National Review editor Rich Lowry declared that the civil rights dream of the 1960s has been "won," and thus assertions of ongoing discrimination are "imagined slights and manufactured controversies," a claim that dismisses the current reality of economic inequality and voting rights struggles.
August 28 marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on Washington, an event dedicated to calling for civil and economic rights for African-Americans. It was there in 1963 that Dr. King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech, and the events helped bring about enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. For the anniversary celebration, tens of thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to hear President Obama and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) - a speaker at the 1963 march - give remarks.
In a Politico op-ed the next day, National Review editor Rich Lowry used the anniversary celebration as a vehicle to criticize today's civil rights movement as "an intellectually exhausted disgrace" with leaders who are a "degeneration" to the original effort. This is because, according to Lowry, Dr. King's dream "was a glorious triumph" and the fight for equal rights "is won," while today's movement "subsists largely on imagined slights and manufactured controversies unrelated to the welfare of real people."
As evidence of these "manufactured controversies," Lowry mocked the notion that recent voter ID laws are discriminatory and declared: "What the contemporary civil rights establishment can't bring itself to acknowledge is that cultural breakdown has more to do with the struggles of blacks than any officially sanctioned discrimination." He also ignored the continuing problem of economic inequality between whites and African-Americans.
Lowry's dismissal of the discriminatory nature of voter ID laws is illustrative of falsehoods he's pushed in the past. At least 11 percent of American citizens do not possess a government issued photo ID, and the percentage of African-Americans without a photo ID is even higher - one study estimated the number at 25 percent. Even if a state purports to issue an ID for "free," there are costs associated with obtaining one that amount to a poll tax. As the Brennan Center for Justice determined, voter ID laws "create more burdens for minority citizens."
Conservative media have championed the recent spate of state-restrictions on women's constitutional right to abortion access as necessary to protect women's health. But a new report reveals the heavy toll the laws have taken on women's health clinics around the country.
After the 2010 midterm elections, state legislatures passed a record number of restrictions on abortion, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Twenty-four states enacted 92 provisions restricting access to abortion services, a number which tripled the former record set in 2005. The next year, 2012, was the second-highest year on record for new abortion restrictions, with 19 states passing 43 provisions limiting women's access.
Fox News and conservative media championed this flood of abortion restrictions, claiming the measures are necessary to protect women's health and denying that the laws would affect women's access to clinics. In June, Fox contributors Kirsten Powers and Monica Crowley claimed that reproductive rights groups' fears over Texas' infamous SB5 bill -- predicted to force most of the state's clinics to close -- were exaggerated and "ridiculous," because, as Powers stated, "I don't think that many clinics are going to close."
But according to a nationwide analysis released August 26 by the Huffington Post, at least 54 abortion providers in 27 states have closed their doors or ended abortion services since 2010, and "several more clinics are only still open because judges have temporarily blocked legislation that would make it difficult for them to continue to operate." The report found that the states which enacted severe new abortion restrictions and slashed funding planning funding also lost the most clinics -- Texas has lost nine clinics, or more than 20 percent of the state's total abortion facilities.
The state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute explained to Huffington Post that this level of clinic closures is "incredibly dramatic." She went on, "What we've been seeing since 1982 was a slow decline, but this kind of change ... [is] so different from what's happened in the past."
Rather than protecting women's health, these new restrictions -- and the striking number of clinic closures they force -- place women in severe danger. Requiring women to travel long distances in order to exercise their constitutional right to abortion means procedures will often be delayed, which puts women's health in jeopardy.
In response to a new ad that cites the death of Trayvon Martin to encourage states to end Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws, Fox's Hannity claimed the laws actually benefit black Americans more than any other race. The falsehood, first pushed by the conservative blog The Daily Caller, ignores the fact that homicides with black victims are disproportionately found to be justified in SYG states, as well as SYG's impact on states' homicide rates.
New reports indicate that Fox News' sister company is no longer in talks to produce a controversial miniseries on Hillary Clinton, a move that takes pressure off the Republican Party as it moved to boycott NBC and CNN -- but not Fox -- for their involvement with Clinton-related projects.
Last month NBC Entertainment and CNN Films each announced intentions to produce biopics on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton timed to precede the 2016 presidential race. Though both outlets claim their network's news division will not be involved in the effort, the proposed specials have raised concerns about the obvious conflicts of interest for NBC's and CNN's parent companies, and their news divisions' ability to report objectively in the event of a 2016 Clinton presidential campaign. Journalists from both NBC News and CNN News have publicly worried that the specials will damage their news divisions' reputations, and both Media Matters founder David Brock and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called on the outlets to cancel the plans.
Priebus even threatened to ban NBC and CNN from hosting GOP primary debates during the 2016 presidential election cycle -- a threat the RNC ultimately fulfilled when it voted this week to exclude the networks if they "continue to move forward" with their Clinton projects. Priebus explained his thinking to Fox News on August 6, saying it's "ridiculous" to allow "moderators who are not serving the best interests of the candidates."
Given that Preibus wants moderators who serve the "best interest" of the GOP, it was unsurprising that days later when the New York Times reported Fox News sister company Fox Television Studios might produce NBC's Clinton biopic, Priebus refused to extend his boycott threat to Fox News. Responding to State of the Union host Candy Crowley's question as to whether Fox's news division will "be subject to the same kind of scrutiny" he applied to CNN and NBC news divisions over the plans of their sister companies, Priebus claimed he was only "going to boycott the company that puts the miniseries and the documentaries on the air for the American people to view."
A New York Times story on the philanthropic Clinton Foundation contained flawed details about the Foundation's finances, former President Bill Clinton clarified today. As a result of its errors, the story provided predictable fodder for attacks from right-wing media -- rabid for new opportunities to smear former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in anticipation of a yet-unannounced 2016 presidential campaign.
The Clinton Foundation, recently renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, was the subject of an August 13 Times report which speculated the non-profit was experiencing "unease" over financial and management issues. The paper noted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staff will soon move into the Foundation's Manhattan headquarters, and questioned the capabilities of senior Foundation employees. The Times also asserted that the Foundation "ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in." As purported evidence, the paper claimed the charity ran a $40 million deficit in 2007 and 2008 and an $8 million deficit in 2012, citing tax returns.
But the Foundation corrected the record today in a letter from former President Bill Clinton. He explained that the Times failed to provide the context and facts essential to its story and misconstrued the Foundation's basic accounting according to the law, casting a shadow based on a false premise. That is because the IRS requires tax-exempt organizations such as the Foundation to report multi-year financial commitments occurring in the year the commitment was made. So in 2005 and 2006, the Foundation reported a surplus exceeding one hundred million dollars. In subsequent years, that money is reported as spending, but not cash inflow. Clinton also pointed out the difficult reality all non-profits face fundraising during a recession.
The Times was also incorrect in its assessment of 2012 deficits, Clinton stated. The paper relied on unaudited numbers from the 2012 annual report, but audited financials will reveal a surplus.
Predictably, conservative media did not wait to learn these facts surrounding the Clinton Foundation, preferring to cite the initial Times story to decry imaginary scandals and lob both new and old attacks at Hillary Clinton.
CNN's Candy Crowley is the latest critic of planned special programming on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressing concern that a CNN Films' Clinton documentary would threaten CNN News' reputation for objective reporting.
In July, NBC Entertainment announced plans to produce a Clinton-based miniseries timed to precede the 2016 presidential race, and soon thereafter, CNN Films announced its own intention to produce a feature-length documentary film on Clinton to premiere in 2014.
Though both outlets claim their network's news division will not be involved in the effort, the proposed specials have raised concern about the obvious conflicts of interest involved for NBC and CNN parent companies and the news divisions' ability to report objectively in the event of a 2016 Clinton presidential campaign. Media Matters founder David Brock and RNC chairman Reince Priebus have each called on the outlets to cancel their plans due to these ethical issues.
In recent days, even NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd spoke out against NBC's project, calling it a "total nightmare" for NBC News given the fact that a perceived bias in the miniseries -- whether for or against Clinton -- will damage NBC News' credibility for objective reporting.
Now, CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley is voicing her own concern over CNN's plans, telling Politico the Clinton documentary will "make life more difficult, I think there's no doubt about it." Like Todd, Crowley expressed concern that to the public, CNN News and CNN Films are arms of the same machine: "You can say all you want, this is a commissioned documentary from people who are not in the employ of CNN. It's not me. It's not Wolf Blitzer. It's not John King. It's an outside documentary group. But we're with CNN and so this is not a story where the nuances are well-received, particularly by Republicans."
Crowley's concerns come as CNN finds itself under scrutiny for its reporting in an August 6 special focused on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Even the network's teases for The Truth About Benghazi were riddled with inaccuracies, and the feature itself was no different. Host Erin Burnett and correspondent John King filled the special with right-wing talking points about the Obama administration's response to the Benghazi attacks, repeatedly asking questions about conspiracy theories the network itself had debunked months before.
Just last month, CNN president Jeff Zucker told Fortune magazine that a "valid criticism" of CNN is that the network does not dedicate enough air time to conservative points of view. Given Zucker's apparent desire to reach out to more right-wing voices and the network's fumbling of its Benghazi reporting, CNN's ability to air a Clinton documentary without sacrificing its integrity for impartiality appears questionable, and legitimizes Crowley's concerns.
A predictable mix of falsehoods and sexist stereotypes resulted when two male Fox figures attempted to debunk "gender myths" like the gender pay gap, female versus male drivers, and the need for Title IX to support women's athletics.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy welcomed Fox Business' John Stossel on August 8 to ostensibly debunk common gender myths. Doocy opened the segment by asking if the differences between boys and girls are so clear, "why are the feminists still pushing gender equality?"
Doocy and Stossel first attempted to tackle the gender pay gap. While admitting that it is true women are paid 77 cents for each dollar men make, Stossel claimed the discrepancy is because, "we don't work the same jobs." The reason, according to him, is that "women have their priorities in order. They often choose jobs that are less time-consuming, not so far away, and not as dangerous." He concluded that if a true pay gap existed, the market would have sorted it out.
The pair ignored the central fact that the gender pay gap measures discrepancies in pay for an equal amount of work. As of 2011, "women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 23 percent," a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found. And as the Institute for Women's Policy Research explained, "Women's median earnings are lower than men's in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women."
When it came to driving records, Doocy and Stossel did acknowledge that on average, men behind the wheel are more likely to run stop signs, speed, and kill other people. But these statistics did not stop the two from laughing that women are "clearly" worse drivers than men, in part because "they can't maneuver as well."
Back in May, Fox & Friends dedicated more than 13 minutes and multiple segments to questioning whether women can drive or park well.
Last, the men discussed "the myth that Title IX allowed women to play sports in college." Stossel took the stance that without Title IX, which prohibits colleges and universities from discriminating based on gender, this "would have happened anyway. Because at the time, when they passed this, women couldn't get credit cards without a man's signature. Women weren't going to bars alone, or allowed to smoke socially. Life would have changed." Stossel concluded that the law pretends just as many women want to play sports as men do, but "they don't. More men do."
In reality, when Congress passed Title IX in 1972, roughly one in 27 girls, or four percent, participated in sports, according to The New York Times. Just six years later, that number had exploded to 25 percent. Today, roughly one in three girls plays a sport. This increased participation rate is "proof," according to the National Women's Law Center, "that interest often reflects opportunity."
Fox has already sparked outrage this summer with its gender comparisons: In May, host Lou Dobbs called a rise in families with female breadwinners a sign of society's downfall, and paid contributor Erick Erickson added that "biology" and "the natural world" evidenced that men, not women, should hold that "dominant role."
Click below for Stossel and Doocy's full "debunking" attempt.
Rush Limbaugh concocted a bizarre theory during a rant against feminism and homosexuality, arguing that Russia's ban on gay athletes at the Olympics somehow stems from a desire for population growth and a backlash against an allegedly feminist belief that children represent "an albatross" to independence.
On his August 7 broadcast, Limbaugh read from a Buzzfeed post on "Why Russia Turned Against The Gays," which cited a Russian lawmaker saying the country's new ban on the "propaganda" of same-sex relationships -- a growing international controversy due to Russia hosting the 2014 Olympic games -- is needed in part to resolve a "demographic crisis." Limbaugh ran with the idea, suggesting that homosexuality is a threat to a nation's economic power.
Limbaugh professed that America's population boom at the nation's founding contributed to our status as a superpower, and that Russia needs its own population boom to regain a similar status. According to Limbaugh, that is the purpose of Russia's homophobic laws: "Whether they will admit it or not," the desire for population growth "is one of the reasons why there is this movement against homosexuality. It does not procreate. And the Russians need people," he explained, because "it's a key element when discussing the economic growth and the power of any country."
Inexplicably, Limbaugh then tied his discussion of economic power, population growth and homosexuality to feminism, claiming that "the elite feminist movement's got a problem with birth. Abortion they promote. It is the sacrament" to them (not the first time the radio host has leveled such a charge). Rush asserted that "one of the teachings of modern feminism" is that children are "an albatross," just a "trap laid for women by men, to keep them home, to keep them subservient, to keep them as servants ... to occupy a woman so that the husband can run around and do whatever he wants."
Limbaugh eventually pulled his ideas together into a final theory, supposing that the Russians must have noticed the trending feminist beliefs about childbearing and the apparent effect on the U.S. birth rate, and that is, "ergo, the reason why the ban on gay athletes at the Olympics":
LIMBAUGH: Feminists are starting to lose themselves in these philosophical discussions, which of course are rooted in self-absorption and maybe tinges of guilt. Because what's going on here is -- it's continual -- a full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy. And so the Russians -- just to close the loop on this -- the Russians and Putin are putting their foot down. They're saying, 'Enough of that. We aren't going to have that here. We need a growing population. We need a country that's growing. We need more people. We need more people working. We need more productivity. And we're not going to sign up for all this new-age, so-called elitist brilliance. So ergo, the reason why the ban on gay athletes at the Olympics.
Limbaugh's justification for Russia's homophobia is a view shared by other members of the conservative media. The same day, the Daily Caller's White House correspondent Neil Munro attacked President Obama for voicing his opposition to the Russian laws, echoing Limbaugh's assertion that a low-birth rate rationalizes anti-gay policies.
Minutes after sowing seeds of doubt as to whether U.S. embassies abroad are truly facing a possible terrorist attack, Rush Limbaugh warned that this line of cynical thinking is "really dangerous" and "unhealthy" while ignoring his own role in spreading misinformation.
After the State Department announced the extended closure of twenty-two U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa over the weekend, due to intelligence suggesting the possibility of a planned terrorist attack, Limbaugh pondered the theory that this new threat could be an attempt by the administration to distract from other stories. Limbaugh listed incidents in which he believed the White House has not been truthful before declaring, "[A]ll of a sudden here comes this monstrous terror threat ... It's just easy to not believe it anymore. It's just too easy to be cynical."
Approximately ten minutes later, Limbaugh returned to the topic of the embassy closures. But, ironically, this time he complained that the strain of cynicism which doubts the veracity of the embassy terrorist threat -- the same doubt Limbaugh himself had expressed minutes before -- is "a really dangerous thing":
RUSH: The very fact that there are so many people who are cynical about this. The very fact that there are so many Americans who think they're being lied to about a terror threat is a really dangerous thing. It is an unhealthy thing for the country. It is the surest sign of the wanton lack of respect for this country that has swept all across this country. This threat may be real. Everything we're being told could be real. We could be facing something as bad or worse than 9/11. And I bet the majority of Americans think it is a lie. What does that tell you? That what most Americans think of the people who are telling them about this threat -- they're liars too.
Limbaugh continued during a conversation with a caller, at once explaining why listeners should not trust the Obama administration all while asserting that this distrust of government is "not good." Limbaugh stated, "This administration has shown a desire and a knack for distracting people away from things that might be harmful for them politically." He explained that he doubts the threat because "it comes at a time when this administration is trying to cover up what happened in Benghazi. So it's not happening in a vacuum. And the people telling us this, Thomas, are not clean and pure as the wind-driven snow."
Then he again pivoted, saying "I'm simply putting all this in a flow in a contextual flow to explain why there is a lot of cynicism." He continued, "This threat could be exactly as it's being told. It could be dire. And we've got people out there thinking the administration is lying to them."
Limbaugh's cognitive dissonance conveniently ignored the role he plays in encouraging his listeners to mistrust the Obama administration using false information and his influence on the conservative movement at large. Whether it's his claim that President Obama is "at war with the America that was founded," his exploitation of a 10-year-old girl to lie about death panels in Obamacare, his lies about the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, or his repeated dismissal of climate change, Rush Limbaugh has consistently proven to be a habitually dishonest low-information radio host.
Beyond Limbaugh's two-faced approach to the embassy closures, the reaction in the conservative media has ranged from deeming the closure a "gross overreaction" to accusing the Obama administration of running from the terrorist threat.
Fox News assisted Rush Limbaugh in promoting the radio host's 'Limbaugh Theorem,' his attempt to explain why Americans have not been influenced by right-wing smears or Fox's phony scandals -- while hosting Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) to discuss its validity.
Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren dedicated its entire July 30 program to an interview with Limbaugh where he detailed his "Limbaugh Theorem," a hypothesis he frequently discusses on his radio program. According to Limbaugh, President Obama's policies are unpopular, yet Barack Obama himself remains popular, and Limbaugh believes his Theorem explains that apparent conflict: "The way he does this," Limbaugh explained to Van Susteren, "he never appears to be governing. That's why he's constantly campaigning." He continued:
LIMBAUGH: My theory is that Obama has positioned himself as an outsider, not attached to anything that's happening. What he has made happen, he positions himself as opposed to it and against it, and fighting for everybody else to overcome what he has done. And that's one of the reasons why the constant campaign. So he doesn't appear to be governing. So he doesn't appear to be part of Washington. He appears to have this mysterious, powerful bunch of forces that are opposing him, and stopping him from creating jobs. And stopping him from giving people proper healthcare. And stopping him from making their home values go up. And he's constantly out there fighting it. And he does that by constantly campaigning and never seen to be governing.
The Limbaugh Theorem again enjoyed the limelight on Fox the next day when America's Newsroom hosted Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and asked for her thoughts on Rush's hypothesis. After host Bill Hemmer replayed portions of Van Susteren's interview, he summarized the Limbaugh Theorem, saying, "The other aspect of that interview that Rush had with Greta Van Susteren last night is that he believes the Obama strategy is to disassociate himself with anything that's connected with Washington and play the role of the outsider." Hemmer then asked, "Is that what's going on and does that work?"
Apparently undermining the Limbaugh Theorem, Bachmann claimed that Obama was a "consummate insider" who is "all about DC." Hemmer attempted to steer the conversation back to the Limbaugh Theorem, reframing the question, "Do you think this is a president who runs away from governing or does not attach his name or association in any way to the -- what the Democrats consider, phony scandals in Washington? And that way he doesn't have to hang his name on it."
It is not surprising that Fox is hyping the Limbaugh Theorem -- the phony scandals from which the network and Limbaugh accuse Obama of disassociating himself were manufactured by Fox itself. The two conservative media giants seemed to be at odds after Obama's reelection in 2012, but in recent months Fox has frequently hosted Limbaugh in an apparent attempt to rehabilitate his damaged career.