The Republican National Committee voted this morning to ban NBC News and CNN from hosting GOP primary debates in 2016. On paper, the vote was to protest plans by NBC and CNN to produce, respectively, a miniseries and a documentary on Hillary Clinton. But there's a whole lot more undergirding this move to exclude these outlets from the Republican debates. The long-standing animus toward the "liberal media" among conservatives has morphed into outright paranoia, and it came to a head during the 2012 campaign when George Stephanopoulos asked a debate question about contraception.
Here's what happened. Rick Santorum talked about contraception a lot during his 2012 presidential campaign. He railed against "the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea" in an October 2011 interview with an evangelical blog. He told NBC's Today on December 29 that contraception "leads to lot of sexually transmitted diseases, it leads to a lot of unplanned pregnancies." On January 2, 2012, just a few days before participating in a Republican debate co-hosted by ABC News, Santorum was asked by then-ABC reporter Jake Tapper about his belief that states should be able to ban contraception. "The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that," Santorum said.
Then, at the ABC/Yahoo News debate on January 7, moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney if he shared Santorum's belief "that states have the right to ban contraception." Romney responded: "George, this is an unusual topic that you're raising. States have a right to ban contraception? I can't imagine a state banning contraception." Shortly afterward, all hell broke loose.
From all corners of the conservative media came accusations that George Stephanopoulos, in asking about contraception, had "coordinated" with Team Obama to lure the Republican candidates into some sort of trap on birth control. Much of the speculation was driven by Dick Morris, which should have been a pretty big red flag in terms of reliability. The theory rested on the assumption that the contraception issue just came out of nowhere, which, of course, is not true -- Santorum was asked about it just five days before the debate by one of Stephanopoulos' colleagues.
From the August 14 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Right-wing media incessantly trumpet their fidelity to the U.S. Constitution while simultaneously accusing progressives of ignoring it, a position that has been abandoned in their attacks on the court decision holding New York City stop and frisk policy is unconstitutional.
On August 12, a federal district court held that while case law has long allowed police to initiate street encounters that briefly detain and investigate persons suspected of wrongdoing, there are certain Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment parameters to the practice that the New York Police Department (NYPD) violated. Specifically, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin held that the NYPD's version of stop and frisks - generally permitted by the Supreme Court in the 1968 opinion of Terry v. Ohio - unconstitutionally targeted New Yorkers of color because of their race and without reasonable suspicion.
Rather than engage the legal analysis, right-wing media are instead defending the NYPD by downplaying or ignoring its current unconstitutionality and arguing its justification lies in its purported efficacy at reducing crime rates.
On August 13, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham appeared on Fox & Friends to dismiss the constitutional concerns over an "inconvenience" as "ludicrous" and accused the federal judge of "substitut[ing] her own view of the world, her own utopian view of how the world should be for the way the real life is, for the people who are trying to get by, not get killed, not get robbed, not get raped on the streets of New York." The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal reiterated this concern for New Yorkers, particularly those of color, by lamenting "if the judge's ruling isn't overturned, the victims won't be in the tony precincts of liberal New York. They will be in the barrios and housing projects where stop-and-frisk has helped to protect the most vulnerable citizens, who are usually minorities."
Fox News host Sean Hannity highlighted the alleged disproportionate criminality of African-American men in his sympathy for future victims at risk from a change in NYPD policy, arguing on his August 13 radio show "it's not racial profiling, or indirect racial profiling." He continued, "[the disparity in stops and frisks] mirrored the disproportionate percentage of crimes committed by young minority men, that's what [the NYPD] said." Bill O'Reilly bluntly warned on the August 13 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, "if they do away with this program, that would be a disaster."
From the August 12 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham has repeatedly attacked and mocked the undocumented immigrants known as the "Dream 9," who in July staged a protest at the U.S.-Mexico border to highlight what they feel are unjust immigration laws. Ingraham has accused the activists of not respecting the laws of the United States, saying that "when you come into our home and make it your home, then you've got to follow the rules."
But far from respecting her nation's laws, Ingraham has hypocritically advocated for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, even going so far as to seemingly agree that shutting down the government over the law wouldn't be the end of world.
Discussing the Dream 9 movement in an interview with undocumented activist Cesar Vargas on Fox News, Ingraham criticized the activists for "flout[ing] the law" and mocked their protest as a "stunt" that was "disrespecting our laws." When Vargas explained that the activists are trying to show that their home's immigration laws are "outdated" and that the immigration system is "broken," Ingraham attacked them as opportunists intent on taking advantage of the Obama administration's deferred action program.
She also told Vargas that if the Dream 9 really consider the United States their home, then they should "respect" their home's law, adding: "When I go into someone else's home, I try to follow their rules. So when you come into our home and make it your home, then you've got to follow the rules."
But contrary to Ingraham's accusations, the Dream 9 have broken no immigration laws with their protest. As she herself admitted, all were brought into the country as children. They did not willingly come into the country illegally.
As the Los Angeles Times further explained, the Dream 9 are a group of undocumented immigrants who "staged an unconventional and risky protest last month at the U.S.-Mexico border to spotlight the thousands of people deported under the Obama administration."
The release of a month-old video showing three black students beating a white classmate on a bus in Florida has resulted in a mass outbreak of misplaced self-righteousness from the conservative media. This is their "ah-ha moment" - evidence that racism is a two-way street and that black civil rights leaders are the real bigots.
"Where is the civil rights movement?" They ask. "Where are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?" Contrasting civil rights leaders' actions following the killing of Trayvon Martin, the right argues that their silence in this case proves duplicitousness.
This chorus of ignorance only substantiates the right's inability to confront issues of race in an honest manner, preferring to attack those working for equality with false charges of hypocrisy.
The attack that occurred on the Florida bus was both tragic and horrific, but it is only comparable to Trayvon Martin's killing if you view the world through a one-dimensional racial lens.
The national outcry after the death of Trayvon Martin was not instantaneous. It emerged over the course of the forty-six day period after the killing when George Zimmerman had yet to be charged with a crime. In contrast, the three attackers on the Florida school bus were all arrested and indicted soon after the incident.
In the month since the attack, no one has excused the actions of the attackers, no one has suggested the victim deserved a beating, no one has rooted through social media accounts in an attempt to blame the victim, and no one suggested that he had it coming because of his choice of clothing. Conservatives engaged in all of these actions during the 46 days between the killing of Trayvon Martin and the arrest of George Zimmerman.
From the August 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham used a single anecdote about supposed undocumented immigrants living together in close quarters to denounce a study finding that immigration reform would help the housing market. In fact, the study finds that the immigration population -- including undocumented immigrants -- would benefit the housing market by driving up values, as well as generating demand in previously less desirable neighborhoods.
Fox Business' John Stossel attempted to revive the myth that the gender pay gap is a result of personal choice.
During an August 6 appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Stossel responded to a statement by co-host Laura Ingraham about liberal criticism of the gender pay gap. Stossel said:
You normal women make different choices, and that's why women are paid less. When it's the same job, they're paid about the same.
Meanwhile, Laura Ingraham dismissed those concerned with equal pay as "feminists and all the Lilly Ledbetter supporters."
In reality, personal choice is not responsible for the gender wage gap.
In its 2013 Gender Pay Gap Report, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that women were paid 82 percent of what men were paid just one year out of college, and that lifetime gender wage disparities cannot be explained by personal choice.
Moreover, according to an April 2012 fact sheet from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, "Women's median earnings are lower than men's in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women."
Former Fox News host Glenn Beck once declared "Do I believe scientists? No. They've lied to us about global warming." But the study, by the Yale Project on Climate Communication, concludes that it's actually the other way around: conservative media consumers don't believe in scientists, therefore they don't believe in global warming.
The study suggests that watching and listening to outlets like Fox News and The Rush Limbaugh Show may be one reason that only 19 percent of Republicans agree that human activity is causing global warming, despite the consensus of 97 percent of climate scientists. The Yale researchers depicted five tactics used by conservative media to erode trust in scientists, which Media Matters illustrates with examples.
Conservative media typically turn to a roster of professional climate change contrarians and portray them as "experts" on the issue. What they don't mention is that most of these climate "experts" don't have a background in climate science and are often on the bankroll of the fossil fuel industry.
A Media Matters study detailed how certain climate contrarians have been given a large platform by the media, particularly Fox News.
For instance, Fox News cut away from President Barack Obama's recent climate change speech to host Chris Horner of the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute -- giving approximately equal time to Horner and the president.
From the August 2 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham attacked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for caring about immigrants who die while attempting to cross into the United States through the desert.
McCain spoke at an AFL-CIO-sponsored forum about the immigration reform bill. During the discussion, he recalled border patrol or local law enforcement finding dead bodies of immigrants in the desert that have been left by coyotes saying, "it is not acceptable to have this kind of exploitation of people that leads to the most miserable kind of existence and even death."
On her radio show, Ingraham responded to McCain's comments by saying "how dare" he care about these immigrants because they "are law breakers willingly coming into this country to undercut the wages of the American worker" or commit violent crimes:
As members of the conservative media continue to complain about the deficit, these same media figures are attacking the immigration reform bill that is expected to reduce the federal deficit.
Rush Limbaugh, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham, and Fox News host Sean Hannity have continually attacked President Obama for supposedly failing to reduce the deficit. Limbaugh went so far as to ask someone to show him any time Obama has "formulated policy or made statements that would successfully reduce" the deficit. Yet these same figures have attacked the immigration reform bill, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated could lead to savings of about $175 billion over the 2014-2023 period and could decrease federal budget deficits by about $700 billion by 2033. Conservative media hosts also failed to mention the other economic benefits associated with the bill, including long-term increases in gross domestic product and wages.
During a radio interview with Rep. Steve King -- the Republican congressman from Iowa whose comments likening undocumented immigrants to drug smugglers continue to draw fire -- Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said she understood what he was saying but that he "could've worded it differently." She added: "I think you have to be smarter in the way you use your language."
Ingraham went on to accuse media outlets of refusing to cover crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and cited a number of such cases to suggest a link between violent crime and immigrants in the country illegally.
Following the interview, she addressed calls for him to apologize and asked: "Is he right in refusing to back down on this and give in to the PC pressure from the left and right? Is Steve King right on this or not -- to apologize?"
In fact, as The Wall Street Journal reported, King's suggestion that most undocumented immigrants are drug smugglers "is not politically incorrect. It's simply incorrect."
In a July 18 interview with Newsmax, King attacked undocumented youths known as DREAMers -- those who were brought into the country illegally and are younger than 35 -- claiming that for every one who's a valedictorian, there are another 100 who "weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
While the comments have received widespread condemnation from congressional Republicans, some in the conservative media have defended King, saying that "the facts back King up," in the words of Breitbart.com's Matthew Boyle.
But as the Journal noted, the facts do not back King up:
Conservative media figures are coming to the defense of Republican Congressman Steve King following widespread condemnation of his comments accusing undocumented immigrants of being drug smugglers.
During an interview with conservative outlet Newsmax, King attacked the undocumented youths known as DREAMers -- those who would have qualified under the DREAM Act proposal that repeatedly failed in Congress and who could meet the Senate immigration bill's DREAM Act provision -- saying that while he has sympathy for children who were brought into this country illegally by their parents, not all of them are valedictorians:
KING: And there are kids that were brought into this country by their parents unknowing that they were breaking the law. And they will say to me and others who would defend the rule of law: We have to do something about the 11 million. And some of them are valedictorians.
Well, my answer to that is - and then by the way their parents brought them here. And it wasn't their fault. It's true in some cases. But they're aren't all valedictorians. They weren't all brought in by their parents.
For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that -- they weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.
Republican Party leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sen. Raul Labrador (R-ID), have condemned King's comments as"wrong," "hateful," and "inexcusable." Boehner stated: "What he said is wrong. There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language. Everyone needs to remember that."
However, right-wing media figures have rallied to King's defense. On her radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham cited cases of undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes and brought up instances of gang activity in border states to argue in support of King's comments.
She later stated: "So who's right? Steve King." She then criticized media outlets for supposedly "vilifying" King, adding, "How about actually do some real reporting on how this stuff is affecting young people and spreading across this country?"