Fox News attacked a bill in California to allow transgender students equal access to school facilities and programs, inappropriately calling the measure a "bathroom bill" and interviewing a notorious anti-LGBT activist to suggest that students will use the law to take advantage of members of the opposite sex.
During the August 9 edition of Happening Now, Fox News reporter Adam Housley discussed a California bill that would require public schools to allow transgender students to choose which school teams they wish to join based on their gender identity. The bill would also allow transgender students to use restrooms and facilities that match their gender identity.
Throughout the segment, Fox's chyron inaccurately identified the measure as a "bathroom bill," while Housley echoed right-wing fears that the measure might lead to inappropriate behavior between students:
HOUSLEY: Those opposed say we're going too far with students and actually hurts the general population as a whole. They say that kids potentially could take advantage of this and parents will have to start worrying about boys showering with girls and vice versa.
The segment also featured a statement from Brad Dacus - the president of the notoriously anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute - who warned that the bill "grotesquely violates the privacy rights and security interests and needs of students."
Fox's framing of the measure as a "bathroom bill" is a shameless attempt to prop up the right-wing myth that transgender protections will be exploited by sex offenders who want to infiltrate opposite sex bathrooms.
In reality, the measure would merely affirm current law which prohibits California public schools from discriminating against transgender students. Allowing access to appropriate facilities and participation on school teams is an important step to deal with the high rates of bullying and harassment faced by transgender students. As a recent decision by the Colorado Rights Division stated, refusing this kind of access to transgender students "creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating, or offensive."
Aside from peddling the baseless "bathroom bill" myth, Housley also referenced the case of a transgender male in a Los Angeles school district who successfully pushed his school to grant him access to appropriate facilities. Housley repeatedly referred to the student, who identifies as male, as a female, adding to Fox's long-standing transphobia problem.
From the August 8 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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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 contributor Jonah Goldberg perpetuated the right-wing smear that the White House "didn't respond" to the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, an accusation that ignores multiple military leaders and congressional testimony.
On the July 23 edition of Fox's Happening Now, National Review Online editor and Fox contributor Jonah Goldberg discussed remarks that General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command during the September 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, had made days earlier at the 2013 Aspen Security Forum. When Ham was asked whether he initially believed terrorists were behind the Benghazi attacks, he had replied that he "started to gain [that] understanding within the hours after the initiation of the attack."
Co-host Patti Ann Browne asked Goldberg about Ham's statement, wondering "Why is it that this is being considered political when people try to complain about the spin being put out by the White House that it had to do with this video?" Goldberg replied, in part, by denying that the administration even responded to the attacks:
GOLDBERG: We basically know what the truth is. Is that the White House, or the administration, was ill prepared for an attack. We were attacked. It was a terrorist attack because spontaneous protesters don't bring RPGs and coordinate fire. And so it was a terrorist attack. The White House didn't respond to it. American -- brave Americans died and afterwards, the White House in the midst of a presidential campaign, particularly because Hillary Clinton wants to run in 2016, concocted essentially what they thought was a face-saving cover story about what happened -- partly out of politics, partly out of error. And the problem is most people now know this and what Carter Ham has just said basically confirms this. The problem is that you're never going to get the White House to admit it at this point.
Goldberg's accusation blatantly ignores military leaders' congressional testimony, which detailed the White House's response to the attacks. On February 7, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that upon learning of the unfolding attack in Benghazi, President Obama "at that point directed both myself and General Dempsey to do everything we needed to do to try to protect lives there." Following Obama's directive, Panetta ordered nearby anti-terrorism teams in Spain to deploy to Libya. A six-man security team from Tripoli also deployed to Benghazi. Unfortunately, the units from Spain arrived after attacks on the consulate had ceased.
Other forces present in Tripoli during the Benghazi attack were ordered by General Ham to stay in Tripoli to protect the U.S. embassy and care for Benghazi survivors at the airport. Additionally, as Ham made clear in the very remarks Goldberg referenced, he rerouted a drone from eastern Libya to Benghazi once commanders learned of the fighting.
What's more, despite Goldberg's insinuation otherwise, the day after the Benghazi attacks President Obama addressed the nation from the Rose Garden about the "acts of terror" that had taken place in Libya. He remarked, "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is down for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."
Fox News publicized a Benghazi rally sponsored by a conspiracy theorist group with birther ties without noting Fox contributor Allen West's involvement in the rally. The omission came despite the network airing background footage of West standing behind a podium at the event.
Special Operations Speaks (SOS), an anti-Obama group of Special Operations veterans, was founded by former Navy SEAL and admitted birther Larry Bailey. Among other conspiracy theories, Bailey has touted the notion that President Obama's real father was actually the late communist writer Frank Marshall Davis.
SOS is holding a July 23 rally on Capitol Hill to call on the House of Representatives to convene a select committee investigation into the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Fox provided live coverage of the event, which promises to parrot the same Benghazi lies Fox has championed for the last 10 months.
During Happening Now's live feed of the rally, Fox contributor Allen West was seen standing behind a podium. West, who joined the network as a paid contributor in May, is apparently a featured speaker for the SOS rally.
Fox News has devoted significant air time to SOS's request for another Benghazi investigation -- in April, at least four network programs devoted entire segments to hyping SOS's demand. Yet a Fox contributor speaking at the SOS rally takes the network's implicit endorsement of the anti-Obama group's cause to new heights.
After hyping the claim that the "totalitarian" Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) displayed bias against conservative groups by not granting fee waivers, Fox News has ignored a report refuting that allegation.
The conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) claimed in May that the EPA waived fees for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for liberal groups "about 90 percent of the time," while denying conservative groups the waivers "about 90 percent of the time." Fox News brought up the scandal on at least 12 occasions (dedicating over 18 minutes of airtime)*, hosting CEI's Chris Horner, Republican congressmen and others who blasted the disparity as representative of the "totalitarian" "life on Obama's animal farm." Fox News host and purported energy expert Eric Bolling even bizarrely claimed that this practice would "hit us at the pump":
However, a Politico analysis found a "much more modest disparity": liberal groups received the waivers 52 percent of the time, while conservative groups received them 39 percent of the time. Politico's analysis differed from CEI's in part because CEI counted a late response to a fee waiver request as a denial even if the EPA eventually granted the waiver, and because Politico included smaller green groups in its analysis. Fox has not covered the analysis as of 11 a.m. ET on July 23.
Politico noted that there are several factors that complicate attributing this small gap to political bias:
Right-wing media have cited the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 as a reason to oppose the bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate June 27. However, the Senate immigration bill learns from and corrects the mistakes of the IRCA through increased border and interior enforcement and the creation of a legal channel for low-skilled workers.
Fox News continues to ignore its previously favored Republican Congressman who is currently being hailed as a civil rights champion for supporting the revitalization of the Voting Rights Act.
Fox News has been spending an inordinate amount of negative attention on race relations, anti-discrimination law, and civil rights advocates and organizations in the aftermath of the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial. High-profile Fox News hosts and personalities have dismissed any concern for the role that systemic racial discrimination played in the profiling and killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and have attacked anyone who suggests otherwise as "race hustlers" and part of a "grievance industry."
Simultaneously, another significant news event involving systemic racial discrimination is under way. Both houses of Congress just completed initial hearings on how to fix the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an event Fox News barely covered.
This hugely important civil rights law, which protects the right to vote against illegal voter suppression on the basis of race, was severely weakened by a conservative majority of the Supreme Court in the recent Shelby County v. Holder decision. But a bipartisan coalition seeking to repair the damage is currently forming, led on the Republican side by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee led the overwhelmingly bipartisan reauthorization of the VRA in 2006.
Sensenbrenner also was recently a frequent authority on Fox News due to his expertise on the interaction of civil liberties and national security, a topic Fox News repeatedly focused on after revelations about National Security Agency surveillance. During this time, Fox News host Sean Hannity was particularly effusive in praise of Sensenbrenner's principles and stature, even calling on the congressman to defend the Fox News host's character against charges of hypocrisy. However, in the wake of Shelby County and Sensenbrenner's immediate condemnation of the Supreme Court for striking down the core of the VRA, Fox News ignored their formerly favored guest, despite his obvious relevance to the many voting rights pieces it aired.
This absence of Sensenbrenner on Fox News now that he has renewed his strong defense of civil rights and condemnation of systemic racial discrimination was especially noticeable during the week when both the House of Representatives and the Senate held VRA hearings.
Sensenbrenner was an invited guest to the Senate hearing (a "civil rights icon" in his own right, according to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)) where he blasted Shelby County and reminded the senators that he "did not expect my career to include a third reauthorization of the VRA, but I believe it is a necessary challenge. Voter discrimination still exists, and our progress toward equality should not be mistaken for a final victory."
Fox News amplified an anti-immigrant group's message that immigration reform will negatively impact African-Americans and repeated the debunked claim that the Senate immigration bill is a "job killer." In fact, the claim that immigrants steal jobs from African-Americans has been discredited as "a pernicious myth," and economists agree that the Senate bill is a net benefit for the economy.
During a segment highlighting the "DC March for Jobs," an anti-immigrant rally sponsored by the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA), Fox News host Jon Scott stated that the group is "opposed to amnesty for some 11 million illegal immigrants and they say they are calling the Senate plans a job killer."
Scott proceeded to air comments Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) made at the rally in which he claimed that those who say the Senate immigration reform bill is good for the economy "are misrepresenting the truth." Brooks added: "It makes things worse economically. It makes things worse from an immigration standpoint."
Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron also parroted BALA's claims, including that "the immigration reform bill as passed in the Senate would take away jobs from low-income, particularly black Americans." The segment then segued to remarks from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who falsely claimed at the rally that if the Senate bill were to pass, "wages would ... go down, unemployment would go up," and economic output per capita "would be down for 25 years."
What Fox failed to mention, however, is that BALA "is just the latest incarnation of a shifting series of front groups for the anti-immigrant nativist group FAIR, which has been trying for years to drive a wedge between African Americans and Latinos." The group is rooted in the anti-immigrant, nativist tradition of the John Tanton network that includes designated hate groups with ties to white supremacist foundations.
Moreover, its claims about immigration reform have been thoroughly discredited by economic research.
No, seriously. Fox News reported that the "power disruptions that were caused by Superstorm Sandy" will become more frequent across the country as a result of climate change, according to a new report from the Department of Energy.
Watch as Fox News -- on the same show that once wondered whether moon volcanoes meant global warming wasn't occurring -- connects "higher temperatures [and] more frequent droughts" to climate change:
Sure, the Fox News reporter felt the need to tack on the inane disclaimer that "there are those that are skeptical of climate change and feel that a lot of the data out there has been sort of bloated a little bit." But this segment is a big step forward for a network that once directed its reporters to cast doubt on the basic fact that the planet has warmed and has misled its audience in 93 percent of its coverage according to an analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The report in question, released July 11, found that our unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions will lead to more power disruptions, and noted that many of these impacts are already being felt -- drought in Texas, wildfires in the Southwest, flooding in the Midwest, and other events connected to climate change have caused blackouts and billions of dollars of damage.
As Fox News has now recognized the economic threat posed by climate change, will the network continue its refrain that the issue should not be a priority?
UPDATE (7/12/13): The reporter in this segment, Rick Folbaum, was previously the host of a 2005 special "The Heat Is On: The Case of Global Warming" that did not dispute the science demonstrating manmade climate change. In a preview to the special, Folbaum unequivocally conveyed the threat of climate change:
After months of research and interviews with many experts, I've learned this simple fact: the earth is heating up. And it's happening much faster than ever before. No one can argue with this. The vast majority of the scientific community says we're witnessing a unique and troubling kind of climate change, one where changes that used to occur over centuries are now taking place during the course of a single lifetime.
However, after conservative groups (including several who received funding from ExxonMobil at the time) lashed out at Fox News, the network responded by airing a special that only featured contrarians on the science and threat of global warming.
With their prior efforts to generate a scandal regarding the Internal Revenue Service collapsing, Fox News spent 17 minutes and 41 seconds on a federal report that found less than $20,000 of improper use of credit cards by agency employees out of more than $100 million in charges.
The report from the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration's office, released on Monday, noted that purchases made with IRS-issued credit card accounts were reviewed over a two year period ending in September of 2011. During that period, IRS had 5,241 purchase card accounts and made approximately 234,000 purchases totaling $103.2 million with the cards. In a press release, Inspector General J. Russell George said "the majority of IRS cardholders appear to use their purchase cards properly" but pointed out that the audit "identified some troubling instances of inappropriate usage."
The IG identified, based on a non-scientific sample of purchase card transactions, $3,939 in card transactions the IG considered "improper decorative and give-away items" (the IRS responded that those purchases were in fact proper under federal laws supporting purchases for training and decorative items). The IG also identified a single cardholder who "made 38 transactions totaling $2,655 for what appeared to be personal purchases."
Finally, the IG criticized $12,474 in credit card expenditures during a five-day conference that cost the government "more than 50,000"; the IRS had been authorized to spend more than double that on the week's meals, receptions, and meetings, but the IG still termed "the cost of the expenses related to this conference to be high."
Even if all of this spending was improper, which the IRS denies, it would still constitute a mere $19,068 in spending over two years.
But on Fox, this spending was treated as a major story.
Between 3:30 pm on Monday and11:30 am Tuesday, the network highlighted the improper purchases in 17 minutes and 41 seconds of coverage over seven segments - on Studio B, Special Report, On The Record, Fox & Friends First, Fox & Friends, America's Newsroom, and Happening Now.
Right-wing media marked the Supreme Court's devastating Shelby County v. Holder decision by ignoring, trivializing, and downright misrepresenting its dire consequences for one of the most effective civil rights laws of all time, as well as for millions of American voters.
Tossing aside history, legal precedent, and congressional intent, the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 in Shelby County, a sharply split 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts. In a twisted reading of this crown jewel of civil rights law, the conservative majority invalidated the provision within the VRA that prevents states and local jurisdictions from enacting racially discriminatory election practices, reasoning that this vital protection against voter suppression is instead an impermissible restriction on the highly dubious "equal sovereignty" of southern states.
Rather than acknowledge the documented voter suppression that the VRA has effectively and consistently kept at bay from the voting rights struggles of the civil rights era through the 2012 elections, right-wing media are echoing the Supreme Court's blow to the VRA, misrepresenting Shelby County as something other than an attack on the American right to vote.
Fox News host Jon Scott, in a Happening Now segment leading off Fox's coverage of the decision, chose to trivialize and confuse the radical decision as "the president took another shot you might say, a bit of a smackdown" by the Supreme Court. The consequences stretch much further than that.
Contrary to this horserace description, the VRA has never been a political manifestation of the executive. The VRA is rather Congress' chosen bipartisan method to effectuate the right to vote in the Fifteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, repeatedly updated and reauthorized because of incessant and ongoing voter suppression, and upheld as constitutional four separate times by the Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, later in the day, Fox News senior legal analyst Andrew Napolitano continued in the vein of his colleague by astonishingly asserting "nobody is seriously claiming today...that there is systematic efforts on the part of the government in the south to keep people of color from voting."
Instead, right-wing media figures like Rush Limbaugh chose to tout the decision as a victory against people who allegedly discriminate against whites, such as the "civil rights community" that wants "perpetual discrimination."
From the June 25 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox News contributor Monica Crowley revived the smear that White House visitor records of IRS officials tie the Obama administration to the inappropriate targeting of conservative organizations, this time seizing on visitor logs for Jonathan M. Davis, the political aide to former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman.
On June 21, Fox Nation posted a Washington Examiner article claiming Shulman's Chief of Staff Jonathan M. Davis worked "side-by-side with members of the Obama administration" and appeared to have visited the White House over 300 times. Fox's Monica Crowley used this report to claim on Fox News' Happening Now that the Obama administration gave directions to the IRS to target conservative groups. She asserted that the number of visits by the IRS commissioner and his top aide Davis is so self-evident that "it really doesn't take a rocket scientist to put all these pieces together ... Of course the direction came from the White House":
Crowley's source of information on Davis' visits was the White House public visitor records, which have proven to be an unreliable source of information on the actual number of visits made to the White House by public officials. The Washington Post explained that the White House visitors' logs "only reflect the information the White House chooses to record" and "certainly doesn't show what regular guests some Cabinet secretaries are." The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta added that, in the case of Schulman, "This doesn't mean he actually went to meetings with all these folks, only that he was formally cleared for entry to meetings in which they were the point person organizing the gathering."
Fox News hosts and contributors baselessly stated that cuts to America's deployed nuclear arsenal proposed by President Obama would jeopardize U.S. national security. In fact, nuclear weapons experts assert that reducing nuclear arsenals helps the nation's security and say that the U.S. could have effective deterrence with fewer warheads.