A Fox News segment billed as an effort to uncover the opinions of New York City taxi drivers on immigration reform repeatedly mocked non-white immigrants' national origin and ability to speak English.
The July 1 video package, part of a recurring segment on The O'Reilly Factor dubbed "Watters' World," featured clips of Fox contributor and O'Reilly producer Jesse Watters conducting man on the street interviews with cab drivers. Fox host Bill O'Reilly described the impetus for the segment, saying, "Many immigrants, both legal and illegal, drive taxi cabs. So we sent Watters out to check out that situation."
The package interspersed brief clips of the interviewees, all of whom spoke with accents, with clips of movie characters who were often shown repeating the same phrase in a comedic accent. The characters, like Jim Carrey's Harry Dunne in Dumb and Dumber or Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat Sagdiyev in Borat!, were juxtaposed with the drivers in an unflattering manner that served only to ridicule their accents, the perceived depth of their comments, or their home country. At one point, Watters asked a participant, "Let me see your papers. I'm kidding around, I believe you."
After the package played, O'Reilly questioned whether there were any women featured. Watters responded, "There was the one babe, with the red dress ... the nicest dressed taxi cab driver I've ever seen."
Watters routinely misinforms Fox viewers and has a history of controversial comments that includes Watters asking, "Is there a Muslim problem in the world?"
Rush Limbaugh ignored the various obstacles the LGBT community continues to face, from employment discrimination to the ability to use public accommodations, when he declared that "all the gay issues are behind us" in wake of Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality.
The Supreme Court's decision in Windsor v. United States on June 26 struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied married same-sex couples the benefits and protections afforded to married couples under federal law.
Limbaugh responded to the news by stating, "With all of today's Supreme Court decisions on all of the gay issues, all the fatwas, we had DOMA, we had Proposition 8, so now all the gay issues are behind us ... So now the gays are free to turn out and support Republicans now."
Later in his show, Limbaugh claimed, "For all of human history, marriage was that between a man and a woman. And everything was hunky-doory. Everything was fine ... Then all of a sudden one day, homosexuals decided that it wasn't fair. That they couldn't get married. So they began to agitate and stir things up."
Of course, despite Wednesday's decisions, the struggle for equality under the law is ongoing for the LGBT community, and the status of equality in America is anything but "hunky-dory." Here are a few of the unresolved challenges gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people continue to face in the wake of Windsor:
This is by no means a comprehensive list.
Limbaugh's revisionist history and dismissive attitude toward the status of equal standing of his fellow listeners came as many others in the right-wing media sphere decried today's Supreme Court decisions as paving the way for the legalization of "incest and bestiality."
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied married same-sex couples the benefits and protections afforded to married couples under federal law. Many right-wing media voices expressed displeasure with the result. This item will be updated throughout the day.
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck ran to the defense of celebrity chef Paula Deen's right to use racial slurs without fear of being fired from her lucrative deals with the Food Network, QVC, and others. Deen came under fire after she admitted to using the racial slur on several occasions. Beck claimed her critics were engaging in "McCarthyism" and described Deen's words as "violations of political correctness, nothing more."
Deen is being sued by Lisa T. Jackson, a manager at Deen's restaurants in Georgia, over allegations of sexual and racial harassment. A deposition from the proceedings revealed that Deen repeatedly used racial slurs and other offensive language. From The Daily Beast:
In her testimony, Deen admits to using the N-word, reveals her ambivalence towards people watching pornography at a place of work, and--the arguably racist, definitely bizarre bit that's made headlines Wednesday--details the Southern plantation wedding of her dreams, in which black waiters serve guests slave-style.
In the aftermath of the deposition's release to the public, Deen issued a recorded apology. The Food Network announced that her contract will not be renewed, and QVC -- the home shopping network -- is reviewing their business relationship with Deen.
On his June 24 web show, Beck used the backlash against Deen as a platform to rant about what he believes is the active destruction of Constitutional principles, arguing that attacks on Deen over the content of her speech are symptomatic of the nation's decline. Remarkably, Beck invoked the name of African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to defend Deen's use of racial slurs and attack the use of public boycotts -- a tactic King and others utilized to great effect during the civil rights movement.
The Associated Press ignored significant context about the role of organized labor in its report on the comeback of Hostess brands and the iconic Twinkie snack. The article privileged attacks from executives claiming unions were to blame for the company's demise while ignoring a history of union concessions, executive pay raises, and financial mismanagement that paint a different picture about the Twinkie's temporary expiration.
The AP reported Sunday that Hostess Brands LLC, a trimmed-down version of the defunct Hostess Brands Inc., is aiming to have Twinkies and other well-known Hostess brand products back on store shelves by July 15. The story noted that Hostess went bankrupt "after an acrimonious fight with its unionized workers" and described in he-said-she-said fashion how the company ultimately failed:
Hostess Brands Inc. was struggling for years before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in early 2012. Workers blamed the troubles on years of mismanagement, as well as a failure of executives to invest in brands to keep up with changing tastes. The company said it was weighed down by higher pension and medical costs than its competitors, whose employees weren't unionized.
To steer it through its bankruptcy reorganization, Hostess hired restructuring expert Greg Rayburn as its CEO. But Rayburn ultimately failed to reach a contract agreement with its second largest union. In November, he blamed striking workers for crippling the company's ability to maintain normal production and announced that Hostess would liquidate.
The trimmed-down Hostess Brands LLC has a far less costly operating structure than the predecessor company. Some of the previous workers were hired back, but they're no longer unionized.
The article's depiction of the company's fall omits crucial context and leaves readers with the impression that the act of discarding union workers is what allowed the "trimmed-down" company to re-emerge. The AP did not tell readers that, just three years prior to Mr. Rayburn's negotiations with labor, union workers made "substantial concessions" to aid the company's financial health, or that Hostess stopped contributing to workers' pensions and cut wages and benefits "by 27 to 32 percent."
Fox News broke from other cable networks when it cut away from President Obama's speech in Berlin to host a panel previewing planned tea party protests in Washington, D.C.
Fifty years after President Kennedy delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech on the front line of the Cold War, President Obama kicked off a series of German events celebrating the 1963 address with a speech of his own. MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News each covered the speech live. But while MSNBC and CNN aired Obama's remarks to their conclusion, Fox cut away early in order to discuss tea party protests planned in Washington, D.C. the same day.
After cutting to a commercial break, Fox News ignored the remainder of the president's speech, opting instead to host a panel to discuss the significance of the tea party's rally against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Following that segment, Fox News covered wildfires in Colorado and an NFL player suspected of murder, all while their cable news peers continued to cover the president's address from Berlin.
Obama received criticism from Fox for speaking in Germany as a U.S. senator in 2008. Then in 2009, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Fox News personalities criticized Obama for failing to give a speech in Berlin. Fox contributor Monica Crowley even accused the president of being "very reluctant to stand up for the values on which America is based and the values on which we stand."
Fox News' promotion of anti-IRS tea party rallies is not surprising. The network has a history of pushing misinformation regarding the recent allegations of improper IRS scrutiny of conservative groups and has a storied history of propping up the tea party during the movement's infancy.
Displaying a remarkable lack of self-awareness, Rush Limbaugh tried to convince a caller that "it's a pretty safe bet" that liberals always lie and conservatives never do -- an assertion he backed up with a series of his own lies on everything from abortion to minority vote suppression and the IRS.
On the June 18 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh addressed a caller who expressed interest in hearing both sides -- liberal and conservative -- of any given debate before coming to his own conclusion on the issue. Limbaugh chastised the caller for informing himself in this manner, telling him, "The liberals lie. I do not form my opinions on what both sides say. I form my opinions on what I know to be right." Limbaugh concluded that it's a "pretty safe bet" that liberals are always lying, while conservatives don't lie. In his attempts to prove his theory, Limbaugh turned to some misinformation of his own on the subject of abortion and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Rush Limbaugh mischaracterized the effects of the emergency contraceptive pill known as Plan B while lecturing listeners on the "cultural decay" caused by the pill's accessibility to teenage girls. Limbaugh repeatedly referred to the pill as an "abortion pill," describing details of the contraceptive's process that defied reality and displayed a complete misunderstanding of basic female anatomy on the part of the conservative radio host.
On June 10, the Obama administration announced it would drop its insistence on age restrictions for the sale of Plan B, paving the way for consumers of any age to purchase the emergency contraceptive without a prescription.
The next day, Limbaugh addressed a caller who challenged the host's repeated assertions that Plan B caused abortions. Limbaugh initially accepted the caller's accurate assertion that the pill does not terminate pregnancies of any kind, with the caveat that the pill promoted teenage sex and "cultural decay" regardless of this fact.
But after a commercial break, Limbaugh recanted, falsely claiming that the pill does in fact terminate pregnancy, if pregnancy is established at the moment of fertilization rather than at the moment a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall.
"Plan B prevents the egg from implanting," said Limbaugh. "It does not prevent conception." He continued describing Plan B's interactions, claiming it "delays the release of the fertilized egg to the uterus."
In fact, emergency contraceptives like Plan B prevent fertilization, not implantation, and in no way terminate pregnancy.
Fox contributor Erick Erickson drew outrage from conservatives and liberals alike over a series of sexist comments, in which he lamented an increase in the number of female breadwinners in the United States and argued that males should be dominant in human societies because "the male typically is the dominant role" in "the natural world."
Fox News distorted the testimony of Attorney General Eric Holder to claim that he committed perjury before the House Judiciary Committee last week.
It was recently revealed that the Justice Department obtained a search warrant for the communications records of Fox News reporter James Rosen in an effort to track down a leaker who provided him with classified information on North Korea in 2009. On May 15, during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) asked Holder about the warrant and the potential for prosecuting journalists accused of publishing classified information that they obtained from government sources. Holder responded (emphasis added):
With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. That is not something that I've ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy.
On May 24, the Justice Department released a statement clarifying Holder's involvement in the approval process for the warrants in question (emphasis added):
"The Department takes seriously the First Amendment right to freedom of the press. In recognition of this, the Department took great care in deciding that a search warrant was necessary in the Kim matter, vetting the decision at the highest levels of the Department, including discussions with the Attorney General. After extensive deliberations, and after following all applicable laws, regulations and policies, the Department sought an appropriately tailored search warrant under the Privacy Protection Act. And a federal magistrate judge made an independent finding that probable cause existed to approve the search warrant."
Fox News' Special Report on May 24 argued that these statements were inconsistent and concluded that the Attorney General had previously lied to the Judiciary Committee and thus had committed perjury. Host Shannon Bream began the show stating, "It's his story, but he's not sticking to it," claiming that Holder has "chang[ed] his tune" on his involvement in the scrutiny of journalists. Contributor Steve Hayes claimed that Holder's two statements were "incongruent" and Charles Krauthammer speculated that it may be "a case of perjury."
In fact, the statements are not "incongruent" whatsoever. Holder's comments to the Judiciary referred to the possibility of prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information, but that is not the crime the Justice Department's warrant accused Rosen of committing. DOJ investigators were concerned with Rosen's solicitation of classified information, not any subsequent publication of it. Wired explained (emphasis added):
According to the affidavit (.pdf), FBI Agent Reginald Reyes told the judge there was probable cause to believe that Rosen had violated the Espionage Act by serving "as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" in the leak. The Espionage Act is the same law that former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is accused of violating when he leaked information to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks.
To support his assertion, Reyes quoted an email exchange between Kim and Rosen, in which Rosen told him that he was interested in "breaking news ahead of my competitors" and had a particular interest in "what intelligence is picking up." He also told Kim, "I'd love to see some internal State Department analyses."
The suggestion was that Rosen broke the law by soliciting information from Kim, something that all journalists do routinely with sources.
Nonetheless, the federal judge found there was probable cause to believe that Rosen was a co-conspirator and approved the warrant.
In other words, Holder's on-the-record denial of involvement in any prosecution of news organizations for publishing classified information in no way conflicts with any knowledge he may have possessed or action the DOJ may have taken against reporters for soliciting said information. Fox's perjury accusations simply don't align with the facts.