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  • A Terror Threat Fox News Won't Cover

    Silence From Network After Christian Minister Arrested For Threatening To Kill Muslims

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL

    Fox News was completely silent after a Christian minister pleaded guilty to plotting to attack American Muslims in New York, continuing a habit of downplaying threats to Muslims and ignoring extremist acts with no ties to Islam.

    Robert Doggart, an ordained Christian minister and former Tennessee congressional candidate, was arrested and pled guilty to attempting to recruit "expert Gunners" to aid him in a plot to kill residents of Islamberg, NY, a largely Muslim community at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. RawStory reported on the details of Doggart's plan:

    He met with the informant in Nashville and discussed using Molotov cocktails to firebomb buildings in the Muslim community, which was founded by African-Americans who had converted to Islam from Christianity.

    Doggart told the informant during a recorded conversation that he planned to bring 500 rounds of ammunition for the M4 rifle and a pistol with three extra magazines - as well as a machete.

    "If it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds," he told the informant.

    He said during a recorded call that the "battalion" he commanded hoped the raid on Hancock, which is also known as Islamberg, would be a "flash point" in a possible revolution.

    "So sick and tired of this crap that the government is pulling that we go take a small military installation or we go burn down a Muslim church or something like that," Doggart said.

    The Daily Beast pointed out that the media has remained largely silent on the story, wondering at the absence of "the Fox News panic" and noting:

    It goes without saying that if Doggart had been Muslim and had planned to kill Christians in America, we would have seen wall-to-wall media coverage. Fox News would have cut into its already-daily coverage of demonizing Muslims to do a special report really demonizing Muslims.

    And in fact, Fox News has made no mention of the story at all. What's more, the network does have a history of downplaying threats against Muslims while hyping any Islamic connection to terror it can find. After the Boston Marathon bombings, the network ridiculed former Attorney General Eric Holder for warning against retaliatory acts of violence, ignoring years of threats against Muslims. In 2010, Fox host Brian Kilmeade claimed that "all terrorists are Muslims." 

    And Fox has reacted to terror attacks committed by right-wing extremists with a yawn. After the Department of Homeland Security released a report on right-wing terror in 2015, Fox News' Eric Bolling claimed "you can't name" instances of right-wing terrorism "in the last seven years," ignoring dozens of examples.

    Right-wing media have also been known to fearmonger about often-unsubstantiated Islamic terror threats. Outlets like Fox News, The Drudge Report, and The New York Post hyped an unfounded "jihadist" plot against Fort Jackson in South Carolina. And Sean Hannity and other conservatives promoted an unsubstantiated story of an Islamic State (ISIS) training camp on the U.S.-Mexico border around the same time Doggart was arrested.

    Islamberg, the town Doggart was planning to attack, has also garnered Fox News' attention in the past -- a 2007 FoxNews.com article wondered if it was a "terror compound" and a report by Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed the town was home to a group engaging in "guerilla war training." 

  • "Disarming The Force": Fox's Fact Free Response To Obama's Restriction Of Military Equipment To Law Enforcement

    ››› ››› NICHOLAS ROGERS

    Fox News falsely asserted that President Obama was disarming police officers by issuing an executive order limiting the transfer of certain military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. But the order merely limits local law enforcement's access to certain types of military equipment by prohibiting their acquisition from the federal government.

  • With Apology, Boston's Metro Daily Shows How Media Can Improve Coverage Of Sexual Violence

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Metro Daily Cover

    Boston's Metro Daily demonstrated how to improve media coverage of sexual assault, apologizing for an offensive cover story referring to victims of sexual violence as "babes" after outcry from a local anti-sexual violence advocacy organization.

    Police in Boston are investigating a series of sexual assaults in the city after three incidents of groping near Boston University were reported, according to a May 5 report from The Boston Globe.

    Metro Daily, a Boston-area free daily newspaper, reported on the investigation with a cover story headlined "BU Babes Beware," featuring an accompanying photo of a woman from the torso-down. Following the article's publication, Safe Hub Collective, a local anti-street harassment and safe space advocacy group publicly called out Metro Daily in an open letter to the outlet, explaining that their cover "not only trivialize[d] the serious issue of sexual assault, but display[ed] the kind of attitude and language that actually contributes to it":

    By presenting an image of a headless woman, you dehumanize all women. The dehumanization of women is a key element to violence against them- when you view someone as less-than-human, as an object, it becomes easier to treat them that way. Men who commit assaults like this serial groper do view women as objects or property, which this cover only reinforces.

    By referring to women as "babes," you not only sexualize them, but you patronize them. Furthermore, this is exactly the kind of violent language that street harassers use towards women on a daily basis- this kind of reporting, using the language of violence to report on violence, is harmful and potentially retraumatizing. It also serves to trivialize the nature of the assault that the victims experienced.

    Metro Daily quickly responded with an apology to readers later that same day, noting that although they had intended to "raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment" in Boston, "it's clear that that is not what was conveyed" through their coverage:

    We've heard from many of you about our coverage yesterday about a serial groper who has been targeting women in and around Boston University's campus. While our intention was to raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment within our community, it's clear that that is not what was conveyed with our cover and headline.

    Sexual assault is a largely silent epidemic in communities worldwide that affects women, men and children. Survivors of all backgrounds should feel comfortable talking about their experiences without fear that they will be judged or blamed by others. We will try harder in our future coverage to ensure that that will happen.

    In a statement to Media Matters, Safe Hub Collective founding member Britni de la Cretaz explained that she is "happy to see that the Metro responded promptly and avoided the 'non-apology" trap that people so often fall into," but that, "only time will tell if their commitment to do better will actually be one that they keep. Our hope is that, going forward, not just the Metro but all news outlets can avoid falling into reporting that blames the victim, perpetuates harmful stereotypes and, ultimately, contributes to the very violence it claims to condemn. We believe that everyone can (and should) do better."

    De la Cretaz also urged media to not only provide the contact information of the police in their reports but to also include resources on rape crisis support. "I'd love to see the media do when it reports on sexual assault is provide a number to a rape crisis support hotline/local rape crisis center at the end of the piece, and not just the number to a police department," she explained. "Changing the narrative means supporting survivors of assault and that means recognizing that not all survivors want to report to the police and that, even if they do, they may need support beyond that. " 

    In prior reporting on sexual assault, outlets like ABC News have provided resources for those seeking additional information on rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, and crisis support.