Diversity & Discrimination

Issues ››› Diversity & Discrimination
  • Charlotte Observer: So-Called HB 2 "Compromise" Is A "Bad Deal" For City And LGBT People

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    The Charlotte Observer editorial board blasted the so-called “compromise” proposed by North Carolina Republicans, which would repeal the state’s discriminatory House Bill 2 (HB 2) in return for the city of Charlotte dropping its LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. The board slammed the supposed “reset” as a “dismissive” and “condescending” proposal that is a “bad deal” for both the city of Charlotte and LGBT people.

    On September 16, the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) issued a statement indicating that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory had assured NCRLA that if the Charlotte City Council were to repeal the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, the general assembly would call a special session to repeal HB 2 -- which, among other measures, requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate. McCrory’s proposal comes in the wake of the NBA, NCAA, and ACC pulling championship games out of the state in response to the anti-LGBT bathroom bill. Experts have estimated that the economic cost from the loss of sports-related business alone could range from $100 million to $200 million.

    On September 18, the Charlotte Observer editorial board slammed McCrory’s proposed “compromise” as a “bad deal for the city, and more importantly, for members of the LGBT community.” The board criticized the “dismissive tone” Republicans took, noting that they overlooked the “at least 200 U.S. cities and counties” that preceded Charlotte in adopting similar ordinances. They also called out the “false notion” that HB 2 “provides for safer bathrooms.” Asking if the possibility of getting back the NCAA and ACC tournaments would be worth “selling out the LGBT community,” the board wrote, “We believe the answer is no.”

    From the September 18 edition of the Charlotte Observer

    Gov. Pat McCrory and some N.C. lawmakers are encouraging the Charlotte City Council to make a compromise that might result in the repeal of HB2. It’s a bad deal for the city, and more importantly, for members of the LGBT community who would lose their best chance at protections from discrimination. Council members should not turn their backs on those residents now.

    [...]

    As with a similar compromise offer back in May, council members are being asked to trust the legislature to follow through on its end of the deal. Here’s a hint about how that might go: In a condescending statement Saturday, House Speaker Tim Moore said that if Charlotte “fully and unconditionally” repealed its ordinance, “then I believe we have something to discuss.”

    It’s a dismissive tone that overlooks an important bit of history:

    In passing its non-discrimination ordinance in February, Charlotte followed the lead of at least 200 U.S. cities and counties. Charlotte’s ordinance, which included a provision addressing gender identity and bathrooms in public accommodations, was not groundbreaking. It’s what progressive cities do to protect their residents.

    [...]

    What would Charlotte get from the “reset”? It might get the ACC Football Championship game back, for starters. The NBA also might bring its All-Star weekend back to the city in 2019 if HB2 were out of the way. Both possibilities, however, are far from certain.

    But Charlotte also would be left without an ordinance that council members believed was important for the safety and dignity of the LGBT community. That ordinance was more than symbolic. It was designed to protect residents from very real discrimination.

    Let’s be clear: House and Senate leaders have given zero indication they want Charlotte to have those LGBT protections, now or at any point. It’s worth noting that in his Saturday statement, House Speaker Moore again celebrated the false notion that HB2 provides for safer bathrooms and showers.

    [...]

    Yes, a “reset” has an appealing ring to it. But it would be a step backward, both symbolically and practically. Would Charlotte be any closer to the protections it wants to offer? No. Would it get a football and basketball event back? Maybe.

    Are those events worth selling out the LGBT community?

    We believe the answer is no.

  • After Terror Attacks, Fox News Brings On Anti-Muslim Fearmongers To Push Lies And Anti-Refugee Rhetoric

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News is providing a platform for conservatives to spread misinformation about refugees and stoke anti-Muslim fears following a series of apparent terror attacks around the country. Fox’s open-door policy for fearmongers is in keeping with the network’s disconcerting history as a source of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment after terror attacks at home and abroad.

    Authorities have arrested a suspect in the September 17 bomb explosions in Manhattan and Seaside Park, N.J.; a suspect was shot in a stabbing spree the same day in Saint Cloud, MN. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We have every reason to believe this was an act of terrorism,” referring to the two New York area bombings, and ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Minnesota mall attack.

    President Obama advised that “the press try to refrain from getting out ahead of the investigation” and warned against the dissemination of “false reports or incomplete information” -- a warning Fox News ignored as it hosted a series of guests who peddled anti-Muslim talking points and xenophobic rhetoric.

    During a segment that led off with Fox host Ainsley Earhardt asking, “Is the Somali refugee crisis now a terror crisis?” Fox contributor Pete Hegseth warned of the “incubation” of radical Islam in “radical mosques” in Minnesota, claiming that “the problem is that a lot of those communities have not assimilated the way we would want them to.” Hegseth then proclaimed that there “is a terrorist recruitment problem in Minnesota.” Hegseth regularly fearmongers on Fox’s airwaves about terror and the “concerns about integration” of Muslims.

    Jim Hanson, executive vice president of the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy, argued for heightened policing of Muslim communities because the New York attacker was “conducting jihad” and “saying Allahu Akbar.” Hanson also baselessly speculated that the Chelsea neighborhood of New York was targeted because it “is a prominently gay area” and claimed that “there’s a decent chance that this might have been another attempt to attack the gay community.” Hanson has regularly appeared on Fox to spread fears about Islam and terror. 

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appeared on Fox & Friends to fearmonger about refugees and immigration, claiming that President Obama’s policy of “letting people in by the thousands and tens of thousands” will lead to terror attacks “happen[ing] perhaps more and more all over the country.”

    Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a senior adviser to Trump and a Fox regular, exploited the attacks to call for surveilling the Muslim community, adding that it “is absolute nonsense” to say that going “into these communities” for that purpose is Islamophobic. Flynn suggested that heightened surveillance of Muslim communities doesn’t occur because of “political correctness” and that “political correctness kills. It will cause death.” Fox has a record of responding to terror attacks by pushing profiling and mosque surveillance, which have been found to be ineffective and, according to the ACLU, lead to stigma, interference with religious worship, fear, free speech violation, and damaged relationships with law enforcement.

    Conservative columnist and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich claimed that the government is letting refugees come “into the country unvetted from terrorism hotspots all over the world,” even though the United States has a rigorous and stringent vetting process for refugees and immigrants.

    Fox News consistently turns to fearmongering, anti-Muslim narratives after terror attacks, adopting racially charged rhetoric and recycling distorted lies about Muslims and refugees. Fox hosts and guests exploited the European refugee crisis and used the Paris terrorist attacks to stoke fears about admitting refugees into America; conservatives used Fox to advocate for profiling Muslim Americans following the San Bernardino, CA, shooting; and right-wing pundits twisted the Brussels attack to whip up anti-Muslim fears.

  • New Trump Ad Features NRA Board Member Ted Nugent, Who Has Called For Clinton To Be Hanged

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A new advertisement from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign about hunting and the Second Amendment features National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, who claims Hillary Clinton “will destroy the freedom that is uniquely American.” Earlier this year, Nugent called for Clinton to be hanged for treason.

    The eight-minute video features other conservative media figures including Fox News host Sean Hannity, frequent Fox News guest and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, and Mark Geist, the co-author of 13 Hours, about the 2012 attacks on American diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

    Nugent has a long history of making racist and other inflammatory commentary. In 2016 alone, Nugent has promoted anti-Semitic content, used a racial slur against a Latino critic, promoted misogynist reasons why guns are better than women, shared a racist meme advertising the fake moving company “2 niggers and a stolen truck,” and smeared Minnesota police shooting victim Philando Castile as a criminal. In 2015, Nugent devoted an entire column to praising the use of the word “nigger,” even in a racist context.

    Nugent, who has endorsed Trump for president, this year has called for Clinton to be hanged for treason and promoted a fake video of her being shot. In an August post on his Facebook page calling for people to vote for Trump, Nugent termed Clinton a “lying hypocrite bitch.” He has also called the former secretary of state a “toxic cunt.” In a viral 2007 concert video, an assault-rifle-wielding Nugent called Clinton a “worthless bitch” and said that she should ride on his machine gun.

    In August, Bud Light pulled sponsorship of a Nugent concert following reporting from Media Matters about the beer company's association with Nugent. Nugent caused a national controversy in 2014 by campaigning with Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. Abbott was slammed -- including by fellow Republicans -- for the association after Nugent called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel."

    In Trump’s ad, Nugent says, “The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Ten Commandments, the golden rule. We the people, choosing our own pursuit of happiness: It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. Hunting, fishing, trapping: We the people own these precious renewable natural resources. It’s a way of life, which is why conservation is the greatest success story in the world here in America. Hillary Clinton is against all these things. She will destroy the freedom that is uniquely American. Donald Trump will safeguard the things that make America the greatest place in the world.”

    Nugent is promoting the Trump ad on his Facebook page, just hours after claiming victims of a September 17 stabbing spree at a Minnesota mall are “pathetic” and “embarrassing” because they were unarmed.

    At the end of the ad, Trump says, “Political correctness, Hillary Clinton, and Washington insiders are trying to take away our Second Amendment rights and they’re really trying hard like never ever before. That’s wrong, and it won’t happen when I’m president. I will protect your rights. I will protect your Second Amendment.”

    Trump’s full ad:

  • Cable Networks Were "Played Like A Fiddle" By Donald Trump’s “20-Second” Birther Statement

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    A slew of media critics and commentators shamed cable news networks for being “played” into providing free live coverage of a campaign event for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. After Trump teased a “major announcement,” cable news networks provided wall-to-wall coverage in anticipation that Trump would address criticism over his role in pushing conspiracy theories that President Obama was not born in the U.S. Trump’s mere seconds-long statement “came only after a lengthy campaign event featuring military officers and award winners who have endorsed him,” turning it into “a de facto commercial for the GOP candidate.”

  • The Trump Birther Headlines Problem

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Scanning media headlines after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s statement about his racist birther crusade, one could reasonably come away thinking Trump had fully renounced and apologized for his years-long offensive campaign to delegitimize President Barack Obama. That was not the case -- Trump did not apologize and in fact blatantly lied in his 26-second remarks -- but media’s collective failure to accurately describe the event in their headlines may have left readers thinking Trump shut the door on his birtherism.

    After building “suspense” that he was going to definitively address his racist accusations that President Obama was not born in the United States, Trump used his “circus” of an event to briefly say that “President Obama was born in the United States. Period" and to falsely accuse “‘Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008” of starting “the birther controversy.” Trump also erroneously claimed he had “finished” the controversy by forcing President Obama to release his birth certificate.

    Online and print headlines largely failed to contextualize the event or note Trump’s lie about Clinton:

    The New York Times:

    CNN:

    The Hill:

    The Los Angeles Times:

    The Associated Press:

    The New York Times did eventually change its headline to: “Trump Drops False ‘Birther’ Theory, but Floats a New One: Clinton Started It.”

    Though the original headlines are not technically incorrect, the lack of context -- Trump’s brief comments after taking the media for a ride, his outright lie about Clinton starting birther rumors, and his false assertion that he had “finished” the birther controversy -- likely misled readers.

    Conversely, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post got it right:

    As former senior adviser to President Obama and current CNN contributor Dan Pfeiffer noted:

    The Washington Post’s David Weigel wrote in a September 15 column that Trump, whom he called “the chyron candidate,” has “never failed to offer enough detail to fit in a headline or cable news chyron,” and that although most reporters make key distinctions and include crucial context “in the body of their stories,” context is often “elided” in “headlines or tweets.” Weigel pointed to the issue of the candidates’ disclosures of their medical information as an example:

    That matters. If, like many people, you only glance at the news (yes, we know how long readers spend finishing articles), you come away with the impression that Trump is trading Clinton blow for blow and white paper for white paper. If either candidate released their entire medical history, or Trump revealed his entire tax returns, only a handful of voters might even read them. They'd depend on the press to find the story and the lede. Most coverage of campaigns needs to be shrunk to fit a chyron, anyway; Trump's innovation has been to preshrink the news.

    Headlines matter in a Twitter-driven, fast-paced media landscape. Offering crucial details in articles -- but not in headlines -- may not be enough anymore, particularly in the age of Trump.