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As ‘Fox & Friends’ Ignores Pruitt Scandals, So Does Trump

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Fox News’ morning show Fox & Friends continues to cover up the growing number of scandals plaguing Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, giving the story less than two minutes of coverage throughout the week.

Pruitt’s ethics problems have been steadily mounting in his short time as EPA administrator. In the past couple of weeks, it was revealed that the EPA head paid a below-market price to rent a condominium co-owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist, had his taxpayer-funded 24/7 security detail accompany him on personal trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl, looked into leasing a private jet for an exorbitant cost, exploited a loophole to bypass the White House’s rejection of massive pay raises for two close aides, may have violated ethics rules by having his staff carry out personal tasks for him, and abused a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act to hire loyalists and ex-lobbyists. And just yesterday, news broke that Pruitt reassigned or demoted at least four officials who raised concerns about his behavior, had not provided ethics officials with the full details of his living arrangement, and lied about his landlord’s lobbyist husband having clients with business before the EPA.

The new reports have thrust Pruitt into the spotlight, but Fox & Friends did not mention Pruitt once on Friday. The morning show granted just one minute and 53 seconds of coverage to Pruitt’s ethics scandals from April 2 to April 6, relegating the story mostly to short headlines segments.

Notably, the day after Fox News aired a wide-ranging interview with Pruitt, Fox & Friends spent a mere minute and a half covering the story while rival networks covered the interview extensively throughout the day.

Today, a day after news broke of more scandals, President Donald Trump’s favorite morning show ignored the story entirely, opting instead to attack rapper Jay-Z for his comments on racial justice and recycle Trump’s lies about immigrants voting. Fox & Friends even interviewed two Trump administration officials, Mercedes Schlapp and Peter Navarro, and failed to ask them about Pruitt. In fact, throughout the week, six Trump administration officials appeared on Fox & Friends; none of them were asked to comment on Pruitt’s likely ethics violations.

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Sessions Campaigns To Undermine Police Reform

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

As President Donald Trump’s attacks on football players protesting police brutality continue to grip the news cycle, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken to conservative talk radio to advocate for policing tactics that would exacerbate the very problem the protesters are seeking to resolve.

During a September 22 rally for then-candidate Luther Strange’s Senate campaign, Trump attacked NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice — specifically police brutality — saying, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired?’” Trump continued his crusade against the predominantly African-American protesters with a number of tweets throughout the weekend defending his comments.

The president’s diatribe against the peaceful protesters consumed the news cycle for the days following, during which time Sessions appeared on at least two nationally syndicated conservative talk radio shows to tout new statistics showing an increase in violent crime for the second consecutive year. Sessions used the data and the platform to push for policies that could undermine further relations between minority communities and law enforcement.

Appearing on the September 27 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, Sessions claimed that “we’ve gotten away from principles of law enforcement that work,” alluding to the shift away from law enforcement policies spearheaded in the 1980s and early 1990s, when, according to U.S. News & World Report, “blacks were five times more likely to be arrested for drugs than whites were.” Sessions continued, “You’ve got to effectively stop and have sufficient punishment to deter people from committing crime,” presumably referencing his May 10 memo outlining a plan to increase mandatory minimums and beef up drug sentencing.

On the September 26 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, Sessions proposed police departments reinstitute the law enforcement strategy of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican who became notorious for proliferating stop-and-frisk policies that unconstitutionally targeted minorities. In 2013, a New York judge’s review of the city’s stop-and-frisk policies concluded that “the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.”

Sessions also told Hannity’s audience that the Department of Justice should focus on “respecting,” “working with,” and “supporting … not undermining” local police departments. To Sessions, that involves rolling back consent decrees, reform agreements between the Department of Justice and local police departments that are meant to address pervasive problems, such as use of excessive of force, at the local level. Sessions spoke out against the agreements in the spring and ordered a review of them, and experts criticized him for it. A federal judge in Baltimore, MD, even rejected Sessions’ attempt to torpedo the consent decree with the city’s police force.

From sentencing to police oversight, criminal justice experts have lambasted nearly every policy Sessions has implemented as attorney general, highlighting the detrimental effects they could have on minorities and urging Sessions to take an evidence-based approach to law enforcement policy. Comprehensive studies have shown that “incarceration has little or no effect on crime.” Improper stop and frisk also has not been shown to reduce crime; instead, it tends to create animosity between minority communities and law enforcement, and can be unconstitutional racial discrimination.

Consent decrees offer solutions for police departments struggling with civil rights concerns. And while tough policing policies may have played a role in the lowering crime rates in the 1980s and 1990s, the yield was limited, and any benefits came with a significant civil rights cost.

Sessions watched as journalists outside of the conservative media sphere grilled Trump surrogates over the president’s racially charged attacks on civil rights protesters. Perhaps it’s for that reason he is relying on friendly talk radio hosts to help him push policies that will further inflame tensions between minorities and police.



Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Cable News Completely Ignores The Economic Benefits Of DACA

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters for America.

After President-elect Donald Trump pledged during his presidential run to rescind an executive action on immigration that protects from deportation thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors, cable news outlets routinely discussed the program as a political tool without explaining how it benefits Americans and the American economy.

The 2012 executive action known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, allows almost 800,000 people to study, work, and live their lives in the United States without fear of deportation. As a result of not being forced to live in the shadows, DACA recipients have generated more government revenue in the form of sales and property taxes, and created new jobs through increased consumer spending and boosted wages. The program has benefited the entire economy, but cable news coverage of DACA depicts the program as if it impacts only those who it protects from deportation.

Media Matters reviewed how evening news programs on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC covered DACA from August 31 — when Trump announced he would put an end to the program — to December 15. Of the 20 qualifying segments on DACA during that time period, its economic impact was mentioned only once. Even then, the discussion failed to provide many facts on the scope of the program’s benefits.

Meanwhile, new reports investigating the effect of rescinding DACA conclude that doing so would do more harm than good for all Americans, not just the thousands of undocumented immigrants protected by the program. On December 13, Univision reported on a study from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which found that ending DACA would reduce contributions to Social Security and Medicare by $19.9 billion and $4.6 billion, respectively, over 10 years. On December 15, Telemundo reported that if approximately 3.4 million undocumented immigrant homeowners, many of whom are protected under DACA, lost protections from deportation, the resulting mass deportation “could hit the housing market, causing losses of up to $9.3 billion.” Additionally, a November 18 report by the Center for American Progress estimated that “ending DACA would wipe away at least $433.4 billion from the U.S. gross domestic product” over the next 10 years.

Cable news networks’ failure to connect the dots on how anti-immigration policies would negatively affect the economy is a disservice to voters whose decisions at the polls were guided by a desire for a strong economy.

Methodology

Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts from Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC using the search terms “allcap(DACA) or dreamer or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” for programs airing between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. from August 31 through December 15. We reviewed the transcripts for segments discussing the economic impact of DACA. This included reports from correspondents and guest panels and excluded brief mentions of DACA that did not generate meaningful discussion between hosts or guests.