Crime

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  • Latest Accounts Of Trump Misogyny Allege Unlawful Behavior, But Media Don't Notice

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media coverage of The New York Times’ report detailing allegations of misogyny and sexual harassment on the part of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump virtually ignored allegations of possible illegal behavior and focused instead on one of the women in the report who claimed the Times “spun” her words.

    On May 14, The New York Times published a front-page story titled “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private.” The article, based on over 50 interviews, “reveal[ed] unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct” by Trump, according to the Times.

    Two of the people the Times referenced in the report were Jill Harth and her former boyfriend George Houraney, who had both “worked with Mr. Trump on a beauty pageant in Atlantic City and later accused Mr. Trump of inappropriate behavior toward Ms. Harth during their business dealings.” The Boston Globe detailed Harth and Houraney's accounts extensively in April, which included accusations of sexual harassment by the candidate against his reported business partner in the pageant, Ms. Harth:

    After a few weeks of negotiating, they came to terms on many aspects of a deal. It was time to celebrate. Trump invited the American Dream executive team, along with at least nine past and present calendar models, to a party at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach in January 1993.

    During dinner, Harth alleged, Trump demanded that she sit next to him.

    “When we got to the dinner table, Donald started right in on the groping under the table, to tell you the truth,” Harth said in her deposition.

    Some of the salacious charges about what happened later that night, based on Harth’s assertions, were reported in 1997 in New York tabloids and the National Enquirer. Trump took her into an empty bedroom — the one normally used by daughter Ivanka, who at the time was 11. Trump forcibly “kissed, fondled, and restrained” her from leaving, according to Harth’s suit.

    [...]

    Several weeks later, Harth again went to Mar-a-Lago for a meeting to discuss the competition. After some of Trump’s business associates left, Harth alleges that Trump forced her into a bedroom, made “unwanted sexual advances,” and began touching her “private parts” and “uttering Svengali-type proclamations of love.”

    Harth said in the lawsuit that she immediately “became nauseated and vomited profusely.”

    A Media Matters analysis found that Harth’s account of sexual harassment was not examined by media on morning, daytime, or evening news programs on CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, or CBS, and was mentioned only once on MSNBC in a report on All in with Chris Hayes. But the Times report suggests that Harth’s story is part of a pattern of “unsettling workplace conduct,” which could constitute allegations of what is legally known as the creation of hostile work environments through unlawful sexual harassment.

    Only one show made this connection about the gravity of the allegations -- ABC’s The View on May 16 -- but co-host Joy Behar didn’t go into more detail beyond saying, “That is called sexual harassment.”

    By contrast, media outlets mentioned Rowanne Brewer Lane’s allegations that the Times “spun” her words at least 40 times. According to the Times, Brewer Lane alleged that Trump had “asked her to change out of her clothes” and “to put on a swimsuit.” Since the publication of the report, Brewer Lane has labeled the account “a hit piece.”

    Methodology: Media Matters searched Nexis and Snapstream transcripts for coverage between May 14 and May 22 on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC using the terms "Jill Harth," "Harth," "Sexual harassment AND Trump," “Trump AND Harth,” "Sexual assault AND Trump,'" and “Brewer Lane.” A supplemental search was conducted using alternate spellings including the terms: “Trump and har” “Trump and herth,” “herth,” “harf,” and “Trump and harf.”

  • Media Falsely Accuse Clinton Of Making Up “Security Inquiry” Characterization Of Email Probe

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media mischaracterized comments by FBI Director James Comey to baselessly suggest that Hillary Clinton coined and used the term “security inquiry” to describe  the FBI probe into her email use  to downplay its severity. But the terms "inquiry" and "security referral" came from The New York Times’ original report on the probe, and it has reaffirmed that the “case began as a security referral.”

  • PBS Gave Troy Newman A Platform To Whitewash His Anti-Choice Record -- And That’s Exactly What He Did

    PBS Fails To Call Out Newman’s Radical History During Gun Safety Town Hall

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On May 10, PBS hosted a town hall conversation about gun violence and faith in America and invited anti-choice extremist Troy Newman to participate. During the town hall, PBS and host Michel Martin failed to identify Newman’s history of extremism and allowed him to downplay his organization’s role in harassing abortion providers.

    Newman is the long-serving president of Operation Rescue and is best known for his ties to extreme anti-choice groups and history of harassing abortion providers with violent rhetoric. A 2014 Rolling Stone profile called Newman “one of the nation's most prominent anti-abortion activists.” His reputation is so infamous that in 2015 Australia deported Newman out of concern that his “presence would be ‘a threat to good order’” and that he would “compromise the safety and wellbeing” of abortion providers and those seeking care.

    A number of reproductive rights groups warned PBS that giving Newman a national platform to “whitewash” his history of anti-choice extremism was “not only irresponsible” but also “downright frightening and potentially dangerous.” NARAL Pro-Choice America senior vice president Sasha Bruce argued that given the unprecedented uptick in anti-choice violence over the past year, “PBS should be ashamed of itself for giving weight to Troy Newman's dangerous opinions."

    Despite all of this, PBS provided Newman a platform to downplay his history of anti-choice extremism -- and that’s exactly what he did.

    At the beginning of the town hall, Martin identified Newman as the “president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue” with no explanation of the group’s extreme history or current work. For the rest of the town hall Newman was identified on screen exclusively as a “Presbyterian Minister” with no further mention of Operation Rescue.

    Similarly, at the conclusion of the town hall, Martin allowed Newman to spread misinformation about the safety of abortion and mischaracterize Operation Rescue’s goal of ending patient access to the procedure. In his final remarks, Newman claimed that because of abortion, “the most dangerous place to be in America today is in the womb.” Martin did not challenge Newman, allowing him to continue that Operation Rescue’s goal is to “close abortion clinics through peaceful non-violent means”:

    TROY NEWMAN: I have to say yes and amen to that. Preach it. I will continue to do what I have done for the past 25 years and that is advocate for the least of these among us. We talk about violence. The most violent place or the most dangerous place to be in America today is in the womb. Over 1 million babies die from abortion. And I will continue to advocate for their lives. And you talk about beating your swords into plowshares, what we do is we close abortion clinics through peaceful non-violent means, so that’s what I will continue to do. I will continue to preach non-violence everywhere it rears its ugly head. And I would just close by saying this: I so appreciate this forum, I appreciate all of you, I appreciate the discourse.

    Although Newman has claimed Operation Rescue is peaceful, this characterization ignores the organization’s history and current pattern of harassment against abortion providers.

    For example, in 1987, Operation Rescue vice president Cheryl Sullenger was sentenced to prison for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic. Sullenger also communicated with Scott Roeder, the convicted assassin of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, providing him information about Tiller's schedule and location.

    Far from Newman’s characterization, Rolling Stone’s profile explained Operation Rescue’s strategy as a “smear campaign … to shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting.” The article said Operation Rescue members “rummage through employees’ garbage … tail them around town as they run errands … picket clinic staffers at restaurants while they’re inside having dinner and castigate them while they’re in line at Starbucks.”

    Newman also told Rolling Stone that he wanted providers and clinic employees to know that, “As long as they're embedded in the abortion industry receiving blood money, they can't live a normal life.” Treating abortion as abnormal or shameful reinforces abortion stigma -- the “shared understanding that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable." Abortion is both common and overwhelmingly safe, but Newman’s demonization of abortion providers is part of a larger strategy by anti-choice groups to “exploit the stigma of abortion” in order to deter patients from accessing this essential health care service.

    By failing to identify Newman’s history or call out the extreme nature of his anti-choice views, PBS and Michel Martin gave him a free platform to stigmatize abortion and normalize the further harassment of abortion providers.

  • The O’Reilly Factor Peddles Racist Myths About High Incarceration Rate For Drug Violations 

    Eric Bolling: “Maybe More Blacks Are Committing More Of The Same Crimes”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    During a segment on drug incarceration, Fox News’ Eric Bolling suggested the higher incarceration rates for African Americans are not about race, but instead because “blacks committed more of the same crimes.” From the April 22 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

    BILL O’REILLY (HOST): I feel very strongly that if my children were addicted to heroin and I knew who was selling them the heroin, I would not consider it a nonviolent action. How about you?

    ERIC BOLLING: No, I think you have to go hard on the drug dealers, distributors.

    O’REILLY: Even the punks on the street?

    BOLLING: Even the punks on the street. I don’t think it has anything to do with race, it has to do with what they are doing. They are providing access for kids, people to hurt themselves.

    O’REILLY: Why does the left see it differently and is trying to diminish the harmfulness of their actions?

    BOLLING: Well Russell Simmons tried to make it about race. He said more blacks are incarcerated than whites therefore --  

    O’REILLY: Well it's a big issue.

    BOLLING: Because maybe more blacks are committing more of the same crimes. It's still illegal to sell heroin. It's still illegal to sell opiates.

    O’REILLY: May not be much longer, Colmes, the way the trends are going in this country.

    According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, prison sentences of African American men were almost 20 percent longer than white men for similar crimes. The Wall Street Journal attributed the gap to judicial discretion, restored by the Supreme Court in 2005. In a September 2014 article, the Washington Post reported that, while whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rate, and whites are more likely to sell, blacks are “far more likely” to be arrested for sale and possession.

    Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has a history of campaigning against drug sentencing reform, despite the evidence that current laws target minorities. O’Reilly has previously stated that drug sentencing reform sends a message that drugs aren’t dangerous.

  • Right-Wing Media's Worst Attempts to Downplay Sexual Assault and Diminish Survivors

    ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    For Sexual Assault Awareness month, Media Matters looks back at right-wing media's history of downplaying, and questioning the legitimacy of, sexual assault. Right-wing media figures have called reporting statutory rape “whiny,” claimed sexual assault victims have a "coveted status," said the sexual assault epidemic is "not happening," blamed feminism for encouraging sexual assault, and said attempts to curb sexual assault constitute "a war happening on boys."