Here's what right-wing media are missing in their rush to blame gun regulations and Democrats for the tragic shooting at Ft. Hood on April 2, in which a gunman killed three people and wounded 16 others before taking his own life.
Fox News may have found a new poster child for its campaign to smear recipients of government assistance like food stamps.
For more than a year, Fox has promoted "blissfully jobless California surfer" Jason Greenslate as representative of recipients of government assistance. Fox first featured Greenslate in August 2013 during a special titled "The Great Food Stamp Binge," and has returned to him repeatedly as "the new face of food stamps" in "Obama's America," "representative of literally millions of Americans" who defraud the food stamp program (officially called SNAP).
Predictably, the network jumped at the opportunity to concoct a new poster child to food stamps when news broke that an affluent Minnesota couple were wanted for defrauding public assistance benefits in Minnesota. The couple -- since arrested in Florida -- allegedly received over $160,000 in state benefits like food stamps while living on a $1.2 million yacht with millions in assets.
Fox host Neil Cavuto and network legal analyst Andrew Napolitano hyped the story on March 31 and blamed the fraud on the size of government assistance programs, saying "we shouldn't be surprised when the numbers get this big that fraud pops up." According to Napolitano, the government "willy nilly gives this money away without verifying who's receiving it," while Cavuto agreed that the government is not "following whose getting this money and whether they're all genuinely deserving of it":
Right-wing media's last-ditch attempts to discredit the Affordable Care Act went off the rails as the end of open enrollment approached, from denying the law's basic premise of increasing access to health coverage through private companies to complaining that the law has become too successful.
March 31 marks the end of the ACA's open enrollment deadline -- the date by which individuals must enroll in a Qualified Health Plan in the ACA's exchanges for 2014. Enrollment numbers have reportedly surpassed the 6 million estimate, and early returns have suggested enrollment numbers may reach the administration's original estimate of 7 million sign-ups.
As the open enrollment period comes to a close, right-wing media haven't taken the continued enrollment surge well, desperately pushing debunked myths and trying to spin the positive numbers in last-ditch attempts to discredit the law.
Here are some of their best efforts:
Fox News Sunday and Fox's Sunday Morning Futures misleadingly suggested there weren't enough young and healthy Americans enrolled in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But experts have explained that there were already enough young enrollees to help keep health care costs down in the days before the final deadline for enrollment, and that young adults were more likely to sign up for insurance at the last minute.
Fox & Friends Sunday falsely claimed that raising the minimum wage would harm female workers, contributing to what they called the "phony war on women" -- but women make up the majority of minimum wage earners, and would significantly benefit from a raise.
On the March 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Sunday, co-host Anna Kooiman and Independent Women's Forum Executive Director Sabrina Schaeffer pushed several debunked minimum wage myths, falsely claiming that a majority of workers making minimum wage are younger, and suggesting that Democrats who wanted to pay women more were in fact hurting families and workers, contributing to the "phony war on women" (emphasis added):
SCHAEFFER: The reality is a majority of minimum wage earners are working part time. The majority are younger workers 16-24, about 50 percent are, so it's not quite this dire situation where you have the head of households who are not able to care for their families. And there are -- when the price of something goes up, people tend to buy less.
KOOIMAN: So you're saying it's continuing this phony war on women?
SCHAEFFER: Yeah, of course, and you know, this is definitely sort of a legislative aim looking towards looking at the midterm elections but really what would help people is robust job creation because that's what gives workers -- all workers, especially women who need often part time or flexible work arrangements, more opportunities we want more jobs, we want different kinds of jobs, a variety of jobs, we want women who need part-time work to be able to find it, they're going to have better negotiating powers, higher wages when we have a stronger economy overall.
Kooiman concluded the segment by suggesting raising the minimum wage was not a "long-term solution" that would help "job creation."
In fact, women make up the majority of minimum wage earners and would benefit disproportionately from an increase in the minimum wage. ThinkProgress reported that according to research from the Center for American Progress, "two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women," (despite making up only 48.3 percent of the total workforce) making women "far more likely to benefit from a wage increase" than men:
Furthermore, as sixty percent of women are the primary or co-breadwinner in their household, raising the minimum wage would have a significant positive effect for families. The majority of minimum wage workers are adults over the age of 25, and despite Fox's fearmongering, numerous economic studies have shown that increasing the minimum wage would have little effect on jobs and could even increase hiring, while boosting the economy in the short run. Finally, the Economic Policy Institute found that the declining value of the minimum wage was a major contributing factor to growing levels of economic inequality, weakening low-wage workers' bargaining position.
Raising the minimum wage would benefit over 13 million women and 30 million American workers overall -- but that still hasn't distracted Fox News from its long history of campaigning against raising the minimum wage.
Right-wing media have been Hobby Lobby's biggest fans in the Supreme Court showdown between the federal government and the company over the health care law's contraception coverage mandate, championing Hobby Lobby as only interested in protecting its religious liberties. But according to new documents obtained by Salon, the company is an active partner to activist groups pushing their Christian agenda into American law.
This week the Supreme Court took on the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage mandate, hearing arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, a case which could allow secular, for-profit corporations an unprecedented religious exemption from the requirement that all health insurance cover preventive services like birth control. The conservative plaintiff, Hobby Lobby, is arguing that some emergency contraceptives covered by the mandate amount to abortion -- even though they don't.
Over at National Review, editor Rich Lowry framed the Green family -- Hobby Lobby's owners -- as "law-abiding people running an arts-and-craft-chain," "minding their own business," until "Uncle Sam showed up to make an offer that the Greens couldn't refuse -- literally." Jonah Goldberg, in an op-ed in USA Today, claimed that all Hobby Lobby is asking is to leave birth control decisions up to women and their doctors.
The conservative media sphere has repeatedly characterized Hobby Lobby as merely seeking "religious freedom." As Fox News host Eric Bolling described the case, "your religious freedom, guaranteed to you by the constitution, hangs in the balance." He added that the mandate "feels like political ideology trumping small business." The network has even given Hobby Lobby's attorney the platform to champion the company's small town virtues.
It turns out that the company right-wing media have worked so hard to champion has a significant hidden political agenda. On March 27 Salon broke the story that it had obtained a document revealing Hobby Lobby's political funding ties to a network of activist groups "deeply engaged in pushing a Christian agenda into American law."
According to Salon, a 2009 Tax Filing Form revealed that Crafts Etc., a Hobby Lobby affiliate company, and Jon Cargill, the CFO of Hobby Lobby, contributed a total of nearly $65 million in 2009 alone to the National Christian Charitable Foundation -- one of the biggest contributors to the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Center for Arizona Policy.
These organizations pushed SB 1062 -- the anti-gay legislation recently vetoed by AZ Governor Jan Brewer -- to the AZ Statehouse, and their agendas include many other discriminatory and dangerous policies including legislation that forces women to have invasive ultrasounds before abortions.
The National Christian Charitable Foundation also contributed over $90,000 in 2012 to the Becket Fund, the legal group representing Hobby Lobby in its current Supreme Court battle over Obamacare's contraception mandate. As Salon explained the relationship:
Seen in this light, the ideological connection between the Hobby Lobby suit and Arizona's recently vetoed legislation becomes clearer: One seeks to allow companies the right to deny contraceptive coverage while the other would permit businesses to deny services to LGBT people. "There are really close legal connections between [Arizona's anti-gay SB 1062 bill] and the [Hobby Lobby] Supreme Court case," Emily Martin, vice president and general counsel at the National Women's Law Center, told Salon. "Ideologically, the thing that unites the two efforts is an attempt to use religious exercise as a sword to impose religious belief on others, even if it harms others, which would be a radical expansion of free exercise law," said Martin.
And the common thread is the much bigger trend across the country. "Individuals and entities with religious objections to certain laws that protect others are seeking to use their religion to trump others," Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project, told Salon.
On March 25, Hobby Lobby, a secular, for-profit corporation, plans to wrongly argue before the Supreme Court that emergency contraception, a form of preventive service like birth control that all health insurance policies must cover under the Affordable Care Act, amounts to abortion, and thus violates the corporation's religious liberty. Here's what media should know about the contraception at issue.
Fox News touted conservative Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse by promoting his website and urging viewers to vote on the "Constitutional Madness" bracket that Sasse created in an attempt to smear President Obama.
The March 24 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends featured Sasse's "Constitutional Madness" bracket, which purports to determine Obama's worst violation of constitutional rights by allowing participants to vote online. Fox followed in the footsteps of their contributor Sarah Palin, who has endorsed Sasse, by hosting and promoting the Nebraska Senate candidate during a discussion of his bracket. Sasse urged viewers to visit his campaign websites as co-host Steve Doocy celebrated the press the bracket has received:
In keeping with right-wing media's recent smears of President Obama's surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy as "anti-gun," Fox News framed Murthy's support for "allowing doctors to ask children if their parents keep guns in their homes" as a controversial position. However, doctors discussing gun safety with patients is a responsible, common sense practice that is protected by the First Amendment.
On the March 18 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ, Shannon Bream reported that "critics" of Murthy's nomination are "worried" by the physician's "support for things like allowing doctors to ask children if their parents keep guns in their homes":
BREAM: Well Murthy is well known for his support of Obamacare but his critics say they're most worried about his advocacy for tougher gun laws and his support for things like allowing doctors to ask children if their parents keep guns in their homes.
And given those Second Amendment concerns, once the NRA announced it would score the vote, meaning it would keep track of and publicly talk about how the Senators voted on that Murthy nomination, a number of those moderate democrats -- a number of them in red states up for re-election this fall there started to be chatter that they too would not support this particular nominee.
Guinness announced that it will not participate in the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade due to the parade's exclusion of LGBT groups, prompting outrage and calls for boycott from right-wing media figures.