Right-wing media rushed to exploit the deadly terrorist attack on a French satirical newspaper in Paris, placing blame on Democrats and citing the tragedy to push for renewed surveillance of U.S. Muslims, discriminatory profiling, looser gun regulations, and stricter immigration laws.
Fox News used the tragic attack on the offices of a satirical newspaper in Paris as an opportunity to attack New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio while blaming strict gun laws and political correctness for the tragedy.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that 12 people have died in an attack on the offices of a satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris. French President Francois Hollande called the attack "a terrorist attack without a doubt," and France has reportedly "raised its security alert to the highest level."
On the January 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, national security analyst KT McFarland said that "really strict gun control policy" in France contributed to the attack and claimed that France's "politically correct " policies that treat everyone equally were also to blame. Host Elisabeth Hasselbeck echoed support for law enforcement policies that treat people unequally and added that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio threatens security by demoralizing the New York Police Department and painting the NYPD with "a racist brush" when officers act on that principle.
Fox's exploitation of tragedy comes as no surprise. The network immediately exploited the deadly hostage situation in Sydney, Australia in December to justify torture, politicized the Canadian Parliament shooting in October to attack gun safety measures, and used reports of American deaths in Benghazi, Libya to push their phony scandal surrounding the 2012 attacks.
In advance of the Federal Communications Commission's February vote on net neutrality rules, media have promoted distortions of the proposed regulations, suggesting net neutrality is an unpopular, "Orwellian" takeover of the internet that may stifle innovation, hurt the economy, and raise costs for consumers. In reality, net neutrality has broad bipartisan support, promotes competition, and has been the guiding principle behind Internet innovation since its inception.
Right-wing media outlets effectively set the stage for conservative challenges to replace Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as speaker of the House after months of attacking Boehner for immigration reform proposals, refusing to impeach President Obama, and for suggesting congressional hearings to investigate the death of Eric Garner.
This year, media coverage of issues affecting women often failed badly, from trivializing sexual assault to pushing inaccurate reports on pending state abortion restrictions. Below are nine major ways the media failed women in 2014.
Right-wing media lobbed harsh criticism and conspiracy theories at Jeb Bush in response to his decision to "actively explore" a 2016 presidential bid, even urging more conservative Republicans to run against him.
The New York Times overlooked the millions of dollars in campaign contributions spent by lobbyists and special interest groups that benefitted from the provisions added to the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last week.
The Sunday broadcast political shows overwhelmingly ignored the omnibus spending bill's rollback of key regulations on Wall Street and campaign finance. Only ABC's This Week covered the provisions, which come at a time when the financial services industry and large donors are playing an increasingly outsized role in elections.
Congress' controversial $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown took several days of debate to pass in the Senate and barely passed through the House of Representatives, due to the inclusion of provisions "easing rules on campaign finance and the banking industry," as NPR explained.
The deal reverses a requirement of 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform, allowing banks to "place both standard accounts and accounts that handle riskier derivative trades under the protection of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp." The provision was drafted by Citigroup bank and provides a major benefit to big banks that allows riskier trades and transfers accountability for banks' failures -- and potentially future financial crises -- onto the government and taxpayers. The bill also rolls back campaign finance regulations, dramatically increasing the limit wealthy individuals may donate to national political parties.
This erosion of key Wall Street and campaign finance regulations was all but ignored on the broadcast Sunday political talk shows. Neither NBC's Meet The Press, CBS's Face The Nation, nor Fox Broadcasting Company's Fox News Sunday acknowledged the controversial provisions in their discussion of the spending bill, glossing over the specific rollback of regulations in favor of general discussions on inner-party divisions on the vote. Only ABC's This Week highlighted the provisions. Host Martha Raddatz explained how the bill "dramatically ease[s] restrictions on the amount of cash individuals can donate to campaigns," while a later panel discussion emphasized the rollback of Wall Street regulations.
The shows' failure to cover the rollback of banking regulations and systematic erosion of campaign finance comes at a time when dark money, large donors, and outside spending are playing an increasingly outsized roll in elections and the financial services sector -- the very industry which drafted and stands to benefit from the Dodd-Frank reversal -- is already outspending all other industries in midterm elections.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) expressed disappointment in Michigan State University's decision to honor George Will during their December commencement ceremony, citing Will's offensive comments about campus sexual assault which have received widespread backlash and prompted multiple student government condemnations on the campus.
On December 10, Stabenow issued a statement criticizing the decision to let Will speak and to award him with an honorary doctorate. From Stabenow's statement:
As a Michigan State alumna, I am deeply disappointed that George Will is being honored this weekend. His statements on sexual assault are inaccurate, offensive, and don't represent the values of our state or MSU. I urge the University to continue their efforts to combat campus sexual assault, including the recent convening of the University Task Force on Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence.
MSU invited Will to speak during the December 13 graduation ceremony despite ongoing controversy surrounding his past comments on campus sexual assault.
Will published a syndicated column in June disputing the evidence that 1 in 5 women on U.S. college campuses experience sexual assault, and arguing that efforts to combat sexual assault have made "victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges."
Will's comments received widespread criticism at the time from four other U.S. senators, media, and women's equality groups, and have since incited campus protests. Scripps College cancelled his scheduled speaking engagement in October.
Both the MSU Council of Graduate Students and the school's undergraduate student government have passed resolutions denouncing Will's upcoming commencement address, but the university's president Lou Anna K. Simon defended the decision to honor Will on December 9.
On November 21, the Republican-led House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the findings of its investigation into the September 2012 attacks on two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, debunking many right-wing media myths about the attacks. Despite the fact that this is just the latest of several reports that clear Obama administration officials of any wrongdoing, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reappointed Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to lead a special committee in furtherance of the right-wing Benghazi hoax.