like this."

    On MSNBC, Politico’s Jake Sherman commented, “Basically, what Trump did is he got his great TV moment. This was a huge moment for him. He got to dispel that he is some sort of quack who doesn't have mental capacity which many people thought was not true, people who interact with him.”

    ABC News political director Rick Klein chimed in on Twitter, praising the transparency of the session and apparently forgetting that the Obama White House did something similar during the health care debate:

    And of course, the pundits at Fox News were quick to praise the president.

    Recall that the meeting happened in the first place because Trump has effectively taken hostage 800,000 Dreamers, people who came to this country as children. The president decided to strip them of protected status by repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and Republicans are now trying to use them as leverage to get Democrats to approve a litany of immigration-related demands, including funding for the wall along the southern border Trump previously claimed would be paid for by Mexico. While these negotiations happen, DACA recipients are already losing their protections and living in fear of deportation.

    And for all the positive chatter about the meeting’s optics, Trump’s actual actions during the sit-down exposed his famed ignorance. During the meeting, Trump appeared to agree to a Democratic proposal for “a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure,” only to have a Republican congressional leader quickly walk him back. He also nonsensically explained that he defines a “clean” DACA bill as “a bill of DACA... and we also take care of security."

    Journalists have spent months eagerly sifting events for the possibility of normal action by Trump. In the past, this hasn’t worked out well for them. As I wrote in August:

    For more than a year, every brief moment of normalcy -- every instance in which Trump did not devolve into crude attacks on his opponents during a speech, or fired a controversial staffer, or even managed to avoid tweeting anything “controversial” for a handful of days -- has been accompanied by journalists willing to say that Trump had hit the “reset” button, that now he was finally becoming “presidential.” Inevitably, those journalists found themselves with egg on their faces in a matter of days, as Trump reverted to form and proved those moments anomalies, not the beginnings of a trend.

    I understand why reporters and commentators might be overeager to declare that change is on the way. It is uncomfortable to live in a world in which the president of the United States is an unhinged egomaniac who offers sympathy for literally the worst people in American society and lashes out at the institutions that support democratic governance. It makes sense that those whose jobs involve trying to make sense of this situation might grasp for anything that could reestablish normalcy.

    There’s also a bias in the press toward a change in storylines. Reporters strive to identify “new news,” and as such are susceptible to over-reading discrete instances as the start of a new trend. “Trump is doing something new” is a much more interesting story to tell than “Trump is doing the same thing,” and so it’s a story that gets told disproportionately to the reality.

    But the reality is, things aren’t normal because Trump is the president -- no shuffle in the White House or effort to change the message can change that. This is who he is. He rose to political prominence by questioning the legitimacy of the first black president, started his campaign with a racist rant against Mexicans, and was elected in spite of the publication of a tape in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women. He obviously cares more for his private interest than he does for public service. He values people and organizations solely on the basis of whether they support him personally. He has shown over and over again that he lacks either the intellect or the temperament to do his job. He is 71 years old -- none of this is going to change.

    Start the clock. It won’t be long before the next presidential catastrophe.

  • The only people supporting Trump's anti-Muslim tweets are racists, fascists, bigots, and CNN contributors

    After contributor lauded Trump's anti-Muslim tweets, CNN’s Bash calls out the "racists, and fascists, and bigots" who support them

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Hours after a CNN contributor said that he also would have retweeted the series of anti-Muslim videos circulated by a far-right British extremist that President Donald Trump retweeted on November 29, Dana Bash -- the network’s chief political correspondent -- called out the people who supported what Trump did as being “racists, and fascists, and bigots.”

    During the 9 a.m. hour of CNN Newsroom with John Berman and Poppy Harlow, CNN contributor Ben Ferguson said that if he had seen the videos first, “I would have probably tweeted that out and said to myself, ‘This is something the world needs to see.’” From the November 29 edition of CNN Newsroom with John Berman and Poppy Harlow:

    BEN FERGUSON: A lot of people don’t like to see the truth of what is happening with many extremists in the Muslim community. And I think the thing about these videos is -- I look at it from this perspective: Are you offended by the person who originally tweeted them out or are you offended by the video? And, I think the president -- if I would have seen these videos, and I would have seen it on my feed, and I would have watched them, I would have probably tweeted that out and said to myself, “This is something the world needs to see.”

    Hours later on Inside Politics, chief political correspondent Dana Bash said that it is “hard to swallow” that “the only people who are supporting what the president did are racists, and fascists, and bigots.”

    JOHN KING (HOST): It makes you really proud as an American, right, when David Duke is praising your president as a truth teller? I’m not even going to read it, but there it is. And that’s what’s happening. The British prime minister says he’s wrong. Just about every anti-discrimination, civil rights group in the United States has issued a statement saying, “Dear god, Mr. President. Get a grip.” And David Duke says, “Great.”

    DANA BASH: The only people who are supporting what the president did are racists, and fascists, and bigots. And that is so hard to swallow.

  • Of all the Sunday shows, only Dana Bash on CNN asked a GOP senator about changes to 401(k) contributions

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    CNN’s Dana Bash was the only host of a Sunday morning political show to ask a Republican lawmaker or official about a potential tax reform provision that is reportedly being considered that would limit pre-tax 401(k) contributions. Such a move would limit how much money millions of middle class Americans would be able to set aside for retirement.

    The New York Times reported that Republicans are considering a proposal to put limits on how much American workers can contribute to their 401(k) accounts before taxes, potentially decreasing caps from $18,000 a year (or $24,000 for workers over 50) to “as low as $2,400.” The Times noted that this move would likely cause “a vocal backlash from middle-class workers who save heavily in such retirement accounts.” As CNBC reported in 2015, over 13 million people have 401(k) retirement plans.

    While several Republican lawmakers and officials made the rounds on the Sunday morning political shows to discuss tax reform, Bash was the only host to ask one of them about the 401(k) proposal. In an interview with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on State of the Union, Bash asked what he plans to do if Republicans were to take this path, which, she pointed out, “could mean higher taxes on the middle class.”

    From the October 22 Edition of CNN’s State of the Union:

    DANA BASH (HOST): Let me just drill down on one other aspect of taxes, and that is The New York Times reported this week that House Republicans are considering a plan to sharply reduce the amount of income that Americans can save in tax-deferred 401(k) accounts. If a Republican -- if your fellow Republicans in the House were to push to go down this path, it could mean higher taxes on the middle class. What do you want to do? Is this a nonstarter in the Senate?

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, look, we're just beginning the process of actually crafting the bills that will be crafted in the Ways and Means Committee in the House, the Finance Committee in the Senate. It's way too early to predict the various details. But I can tell you, the goal here, the goal here is to get middle class taxes down, to prevent job exportation, -- which our current business taxes really encourage people to go offshore -- and to produce more jobs and opportunity for the American people. That's the goal. The details will be hashed out in these two committees in the coming weeks.

    Juan Williams also appeared to allude to the proposal on Fox News Sunday.

    DANA PERINO (HOST): If the Republicans add a millionaires tax, what would [Sens. Chuck] Schumer [D-NY] and Elizabeth Warren [D-MA] complain about?

    JUAN WILLIAMS: Still, I think Congressman [Jason] Chaffetz is onto something here, it’s still -- we don’t have a revenue source screen that would really offset the cost of the tax cuts. Let me just say, overall this was supposed to be about tax reform. Apparently, that’s not the issue now, we’re just on to tax cuts. So the argument coming from the Democrats is this really is disportionately beneficial to the very rich. You add the fourth bracket, but it still does nothing in terms of offsetting things like doing away with state and local deductions.

    PERINO: That’s a big issue.

    WILLIAMS: That’s a huge -- how about home mortgage. Imagine, no home mortgage deduction? Well, I’m sure K Street --

    PERINO: Well, they're not saying that.

    WILLIAMS: Well, they are making the case. And then, also less in terms of your retirement contribution. So these are things that would squeeze the middle class.

    The proposal, however, was not mentioned at all on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation, or NBC’s Meet the Press.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for “401” as well as the words “four,” “oh, “one,” and all iterations of the word “retire” on the October 22 editions of ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, NBC’s Meet the Press, and CNN’s State of the Union.

  • Male Pundits Think The Problem With Men Writing A Health Care Bill Is Just Optics. They're So Wrong.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Male pundits on CNN are criticizing the all-male Republican working group writing the Senate version of the health care bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, and they’re right in slamming the panel for excluding women. But they’re wrong in saying that “optics” -- by which they mean the political effects of how something looks -- is the reason excluding women from the group is wrong.

    As reported by The New York Times, the Republican working group on health care comprises 13 senators, none of them women. While discussing the working group on the May 9 edition of CNN’s Inside Politics, host John King speculated about whether Republican leadership should, “for optics purposes, have tinkered with the working group.” Appearing as a guest on the same show, CNN’s Jeff Zeleny agreed with King that excluding women was “optically terrible.” CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson was thankfully at the table to add more substance to the shallow optics argument. She challenged King’s focus on optics as a reason for Republican leadership to change the makeup of the working group, suggesting that gender diversity would be a positive for “For real purposes, right?” and mentioning the female senators whom Republicans could have included in their working group.

    Later on CNN, political correspondent Phil Mattingly focused his report on noting that Republicans “are keenly aware” that the all-male panel is “not a good look” and that it wasn’t a “good public scene” to exclude the five “very talented, very well regarded” Republican women in the Senate. While Mattingly was reporting and not providing commentary, he missed an opportunity to point out that excluding women from a panel working on an issue that directly and disproportionately impacts women is wrong for reasons that go beyond optics.

    In contrast, some of the female journalists at the network did a better job of pointing out the substantive issues linked to leaving women out of the working group. During CNN Newsroom, co-host Poppy Harlow noted that the group’s lack of gender inclusion is “out of the 1920s playbook” and asked her guest Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, to explain what it meant “in terms of policy to not have more diversity.” Sweet pointed out that “a lot of preventative medicine provisions” in Obamacare specifically affect women and are “at risk in Trumpcare:”

    During CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, host Brooke Baldwin and chief political correspondent Dana Bash criticized calling the exclusion of women “an optics problem,” with Bash stating, “It’s also a substance problem,” and Baldwin responding, “An optics problem? It’s a little more than that.”

    While it is true that Republicans in the Senate are overwhelmingly white and male -- slimming down the possibility of any real diversity in the group -- the “optics” angle is especially offensive given the female senators with expertise and experiences that would add value to the discussions on the panel. As USA Today’s Jessica Estepa pointed out, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) “has sat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee since  2015.” In the past, Collins has voiced concerns about defunding access to reproductive health care. Estepa also mentions Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) 10-year track record on the Senate health committee, as well as Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) who hails from a state that has seen Medicaid expanded and who could provide insight on how cutting expansions would affect people like her constituents.

    This is just the latest example of “optics” punditry getting in the way of substantive policy analysis. At best, cable news’s obsession with discussing “optics” turns commentary uninformative and shallow, and at worst, it becomes an incentive for political actors to overtly focus on the way political processes look as opposed to their real life effects and the constituents they affect.

    After President Donald Trump’s February 28 address to a joint session of Congress, pundits focusing on optics and “tone” earned criticism from other commentators. The criticism was well-deserved, as pundits should use their platforms to give their audiences useful information, like the consequences of a speech turning into policy and the viability of such policy positions, not superficial analysis that those watching could make for themselves. The punditry optics analysis that came after Trumpcare passed the House also got in the way of media assessing the bill’s real impact on the millions of Americans who could lose health insurance. Audiences tuning in deserve actual analysis of the political process. The focus on optics gets in the way of that.

  • CNN’s Dana Bash Debunks All Of Tom Price’s Inaccurate Claims About Planned Parenthood -- Except One

    During CNN’s Health Care Town Hall, Only Price’s Misleading Claim About The Fungibility Of Planned Parenthood’s Funds Goes Unchecked 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    During CNN's March 15 town hall with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, CNN's Dana Bash soundly debunked Price's inaccurate arguments about Planned Parenthood in all instances but one: Price's claim that money given to Planned Parenthood was "fungible."

    Price -- who has a long history of pushing disastrous health care policies -- used the town hall as an opportunity to mislead viewers about the accessibility of essential care without Planned Parenthood, arguing that community health centers (CHCs) can handle the demands of providing essential care services. He also claimed that defunding Planned Parenthood is necessary because some Americans are concerned that “their federal tax dollars [are] used for abortion services.” Bash rebuked several of Price’s assertions, noting that the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding for abortion and that CHCs could not possibly fill the gap left behind by defunding Planned Parenthood. Bash explained that “105 counties across the country have Planned Parenthood and that is the only clinic offering a full range of contraceptive methods to women.”

    Unfortunately, Bash and co-moderator Wolf Blitzer did allow Price to get away with one inaccuracy by letting him claim -- uncorrected -- that eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood is necessary because “that money is fungible," implying that federal funds that go to Planned Parenthood support abortion, even if indirectly. Despite providing robust pushback and asking important follow-up questions during the rest of the forum, Bash and Blitzer moved on from this comment without addressing Price’s dangerous claim.

    Voices on the right have long used the argument that money is fungible to discredit Planned Parenthood and call for the defunding of its clinics across the country, suggesting that federal support for the organization’s services indirectly enables or contributes to its ability to provide abortions. But as the Guttmacher Institute points out, this logic is flawed: “Fungibility is an inherent possibility when involving the private sector in any government-subsidized activity, and the only way to avoid it would be for government agencies to exclusively provide any and all such services.” The organization also notes that it is “hypocritical” to claim the “fungibility” problem only in relation to abortion providers, but not with regard to other federally subsidized organizations including religious groups and charities. 

    Planned Parenthood is an essential care provider for millions of Americans nationally, 60 percent of them low-income patients covered through programs including Medicaid. When this many people risk losing access to care, it is imperative for media to use extreme care in addressing the topic, including correcting those like Price when they spread misinformation about the consequences of Republicans’ efforts to upend the American health care system.