State Of The Union | Media Matters for America

State Of The Union

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  • As Trump separates migrant families and 1,500 kids are missing, three Sunday shows ignored immigration entirely

    Blog ››› ››› NATALIE MARTINEZ

    Sunday shows largely ignored America’s treatment of migrant children, even as new reports and outrage on social media show a growing humanitarian crisis.

    In April, a top official with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told Congress that HHS had lost track of 1,475 unaccompanied minors who were detained at the US-Mexico border. This news has raised concerns that HHS has not taken the proper precautions to protect these migrant children in government custody from abuse and human trafficking. An ACLU report this week revealed that immigrant children suffer “pervasive abuse” while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Following the ACLU report, these missing migrant children got new attention from  a social media campaign #WhereAreTheChildren.

    One target of this social media campaign is the Trump administration’s new policy of separating children from parents when migrant families and asylum seekers attempt to pass through the southern border -- a policy which Trump recently called "horrible" and blamed Democrats for. Earlier in May, Attorney Jeff Sessions announced “zero tolerance” separation policies which are believed to cause detrimental effects on migrant children. Families separated at the border face significant challenges in contacting each other. The Arizona Daily Star told the story of a mother who “covered her eyes with her hands as tears streamed down her cheeks” as she wondered if she would ever see her children again.”  

    Despite all of this, only three of the five Sunday shows, ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Fox News' Sunday With Chris Wallace, and NBC’s Meet the Press failed to discuss immigration whatsoever. CBS's Face the Nation did discuss the Trump administration’s separation policies with Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mark Meadows, and briefly mentioned them again during a panel discussion.

    The only Sunday show to mention the missing children was CNN’s State of the Union during a roundtable discussion. During the show, CNN contributor Rick Santorum called news of the missing children “hyperbole to try to create an issue."

  • Sunday shows spent plenty of time talking about Trump bombing Syria, but almost entirely ignored Syrian refugees

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On Friday, April 13, President Donald Trump announced joint cruise missile strikes with the U.K. and France against several Syrian chemical weapons facilities in retaliation for an apparent April 7 chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria. Over the weekend, the Sunday morning political talk shows had plenty to discuss about the airstrikes, but not much to say about the ongoing plight of Syrian refugees.

    On Sunday, CNN’s State of the Union, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and ABC’s This Week all failed to mention Syrian refugees while discussing the airstrikes. The only mention of Syrian refugees on any of the Sunday morning political talk shows was on Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, when host Chris Wallace asked UN Ambassador Nikki Haley just one question about them. 

    A few other Sunday morning programs on cable news channels did better in discussing concerns about refugees: There were segments on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and New Day Sunday, which played (albeit briefly) a clip of earlier commentary from a Syrian chemical attack survivor. The Sunday edition of Fox & Friends Weekend also featured two passing mentions of the refugees across its four-hour broadcast; in both instances, the guests brought up the subject unprompted. 

    On MSNBC however, AM Joy did two segments concerning Syrian refugees, including this excellent example of how media should discuss the subject, particularly in light of American military action that is likely to displace more people:

    JOY REID (HOST): So, a truly humanitarian approach would be to welcome refugees to a democratic country that has the resources to protect and shelter them from the dangers they're trying to escape, yeah? Instead, the Trump administration says it initiated airstrikes as a symbol of support and solidarity for Syrians after the chemical attacks orchestrated by the Syrian president. But with only 11 Syrian refugees accepted into the United States this year -- not 1,100; 11 -- the Trump administration's concern for the Syrian people rings rather hollow.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of the word “refugee” on Sunday morning political talk and/or news shows on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Broadcasting Co., CBS, NBC, and ABC between 06:00 and 12:00. 

  • Only one Sunday show talked to immigrants and DACA recipients

    While discussing Trump’s immigration proposal, only ABC’s This Week spoke with those directly impacted by it

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In discussions about President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration framework, ABC’s This Week was the only Sunday show that spoke to immigrants directly impacted by it. CNN’s State of the Union, Fox’s Fox News Sunday, CBS’ Face the Nation, and NBC’s Meet the Press only invited elected officials, members of the administration, and political pundits to discuss the issue.

    Trump’s proposal to lawmakers involves granting a path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants including those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, undocumented immigrants who would’ve qualified for the protections but didn’t sign up for the program, and others newly eligible. In addition, the plan calls for $25 billion for a border wall and other border security, eliminates the diversity visa lottery, enables the administration to increase its deportation capacities, and radically rolls back family-based immigration, which would sharply cut legal immigration. The proposal has been criticized for its ties to white nationalist ideology.

    Only ABC’s This Week spoke to immigrants and DACA recipients who would be directly impacted by the plan:

    When it comes to immigration coverage, media have a history of ignoring the voices of those affected the most by immigration policies. In September, only a day after Trump rescinded DACA, less than 10 percent of guests invited to discuss the policy on cable news networks were DACA recipients. Networks have often helped mainstream anti-immigrant extremism by inviting on members of nativist groups and normalizing pejorative nativist buzzwords.

    As Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, told CNN’s Brian Stelter on the January 28 edition of Reliable Sources, the way audiences learn about “people outside of our own communities is through the media.” As a matter of good journalism, networks should make an effort to elevate voices less heard, especially in a conversation as important as immigration policy.

  • Sunday shows barely mentioned the 2018 Women’s March

    The longest mention was a meager 20 seconds on NBC’s Meet The Press. Other shows were worse.

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST


    Mobilus in Mobili / Creative Commons License via Flickr

    The day after the start of the second annual series of Women’s Marches all over the world, the major Sunday political talk shows were nearly silent on the historic protests, only briefly mentioning the topic across all five shows.

    On January 20 and 21, one year after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, hundreds of thousands of protesters turned out in hundreds of marches and other events in the U.S. and worldwide to unite to support women’s rights. The protests emphasized encouraging women to engage in the political process and expressing shared disdain for the oppressive policies of the Trump administration. According to Politico, there were an estimated 600,000 attendees at the Los Angeles march alone. One of the March’s main events, called #PowerToThePolls, took place in Las Vegas, NV, on January 21 and aimed to register one million voters.The Women’s March described the effort as targeting “swing states to register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness our collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect our values, and collaborate with our partners to elect more women and progressives candidates to office.”

    Despite the worldwide impact of the marches, the major Sunday political talk shows  -- which include CNN’s State of the Union, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday -- were nearly silent on the topic. These shows often set the tone and priorities for media coverage for the rest of the week.

    On ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos briefly acknowledged the “Women’s Marches in hundreds of cities all across the country” in his opening monologue, and later in the show, panelist Karen Finney mentioned “all the people who were marching in the streets yesterday.” No one responded directly to her comments about the marches. On CBS’ Face The Nation, conservative outlet The Federalist’s publisher Ben Domenech noted the “pro-life March For Life that happens every year, followed by the Women’s March on the other side” while discussing Trump’s first year in office.

    The only significant discussion, defined as a back-and-forth exchange between two or more people, of the weekend’s marches was on NBC’s Meet the Press, where panelists remarked on the event in a meager 20-second exchange. Host Chuck Todd also mentioned the “hundreds of thousands of women march[ing] across the country protesting the president, many with an eye towards more women winning office this November” in his opening monologue.

    In 2017, CNN and MSNBC extensively covered the first annual Women’s March, while Fox News’ minimal coverage was criticized. That march was one of the largest protests in US. history.

  • Trump administration officials use Sunday news shows to lie about GOP tax bills

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney appeared on Sunday news shows and lied about the effects of the House and Senate tax bills. In their current forms, the bills will raise taxes for many middle-income Americans, provide a tax break for wealthy Americans and corporations, and significantly increase the deficit.

    On Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, Mnuchin mischaracterized the bill by claiming that “middle-income people are getting cuts, and rich people are getting very little cuts or in very certain cases increases.” In fact, under the Senate version of the bill, families earning less than $75,000 will see a tax increase while the wealthiest Americans and corporations will see rates go down and enjoy special carve outs, including a tax exemption for private jet management. Host Chris Wallace also pointed out that the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the bill that just passed the House of Representatives would give “80 percent of its cuts to corporations, businesses, and wealthy families.” From the November 19 edition of Fox News Sunday:

    Similarly, on CNN’s State of the Union, Mulvaney falsely claimed that the Senate bill “absolutely [would] not” cost at least $1.5 trillion, in direct contradiction a number of studies that estimate the cost of the bill would be as high as $1.8 trillion. From the November 19 edition of State of the Union:

  • Sunday news shows completely ignore growing Whitefish scandal in Puerto Rico

    Whitefish, the inexperienced, Montana-based firm that was contracted without a competitive bidding process to restore power in Puerto Rico, was charging “eye-popping” rates. Meanwhile, a month after Maria, 70 percent of Puerto Rico remains without power.

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Rich Renomeron / Creative Commons License

    The Sunday news shows on broadcast networks and CNN all completely ignored the growing scandal over the small Montana-based firm Whitefish Energy Holdings that had recieved a $300 million contract from Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to restore power to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. The contract, which was facing increasing scrutiny, was canceled late Sunday afternoon.

    E&E News first reported on Whitefish’s contract with PREPA in stories on October 6 and October 9, revealing that PREPA decided not to take advantage of a mutual aid program among 1,100 electric companies that could have helped to quickly restore power on the island, where about 70 percent of residents still have no electricity. Instead, PREPA awarded a contract to the Montana-based firm, which at the time had only two full-time staffers.

    On October 23, The Washington Post reported that Whitefish is based in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, that Zinke and Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski know one another, and that Zinke’s son worked for the company during one summer. Zinke’s office said he had no role in Whitefish securing the contract. BuzzFeed further reported on October 24 that a major donor to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Republican National Committee, Joe Colonnetta, is the head of one of Whitefish’s major funding sources, private equity firm HBC Investments. However, the report noted, “It’s unclear whether Colonnetta, who did not respond to a request for comment, has specific connections to Whitefish, or whether his stake in Whitefish Energy is simply a business investment.”

    The most recent version of the leaked contract stated that “FEMA had ‘reviewed and approved it for compliance with its disaster recovery regulations.” But, according to The Washington Post, FEMA denied that it gave “any preliminary approval for the deal, which was reached without competitive bidding. The contract prevented PREPA from making “any claim against Contractor related to delayed completion of work” and barred government agencies from auditing or reviewing “cost and profit elements” of the deal. But the deal came under fire for the “eye-popping” hourly rates Whitefish was charging:

    Much of the controversy that has surrounded the contract has focused on the high rates Whitefish is charging for labor. The contract shows those labor rates are pricey indeed: $240 an hour for a general foreman and $227 for a lineman. The per diems are also expensive: almost $80 a day for meals, and $332 a day for lodging. Employee flights are billed at $1,000 each way.

    For subcontractors, the bulk of Whitefish's workforce, the prices go even higher. A general foreman costs $336 an hour and a lineman, $319.

    FEMA now says it has “significant concerns” with the deal, which was canceled this afternoon hours after Puerto Rico’s governor urged the utility to cancel the contract. CNN and MSNBC gave the Whitefish story significant attention this week amid the rise of serious questions and discrepancies that have been flagged. But the Sunday political shows, which are influential in Washington and which can help hold government agencies and lawmakers to account, barely discussed Puerto Rico at all, and they ignored the deal completely.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched TVEyes for mentions of “whitefish,” “white fish,” “San Juan,” and “Puerto Rico” on CNN and the Washington, D.C. affiliate stations of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Co. during their scheduled air times, and found zero relevant results.

  • Of all the Sunday shows, only Dana Bash on CNN asked a GOP senator about changes to 401(k) contributions

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    CNN’s Dana Bash was the only host of a Sunday morning political show to ask a Republican lawmaker or official about a potential tax reform provision that is reportedly being considered that would limit pre-tax 401(k) contributions. Such a move would limit how much money millions of middle class Americans would be able to set aside for retirement.

    The New York Times reported that Republicans are considering a proposal to put limits on how much American workers can contribute to their 401(k) accounts before taxes, potentially decreasing caps from $18,000 a year (or $24,000 for workers over 50) to “as low as $2,400.” The Times noted that this move would likely cause “a vocal backlash from middle-class workers who save heavily in such retirement accounts.” As CNBC reported in 2015, over 13 million people have 401(k) retirement plans.

    While several Republican lawmakers and officials made the rounds on the Sunday morning political shows to discuss tax reform, Bash was the only host to ask one of them about the 401(k) proposal. In an interview with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on State of the Union, Bash asked what he plans to do if Republicans were to take this path, which, she pointed out, “could mean higher taxes on the middle class.”

    From the October 22 Edition of CNN’s State of the Union:

    DANA BASH (HOST): Let me just drill down on one other aspect of taxes, and that is The New York Times reported this week that House Republicans are considering a plan to sharply reduce the amount of income that Americans can save in tax-deferred 401(k) accounts. If a Republican -- if your fellow Republicans in the House were to push to go down this path, it could mean higher taxes on the middle class. What do you want to do? Is this a nonstarter in the Senate?

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, look, we're just beginning the process of actually crafting the bills that will be crafted in the Ways and Means Committee in the House, the Finance Committee in the Senate. It's way too early to predict the various details. But I can tell you, the goal here, the goal here is to get middle class taxes down, to prevent job exportation, -- which our current business taxes really encourage people to go offshore -- and to produce more jobs and opportunity for the American people. That's the goal. The details will be hashed out in these two committees in the coming weeks.

    Juan Williams also appeared to allude to the proposal on Fox News Sunday.

    DANA PERINO (HOST): If the Republicans add a millionaires tax, what would [Sens. Chuck] Schumer [D-NY] and Elizabeth Warren [D-MA] complain about?

    JUAN WILLIAMS: Still, I think Congressman [Jason] Chaffetz is onto something here, it’s still -- we don’t have a revenue source screen that would really offset the cost of the tax cuts. Let me just say, overall this was supposed to be about tax reform. Apparently, that’s not the issue now, we’re just on to tax cuts. So the argument coming from the Democrats is this really is disportionately beneficial to the very rich. You add the fourth bracket, but it still does nothing in terms of offsetting things like doing away with state and local deductions.

    PERINO: That’s a big issue.

    WILLIAMS: That’s a huge -- how about home mortgage. Imagine, no home mortgage deduction? Well, I’m sure K Street --

    PERINO: Well, they're not saying that.

    WILLIAMS: Well, they are making the case. And then, also less in terms of your retirement contribution. So these are things that would squeeze the middle class.

    The proposal, however, was not mentioned at all on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation, or NBC’s Meet the Press.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for “401” as well as the words “four,” “oh, “one,” and all iterations of the word “retire” on the October 22 editions of ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, NBC’s Meet the Press, and CNN’s State of the Union.

  • Sunday political talk shows completely ignored Trump White House officials' use of private email accounts

    ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox’s Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press all failed to mention Jared Kushner and other Trump officials used private email accounts

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    The October 1 editions of all the Sunday political talk shows failed to discuss the news that several White House officials in the Trump administration used private email accounts to conduct official government business, making themselves vulnerable to espionage from foreign entities.

    On September 25, The New York Times reported that at least six White House advisors, including Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, had used personal email accounts to conduct official government business. The Times’ story followed a Politico report that Jared Kushner, a senior advisor and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, had used a private email account to conduct correspondence related to White House matters. Even though the story that White House advisors used personal email accounts for official business was reported several days ago, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation,  CNN’s State of the Union, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press all failed to discuss it during their Sunday morning broadcasts.

    As the Times notes, “Officials are supposed to use government emails for their official duties so their conversations are available to the public and those conducting oversight.” According to Politico, the National Security Agency (NSA) had “warned senior White House officials in classified briefings” against the “improper use of personal cellphones and email,” as it “could make them vulnerable to espionage” by foreign entities. By failing to discuss the news of the officials’ use of private accounts, Sunday political talk shows ignored a significant story and failed to inform their audiences of yet another example of the lack of transparency that has been an endemic in the Trump administration. The Sunday shows’ failure to report on officials’ use of personal email accounts is particularly shocking given the media’s obsessive focus on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State throughout the 2016 election.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “emails,” “private email server,” “personal email,” and “private server” on the October 1 editions of ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press.

  • Sunday political talk shows barely cover Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico

    The entire island is without power, a dam is in danger of bursting, and Sunday political talk shows talked about it for less than a minute

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On September 20, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, and knocked out power to the entire island of 3.5 million people. Puerto Rican officials have described “apocalyptic” destruction, and a dam is in danger of bursting, threatening to flood already devastated areas. Officials fear power could be out for months. Despite the extensive destruction, on their first editions since the storm hit, the five major Sunday political talk shows dedicated less than one minute in total to covering the growing humanitarian emergency. 

    Even though Maria first made landfall in Puerto Rico several days ago, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday all failed to mention the extensive destruction and the millions of American citizens without power or shelter. CNN and NBC’s Sunday political talk shows both mentioned the story but spent minimal time covering the devastation. On CNN’s State of the Union, Our Revolution President Nina Turner implored President Donald Trump to “use his energy to fight for our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico who have no power,” and on NBC’s Meet the Press, moderator Chuck Todd closed the program by telling its viewers how they could “help your fellow Americans in Puerto Rico” and displaying contact information for four highly-rated charities assisting recovery efforts.

    Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and contributing writer for Grist, demonstrated the importance of reporting on the devastation in Puerto Rico in a September 22 article, which noted that Hurricane Maria’s “rains fell at a rate exceeding that of Hurricane Harvey in Texas with wind speeds exceeding that of Hurricane Irma in Florida.” Holthaus also reported that “90 percent of homes and businesses have suffered ‘complete’ damage,” comparing the “$30 billion” in estimated destruction in Puerto Rico to “a $500-billion disaster in New York City or a $700-billion disaster in California.” Holthaus warned that “if the aid response is not swift, the situation in Puerto Rico has all the makings of a major humanitarian crisis”:

    The rain and winds may be over, but Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico is only just beginning.

    The storm’s rains fell at a rate exceeding that of Hurricane Harvey in Texas with wind speeds exceeding that of Hurricane Irma in Florida. In the span of 24 hours, Maria knocked out Puerto Rico’s entire power grid, 95 percent of cellphone towers, the bulk of the island’s water infrastructure, as well as roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, airports, and seaports.

    Officials warn it may take up to six months to fully restore power. In some communities, 90 percent of homes and businesses have suffered “complete” damage. To make matters worse, more than 40 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million residents live below the poverty line, making the uphill climb to recovery even more steep.

    All indications are that Hurricane Maria has inflicted one of the most extreme and catastrophic weather events in American history. If the aid response is not swift, the situation in Puerto Rico has all the makings of a major humanitarian crisis.

    [...]

    Initial estimates of damage to the island exceed $30 billion. That’s roughly one-third of Puerto Rico’s annual economic output — making Maria the rough equivalent of a $500-billion disaster in New York City or a $700-billion disaster in California. With the Puerto Rican government already saddled with more than $70 billion in debt, help is going to have to come from outside the island.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “Puerto Rico,” “Hurricane,” and “Maria” on the September 24 editions of CNN’s State of the Union, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday.

  • Sunday shows largely fail to mention climate change in Hurricane Irma coverage

    CNN’s State of the Union was the only Sunday morning political show to mention climate change when discussing Irma

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Three out of four* major Sunday morning political programs neglected to discuss climate change during their coverage of Hurricane Irma, the second category four hurricane to hit the United States in a matter of weeks.

    As Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean and approached Florida, Sunday morning political news programs reported on the storm’s remarkable strength and size and the potential damage it could cause, but three major Sunday shows -- Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, CBS’ Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week -- failed to mention the effects of climate change during their coverage of the storm, even though experts have linked extreme weather events, including Irma, to global warming.

    The only Sunday morning political show to discuss climate change was CNN’s State of the Union. During an interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), host Jake Tapper said, “I would be remiss if I didn't mention, the fact that many experts say that the storm is more intense because of climate change” and asked why many Republicans “act as if it's not real, even though the overwhelming scientific consensus is that it's real, and it's man-made”:

    Television news programs have repeatedly avoided discussing climate change in their coverage of devastating natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey. The reluctance to discuss climate change on this week’s Sunday news shows follows a pattern that seems to be getting even worse.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for discussions of climate change and global warming using the search terms "climate change" or "global warming" on Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, CBS’ Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week, and CNN’s State of the Union. Segments were counted if climate change or global warming was discussed in reporting on Hurricane Irma.

    *NBC’s Meet the Press was not included because the show was preempted for Hurricane Irma coverage.