Racial Justice

Issues ››› Racial Justice
  • The O’Reilly Factor Peddles Racist Myths About High Incarceration Rate For Drug Violations 

    Eric Bolling: “Maybe More Blacks Are Committing More Of The Same Crimes”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    During a segment on drug incarceration, Fox News’ Eric Bolling suggested the higher incarceration rates for African Americans are not about race, but instead because “blacks committed more of the same crimes.” From the April 22 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

    BILL O’REILLY (HOST): I feel very strongly that if my children were addicted to heroin and I knew who was selling them the heroin, I would not consider it a nonviolent action. How about you?

    ERIC BOLLING: No, I think you have to go hard on the drug dealers, distributors.

    O’REILLY: Even the punks on the street?

    BOLLING: Even the punks on the street. I don’t think it has anything to do with race, it has to do with what they are doing. They are providing access for kids, people to hurt themselves.

    O’REILLY: Why does the left see it differently and is trying to diminish the harmfulness of their actions?

    BOLLING: Well Russell Simmons tried to make it about race. He said more blacks are incarcerated than whites therefore --  

    O’REILLY: Well it's a big issue.

    BOLLING: Because maybe more blacks are committing more of the same crimes. It's still illegal to sell heroin. It's still illegal to sell opiates.

    O’REILLY: May not be much longer, Colmes, the way the trends are going in this country.

    According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, prison sentences of African American men were almost 20 percent longer than white men for similar crimes. The Wall Street Journal attributed the gap to judicial discretion, restored by the Supreme Court in 2005. In a September 2014 article, the Washington Post reported that, while whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rate, and whites are more likely to sell, blacks are “far more likely” to be arrested for sale and possession.

    Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has a history of campaigning against drug sentencing reform, despite the evidence that current laws target minorities. O’Reilly has previously stated that drug sentencing reform sends a message that drugs aren’t dangerous.

  • Cable News Largely Silent On Report Finding “Systemic Racism” In Chicago Police Department

    Fox News Did Not Cover The Report After Frequently Dismissing Concerns Over Police Actions In Chicago

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Cable news only devoted just over two minutes of coverage to findings of “systemic racism” in the Chicago Police Department after a Chicago task force released a “blistering” report. Although the report made the front page of The New York Times, MSNBC and CNN spent less than two minutes each on covering the report while Fox News -- which has regularly dismissed protests over police brutality and systemic racism in Chicago -- failed to cover the report at all.

  • A Comprehensive Guide To Megyn Kelly’s History Of Right-Wing Media Misinformation

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Megyn Kelly, the host of Fox’s The Kelly File, is often billed as a “straight news” anchor known for occasionally "bucking ... the conservative party line" on Fox. Here’s a look back at some of her most egregious misinformation campaigns and out-of-touch comments regarding race, LGBT issues, gender, reproductive rights, Islam, immigration, climate change, and Hillary Clinton.

  • New Report Presents Opportunity For Networks To Address How Climate Change Affects Public Health

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Extreme Heat Danger

    The Obama administration has released a comprehensive new scientific report detailing how climate change affects human health, presenting the broadcast networks' nightly news programs with a good opportunity to cover a critical topic that they rarely addressed last year.  

    The Climate and Health Assessment, which is the result of three years of research by approximately 100 health and science experts in eight federal agencies, builds on the findings of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's National Climate Assessment and signifies increased "scientific confidence in the link between climate change and a broad range of threats to public health."

    These threats include some of the most severe effects of global warming, such as increased incidence of death from extreme heat waves and worsened air quality, as well as some less discussed impacts, including the potential for carbon pollution to make our food crops less nutritious and the toll that weather-related disasters can take on our mental health. The report also details how climate change will increase or otherwise alter the risks of suffering from various diseases and illnesses, including Lyme disease from ticks, West Nile virus from mosquitos, water-borne illnesses, and Salmonella poisoning from food.

    Any of these topics could provide fodder for an important and informative nightly news segment that would help viewers better understand the threats and challenges posed by climate change.

    NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News did each provide a substantial report last year on the ways climate change is impacting allergies and asthma, respectively. But here, too, the Obama administration report provides opportunities for additional coverage.

    For instance, the networks could examine these issues from an environmental justice perspective; the report finds that minority adults and children "bear a disproportionate burden associated with asthma as measured by emergency department visits, lost work and school days, and overall poorer health status." And when considering all of the various health impacts, the report identifies many specific populations that are "disproportionately vulnerable" to climate change:

    [C]limate change exacerbates some existing health threats and creates new public health challenges. While all Americans are at risk, some populations are disproportionately vulnerable, including those with low income, some communities of color, immigrant groups (including those with limited English proficiency), Indigenous peoples, children and pregnant women, older adults, vulnerable occupational groups, persons with disabilities, and persons with preexisting or chronic medical conditions.

    The networks could also cover some of these public health findings alongside a distressing new study on sea level rise, which projects severe impacts on coastal cities that will undoubtedly have profound implications on the health and well-being of millions of Americans. Or they could address the public health benefits of the most significant U.S. climate policy in U.S. history, the Clean Power Plan, which the networks infrequently covered in 2015 -- and which polluting fossil fuel industry groups and allied attorneys general are now fighting in court.

    Major news outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Guardian, Time magazine, The Associated Press, and McClatchyDC have already covered the new White House report. Now is the time for the broadcast networks' nightly news programs to improve on last year's coverage and educate their viewers about the myriad ways that a changing climate is affecting our health.

    Image at top via Flickr user Graeme Maclean using a Creative Commons license.

    public health

  • CBS' Megyn Kelly Profile Omits Her Record Of Misinformation And Race Baiting

    Charlie Rose Has Previously Allowed Kelly To Whitewash Her History Of Right-Wing Chicanery To Claim She's A Straight Newsperson

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    A CBS Sunday Morning profile of Megyn Kelly extolled the Fox News host as an "independent" "rising star" with a "reputation for asking tough questions to anyone," but interviewer Charlie Rose failed to mention Kelly's record of misinformation, fearmongering, and problematic racial rhetoric. CBS' interview follows a series of other laudatory profiles of Kelly -- including a previous interview by Rose -- that have omitted key details of Kelly's problematic journalistic record and conservative advocacy.

    During an April 3 interview of the Fox host on CBS Sunday Morning, host Charlie Rose described Kelly as "a self-described independent with a reputation for asking tough questions to anyone, Democrat and Republican alike." Rose further added, "her legal skills, along with a willingness to take on some of America's big name conservatives, quickly made Kelly a rising star" at Fox News.

    But Kelly's record of rampant misinformation and conservative advocacy from behind the anchor desk was left out of the interview, and the accompanying write-up on CBS' website.

    Kelly has a long history of scandalmongering and promoting her personal views on air, despite previously insisting that she's "not an opinion-maker" or an "issue advocate," but rather, a straight "newsperson." She has frequently hosted an anti-LGBT hate group leader on her show, made flippant comments about racism and police brutality, and promoted conservative falsehoods about Planned Parenthood and the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

    Kelly is notorious in her own right for shaming and blaming black victims of police brutality, once suggesting that Sandra Bland's death could be due in part to her failure to obey the police officer, arguing that her death could have been averted if she had just "compl[ied] and complain[ed] later." Kelly also interjected that the black teenage girl manhandled by a McKinney, Texas, police officer "was no saint either," after bemoaning that people had "made this into a race thing."

    CBS Sunday Morning's profile is just the latest in a series of laudatory profiles that describe Kelly as someone who "buck[s] the conservative party line" while often ignoring her history of problematic coverage. Rose's previous interview of Kelly in October allowed her to present herself as "different than O'Reilly and Hannity" because "they are opinion guys" and she, supposedly, is not. Evgenia Peretz lionized Megyn Kelly in a glowing February Vanity Fair profile, calling her a "feminist icon of sorts," and suggesting her "star power" is similar to that of Julia Roberts, but nearly a month later followed up her praise with some of the less laudatory aspects of Kelly's right-wing rhetoric that were left out of the original piece.

    Peretz demonstrated that when positive press praise Kelly's "occasional, yet highly entertaining, bucking of the conservative party line," they downplay the fact that her show "is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows," -- a fact that even Peretz acknowledged -- albeit buried -- amid her own glowing Kelly profile.