Breitbart News reacted to reports that two Virginia journalists were shot to death on-air by a disgruntled former co-worker by publishing an article with the headline, "RACE MURDER IN VIRGINIA: BLACK REPORTER SUSPECTED OF EXECUTING WHITE COLLEAGUES - ON LIVE TELEVISION!"
On August 26, two employees of Roanoke, Virginia CBS affiliate WDBJ were shot to death while reporting from Smith Mountain Lake, a public recreation area popular for boating and fishing. The gunman, who later shot himself but apparently survived, is reportedly a former employee of the affiliate.
Breitbart News reacted to the shooting with a race-baiting article authored by editor-at-large John Nolte. The piece was widely condemned by other members of the media, many of whom pointed out Breitbart News' lengthy history of racially charged reporting and commentary. The headline has since been changed.
*thinks to himself* i should definitely post my story about the scary BLACK murderer. pic.twitter.com/rvvRdqAmSe-- Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) August 26, 2015
at what point do we stop pretending breitbart is anything other than a white supremacist hate site? https://t.co/WfQEpUp6Ep-- Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) August 26, 2015
I'm too angry to be tweeting about these racist demagogues at Breitbart but I can't contain myself right now. pic.twitter.com/Jz3zTTr6HF-- Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) August 26, 2015
These are sick, hateful, twisted people who exploit our worst impulses, and they have real influence.-- Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) August 26, 2015
One of these things is something Breitbart dot com considers race-baiting. One is not. pic.twitter.com/lomZAdjbDm-- Elise Foley (@elisefoley) August 26, 2015
Weird, none of these Breitbart headlines about Dylann Roof have the word "white" in them pic.twitter.com/d6kgaJUOcF-- Elise Foley (@elisefoley) August 26, 2015
So, can all of us political folks stop pretending that Breitbart has any place in the mainstream discourse now? pic.twitter.com/fMimWU1agV-- Hunter Walker (@hunterw) August 26, 2015
Breitbart.com's John Nolte attacked actress and comedian Amy Schumer's recent call for gun safety measures, claiming that the Trainwreck star doesn't actually care about a mass shooting that occurred during a screening of her film, but rather that she hoped to cynically use the shooting as "a great opportunity" to advance her career.
Two women were killed and nine other people were injured after a gunman opened fire during a screening of Trainwreck at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana on July 23. The gunman, who had a history of domestic violence and bizarre behavior, committed suicide.
Following up on her pledge to engage on the issue of gun violence following the shooting, Schumer appeared alongside her cousin, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), at a press conference to promote new legislation to ensure that disqualifying records are submitted by states into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The bill includes other measures to address substance abuse and mental health issues.
During the Aug. 3 press conference, Amy Schumer said, "We're here today to say is enough is enough. To mass shootings in our schools, our college campuses, our military bases, and even in our movie theaters. These shootings have got to stop." She continued, "For me, the pain I share with so many other Americans on the issue of gun violence was made extremely personal to me on Thursday, July 23 when ... he sat down for my movie, Trainwreck, at the Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two lives were tragically lost and others injured and I've thought about these victims each day since the tragedy."
A visibly emotional Schumer concluded her remarks by saying, "These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence, but I can promise you they will not be my last."
On the Aug. 3 broadcast of the National Rifle Association's radio show Cam & Company, Breitbart News editor-at-large John Nolte attacked Schumer's motives, claiming that she did not care about the shooting but rather wished to use the tragedy to advance her career.
According to Nolte, Schumer sees the mass shooting as "a great opportunity, this occurred at my movie and now the focus is on me, and what can I do to enhance my career."
"If she had any moral courage and she actually cared about what happened she would come out and she would say, 'Listen putting a sign on a movie theater that says no one inside it is armed, that this is a gun-free zone, is stupid.' She has the power to do this. She could make jokes about how stupid these gun-free zones are," Nolte continued.
Instead, Schumer "is dressing up like she is a grown-up and she's just exploiting the situation because it's an opportunity for her to maybe increase her box office over the weekend," he said, calling her advocacy "cowardly."
Nolte continued to claim that Schumer was using the shooting to advance her career, saying, "She's not thinking, she's just trying to please the right people to enhance her career. And she also -- there is a lot Oscar talk around her movie and that probably has something to do with it, too. You go the Angelina Jolie route so everybody suddenly starts to take you seriously." Nolte said all he sees "is cynicism behind" Schumer's call for action.
Cam & Company host Cam Edwards said that he disagreed with Nolte's assessment and would not impugn Schumer with a cynical motive for her comments on gun violence. Nolte responded, "You're a nicer guy than I am, but I just see these unthinking Hollywood types and it just enrages me."
Right-wing media responded in disbelief and outrage to the Supreme Court's decision holding that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
The Libre Initiative's outrage over the Supreme Court's decision to uphold health insurance tax credits for millions of Americans mirrored the conservative media's extreme response, despite massive gains in insurance rates among Latinos since the Affordable Care Act was implemented.
Conservative media figures responded to riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray -- an unarmed man who died of severe, unexplained spinal cord injuries while in police custody -- by recommending that participants in the riots be shot, and blaming the outbreak of violence on Democratic leadership, President Obama, public schools, welfare, and single-parent families.
Following the arrest of two journalists covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, some conservative media figures are attacking the reporters for being insufficiently deferential to police, doing "the opposite of journalism," and trying to make the story about themselves.
Protests in Ferguson are ongoing following an August 9 incident that resulted in a police officer shooting and killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown. On August 13, Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery were both detained by police in a Ferguson McDonald's.
Initially, both Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and I were asked for identification. I was wearing my lanyard, but Ryan asked why he had to show his ID. They didn't press the point, but one added that if we called 911, no one would answer.
Then they walked away. Moments later, the police reemerged, telling us that we had to leave. I pulled my phone out and began recording video.
An officer with a large weapon came up to me and said, "Stop recording."
I said, "Officer, do I not have the right to record you?"
He backed off but told me to hurry up. So I gathered my notebook and pens with one hand while recording him with the other hand.
As I exited, I saw Ryan to my left, having a similar argument with two officers. I recorded him, too, and that angered the officer. As I made my way toward the door, the officers gave me conflicting information.
One instructed me to exit to my left. As I turned left, another officer emerged, blocking my path.
"Go another way," he said.
As I turned, my backpack, which was slung over one shoulder, began to slip. I said, "Officers, let me just gather my bag." As I did, one of them said, "Okay, let's take him."
Multiple officers grabbed me. I tried to turn my back to them to assist them in arresting me. I dropped the things from my hands.
"My hands are behind my back," I said. "I'm not resisting. I'm not resisting." At which point one officer said: "You're resisting. Stop resisting."
While some conservative media figures have been critical of the arrests, others are responding to the incident by lashing out at the reporters and media coverage of the incident.
Right-wing media personalities took victory laps following the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Court ruled that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide health coverage for employees that includes contraception if the employer has a religious objection.
Right-wing media have responded to a Supreme Court justice's decision to temporarily block the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control mandate by falsely claiming that abortifacients are included in the coverage required by the health care law.
As the government shutdown loomed and then became a reality, right-wing media figures have called for maintained Republican commitment to keeping the government closed until Democrats agree to significant changes to the Affordable Care Act.
Fox News and other media outlets in recent weeks have aggressively tried to revive the claim that President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes "death panels," a myth that has been repeatedly debunked and is undermined by the law itself.
Members of conservative media are trumpeting a government report indicating that gun homicides have fallen as proof that the need for stronger gun laws is unwarranted, while ignoring multiple factors that could account for the decrease. At the same time, firearm violence continues to be a problem as firearm homicides have fallen less than serious violent crime in general and the rate of gun violence in the United States still far outpaces other high-income nations.
In a May report, the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) indicated that the number of gun homicides fell 39 percent from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011. The Pew Research Center adjusted the figures to represent per capita rates in its report on the BJS data, finding that the incidence of firearm homicide has fallen 49 percent during that time period.
Right-wing media have quickly seized upon this data to dismiss the need for stronger gun laws. According to the National Review Online's Charles C. W. Cooke, the BJS and Pew reports make "embarrassing reading for those who spend their time trying to make it appear as if America is in the middle of a gun-crime wave." John Nolte of Brietbart.com wrote, "This report not only proves the media wrong, it proves the NRA right." Conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote that the reports represent "rotten data for anti-gun advocates trying to revive the Newtown, Conn., anti-gun legislative package." Townhall's Katie Pavlich, who is also a contributor at Fox News, added, "Once again more guns do in fact equal less crime."
But there is no logic to their arguments that data from the reports constitutes evidence against proposals to strengthen gun laws. Gun availability has been repeatedly linked to higher incidence of firearm homicides, and firearms remain the driving factor of homicides, with 70 percent of murders involving guns. According to an October 2012 report from BJS, the rate of serious violent crime declined 75 percent between 1993 and 2011, meaning that gun homicides are declining at a slower pace than overall crime.
Other factors may help explain the fall of gun crime since the early 1990s including reductions in lead levels, the end of the crack epidemic, advances in medicine that allow more gunshot victims to survive their wounds, and a declining rate of gun ownership.
On February 7, Breitbart.com's Ben Shapiro reported that Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel (according to "Senate sources") received money from a group called "Friends of Hamas." The report spread quickly through the conservative media as damning of Hagel, until Dave Weigel at Slate.com pointed out a salient fact -- there's no evidence that "Friends of Hamas" exists. Now, New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman is claiming that a joke he shared with a GOP source is the provenance of "Friends of Hamas." In response to their story falling apart, Shapiro and Breitbart.com -- who angrily and self-righteously demand accountability from the rest of the media for every slip-up, real or imagined -- are lashing out and refusing to accept responsibility for publishing a report based on a falsehood.
Before getting into Shapiro's defense of himself for running with the "Friends of Hamas" rumor, it's worth looking at how Breitbart.com treats other media outlets that print stories that end up being untrue. A couple of weeks ago, Washington Post blogger Suzi Parker reported that Sarah Palin, newly free of her Fox News contract, had signed on with Al Jazeera. The story was not true: Parker had picked it up from the Daily Currant, a parody news site, and the Post issued a correction. Breitbart.com's John Nolte ripped into Parker in a February 12 post, letting fly with a barrage of sexist invective ("isn't she precious?") and slamming her journalistic acumen:
But never one to let facts get in the way of a good Narrative, the "we-meant-to-do-that" Post merely added a correction, changed the headline to "Sarah Palin tries to stay relevant," scrubbed the Al-Jazeera references (the original post can be read here), and still ripped Palin for, uhm, being so desperate to stay relevant.
If Parker had a shred of self-awareness, integrity, and dignity, she would have changed the headline to "Too Good To Check," and under it posted an essay about how shallow, smug, bitterly angry partisanship can blind you to common sense.
But that would require having a soul to search.
Nolte was back at it a few days later, demanding that Post media writer Erik Wemple investigate the Parker-Palin screw-up and attacking the Post's "too good to check" mentality:
If Suzi Parker had the power to publish on her own, it's understandable that someone so bitter and joyless could believe what she so desperately wants to believe. But thanks to the Post's own ombudsmen, we now know a Post editor also fell into "too good to check" mode.
Because Parker and this editor obviously didn't know the Daily Currant is a parody site, that means they published a story based on information from a site with which they were unfamiliar. How did that happen? Who was the editor? Has any disciplinary action been taken?
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney threw his right-wing media cheerleaders under the bus when he stated that his comments about 47 percent of Americans were "completely wrong." Prior to this statement, the right-wing media had embraced Romney's comments and even encouraged them to be used on the campaign trail.
Some conservative media figures are praising Clint Eastwood's performance from the final night of the Republican National Convention, in which the actor spoke to an empty chair representing President Obama. Eastwood rambled on at length, engaging in an awkward, one-person back and forth with the imaginary president that was meant to critique Obama's policy record.
Politico reported that "the Romney family seemed less than thrilled when the camera panned to them" during Eastwood's "disjointed moment." The Washington Post said Eastwood's performance "looked bizarre on the television screen." The New York Times spoke to Romney aides, who anonymously described the performance as "strange, " "weird," and "theater of the absurd."
In an attempt to shield Mitt Romney's campaign from criticism that many of its claims against the Obama administration are based on falsehoods, conservative media have resorted to attacking fact-checkers, accusing them of liberal bias or of "shilling" for the Obama campaign. This is in keeping with the position of the Romney campaign, which has said, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."