The occasional White House briefing — Tucker says Fox is behind him — Networks missing climate change
JUST AS SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS reached 42 days without an on-camera press briefing, a new record for the Trump White House, she returned to the briefing room Monday to take questions — even if not always directly answering them.
— Sanders deflected several questions about President Donald Trump reportedly telling donors that “Democrats hate Jewish people.” And she responded to a question about toning down heated rhetoric by accusing Democrats of being “comfortable ripping babies straight from a mother’s womb, or killing a baby after birth.”
— The value of briefings has long been debated. But the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser mourned “the briefing’s untimely death” on Friday, while acknowledging problems in the once-daily event. “We are talking about the difference between asking questions in a flawed setting and not asking them at all,” she wrote.
— Perhaps briefings will increase somewhat following Friday’s departure of communications director Bill Shine, who was reportedly opposed to them. White House reporter April Ryan asked Sanders yesterday whether more briefings can be expected given a “changing atmosphere.” Sanders said she hadn’t noticed a change, while calling President Trump “the most accessible in modern history.”
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PEN AMERICA IS OUT TODAY with a new report: “Truth on the Ballot: Fraudulent News, the Midterms Elections, and Prospects for 2020.” The 50-page report addresses steps taken to combat the spread of fraudulent news following the 2016 election, assesses what happened in 2018 and offers recommendations ahead of the next presidential election.
— “Fraudulent news has become an insidious virus infecting our democracy, feeding prejudices, fanning misperceptions, and shaping voting behavior in ways that can distort election outcomes,” said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel.
— “We see disturbing signals that domestic political actors are beginning to view disinformation as a necessary evil,” she continued, “believing that they have little choice but to fight fire with fire as opponents and outside actors bring disinformation tactics into our elections.”
TONIGHT: The Goldsmith Awards take place at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, honoring investigative reporting and the career of Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron. The finalists for the investigative prize will be on a panel at 3:30 p.m., and the awards ceremony is at 6 p.m.
TUCKER CALLED IRAQIS ‘SEMILITERATE PRIMITIVE MONKEYS’: On Monday night, Media Matters published more derogatory remarks that Fox News host Tucker Carlson made several years ago in appearances on the “Bubble the Love Sponge Show.” For instance, Carlson called Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys,” credited white men with “creating civilization” and questioned why Barack Obama is considered black if he has a white parent. Listen here.
— Meanwhile, Carlson opened Monday night’s show by accusing people of “working hard to kill this show.” But Carlson said “Fox News is behind us” and he isn’t going anywhere. “We will never bow to the mob. Ever,” Carlson said. “No matter what.”
PIRRO’S ATTACK ON OMAR RESEMBLES TRUMP: The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake writes that Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s suggestion that Rep. Ilhan Omar Sharia law over the Constitution because she’s a Muslim — remarks that earned a rebuke from Fox News — “isn’t hugely different from what the president she and many other high-profile Fox hosts supported said in 2016.”
— “Back when Trump was pursuing a total ban on Muslim immigration,” Blake adds, “he occasionally invoked the prospect that immigrants might believe in Sharia and that their adherence to it would be antithetical to the Constitution.”
OMAR THANKS FOX NEWS: “Thank you, @FoxNews. No one’s commitment to our Constitution should be questioned because of their faith or country of birth,” Omar wrote on Twitter regarding the network’s statement on Pirro.
— And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked, “Between Tucker Carlson’s defense of sexual assault + calling women ‘extremely primitive,’ or Jeanine Pirro’s bigoted diatribe that hijabi women are ‘antithetical’ to the Constitution, who do you think Fox News will give a promotion to first?”
A SINGLE EPISODE OF ‘MEET THE PRESS,’ airing in the final days of 2018, accounted for nearly a third of climate change coverage across major broadcast news programs all year. That climate change-themed episode clocked in at 46 minutes; the evening newscasts and Sunday morning shows across ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox devoted just 142 minutes in 2018, a 45 percent drop from the previous year, according to a new Media Matters study.
— “The networks did a particularly poor job of explaining how climate change exacerbates extreme weather; none of the networks’ news reports on the major hurricanes of 2018 even mentioned climate change,” write Media Matters’ Ted MacDonald and Lisa Hymas. “The networks’ coverage was also lacking in diversity: Only 9 percent of the people featured in climate segments were people of color, and only 19 percent were women.”
— While the introduction of the Green New Deal has helped drive more media coverage of climate change in 2019, the focus has remained more on the political implications than substantive discussion of the urgent threat to the planet.
WATCH: Vox’s Carlos Maza breaks down how politics has dominated Green New Deal coverage in new Strikethrough video.
LISTEN: A new episode of ABC News’ “The Investigation” out today features interviews with former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie and Keith Davidson, the former attorney for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
NEW YORK MAG LAYOFFS: New York announced that 16 full-time staffers are being laid off as part of the magazine’s “restructuring,” along with an additional 16 freelance and part-time staff being cut. “In some cases, the changes we are making reflect a need for new focus as we build out our digital subscription business; in others, they reflect an overdue integration of print and digital staffs,” said a New York spokesperson.