Fox News anchor Shannon Bream defended a New Mexico photographer who was sued after refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, suggesting that forcing the photographer to serve gay customers would infringe on religious liberty.
On August 22, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Elane Huguenin -- owner of Elane Photography -- violated New Mexico's anti-discrimination law when she refused to photograph the commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple.
During the August 23 edition of America Live, Bream invited Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior counsel Jordan Lorence -- who unsuccessfully represented the Huguenins -- for a one-sided interview to criticize the court's decision as an attack on religious liberty:
BREAM: So many parts of the opinion raise a lot of questions. The concurring judge ... said that the Huguenins, the couple here, have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. What about the Huguenins?
LORENCE: Well that's exactly right. In a free society, we have to, people of different beliefs have to learn how to get along. There were plenty of photographers available, willing to shoot this same-sex ceremony. They got them. The Huguenins just need to be excused. This can't be used in an authoritarian, coercive way to force people to basically promote the messages that they don't agree with.
If you want to know how ridiculous this line of reasoning is, just replace "gay couple" with any other marginalized group. What if the photographer had refused to offer her services for a commitment ceremony for Latinos, or an interracial couple, or a Muslim couple? As the Justice Richard C. Bosson wrote in his concurring opinion:
The Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of sexual orientation--photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony--than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims.
From the August 22 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox host Shannon Bream and correspondent Molly Henneberg continued Fox's relentless campaign to demonize Planned Parenthood and stoke fears about their participation in an initiative to expand health insurance. Bream and Henneberg dishonestly linked abortion with federal funds going to Planned Parenthood to cover federal funds helping enroll Americans in health insurance.
On the August 22 edition of America Live, Bream proclaimed there was "outrage over a new plan to give federal money to Planned Parenthood," and concluded that "critics are upset that the government wants to give funds to clinics that also provide abortions." Henneberg brought up the irrelevant red herring that Planned Parenthood is "the largest abortion provider in the country":
Despite Henneberg's dishonest attempt to tie the funding to abortion, the purpose of the navigators is to provide "'fair, impartial and accurate information that assists consumers with submitting the eligibility application, clarifying distinctions among [qualified health plans] and helping qualified individuals make informed decisions during the health plan selection process.'"
Henneberg then attempted to portray the funds as a broken promise by the president by claiming Obama said "no federal dollars that fund Obamacare would go to abortion providers." As The Daily Beast's Amanda Marcotte notes, this is a blatant falsehood:
Well, if you're watching Fox, you'd think it's apocalyptic. Right-wing radio host Mike Gallagher acted like there was nothing more outrageous than a public health clinic getting involved in a program that helps people get better access to health care. "I always try to anticipate what my friends on the left will possibly say to try to defend this egregious about-face," he chuckled on Fox. The "about-face" is a reference to the overt lie underpinning this entire campaign against Planned Parenthood, which is the conservative claim that Obama somehow promised that Planned Parenthood as an entity would not get any federal funding under the Affordable Care Act. Obama made no such promise. He signed an executive order disallowing abortion to be covered in health-care plans sold on the exchange, but signing people up for health care should not be equated with giving them abortions or even giving them plans that cover abortion. That's like saying the Department of Motor Vehicles is casting your ballot for you by giving you the opportunity to register to vote--an outright and inflammatory lie.
Fox even read a statement by Planned Parenthood Vice President Eric Ferrero, who assured that the grants "have nothing to do with abortion and won't be used for abortion services," which would fulfill Obama's promise.
Planned Parenthood is one of 105 groups to receive federal funds under the Affordable Care Act to aid in enrolling Americans in health insurance. According to The Hill, "organizations on the other side of the ideological spectrum also received grants," including Ascension Health, the nation's largest Catholic and non-profit health system, and Catholic Social Services, an arm of the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.
Fox News attempted to smear a new Affordable Care Act (ACA) outreach campaign by claiming that Deepak Bhargava, the head of an organization affiliated with the effort, was involved in the manufactured ACORN video scandal. Fox's attempt to smear the campaign ignores that Bhargava left ACORN over ten years ago and was in no way affiliated with the video scandal hyped by the network.
In 2009, conservative activist James O'Keefe targeted the community organizing group ACORN with a series of deceptively-edited sting videos that attempted to demonstrate widespread criminality at the organization. The videos were widely promoted by Fox and the conservative media, and the ensuing bad publicity forced the organization to shut down. But subsequent investigations found that the group had broken no laws.
Bhargava, a former government affairs official at ACORN, is now the executive director for the Center for Community Change, a group that funds an organization named the Young Invincibles. On August 19, the Daily Mail Online reported that the Young Invincibles is partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services for a video contest to assist with ACA outreach. The article used the connection between Young Invincibles and the Center for Community Change to invoke the conservative bogeyman of the defunct ACORN:
In its heyday, ACORN's legislative agenda was managed by Deepak Bhargava, an Indian-born community organizer. Bhargava left ACORN in 2002 after holding the top government affairs position there for 10 years. He is now executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Community Change.
Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, who was among the most vocal Republicans during the 2010 battle over ACORN's federal funding, told MailOnline that the White House is risking a public backlash with its choice of partnerships.
'The fact that the Obama administration is putting a senior staffer of the now defunct and notoriously corrupt ACORN in charge of giving away cash to bribe young Americans into accepting Obamacare is cause for grave concern,' Gosar said.
Fox News is using an ad opposing Stand Your Ground self-defense laws that reenacted the fatal 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to revive the false claim that Florida's Stand Your Ground statute played no role in the acquittal of Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman.
On August 19, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence released an online ad reenacting the night Martin was killed as part of an effort to seek the repeal of Stand Your Ground laws, which are on the books in more than 20 states. Those laws drew controversy after Martin's death, with critics claiming Florida's broad self-defense statute had provided Zimmerman with too much leeway to kill Martin without repercussion. On July 13, a Florida jury found Zimmerman not guilty of murder or manslaughter in Martin's killing. Two days later, a juror told CNN that they felt neither crime applied because Zimmerman had "a right to defend himself" by killing Martin under Stand Your Ground, which should have ended all debate over whether the law played a role in the case.
But while discussing the CSGV ad on the August 20 edition of America Live, guest anchor Shannon Bream said, "Let me also start with the fact that the Stand Your Ground law was not used in the Zimmerman case, but that's what this ad is all about. Does it do a disservice to both sides of this debate if we're starting from a place that's not even factually accurate?"
After radio host Richard Fowler attempted to correct Bream by accurately stating that the Stand Your Ground defense was described in instructions to the jury, Larson falsely responded, "No, it wasn't."
From the August 20 edition of America Live:
BREAM: Richard, let me also start with the fact that the Stand Your Ground law was not used in the Zimmerman case, but that's what this ad is all about. Does it do a disservice to both sides of this debate if we're starting from a place that's not even factually accurate?
FOWLER: The facts are that the Stand Your Ground law was in the jury instructions and beyond that --
LARSON: No, it wasn't. No it wasn't.
Larson is wrong. The publicly available Zimmerman trial jury instructions -- which were entirely based on Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense law -- stated: "If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
The jury instructions are nearly identical in wording to the text of Florida's Stand Your Ground law. According to Dan Gelber, a former Florida state senator and former prosecutor who opposes the law, Stand Your Ground "fundamentally changed the analysis used by juries to assign blame in these cases." The law was also important to the case because it was cited by authorities as a reason for why Zimmerman was not initially arrested after shooting Martin.
Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin invented a conspiracy theory that the clothing chain Forever 21 was intimidated by the Obama administration into claiming that its decision to cut worker hours was not a result of the health care law.
Media outlets are reporting that Forever 21 is cutting the hours of some full-time employees and reclassifying them as part-time. In a statement on Facebook, the company said that the cuts affect "less than 1% of all U.S. store employees" and have nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act:
Forever 21, like all retailers, staffs its stores based on projected store sales, completely independent of the Affordable Care Act. After a recent evaluation, Forever 21 realigned its staffing needs to better reflect sales expectations. This realignment impacted less than 1% of all U.S. store employees. Forever 21 values all of its employees and made every effort to affect as few employees as possible in this realignment.
Despite the company's explicit refutation and a lack of evidence to support her conspiracy, Malkin argued that Forever 21 was cowed into denying that the Affordable Care Act played a role in its decision to reduce worker hours.
On America Live, Malkin said that Forever 21's statement on its decision was evidence that "the intimidation campaign of this White House has worked rather effectively." Malkin added that companies that have "had the audacity to talk about the connection between Obamacare and cutting benefits and cutting full-time employees to part-time" were "punished," so "of course a company is going to deny that it had anything to do with Obamacare."
From the August 15 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the August 13 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News' Gregg Jarrett attempted to diminish the record of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, smearing her legacy and asking what she has "actually achieved."
On the August 9 edition of Fox News' America Live, guest host Gregg Jarrett attacked NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt for calling Clinton "one of the most fascinating women of our time and this world." Jarrett claimed Greenblatt was "gushing like a tweenage [sic] girl when he said it." Jarrett went on to attack Clinton, claiming "I actually gave [Greenblatt] the benefit of the doubt and tried to figure out what she's achieved" before playing a clip of Clinton at a Benghazi that has repeatedly been distorted by Fox:
Fox News promoted its upcoming food stamp special by stigmatizing participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, by complaining that recipients don't feel sufficient shame and by hyping anecdotal evidence that the system is being manipulated.
In a preview for Fox News' upcoming special The Great Food Stamp Binge, America Live guest host Gregg Jarrett and Fox News editor-at-large Peter Boyer attacked SNAP recipients, complaining that while there "used to be a sense in this country that if you are on the government dole, there was a little bit of a stigma attached, a little bit of shame involved" but that the "government to some degree has helped to try to break down the resistance" to joining the program. The segment aired an interview with a man Jarrett referred to as "surfer dude" and "surfs by day, plays in his band at night, and eats wonderfully, lobster, generally speaking, on his food stamps, courtesy of you, the taxpayer":
Jarrett and Boyer's attack on SNAP recipients is only the latest in Fox's campaign to stigmatize low-income Americans. Fox host Stuart Varney has long attacked SNAP recipients, and low-income individuals in general, claiming they are the victims of a government plot to increase dependency and buy votes, that they have appliances to make their lives comfortable, and that they lack "richness of spirit." The campaign against SNAP and its beneficiaries has been driven by Fox News hosts across the network.
But contrary to Fox's characterization of SNAP recipients as lacking shame and their promotion of "surfer dude's" story, the majority of recipients are working-class Americans with jobs, senior citizens, or children. A 2013 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that the "overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do so" (emphasis original):
The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do so. Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP -- and more than 80 percent work in the year prior to or the year after receiving SNAP. The rates are even higher for families with children -- more than 60 percent work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90 percent work in the prior or subsequent year.
The number of SNAP households that have earnings while participating in SNAP has been rising for more than a decade, and has more than tripled -- from about 2 million in 2000 to about 6.4 million in 2011. The increase was especially pronounced during the recent deep recession, suggesting that many people have turned to SNAP because of under-employment -- for example, when one wage-earner in a two-parent family lost a job, when a worker's hours were cut, or when a worker turned to a lower-paying job after being laid off.
A separate report pointed out that "Almost 70 percent of SNAP recipients are not expected to work, primarily because they are children, elderly, or disabled."
Fox's attack on SNAP recipients comes as hunger and poverty have reached elevated levels following the economic downturn. A 2012 study by the Department of Agriculture found that nearly 15 percent of U.S. households were "food insecure at least some time during" 2011, "including 5.7 percent with very low food security - meaning that the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food."
Fox News reacted to reports that a suspect in the September 2012 Benghazi attack has been indicted by attacking the Obama administration. This included pushing the narrative that terror suspects should be tried in military courts, ignoring the far more successful record of civilian courts in such trials.
Fox News ignored economists' support for Rep. Keith Ellison's (D-MN) financial transaction fee bill, called him "radical," and claimed he believes "citizens are indentured servants to the state."
On the August 6 edition of America Live, Gregg Jarrett hosted Fox News contributors Tony Sayegh and Sally Kohn to discuss a recent video of Ellison's appearance at a roundtable hosted by the Progressive Democrats of America. After playing a short clip of Ellison's remarks, Sayegh claimed Ellison's remarks represent "a radical view of progressives who believe that the American people are indentured servants to the state," adding that "literally he thinks we should be an ATM machine for government programs." Jarrett responded by claiming: "you get the clear sense that he thinks that your hard earned wages are literally government property and folks in Washington can reach into your pocket and grab more of it anytime they want":
But Jarrett and Sayegh misrepresented his remarks. Ellison was specifically discussing the Inclusive Prosperity Act, a bill that would impose a fee of a fraction of a percent on certain financial transactions, also known as a Robin Hood tax. As Kohn pointed out, the addition of small financial transaction fees on the billions of transactions that take place on Wall Street is not a radical or controversial idea. According to RobinHoodTax.org, a group that advocates for the tax, the fee would only affect Wall Street transactions and would have no impact on other Americans:
This small tax of less than ½ of 1% on Wall Street transactions can generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the US alone.
It won't affect ordinary Americans, their personal savings, or every day consumer activity, such as ATMs or debit cards. It's easy to enforce and tough to evade.
This is a tax on Wall Street, which created the greatest economic crisis in our nation, and globally, since the Great Depression. The same people who have returned to record profits and bonuses while ordinary Americans, the 99%, continue to pay the price of their crisis.
In a December 2009 open letter that was signed by over 200 economists, the Center for Economic and Policy Research pointed out that the tax would generate revenue "while having little impact on trades that have a positive impact":
The cost of trading financial assets has plummeted over the last three decades as a result of computerization. This has led to an enormous explosion in trading volume, with most trades having little economic or social value and redistributing disproportionate resources to the financial sector. A set of modest financial transactions taxes, which would just raise trading costs back to the level of two or three decades ago, would have very limited impact on trades that have real economic value.
Such taxes could both reduce the volume of speculation in financial markets and provide substantial revenue for either important public purposes and/or deficit reduction. Financial transactions taxes could be an important part of a reform package that seeks to remake the financial sector so that it better serves the larger economy.
Economist Paul Krugman explained in November 2011 that the small tax "could yield several hundred billion dollars in revenue over the next decade" without hurting the economy:
And then there's the idea of taxing financial transactions, which have exploded in recent decades. The economic value of all this trading is dubious at best. In fact, there's considerable evidence suggesting that too much trading is going on. Still, nobody is proposing a punitive tax. On the table, instead, are proposals like the one recently made by Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Peter DeFazio for a tiny fee on financial transactions.
And here's the thing: Because there are so many transactions, such a fee could yield several hundred billion dollars in revenue over the next decade. Again, this compares favorably with the savings from many of the harsh spending cuts being proposed in the name of fiscal responsibility.
But wouldn't such a tax hurt economic growth? As I said, the evidence suggests not -- if anything, it suggests that to the extent that taxing financial transactions reduces the volume of wheeling and dealing, that would be a good thing.
And it's instructive, too, to note that some economies already have financial transactions taxes -- and that among those who do are Hong Kong and Singapore. If some conservative starts claiming that such taxes are an unwarranted government intrusion, you might want to ask him why such taxes are imposed by the two countries that score highest on the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.
Former Fox News host Glenn Beck once declared "Do I believe scientists? No. They've lied to us about global warming." But the study, by the Yale Project on Climate Communication, concludes that it's actually the other way around: conservative media consumers don't believe in scientists, therefore they don't believe in global warming.
The study suggests that watching and listening to outlets like Fox News and The Rush Limbaugh Show may be one reason that only 19 percent of Republicans agree that human activity is causing global warming, despite the consensus of 97 percent of climate scientists. The Yale researchers depicted five tactics used by conservative media to erode trust in scientists, which Media Matters illustrates with examples.
Conservative media typically turn to a roster of professional climate change contrarians and portray them as "experts" on the issue. What they don't mention is that most of these climate "experts" don't have a background in climate science and are often on the bankroll of the fossil fuel industry.
A Media Matters study detailed how certain climate contrarians have been given a large platform by the media, particularly Fox News.
For instance, Fox News cut away from President Barack Obama's recent climate change speech to host Chris Horner of the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute -- giving approximately equal time to Horner and the president.
"Ludicrous." That's how San Antonio City Councilman Diego Bernal described the effort by right-wing media outlets - including Fox News - to smear a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance aimed at combating bias against LGBT people.
On July 23, the right-wing website OneNewsNow published an article criticizing an effort by the San Antonio City Council to update its non-discrimination policy to include discrimination against LGBT people.
The updated policy would prohibit the city government and its contractors or vendors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in employment. In addition, it would also prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in housing and places of public accommodation. It would also allow City Council members to consider a person's history of anti-LGBT bias when making appointments to boards and commissions, stating:
No person shall be appointed to a position if the City Council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or disability.
That provision drew the ire of conservatives, who claimed that the ordinance was an attempt to limit Christians' freedom of speech.
Before long, several right-wing media outlets picked up on the controversy, with each new iteration of the story presenting even wilder claims about the ordinance's supposed threat to religious liberty.
Right-wing media outlets have smeared a proposed measure in San Antonio to expand the city's non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity, falsely claiming that the revised measure would limit free speech and religious liberty.