Conservative media are falsely claiming that an Oregon bakery that discriminated against a same-sex couple was given a "gag order" prohibiting them from expressing their religious beliefs. In reality, the bakery was ordered to "cease and desist" publicizing that it would violate state law by discriminating against gay customers.
On July 2, Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, Oregon, must pay $135,000 in damages to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer. In 2013, Sweet Cakes refused to bake a cake for Rachel and Laurel's commitment ceremony, after which the couple filed an anti-discrimination complaint using the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, which prohibits private businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
In the July 2 ruling, Bureau of Labor and Industries commissioner Brad Avakian found that the Kleins had discriminated against the couple on the basis of their sexual orientation. Additionally, Avakian ordered the Kleins to "cease and desist" from publishing or advertising that they would refuse services "of a place of public accommodation... against any person on account of sexual orientation." As reported in USA Today, "The Kleins will not be penalized for speaking about the issue on Christian television and radio programs."
Conservative media, led by an article in the far-right Daily Signal, falsely portrayed the "cease and desist" as a "gag order," implying that the Kleins are barred from discussing the case or their personal religious beliefs. This misinterpretation of the order was echoed by the National Review, Breitbart, Weekly Standard, The Daily Caller, FoxNews.com, and during a segment on the Fox News Channel.
During the July 5 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Shannon Bream discussed the case, asking her guest whether he was concerned "as an American" about the "gag order:"
Charlie Burr, Communication Director for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, debunked the "gag order" talking point in an email to Media Matters:
Our Final Order against Sweet Cakes by Melissa did not contain a gag order (as reported by Fox's Todd Starnes, National Review, Daily Caller and others). It does contain damages for the same-sex couple denied service based on sexual orientation and also includes a cease and desist order directing the business to refrain from discriminating against future customers. That does not mean that the owners are prohibited from talking about the case or their opposition to Oregon anti-discrimination laws.
This cease and desist order is based on enforcement of Oregon's non-discrimination law, which prohibits advertising that services of a public accommodation will be denied on the basis of sexual orientation. It's the same language that makes it illegal for a business to place a "whites only" sign in their window. As Slate's Mark Joseph Stern explained, this is not the same as a gag order (emphasis added):
There is nothing in Avakian's order that bars the Kleins from talking about the ruling. They can rail against it, march against its injustice, and pen Facebook screeds complaining about anti-discrimination law. What they cannot do is proclaim (publicly!) that their business will not serve gay couples.
Climate change deniers have been talking a lot about "energy poverty" to criticize Pope Francis' landmark climate change encyclical, claiming that the policies he supports would harm the poor by making energy prohibitively expensive. But media should think twice before uncritically reporting the fossil fuel industry's energy poverty campaign, which is misleading at best and flat-out wrong at worst, as multiple investigations have compared the campaign to the tactics of Big Tobacco and highlighted how both could harm poor communities.
Two major U.S. coal companies are at the center of the fossil fuel industry's energy poverty campaign: Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. In advance of the encyclical, Arch Coal blasted out a list of talking points to fight back, claiming that the encyclical does not "address the tragedy of global energy poverty." Similarly, Peabody is behind a campaign that began last year called "Advanced Energy for Life," which aims to build "awareness and support to eliminate energy poverty, increase access to low-cost electricity and improve emissions through advanced clean coal technologies."
It is true that access to modern forms of energy is essential for alleviating poverty by providing increased access to education and health services. But fossil fuels are not necessarily the answer, as many experts and reports have detailed. Energy poverty is largely a rural phenomenon, where centralized energy systems -- a precondition for expanding access to coal -- are simply not feasible. According to experts who have worked on the ground to provide energy to rural communities, off-grid energy solutions are far more economical, and renewables in particular are often more effective at bringing electricity to communities cheaply and quickly.
Moreover, the coal industry's misleading campaign to push their product in poor communities has drawn comparisons to Big Tobacco's efforts to push tobacco use worldwide.
Politico published inaccurate information about emails between Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal provided to the outlet by an anonymous source who distorted the emails' contents with the intention of damaging the former secretary of state, according to Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
The Republican-led committee was formed more than a year ago with the mandate to investigate the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya -- attacks which had already been subject to investigations by the State Department and numerous House and Senate committees. Critics have argued that the committee's actions since its formation demonstrate a "singular focus on attacking Hillary Clinton and her bid for president."
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the Committee, writes in a July 6 letter that "a Member of the Committee, a staffer on the Committee, or someone who has been given access to the Committee's documents inaccurately described to the press email exchanges obtained by the Committee in a way that appeared to further a political attack against" Clinton. Cummings describes this as "only the latest in a reckless pattern of selective Republican leaks and mischaracterizations of evidence relating to the Benghazi attacks."
Cummings' letter specifically details inaccuracies in a June 18 Politico story that relied on "a source who has reviewed the email exchange" between Clinton and Blumenthal, a Media Matters consultant and former Clinton White House aide. In its original version, the story claimed:
While still secretary of state, Clinton emailed back and forth with Blumenthal about efforts by one of the groups, Media Matters, to neutralize criticism of her handling of the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, sources tell POLITICO.
"Got all this done. Complete refutation on Libya smear," Blumenthal wrote to Clinton in an Oct. 10, 2012, email into which he had pasted links to four Media Matters posts criticizing Fox News and Republicans for politicizing the Benghazi attacks and challenging claims of lax security around the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, according to a source who has reviewed the email exchange. Blumenthal signed off the email to Clinton by suggesting that one of her top aides, Philippe Reines, "can circulate these links," according to the source. Clinton responded: "Thanks, I'm pushing to WH," according to the source.
The emails were not included in documents originally turned over by the State Department.
Cummings notes that Clinton's email reading "Thanks, I'm pushing to WH" came not in response to Blumenthal's email with the Media Matters links, as Politico indicated, but rather in response to a "completely different" Blumenthal email from nine days earlier "forwarding an article from Salon.com reporting that Republicans were planning to claim inaccurately during the presidential debates that the White House had advance knowledge about the Benghazi attacks and failed to act on it."
The day after publication, Politico updated its story with a correction noting that "A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a Clinton email as a response to the Blumenthal email." As MSNBC.com's Steve Benen notes, "Politico obviously didn't make this up; it relied on a source that provided misleading information, apparently with a specific partisan agenda in mind."
Politico was also wrong to report that Clinton's email was "not included in documents originally turned over by the State Department," according to Cummings. He explained that "that email was turned over to the Select Committee by the State Department on February 13, 2015, marked with Bates number STATE-SCB0045548-SCB0045550. The Select Committee has had that email for four months."
As both Cummings and Benen point out, this is not the first time reporters have fallen from deceptive Benghazi leaks that appear to come from Republican sources. Reporters who relied on sources' characterizations of Benghazi-related documents rather than reviewing them directly have previously had to issue embarrassing corrections.
As more Republicans have officially declared their presidential bids, Fox News' Sean Hannity has solidified his role as a media gatekeeper in the Republican primary. In June, Hannity featured nearly four hours of interviews with declared and potential Republican presidential candidates, far more than any other program on the conservative network. Donald Trump led all candidates in both appearances (10) and airtime (1 hour and 48 minutes) for the month.
Politico's Dylan Byers has dubbed Hannity the "conservative kingmaker," noting that this cycle, "GOP hopefuls have given Sean Hannity dibs on their first interviews as candidates and been rewarded with hour-long 'special events' on his primetime Fox News program."
Since the beginning of June, Hannity has hosted five Republican presidential candidates -- former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, business mogul Donald Trump, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- for these "hour-long 'special events.'" As a result, Hannity surged ahead as the Fox program that devoted the most time to Republican primary candidates in the month of June. The second place show was Fox & Friends (which airs for 3 hours, compared to the one-hour Hannity), with 1 hour and 22 minutes of candidate airtime.
Despite initial reservations about the seriousness of his candidacy, Trump took the lead as the Republican presidential hopeful with the most time on Fox for June, with a total of 1 hour and 48 minutes spread over 10 appearances. Trump faced heavy backlash over offensive remarks he made about Mexican immigrants during his presidential announcement, but was repeatedly defended by Fox News personalities and given a platform to defend himself on the network.
Univision, a Spanish-language media conglomerate, dropped Trump's Miss USA Pageant. Trump, meanwhile, responded by suing the media company for $500 million. NBC and Macy's followed suit: NBC has reversed course on airing Trump's Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, and Macy's will remove Trump brand merchandise from its stores.*
Overall, Hannity has aired the most interview time with Republican candidates, with 4 and a half hours since May.
Trump holds a strong lead over other candidates in airtime on the network since May, with 2 hours and 39 minutes -- nearly an hour more than the next candidate, Fiorina, who has spent 1 hour and 53 minutes on the network so far.
June saw a slight jump in appearances from May, with 73 over May's 68; however, Fox spent 4 more hours on the Republican presidential candidates in June than the network did in May. Nearly 12 hours were devoted to the candidates in June while only 8 hours were spent on the candidates in May. This brings the Fox primary's total time to just more than 20 hours over 141 candidate appearances.
Most Total Airtime: Donald Trump (1 hour and 48 minutes)
Most Total Appearances: Donald Trump (10 appearances)
Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime: Hannity (3 hours and 57 minutes)
Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances: Fox & Friends (14 appearances)
Softball Question(s) Of The Month: On the June 30 episode of the O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly asked Trump whether he believes NBC has an "anti-conservative bias":
O'REILLY: All right. Last question. Do you believe there is an anti-conservative bias at NBC? You worked for them a long time.
TRUMP: Absolutely. You have sleepy eyes Chuck Todd who does "Meet the Press" which is failing in the ratings. You have all sorts of bias. MSNBC -- nobody watches it but it's a total disaster in terms of bias. I mean you absolutely have a tremendous bias.
So much so that I told my daughter, my daughter came up to me -- Ivanka. She said "Dad what do you think?" I said well, I would love you to be a conservative Republican but in terms of your life it's a lot easier to be a Democrat who happens to be liberal. Because I will tell you can go through life a lot easier.
We have to fight like hell but we're going to make the country great again.
Previous Fox Primary Reports
For this study, we used FoxNews.com's "2016 Presidential Candidate Watch List."
Media Matters searched the Nexis database and our internal video archive for all guest appearances on Fox News Channel and Fox News Sunday for the 16 declared and potential presidential candidates in question: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.
For programs where a transcript was unavailable, we reviewed the raw video.
Charts by Oliver Willis. Additional research by Media Matters' research staff.
*Separate from his work at this organization, Media Matters' Angelo Carusone has led a campaign urging Macy's to drop Trump.
Media coverage of Texas' restrictive anti-abortion legislation often presents a false equivalence between arguments from proponents of the legislation and women's health advocates, despite medical experts agreement that such measures are dangerous to women.
The Supreme Court temporarily blocked implementation of two provisions of Texas' extreme efforts to restrict abortion through a targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law. The provisions in question required all clinics providing abortions "in the state to meet the standards for 'ambulatory surgical centers,' including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing," The New York Times explained, and required doctors who performed the procedure "to have admitting privileges at nearby hospital[s]."
Media coverage of Texas' anti-abortion laws often provides equal coverage to both sides of the debate, at the expense of fact-checking anti-abortion proponents who claim, against the advice of medical experts, that the legislation helps women, as Amanda Marcotte noted in a July 2 post for RH Reality Check. Pointing to a recent article from NPR on the Supreme Court's move to temporarily block the state's restrictions, Marcotte explained that although the piece's efforts to quote both sides "is not, in itself, an issue," a statement from a representative from Texas Right to Life, which claimed the law was simply meant to protect women's health, went unquestioned. "What is frustrating is that there is not a whiff of an effort to provide actual real-world facts to give the audience context," wrote Marcotte. She went on:
NPR framed the story like it was two parties making value claims, with no way to measure their statements against evidence. The problem here is that the debate is not about values. Both sides claim to have the same goal--protecting women's health--and the fight is over who has a better strategy to get there.
Similarly, in their reporting on the Supreme Court's block, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal each included statements from both sides of the debate arguing that they were protecting women's health while failing to note that medical experts don't support the legislation.
Health experts have roundly backed abortion access advocates in their assertion that laws of this nature are both medically unnecessary and dangerous to women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Health Association condemned such measures in a joint amicus brief, writing that the measure to be implemented in Texas "jeopardize[s] the health of women" and "denies them access" to safe abortions. Yet despite the health community's denouncement of the provisions, the media often fails to interrogate anti-abortion proponents' false claims on the law.
Hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar responded to criticism from Fox's Geraldo Rivera that hip-hop has damaged young African-Americans more than racism. Lamar explained that hip-hop is an expression that actually keeps young black men out of the streets so that kids can find a more positive influence.
On June 29, Geraldo Rivera attacked Lamar's performance at the BET Movie awards, asserting that his lyrics were "not helpful at all" to public discourse, and added that "this is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism in recent years."
LAMAR: How can you take a song that's about hope and turn it into hatred? ... The overall message is, "we gon' be alright." It's not the message of "I want to kill people."
Hip-hop is not the problem. Our reality is the problem of this situation. This is our music. This is us expressing ourselves. Rather [than] going out here and doing the murders myself, I want to express myself in a positive light the same way other artists are doing. Not going out in the streets, go in the booth and talking about the situation, and hoping these kids can find some type of influence on it in a positive manner. Coming from these streets and coming from these neighborhoods, we're taking our talents and putting them inside the studio.
Anti-immigrant conservative pundit Ann Coulter is claiming responsibility for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's incendiary rhetoric characterizing Mexican immigrants as criminals and "rapists."
On June 1, Coulter released the book Adios, America, which purports to document the Democratic plan to turn the United States "into a third world hellhole" through immigration from places like Latin America. The book recycles nativist talking points and, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "routinely cites white nationalists, anti-Muslim activists and anti-immigrant groups" to attack immigrants, especially on crime.
During his June 16 presidential announcement speech, Trump said the U.S. "has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems" such as Mexican murderers and rapists:
TRUMP: The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems. Thank you. It's true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we're getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They're sending us not the right people.
Trump's remarks sparked a furious backlash from Hispanic advocacy groups, businesses tied to him, and some Republicans. Many on Fox News, however, have defended Trump. Coulter has frequently appeared on the conservative network to push Adios, America.
Fox's Megyn Kelly leaned on Ann Coulter's new racist, anti-immigration book to defend presidential candidate Donald Trump's disparaging comments about Hispanic immigrants.
During his June 16 campaign launch, Republican candidate Donald Trump characterized Mexican immigrants as criminals and "rapists," saying, "When Mexico sends its people ... they're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." Trump claimed that "the U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems."
In an attempt to explain his remarks, which have incited widespread backlash among Hispanic activists and Trump's business associates, Fox host Megyn Kelly turned to Ann Coulter, whose new book, Adios America!, echoes white nationalist and anti-immigrant extremist talking points.
On the June 29 edition of The Kelly File, the host cited Coulter's statistics during an exchange with Fox's Howard Kurtz and Geraldo Rivera, in an attempt to rebut criticism of Trump's racist comments:
KURTZ: What a lot of people hear -- even when Trump goes over the top -- they like the fact that he doesn't apologize. They like the fact that he doesn't parse his words like most politicians. The average politician would have backed off and clarified many times by now. But Trump gets away with it because he strikes a chord.
KELLY: Well, I mean, Ann Coulter has got a whole book out right now that makes this point. Now granted, she's not running for president. But she --
RIVERA: Nor would she ever be elected with that point of view --
KELLY: But she cites data that does support the fact that some, obvious, immigrants who come across the borders do turn out to be criminals, and that's --
RIVERA: I researched it tonight --
KELLY: None? No immigrants turn out to be criminals?
RIVERA: I never said that. Undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the citizen population of the United States.
And on July 1, Kelly hosted Coulter to debate Rivera on the merits of Trump's comments. Coulter argued that the "most important point is these are not people who have a right to be here, so I don't care if they are two rapists," claiming, "It's a fact that only about a third of California prisoners are white."
In her book, Coulter calls immigrants "criminal[s]" and argues that immigration is a "war technique" to change America. In the past, Coulter has described immigrants as "people from backward, primitive cultures," and said that immigrants are a bigger threat to America than ISIS.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Coulter's new book cites a long list of racist and white nationalist extremists, repeatedly referencing the conservative anti-immigration think tank Center for Immigration Studies. Coulter's other sources include Peter Brimelow, the English white nationalist who founded the racist blog VDARE and Robert Spencer, co-founder of the anti-Muslim hate group Stop Islamization of America. In fact, Coulter has credited Brimelow with inspiring her anti-immigration views.
Though NBC severed ties with Trump following his remarks, Fox has continued to rally around the candidate and regular network guest -- Bill O'Reilly even suggested that Trump was "actually highlighting a problem ... that is harming the nation."
Conservative blog The Daily Caller posted an article with the headline: "Barack Obama, Wife Beater."
The July 1 post, posted just before midnight with an anonymous "Daily Caller contributor" byline, featured just five words -- "He's wearing a wife beater" -- accompanied by two pictures of President Obama, in which a "wife-beater" sleeveless shirt is visible under his white dress shirt. The headline read "Barack Obama, Wife Beater."
As of Thursday morning, the piece was featured on The Daily Caller's homepage.
The Washington Times misleadingly cited a government factsheet to claim that a "U.S. policy" could authorize the confiscation of Hillary Clinton's personal email server. In fact, the authority to which the Times refers explicitly notes that its "advisories are NOT binding upon U.S. Government departments and agencies."
On July 1, the Times published an article headlined "Admission Of Hillary's Classified Emails Opens Door For Feds To Seize Her Servers." The report suggested that because some information on Clinton's State Department emails has now been retroactively classified, the NSA could seize the private server on which she stored the emails in order to "destroy" it.
The emails in question are part of a collection of the former Secretary of State's official business correspondence, which was conducted on a non-government email account, and which the State Department is currently reviewing and releasing to the public. According to the Times, the classification of "two dozen" of her thousands of emails could "trigger a U.S. policy that authorizes the government to take control of her private server and sanitize the contents":
The State Department on Wednesday conceded that two dozen of Hillary Clinton's emails did contain classified information, a fact that could trigger a U.S. policy that authorizes the government to take control of her private server and sanitize the contents.
A former senior intelligence official told The Washington Times the policy also requires the government to check other Internet paths her secret information could have taken.
The procedures are spelled out by the National Security Agency's special panel on controlling leaked secrets, called the Committee on National Security Systems. It published a policy, "Securing Data and Handling Spillage Events," that fits Mrs. Clinton's unauthorized private server kept at her home while she was secretary of state, according to the retired officer's reading of the regulations.