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The Week

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  • Fox News won’t run an anti-Nazi ad, but will let Laura Ingraham compare Planned Parenthood to Hitler

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News: Where a historical documentary can’t run an ad warning about the dangers of fascism because it contains “disgraceful Nazi imagery,” but host Laura Ingraham can show graphics comparing Planned Parenthood to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler with impunity.

    During the February 26 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, Ingraham spent several segments delivering a sensationalized and inaccurate rant against abortion, particularly those performed later in pregnancy. In addition to alleging that Democrats support “the wanton extermination of children already born” -- a false talking point that has been circulating among right-wing media, anti-abortion groups, and other conservative figures -- Ingraham also compared Planned Parenthood to Nazi Germany, claiming that “Hitler, just like Planned Parenthood, practiced and defended mass extermination.” To drive her point home, Ingraham showed the following graphic on the screen:

    Fox News viewers -- particularly those who watch the prime-time lineup of Tucker Carlson, Ingraham, and Sean Hannity -- are no strangers to xenophobic or sexist content, racist dog whistles, and even talking points borrowed from white nationalists. And this isn’t the first time that Ingraham or other Fox News figures have asserted inaccurate and harmful comparisons between Planned Parenthood and Nazis. However, Ingraham’s choice of talking points and on-screen imagery raises some questions in light of Fox News’ recent decision to reject an advertisement warning about the dangers of fascism and Nazi ideology.

    On February 13, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Fox News executives had “rejected a national advertising buy” promoting A Night at the Garden, an Oscar-nominated documentary short warning “viewers about the potential dangers of American fascism.” Although the ad was intended to warn “Sean Hannity's largely conservative viewers about the potential dangers of President Donald Trump's brand of populism,” ad sales representatives for the network rejected it, citing concerns from Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott who reportedly said that it was “not appropriate.” The network clarified the alleged “inappropriate” nature of the anti-facism ad in a subsequent comment to The Week, with Fox’s President of Ad Sales Marianne Gambelli stating that “regardless of the film’s message,” the ad was rejected for being “full of disgraceful Nazi imagery” which “did not meet our guidelines.”

    Fox News has found itself under a great deal of pressure going into the upcoming advertising sales season -- thanks in large part to an increasing awareness by many companies that associating their products with Fox News is bad for business. Dozens of advertisers have abandoned Ingraham’s show alone in the past year. As Variety reported in January, the network is currently in the process of trying to rebrand itself to advertisers after “sponsors have pulled their advertising” from a number of prime-time shows. The report continued:

    Keeping the ad dollars flowing at Fox News is critical – not only for the network, but for its parent company, 21st Century Fox. At some point in the next few months, Fox is slated to sell the bulk of its cable and studio assets to Walt Disney Co. The remaining company, known as Fox Corporation will rely on not only Fox News and Fox Business Network, but Fox Sports and Fox Broadcasting. The Fox News unit has contributed around 20% of the overall company’s operating profit. In a pared-down structure, it might be more. And while many analysts focus on the revenue Fox News derives from affiliates, its ad dollars will also be important after the sale.

    There are consequences to allowing this kind of extreme rhetoric to continue unchecked that extend beyond the negative impact on advertisers for having their products associated with vitriol like Ingraham’s. Anti-abortion violence and harassment have been on the rise in recent years -- a trend fueled in part by the extreme rhetoric of right-wing media figures, whose anti-choice talkings points are echoed by the president.

    When Fox News pitches upfronts this May, advertisers should remember: Fox News was unwilling to show an advertisement denouncing the dangers of Nazism, but the network seemingly has no problem invoking or showing Nazi imagery to attack abortion providers and patients.

  • Fox Figures Have Called Online Polls “Worthless,” But Fox News Is Citing Them Anyway

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News has continuously hyped Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s debate performance by citing online polls that have “Trump winning this debate,” but some Fox hosts, contributors, and online political editors have trashed the talking point, saying the online surveys that have been referenced “are worthless” and that “the idea that you win because your supporters come out and click on the computer more than others tells you nothing.”

  • Online Polls Are “Garbage,” But Fox News Still Cites Them

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hyped online post-debate polls to claim that Trump won the debate, saying that “every poll” showed that he “did better” than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. But online polls involve “a self-selecting group of respondents,” and journalists and polling experts generally view them as unreliable -- “garbage” even.

  • Five Times Comey Corrected Right-Wing Media Misinformation During His Congressional Testimony On Clinton Email Probe

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    During his July 7 testimony on Capitol Hill, FBI Director James Comey dismantled several right-wing media myths about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state. In his testimony about the FBI’s recommendation against pursuing criminal charges, Comey debunked flawed comparisons and corrected faulty definitions that right-wing media have repeatedly pushed.

  • Right-Wing Media Run With Another Baseless Comparison With Clinton Emails

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media spuriously likened Hillary Clinton’s email use to the case of Bryan Nishimura -- who was criminally charged with mishandling classified information -- after FBI Director James Comey announced the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton. Media figures seized on Nishimura’s 2015 charges to erroneously characterize Comey’s announcement as a double standard, but, as with the debunked comparisons of Clinton’s email use to David Petraeus’ and John Deutch’s cases, legal experts note that unlike Clinton, Nishimura knowingly mishandled classified information.

  • Right-Wing Media Echo Trump’s Criticism Of Obama For Not Calling Orlando Shooting “Radical Islamic Terrorism”

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CYDNEY HARGIS

    As President Obama delivered an address reacting to the shooting that resulted in 50 casualties at an Orlando nightclub, right-wing media figures attacked him for including “no mention of Islam or radical Islam or, for that matter, terrorists” in his remarks. This came after presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump urged the president to “finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism,” even though experts and former President George W. Bush noted that using “radical Islam” to define terrorism is counterproductive.

  • Right-Wing Media Figures Praise Donald Trump's Sexist Attack On Hillary Clinton

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Right-wing media personalities repeated sexists attacks lobbed by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump following his win in five primaries. During his victory speech Trump declared, "I think the only card she has is the woman's card," adding that "frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote," prompting right-wing media pundits to laud his sexist attack on Clinton.

  • Conservative Media Are Trying To Blame Air Pollution Limits For Volkswagen's Emissions Scandal

    ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions-rigging scandal, questions are being raised about the amount of influence automakers have over the enforcement -- or lack thereof -- of vehicle emissions standards. But rather than join in that conversation, conservative media are making excuses for Volkswagen's conduct and seeking to shift much of the blame to the Environmental Protection Agency and emission standards themselves.

  • Iowa, Chickens, And Campaign Journalism

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Ever since 2000, when Vice President Al Gore got run over by a campaign press corps way too eager to wallow in Republican spin about what a phony exaggerator the candidate was, Democrats and progressives have been weary of campaign journalism that doubles as GOP spin; campaign dispatches that seamlessly echo efforts to push narratives about inauthentic Democratic candidates. And journalism that sets aside substance in order to focus on thin, bogus anecdotes that pass as supposed "gaffes," or proof of a character flaw.

    That distressing trend is currently on display in Iowa, where Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst are vying to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring member Tom Harkin. The race remains extremely close and represents a crucial contest for Democrats as they try to maintain control of the Senate.

    Yet the press keeps writing about chickens.

    The tale hyped as an Iowa game-changer revolves around a pedestrian disagreement between Braley and a neighbor who kept letting her chickens roam onto Braley's yard. The story's been told and retold by CNN, Politico, McClatchy Newspapers, Los Angeles Times, The Week, Slate, and The Washington Post among others. 

    The outsized coverage it has received from the national press doesn't speak well of today's campaign journalism, since the unnecessary retellings are often misleading or dishonest. Worse, the tale's relayed almost exclusively through the prism of Braley's Republican opponents who claimed Braley threatened to sue over the minor matter. He did not. And without the threat there is no story.

    Yet the anecdote endures, enjoying an unusually long shelf life. First spun by a Republican operative in July who kick-started the coverage with a blantantly false telling, the story was still getting fresh media pick-up in late September. Why the interest? And why the media reluctance to debunk what's so obviously an inaccurate story being pushed by Republicans? Rather than debunking, journalists have spent the last two months hyping its importance.

  • CNN Misquotes Hillary Clinton Saying She's "Not Truly Well Off"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Hillary Clinton

    CNN anchor Miguel Marquez misquoted Hillary Clinton this morning, claiming she told the Guardian newspaper that she and her husband are "not truly well off." That's inaccurate. What Clinton told the Guardian was that unlike "a lot of people who are truly well off," she and her husband "pay ordinary income tax."

    Here's the full context from The Guardian interview [emphasis added]:

    America's glaring income inequality is certain to be a central bone of contention in the 2016 presidential election. But with her huge personal wealth, how could Clinton possibly hope to be credible on this issue when people see her as part of the problem, not its solution?

    "But they don't see me as part of the problem," she protests, "because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we've done it through dint of hard work," she says, letting off another burst of laughter. If past form is any guide, she must be finding my question painful.

    CNN's false quote fits with the interpretation that many in the media have made, which is that Clinton was contrasting herself with the "truly well off."

    A headline from The Week:

    Hillary Clinton Explains How She and Bill Aren't 'Truly Well Off'

    And Mediaite:

    Hillary Clinton: We're Not 'Truly Well Off'

    But at least as good an interpretation of the quote is that Clinton included herself and her husband among the "truly well off," but was saying that unlike many of them, they pay ordinary income tax.

    During the 2012 campaign, Mitt and Ann Romney came under scrutiny for taking most of their income as capital gains and dividends, therefore paying a much lower tax rate of 14 percent.