Fox News' Chris Stirewalt placed blame on the residents of Flint, Michigan for the city's drinking water crisis, saying that "[t]he people of Flint should have been protesting in the streets" after noticing that their water was poisoned. Stirewalt also appeared to blame Flint parents for giving their children contaminated water, declaring: "[I]f you were pouring water into a cup for your child and it stunk and it smelled like sulfur and it was rotten, would you give that to your child? No, you'd revolt, you'd march in the street."
Stirewalt overlooked the protests that took place last year in January, February, April, July, and October, and this year in early January. Most recently, there have been at least three rallies since January 16, when hundreds of people gathered at Flint's City Hall to confront Governor Rick Snyder and demand justice.
This has been an ongoing crisis since April 2014, when the city switched its water supply from Lake Huron (via the city of Detroit) to the Flint River. Residents started lodging complaints about the drinking water shortly thereafter. The new water system was later found to be contaminated with chemicals that can cause nervous system problems and increase the risk of cancer, and General Motors refused to use the water because it was rusting car parts. Snyder declared a state of emergency on January 5, 2016, months after children in the city were found to have high levels of lead in their blood. There's a "very strong likelihood," according to Virginia Tech drinking water expert Marc Edwards, that Flint's water is linked to Genesee County's recent spike in Legionnaire's disease, which has killed 10 residents.
From the January 20 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
MEGYN KELLY (HOST): But now the city manager apparently knew. I mean it's not -- the thing that's so egregious about this is, correct me if I'm wrong, is, that they had knowledge. They knew, Chris, that there was something was wrong with the water. And they let the people that were too proud to give up but too poor to matter continue drinking it, including children!
CHRIS STIREWALT (CONTRIBUTOR): Well, look, I will say that an individual -- people have no choice, right? If you are poor you have no place to go and you don't have resources to move -- but if you were pouring water into a cup for your child and it stunk and it smelled like sulfur and it was rotten, would you give that to your child? No, you'd revolt, you'd march in the street. You know, we've had a lot of demonstrations of late in the United States. We've had a lot of demonstration movement about justice for this, and don't do that and don't say this. The people of Flint should have been protesting in the streets.
From the January 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the January 20 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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"There is no need" for Black History Month or the NAACP, according to Fox contributor Stacey Dash.
In her first appearance on Fox News after her December 2015 suspension from the network, Dash seized on controversy over the lack of racial diversity among Oscar nominees to claim that organizations like Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the NAACP, and observances like Black History Month foster "segregation."
On the January 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Dash and host Steve Doocy discussed growing calls for a boycott of the Academy Awards over the all-white roster of Oscar nominees. Dash called the boycott "ludicrous" and stated, "[e]ither we want to have segregation or integration. And if we don't want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BETand the BET Awards and the Image Awards where you're only awarded if you're black." Dash also argued that "there shouldn't be a Black History Month" because there isn't a white history month.
In an appearance later the same day, Dash doubled down on her criticism of African Americans pledging to boycott the Oscars, saying,"[t]here is no need for a BET ... or NAACP for that matter. We don't need it anymore."
Dash was suspended from Fox News on December 7, 2015, for "comments ... that were completely inappropriate and unacceptable for [Fox's] air," after she reacted to remarks by President Obama regarding terrorism by saying "I felt like he could give a shit -- excuse me, like he could care less" about terrorism. Soon after those comments, CNN's Brian Stelter reported that Dash and colleague Ralph Peters "were suspended ... for using profanities while criticizing President Obama":
"Earlier today, Fox contributors Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and Stacey Dash made comments on different programs that were completely inappropriate and unacceptable for our air," Fox senior executive vice president Bill Shine said.
"Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel do not condone the use of such language, and have suspended both Peters and Dash for two weeks," he said.
From the January 20 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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From the January 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the January 19 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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From the January 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the January 19 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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From the January 19 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Two white nationalists who robocalled voters in support of Donald Trump are praising his response to their campaign as "wonderful" and a validation of their efforts. While Trump said he disavowed their robocall, the white nationalists believe Trump did it "in the nicest possible way" and affirmed "they're right to be furious."
The American National Super PAC, led by William Daniel Johnson, earlier this month issued a robocall asking Iowa voters to support Trump because of his anti-immigrant views. Johnson, who identified himself during the call as a "white nationalist," told TPM he ultimately wants "a white ethno-state, a country made up of only white people." White nationalist writer Jared Taylor also participated in the call. The Anti-Defamation League describes Taylor as someone who "advocates voluntary segregation" and "upholds racial homogeneity as the key to fostering peaceful coexistence."
During a January 13 interview, Trump was asked by CNN's Erin Burnett if he denounces the robocall. Trump responded: "I would disavow it, but nothing in this country shocks me. People are angry. They're angry at what's going on" with regard to illegal immigration:
BURNETT: Mr. Trump, when you hear that, does that shock you? Do you denounce that?
TRUMP: Nothing in this country shocks me. I would disavow it, but nothing in this country shocks me. People are angry. They're angry at what's going on. They're angry at the border. They're angry at the crime. They're angry at people coming in and shooting Kate in the back in California and San Francisco. They're angry when Jamiel Shaw shot in the face by an illegal immigrant. They're angry when the woman, the veteran, 65 years old is raped, sodomized, and killed by an illegal immigrant. And, they're very angry about it, and -- by the way, thousands of other cases like that. They're very angry about it. So, I would disavow that, but I will tell you people are extremely angry.
BURNETT: People are extremely angry, but to be clear, when he says, "We need smart, well-educated white people to assimilate to our culture, vote Trump," you're saying you disavow that. You do denounce that?
TRUMP: Well, you just heard me. I said it. How many times do you want me to say it?
BURNETT: A third would be good.
TRUMP: I said I disavow.
During a January 16 interview on the "pro-White" radio show The Political Cesspool, Johnson and host James Edwards praised Trump's response as "wonderful" and "quite good." Johnson said he "couldn't have asked for a better approach from him":
JOHNSON: Donald Trump's response when he was asked to address it was just a wonderful response. He disavowed us, but he explained why there is so much anger in America that I couldn't have asked for a better approach from him.
EDWARDS: I was going to ask you about that. So, you know, of course I saw that. In a perfect world he would say, "You know what? These guys are right. What are you going to do about it?" But understandably there is still a political reality. I think fundamentally, as I say on this show time and time again, most middle American, middle class whites agree with us fundamentally on the issues. But he's operating in a different world than that -- I think it was certainly better than to be expected. And I thought too it was quite good, as you did Bill, so this was something that you can live with in terms of a response from the Trump campaign and of course from there it's over. You know, the news cycle is over, if he's asked about it again he's already gone on record, he is the Teflon Don. He's the Teflon candidate. This wasn't of course made to hurt him, I don't know how much it hurt or helped him. Ultimately I don't think it did much of either -- it might have marginally helped him. It certainly didn't hurt him. And so his response is something that you greet with a level of respect, am I right?
JOHNSON: Oh yeah I do, I like it very much. And also the response that I got -- I put my own cell phone number out there. And I got, oh, a hundred calls regarding it. Most of the calls were hang-ups. They wanted to know if it was a real phone number. So they'd either hang up or say, "Oh I'm sorry, wrong number." But there were a majority of calls who were opposed to it but there were a minority of calls who approved of it, and liked it. So that was encouraging also. And that is a new phenomenon. Before we would have gotten no one who would be willing to come out and say that so these little things incrementally help raise awareness of the issues and help change public opinion.
Later in the program, Jared Taylor praised Trump for essentially saying he understands "exactly what these guys are saying, they're furious, and they're right to be furious." Taylor concluded that "if he disavowed us, he did it, I thought, in the nicest possible way." From his interview on The Political Cesspool:
EDWARDS: Your reaction to the Donald Trump acknowledgement, I think better than anyone really could have expected, correct?
TAYLOR: Yes, he was, you know, for days everybody was calling him up, calling up his campaign saying, "What do you think of these horrible people? Denounce them, denounce them." And he didn't. You know, he just maintained a dignified silence as he's capable of doing. And then finally when CNN's Erin Burnett really forced him to say, "Well, I would disavow it." But she asked him, "are you shocked by this? Will you denounce this?" "I'm not shocked by anything in America." I thought that was a great line. He's so quick on his feet. And then he goes to say, "I would disavow it" but then he goes on to explain why people are so angry. In effect, he's saying, "Yeah, yeah, if you want me to denounce it I will, but I understand exactly what these guys are saying, they're furious, and they're right to be furious." So if he disavowed us, he did it, I thought, in the nicest possible way.
Buzzfeed News highlighted a Columbia University study that found that "Media company mergers rarely result in a significant boost in representation for Latinos on or off screen, despite promises from studio executives to increase diversity."
Buzzfeed's report echoes prominent advocates for the Hispanic community who have previously underscored the importance of improving the representation of Latinos in the media. During a Media Matters-sponsored panel on September 17, 2015, Voto Latino's Maria Teresa Kumar pointed out that, although Latinos "are the second-largest demographic group of Americans," the policies, issues and opinions of this community "are completely missed from mainstream." National Council of La Raza's Janet Murguía added that media coverage of Latino issues often presents "a very shallow view of what the Latino voter looks like." The underrepresentation of Latinos in media is reflected across the board, including in government -- according to NPR's Latino USA, "Latinos make up 17 percent of the population of the country but only one percent of its elected officials."
Buzzfeed News' Adolfo Flores reported on January 15 that data from Columbia University's study showed "no significant increase in diversity behind the camera" after Comcast and NBCUniversal merged in 2011. The study also found that the percent of Latino senior executives at Comcast and NBCUniversal increased from zero to 3.1 percent, but that "only one [executive] held a senior position outside of Telemundo," the Spanish-language network owned by NBCUniversal. On-screen representation improved, but the "slight increase ... was accompanied by a significant rise in Latino stereotypes." Flores noted that the study examined all media mergers from 2008 to 2015, but focused on the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger "because it was the largets and well documented":
Media company mergers rarely result in a significant boost in representation for Latinos on or off screen, despite promises from studio executives to increase diversity, new research has found
The report -- The Latino Disconnect: The Impact of Media Mergers on Latino Consumers and Representation -- was provided to BuzzFeed News ahead of publication and analyzed the relationship between media mergers and Latinos from 2008 to 2015.
Researchers at Columbia University's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race found there was no significant increase in diversity behind the camera after the 2011 Comcast-NBCUniversal merger, despite a pledge to increase Latino representation in programming.
"In general, we found that the increase in representation after the merger was very minimal and really only happens in front of the camera, which makes sense because it's the most visible," said Frances Negrón-Muntaner, the study's lead researcher.
Researchers looked at all mergers after 2008, but focused on the one between Comcast-NBCUniversal because it was the largest and well documented.
After the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger and through 2015, Latinos made up less than 7% of behind-the-camera talent across all categories on the network's top 10 shows, national news programs, and films. It also found that while the percentage of Latino directors increased on average 0.8% after the merger, the percentage of producers and writers decreased by 1.1% and 1.2%. Executive produce[r]s also declined by 0.4%.
The average number of all Latino actors on television increased from 6.6% before the merger to 7.3% afterward. The slight increase, the study states, was accompanied by a significant rise in Latino stereotypes on NBCUniversal. Latinos who appeared as maids, janitors, inmates, and police officers in NBC's top 10 scripted television shows nearly tripled from 2008 to 2014.
"Despite the fact that the majority of Latinos are U.S.-born and English-dominant," researchers wrote, "the percentage of Latino executives remained extremely low in the company's non-Spanish language media sector."
Researchers recommended that media companies develop plans to diversify leadership and creative positions and hire experienced Latinos behind the camera who can help writers avoid stereotypes.
UPDATE: Felix Sanchez, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts told Media Matters in a statement:
"This report is a cautionary tale that media mergers can usurp progress for minority communities. We have to follow the adage of trusting but verifying commitments made by companies before they merged. Given the findings of this study, we can conclude that not all key promises made have come to fruition."
Last year, reporting from The New York Times Magazine's Nikole Hannah-Jones showcased a disturbing trend in American K-12 education: the resegregation of schools across the country and its negative impact on all students and communities. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it's worth revisiting Hannah-Jones' work for WBEZ's This American Life program, and her previous reporting on modern-day school resegregation for ProPublica and The Atlantic.
In April 2014, investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones published a comprehensive exploration of racial resegregation in an Alabama city school district previously under a federal desegregation order. The report, released as part of an ongoing ProPublica series in collaboration with The Atlantic, focused on the state of segregation in American society and coincided with the sixtieth anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education civil rights decision outlawing racial segregation in schools.
The three-part series featured images from historic segregation efforts, submissions from students detailing their own experiences with racial segregation in schools, an interactive timeline on the trajectory of integration efforts nationwide, a short companion film, and in-depth reporting focused on the first-hand experiences of a black family in a highly segregated district in the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The project's editors at ProPublica described its scope:
The presentation includes: Hannah-Jones's extraordinary 9,000-word article; a beautiful and arresting collection of photographs taken by students in Tuscaloosa high schools; a partnership with Michele Norris's "Race Card Project" and NPR's Morning Edition; an interactive timeline tracing the arc of segregation, integration and resegregation; a feature that will provide the first-ever opportunity for readers to look up whether their districts remain under federal desegregation orders and just how integrated their school districts are today; and a moving, short documentary film by the award-winning Maisie Crow.
Hannah-Jones' reporting -- featured as the May 2014 cover story for The Atlantic -- connected the stories of three generations of the Dents, a black Tuscaloosa family, to the complicated realities of racial dynamics in schools across the country (emphasis added):
Tuscaloosa's school resegregation--among the most extensive in the country--is a story of city financial interests, secret meetings, and angry public votes. It is a story shaped by racial politics and a consuming fear of white flight. It was facilitated, to some extent, by the city's black elites. And it was blessed by a U.S. Department of Justice no longer committed to fighting for the civil-rights aims it had once championed.
In the hours after the parade, James Dent sat back in a worn wingback chair in the cramped but tidy house he and his wife rent in the West End. As dusk brought out the whirring of cicadas, he quietly flipped through a photo album devoted to D'Leisha's many accomplishments. She's the class president, a member of the mayor's youth council, a state champion in track and field. Later that night, she would be named homecoming queen as well.
Dent never went to college. One of 13 children born into the waning days of Jim Crow, he took his place in the earliest of integrated American institutions: the military. He served four years in the Air Force, including a year in Vietnam, before returning to the West End to spend the next 40 mixing cement for a living. The work was steady, but the pay meager.
Thin, with chestnut skin, and seldom seen without a Vietnam-vet cap, Dent is a reserved man, not prone to soapboxes. But after a long silence, he gently suggested that maybe his granddaughter deserved a little more than a 12-car salute at a brief and sparsely attended parade. When D'Leisha graduates this spring, she will have spent her entire public education in segregated schools. Just like he had.
"I think about it all the time, and ain't nothing I can do about it," he said. "It ain't going to get no better." He said he just hoped she was learning as much as the city's white students were, then grew quiet again. If integration was going to prove so brief, what, he wondered, had all the fighting been for?
Hannah-Jones' storytelling around the Dent family -- grandfather James, who attended segregated schools in Tuscaloosa; mother Melissa, who attended the high-achieving, integrated Central High School there; and daughter D'Leisha, a current student at the overwhelmingly black, failing Central High of the present-day -- wove through historical context about federal desegregation orders, local politics, and extensive research on the benefits of integrated education for black and white students alike. She concluded:
For black students like D'Leisha--the grandchildren of the historic Brown decision--having to play catch-up with their white counterparts is supposed to be a thing of the past. The promise was that students of all colors would be educated side by side, and would advance together into a more integrated, equitable American society. Polls show Americans embracing this promise in the abstract, but that rarely translates into on-the-ground support for integration efforts.
A few months earlier, D'Leisha had talked about how much she looked forward to meeting people from different cultures at college and sitting in a racially mixed classroom for the first time. But her college hopes are thinner now than she'd expected then. As of this writing, they largely hinge on the tenuous promise of a coach at a small, historically black college outside of Birmingham, who has told her that the school will have a place for her despite her score. No official offer of admission has yet arrived.
At the end of 2014, Hannah-Jones' work on school resegregation appeared again at ProPublica, this time focused on the segregation of the Normandy school district in Missouri, where Michael Brown had graduated days before his fatal shooting by a white police officer. This work informed more in-depth, first-hand reporting on segregated schools for a piece in New York Times Magazine and a two-part investigative series for WBEZ's This American Life program last summer. The series was entitled "The Problem We All Live With" in reference to a famous Norman Rockwell painting depicting Ruby Bridges, the first black student to attend an all-white school in the South.
The program drew from Hannah-Jones' scholarly expertise on and personal connections to racial resegregation in schools, then pivoted to report on starkly different desegregation efforts in Normandy (bordering the city of Ferguson, Missouri) and Hartford, Connecticut, where a school district was actively integrating and facing an uphill battle to gain support from local parents. The series also featured a smaller vignette told from the perspective of a black student taking integration into her own hands, and an interview with then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan conducted by Hannah-Jones and This American Life producer Chana Joffe-Walt. Hannah-Jones described the project as an effort to tell the story of Michael Brown's school district and "what happens to those children left behind" compared to students who are "given a chance to escape failing schools" (emphasis added):
I teamed up with Chana Joffe-Walt, a producer for the radio program "This American Life," to tell the story of Michael Brown's school district through the students who remain there. It is a story of children locked away from opportunity, what happens when those children are given a chance to escape failing schools and what happens to those children left behind. It is a story of how powerful people decided to do something only when the problems of the worst district in the state were no longer contained. And above all, it is a story of the staggering educational inequality we are willing to accept.
The first part of the series, framed around the death of Michael Brown, detailed an unintentional integration program instituted in his school district in Normandy, one year before Brown's death, when the district lost its state accreditation and students were allowed to transfer to neighboring, overwhelmingly white schools (emphasis added):
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: I stumbled on this place by accident. I was watching the coverage of Michael Brown, almost a year ago, like the rest of America. There was one moment that I could not get out of my head. It's news footage of his mother, Leslie McSpadden, right after he was killed.
LESLIE MCSPADDEN: This was wrong, and that was cold-hearted.
HANNAH-JONES: She's standing in a crowd of onlookers, a few feet from where her son was shot down, where he would lie face down on the concrete for four hours, dead. And this is what she says.
MCSPADDEN: You took my son away from me. You know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many.
HANNAH-JONES: I watched this over and over. A police officer has just killed her oldest child. It has to be the worst moment of her life. But of all the ways she could've expressed her grief and outrage, this is what was on her mind: school. Getting her son through school. Michael Brown became a national symbol of the police violence against youth, but when I looked into his education I realized he's also a symbol of something else, something much more common. Most black kids will not be shot by the police, but many of them will go to a school like Michael Brown's. It took me all of five minutes on the Internet to find out that the school district he attended is almost completely black, almost completely poor, and failing badly.
Schools in Missouri get accredited by the state. Almost every district is accredited, but if you're doing really bad, you get put on notice. That's called provisional accreditation. That's supposed to be like a warning, but Normandy had provisional accreditation for 15 years. That means there are entire classes of students, nearly all of them black, who came in as kindergarteners and graduated twelve years later without ever having attended a school that met state standards. In the St. Louis area, nearly one in two black children attend schools in districts that perform so poorly, the state has stripped them of full accreditation. Only one in 25 white children are in a district like that.
The second part of the series, reported by Joffe-Walt, expanded on Hannah-Jones' segment by providing a contrasting story of the Hartford, Connecticut city school district which is using sophisticated marketing strategies to gain support from white parents in its efforts to prioritize racial integration in its schools (emphasis added):
CHANA JOFFE-WALT: When you drive around suburban Hartford now, occasionally you'll see a sign on someone's lawn that says 'I Heart Magnet Schools.' Neighbors will ask, 'Hey, where does your kid go on the bus every morning?' The few-minute conversation that follows is the most powerful marketing tool available. It's what Enid or any marketer dreams of: a conversation where one parent goes to another, 'Oh, I think I've heard of that place. Does she like it? Is it safe?' Neighbor to neighbor, white person to white person. It is the same potent tool that, three decades ago, helped create segregated neighborhoods, repurposed to do the exact opposite.
Hartford parents, right now, are frustrated for the exact same reason parents were frustrated with Hartford schools in the 1980s, when [civil rights lawyer] John Brittain sued: their schools are inferior. Magnet school kids do great. They go to integrated schools, and 80 percent of them pass state tests. Hartford public school kids go to segregated schools. Less than 40 percent of them pass state tests. Magnet school kids can explore space on the first floor of their school. Hartford public school buildings have gotten better, but they're not like that.
For the 50 percent of Hartford families who can't get their kids into the beautiful, integrated magnet schools, things are exactly the same as they've always been. Only worse, because now there's a school with a planetarium down the block that they can't get into. That school with the planetarium, by the way? The environmental sciences magnet? It used to just be Mary Hooker Elementary before integration. It was just a regular public school. And back when it was a regular public school, it was almost entirely Latino, there was no planetarium, no Lego lab or butterfly vivarium. Those came when it went magnet. Those came with the white students.
The argument against 'separate but equal' was never that separate schools couldn't be equal, theoretically. Just that it never, ever happens.
"The Problem We All Live With," along with Hannah-Jones' previous work, brings the first-hand stories of students and parents to the forefront of America's ongoing racial conversation, and connects these experiences to data highlighting the failures of persistent segregation in schools and the complicated strategies used to address it. This powerful reporting, weaving personal experiences from different communities and generations with the facts of school segregation's lasting impact, warrants another look today.
From the January 17 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:
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From the January 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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