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  • FBI Director Puts To Rest Two Weeks Of Fox Lies About Trump's False Wiretap Claim

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Since March 4, President Donald Trump and Fox News have been feeding each other evidence and defenses to back up Trump’s false claim that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, ordered a “wiretap” at Trump Tower. Fox figures, including Andrew Napolitano, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly, have been backing up Trump’s claim, and Trump and White House press secretary Sean Spicer have in turn recycled their comments in their attempts to substantiate the original claim. On March 20, FBI Director James Comey debunked Trump’s original tweet accusing Obama of wiretapping, unequivocally stating, “I have no information that supports those tweets. … The Department [of Justice] has no information that supports those tweets.”

  • Spicer Attacks CNN's Multi-Sourced Corroboration Of Dossier On Trump-Russia Ties As "Fake News"

    Sean Spicer: “This Is More Fake News. It Is About Time CNN Focused On The Success The President Has Had”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A CNN report that multiple US intelligence and law enforcement officials had independently corroborated “some” of the details in the dossier on President Trump’s connections to Russia was dismissed by White House press secretary Sean Spicer as “fake news” who then insisted CNN instead cover good news for the administration.

    The White House has repeatedly used fake news to support their political agenda, in addition to his family and campaign surrogates’ documented consumption of fake news. The Trump White House has repeatedly attacked unfavorable news coverage and news outlets, especially CNN, as “fake news;” the president even insisted that “any negative polls are fake news.” Trump’s team has also threatened CNN reporters for doing their jobs and previously banned members of the administration from appearing on the network. The administration’s response to unfavorable coverage seems to be to attack it as “fake news,” echoing misuse of the term in conservative media. 

    On February 10, CNN reported that US investigators had “corroborated some of the communications detailed in a 35-page dossier” about Trump’s Russian ties, specifically details relating “to conversations between foreign nationals.” CNN reported that “the corroboration ... has given US intelligence and law enforcement ‘greater confidence’ in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier.” When reached for comment, Spicer lashed out at the network and replied that the White House was “disgusted by CNN's fake news reporting.” Spicer later called back to again assail CNN’s report, which cited “multiple current and former US law enforcement and intelligence officials,” as “more fake news.”:

    For the first time, US investigators say they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent, multiple current and former US law enforcement and intelligence officials tell CNN. As CNN first reported, then-President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier prior to Trump's inauguration.

    None of the newly learned information relates to the salacious allegations in the dossier. Rather it relates to conversations between foreign nationals. The dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals. Sources would not confirm which specific conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of US intelligence collection programs.

    [...]

    The corroboration, based on intercepted communications, has given US intelligence and law enforcement "greater confidence" in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents, these sources say.

    Reached for comment this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, "We continue to be disgusted by CNN's fake news reporting."

    Spicer later called back and said, "This is more fake news. It is about time CNN focused on the success the President has had bringing back jobs, protecting the nation, and strengthening relationships with Japan and other nations. The President won the election because of his vision and message for the nation."

  • Cable News Hosts Anti-Muslim Extremists To Defend Trump’s Muslim Ban

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Just a few days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning U.S. entry for refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, CNN and Fox News both hosted anti-immigrant extremists or members of designated hate groups to discuss the president’s move, effectively legitimizing and normalizing these groups. Neither CNN nor Fox correctly labeled any of the guests as belonging to groups that pursue fiercely anti-Muslim, anti-refugee agendas.

  • Donald Trump’s Climate Denial Is A Problem, And These News Headlines Are Making It Worse

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Studies have shown that most Americans don’t read beyond the headlines of news articles, most people who share articles on social media haven’t actually read them, and misleading headlines misinform people even when the body of the article gets the facts right. And that’s a huge problem when major outlets’ headlines are framed around President-elect Donald Trump’s latest false claims about climate change.

    During a December 11 appearance on Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, Trump declared that “nobody really knows” whether human-induced climate change is happening. As is often the case in TV interviews with climate science deniers, host Chris Wallace didn’t challenge Trump’s claim, which blatantly misrepresents the consensus of the world’s leading scientific institutions that human activities such as burning fossil fuels are the main cause of global warming. But Wallace’s silence was just the first media misstep.

    In the hours that followed, major media outlets including The Washington Post, CNN.com, United Press International, and International Business Times produced online headlines about Trump’s remarks that didn’t mention that they were false: 

    Each of these outlets noted in the body of the articles that the vast majority of climate scientists would dispute Trump’s claim that “nobody really knows” whether man-made climate change is real (the initial version of the Post article apparently did not, but it was updated). Nonetheless, the damage had already been done by the headlines.

    By contrast, CBS News and The Huffington Post explicitly noted in their headlines that Trump’s claim was false:

    When Trump makes comments like these, the news story should be that the the president-elect told a whopper about climate change, not that the science of climate change is suddenly in doubt. And if media outlets want to avoid confusing their readers, their headlines should reflect that reality.

  • Pundits Defend Trump’s Dangerous Phone Call With Taiwan’s President

    Experts In Asian Pacific Studies And International Relations Warn It “Raises The Risk Of Diplomatic Disaster”

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Pundits are defending President-elect Donald Trump’s protocol-shattering phone conversation with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen as “terrific” and saying it will have “no cost to America,” but experts in Asian Pacific studies and international relations warn that the move “does not bode well for US-China relations” and “raises the risk of diplomatic disaster.”

  • Trump Picks Former Fox News Contributor Ben Carson To Serve As Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development

    Carson Has Repeatedly Expressed Opposition To Government Aid For Poor Americans

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CAT DUFFY

    President-elect Donald Trump has selected Dr. Ben Carson to serve as his secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Carson, a former Fox News contributor, has repeatedly said he opposes government efforts to eradicate poverty, and he has a long history of making off-color and offensive remarks during his stint with the network.

  • Why Won’t Fox News Ask Potential Trump DHS Head David Clarke Why Inmates Are Dying In His Jail?

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke -- a frequent Fox News guest -- to head the Department of Homeland Security. In April, an inmate in Sheriff Clarke’s Milwaukee County Jail was found dead of “profound dehydration.” Since that incident, three other individuals, including a newborn infant, have died in Clarke’s Milwaukee County Jail, but in more than 40 prime-time appearances on Fox News since the first reported death, Clarke has not once been asked about the disturbing trend of people dying in his jail. Clarke’s tenure as Milwaukee County Sheriff has been filled with controversy and legal action, and on Fox News and Twitter, Clarke has a history of using incendiary rhetoric directed at government officials and protesters.

  • Media Outlets Oversell -- Then Walk Back -- Headlines On FBI’s Clinton Email Announcement

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER

    Media outlets were quick to follow the lead of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who claimed that a letter from FBI Director James Comey indicated that the FBI had “reopened” its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. However, as the facts started to trickle in, outlets scrambled to walk back their headlines to more accurately portray the information.

    This afternoon, Comey released a letter to congressional leaders stating, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” and “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” Comey noted that he was not sure how long the review will take and the FBI “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”

    Media outlets were quick to blast out the story mostly running with Chaffetz’s framing, that a new investigation surrounding Clinton was being conducted -- with several having to walk back their headlines as it became clear that the story was significantly less dramatic.

    The Washington Post’s report was initially headlined “FBI to conduct new investigation of emails from Clinton’s private server.” 

    The article was subsequently updated with the new headline “FBI to take new ‘investigative steps’ on Clinton emails.” 

    The Post wasn’t the only media organization fooled. Politico’s initial tweet stated “#BREAKING: FBI reopens @HillaryClinton email server investigation.”

    But the current headline on the Politico article states “FBI reviewing new evidence in Clinton email probe.” 

    CNN.com also sent some mixed signals, with the front page reading “FBI reopens Clinton email probe,” the breaking news banner reading “The FBI is reopening the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server,” and the article headlined “FBI reviewing new emails in classified information probe.” 

    As Politico’s Hadas Gold noted, because Rep. Chaffetz claimed that the FBI was reopening the case, there was mass confusion in the reporting after the fact, leading outlets to run with headlines that didn’t reflect reality. 

  • The Worst Moments From Breitbart News Hire Curt Schilling

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Breitbart News will reportedly hire former MLB pitcher and ESPN analyst Curt Schilling to host a political talk radio show. Schilling was fired from ESPN for sharing an anti-transgender post on Facebook; he was previously suspended by the network for comparing Muslims to Nazis. Schilling has a long history of anti-Muslim, racially charged, sexist, and anti-Semitic commentary.

  • Trump's Debunked Google-Clinton Conspiracy Theory Comes Straight From Conservative And Russian Media

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    In prepared remarks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pushed the debunked claim that Google is “suppressing” negative information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in its search results. The claim, which has been debunked by mainstream outlets and experts as “utter nonsense,” originated in right-wing media and was also pushed by a Russian pro-Kremlin news site and the website of Trump’s campaign CEO.

  • Fox's Alternate Reality On New York City's Murder Rate

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News used a misleading chart featuring incomplete data to defend Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s false claim made during the first presidential debate that “murders are up” in New York City. Fox’s chart used data from 2014 to 2015 to demonstrate a rise in murder rates, but did not include complete data showing that murder rates in New York City are down in 2016 from the same point last year.

  • Mainstream Media Echo Conservatives’ Claim That Clinton’s Pneumonia Legitimizes Their Conspiracy Theories

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media across the spectrum are claiming that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s diagnosis of pneumonia “vindicated” conservative conspiracy theorists who have long made baseless assertions about Clinton’s health. These claims have recently been mainstreamed by non-partisan outlets despite having been debunked time and time again.

  • This Is How Trump’s Closest Advisers Have Talked About Immigrants And Latinos

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE & CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is planning to deliver a speech focused on immigration on August 31. The supporters and hangers-on surrounding Trump -- who would likely have his ear were he elected to the presidency -- include Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, and Roger Ailes. Here's what you need to know about their background on immigration and Latinos:

    Ann Coulter

    Commentator Ann Coulter's Anti-Immigrant Book Adios, America Is A Series Of Recycled Nativist Talking Points. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter has credited white nationalist website VDARE.com editor Peter Brimelow with inspiring her 2015 book Adios, America. In fact, many of the ideas presented in the book -- including her claim that immigrants “intentionally” set fires and litter -- appear to be closely modeled on those of white nationalist and anti-immigrant extremist movements in America. [Media Matters, 6/16/15]

    Coulter: Hispanics Will "Start Physically Attacking Blacks." While promoting her anti-immigrant book, Coulter complained about Hispanic immigrants and the "browning of America," predicting that "Hispanic groups will move into neighborhoods and say, 'We don't want any blacks here,' and start physically attacking blacks." [The Daily Beast, 5/26/15]

    Coulter: Americans Should Fear Immigrants More Than ISIS. Coulter has compared immigrants to terrorists from the Islamic State. During a May 26, 2015, interview on Fusion's America With Jorge Ramos, Coulter replied "yes" when host Jorge Ramos asked her about her assertion that Americans should fear immigrants more than the terror group. Coulter doubled down by saying, "If you don't want to be killed by ISIS, don't go to Syria. If you don't want to be killed by a Mexican, there's nothing I can tell you." [Fusion, America With Jorge Ramos, 5/26/15]

    Coulter: "'Real' Hispanics Are On Welfare." Coulter wrote that “"real" Hispanics, unlike Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), “are on welfare” in a May 2013 tweet:

    [Twitter, 5/6/13]

    Coulter Rejected A Hug From An Undocumented Immigrant. During a May 26 interview on Fusion's America with Jorge Ramos, Coulter refused to hug undocumented immigrant and DREAM Act activist Gaby Pacheco even when Pacheco persisted, saying the hug would be "a sign of my humanity and yours." [Media Matters, 5/29/15]

    Sean Hannity

    Sean Hannity Hosted A Town Hall Focused On Anti-Immigrant Fearmongering For Trump. Fox News host Sean Hannity dedicated two hours of his prime-time  show -- on August 23 and 24 -- to host an immigration town hall for Trump. The town hall served as an anti-immigrant bashing platform during which Hannity misinformed on crime and immigration,and fearmongered about the “absolutely staggering” effects that undocumented immigration has on the U.S.:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): We have decided tonight to go in depth on the direct impact they are having on you, the American people. And tonight you're going to hear heartbreaking stories from just some of the many, many family members whose loved ones were victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, and tomorrow we'll be joined by law enforcement experts.

    Now, to put it simply, the effects that illegal immigration is having on our country is absolutely staggering.

    [...]

    Tonight is about the truth. This is truth you will not hear from The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, certainly not CNN, the Clinton news network. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/23/16]

    Hannity Defended Trump’s Attacks On Federal Judge’s Ethnicity. Hannity defended Trump’s claim that the judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuit could not be impartial because he is Mexican and Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. And Hannity doubled down on the attacks on the Mexican-American judge by saying that Trump was “rightfully calling out the fact that there is a conflict of interest” From the June 3 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Let me start by saying something else that needs to be said here. Towards the end of Hannity last night, we started the program, we covered a little bit of Donald Trump speaking in San Jose. Then I had a fight with Geraldo Rivera on the program over the issue of immigration and Donald Trump, I think, rightfully calling out the fact that there is a conflict of interest, the judge in the Trump University case. Remember nobody in the media covers the Laureate college case where Bill Clinton got paid $16-some-odd million, and many students from many poor countries feel like they were defrauded and that fraud has been committed against them. There's not one word about it in the media. Anyway, the judge in this particular case we found out is a member of the La Raza -- the race -- lawyers group. Remember La Raza? That's separate from the group that we hear about often, the advocacy group. But the word La Raza means "the race." So that's an indication that this guy might have radical views. Then we know that it came to light that the law firm, Robbins-Geller, appointed by the judge, Curiel, in this case to represent a plaintiff in the Trump University class action lawsuit. Well that law firm appointed by the judge, well they have a connection to Hillary Clinton in a couple of ways. One, they gave a $2,700 campaign contribution, at least the chairman Darren Robbins did. And it seems that Robbins-Geller paid the Clintons nearly a half a million dollars in less than a year in giving them paid speeches. Now I don't think I'd want a judge with those type of connections to that law firm presiding over a case that I'm involved in. And if that's not a strong case for a recusal, I don't know what is. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 6/3/16]

    Hannity: "I Agree With Mr. Trump” That Mexicans Are Criminals. Hannity defended Trump’s assertion that Mexico is sending “rapists” and “criminals” to the U.S. during a June 29, 2015, panel discussion. Hannity said, "I agree with Mr. Trump. As somebody who has been down to the border 11 times, I have seen the drug warehouses, I was there when criminals were arrested, I know the human trafficking side and the impact on our educational system, criminal justice system, et cetera --  our health care system." [Fox News, Hannity, 6/29/15]

    Steve Bannon

    Steve Bannon’s Fringe Website Breitbart News Consistently Uses Anti-Immigrant Slurs. Before joining the Trump campaign, Steve Bannon was the executive chairman of the 'alt-right' website Breitbart News, which  consistently uses headlines that denigrate undocumented immigrants. For example: “Report: More Than 925,000 Illegals with Final Deportation Remain in the U.S.,” “Report: Illegals Rushing to get into U.S. Before Trump Wall,” “Rape Deniers: 9 Facts About Illegal Alien Crime The Media Covers Up,” and “San Francisco Moves to Open Voting to Illegals.” [Media Matters, 8/18/16]

    Breitbart News Defended Trump’s Attacks On Federal Judge’s Ethnicity: Trump “Is Correct” To Question Judge Curiel’s Impartiality Based On His Mexican Heritage. Bannon’s website defended Trump’s racist attack against Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was presiding over the Trump University fraud case, agreeing that Curiel’s “Latino identity politics” would prevent him from being impartial. The article also attempted to falsely cast La Raza Lawyers association, of which Curiel is a member, as racist. From the June 6 article:

    Trump had questioned the impartiality of a federal judge.

    The controversy erupted when Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Gonzalo Curiel – the judge in the Trump University class action lawsuit – might not give him a fair shake because of the judge’s connection to Mexican political activism. After critics bemoaned such an accusation as racism, Trump doubled down on “Face the Nation.”

    “[Judge Curiel] is a member of a club or society, very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine,” Trump told CBS’s John Dickerson. “But I say he’s got bias.” The club Trump was referring to was La Raza Lawyers; an organization with the stated mission “to promote the interests of the Latino communities throughout the state.”

    Translated, “la raza” means “the race.” Imagine the outcry if white attorneys from Mississippi, such as this author, started a a (sic) legal association called “The Race” with the stated mission to promote the interest of white, Southern communities. Hollywood stars and entertainers, such as Bryan Adams, would boycott the state in perpetuity.

    Trump’s suggestion that a Hispanic judge may treat him unfairly because of Trump’s border security proposals, such as the wall, challenges the claim that liberal judges engaged in identity politics are never biased against non-liberals. And while Democrats were enraged by Trump’s challenge, Trump struck fear into the hearts of establishment Republicans not accustomed to challenging the politically correct code to which they have previously surrendered. [Breitbart News, 6/6/16]

    Laura Ingraham

    Laura Ingraham Didn’t Think Puerto Ricans Were American Citizens. In 2014, radio host Laura Ingraham launched an ignorant smear against Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, suggesting that her “immigrant family background” and her Puerto Rican-American heritage conflict with her “allegiance … to the Constitution.” Ingraham said Sotomayor's "allegiance obviously goes to her immigrant family background and not to the Constitution of the United States,” but Sotomayor is a Puerto Rican American who is both an American citizen and the daughter of American citizens. Puerto Ricans have had U.S. citizenship since President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act in 1917. [Media Matters, 2/4/14]

    Ingraham Mocked Prominent Hispanic Journalist José Díaz-Balart For Speaking Spanish. Ingraham  attacked prominent Telemundo journalist José Díaz-Balart for translating for a Spanish-speaking guest on his show. [Media Matters, 9/23/14]

    Ingraham: Mexicans "Have Come Here To Murder And Rape Our People." Ingraham echoed Trump’s claim that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists, saying Mexicans “have come here to murder and rape our people. We know that.” From the March 4 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group’s The Laura Ingraham Show:

    CALLER: My thing about Trump is that, the thing is, he's not a polished person and I think people catch him off guard a lot. Like with the question with David Duke, I think simply he did not remember who David Duke was at the moment, and I think that caught him off-guard. I mean, obviously like if the reporter said, "Hey, you know, David Duke, the KKK member endorsed you." He probably would have said, "Well absolutely not." And the, see, thing about the Mexicans and murderers and rapists, everybody knows --

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Well, they have come here. They have. Yeah, they have come here to murder and rape our people. We know that. That doesn't mean everybody has, doesn't mean everyone who comes across the border is a nasty, horrible person, but they have violated our laws. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 3/4/16]

    Ingraham On Immigrants: "Nobody Has A Right To Be Here Except The People Who Are Born Here." Ingraham said of immigrants, “Nobody has a right to be here except the people who are born here.” From the March 22 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group’s The Laura Ingraham Show:

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Donald Trump this morning was on Fox News talking about what the responsibilities of the U.S. government is today with keeping the border secure, locking it down. Those who come into the country, that are allowed to be here -- it's a privilege to come into the United States. It's not a right. Nobody has a right to be here except the people who are born here. Nobody has a right to come here. And somehow we've become the depository of radicals and wannabe Islamists who believe they can come here, meld into society, and then complain about society. Or worse, plan attacks against society. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 3/22/16]

    Roger Stone

    Roger Stone Attacked CNN Pundit For Her Ethnicity, Saying It Was The Only Reason She Was On Air. On Twitter, Trump ally Roger Stone criticized CNN commentator Ana Navarro by writing that “Black beans and rice didn't miss her.” He later doubled down on his comments on the June 6 edition of WBUR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook, by saying that her ethnicity is the only reason Navarro was hired by CNN:

    TOM ASHBROOK (HOST): Don’t we have to have some level of mutual respect to keep this project going? You famously have tweeted after CNN anchors and guests, they’re “moron,” “retarded,” called them “stupid negro,” “fat negro.” Even in your own expression, that seems outside the realm of openness to unity that surely we need.

    ROGER STONE: Well I would have to admit that calling Roland Martin a fat negro, that was a two martini tweet. And I regret that. I really do. I think it was inappropriate and I’m sorry I did it. As for my criticism of Ana Navarro of CNN as being unqualified for her job, having never actually elected anybody or ever actually worked on a campaign  --

    ASHBROOK: "Black beans and rice didn't miss her"? That sounds like a slur on ethnicity.

    STONE: Well, why else is she there? It's not on the basis of experience or expertise, so maybe to put it more delicately, you'd call it casting, but I don't understand why she's there given her lack of qualifications. [WBUR, On Point with Tom Ashbrook6/6/16]

    Roger Ailes

    Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Reportedly Said Navy SEALs Should "Have To Personally Kill An Illegal Immigrant" As Part Of Certification. New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman wrote in his biography of Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, that while Ailes has "been careful to moderate his immigration position in public," he nonetheless harbors appalling views on the subject. Sherman wrote that Ailes once said that Navy SEALs should "have to personally kill an illegal immigrant" as part of their certification:

    Ailes said that if he were president, he would solve the immigration problem by sitting the president of Mexico down and giving him a stern talking-to: "Your country is corrupt. You can now only take thirty percent of what the people earn instead of seventy percent. If you don't do that, I'll send the CIA down there to kill you." He had been careful to moderate his immigration position in public. "If I'm going to risk my life to run over the fence to get into America, I want to win. I think Fox News will articulate that," he told The New Republic a few months earlier. But Ailes told [Philipstown, NY supervisor Richard] Shea that as president he would send Navy SEAL trainees to the border as part of a certification program: "I would make it a requirement that you would have to personally kill an illegal immigrant coming into the country. They would have to bring home a dead body."  [The Loudest Voice in the Room, page 392, via Media Matters, 7/20/16]