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  • Steve King has been racist for years, and right-wing media have defended him every step of the way

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. & ALEX KAPLAN

    Despite his extremism, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has drawn on-air praise from right-wing media figures for years, with terms like “true warrior,” “great mentor,” and “hero.” Fox News figure Tucker Carlson once defended King’s white supremacy by stating, “Everything you said I think is defensible and probably right," while Laura Ingraham has said she understood “his point.”

  • Fox & Friends ignored Rudy Giuliani's collusion bombshell

    Fox & Friends First read one headline on Giuliani's appearance, saying he was "firing back at CNN"

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On January 17, Fox News’ Fox & Friends failed to report on  President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani refusing to deny that there was “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. 

    The night before, Giuliani told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he didn’t know if members of the Trump campaign up to and including manager Paul Manafort had colluded with the Russian government. Giuliani said that he “never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign," only that “the president of the United States” did not collude.

    Giuliani’s admission that members of the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 election was treated as a bombshell by CNN and MSNBC, which  led both of their morning shows with the story. At 4:24 a.m. EST, Fox & Friends First did feature a brief headline segment about Giuliani “firing back at CNN” in the interview, however the much more influential Fox & Friends did not mention the story once. Instead, the show:

    Pressed Trump to keep the government shut down:

    Threw free Chick-fil-A sandwiches at the studio audience:

    And sang “God Bless the U.S.A.” with singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood: 

    Fox & Friends is a propaganda mill masquerading as a news show, and the hosts mostly aim to please just one viewer: the president of the United States. 

  • Sunday show coverage of climate change in 2018 was a disaster

    Less than 6 percent of episodes on the major Sunday shows discussed global warming, and some of them included climate deniers

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER & LISA HYMAS


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Less than 6 percent of episodes of the five major Sunday morning news shows in 2018 featured any substantial mentions or discussions of climate change, according to a Media Matters analysis. And the number of times the shows addressed climate change was down from the previous year: They ran 13 percent fewer climate-focused segments in 2018 than they did in 2017, continuing the shows’ multi-year trend of neglecting climate change.

    The Sunday shows also continued their trend of failing to adequately represent minorities, women, scientists, and environmental journalists in discussions about climate change.

    Media Matters analyzed climate change coverage and guest appearances on the five major Sunday morning shows: ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press.

    The Sunday shows help set the media and political agenda for the week, but it's not only politicians, pundits, and other media figures who take their cues from them -- members of the public do too. The four broadcast Sunday shows attracted a combined audience of nearly 11 million viewers in the last quarter of 2018. Because of their wide viewership and political prestige, Sunday news shows play a crucial role in determining which issues and voices are included in the national dialogue.

    Key findings:

    • Less than 6 percent of episodes of the major Sunday shows in 2018 featured significant discussion of climate change.
    • Sunday shows ran fewer segments that included substantial mentions of climate change in 2018 (27 segments) than they did in 2017 (31 segments) -- a 13 percent decrease.
    • Only 18 percent of guests featured during climate-focused segments in 2018 were people of color -- six out of 34 guests total.
    • Only 35 percent of guests featured in climate-focused discussions in 2018 were women.
    • Two scientists were included in climate-related segments in 2018, after scientists had been excluded from all of the Sunday shows' climate discussions for almost three years.

    Major Sunday shows ignored climate change during most of 2018

    In 2018, the five major Sunday shows aired a combined total of 256 episodes, and only 14 of them made significant mention of climate change -- less than 6 percent.

    During the course of the year, there were only nine Sundays when at least one show aired a segment that focused on climate change. On the other 43 Sundays, or 83 percent of them, climate change was not substantively addressed.

    The shows also neglected to cover climate change during six months of the year, including June, when a heat wave broke records across much of the U.S.; August, when the Mendocino Complex became the largest fire in California’s history; and September, when Hurricane Florence devastated parts of North Carolina.

    The total number of segments addressing climate change was down from 2017: The shows aired 27 segments in 2018 compared to 31 segments the year prior, a decline of 13 percent. Face the Nation and Meet the Press aired eight climate-related segments each in 2018, followed by Fox News Sunday with five, and This Week and State of the Union with three each. (Not all of the segments were good; some featured climate deniers making false statements. More on that below.)

    When the Sunday shows did air climate-focused segments, the discussions were dominated by white men and unrepresentative of America's population.

    People of color made up only 18 percent of Sunday show guests discussing climate change in 2018

    Of the 34 guests featured during climate-focused segments in 2018, just six were people of color, or 18 percent. This is a slight improvement from 2017, when only four out of 35 guests on climate segments were people of color, or 11 percent.

    The guests of color who participated in climate change discussions in 2018 were:

    • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Face the Nation;
    • CNN political commentator Symone Sanders on State of the Union;
    • U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee on Fox News Sunday; and
    • New York Times journalist Helene Cooper and then-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) on Meet the Press.

    ABC’s This Week was the only Sunday show that did not host a guest of color during one of its climate-focused segments.

    The underrepresentation of communities of color in the Sunday shows' climate discussions becomes apparent when you consider that non-white and/or Hispanic/Latino people constitute 39 percent of the U.S. population according to census data. People of color should also have more of a voice on the shows because they tend to bring different perspectives: They are more concerned about climate change than whites and more likely to say they feel its impacts, according to a 2015 survey and other polls. A 2015 poll of African Americans found that 60 percent ranked global warming as a serious issue, and 67 percent said that actions should be taken to reduce the threat of global warming. And a 2017 survey found that 78 percent of Latinos were worried about global warming, compared to 56 percent of non-Latinos.

    Women made up 35 percent of Sunday show guests in climate-related segments in 2018

    Just 12 of 34 guests who joined in the Sunday news shows' climate discussions in 2018 were women, or 35 percent. Meet the Press led the way this year with six women, State of the Union followed with three, Fox News Sunday had two, and This Week had one. Face the Nation failed to feature a woman during any of its climate-related segments.

    This represents a slight increase from 2017 when women were nine of the 35 guests, or 26 percent. 

    Despite the fact that women constitute roughly 51 percent of the population, the trend of males dominating Sunday show guest slots continues, whether they're discussing climate change or any other topic. Again, this leads to a loss of valuable perspective: Polls indicate that American women are more worried about climate change than men. According to a 2015 survey, 69 percent of women in the U.S. are concerned that climate change will affect them personally, compared to only 48 percent of men. And a December 2018 poll found that 71 percent of American women say there's enough evidence of climate change to warrant action, compared to just 61 percent of men.

    Sunday shows featured two scientists in climate-related segments in 2018, after excluding scientists for almost three years

    When Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan asked NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Steven Clarke about the National Climate Assessment on November 25, it was the first time in almost three years that a scientist had been included in a discussion about climate change on a Sunday show. The last time it had happened was December 2015, also on Face the Nation. But the discussion between Brennan and Clarke on climate change was brief; most of Clarke's time on the show was spent talking about NASA’s latest mission to Mars.

    The next month, during a Meet the Press episode dedicated to climate change on December 30, NASA climate scientist Kate Marvel joined a wide-ranging panel discussion about climate challenges and potential solutions.

    That episode of Meet the Press also featured NBC News' Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent Anne Thompson on its panel -- the first time a Sunday show has included an environmental journalist in a climate-focused discussion since Media Matters began tracking the guest lineups 2013.

    Overall, the vast majority of Sunday show guests invited to discuss climate change were politicians, political operatives, or political journalists. 

    When Sunday shows discussed climate change, the coverage was too often superficial or poor

    On the few occasions when the Sunday shows did address climate change in 2018, the discussions were often superficial and sometimes featured climate denial or other inaccurate statements, failing to give viewers the substantive, fact-based coverage they deserve.

    For example, after the Trump administration tried to bury a major government report, the National Climate Assessment, by releasing it the day after Thanksgiving, all five major Sunday shows covered climate change on the same day for the first and only time all year, on November 25. But the quality of much of that coverage was bad. Some of the hosts, including Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd and State of the Union’s Dana Bash, invited climate deniers to discuss the report, allowed them to make false statements, and failed to offer any meaningful pushback. Others, such as This Week’s George Stephanopoulos, spent only a little time on the report.

    When the shows did include people of color or women in their climate change discussions, that didn't necessarily mean the discussions were good. For example, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Cuban-American, answered questions about climate change on Face the Nation, he suggested that policy solutions would destroy the economy or not be effective. And when Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute joined in a panel discussion about climate change on Meet the Press, she falsely claimed that the previous two years had been among the coldest on record -- comments so blatantly wrong that the fact-checking website PolitiFact dedicated a post to declaring them "false."

    (In some cases, guests on Sunday shows brought up climate change unprompted, but hosts failed to engage or changed the subject. This happened during interviews on This Week with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). We excluded these instances from our analysis; instead, we only gave shows credit for airing climate segments when hosts brought up climate change themselves or engaged in discussions on the topic.)

    Without Meet the Press’ climate-focused episode, the Sunday show statistics for 2018 would have been much worse

    Meet the Press took the unprecedented step of dedicating an entire episode to climate change on December 30, its last episode of 2018. It aired about a month after host Todd was widely criticized for allowing Pletka to make false claims on the air and then failing to push back against them.

    Seemingly chastened, Todd opened the episode by saying, "We're not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not." The show featured five segments and seven guests, including outgoing Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who had introduced legislation to price carbon earlier in the year, as well as outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), both of whom have made fighting climate change a signature issue.

    This episode was the high point of an otherwise dreary year for climate coverage. Without it, Sunday shows would have only aired 22 climate-focused segments featuring 27 guests in 2018, down from 31 segments featuring 35 guests in 2017 -- and Meet the Press would have tied for the lowest number of segments in 2018.

    Major Sunday shows need to increase their substantive climate coverage and include a wider range of voices

    In 2018, which was one of the warmest years on record and saw numerous climate-related disasters, the amount of climate change coverage and the quality of that coverage should have gone up, not down.

    A pair of major reports released in the latter part of the year put our current situation in stark relief. In October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a study that found if global average temperatures rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, hundreds of millions of people would be at increased risk of climate change impacts such as flooding and extreme heat. In late November, the U.S. government put out the latest installment of the National Climate Assessment -- a 1,500-page, congressionally mandated document produced by some 300 scientists from 13 federal agencies -- that painted a dire picture of how climate change is already affecting the U.S. and how its catastrophic impacts will intensify in coming years.

    Meet the Press’ climate-focused episode demonstrated that Sunday shows can give the topic the serious attention it deserves, with guests who are well-informed about the problem and potential solutions. But this kind of substantive coverage needs to be sustained and incorporated into all of the Sunday shows week after week. And the coverage must include a broader array of guests -- scientists and environmental journalists who can explain the nature of the challenge, and people of color and women who are on the frontlines of climate change and are pioneering solutions to the crisis.

    Ted MacDonald contributed research to this report. Charts by Melissa Joskow.  

    Methodology

    This report analyzes coverage of climate change in 2018 on five Sunday morning news shows: ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS' Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, and NBC's Meet the Press. To identify segments that discussed climate change, we searched for the following terms in Nexis: climate change, global warming, changing climate, climate warms, climate warming, warming climate, warmer climate, warming planet, warmer planet, warming globe, warmer globe, global temperatures, rising temperatures, hotter temperatures, climate science, climate scientist, paris climate, climate accord, paris accord, climate agreement, paris agreement, and climate deal. Our analysis included any segment devoted to climate change, as well as any substantial mention of climate change (more than one paragraph of a news transcript or a definitive statement by a media figure). The study did not include instances in which a non-media figure brought up climate change without being prompted to do so by a media figure unless the media figure subsequently addressed climate change. We defined media figures as hosts, anchors, correspondents, and recurring guest panelists.

  • Tucker Carlson completely ignored Rep. Steve King’s racist comments -- except to attack the media

    When his guest brought up King, Carlson changed the subject

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    Tucker Carlson’s only coverage of Republican Iowa Congressman Steve King’s racist comments to The New York Times, published on January 10, that he didn’t know when terms like “white nationalist [and] white supremacist” became offensive has consisted of one segment of Carlson reprimanding MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace for saying that racists attach to the Republican Party. After critiquing Wallace, Carlson made his case that white people are the real victims of racism, citing evidence such as an affirmative action lawsuit bankrolled by big money conservatives and a Buzzfeed listicle from 2017. Carlson has not mentioned King by name since the Times story broke, and he interrupted his guest Victor Davis Hanson when Hanson brought up King's name.

    King’s white supremacist beliefs have been widely known prior to his interview with the Times. Despite this, Tucker has had Steve King on his program several times, including when King was criticized for a racist tweet which said that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” On the show that night, Carlson defended him, saying, “Everything you said I think is defensible and probably right.”

    Carlson has a long history promoting white nationalism. He has used his Fox show to promote racist dog whistles and elevate fringe issues that are important to the “alt-right”. His nightly show has a robust fan base of racists and neo-Nazis, who regularly sing his praises online. Carlson's on-air racism has contributed to a massive advertiser exodus.

  • Fox’s Steve Doocy cites out-of-date study to argue against federal minimum wage increase

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy cited an out-of-date study to attack the idea of an increase to the federal minimum wage. In a segment about potential presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeting in support of a federal minimum wage increase, Doocy said that when “Seattle experimented” with increasing the local minimum wage to $15 per hour, “a study came out that showed that people wound up with less money in their pockets because employers cut employees’ hours because the wage was so high.”

    The 2017 study that Doocy appears to be referencing “estimates [that] the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum" wage. As The Washington Post reported, "The paper's conclusions contradict years of research on the minimum wage." Sure enough, within months, other papers were published that “underscored the limitations of the Seattle study.” More significantly, Doocy failed to mention that the authors of that 2017 study actually published new research a year later that "found that the increase added about $10 per week on average to the earnings of low-income workers through 2016, even while reducing weekly hours slightly." According to CNN, the findings also showed that “employee turnover decreased, which the authors believe suggests that employers tried harder to retain their most productive staff members as wages went up.” While there have been critics of the study, it did overall find more positive results than its predecessor, which Doocy ignored.

    From the January 16 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): I remember Seattle experimented with this and they jacked up the federal -- the local minimum wage, and, I believe, a study came out that showed that people wound up with less money in their pockets because employers cut employees' hours because the wage was so high.

  • Fox News and Trump are trying to manufacture another caravan crisis to argue for a border wall

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News is cynically seizing on a caravan of migrants moving through Central America toward the U.S. southern border to bolster President Donald Trump’s political position after he partially shut down the government to obtain funding to build a border wall. The effort comes just months after Fox aired dozens of hours of fearmongering coverage about another caravan in a failed attempt to help the Republican Party win the 2018 midterm elections.

    Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade made the network’s strategy explicit during Wednesday’s broadcast. “The big question is would this group, this caravan, this latest caravan, be heading toward the United States if there were a wall?” Doocy asked before criticizing Democrats for not negotiating with the president to end the shutdown.

    Later in the show, Kilmeade asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether the caravan helps Trump “sell his side of the story.” Sanders replied, “This is just another example of why the president's message has been right all along.”

    On Monday night, a caravan of migrants bound for the United States began departing from a rally point in Honduras. Honduran officials estimate that between 800 and 2,000 people were in the caravan. The first members of the group crossed the Guatemalan border on Tuesday.

    Fox has been covering the caravan since last Thursday, when correspondent Griff Jenkins first reported on Fox & Friends about an advertisement urging would-be migrants to assemble in Honduras. The network’s coverage has steadily increased ever since. On Tuesday, discussion of the caravan came up during 12 of the network’s 19 hours of live programming.

    The network’s caravan fixation comes amid devastating new polls that show widespread opposition to Trump’s shutdown and wall. Fox’s right-wing hosts have been trying to use the caravan to rescue the president, repeatedly citing it as evidence that Trump was correct to partially shut down the government.

    As early as last Friday, Sean Hannity argued that the then-nascent caravan would make the “humanitarian side of this crisis ... even more urgent” and called for the president to “address this crisis at our southern border” by declaring a national emergency to obtain funding for the wall, if necessary.

    The next night -- several days before the caravan departed -- Jeanine Pirro argued that “you’re out-and-out crazy” if you disagree that the new caravan poses a national emergency. She described it as  “another caravan of thousands moving in a highly organized fashion similar to military convoys” and said its members have allegedly “exhibited violence” and include people “from Africa, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and more.”

    By Tuesday, Lou Dobbs’ show was running alternating graphics stating “New caravan forms” and “Build the wall,” while Hannity was slamming Democrats for refusing to negotiate with Trump even “as a new migrant caravan is on the move now tonight.”

    Fox’s all-consuming coverage has caught the eye of the president, who regularly watches hours of the network’s programming each day and uses it to inform his messaging.

    When Trump called in to Pirro’s show for an interview minutes after her Saturday night monologue on the caravan, she asked about an “emergency at the southern border” and he listed the caravan among his evidence of a “crisis.”

    And on Tuesday morning, Trump live-tweeted Fox & Friends’ caravan coverage, using it as the network had apparently intended -- as a weapon in his battle for a border wall.

    Fox’s heavy caravan coverage, the unsubtle way in which its commentators use the issue to promote the president, and Trump’s own role in running with the network’s angle, all mimic what happened in the run-up to the midterm elections last October. As the migrant caravan traveled through Central America, Fox began flooding the zone with fearmongering coverage that stressed the supposed danger the migrants posed to Americans. The network’s commentators urged Republicans to make the caravan their central election issue, and a watching Trump began feverishly highlighting it in his public statements. The president’s remarks in turn turned the story into major news, and it consumed the other cable news networks as well as major newspapers in the final days of the campaign.

    The strategy failed. Fox and Trump were able to focus attention on the issue of immigration, which may have energized some conservative voters. But Trump’s vicious immigration rhetoric “alienated everyone else.” Republicans were swamped at the polls and Democrats won back the House of Representatives.

    But a few months later, they’ve taken up the strategy all over again.