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No elected GOP officials appeared on morning shows on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, or CBS. Chris Cuomo: Republicans "wouldn’t even come on the damn show.”
The morning after yet another deadly school shooting in the United States, Republican elected officials avoided all but one morning news show: Fox & Friends.
Yesterday, a shooting at a Florida school left at least 17 students and adults dead. It was the 18th shooting at a school in the U.S. just this year. Today, Republican elected officials avoided ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC’s morning shows, opting to exclusively appear on Fox & Friends. Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) all appeared on Fox to discuss the shooting. Cruz attempted to explain the shooting by saying, “Evil is, sadly, always present” and complained that “the reaction of Democrats to any tragedy to is try to politicize it.” Rubio referred to the shooting as “an isolated instance” that resulted from “a perfect storm of circumstances.” And Scott told the Fox & Friends hosts that he was “mad” and asked, “How can this be going on in our society?” Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson also appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss the shooting.
Meanwhile, no Republican elected officials appeared on any other broadcast and major cable news channel. CNN host Chris Cuomo noted that it was not for lack of trying, saying that Republicans “wouldn’t even come on the damn show” to talk about the shooting in Florida:
In the aftermath of past mass shootings, Fox News has provided a platform for Second Amendment advocates to push misinformation about firearms while repeatedly asserting that the aftermath of a mass shooting is “not the time” to talk about policy solutions to address gun violence.
This is just the latest in the media’s neglectful coverage of Puerto Rico’s recovery
A New York Times report on February 6 revealed that a FEMA contract that called for 30 million meals to be sent to Puerto Rico resulted in only 50,000 meals actually delivered. The contract was awarded to a company with no history in large-scale disaster relief, the latest in a string of poor contracting decisions in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation. Despite this, cable and broadcast news networks almost completely ignored the story, with only MSNBC and CBS even mentioning it, albeit briefly.
According to the Times’ report, FEMA awarded an $156 million contract to a company called Tribute Contracting to provide 30 million meals to Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Tiffany Brown, the owner and only employee of the company, had “no experience in large-scale disaster relief,” and had “at least five canceled government contracts in her past.” The Times notes that “by the time 18.5 million meals were due, Tribute had delivered only 50,000,” and the ones that were delivered were packaged incorrectly. FEMA eventually terminated the contract with Tribute.
Months after Hurricane Maria made landfall in September, Puerto Rico remains in desperate need of assistance. Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans still lacked electricity as of January 29, 20 percent of the island is still without running water, and there are countless infrastructural problems that have yet to be fixed. Puerto Rico’s recovery has been hampered by governmental incompetence, as well as several contracts with ill-equipped companies, one of which was also made by FEMA.
Cable and broadcast news shows failed to adequately cover the latest setback for Puerto Rico. According to a Media Matters analysis, only MSNBC’s Morning Joe and CBS This Morning mentioned FEMA’s botched meals contract. CBS This Morning spent less than 30 seconds on the story, simply doing a quick headline read about the Times’ article. Morning Joe mentioned the story three times during its February 7 edition, devoting 3 minutes and 14 seconds to the topic. There was no coverage of the story on CNN, ABC, NBC, or Fox News.
News networks’ failure to highlight FEMA’s ill-informed contract and the resulting loss in supplies for Puerto Ricans is unfortunately part of a larger pattern of networks ignoring the devastation and neglect of Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria made landfall.
Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “Puerto Rico” on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, ABC, and CBS from February 6, when the Times story was published, until 1 p.m. on February 7.
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Cable morning news shows hosted pundits, journalists, politicians, administration officials, and one anti-immigration advocate to discuss immigration following President Donald Trump's meeting with lawmakers to negotiate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and comprehensive immigration reforms. But the shows excluded immigrants (including those directly affected by the termination of DACA) and experts from immigration advocacy organizations from the discussions, in turn favoring vapid talk about optics and omitting important context from their coverage.
Between January 10 and 11, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News collectively hosted 35 guests that discussed Trump’s meeting with the lawmakers. The networks also covered news of a U.S. district judge’s injunction that blocked the Trump administration’s plan to end DACA, which effectively maintains protections for DACA recipients, or “Dreamers,” as the legal challenge proceeds.
CNN’s New Day hosted 13 guests who discussed DACA, including five members of the media, five Democrats, two Republicans, and one former U.S. attorney.
MSNBC’s Morning Joe discussed DACA with 15 guests, including nine journalists, five Democrats, and one progressive activist.
On January 10, Fox News’ Fox & Friends hosted three guests to discuss DACA: Eric Beach, co-founder of the pro-Trump Great America PAC; Sen. David Perdue (R-GA); and anti-immigration activist Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labelled an anti-immigrant hate group.
The following day, Fox & Friends hosts spoke to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting Director Thomas Homan, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway, pro-Trump radio host Dan Bongino, and Fox News legal analyst Bob Massi about DACA negotiations. All of these guests attempted to sell Trump’s position on immigration reform or praised his negotiating style.
None of the networks hosted immigrants or experts from immigration advocacy organizations, and discussions favored superficial optics coverage, with CNN’s Chris Cillizza remarking at one point that Trump deserved “style points” for the televised meeting.
This is not the first time news outlets have ignored the voices of those who will be affected by the Trump administration’s policy on immigration. But on the rare occasions that cable shows do host immigrants or immigration experts, audiences get a glimpse into how immigration policy decisions affect immigrants and American citizens alike. By failing to give a platform to people with personal experience with immigration policy to share their views, cable news outlets are missing a key part of the story.
Media Matters used iQ Media to review discussions about DACA, negotiations about DACA, or the U.S. district judge’s decision to block the plan to phase out DACA on the January 10 and January 11 editions of CNN’s New Day, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and Fox News’ Fox & Friends and coded for guests. Discussions about the border wall or other aspects of immigration reform that did not mention DACA were not included.
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On the five year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, MSNBC’s Morning Joe pointed out that despite strong public support for regulating firearms on the federal level, Congress has been slow to move on any type of gun safety legislation since the tragedy.
Co-host Joe Scarborough mentioned the number of Americans killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook and highlighted that Americans on both sides of the political divide overwhelming support gun safety measures, including banning assault weapons, expanding background checks and bump stocks, like those that were used in the October Las Vegas mass shooting. Scarborough noted that despite the support, members of Congress opposing reforms are “playing to a small hard core interest group in Washington D.C., and not even listening to the majority of” Americans. From the December 14 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): It's -- we talked about this. Mika, I don't know that there's been anything as jarring, other than September 11th, certainly in my lifetime of following news and reporting on the news, than what happened in Newtown five years ago today. It just still -- it's something obviously that the families will never get past. It's something that the town will never get past. And so many of these families are still fighting every day to make sense of it, but to also try to turn this tragedy into something good. You look at the numbers, the Daily News, October 3rd, wrote that there have been -- there's been nearly one mass shooting every day for the 1,754 days since the shocking slaughter of those 20 Connecticut angels. And Mike Barnicle, there are times -- the American people, I mean, this shook the American people to the core. Ninety percent of Americans still support enhanced background checks. The number of Americans that support a ban on assault-style weapons continues to go up. Americans support gun safety at higher numbers than ever before and so much of it came out of that, and yet, how does Congress answer this just a week ago?
SCARBOROUGH: And you look at the number of Americans that have been killed by guns since Sandy Hook. It's unfathomable that Congress still has refused to do anything despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans want them to. They are playing to a small hard core interest group in Washington D.C., and not even listening to the majority of NRA members who want -- I’ll say that again. The majority of NRA members, the majority of Republicans, the majority of conservatives, want expanded background checks, and they want legislation passed, gun safety legislation passed.
SUSAN DEL PERCIO: And they can start even working backwards from some of the most dangerous weapons that are out there. You can start at whether it's the block gizmo on the gun or other types of weapons. I mean, we do have certain standards in our country. You can't have land mines on your yard, for example. Those are deemed too dangerous. We have to start working back and force this country into sensible, responsible gun ownership because you're right, Joe. Most NRA members are for proper background checks. They have no problem with waiting. If I need a gun in 24 hours, there's probably a bad reason that I would want a gun in 24 hours. The government, they need to start moving this, and this is one of those issues that we can start saying, I'm for the Second Amendment, but we need to be responsible. This is something Republicans can be moderate on and still hold onto their base.
SCARBOROUGH: And the bump stock issue, Willie, that after Las Vegas, after that horrific slaughter in Las Vegas, we heard that they might even move on bump stocks. They can't even do that.
Despite Congress’ inaction, Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, noted in a HuffPost piece that the last five years have been “among the most productive” throughout his 30 years working on the gun violence issue. He highlighted that individuals states have passed “laws creating universal background check systems, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and protecting victims of domestic violence from armed abusers” and that there has been a “marked political shift regarding gun violence prevention” with fewer politicians “ducking the issue.”
On December 12, Alabama voters elected Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate -- ending a 25-year streak in which Democrats were unable to win a single seat in the state. Jones’ victory put to rest weeks of media hand-wringing and speculation about what would be more offensive to Alabamians: Republican candidate Roy Moore’s reported sexual misconduct with teenagers when he was in his 30s or Jones’ allegedly “extreme” position on abortion.
In November, The Washington Post reported multiple women’s accounts of experiencing inappropriate conduct from Moore when they were in their teens, including one account of Moore pursuing a 14-year old girl. A few days later, another woman reported that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager. In response, Moore largely avoided granting interviews to media, with the exception of a few friendly outlets such as Breitbart and One American News Network. To counteract these reports, right-wing outlets began leveraging what they claimed were Jones’ “extreme” views on abortion access against allegations of wrongdoing against Moore.
In reality, as Jones has explained, he supports upholding current Alabama law, which allows patients to seek an abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy with limited exceptions for “medical necessity” beyond that point. During a September 27 interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Jones stated that he was “a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body.” Despite this, many outlets not only adopted right-wing media’s inaccurate spin that Jones’ stance was “extreme,” but also went on to claim that Jones’ support for abortion access would ultimately cost him the election.
From early in the campaign, right-wing media consistently pushed the talking point that Jones’ position on abortion access was “extreme.” For example, during the November 15 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Jesse Watters described Alabama voters as having to decide between Moore, who “may have done inappropriate things with young girls 40 years ago,” and Jones, who he claimed supported so-called “‘partial-birth’ abortion” (a procedure that doesn’t exist but was invented by anti-abortion groups to shame those seeking abortions). In another example, Fox’s Marc Thiessen tried to equate Moore’s predatory behavior and Jones’ stance on abortion by calling them “two extremes.” Beyond this, Fox hosts and contributors alike leveraged a variety of inaccurate claims about Jones’ position on abortion -- saying he was for “abortion on demand,” claiming he was “a person who supports abortion at every level,” or parroting that he supported “abortion through all nine months” of pregnancy. In a particularly ill-fated exchange on the night of the election, Fox's Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume predicted that Jones' support for abortion would be his undoing:
Unfortunately, rather than debunking such obvious anti-choice talking points, some outlets instead adopted this right-wing spin about Jones.
During a November 27 discussion on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough claimed that Democrats would be better off if they had run “somebody who were, let’s say, conservative to moderate on abortion … but with Democrats on 99 percent of the other issues.” The following day, a panel on Morning Joe continued this line of argument with MSNBC political analyst Elise Jordan stating that adopting an anti-abortion viewpoint “would have taken Doug Jones easily over the finish line.” Beyond Jordan’s claims, during the same discussion MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki also promoted the right-wing argument that Jones supported “no restrictions on abortion at all.”
On CNN, contributor Stephen Moore also adopted the right-wing spin about Jones, arguing that he supported “partial-birth abortion, which a lot of people in Alabama think is tantamount to murder.” While at The Daily Beast, Matt Lewis speculated that Alabama voters may not be able to cast a vote for Jones because of his “extreme position on what many see as a definitive life or death issue.” Lewis concluded that Jones “would be in a much better position” to win if his views about abortion weren’t “so radical.”
As election day drew nearer, other outlets continued to run with the argument that not only was Jones’ position “extreme,” but that it would also cost him the election. For example, The Boston Globe claimed that for Alabama voters, Jones’ stance was “a deal-breaker” and that if Moore was “running against a Democrat less doctrinaire on abortion, the revelations about Moore’s pursuit of young girls would likely have sunk his campaign.” NPR reported on December 8 that “for some Alabama voters, supporting abortion rights may be a sin worse than some of the sexual misdeeds Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore has been accused of.” On the night of the election, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd said that he’d been told that “if Doug Jones loses, it will be a one word answer: Abortion.”
This is far from the first time that media have gotten carried away with the argument that support for abortion access costs votes or elections for Democratic or progressive candidates. In early 2017, The New York Times published an op-ed titled, “To Win Again, Democrats Must Stop Being the Abortion Party” -- kicking off wave of responses rebutting the false dichotomy that Democrats must sacrifice reproductive rights to win voters.
As HuffPost reported on December 4, however, there was ample reason to believe that Jones’ support for abortion access wouldn’t be a hindrance. According to polling performed by Clarity Campaign Labs, “Abortion wasn’t really in the top couple issue” when likely Republican voters explained why they wouldn’t support Jones over Moore.
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After reports surfaced that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted and harassed several teenagers when he was in his 30s, right-wing media outlets rushed to characterize Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones as supporting “partial-birth” abortions, abortions up to the moment of birth, or so-called “late-term” abortions. Other outlets have adopted the right-wing media spin, claiming Jones is too “extreme” for Alabama voters.
White House appointment to CFPB could doom successful watchdog agency
CNN’s morning news program New Day set a standard for covering the dispute between the White House and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over who should lead the agency after the departure of its long-time director, Richard Cordray. Meanwhile, Fox News largely carried water for the administration, framing the dispute in its morning show Fox & Friends as a fight between President Donald Trump and the so-called “swamp,” while MSNBC’s flagship morning program Morning Joe neglected the legal brinkmanship entirely.
On Friday, November 24, Cordray announced his resignation from the nation’s premier consumer financial watchdog agency and elevated his chief of staff, Leandra English, to the position of deputy director. According to The Washington Post, Cordray argued in his resignation letter that designating English as the agency’s new deputy, and thus as its acting director in his absence, “would minimize operational disruption and provide for a smooth transition” until the Senate confirmed a permanent replacement. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) shared Cordray’s sentiment, pointing out on Twitter that the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, was very clear about the proper process for succession at the regulatory agency: The deputy director “shall be appointed by the Director” and serve as acting director in that person’s absence.
Despite the clear letter of the law, the Trump administration nominated its own acting director: the head of Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mick Mulvaney, a former Republican congressman and outspoken opponent of the CFPB with close ties to a lobbyist who currently represents a bank “facing the prospect of major CFPB sanctions.” Acting Director English summarily filed suit against the White House in federal court for “Disregarding ... statutory language” on the proper process of naming a new director and for attempting to implant Mulvaney to serve “indefinitely as the interim head of a statutorily ‘independent’ agency” despite his current role as White House budget director.
The succession crisis at CFPB, and the looming court battle over the president’s latest decision to circumvent legislative statutes in pursuit of his own agenda, should have provided ample material for reporters and analysts at each of the largest cable news outlets. Unfortunately, only CNN’s New Day seemed up to the task the day after the lawsuit was filed.
CNN reporters led with the CFPB story throughout the morning of November 27, outlining the legal basis for the administration’s case as well as the case made by Acting Director English. The network’s legal and political analysts also dissected how the dispute over CFPB’s leadership is part of the Trump administration’s broader plan to dismantle regulatory and oversight mechanisms throughout the federal government. New Day even featured a lengthy interview with former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who co-authored Dodd-Frank, where he highlighted the importance of maintaining an independent financial watchdog to implement consumer protections that would prevent returning to the catastrophic circumstances of the 2008 financial collapse.
Compared to extensive coverage from CNN, MSNBC’s Morning Joe had nothing to say about the issue. Meanwhile, the Trump sycophants at Fox & Friends briefly addressed the dispute twice, characterizing it as a fight between Trump and the so-called “swamp” and wondering why the president ought not have unilateral authority to usurp the independence of agencies like the CFPB.
The Trump administration’s current assault on the CFPB is only the latest in a series of Republican attempts to take down the agency. Right-wing media outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, have vilified the CFPB for years, but their calls to destroy the independent financial regulatory process have been supercharged by the rise of Trump and his GOP enablers.
Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “CFPB,” “Mick Mulvaney,” and “Leandra English” on the November 27 editions of CNN’s New Day, Fox News’ Fox & Friends, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Only CBS This Morning reported on the FCC commissioner's plan to overturn Obama-era net neutrality protections
Cable and broadcast morning shows virtually ignored reports that the Republican-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, is expected to reveal his plan to gut net neutrality regulations this week.
According to the internet advocacy organization Free Press, net neutrality is "the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use." In 2015, the FCC enacted regulations protecting net neutrality, "reclassif[ying] high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service rather than an information one, subjecting providers to regulation under Title II of the Communications Act."
But as Politico reported on November 20, FCC Chairman Pai, an appointee of President Donald Trump, plans to share a scheme with his fellow commissioners today to dismantle the regulations. The commission is expected to vote in December on the plan, which reportedly "would jettison rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing web traffic or creating so-called paid internet fast lanes."
On November 21, morning news shows failed to inform their audiences about the threat to a free and open internet. CBS This Morning was the only show to feature a report on the development. One guest on MSNBC's Morning Joe briefly mentioned the expected rule change, but the hosts didn't engage with the comment and never brought up the story themselves. There was no mention at all of net neutrality from CNN's New Day, Fox News' Fox & Friends, ABC's Good Morning America, or NBC's Today.
From CBS This Morning:
GAYLE KING (HOST): The New York Times says the FCC is planning a repeal of net neutrality rules created during the Obama era. The proposal is expected to be unveiled later today. Internet service providers would no longer be required to give equal access to all content. It would permit them to slow web traffic or charge more to view certain content. FCC commissioners are expected to back the proposal in December. The FCC declined to comment on this.
The move from the FCC was not unforeseeable; in April, Pai announced plans to undo open-internet rules. And, as Wired detailed, "Pai has narrowed the scope of the rules since taking over as chair in January":
In February, for example, he ended an investigation into whether AT&T and Verizon used data limits for anticompetitive purposes, effectively ruling that the two companies could exempt their own video services from customers' data caps but still charge for data used by their competitors’ services.
Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “neutrality” on the November 21 editions of ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’ CBS This Morning, NBC’s Today, CNN’s New Day, Fox News’ Fox & Friends, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
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Fox & Friends devoted less than 20 minutes to the news that special counsel Robert Mueller was filing charges against two of President Donald Trump’s top campaign aides, while other cable news morning shows spent over an hour on the story this morning.
On October 30, a federal grand jury indicted Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chief, and Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime business associate who also served as his deputy on the Trump campaign, as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The indictment includes 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal. The Daily Beast called the indictments “stunning.”
After the news of the indictment came out shortly before 8 a.m., MSNBC’s Morning Joe and CNN’s New Day stayed on the story until their respective shows ended at 9 a.m. Fox News’ Fox & Friends, on the other hand, devoted only 18 minutes and 48 seconds to the story in the same time period.
This is hardly the first time Fox News has attempted to downplay or mislead about the Russia probe. Fox has also tried to deflect attention by scandalizing innocuous stories, such as attempting to link former President Barack Obama to the dossier about Trump’s relationship with Russia or repeatedly covering the debunked story involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a Russian uranium company.
Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of the world “Manafort” on the October 30 editions of CNN’s New Day, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and Fox News’ Fox & Friends. We timed the mentions if they were part of a significant discussion of the indictments, with “significant discussion” defined as a back-and-forth exchange between two or more people on the indictment, a packaged report where the indictment was the stated topic of discussion, or a host monologue where the indictment was the stated topic of discussion.