Posts tagged with "USA Today"

Facebook gets grief for including Breitbart in News tab

October 29, 2019

Can Facebook do anything that doesn’t draw fire from users, regulators, legislators, and the media? After years of complaints from American news outlets that the social media site has The Washington Post reports that Facebook has agreed to compensate at least some news organizations as part of a specialized “News” tab meant to steer users toward curated national and local news stories.

But the project immediately raised new controversy when it became known that Breitbart News—a Web outlet linked to right-wing causes that was once run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannonhad been included among the 200 media outlets participating in the program.

“Given that Facebook is putting actual news outlets in the same category as Breitbart, actual news outlets should consider quickly withdrawing from the program,” Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal nonprofit media watchdog, told the Post.

At an event in New York to launch the project, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended Breitbart’s inclusion. “You want to include a breadth of content to make sure all different topics can be covered,” Zuckerberg said.

Other outlets participating include The Washington Post, The New York Times, News Corp., BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, Bloomberg News, Fox News, NBCUniversal, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

The News tab marks the latest iteration of Facebook’s approach to online news, the Post reports. Before January 2018, the company had been a leading distributor of news, but that role was dogged by the presence in its feed of false and misleading information, as well as by allegations that its news feed and other features tilted toward liberal viewpoints

Zuckerberg did not go into specifics about how different publishers would be compensated, and media analysts expressed skepticism that the arrangement will help the small and medium local outlets that have been most seriously undercut by the rise of online news distribution.

“The vast majority of local news outlets are not included, and that is part of the news ecosystem that’s most at risk,” David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association of news publishers, told The Washington Post.

Chavern called Facebook’s agreement to pay at least some news outlets for their content a step in the right direction, noting that tech platforms have been “uniquely unwilling to pay for news and quality journalism.”

The News tab already is available to more than 200,000 Facebook users in the United States, with a broader rollout planned for early next year. The new service, Facebook executives say, should make it easier for users to locate the day’s major headlines, as well as stories geared toward particular topics or locales.

The initiative could reach 20 million to 30 million people over a few years, Zuckerberg said.

 Research contact: @washingtonpost

Americans rally nationwide in support of Mueller probe

November 12, 2018

Americans took to the streets at 5 p.m. on November 8—staging massive rallies from New York to Los Angeles in support of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose Russia investigation, they feared, might be curtailed or blocked completely following the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the request of President Donald Trump.

Approximately 900 protests nationwide were mobilized within moments. They stood ready to activate when and if the president “crossed a red line” that would threaten the probe.

According to a report by USA Today, the rallies were part of a coordinated effort by a large number of liberal groups, which had planned a “rapid response” to protect Mueller, if it became necessary. 

The groups’ website, headlined “Nobody is above the law—Mueller protection rapid response,” referred to the appointment of interim Attorney General Matt Whitaker as the impetus for the protests, saying, “Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel’s Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation.

“Whitaker has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it. The Nobody Is Above the Law network demands that Whitaker immediately commit not to assume supervision of the investigation. Our hundreds of response events are being launched to demonstrate the public demand for action to correct this injustice. “

President Trump, who embarked on a trip to Paris on November 9, has given no indication that he would end the investigation, which he has dubbed a “witch hunt.” But, USA Today reported, “the ousting of Sessions will give the president authority to replace him with someone who could attempt to derail the investigation, which is also examining possible obstruction of justice by the president.”

Also on November 8, attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia—Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut , Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, California, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington, Virginia, New Mexico, and Maryland—sent a formal letter to Whitaker requesting he recuse himself from the investigation due to his previous comments

“Because a reasonable person could question you impartiality in the matter, your recusal is necessary to maintain public trust in the integrity of the investigation and to protect the essential and longstanding independence of the department you have chosen to lead,” the letter reads.

Research contact: CHayes@usatoday.com

Mueller rejects Manafort plea deal before second trial

August 29, 2018

President Donald Trump’s former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort tried to make a deal with the Special Counsel ahead of his second trial in Washington, D.C., but the talks fell apart, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.

Manafort’s defense team reportedly held plea discussions with prosecutors last week— hoping to help their client “flip” before he was held accountable for helping Russia interfere in the 2016 elections—but the talks stalled over objections raised by Robert Mueller.

The Journal was unable to determine the nature of those objections, and representatives for Manafort and Mueller declined to comment for the report.

Manafort is facing a second set of charges in D.C. related to his work for a Russia–backed political party in Ukraine, as well as his offer of reports on the campaign to a wealthy Russian to whom he owed money. He is being accused of failing to register as a foreign agent, among other charges.

The former Trump associate was convicted by in an Alexandria, Virginia-based federal jury trial on eight felony counts in the first legal victory for Mueller’s team. The jury found Manafort guilty on five charges of filing false income tax returns, one count of failing to report foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. They deadlocked on the other 10 of 18 counts, with one juror holding out.

According to Politico, Mueller’s team in recent days has shortened its estimate of the length of Manafort’s upcoming trial, which is scheduled to start on September 17. The special counsel’s prosecutors wrote it could be completed in around two, rather than three, weeks.

Research contact: @aviswanatha

Missouri becomes first state to regulate use of the word ‘meat’

August 29, 2018

The last time most of us had “mystery meat” was either in school or in the military. On June 1, Missouri—the “Show-Me State”—made sure that its residents would never have to see mystery meat or eat it again when it became the first state in the nation to pass a law that prohibits food providers from using the word “meat” to refer to anything other than animal flesh.

This  new legislation takes direct aim at manufacturers of what has been dubbed “clean,” or “plant-based, or “nontraditional”meat, according to a report by USA Today. Clean meat—also known as lab-grown meat—comprises cultured animal tissue cells, while plant-based meat is generally made from ingredients such as soy, tempeh and seitan.

The state law forbids “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” Violators may be fined $1,000 and imprisoned for a year.

What’s more, a similar argument is unfolding on the federal level.

The meat-substitute market is expected to reach $7.5 billion-plus globally by 2025, up from close to $4.2 billion last year, based on findings by Allied Market Research.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, which worked to get the law passed, has cited shopper confusion and protection of local ranchers as reasons for the legislation.

“The big issue was marketing with integrity and … consumers knowing what they’re getting,” Missouri Cattlemen’s Association spokesperson Mike Deering told USA Today. “There’s so much unknown about this.”

On Agusut 27, the company that makes Tofurky filed an injunction in a Missouri federal court to prevent enforcement of the statute, alleging the state has received no complaints about consumers befuddled by the term “plant-based meats” and that preventing manufacturers from using the word is a violation of their First Amendment rights. In addition, the company pointed out, “meat” also refers to the edible part of nuts and fruit.

The statute “prevents the sharing of truthful information and impedes competition,” according to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. “The marketing and packaging of plant-based products reveals that plant-based food producers do not mislead consumers but instead distinguish their products from conventional meat products.”

The co-plaintiff is the Good Food Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

MCA spokesperson Deering said he was surprised by the suit because the primary target of the law was lab-grown meat.

Tofurky’s main ingredient is the first two syllables of its name-—tofu.

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would regulate lab-grown meat. Traditional animal proteins are the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ernest Baskin, an assistant professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia told USA Today that consumers use the word “meat,” when applied to nonanimal protein as a “shortcut” to understand how they eat the food they see on supermarket shelves.

“There’s a segment of consumers that doesn’t have to eat alternative products but wants to,” he said. “In those cases, putting those options together in front of consumers gives them the thought that ‘Hey, maybe these two are similar. Maybe I can substitute.’ ”

Research contact:@ZlatiMeyer

‘Dark money’ funds TV ads to defeat Dems

July 16, 2018

So-called “dark money” has funded nearly 44% of TV spots about Congressional candidates during the first six months of this year, according to an analysis of Kantar Media data by USA Today, released on July 13. And more than half of those ads (25%) have not been positive.

In all, nearly 386,000 television spots focused on House and Senate races aired between January 1 and July 8, ranging from ads by candidates to those funded by outside groups. That total surpasses the 355,464 broadcast TV spots that ran at the same point in the last midterm elections for Congress in 2014 and underscores the battle raging for control of Congress.

Leading the way, the news outlet said, were organizations “affiliated with” billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, whose conservative donor network “plows hundreds of millions of dollars into politics” during each election cycle.

Indeed, two groups tied to Koch—Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America—accounted for more than 25% of the advertising from groups that don’t disclose their donors. Both broadcast negative ads against five Democratic senators from red and purple states who are up for reelection—among them, Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Not only that, but they are only just kicking off their efforts, both to oust candidates who do not support their political agenda—and to advocate for those who are prepared to hold the conservative line.

Americans for Prosperity has announced that it will spend at least $1 million on paid advertising and voter outreach to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who is President Donald Trump’s pick for the seat on the Supreme Court being vacated by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy..

The other groups in the top five are One Nation, an issue advocacy group linked to Senate GOP leadership; Vote Vets Action Fund, a Democratic group that aims to elect veterans to office; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Democrats need to flip 23 seats in order to regain the House majority. But the party has a tougher challenge in the Senate. They’re largely playing defense and protecting ten seats in states Trump won, despite Republicans’ slim 51-49 seat majority

Research contact: fschoute@usatoday.com

Dislike of Trump won’t drive voters to the polls in 2018

April 25, 2018

Like many other things, voting is a habit—and it is one that millions of Americans will never pick up. In fact, many U.S. adults who could cast their ballots stay home during every election. And the 2018 midterms are not likely to be much different, despite broad disapproval of President Donald Trump and discontent with the direction of the country, based on findings of a poll conducted by USA Today/Suffolk University and released on April 23.

Those who regularly skip a trip to the polls cite a broad array of factors driving their lack of participation. Some say they don’t trust politicians, or they don’t think their vote will change anything, the pollsters note. Others say the electoral choices are uninspiring—or they simply don’t have the time and transport to get to their local polling place.

In a nationwide survey of 800 infrequent or unregistered voters, 56% of poll respondents said they felt the country was on the wrong track and nearly 55% rated Trump unfavorably. Yet 83% of those polled said they are “not very likely” or “not at all likely” to vote in 2018.

Fifteen percent of unregistered voters said their vote “doesn’t count” or “won’t make a difference.” Nine percent of registered voters said the same.

Nearly 63% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “I don’t pay much attention to politics because nothing ever gets done – it’s a bunch of empty promises.” And 68% agreed or strongly agreed with this sentiment: “I don’t pay much attention to politics because it is so corrupt.”

“Even if there is a surge in turnout, a majority of America will not vote in November,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “It’s a chilling story to tell. These people don’t vote. They could hate Trump, but they could still not vote because they hate political parties, they hate Democrats, they hate the bureaucracy, they hate the infighting, the negativity—all of that.”

The voter turnout rate for midterm elections is reliably lower than for presidential elections. In 2014, only 36% of eligible voters actually voted, while 144 million stayed home,  according to data from the U.S. Election Project.

The survey results suggest that former President Obama is the type of inspirational candidate that persuades infrequent voters to vote, Paleologos said.

“Barack Obama’s strong support in the 2008 and 2012 elections brought voters of all races to the polls, including white voters,” Paleologos said. “When Obama was no longer on the ballot, some of these voters just walked away. Democrats can’t underestimate the value of a young, inspirational nominee.”

Obama was one of several names that came up when respondents were asked who would “definitely” motivate them to register and vote in a presidential election. The top responses were Bernie Sanders (7%), Joe Biden (4%), Donald Trump (4%) and Michelle Obama (4%).

Research contact: @usatoday

Most Americans think Congress is favoring politics over patriotism

March 5, 2018

Most American voters—75%—disapprove of the job Congress is doing, based on findings of a poll released by Suffolk University/USA Today on March 1.

Congress is not putting patriotism ahead of politics, the voters say. Indeed, 58% of respondents said they want to elect a Congress that will stand up to President Donald Trump—and 60% said they believe the country is on the wrong track.

What’s more, while neither party is admired at present, the Democrats are seen more favorably than the GOP heading into midterm elections that have the potential to tip the power balance in Washington, according to the nationwide poll of 1,000 registered voters.

When it comes to electing House members, 47% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a Democrat, while 32% said they would choose a Republican, and 6% wanted neither.

In terms of voters’ general opinions of the parties, the Democratic Party stands at 48% unfavorable and 37% favorable; and the Republican Party,% unfavorable, 27% favorable.

 “Change may be in the wind for Congress, with voters indicating a general turning-away from the Republican Party,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “We also are seeing a change in the issues voters care most about. This poll shows gun violence as a major concern, whereas in the past we would generally see the economy and terrorism as the issues voters cared most about. However, it remains to be seen whether issues or candidates’ personalities will guide voters on Election Day.”

In an open-ended question, voters chose “gun control/second amendment” (12%) and “school safety” (6%) as the most important issue affecting their congressional votes. Nine percent of those responding suggested “jobs/economy,” and “national security/terrorism” was cited by 2%.

Previously released results from this Suffolk University/USA Today poll show that a large majority of American voters want tighter gun control laws and background checks, but they don’t expect Congress to pass such restrictions. They also showed increasing disapproval of President Donald Trump’s performance and concern about Russian meddling in U.S. elections, but they don’t think President Donald Trump is doing enough to respond to the perceived threat to American democracy.

Research contact:  dpaleologos@suffolk.edu

28% of Americans think Facebook should be fined for its role in Russian interference

February 23, 2018

More than one-quarter of Americans believe that social media site Facebook should be fined for its role in Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election.

The online survey of 1,000 people, conducted by market research firm Honest Data, “casts new light on the American populace’s view of Facebook’s culpability in those alleged crimes,” USA Today reports.

The survey was completed just two days before Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three businesses—including an internet firm tied to the Kremlin—on charges of conspiracy, identity theft, failing to register as foreign agents, and violating laws that limit the use of foreign money in U.S. elections.

But, long before this month’s indictments, Facebook already had been implicated: After initially dismissing a suggestion that Facebook may have played a part in a foreign influence campaign by running ads and “fake news” from the Russians, last November, CEO Mark Zuckerberg conceded that there had been interference and vowed to stop it.

According to Honest Data, a polling firm founded by ex-Facebook employee Tavis McGinn, 28% of Americans with an online presence believe that Facebook should be fined for allowing the spread of Russian misinformation.

The possibility of a fine for Facebook stems from calls by Democratic lawmakers to more strongly regulate the social network and online political

Initially, Facebook had revealed more than 10 million users saw Russian-linked advertising, with 44% of it viewed before the election. 

However, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch testified before the Senate last October that as many as 126 million people—roughly one-third of the U.S. population—had been exposed to posts from Russian accounts, thanks to the impact of seemingly organic user posts along with the ads. The following month, Facebook revealed the number was closer to 146 million.

During an interview with USA Today last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to stop election interference, but admitted that he did not know whether that would happen by November midterm elections. “We have a pretty good track record as a company of — once we set our mind to doing something — we eventually get it done.”

Research contact@brettmolina23.