Fox anchors are suggesting that the issues of rape, women's reproductive rights, and education are "distraction[s]" from the real issue of the campaign: the economy.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed that President Obama is spending too much time on the campaign trail talking about "how we need more teachers. He doesn't really talk about economics." Co-hosts Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade then claimed that the Obama campaign's strategy is to distract from the economy by focusing on issues such as education, women's rights, reproductive choice, and Rep. Todd Akin's widely condemned "legitimate rape" comments.
But education is an economic issue. Indeed, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has advised nations to "invest in education to beat recession." The OECD found that "[g]overnment budgets and the overall economy also reap an advantage from higher number of [college] graduates." It also found that people who drop out of school without a job "are likely to spend a long time out of work."
Furthermore, people with more education obtain higher paying jobs. An increase in education rates decreases unemployment. And investment in education helps the economy, especially during times of economic downturns.
Fox's attempts to downplay women's rights, reproductive choice, and Akin's comments are also quite problematic. Akin's rhetoric is reflected in policies being pushed by conservatives, who just this week crafted a Republican Party platform that called for a constitutional ban on abortion with no exception for rape.
Today, Fox's The Five suggested teachers' pensions have led to budget problems for school districts and are to blame for the increased yearly school supplies spending parents are seeing this year. But decreased revenues and state and local budget cuts are causing school funding to shrink, not pensions.
The National Retail Federation released a survey last month estimating that parents of K-12 students will spend around $688 on their children's back-to-school supplies, up from $603 the year before. The hosts of The Five used this news to launch Fox's latest assault on pensions for public employees.
During the August 22 edition of the show, co-host Dana Perino suggested the reason parents are being required to provide more school supplies for their children is partly because of "the squeeze that a lot of school districts feel because of pensions." Co-host Eric Bolling continued this line of attack by claiming that "the school districts are getting crushed by pensions" because teachers "stay on tenure, they continue to get benefits," and the school districts "can't keep up."
However, public pensions are not the cause of local school districts' budget woes.
A May 2011 report by the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities (CBPP) explicitly showed that "long-term pension shortfalls are not the cause of current state fiscal problems" and explained "[s]tate economies and budgets continue to struggle because of shrunken revenues and higher needs."
Additionally, the report noted:
The long-term nature of the problem means that most state and local governments can fashion a plan that postpones significant additional pressure on state budgets for a few years until revenues have recovered from the current downturn.
In a post criticizing leading American companies' support for the diversity principle in an upcoming Supreme Court case, National Review Online contributor Roger Clegg mischaracterized the nature of the companies' support for diversity, and incorrectly implied it is race-centric in violation of the Constitution. But as the amicus brief for these Fortune 100 companies argues, the pursuit of diversity in higher education is not only important to the nation's economic success, it is also constitutionally permissible.
In October, the Court will hear Fisher v. University of Texas, the latest high-profile civil rights case brought by a rejected applicant challenging a school's race-conscious admissions process. The opponents are asking the Court to not only strike down the specific admissions policy at the University of Texas, but also to reverse Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court's 2003 case that confirmed state consideration of race or ethnicity in higher education admissions -- as one factor among many -- is permissible to achieve the goal of student body diversity.
Clegg mischaracterized the brief filed in this case on behalf of corporations ranging from Wal-Mart and Halliburton, to Microsoft and Starbucks, that instead urges the Court to "reaffirm its holding in Grutter that the conscious pursuit of diversity in the admissions decisions of institutions of higher education - including diversity based upon race, religion, culture, economic background, and other factors - is a compelling state interest."
Right-wing media figures are heaping praise on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan, with one Fox host calling Ryan "Mr. Budget." In fact, Ryan's budget plan would harm many Americans: It increases taxes on the poor while cutting them for the wealthy, drastically cuts Medicaid and other needed safety net programs, and would cost millions of jobs by reducing federal spending during a still-weak economy.
With Mitt Romney scheduled to visit a for-profit college in North Carolina on August 12, will Fox News finally note the problem of for-profit colleges using deceptive practices to target veterans?
In April, President Obama signed an executive order aimed at helping protect veterans from the actions of some for-profit colleges. Fox News responded by calling the order "a political stunt" and derided it as a "political gimmick." It further attacked Obama by claiming that the order was an "insult to the troops."
By contrast, veterans groups, who have "long felt that student veterans need to have the tools to succeed when it comes to their education," greeted Obama's actions with praise. The American Legion said the order was an "important victory" for veterans who "have been wrongly and unconscionably victimized by some institutions who see America's finest as nothing more than a vulnerable market."
As Stars & Stripes reported, the order Obama signed "will limit college recruiters' access to military bases, develop a complaint system to track violations by schools, force colleges to provide graduation rates and student debt information, and crack down on institutions using the term 'GI Bill' in their veterans outreach efforts." The article added:
The measure mirrors a host of bills pending before Congress but bypasses the legislative process, which has been mired in partisan discord for months. Privately, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have backed many of the ideas but said passing any legislation dealing with the problem was unlikely before November.
But officials said that action was needed sooner, to address a growing list of complaints by student veterans regarding unfulfilled promises and unexpected debt from colleges. They cited anecdotes of college recruiters -- particularly from for-profit schools -- signing up brain-injured troops for classes, forcing unneeded student loans on veterans, and promising career opportunities through worthless degree programs.
Indeed, the findings of a two-year investigation by the Senate Democratic Committee, which examined 30 for-profit colleges in 2010, confirmed that veterans and service members have become "prime targets for these aggressive recruiting tactics," through the exploitation of what is known as the "90/10 rule."
SALT LAKE CITY -- You won't see signs for the country's sweetest travel-club deal in the window of your local travel store. To join the American Legislative Exchange Council, your peers must first elect you to statewide office. If you win as a Republican or conservative Democrat, your ALEC state chair will approach with terms of membership you'll find generous, if not impossible to resist. A token $100 buys the opportunity to attend all-inclusive events on ALEC's busy calendar of summits, conferences, and academies, where you and your family can enjoy some of the country's finest resorts and destination hotels. Joints like Utah's Grand America, site of ALEC's just concluded national conference and proud bearer of AAA's "Five Diamond" rating.
It was on the eve of this conference that I first glimpsed the privileges and perks of ALEC membership. I was sitting in the Grand America's Viennese style lobby café, pondering the primrose bush courtyard outside as a young harpist plucked out Fur Elise, when an ALEC staffer appeared and began placing laminated cards on the tables. She was followed by groups of women, the wives and daughters of ALEC state legislators and lobbyists, sitting down to enjoy a British Full Tea of sweets, scones and jams, laid out on an elaborate spread of fine china. I picked up one of the laminated cards and read: "Enjoy your 'ALEC-SNACKS'!" Beneath the text were the logos of Americans for Prosperity and the American Insurance Association, two ALEC sponsors. As ALEC snacks were served, the tables grew atwitter. "This is so nice," said the wide-eyed wife of a Virginia state representative.
Not long after, the china was taken away and the café grew busy with attendees getting down to business. A hundred or so legislators, corporate representatives, and think tank staff greeted each other and ordered cocktails, filling the room with an ambient babble of right-leaning schmooze and networking. I've had to deal with those same damn unions.... We've got a few big tort reform bills in the pipe.... I'd love for you to come visit the plant .... Are you with Goldwater or Heritage now?
Before ALEC grew into an influential national force over the last two decades, few state-level politicians ever knew corporate pampering at swank hotels thousands of miles from their home districts, the scope for which all but disappeared with the introduction of post-Watergate ethics rules. Unlike their federal counterparts, state reps have generally tracked closer to the old republican ideal of the citizen-politician -- middle-class, part-time public servants who keep their day jobs as teachers, accountants, lawyers, farmers. Some of them have always been targeted and feted by special interests, but it was ALEC that innovated a private sector mechanism for corralling state representatives en masse to posh locations like the Grand for long weekends of cozy corporate lobbying and blunt-force ideological indoctrination.
For much of its four decades, the corporations and rightwing foundations that provide all but a thin slice of ALEC's current $7 million budget have succeeded in exerting pressure on the direction of the people's business in 50 statehouses. Unlike the National Council of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments, to which it often compares itself, ALEC is driven to an extraordinary degree by its private sector sponsors. It also aggressively hides from the press and the public the proceedings of its closed-door task force meetings, where corporate representatives vote on equal footing with elected legislators on model bills, who rarely identify the origins of ALEC bills when they are later introduced to become law.
Most Americans live under at least one product of these meetings, as the group has been very effective in turning one state's notorious right-wing bills into model legislation that can be pushed across the country. Arizona's infamous "Show Me Your Papers" law (SB 1070) took this path, with similar model legislation subsequently passed by ALEC's criminal justice task force, which the for-profit prison behemoth Corrections Corporation of America once co-chaired and had long been a member. So did the National Rifle Association's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law; ALEC used legislation passed in Florida as a template for a model bill that was eventually passed in two-dozen other states. ALEC's role in pushing reportedly discriminatory voter ID bills has followed a similar pattern.
ALEC's various Task Forces have altogether produced thousands of pieces of model legislation that have little to do with organic movements inside the states and everything to do with top-down nationwide attacks on workers' rights, environmental and other industry regulations, as well as pushes to accelerate the privatization of public education, federal lands, and the criminal justice system. The group has proven to be an ingenious multi-purpose tool for expanding corporate power. Like any lobby shop, it is pay-to-play. Corporate memberships run between $7,000 and $25,000, which buys full voting rights on Task Forces that function as bill mills for national and multinational corporations, industrial trade associations, and right-wing think tanks. Just as $100 is a steal for legislators, $25,000 is a bargain on the private sector side. As early as 1995, an article sent to ALEC's private sector members boasted of the group's growing effectiveness. "With our success rate at more than 20 percent [of bills passed] I would say that ALEC is a good investment," then-executive director Samuel Brunelli told corporate backers. "Nowhere else can you get a return that high."
The ultimate return sought by ALEC is nothing less than the rollback of the state and the establishment of unfettered corporate rule over everything from vast tracts of American wilderness to K through 12 education.
Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown criticized New York teachers unions in a Wall Street Journal op-ed over the weekend without disclosing a possible conflict of interest -- her husband, Dan Senor, is a board member of an organization that opposes teachers unions.
On July 29, Brown criticized the New York teachers unions' handling of teachers accused of sexual misconduct:
Under current New York law, an accusation is first vetted by an independent investigator. (In New York City, that's the special commissioner of investigation; elsewhere in the state, it can be an independent law firm or the local school superintendent.) Then the case goes before an employment arbitrator. The local teachers union and school district together choose the arbitrators, who in turn are paid up to $1,400 per day. And therein lies the problem.
For many arbitrators, their livelihood depends on pleasing the unions (whether the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, or other local unions). And the unions--believing that they are helping the cause of teachers by being weak on sexual predators--prefer suspensions and fines, and not dismissal, for teachers charged with inappropriate sexual conduct.
But in her op-ed, Brown never disclosed that her husband, Dan Senor, is a board member of the anti-teachers union organization StudentFirstNY. This disclosure is even more important given the fact that one of the two teachers quoted in her piece, Michael Loeb, has blogged for StudentsFirst.org.
When confronted over the issue of her husband's work on Twitter and her lack of disclosure in her Wall Street Journal op-ed, Brown wrote: "B/c protecting kids from sex predator teacher is a partisan issue?"
This is at odds with a New York Times op-ed she wrote in May that was critical of President Obama, where she included the following statement:
I should disclose here that my husband is an adviser to Mr. Romney; I have no involvement with any campaign, and have been an independent journalist throughout my career.
Questions of disclosure over her husband's work for Mitt Romney also surfaced when she was a panelist during a Democratic presidential debate in 2007.
In contrast to Brown's attitude about disclosure over her husband's job, Washington Post education columnist Jay Matthews included the following statement about his wife's work in a July 27 post about declining test scores:
Disclosure: My wife, Linda Mathews, led USA TODAY's investigation of erasures, published in March 2011.
Fox News is telling a one-sided story focused exclusively on cuts to defense spending that were included in a 2011 budget deal. What Fox is not telling its viewers is that the deal also included cuts to critical services for vulnerable Americans and reductions in important medical research funding, and that non-defense spending cuts would lead to a loss of more than 1 million jobs.
Right-wing media have marked the 40th Anniversary of Title IX by attacking equal opportunity efforts for women in the "STEM" fields of science, technology, engineering, or math. The historic civil rights law prohibits discrimination in federally-funded education programs or activities on the basis of sex.
Conservative media has not only argued that such affirmative action is unconstitutional, but has gone farther and argued that the law does not apply beyond scholastic sports and requires quotas. They also insist that women simply do not want to study or work in science-or math-related fields. The first three claims are demonstrably incorrect; the fourth assertion contradicts numerous studies and cannot satisfactorily explain the disproportionate under-representation of women in these educational fields.
On the July 25 edition of Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson hosted a segment that touched on all of these discredited arguments in an interview with Hans Bader, Counsel for Special Projects for the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute. Bader concluded the interview by asserting that women are heavily underrepresented in the STEM fields because they naturally choose "organic subjects like people, plants, animals, biology, psychology." Carlson then ended the interview, noting that there "could be" a counter argument to this last claim.
Bader's Fox and Friends appearance is only the most recent example of conservative attacks on the Obama Administration's efforts to utilize Title IX for the promotion of equal opportunity in science and math education.
For example, Sabrina Schaeffer and Carrie Lukas of the conservative Independent Women's Forum did the same on June 18 and June 22 in the Huffington Post and U.S. News, respectively, Fox News Political Analyst Kirsten Powers took aim at sex-based affirmative action on July 17 in USA Today, and New York Post columnist Kyle Smith used the front page to launch a July 14 op-ed that was particularly reliant on sex stereotypes.
These conservative commentators repeated Bader's false claims: that Title IX's scope is limited to athletics, the Obama administration is proposing quotas, equal opportunity efforts disregard women's aversion to science and math, and affirmative action on the basis of sex is unconstitutional.
All of these conservative critiques are incorrect or unsubstantiated.
The Wall Street Journal this morning failed to report ties between the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and controversial "parent-trigger" legislation that would allow parents to take over and convert public schools to charter schools. They also failed to report that the Journal's parent company, News Corp, is a member of ALEC. The Journal's treatment of the legislation also cited no criticism of the proposal, which has been described as an effort "to manipulate parents into letting [the charter school lobby] privatize more public schools.
In the July 23 article, the Wall Street Journal reported on legislation that, according to the article, "empowers parents to take control of a school if enough of them sign petitions" and convert it into a charter school. But the article failed to mention that the proposal is based heavily on model legislation developed by ALEC, a controversial right-wing group that was recently exposed as a significant influence in the pro-charter movement in Georgia.
ALEC has also been behind such controversial legislation as voter ID laws and "Stand Your Ground" legislation. After the group's involvement in these efforts were made public, several of their corporate members left the organization. One of the corporations who remains a member of ALEC, however, is News Corp, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal. The article did not disclose the paper's relationship with ALEC and similarly did not disclose their relationship even while shielding ALEC from critics.
Fox News attacked a partnership between Planned Parenthood and a Los Angeles area high school for entering into a partnership that has reportedly reduced teen pregnancies without any significant parental objections.
As part of their continuing assault on Planned Parenthood, Fox News called the school's clinic, which is run by Planned Parenthood, "controversial" and promoted the objections of critics of the program. In his report on the program, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy stated:
DOOCY: A controversial move in California: Some high schools there in California now allowing Planned Parenthood to set up shop at some high schools. They'll provide students with free birth control, counseling, and pregnancy tests at the high school. Critics say this should be done by parents and not through the school.
Almost everything about Doocy's short statement is wrong. According to the Los Angeles Times, one school, Roosevelt High School, is partnering with Planned Parenthood to staff a reproductive and primary health care clinic. But the article reported that, according to the local Planned Parenthood chapter, parents in the school want their children to have access to reproductive health care. From the article:
Planned Parenthood's Los Angeles executive director, Sue Dunlap, said Latino families generally want access to information and care. "We really don't experience the traditional narrative of angry parents not wanting access to reproductive care in the schools," she said. "It's really the opposite."
Moreover, there is a reason why students are given opportunities to make their own health care decisions instead of it only being "done by parents." Requiring parental consent for students to receive birth control at the clinic would actually be a violation of California law. According to a report on the Los Angeles County government's website, in California, "a minor may receive birth control without parental consent." The same goes for health care related to a pregnancy. Furthermore, with regard to contraceptive and pregnancy treatment, "[t]he health care provider is not permitted to inform a parent or legal guardian without the minor's consent."
From the May 24 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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The New York Post reported this morning that a public elementary school in New York City will require its students to learn Arabic. The story describes the school is "a so-called 'choice' school and no kids, even those living nearby, are forced to attend it," and even quotes a student and parents that are very supportive of the program. Nonetheless, right-wing media figures are already responding to this reporting with their usual anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry.
Right-wing blogger and anti-Muslim hate group leader (and Fox News regular) Pamela Geller described the Arabic language program as "Islamic supremacism on the march in the public square," and suggested that it would be a "public school madrassah."
Right-wing author Matthew Vadum responded to the news that Arabic would be taught at a public school by making a reference to explosives:
And right-wing blogger Andrea Ryan of Gateway Pundit had this to say:
Now, they want our children be able to read the Quran, listen to the draconian precepts of sharia, and watch Al Jazeera inveigh against Christianity, democracy, equality, and freedom in its native Arabic language. When Communism aimed its missiles and armies at our nation President Reagan didn't fold and force our children to learn Russian.
Leave it to the Liberals to try to completely destroy all that is good about our culture and turn it into something distorted, ugly, and dangerous.
Far from being "dangerous," learning Arabic is actually important for our national security. In remarks to a January 2006 summit of U.S. university presidents, George W. Bush introduced a language initiative to teach students -- starting in Kindergarten -- languages important to national security, such as Arabic:
[O]ne of the reasons why the Secretary of Defense is here. He wants his young soldiers who are the front lines of finding these killers to be able to speak their language and be able to listen to the people in the communities in which they live. That makes sense, doesn't it, to have a language-proficient military -- to have people that go into the far reaches of this world and be able to communicate in the villages and towns and rural areas and urban centers, to protect the American people.
We need intelligence officers who, when somebody says something in Arabic or Farsi or Urdu knows what they're talking about. That's what we need. We need diplomats -- when we send them out to help us convince governments that we've got to join together and fight these terrorists who want to destroy life and promote an ideology that is so backwards it's hard to believe. These diplomats need to speak that language.
So our short-term strategy is to stay on the offense, and we've got to give our troops, our intelligence officers, our diplomats all the tools necessary to succeed. That's what people in this country expect of our government. They expect us to be wise about how we use our resources, and a good use of resources is to promote this language initiative in K through 12, in our universities. And a good use of resources is to encourage foreign language speakers from important regions of the world to come here and teach us how to speak their language.
You're going to hear a lot about the specifics of the program. What I'm trying to suggest to you that this program is a part of a strategic goal, and that is to protect this country in the short-term and protect it in the long-term by spreading freedom.
Georgia media have been silent as members of ALEC in Georgia's legislature have successfully pushed through a version of ALEC's Charter Schools Act, which would create a state-controlled board with the power to establish and fund charter schools over local opposition. A Media Matters analysis found that while Georgia media have frequently written about the bills, they have completely overlooked ALEC's influence in the debate.
From the May 8 edition of KFTK's The Dana Show:
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