After Hillary Clinton proposed reforms to increase access to voting, right-wing media accused her of playing the "race card" and sowing "division" for political gain.
Fox & Friends mocked students pushing for gender-neutral, uniform graduation robes in Maryland schools as the "P.C. police."
Students in Montgomery County, Maryland, are pushing for district schools to switch from a gendered dual-color scheme to single-color robes for all graduates. According to The Washington Post, the effort started at James Hubert Blake High School after the school's gay-straight alliance became aware that four students at another county high school were barred from wearing the color robe that conformed with their gender identity:
The student group believed single-color robes were the best way to go for many of their peers, including those who are transgender or questioning their gender identity.
So they wrote to the principals last June, noting that colleges use robes in one color as well as practical benefits of a change: Same-color robes make it easier for staff to organize students and for families watching the ceremony to follow along. Girls would no longer have to buy white outfits to wear beneath white robes, and more families would be able to pass down robes from child to child.
On the June 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade teased a segment on the school's decision to adopt uniform graduation robes for all students by saying "I believe there's way too many gender-bending stories in the news right now":
Later in the show, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck introduced a segment on the graduation robes by claiming "the P.C. police are on patrol in Maryland schools, and this time mandating that graduation robes be gender-neutral." Hasselbeck spoke to Julie Gunlock, the Culture of Alarmism Director of the conservative Independent Women's Forum, who asserted that students should worry about "real hardship in the world" like ISIS:
GUNLOCK: I do think it's also important that educators and parents teach kids about real hardship in the world, I mean, in ISIS-controlled Iraq, you have women that are being raped and mutilated and murdered. Homosexuals are being thrown off rooftops; Christians are being hunted down and executed. This seems to me the real issues we should be concerned about -- not having to wear a color that conflicts with your own identity for one hour.
Blake High School's Allies 4 Equality explained the significance of gender-neutral robes in a letter to county principals: "Graduation is a day of celebration. People don't feel like they can celebrate if they feel pressured to accept gender roles that make them uncomfortable. Some in the community may protest that two colors of robes is a tradition. Our concern is that this tradition is hurtful to some students, who may not have the courage to speak out about it."
Fox News is outraged that the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia -- where over 87% of residents are Muslim -- moved their annual Fourth of July celebration "out of respect" for those observing Ramadan in the country, claiming that they're just being "overly sensitive" to Islam and using the event to claim the United States is "leading from behind" on foreign policy.
On June 4, the United States Embassy in Indonesia celebrated the Fourth of July after Ambassador Robert Blake moved up the celebration one month "in order to respect the upcoming Ramadan month," according to The Jakarta Post.
During the June 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends host Elisabeth Hasselbeck and guest Jim Hanson criticized the embassy's decision to move up the Independence Day celebration, blasting them for being "overly sensitive to Islamic sensibilities." Citing the decision as evidence that the Obama administration has "lost its way," Hanson asserted that the U.S. is "the exceptional nation" and "should act like it. That's not being rude or insensitive to other people, that's just what you should do." Hasselbeck agreed, suggesting that this is another example of the administration "leading from behind":
Hanson argued that "Indonesians are hardly the most extreme Muslims," but Fox's outrage ignores that Indonesia has the highest population of Muslim residents in the world. According to the Pew Research Center, 87.2% of the population in the country identifies as Muslim -- meaning the large majority of the country would be fasting in observance of Ramadan during the celebration had it not been moved.
From the June 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox hosts and guests rushed to the defense of a police officer suspended after video surfaced of his brutal treatment of teenagers outside a pool party in McKinney, Texas. The video showed the officer pulling his gun on two teenage boys, then slamming a girl down onto her face.
Fox News helped 2016 presidential candidate Rick Perry (R) and likely candidate Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) defend their state's discriminatory voting restrictions and whitewash their poor records on voting rights.
Fox host Steve Doocy parroted a Republican National Committee (RNC) attack on Hillary Clinton's voting rights proposals, without disclosing the source.
In a June 4 speech at Texas Southern University, a historically black college, Hillary Clinton proposed significant voting law reforms, including universal automatic voter registration and at least 20 days of early voting. The Washington Post reported that Clinton criticized Republican support for policies that disenfranchise voters, saying: "Today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting."
On the June 5 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy took issue with Hillary Clinton's focus on voting rights (emphasis added):
DOOCY: But what's interesting is, remember she was the U.S. senator from the state of New York which is a Democrat state. And yet New York does not allow early voting while dozens of Republican-led states do. So, I mean if she's going to be talking about voting, how about early voting in New York, Madam Secretary?
But the Fox & Friends hosts did not acknowledge that Doocy's attack came directly from the RNC. Orlando Watson, the RNC communications director for black media, criticized Clinton on June 4, saying her "shameless attacks ignore the fact her Democrat-led home state of New York does not allow early voting while dozens of Republican-led states do."
And as The New York Times noted at the time, Republicans in New York's state legislature opposed the 2013 early voting measure proposed by Democrats to improve the state's low voter turnout (emphasis added):
All but one Republican voted no. And Senate Republicans are resisting, too. Why? Not, they say, because they want to discourage voting. Their complaint is that early voting would be too expensive for upstate counties. That problem could be addressed by cutting back on the extra hours and adding a little extra state money.
Fox News hosts and guests relied and expounded upon recent comments by actor Vince Vaughn in support of carrying guns in public and in schools to push numerous falsehoods about gun violence that expert analyses have debunked.
From the June 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Conservative media are promoting a deceptively edited video from a Republican opposition research firm that purports to show Hillary Clinton coldly demanding that a supporter "go to the end of the line," to allege that Clinton is out of touch with voters. But even as the dishonest attack made its way to Fox News, network contributor Guy Benson admitted the full context of the video "casts [Clinton] ... in a far less damaging light."
Fox News hosted Larry Pratt, the leader of far-right group Gun Owners of America, to defend actor Vince Vaughn's recent comments on the Second Amendment, even though Pratt has repeatedly said politicians who support gun safety laws should fear being shot.
In a recent interview with British GQ, Vaughn argued that the purpose of the Second Amendment is "to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government":
"I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don't have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It's not about duck hunting; it's about the ability of the individual."
During a June 2 appearance on Fox & Friends, Pratt defended Vaughn's insurrectionist view of the Second Amendment, stating, "I think Vaughn's point really needs to be emphasized. The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in our Constitution in order to protect the people's right to protect themselves from tyrannical government."
Fox & Friends hosted Pratt despite his long history of inflammatory commentary and radical interpretations of the Second Amendment. Notably, he has repeatedly stated that politicians who endorse gun violence prevention laws should fear being shot by GOA supporters. During a November 2014 interview, when Pratt was asked about his oft-made claim that politicians should have a "healthy fear" of being shot, he responded: "Sure, that is what the Second Amendment is all about."
Pratt, who is considered to be one of the founding members of the 1990s right-wing militia movement, has engaged in extremism on the gun issue for decades.
In 1996, Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan after The New York Times reported "that he had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements" and published articles about guns the magazine of a white supremacist group. The Boston Globe subsequently reported Pratt "had attended a 1992 conference of militant white supremacists in Colorado in the aftermath of the shootout with federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho," whose attendees included the leader of the racist and anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement, a former KKK leader, and Aryan Nation officials. Pratt reportedly spoke out in favor of the creation of "armed militia" units at the meeting.
In the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, Pratt suggested that far-right anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh was justified in carrying out the attack as a response to the government's conduct during the 1993 Waco standoff at the Branch Davidian compound. And in 2014, Pratt claimed that President Obama supports stronger gun laws to prevent Americans from using firearms "to keep people like him from becoming tyrants."
In addition, Pratt has proposed that the government itself stages violence and civil unrest. Appearing on right-wing conspiracy theory radio shows, Pratt suggested that the 2012 mass shootings in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School may have been government-staged events.
More recently, Pratt claimed it was "reasonable" to suspect that Obama orchestrated the civil unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, going on to argue that police should have shot and killed rioters to bring calm to the city.
Despite Pratt's history of extreme right-wing views, national news shows sometimes treat him as a credible source on gun violence in the wake of mass shooting tragedies. Over the year-and-a-half following Sandy Hook, Pratt made 13 appearances on evening and Sunday cable news programs, even appearing on Fox News Sunday to discuss the one year anniversary of the mass shooting.
His reputation also hasn't been enough to scare away GOP presidential candidates. In May, Senator Ted Cruz agreed to remotely address a town hall meeting hosted by GOA.
Despite his history of extremism, Pratt continues to make appearances on cable television to discuss gun issues. When asked why major media outlets continue to host Pratt, freelance reporter Alexander Zaitchik, who has extensively written about Pratt, explained in a video series on Pratt's role in the gun-rights movement, "I think a big part of it is just attention span... and historical memory is getting shorter and shorter," explaining that news outlets "seemed to think he was you know, springing up out of the ground and didn't have this long, multi-decade history of radicalism and extremism." According to Zaitchik, Pratt also moderates his message while appearing on national television, saving his more extreme commentary for the fringe right-wing radio shows he frequents.
Some conservative media pundits suggested 2016 presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) may have disqualified himself from the presidency after his opposition to the National Security Agency's bulk phone collections program caused parts of the PATRIOT Act to lapse.
Media outlets are baselessly linking an increase in murders in Baltimore and other cities to "increased scrutiny" of police, without noting the legitimate reasons why such scrutiny of local police departments is needed.
Homicides have spiked in the last month in Baltimore, with 43 killings reported in May, the most in one month since 1971 and the highest monthly per capita rate on record, according to The Baltimore Sun. At the same time, arrests have plummeted, with a WBAL-TV investigation finding arrests have gone down 32 percent since the curfew was lifted, and the Sun reporting arrests in May this year were less than half the number in May last year.
Several right-wing media figures are attributing these numbers to increased scrutiny of police, and this narrative is seeping into mainstream coverage. On the June 1 edition of Fox & Friends, during an interview with author Kevin Jackson, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle argued that "police are more concerned about their own well-being. They don't want to be arrested or persecuted for just putting on the blue every morning." She added that "when you have individuals like [Baltimore City State's Attorney] Marilyn Mosby going aggressively against the police," this "undermines the ability of law enforcement to keep people in the community safe," linking the increase in homicides to Mosby's decision to charge six Baltimore police officers in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.
On the May 31 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, National Review Online contributor Heather Mac Donald similarly claimed the U.S. is "in the grips of a hysteria against cops," saying "cops have gotten the message that they should back off of policing." She faulted the "mainstream media, the university presidents talking about assaults on blacks and of course the president and former attorney general." Mac Donald, who has a history of deeply offensive commentary on race, was discussing her recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which she argued that the "most plausible explanation of the current surge in lawlessness is the intense agitation against American police departments over the past nine months."
The previous week, National Review editor Rich Lowry also advocated for increased incarceration in response to the spike in violence, and cited anonymous police officers who "say they feel that city authorities don't have their back, understandably enough when city leaders are loath to call rioters 'thugs.'"
And now the Associated Press is adopting the same language. In a May 31 report on Baltimore homicides, the AP stated that "Some attribute the drop [in arrests] to increased scrutiny of police following the April death of Freddie Gray from injuries received in police custody."
Aside from the obvious problem with this argument -- that there is no evidence these feelings attributed to the police have resulted in an increase in murders -- this coverage has also missed a significant reason why people have called for increased scrutiny of police officers since the deaths of men like Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray: the fact that police killings and police brutality disproportionately affect people of color.
On May 30, the Washington Post released a study on police killings, which found that two-thirds of unarmed victims of police shootings were minorities, and "blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred." Their figures represent far greater total than the FBI statistics on police killings, which are "widely considered to be misleading and inaccurate": FBI records show about 400 shootings per year, compared to 385 so far this year in the Post's data. Three of the 385 shootings the Post reported on resulted in the officer being charged, or less than one percent. And over the last several years, the Department of Justice has found that numerous local police departments have engaged in a "pattern or practice" of improper discrimination against residents of color, and have disproportionately targeted them for stops and arrests.
Faced with stark numbers like these, any media outlet should feel compelled to at least contextualize claims of a "hysteria against cops" with this evidence of disproportionate police violence against minorities.
From the June 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News continued its crusade against the Reagan-era affordable telephone service program for low-income Americans, which the network derisively refers to as "Obamaphones," with a misleading segment suggesting that the program has "runaway costs" and traps low-income Americans in poverty.
On May 28, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler published a proposal to amend and modernize the Lifeline program, which currently provides landline and cellular phone subsidies to qualifying low-income Americans. Wheeler's proposal would expand the user-funded program to include broadband internet services, which he called "essential communications services in the 21st Century."
On the May 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson and Fox Business host Charles Payne attacked the broadband proposal and claimed that the Lifeline telephone service system was "radically expanded" during the Obama administration leading to so-called "runaway costs" and fraud.
Payne, who tweeted prior to his appearance that the Lifeline program was tantamount to "further enslavement of the 'poor'," complained on-air that the subsidy was "yet another program that's going to make it really hard for people to get off the sofa" through "the transfer of wealth from the middle class to people of a little bit lower class." Finally, Payne insisted that the expansion of broadband access to low-income Americans delivers the message to "the people who are on the lower levels of the economic rung, we are actually saying to them 'you can't make it but we'll feather the nest a little bit more'":
PAYNE: I think the moral aspect of this is when we're trying to get people into society, you know, out of wherever they live and into the sort of economic spirit, the economic ladder if you will, it's tough. You take a pay cut.
PAYNE: You have all of these benefits and if you add them all up. All of them are at 150 percent above poverty, 130 percent above poverty. Obamacare subsidies, 400 percent above poverty! That keeps a lot of people insulated. So here's the thing. Are you really helping someone by making it more difficult for them to go into the workforce? Are you incentivizing them or disincentivizing them? It's pretty clear what's happening here.