"What is the cause of this unrest" in Baltimore?
Fox News' attempt to tackle this question dismissed the role that anger over police brutality played in sparking the protests and riots that broke out following the funeral of Freddie Gray -- a black man who died of severe, unexplained spinal cord injuries obtained while in police custody. Instead, the network blamed the unrest on "parental neglect" and "hip hop culture," among other factors.
The April 28 edition of Fox News' Happening Now highlighted growing violence in Baltimore, and host Jon Scott asked network political analyst Juan Williams for his thoughts on what sparked the unrest: "Is there any one cause? Is it a collaboration of poverty and parental neglect?"
Williams blamed "family breakdown" as the "core part" of the Baltimore protests, adding that high unemployment, drug culture, and "dysfunctional behavior" also contributed. Some mistakenly blame frustration over police brutality for the unrest, Williams suggested, arguing that in fact the problem is a society "asking police to do things they're not trained to do":
WILLIAMS: What you have here is a situation where, I think, you have poor people, who feel that they have a grievance -- a difficult situation across our country in terms of how police deal with the dysfunction that is in this neighborhood, but deal with it in every community in America. We are asking our police to go in and to deal with people who are extremely violent, disorganized, families in chaos, and say to the police, you're our front lines. And when the police fail in handling the situation, then we say, it's a matter of police brutality. I think it's a matter of society, often times, asking police to do things they're not trained to do.
Baltimore, of course, has a marked history of police brutality -- As The Baltimore Sun documented in a searing 2014 report:
Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.
Mistrust of cops in Baltimore has been "long-simmering." A similar riot broke out in the city in 1968 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Since then, racial tension and inequity has resulted in "a troubled history between the police force and its residents."
Others like The New York Times trace the "broken relationship" between Baltimore residents and the Baltimore Police Department back to 1980, when the NAACP called for a federal investigation into police brutality. The tensions continued into the past decade "with a crime-fighting strategy known as 'zero-tolerance policing' that led to mass arrests." The Times noted how city leaders have attempted to reform the police department "that has a history of aggressive, sometimes brutal, treatment of black men," a history, "which helps explain the long-simmering anger that boiled over" with the death of Freddie Gray.
Conservative media figures responded to riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray -- an unarmed man who died of severe, unexplained spinal cord injuries while in police custody -- by recommending that participants in the riots be shot, and blaming the outbreak of violence on Democratic leadership, President Obama, public schools, welfare, and single-parent families.
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.
Following Loretta Lynch's historic confirmation as U.S. Attorney General, media have been silent about the implications for the National Rifle Association losing in a second consecutive high-profile nomination fight.
On April 23, Lynch was confirmed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 56 to 43 following a protracted effort by many Republicans in the Senate to stall or sink her confirmation. She will be the first African-American female attorney general in United States history.
A Media Matters review of major U.S. newspapers and television transcripts in Nexis and internal video archives following her confirmation did not identify any instance where the NRA was discussed in relation to Lynch.
But Lynch's confirmation provides more evidence that the NRA does not win every time. According to a tired -- and incorrect -- media narrative, the NRA is always successful in its federal lobbying efforts and also has the ability to punish legislators who refuse to support the gun group's agenda. Research on election outcomes has long-indicated, however, that the NRA in fact has little effect on politicians' Election Day results through endorsements or campaign spending.
Now the failure of the NRA to stop the confirmation of two high-profile Obama nominees -- Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in December 2014 and now Lynch -- offers evidence that the NRA also does not always get its way in Congress
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.
Bill O'Reilly has called on Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan to recuse themselves from the upcoming marriage equality cases -- even though neither justice has confirmed how they will rule. But in 2006, the Fox News host took the opposite position when it came to Justice Antonin Scalia, despite the fact that O'Reilly admitted a speech the conservative justice gave on a pending case made it "obvious" how he would vote.
On the April 21 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly complained that, because Justices Ginsburg and Kagan had officiated four same-sex marriages, "these ladies have to recuse themselves." Even though neither justice has spoken specifically on the merits of the same-sex marriage cases -- a situation that could trigger a need for a recusal -- O'Reilly nevertheless claimed that they were "not impartial" due to their participation in same-sex wedding ceremonies, and that their refusal to step down "is what unlimited power looks like." The following night O'Reilly doubled down at the end of his show, and described the logic of a viewer who agreed with him as "impeccable," declaring the liberal justices' acts a "blatant conflict of interest."
But O'Reilly felt quite differently about the standards of recusal in 2006, when he claimed that only the "nutty left" wanted Scalia to recuse himself in Hamdan v. Rumseld, a case brought by a Guantánamo Bay prisoner who argued that his detention after 9/11 violated his rights under military and international law.
With the Senate poised to finally vote on Loretta Lynch, President Obama's widely praised pick to replace Eric Holder as attorney general of the United States, National Review Online is repeating tired and debunked excuses as it calls on Senate Republicans to "defeat" her nomination.
After waiting far longer than almost every other attorney general nominee in history, Senate Republicans will finally bring up Lynch's confirmation for a vote on April 23. Although there are no legitimate problems with the highly-qualified Lynch herself, her confirmation was still held up for months by the GOP as they blocked an up-or-down vote, even when it was apparent she could be confirmed. This obstruction -- fueled in part by right-wing media smears -- continued interminably despite the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised in November that Lynch would "receive fair consideration by the Senate."
Senate Republicans, as well as right-wing media, have struggled mightily to find a substantive reason to oppose Lynch's nomination. After a few false starts, they finally settled on the fact that Lynch -- along with hundreds of legal experts as well as the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel -- believes that the president's executive actions on immigration are "reasonable," and has publicly said so.
NRO in particular has been vocal -- and inaccurate -- in its disdain for Lynch, and its latest editorial is more of the same. In an April 22 post, the editors complained that Lynch was no different than the "wildly partisan" Holder, and that "Republicans should vote her down" because it "would be a forceful rebuke to the president." The editorial went on to falsely claim that the president's immigration actions were illegal because they "offer positive benefits" to undocumented immigrants:
But there is little indication that Ms. Lynch would be much better -- and, at a minimum, the top law-enforcement officer should be committed to the law. Yet during her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Lynch endorsed the president's lawless November executive amnesty, and indicated that she had no concerns about the precedent it sets for future abuses of power by this or other presidents.
That the legal argument for the president's amnesty is weak is understating it. Unlike the previous amnesties he cites as precedent, the president's Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or DAPA, is not responding to a particular crisis but is simply the enactment by fiat of his own political wishes. Furthermore, unlike those previous amnesties, the president's offers positive benefits (e.g., work permits) to millions of Americans in the country illegally. Even the administration admits that the order must be executed on a "case-by-case basis," but the number of affected individuals -- somewhere around 5 million -- shows it is simply a new dispensation for an entire class of immigrants. And, of course, for years the president himself maintained that such a sweeping act would be outside his constitutional authority. Ms. Lynch apparently is bothered by none of this.
In the lead up to next week's landmark Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of marriage equality, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly is amplifying a fringe -- and absurd -- right-wing campaign calling on Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elana Kagan to recuse themselves because they have officiated same-sex marriages. But these actions, along with Ginsburg's comments noting the American public is rapidly turning against anti-LGBT discrimination, are not grounds for legitimate recusal.
In January, the American Family Association (AFA) -- a notorious anti-gay hate group -- announced a campaign titled, "Kagan and Ginsburg: Recuse Yourselves!" In a statement, the AFA, best known for its infamous anti-gay spokesman Bryan Fischer, called on the justices to recuse themselves ahead of next week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. The group argued that Kagan and Ginsburg "should recuse themselves from making any same-sex marriage decisions because they have both conducted same-sex marriage ceremonies."
On April 20, Fox legal correspondent Shannon Bream twice reported on "public calls, petition drives, and appeals directly to Justices Ginsburg and Kagan to recuse themselves from hearing next week's case on same-sex marriage." During Fox News' Special Report, Bream pointed to the justices' past history officiating same-sex weddings and a February 2015 interview during which Ginsburg said that it "would not take a large adjustment" for Americans to get used to nationwide marriage equality. On April 21, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly picked up the argument in his "Is It Legal" segment on The O'Reilly Factor, declaring "these ladies have to recuse themselves," because "[t]he Supreme Court is supposed to be an incorruptible institution, but reports say Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has herself performed three gay marriages, and Justice Elena Kagan, one":
From the April 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News attacked the Obama administration by reviving the false claim that in 2012 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began asking gun purchasers about their race and ethnicity on background check forms. In fact, ethnicity questions have been on the background check form for more than a decade.
On the April 21 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, guest host Martha MacCallum and Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano trumpeted the efforts of GOP lawmakers to stop the ATF from asking gun buyers about race. Napolitano argued, "I can only think that insisting upon knowing the race of the person, is perhaps so this Obama administration, so decidedly anti-gun, could say, oh by the way, such and such a percentage of whites buy -- and the amount of non-whites that buy is a smaller percentage, and we don't like that."
During the segment, an on-screen "Fox Facts" graphic wrongly claimed that ATF began "requiring gun buyers to answer questions about race & ethnicity on firearm applications" in 2012.
Contrary to the "Fox Facts" assertion, a question about race and ethnicity has been on the firearm background check form since at least 2001.
From The April 21 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Recent news reports on Republican presidential candidates' current support for pre-viability bans on abortion after 20 weeks have failed to mention that such bans are clearly unconstitutional, and have been repeatedly struck down as such by the courts.
It's no secret that the likely candidates for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination are extremely anti-choice. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was recently in the news for his sponsorship of "personhood" bills that would legally define life at conception, rendering abortion and some forms of birth control the criminal equivalent of murder -- perhaps even without exceptions for rape or incest. With less attention, Paul's potential primary opponents have also staked out far-right positions on American women's access to abortion, and recent reporting indicates their consensus position is coalescing around pre-viability 20-week abortion bans. In addition to Paul, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are all reportedly on board with these bans, despite the fact they flout decades of Supreme Court precedent protecting the constitutional right to abortion.
In reporting on these candidates' current lockstep for bans on abortion, however, mainstream media outlets are neglecting to mention that these 20-week measures are blatantly unconstitutional -- despite the fact that some of these same candidates repeatedly emphasize their fidelity to the "rule of law" and the U.S. Constitution.
In a recent article about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has yet to officially announce his candidacy, The New York Times noted that Walker's newfound support for a 20-week abortion ban was a "shift in emphasis and tone," but never discussed the constitutional flaw in such bans. USA Today, The Boston Globe, and The Los Angeles Times omitted the same fact in their political coverage of Walker's position on reproductive rights, with the LA Times choosing to describe a 20-week ban in terms of a "sharper-edged tone" rather than the unconstitutional measure it is.
The trend culminated in an April 17 Politico article that called 20-week abortion bans the "new litmus test" for all Republican candidates. While Politico detailed how anti-choice groups are lobbying Republicans to "make 20-week abortion ban[s] a centerpiece of their campaigns," the article never once noted that those bans are unconstitutional.
Breitbart.com is engaging in a campaign to attack musician Tim McGraw over his planned performance at a gun safety fundraiser by repeatedly connecting him to baseless fearmongering over "legalized firearm confiscation."
On April 13, McGraw and gun safety group Sandy Hook Promise announced a July 17 concert in Hartford, Connecticut, to benefit Sandy Hook Promise's "mission of protecting children from gun violence." According to a statement on McGraw's website, "This cause is close to Tim's heart, as it is to the fiddle player in his touring band, Dean Brown, a longtime friend to Mark Barden, a musician and father of a child, who was killed in the 2012 tragedy" at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Sandy Hook Promise, which was founded by family members of victims of the December 2012 mass shooting that claimed 26 lives in Newtown, Connecticut, describes itself as "a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible non-policy and policy solutions that protect children and prevent gun violence."
Following the announcement, conservative media moved to attack McGraw. In the ensuing controversy, opening act Billy Currington canceled his appearance at the fundraiser. McGraw released a statement defending his involvement in the event that noted that as a gun owner he "believe[s] that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety -- most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children. I can't imagine anyone who disagrees with that."
Breitbart.com author AWR Hawkins has led efforts to attack McGraw for his scheduled appearance and has published at least three articles that falsely connect McGraw with gun confiscation.
Fox News contributor Karl Rove misrepresented controversial anti-abortion language added to human trafficking legislation that is being used by Republicans to stall Loretta Lynch's confirmation to the Department of Justice, falsely claiming it was part "a forty year bipartisan agreement." In reality, the added provision would greatly expand the scope of the Hyde Amendment by restricting the use of private funds for abortion services.
President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch for Attorney General on November 8, 2014. Republicans have subsequently held Lynch's confirmation hostage for 162 days over controversial abortion language in an otherwise bipartisan human trafficking bill.
On the April 19 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor Karl Rove said Lynch's confirmation delay was rooted in Democratic efforts to repeal the "Hyde language in the trafficking bill," a measure restricting the use of federal funds for abortion services. Rove claimed Democrats were "trying to undo a 40 year bipartisan agreement that no federal funds be used for abortion," adding that they were "trying to play to the abortion crowd."
But Rove failed to explain that the language added to the bill by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is modeled after the Hyde Amendment, but would provide an unprecedented expansion, subjecting private money in the new fund created for trafficking victims to federal restrictions. This language marks the first time private money would be limited by the regulation.
As Think Progress pointed out, victims of human trafficking "often need access to abortion services because they have been subject to sexual violence, so a fund designed to help them shouldn't cut off resources related to abortion."
From the April 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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