Fox's Megyn Kelly misleadingly compared Indiana's controversial anti-gay "religious freedom" law to laws in other states and claimed that the measure wouldn't allow for anti-LGBT discrimination.
On the March 30 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly invited Tony Perkins - president of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC) - and Truman National Security Project partner Mark Hannah to discuss Indiana's recently adopted "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA). The law, which has triggered a national backlash, provides a legal defense for individuals and business owners who cite their religious beliefs while discriminating against LGBT people.
During the interview, Kelly suggested that Indiana's RFRA was similar to federal law and RFRAs in other states and denied that the measure could be used to justify anti-LGBT discrimination:
Right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt allowed former Florida Governor and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush to make false claims on his radio program about Indiana's recently passed "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA) without challenging Bush's statements, and was wrong about the law himself.
Hewitt, who will be co-moderating a Republican presidential debate, has been described as a more serious right-wing radio host than other conservative figures, and someone who is more likely to hold his guests accountable for their comments. But in this case, not only did Hewitt fail to do that, he also made the same false claims about Indiana's law.
The law, signed by Governor Mike Pence (R), allows individuals and businesses to cite their religious beliefs as a legal defense against discrimination claims of those denied services due to sexual orientation or gender identity. The law is facing extensive criticism, with calls to boycott the state increasing.
On March 30, Hewitt hosted Jeb Bush on his radio show. During the interview, Hewitt asked for Bush's opinion of the law, pointing out that not many Republicans had defended Pence for signing it. Bush said he agreed with the law, claiming it was similar to laws in other states, such as Florida, and at the federal level. Hewitt misleadingly conflated the federal 1993 RFRA currently in effect in the District of Columbia with the newer -- and broader -- state versions of which Indiana is the latest example (emphasis added):
BUSH: I think Governor Pence has done the right thing. Florida has a law like this. Bill Clinton signed a law like this at the federal level. This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs, to be able to be people of conscience. I think once the facts are established, people aren't going to see this as discriminatory at all.
HEWITT: Yeah, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed in 1993. It's been the law in the District of Columbia for 22 years. I do not know of a single incident of the sort that Tim Cook was warning about occurring in the District in the last 22 years.
BUSH: But there are incidents of people who, for example, the florist in Washington State who had a business that, based on her conscience, she couldn't be participating in a gay wedding, organizing it, even though the person, one of the people, was a friend of hers, and she was taken to court and still in court. Or the photographer in New Mexico. There are many cases where people, acting on their conscience, have been castigated by the government. And this law simply says the government has to have a level of burden to be able to establish that there's been some kind of discrimination. We're going to need this. This is really an important value for our country to, in a diverse country, where you can respect and be tolerant of people's lifestyles but allow for people of faith to be able to exercise theirs.
Contrary to Hewitt's and Bush's claims, neither other state RFRAs nor the federal RFRA have the same reach as Indiana's law, which explicitly includes corporations as opposed to only people, and allows religious beliefs to be used as a legal defense against an anti-discrimination claim in civil cases even when the government is not involved.
From the March 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Loading the player reg...
From the March 30 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
Loading the player reg...
From the March 30 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News anchor Bret Baier debunked the network's defense of Indiana's discriminatory "religious freedom" law, explaining that the law is broader than both federal law and similar measures in other states.
Last week, Indiana became the center of a political firestorm after the state legislature passed its version of the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA), a law that allows private individuals and for-profit business owners to cite their religious beliefs as a legal defense against claims of discrimination from consumers who have been wrongfully denied services based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana explained, Indiana's RFRA "may embolden individuals and businesses who now feel that their religious liberty is 'burdened' by treating a member of the LGBT community equally and that their 'burden' trumps others' rights to be free from discrimination."
Proponents of the law, including Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence, have downplayed these potential consequences by incorrectly claiming that the law is noncontroversial because it merely mirrors the federal RFRA and RFRAs in other states. It's a talking point that has been repeated on Fox News, which has so far depicted Indiana's law as a benign attempt to protect the devout from government encroachment on religious freedom.
But during the March 30 edition of Happening Now, Baier deflated his network's defense of the law, explaining to host Eric Shawn that Indiana's RFRA is "broader" than both federal law and other state RFRAs:
ERIC SHAWN: You know, the law was intended to protect personal religious liberties against government overreach and intrusion. So what happened?
BAIER: Well, Indiana's law is written a little differently. It is more broad. It is different than the federal law that it's close to, but different than, and also different than 19 other states and how the law is written. In specific terms, Indiana's law deals with a person who can claim religious persecution but that includes corporations, for profit entities and it could also be used as a defense in a civil suit that does not involve the government. That is broader than the other laws. This is where it's a little different in Indiana's case. You saw governor Mike Pence try to defend the law and say it's just like the 1993 federal law where it's just like 19 other states, but as you look in the fine print, it's not really, and it may be something that Indiana deals with in specifics to line up with the others.
SHAWN: Obviously, it had good intentions. What do you think happened to make it kind of go off the rails this way?
BAIER: Well, how it was structured, Eric. And I think that, you know, there may be good intentions behind it but how it's being interpreted is being a little bit more forward leaning than any other Religious Freedom Restoration Act on the books. What this does politically, obviously Mike Pence has been talked about as a governor thinking about a 2016 run. We don't know if he's going to do it or not. But that interview with Stephanopoulos over the weekend was obviously not a great back and forth in defense of this law that likely is going to have to be at least tweaked, if not changed. [emphasis added]
Tucker Carlson lauded Wyoming Catholic College's decision to reject federal funding and continue its discriminatory practices in the college's admissions and hiring processes.
The school recently chose to not participate in federal student aid programs, citing a desire to distance itself from the federal government's "influence and control." On the March 29 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, host Tucker Carlson interviewed the school's president to discuss his institution's decision. President Kevin Roberts explained that the college was avoiding federal provisions that would require the educational establishment to respect basic protections for the LGBT community in the admissions and hiring processes.
Carlson: What are you concerned that the federal government would force you to do against your faith if you continue to take money?
Roberts: Well, as I said, we're a faithful Catholic college, which means that while we love all people and we have charity toward all, we would have problems with admissions and with employment with a transgendered person or someone with a same sex attraction who wanted to be active and an activist with that. And so, in spite of what people think the church may be changing in terms of the beliefs, we believe that in order to maintain church teaching on those principles that we ought not have strings attached to that federal money.
Carlson went on to ask Roberts if the school's move meant the institution could then set its own standards for hiring. Roberts responded saying Wyoming Catholic College would only selectively discriminate in its hiring and admissions processes:
Carlson: So, does this mean, because you're not going to be taking federal money, that you can have any employment standards that you wish?
Roberts: Well, within reason, right? We're not going to discriminate in other ways, but church teaching is very clear that if we were to have, say, a transgendered student want to apply it's not in line with church teaching. It does not mean we hate that person at all. We love them. But it simply doesn't square with the college we have founded in Wyoming.
From the March 29 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
Loading the player reg...
Republican presidential-hopeful Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has faced criticism from Hispanic news media for his extreme conservative policy positions on health care and immigration, which are out of line with the majority of Latino voters.
From the March 26 edition of Cumulus Media Networks' The Mark Levin Show:
Loading the player reg...
From the March 26 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
Loading the player reg...
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:
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.
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.
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.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been meeting with conservative Christian leaders "to gain support for his presidential campaign," including Fox News contributor and Pastor Robert Jeffress, according to U.S. News & World Report. Jeffress has condemned the LGBT community, Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Buddhists.
Reporter Kenneth T. Walsh wrote on March 26 that "Paul has been quietly meeting with scores of leaders from the Christian right to gain support for his presidential campaign" and added that he has "talked in recent months" with Jeffress.
During the 2012 campaign, Jeffress created a firestorm when he denounced Mormonism, the faith of then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as a "cult." Jeffress' remarks drew wide condemnation from Republicans. Then-Romney challenger Rick Perry was forced to distance himself from Jeffress, who had introduced Perry at an event.
Romney called the remarks divisive and said they didn't have a place in this country. Former Reagan cabinet member Bill Bennett said Jeffress was pushing "bigotry." Karl Rove said the remarks are "the kind of thing that doesn't belong in politics." Former Gov. Jon Huntsman called Jeffress a "moron." MSNBC host and former Rep. Joe Scarborough wrote: "Modern American politics as practiced by Jeffress and his ilk require that Jesus Christ be thrown under the bus with great regularity by the very same people who claim His name."
From the March 25 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
Loading the player reg...
The Daily Caller's founder and Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson dismissed questions about a controversial email revealing that his brother called New York City Major Bill de Blasio's female spokesperson a "self-righteous bitch" with "dick-fright" in response to her request for a correction in an article. Carlson responded that the comments were meant in the "nicest way."
On March 25, BuzzFeed reported that a spokesperson for de Blasio, Amy Spitalnick, contacted the Daily Caller to request a correction on a story regarding comments made by de Blasio on public transportation funding. After an exchange of emails with senior editor Christopher Bedford, who called her whiny and annoying, Spitalnick contacted Tucker Carlson to complain about Bedford's "appalling" and dismissive response. Carlson replied Spitalnick that agreed that her tone was "whiny and annoying," which he said was meant "in the spirit of helpful correction rather than criticism."
Carlson's brother, Buckley Carlson and "political strategist" for the site, replied to Tucker's response in an email that accidentally copied Spitalnick. The email contained several sexist comments: describing her as a whiny "little self-righteous bitch," with "extreme dick-fright," and called her "LabiaFace":
From: Buckley Carlson
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 3:18 PM
To: Tucker Carlson; Spitalnick, Amy (OMB)
Subject: Re: Correction Needed
Great response. Whiny little self-righteous bitch. "Appalling?"
And with such an ironic name, too...Spitalnick? Ironic because you just know she has extreme dick-fright; no chance has this girl ever had a pearl necklace. Spoogeneck? I don't think so. More like LabiaFace.
The full exchange is available at BuzzFeed.
The Daily Caller and its staff have a long and troubling history of sexist content. Tucker Carlson has downplayed sexual harassment and statutory rape of men as "whiny." And reporter Patrick Howley has a history of pushing misogynistic rhetoric and once claimed that looking "looking at a woman's chest will legally be a 'hate' crime instead of a love crime."