Conservative media outlets are using the mass shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina, church to push myths about guns and criticize President Obama for highlighting the need for responsible gun safety legislation.
From the June 16 edition of Fox News' The Real Story:
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Fox News hosts and guests relied and expounded upon recent comments by actor Vince Vaughn in support of carrying guns in public and in schools to push numerous falsehoods about gun violence that expert analyses have debunked.
From the May 8 edition of Fox News' The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson:
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Three Fox News figures touted "school choice" as an appropriate response to the recent riots in Baltimore, faulting the city's "awful" and "worst schools on earth" for the violence. But their allegations ignore evidence that Baltimore public school students have made significant achievement gains over the past several years.
Protests broke out in Baltimore over the weekend following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died on April 19 from a spinal cord injury he sustained while in police custody a week earlier. Peaceful protests that devolved into violence led Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to impose a weeklong, citywide 10 p.m. curfew, and both the Baltimore Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice are investigating Gray's death.
On Fox News, contributor Charles Krauthammer, frequent guest Rudy Giuliani, and host Gretchen Carlson touted "school choice" in separate discussions of the riots, insinuating that Baltimore public schools are to blame for the violence. On the April 28 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, Krauthammer cited "the worst schools on Earth" as one of "two issues in the inner cities," concluding, "If you want to do something, let them choose their school."
Fox News attacked the Obama administration by reviving the false claim that in 2012 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began asking gun purchasers about their race and ethnicity on background check forms. In fact, ethnicity questions have been on the background check form for more than a decade.
On the April 21 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, guest host Martha MacCallum and Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano trumpeted the efforts of GOP lawmakers to stop the ATF from asking gun buyers about race. Napolitano argued, "I can only think that insisting upon knowing the race of the person, is perhaps so this Obama administration, so decidedly anti-gun, could say, oh by the way, such and such a percentage of whites buy -- and the amount of non-whites that buy is a smaller percentage, and we don't like that."
During the segment, an on-screen "Fox Facts" graphic wrongly claimed that ATF began "requiring gun buyers to answer questions about race & ethnicity on firearm applications" in 2012.
Contrary to the "Fox Facts" assertion, a question about race and ethnicity has been on the firearm background check form since at least 2001.
From the April 20 edition of Fox News' The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson:
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Fox News and NBC ignored Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) record of opposing gender equality legislation during interviews with the Republican presidential candidate's wife, in which Kelley Paul attempted to dismiss accusations that he looks down on women.
Kelley Paul, the wife of 2016 hopeful Rand Paul, appeared on Fox News and NBC's Today for multiple interviews April 14 to discuss her husband's presidential bid and her new book.
The hosts of Fox & Friends turned the discussion to recent accusations that Rand Paul is sexist, after the candidate infamously lectured Today's Savannah Guthrie for asking about his foreign policy positions earlier this month, a testy exchange that came on the heels of Paul shushing CNBC's Kelly Evans during an interview in February.
"You know how it works," co-host Steve Doocy told Kelley Paul. "The mainstream media's just trying to disqualify him. They see that thing, they put it all together, they say, 'oh he's a sexist, he can't be president.'"
Paul defended her husband's treatment of women, saying his "entire professional career is working with female surgeons" and noting a longtime partner in his ophthalmology practice was a woman.
Later on The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson asked Paul,"What do you make of the fact that some people are saying that your husband may not be able to connect as well with women?" Paul again cited her husband's female work partner as evidence that he has no issues with women, describing the accusations of sexism as a "false narrative -- a construct sort-of created on the Democrat side."
Meanwhile, NBC's Hoda Kotb asked Paul on Today to discuss her husband's relationship with women and respond to his previous treatment of Guthrie which sparked widespread backlash. Paul again pointed to her husband's longtime female colleague.
The examination of Paul's professional record as a means of predicting how a Paul presidency would benefit women overlooked his more recent professional activities.His legislative history contains red flags for anyone hoping to characterize him as an advocate for women -- issues that weren't raised by Kotb, Carlson, or the Fox "friends."
Paul is on record opposing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which would provide protections and resources to victims of domestic violence. He wrote a letter in 2012 arguing that the issue should be addressed at the state level, not by the federal government.
It's also noteworthy that Fox's defense of Paul came on April 14, Equal Pay Day, because the senator has voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act multiple times. As ThinkProgress noted, Paul compared the legislation "to the Soviet Politburo dictating wages and the prices of goods" and added that the wage landscape is better when "the marketplace decides what wages are."
From the April 14 edition of Fox News' The Real Story:
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Fox News has been at the forefront of defending Indiana's controversial "religious freedom" law, falsely portraying the measure as harmless and whitewashing the anti-LGBT extremism that motivated the legislation.
On March 26, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed his state's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA) into law. The law -- which has been criticized by religious leaders, the business community, legal scholars, and even the Republican mayor of Indianapolis -- provides a legal defense for individuals and business owners who cite their religious beliefs while discriminating against LGBT people.
The law triggered a furious national backlash, with major companies, celebrities, and government leaders condemning the measure for potentially encouraging discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers. Pence and top Indiana Republicans eventually pledged to "clarify" the law by adding language that explicitly prohibits RFRA from being used as a defense for discrimination in court.
Throughout the controversy, a number of Fox News personalities whitewashed the law's discriminatory purpose and misleadingly compared Indiana's RFRA to other "religious freedom" laws -- a comparison that even a Fox News anchor acknowledged was inaccurate.
Media outlets have argued that Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) mirrors RFRAs passed in other states as well as the federal RFRA signed into law in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton. In fact, Indiana's RFRA is broader than other versions of the law, and experts say it could allow private businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers on the basis of religion.
From the March 27 edition of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson
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From the March 4 edition of Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson:
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Fox News' Gretchen Carlson distorted President Obama's explanation that U.S. ground troops are not necessary to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in order to claim Obama believes it's not in our national interest to defeat the terrorist group.
In his February 11 request to Congress for an authorization for the use of military force against ISIS, Obama stated that "our core objective is to destroy ISIL." He emphasized his opposition to engaging in "another prolonged ground war in the Middle East," which he said is "not in our national security interest." He explained further that a ground campaign is "not necessary for us to defeat ISIL." From a transcript of his remarks (emphasis added):
THE PRESIDENT: This resolution reflects our core objective to destroy ISIL. It supports the comprehensive strategy that we have been pursuing with our allies and partners: A systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Support and training for local forces on the ground, including the moderate Syrian opposition. Preventing ISIL attacks, in the region and beyond, including by foreign terrorist fighters who try to threaten our countries. Regional and international support for an inclusive Iraqi government that unites the Iraqi people and strengthens Iraqi forces against ISIL. Humanitarian assistance for the innocent civilians of Iraq and Syria, who are suffering so terribly under ISIL's reign of horror.
The resolution we've submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war, like Afghanistan or Iraq. The 2,600 American troops in Iraq today largely serve on bases -- and, yes, they face the risks that come with service in any dangerous environment. But they do not have a combat mission. They are focused on training Iraqi forces, including Kurdish forces.
As I've said before, I'm convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East. That's not in our national security interest and it's not necessary for us to defeat ISIL. Local forces on the ground who know their countries best are best positioned to take the ground fight to ISIL -- and that's what they're doing.
But Fox viewers heard a much different description of Obama's sentiment the next day on The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson. According to Carlson, "The president said we have no national security interest in this fight." After airing a short video depicting a portion of his remarks (but omitting Obama's statement about destroying ISIS), Carlson asked Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), "What did President Obama mean yesterday when he said that it's not in our interest to defeat ISIL? Huh?"
Playing word games with Obama's remarks is one of Fox News' favorite pastimes. The network often feigns outrage over distorted or selectively cropped comments, setting up easy attacks on their fictionalized version of the president.
Fox hosted Republican lobbyist Van D. Hipp Jr., who attacked the Obama administration for denying a request to market drones to the Kingdom of Jordan. Neither Fox nor Hipp disclosed that his firm, American Defense International (ADI), has recently lobbied Congress on behalf of the defense contractor that makes the drone.
Hipp is the Chairman of American Defense International (ADI), which describes itself as "a Washington, DC based consulting firm specializing in government affairs, business development and public relations." General Atomics is a defense contractor based in San Diego. ADI lists General Atomics as one of its clients on its website; the lobbying shop has received $1.2 million from the company dating back to 2002, including $170,000 last year.
Hipp, a former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party and Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Navy in the George H.W. Bush administration, appeared on The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on February 6. Hipp discussed the possible death of an American hostage being held by ISIS, who claims that the hostage was killed by a Jordanian airstrike.
Without prompting, Hipp repeatedly attacked President Obama for denying an application for his client, while couching it in criticism of ongoing efforts to fight ISIS.
Hipp said, "We need to make sure he's [King Abdullah of Jordan] got all the fuel and bullets, precision weapons and yes, unmanned aerial vehicles which he's asked the United States for and our State Department is still sitting on that." Hipp went on to expand on his criticism of the State Department decision, without any disclosure of Hipp's financial conflict of interest.
JAMIE COLBY: If we were to reach out to Jordan, what would be the steps, specifically, you think we could take that maybe would even encourage our allies to do the same?
VAN HIPP: Well what Congressman Duncan Hunter has pointed out was very disturbing, the fact that Jordan has requested, an unarmed predator, unmanned aerial vehicle to help them, and he has called on President Obama to get the State Department to reverse that decision. I couldn't believe that when I read that, and he's got other requests for precision munitions, night vision systems, devices, you name it. I say: Give him everything he needs and give him everything he needs now. And let's acknowledge the threat for what it is.
COLBY: Van Hipp, your message is loud and clear and heard and I appreciate you sharing it with us.
The company that would provide the drone Hipp referenced is his lobbying firm's client.
As Foreign Policy reported on February 5, "The Obama administration has denied a request from a leading U.S. defense contractor for a license to market its unarmed Predator drones to Jordan, whose requests for U.S.-made weapons are viewed as more urgent due to its participation in the fight against the Islamic State. The contractor, General Atomics, submitted export license applications last spring to market the Predator XP, a new export version of the unarmed MQ-1 drone flown by the U.S. military, to Jordan and numerous other countries. The U.S. government formally denied the request for Jordan on Oct. 28, according to the office of Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican whose district includes San Diego, where General Atomics is based."
The Lobbying Disclosure Act Database lists ADI as a registered lobbyist on behalf of General Atomics, dating from 2002 through their most recent filing on January 20. For 2014, ADI reported doing $170,000 of lobbying on behalf of General Atomics. (First Quarter, Second Quarter, Third Quarter, Fourth Quarter). The firm's most recent lobbying report states it was paid by General Atomics for "Meetings with officials regarding foreign weapon sales." ADI has received $1.2 million in lobbing fees from General Atomics since 2002, according to OpenSecrets.org's database of federal lobbying data.
Hipp has personally lobbied for General Atomics, most recently in 2007, according to OpenSecrets' database.