The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan criticizes the "Trigger-Happy Generation" in her latest column, adding to the increasingly wide range of media figures questioning the merits of "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" on college campuses. But her attacks in particular reveal a troubling element largely missing from this debate: an honest assessment of the crisis of mental health support for students.
Trigger warnings and safe spaces, in theory, attempt to warn and shield students from material that might remind them of past trauma or reinforce a hostile experience. In practice, they take on many different forms, giving ammunition to both defenders and critics who often see them as overzealous attempts to shield students from reality.
In her May 21 column, Noonan places herself squarely in the critics' camp, labeling on-campus advocacy for safe spaces and trigger warnings as "part of a growing censorship movement." She specifically targets an opinion piece in a Columbia University newspaper, which described in part a survivor of sexual assault wanting greater protection after feeling triggered during a class discussion on the rape scenes in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Noonan argues that the world is an unsafe place, and that students shouldn't try to shape it into something more comforting:
There is no such thing as safety. That is asking too much of life. You can't expect those around you to constantly accommodate your need for safety ... [I]f you constantly feel anxious and frightened by what you encounter in life, are we sure that means the world must reorder itself? Might it mean you need a lot of therapy?
Noonan is being flippant, but her dismissive joke actually points to a growing problem: colleges don't offer students enough mental health support, which may be one explanation for the growing trend of students trying to create safe spaces and safe texts for themselves.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and the same day Noonan's column was published, a report released as part of the campaign found that millennials who work (which would include many college students) have the highest rates of depression of any generation. Last year, The Washington Post noted that according to recent studies, "44 percent of college students experienced symptoms of depression, and suicide is one of the leading causes of death among college students."
And victims of rape, intimate-partner violence, stalking, or sexual assault -- which the Columbia University student Noonan highlighted reportedly was -- are "drastically more likely to develop a mental disorder at some point in their lives," according to a 2011 Journal of the American Medical Association study, CNN reported at the time.
These students often don't have access to help, including the therapy Noonan blithely suggested. In 2011, the American Psychological Association labeled the state of mental health on campuses a "growing crisis," and they've continued to track the concerns since. College counseling centers, they explained, "are frequently forced to come up with creative ways to manage their growing caseloads. For example, 76.6 percent of college counseling directors reported reducing the number of visits for non-crisis patients to cope with the increasing number of clients." 88 percent of campus counseling centers surveyed by the American College Counseling Association said they experienced staffing problems due to the increase in demand, the Baltimore Sun reported in 2013.
But as of 2012, only 56 percent of four-year colleges and universities offered on-campus psychiatric services. Fewer than 13 percent of community colleges did as well. The services can't keep up with the rise in demand.
To be sure, not all of the students asking for safe spaces or trigger warnings on their campuses need therapy, nor are they all seeking these spaces because of a general lack of robust mental health service on their campuses. However, I know at least some of them are, because that's exactly what I did.
Fox News selectively quoted a statement from Hillary Clinton's lawyer to suggest that she lied about having a "second email account" during her time as secretary of state. But the network ignored in several segments that the supposed discrepancy was explained months ago.
On May 18, The New York Times published selected emails from Clinton's time at State, which appeared to show her sending emails from two private addresses: HDR22@clintonemail.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Right-wing media immediately jumped on the story to claim that it contradicted Clinton's previous statement that she only used one email address while at State.
Fox went so far as to suggest Clinton "was lying" about her use of email, missing key context in several of their segments on the topic. On the May 19 edition of America's Newsroom, guest co-host Gregg Jarrett asked: "Either she forgot, or she was lying. What do you think?" Fox reporter Doug McKelway also claimed that the "second email" was a "direct contradiction" to Clinton's previous statements, noting those remarks were "not made in testimony, nor was it made under oath, so perhaps there's some wiggle room there, but I'm not sure how she gets out of that."
Later on Happening Now, McKelway highlighted a letter sent from Clinton's lawyer that stated "email@example.com is not an address that existed during Secretary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State."
However, this seeming discrepancy was explained in the same letter McKelway selectively quoted from.
As Clinton's lawyer noted back in that March 2015 letter -- and which Fox News ignored in these segments -- Clinton changed her email address when she left State because Gawker had published emails that revealed the "HDR22" address. That was when she changed the address to "hrod17."
According to her office, when this change occurred, the new address replaced the old address on the digital records of her previous emails. Thus, as explained in a release several months ago, when her emails were printed out and provided to the State Department, the new email address "appeared on the printed copies as the sender."
While this context was missing from Jarrett and McKelway's morning reports, Fox Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry reported the Clinton campaign's explanation in a separate segment on America's Newsroom, saying that "when she printed out all the emails to turn over back to the government, that second account came up, even though that was not the one she was using months earlier."
The old "HDR22" address still appears in some of the documents the Times highlighted, but seems to only occur in the text of the body of emails that were replies or forwards from other individuals. For example, a printed email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan which was published by the Times still shows "HDR22" in the text of his email, because he was replying to her original message.
The backdating of the email addresses "led to understandable confusion" for the congressional Select Committee on Benghazi earlier this year, prompting Clinton's office to issue this explanation in March.
The original Gawker report, which highlighted emails sent to Clinton during her time at State, also includes screenshots of those emails. The emails shown are all clearly sent to Clinton's original email account, HRD22, in keeping with Clinton office's explanation for the email address confusion.
Right-wing media have a plan to solve the national crisis of poverty in America -- and it's all about "personal responsibility."
Roughly 45 million Americans live in poverty, 1 in 7 received food stamps just last year, and 20 percent of children under the age of 18 were impoverished in 2013. Politicians and media figures have offered many possible solutions to help low-income Americans break free from this systemic cycle of inequality, including expanding the social safety net and educational opportunities for all.
But over the years, conservative media have offered their own strategies. Watch as Media Matters looks back at the five easy steps they've proposed to help Americans living paycheck to paycheck find that "richness of spirit":
Fox News is outraged that President Obama called out the network's horrible record on covering poverty, insisting they are simply an "honest messenger." Media Matters looks back on the worst of Fox's attacks on low-income Americans.
Twenty years after 189 countries committed to improving the status of women in the media, the United Nations has found some improvements, but little overall change.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women, at which representatives from 189 countries committed to a blueprint for new global policy empowering women, known as the Declaration and Platform for Action. The Platform identified "12 critical areas of concern" for women worldwide, including the media.
In 1995, the delegates argued that the media helped perpetuate "gender-based stereotyping," and demanded that the "continued projection of negative and degrading images of women in media" be changed. Signatories committed to promoting "women's full and equal participation in the media" at all levels, from management to on-air talent, as well as promoting "balanced and diverse portrayals of women."
Two decades later, the UN has found that there "has been some progress since the Beijing Conference." Notably, "The percentage of stories reported by women has edged up in most issue areas." Women are also highly active on social media, an important force in the media landscape.
However, women are still far from equal in global media. Based on recent data from 108 countries, the UN released an infographic noting that on print, radio, and television news, men still dominate both news organizations and the stories those organizations report on:
The UN also noted that while social media has become "a sounding horn for the feminist movement," it can also be dangerous for women. According to their data, 26 percent of women aged 18-24 "have been stalked online; 25% were targets of online sexual harassment."
Media Matters research confirms that the inequality women face in global news media is a still reality in the United States. As we recently reported, white men now host all of the Sunday morning political talk shows on CNN and broadcast news, giving them a key platform to set the media and political agenda for the rest of the week.
White men also make the large majority of guest appearances. A 2013 Media Matters analysis found that gender diversity on these shows was practically unchanged over the previous five years -- and the numbers are much worse for women of color. This trend has continued since:
Female experts are also often missing from crucial media debates. In one Media Matters study, women's health experts made up only 4 percent of guests brought on to cable news to discuss key abortion legislation. Another study found that women made up only 28 percent of cable news economic guests over the course of a year. And when it comes to discussing national security and foreign affairs, women made up less than a quarter of guests in one year.
As the UN noted, many of these problems stem from newsrooms that are not diverse. Last year, when Jill Abramson was ousted from her role as Executive Editor at the New York Times, it meant that none of the ten largest U.S. papers were led by women anymore.
The UN is now asking signatories from the Beijing Conference to recommit to their goals from 20 years ago, noting that "even a cursory look at media content shows how far there is to go":
Women have an equal right to participate in public debate, including in the media, and offer insights and ideas that must be heard. Everyone deserves to live free from the burden of harmful gender stereotypes.
The media shapes our world -- but so do women, as powerful agents of change in all areas of society. It is time for media to reflect this reality.
After Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced she was charging six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, the Daily Caller reported on how she's a "sexy," "smoldering civil servant."
Gray's death and treatment while in police custody has sparked national outrage and contributed to riots and peaceful demonstrations in Baltimore over the last week. Mosby, who is Baltimore's chief prosecutor, announced during a May 1 press conference she had filed the charges against the officers after a medical examiner's report ruled the death a homicide.
Daily Caller Sports Editor Christian Datoc reported on the press conference by calling Mosby a "smokeshow" with "'crazy girl' eyes":
Throughout the presser, the 35-year-old prosecutor managed to maintain a fiery, authoritative demeanor AND flashed some serious "crazy girl" eyes, a combination which -- if truth be told -- I found incredibly sexy.
I wouldn't mind being unrestrained in the back of Ms. Mosby's paddy wagon.
Datoc's post also featured tweets from individuals calling Mosby attractive, writing "it looks like we weren't the only ones smitten with this smoldering civil servant."
The Daily Caller has an extensive history of sexist commentary demeaning women. Recently, the Caller's founder and Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson dismissed controversy surrounding an email his brother sent, which called New York City Major Bill de Blasio's female spokesperson a "self-righteous bitch" with "dick-fright." Previously, Caller writer Patrick Howley came under fire for inappropriate comments about a female reporter. The conservative website also published a sexist cartoon attacking Meghan McCain which featured a photograph of McCain with speech bubbles emerging from her breasts. Tucker Carlson told Politico in 2014 that the site frequently publishes "slideshows of the female form" because they "care about traffic."
Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer once attacked The Walt Disney Company for what he deemed its "endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle from a company that had traditionally been family-oriented."
Media outlets have aggressively reported on the claims from Schweizer's upcoming anti-Clinton book, which purports to find suspicious links between donations to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's State Department policies. Several errors in the book have already been uncovered, and many outlets have admitted the book presents "little evidence" for its claims.
The factual errors are unsurprising given Schweizer's extensive history of retractions and inaccuracies, but Schweizer's resume also includes publishing a screed against Disney's "thriving gay subculture."
In the 1998 book Disney: The Mouse Betrayed, Schweizer and his wife Rochelle Schweizer set out to investigate the dark side of Disney, and they claim that what they uncovered "was downright disturbing -- even shocking." Their book touches on a wide range of offenses, and includes an entire chapter devoted to "growing gay activism" at the corporation.
The Schweizers document Disney's gay-friendly hiring policies, noting "gay employees fill a variety of roles at the company," even explaining that founder Walt Disney stood by an animator arrested in the 1930s on a charge of homosexuality. But they complain that things have changed, since "in the past homosexuality among Disney artists and employees never became a political issue."
According to them, Disney's gay activism "extends beyond company employment policy. It also exerts a strong influence on the environment at the Magic Kingdom and on the sorts of projects Mickey and his friends are now taking on." This, the Schweizers insist, is part of the "larger issue surrounding a clash between the old Disney and the new ... those who favor Disney's traditional way of entertainment and those who champion a new way that often infuses the Disney experience with gay themes, characters, and stories."
Key among the Schweizers' fears is "the Minnie Mouse stunt," in which they claim men at Disney World secretly dress up as the female mouse to flirt with unsuspecting park visitors, "embarrassing male guests." In fact, Schweizer sees cross-dressing everywhere at Disney World:
...a female dancer lets a male musician perform in her stead and in her clothes; on the steps of Cinderella's Castle, a Christmas pageant is transformed into a drag show for knowing employees when male performers dress in women's costumes. RuPaul, the transvestite entertainer, has performed at Disney World.
ABC News reported that it "uncovered errors" in Peter Schweizer's upcoming anti-Clinton book, Clinton Cash. Schweizer has a long history of sloppy research and reporting -- earlier this week, ThinkProgress revealed that the conservative author cites a hoax press release in the book.
On April 23, ABC News explained that their independent review of the source material used for Clinton Cash "uncovered errors in the book, including an instance where paid and unpaid speaking appearances were conflated." The book purports to reveal connections between Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, donations to the Clinton Foundation, and paid speeches given by the Clintons, but Schweizer reportedly admits in the book he cannot prove his allegations.
According to ABC, Schweizer "said the errors would be corrected." The book is due for release on May 5; it is unclear whether the errors will be corrected before the first publication.
Media Matters identified ten previous instances in which Schweizer made serious factual errors, issued retractions, or relied on questionable sourcing.
Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash reportedly does not prove its speculative attacks on the Clintons and even relies on a hoax press release to support a claim, according to ThinkProgress.
Clinton Cash will be released on May 5, and media reports have already hyped the book's supposed revelations about connections between Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, donations to the Clinton Foundation, and paid speeches given by the Clintons.
According to ThinkProgress, which obtained an advance copy of the book, "Schweizer makes clear that he does not intend to present a smoking gun":
Schweizer makes clear that he does not intend to present a smoking gun, despite the media speculation. The book relies heavily on timing, stitching together the dates of donations to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton's speaking fees with actions by the State Department.
Schweizer explains he cannot prove the allegations, leaving that up to investigative journalists and possibly law enforcement. "Short of someone involved coming forward to give sworn testimony, we don't know what might or might not have been said in private conversations, the exact nature of the transition, or why people in power make the decision they do," he writes. Later, he concludes, "We cannot ultimately know what goes on in their minds and ultimately provide the links between the money they took and the benefits that subsequently accrued to themselves, their friends, and their associates."
ThinkProgress details several of Schweizer's claims, and highlights one major error already found in the book. According to the site, Schweizer at one point uses a press release to bolster one of his many speculative claims, citing it to suggest there may have been a link between a private company that was paying Bill Clinton for speeches (and which supposedly issued the press release) and a State Department report released when Hillary Clinton was secretary. However, ThinkProgress notes, the press release Schweizer cites was revealed as a hoax back in 2013.
This apparently sloppy sourcing from Schweizer is nothing new. As Media Matters extensively documented, Schweizer's career as a Republican activist and researcher is riddled with errors, retractions, and investigations that find his facts "do not check out" and his sources "do not exist." Our analysis found at least 10 separate incidents in which journalists called out Schweizer for his botched reporting.
Discredited Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), a conservative group with close ties to a billionaire family funding Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential run. GAI has also received substantial support from groups backed by Charles and David Koch.
Schweizer's upcoming anti-Clinton book has garnered widespread media attention, despite the author's long history of criticism from reporters for blatant errors, retractions, and reliance on sources that "do not exist."
Schweizer's GAI, which was behind one of the "bogus" reports Schweizer has been excoriated for, bills itself as a nonprofit devoted to investigating "cronyism and government corruption" and protecting "free markets."
But as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow explained on her show, "[W]hen you take a closer look at Mr. Schweizer's organization and who is backing him, it is a who's who of big right-wing funders, including one of the guys behind the right-wing media site Breitbart.com, for which Mr. Schweizer has previously written -- also the billionaire family that is currently bankrolling Ted Cruz's presidential run."
Indeed, as Crooks and Liars also noted, IRS tax forms reveal GAI is funded by some of the top donors on the right, including the billionaire Mercer family.
Robert Mercer was described by Bloomberg News as the "ultimate behind-the-scenes kingmaker" during the 2014 midterm elections. His daughter, Rebekah Mercer, runs the Mercer Family Foundation, which "has also supported a slew of conservative causes."
According to IRS filings, the Mercer Foundation donated $1 million to GAI in 2013 alone. (Rebekah Mercer was listed on the GAI's board of directors in its 2013 tax documents, but is not currently listed among board members on the group's website.)
Rebekah Mercer has close ties to potential Clinton opponent Ted Cruz. The same day Cruz announced his bid for the presidency, Mercer reportedly threw him a cocktail party at her New York City apartment to launch his fundraising tour.
Schweizer's GAI has also benefited from substantial donations from other Koch-linked groups. Donors Trust, described by Mother Jones as the "dark-money ATM of the right," gave $1,500,000 to GAI in 2013. Donors Trust provides individuals and organizations a way to hide their donations to various right-leaning causes and media outlets, and as Mother Jones noted, they are a key funnel for Koch funds.
Donors Trust has also heavily funded the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, which itself has donated substantial sums to GAI, including $2 million in 2012.
As Media Matters has noted, Schweizer gave a February 2014 address to the Charles Koch Institute. He also spoke at an undergraduate Koch Leadership program at Regent University, and according to documents originally obtained by The Nation, he spoke at the Koch's brothers "secret billionaire summit" in June 2014. At the conference, attendees reportedly "discussed strategy on campaign finance, climate change, healthcare, higher education and opportunities for taking control of the Senate." Schweizer previously served as a speechwriter for the Bush White House, as an adviser to Sarah Palin, and as a headliner for multiple Republican Party fundraisers.