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  • Right-wing media are filling a void of abortion-related coverage with misinformation

    Fox News is dominating the conversation about abortion on evening cable news -- and the network is doing it all wrong

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT

    A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs found that Fox News dominated discussions of abortion and reproductive rights and that the network was wrong about four common abortion-related topics 77 percent of the time.

  • Right-wing CNN contributor accidentally debunks right-wing myth about Planned Parenthood funding

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT

    CNN contributor and right-wing radio host Ben Ferguson gave up the game on one of right-wing media’s favorite inaccurate talking points about Planned Parenthood, admitting that the organization does not use taxpayer funding to cover abortion services.

    The comment came during a discussion on the March 27 edition of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon about the National Rifle Association (NRA) saying that it accepts foreign donations. Ferguson was attempting to defend the NRA’s assertion that its foreign donations are separate from election contributions. He stated that the NRA is “separating the funds” in “the same way that Planned Parenthood, for example, is not allowed to use funds that come from the American taxpayers for abortions. They separate it.” Later in the segment, Ferguson again said that there are “certain guidelines” about where Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding goes and “that money cannot be used directly for abortion services.”

    After host Don Lemon called out Ferguson’s double standard, saying that “the criticism from those on the right” is that Planned Parenthood doesn’t separate taxpayer funding from its abortion funding, Ferguson claimed conservatives were actually mad that Planned Parenthood receives taxpayer funding at all. However, the myth that Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding supports its abortion services is a frequent right-wing talking point, often framed around the idea that “money is fungible.” In reality, as Ferguson alluded to, the Hyde Amendment prohibits any federal funding from going to abortions. Planned Parenthood merely receives reimbursement for services covered under Medicaid. From the March 27 edition of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon:

    DON LEMON (HOST): Do you think that that practice will invite the misuse of funds, Ben? I mean, if they don't take foreign money, they don't have to worry about the funds being used illegally.

    BEN FERGUSON: I don't. And I think the NRA is pretty smart about this, separating the funds. The same way that Planned Parenthood, for example, is not allowed to use funds that come from the American taxpayers for abortions. They separate it, so that there is a very clear separation line here when you know you're going to be under scrutiny from people that don't like you. It's not illegal for the NRA to take foreign funds. Many nonprofits and many groups that have activism or ideas like this and others on the conservative/liberal side for decades have been taking foreign funds from people that support what they're about and what they're backing. I don't think there is going to be an issue here. I think certainly people want to play politics with this. But I think the NRA knows that they're under a microscope and have been for years. And they've never had problems with this in the past.

    LEMON: So, but the critics on the right say the money always can't be separate when it comes to Planned Parenthood and abortions. That's really the criticism from those on the right. But you're saying now --

    FERGUSON: Well, the criticism --

    LEMON: -- that the NRA can separate.

    FERGUSON: Not really. It’s not -- it's not the criticism.

    ANGELA RYE: Yeah, it is.

    FERGUSON: The criticism is that you're taking my taxpayer's dollars and you're giving them to an organization that is the number one abortion provider in the U.S. They give more abortions than anybody else with my tax dollars.

    LEMON: Ben, you're saying the money can be separated.

    FERGUSON: No one is giving money --

    LEMON: You just said in one breath, though --

    FERGUSON: Right, here’s the point --

    LEMON: -- that the money can be separated when it comes to the NRA, no matter where it comes from, foreign entities or whatever.

    FERGUSON: Again --

    LEMON: So, if people are paying tax money, and they’re saying your tax dollars will not go towards abortions, so --

    FERGUSON: There is a fundamental difference between Planned Parenthood and the NRA. The NRA does not receive taxpayers’ dollars. If they did, many people like Angela would be very upset with that. That is why I'm upset --

    RYE: First of all --

    FERGUSON: -- with Planned Parenthood receiving funds. My point was again this: There are certain guidelines that go in that make it very clear that you cannot have taxpayers’ dollars when it goes -- and hundreds of millions of dollars a year go to Planned Parenthood. That money cannot be used directly for abortion services.

  • CNN commentator Ed Martin attacks woman who reported that Roy Moore molested her as a child

    Martin: “What is this woman? She’s got multiple bankruptcies"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    CNN aired a segment featuring political commentator Ed Martin in which he attacked the woman who reported that Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her as a child, saying, “What is this woman? She’s got multiple bankruptcies, it’s reported.”

    The Washington Post reported that Leigh Corfman said Moore molested her when she was 14 and he was 32. Three other women told the Post that “Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s.”

    Martin, who endorsed Moore in September, did not respond to a request for comment from Media Matters this week about whether he still supports Moore in light of the Post investigation. But during an appearance on the November 10 edition of CNN Tonight, he made clear that he does. Martin told CNN viewers that the story is a “political hit” and said that he believes Moore in part because the woman has had “multiple bankruptcies.”

    DON LEMON (HOST): Do you believe Roy Moore, or do you believe the women?

    ED MARTIN (CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR): I believe Roy Moore because why? Because after 40 years and 40 days before the election, you get a political hit? Don, if you’re remotely serious, you have to first say: What is this woman? She’s got multiple bankruptcies, it’s reported. She’s got multiple false accusations, it’s reported. Is any of that being covered? When [Sen. Mitch] McConnell comes out and says with a straight face before any of those facts are got, he says, “Oh boy if it’s true, he has to get out of the race.” That’s called a political hit. And Don, we the people, the American people, we’re sick of both parties, Democrats and Republicans.

    LEMON: I’ve got to get Evan [McMullin] in but I have to say, I don’t know, I don't -- it is not CNN’s reporting about any false allegations, we will certainly check into that.

    MARTIN: OK, good.

    LEMON: But she admitted in The Washington Post article that she has a past and that she was afraid that people would use it against her.

    Martin joined CNN in September despite having previously called the network “fake news” and “state-run media.” He joins a stable of at least a dozen other pro-Trump CNN commentators who often provide theatrics instead of informative segments on the cable network.

    He previously co-authored a book suggesting that only immigrants from European countries could have American “values” and arguing that accepting immigrants “from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East” helps tear “apart our nation’s heritage and social fabric.”

    Martin is not the only CNN talking head who has been trying to help get Moore elected. Network contributor Ken Cuccinelli and his Senate Conservatives Fund group endorsed the Alabama Republican in September. A message sent to that group by Media Matters about the endorsement was not returned.

  • NRATV Labels CNN's Don Lemon "Racist" Against White People For Noting Trump Sounds Different When Using Teleprompter

    NRATV Is Offering Increasingly Unhinged Attacks On The Press In Defense Of Trump 

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    In an attempt to defend President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress, NRATV contributor Bill Whittle called CNN’s Don Lemon a “malignant” and “miserable racist” after Lemon noted that the president sounds different when he is using a teleprompter, as compared to speaking without one.

    During the March 2 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, host Grant Stinchfield played a clip of Lemon saying Trump's speech sounded like it was written by a college student "trying to use big words" to impress the audience. Stinchfield called Lemon’s comments “nonsense” and “offensive,” while Whittle claimed Lemon was trying to prove how much smarter he is than “Donald Trump and the idiots who voted for him.”

    Whittle claimed that Lemon said you can tell when Trump is using a teleprompter, but couldn’t when former president Barack Obama gave speeches. Whittle called this a “flagrant lie” and went on to mock Obama’s manner of speaking. He claimed the only reason Lemon made that observation is that he’s a “miserable racist” who thinks “white people aren’t smart enough to understand big words that black guys like” he and Obama can: 

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    DON LEMON (CLIP): It sounded to me -- I thought it was -- he sounded very presidential. This was a speech written by a college student for someone else trying to use big words to impress that the person who is reciting it did not know the meaning of the words.

    [END VIDEO]

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): What kind of nonsense is that? You know, and in fact it's offensive to hear him say something like that. Because he even started his comment with, "It was a good speech and it sounded presidential." Yet he figured, oh no I can’t say that, I’ve gotta slam Donald Trump. So that’s what he did.

    BILL WHITTLE: Yeah, well this is Don Lemon, and CNN, and all the other people like him, making it very clear to the other people on the panel how much smarter that they all are -- not just how much smarter Don Lemon is, but how much smarter all of them are compared to Donald Trump and the idiots that voted for him. By the way, Don, if you’re going to be criticizing people for writing speeches as if they were done by high school kids, you might want to look at your sentence, because your sentence doesn’t make any sense grammatically. It's very badly flawed, you might want to have a -- maybe a junior high school kid edit your work next time because the sentence you actually delivered on the air is not a grammatical sentence. But put that aside for a second, Don. You know, what he basically said was, yes he sounded great, but he could only have sounded great because it was a speechwriter. Really? No kidding. A president used a speechwriter? Imagine my shock.

    And what Don Lemon eventually went on to do, shortly after this, Grant, was he said we can tell that Donald Trump was just reading a teleprompter because Donald Trump impromptu doesn’t sound like that. But Barack Obama, when Barack Obama speaks off the teleprompter, he sounds exactly like Barack Obama does on the teleprompter. Which is either a flagrant lie or the most ignorant man in the world. You ever heard Barack Obama get off the teleprompter? It's like [stuttering]. I’m not exaggerating, that’s exactly what he sounds like. So, I have only one explanation for why Don Lemon would say something like this, Grant, and the only explanation I can come up with is, is he’s a malignant racist. He’s a racist. He must think that white people are not smart enough to be able to use big words without a teleprompter, while black people like him and Barack Obama can. So, if you want to dish this out to us for the last 10 or 15 years, here it comes back at you, Don. I’m calling you publicly, I’m calling you a miserable racist who thinks that white people are not smart enough to understand the big words that black guys like you and Barack Obama understand. So how do you like that, pal? Tell me how that feels.

    NRATV has a history of making unhinged attacks against the press in defense of Trump, previously calling criticism of Trump an “assault against freedom and the Constitution” and claiming that by reporting on the happenings of the Trump administration, “the media that is trying to destroy our republic.”

  • CNN Just Discovered Why You Don’t Negotiate With Blackmailers

    Blog ››› ››› CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    The Trump administration's blacklisting of CNN continues, with Vice President Mike Pence skipping the network as he made the rounds the day after the president's address to Congress. This exclusion came days after CNN made moves to play nice with the administration, proving that "access journalism" means nothing under President Donald Trump.

    Despite the glowing praise that Trump received from CNN, among other outlets, for his February 28 speech before a joint session of Congress, the network was the only one that Pence did not visit the next morning. Pence appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe , Fox News’ Fox & Friends, NBC’s Today, CBS’ CBS This Morning, and ABC’s Good Morning America. Pence also made appearances on conservative talk radio shows The Laura Ingraham Show and The Rush Limbaugh Show, and he will be appearing on Michael Savage’s A Savage Nation.

    This isn’t the first time that CNN has been burned by Trump and his team. Trump has tried to make the network the punchline to every joke during his administration, in part as retaliation for CNN’s coverage of allegations that he and his campaign had ties to Russia. Trump has called CNN “fake news,” attempted to embarrass reporter Jim Acosta during a briefing, refused to send White House officials to appear on CNN’s Sunday show, and attacked anchor Don Lemon as “dumb” and a “lightweight.”And the latest move comes on the heels of a “ bait and switch” in which Trump told CNN and other television anchors in a private meeting that he was interested in creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but then dropped the issue “when he was actually out there speaking to the American public.” The administration has admitted it “was a misdirection play,” according to CNN’s Sara Murray.

    CNN was also one of the outlets that was denied entry during last week’s media gaggle, along with The New York Times, Politico, BuzzFeed News, and the Los Angeles Times, in favor of Trump-friendly outlets Breitbart, The Washington Times, and One America News Network.

    CNN is being singled out as a punching bag by the Trump administration, and even when the network tried to play nice it was blacklisted and fed bad information.

  • Trump Administration Continues Its Blackout Of CNN

    Blog ››› ››› CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    The Trump administration’s blacklisting of CNN has continued into a second week with a refusal to send a representative to appear on CNN’s Sunday political talk show, State of the Union, while booking appearances on the four other major Sunday political shows.

    On the January 29 edition of State of the Union, host Jake Tapper reported that CNN “invited the Trump White House to offer us a guest who could provide some clarity and explanation” for Trump’s executive order limiting travel to the United States from seven majority-Muslim countries, but the administration “declined our invitation.” Members of the administration did appear on the other major Sunday political talk shows. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and CBS’ Face the Nation. Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday. And White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared on ABC’s This Week.

    The administration also declined to send a representative to State of the Union last week, while sending representatives to all the other major Sunday shows. A Media Matters review of Nexis transcripts for CNN programs over the past week also found that no senior members of the administration appeared during any weekday programs -- although CNN does employ a number of paid Trump supporters who appear regularly and parrot the administration's talking points.

    This apparent blackout is yet another illustration of Trump’s escalating war on CNN. Trump has repeatedly referred to CNN as "fake news," refused to take a question from CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta at a press conference (Spicer admitted to threatening to have Acosta removed from the press conference), and called anchor of CNN Tonight Don Lemon a “lightweight” and “dumb as a rock.” Trump ally Newt Gingrich has admitted that “Trump is deliberately trying to shrink and isolate CNN.”

    More broadly, Trump and his administration have been engaged in an unprecedented war on the press, which began during his presidential campaign and continued into the transition period and his presidency.

    UPDATE: On January 31, Politico quoted a White House official admitting to a “ban” of CNN by the Trump administration. The official claimed “the ban is not permanent,” but gave no details on why the ban was put in place or when it may be lifted.

    For more on Trump’s attacks on the press, check out Media Matters’ First Amendment Watch.

  • Trump Reportedly Outraged That CNN Doesn't Cover Him Like Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    According to sources from New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, President Donald Trump is angry that CNN and CNN chief Jeff Zucker do not grant him the favorable type of coverage he receives from Fox News

    Trump has made it no secret his contempt for CNN, recently lambasting the network’s ratings in a January 24 tweet praising Fox’s inauguration coverage.

    Trump’s tweet comes on the heels of his January 11 attack on CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta, refusing to answer the journalist’s questions and calling CNN “fake news.” After the press conference, Acosta was threatened by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who said he would remove Acosta if he treats Trump disrespectfully. The next Sunday, Trump’s team failed to appear on CNN’s Sunday news program, State of the Union, but sent representatives to MSNBC, Fox, CBS, and ABC.

    Trump also attacked the network before and immediately after the election, questioning the credibility of the network, and attacking individual journalists as dumb, lightweights, who aren’t real journalists.

    According to a report from Gabriel Sherman, Trump’s antipathy towards CNN may be personal.Sherman quoted one high-level CNN source as saying, “Trump thinks just because he’s known Jeff that CNN should be covering him like Fox News does”:

    According to people close to both sides, Trump has told White House staffers that he feels personally betrayed by CNN chief Jeff Zucker.

    Trump complains that Zucker should be programming CNN more favorably toward him because of their long relationship, which can be traced back to 2004 when Zucker put The Apprentice on NBC. Trump has also said to White House staffers that Zucker owes him because Trump helped get him the job at CNN.

    According to CNN sources, Trump’s claim that he assisted Zucker in landing the top job at the network is false. Trump seems to have gotten the idea because he praised Zucker to Turner Broadcasting’s then-CEO Phil Kent at a charity dinner in the fall of 2012, a few months before CNN hired Zucker. But CNN sources say Turner had already decided to hire Zucker by that point. “This is entirely personal,” one CNN high-level source said. “Trump thinks just because he’s known Jeff that CNN should be covering him like Fox News does.”