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  • Widespread Agreement That House GOP Benghazi Report Has No “Smoking Gun” Against Clinton

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Following the release of the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report on the 2012 terror attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, -- which was the culmination of an investigation lasting “two years and [costing] more than $7 million,” -- journalists are pointing out that the report “failed to unearth anything so damning as to change many minds about the events of that tragic night, or who is to blame for them,” and that “there doesn't seem to be a smoking gun when it comes to Hillary Clinton's culpability.”

  • A Year After Marriage Equality, It's Time For Media To Stop Giving Anti-LGBT Liars A Pass

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    In the year since the Supreme Court struck down state-level same-sex marriage bans, anti-gay extremists have continued to peddle misinformation about LGBT equality in the media. After more than 12 years of pushing lies and wildly inaccurate predictions about the consequences of marriage equality, it’s time for the media to stop letting anti-gay activists comment on LGBT rights without disclosing their proven track record of dishonest extremism.

    It’s been a year since the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015, Obergefell v. Hodges decision which found state-level same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. In the decade leading up to the decision, anti-LGBT extremists and hate group leaders peddled specious talking points about the consequences of “redefining traditional marriage.” In media appearances, these figures predicted that allowing same-sex couples to marry would cause a “slippery slope” to legalized bestiality, incest, and pedophilia; pushed the myth that gay men are more likely to engage in pedophilia than straight men; and hyped claims that pastors and churches were in danger of being forced to perform same-sex marriages.

    Several of these groups were so deceptive that in 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), designated them anti-LGBT “hate groups” for “propagating known falsehoods” and pushing “demonizing propaganda.” One of these groups was the Family Research Council (FRC), whose officials have accused gay people of trying to "recruit" children into homosexuality and endorsed a Uganda law that would have imposed the death penalty for engaging in gay sex.

    For years, major cable news networks have hosted FRC representatives to comment on LGBT equality without identifying FRC as a hate group. Despite the efforts of progressive Christians to stop outlets from letting FRC representatives conflate their extremism with mainstream Christianity, the group continues to have a significant media presence. Since last June’s Obergefell decision, mainstream media outlets have continued to call on FRC to discuss LGBT rights, including:

    • The New York Times, NPR, and USA Today all cited FRC’s commentary on the Obergefell marriage equality decision without noting the group’s history of hate.
    • ABC's This Week invited FRC's Ken Blackwell -- who previously blamed same-sex marriage for a mass murder -- to discuss the court's decision.  
    • NPR featured FRC’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg -- who spent 10 years as a "professional actor" before joining FRC -- to debate same-sex parenting.
    • FRC’s President Tony Perkins appeared on MSNBC to discuss meeting with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump assemble an “Evangelical executive advisory board,” featuring anti-LGBT extremists.

    In the past year, the media have given other anti-LGBT hate groups similar passes. In September, mainstream news outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters failed to identify Liberty Counsel, the anti-LGBT hate group representing Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, instead calling it merely a “Christian” or “conservative” organization. In April, major news outlets largely failed to identify the American Family Association (AFA) -- the group organizing a boycott of Target over its transgender-inclusive restroom policy -- as an anti-LGBT hate group.

    The few instances when mainstream media like The Associated Press and CBS News’ Bob Schieffer did properly identify hate group leaders, anti-gay conservatives were predictably outraged. Right-wing anger at journalists who expose anti-LGBT extremism illustrates why it’s so vital to disclose when sources or commentators represent hate groups. The public has a right to know that the same groups with a track record of fearmongering about children’s safety to oppose marriage equality are now those peddling the anti-LGBT movement’s new favorite myth that LGBT nondiscrimination protections endanger the safety of women and children in bathrooms.

    A year after Obergefell, it’s time for the media to stop letting the same extremists use media appearances to float new lies and recycle mythical talking points to oppose LGBT equality. Outlets seeking to provide balanced coverage of LGBT rights ought to find commentators who don’t have a decade-long track record of spreading hateful lies about LGBT people. 

  • Media Help Trump Rehab His Comments That Clubgoers Should Have Guns

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Reporters are helping presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump to rehabilitate his extreme comments that armed clubgoers could have stopped the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida. They are erroneously portraying as a clarification his new statement that he was really talking about armed “guards or employees,” when in fact he has completely contradicted his prior remarks. 

  • ABC Was The Only Broadcast Network To Ignore Report That “Trump Doesn’t Pay His Bills”

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    In June 9 broadcast evening news programs and June 10 morning news programs, ABC was the only broadcast network to ignore a USA Today investigation that found “hundreds of people” who allege that Donald Trump “didn’t pay them for their work.”

    A June 9 USA Today report found that Trump, who “often portrays himself as a savior of the working class” has had at least 60 lawsuits filed accusing him and his businesses of “failing to pay” people “for their work.” From the report:

    Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

    At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.

    NBC covered the story during the June 9 edition of Nightly News with Lester Holt and the June 10 edition of Today, while CBS discussed it during the June 10 edition of CBS This Morning.

    The USA Today report noted the irony that Trump’s claims “he will bring jobs back to America” while waging legal battles “over small amounts of money that are negligible to the billionaire and his executives -- but devastating to his much-smaller foes,” including contractors, waiters, dishwashers, real estate brokers, and law firms:

    In 2007, for instance, dishwasher Guy Dorcinvil filed a federal lawsuit against Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Palm Beach, Fla., alleging the club failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime he worked over three years and the company failed to keep proper time records for employees.

    Mar-a-Lago LLC agreed to pay Dorcinvil $7,500 to settle the case in 2008. The terms of the settlement agreement includes a standard statement that Mar-a-Lago does not admit fault and forbids Dorcinvil or his lawyers from talking about the case, according to court records.

    Developers with histories of not paying contractors are a very small minority of the industry, said Colette Nelson, chief advocacy officer of the American Subcontractors Association. But late or missing payments can be devastating for small businesses and their employees.

  • Editorial Boards Call On Trump To Release His Tax Returns

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Editorial boards are criticizing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, noting that “it has been common practice since the 1970s for the presidential nominees of both parties to release their tax returns,” explaining that Trump “should be willing to demonstrate that he has lived up to his tax obligations,” and arguing that the decision shows “a paternalistic and insulting attitude toward the public.”

  • Right-Wing Economist Steve Moore Pushes Trump Tax Plan In Hypocritical USA Today Op-Ed

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Conservative economist Stephen Moore lambasted President Obama’s performance on the economy -- claiming the Obama administration accumulated too much debt and generated too little economic growth -- in an op-ed championing Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, which will drive up even more debt and is virtually guaranteed not to grow the economy.

    Moore claimed in a May 10 op-ed published by USA Today that Donald Trump's tax plan is "designed to supercharge growth" and break with years of supposedly lackluster "Obamanomics." He chided Obama for presiding over "the weakest economic recovery in 75 years" and accumulating "almost $8 trillion" in national debt, even though the annual deficit has actually been decreasing since 2011, the unemployment rate has been cut in half since the president’s first year in office, and the economy has created 14.2 million jobs since the labor market bottomed out in early 2010. From USA Today:

    It’s no mystery why. Obamanomics has given us the weakest economic recovery in 75 years. Wages are flat or falling for all but those in the top 10%. And our national debt has risen by almost $8 trillion in seven years.

    [...]

    The Trump tax plan is designed to supercharge growth, much like President Kennedy did in the 1960s and President Reagan did in the boom years of the 1980s with their tax reductions.

    [...]

    The biggest deficit we need to urgently fix is our growth deficit. We must pump up our GDP growth from the anemic 1% rate of Obama’s past six months up to a sustained 4% under Trump. Just 2% faster growth reduces our budget deficit over a decade by more than $5 trillion.

    Liberal economists pout that this growth is impossible for America, but that’s what people said in the miserable 1970s. Reagan (and JFK before him) proved that with the right policy incentives that get government off the back of business, a new era of prosperity is just around the corner.

    Moore advocated for Trump’s tax plan as an alternative to Obama’s economic record, a plan that even the most generous estimates show will produce larger budget deficits and greater debt accumulation than witnessed during the Obama administration. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC) and the conservative Tax Foundation each scored Trump’s tax plan and found that it would explode the deficit by $9 to $12 trillion over the next decade, on top of $9.4 trillion in projected deficits at current spending levels. The Tax Foundation’s analysis further claimed that Trump’s tax plan would boost investment and wage growth while creating up to 5.3 million new jobs, but those figures come from a so-called “dynamic” scoring model that has been criticized for overestimating the stimulative value of tax cuts.

    Moore’s claim that Trump’s tax plan would create 4 percent economic growth is reminiscent of claims by failed Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, which experts quickly dismissed as “nonsense” and “wizardry.” According to a September 2014 report from the Brookings Institution, tax cuts do not necessarily create economic growth and they can even discourage growth by undermining economic incentives to invest. A September 2012 report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which was suppressed by Senate Republicans, similarly found no correlation between tax cuts and economic growth, but it did caution that tax cuts for high-income individuals “appear to be associated” with rising inequality.

    Moore has a long and well-documented history of distorting facts on the economy. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has spent years documenting Moore's repeated failures in economic policy, recently slammed the right-wing commentator’s "impressive lack of even minimal technical competence."

  • An Extensive Guide To The Fact Checks, Debunks, And Criticisms Of Trump’s Various Problematic Policy Proposals

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Over the course of the 2016 presidential primary, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has laid forth a series of problematic policy proposals and statements -- ranging from his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States to his suggestion that the United States default on debt -- that media have warned to be “dangerous,” “fact-free,” “unconstitutional,” “contradictory,” “racist,” and “xenophobic.” Media Matters compiled an extensive list of Trump’s widely panned policy plans thus far along with the debunks and criticism from media figures, experts and fact-checkers that go along with them.

  • USA Today Gives Anti-LGBT Hate Group A Platform To Attack Target's Inclusive Bathroom Policy

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    USA Today featured an op-ed by the president of anti-LGBT hate group American Family Association (AFA), who attacked Target's LGBT nondiscrimination policy for restrooms by peddling the widely debunked "bathroom predator" myth. USA Today failed to identify AFA as a recognized hate group to its readers.

    On May 2, USA Today published an op-ed by AFA President Tim Wildmon, titled "Why you should boycott Target," which was written in response to the editorial board’s opposition to laws that “perpetuate the myth that transgender people are predators.” AFA is the group responsible for launching a boycott against Target over the store's policy of allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. In the column, Wildmon criticized Target's nondiscrimination policy, peddling the widely debunked myth that there is “potential danger” when men are able to access the women’s room:

    For the entirety of its history until recently, Target had bathrooms and fitting rooms designated for men and for women.

    Why? Why the distinction by Target and every other retailer in every civilized country?

    The answers are twofold and quite simple. First, the vast majority of people are uncomfortable using the bathroom while a stranger of the opposite sex is present. Second, most people understand the potential danger inherent in allowing men access to women and children in a private setting — where harassment, voyeurism or even abuse can occur.

    Wildmon also questioned the motives of transgender people, saying that they only want to "make a point" by using a restroom that aligns with their gender identity:

    Of course, there is a simple solution to this controversy for Target. Gender-specific facilities (men’s bathrooms/fitting rooms, women’s bathrooms/fitting rooms) would be maintained, and a single-occupancy, unisex option would be provided for the transgendered community. As someone has recently noted, a transgendered man, for example, who walks past a unisex restroom in order to enter the woman’s bathroom is not primarily interested in relieving himself. He wants to make a point.

    Like many other media outlets reporting on the Target boycott, USA Today failed to identify AFA as a hate group to its readers, even while giving the group a national platform. The AFA has been designated an anti-LGBT “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its history of anti-gay extremism, including blaming gay men for the Holocaust, supporting criminalization of gay sex, and asserting that being gay is a “poor and dangerous choice."