Right-wing media have perpetuated myths about the implications of widespread contraceptive use in response to the legal debate and resultant decision to increase access to the morning-after contraceptive pill. Such misinformation has been found to increase risky contraceptive behaviors.
Fox News' Sean Hannity mischaracterized a Department of Health and Human Services website dedicated to educating girls about making positive health decisions, taking the website out of context in order to claim it encouraged young children to have sex.
On his radio show, Hannity hyped a CNS News article that claimed a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website, girlshealth.gov, informs girls age 10 to 16 "about birth control, gay sex, and mutual masturbation." Hannity described the website as "spreading the wonders of anal sex and mutual masturbation courtesy of the Obama administration." Hannity went on to complain about "a graphic depiction of sex" on the website, claiming "that's government-run health care":
But Hannity's description of the website is incredibly misleading. The site is dedicated to educating girls about how to make safe and positive health decisions, including promoting abstinence. The website was created to "help girls learn about health, growing up and issues they may face" by giving them "reliable and useful health information":
Rush Limbaugh claimed young people support marriage equality because Planned Parenthood for America has indoctrinated them through "anything goes" sex education. The program Limbaugh criticized teaches abstinence along with contraception education.
On the March 29 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh read from a Washington Times Communities article by Paul Rondeau, executive director of the American Life League. Rondeau claimed the federal government's Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) teaches "anything goes sex" where "no type of sex is wrong." Limbaugh used the post to claim young people support marriage equality because "unbeknownst to you kids have been exposed to this for years":
In fact, PREP began only after the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 and teaches abstinence among other education programs to discourage sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies among students. PREP began after the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that support of same-sex marriage has increased steadily in the entire population for the last 10 years.
Fox Nation attacked Michelle Obama by asking if she is turning the Easter Egg Roll into a "fat camp" by adding physical activities and healthy meals to the agenda. In fact, first ladies commonly incorporate their policy initiatives into the annual event.
Fox Nation highlighted a Cybercast News Service article that claimed the first lady was trying to transform the Easter egg roll into a "fat camp" by "inflict[ing] exercise," upon "kids who just want to celebrate the season." From Fox Nation:
The inclusion of health-related activities does not mean the Easter Egg Roll has become "fat camp." According to the White House's official website, all events, including the Easter egg roll itself, will proceed as scheduled, along with exercises and cooking demonstrations to highlight Obama's "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity. From WhiteHouse.gov:
Media outlets cherry-picked facts from a recent Health and Human Services report on the Head Start education program to promote the myth that the program is a failure. However, neither the HHS report nor other studies confirm those claims, and reports actually show the program has had a positive impact both early on and later in students' lives.
Fox News asked whether young children participating in yoga is leading to the "wussification of America." Fox & Friends guest Larry Winget praised yoga during the segment, explaining he didn't "want all those yoga Nazis coming after me on this thing."
The graphic below appeared during an earlier tease of the segment:
Conservative media have claimed that the Obama administration is waging a "war" on "cheap," "clean" coal that will cause blackouts and massive layoffs. In fact, the Obama administration has simply implemented long overdue and legally required clean air regulations to protect public health without hurting electric reliability or employment, and much of the transition away from coal is due to the rise of cheaper, cleaner natural gas.
Fox News trumpeted critics' complaints that the USDA's Summer Food Service Program might feed children who aren't in need. However, as even Fox acknowledged, meal sites operate only in low-income areas where at least half of children qualify for free or reduced lunches during the school year. Fox also failed to fully acknowledge the benefits of the program.
Fox News attacked a partnership between Planned Parenthood and a Los Angeles area high school for entering into a partnership that has reportedly reduced teen pregnancies without any significant parental objections.
As part of their continuing assault on Planned Parenthood, Fox News called the school's clinic, which is run by Planned Parenthood, "controversial" and promoted the objections of critics of the program. In his report on the program, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy stated:
DOOCY: A controversial move in California: Some high schools there in California now allowing Planned Parenthood to set up shop at some high schools. They'll provide students with free birth control, counseling, and pregnancy tests at the high school. Critics say this should be done by parents and not through the school.
Almost everything about Doocy's short statement is wrong. According to the Los Angeles Times, one school, Roosevelt High School, is partnering with Planned Parenthood to staff a reproductive and primary health care clinic. But the article reported that, according to the local Planned Parenthood chapter, parents in the school want their children to have access to reproductive health care. From the article:
Planned Parenthood's Los Angeles executive director, Sue Dunlap, said Latino families generally want access to information and care. "We really don't experience the traditional narrative of angry parents not wanting access to reproductive care in the schools," she said. "It's really the opposite."
Moreover, there is a reason why students are given opportunities to make their own health care decisions instead of it only being "done by parents." Requiring parental consent for students to receive birth control at the clinic would actually be a violation of California law. According to a report on the Los Angeles County government's website, in California, "a minor may receive birth control without parental consent." The same goes for health care related to a pregnancy. Furthermore, with regard to contraceptive and pregnancy treatment, "[t]he health care provider is not permitted to inform a parent or legal guardian without the minor's consent."
New evidence that food stamps help to drastically reduce poverty has been largely ignored by the media, even as the right pursues a campaign to bully those who face food insecurity into silence and help conservatives slash funding for successful antipoverty measures.
In a report released April 9, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that food stamps "reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009." That year, USDA researchers concluded, food stamps reduced the depth of child poverty by 20.9 percent.
As MSNBC's Al Sharpton explained, "facts matter" in the debate over anti-poverty programs. But a Media Matters analysis shows that major broadcast news outlets completely ignored the study, even as Republicans demonize food stamps and push to slash funding for the program.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that the Republican budget plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan and endorsed by Mitt Romney would cut funding for food stamps by $134 billion over 10 years. As the USDA estimates show, those cuts could have a significant impact on poverty rates.
From the April 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the February 29, 2012 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson is set to receive a journalism award at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference from Accuracy in Media, a right-wing group with a long history of promoting anti-gay views and conspiracy theories. Attkisson -- the first reporter from a mainstream news outlet to receive AIM's annual award -- has produced some notably bad journalism over the past year, particularly on the topics of clean energy and vaccines.
Right-wing media, especially Fox News, have a long history of attacking healthy eating and exercise while promoting unhealthy habits such as eating fast food or using too much salt, or getting Botox and going tanning. If getting healthy is one of your goals for 2012, here's why you shouldn't trust any advice from the right-wing media.
Today, MSNBC's Willie Geist asked what seemed like a rhetorical question during Morning Joe: "Who is against giving children good food for lunch?" While some of his co-hosts laughed at the idea that anyone could be against such a thing, there is, in fact, a major media outlet that has loudly opposed healthy food and exercise initiatives for children: Fox News.
Geist's question came during an interview with Share Our Strength (SOS) founder and CEO Bill Shore and actor Jeff Bridges, who were on Morning Joe to promote SOS's No Kid Hungry campaign. After playing a clip of Jon Stewart mocking Congress' decision to allow schools to count pizza as a vegetable, the co-hosts discussed SOS's successes and struggles in trying to get healthier food into school lunch and breakfast programs. That's when this exchange happened:
GEIST: So when you go out there, Jeff, let's say you go up to Washington, and I mean this as a serious question, who is against giving children good food for lunch? I mean that.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): Well, the clip that we --
GEIST: We laugh at the Jon Stewart clip. But are there people, when you say, we need to get fruits and vegetables, they say, no, no, we're sticking with the frozen pizza. I'm backed by the pizza industry. How does it work? Who's against this?
Bridges responded by saying, in part, that "hunger is so connected with poverty. And ... poverty, you know, when you start to deal with that, everybody has different opinions," then concluded: "But you're right. When you talk about feeding kids ... it's a no-brainer."
Geist and Brzezinski don't need to look as far as the pizza industry to find an outspoken opponent of SOS's work getting kids healthier food. They only need to look to neighboring cable channel Fox News.