From the March 28 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a right-wing legal organization working internationally to criminalize homosexuality, plans to host "An Evening with Erick Erickson" next month. It's the latest sign that the Fox News contributor, who has previously touted ADF's work, is becoming a de facto spokesman for the group.
ADF plans to host the event - which requires a general admission fee of $25 - on April 24 at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast. According to the event's online registration page, the evening will focus on sharing "inspirational and motivational stories of victory" against the "increasingly aggressive attack" on religious liberty:
As the go-to legal organization for social conservatives, ADF has compiled a record of extreme anti-gay activism. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported in July 2013 that the group has worked to help criminalize gay sex in Belize. Benjamin Bull, the executive director of ADF Global, has applauded the criminalization of homosexuality in India and has traveled to Russia to meet with Yelena Mizulina, one of the authors of that country's notorious "gay propaganda" law.
Domestically, ADF regularly defends anti-gay discrimination by representing business owners who turn away gay customers. Along with the Center for Arizona Policy, ADF helped draft the controversial license to discriminate legislation vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) in February. The group also argued in favor of state anti-sodomy laws, asserting that gay sex "causes far more disease than opposite-sex sodomy."
Despite - or perhaps because of - ADF's extreme record, Erickson has established himself as one of the group's prominent supporters. In an August post for his RedState blog, he actually solicited donations for the organization, lauding its "lone and brace warriors" combating the "evil" campaign for LGBT equality. That solicitation came in response to a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling against an ADF client who refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony.
Many Fox News personalities recoiled once they saw the kind of extreme anti-gay legislation ADF was trying to push through state legislatures, but Erickson did the opposite, becoming a de facto spokesman for the organization. By keynoting an ADF event, Erickson has made clear that his support for anti-gay discrimination goes beyond rhetoric - he's actually willing to work to fundraise for one of the country's most extreme anti-equality organizations.
The Daily Caller is known for publishing its fair share of anti-LGBT opinion columns, but even the website's "straight news" reporting is replete with anti-gay demagoguery, evidenced by its latest report on the Obama administration's reaction to Uganda's extreme new anti-gay law.
On March 24, Daily Caller White House correspondent Neil Munro published a report on the Obama administration's move to cut aid to Uganda after President Yoweri Museveni signed legislation imposing life sentences for "aggravated homosexuality." The Obama administration has moved to cut aid programs tied to the new law - including $6.4 million that would have gone to a primary backer of the measure. The administration has also rerouted aid for tourism and environmental protection to NGOs and halted a survey on populations at risk for HIV due to safety concerns.
Throughout his ostensibly "straight news" report, Munro depicted the Obama administration's decision as an example of its "hard-edged effort to punish countries that disagree with its gay rights agenda." According to Munro, opposing life imprisonment for gay people is part of an effort to "rapidly elevate the status of gays in Africa":
President Barack Obama is cutting U.S. aid for the poor African country of Uganda and blocking a health survey, because its elected government signed a popular and harsh law against homosexual conduct.
The penalty spotlights the administration's top-level and hard-edged effort to punish countries that disagree with its gay rights agenda.
The cuts are part of an ambitious foreign policy effort to rapidly elevate the status of gays in Africa and in other continents.
Munro noted that the Obama administration had also condemned Russia's law cracking down on so-called gay "propaganda" - which could include displays of affection between same-sex couples. Channeling Vladimir Putin's defense of that measure, Munro uncritically referred to the measure as a ban on "advocacy of Western-style gay rights" and repeated the baseless notion that criminalizing gay "propaganda" would somehow encourage population grown:
Conservative news outlets are hyping a minor website change to suggest that the FBI is distancing itself from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) - a group that monitors hate speech and violence - in response to criticism from anti-gay organizations. But the FBI has issued a statement debunking that narrative and continues to publicly touts its partnership with SPLC on its website.
On March 26, Washington Examiner reporter Paul Bedard asserted that the FBI was ending its relationship with SPLC, noting that a link to the group had been scrubbed from the FBI's Hate Crime "resources" page and calling it a "significant rejection of the influential legal group":
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has labeled several Washington, D.C.-based family organizations as "hate groups" for favoring traditional marriage, has been dumped as a "resource" on the FBI's Hate Crime Web page, a significant rejection of the influential legal group.
The Web page scrubbing, which also included eliminating the Anti-Defamation League, was not announced and came in the last month after 15 family groups pressed Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey to stop endorsing a group -- SPLC -- that inspired a recent case of domestic terrorism at the Family Research Council.
The FBI had no comment and offered no explanation for its decision to end their website's relationship with the two groups, leaving just four federal links as hate crime "resources." The SPLC had no comment.
Anti-gay activist Austin Ruse continues to write for Breitbart.com, even two weeks after an anti-gay hate group cut its ties with Ruse over his declaration that liberal professors "should all be taken out and shot."
Filling in for American Family Radio host Sandy Rios on March 12, Ruse commented on the case of a Duke University student who revealed that she had acted in porn to help pay her college tuition. Ruse seized on the story to condemn "the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities, who should all be taken out and shot." In response, the American Family Association, an anti-gay hate group, broke off ties with Ruse.
For nearly two weeks since after Right Wing Watch reported that decision, Ruse didn't publish any material at Breitbart, where he has made a name for himself as the site's go-to anti-gay extremist. But on March 25, Breitbart published a new piece by Ruse celebrating the news that Missouri recently became the sixth state to have only one abortion clinic.
With his editors at Breitbart apparently unbothered by Ruse's recent incitement to violence, it's unclear what the website would consider a bridge too far. As the president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), also an anti-gay hate group, Ruse is no stranger to inflammatory rhetoric and deeply offensive commentary - much of it spewed during his time at Breitbart.
Here's a round-up of some of Ruse's greatest hits.
Given the AFA's own record of extremism, its decision to cut ties with Ruse demonstrates that even hate groups have a limit for how much toxic rhetoric they're willing to tolerate. It's a limit that apparently doesn't exist at Breitbart.
As Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) woos young voters ahead of an expected 2016 presidential bid, it's become conventional wisdom among many Beltway pundits that Paul could broaden the GOP's appeal with his ostensibly tolerant views on social issues - never mind that that this narrative is completely divorced from Paul's traditional conservative positions on such topics.
Paul's effort to win over Millennials and other constituencies historically suspicious of the GOP came to the fore with his March 19 speech at the University of California, Berkeley, where Paul condemned government surveillance programs as a threat to privacy.
The chattering class proclaimed that the speech was emblematic of Paul's appeal as an unconventional, "intriguing" Republican. And despite Paul's conservative stances on issues like marriage equality, reproductive choice, and creationism, many media outlets have also pointed to Paul as the kind of candidate who could help move the GOP away from its hardline social positions. It's a narrative that even some of Paul's conservative critics have come to accept, as Charles Krauthammer showed when he called Paul "very much a liberal on social issues."
A look at media coverage of Paul helps explain where Krauthammer got that notion.
Referring to gay people as "homosexual" is a practice that's quickly falling out of favor with major news outlets due the term's often pejorative connotation and frequent use by opponents of LGBT equality. But Fox News has yet to update its language when referring to gay and lesbian people.
On March 23, The New York Times published a piece exploring the often derogatory connotation of the term "homosexual." Writing for the Sunday Styles section, the Times' Jeremy Peters noted that experts increasingly view "homosexual" as an offensive and stigmatizing term, even if many people still see the term as relatively "innocuous" (emphasis added):
To most ears, it probably sounds inoffensive. A little outdated and clinical, perhaps, but innocuous enough: homosexual.
But that five-syllable word has never been more loaded, more deliberately used and, to the ears of many gays and lesbians, more pejorative.
" 'Homosexual' has the ring of 'colored' now, in the way your grandmother might have used that term, except that it hasn't been recuperated in the same way," said George Chauncey, a Yale professor of history and an author who studies gay and lesbian culture.
Consider the following phrases: homosexual community, homosexual activist, homosexual marriage. Substitute the word "gay" in any of those cases, and the terms suddenly become far less loaded, so that the ring of disapproval and judgment evaporates.
Some gay rights advocates have declared the term off limits. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or Glaad, has put "homosexual" on its list of offensive terms and in 2006 persuaded The Associated Press, whose stylebook is the widely used by many news organizations, to restrict use of the word.
George P. Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, has looked at the way the term is used by those who try to portray gays and lesbians as deviant. What is most telling about substituting it for gay or lesbian are the images that homosexual tends to activate in the brain, he said.
"Gay doesn't use the word sex," he said. "Lesbian doesn't use the word sex. Homosexual does."
Peters highlighted use of the term by anti-gay figures like Rush Limbaugh, whose comments on the "homosexual" NFL prospect Michael Sam and the efforts of the "homosexual lobby" to defeat Arizona's anti-gay discrimination bill smack of contempt.
Use of the term is also pervasive at Fox News - and not just from the likes of the network's hate group mouthpiece Todd Starnes, who recently warned that "Christians are trading places with homosexuals" in the military. Just as the network insists on misgendering transgender subjects, Fox also has no qualms about regularly referring to gay men and lesbians by a term many of them shun.
Fox employees from Megyn Kelly to Sarah Palin continue to use the word "homosexual" to describe gays and lesbians. Fox Supreme Court reporter and pro-discrimination champion Shannon Bream teased a forthcoming segment on "homosexual adoption":
Fox's "Medical A-Team" member and anti-LGBT pop psychologist Keith Ablow uses the term "homosexual sex" while criticizing pro-gay advertisements.
And Fox's Bill O'Reilly was recently mocked for a segment in which he attacked the Girl Scouts for "leaning left," seizing in particular on the organization's employment of a spokesman who participated "in a punk rock band with homosexual overtones":
Experts have repeatedly debunked the myth that transgender non-discrimination laws give sexual predators access to women's restrooms, but that hasn't stopped conservative media outlets from promoting fake news stories to fear monger about trans-inclusive bathrooms.
For as long as the transgender community has fought for protection from discrimination in public spaces, conservatives have peddled the myth that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women's restrooms.
That fear has been an extremely effective tool for scaring people into voting against even basic protections for transgender people, which is why conservatives routinely use the phrase "bathroom bill" to describe laws prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations. When conservative media outlets attack non-discrimination laws for transgender people, they almost exclusively focus on bathroom and locker room facilities.
But that fear is baseless - completely unsupported by years of evidence from states that already have non-discrimination laws on the books. In a new Media Matters report, experts from twelve states - including law enforcement officials, state human rights workers, and sexual assault victims advocates - debunk the myth that non-discrimination laws have any relation to incidents of sexual assault or harassment in public restrooms:
Experts in 12 states -- including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for victims of sexual assault -- have debunked the right-wing myth that sexual predators will exploit transgender non-discrimination laws to sneak into women's restrooms, calling the myth baseless and "beyond specious."
From the March 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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One of right-wing media's leading voices on what should or should not define the institution of marriage has said that same-sex marriage will lead to legalized incest and polygamy, and has argued instead for a definition of matrimony that requires women to consent to sex with their husbands as often as possible, regardless of their "mood." Now the media figure -- talk-radio host Dennis Prager -- is being embraced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Prager, a conservative talk show host, author, and contributor to National Review Online, will host a fundraiser on March 19 for McConnell, who is in the midst of a competitive reelection campaign against Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell, who voted against closing the gender wage gap in 2012, is losing female voters by a large margin. Given Prager's history of inflammatory rhetoric on gender equality issues, McConnell's decision to attend a Prager-led fundraiser is an interesting demonstration of the weight of the conservative talker's influence in right-wing circles.
Indeed, Prager has been a leading voice in the conservative fight against marriage equality, and his views are often extreme. He has said that marriage equality will lead to the legalization of polygamy and incest and that tolerance of the LGBT community will lead to "fascism in America." He compared the 2013 Supreme Court marriage equality ruling on Proposition 8 to the Egyptian military coup of the country's elected government.
Guinness announced that it will not participate in the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade due to the parade's exclusion of LGBT groups, prompting outrage and calls for boycott from right-wing media figures.
News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch charged that gay groups had "bullied" Guinness into pulling out of New York City's St. Patrick's Day Parade, calling for a boycott of the Irish brewer.
Guinness announced on March 16 that it would not participate in the parade, citing the event's exclusion of gay and lesbian groups. "Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year's parade," the company said in a statement.
Murdoch denounced the decision on Twitter, writing that he hoped "all Irish boycott the stuff":
Murdoch's attack on Guinness' pro-equality stance comes after Fox News personalities repeatedly assailed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for not participating in the event and justified the parade's anti-gay discrimination by citing the existence of gay pride parades:
Two days after frequent Breitbart News contributor Austin Ruse proclaimed that liberal academics "should all be taken out and shot," the American Family Association announced that it was cutting its ties with the inflammatory social conservative.
Filling in for American Family Radio host and Fox News contributor Sandy Rios on March 12, Ruse weighed in on the controversy surrounding a Duke University freshman who recently revealed that she has acted in porn to help pay her college tuition:
RUSE: That is the nonsense that they teach in women's studies at Duke University, this is where she learned this. The toxic stew of the modern university is gender studies, it's "Sex Week," they all have "Sex Week" and teaching people how to be sex-positive and overcome the patriarchy. My daughters go to a little private religious school and we pay an arm and a leg for it precisely to keep them away from all of this kind of nonsense. I do hope that they go to a Christian college or university and to keep them so far away from the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities, who should all be taken out and shot.
As Right Wing Watch reported on March 14, American Family Radio announced on its Facebook page that Ruse would no longer be filling in there:
Vox.com editor-in-chief Ezra Klein issued a statement explaining his decision to hire Brandon Ambrosino, a writer who has been criticized for peddling misinformation about LGBT people and acting as an apologist for anti-gay discrimination. Klein promised that Ambrosino's work would "receive a lot of editing and a lot of guidance," iterating Vox's commitment to properly covering LGBT issues.
The forthcoming news and policy site came under criticism from journalists and LGBT activists after announcing on March 12 that it had hired Ambrosino, a gay writer notorious for his "click-bait contrarianism," including his claim that being gay is a choice and that gay activists are bigoted against opponents of LGBT equality.
Klein defended his decision to hire Ambrosino in an interview with The American Prospect, claiming the hire would help bring ideological diversity to Vox.
In a March 14 post on Facebook, Klein further explained Ambrosino's hiring, stating that Ambrosino's writing will be closely edited and monitored and pledging that Vox would not engage in "frontal assaults on causes we believe in and people we admire":
Over the past 48 hours I've spoken to a lot folks in the LGBT community to better understand the strong, negative reaction to my hiring of Brandon Ambrosino. People felt Brandon had made his name writing sloppy pieces that were empathetic towards homophobes but relentlessly critical of the gay community. They believe we were sending a signal about Vox's approach to LGBT issues: Contrarian clickbait at the expense of the struggle and discrimination that LGBT men and women face every day.
That was never our intention. Our approach to LGBT stories will be the same as our approach to all other issues: We want people to read us because we do the best job tracking and explaining the news, not because we do the best job shocking people. We want to inform our readers -- not annoy them. Our kind of clickbait tends towards beautiful data visualizations, not frontal assaults on causes we believe in and people we admire.
Brandon isn't our LGBT correspondent. He's not even the only LGBT employee of Vox.com. He is a young writer who we think has talent who's going to receive a lot of editing and a lot of guidance.
Brandon applied for the news-writing fellowship, a one-year position focused on helping inexperienced writers develop aggregation and reportorial skills. Contrary to some garbled reports, before hiring Brandon I read a lot of his previous work. Brandon's past writing was often quite pointed and personal, and not a fit for Vox -- and I told him so. The writing fellowship requires a very different approach.
But something that often happens to young freelance writers on the Internet is that they end up writing reams of their most controversial opinions before they ever get a chance to do basic reporting or benefit from a routine relationship with an editor. So as part of Brandon's writing test, I asked him to do eight news articles and two explainers -- more than 5,000 words of original content, in all. He needed more editing, training and direction. But he showed himself a strong, fast writer who really wanted to learn. And that training is what the fellowship is there for.
I could've, and should've, handled this hire a lot better. But I would ask people to give Brandon a chance. He'll be held to the same high standards as all Vox.com employees, and I believe he'll meet them. [emphasis added]