Continuing right-wing media attacks on the Department of Justice's attempts to protect school integration in Louisiana, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly completely ignored the multiple federal court orders blocking a school voucher plan that may cause re-segregation.
Recently, right-wing media have been ignoring their proclaimed fidelity to the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution by dismissing violations of civil rights law, supposedly out of sympathy for other persons of color unaffected by the racial discrimination in question.
The most prominent example of this paradoxical stance has been right-wing media's strenuous defense of the New York Police Department's (NYPD) stop and frisk policy on behalf of crime victims of color, despite the fact that federal courts have found it unconstitutionally discriminates against millions on the basis of race. This selective disregard for legal requirements when discussing significant civil rights holdings reemerged this week, with the announcement that the Department of Justice agrees with a recent federal court decision that found the school voucher program in Louisiana was not in compliance with a decades-old court order.
On August 27, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal responded by attacking the Department of Justice's attempt to bring Louisiana back into compliance with multiple desegregation orders potentially violated by the voucher plan, and accused Attorney General Eric Holder of betraying the principles of Martin Luther King Jr. According to the WSJ, "[a] black Attorney General ought to be applauding this attempt to fulfill MLK's dream of equal educational opportunity. His lawsuit turns racial justice on its head."
Fox News has followed this lead by offering ill-informed explanations of the Department of Justice's actions and Louisiana's integration requirements. On the August 29 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly didn't even bother to mention the current court orders or the fact that Louisiana could easily seek authorization from the relevant federal courts for its voucher plan, instead accusing Holder and President Barack Obama of "siding with the left."
Fox News hosted discredited right-wing activist Hans von Spakovsky to misleadingly claim that a voter ID law in Texas would make voting easier, despite a federal court's findings that the law was racially discriminatory and placed a high burden on low-income Americans.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced August 22 that it will sue to block Texas' attempt to reinstate a voter ID law that was previously voided on the grounds that it was racially discriminatory, explaining that it violates the Constitution and "was adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group."
Fox & Friends guest co-host Anna Kooiman interviewed von Spakovsky on August 30 to attack the DOJ's decision, during which von Spakovsky claimed that high minority voter turnout in the 2012 election proved that voter ID laws did not suppress the vote and that the DOJ "lost" when it attempted to fight a voter ID law in South Carolina. Kooiman pointed to von Spakovksy's assertion that voter ID cards actually "speeds up" the voting process, which he claimed is "exactly right."
Kooiman then implied that voter ID laws are not racially discriminatory in Texas because more white individuals in total are in poverty than Hispanics and blacks -- ignoring that fact that whites make up 80 percent of Texas' population, and so of course have more total individuals in poverty.
Von Spakovsky is a right-wing voter ID activist who has been exposed as resorting to shady tactics in his quest to limit voter participation, and his research on this topic has been thoroughly discredited. As Justin Levitt, previously of the Brennan Center, explained, von Spakovsky's misleading claim that high voter turnout means voter ID laws don't suppress voters is a "correlation-causation fallacy, and anybody who's had statistics for a week can talk to you about it." And von Spakovsky's claim that South Carolina offered a good model for Texas to fight the DOJ's challenge hid the fact that the court explicitly agreed with the DOJ's concerns that the South Carolina law could be racially discriminatory as enacted, and warned it would be blocked in the future if that occurred.
Furthermore, his claim that the use of state-issued identification cards to vote "speeds up" the process ignores the fact that this law disenfranchises American citizens. As MSNBC.com reporter Zachary Roth noted, according to Texas's data, "anywhere from 605,000 to 795,000 registered voters--between 4% and 6% of all registered voters in the state--lack the required form of ID."
And acquiring the qualifying identification in order to cast a regular ballot comes with a high cost, placing a burden on low-income voters -- a burden which falls "disproportionately" on African Americans and Hispanics living in Texas. The federal court that struck down Texas' law in 2012 found the "evidence conclusively shows that the implicit costs of obtaining [a] qualifying ID will fall most heavily on the poor and that a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty."
As The Nation's Ari Berman noted, according to the DOJ's 2012 objection to the Texas law, "Hispanic voters [were] between 46.5 percent to 120 percent more likely than whites to not have the new voter ID" in Texas.
From the August 29 edition of Fox News' O'Reilly Factor:
Loading the player reg...
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent used the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech to claim that the Great Society programs of the 1960s are "responsible for more destruction to black America than the evils of slavery and the KKK combined."
Conservatives frequently attack the federal programs initiated through President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, ignoring the major impact they have had in reducing the ranks of the poor, particularly among the elderly.
In Nugent's August 28 column for conspiracy website WND the conservative commentator also termed the Great Society "for all practical and statistical purposes, a War on Black America":
While the stains of institutional racism have faded into our nation's past, Dr. King's dream of economic equality remains unfulfilled for many black Americans who remain mired in poverty.
Just one year after Dr. King delivered his memorable speech, President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society began a systematic and engineered welfare juggernaut that would do more damage, cause more harm and become responsible for more destruction to black America than the evils of slavery and the KKK combined.
President Johnson's Great Society's War on Poverty has turned out to be, for all practical and statistical purposes, a War on Black America.
Nugent added that the $16 trillion spent on the War on Poverty since 1964 "has largely been wasted."
In fact, the President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society initiative -- which included Medicare, Medicaid and a variety of other anti-poverty programs -- was responsible for significant and lasting reductions in poverty. As Washington Post reporter Dylan Matthews noted, "the best evidence indicates that the War on Poverty made a real and lasting difference":
Fox News personalities criticized speeches given by civil rights leaders at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, attacking the speakers for not addressing issues they deemed more important and complaining about "grievance-mongering."
Fox host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that "no Republicans and no conservatives were invited" to participate in attend the anniversary of the March on Washington. Several prominent Republicans were invited, but chose not to attend.
On the August 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly hosted Democratic strategist James Carville to discuss the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. During the discussion, O'Reilly complained that President George W. Bush was not invited to speak. O'Reilly later claimed that "[n]o Republicans and no conservatives were invited." O'Reilly went on to respond to Rep. John Lewis' statement that "we're all in the same boat" by asking "Where's the conservative side to that boat?"
Contrary to what O'Reilly said on-air, several Republicans were invited to participate in the event, including both President George W. Bush and President George H. W. Bush. Both declined due to health concerns. According to ABC News, both Republican House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Whip Eric Cantor were invited to attend but did not do so with their offices citing scheduling conflicts:
House Speaker John Boehner was invited to participate, but with Congress - and Boehner -- out of town on recess this week, he chose to speak at the congressional ceremony marking the 50th anniversary last month. Boehner's office also points out that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also spoke at that ceremony but weren't in attendance today.
The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., released this statement: "Our press office was sent a request to speak 12 days ago. The Leader is travelling in North Dakota and Ohio today. But I do point you to a piece he wrote for Yahoo yesterday."
From the August 28 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
Loading the player reg...
During a segment about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Fox News hosted Jesse Jackson and introduced him as "one of our nation's most influential civil rights leaders. He was there with Dr. [Martin Luther] King for the 'I Have a Dream' speech ... a civil rights leader, as you all know." Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich tweeted a minute later: "Can we please stop calling Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton 'civil rights leaders'? Thanks."
Here's Jackson's introduction by Happening Now co-host Jamie Colby, which aired at 12:08pm ET:
Here's Pavlich's tweet -- apparently in response to the Fox News segment (or an amazing coincidence) -- at 12:09pm:
While Fox News has been critical of Jackson and Sharpton, who similarly has a long civil rights background, the network has also correctly referred to them both as a civil rights leaders online and on-air.
As Colby noted during her interview, Jackson participated in the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. Jackson was also a top aide to Martin Luther King Jr. and was with King when he was assassinated in 1968. Jackson's daughter, Santita Jackson, is a Fox News contributor.
From wildly offensive treatment of civil rights history to routine mendacity on voter ID, Fox chose to mark the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington by smearing the ongoing struggle for voting rights.
Over the past week leading up to President Barack Obama's commemoration of the anniversary on August 28, Fox News has been at the forefront of right-wing media attempts to discredit links between the progressive community and the civil rights legacy of the March on Washington. Voting rights, in particular, have attracted a significant amount of misinformation and ignorance, some of it quite shocking.
On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers, a Battle of Normandy veteran and the NAACP's first field secretary for the state of Mississippi, was assassinated in his driveway. Shot in the back, his murder was the culmination of an extensive white supremacist terror campaign against the voting rights and desegregation advocacy of the NAACP, a cause that President John F. Kennedy championed the very night of Evers' death as both a moral and constitutional issue to ensure "American citizens of any color [can] register and  vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal."
Evers' widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, was invited to speak at the original March on Washington that took place two months later, an invitation that she was finally able to accept this past weekend at the 50th anniversary events. She warned about ongoing "efforts to turn back the clock" on the civil rights movement.
Congressman John Lewis, another veteran of the voting rights struggles, was more explicit. Also the victim of brutal violence due to his efforts to protect the right to vote, Lewis referenced the infamous Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision and told the crowd, "I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the right to vote. I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us...We must say to the Congress, fix the Voting Rights Act."
On the August 26 edition of her radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham chose to follow up a recording of Lewis' call to Congress to both fix the Voting Rights Act and pass immigration reform with a gunshot sound effect. As Joan Walsh of Salon observed, even "[a]fter the assassinations of Medgar Evers, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King, after the gunning down of so many civil rights workers over the years, Ingraham thought it was funny, or clever, or provocative, to 'symbolically' cut off Lewis' speech with the sound of a gun."
National Review has published numerous articles this week marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s seminal "I have a dream" speech. Given its ugly history, the long-running conservative magazine is ill-suited for such transparent attempts to re-appropriate the civil rights movement. National Review opposed major civil rights legislation and published appallingly racist commentary during the height of the civil rights movement.
In an editorial published this morning, the editors of National Review invoke the March on Washington in order to attack the "decrepitude of today's civil-rights movement" and label the original civil rights movement "in a crucial sense conservative" because "it did not seek to invent rights, but to secure ones that the government already respected in principle."
In a nod to the magazine's own shameful history, the editors concede that "too many conservatives and libertarians, including the editors of this magazine" missed what it sees as the centrally conservative and theological arguments underpinning the movement:
Too many conservatives and libertarians, including the editors of this magazine, missed all of this at the time. They worried about the effects of the civil-rights movement on federalism and limited government. Those principles weren't wrong, exactly; they were tragically misapplied, given the moral and historical context. It is a mark of the success of King's movement that almost all Americans can now see its necessity.
It's commendable that the editors are acknowledging the magazine's role in opposing important facets of the civil rights movement. Nonetheless, claiming that National Review "worried about the effects of the civil-rights movement on federalism and limited government" glosses over the odious nature of some of the magazine's writing from the 50s and 60s, when that publication stood athwart history yelling stop as King and his allies fought to end a brutal regime of racial segregation and voter disenfranchisement.
The Daily Caller's Guns and Gears section published an opinion piece that suggested "[b]ecause Black Democrats are fine for house work, but not for doing heavy lifting," white leaders should choose replacements for the current heads of civil rights organizations.
Guns and Gears is the firearms-themed section of the Daily Caller that publishes press releases and opinion pieces from the National Rifle Association and other gun organizations, along with commentary on firearms issues.
In his August 26 op-ed, retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jerry Curry stereotyped African-Americans as violent, suggested that black teenagers must "follow the work rules laid down by white Americans" to achieve greater success, and accused the Obama administration of encouraging "racial violence."
Discussing the tragic killing of World War II veteran Shorty Belton by two African-American teens, Curry criticized African-American civil rights leaders for not "leading huge civil rights demonstrations protesting the murder of Mr. Belton and demanding that black parents, families, communities and churches get and keep their black teenagers under control." Notably, there is no evidence that Belton's killing was race-related.
Still, Curry wrote, "If America's black leadership isn't going to take charge of and clean up their own mess, white leaders will have to do it for them," and added, "You can't expect white Americans to keep looking the other way while black teenagers beat their fellow white Americans to death. Evidently black leaders seem to think it is alright for black teenagers to profile Shorty Belton and kill him and they need not comment on how wrong it is, but it's not right for a white policeman to profile someone black and kill them."
After repeatedly attempting to inject race into the story of a recent killing, Fox News falsely accused President Obama of injecting race into the Trayvon Martin case.
On the August 26 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling reacted to reports that the killing of a World War II veteran was not motivated by race by saying: "Let's not make it about race. Let's not make the kid shot in Oklahoma about race either, but also let's not make the Trayvon Martin case about race either because it wasn't about race as well. But President Obama and Eric Holder decided to make that one about race." Bolling later claimed that "us on the right" were only discussing recent murders "in the context of Trayvon Martin" because "President Obama clearly put a race spin on" the case.
Bolling is downplaying Fox's campaign to make race a factor in the Oklahoma death of Australian baseball player Christopher Lane. On Fox News' On The Record, District Attorney Jason Hicks explained that there was no evidence to indicate that the killing of Lane "was related to either his race or to his nationality." Hicks repeated his findings in an appearance on Fox News Sunday. But Fox commentators have repeatedly ignored the evidence.
Fox News downplayed Colin Powell's objections to strict voter ID laws and ignored the fact that Texas not only has a long history of illegal racial discrimination in its election practices, a federal court already found its voter ID measures to be impermissible voter suppression.
On the August 26 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News host Martha MacCullum and correspondent Mike Emanuel reported on the Department of Justice's new legal challenge to the voter ID law Texas immediately enacted after the Supreme Court struck down a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in Shelby County v. Holder:
Fox News failed to mention, however, that Texas is being accused of illegally suppressing the vote through a voter ID law that has already been found to be racially discriminatory by a federal court.
Writing for a three-judge panel in 2012, a circuit judge dismissed Texas' evidence that its voter ID law was not impermissibly discriminatory as "unpersuasive, invalid, or both." As explained by the Constitutional Accountability Center's Doug Kendall:
[I]n Texas v. Holder, a three-judge court unanimously blocked Texas' new voter identification statute, the most stringent in the nation, finding that the statute would inevitably disenfranchise low-income Texas citizens, who are disproportionately African American and Hispanic. The court explained that, unlike Indiana, whose voter identification law was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008, Texas had gone to great lengths to suppress the vote in poor and minority communities, strictly limiting the types of photo identifications available - a license to carry a concealed firearm is a valid ID under the law, but not a student or Medicare ID card - and making it costly to obtain a so-called "free" election ID for use at the polls. For those without one of the five permitted photo identifications, the court found that the law was tantamount to a poll tax, "imposing an implicit fee for the privilege of casting a ballot." The "very point" of the Voting Rights Act, the court explained, was to deny "states an end-run around the Fifteenth Amendment's prohibition on racial discrimination in voting."
Fox News has apparently decided it has an ugly story it wants to tell about white victims of black crime, and it's going to keep telling that story even if the facts don't fit.
This month, the network has repeatedly disregarded statements from law enforcement officials to obsess over the supposed racial animus lurking behind recent high profile crimes. Fox's latest attempt to racebait imploded when a victim's family member implored people to "stop making this about race."
This morning on Fox & Friends, co-host Anna Kooiman interviewed Allen Hills, the great nephew of Delbert Belton, a World War II veteran who was senselessly beaten to death in Spokane last week. Two black teenagers have been arrested in connection with the murder of Belton, who was white.
During the interview, Kooiman asked Hills if he thought the killing of his great uncle "comes down to race." She continued, "do you think it's the thug lifestyle? Do you think it's the deterioration of the family and a collapsing culture? What's to blame for this?"
In response, Hills said that it "all comes down to parents." He added, "if I could say this to everybody: stop making this about race. This isn't about race. This is about two punk kids that had no parents, no family, no morals, no nothing. This has nothing to do with the color of their skin."
In a news brief that ran roughly 20 minutes after the interview, Fox & Friends ran video of Hills saying his family has received threats. Ignoring Hills' statement that the killing had "nothing to do with the color of their skin," co-host Steve Doocy pointed out that the two people arrested for Belton's murder were "African American teenagers."
This is at least the third different local crime story Fox News has seized on this month in order to engage in reckless racebaiting. While honing in on these stories, the network has repeatedly drawn lazy, inapt comparisons to the Trayvon Martin killing in order to highlight a supposed double standard among civil rights leaders and media figures.
Conservative radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham attacked the speakers at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, at one point using the sound of a gunshot to cut off a sound bite of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) -- a man whose skull was infamously fractured by a state trooper on "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, AL, in 1965. Ingraham used the speech's anniversary to race-bait about black-on-white crime statistics and hosted Pat Buchanan to bemoan the idea that minorities face any higher level of adversity in America 50 years later.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, DC over the weekend to commemorate and recreate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1963 March on Washington, an event originally dedicated to calling for civil and economic rights for African Americans. CBS News reported that the 50th anniversary event -- part of a week-long build-up to Wednesday's anniversary -- "was sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, Martin Luther King III and the NAACP, featured a roster of speakers, including King, Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. They spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where 50 years ago this month King delivered his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech."
On her August 26 radio broadcast, Ingraham criticized the event and its speakers, saying the goal "was to co-opt the legacy of Martin Luther King into a modern-day liberal agenda," and scoffing at the topics speakers supposedly discussed: "From gay marriage, to immigration -- amnesty, was thrown in for good measure. We talked about the Voting Rights Act."
Ingraham ran through a list of African-American crime rates before hosting Pat Buchanan, a prominent racist with white nationalist ties. Buchanan dismissed the idea that minorities suffer any disadvantages in contemporary America, calling the idea "absurd" because "black folks excel and are hugely popular figures in everything from sports to entertainment to athletics to politics. Everywhere you go ... So the progress has been enormous."
At one point during her broadcast, Ingraham began playing a clip of Lewis' speech from the 50th anniversary rally, before interrupting the playback of his comments with the sound of a loud gunshot.