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Transgender actress Laverne Cox indicated that her May 17 interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly omitted a discussion of anti-trans legislation -- specifically North Carolina’s HB 2, a law that prohibits people from using certain bathrooms that don’t correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate. Cox has been outspoken in her opposition to laws like North Carolina’s.
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Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s widely panned interview with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump failed to bolster her carefully crafted image as a hard-hitting journalist. Indeed, Kelly recycled a series of softball questions her fellow Fox personalities have previously asked Trump.
Kelly’s May 17 interview was promoted as an exclusive, hard-hitting exchange and reconciliation between the presumptive nominee and Fox’s primetime anchor after the months-long public feud between Trump and the network over Kelly’s questioning of the candidate. Kelly herself said her goal for the interview was an “interesting, compelling exchange.”
But the interview not only featured a series of fuzzy, softball questions -- “Has anyone ever hurt you emotionally?,” “Are you going to stop [combatively tweeting] as president?” -- it also mirrored the way other Fox News hosts have engaged with Trump on air, shattering the illusion that Kelly is somehow different than her colleagues. A series of questions that Kelly tossed to Trump last night sounded conspicuously familiar, and for a good reason: they echoed questions that her colleagues have asked the presumptive GOP nominee over the past year.
Take Bill O’Reilly back in March, asking Trump:
BILL O’REILLY: Donald Trump now is not speaking as the Art of the Deal guy or The Apprentice guy. You’re not speaking anymore on that level. Now you are speaking for the United States. You may be president. I mean, so your rhetoric means so much more than it used to mean. You know, you’re in a different place. A place you have never been in. I'm just wondering how much you’ve thought about all that.
And compare with Megyn Kelly last night:
MEGYN KELLY: You're no longer just Donald Trump, businessman, or Donald Trump, host of Celebrity Apprentice. Now you're steps away from the presidency. Have you given any thought, in this position, to the power that your messaging has on the lives of the people you target and on the millions of people who take their cue from you?
Megyn Kelly has spent years cultivating a reputation as an unbiased journalist, which has been boosted by a number of laudatory profiles that have largely ignored that her show “is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time" and that “her talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own.”
Megyn Kelly’s upcoming interview with Laverne Cox will likely be touted as evidence of Kelly’s ability to buck her network’s conservative slant, especially when it comes to transgender issues. But beyond her Cox interview, Kelly has spouted anti-trans rhetoric and used her show to repeatedly elevate hate group leader Tony Perkins, one of the most extreme anti-LGBT voices in the country, lending him mainstream credibility even as he peddles harmful smears against LGBT people.
Megyn Kelly is scheduled to sit down with transgender actress Laverne Cox during a Fox TV special on May 17. Kelly’s interview with a prominent transgender celebrity will likely be hailed as evidence that Kelly is a fair-minded journalist willing to break rank with her network, especially on LGBT issues. But Kelly has a long history of anti-LGBT bias that's evident in her body of work.
Kelly has employed anti-trans rhetoric herself on more than one occasion. During a January 2013 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Kelly and Bill O’Reilly criticized the appearance of Michelle Kosilek, a transgender woman serving time in an all-male prison, joking that she isn’t attractive enough to be in danger of sexual assault, and repeatedly misgendering her. Kelly went on to say, “The surgery hasn’t been performed yet. … He only has breasts and the hair now.” Kelly also repeatedly suggested that taxpayers shouldn’t be required to cover the costs of the inmate’s “elective surgery” during an April 2013 edition of America Live, and she mocked the suggestion that the inmate should be housed with other female inmates, lamenting that she would get “a get-out-of-male-prison-free card.”
Kelly routinely hosts hate group leader Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), to speak as a “captain of the religious right.” FRC was labeled an anti-LGBT “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010. Most recently, Perkins referred to transgender rights as “a godless system that the president is promoting.” Perkins called videos from the It Gets Better Project, an LGBT youth suicide prevention group, “disgusting” and said the organization recruited kids to come out as “homosexual (or transgendered or some other perversion).” Kelly has described FRC as “a group whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and culture from a Christian worldview.” Kelly has also peddled Perkins’ talking points that “Christian beliefs and Christian rights” are being trampled as LGBT rights increase, lamenting that it must be “alienating” for him to be criticized for his anti-LGBT beliefs, and accusing those in favor of LGBT equality of being intolerant.
Kelly hosted Perkins along with GLAAD’s Jeremy Hooper to discuss a star of the Duck Dynasty TV show who called homosexuality illogical and compared it to bestiality. Hooper asked Kelly to hold Perkins accountable for his anti-LGBT extremism and she said, “What specifically? Because I’ll ask him.” But Kelly immediately went back on her word and never asked Perkins to explain his history of vile rhetoric. Kelly hosts other extreme anti-LGBT groups, such as Alliance Defending Freedom, and she defends people who make anti-LGBT comments, such as Ben Carson, who compared “gays” to pedophiles and those who engage in bestiality.
Despite recent attempts to spin Kelly’s legacy, it’s important for the media and everyone else to remember that Kelly has engaged in questionable journalistic practices. Rather than lauding Kelly in a vacuum, the media should remember to contextualize this interview within Kelly’s larger body of work.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s upcoming interview with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will undoubtedly be used by the Fox PR machine to capitalize on Kelly’s charade as an unbiased, hardball-throwing journalist. But, it should be used instead as an opportunity for media to put their misplaced praise of Kelly into context with the rest of her career, including her history of using her Fox platform to promote egregious right-wing misinformation.
Kelly’s interview with Trump will air during a Fox TV special on May 17, and follows a private meeting that took place between the two at Trump Tower in April. Fox has hyped that the interview will cover Kelly and Trump’s months-long feud that was kicked off when Trump attacked Kelly as a “lightweight journalist,” and culminated in Trump’s refusal to attend an ultimately-canceled Fox News presidential debate. Kelly has said the goal of the interview is an “interesting, compelling exchange,” asserting “I don’t feel any need to go in there and try to take down Trump.”
Fox has already capitalized on the feud, parlaying it into high-profile interviews of Kelly on late night talk shows and morning news shows, as well as a series of laudatory profiles that applaud her as an "independent" "rising star" with a "reputation for asking tough questions to anyone.” Tuesday’s interview will likely prove just as useful for Fox, delivering high ratings and buzz to the network, giving Kelly’s tough journalist charade another platform, and undoubtedly delivering the latest round of misplaced praise for her performance.
But this interview is an opportunity for media to put the full context of Kelly’s career on display as their recent series of laudatory profiles has failed to do. Kelly has a long history of misinformation campaigns and out-of-touch comments regarding race, LGBT issues, gender, reproductive rights, Islam, immigration, and climate change.
She's used her prime-time Fox show to push falsehoods about the 2012 Benghazi attacks and Planned Parenthood, most recently asking whether a "political hit job" was at play in the grand jury indictment of two members of the group that released deceptively edited smear videos to attack the organization.
She regularly hosts Tony Perkins, the leader of an anti-LGBT hate group, and has shown a penchant for inflammatory rhetoric on race, ranging from claiming a 14-year-old black teenager who was the victim of a police officer's use of excessive force “was no saint, either” to calling Black Lives Matter protesters "beyond the bounds of decency."
As positive press highlights Kelly's "occasionally, yet highly entertaining, bucking of the conservative party line," they downplay the fact that her show "is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows." Even the writer of Vanity Fair's glowing cover story, after making those observations, eventually noted that Kelly's "talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own. She, after all, is considered by many to be the reasonable one at Fox."
Image by Sarah Wasko
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released an online video accusing Hillary Clinton of lying about the cause of the September 11, 2012, Benghazi, Libya attacks. Trump’s video echoes Fox News’ favorite and oft-repeated smear that Clinton deliberately lied by linking an inflammatory anti-Muslim video to the attacks, and ignores the fact that intelligence reports said initial information about the cause of the attacks was conflicting and that reports have linked the anti-Muslim video to the attacks.
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Influential radio host and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) media surrogate Steve Deace praised Ted Cruz's decision to select former GOP candidate Carly Fiorina as his running-mate, claiming Fiorina "might be the best messenger for the party." Deace’s endorsement is a sharp departure from his sexist rhetoric about Fiorina which received heavy criticism from the media and from Fiorina herself.
Appearing at a rally in Indianapolis on April 27, Republican candidate Ted Cruz named Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running-mate. In a series of tweets after the announcement, Deace lauded Cruz's vice presidential selection, claiming Fiorina "might be the best messenger for the party," and stating "Her presence is a living, daily reminder of Trump's struggles with women."
Deace has previously appeared as part of Cruz's Iowa leadership team, in promotional videos for Cruz's campaign, and has been described by the Des Moines Register as having "served as an informal, unpaid consultant" to Cruz.
Deace’s most recent comments are at odds with his prior sexist attacks on Fiorina, including a tweet stating "Fiorina goes full vagina right away" in her opening statement during the December 2015 Republican debate.
Wow...Fiorina goes full vagina right away
— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 16, 2015
Deace initially defended his criticism of Fiorina, tweeting "I think a GOP presidential candidate's opening statement being all about her gender is disgusting." Deace subsequently apologized for the remarks, claiming his wife told him he had been "too vulgar and need[ed] to apologize."
Deace received widespread condemnation following his remarks including criticism from Fox News host Megyn Kelly and Fiorina during a December 16 interview on Fox News' The Kelly File. Fiorina rebuked Deace's sexist attacks and position as a prominent campaign surrogate for Ted Cruz, stating "I told my story, just like every other candidate has told their story, [...] it's inexplicable to me why this major surrogate of Ted Cruz thought that was playing the 'V' card." Fiorina continued, saying Deace "is more than a radio show talk host. He is a major surrogate for Ted Cruz and a major endorser, and this is why Ted Cruz cannot possibly beat Hillary Clinton."
The unfolding Republican primary season, which often resembles a soap opera with its endless drama and plot twists, saw a new media chapter when Fox News announced Megyn Kelly had landed her first interview with Donald Trump since the start of their public feud last year.
Scheduled to be included in Kelly’s first prime-time Fox TV special on May 17, the sit-down came after Kelly, the target of relentless Trump insults, made a hush-hush visit to candidate’s New York City office to ask for an interview. (Kelly also reportedly asked Trump stop personally insulting her.)
The Fox News green room commotions just never end. Recall that in March, after going on a Twitter tirade in which he denounced Kelly as “crazy,” Trump announced he was skipping another Fox News debate, which led to the event being canceled. Fox News headquarters answered back, claiming the GOP frontrunner had a “sick obsession” with Kelly. But that was awkward because Fox showered Trump with nearly $30 million in free TV time from May through December of 2015. So who’s obsessed with whom?
The Fox News vs. Trump saga represents a completely dysfunctional relationship: Much of Fox loves Trump’s right-wing politics; Trump loves to bully Fox. Now the latest love/hate chapter is that Trump has agreed to sit for Kelly’s interview, which is weirdly being hyped as a major campaign showdown. (Remember when campaigns were focused on voters, not cable news hosts?)
Kelly’s Trump interview represents good news for her, good news for Fox, and good news for Trump.
If he behaves himself, he might come across as magnanimous as he jousts with his foe. If Kelly uses the opportunity to aggressively challenge Trump, she'll likely garner more plaudits from mainstream outlets. (The interview also comes as Kelly is negotiating a new contract and potentially leaving Fox News for a less openly partisan outlet.)
And even if Trump flops, the interview will come so late in the primary season that it will likely have little impact on the final voting tallies among Republican voters.
The only interested partisan party not celebrating? The GOP. Because for the Republican Party, the whole Fox interview spectacle represents the latest Trump-fueled mess, as the marauding Frankenstein’s monster wreaks havoc on the way to the Republican convention this summer.
Indeed, the ongoing Fox News/Trump saga represents something of a Keystone Kops production for both the GOP and Fox.
Journalistically you’d think the spectacle would be something of a negative for Fox News -- the idea of Kelly being a target of Trump’s attacks and then trying to calm the waters by visiting his office to ask for an interview in person. (Has Anderson Cooper ever done that?) But Fox signaled a long time ago that journalism and truth telling aren’t what drives their operation. It’s ratings, and whenever possible, Republican propaganda that remain paramount.
Fox cares about ratings and buzz, and most likely Kelly’s prime-time interview with Trump can deliver both, especially since much of the mainstream media positions itself as Kelly’s collective publicist, churning out endless puff pieces about her. She and Fox News can expect lots of praise for her performance.
She’s an "independent" "rising star" with a "reputation for asking tough questions to anyone,” CBS Sunday Morning’s Charlie Rose recently stressed.
Note that Rose insisted Kelly’s “willingness to take on some of America's big name conservatives, quickly made Kelly a rising star" at Fox News, which makes no sense. Why would taking on conservatives at a proudly partisan and conservative network propel Kelly’s career? It didn’t.
But her strategic use of very occasional bouts of conservative pushback provides the press with anecdotal evidence it needs to push the narrative that reporters, and Kelly, were comfortable with: Journalism flourishes at Fox News!
The incident that set off the feud was Kelly publicly (and deservedly) challenging Trump on his long record of noxious comments about women at a debate last August. (He promptly freaked out.) The press accolades began pouring in. She’s a “feminist icon of sorts,” with “star power” that rivals Julia Roberts, claimed Vanity Fair.
The press turned a blind eye in order to promote Kelly. But readers of Media Matters know the unpleasant truth:
She has frequently hosted an anti-LGBT hate group leader on her show, made flippant comments about racism and police brutality, and promoted conservative falsehoods about Planned Parenthood and the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Kelly is notorious in her own right for shaming and blaming black victims of police brutality.
Doesn’t it bother journalists that they’re holding up as a newsroom paragon somebody with an ugly record of supporting race baiting and homophobia? I’m curious which groups of people Kelly has to offend before elite journalists take notice.
But none of that likely concerns her now. Kelly has her Trump interview to conduct for her star turn special, which Fox will endlessly promote, and Trump himself might even benefit from it.
It’s the Republican Party that’s left asking itself how its 2016 presidential campaign devolved into a cable news soap opera.
Economists Made Up 1 Percent Of Guests In The First Quarter Of 2016, While Shows Focused On Campaigns, Inequality
Expertise from economists was almost completely absent from television news coverage of the economy in the first quarter of 2016, which focused largely on the tax and economic policy platforms of this year’s presidential candidates. Coverage of economic inequality spiked during the period -- tying an all-time high -- driven in part by messaging from candidates on both sides of the aisle, but gender diversity in guests during economic news segments remained low.
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