A Fox News host has debunked the claim that A&E suspending a Duck Dynasty star over racist and homophobic comments had anything to do with the First Amendment. That claim had previously been advanced by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has urged the GOP to "stop being the stupid party."
On December 18, A&E announced that they had placed Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson on indefinite hiatus following a firestorm over racist and homophobic comments he made in a recently published GQ article. Conservatives in the media and in public office rushed to Robertson's defense, including Jindal, who said in a statement:
"I don't agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment."
Fox News contributor Sarah Palin similarly commented that "Free speech is an endangered species."
But Fox News' Steve Doocy repudiated this line of criticism. On the December 20 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade read a statement from a Robertson critic who said that "this is not a free speech issue," and commented, "I don't think that's true at all." Doocy replied, "It's not free speech because A&E as a private company can do anything they want. And they did."
Fox News host Geraldo Rivera defended Alec Baldwin's use of an anti-gay epithet against a photographer, claiming that calling somebody a "cocksucking faggot" isn't actually a homophobic slur.
During the December 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity criticized A&E for its decision to place Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson on indefinite hiatus following anti-gay remarks Robertson made during an interview with GQ.
Rivera compared Robertson's critics to the "fundamentalist gay activists" who criticized Alec Baldwin, who lost his show on MSNBC amid controversy after being recorded allegedly calling a photographer a "cocksucking faggot."
When panelist Rachel Sklar pointed out that Baldwin has a "history of making these homophobic slurs," Rivera shot back, stating that Baldwin's comments didn't constitute a "homophobic slur" because such comments were "commonplace" when he was growing up:
SKLAR: When I heard about what Alec Baldwin - Alec Baldwin had a history of making these homophobic slurs.
RIVERA: That wasn't a homophobic slur.
SKLAR: Okay --
RIVERA: I mean if you grew up where we grew up --
SKYLAR: And yet he is no longer on the network, right?
RIVERA: Sean, Baldwin and I all grew up within ten miles of each other and when we were growing up, in my year especially, those comments were commonplace.
SKLAR: Things have changed, Geraldo.
RIVERA: You have to give people some slack.
Earlier in the day, on Fox & Friends, Rivera criticized A&E's decision to suspend Robertson as "political correctness that's gotten malignant."
After assuring a GLAAD official that she would challenge an anti-gay hate group leader on his history of extreme rhetoric, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly welcomed Family Research Council president Tony Perkins to defend a Duck Dynasty star, never mentioning his nor FRC's anti-gay extremism and hate group designation.
Phil Robertson of A&E's popular Duck Dynasty show, made national headlines this week after calling homosexuality illogical and comparing it to bestiality during an interview with GQ magazine. Citing his remarks, on December 18 A&E announced it would be placing Robertson on indefinite hiatus.
During the following evening's edition of The Kelly File, Kelly invited on GLAAD's Jeremy Hooper followed by Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins to discuss Robertson's anti-gay comments.
Hooper challenged Kelly to hold Perkins accountable for his anti-gay record and vile rhetoric, to which Kelly promised, "What specifically? Because I'll ask him."
But Kelly never asked Perkins to explain his extreme stances against the gay community, nor did she acknowledge that the FRC is a designated hate group. Instead she merely identified FRC as "a group whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and culture from a Christian world view"--a description that continues Fox's trend of referring to anti-gay extremism as Christianity. Perkins went on to defend Robertson as upholding "biblical morality" and attack homosexuality as "sexual immorality."
At what point will Fox News stop conflating anti-gay bigotry and Christian religious belief?
Phil Robertson, one of the stars of A&E's Duck Dynasty, has been put on indefinite hiatus by the network following criticism of a number of anti-gay and racist remarks he made in an interview with GQ. In the interview, Robertson refers to homosexuality as a "sin," comparing it to bestiality and calling gay sex illogical:
"It seems like, to me, a vagina--as a man--would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me.I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."
"Everything is blurred on what's right and what's wrong," he says. "Sin becomes fine."
What, in your mind, is sinful?
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men," he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers--they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
In the aftermath of his anti-gay comments, several Fox News employees have rushed to Robertson's defense, depicting him as a run-of-the-mill Christian who espoused mainstream Christian theology. Host Sean Hannity described Robertson's comments as "old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values." Fox reporter Todd Starnes claimed his comments reflected "the teachings of the Bible." And Fox Business' Dennis Kneale claimed Robertson had just "stated his religious beliefs."
But not everyone at Fox News is so quick to accept Robertson's anti-gay comments as what they believe to be basic Christian dogma. During the December 18 edition of Hannity, Fox News analyst Peter Johnson Jr. seemed hesitant to describe Robertson's remarks as "religious," saying, "I wouldn't accept that that's a religious view":
From the December 19 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ:
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Fox News employees are rushing to defend Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson after A&E placed him on indefinite hiatus for making anti-gay remarks in which he called homosexuality a sin, illogical, and akin to bestiality.
From the December 19 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox News host Sean Hannity relied on a discredited right-wing organization that fabricated a story about a transgender student harassing her peers in a school restroom, attacking proper facilities access for transgender students as a "violation of privacy."
The rabidly anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) gained notoriety earlier this year after it was caught manufacturing a story about a transgender student in Colorado who PJI claimed was harassing other students in her school's bathrooms. That story ended up being entirely fabricated - the school district's Superintendent stated that no instances of actual harassment had been reported. PJI scrambled to save face, claiming that the "harassment" it referenced actually amounted to nothing more than a few parents and students feeling uncomfortable by the mere presence of a transgender student.
PJI's history of lying about the case didn't stop Hannity from promoting the group's work during the December 18 edition of his show, including airing a PJI-produced video featuring testimony from parents and students from the Colorado school who were bothered by the transgender student's existence. Hannity called the video "pretty powerful" and asked if letting transgender students use the bathroom of their choice was a "violation of privacy":
Many schools have already implemented policies similar to the one in Colorado, and California passed a law this summer granting transgender students proper facility access. Schools that have instituted such policies haven't reported any instances of misconduct and state that they've experienced "nothing but positive results." Experts state that allowing transgender individuals access to facilities that match their gender identity is essential to affirming their identities and removing the stigma all too often attached to trans people.
This isn't the first time Hannity's program has featured fear-stoking arguments against transgender rights. In August, he blasted California's new law, asking, "What do we do with the seven-year-old girl that goes into the locker room and there's the 14-year-old boy naked in the girls' locker room because that's where he chooses to be?" Fox itself has assailed the law repeatedly, with host Bill O'Reilly calling it "the biggest con in the world," further contributing to the network's transphobia problem. The network's willingness to tout a group that has lied in order to smear transgender students marks a new low.
From the December 19 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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From the December 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes defended homophobic remarks made by a star of the A&E reality show Duck Dynasty, blasting "intolerant, anti-Christian," and "Anti-Straight" "haters" for deigning to criticize the comments.
In an interview with GQ, Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson called homosexuality a sin, comparing it to bestiality and equating gay people with "drunks" and "terrorists." "It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus," Robertson told the magazine. The LGBT advocacy group GLAAD condemned Robertson's remarks as "vile." Starnes expressed outrage at criticism of Robertson's remarks, writing on Twitter:
Starnes is one of Fox News' most rabid purveyors of homophobia. He has urged fans to donate to anti-gay hate groups, endorsed anti-LGBT business discrimination, promoted the conspiracy theory that President Obama is secretly gay, and blamed "heterophobic bigots" for the withdrawal of an anti-gay pastor from Obama's inaugural ceremony. While Starnes is keen to malign supporters of LGBT equality as "intolerant" "bigots," his history of hateful commentary exposes his virulent bigotry.
Janet Mefferd, among right-wing talk radio's most rabid promoters of homophobia, endorsed Jamaica's anti-sodomy law, falsely suggesting that it was essential to combatting the spread of HIV.
On the December 17 edition of The Janet Mefferd Show, Mefferd invited extreme anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) to discuss his recent trip to Jamaica, where he advised supporters of Jamaica's gay sex ban in light of calls for its repeal. LaBarbera praised the "moral clarity" of the ban's supporters, and Mefferd left no doubt that she also supported the criminalization of homosexuality. LaBarbera asserted that such laws help fight HIV, lamenting that in the U.S., people "talk all about rights of homosexuals and never about, you know, stopping this dangerous behavior." Mefferd agreed, calling it "really unfortunate":
HIV/AIDS experts, however, condemn anti-sodomy laws as a hindrance to efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. According to AIDS Free World, such laws "drive underground people who are in need of health and other services related to HIV and AIDS." In Jamaica itself, the organization states, the government "uses the anti-sodomy law as an excuse for not creating adequate HIV-related health programs ... that target MSM [men who have sex with men]."
Mefferd's support for a policy that's both an affront to fundamental liberties and damaging to public health further demonstrates her extremism - her syndicator's assertion that she's "mainstream" notwithstanding. Her vicious anti-LGBT smears, however, haven't stopped conservative celebrities and media figures like Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Brian Brown, and Stephen Jimenez from appearing on her program.
Conservative media outlets have repeatedly asserted that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) - federal legislation that would ban employment discrimination against LGBT workers - discriminates against Christian businesses, but a new report from PolitiFact has rated that claim "False."
On December 16, PolitiFact evaluated a fundraising email from the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) which claimed that ENDA would unfairly punish Christian businesses. PolitiFact rated TVC's claim "false," noting that ENDA includes religious exemptions that are actually more generous than those contained in other federal non-discrimination laws.
PolitiFact also noted that non-religious businesses operated by religious individuals have to comply with the law regardless of the business owner's faith (emphasis added):
Under Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964], and therefore under ENDA, religious organizations, which need not be church-run, would be exempt. Additionally, all businesses with fewer than 15 employees are exempt, whether they're religious or not.
Nelson Tebbe, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who specializes in religious liberty, said ENDA's religious exemption exceeds Title VII's.
"It's broader because the religious exemption in Title VII only allows religious organizations to discriminate [against LGBT individuals] on the basis of religion," he said. But it doesn't allow religious groups to discriminate based on factors like an employee's gender or race.
So by permitting religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, ENDA allows them more flexibility than Title VII.
The bill's religious exemption indicates that churches, church-run initiatives and other religious businesses need not comply by employing people of all sexualities and gender identities. And there's no special negative treatment for Christians.
Businesses of any religion could qualify for the exemption. Individuals of any faith who oppose sexuality would have to abide by the law, so no religion is singled out.
We rate this claim False.
The myth that ENDA would discriminate against Christian businesses has been widely debunked, but that hasn't stopped the lie from gaining prominence among right-wing media outlets.
The Daily Caller derided a New Jersey bill that would allow transgender people to change their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender identity, running the story with an image of drag queens and dubbing the bill a "choose-your-own birth certificate law."
On December 17, Daily Caller education editor Eric Owens reported that the New Jersey legislature is set to send the bill to Republican Gov. Chris Christie's desk, although it isn't clear yet whether Christie will sign it into law. Owens wrote that the law would allow people to change their birth certificates to include "a gender they totally didn't have when they were actually born" (emphasis added):
Pat Buchanan praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his defense of "traditional values," citing his opposition to such "evil" developments as marriage equality to position Putin as the global leader of the fight "against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite."
In his December 17 syndicated column, Buchanan pondered whether Putin is a fellow "paleoconservative" before checking off a list of Putin's culturally conservative stances, which seemed to suggest a clear answer to Buchanan (emphasis added):
Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?
In the culture war for mankind's future, is he one of us?
While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president's state of the nation address.
With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, "In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered."
"They're now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil."
Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.
And same-sex marriage is indeed an "abstract" idea unrooted in the history or tradition of the West. Where did it come from?
Peoples all over the world, claims Putin, are supporting Russia's "defense of traditional values" against a "so-called tolerance" that is "genderless and infertile."
Suggesting that with its increased acceptance of LGBT equality "Barack Obama's America" has taken the place of the Soviet Union as "the focus of evil in the modern world," Buchanan argued that Putin's Russia is a better example to the international community. He applauded a recent India Supreme Court ruling reinstating that country's ban on gay sex, seeing it as a sign that Putin's vision may yet prevail (emphasis added):
President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire "the focus of evil in the modern world." President Putin is implying that Barack Obama's America may deserve the title in the 21st century.
While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind.
Same-sex marriage is supported by America's young, but most states still resist it, with black pastors visible in the vanguard of the counterrevolution. In France, a million people took to the streets of Paris to denounce the Socialists' imposition of homosexual marriage.
Only 15 nations out of more than 190 have recognized it.
In India, the world's largest democracy, the Supreme Court has struck down a lower court ruling that made same-sex marriage a right. And the parliament in this socially conservative nation of more than a billion people is unlikely soon to reverse the high court.
In the four dozen nations that are predominantly Muslim, which make up a fourth of the U.N. General Assembly and a fifth of mankind, same-sex marriage is not even on the table. And Pope Francis has reaffirmed Catholic doctrine on the issue for over a billion Catholics.
It's true, as Buchanan notes, that Pope Francis hasn't changed Roman Catholic doctrine against same-sex marriage. Still, Buchanan's apparent praise for the pope is odd, given that just one month ago he denounced the pontiff for saying he wouldn't "judge" gay people.
Buchanan's warm words for Putin echo a column he wrote in August shortly after Putin signed laws banning so-called "gay 'propaganda'" and prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by parents from pro-equality countries. At the time, Buchanan commended Putin's efforts to "re-establish" his nation's "moral compass." Now, as Putin further hardens his anti-gay stance, Buchanan has promoted Putin to the role of cultural conservatism's savior.