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  • Fox Personalities Blame Obama For Baltimore Violence

    Lou Dobbs: "There Is A War On Law Enforcement ... Condoned By This Administration"

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and Fox News contributor Keith Ablow blamed President Obama and his administration for violence in the wake of the mysterious death of Freddie Gray, who died a week after suffering an unexplained injury while in the custody of Baltimore police officers.

    On April 19, 25-year-old Freddie Gray died of a reported spinal cord injury that he mysteriously suffered after being arrested on April 12 by police officers. After Gray's funeral on April 27, the governor of Maryland declared a state of emergency in Baltimore and activated the National Guard to respond to violence and looting in the city that resulted in injury to at least 15 police officers.

    On the April 27 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox host Lou Dobbs responded to the events by blaming the violence against the police on Obama, asserting that "there is a war on law enforcement" that is being "corroborated if not condoned by this administration."

    Later during the show, Dobbs invited Fox contributor Keith Ablow to comment, and he also blamed Obama for the violence, adding that people who want to tear down the system like the people in Baltimore "might be taking [their] cues from this president" (emphasis added):

    DOBBS: I'd like to begin with what drives, in your judgment, a police department and a mayor, who basically have given a free pass to those who are tearing up property, and injuring others, including law enforcement?

    ABLOW: What drives them is a lack of respect for the foundation of governing and foundation of law upon which this nation rests. Contempt for such things and a kind of tacit acceptance, that protests can be violent because people are so frustrated. But the bottom line Lou, is that if you want to change things, you work within the system, that is the way it has always been. If you want to tear down the system, you might be taking your cues, by the way, from a president who has given the appearance that there is every justification for any level of anger at our country because we're such despicable people.

    While reporting on the protests earlier in the day, Fox News' Shep Smith urged his colleagues to report on the protests objectively by "for now, just covering what happens," instead of indicting the community.

  • MSNBC's The Rundown Sheds Light On Unique Barriers The Latino Community Faces In Reporting Sexual Assault And Domestic Violence

    Blog ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    MSNBC's José Díaz-Balart shed light on the unique barriers Hispanic women face in reporting domestic violence and sexual assault, celebrating a new study that advocates a more inclusive discussion among allies and survivors, and shows that fear of deportation and losing their children prevents many Latina victims from seeking help.

    According to the study, commissioned by the Avon Foundation for Women, the National Latin@ Network, and the No More campaign, more than half of Latinos in the U.S. "know a victim of domestic violence," and one in four Latinos knows someone who "was a victim of sexual assault." The study also found that 41% of Latinas "believe the primary reason Latin[a] victims may not come forward is fear of deportation," and 39% point to "fear of children being taken away."

    Host Díaz-Balart highlighted the study during the April 24 edition of MSNBC's The Rundown, and guest Juan Carlos Areán, senior director of the National Latino Network for Healthy Families and Communities explained that while the study showed "a lot of Latinos know victims of both domestic violence and sexual assault," the good news is that it also showed Latinos are "already doing something to solve the problem" by aiding and supporting victims and sparking a more inclusive discussion among survivors and allies.

  • O'Reilly Cherry-Picks Debunked Statistics To Downplay Racial Disparities In Police Shootings

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER

    Bill O'Reilly cited debunked statistics to claim that more white than black Americans are killed by police officers in the wake of the fatal South Carolina police shooting of an unarmed black man. 

    A police officer was charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man in North Charleston, South Carolina on April 7, as reported by The New York Times. The Times noted that "the shooting came on the heels of high-profile instances of police officers' using lethal force in New York, Cleveland, Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere. The deaths have set off a national debate over whether the police are too quick to use force, particularly in cases involving black men." 

    On the April 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly condemned the South Carolina shooting, but used the opportunity to claim that "police shootings of black Americans" have fallen "70 percent in the last 40, 50 years," concluding that the statistics show "they're way, way down." O'Reilly cited the statistic to assert that "there doesn't seem to be, as some people would have you believe, that police are trying to hunt down young black men and take their lives." 

    But O'Reilly's statistics were debunked months ago when he initially cited them to claim that more white Americans are killed in police shootings than black Americans. Politifact called O'Reilly's claim "mostly false," noting that he relied on "shaky" statistics that fail to "paint a complete picture" due to a lack of comprehensive national data on fatal shootings by police officers.

    Furthermore, O'Reilly's statistics do not account for the disproportionate number of unarmed black Americans killed by police in the United States. As FiveThirtyEight notes:

    In 2014 and March of 2015, Mapping Police Violence counted 297 people killed by police around the country who were unarmed. Of those people, 117 were African-American, 167 were not, and the project couldn't identify race for 13. That means 41 percent of unarmed people killed by police during that time in the database (with an identified race) were African-American, far out of proportion in a country that was 14 percent African-American in 2013.

    And according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), African Americans are the second "racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement," following Native Americans. The CJCJ also noted

    African Americans, 13 percent of the population, are victims in 26 percent of police shootings. Law enforcement kills African Americans at 2.8 times the rate of white non-Latinos, and 4.3 times the rate of Asians.

  • National Review Likens Concern Over Campus Sexual Assault To "Mass Hysteria" Of Salem Witch Trials

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    campussexualassault

    National Review's Kevin Williamson declared that the epidemic of campus sexual assault "is a fiction" and compared efforts to curb the crime to "mass hysteria" during the Salem Witch Trials.

    Rolling Stone recently retracted its controversial article on sexual assault at the University of Virginia, following a review by the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) which determined the report to be a "journalistic failure."

    National Review correspondent Kevin Williamson responded by issuing a blanket denial of the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses across the country. "There is no epidemic of rapes on American college campuses," Williamson wrote. "The campus-rape epidemic is a fiction." He likened outrage over campus sexual assaults to "mass hysteria" during the Salem Witch Trials and "the Satanic-cult hysteria of the 1980s and 1990s."

    But sexual assault on college campuses is a serious issue -- and one that experts say is vastly underreported. Experts have estimated that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while at college, and the problem may be even more serious than statistics on the crime reveal. According to the Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network, sexual assault is "one of the most under reported crimes," with nearly 70 percent of crimes going unreported to police.

    National Review's response to the CJR report on Rolling Stone takes the very position CJR explicitly warned against. In its review, CJR cautioned that the Rolling Stone case should not be used to discredit the larger movement to address campus sexual assault, writing, "It would be unfortunate if Rolling Stone's failure were to deter journalists from taking on high-risk investigations of rape in which powerful individuals or institutions may wish to avoid scrutiny but where the facts may be underdeveloped."

    Moreover, Williamson's attempts to deny the seriousness of campus sexual assault are in line with National Review's history of repudiating the existence of rape. The outlet has repeatedly dismissed efforts to curb sexual violence, even going so far as to blame victims for crimes perpetrated against them.

  • The Outdoor Channel's New Gun Documentary Promises A Parade Of Right-Wing Media Gun Myths

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    Gun Debate

    The Outdoor Channel's new documentary on gun-free zones, hosted by Katie Pavlich and hyped by Fox News, will feature right-wing media's favorite gun myths -- including the false claim that gun-free zones encourage mass shootings and may "creat[e] an environment for criminal activity to run rampant."

    The April 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends hyped the Outdoor Channel's Safe Haven: Gun-Free Zones In America documentary premiering later that day, featuring its trailer and highlighting film-host and Fox contributor Katie Pavlich. Using the premiere to push the conservative myths that shooters specifically target locations that don't allow guns and that more guns would prevent mass shootings and other crimes, host Steve Doocy asserted that "you think gun-free zones, that's going to be safe, but that means if you don't have a gun, the bad guys do and you're in trouble." Pavlich agreed, adding, "gun-free zones are not gun-free, it gives criminals an ability to have the upper hand on people who are simply following the law."

  • The Daily Show Debunks Right-Wing Media's Favorite Myths On Campus Sexual Assault

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Comedy Central's The Daily Show debunked some of right-wing media's favorite myths about campus sexual assault, highlighting the high levels of the crime occurring at colleges and universities, the low instances of false reporting and the rarity of punishment for those accused.

    During a March 25 interview on The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart spoke with Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, the director and producer of The Hunting Ground, a recently released "exposé of sexual assault on U.S. campuses," and discussed many of the most widespread misconceptions about campus sexual assault. The segment highlighted the harmful implications failing to address the issue has across the country:

    Many of the myths highlighted by The Daily Show are baseless falsehoods that continue to be peddled by right-wing media outlets in order to downplay the epidemic of campus sexual assault. Here are three of right-wing media's favorite myths about campus sexual assaults, debunked:

    MYTH: False Reports Of Sexual Assault Are A Widespread Problem

    Despite a recent push by The Wall Street Journal to highlight men who "say colleges are too quick to believe an alleged victim's testimony," suggesting that false reports of sexual assault are on the rise, instances of false allegations are actually very rare.

    "False reporting of rape is exactly the same as any other crime, and you don't hear people concerned about the false reports of carjacking, or the 2 percent of false reports of burglaries," explained Ziering to Stewart. "But it is statistically not anomalous. That is what everybody needs to keep in mind." Indeed, according to a report by the National Center for the Protection of Violence Against Women, "methodologically rigorous research" has found the rate of false reports to be extremely low -- between 2 and 8 percent.

    MYTH: Efforts To Address Campus Sexual Assault Constitute A "War On Boys" And Men

    Conservative media figures like Fox News' Andrea Tantaros often hold up efforts to address sexual assault as proof of a "war" on men on boys, but many institutions actually favor alleged perpetrators when investigating the crimes.

    As the The Hunting Ground's director Kirby Dick noted, "It is more likely that somebody who is sexually assaulted will leave school than the perpetrator will be kicked out ... A very small percentage of perpetrators are actually kicked out. The numbers are astonishingly low." A national survey conducted for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) supports Dick's assertion, finding that many colleges and universities "afford certain due process elements more frequently to alleged perpetrators than they do to survivors" and that schools often fail to penalize perpetrators.

    MYTH: Claims Of A Campus Sexual Assault Epidemic Are Exaggerated

    After the White House released a report on addresesing campus sexual assault in 2014, conservative media rushed to try to discredit findings that one in five women experience attempted or completed sexual assault while in college. In the time since, media have continuously questioned statistics finding a high prevalence of the crime, with right-wing media figures like Rush Limbaugh going as far as to claim that "it's not happening" at all."

    But as Dick pointed out, "The reality is that rapes are happening at all schools. In epidemic proportions." Numerous organizations have spoken out defending these findings. Right-wing media's efforts to dismiss the epidemic of campus sexual assault further stigmatize a crime that according to the Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network already goes unreported up to 60% of the time.