When a mass shooting occurs, conservative media rush to blame mental health, video games, a lack of armed people present, and even liberal values -- anything but the fact that the shooter was able to get a gun.
But the single proximate factor in all mass shootings, and in all gun violence really, is that it is easy for dangerous people to access high-powered firearms. Lack of access to firearms typically makes it difficult for would-be mass murderers to carry out their plans. For instance, experts say mass stabbings are extremely rare in the United States. To the contrary, 69 percent of all homicides are committed with a gun. Of 37 public mass killings since 2006, 33 involved firearms, while the Boston Marathon bombings, an incident involving a car, and two cases of arson accounted for the other four incidents.
Furthermore, academic research has linked the easy availability of firearms to homicide. According to numerous studies, "where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide." Compared to other high income nations which typically more strongly regulate the availability of firearms, the United States' gun homicide rate is 19.5 times higher, leading to an overall homicide rate that is 6.9 times higher. Research has also shown, "across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides. These results often hold even when the United States is excluded."
Following the April 2 shooting at Fort Hood that left three victims dead and 16 others wounded, conservative media have refused to acknowledge the role of easy access to firearms in shootings and have instead claimed mass shootings are caused by video games, mental health problems, the "culture war," and by a deficiency in the number of firearms carried by the general public.
Fox News used a misleading report from the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) to accuse the Obama administration of "destabilizing the nation" by releasing undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds. In fact, data show that the Obama administration has met its enforcement mandate to prioritize the deportation of immigrants with criminal convictions, which has resulted in a substantial increase of such deportations.
From the March 31 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News attacked the Obama administration for announcing a delay to the Affordable Care Act that resembles administration delays by other presidents, such as President Bush's 2006 delay of the Medicare Part D penalty.
Fox News invoked President Obama's cancellation of a Bush-era missile defense program in Poland as evidence of Obama's failing foreign policy. But Fox failed to mention that the program was replaced with a system that experts say provides equivalent, if not better, protection of U.S. foreign interests, including Poland.
From the March 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
Loading the player reg...
Continuing a pattern of romanticizing economic hardships that limit employee choice and force workers to put in long hours for low pay, right-wing media have claimed that expanding overtime compensation for salaried workers undermines work ethic by changing "the notion of hard work."
Right-wing media were quick to attack President Obama's new plan to alter Labor Department pay requirements to expand the number of salaried workers who qualify for overtime. Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck warned that this move "undercuts work ethic," and co-host Brian Kilmeade agreed, encouraging viewers to weigh in on the "new American work ethic" and how the plan is "discouraging those, it seems, that want to work more to get further along, with these new rules."
On the March 12 edition of Fox Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, Fox host Martha MacCallum similarly warned that workers would be forced into "an hourly wage category," which she said, gives employees "a whole different mentality." The Wall Street Journal lamented the change in a March 12 editorial:
The rules will particularly harm workers who want to climb the economic ladder by going the extra mile for their employers and demonstrating why they deserve promotion. Now many businesses will tell employees with ambition they can't work long hours.
Fox & Friends also ran an on-air graphic on March 13 that read, "The New American Way: New Rule Seems To Change The Notion Of Hard Work."
These reflexive attacks highlight conservative media's tendency to denounce proposals designed to benefit workers by romanticizing economic hardship. Conservative outlets like Fox News have previously commended the "uniquely American" desire to "work more, work harder" and take on "two and three jobs to make ends meet" as something that is being undermined by policies that offer workers more flexibility.
Fox News reflexively attacked President Obama's forthcoming proposal to raise the salary threshold for overtime compensation, claiming the plan would hurt the economy and discourage hiring, though experts have previously promoted such a change as an opportunity to boost the economy and worker compensation.
Fox News dismissed the importance of addressing climate change after Democrats in the Senate staged an all-night session to speak about its dangers on March 10.
Fox News displayed a striking double standard on politicians appearing on comedy shows, questioning the appropriateness of President Obama's comedic interview, and ten minutes later praising Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) Letterman appearance
On America's Newsroom, Fox co-hosts Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum questioned the appropriateness of Obama's interview with comedian Zach Galfianakis on his Funny or Die show "Between Two Ferns." Ten minutes later, the same Fox hosts lauded McCain's appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, laughing at a joke he had made and declaring that McCain had "knocked it out of the park":
Fox News promised to stay in touch with the cancer patient at the center of one of right-wing activists' favorite Obamacare horror stories. But now that new reports show it is actually an Obamacare success story, as the woman who worried the Affordable Care Act was "unaffordable" will now save approximately $1,000 a year under the new law, will Fox make good on its promise?
Desperate to find Obamacare horror stories, right-wing media have repeatedly hyped the story of Michigan resident Julie Boonstra, who is suffering from leukemia and saw her existing insurance plan canceled after it failed to meet the ACA's new guidelines, which force insurers to provide more comprehensive coverage than in the past. Right-wing media, conservative candidates, and ads by Koch-funded special interest groups held Boonstra up as an exemplar of health care reform victims after she claimed her new plan was too expensive.
The one problem? This right-wing bubble's characterization didn't hold up under scrutiny -- as Washington Post's fact checker Glenn Kessler noted on February 20, Boonstra's monthly premiums were "cut in half" on her new plan, and eventually she would reach the law's new caps and no longer have to pay anything.
But Fox News was undeterred by the holes in the story. From February 20 - March 4, the network hosted Boonstra at least three times, painting her as under attack by the Obama administration for speaking out against the ACA.
On the March 4 edition of Fox's The Kelly File, host Martha MacCallum praised Boonstra as a "fighter" for pushing back against those questioning whether she was worse off under the ACA, encouraging her to continue her "fight on both fronts." MacCallum promised to speak with Boonstra again:
MACCALLUM: You're become, sort of, a face for other people who are also getting letters, who are also getting thrown off their plans. Do you feel a responsibility now given the stories that they share with you?
MACCALLUM: Julie, thank you. You're a fighter. Continue your fight on both fronts. And we look forward to speaking with you again.
Right-wing media are upset that President Obama sat down for an interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis on "Between Two Ferns."
Fox News attacked the Obama administration's decision to formally normalize longstanding U.S. immigration policy that limits deportation and makes it easier for the undocumented family members of current and former service members to attain legal status.
As the Christian Science Monitor noted, "the Department of Homeland Security has long had the authority to halt the deportation of people related to military personnel, and it is this function that the department clarified with specific guidelines to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a Nov. 15 memorandum."
In that November 2013 memo, DHS stressed that it was clarifying the directive to "ensure consistent adjudication of parole requests made on behalf of aliens who are present without admission or parole and who are spouses, children and parents of those serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve."
Indeed, according to the Arizona Republic:
In 2010, former Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano began an informal policy granting so called "parole-in-place" to undocumented parents, spouses, and children of active-duty military personnel.
But the informal policy was not being followed consistently in immigration field offices across the country.
As a result, many military personnel who applied for immigration parole for their undocumented parents, spouses and children still were having their cases denied even though they qualified, [immigration attorney Margaret] Stock said.
But in teasing a report about the memo on America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer asked: "Is that compassion or is that amnesty?" Co-host Martha MacCallum went on to introduce the report by claiming that the Obama administration was "bypassing Congress again to expand immigration reform."
Though Fox News' report, which was narrated by correspondent William La Jeunesse, included the story of a U.S. Marine veteran and his undocumented wife, it also featured Dan Cadman, a fellow from the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, who claimed the policy was helping a "whole class of aliens with no right to be in the United States."
Fox News is helping New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) rehabilitate his political career even as investigations into the George Washington Bridge scandal continue, suggesting that Christie's appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) indicates a comeback for the governor.
While other conservative media figures have panned Christie's March 6 CPAC appearance, Fox celebrated the "standing ovation" he received and characterized the appearance as a "comeback." Fox Nation proclaimed,"The Comeback Has Begun!"
On the March 7 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha McCallum painted a sunny picture of Christie's reception at CPAC, saying, "Now, you know America loves a comeback kid, so is Chris Christie that comeback kid right now?" MacCallum went on to ponder Christie's 2016 presidential prospects: "And then you have Chris Christie, who says, 'Look, you know what? We have to win elections.' And he is seen as somebody who may have an easier time of it on a national stage."
Later in the segment, MacCallum asked guest Stephen Sigmund, "If you were advising him, Stephen, what would you tell him to do from here on in to sort of get past this Bridgegate thing and put himself back on track?"
"This Bridgegate thing" caused Christie's popularity to plummet after news broke that his aides played a central role in shutting down several lanes of the George Washington Bridge for four days in September, intentionally triggering disastrous traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee as a means of political retribution.
Christie's chances of getting past the scandal soon, as MacCallum suggests, seem thin -- it is still being investigated by both the New Jersey Legislature and the FBI as evidence linking Christie to the lane closures builds.
Fox has gone through extraordinary lengths to shield Christie, who is widely presumed to be running for president in 2016, from the scandal's fallout, even complaining that the media won't simply move on from the scandal. Indeed, Fox's history of cozy relationships with Republican presidential contenders is well-documented.
A misleading suggestion by Fox News that IRS official Lois Lerner's decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment was evidence of her guilt was debunked by Fox's own Greta van Susteren who explained that it is common for lawyers to instruct clients to invoke the Fifth Amendment regardless of guilt.
On March 5, during a House hearing on IRS targeting, Lerner responded to Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) questioning by invoking the Fifth Amendment. On Fox's America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum reacted to the hearing by suggesting that Lerner's use of the Fifth Amendment implied her guilt, claiming "If she didn't have anything that she didn't want to share, she'd be able to share exactly what happened":
But as MacCallum's Fox News colleague Greta van Susteren noted earlier in the day, invoking the Fifth Amendment is not indicative of guilt. Van Susteren defended Lerner's decision to use her Fifth Amendment right at the hearing on Twitter, noting that during her time as a lawyer, she told "clients, including innocent ones," to invoke the Fifth Amendment: