New York Times economic columnist Eduardo Porter discredited widespread myths about the supposed corrupting influence that government assistance has on low-income Americans and the unsubstantiated claim that cutting assistance to the poor will actually help families in need.
Experts continue to debunk "the Ferguson effect," the right-wing media's zombie myth that uses flawed or cherry-picked data to link supposed increases in crime rates to the increased scrutiny of police following episodes of police brutality.
The New York Times editorial board debunked the prevalent conservative media myth that a "vigilant citizen packing a legally permitted concealed weapon" might "stop the next mass shooter." To the contrary, the October 26 editorial cites a recent finding that individuals with concealed carry permits committed 579 shootings since 2007, claiming at least 763 lives, noting "the vast majority of these concealed-carry, licensed shooters killed themselves or others rather than taking down a perpetrator."
Misinformation on the subject is rampant. Right-wing media have repeatedly used high profile mass shootings to hype the myth that increased carrying of concealed guns offers a solution to such attacks.
As the Times editorial also noted, the gun lobby impedes research on gun deaths by "persuading gullible state and national legislators that concealed carry is essential to public safety, thus blocking the extensive data collection that should be mandatory for an obvious and severe public health problem."
In its editorial, The Times concluded that permissive concealed carry laws lead to "dangerous vigilantism that endangers communities ... not the mythic self-defense being peddled as concealed carry":
The more that sensational gun violence afflicts the nation, the more that the myth of the vigilant citizen packing a legally permitted concealed weapon, fully prepared to stop the next mass shooter in his tracks, is promoted.
This foolhardy notion of quick-draw resistance, however, is dramatically contradicted by a research project showing that, since 2007, at least 763 people have been killed in 579 shootings that did not involve self-defense. Tellingly, the vast majority of these concealed-carry, licensed shooters killed themselves or others rather than taking down a perpetrator.
The death toll includes 29 mass killings of three or more people by concealed carry shooters who took 139 lives; 17 police officers shot to death, and -- in the ultimate contradiction of concealed carry as a personal safety factor -- 223 suicides. Compared with the 579 non-self-defense, concealed-carry shootings, there were only 21 cases in which self-defense was determined to be a factor.
The tally by the Violence Policy Center, a gun safety group, is necessarily incomplete because the gun lobby has been so successful in persuading gullible state and national legislators that concealed carry is essential to public safety, thus blocking the extensive data collection that should be mandatory for an obvious and severe public health problem. For that reason, the center has been forced to rely largely on news accounts and limited data in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
More complete research, unimpeded by the gun lobby, would undoubtedly uncover a higher death toll. But this truly vital information is kept largely from the public. A Gallup poll this month found 56 percent of Americans said the nation would be safer if more people carried concealed weapons.
Clearly, concealed carry does not transform ordinary citizens into superheroes. Rather, it compounds the risks to innocent lives, particularly as state legislatures, bowing to the gun lobby, invite more citizens to venture out naïvely with firearms in more and more public places, including restaurants, churches and schools.
Recent concealed-carry excesses include legal shooters charged by the police with recklessly pegging a few wild shots at shoplifters and other nonviolent suspects they see fleeing on public streets. This is dangerous vigilantism that endangers communities, the police warn, not the mythic self-defense being peddled as concealed carry.
Media outlets condemned the House Select Committee on Benghazi's October 22 hearing that featured testimony by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling it "counterproductive," "unfortunate," and saying the panel fell "flat on its face."
In coverage of GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio's newly released energy plan, which calls for expanding oil production and rolling back environmental safeguards against pollution, media are failing to mention that Rubio has received campaign funding from the oil billionaire Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests, and is reportedly a leading contender to benefit from hundreds of millions more in support from the Kochs.
New York Times columnist Gail Collins is the latest media figure to condemn the House Select Committee on Benghazi for being a partisan exercise, calling it "a textbook for bad intentions."
On September 29 House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy boasted that the Benghazi panel had successfully hurt Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, citing it as an accomplishment of House Republicans. Since then, a second House Republican and a former Benghazi committee staffer have corroborated the claim that the panel is a "partisan investigation" that was "designed" to target Clinton. In the aftermath of these admissions, a number of media figures and editorial boards, including the Times' editorial board, have called out the "political fakery" of the Select Committee.
In an October 21 column for The New York Times Collins joined the chorus of those blasting the partisan nature of the committee, denouncing the Benghazi panel as being "the wrong way" to investigate what went wrong in a terror attack. Citing McCarthy's remarks as well as Benghazi committee Chairman Trey Gowdy "criticiz[ing] Clinton for forwarding an email containing the name of a C.I.A. source to her aide, and in the process accidentally ma[king] the name public himself," Collins questioned the committee's initial "promise to be fair":
When Americans are killed in a terror attack, there's a natural, righteous need to find out what went wrong. And the trick is to do it in a way that doesn't debase the human loss with a nasty political scrum.
For the right way, you can look at the 9/11 commission.
For the wrong way, there's the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which has spent the last few months as a walking disaster. Well, actually, a sitting disaster. Or a hardly-ever-bothering-to-show-up disaster. In all its postures, it's been a textbook for bad intentions.
The first step on the road to national sanity is to acknowledge that our leaders all want to keep the people safe. There is absolutely no reason to worry on that point. But good intentions don't always lead to safe results, and the second step is to figure out what went wrong in a calm and even-handed manner.
The Benghazi committee went into its investigation with a promise to be fair. "There are certain things in our culture that have to transcend politics, and I don't mean to sound naïve, but the murder of four fellow Americans and an attack on a facility that is emblematic of our country should transcend politics," said the committee chair, Trey Gowdy.
The very fact that Gowdy thought he might be sounding naïve should have been a warning.
That was before the House majority leader bragged how well the committee had done in bringing down Clinton's poll numbers. Before Gowdy criticized Clinton for forwarding an email containing the name of a C.I.A. source to her aide, and in the process accidentally made the name public himself.
How do you know if politicians are transcending their parties when they're investigating these painful and sensitive matters? Well, do they seem interested in important but unsexy issues like the State Department security chain of command? Or are they flinging themselves in front of the cameras, claiming that the terrible error which was Benghazi is like the criminal conspiracy which was Watergate.
Looking at you, Representative Mike ("worse than Watergate") Pompeo. A Kansas Republican who serves on the Benghazi investigating committee, Pompeo has been making the rounds on TV, arguing that Clinton erased way more emails than Richard Nixon did White House tapes. I believe I speak for many when I say that if email had been around during the Nixon administration, we would have seen erasures the size of Mount Whitney.
Media figures and editorial boards are calling out the "political fakery" of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, criticizing it as a "laughable crusade" against Clinton rather than a legitimate investigation into the Benghazi attacks, after two congressmen and an ex-committee staffer admitted to the partisan nature of the committee.
On October 22, Hillary Clinton will testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi regarding the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi and her use of a personal email address while secretary of state. In their relentless drive to find a scandal that doesn't exist, media have spent the last three years pushing numerous myths surrounding Clinton's alleged role in the attacks and her legal use of her personal email account.
The New York Times editorial board argued in favor of retiring the term "alien" from immigration legislation and official federal documents, explaining that there is "no compelling reason to keep a hostile term in the law that sets out how immigrants are welcomed into the country."
Although many style guides used by media organizations discourage the use of terms like "illegals" and "aliens," conservative media figures nonetheless have continued to make use of -- and even praise -- the use of such slurs, going as far as to say that hearing the term is "gratifying."
In an October 20 editorial The New York Times wrote that although removing the term from official government use may seem "like a trivial part of immigration reform ... words, and their evolution, matter greatly in fraught policy debates." Writing that there is "no compelling reason to keep a hostile term in the law that sets out how immigrants are welcomed into the country," The Times quoted Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute at New York University School of Law, who noted that such rhetoric is often used to "demonize a community":
Lawmakers probably meant no harm when they codified the term "alien" into the landmark 1952 bill that remains the basis of America's immigration system. Since then, "alien" has found its way into many parts of the statute: foreigners granted temporary work permits are "non-permanent resident aliens"; those who get green cards by making investments in American businesses are "alien entrepreneurs"; Nobel laureates and pop stars who want to make America home can apply to become "aliens of extraordinary ability."
Recognizing how dehumanizing the term is to many immigrants, officials in California recently took commendable steps to phase it out. In August, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that deletes the term from the state's labor code. Last month, the California Republican Party adopted a new platform that does not include the term "illegal alien," saying it wanted to steer clear of the vitriolic rhetoric that the presidential candidate Donald Trump has injected into the 2016 race.
Several news organizations have adopted policies discouraging its use in reporting about immigrants. According to a review by the Pew Research Center in 2013, the use of the term in newspaper articles dropped sharply between 2007 and 2013. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that administers immigration benefits, has removed the word from some documents, including green cards.
But the term remains firmly embedded in conservative discourse, used by Republicans to appeal to the xenophobic crowd. Mr. Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, uses the term 12 times in his ruinous immigration plan, which calls for the mass deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants and proposes that Washington bill Mexico to build a wall along the border. It was often uttered by former Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, whose idiotic immigration plan called for "self-deportation" by unauthorized immigrants.
"If you want to demonize a community, you use words that demonize," said Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute at New York University School of Law. "Alien is more demonizing than immigrant."
Semantics may seem like a trivial part of immigration reform, but words, and their evolution, matter greatly in fraught policy debates.
States that use the word alien in their laws should consider following California's lead. The federal government should scrub it from official documents where possible. In the end, though, it will be up to Congress to recognize that there is no compelling reason to keep a hostile term in the law that sets out how immigrants are welcomed into the country.
From the October 19 edition of SiriusXM's The Joe Madison Show:
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The New York Times repeatedly changed its headline on an article about the Clinton Foundation's efforts in Rwanda between its original publication online and its appearance in the newspaper's print edition to downplay the original headline's praise of the foundation's efforts and emphasize supposed conflicts of interest for Hillary Clinton.
MSNBC's Morning Joe failed to disclose the right-wing ties of Ron Hosko when pointing to his criticism of President Obama. In an October 16 report, The New York Times allowed retired F.B.I. senior official Ron Hosko to criticize President Obama over his recent comments concerning the F.B.I. investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server without explaining that Hosko is the president of a right-wing organization. On the October 19 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Mika Brzezinski quoted Hosko's criticism of Obama in The Times without disclosing that Hosko is the president of The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF), a right-wing organization whose funding has primarily gone to leadership salaries and to "prop[ing] up" conservative groups. From the October 19 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, cited information from the CIA to debunk the claim that Hillary Clinton compromised national security by revealing the name of a CIA source in an email sent from her private account. The claim originated from the Republicans serving on the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi and was amplified by right-wing media, but now the CIA has informed the Select Committee that the e-mail did not contain any classified information, according to a letter released by Cummings.
Fox News is using CNBC's announcement that it would change the format of its upcoming GOP presidential debate following presidential candidate Donald Trump's demand that the network do so to applaud Trump's negotiating skills.
The New York Times allowed retired F.B.I. senior official Ron Hosko to criticize President Obama over his recent comments concerning the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server without explaining that Hosko is the president of a right-wing organization.