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Alexandrea Boguhn

Author ››› Alexandrea Boguhn
  • Evening News Greets GOP's Extreme 20-Week Abortion Ban With Virtual Silence

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Broadcast evening news programs have been virtually silent on Congressional Republicans' repeated efforts to restrict women's access to reproductive health care by pushing an extreme 20-week ban on abortion. 

    House Republicans voted this week to ban the majority of abortions after 20 weeks. As The New York Times reported, the legislation is a new "version of a bill that Republican leaders had abruptly pulled in January amid objections from some of their own members" over a provision "that would have required women who became pregnant through rape to report their assault to law enforcement authorities" in order to gain an exemption from the ban.

    Such legislation would have dangerous implications for women's health should it become law, as many serious health conditions for both mothers and fetuses cannot be discovered until around the 20th week of pregnancy. The latest version of the legislation requires sexual assault survivors to attend counseling 48 hours prior to receiving an abortion, a requirement that, as ThinkProgress noted, "appears to closely resemble the mandatory counseling and waiting period requirements that are already popular on the state level" which have been roundly criticized by health experts and medical professionals for being unnecessary and harmful to women.

    Yet broadcast evening news programs have been all but silent in covering the Republicans' abortion ban. 

    According to a Media Matters review of ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS' nightly news programs since January 1, ABC's World News Tonight and NBC's Nightly News have completely ignored the legislation, while CBS Evening News ran one segment highlighting the GOP proposal on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. PBS' Newshour devoted four segments to the legislation this year, and was the only network to cover the House's passage of the latest abortion ban.

    The virtual silence of the broadcast evening news comes amid an unprecedented push by Republicans at both the national and state level to restrict women's constitutional right to abortion. An April 2 report from the Guttmacher Institute found that the first few months of 2015 have seen 332 provisions to restrict access to abortion introduced in the legislatures of nearly every state. 

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts of ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS evening news programs from January 1 to April 13, 2015 for the terms "abort!" or "reproduct!" We identified and reviewed all segments that included any of the keywords. 

  • Media Call Out Rush Limbaugh For Racially Charged Attacks On Michelle Obama

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Limbaugh

    Media figures are calling out Rush Limbaugh for his racially charged assault on First Lady Michelle Obama for her recognition of the lack of diversity among museum attendees.

    The conservative radio host attacked Michelle Obama this week for her reference to racial disparities in access to education opportunities like museums during a speech at the April 30 dedication of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Obama praised the Whitney's inaugural exhibit for its attempt to capture the range of cultures that have contributed to American art and called it "particularly powerful for our young people" because it shows them that "their story is part of the American story, and that they deserve to be seen." Such engagement is important, Obama said, because "there are so many kids in this country who look at places like museums and concert halls and other cultural centers and they think to themselves, well, that's not a place for me, for someone who looks like me, for someone who comes from my neighborhood."

    Limbaugh accused Obama of claiming "museums are for white people" and of using the speech to "widen the racial gap." Calling her an "angry First Lady" who wants to "rip this country apart," Rush went on to suggest that black people simply didn't appreciate museums because they are "not in their cultural upbringing."

    Media figures are now blasting Limbaugh for the racist attacks.

    The Washington Post's Richard Cohen declared that Limbaugh criticized Obama "for the sin of being black." "The way he looks at it," Cohen wrote, "Obama is not entitled to her experiences, certainly not to talk about it," going on: "[J]ust as Eleanor Roosevelt articulated the experiences and plight of the poor as well as racial and ethnic minorities, so does Michelle Obama articulate the black experience. If that sometimes makes others uncomfortable, it damn well should."

    Similarly, The New York Times' Charles Blow blasted Rush and explained how Obama's thoughts on the diversity of museum visitors "was right," pointing to a 2010 report by the Center for the Future of Museums that found "historic patterns of segregation and exclusion as one reason that fewer African-American families instill museum-going habits in their young children." Blow called out Limbaugh for trying to paint "the Obamas as failed racial messiahs at best, and active racial agitators at worst":

    But for Limbaugh, this wasn't about museum attendance at all. It was simply another opportunity to excrete the tired banalities about the Obamas as failed racial messiahs at best, and active racial agitators at worst.

    [...]

    Obama's sin, using [Rush's] line of logic, is that he failed to undo the system of oppression that he had no hand in constructing. It is that 400 years of damage was not undone in two terms. It is that he didn't encourage silence about inequity so that its benefactors could enjoy the cumulative fruit of centuries of racial graft without current-day guilt.

    They wanted some mythical receipt of satisfaction of the debt. Let bygones be bygones. All is forgotten and forgiven. Clean slate. Fresh start.

    If only it were that simple. But it's not. This whole line of reasoning is racial claptrap.

    Such increasing focus on Limbaugh's racially charged attacks coincides with growing advertising woes for the radio host, who has been seeing advertisers flee from his program since his multi-day attack on then-law student Sandra Fluke. Just last month, Emmis Communications announced it was dropping Limbaugh's broadcast from its WIBC lineup, which had aired the radio program for 22 years.

  • With Apology, Boston's Metro Daily Shows How Media Can Improve Coverage Of Sexual Violence

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Metro Daily Cover

    Boston's Metro Daily demonstrated how to improve media coverage of sexual assault, apologizing for an offensive cover story referring to victims of sexual violence as "babes" after outcry from a local anti-sexual violence advocacy organization.

    Police in Boston are investigating a series of sexual assaults in the city after three incidents of groping near Boston University were reported, according to a May 5 report from The Boston Globe.

    Metro Daily, a Boston-area free daily newspaper, reported on the investigation with a cover story headlined "BU Babes Beware," featuring an accompanying photo of a woman from the torso-down. Following the article's publication, Safe Hub Collective, a local anti-street harassment and safe space advocacy group publicly called out Metro Daily in an open letter to the outlet, explaining that their cover "not only trivialize[d] the serious issue of sexual assault, but display[ed] the kind of attitude and language that actually contributes to it":

    By presenting an image of a headless woman, you dehumanize all women. The dehumanization of women is a key element to violence against them- when you view someone as less-than-human, as an object, it becomes easier to treat them that way. Men who commit assaults like this serial groper do view women as objects or property, which this cover only reinforces.

    By referring to women as "babes," you not only sexualize them, but you patronize them. Furthermore, this is exactly the kind of violent language that street harassers use towards women on a daily basis- this kind of reporting, using the language of violence to report on violence, is harmful and potentially retraumatizing. It also serves to trivialize the nature of the assault that the victims experienced.

    Metro Daily quickly responded with an apology to readers later that same day, noting that although they had intended to "raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment" in Boston, "it's clear that that is not what was conveyed" through their coverage:

    We've heard from many of you about our coverage yesterday about a serial groper who has been targeting women in and around Boston University's campus. While our intention was to raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment within our community, it's clear that that is not what was conveyed with our cover and headline.

    Sexual assault is a largely silent epidemic in communities worldwide that affects women, men and children. Survivors of all backgrounds should feel comfortable talking about their experiences without fear that they will be judged or blamed by others. We will try harder in our future coverage to ensure that that will happen.

    In a statement to Media Matters, Safe Hub Collective founding member Britni de la Cretaz explained that she is "happy to see that the Metro responded promptly and avoided the 'non-apology" trap that people so often fall into," but that, "only time will tell if their commitment to do better will actually be one that they keep. Our hope is that, going forward, not just the Metro but all news outlets can avoid falling into reporting that blames the victim, perpetuates harmful stereotypes and, ultimately, contributes to the very violence it claims to condemn. We believe that everyone can (and should) do better."

    De la Cretaz also urged media to not only provide the contact information of the police in their reports but to also include resources on rape crisis support. "I'd love to see the media do when it reports on sexual assault is provide a number to a rape crisis support hotline/local rape crisis center at the end of the piece, and not just the number to a police department," she explained. "Changing the narrative means supporting survivors of assault and that means recognizing that not all survivors want to report to the police and that, even if they do, they may need support beyond that. " 

    In prior reporting on sexual assault, outlets like ABC News have provided resources for those seeking additional information on rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, and crisis support.

  • "Abortion Law": Media Adopt GOP's Characterization Of D.C. Anti-Discrimination Legislation

    ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Media are parroting conservative lawmakers' and activist groups' characterization of the D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) as an "abortion law," an inaccurate portrayal the GOP is pushing in its effort to repeal the legislation. The law actually provides women vital protection from discrimination based on reproductive health decisions, like assisted pregnancy and even premarital sex.

  • Another One Of Peter Schweizer's Anti-Clinton Claims Crumbles

    ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Serial misinformer Peter Schweizer falsely claimed on Fox News Sunday that Hillary Clinton had unilateral power to veto the Uranium One deal as part of the nine-agency review panel that oversees such proposals. But members of the review panel only have power to make recommendations to the president, not unilaterally veto them.

  • White Men Will Now Host CNN And All Broadcast Sunday Morning Political Talk Shows

    Jake Tapper's State Of The Union Takeover Highlights Long-Standing Lack Of Diversity In Sunday Shows

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Sunday Show hosts

    The appointment of CNN's Jake Tapper as the new host of State of the Union means that the program will join Sunday political talk shows on ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox as being anchored by white men, highlighting the long-standing lack of diversity in Sunday morning political talk shows.

    CNN announced on April 24 that network host Jake Tapper would begin anchoring the network's Sunday political talk show State of the Union in June, taking over the temporary duties of Dana Bash after Candy Crowley left the program in December. Tapper's appointment to the position highlights the continued lack of diversity represented on Sunday political talk shows. CBS News also recently announced that network political director John Dickerson will replace Bob Schieffer as the host of Face the Nation when he retires this summer. All of the hosts of major Sunday political talk shows on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and CNN will now be white men. MSNBC's Sunday news programs, which include Up with Steve Kornacki and Melissa Harris-Perry do present a contrast to the lack of diversity at other networks.

    But white men aren't just dominating the programs as hosts -- they also make up the large majority of guest appearances. According to a Media Matters report analyzing the state of diversity on the Sunday news programming in 2014, white men made up the largest proportion of guests on all shows considered. The report, which analyzed the ethnicity, gender and ideology of guests on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS' Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, NBC's Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, and CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley, found that white men dominated the guests appearances on all programs considered:

    sundayshows

    These findings underscore a 2013 Media Matters' analysis that uncovered how gender diversity on Sunday morning political talk shows had gone basically unchanged over the previous five years:

    Sunday Shows graph

    The continued lack of diversity in Sunday morning political news programming illustrates a news environment that consistently fails to bring minorities and women to the table. According to a 2014 survey by the American Society of News Editors, "the percentage of minority journalists" in the United States remains between just 12 and 14 percent -- where it has been "for more than a decade." The percentage of women in newsrooms has also gone virtually unchanged for 14 years.

  • Schweizer's Anti-Clinton Claims Start Falling Apart

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Media outlets are poking holes in the allegations of Clinton Cash, an anti-Hillary Clinton book authored by a Republican activist and strategist whose history of reporting is marked by errors and retractions. Reporters who reviewed portions of the book have undermined Schweizer's claims that foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation influenced Hillary Clinton's decision-making as secretary of state with regard to the Russian purchase of a mining company and a trade agreement, asserting that Schweizer offers "little evidence" for his claims and overlooks key facts.

  • How One Of Conservative Media's Favorite Myths Could Help End "America's Most Effective Anti-Teen-Pregnancy Program"

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Women's Health Matters

    One of conservative media's favorite myths in their campaign against reproductive choice -- that certain forms of contraception are equivalent to abortion -- is being parroted by Republicans and anti-abortion groups in Colorado to advocate against extending an expiring state program that provides contraceptive implants to Colorado women at low costs, and has been called "America's most effective anti-teen-pregnancy program." 

    The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, a program that provides long-term contraceptive options for women and teens such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and hormonal implants at reduced costs may end after the private donation that originally funded it expires June 30, unless a bipartisan Colorado House bill appropriating funding from the state's budget passes in the Republican-controlled Senate.

    The Wall Street Journal explained on April 22 that some of Colorado's lawmakers are advocating against "spend[ing] state money to extend the program."  The Journal pointed to a statement from the anti-abortion group Personhood USA, explaining that the organization "opposed efforts to extend the program because it considered IUDs to be the equivalent of abortion." In March, NPR wrote that Republican Senator Kevin Lundberg, chairman of the Senate Health Committee in Colorado, claimed that the program "'crosses a line'" because "in Lundberg's view, an IUD can count as an abortion, and this makes it impossible for a program that funds IUDs to receive state funding."

    The claim that IUDs and other forms of contraception cause abortion mimics a long championed conservative media myth. Despite the fact that experts like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have repeatedly explained that IUDs and emergency contraception "do not cause abortions," right-wing media baselessly claimed that the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) contraception mandate - which includes coverage of IUDS -- covered abortifacients.

    Now the conservative media myth has found its way into arguments against Colorado's Family Planning Initiative, which has been called one of "America's most effective anti-teen-pregnancy" programs. The program has provided IUDs and contraceptive implants to "more than 30,000 Colorado women, most of them low income," and is credited with reducing the state's teen pregnancy rate "faster than the nationwide average, allowing it to leapfrog 11 spots in the national rankings." The program has also significantly lowered Colorado's abortion rate and saved the state millions of dollars, according to Mother Jones:

    Between 2010 and 2012, the state estimates, 4,300 to 9,700 births to women on the state's Medicaid program that would have otherwise occurred did not--saving Medicaid between $49 million and $111 million. The state's abortion rate has also cratered, falling 42 percent among women ages 15 to 19 and 18 percent among women ages 20 to 24 between 2009 and 2012.