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Kate Sarna

Author ››› Kate Sarna
  • Fox News' Abortion Questions During Democratic Town Hall Ignored Legal Rights For Women

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    During the March 7 Democratic Town Hall on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, host Bret Baier framed questions on reproductive rights around whether presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supported restrictions on reproductive choice while ignoring the recent legal restrictions on facilities that provide abortion services.

    In Baier's first round of questions to Sen. Sanders (D-VT), Baier asked the candidate if he could name a "single circumstance at any point in a pregnancy at which point [Sanders] would be okay with abortion being illegal," before Baier distinguished Sanders from "some Democrats" who advocate for exceptions "after five months, with the exception of the life of the mother or the health of the baby."

    Baier's question to Clinton on reproductive choice was equally problematic, asking her if "a child should have any legal rights or protections before it's born":

    Baier's questioning on "medically unnecessary" abortion restrictions come as reproductive rights have come under attack in many states by the Republican lead Congress.  Baier's framing of the issue is even more problematic given the lack of time dedicated to the subject in the Democratic presidential primary thus far. As NARAL Pro-Choice America points out, through 7 Democratic primary debates not a single question about abortion had been asked.

  • NJ Newspapers Call For Gov. Chris Christie's Resignation After His Trump Endorsement

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    Trump, Christie

    Six New Jersey newspaper editorial boards are calling for Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) to resign for neglecting the state's constituents during his presidential campaign and his endorsement of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

    USA Today reported that six New Jersey newspapers associated with the USA TODAY NETWORK -- including the Asbury Park Press, the Cherry Hill Courier-Post, and the Morris Daily Record -- expressed "editorial outrage" at Christie following a February 29 press conference where he refused to take questions from the press after spending "261 days out of state last year" and giving Donald Trump his endorsement:

    "We're fed up with Gov. Chris Christie's arrogance," the papers wrote. "We're fed up with his opportunism. We're fed up with his hypocrisy."

    The joint editorial notes that Christie spent part of 261 days out of state last year and traveled out of state to endorse Trump and campaign with him after he quit the race Feb. 10.

    "For the good of the state, it's time for Christie to do his long-neglected constituents a favor and resign as governor. If he refuses, citizens should initiate a recall effort," the editorial said.

    Christie faced a firestorm of media criticism after announcing his surprise endorsement of Donald Trump despite his earlier attacks on Trump during the race, calling him a "carnival barker," and criticizing Fox News' support for him.

    Trump has recently gained negative attention for his growing support among white nationalist groups and refusing to disavow the former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke. The front-runner has also faced backlash for proposing to block all Muslims from entering the country, accusing Mexican migrants of being rapists and murderers, and insulting a journalist's disability.

  • Newspaper Editorial Boards Overwhelmingly Urge Senate To "Do Your Job" And Vote On Obama's SCOTUS Nominee

    ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    Newspaper editorial boards are overwhelmingly urging GOP Senate leadership to hold hearings and vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nomination to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. A vast number of the boards have called GOP pledges to block a nomination "outrageous," "irresponsible," obstructionism rooted in "partisan self-interest" which "deeply damages the operation of the Judiciary Branch" and "represents an act of disrespect to Justice Scalia."

  • CNN Op-Ed Calls Out Media "Sexism" Regarding Attacks On Hillary Clinton's Voice

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    A CNN op-ed outlines how media criticism of Hillary Clinton's voice is not only "sexist" and a distraction from political issues, but also represents a "charge faced by professional women that they are too aggressive and ambitious."

    Miami Herald and World Politics Review columnist Frida Ghitis calls out reporters for attacks on Clinton's speaking style, suggesting the criticism is part of "the 'shrill' smear against Hillary Clinton." Ghitis writes that Bob Woodward and Joe Scarborough's critique of Clinton's Iowa victory speech was an example of "transparent sexism." Ghitis also calls a New York Times report "absurd" for claiming that Clinton came off angry compared to Sanders, when in fact both speeches were "heated and intense." She highlights The Philadelphia Inquirer's assessment that Clinton lacks "elegance and grace," Peggy Noonan's comparison of Clinton to a "landlady yelling," and Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza's comment that Clinton was "Hyper aggressive." Ghitis likens the "sexist" attacks against Hillary Clinton to the "charge faced by professional women that they are too aggressive and ambitious."

    These are not the only sexist attacks that have been levied against Clinton since her speech in Iowa. Fox's Geraldo Rivera claimed her "shriek" was "unpleasant" and suggested Clinton "may be hard of hearing," while Sean Hannity -- who has referred to Clinton as "shrill" in the past -- said the speech was merely "angry, bitter screaming." The media has a history of making sexist remarks about Clinton, targeting subjects including but not limited to her voice. From the February 8 op-ed:

    Woodward, in case you haven't heard, brought his decades of expertise to the MSNBC show "Morning Joe" to shed light on the difficulties faced by the once-undisputed Democratic front-runner. He opined "a lot of it, with Hillary Clinton has to do with style and delivery, oddly enough." Then he explained, "She shouts. There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating and I think it just jumps."

    [...]

    The transparent sexism, along with Clinton's poor performance with women, led former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to declare this weekend at a Clinton campaign rally that "there is a special place in hell for women who don't help each other." Women, in fact, are free to choose among the candidates. But like all voters, they should ensure that insidious sexism, theirs or the pundits', does not waft in to cloud their judgment.

    That there is sexism in politics, in business, in the world, is beyond dispute. But in this particular case there is an overarching risk, a cautionary message for voters. Sure, sexist attitudes are a problem for women. But here they are a problem for all Americans deciding who should become president. Instead of discussing what truly matters, the experts are talking about Clinton's tone of voice. And that is just one of the distractions along this well-trod path.

    [...]

    There's the voice, of course, which a (female) writer in The Philadelphia Inquirer finds lacks "elegance and grace," and Peggy Noonan says "reminds me of the landlady yelling." Then there is that charge faced by professional women that they are too aggressive and ambitious.

    During Thursday's debate, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza called her "Hyper aggressive." Another debate review, in The New York Times, contrasted her and her opponent, saying Bernie Sanders "kept his cool in the debate," while Clinton appeared "tense and even angry at times." The truth is they were both heated and intense, which was fitting. The Times' comparison was absurd.

  • NYT Highlights How National Review Is Leading The Conservative Media Campaign To Stop Trump

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    The New York Times highlighted an effort by National Review's editor to persuade other "conservative thinkers" to speak out against Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump.

    A January 21 New York Times article revealed that National Review editor Rich Lowry was persuading "conservative thinkers" such as "Erick Erickson, William Kristol and Yuval Levin" to "lend their names to the manifesto against Mr. Trump." The Times article continued, explaining how Lowry has urged conservatives to "write essays buttressing the argument that Mr. Trump has no commitment to restraining the role of government and possesses authoritarian impulses antithetical to conservative principles." Further, the article highlighted that Republicans "can live with Mr. Cruz" despite "believing that his nomination would leave the party divided, but manageably so" unlike Trump who "poses the most serious peril to the conservative movement since the 1950s-era John Birch Society": 

    The Republicans who dominate the right-leaning magazines, journals and political groups can live with Mr. Cruz, believing that his nomination would leave the party divided, but manageably so, extending a longstanding intramural debate over pragmatism versus purity that has been waged since the days of Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. They say Mr. Trump, on the other hand, poses the most serious peril to the conservative movement since the 1950s-era John Birch Society.

    Rich Lowry, editor of National Review -- embracing the role of his predecessor, William F. Buckley, who in the 1950s confronted the Birch Society members -- has reached out to conservative thinkers to lend their names to the manifesto against Mr. Trump. He has drawn some of the country's leading conservatives, including Erick Erickson, William Kristol and Yuval Levin, to write essays buttressing the argument that Mr. Trump has no commitment to restraining the role of government and possesses authoritarian impulses antithetical to conservative principles.

    Lowry's effort to stop Trump comes as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been gaining heavy support from right-wing talk radio, which acts as his best line of defense during Trump-hailed attacks. In turn, Cruz parrots smears  and talking points originating from far-right media figures, while showering them with praise.

  • Fox News Segment Shows How Looser Gun Laws Could Actually Help Criminals

    Police Argue That New Texas Open Carry Law Makes It Difficult To Ask People Carrying Weapons To Prove They Have A Permit

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    Fox News' Casey Stegall reported that officials in Texas are criticizing parts of a new open carry law that makes it illegal for police to ask citizens to see their gun licenses.

    On January 1, 2016 Texas Open Carry law went into effect allowing residents to openly carry fire arms in most public places except for public schools and college campuses.

    During the January 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Stegall reported that law enforcement officials "raised some concerns" about the enforcement of the law. Stegall explained that Kevin Lawrence from the Texas Municipal Police Association stated the "murky" writing of the law caused police to be "unable to ask for a license," preventing police from knowing "who is packing heat legally." Lawrence also claimed police faced "uncertainty" when it came to "what authorities the officers have."

    CASEY STEGALL (REPORTER): But members of law enforcement have raised some concerns. Not so much about the law itself, but how it's enforced. 

    KEVIN LAWRENCE (TEXAS MUNICIPAL POLICE ASSOCIATION): If a citizen calls in, a business calls in and says hey, there's somebody here carrying a firearm that we're concerned about, the question then becomes exactly how much authority does that officer have to approach that individual and investigate whether or not they have a license to carry that gun. 

    STEGALL: Kevin Lawrence heads up the largest police union in Texas. He says the wording of the law is murky. And if officers are unable to ask for a license, there's no way of knowing who is packing heat legally. 

    LAWRENCE: That's the difficulty is the uncertainty, not knowing for sure what the rules are, what authority the officers have. We need to get that clarified as much as possible. 

    This segment is unusual for Fox News which has repeatedly rallied for looser gun laws, falsely claimed that more guns means more safety, and pushed the gun-free zone myth. Fox News has also repeatedly attacked President Obama for proposing gun safety measures.

  • NY Times Public Editor: Flawed Stories Should Be "Red Alert" For Paper

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    According to The New York Times' public editor, the paper's repeated publication of front-page, anonymously sourced stories that required major editor's notes damages the paper's credibility and should be a "red alert" for its editors.  

    Public Editor Margaret Sullivan criticized the Times' December 12 story, claiming San Bernardino shooting suspect Tashfeen Malik passed three background checks to gain a visa while "she talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad" was "wrong." The report was echoed by the right-wing media and GOP presidential candidates before the FBI director denied the claim. The Times has since published an editor's note stating Malik's "comments about jihad were not made in widely accessible social media posts."

    Sullivan called the report "a failure of sufficient skepticism at every level of the reporting and editing process." Times executive editor Dean Baquet called the "really big mistake" a "system failure that we have to fix," explaining that the Times' "sources misunderstood how social media works and we didn't push hard enough." Noting the two of the Times reporters who wrote the story had also been responsible for an anonymously-sourced story claiming that Hillary Clinton was under criminal investigation that later collapsed, Sullivan called the situation a "red alert." From the December 18 post:

    I have two major and rather simple questions: How did this happen? And how can The Times guard against its happening again? (As many readers have noted, some very critically, two of the authors of this article, Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt, also wrote the flawed story in July that reported that Hillary Clinton would be the target of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department because of her email practices while secretary of state. Reporting by the third reporter on the current article, Julia Preston, who covers immigration, was restricted to the visa-vetting process.)

    I talked on Friday to the executive editor, Dean Baquet; to one of his chief deputies, Matt Purdy; and to the Washington editor, Bill Hamilton, who edited the article. All described what happened as deeply troubling. Mr. Baquet said that some new procedures need to be put in place, especially for dealing with anonymous sources, and he said he would begin working on that immediately.

    "This was a really big mistake," Mr. Baquet said, "and more than anything since I've become editor it does make me think we need to do something about how we handle anonymous sources."

    He added: "This was a system failure that we have to fix." However, Mr. Baquet said it would not be realistic or advisable to ban anonymous sources entirely from The Times.

    How did this specific mistake happen?

    "Our sources misunderstood how social media works and we didn't push hard enough," said Mr. Baquet, who read the article before publication. He said those sources apparently did not know the difference between public and private messages on social-media platforms.

    [...]

    The Times need to fix its overuse of unnamed government sources. And it needs to slow down the reporting and editing process, especially in the fever-pitch atmosphere surrounding a major news event. Those are procedural changes, and they are needed. But most of all, and more fundamental, the paper needs to show far more skepticism - a kind of prosecutorial scrutiny -- at every level of the process.

    Two front-page, anonymously sourced stories in a few months have required editors' notes that corrected key elements - elements that were integral enough to form the basis of the headlines in both cases. That's not acceptable for Times readers or for the paper's credibility, which is its most precious asset.

    If this isn't a red alert, I don't know what will be.

  • How The Media Fell For A Lie That A Muslim American Veteran Was Arrested For Connection With ISIS

    The Intercept Debunks Right-Wing Media Lie: "The Widespread Smearing Of Saadiq Long As Having Joined An ISIS Cell, Is Completely False"

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    An investigative report by The Intercept explained how national and local media outlets uncritically repeated a false right-wing story that claimed a Muslim American veteran was arrested in Turkey for his connection with the terrorist group ISIS. The story originated from a right-wing blog that used anonymous sources with no knowledge of why the veteran was detained. Saadiq Long was not arrested for or accused of having a connection with a terror cell and currently faces no criminal charges.

    In November, PJ Media published a story claiming that Long, an American veteran who received media attention after he was secretly placed on no-fly list, was "arrested in Turkey as part of ISIS cell."

    Fox NewsRedState, and right-wing anti-Muslim figures like Pam GellarRobert Spencer, and Ann Coulter also pushed the story. Local media in Oklahoma, where Long's family resides, also joined the conservative media outlets repeating the false story.

    The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hassain debunked the PJ media story in a December 10 Intercept post reporting that "the widespread smearing of Long as having joined an ISIS cell, is completely false" (emphasis added):

    A RIGHT-WING BLOG called "Pajamas Media" published an article on November 24 claiming that Saadiq Long, a Muslim American veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was arrested in Turkey for being an ISIS operative. Written by Patrick Poole, a professional anti-Muslim activist and close associate of Frank Gaffney, the article asserted that Long "finds himself and several family members sitting in a Turkish prison -- arrested earlier this month near the Turkey-Syria border as members of an ISIS cell." Its only claimed sources were anonymous: "U.S. and Turkish officials confirmed Long's arrest to PJ Media, saying that he was arrested along with eight others operating along the Turkish-Syrian border. So far, no U.S. media outlet has reported on his arrest."

    Long's purported arrest as an ISIS operative was then widely cited across the internet by Fox News as well as right-wing and even non-ideological news sites. Predictably, the story was uncritically hailed by the most virulent anti-Muslim polemicists: Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, Ann Coulter, and Sam Harris. Worst of all, it was blasted as a major news story by network TV affiliates and other local media outlets in Oklahoma, where Long is from and where his family -- including his sister and ailing mother -- still reside.

    But the story is entirely false: a fabrication. Neither Long nor his wife or daughter have been arrested on charges that he joined ISIS. He faces no criminal charges of any kind in Turkey.

    [...]

    To begin with, it's irresponsible in the extreme to spread claims that someone has been arrested for joining ISIS without a very substantial basis for believing that's true. That's a claim that will be permanently attached to the person's name. The people who uncritically spread this "report" had nothing approaching a sufficient basis for doing so, and worse, most of them simply repeated the assertion that he was an ISIS operative as though it were verified fact.

    Beyond that, the only outlet to have "reported" this claim about Long and his family is Pajamas Media. Does anyone find that to be a credible news source, let alone one credible enough to permanently vilify someone as an ISIS member? The specific author of the report, Poole, swims exclusively in the most toxic, discredited, anti-Muslim far-right swamps -- he's a favorite of Frank Gaffney, last seen as the prime mover of Donald Trump's "ban Muslims" proposal -- and it is nothing short of shameful that so many people vested this anonymous smear with credibility. 

  • Chis Hayes Calls Out Congressman For Repeating A Conspiracy Theory Promoted By Alex Jones' Infowars

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    MSNBC host Chris Hayes called out Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for repeating a conspiracy theory that originated from an outrageous article out of Alex Jones' far right Infowars site. The article claimed that an imam in Jerusalem encouraged followers to breed with Europeans in order to "conquer their countries."

    On the December 9 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, Hayes interviewed Rep. King who stoked fears about Muslim immigrants coming to the U.S. King argued Muslim immigrants are unwilling to assimilate and referenced a story about an imam in Jerusalem who encouraged Muslim migrants to "go into Western Europe, build your enclaves there, breed their women, and do not associate or assimilate into the boarder society."

    Later in the show, Hayes pointed out that King's anecdote about the imam who encouraged refugees to "breed" with European women in order to "infiltrate" European society originated from conservative conspiracy website Infowars. Hayes stated Infowars is headed by Alex Jones "who claims the U.S. government carried 9/11 and the Boston marathon bombing."

    CHRIS HAYES (HOST): We should note in my interview with Congressman Steve King, he referenced an Imam who allegedly encouraged migrants to quote "breed with Europeans" as some kind of infiltration invasion tactic. That report originated from InfoWars, a website run by Alex Jones, who Southern Poverty Law Center dubs the most prolific conspiracy theorist in America and who claims the U.S. government carried out 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombing. 

    Alex Jones' Infowars has a history of pushing baseless conspiracy theories. Recently the site claimed the San Bernardino shooting was a government conspiracy "geared to elicit widespread public outrage." The site has also posted articles claiming 9/11 was perpetrated by government officials in the U.S.  And Jones himself has published articles arguing the "Pope is a part of the globalist plan to destroy the world and usher in a one-world government."