Broadcast nightly news shows completely ignored the day's landmark court ruling striking down federal net neutrality regulations, an omission that deals a huge disservice to the public audience and a boon to the news outlets' parent corporations.
Net neutrality -- the principle that corporate internet providers should provide equal access to content for subscribers -- was dealt a serious blow the morning of January 14 when the D.C. Court of Appeals invalidated the Federal Communications Commission's requirement that providers offer equal access to online information, regardless of the source. Prior to the ruling, the FCC prevented internet providers from blocking (or slowing down access to) content in order to benefit their own business interests.
That evening, neither NBC, CBS, nor ABC acknowledged the ruling in their evening news broadcasts.
Here's why that's important -- NBC is owned by Comcast Corporation, which bills itself as the nation's largest high-speed Internet provider. CBS' parent company is CBS Corporation, which also owns multiple sports networks and Showtime, while ABC is part of The Walt Disney Company empire, also the owner of ESPN.
This is a huge conflict of interest for the broadcast news channels, as their parent corporations all have a vested interest in striking down net neutrality laws and promoting their own content at the expense of competitors that lack an advantage in size or Internet service. As PCWorld explained:
Fox News can't seem to talk about the Chris Christie bridge closure scandal without invoking Benghazi.
Fox & Friends devoted five segments during its January 10 broadcast to the growing scandal surrounding Republican Gov. Chris Christie and his administration's involvement in deliberate traffic gridlock across the George Washington Bridge as political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ.
But in every segment purporting to discuss Christie, the hosts and guests used the story to attack President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by bringing up the September 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Frequent Fox guest and former Reagan economic advisor Art Laffer argued for the abolishment of the minimum wage for some workers, describing the law as the "black teenage unemployment act." He added that the federal requirement "makes no sense whatsoever."
Laffer, the so-called father of trickle-down economics, appeared on the January 8 edition of Fox News' Happening Now to discuss the possible extension of recently-expired unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. When host Jenna Lee asked Laffer and American Enterprise Institute's Michael Strain about other ways to improve the economy, Laffer recommended doing away with the minimum wage for some workers, saying that "honestly" the requirement is the "black teenage unemployment act." Strain agreed, and suggested lowering the minimum wage "for the long-term unemployed" to $4 an hour.
JENNA LEE: One of the things you both agree on is maybe looking at minimum wage, and Art, you have an idea for minimum wage that you think could encourage hiring and it involves state government so what is that plan?
LAFFER: Yeah, well the minimum wage makes no sense whatsoever to me. I mean, honestly, it's just the teenage -- black teenage unemployment act and this is the very groups that we need to have jobs not be put out of work because of the minimum wage so I'm really very much in favor of at least for teenagers getting rid of the minimum wage so we can bring them back into the labor force, get them the skills they need to continue being productive members of our society for years and years. I mean, that's the way I'd go on minimum wage.
STRAIN: I certainly agree with Art that we should lower the minimum wage for teenagers, I also think we should lower the minimum wage for the long-term unemployed. You know, right now, if you're a worker and you apply for a job and you've been unemployed for 7 months, the firm may say 'hey, you know, I wonder if there is something about this person maybe previous firms have seen something that I'm not seeing -- I'm not going to hire them.' And the reason that, well a reason that a firm might feel that way is because the government says that you have to take a $7.25 per hour risk on that worker. So if we lower that down to, say, $4 an hour, then the risk is much less to the firm, firms are going to be more likely to hire these workers. Now, I think if we do that, for workers that are heads of households and that are working full time, we don't want them living in poverty, so, if we're going to lower the minimum wage for those workers then we need to have some sort of a wage subsidy or an expansion of the earned income tax credit or something to make up the difference.
LEE: I'm going to need a calculator.
Right-wing media have responded to a Supreme Court justice's decision to temporarily block the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control mandate by falsely claiming that abortifacients are included in the coverage required by the health care law.
Media Matters looks back at the best of the worst of right-wing media's treatment of women in 2013.
The media's hastily-crafted image of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a "different" type of politician is cracking amidst reports of an act of political retribution, a foreseeable consequence of prematurely characterizing potential national candidates so far out from an election.
Amidst speculation that Christie may seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016, media have been quick to paint him as a new, "fresh," straight-shooting politician.
In the last month alone, TIME magazine has declared that Christie governed with "kind of bipartisan dealmaking that no one seems to do anymore." MSNBC's Morning Joe called the governor "different," "fresh," and "sort of a change from public people that you see coming out of Washington." In a GQ profile, Christie was deemed "that most unlikely of pols: a happy warrior," while National Journal described him as "the Republican governor with a can-do attitude" who "made it through 2013 largely unscathed. No scandals, no embarrassments or gaffes." ABC's Barbara Walters crowned Christie as one of her 10 Most Fascinating People, casting him as a "passionate and compassionate" politician who cannot lie.
But the problem with writing Christie's character in platitudes so far in advance of 2016 has also become apparent this month.
Christie is increasingly implicated in a growing scandal involving the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the closure of access lanes onto the George Washington Bridge, the most-traveled bridge in the country. In September, David Wildstein, an ex-blogger and high school friend of Christie's whom the governor appointed to a director's position within the Port Authority, unexpectedly ordered the closure of two of three local access lanes from Fort Lee, NJ onto the bridge. He gave no reason for the lane closures that lasted four days, handicapping commuters, school commutes, and even emergency workers who could not respond timely to crisis calls.
Speculation is swirling that the closures were an act of political retribution -- payback for the refusal of Fort Lee's mayor to endorse Christie in his re-election to the governorship. Lending credit to the theory is the fact that neither Christie appointees nor Christie himself have provided a valid explanation for the closures. Another Christie appointee to the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, claimed the lanes were closed as part of a traffic safety study, but that excuse was shot down by Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, an appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, who testified that he was unaware of any such traffic safety study.
Fox's Megyn Kelly attempted to justify her insistence that Santa Claus was a white man, accusing critics of blowing her remarks out of proportion and targeting the network.
Kelly sparked widespread outrage this week when she insisted to "kids watching at home" that, like Jesus, Santa Claus is a white man. Her remarks came during a discussion on The Kelly File about a post by Slate's Aisha Harris, which detailed the alienation Harris felt as a child reconciling the ubiquitous images of a white Santa with the black Santa she experienced in her own neighborhood.
On December 13, Kelly defended her 'white Santa' comments as a "tongue-in-cheek message" for kids, which she argued was justified because she was merely acknowledging that "we continually see Saint Nick as a white man in modern day America." She also blamed critics of Fox News for ginning up the controversy by race-baiting and assuming "the worst in people":
KELLY: This would be funny if it were not so telling about our society, in particular the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race-bait and to assume the worst in people, especially people employed by the very powerful Fox News Channel.
I acknowledged -- as Harris did -- that the most commonly depicted image of Santa does in fact have white skin. By the way I also did say Jesus was white. As I learned in the last two days, that is far from settled. For me, the fact that an offhand jest I made during a segment about whether Santa should be replaced by a penguin has now become a national firestorm says two things. Race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country, and Fox News, and yours truly are big targets for many people.
Later in the program, Kelly hosted political analyst Zerlina Maxwell to discuss the 'white Santa' controversy. Maxwell explained that her family, like Harris', had a black Santa in their household when she was young. Rather than attempting to identify with Maxwell, Kelly responded that many Fox viewers took issue with the suggestion that a white Santa could alienate black children, asking, "Why is white skin alienating? And why is that not racist?":
Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto is blaming "the war on men" supposedly waged by "Barack Obama's America" for the school suspension of a six-year-old Colorado boy for sexual harassment.
First-grader Hunter Yelton made national news this week following his suspension from elementary school for sexual harassment after he kissed a female classmate on the hand. While the nation debated the appropriateness of the punishment, Taranto espoused a new theory in a December 11 piece for The Wall Street Journal: Yelton is the "littlest casualty in the war on men."
"In Barack Obama's America, even a small boy can become a sexual suspect," Taranto wrote, claiming the boy's school was "following orders from Washington" when it issued the suspension. As evidence, he cited an April 2011 letter from then-Assistant Secretary of Education, Russlynn Ali, which reminded schools, colleges, and universities receiving federal funds of their obligation under Title IX to respond to allegations of sexual violence and sexual harassment at their facilities.
Taranto decried these sexual harassment regulations as unfairly policing men, going so far as to suggest that sexual harassment is normal male behavior that has become stigmatized (quote marks are his own):
As amusing as the story of Hunter Yelton is, however, it is an example of a dire and widespread problem. "Sexual harassment" rules are ostensibly sex-neutral, but in practice they are used primarily to police male behavior. Feminists like Hanna Rosin note with triumph that girls and women do better in school than their male counterparts. One reason is that normal female behavior is seldom stigmatized or punished in the name of "civil rights."
And while college "justice" is often downright oppressive, the excesses of contemporary feminism know no age limits. As the story of Hunter Yelton demonstrates, the war on men is also a war on little boys.
Taranto's theory quickly made it to Fox News, where The Kelly File devoted an entire segment to speculating whether the Obama administration shares blame in the child's suspension. In response to host Megyn Kelly's question, "does the administration have a hand in this," conservative radio host Dana Loesch repeated Taranto's argument, claiming regulating sexual harassment "polices male behavior, it's the persecution of a guy."
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly kicked off his annual obsession with the War on Christmas by blessing the Alliance Defending Freedom organization, an extremist anti-gay group O'Reilly credited with helping him save the holiday.
O'Reilly has become infamous for his annual fight against the so-called War on Christmas, a manufactured issue that O'Reilly has covered more than actual, ongoing wars for the past two years. He promised to continue the annual battle on the December 2 edition of his Fox program, decrying how the efforts of "secular groups" have resulted in "Happy Holidays syndrome" and wondering, "why are we allowing anti-Christmas madness?" O'Reilly went on to applaud the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) for its help in the fight:
O'REILLY: So once again this year, I will keep an eye on the situation. Helping me is the Alliance Defending Freedom organization based in Scottsdale, Arizona. They have been very successful in defending traditional rights in the courts. Therefore I say to them, 'God bless you, each and every one,' with apologies to Dickens.
O'Reilly then hosted ADF's senior vice president, Doug Napier, to discuss the organization's legal battles, which Napier described as a fight for Christians' "right to enjoy the season without the interference of a few bah humbug bullies." O'Reilly repeatedly allowed Napier to hype the ADF and its website, and the two men praised one another for their War on Christmas efforts:
NAPIER: And what we have to do -- and you're doing a great job, Bill, of getting the information out to the American public -- Alliance Defending Freedom sent out 13,000 letters to school districts to tell the truth about Christmas. Armed with the truth, Christmas can come back in, and the bah humbug folks can go out.
O'REILLY: It's good to let people know that your organization will defend them gratis, pro bono, if they are harassed by these other people.
What O'Reilly omitted from his praise of the ADF for "defending traditional rights" is that the group is "virulently anti-gay," as the Southern Poverty Law Center put it. ADF has fought against gay rights at every turn and linked homosexuality to pedophilia, even currently working internationally to criminalize homosexuality.
Fox host Neil Cavuto pretended that the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) ban on gender discrimination, which requires all policies to include maternity care coverage, was never "telegraphed" to the American people when the law was first discussed -- Cavuto is right, if you ignore repeated remarks made by President Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and multiple media outlets prior to the bill's passage.
Under the ACA, all insurance plans are now required to cover maternity and newborn care, one of the law's 10 categories of 'essential health benefits' that every policy must include. The maternity care requirement puts an end to the systemic discrimination against women that pervaded the insurance industry. Previously, many companies charged women higher rates than men for the same plans and denied coverage or increased premiums for women who become pregnant, actions which the law prohibits.
Fox host Neil Cavuto referenced this requirement on the November 15 edition of Your World while discussing the ACA with MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. After Gruber explained the impetus behind the rule, Cavuto claimed that it "was never, ever" explained to the country until now:
GRUBER: The key thing is, if you want to end discrimination, for example by gender, if you want to say that women should not have to pay more than men for health insurance, then that means that everyone has to share the cost of maternity coverage. Now if you don't think that's right, that's a totally legitimate position to take --
CAVUTO: But that was never telegraphed. When all of this started, Jonathan -- that's fine, if you want to say that now though -- none of that was telegraphed, as was the fact that many people would lose their plans and many more would pay a lot more for plans. None of that was this Utopian view that you would do better by doing some good, maybe paying more, but in the net positive the country would benefit. That was never -- that was never ever said.
What Cavuto claims was "never, ever said" was said, repeatedly -- by the media, the president, and the Health and Human Services (HHS) cabinet secretary, all before Congress passed the ACA on March 23, 2010.