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Cristiano Lima

Author ››› Cristiano Lima
  • Why Won't The New York Times Tell The Truth About "Bathroom Predators" In Its Reporting?

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    The New York Times has failed to debunk the "bathroom predator" myth in its reporting on North Carolina's anti-LGBT bathroom law, despite its own editorial board acknowledging that the myth "exists only in the imagination of bigots."

    On March 23, North Carolina legislators passed a law, House Bill 2 (HB2), barring transgender people from certain bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates. Proponents of the law falsely claim it’s needed to stop sexual predators from sneaking into women's restrooms by claiming to be transgender.

    The New York Times' own editorial board has described that talking point as baseless, writing in a March 25 editorial (emphasis added):

    Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill into law late Wednesday, said it was necessary to undo Charlotte’s ordinance, which included protections for gay and transgender people, because it allowed “men to use women’s bathroom/locker room.” Proponents of so-called bathroom bills, which have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, have peddled them by spuriously portraying transgender women as potential rapists.

    That threat exists only in the imagination of bigots. Supporters of the measures have been unable to point to a single case that justifies the need to legislate where people should be allowed to use the toilet. North Carolina is the first state to pass such a provision.

    [...]

    By promoting the ludicrous idea that transgender women are inherently dangerous, the law endangers citizens who are already disproportionately vulnerable to violence and stigmatization.

    Despite this, the Times has failed to debunk the "bathroom predator" myth in its reporting on HB2, choosing instead to create a false equivalency by uncritically presenting comments from both opponents and supporters of the law.

    • On March 28, the Times reported that "some conservatives complained that the [North Carolina] ordinance would endanger women and girls by allowing people who are anatomically male to use their restrooms," adding that "transgender advocates dismiss that as nonsense, saying that transgender people have been using their chosen bathrooms for years without incident."

    • On March 29, the Times reported that lawmakers focused on “the contention that it might allow men dressed as women to enter bathrooms and commit assaults,” and noted that “critics say there is no evidence that has happened elsewhere.”

    • On April 1, the newspaper reported that "lawmakers had said that they were trying to prevent men from dressing as women to enter bathrooms and commit assaults," adding that "Critics said there was no evidence that had happened."

    • On April 11, the Times quoted Lt. Gov. Dan Forest who perpetuated the myth stating, “If our action in keeping men out of women’s bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, it was worth it,” yet failed to include any pushback to Forest's claim.

    The Times adopted that same false equivalency in its reporting on anti-discrimination ordinances in cites like Jacksonville, FL and Houston, TX despite its editorial board acknowledging that the "bathroom predator" myth is "completely unfounded."

    That kind of false balance is a form of misinformation -- it distorts reality and makes it harder for readers to figure out the truth. In 2012, The New York Times' Public Editor Margaret Sullivan called attention to the issue of false balance and encouraged journalists “to make every effort to get beyond the spin and help readers know what to believe,” writing:

    Simply put, false balance is the journalistic practice of giving equal weight to both sides of a story, regardless of an established truth on one side. And many people are fed up with it. They don’t want to hear lies or half-truths given credence on one side, and shot down on the other. They want some real answers.

    […]

    It ought to go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: Journalists need to make every effort to get beyond the spin and help readers know what to believe, to help them make their way through complicated and contentious subjects.

    The more news organizations can state established truths and stand by them, the better off the readership — and the democracy — will be.

    The Times' editorial board has correctly and repeatedly stated that the "bathroom predator" talking point is baseless and harmful. But that kind of truth-telling needs to show up in its reporting on laws like North Carolina's, rather than being relegated to its opinion section.

  • Yahoo Reports Bruce Springsteen Cancels North Carolina Show Over "Bigotry" Of  Anti-LGBT Law

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Yahoo reports Bruce Springsteen cancelled an upcoming show in Greensboro, North Carolina, in opposition to the state's anti-LGBT HB2 law that bans transgender people from restrooms that align with their gender identity.

    On March 23 North Carolina’s general assembly passed a bill "barring transgender people from bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates." The New York Times editorial board slammed the legislation, writing that it "makes North Carolina [a] pioneer in bigotry," while regional editorial boards admonished the "recklessness and foolishness" of state officials rolling back nondiscrimination protections. On April 7, NBA analyst and TV personality Charles Barkley told CNN "the NBA should move the all-star game from Charlotte" due to the law. 

    Fox News host Todd Starnes lashed out at Springsteen on Twitter by pushing the conservative “bathroom predator” myth, claiming that Springsteen’s opposition to the anti-LGBT law meant Springsteen wanted “grown men to use the bathroom with little girls”:

    In a statement reported by Yahoo News, Springsteen said "this fight against prejudice and bigotry" in North Carolina is "more important than a rock show":

    Bruce Springsteen is taking a stand over recently passed legislation in North Carolina that requires people in the state to use gendered public restrooms that match their birth certificate, specifically targeting transgender people. In a statement posted to Facebook on Friday, Springsteen canceled an upcoming show in Greensboro, N.C., over the law.

    “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them,” Springsteen wrote. “It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

    North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” which is officially called the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, was signed into law by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in March. Never mind that North Carolina police have admitted that the law is essentially unenforcible, there is no factual evidence to support the pervasive theory behind this law, which is that sexual predators would exploit transgender nondiscrimination laws in order to enact assaults. Data compiled by Media Matters for America shows that states with laws preventing discrimination against trans people have no evidence of a rise in sexual assaults.

    [...]

    In his statement, Springsteen notes that fans can get their tickets refunded for Sunday’s concert. You can read the full statement here:

    As you, my fans, know I’m scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the “bathroom” law. HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.

    Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Sunday April 10th show is canceled. Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.

  • A Look Back At Fox News' Interviews With Obama Ahead Of His Sunday Network Appearance

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN, BRENNAN SUEN & CRISTIANO LIMA

    Chris Wallace will interview President Obama on Fox News Sunday April 10, marking Obama's first interview with the network since 2014. In past interviews, Fox figures including Wallace, Bret Baier and Bill O'Reilly have focused on Obama's ties to "radical" figures, hyped supposed scandals, lectured Obama on race, and interrupted him repeatedly.

  • Conservative Media Push Conspiracy That Obama "Censored" "Islamic Terrorism" From French President's Remarks

    White House Updated The Video To Include All Remarks And Explained Technical Glitch Led To The Audio Being Dropped

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Conservative outlets quickly hatched a conspiracy theory that the White House "censored" French President Francois Hollande from using the phrase "Islamist terrorism" during a bilateral meeting with President Obama in Washington, D.C. The White House explained the issue was simply a technical glitch that was fixed immediately.

  • Journalists And Foreign Policy Experts Call Out Trump's "Completely Uneducated" "Baffling" Foreign Policy

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY & CRISTIANO LIMA

    Journalists and foreign policy experts criticized the "unintelligble" foreign policy positions Donald Trump described during interviews with The New York Times and The Washington Post, and called the GOP presidential front-runner's "ignorance" "breathtaking," saying he has "no understanding of the post-war international order that was created by the United States."

  • Right-Wing Media Lose It After Obama Dances The Tango

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing commentators ripped President Obama for dancing the tango at a state dinner in Argentina a day after the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, criticizing him for "dancing the night away" "while Brussels burns." Meanwhile, journalists and analysists slammed conservative media figures' "easy attacks," noting that right-wing media would have criticized Obama "either way," regardless of whether he continued on or cut his trip short following the Brussels attacks.

  • Obama Photographed With Che Guevara In Background, Right-Wing Media Freak Out

    Flashback: Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, And Richard Nixon Have All Been Photographed In Front Of Communist Leaders

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Right-wing media rushed to attack President Obama over a photograph from his trip to Cuba in which he appears in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución, with a mural of Che Guevara visible in the background -- apparently forgetting that Republican Presidents Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush have all been photographed in front of images of communist leaders while on trips abroad.

  • Trump Campaign Faces Media Criticism After His Campaign Manager "Gets Rough" With A Journalist

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Media outlets highlighted a pattern of "physical run-ins" Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's campaign has had with journalists after his campaign manager allegedly "forcibly grabbed" a reporter following a press conference. The Trump campaign also has a history of seeking to impede journalists and undermine freedom of press.