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Fox News used the Sydney, Australia hostage situation to question whether Australia's strict gun laws should be loosened, but offered no commentary on Pennsylvania's relatively looser gun laws in their reports the same day when a man went on a shooting rampage, killing six. Americans are murdered with guns at a rate more than ten times greater than Australians.
On December 15, Fox News heavily reported on a hostage situation in a Sydney, Australia chocolate shop. A man, who according to authorities had "a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability," used a shotgun to hold café patrons hostage for 16 hours. After gunfire was heard police stormed the shop. The hostage-taker and two hostages were killed. One hostage was reportedly killed while trying to disarm the hostage-taker, while it is unclear if the other one was shot by the hostage taker or caught in the crossfire.
As Fox reported on developments out of Sydney, the conservative network also provided updates from Pennsylvania where Bradley William Stone allegedly went on a shooting rampage, killing his ex-wife and five of his former in-laws. One former in-law was wounded. Police are currently searching for Stone. (UPDATE: Stone has been found dead, reportedly of self-inflicted wounds.)
Tellingly, Fox News used the Sydney incident to raise questions about Australia's gun law system, while raising no such questions about looser gun laws in the United States during December 15 and December 16 mentions of the Pennsylvania spree killing on Fox programs Fox & Friends, Fox & Friends First, The Five, On the Record, America's News Headquarters, Special Report with Bret Baier, Shepard Smith Reporting, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, or America's Newsroom.
In response to the protests following the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the right-wing media have unleashed an array of race-baiting tropes. From "lynch mobs" to "race pimps," here are some of the worst examples.
A look at how right-wing media ran with Fox contributor Karl Rove's speculation that Hillary Clinton suffered brain damage from a fall in 2012, laying the groundwork to establish the baseless smear as an issue for the 2016 presidential race.
Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt insisted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton release records from an MRI, purporting she showed signs of "psychosis" after her 2012 fall, echoing a lie created by Karl Rove to smear the possible 2016 presidential candidate.
In a May 13 Washington Times column, Charles Hurt suggested Clinton release MRI records from her 2012 concussion, accusing her of showing "varying degrees of psychosis," and claiming she showed an "inability to relate to the pain" of the families of the Benghazi victims. Hurt argued that it is "just and fitting" for voters to be "informed about the mental fitness of our politicians seeking higher office":
[T]he terrorist attack in Benghazi proved that Mrs. Clinton certainly wasn't up to the task.
After months of dodging, evasions and doctors' visits, Mrs. Clinton finally lashed out in public about the attack. "What difference at this point does it make!" she bellowed at her interlocutors.
Well, the families of the four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, would like clear answers and closure. They would like to know why Mrs. Clinton and the White House were far more interested in immediately covering up their handling of the attack than protecting American property and personnel in the first place.
This inability to relate to the pain felt by those around her is a frequent sign of varying degrees of psychosis.
In any event it was an awkward MRI moment that should have gotten the former first lady checked into a rubber room for further evaluation
And, if she really wants to be president, the American people have a right to know what the results of that MRI showed.
Fox News host Jon Scott dismissed President Obama's efforts to raise the minimum wage and strengthen overtime pay protections for millions of workers as a distraction from the economy -- an unusual sentiment, given that experts believe both measures would have a stimulative effect on the economy.
On March 13, President Obama used his executive authority to direct the Labor Department to change standards in order to increase the number of salaried workers who qualify for overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act. From The New York Times:
Under the new rules that Mr. Obama is seeking, fewer salaried employees could be blocked from receiving overtime, a move that would potentially shift billions of dollars' worth of corporate income into the pockets of workers. Currently, employers are prohibited from denying time-and-a-half overtime pay to any salaried worker who makes less than $455 per week. Mr. Obama's directive would significantly increase that salary level.
In addition, Mr. Obama will try to change rules that allow employers to define which workers are exempt from receiving overtime based on the kind of work they perform. Under current rules, if an employer declares that an employee's primary responsibility is executive, such as overseeing a cleanup crew, then that worker can be exempted from overtime.
On the March 13 edition of Fox's Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott questioned whether raising the minimum wage would be "sufficient to distract people from the jobs and the economy and maybe Obamacare." In a later discussion with Washington Times columnist Charlie Hurt, Scott derided President Obama's plans to strengthen overtime pay protections as a "political tactic" meant to "score political points." Hurt agreed, and concluded that, like raising the minimum wage, expanding overtime pay rules "doesn't really help the economy in any great way":
Despite the GOP's strategy of obstructionism throughout the Affordable Care Act's (ACA, commonly known as Obamacare) implementation, Fox News pundits claimed Republicans have done nothing to contribute to ACA rollout problems.
Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt claimed that "[l]iterally, revolutionary wars have been fought over less" than what right-wing media are calling an Obamacare "exemption" for members of Congress and assured his readers that they "should be sharpening the tines of [their] pitchforks."
In his August 13 op-ed titled "Obamacare exemption - none dare call it treason," published in The Washington Times and promoted on FoxNation.com, Hurt argued that were it not for citizen apathy, America "would already be in all-out political revolt":
Had we innocent, taxpaying citizens not long ago lost our capacity to be outraged by the disgraceful manner in which this place operates, we would already be in all-out political revolt. Against President Obama. Against Democrats in Congress. And, especially, Republicans.
Literally, revolutionary wars have been fought over less.
Last week, while many Americans spent hard-saved money on long-overdue vacations, the snakes and weasels inside the federal bureaucracy schemed until they hatched an evil plan. It would feather their own nests with more of your money, protect themselves from the ravages of the laws they foist upon us, desecrate our Constitution and then smear us with insult so putrid it would make a roadside vulture gag.
All the legal, constitutional and parliamentary maneuvering is enough to confuse Albert Einstein, but here is the bottom line: Congress and staff managed to get themselves exempted from the single, most-punishing aspect of Obamacare.
Yes, you should be sharpening the tines of your pitchforks.
Right-wing media applauded the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Voting Rights Act, which Congress overwhelmingly voted to reauthorize in 2006 then decried the Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.
In its June 25 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the conservative bloc of the United States Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, which Congress has repeatedly reauthorized and which the Court has upheld several times.
Right-wing media applauded the ruling. The Wall Street Journal said the Court "marked a milestone worth celebrating when it ruled that a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act has outlived its usefulness," and praised the ruling as "a triumph of racial progress and corrective politics."
Blithely ignoring the fact that in 2006, based on 12,000 pages of testimony, the House voted 390-33 and the Senate voted 98-0 to reauthorize the VRA, the WSJ agreed with the Shelby majority's conclusion that racial progress obviated the need for the Voting Rights Act. From the WSJ editorial:
The High Court previously described all of this progress in a 2009 case, but in the habit of this restrained Roberts Court stopped short of overturning Section 4 and invited Congress to revise its formula. Congress ignored that warning, and this time the Court followed through on its constitutional logic and ordered Congress to rewrite its preclearance formula to reflect current reality.
The Washington Times editorial board called the decision "a good day's work by the Supreme Court" and approved the Court's second-guessing Congress:
All states are equal before the Constitution, but Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act set out a formula for determining that some states are less equal than others, and should be treated as wards of the federal government -- and all changes in voting law, no matter how minor, be "preapproved" by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The wrong that this law was intended to prevent -- the preservation of Jim Crow laws designed to disenfranchise blacks -- no longer exists. "The tests and devices that blocked ballot access have been forbidden nationwide for over 40 years," Chief Justice Roberts observed.
Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt opined that the Voting Rights Act is an "abomination of justice" that required "everyone be discriminated against based on the color of their skin."
These outlets changed their tune when, on June 26, the Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which Congress enacted in 1996, unconstitutionally discriminated against legally-married same-sex couples.
The WSJ editorial board showed more deference to Congress's judgment on Section 3 of DOMA than it accorded the VRA, and said the Court used a "confusing combination of logic" for overturning DOMA:
Our view is that Doma was an understandable political response at the time to state court rulings on gay marriage, and adopting a uniform federal rule was a temporary solution as states experimented with new arrangements and a social consensus evolved. Congress was always free to revise Doma later.
But the majority overturned Doma with a confusing combination of logic that mixed principles of federalism with language about equal protection.
The Washington Times editorial decried the Court's rulings in Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, which held that proponents of California's same-sex marriage ban had no standing to defend the law in federal court and as a result reinstated equal marriage rights in that state, claiming that the court "demolish[ed] the traditional understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman." From the editorial:
In the case United States v. Windsor, a Supreme Court majority decreed that homosexuals considered to be married in the 12 states and the District that recognize such rites are eligible to receive federal tax and other benefits, the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, notwithstanding.
This newfound reverence for acts of Congress is particularly notable because DOMA flew through Congress in only four months after scant consideration in the House or Senate. In fact, Congress did not receive a report on the full the impact of Section 3 until after it was enacted. On September 5, 1996, less than three weeks before the bill was signed into law, former Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) asked the General Accounting Office (GAO, now called the General Accountability Office) to identify the federal provisions that DOMA would affect. In 1997, the GAO issued the report, and identified 1,049 such provisions.
Fox Nation highlighted a Washington Times column that called President Obama an "economic terrorist" and "a spending jihadist."
A March 5 Fox Nation post highlighted a Washington Times column that accused Obama of making "terroristic threats" over the government spending cuts known as sequestration. The column, written by Charles Hurt, described Obama as an "economic terrorist" and "a spending jihadist," and claimed that the president "is willing to wreck the economy and inflict dire pain on you all because he is gambling that by trimming the federal government, you will feel pain."
From Hurt's column, headlined "Barack Obama, the spending jihadist":
Mr. Obama's terroristic threats have been amply noted everywhere. Planes will fall from the skies, starvation in the streets, teachers will be sent home.
That's right, you, the American voter, have become Mr. Obama's voodoo doll, and he is jabbing you all over with sharp pins and placing demonic hexes on you right now as you read this. This is gonna hurt and you are going to feel it!
In four short years, Obama has gone from hopeful orator promising a bright new future to economic terrorist, a spending jihadist. He is willing to wreck the economy and inflict dire pain on you all because he is gambling that by trimming the federal government, you will feel pain. And if you feel that pain, you will blame Republicans.
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In a July 24 Washington Times column, Charles Hurt lashed out at Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan for expressing sympathy for the victims of the Aurora tragedy, writing that the shooting was "carried out almost precisely from the scripts of your own movies."
In the column, which is labeled "An open letter to Christopher Nolan, Sean Penn and Warner Brothers," Hurt pinned blame for the mass shooting on violent films made by Nolan and others in Hollywood, telling them that "[o]ne day, you will meet the original Joker, the inventor of all evil who is diabolical and depraved so far beyond your furthest, sickest imaginations":
No, you did not pull the trigger in this case. You did not don the gas mask. But you were the inspiration, and you are the architects.
Your celebrations of diabolical mayhem and pornographic violence prey on the fantasies of sick, fragile minds. You insulated them from the painful reality of bloodshed. You have inspired mass murder. You are the Osama bin Laden of this travesty.
This, of course, is all legal and has made you a fabulous fortune. But, never forget, this is who you are. It is what you do. This is your legacy.
When you die, your gravestones should read: Here lie men who created such horrific, meaningless violence in such realistic scenes that a sicko carried it out for real and shot 70 people, killing 12, including a 6-year-old girl.
To be fair, you haven't only inspired murderous rampages. It is true that you have also entertained. But is the fleetingness of that entertainment nearly so profound as the terror you inspired here? Will it outlast the irreversible permanency of 12 deaths, including that of a 6-year-old girl?
Which brings us to Warner Brothers, those titans of decency. You bankrolled "The Dark Knight Rises" and so many other pointlessly violent movies that infect feeble minds and bring hatred upon America. You, it is reported, are feeling really sad about those poor saps who paid to see your wicked movies -- only to have the very scenes come alive and kill them in the dark, sticky rows between seats of a movie theater.
Out of your "respect" for these people, you declared you would not announce box-office receipts from this weekend's snuff film. Instead, you will count your $150 million in bloody money -- privately.
One day, you will meet the original Joker, the inventor of all evil who is diabolical and depraved so far beyond your furthest, sickest imaginations and there, in his lair, you will spend the rest of eternity wishing you had had a little decency back when you had the chance.
Hurt's column is currently being featured on the Drudge Report, where he is a contributor:
Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt has had enough:
There is growing consternation in Republican circles and among conservatives over why Republicans keep allowing the various Communist, leftist and otherwise anti-American TV networks to host GOP debates.
The ickiness of Diana Sawyer asking questions in her cloying voice is more than most can bear. The utter cluelessness of the questions these people think actual American voters care about is mystifying. The shameless and ham-handed pandering to conservatives by the networks is revolting.
Ordinarily the enthusiastic sexism and casual references to "Communist" television networks would be cause enough for concern, but Hurt directs this argument down a path that is straight-up terrifying. Breaking down Newt Gingrich's broadsides against CNN's John King at last night's debate in South Carolina, Hurt sketches out a mixed-metaphor-laced nightmare:
Now I realize that what we watched last night was not a simple beating and perhaps it was wrong of so many of us to enjoy it with such bloodlust. It was more a public evisceration. A man's entrails were picked out and drawn far out from inside him and left for jackals to chew on before his living eyes.
If John King of Communist News Network were not, in fact, a cardboard cutout of a blockheaded jock, it would have been much more gruesome. Because then human blood would have been spewing all over the stage and the fine people watching the debate live. Instead, it was just minced corrugated cardboard stuffing floating in the flood lights.
Granted, the brutally medieval imagery is somewhat befitting a candidate who has been the subject of epic ballads, but this is disturbing stuff.