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  • The Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen Slams Media’s False Narrative That Trump Appeals To Progressives

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    MSNBC producer Steve Benen criticized media outlets for their "plainly wrong" portrayal of some of Donald Trump’s policies as “progressive.” Benen lamented the failure of The Washington Post and The New York Times to explain the contradictions between Trump’s policies and historically liberal ideology, and slammed their misleading thesis that Trump may have something to offer progressive voters.

    Media have reported Trump’s false claim that he originally opposed going to war in Iraq to claim that he is to the left of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on foreign policy, while ignoring his openness to nuclear proliferation, his support for military intervention in both Iraq and Libya, and his call to send tens of thousands of ground troops to Syria. And despite his support for reductions in Medicare and Social Security, ​The New York Times compared Trump's positions on entitlements to those of Bernie Sanders.

    In the May 18 blog post, Benen criticized The Post and the The Times for reporting Trump's stances as progressive, saying that “given it’s historical underpinnings, there’s nothing liberal about Trump’s “America’s First” vision” and slamming the media for falsely reporting that Trump is willing “to shift ‘to the left on the minimum wage and tax policy.’” Benen explained that the media may find it appealing to tout Trump as having national appeal that transcends political ideologies, but this “thesis is belied by reality” given that Trump’s position “offers literally nothing for progressive voters” (emphasis added):

    Some of the political media establishment has apparently settled on a new “narrative”: Donald Trump will appeal to Democrats by breaking with Republican orthodoxy and endorsing some progressive goals. It might be a compelling thesis, if it were in any way true.

    The Washington Post got the ball rolling last week with a provocative, attention-getting headline: “How Donald Trump is running to the left of Hillary Clinton.” As proof, the article noted, among other things, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, and his willingness to shift “to the left on the minimum wage and tax policy.”

    The problem, of course, is much of this is factually incorrect. Given its historical underpinnings, there’s nothing liberal about Trump’s “America First” vision, and the media hype surrounding Trump’s purported shifts on the minimum wage and tax policy turned out to be completely wrong. The Post’s entire thesis struggled under scrutiny.

    And yet, there it was again in the New York Times yesterday.


    Again, if these observations were rooted in fact, the thesis might have merit, but it’s important not to fall for shallow hype and bogus narratives. Trump did not endorse a minimum-wage hike; he actually said there shouldn’t be a federal minimum wage at all. He did not call for higher taxes on the wealthy; he proposed literally the exact opposite.

    And far from “attacking Mrs. Clinton from the left on … Wall Street,” a few hours after the Times article was published, Trump insisted he would repeal Dodd-Frank reforms – which represents an attack from the right, not the left.


    It’s easy to get the impression that the media likes the idea – not the reality, but the idea – of Trump having broad national appeal, enough to woo disaffected Democrats and Bernie Sanders’ most ardent backers, and defeat Clinton in a general election. But the thesis is belied by reality. Trump’s platform – on the economy, on immigration, on taxes, on policies towards women, on race, on torture – offers literally nothing for progressive voters, which is probably why Sanders has said he’s prepared to fight as hard as he can in the coming months to ensure Trump’s defeat.


  • Conservatives Were Stunningly Wrong About Obamacare, New Report Finds

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A New York Times analysis found “historic increases” in those covered by the Affordable Care Act, destroying right-wing media predictions about health care reform including that it would “topple the stock market” and enslave Americans. The Times analysis is just one of many pieces of research that have highlighted the successes of the Affordable Care Act.

  • Media Incorrectly Equate Biden's 1992 Comments "Bemoaning Politicization" Of Hypothetical SCOTUS Nomination To GOP's Ongoing And "Unprecedented" Obstruction

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Media outlets have dubiously likened Vice President Joe Biden's 1992 speech suggesting the Senate Judiciary Committee might not hold confirmation hearings for a hypothetical Supreme Court vacancy following a resignation during an ongoing presidential campaign to the unprecedented determination by Senate Republicans that they will not consider anyone President Obama nominates after Justice Antonin Scalia's death.

  • MSNBC's Benen Points Out Rubio/Clinton Double Standard In Coverage Of Deleted Emails

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL CALVERT

    In sharp contrast with its intense scrutiny of Hillary Clinton's private email server, the media has largely remained mum on Senator Marco Rubio's (R-FL) own habit of deleting official emails sent from a private email account. MSNBC's Steve Benen pointed out that the hosts of Fox News' The Five gave Rubio a free pass on his email history, while continuing to disparage Clinton's private server.

    According to a statement by Clinton's lawyer, the former Secretary of State's email server was wiped clean after she turned over approximately 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that not only did Rubio correspond with reporters on a private email account while he served as a leader in the Florida House, but when the Orlando Sentinal requested those emails, Rubio's spokesperson said they had been deleted. 

    In a March 31 article for's MaddowBlog, Benen pointed out that while co-hosting the March 30 edition of The Five, Rubio failed to answer a direct question about whether he would publicly disclose his own private emails, writing, "At this point, Dana Perino, the former press secretary in the Bush/Cheney White House, jumped in to criticize Clinton in more detail, and Rubio never responded to the question. Which is further evidence that the politics of emails is trickier than Republican would like." 

    Benen went on to describe how similar the two email stories actually are:

    But in an unexpected twist, it was a question from a Fox News co-host that demonstrates how easy it is to remove "Clinton" out of that sentence and put in the name of several Republican presidential candidates, including "Rubio." Consider:

    In Rubio's case, the senator concedes he did official work on his private account, but he insists the deleted private emails had nothing to do with his official duties. Perhaps the way to be certain is to pursue full disclosure - up to and including careful technology scrutiny of computer servers - just to make sure he didn't do anything wrong.

    Why should Rubio be trusted to make decisions on his own about which of his emails should be deleted?

    I suppose the obvious answer is that the Florida senator isn't accused of any official wrongdoing, so there's no need to review his communications. But - and this is key - Clinton isn't facing any serious allegations, either, Benghazi conspiracy theorists notwithstanding.

    The media also ignored former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's email habits. In the wake of a Clinton feeding frenzy, the major networks paid minimal attention to the seven years it took for Bush to comply with a Florida statute requiring him to turn over private emails.