Over the objections of their own legal experts, right-wing media continue to argue the alleged Boston bomber should be denied constitutional rights unlike the hundreds of terrorists before him who have been successfully tried and convicted.
Prominent right-wing media figures have advocated a wide range of unconstitutional treatment for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old U.S. citizen accused of complicity in the Boston marathon bombing and subsequent murder of a police officer. Echoing GOP politicians from Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) to Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN), right-wing media have called for Tsarnaev to be denied the constitutional protections regularly given to domestic or foreign terrorists in this country, both before and after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Fox News hosts have suggested using torture on Tsarnaev because not all American citizens are "worthy of the constitutional rights that we have." The Wall Street Journal joined the dangerous clamor (fueled by Graham and Bachman) to indefinitely detain Tsarnaev in military custody as an "enemy combatant." Conservative pundit Ann Coulter told Fox's Sean Hannity she wanted authorities to "shoot up the boat" when they found Tsarnaev unarmed and "get him an automatic death penalty there."
When the Department of Justice initiated criminal proceedings against Tsarnaev, right-wing media turned their ire upon Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama for not preventing the federal judge from following the law. National Review Online's John Yoo accused the president of the "elevation of ideology over national security." Fox host Megyn Kelly continues to pretend "the public safety exception to Miranda lasts only 48 hours." A Washington Times columnist called for President Obama's impeachment because he is "unwilling" to protect America.
Fox News is leading the right-wing media chorus baselessly claiming Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the apparent bomber in the Boston Marathon attacks, should be indefinitely detained as an "enemy combatant," even though legal experts maintain it is unlikely he qualifies for this designation.
Militarily detaining U.S. citizens apprehended in this country as "enemy combatants" for acts of terror is extremely rare and constitutionally questionable. Former President George W. Bush transferred the last U.S. citizen held in such a fashion to federal criminal court rather than have the Supreme Court rule on the matter. President Barack Obama, while not explicitly disavowing his authority to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens as "enemy combatants," has publicly determined the practice to be unwise and contrary to American tradition and law.
Despite the legal uncertainty of the practice, Fox News host Sean Hannity declared that Tsarnaev should be held as an "enemy combatant" because "the evidence is obviously out there." From an interview with right-wing commentator Ann Coulter on the April 22 edition of Hannity:
Conservative media figures are using the Boston Marathon bombings to pressure lawmakers to halt attempts at immigration reform, the details of which were released last week by eight bi-partisan members of the Senate known as the "Gang of Eight." By suggesting that immigration reform could facilitate future terrorist attacks, right-wing media are attempting to obstruct legislation that a majority of Americans support.
From the April 22 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Ann Coulter has drawn criticism in recent days over a so-called joke she made about killing Meghan McCain, the daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Coulter's remarks follow a pattern of invoking murder against her political opponents.
In an April 10 column, Coulter wrote, "MSNBC's Martin Bashir suggested that Republican senators need to have a member of their families killed for them to support the Democrats' gun proposals. (Let's start with Meghan McCain!)" The column drew harsh criticism from Cindy and Meghan McCain, who accused Coulter of only living "to spread hate and negativity." Coulter subsequently defended her comments on the April 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity, claiming "everyone laughed" when they read the joke.
Coulter's remarks should come as no surprise. Coulter has routinely resorted to violent rhetoric against those with whom she disagrees:
In a June 2011 appearance on Hannity, Coulter said of the massacre at Kent State: "That's what you do with a mob."
In June 2009, Coulter said she "didn't really like to think of" the murder of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller as murder, adding: "It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester."
In September 2001, Coulter wrote of Muslims: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
In August 2002, Coulter said, "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
In an August 2009 interview on Hannity, Coulter said that Zeke Emanuel, the brother of Chicago mayor and former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, "is on my death list."
In January 2006, Coulter said, "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee." She added: "That's just a joke, for you in the media."
Fox News figures are dismissing the voices of the families who suffered in a mass shooting in Newtown, CT by claiming they're being used and exploited by Democrats, discounting the efforts they have made to encourage Congress to pass stronger gun laws.
On April 11, the Senate overcame a Republican-led filibuster that tried to block the beginning of debate on stronger gun laws with a 68-31 vote. The impetus for the new gun proposals was driven by the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 victims dead, most of them young children. President Obama had been urging Congress to act to strengthen guns laws in response to the shooting for some time.
According to several Fox News figures, Obama has been using the families of the Newtown shooting victims as props for a political agenda.
On April 11, Fox News host Sean Hannity called the effort to strengthen gun laws "naked exploitation of dead children and grieving families," while his guest Ann Coulter said that Democrats are "play[ing] with these victims." The previous night, Hannity stated that the president "is once again using families of tragedy as props for his agenda." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on his April 11 radio show that Obama is "using the Newtown families to push for background checks." Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry similarly said on April 9 that "for the second straight day, the White House used the victims of the Newtown tragedy to make their case." On his April 9 radio show, Fox News host Mike Huckabee suggested that taking some of the relatives of the Newtown shooting victims to Washington, DC on Air Force One to make their case for stronger gun laws was "an exploitation of those parents."
Such an attitude does a disservice to the many Newtown families that want tougher gun laws in the wake of their tragedies. Several of the families appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes on April 7 to discuss what kind of gun violence prevention measures they would like to see signed into law, saying that universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines were important. After the vote that broke the GOP's threatened filibuster, more than 30 families of Newtown victims released a statement criticizing those who tried block an up-or-down vote on new gun legislation, saying that "[t]he senators who have vowed to filibuster this bill should be ashamed of their attempt to silence efforts to prevent the next American tragedy."
From the April 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Fox Nation has taken down a post it previously highlighted in which Ann Coulter joked about the death of Meghan McCain, the daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
On April 10, Fox Nation linked to a column by Ann Coulter under the headline "Coulter: Liberals Go Crazy For The Mentally Ill." In the post, Coulter wrote, "MSNBC's Martin Bashir suggested that Republican senators need to have a member of their families killed for them to support the Democrats' gun proposals. (Let's start with Meghan McCain!)"
After the post was highlighted across various outlets, Fox Nation pulled it from its website. A cached version of the website shows that Fox Nation's original post included Coulter's joke about McCain's death:
Following Coulter's post, Meghan McCain responded on Twitter, saying, "Apparently Ann Coulter made a joke about me being killed in a recent column. I should expect nothing less but disgusted regardless."
From the March 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) bills itself as an event convened to "crystallize the best of the conservative thought in America" that will showcase "all of the leading conservative organizations and speakers." Media covering CPAC 2013 should know that the conference's speakers, from the most prominent to the lesser-known, have a history of launching smears, pushing conspiracy theories, and hyping myths about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.
Right-wing media figures are dismissing extensive evidence to deny a link between firearm availability and suicide in the United States.
On the February 19 edition of the NRA News program Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards claimed during an ironically titled "Media Misinformation" segment that "we know that the prevalence of firearms does not always indicate increase in suicides. Take Japan for instance. Gun control advocates love talking about Japan's low violent crime rate. They don't usually bring up Japan's sky high suicide rate, far higher than that of the United States, despite a near total absence of firearms in civilian hands."
Ann Coulter, a conservative commentator and frequent Fox guest made a similar claim on the February 4 edition of Hannity on Fox News, stating that, "You might say, well but then having a gun they are going to commit suicide and they wouldn't have otherwise. No, that is false. Suicide rates do not go up with the availability of guns. The Japanese, for example, have no guns. They have twice our suicide rate. You see the same thing state to state. No matter what gun laws are, suicide rates have nothing to do with that."
In fact, numerous studies appearing in peer reviewed journals have proven that there is a strong nexus between firearm availability and suicide in the United States.
[The New York Times, accessed 2/21/13]
While approximately 9 percent of all suicide attempts are fatal, 85 percent of firearm suicide attempts result in death. Contrary to unsupported claims that troubled individuals will simply find an alternate method to commit suicide if an attempt fails, persons who have survived a suicide attempt usually do not find another way to end their lives. According to a review of 90 studies on the long term outcomes of individuals who previously attempted suicide, 89 to 95 percent did not become future victims of suicide. Notably, individuals who attempt suicide by firearms rarely have such an opportunity to continue their lives.
Fox News' Martha MacCallum exaggerated the relationship between mental health and gun violence by suggesting advocates for stronger gun laws focus on the few individuals with mental health conditions who commit mass killings instead of the widely available weapons that they used.
On the February 5 edition of America's Newsroom, MacCallum pushed the debunked myth that mental health is a common variable among violent criminals by listing recent mass shooters. MacCallum highlighted four perpetrators of mass shootings, and said, "You look at the people who've carried out these heinous crimes and killed so many innocent children. ... All of these have mental health issues." MacCallum went on to criticize President Obama for focusing on stronger gun laws rather than mental health in his policy response to the Newtown, CT, mass shooting.
By limiting her sample to just a few high-profile criminals, MacCallum ignored that those with mental health conditions represent a small percentage of perpetrators of violent crimes. In fact, studies have shown that people with mental health conditions are more often the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators.
From the February 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the January 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Conservative commentator and Fox guest Ann Coulter cited discredited gun researcher John Lott to falsely claim that concealed carry permits are the "one public policy" that reduces incidents of gun violence. In fact, experts say Lott's findings have little statistical support, and armed civilians have not successfully stopped mass public shootings.
On Hannity, Coulter claimed that if "you want to cut down on public shootings" and "if you care about children dying, if you care about innocent victims, you should be in favor of concealed carry." She cited research by Lott, claiming his study was the only "thorough examination of public multiple victim shootings" and proves concealed carry permits reduce shootings and casualties.
However, Lott is not a credible source for information on gun violence. He has been caught using fraudulent data in his concealed-carry studies, and his "more guns, less crime" hypothesis, which maintains that gun ownership helps reduce crime, has been characterized by a Stanford Law Review report as "without credible statistical support." Computer scientist Tim Lambert, discussing the Stanford Law Review report's findings, wrote that "if anything, concealed carry laws lead to more crime."
Indeed, a Mother Jones investigation could not identify a single mass public shooting in the past 30 years that was ended by an armed civilian, while economist Mark Duggan found that the rate of gun ownership "significantly positively" correlated with incidence of homicide.
Lott has also been caught modifying his research when his claims are called into dispute, and was the subject of an ethics inquiry after failing to produce evidence that he had actually conducted a 1997 survey. This has not stopped media figures from citing his claims, and he routinely makes media appearances to argue against the enactment of gun violence prevention measures.
Last month, Coulter responded to the mass shooting at a Newtown, CT, elementary school by calling for more concealed carry permits.