Amanda Carpenter

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  • Right-Wing Media Are Using The Term “Fake News” To Attack Credible News Sources

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER

    Some right-wing media figures and outlets are attempting to twist and confuse the term “fake news” -- a specific phenomenon in which information is clearly and demonstrably fabricated, then packaged and distributed to appear as a legitimate source of news -- to attack outlets they disagree with. By redefining fake news in their own terms and claiming that reporting by outlets such as The New York Times and CNN constitute fake news, right-wing media figures are bolstering President-elect Donald Trump’s continued efforts to delegitimize mainstream news sources and their reporting, and muddling real concerns about fake news used as a weapon of active disinformation.

    As public discussions about fake news reach critical mass, right-wing media figures and outlets have attempted to redefine “fake news” completely, downplaying the problem it poses. Rush Limbaugh claimed that fake news is largely “satire and parody that liberals don’t understand because they don’t have a sense of humor.” The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill McMorris described fake news as “whatever people living in the liberal bubble determine to be believed by the right.”

    Other conservatives are even using fake news to describe reporting from credible news outlets with which they disagree. Fringe right-wing conspiracy site Infowars.com declared that “The mainstream media is the primary source of the most harmful, most inaccurate news ever,” and included outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, and Politico (and Media Matters, for good measure) on their “full list of fake news outlets.” Fox contributor Newt Gingrich lamented the Times’ reporting on the fake news phenomenon, arguing,“The idea of The New York Times being worried about fake news is really weird. The New York Times is fake news.” Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham -- a contender for Trump’s press secretary -- lashed out at CNN while appearing on Fox News’ Hannity, stating “the folks over at CNN” and “the kind of little games they’re playing are so transparent … they’re the fake news organizations.”

    While there isn’t an official, universally accepted definition of fake news, a variety of outlets and experts across the ideological spectrum have identified common themes. BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman, one of the first to report frequently and extensively on the fake news phenomenon, defines fake news as “false … stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs.” The New York Times’ Sabrina Tavernese wrote that, “Narrowly defined, ‘fake news’ means a made-up story with an intention to deceive, often geared toward getting clicks." David Mikkelson, the founder of the fact-checking website Snopes.com, describes fake news as “completely fabricated information that has little or no intersection with real-world events.” Mikkelson goes on to explain, “not all bad news reporting is ‘fake,’ and that distinction should be kept clear.” Slate senior technology writer Will Oremus argues fake news is “fabricated,” “sensational stories” that imitate “the style and appearance of real news articles.” Fox media analyst Howard Kurtz defines fake news as “made-up-stuff being merchandized for clicks and profits,” clarifying that he doesn’t “mean the major media stories that some ... find unfair or exaggerated.” And CNN and Conservative Review’s Amanda Carpenter wrote that “fake news is malicious, false information that somehow becomes credible” often “printed on what appears to be a professional looking website.” Carpenter also distinguished fake news from “commentary that never purported to be straight news in the first place” or “political speech someone doesn’t happen to agree with.”

    None of these definitions are even remotely similar to how right-wing media figures are trying to redefine fake news.

    Right-wing media’s attempt to conflate fake news with reporting from legitimate journalistic institutions feeds into a larger conservative effort, led by President-elect Trump, to delegitimize mainstream media outlets. Trump, who has long waged a war on the press, has consistently expressed his contempt for journalists and news organizations and violated the norms of any president or president-elect when it comes to his relations with the media. During the month of November, Trump repeatedly attacked media outlets, calling The New York Times “dishonest,” decrying the “the crooked media” for investigating his unprecedented business conflicts of interest, and suggesting that CNN has gotten “worse” since the election. In a December 7 interview on NBC’s Today, Trump admitted he uses Twitter to bypass the media and “dishonest reporters.”

    Some experts have suggested Trump’s attacks on the media are part of a concerted effort to discredit journalists and outlets and thereby “inoculate” himself from reporting that could be damaging. On CNN’s Reliable Sources, former Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief John Huey argued that Trump used “demagogic techniques” that “smack of authoritarianism” during the campaign because “the media poses a real threat to him.”

    Attacking mainstream outlets as “fake” is the latest step in a conservative-media-fueled campaign to delegitimize credible news sources -- a dangerous path in a media landscape where people are already too willing to accept actual fake news, but are hard-pressed to believe real reporting. 

  • Conservative CNN Commentator Torches GOP For Abandoning Women

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative CNN commentator Amanda Carpenter penned a Washington Post op-ed slamming the Republican Party for making women “out for fools” by ignoring and excusing a “brazen and unapologetic misogynist” in their nominee, Donald Trump.

    Trump’s history of misogynistic comments drew new scrutiny after a 2005 tape surfaced of Trump bragging about allegedly sexually assaulting women, followed by 11 women coming forward to accuse him of inappropriate sexual behavior. Nevertheless, Trump’s backers have jumped to his defense, trying to discredit the accusers’ claims, attacking and victim-blaming them, and claiming Trump’s comments may have been an exaggeration. Many attempted to use Trump’s spin that his lewd comments about assault were simply “locker room banter.”

    In an October 25 op-ed, Carpenter, a former communications adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), decried the GOP for abandoning the party’s women, who she says have “eagerly defended the party from charges of sexism” only to be made “out for fools” by the party. Carpenter wrote that the party refused to “defend women from this raging sexist,” calling Trump “a brazen and unapologetic misogynist.” According to Carpenter, Republicans found it more important to appeal to the types of Trump voters who call Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton a “bitch” and a “cunt” than to appeal to women voters.

    Carpenter also condemned the conservative “locker room” spin, stating that Trump’s comments were “a confession of assault.” Carpenter also pointed out that her party could not have been surprised by the tapes, noting that “Trump’s chauvinism was well-documented in decades’ worth” of material. Carpenter ended her op-ed with an ultimatum for the Republican Party and the women’s vote: “defend us or lose us.” From the October 25 Washington Post op-ed:

    As a former communications aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and former senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), I can personally testify that Republican women have, for years, fended off accusations from the Democrats of the party’s allegedly anti-woman beliefs. What did we get for it? The nomination — by way of a largely older, male voting base — of a brazen and unapologetic misogynist.

    I want to ask the men leading the GOP some questions. Why didn’t you defend women from this raging sexist especially after so many Republican women — for so many years — eagerly defended the party from charges of sexism? You must make us out for fools.

    Over the course of the GOP primary, it became clear that too many Republicans felt it was too politically risky to do anything that would offend the types of voters Trump was attracting in droves — the types who showed up at rallies wearing T-shirts that said, “Trump that b—-” and “She’s a c—, vote for Trump.”

    Somehow, in some amorphous but unambiguous way, it was decided that appealing to those voters was more important than appealing to women.

    Trump’s men have told women this is “locker room” talk — that we should accept this is how men speak behind closed doors, get over it, and vote Trump.

    Perhaps, they should talk to some rape survivors. They need to hear what those women heard when Trump bragged about grabbing a woman’s genitals, aggressively kissing women without consent, and getting away with it because he’s rich and famous. That wasn’t boyish banter. That was a confession of assault.

    [...]

    I expect that Republicans will try to pretend, postelection, as if those recordings were some one-off, unpredictable revelation. They’ll say they didn’t know he was so deviant.

    But I won’t accept that explanation. Trump’s chauvinism was well-documented in decades’ worth of publicly available smutty television, radio and print interviews long before he became the nominee.

    Yet, the Republican Party ignored it all.

    [...]

    I will not vote for Trump. I’ll remain a committed conservative and will vote for down-ballot Republicans, but the top of the ticket will be blank. I didn’t leave the GOP — the GOP left me for Trump.

    Now, I don’t purport to speak for all women, but I know I am not alone. I am one of the many women the Republican Party left behind this election.

    The GOP is about to learn a hard lesson when it comes to the women’s vote: defend us or lose us.

  • Right-Wing Media Lash Out Over Sarah Palin's Donald Trump Endorsement

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Right-wing media figures are lashing out over Sarah Palin's endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. They say the endorsement amounts to "nothing but opportunism and ego," and that it abandons Palin's conservative Tea Party ideology because Trump is "neither a committed conservative nor an anti-establishment rogue." 

  • Conservatives Launch Bogus Attack On Obama Over FDA's Phase Out Of Certain Inhalers

    Blog ››› ››› ANDY NEWBOLD

    The conservative media today attacked the Obama administration by attempting to link them to the Food and Drug Administration's decision to phase out "over-the-counter asthma inhalers containing chloroflouorocarbons (CFCs)." The Weekly Standard published a piece by Mark Hemingway headlined "Obama Administration Set to Ban Asthma Inhalers Over Environmental Concerns," which claimed that the "Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer."

    But it turns out that the FDA was simply following through with plans put in place when George W. Bush was president.

    Hemingway reported:

    Remember how Obama recently waived new ozone regulations at the EPA because they were too costly? Well, it seems that the Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer

    Hemingway went on to cite an Associated Press article that explains some details of the inhaler ban, but Hemingway must not have read the AP article too closely. That's because the AP reported that "[t]he FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008" when Bush was president, not Obama. From the AP article:

    The FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008 and currently only Armstrong Pharmaceutical's Primatene mist is available in the U.S. Other manufacturers have switched to an environmentally-friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane. Both types of inhalers offer quick-relief to symptoms like shortness of breath and chest tightness, but the environmentally-friendly inhalers are only available via prescription.

  • Wash. Times enlists in Beck's crusade against FCC diversity officer Mark Lloyd

    ››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

    In a Washington Times article, Amanda Carpenter promoted Glenn Beck-favored right-wing attacks on Mark Lloyd, the chief diversity officer at the Federal Communications Commission, by reporting that Beck, Andrew Breitbart, and conservative websites "unearthed" "provocative comments" Lloyd has made about Hugo Chavez, freedom of speech, minorities' access to leadership positions, and ways to promote liberal radio. Additionally, Carpenter wrote that "bloggers are questioning Mr. Lloyd's commitment to free speech" based on his writings about the First Amendment, but in fact, the text of Lloyd's writings make clear that he was criticizing distortions of the First Amendment, not the amendment itself.

  • Conservative media advance CEI effort to attack cap-and-trade with irrelevant Treasury memos

    ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    Numerous conservative media figures have seized on outdated Treasury Department memos obtained September 11 by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) to falsely suggest that the Obama administration estimates that cap-and-trade legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives would cost up to $200 billion per year or $1,761 per household, and that, in Sean Hannity's words, "they didn't tell you the truth." However, the Treasury memos do not address the current House climate change bill but, rather, a proposal that would auction 100 percent of the emissions allowances; the bill under consideration spends revenue created by the program to offset costs to households and businesses.