The Boston Globe editorial board called out "irrational objections" to a Massachusetts bill that would provide non-discrimination protections for transgender people, debunking the right-wing myth that these protections would endanger women and children.
A Massachusetts bill that would extend non-discrimination protections for transgender people to places of public accommodation has stalled in the state legislature since last year. Opponents of the bill have centered the debate on the anti-LGBT myth that protections for transgender people will allow sexual predators to pretend to be transgender so they can sneak into bathrooms and commit sexual assault.
In a February 8 editorial, the Boston Globe editorial board voiced its support for the bill, citing empirical evidence from other states and cities with transgender non-discrimination protections to refute the right-wing bathroom predator myth. The board also noted that transgender people are the ones more likely to be in danger when using the bathroom (emphasis added):
Everyone deserves the right to use public bathrooms with impunity. This would seem obvious, but if you are a transgender person, access to public spaces -- including bathrooms and locker rooms -- is not a given. A bill to protect the rights of transgender individuals to public spaces has hit headwinds in the Legislature, where it sits in committee, so far a victim of unwarranted fears, and a lack of support from Governor Charlie Baker.
The bill would ban discrimination against transgender people in parks, restaurants, libraries, and other public accommodations. It also affirms their right to use public restrooms, dressing rooms, and locker rooms that align with their gender identity. It follows the successful passage of a 2011 law that prevents transgender discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public education. Under current law, an employer can not discriminate against a transgender person in hiring, but that same establishment could deny service, or access to a bathroom.
Many in the transgender community have felt the negative effects of these loopholes. Brandon Adams, 14, of Framingham, spoke in support of the bill at a hearing last fall. When he was transitioning from a girl to a boy, he asked to use the boy's bathroom in his school, which denied his request. Brandon then avoided using the bathroom while at school, thus drinking less water, and eventually feeling dizzy and dehydrated.
Despite soaring support (the majority of the state's congressional delegation, nearly 200 businesses and organizations, and the local professional sports teams), irrational objections to the measure remain. Critics have concerns about women and children. Republican Representative Marc Lombardo called the bill "a recipe for disaster," and told the State House News Service he's afraid high school boys could suddenly say they're transgender only in order to gain access to the girls' locker room.
But no such incident has been recorded in any of the 18 other states and 200 communities nationwide where similar protections have been enacted. Research has shown that the true danger is to transgender individuals, who are more likely to face discrimination, which could lead to physical and mental health issues. In fact, Attorney General Maura Healey said her office received seven complaints last year from transgender people who have faced discrimination in public places.
Media are calling out Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States for marginalizing Muslims and helping ISIS recruitment tactics. Such criticism echoes statements from the U.S. Department of Defense explaining that "anything that creates tensions and creates the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam would be counterproductive to our efforts right now" to combat ISIS.
The Boston Globe says columnist John E. Sununu will no longer write about cable and Internet issues because of his financial conflict of interest. Media Matters criticized the paper after it allowed the former Republican senator to complain about the "unnecessary regulation of the internet" without disclosing he has been paid over $750,000 by broadband interests.
In an August 17 column, Sununu attacked the Obama administration for reaching "ever deeper into the economy, pursuing expensive and unnecessary regulation of the internet, carbon emissions, and even car loans." Sununu serves on the board of directors for Time Warner Cable, and is a paid "honorary co-chair" for Broadband for America, which has been supported by broadband providers and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
Dan Kennedy, an associate professor of journalism at Northeastern University, wrote that Globe Editorial Page Editor Ellen Clegg stated "Sununu has told me he will avoid writing about issues pertaining to cable and internet access because of his seat on the Time Warner Cable board." Clegg reaffirmed that the Globe is "posting bios for our regular freelance op-ed columnists online and linking those bios to their bylines" to provide "more transparency."
She added in her email to Kennedy that Sununu "has also assured me that he will disclose his support of GOP presidential candidate John Kasich in the text of any columns he writes about presidential politics (he is chair of his campaign in New Hampshire.)" Sununu devoted his June 22 column to Donald Trump, writing that he's "running a race where both the chance of winning and the risk of losing are zero." The piece did not note Sununu's ties to Kasich.
Sununu is also an "Adjunct Senior Policy Advisor" for lobbying firm Akin Gump and "advises clients on a wide range of public policy, strategic and regulatory issues" including "policy and regulation." Media Matters has noted that Sununu's Globe columns frequently intersect with Akin Gump's subject areas such as environmental regulation.
The Boston Globe continues to publish columns by former Republican Sen. John E. Sununu that carry massive conflicts of interest. The Globe today allowed Sununu to advocate against "unnecessary regulation" of the Internet and coal power plants without noting his financial ties to those industries.
Sununu wrote in his August 17 column that "Obama's bureaucrats reach ever deeper into the economy, pursuing expensive and unnecessary regulation of the internet." Sununu and the Globe did not disclose that he is the highly-paid honorary co-chair of Broadband for America, an organization whose members have included major broadband providers and has been heavily funded by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
Sununu also serves on the board of directors for Time Warner Cable (TWC), which fights Internet regulation. TWC wrote in its 2014 annual report that "'Net neutrality' regulation or legislation could limit TWC's ability to operate its business profitably and to manage its broadband facilities efficiently and could result in increased taxes and fees imposed on TWC." It added that "TWC's business is subject to extensive governmental regulation, which could adversely affect its operations." TWC is merging with Charter Communications, pending regulatory approval.
In his column, Sununu also criticized the Obama administration for environmental regulations, writing that at the "EPA as elsewhere, arrogant leadership and incompetent bureaucracy are a dangerous combination. Today, America's coal plants have never been cleaner, our nuclear plants have never been safer, and the evolution of fracking (a 40-year-old technology) has driven down energy costs to their lowest levels in decades."
Akin Gump, the largest Washington, D.C. lobbying firm, lists Sununu as an "Adjunct Senior Policy Advisor" who "advises clients on a wide range of public policy, strategic and regulatory issues" including "policy and regulation." Akin Gump's policy and regulation page lists subpractices such as "Energy Regulation, Markets and Enforcement," "Environment and Natural Resources," and "Environmental Permitting and Approvals."
Akin Gump's policy and regulation page states that their clients include the coal industry. They write elsewhere in the "environmental litigation" section of their site that "Akin Gump's environmental lawyers remain at the forefront of the defense of coal-fired power plants sued as part of EPA's Utility Enforcement Initiative."
Media Matters previously noted that Sununu has written about issues related to Akin Gump's business practices without disclosing his role in the firm. The Boston Globe told Media Matters in 2012 that Sununu's role with Akin Gump was "very limited" and "We looked into whether he should make some sort of blanket disclosure, but it doesn't seem warranted by the small amount of work he does for the firm."
UPDATE: Reached by phone by Media Matters' Joe Strupp, Editorial Page Editor Ellen Clegg said she's on vacation and hasn't "read this column closely." She said the Globe plans to include online biographical sketches that "should help readers learn more about who the freelance contributors are and opt for more disclosure. They will be able to link to the italicized tagline at the bottom. It's been in the works for some time. Our contract with freelancers requires that they disclose conflicts of interest. We rely on them to push it out. We're going to disclose board memberships and consulting gigs and other paid work as well as books they've written and things like that." She said that "on this particular column, we'll link to the bio sketch when it's up."
Asked how the Globe would address the print edition of columns -- Sununu's column ran in the print edition, according to the Nexis database -- Clegg said she'll "take a look at it" and "we do require that [disclosure] when we think it's warranted."
"The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over," announced the World Health Organization on May 9, declaring a cautious end to the deadly wave that claimed 4,700 Liberian lives since last summer. That outbreak, of course, eventually sparked panic in the United States last September and October when a handful of Ebola cases were confirmed domestically. Ebola mania raged in the media for weeks and became one of the biggest news stories of 2014.
So how did the American media cover the latest, good-news Ebola story in the days following the WHO announcement? Very, very quietly.
By my count, ABC News devoted just brief mentions of the story on Good Morning America and its Sunday talk show, This Week. On NBC, only the Today show noted the development, while CBS This Morning and the CBS Evening News set aside brief mentions. None of the network newscasts have given this Ebola story full segments, according to a transcript search via Nexis.
A scattering of mentions on cable news and a handful of stories including in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, among others, rounded out the remaining coverage in the past week.*
Pretty amazing, considering that late last year the U.S. news media were in the grips of self-induced Ebola hysteria. During one peak week, cable news channels mentioned "Ebola" over 4,000 times, while the Washington Post homepage one night featured at least 15 Ebola-related articles and columns, many of which focused on both the international crisis and the political dynamic, and the problems Ebola was supposedly causing President Obama.
That's not to say the tragic outbreak was not a big story worthy of any news coverage. It was, but American media went into overdrive hyping concerns that a deadly domestic outbreak was imminent -- only to rapidly forget.
The recent look-away coverage from Ebola shouldn't come as a surprise. The American media lost complete interest in the story right after Republicans lost interest in the story, which is to say right after last November's midterm elections, when they brandished Ebola as a partisan weapon.
That's no exaggeration. From Media Matters' research:
A Boston Globe columnist compared anti-gay groups fighting against marriage equality to activists who fought against Jim Crow-era racism, attacking marriage equality supporters for trying to "redefine" marriage.
In a June 18 op-ed, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby touted the upcoming March for Marriage in Washington, DC - an event sponsored by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The march is likely to be a largely astroturfed event and will be attended by some of the most extreme anti-gay voices in America.
According to Jacoby, however, the anti-gay activists attending the march should be compared to the civil rights heroes who fought against Jim Crow era discrimination:
It would certainly be easier to make peace with the new order, especially considering the aggressiveness and hostility that many "marriage equality" activists deploy against those who oppose gay marriage.
Then again, much the same could have been said a century ago to those who insisted -- in the depths of Jim Crow -- that the cause of civil rights and racial fairness was worth fighting for. They too must have heard with regularity that they were on the "wrong side of history." The promise of Reconstruction was long gone. In much of the country, black enfranchisement was a dead letter. The Supreme Court had ruled 7-1 in Plessy v. Ferguson that racial segregation -- "separate but equal" -- was constitutional. The president of the United States was a white supremacist on whose watch black employees were fired from government positions, and public facilities in Washington were segregated.
Honorable voices argued that blacks had no realistic option but to make the best of a bad situation. But there were others who insisted that the lost spirit of abolitionism could be revived, that Jim Crow could be fought and eventually overturned, that "separate but equal" was based on a falsehood and would ultimately prove untenable. They founded the NAACP in 1909, launching a movement that would eventually transform America. [emphasis added]
Organizations that monitor reporter access and safety overseas are harshly criticizing a Fox News reporter's suggestion that U.S. forces could have posed as journalists in order to more quickly apprehend a recently-captured suspect in the Benghazi attacks.
Earlier today, news broke that following "months of planning," U.S. Special Operations forces had captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspected ringleader of the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Several conservative media figures have criticized the administration for the timing of Khattala's capture. At a State Department press briefing, Fox News reporter James Rosen questioned State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki about why journalists had been able to access Khattala -- several major outlets have published interviews with him since the attacks -- while U.S. forces had still not apprehended him.
After Psaki responded that there was a difference between suspected terrorists wanting to talk to reporters and special forces being able to capture them, Rosen asked, "Following your own logic...why didn't we pose as a reporter to capture him then?"
But organizations that advocate for reporter access and safety overseas told Media Matters such an approach would put legitimate journalists in danger because their credibility would come into question more often.
"Let's recognize that military and intelligence operations should never, ever use journalists as cover," said Joel Simon, executive director of The Committee to Protect Journalists, which monitors treatment of reporters in foreign outposts and tallies physical and rights abuses of journalists. "Intelligence agents should never use journalistic cover, never because that jeopardizes the work of the media.
Simon and other experts said that military elements posing as journalists could pose a danger to the ethics and safety of legitimate reporters who would be accused of being spies or intelligence plants.
"We see every day all over the world that journalists are accused of being spies and of having ties or supporting military efforts that a particular country is taking," Simon stressed. "The most important asset that journalists have in those situations is their independence and their impartiality and anything that compromises that or the perception of their impartiality further endangers them."
Bryan Bender, former president of Military Reporters & Editors and a current MRE board member, agreed.
"I think setting aside for a second the case of this suspect, many of us who cover the Pentagon would have huge concerns if we learned U.S. military was posing as journalists," said Bender, also a Boston Globe national security reporter. "We'd get upset as we did in Iraq years ago that the military was planting stories in local media to help their cause. It is important to us as journalists and it should be important to the government that we fulfill our unique roles and not confuse one with the other."
As the nation mourns the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, conservative media figures have attempted to appropriate his legacy and attribute to the beloved former president their conservative ideas and positions. This effort runs counter to Kennedy's stated positions, speeches, and other historical facts surrounding his presidency.
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby argued that LGBT workers don't need the protections afforded by the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), falsely asserting that the free market already provides an adequate check on workplace discrimination.
In his November 17 column, Jacoby noted that many Fortune 500 companies and prominent business leaders including Apple CEO Tim Cook have spoken out against LGBT employment discrimination. Reprising a common argument against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Jacoby contended that businesses should be free to decide whether to discriminate against LGBT people. In Jacoby's view, the fact that many businesses don't do so is sufficient to obviate the need for ENDA (emphasis added):
APPLE CEO Tim Cook, writing recently in The Wall Street Journal, urged Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would make it illegal under federal law for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Prejudice, Cook insisted, is bad for business. Indeed it is -- as defenders of free markets have pointed out for years, irrational discrimination tends to reduce an employer's profits. Far from strengthening the case for a new federal law, however, it seems to me that Cook's observation cuts the other way.
Thanks to the changes already produced by the marketplace, a significant addition to the Civil Rights Act is superfluous. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the influential gay-rights organization and a prominent supporter of ENDA, nearly 90 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 have explicitly banned employment discrimination against gays and lesbians. As of April, only about 60 companies on Fortune's list had not yet formally adopted such policies, and very few have actually voted against doing so.
Clearly there has been a sea change in the way Americans have come to think about employment discrimination against gays and lesbians. It would be surprising if that change weren't reflected on payday -- and sure enough, that's what the data show. Economists Geoffrey Clarke and Purvi Sevak, in a study just published in the journal Economic Letters, note that gay men in the 1980s and early 1990s had less earning power than straight men of comparable age, race, and education. By the mid-1990s that "gay wage penalty" had disappeared; in the years since 2000 it has turned into a wage premium. As far back as 2002, for example, gay men were outearning their nongay peers by 2.45 percent.
Is it logical to conclude from all this that the American workplace is so poisoned with bigotry against gays and lesbians that only a drastic change in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can end the oppression? Or would it be fairer to say that the vast majority of American workers have no desire to see colleagues hired or fired because of their sexual orientation -- and that the vast majority of US companies have no interest in letting sexual orientation become an issue? For years opinion surveys have documented near-universal support for gay rights in the workplace. The market is doing what markets have always sought to do: break down unreasonable discrimination by making it unhealthy for a business's bottom line.
New federal laws should be a last resort, when there is no other means of solving an urgent national problem. In a country of 300 million people, there will always be occasional incidents of bigotry and unfairness directed at people where they work, but plainly there is no urgent crisis in the treatment of gay and lesbian employees that Congress alone can fix. As it is, 21 states and nearly 200 cities and counties have followed the market's lead and enacted legislation barring employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Washington has more than enough on its plate. It doesn't need to add yet another protected category to the list of groups legally protected from private discrimination. That will only make federal cases out of even more disputes.
The Boston Globe's Mattias Gugel covers political issues like Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) reaction to the ongoing government shutdown and the tea party -- but he also has a right-wing resume and is a self-described "staunch conservative."
On October 2, Gugel authored an article highlighting which staff members in Sen. Elizabeth Warren's office were furloughed due to the on-going government shutdown -- a shutdown led by conservative Republicans in the House that Warren has argued against. Gugel wrote:
Despite the government shutdown, Bay Staters seeking to contact most members of the Massachusetts delegation in Washington can still reach a staffer by phone, with the exception of Senator Elizabeth Warren's office .
Warren, a Democrat, determined that having staff answer phone calls is not an essential part of her office's job during a shutdown, leaving constituents to go to voice mail when they call to give their opinion or to seek services or assistance.
Also on October 2, Gugel wrote an article for the Globe centered on congressional tea partiers' reactions to the shutdown -- characterizing them as "combative, defiant, defensive, and resolute."
But Gugel has previously been vocal about his support for tea party Republicans and once wrote in their defense that, "Bipartisanship ended during the glorious reign of President Barack Obama."
Gugel also previously worked as an intern for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and as a staff assistant for State Sen. Joe Leibham (R-WI). He praised a list of "leading conservatives" from Wisconsin that included Republicans Rep. Paul Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker, and hoped that, "someday my name might be added to that list."
Gugel, who once described himself as "a pretty staunch conservative all around," believes that Obama's 2012 re-election campaign slogan "Forward" is a Marxist code-word aimed at "diehard liberals because of these socialist connotations":
The president's approach to this problem is evident in the radical imagery the new slogan invokes. Leftists have historically used the word as a rallying cry for progress, and many Marxist publications were named "Forward" (or its foreign equivalents). And for those naysayers who think only conservatives believe Obama is a socialist, he himself chose the direct symbolism this time.
Photo Credit: Timothy Valentine via Flickr
Over the past three months, major print outlets throughout the country largely failed to discuss rising structural inequality and poverty in the United States while reporting on policies and programs that affect low-income groups.
In the weeks leading up to Election Day, major media outlets whitewashed many of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's extreme positions, including on abortion, health care, and the situation in the Middle East. In doing so, these outlets aided Romney's efforts to remake himself as a moderate politician.
Hosting Rep. Paul Ryan on the Today show this week, Matt Lauer asked the Republican vice presidential candidate whether he would concede that some of the statements he made in his convention speech in Tampa last week "were not completely accurate."
Specifically, Lauer pressed Ryan on his controversial assertion suggesting president Obama was responsible for the closing of a General Motors plant in Janesville, WI., when in fact GM made the plant-closing announcement in June 2008, while President Bush was still in office. (The plant halted its production of SUVs in December 2008; also while Bush was in office.)
Ryan's easily debunked attack on Obama has put the candidate on the defensive. It's also sparked a debate within the media about fact-checking and how to cover candidates who campaign while aggressively removed from the truth.
And yet despite the GM controversy, and through the endless debunking, Ryan has remained loyal to the issue, even tweeting about the plant closing this week:
Questioned by Lauer about the controversy, Ryan's told him to go "read the speech," and then mounted this defense [emphasis added]
RYAN: What I was saying is, the president ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After our plant was shut down, he said that he would lead an effort to retool plants like the Janesville plant to get people back to work. It's still idle; people are still not working there.
But that's not what Ryan said in his speech last week.
In Tampa, Ryan quoted candidate Obama speaking at the auto plant on February 13, 2008, months before it was shut down. Then on Today, Ryan told Lauer he had referenced comments Obama made "after our plant was shut down." [emphasis added]
Hammered for dishonest comments he made in his convention speech about the closing of a GM plant, Ryan went on national television this week and compounded that dishonesty by revising what he said in his convention speech.
How is the press supposed to cover a post-truth politician like that? And should they trust Ryan's assertions in the future?
A Boston Globe editorial noted that by the end of his first term, President Obama will have appointed far fewer lower court judges than either of his two predecessors, and chided him for "fail[ing] to make the most of an opportunity to shape the federal judiciary." The editorial referenced a recent New York Times article that highlighted unprecedented Republican obstruction of President Obama's nominees but does not actually mention this fact. By ignoring Republican obstruction, the Globe gives its readers far less than half the story.
The federal judiciary currently has so many vacancies that more than half of Americans are living in a "judicial emergency." That is, as district judges are increasingly faced with disproportionately large dockets, attention to individual cases falls, resolution is delayed, and access to justice for everyone suffers. As The New York Times reported, as of August 17, "Mr. Obama has appointed just 125 such judges, compared with 170 at a similar point in Mr. Clinton's first term and 162 for Mr. Bush."
Former U.S. Senator John E. Sununu's dual career as a contributing op-ed writer for The Boston Globe and an advisor to a lobbying firm is raising ethical questions.
A review of Sununu's columns reveals that they have not contained disclosures about his ties to lobbying giant Akin Gump, where he serves as a "senior policy advisor." Indeed, Sununu has written about issues related to Akin Gump's lobbying without disclosing his role in the firm.