The Independent | Media Matters for America

The Independent

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  • Media outlets uncritically push Trump’s anti-abortion lies while reporting on the State of the Union

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Donald Trump’s presidency has created a requirement for outlets to hold themselves accountable for managing his often false and inflammatory rhetoric, by including context and accurate information about his statements directly in headlines and tweets, as well as supplying details in reports. Trump’s inaccurate claims about abortion during the 2019 State of the Union were a prime opportunity for media to provide important context -- an opportunity that some outlets missed, instead promoting Trump’s lies uncritically though headlines and social media.

    During his address, Trump repeated talking points from a scandal manufactured by right-wing media alleging that Democrats support state bills supposedly legalizing “infanticide” or abortions “up to moment of birth.” In his speech, Trump said that a law in New York "would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth," claimed a Virginia bill would allow providers to "execute a baby after birth,"and called on Congress "to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children." In reality, Democratic legislators in New York recently passed legislation to codify Roe v. Wade's abortion protections at the state level, and Virginia Democrats introduced a bill to remove unnecessary barriers to abortion access, which has since been tabled.

    Right-wing media have responded with an avalanche of inaccurate coverage and extreme rhetoric, including saying that abortions later in pregnancy are “murders” and that Democrats were endorsing “infanticide.” To be clear, neither of these claims has any basis in reality. Abortions that take place later in pregnancy are extremely rare and often performed for medical necessity or due to access barriers created by anti-choice politicians. Right-wing media’s characterization of these abortion procedures as happening “at birth” -- or in some cases, allegedly after -- is simply wrong; according to medical professionals, such a scenario “does not occur.” Indeed, as patients who have had abortions later in pregnancy wrote in an open letter: “The stories we hear being told about later abortion in this national discussion are not our stories. They do not reflect our choices or experiences.”

    Here are the some of the outlets that reported Trump’s comments on abortion without providing this necessary context:

    • ABC’s World News Tonight [Twitter, 2/5/19]

    • NBC News [Twitter, 2/5/19]
    • The New York Times [Twitter, 2/5/19]

    • PBS NewsHour [Twitter, 2/5/19]

  • "Alt-right" ship gets stranded at sea trying to keep migrants out of Europe, will be saved by refugee rescue ship

    Operators of the “alt-right” vessel previously accused their rescuers of human trafficking

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The C-Star, a ship used by anti-immigrant group Defend Europe to disrupt humanitarian search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea, has been “stranded in the Central Mediterranean,” the Independent reported. Italian officials told Sea-Eye, a German nongovernmental organization (NGO) that operates rescue ships in the Mediterranean, that Defend Europe’s vessel “had suffered a mechanical failure and could not manoeuvre,” according to the report. Sea-Eye Chairman Michael Buschheuer confirmed that one of the group’s rescue ships had been dispatched to help the stranded vessel, saying, “To help a ship in distress in the duty of anyone at sea, without regard for their origin, race, religion or beliefs.”

    Defend Europe previously accused Sea-Eye, and other groups, of “colluding” with Libyan human traffickers. Yet Defend Europe’s C-Star was itself recently detained in the self-declared Turkish state of Northern Cyprus for document forgery and potential human trafficking of 20 Sri Lankan nationals found on board. Turkish Cypriot authorities deported nine crew members, including the captain, and a German “second captain” alleged to be a neo-Nazi.

    On August 11, the U.K. anti-extremism research and education group Hope Not Hate issued a formal complaint and request for an inspection of the ship in the wake of its technical failure, pointing out that this incident is further confirmation of what the organization has already reported -- that the ship is ill-equipped to care for the migrants it claims it can rescue. Defend Europe itself has acknowledged that its true mission is to prevent migration to Europe, and one of the campaign's spokespeople, Martin Sellner, has unabashedly reported that the campaign's plan is to force migrants back to North Africa. The banner the group proudly unfurled on the boat earlier this month plainly states, “You will not make Europe home.”

    From the Independent’s August 11 report:

    Volunteers on a German refugee rescue ship say they have been deployed to help a far-right vessel that has become stranded in the Central Mediterranean.

    Sea-Eye said Italian officials had told their crew that the C-Star, operated by an anti-immigration group calling itself Defend Europe, had suffered a mechanical failure and could not manoeuvre.

    A spokesperson for the group, which is among those Defend Europe has accused of “colluding” with Libyan people smugglers, said it was on its way to offer aid.

    Michael Buschheuer, the chairman of Sea-Eye, said: “To help a ship in distress in the duty of anyone at sea, without regard for their origin, race, religion or beliefs.”

    Defend Europe confirmed its ship was suffering a “minor technical problem” that was being resolved.

    “C-Star developed a minor technical problem during the night,” a spokesperson said, saying that its engine was stopped so it could be fixed.

    “This means that under [maritime laws to prevent collisions] the vessel is considered ‘not under command’ and information was sent out to vessels nearby in accordance with regulations.

    “This problem is about to be resolved.”

    The group, an offshoot of the white nationalist Identitarian movement, crowdfunded its ship with claims it would target “criminal NGOs…that are nothing less than part of the international human trafficking ring”.

  • Right-wing media cheer Trump withdrawing United States from the Paris climate agreement

    Business leaders and experts agree decision to pull out of agreement “would harm every American” and "devastate [America’s] international credibility"

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media figures cheered President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the Paris climate agreement, which sought to reduce international greenhouse gas emissions. But experts and business leaders condemned the decision, calling the move a “historic mistake” and “a gratuitous thumb in everyone’s eye.”

  • After Enabling Trump, Right-Wing Media Campaign For Marine Le Pen

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    United States right-wing media figures have rallied behind “far-right populist” Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election by endorsing her, positively comparing her to President Donald Trump, and attacking her opponent Emmanuel Macron with anti-Semitic smears and comparisons to former President Barack Obama.

  • After America, Breitbart Plans To Infect Politics Across Europe

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    After the 2016 election, Breitbart.com announced its plan to expand into France and Germany, and Italy is reportedly now a target as well. Breitbart’s current European bureau, Breitbart London, appears to be in charge of the website’s Europe content and has a close relationship with the nativist UK Independence Party (UKIP). That, coupled with its anti-immigrant content, suggests that the site will try to spread its nativism across Europe by continuing to stoke racist sentiment and allying with anti-immigrant political parties.

  • Media Rushed To Suggest Radical Muslims Might Have Been To Blame For Norway Terrorism

    ››› ››› NED RESNIKOFF

    Before there was any evidence of who was responsible for the terrorist bombing and shooting in Norway, mainstream media outlets rushed to finger Muslims and Muslim groups as potential perpetrators and listed grievances that radical Muslims had against the country. Norwegian officials have since said that a non-Muslim was responsible for the terrorist acts.