Author Page | Media Matters for America

Miles Le

Author ››› Miles Le
  • Video: Conservatives say they don't know why athletes are protesting. Here are over 40 athletes, coaches, sports commentators, and others explaining.

    Blog ››› ››› MILES LE

    Right-wing media figures have repeatedly attacked athletes in the NFL, NBA, and other sports leagues for speaking out about police brutality, racial injustice, and inequality. Fox News hosts and guests have claimed that athletes are ungrateful and overdramatic, that they "hate your country" for protesting "racism or something,” and that they should just “shut up and dribble.”

    Conservative commentators and guests have also complained that athletes haven’t adequately explained why they’re protesting in the first place. But current and retired professional athletes, student athletes, coaches, sports commentators, and others have explained at length what they are fighting for. Here are over 40 examples:

  • Media should stop treating Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as inevitable

    Activists and concerned citizens are fired up and engaged in the fight against Kavanaugh

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN & MILES LE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Ever since President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to fill retiring Anthony Kennedy’s Supreme Court seat, media outlets have continually downplayed the energy and activism of those working to oppose this far-right nominee’s confirmation, treating it as a fait accompli.

    Trump announced Kavanaugh’s nomination on July 9, 2018, a week and a half after Justice Anthony Kennedy disclosed that he would be retiring from the Supreme Court (he officially retired July 31). Despite Kavanaugh’s record as “an uncommonly partisan judge” with troubling views on the environment, labor, LGBTQ discrimination, abortion rights, gun safety, immigration, and more, many media figures portrayed him as a centrist pick who is “within the broad mainstream” and “not as far right” as other options Trump considered.

    In addition, many outlets have treated his confirmation as inevitable. For example, The Washington Post and The New York Times argued that activists weren’t engaged in the fight to stop Kavanaugh. As the Post wrote, “Democrats have all but acknowledged that they are unable to stop the Senate from confirming Trump nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court this fall,” while the Times blamed everything from upcoming midterm elections to activists’ inability to compete with “an almost daily barrage of other Trump administration actions” for the perceived lack of energy. New York magazine similarly argued that “the resistance to Kavanaugh has remained on a low flame, failing to boil over into the righteous fury that characterized the battle over Obamacare repeal last summer.”

    However, as Rewire.News’ Katelyn Burns reported, “Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the U.S. Supreme Court is not inevitable.” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund told Burns, “A veneer of inevitability has been the actual strategy that the people backing Kavanaugh have used,” but activists are “countering that and saying, ‘No way.'” HuffPost guest writer Robert Creamer similarly argued that treating Kavanaugh’s nomination as inevitable “plays right into the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who hopes to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Creamer pointed to Kavanaugh’s extremely narrow path to confirmation -- with Republicans having “a tiny effective majority of 50 to 49 in the Senate” -- as well as his incredibly low approval numbers, and the “unprecedented nationwide campaign to resist” his confirmation, as evidence that the fight against Kavanaugh is far from over. As Teen Vogue columnist Lauren Duca wrote: “When you subscribe to the myth of inevitability, you confirm it as reality, and for anyone who gives a sh*t about equality and/or democracy, that is simply not an option.”

    Outlets may not be reporting on the vast amount of activist energy against Kavanaugh, but people are fired up and making their feelings known:

    Kavanaugh's confirmation isn't inevitable -- he's got the lowest approval ratings of any Supreme Court nominee in decades, in addition to an extreme record on a number of consequential topics. The hearings to confirm Kavanaugh start soon. And media shouldn’t erase or ignore the very real opposition to his confirmation that’s on display across the country.

  • Video: Climate change worsens extreme weather and hurts people of color the most. When will mainstream media tell this story?

    Media severely under-covered Hurricane Maria, which affected mostly Latinx people.

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    Thousands of people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, researchers estimate, and it took 11 months to restore power to all residents. Maria was the worst weather disaster to affect Puerto Rico in 80 years and potentially the deadliest hurricane to hit the U.S. since 1900. But many news outlets failed to give much coverage to the storm and the ongoing recovery efforts.

    Why?

    Maybe because most of the victims of Hurricane Maria were people of color: 99 percent of the population of Puerto Rico is Latinx.

    Extreme weather and climate disasters have the biggest effects on people of color, the poor, and women, both in the U.S. and around the world -- and the media need to be talking about that.

    The first Sunday after Hurricane Maria made landfall, the five major Sunday political talk shows cumulatively dedicated less than one minute of coverage to the storm. When outlets did turn their coverage to Maria, it was because of the president’s antics. Coverage spiked when President Donald Trump got in a Twitter fight with the mayor of Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, and when he visited the territory and threw paper towels out into a crowd. When the drama ended, coverage dropped significantly and has stayed low even as Puerto Rico continues struggling to recover.

    On top of this lack of coverage is the problem that many mainstream outlets don’t talk to the people who are most affected by climate change, and they also don’t talk enough to scientists or climate researchers. Only 13 percent of guests featured during climate-related segments on Sunday shows in 2017 were people of color, just 29 percent of the guests were women, and no climate scientists or journalists were featured at all -- the second year that scientists and journalists were completely excluded.

    Mainstream media outlets need to talk to the people who are being hurt the most by climate change. They also need to connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather, to help everyone understand that climate change isn’t just something that will happen in the future or in faraway places. It's happening now, and it's happening everywhere.

  • “Not in our city”: Activists are protesting at the ICE field office for Washington, DC

    Blog ››› ››› MILES LE & PAM VOGEL

    On August 2, activists led by the Washington, D.C., metro area chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (Metro DC DSA) began a multiday protest outside of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office for the D.C. area, located in Fairfax, VA. Four protesters were arrested that day, and six more were arrested on August 3. The action was sparked by recent ICE activity in D.C. neighborhoods, including arrests in the communities of Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights, as part of a larger ICE operation in which 132 people were detained in D.C. and Virginia. The activists plan to continue the protest in the coming days, and are hoping their direct action will spur media to question D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has declared the city a "sanctuary city." 

    Here’s what activists, including the six people arrested on August 3, had to say about why they were willing to risk arrest and how media ought to report on ICE activities:

  • Video: There's a housing discrimination crisis in America -- and coverage of the issue should reflect that

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    The Fair Housing Act was passed 50 years ago, but housing discrimination is still rampant, and media coverage of the issue is overly focused on President Donald Trump’s history of racism and discrimination in this arena. While his past is notable, it’s important for mainstream outlets to inform viewers about the widespread and complicated nature of housing discrimination by interviewing victims and highlighting fair housing research.

    The Fair Housing Act was supposed to protect the right to fair housing for all people. And yet the act is not fulfilling its goals, with unprecedented attacks from the Trump administration and continued discrimination by banks, lenders, landlords, and/or developers, against Black and Latinx people, the poor, the formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and single women who are looking to rent or buy a home. There were 28,181 reported complaints of housing discrimination in 2016, but according to the National Fair Housing Alliance, housing discrimination is seriously underreported. The organization estimates that there are actually over 4 million cases of housing discrimination each year in America.

    Mainstream television coverage of housing discrimination has been overly focused on Trump's personal history with discrimination. Mainstream news outlets are right to warn viewers about his history of racism and discrimination against Black people. However, mainstream outlets such as MSNBC and CNN should follow the lead of PBS and Democracy Now and use these opportunities to inform viewers about the issue, including by interviewing victims of housing discrimination and highlighting important fair housing research.

  • Activist groups deliver 600,000 petitions to the FCC demanding the merger of Sinclair and Tribune be stopped 

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH, JOHN KERR & MILES LE

    On July 12, 2018, activist groups gathered outside the Federal Communications Commission building in Washington, D.C., to deliver over 600,000 petitions demanding that the unprecedented acquisition of Tribune Media by conservative local TV giant Sinclair Broadcast Group not go through.

    Video shot by John Kerr

    Are there Sinclair stations near you? Use Media Matters’ interactive map at FindSinclair.com to learn more.

  • Video: Activists at the Supreme Court continue to fight for #NoMuslimBanEver

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE

    On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban that bans or restricts travel from predominantly Muslim majority countries. Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent from the majority 5-4 ruling traced the ban’s roots in Trump’s anti-Muslim statements throughout his campaign and and since he took office, writing that “a reasonable observer would view” Trump’s “executive policy” as “motivated by animus against Muslims." She also found that this case had “stark parallels” to Korematsu v. United States (1944), which upheld an executive order that forced Japanese Americans into concentration camps.

    Activists gathered in Washington D.C. to protest the ruling and stand up to the blatant anti-Muslim discrimination, racism, and xenophobia that this ban perpetuates.

    Here’s what they had to say to this administration and the media covering this decision:

  • How cable news poisons the conversation about abortion

    Blog ››› ››› MILES LE & DAYANITA RAMESH

    Media Matters’ abortion rights and reproductive health team monitored evening cable news programs for 12 months and found that Fox News was responsible for 54 percent of all abortion related coverage, more than MSNBC (29 percent of all segments) and CNN (17 percent of all segments) combined. And of those segments on Fox, 77 percent included misinformation and outright falsehoods about four common abortion-related topics: the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), abortion funding rules, Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and “extreme” abortion procedures.

    The bottom line: Fox News isn’t just dominating the conversation about abortion; it’s also filling an information void left by CNN and MSNBC with misinformation and stigma. Other networks need to stop treating abortion as a political football and present frank, fair, and factual conversations about this necessary form of health care.

  • Video: Activists at the Supreme Court tell the Trump administration #NoMuslimBanEver

    Here's what protesters have to say about Trump's Muslim ban and how the media covers it

    Blog ››› ››› SANAM MALIK, DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE

    Miles Le / Media Matters
    Miles Le / Media Matters

    More than a year ago, thousands of protesters flooded the streets and airports across the U.S. after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that barred all refugee admission to the U.S. and also denied people from seven Muslim-majority countries to travel to the country. After intense legal battles, coupled with extreme public outrage, the federal district courts successfully but temporarily blocked two versions of the Muslim Ban, as it came to be known, from going into effect deeming them unconstitutional. However, the Trump administration’s third attempt, Muslim Ban 3.0, was allowed to go into full effect by the U.S. Supreme Court as lawsuits were litigated.

    Finally, on Wednesday, April 25, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the ban, which affects more than 150 million people. The court will issue a decision by the end of June on its legality. Protesters, faith leaders, activists, and lawmakers once again came together outside the Supreme Court to voice their opposition and stand in solidarity with those affected.

    While the mainstream media largely ignored the protest, we spoke to some of the protesters and here’s what they had to say:

    The lack of coverage and representation of Muslim Americans in media weaponizes anti-Muslim sentiment that comes from the right-wing media. With an increase in hate crimes against Muslim Americans, the mainstream media should do its part to avoid fueling anti-Muslim extremism.

  • Video: Coverage of gun violence must include police violence against black people

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE

    Police in America shoot and kill more people than police in other highly developed countries do, and a disproportionately high number of those killed are black Americans. In 2012, black people accounted for 31 percent of police killings, even though they made up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. Research shows that black Americans are more likely to be shot and killed by police than other races.

    This is the grim reality. But right-wing media, conservative personalities, and some mainstream media figures criminalize black victims of police violence. Here are some examples:

    • Former CNN “law enforcement analyst” Harry Houck said the officers who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice acted “properly” when they shot him while he played in a park.

    • After a police officer shot and killed Walter Scott, who was unarmed and merely ran, Fox’s Geraldo Rivera said: “This civilian has dared to have a physical altercation with the officer.” (Rivera has also repeatedly victim-blamed black teenagers.)

    • After Stephon Clark was shot eight times, mostly in the back, Fox News’ William La Jeunesse remarked: “Now, Clark does have a criminal record.”

    • Fox host Sean Hannity called Freddie Gray, who died “days after suffering a severe spinal injury while riding in the back of a police van,” the “lowest scum parasite in the world” and said: “Look at this guy's record, look at his arrest record. … I'm saying that he's obviously not a pillar of the community.”

    • Hannity also said that Terrence Crutcher, who was shot even after following orders by a police officer, “has a long criminal history and appeared to be under the influence.” (More of Hannity's race-baiting remarks can be found here.)

    • CBS’ David Begnaud claimed that Alton Sterling, who was pinned to the ground, tased, and shot, “has a lengthy criminal history.”

    • Fox’s Mark Fuhrman said of Sterling: “Now, this man has to take responsibility that he did have a gun, and he conducted himself in some manner to draw attention to a citizen who called the police.” (Fuhrman has a long history of making racist remarks.)

    • In another instance, Fox News blatantly ignored dashcam footage in its coverage of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by police officer Jeronimo Yanez. The footage revealed that Castile had alerted the officer that he was armed and had a valid permit for his firearm.

    Following the school shooting in Parkland, FL, and the resulting March for Our Lives movement for gun regulation, Parkland students have tried to shift media focus to the widespread gun violence against people of color, which they note has not drawn as much media attention as they have.

    The disparity shows a failure by national media to highlight black and brown voices and to recognize the systemic failures and historical context that have led to the unfair targeting of black Americans by law enforcement. State violence against people of color has been part of the fabric of the U.S. since its formation. But you wouldn't know that from some media coverage.

    Black Americans are dying at the hands of police officers. Media should hold law enforcement accountable and treat victims of police brutality the same way they treat victims of gun violence.

    (Charts and Images via CBS News, Family of Stephon Clark, Fibonacci Blue on Flickr, MSNBC, NBC News, Sun Sentinel, Tiffany Dena Loftin, Vox, Wikimedia Commons, and WLRN. Footage via CBS News, CNN, The Crisis Magazine, Fox News Channel, Tiffany Dena Loftin, and WJLA.)