Rush Limbaugh dismissed the notion that Kasandra Perkins, who was killed in a murder-suicide this weekend by her boyfriend, NFL football player Jovan Belcher, would still be alive today if Belcher hadn't had a gun. In fact, there is a good chance Perkins would still be alive: Data show that guns greatly increase the probability that women who are victims of domestic violence will be killed by their abuser.
According to research by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, "Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 23 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force." From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which highlighted a 1992 study on domestic violence assaults:
The study found that in incidences of family and intimate assaults the use of guns was 12 times more likely to result in death than assaults that did not involve a firearm. Compared to knives or other cutting instruments, the involvement of a gun increased the risk of death by 3 times and compared to other weapons and bodily force, risk of death increased 23 times if a gun was involved.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that between 1976 and 2005, one third of female murder victims were killed by an intimate -- a spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend -- and more than two-thirds of the spouse and ex-spouse victims were killed by firearms. Girlfriend victims were killed by guns 56 percent of the time.
Similarly, a study by the Violence Policy Center, which concluded that the "most common catalytic component in murder-suicide is the use of a firearm," found that women victims in murder-suicides were killed by another type of weapon or by other means in just 9 percent of cases:
During his radio show on Monday, Limbaugh noted that there are upwards of 600 murder-suicides each year, but discounted the fact that guns play any significant role.
Discussing the Belcher case, Limbaugh criticized NBC sportscaster Bob Costas for bringing up the issue of gun violence during Sunday's night football game. Costas seemed to agree with Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock's comments that "if [Belcher] didn't possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."
LIMBAUGH: No, we don't know that, sadly. I'm sure there are knives in this guy's house. And I'm sure that if he wanted to strangle her, he could have, and he clearly was irrational. The gun and even the availability of it is not why he killed her. And the gun and the availability of it is not why he killed himself. But to say that, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable.
To say what I just said is to be blind and to ignore the reality staring at us, because if there were no gun, if he couldn'ta gotten the gun then she'd be alive, and he'd be alive, and the baby wouldn't be an orphan and everything would be hunky dory and the Chiefs might have even lost. Everything would have been as it should have been.
Fox News used the tragic story of a grieving father to continue smearing undocumented immigrants as violent criminals and attack the Obama administration's deportation policies. In fact, data shows that immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated and do not commit crimes at higher rates than others. Moreover, the Obama administration's deportation of undocumented immigrants is at an all-time high.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy interviewed Don Rosenberg to discuss the death of his son, Drew, who was killed in California when his motorcycle was hit by an unlicensed driver in 2010. As San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders reported, Roberto Galo was charged in the incident for driving without a license and with felony negligent homicide for causing Drew's death. He is reportedly slated for release on Friday.
As Saunders noted, Rosenberg has called for Galo to be deported upon his release. However, Galo is "a legal immigrant with 'temporary protected status,'" which, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, means Galo cannot be deported under certain circumstances: Conditions in his home country temporarily prevent him from returning safely or his country is unable to adequately handle his return.
Galo is reportedly from Honduras, which affords its nationals and those without nationality who last resided in that country protected status in the United States until July 2013. However, those eligible under these conditions might forfeit protected status if they have been convicted of a felony or have committed two or more misdemeanors in the United States.
In introducing the segment, Doocy called Galo "an unlicensed illegal immigrant" while onscreen text repeatedly identified him as an "illegal immigrant."
Fox News website Fox Nation also highlighted the story, linking to Saunders' column with the headline, "Obama Won't Deport Illegal Alien Killer," even though she reported that Galo is in the country legally:
From the November 3 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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With facts and statistics staring down the New York Post's attempted defenses of the New York Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk agenda, the Post has been forced to resort to purely emotional appeals in their attempt to maintain public support for the policy.
Over the past few months, the New York Post has published several news pieces dedicated to interrogating the friends and family members of recent New York City shooting victims. Each story features someone emotionally close to the case speculating about whether ramping up the New York Police Department's controversial "stop-and-frisk" policy could have saved their loved ones' lives. Meanwhile, the Post's editorial page has been littered with hyperbole and graphic imagery -- fear mongering designed to scare readers into believing that ending stop-and-frisk will result in "more blood in the streets."
Several recent interviews in the news section of the New York Post have followed the above theme. Given the unconditional support for stop-and-frisk expressed by the Post's editors over past months, it's difficult to view these stories as anything more than an effort to exploit the raw emotions of their subjects in order to push the paper's political objectives in a "straight news" format. One example, from the New York Post on July 19, was an interview with a mother whose teenage son was shot and killed in July:
The grieving mother of a 15-year-old student who was shot in the head and died last week told The Post police should stop and frisk every person on the streets in order to stem increasing gun violence.
"My son is gone because of an illegal gun on the street," said Natasha Christopher, whose eldest son, Akeal, died on his birthday.
"If they had frisked the person who killed my son, it would have been one less gun on the streets. I'm for it," she declared.
Over the past few months, the New York Post editorial page has defended the New York Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk policy with myths and imbalanced coverage.
From the July 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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"You think rising cell phone thefts are bad? Wait till car thefts soar back over 100,000 a year. Wait till you start hearing about mushrooms and learn that the word refers to children who have been struck by stray bullets."
So opined the editorial board of the New York Daily News in response to public scrutiny of the New York Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" policy -- a controversial program that last year alone resulted in over 685,000 stops of primarily black and Latino residents (only 12% of persons stopped were charged with a crime). This week, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin granted class action status to a group of victims of the policy who are bringing suit against the city for what they argue is a discriminatory and unconstitutional practice. The Daily News, as well as the New York Post, viewed the ruling -- which they inexplicably believe risks the existence of the "stop-and-frisk" practice altogether -- as nothing less than life-threatening.
In the aforementioned editorial, titled "How to kill New York," the Daily News editorial board ominously predicted that If the program is reformed, 'the body count will start rising.'
The NY Post's editors weighed in as well, attacking outspoken critics of the program whom the editors say "won't rest until the murder rate skyrockets":
They're playing with fire -- all of them.
Indeed, if they do manage to weaken the program, the blood of new crime victims will be on their hands.
So: Will the city once again become the Crime Capital of the World?
Alas, so it seems.
While discussing the Secret Service prostitution scandal, Bill O'Reilly said he sympathized with police officers who don't view sex workers as people with legitimate human rights. Talking to sex workers' rights advocate Sienna Baskin, O'Reilly stated that he understood police who "don't put a top priority on ladies who are engaged in prostitution because it is a crime," and added:
O'REILLY: It's like a drug dealer saying I got ripped off, you know. And they're going to say, "that's too bad, don't deal drugs." It's the same thing -- theoretically, from the police's point of view.
Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York, was criticizing the "criminalization system" in the United States, which often makes sex workers "afraid to go to the police when they are themselves victims of crime." She called for legalizing prostitution as a way to reduce crimes against sex workers.
While O'Reilly agreed that there "would be harm reduction" with legalization, he also said that his "beef" with "legalizing prostitution is basically the same thing about legalizing marijuana -- that it sends a message that this is OK. And I know you represent some of these ladies, but I think that selling your body is -- diminishes a human being. It diminishes that person. And it -- and it does harm to them." He continued:
O'REILLY: In my reporting over 35 years, I've seen that almost 100 percent of the time in this industry, and I'm sure you have, too. Do you really want to say it's OK to do this? And that's what you would be doing by legalizing it.
O'Reilly later stated that the "message to society is, hey, look, if you want to be a hooker, go ahead. And we, the society, there's nothing wrong with it -- but there is. There is something wrong with it." He went on to ask: "Why do they have to sell their bodies to make a living? Why can't they get a legitimate job like 99 percent of the population?" O'Reilly concluded: "You can wait tables and drive a cab anytime you want in this city."
From the April 23 edition of Cumulus Media's The Mike Huckabee Show:
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From the April 11 edition of CNN Newsroom:
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One of the more macabre elements of the conservative response to President Obama's comments on the Trayvon Martin case has been the surge of what-about-ism. After the president gave his statement on Martin (which was primarily one of empathy for the slain boy's parents), the right began combing the obituary pages to find examples of recently killed young Americans and demanding to know why the president weighed in on one Florida teenager's death but not other murders. ("He commented on Martin, but what about...")
The point of the exercise is not to promote awareness of the violence epidemic plaguing the inner cities or the disproportionate number of young African Americans who find themselves victims of violent crimes. It's to use these tragedies as a weapon against the president.
Breitbart.com served up a particularly gross example of this phenomenon yesterday, highlighting the shooting death of 6-year-old Aliyah Shell in Chicago to attack Obama: "No mention of Aliyah from the president. No public outpouring for a young mother who sat untangling her daughter's hair as shots rang out. Nothing."
They argue that this can be explained -- and I'm not joking here -- by Saul Alinsky:
The right-wing media response to the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin has veered into even uglier territory. Following initial silence on the story, conservative media began to weigh in when President Obama addressed Martin's shooting by saying that if he'd "had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." It was their perfect opportunity to wade into the conversation -- not by focusing on the issues raised by the incident, but by smearing Martin and attacking the president, while ignoring the inconvenient fact that the man who killed Martin has so far avoided arrest.
Lurking in the background of this conversation has been the right's fixation with the New Black Panther Party, a hate group "whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The conservative Daily Caller and Glenn Beck's website The Blaze have lavished attention on this fringe group in their coverage of the Martin tragedy. Today, CNN's Dana Loesch tried to paint them as a mainstream "progressive" group, while Rush Limbaugh tried to link Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), a former Black Panther, to these extremists.
Today, Rush donned a hoodie on the House floor, in violation of its dress code, to demonstrate that "just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum." (Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt the night he was killed.) Discussing the incident, Limbaugh stated:
LIMBAUGH: He showed up wearing a hoodie. Well, he got what he wanted. He got all the attention. And tried to make a case now the hoodie is a fashion statement. Now, Bobby Rush is a former Black Panther. You should know that. He's a former Black Panther.
Limbaugh then transitioned to talking about an appearance on Fox News by J. Christian Adams, of whom he stated: "J. Christian Adams worked in the Obama Justice Department. He was handling the case against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation in Philadelphia, when Eric Holder basically shut down the case." He added that Adams "wrote a book and explained what was going on. And he basically said that the Obama Justice Department had determined they were not going to pursue black defendants. Just weren't gonna do it. It was payback time now." (No, that's not what happened at all.)
But throughout his subsequent discussion of Adams' appearance on Fox & Friends, Limbaugh never once made the distinction that Rush's Black Panthers are not the same as and are in no way connected to the so-called New Black Panther Party.
From the March 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News' Geraldo Rivera is attempting to clarify comments he recently made about the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. On two separate occasions on Fox News, Rivera claimed that Martin's outfit, which he likened to that of "a wannabe gangster," was "as much responsible" for his death as George Zimmerman, the man who pulled the trigger.
On March 23 on Fox & Friends, Rivera claimed, "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman," adding that Martin "wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way." Later that night on The O'Reilly Factor, Rivera denied blaming Martin for his own death, but nevertheless advised young minority men to avoid dressing "like a wannabe gangster," because "some knucklehead is gonna take you at your word and the tragedy is gonna result."
In an email to Politico today, Rivera attempted to explain those comments, saying, "I have obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager." However, he also suggested his comments were a "very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies."
Politico reported in a March 27 article:
"I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my 'very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies,'" Rivera said in an email to POLITICO Tuesday.
Rivera said that "by putting responsibility on what kids wear instead of how people react to them I have obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager," and that he was offering a "heartfelt apology" to anyone he may have offended in his "crusade to warn minority families of the danger to their young sons inherent in gangsta style clothing; like hoodies."
Rivera reportedly added: "[M]y own family and friends believe [that] I have obscured or diverted attention from the principal fact, which is that an unarmed 17-year old was shot dead by a man who was never seriously investigated by local police. And if that is true, I apologize."
UPDATE: On April 1, Rivera hosted Trayvon Martin's parents on his Fox News show and apologized to them personally, saying, "I never intended to hurt your feelings." He stated:
RIVERA: A week ago, I ranted against hoodies like the one worn by Trayvon on the evening he was shot dead by George Zimmerman, because in Zimmerman's words, Trayvon looked like he was up to no good. I said then that Trayvon's hoodie killed him as surely as George Zimmerman did.
Now, what I was trying to do was caution parents that allowing their kids to wear hoodies or similar clothing in certain circumstances, particularly if they're minority young men, could be dangerous. But I never intended to hurt anyone's feelings and certainly, Sybrina and Tracy, I never intended to hurt your feelings. I want to personally convey my deepest apologies to both of you. I am sorry if anything I said, Tracy, added to your misery.
There are an untold number of issues to ponder when discussing the media's coverage of the Trayvon Martin killing. The Poynter Institute, for example, recently examined some of them, including looking at how the photos of Martin that media outlets are choosing to show can unconsciously reinforce certain stereotypes. But of all the issues surrounding the coverage of the killing, Fox News' media criticism show, Fox News Watch, chose to focus on this question today: "Was this a story for the national media?"
Host Jon Scott added: "No doubt a tragic story -- does it deserve the attention of national media?"
As this question demonstrates, Fox News Watch is not a serious media criticism program. This is the same program that repeatedly fails media ethics 101, whose host once reproduced a GOP press release -- complete with typo -- and passed it off as his own research. The program regularly ignores Fox News' own ethical problems in favor of bashing other news outlets.
But asking whether the Trayvon Martin killing is a national story must be the program's most amazing failure to date.