Mark Preston | Media Matters for America

Mark Preston

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  • A History Lesson On Abraham Lincoln And Adoption Of The 13th Amendment

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Media attacked as “ridiculous” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s citation of Abraham Lincoln during the second presidential debate in explaining why she said during a 2013 speech that politics can require taking different public and private positions. According to The Associated Press, Clinton was correct that she was talking about Lincoln in her 2013 remarks, and according to Time magazine, Clinton accurately characterized Lincoln’s actions in her debate answer.

  • Media Finally Admit The Bar Is Lower For Trump. But Can They Fix It?

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Memo to the media: You cannot have it both ways on the double standard applied to presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

    After NBC’s Commander in Chief Forum, reporters and pundits proclaimed that media have held the two presidential nominees to different standards of knowledge and conduct, yet these media figures have also perpetuated the double standard by excusing Trump’s behavior and applauding him any time he shows a veneer of conventionality.

    Numerous media figures criticized Matt Lauer, host of the September 7 forum, for employing different questioning toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Lauer allowed Trump to lie about opposing the Iraq war, yet he used eight of his first nine questions for Clinton to grill her over her emails. Several media figures said Lauer’s line of questioning embodied the “double standard” that reporters across the board use to analyze the two candidates.

    If Media Figures Note The Double Standard ... 

    • MSNBC's Mike Barnicle: Trump Is The "Continued Beneficiary Of A Huge Double Standard." The morning after the forum, MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle told Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough that Lauer interviewed Trump “as if he were the co-host or the host of The Apprentice,” rather than a presidential candidate, noting, “Syria wasn’t mentioned. Aleppo wasn’t mentioned. The refugee crisis wasn’t mentioned.” He noted that the forum showed Trump is the “continued beneficiary of a huge double standard.”
       
    • Wash. Post Contributor Paul Waldman: “Hillary Clinton Gets Examined In A Very Different Way Than Donald Trump Does.” Following the forum, Washington Post contributor Paul Waldman explained that Clinton “gets examined in a very different way than Trump does” by the media. Speaking on the September 7 edition of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, Waldman faulted media for taking an “all hands on deck mentality” when reporting Clinton news -- saying that “everybody will investigate every nook and cranny to see if there’s anything there that looks untoward. And even if there isn’t, it becomes this story that drags out over the course of days and even weeks” -- as opposed to “strings of issues” about Trump that are reported once and then forgotten.
       
    • Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin: “Trump Is Being Held To A Less High Standard.” ” Prior to the forum, Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin told co-host John Heilemann that “the Clinton campaign is right” that “Trump is being held to a less high standard” by reporters and that “the press is just not holding him accountable.” Halperin continued, “Trump is doing things that if Clinton did, she would be hit a lot harder,” and he urged media to “work on fixing that.” Co-host John Heilemann agreed with Halperin, despite having defended the double standard the week prior, when he said that “sometimes … you have to set the bar low” for Trump.
       
    • NY Times' Maggie Haberman: "The Bar Has Been Lowered For Trump Repeatedly." New York Times political correspondent Maggie Haberman said on CNN’s New Day leading up to the forum that Trump “keeps getting graded on a curve” and “the bar has been lowered for Trump repeatedly.” Haberman criticized media figures who assess Trump by asking, “Does he merely pass?” And then if he does, they record it as Trump “did very well.”
       
    • NY Times’ James Poniewozik Slams Lauer For Questioning Trump On A Curve. New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik scolded Lauer for treating Clinton “like someone running for president” but Trump “like someone running to figure out how to be president, eventually.” Poniewozik wrote that after grilling Clinton on her private email server, Lauer pitched Trump “the kind of whiffle ball job-interview” questions “you ask the boss’s nephew you know you have to hire anyway.”
       
    • CNN’s Brian Stelter: “It Is True That Trump Is Held To A Different Standard Than Clinton.” The day after the forum, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter told CNN host Ashleigh Banfield that “it is true that Trump is held to a different standard than Clinton” and said that “no doubt, at the forum, there was different treatment for Trump versus Clinton.”

    ... But Have Perpetuated It ...

    Despite all this commentary, media figures have consistently perpetuated the double standard, holding Trump to a lower bar than they do Clinton in terms of behavioral and ethical conduct -- and in measures of veracity. Most recently, when a report came out that Trump paid a fine to the IRS for making an illegal $25,000 donation to the 2013 re-election campaign of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, broadcast news networks devoted a third as much as time to the matter as they provided to a flawed Associated Press story on the Clinton Foundation that proved no ethics breaches.

    Media figures have previously repeatedly pardoned Trump’s widely criticized rhetoric, policy flip-flops, and divisive comments because he’s “not a politician” and is “learning as he goes”:

    • Fox Hosts Excused Trump's Abortion Comments Because "He's Learning As He Goes." Hosts of Fox News’ Fox & Friends excused Trump’s statement in March that there should be some kind of punishment for women who obtain abortions, suggesting that Trump should not be expected to answer questions about abortion because they’re usually reserved for more experienced politicians. Co-host Steve Doocy excused Trump, saying, “He only became a politician about six or seven months ago.”
       
    • CNN’s Mark Preston: “You Have To Expect” Trump Will Abandon His Positions; He Can’t Be Thought Of In “Conventional Terms.” CNN political executive editor Mark Preston told New Day host Chris Cuomo in May that he was not surprised the presumptive nominee “took a half-step back” on banning Muslim immigrants because he can't be thought of in “conventional terms,” but rather “in Donald Trump terms.”
       
    • The Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich: “Consistency Should Be An Argument Against Donald Trump,” But Trump “Isn’t A Normal Candidate.” Daily Beast Washington bureau chief Jackie Kucinich claimed in May that while “consistency should be an argument against” Trump “in a normal political system,” Trump is “not a normal candidate” and thus his policy reversals might not affect him.

    Media have also absurdly applauded Trump any time he has appeared to assume even the slightest veneer of conventional, tempered behavior:

    • Reading A Speech From A Teleprompter: Media figures praised Trump as “presidential” in early June for delivering one speech with the aid of a teleprompter. Fox anchor Megyn Kelly praised Trump for being “a little bit more controlled using the teleprompter, which is something we almost never see him do, staying on message.”
       
    • Delivering One Speech Devoid Of Racist Attacks: Following the same speech, media figures also praised Trump as “presidential” for refraining from launching racist attacks against the federal judge presiding over Trump University lawsuits, which Trump had done for multiple days prior. CNN host Don Lemon said the “new, more presidential Donald Trump” is what “people in Washington wanted to see.”
       
    • Rebutting A Joke About His Penis Size: Fox doctor Keith Ablow praised Donald Trump for “show[ing] an incredible degree of psychological strength” in responding to a joke about the size of his hands by referencing the size of his penis.
       
    • Not Calling Then-Opponent Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”: Following Trump’s April victory in the New York primary, Fox’s Megyn Kelly and ABC’s Tom Llamas said Trump was becoming “more presidential” and “trying out a more presidential style” because he did not call his opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), “Lyin’ Ted.” Trump returned to using the phrase the next day.

    ... Will They Change? 

    Now that political media have admitted their own shortcomings in the cautionary tale of Lauer, will they level the playing field between Clinton and Trump?

    Researcher Tyler Cherry contributed research to this post.

  • CNN Panel Highlights Trump's Immigration Hypocrisy With Report Of Him Having Models Circumvent Immigration Law

    Chris Cuomo: Trump Has Claimed H1B Visas Are "Being Abused" And Yet That's What This Report Is "Accusing Him Of"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the August 31 edition of CNN's New Day:

     

    CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): Rebecca Berg, this other story, this Mother Jones story. It basically says, to Mark's description of the Clintons, you play by your own rules, that speculation. It seems to fall into that category with Donald Trump. This modeling agency that he has, women came forward saying they circumvented immigration law, they put us in these lousy apartments, and they were just milking the system and milking these women to modeland doing it on the cheap. How much do you think there there happens with this?

    REBECCA BERG: Well, it could be hugely consequential because it shows perhaps that there is some inconsistencies between what Donald Trump is saying and what he's actually done in his business career. But what we have seen with Donald Trump is that he likes to brag about taking advantage of loopholes in the law, not only when it comes to something like this, immigration rules, but also with taxation. And he's used the tax codes, as he said, to his advantage. And so if he can make the case that he was trying to take advantage of a broken system, there is a way that he could maybe maneuver this politically to a place where it's advantageous for him. 

    CUOMO: I don't know. It's not taxes though. 

    BERG: It's also something that Hillary Clinton --

    CUOMO: It's not taxes. These are the H1B visas that he's talked about being abused. He said, "I'm going to get rid of them because people abuse them and that's really wrong. We have to be tougher." That's what they're accusing him of in this piece. 

    ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Right I mean, basically that he had told the models who were coming into this country, "Just say that you're here for tourism." 

    CUOMO: Taking meetings. You're not working.

    CAMEROTA: "Yeah, you're taking meetings, you're trying to find an agent in this [INAUDIBLE] for tourism if they find your portfolio," because they really were coming in for work, "if they find your portfolio just say that you were looking for an agent." So is that a loophole or is that breaking the law? 

    MARK PRESTON: Well, it's clearly breaking the law, right? I mean in the end. I mean what Donald Trump, as Rebecca says, has said over and over again, "As a businessman, I'm going to take every chance I can to help myself out personally. But now that I'm running for president, I'm here to help you all out, and we will close these loopholes down." For some reason, that hasn't stuck to Donald Trump in this campaign, as a lot of things haven't stuck to Donald Trump.

    CUOMO: But working the taxes and breaking the law are two different things. Everybody wants to pay the least amount of taxes. We all get that. This could be something different. The question is, does it get that kind of traction that it needs?

    PRESTON: Right. And I would say this. Being in New York City with the tabloids, that could be his downfall in the sense that they could seize upon the story and run with it. 

    Related

    Mother Jones: Former Models For Donald Trump's Agency Say They Violated Immigration Rules And Worked Illegally

    Previously

    CNN's Chris Cuomo Highlights Trump’s Hypocrisy On Middle East Business Ventures

    Donald Trump’s Probable Immigration Plan Will Be Ripped Straight From Right-Wing Media

    This Is How Trump’s Closest Advisors Have Talked About Immigrants And Latinos