Frank Bruni | Media Matters for America

Frank Bruni

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  • FBI Director's Letter Receives Criticism From Across The Political Spectrum

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media figures from across the political spectrum are criticizing FBI Director James Comey for defying Justice Department rules and precedent to issue a short and vague letter informing Congress that the Bureau had obtained and was seeking to review emails “that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” regarding Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. The journalists and pundits called the timing of Comey’s letter “unfortunate, given its potential to affect a democratic process in which millions of people are already voting,” with some going so far as to say Comey’s letter “both disgraces and politicizes the FBI.”

  • Fox News Is Wrong: Trump Is A Terrorist Recruiting Tool

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News is attempting to downplay Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s remarks that President Obama is a founder of ISIS by likening them to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s comment that Trump “is being used to essentially be a recruiter” for terrorists. However, numerous national security experts have explained that Trump’s rhetoric is “the best thing the Islamic State has going for it” and Trump’s rhetoric has actually been featured in terrorist propaganda.

  • 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.

  • Media False Equivalence: Clinton's ISIS Statement Compared To Trump's Dangerous 9/11 Lies

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media are comparing Hillary Clinton's debate claim that ISIS recruiters are "showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam" to Trump's falsehood that thousands of Muslims celebrated the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Desperate to declare that both parties are engaged in the same behavior, these outlets are pushing a false equivalence that ignores that Trump's bigoted comments are fomenting and sought to capitalize on anti-Muslim sentiment that experts agree is being used by ISIS to attract recruits, while Clinton's comment sought to bring attention to that behavior.

  • Media Fixate On Clinton "Video" Remark, Ignore That ISIS Does Reportedly Recruit Using Trump's Islamophobia


    Hillary Clinton said during the December 19 Democratic presidential primary debate that ISIS is using Donald Trump's inflammatory anti-Muslim comments "to recruit more radical jihadists." Although experts say that ISIS and other terrorist groups are using Trump's remarks to attract recruits on social media, journalists have ignored that fact and fixated on Clinton's specific statement that the terrorists use Trump's comments in recruitment "videos" to suggest that Clinton "made the stuff up about Trump and ISIS."

  • Will Media Give Other Republicans A Pass On Trump-Like Anti-Muslim Rhetoric?

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Media figures and outlets are strongly condemning Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. But while Trump's rhetoric is extreme, it is not unique -- several other Republican candidates have extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric without receiving such "universal condemnation," as The New Republic noted.

  • Media Call Out Donald Trump's Plan To Ban Muslims From The US For Playing Into The Hands Of ISIS

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media are calling out Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States for marginalizing Muslims and helping ISIS recruitment tactics. Such criticism echoes statements from the U.S. Department of Defense explaining that "anything that creates tensions and creates the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam would be counterproductive to our efforts right now" to combat ISIS.

  • Where's The Media's Ebola Mea Culpa?

    Someone Owes Obama An Apology

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    "The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over," announced the World Health Organization on May 9, declaring a cautious end to the deadly wave that claimed 4,700 Liberian lives since last summer. That outbreak, of course, eventually sparked panic in the United States last September and October when a handful of Ebola cases were confirmed domestically. Ebola mania raged in the media for weeks and became one of the biggest news stories of 2014.

    So how did the American media cover the latest, good-news Ebola story in the days following the WHO announcement? Very, very quietly.

    By my count, ABC News devoted just brief mentions of the story on Good Morning America and its Sunday talk show, This Week. On NBC, only the Today show noted the development, while CBS This Morning and the CBS Evening News set aside brief mentions. None of the network newscasts have given this Ebola story full segments, according to a transcript search via Nexis.

    A scattering of mentions on cable news and a handful of stories including in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, among others, rounded out the remaining coverage in the past week.*

    Pretty amazing, considering that late last year the U.S. news media were in the grips of self-induced Ebola hysteria. During one peak week, cable news channels mentioned "Ebola" over 4,000 times, while the Washington Post homepage one night featured at least 15 Ebola-related articles and columns, many of which focused on both the international crisis and the political dynamic, and the problems Ebola was supposedly causing President Obama.

    That's not to say the tragic outbreak was not a big story worthy of any news coverage. It was, but American media went into overdrive hyping concerns that a deadly domestic outbreak was imminent -- only to rapidly forget.

    The recent look-away coverage from Ebola shouldn't come as a surprise. The American media lost complete interest in the story right after Republicans lost interest in the story, which is to say right after last November's midterm elections, when they brandished Ebola as a partisan weapon.

    That's no exaggeration. From Media Matters' research:

  • Media Adopt Double-Standard With Demands For Independent Review Of Clinton Email


    Media outlets are demanding that Hillary Clinton be subject to an independent review of her personal email account to disprove their own baseless suggestions that she engaged in illicit activity or failed to properly disclose all work-related correspondence. The demand ignores that every State Department employee, regardless of whether they use government or personal accounts, decides for themselves whether or not to preserve their emails.

  • The Clintons And Another Media Guttural Roar

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Offering up some advice to the political press corps as it prepares to cover the 2016 presidential campaign, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently stressed that reporters and pundits ought to take a deep breath when big stories broke; to not immediately promote stumbles and campaign missteps to be more urgent and damaging than they really are.

    "We may wish certain snags were roadblocks and certain missteps collapses, because we think they should be or they're sexier that way," wrote Bruni. 

    That was in his February 28 column. Four days later Bruni abandoned his own advice.

    Pouncing on the controversy surrounding which email account Hillary Clinton used while serving as secretary of state, Bruni tossed his counsel for caution to the wind and treated the email development as an instant game changer and even wondered if the revelation indicated Clinton had a political "death wish."

    But that fits the long-running pattern of the D.C. media's Clinton treatment: Over-eager journalists hungry for scandal can't even abide by the advice they dispensed four days prior. Or maybe Bruni simply meant that his advice of caution was supposed to apply only to Republican candidates. Because it's certainly not being applied to Hillary and the email kerfuffle coverage.

    Instead, "The media and politicos and Twitterati immediately responded with all the measured cautious skepticism we've come to expect in response to any implication of a Clinton Scandal," noted Wonkette. "That is to say, none."

    Just look how the very excitable Ron Fournier at National Journal rushed in after the email story broke and announced Clinton should probably just forget about the whole running-for-president thing. Why preemptively abandon an historic run? Because she may reveal herself to be "seedy," "sanctimonious," "self-important," and "slick." This, after Fournier denounced Bill and Hillary Clinton two weeks ago for their "stupid" and "sleazy" actions.

    That seems like a temperate way for a Beltway columnist to write about presidential campaigns, right? Then again, both Fournier and Bruni drew a straight line from the unfolding email story to Bill Clinton's extra-marital affair nearly 20 years ago, which strikes me as odd, if not downright bizarre.

    "As long as she's a national figure--and especially when she runs for president--Hillary Clinton will get more scrutiny than anyone else in the field," wrote Jamelle Bouie at Slate this week. (The press is also slow to react when holes in the email stories appear.)

    Scrutiny is certainly part of the campaign equation and no candidate should be sealed off from it. What I'm highlighting is how Clinton scrutiny is so often wrapped in an almost a high school brand of social contempt.

  • The GOP And Its Media Midterm Assist

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Two recent snapshots nicely capture the commentary class and their bulwark on behalf of Republicans this campaign season.

    Lamenting the "pitiful" state of the 2014 election season, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni this week denounced what he saw as the vacuous condition of political debate. Claiming America's raging problems were akin to a burning house, Bruni claimed "None of the candidates have spoken with the necessary urgency or requisite sweep."

    Oh, what the columnist wouldn't have given to hear some "real substance" on the campaign trail. The beseeching seemed odd  because Bruni later announced the "defining moment" of the election season came when Kentucky Democratic senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes declined to answer a question, during a newspaper editorial interview, about whether she had voted previously for Barack Obama, who is very unpopular in the Bluegrass State. The question had nothing to do with the burning issues facing America, as Bruni described them. Instead, it was an exercise in optics: How would a red-state Democrat deal with a sticky question about her White House allegiance?

    Nonetheless, joining an army of pundits who expressed horror at Grimes' clumsy response, Bruni announced the Democrat had "tossed character, honesty and any kind of mature conversation with voters to the side." Left unmentioned by Bruni? Grimes' Republican opponent simply refused to answer any public policy questions posed by the same newspaper editorial board that hosted Grimes; the same board that heard the Democrat answer queries for an hour about the  environment, gay marriage, campaign finance reform, the government sequester, abortion rights, and coal mining.

    So much for the absence of campaign substance.

    Still, Bruni's column illustrated a certain Beltway media symmetry this year: Pundits lament a lack of campaign seriousness, and then treat a trivial gotcha question as being deeply serious. Count that as a win for Republicans.

    Meanwhile on CNN, during her interview with Vice President Joe Biden that aired Monday, and while discussing the midterm elections, Gloria Borger insisted Americans are  "frustrated" and "fearful" and "angry" about key events, including the administration's handling of the Ebola virus' scare. Borger's point has been a favorite among Beltway pundits in recent weeks as they parrot Republicans: Ebola's just the latest Big Government failure. 

    But it's not true.