Justice & Civil Liberties

Issues ››› Justice & Civil Liberties
  • Texas Media Call Out Anti-Choice Logic Behind Proposed Fetal Tissue Disposal Rules

    “Texas Is Trying To Get itself Sued Again Over Abortion Rights” By Secretly Pushing Fetal Tissue Disposal Rules

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Following the Supreme Court’s 5-3 rejection of Texas’ extreme anti-choice law HB 2 in June, state lawmakers attempted to quietly pass a new abortion restriction requiring fetal tissue from any abortion -- “regardless of the period of gestation” -- be buried or cremated. On August 4, Texas health officials will hold a public hearing on the proposed restriction. Ahead of this, Texas media have consistently called out the proposal as an overt, anti-choice attack on abortion access.

  • Trump Invokes Right-Wing Media's Voter Fraud Myth To Support Voter ID Laws

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Echoing a right-wing media myth, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed recent court rulings striking down voter restrictions would cause the presidential election to be “rigged” because voter ID laws prevent people committing in-person voter fraud by not allowing them to keep “voting and voting and voting." In reality, in-person voter fraud is extremely rare and voter ID laws disproportionately harm minority voters.

  • Bud Light Appears To Pull Sponsorship Of Ted Nugent Concert

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Bud Light’s name has been removed from promotional websites for an upcoming concert featuring National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent.

    The beer brand had been promoting an August 6 Peoria, IL, Nugent concert as a part of its Bud Light Concerts series.

    On August 2, Media Matters reported on Bud Light’s sponsorship, noting that it was sponsoring Nugent even though in 2016 alone the NRA leadership figure 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 called for Hillary Clinton to be executed.

    Following publication of Media Matters’ post, Bud Light’s name has disappeared from promotional materials for the concert.

    Here is how Bud Light was promoting Nugent’s concert:

    Now the webpage says “Sorry, something went wrong. We could not find the event”:

    The concert was previously promoted on the Bud Light Concerts homepage:

    But it has since been removed:

    Limelight Eventplex, the venue for the concert, previously listed Bud Light as a sponsor of the concert:

    Now only Limelight Eventplex is listed as a sponsor:

    A local radio station, 95.5 GLO Peoria's Classic Rock, had an article that advertised the Nugent concert:

    That article has been deleted:

    Media Matters has reached out to Bud Light for comment.

  • How An Animated Comedy Showed The Big Problem With News Coverage About Abortion

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    The Netflix series BoJack Horseman recently released an episode in which a major character decides to get an abortion, serving as a rare example of a comedy show that both tackles the topic of abortion and explicitly addresses the social stigma surrounding the medical procedure, including how abortion conversations in media are dominated by anti-choice men.

    The third season of the Netflix series BoJack Horseman, which depicts a cartoon world populated by both human and animal characters, includes an episode centered not just around a character’s abortion but also around the stigma that can be associated with the procedure itself. In the episode titled “Brrap Brrap Pew Pew,” released in July, a human character named Diane chooses to get an abortion after discussing her unwanted pregnancy with her spouse. Diane’s celebrity ghostwriting client accidentally becomes involved, sparking a media discussion about abortion within the animated world.

    The episode touches on some of the real-world aspects of obtaining an abortion, including protesters at the clinic, state-mandated ultrasound requirements, and informed consent laws. The show’s take on abortion stigma has garnered praise from TV critics who have called it “refreshing” and “a bracing counter-programming to the way discussion around abortion occurs in the media.”

    A.V. Club’s Les Chappell also noticed the episode satirized abortion cable news conversations overwhelmingly dominated by men. In the episode, a news program on “MSNBSea” featured a discussion about Sextina Aquafina’s abortion by a panel of “old men in bow ties” (and a whale voiced by Keith Olbermann) who feel pretty confident about their “unbiased” opinions on abortion. Earlier in the episode, the whale news anchor asked, “Is Twitter an appropriate forum to be discussing a sensitive issue like abortion? Wouldn’t a better forum be nowhere?” Chappell wrote, “it nails the worst part of abortion debates, how they’re so often had by those who have no business talking about it.”

    Although played for satire, the scene is pretty true to life in its commentary on the male dominance of abortion conversations in news. A Media Matters study of 14 months of cable news discussions about abortion found they included overwhelmingly male hosts, correspondents, and guests, and featured more anti-choice voices than pro-choice. In fact, from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, 62 percent of cable news figures engaging in abortion-related discussions were men. In that time period, there was only one appearance by a group representing or advocating for reproductive rights for women of color across all three major cable networks.

    These limited types of discussions, just as on BoJack Horseman’s “MSNBSea,” can ultimately fuel conservative misinformation about abortion and about women’s health more generally, as well as perpetuate stigma about the procedure.

    Stigmatizing silence or misinformed statements about abortion are not limited to the types of news coverage portrayed on BoJack Horseman, either. The entire premise of the episode is unusual.

    Abortion plotlines on true comedy shows are rare, according to Gretchen Sisson, a researcher at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), which produces the Abortion Onscreen project analyzing abortion stories in TV and film since 1916. According to ANSIRH’s research, 20 American TV shows featured a discussion of abortion in 2015, but all of these shows were categorized as dramas, or as a mix of drama and comedy like HBO’s Girls. Sisson explained in an email to Media Matters that, while TV comedy shows may make jokes about abortion, they rarely feature a character actually contemplating obtaining one. “Only about four percent of all abortion TV plotlines -- where a character is making a decision about an abortion -- occur on comedy programs,” explained Sisson. “Most TV abortion stories occur on dramas, shows that mix drama and comedy, and science fiction or horror programs.”

    In fact, one of the few other examples of a comedy show -- also a cartoon -- featuring an abortion was a 2009 episode of Family Guy. Fox refused to air the episode because of its subject matter.

    The current state of abortion discussions in media coverage and in popular entertainment ultimately serves to reinforce misinformation by shrouding the topic in confusion and secrecy. BoJack Horseman’s rare approach to highlighting the realities women experience when choosing to undergo the common medical procedure -- and the persistent stigma media perpetuate about the decision -- takes an important step in shifting the discussion.


  • Right-Wing Media Outraged That Border Patrol Won’t Arrest Immigrants In Schools, Churches, And Hospitals 

    ICE “Sensitive Locations” Immigration Policy Forbids Arrests In Locations That May Hurt Public Safety 

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Right-wing media attacked the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s “sensitive location” policy, which forbids border patrol officers from surveilling and arresting immigrants in locations such as churches, hospitals, and schools, without prior authorization as “lawlessness” and accused the agency of “advising” illegal immigrants on how to avoid arrest.

  • Washington Post: Do Donald And Eric Trump Understand “The Term ‘Victim Blaming’”?

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A Washington Post reporter is suggesting that based on the answers provided by both Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his son, Eric, to the hypothetical of someone sexually harassing Ivanka Trump like Roger Ailes has allegedly done to many women in the workplace, it’s possible neither man understands what ‘victim blaming’ means.

    During an interview in a USA Today opinion piece, Trump said that his daughter “would find another career” or “another company” if treated the way Roger Ailes, the ally he has expressed “love” and support for, has allegedly treated many women at Fox News, allegations that led to his departure as chairman and CEO. Eric Trump doubled down on this attitude during an interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose, stating his sister, “as a strong person,” would never “allow herself to be subjected to that.” Both statements have drawn condemnation from figures in the media, including former Fox host Gretchen Carlson, who sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment.

    In an August 2 blog post, Post reporter Janell Ross points out that the privilege Ivanka Trump has of being able to change career or work place isn’t shared by most women, underscores how this solution would “leave the harasser in place,” and calls the idea that strength is all that’s needed to respond to sexual harassment “plain wrong”:

    On Monday, USA Today published a column in which the elder Trump was quoted saying that were his daughter Ivanka Trump to face workplace sexual harassment akin to what former employees have said that former Fox News chief and on-again, off-again Trump ally Roger Ailes subjected them to, Ivanka would find another career or company. Just like that.

    Just to be totally clear, this is what the elder Trump said:

    “I would like to think she would find another career, or find another company if that was the case."

    Those are his words. USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers described that response as retrograde and, "startling even by Trumpian standards." By Tuesday morning, Eric Trump did what so many of his father's supporters and surrogates have been called upon to do this week. Trump offered an explanation for Trump's comments. During an interview with Charlie Rose on "CBS This Morning," Eric Trump, said this:

    “I think what he’s saying is, Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman, she wouldn’t allow herself to be objected to it, and by the way, you should take it up with Human Resources, and I think she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don’t think she would allow herself to be subjected to that. I think that’s a point he was making, and I think he did so well.”


    Now, on to the content of the two Trump men's comments, and some things that don't seem to have crossed their minds.

    Here's one: Ivanka's status as the daughter of two billionaires, the head of her own companies, manager of many lucrative projects and the wife of a very wealthy man also born to a wealthy family — all of which might make her response to harassment different than it might be if none of those titles applied.


    What's more, their "solution" would likely leave a harasser in place.

    It would force a worker, who may feel that the job or some project or aspect of their job is what they are uniquely called to do, to accept the "punishment" of leaving that task or opportunity. That harassed worker would have to endure all the personal and economic upheaval associated with leaving that job.

    Meanwhile, the harasser and anyone aware of the harassment would emerge with a strong sense this behavior will not be a problem in the future.


    As for Eric Trump's suggestion that a "strong" woman like his sister, Ivanka, would not "allow" this sort of thing happen or should simply go to HR, there are more than a few reasons to be troubled. Among them: there's little reason believe that the world and its HR departments uniformly work that well for all American workers.


    The Trump definition of strength on terms that may not be an option for a large share of workers — say, for instance, that 40 percent of American mothers who are the primary or sole breadwinner in their families — is definitely something. Let's start with plain wrong. It's an idea that can have very real implications for the careers of victims, the companies for which they work and the entire country.

  • Why Is Bud Light Sponsoring Ted Nugent’s Hate?

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Bud Light is putting on a concert featuring National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent despite Nugent’s recent promotion of racist and anti-Semitic material and use of violent rhetoric against Hillary Clinton.

    Nugent is scheduled to perform on August 6 in Peoria, IL, as part of the “Bud Light Concerts” series. Bud Light is brewed by Anheuser-Busch, a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev.

    Nugent, who called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel,” has a history of racist and other inflammatory commentary. In 2016 alone, Nugent 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.

    Nugent, who has endorsed GOP nominee Donald Trump for president, this year has called for Clinton to be hanged for treason and promoted a fake video of her being shot.

    The Bud Light Concert is scheduled for the day after a Nugent concert at the Freeborn County Fair in Albert Lea, MN. Local residents plan to protest that concert with an area teacher writing to community leaders, “The fair reflects the values of the entire county, and having Ted Nugent perform at the fair would reflect tolerance of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, xenophobia, ableism, and incivility toward people who protest his remarks or cancel his shows” and that “We don’t want to let our students of color and our girls down by being silent.”

    Nugent responded to controversy over his upcoming fair appearance by calling his critics “America hating lying Saul Alinsky scumdogs,” and “assholes,” while adding, “Hopefully we will get photos/vid of the dopey protestors with their American Communist Party regalia xposing their disdain for personal hygiene.”

    In 2014, several of Nugent’s concerts were cancelled or protested because of Nugent’s “subhuman mongrel” comment and because of several racist attacks he made on American Indians that summer.

    Media Matters documented in 2013 how Nugent’s hateful rhetoric joins him on the concert stage. During his “Black Power 2013” tour, Nugent railed against the “lying racist in the White House," "criminal pieces of shit in the IRS," "dirty cocksuckers in the government," "the jack boot Nazi motherfuckers in the Department of Justice," "fucking retarded mongrels" who support animal rights, and "well-fed motherfucker food stamp cocksuckers." He also drew a comparison between the American Revolution and the present, stating, "When the British came to take our guns we met them at Concord Bridge and we blew their fucking brains out," and warned his audience, "keep a fucking gun in your hand, boys."



  • Amid Ailes Scandal, Trump Tells Fox Contributor Women Harassed At Work Should Find “Another Career Or … Company”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a USA Today opinion piece, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told Fox’s Kirsten Powers that women should “‘find another career’” if they are sexually harassed by their employer, referring to former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s allegations against ousted Fox CEO, and current 21st Century Fox consultant, Roger Ailes.    

    Trump previously defended Ailes during a Meet the Press interview, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd that Ailes has helped the women who are “complaining,” and noting that the women have said “wonderful things about [Ailes].” Trump went on to say the situation is “very sad … I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person.” Trump also has consulted with Ailes throughout the campaign, including the week that he announced his departure from Fox News. When asked if he would consider bringing Ailes on the campaign in an official capacity, Trump said he would consider it, and called Ailes “a very capable guy.”

    In a phone interview with Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, Trump doubled down on his defense of Ailes, suggesting Carlson wouldn’t have said “fabulous things” about her former boss if she was had been harassed. Powers asked Trump what his daughter Ivanka would do if she was in Carlson’s position. Trump responded that he would “‘like to think she would find another career or … company if that were the case.” From the August 1 opinion:   

    Donald Trump thinks it’s “very sad” that women at Fox News are “complaining” about being sexually harassed by former Fox chief Roger Ailes.

    As allegations against his old friend piled up, Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd on July 24 that, “Some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he's helped them…And when they write books….and say wonderful things about him….[N]ow, all of a sudden, they're saying these horrible things about him.”

    Without passing judgment about the specific allegations, which are currently under investigation by 21st Century Fox, one should be able to accept that a woman could both have been promoted by a boss and harassed by him. Women are often forced to maintain good relations with men who abuse them precisely because those men have power.

    When I mentioned this to Trump in a phone interview last Tuesday, he doubled down on his retrograde take. “There was quite a bit of fabulous things said [about Ailes by Gretchen Carlson],” he told me. “It would be easier for me and more politically correct for me to say you are right.  But you would think she wouldn’t say those things.”

    I pointed out that it wasn’t just Carlson who had made allegations. “I didn’t know it was more than just her,” Trump told me, even though his comments to Chuck Todd referred to women, plural.

    What if someone had treated Ivanka in the way Ailes allegedly behaved?

    His reply was startling, even by Trumpian standards. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” he said.

    But most women don’t have the financial resources of Ivanka. They can’t afford to quit their job without another in hand, something that is impossible to do when you are under contract and forbidden to speak to competitors. Most importantly, why should a woman be expected to upend her career just because she ended up in the crosshairs of some harasser?

    Trump’s defense of Ailes and criticism of the alleged victims comes as the media blackout of Trump’s own alleged sexual assault continues. Trump denied the allegations by pointing to an article that had appeared in The National Enquirer.

  • NRA’s Allen West Is More Upset About Khizr Khan’s DNC Speech Than The Death Of Khan’s Son

    West: Khan Should Ask For God’s Forgiveness For His "Damn Politicized Stunt"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member and conservative pundit Allen West published an attack on Khizr Khan, a speaker at the Democratic National Convention whose son, a captain in the U.S. Army, was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004.

    West concluded a lengthy attack on Khan posted to his website, “I grieve for the loss of your son. However, I grieve even more that you used his sacrifice and loss as nothing more than a damn politicized stunt. May God forgive you for it.”

    During a July 28 speech at the Democratic convention, Khan, standing beside his wife Ghazala, spoke about their son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 by a car bomb while protecting soldiers under his command.

    Khan’s remarks received widespread attention after he condemned the anti-Muslim rhetoric of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, asking whether Trump had ever read the U.S. Constitution and addressing the nominee, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

    In a July 31 post to his website, West joined Trump and other members of conservative media who have attacked Khan since his convention speech. West is a retired Army Lt. Colonel whose service ended in controversy over his use of interrogation tactics in Iraq.

    In addition to writing that he grieved Khan’s speech more than the death of Khan’s son, West also wrote of Khan’s decision to make his speech: “I tend to believe that if alive, your son would consider that type of behavior abhorrent and deplorable” and suggested that the elder Khan “will be remembered as a political pawn.”

    West added that during his speech, Khan should have “taken the time to explain how humbled and thankful you are to live in America.” Khan actually did address his family’s decision to immigrate to the United States in his convention remarks, saying, “We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams.”

    West also wished that during the convention speech Khan would have called the chief prophet and central figure of the Islam religion, the Prophet Muhammad, “a murderous warlord, psychopath, and, by modern day standards, a pedophile.”

    West was elected to a leadership position within the NRA during the group’s 2016 elections. He has also served as a Fox News contributor and the executive director of the think tank National Center for Policy Analysis.

    West’s diatribe against Khan was praised by fellow NRA board member Ted Nugent who wrote on his Facebook page, “DITTO Allen West from all humans with a brain, heart & soul! Allen West would make a great Commander in Chief!”: