Jonathan Capehart | Media Matters for America

Jonathan Capehart

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  • The Guide To Donald Trump's War On The Press (So Far)


    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has an extensive history of attacking the media, and his campaign and supporters have joined in the fight throughout the election. The nominee, his surrogates, and his supporters have called media outlets and reporters across the spectrum “dishonest,” “neurotic,” “dumb,” and a “waste of time,” and until recently, the campaign had a media blacklist of outlets that weren’t allowed into campaign events.

  • Trump Adopts Right-Wing Media's Flawed Robert Byrd Canard To Detract From Allegations Of Racism

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump followed right-wing media’s lead by connecting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) to mitigate the accusations that he is racist and has stoked racial tension. Conservatives have invoked Byrd’s past affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) for years to deflect from accusations of bigotry in the Republican Party, despite Byrd’s disavowal of his involvement with the hate group and his dedication of the rest of his life to atoning for his mistakes and supporting legislation to help minorities.

    After Clinton’s August 25 speech linking Trump to the “radical fringe” and accusing him of embracing a philosophy of “make America hate again,” Trump responded in an August 27 tweet, quoting supporters who lashed out at CNN for failing to mention that Clinton had once “said a KKK member was her mentor.” CNN confirmed that the supporters “referred to the last West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, a former KKK member whom Clinton mourned in 2010 as ‘a true American original, my friend and mentor.’”

    Right-wing media -- including Breitbart News and WND -- were quick to highlight the connection between Clinton and Byrd after her speech in an attempt to downplay her accusations against Trump. Independent Journal’s Frank Camp asserted that Clinton “can beat the drum against Trump over and over again, but her relationship with Senator Byrd may make those appeals ring hollow for some.” InfoWars claimed that Clinton and her campaign were “conveniently leaving out the fact that Hillary herself described Robert Byrd – a KKK leader who once called black people ‘mongrels,’ as her ‘friend and mentor.’” CNN political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes accused Clinton of having “a long track record ... of bias” because she “praised Senator Byrd.”

    This attempt at deflection is a familiar one for conservatives. In 2005, author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson explained in a Huffington Post piece that “Whenever a Republican makes a racial foot-in-the mouth gaffe, and Democrats publicly lambaste him for it, GOP leaders quickly and reflexively scream, ‘But what about Byrd,’ and pound the Democrats for having a former Klansman as a top Democrat.” However, Hutchinson noted that this flawed canard “makes Republicans seem disingenuous at best and racial hypocrites at worst” because “Byrd flirted with the Klan six decades ago” and Republicans, like Trump “flirted with them, in the past, and still do today.”

    The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart more recently pointed out that this conservative deflection is also flawed because Byrd “admitted his mistake and atoned for it in public and in policy.” The NAACP even mourned Byrd’s death in 2010 saying that he “went from being an active member of the KKK to a being a stalwart supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of seminal legislation that advanced the civil rights and liberties of our country.”

  • Conservatives Lose Their Excuse To Question The Results Of The Clinton Email Investigation


    Conservatives have just lost their excuse to question the results of the investigation relating to Hillary Clinton’s email server, which legal experts say lacks a “legitimate basis” to charge Clinton with crimes. Right-wing media figures have ignored those experts to suggest that if the investigation does not result in a Clinton indictment, it must be politically tainted. But Attorney General Loretta Lynch affirmed that she will “be accepting the recommendations” made by “career agents and investigators” and FBI Director James Comey in the case, and conservative media have spent months lauding Comey’s “impeccable integrity” and ability to impartially conduct the investigation.

  • Capehart takes a swipe Perkins' Post screed

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

    As you probably know, the Washington Post has been taking some heat for declaring that gay suicide is a two-sided issue, in which a live chat with Dan Savage discussing homophobic bullying and ways to prevent gay youths from committing suicide needed to be balanced by Tony Perkins' anti-gay hysteria. And it seems as though Perkins' falsehood-laden, homophobic rant in the Post was not viewed favorably by the Washington Post's own editorial board member, Jonathan Capehart.

    In his blog post, he seeks to explain White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett's admittedly poor choice of words in suggesting being gay was a "lifestyle choice." Capehart recently interviewed Jarrett and asked her about the "rash of nationally reported suicides of gay youth." While expressing her concern about these tragedies, Jarrett laments that these were "avoidable deaths," in which the youths were "driven to commit suicide because they were being harassed in school and driven to do something that no child should ever be driven to do. And in many cases, their parents are doing a good job, their families are supportive." She then mentions meeting the family of a gay Minnesota youth who recently committed suicide following relentless harassment from his peers. She said of his parents: "These are good people. They were aware that their son was gay. They embraced him; they loved him; they supported his lifestyle choice. But, yet, when he left the home and went to school he was tortured by his classmates."

    Jarrett took a lot of heat for her wording, and the following day, Capehart allowed her to explain her remarks:

    In a recent interview I was asked about the recent tragedies about gay youth who have committed suicide, and I misspoke when I referred to someone's sexual identity as a "lifestyle choice." I meant no disrespect to the LGBT community, and I apologize to any who have taken offense at my poor choice of words. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not a choice, and anyone who knows me and my work over the years knows that I am a firm believer and supporter in the rights of LGBT Americans.

    Capehart took the opportunity to tie this all back to Tony Perkins, writing: "Yes, Jarrett made a mistake. But those who think she and the president don't care about the rights of gay men and lesbians, don't give a damn about bullying and the tragedies of gay youth suicides are wrong. Jarrett is no Tony Perkins. She is no bigot." The link, of course, goes to Perkins's Washington Post homophobic diatribe. Capehart titled his post, "Valerie Jarrett is no Tony Perkins." Perhaps someone should have run Perkins's column by Capehart before deciding to publish. It might have saved the Post from a pretty big headache.

  • 'Ram it through': Media adopt GOP characterization of majority vote

    ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    In the past week, media figures have routinely referred to a potential effort to pass a health care reform bill with a majority vote as an effort to "ram," "jam," or "cram" a bill through Congress, a characterization pushed by Republican politicians. The reconciliation process, which enables the Senate to pass legislation with 51 votes, has been used repeatedly by Republicans, including to pass major changes to health care laws.