PBS Sets The Standard For Nightly Climate Coverage

In 2014, PBS NewsHour provided far more climate change-related segments and interviewed far more climate scientists than the nightly news programs at ABC and NBC, while also outperforming CBS. Additionally, like CBS Evening News, PBS NewsHour managed to avoid airing any segments that provided a platform for climate science deniers, whereas NBC Nightly News and ABC's World News Tonight both featured a segment in which a guest either denied that climate change is occurring or questioned the scientific findings of the National Climate Assessment.   Although it airs for twice as long as its broadcast network counterparts, PBS NewsHour's number of climate segments and scientists more than made up for this difference, particularly in comparison to ABC's World News Tonight. PBS NewsHour, which runs for 60 minutes, aired 45 reports last year that covered climate change. By comparison, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and ABC's World News Tonight, which are each 30 minute programs, aired 22, 14, and 11 climate-related reports in 2014, respectively. PBS NewsHour's 45 climate-related reports were a substantial increase over 2013, when the program aired 35 such reports. PBS NewsHour also provided scientific perspectives in climate change stories more often than any of the other major networks, interviewing or quoting 27 scientists over the course of the year. In comparison, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News interviewed or quoted 11 and 7 scientists, respectively, while ABC's World News Tonight interviewed or quoted just two scientists. Scientists lent their insight on a range of topics on PBS NewsHour, providing perspective on landmark reports on climate change, describing the impact of climate change on wildlife habitats, and illustrating how climate change is already having an impact on communities in places as disparate as Alaska and Florida. For example, in a two-part special on climate change's impacts in Alaska, PBS NewsHour interviewed paleoclimatologists, geophysicists, oceanographers, and ecologists to detail how climate change is threatening local wildlife and a centuries-old way of life for many Alaskans. The recent announcement by NOAA and NASA that 2014 was the warmest year on record should serve as the starkest reminder yet that climate change is an issue deserving of mainstream media coverage. The networks' nightly news programs -- and ABC's World News Tonight in particular -- would do well to follow PBS NewsHour's lead by improving the quality and quantity of their climate change coverage.

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 11:24 am

Computer Security Experts: Sharyl Attkisson's Hacking Analyst Blew It

Computer security experts tell Media Matters that the report of a federal investigation into Sharyl Attkisson's claims of computer hacking, which found no evidence of a remote intrusion, suggests that Attkisson's computer may have been contaminated by a private technician who reviewed the computer for her. Attkisson, a former CBS News reporter who now writes for the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal, has claimed that her computers were hacked under an alleged federal effort to monitor her following her critical reporting of the Obama administration. But the investigation from the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General, based on an examination of her personal computer, found that the OIG "was not able to substantiate the allegations that Attkisson's computers were subject to remote intrusion by the FBI, other government personnel, or otherwise," according to an abbreviated report of the review that was entered into the congressional record when Attkisson testified before Congress on January 29. Computer security experts contacted by Media Matters reviewed the OIG report and explained that the findings revealed that at least one of the private technicians used by Attkisson likely contaminated any evidence that may have been on her computer.  In her book Stonewalled, Attkisson describes a private computer forensics analyst hired by CBS News coming to her house in February 2013 to examine her computers for potential intrusions. The technician initially "opens up the CBS News laptop and begins deconstructing the files," until he finds some suspicious activity having occurred in December 2012. The technician then decides to take "a quick look at [Attkisson's] personal Apple iMac desktop computer" before leaving. He goes "straight to December" on the iMac as well, finds more suspicious activity, and tells Attkisson, "Oh shit!...That's not normal. Someone did that to your computer." CBS News confirmed in June 2013 that Attkisson's CBS-issued laptop was breached, using what were "sophisticated" methods, but did not comment on her personal computers, nor did they identify the party or parties behind the breach. Attkisson then gave her personal Apple computer to the DOJ's inspector general for review, claiming evidence from the CBS analyst and other private security technicians who examined her computers confirmed for her that she was under surveillance by the federal government.  The OIG report "did not find evidence of remote or unauthorized access." However, they did find evidence of someone with physical access to the computer performing an examination in February 2013 (around the same time Attkisson says a CBS technician visited her home) that "is not forensically sound nor is it in accordance with best practices." The OIG concluded that this technician's actions "could have obscured potential evidence of unauthorized access." Computer security experts contacted by Media Matters reviewed the OIG report, and agreed with the government's assessment that the technician's actions ignored the basics of standard forensic examination and contaminated the computer. "We would never sit down, turn on the computer and start doing our investigation from the computer itself, for a number of reasons," said Peter Theobald, a computer forensics investigator with TC Forensics of Syosset. N.Y. "One is that our own activities would leave traces all over the computer. It would be like going to a crime scene in big muddy boots and walking all over the crime scene. We would copy the hard drive first and all of our work would be done from that copy."

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 11:08 am

Fox Host Tells Caller Her Bipolar Disorder Is "Made Up" And "The Latest Fad" For Money

Fox News Radio host Tom Sullivan told a caller who said she suffered from bipolar disorder that her illness is "something made up by the mental health business" and just "the latest fad." When the caller told Sullivan that she "would not be alive today" if she hadn't received mental health treatment, Sullivan wondered if "maybe somebody's talked you into feeling and thinking this way." Sullivan, who is also a frequent Fox Business contributor and guest anchor, began his January 28 program by complaining that people with mental illness have figured how to "game the system" by receiving disability benefits. "They're mostly government employees and they know how to do it," he added. Sullivan also defended Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) controversial and false statement that "Over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts." A caller later challenged Sullivan over his remarks, saying she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder thirteen years ago and mental health treatment allowed her to graduate from college and obtain a full-time job. The caller, who now volunteers with Stop Stigma Sacramento, noted that bipolar disorder isn't a made up illness and is biological.  

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 10:29 am

Sarah Palin And The Demise Of Tea Party Media

This week's messy, public breakup between conservatives and Sarah Palin was executed with brutal swiftness. After years of alternately worshiping and defending her from all comers while gleefully echoing her falsehoods about the Obama administration (death panels!), lots of conservatives -- and especially conservative pundits -- decided enough, and collectively tossed her overboard. Palin's speech last weekend at a conservative confab in Iowa, odd and vacuous even by her standards, served as the trigger for the media mutiny. Morning Joe's Joe Scarborough tagged it "a tragedy," the Daily Beast's Matt Lewis apologized for his previous Palin support, and the Washington Examiner rounded up reactions from the GOP faithful: "Long and disjointed." "A weird speech." "Terrible. Didn't make any sense." (See video of the speech below.) After six years conservatives have essentially conceded what Palin's critics on the Left have said all along: She's not a serious person and she serves no serious political purpose. Palin, who symbolized an uber-aggressive anti-intellectual conservative push that coincided with Obama's election, seemed more interested in self-promotion -- via reality shows and habitually flirting with running for office that never materialized -- than in building a lasting political legacy. Note that Palin's accelerated descent this week represents a larger trend within the conservative media. It represents the decline of the tea party wing of the right-wing press and how a once-flourishing enterprise of outside upstarts, with their eyes on disrupting the GOP hierarchy, have in recent years faded in terms of importance and prestige within that sphere. For instance, five years ago players like Palin, tea party guru Glenn Beck, and tea party "godfather" Rick Santelli from CNBC were on the cusp of powering of grassroots movement to retake the Republican Party and the country. Beck drew huge cable audiences on Fox News while weaving dark tales of Obama deception, Santelli helped inspire patriot rallies across the country, and Fox favorite Palin surfed political celebritydom and eyed a possible White House run. They represented a new and different brand of media agitators who didn't take the traditional paths to the masses.  But today they stand deflated. In fact, as the next campaign season looms, all three appear to be vanishing in the media's rear-view mirror.

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 9:25 am

O'Reilly Pushes Misleading Study Claiming All Job Growth Since 2007 Went To Immigrants

From the January 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:Previously: Right-Wing Media Push Misleading Study Claiming All Job Growth Has Gone To Immigrants Fox Uses Misleading Report From Anti-Immigrant Group To Stoke Fears Of Violent Undocumented Immigrants Fox News Relies On Anti-Immigrant Nativists To Push Asylum Myths

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 7:56 am

O'Reilly: Romney Lost In 2012 Partly Because He Did Not Exploit Benghazi

From the January 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:Related:  Mitt Romney Says No to 2016 Presidential Run Previously:  Rudy Giuliani On Fox: If Romney "Had Made Benghazi A Bigger Issue" In 2012 The GOP "Would Have Had A Better Chance" Romney Gets Lost In Fox News Benghazi Bubble Conservative Media Figures Object To "Stupid" Third Romney Run

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 7:35 am

Fox News Brands Obama's Budget Proposal As "A Tax And Spending Spree"

From the January 30 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:Previously: How Fox News Is Helping The GOP Disingenuously Rebrand Itself As The Party Of The Middle Class Right-Wing Media Decry Obama's Economic Policy Proposals As Santa Claus-Style Giveaways And Class Warfare Fox Misleads On Impact Of Budget Sequestration, Calls For Deeper Cuts

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 5:49 am

National Review Ignores What Lynch Said About Immigration To Call For Her Rejection

National Review's editorial board is arguing that Senate Republicans should "resist" Loretta Lynch's nomination to become the next U.S. attorney general because the board refuses to believe that "amnesty" is not forthcoming, and it falsely claims Lynch thinks there is a constitutional right for undocumented immigrants to work. On January 28, Lynch appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where questions from Republican members focused primarily on whether Lynch believes that President Obama's immigration action was legal. Legal experts agree that the action -- which temporarily defers deportations for some undocumented immigrants who meet a series of qualifications and pass a criminal background check -- is a lawful exercise of the president's authority to use prosecutorial discretion to prioritize some deportations over others. Nevertheless, right-wing media are playing up questions from Republican senators who believe that the immigration order is unconstitutional and attacking Lynch for her responses, even if they don't understand what she said. National Review took it further in a January 29 editorial, claiming that confirming Lynch would be "an abnegation of [Senate Republicans'] November mandate and, even more important, their constitutional duty." The editorial also claimed that Lynch had "evaded questions" from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) about whether Obama's "amnesty order" will allow law-enforcement agencies to make decisions case by case. The editorial went on to take Lynch's comments about whether undocumented immigrants have the right to work out of context and ignored her subsequent clarification, calling her remarks "constitutionally insupportable": In Senate confirmation hearings held this week, Ms. Lynch has evaded questions from Louisiana senator David Vitter about whether the amnesty order will actually be carried out on a "case-by-case basis," as even the administration's own lawyers say is required by law, and from Utah senator Mike Lee and Texas senator Ted Cruz about whether a future president could, under President Obama's rationale of "prosecutorial discretion," decline to enforce tax or labor or environmental laws. But among the things she has stated unequivocally is her belief that the president's executive order is "legal and constitutional." She even went further, telling Alabama senator Jeff Sessions that "the right and the obligation to work is one that's shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here." Such an assertion is both ahistorical and constitutionally insupportable. But it is the president's own alarming view, and simply confirms that Ms. Lynch, like Eric Holder, would lend the Justice Department's endorsement to the president's lawlessness. As even Fox News host Megyn Kelly has admitted, the executive action is not amnesty -- it is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, common in all forms of law enforcement and not just in the context of immigration. According to Kelly, the word "amnesty" is "a hot-button term that the right uses to sort of get people upset."

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 5:02 am

CBS Whitewashes Big Oil And Food Companies' Profit Motive For Opposing Renewable Fuel Standard

CBS News reported that a "coalition of big oil companies, environmental groups and food companies have been aggressively lobbying" against the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) "amid concerns that it is doing little to address climate change and is having unintended environmental consequences." However, major oil and food companies oppose the RFS out of concern for their own economic well-being, not concern for the environment, and some prominent environmental groups support the standard.CBS Ignores Big Oil And Food Companies' Financial Incentive For Opposing Renewable Fuel Standard CBSNews.com: Big Oil And Food Companies Are Lobbying Against The RFS "Amid Concerns" About Its Impact On Climate Change And The Environment. In a January 29 article about a new report that is critical of biofuels, CBSNews.com suggested that "big oil companies, environmental groups and food companies" oppose the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires oil refiners to blend renewable fuels into the nation's gasoline supply, simply for environmental reasons: A coalition of big oil companies, environmental groups and food companies have been aggressively lobbying the government to reconsider its entire ethanol program -- which requires blending up to 10 percent of ethanol with gasoline -- amid concerns that it is doing little to address climate change and is having unintended environmental consequences. [CBSNews.com, 1/29/14] Oil Companies Actually Oppose Renewable Fuel Standard Out Of Financial Self-Interest InsideClimate News: Repealing RFS Is "A Top Priority" For Oil Companies Because It Is "Eroding The Oil Industry's De Facto Monopoly On Transportation Fuels." InsideClimate News reported: [B]iofuels have supplanted billions of gallons of petroleum in gasoline and diesel, a trend that is cutting overall oil demand and steadily eroding the oil industry's de facto monopoly on transportation fuels. That has made reining in--or preferably, repealing--the renewable fuel requirements a top priority for oil companies in the last year. [InsideClimate News, 2/10/14] Associated Press: Oil Companies Have Fought RFS Because It "Cut Into Their Share Of The Gasoline Market." The Associated Press reported: "The ethanol mandate created an unusual alliance between oil companies, which have seen ethanol cut into their share of the gasoline market, and environmental groups that oppose planting more corn for fuel." [Associated Press, 11/15/13] New York Times: Oil Refiners Regard Renewable Fuel Standards As "An Onerous And Unnecessary Business Cost." The New York Times reported: "Ethanol producers like the renewable fuel standards because they essentially guarantee a market for their product. But refiners -- particularly those without operations to blend the fuel -- regard the standards as an onerous and unnecessary business cost." [New York Times, 9/14/13] The Hill: One Reason American Petroleum Institute Wants RFS Repealed Is "Because Of The Cost To Fuel Refiners." The Hill reported that the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's trade group, "wants the [renewable fuel] standard completely repealed because of the cost to fuel refiners, the damage renewable fuels can cause to engines, the limited availability of the fuels and other factors." [The Hill, 3/20/14] Minneapolis Star Tribune: Oil Industry Has "Mounted An Intense Campaign" Against 15 Percent Ethanol Standard That "Takes A Bit More Of Oil's Market Share." The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported: The oil industry has coexisted with the ethanol industry on the sale of E10, the standard blend of up to 10 percent used in virtually all of the nation's gasoline. But the industry has mounted an intense campaign against E15, the 15 percent blend that takes a bit more of oil's market share. With U.S. oil production rising, the industry's trade group wants the RFS repealed, and contends the Obama administration's proposed modifications don't go far enough. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/23/13] Food Companies Also Oppose RFS To Protect Their Own Financial Interests Livestock And Poultry Industry Coalition: The RFS Is Impacting Our Producers' "Bottom Line." In a letter to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, a coalition of livestock and poultry groups wrote: The undersigned livestock and poultry groups request that, in light of the ongoing pressures that the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) is placing on domestic feed grain supplies and markets as well as the recent discovery by EPA of nearly $9 million worth of registered but fraudulent Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee consider a hearing to examine the continuing impacts the RFS mandate is having on feed supplies and the economy as a whole. The RIN system is only one of the potentially hundreds of areas that highlight the problems with the current rigid RFS compliance system. As representatives of the livestock and poultry industry, we remain concerned over the continued pressure on grain supplies and the impact this is having on the bottom line and risk management strategies of livestock and poultry producers. [Livestock and Poultry Industry Letter, 12/7/11] National Pork Producers Council: The Renewable Fuel Standard Is "Causing Severe Economic Harm To Pork Producers." In a press release, the National Pork Producers Council noted that it submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency in which it argued that "the [ethanol] mandate, coupled with a summer drought that has reduced yields and pushed up prices of feed grains, is causing severe economic harm to pork producers." [National Pork Producers Council, 10/11/12] McClatchy: RFS Is "Under Fire" From Food Manufacturers, Who Argue Standard Makes It "More Expensive To Raise Food Animals." McClatchy reported that the Renewable Fuel Standard "has come under fire from a variety of sources," adding, "food manufacturers argue the standard drives up corn prices -- making it more expensive to raise food animals that are fed corn and driving up the cost of corn-based food additives." [McClatchy,11/15/13] Prominent Environmental Groups Support The Renewable Fuel Standard Natural Resources Defense Council "Opposes" Efforts To Repeal The Renewable Fuel Standard. In a policy brief on biofuels, the Natural Resources Defense Council stated its opposition to "repeal[ing] the Renewable Fuel Standard or to weaken[ing] its environmental requirements": There is mounting pressure to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard or to weaken its environmental requirements. NRDC opposes these changes, which would slow the development and use of biofuels and introduce substantial environmental risk. However, the specifics of the RFS should be reviewed periodically as advanced and cellulosic biofuels develop and as the extent of detrimental impacts of conventional corn ethanol become increasingly understood. [Natural Resources Defense Council, February 2013] Union Of Concerned Scientists Clean Vehicles Program Official: The Renewable Fuel Standard "Works As Is." In a press release, Dr. Jeremy Martin, senior scientist in the Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles Program, stated: "By exercising its authority to administer the RFS in a flexible and pragmatic manner, the [Environmental Protection Agency] is sending a clear signal to members of Congress and the oil industry who would seek to repeal or revise the RFS: the policy works as is." [Union of Concerned Scientists, 11/15/14] Environmental Defense Fund: Biodiesel Blends Are Affordable Because Of "Smart Policies" Like The Renewable Fuel Standard. According to a report by the Environmental Defense Fund, "Many companies produce blends of biodiesel and traditional diesel ... Today, blends are affordable due to smart policies like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and the Renewable Fuel Standard." [Environmental Defense Fund, August 2013] NextGen Climate Senior Writer: Renewable Fuel Standard Is An "Important Incentive." In a blog post, NextGen Climate senior writer Drew Toal criticized then-Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R-IA) for standing against "important incentives like the Renewable Fuel Standard." [NextGen Climate, 9/3/14]

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 2:47 am

ESPN's Herm Edwards: Talk About Domestic Violence After Super Bowl And "When The Season's Over With"

From the January 30 edition of ESPN's SportsCenter:

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 2:46 am

Limbaugh: "I'm Not Opposed To A Hottie Being Picked" For Vice President On The 2016 Ticket

From the January 30 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:Previously:  Limbaugh: "Most Women Actually Are Intrigued By" Sexual Objectification Limbaugh Calls Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu "Cute Little Baby Fat" The Rush Limbaugh Guide To Sexual Harassment

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 2:20 am

Fox Host Suggests Some Campus Sexual Assault Victims Are "Bad Girls ... Who Like To Be Naughty"

From the January 30 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:Previously: The Show That Sexism Built: Fox Drops All Pretense With Outnumbered "Let Men Be Men": Fox News Hosts Defend Catcalling Outnumbered Helps Kirk Cameron Lecture Women On Christmas Etiquette And Accepting Sexism Fox's Outnumbered Defends Forbes Contributor Fired For Offensive Campus Sexual Assault Column

Posted by on 30 January 2015 | 12:17 am

On Fox, Sharyl Attkisson Continues With Hacking Claims Despite Report That Found No Evidence Personal Computer Was Hacked

From the January 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity:Previously: Federal Report: Investigation Found No Evidence Sharyl Attkisson's Personal Computer Was Hacked Sharyl Attkisson Changes Hacking Story Again: Now She Doesn't Know Who Did It Computer Security Experts: Attkisson Video Of Purported "Hacking" Likely Just A Stuck Backspace Key

Posted by on 29 January 2015 | 10:38 am

How Bloomberg Is Helping The GOP Smear Hillary Clinton

Bloomberg News is helping a Republican operative push out a dishonest smear of Hillary Clinton, hyping the aggregate cost of Clinton's air travel while she was serving as a U.S. Senator as something that could be scandalous. But the article's dubious premise is undermined by facts contained in the article, notably that Clinton's travel history was routine and completely within Senate rules. "Hillary Clinton took more than 200 privately chartered flights at taxpayer expense during her eight years in the U.S. Senate," Bloomberg reported, "sometimes using the jets of corporations and major campaign donors as she racked up $225,756 in flight costs." The article warned that Clinton's travel record could feed into Republican attacks that she is "out of touch."  But Bloomberg undermined the entire premise of its article, reporting that "the flights fell within congressional rules and were not out of the ordinary for senators at the time": There is no evidence her Senate trips, which ranged in cost from less than $200 to upwards of $3,000 per flight, ran afoul of Senate rules, which were tightened by a 2007 ethics law. Before the law was changed, senators were required to pay the cost of a first-class ticket to ride aboard a private jet -- or, in some cases, even less. In Clinton's final two years in the Senate, lawmakers who flew on private or chartered planes had to pay their proportional share of the cost of the flight based on the number of passengers. Bloomberg's complicity in pushing a GOP smear campaign that it concedes is without merit is a troubling development given the relentless and deceptive conservative attacks on Clinton. 

Posted by on 29 January 2015 | 9:10 am

Bill O'Reilly Explains Why He Called AG Nominee Loretta Lynch A "Hero"

From the January 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:Previously:    Watch Bill O'Reilly Call Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch A "Hero" The Loretta Lynch Hearing: A Showcase Of Right-Wing Media Regulars "A Sound Bite Factory For Fox News": Senator Highlights Right-Wing Witnesses At Lynch Nomination Hearing

Posted by on 29 January 2015 | 8:33 am