Research ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS, ALEXANDREA BOGUHN & RACHEL CALVERT
Right-wing media responded in disbelief and outrage to the Supreme Court's decision holding that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
Right-wing media responded in disbelief and outrage to the Supreme Court's decision holding that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
Fox & Friends co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy baselessly speculated that 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would remain silent on South Carolina's Confederate flag out of deference to her husband's actions as governor of Arkansas. However, Clinton said in a 2007 interview with the Associated Press that South Carolina should remove the flag from its statehouse grounds.
On the June 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Hasselbeck pointed out that while most of the GOP presidential field has weighed in on South Carolina's decision to continue flying the Confederate flag on its state house grounds in the wake of last week's mass shooting in a black, historically activist church in Charleston, Hillary Clinton has not yet made a statement. She speculated that Clinton's silence may be "because Bill Clinton, her husband, signed a law honoring the Confederacy in Arkansas and about the flag's design in 1987," while he was governor of Arkansas, going on to say, "She's just in a tough spot, to have to defend her husband's position back then, right now in light of what happened in South Carolina."
However, as the Clinton campaign pointed out to BuzzFeed, Clinton unequivocally told the Associated Press in 2007 that she would "like to see it removed from the Statehouse grounds," saying,"I think about how many South Carolinians have served in our military and who are serving today under our flag and I believe that we should have one flag that we all pay honor to, as I know that most people in South Carolina do every single day." Clinton was running for the Democratic presidential nomination at the time.
The Fox hosts also failed to note that while several of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates have made statements on the Confederate flag, none openly condemned it -- Scott Walker said the decision to fly the flag is a "state issue" and Marco Rubio said that "outsiders" should not tell South Carolina what to do.
Clinton has spoken about racism in the wake of the Charleston shooting, which claimed nine lives. Speaking on Saturday, she said, "Race remains a deep fault line in America ... Millions of people of color still experience racism in their everyday lives."
Meanwhile, most of Fox News' coverage of the shooting failed to take the shooter's allegedly racist motivations seriously. On June 18, Doocy said it was extraordinary that the shooting would be called a hate crime. And on his radio program, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade wondered, "Is it about Christians? Is it about white-black? Is it about 'I hate South Carolina'?"
In the wake of the South Carolina shooting massacre that killed nine at an African Methodist Episcopal Church, The Wall Street Journal editorial board claimed that the institutionalized racism that enabled racist attacks on black churches throughout history no longer exists in America.
President Obama spoke on June 18 about the Charleston, South Carolina, shooting massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, saying the shooting is reminiscent of "a dark part of our history," and explaining, "We know that this is not the first time in our history that black churches have been attacked."
The Wall Street Journal responded to Obama's remarks the next day, claiming that the institutionalized racism "that enabled racist killings" throughout history "like those in the Birmingham church" no longer exists:
A white man murdering black people in the South forces bad memories to the surface, and so it surely was appropriate for President Obama to note this in his remarks Thursday. Specifically, Mr. Obama recalled the September 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four black girls.
Amid the horror of Charleston, it is also important to note that the U.S., notably the South, has moved forward to replace the system that enabled racist killings like those in the Birmingham church.
Back then and before, the institutions of government--police, courts, organized segregation--often worked to protect perpetrators of racially motivated violence, rather than their victims.
The universal condemnation of the murders at the Emanuel AME Church and Dylann Roof's quick capture by the combined efforts of local, state and federal police is a world away from what President Obama recalled as "a dark part of our history." Today the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King no longer exists.
Fox News and Fox News Latino hosts treated Donald Trump's demand that Mexico build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in drastically different ways. Fox News host Brian Kilmeade defended Trump's idea by hyping crime statistics, while Fox Latino host Rick Sanchez pointed out that Trump's "atrocious" comments go "against what's really happening right now in this country."
During his presidential campaign announcement June 16, Donald Trump railed against immigration from Mexico, characterizing immigrants as criminals and "rapists":
TRUMP: The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems.
When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best. They are not sending you, they are not sending you. They are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some I assume are good people.
Trump advocated for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying, "I would build a great wall. And nobody builds walls better than me, believe me. And I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I'll have Mexico pay for that wall."
Fox News' hosts of Fox & Friends praised Trump for his suggestion that Mexico build a wall on its border with the U.S., and Kilmeade defended Trump's idea on June 18 by promoting the fabricated link between immigrants and crime. Kilmeade hyped crime statistics to push the myth that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born citizens, adding that these crimes "all link to illegals here. People see that, and they see especially what happened last year with families flooding across, and they think, how do we stop this?"
Kilmeade's rhetoric stands in stark contrast to comments from Fox News Latino's Rick Sanchez, who called Trump's comments "atrocious" and pointed out that Trump's characterization of immigration as a drain on the U.S. is inconsistent with the facts. Sanchez noted, "that kind of language just goes against what's really happening right now in this country," while listing the positive impacts immigration has had:
SANCHEZ: The Hispanic labor participation rate in the United States is 65 percent, that's higher than any other demographic sector. If you look at some of the other numbers like self-employment, it's higher than any other sector. Last year, according to The Wall Street Journal, just two weeks ago, Latinos in the United States, Latino businesses created more jobs than any other demographic group in the United Sates. I mean, you can go down the list and see these wonderful things that are happening in this country, which are good for the United States, good for our economy.
In contrast to Kilmeade's defense, studies consistently show that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the native-born population. According to the Center for American Progress, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or to be incarcerated than native-born Americans:
A 2007 study by the Immigration Policy Center found that the incarceration rate for immigrant men ages 18 to 39 in 2000 was 0.7 percent, while the incarceration rate for native-born men of the same age group was 3.5 percent. While the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 8 percent to 13 percent between 1990 and 2010, FBI data indicate that violent crime rates across the country fell by about 45 percent, while property crime rates fell by 42 percent.
Furthermore, experts agree that a border fence would not be an effective solution to any perceived immigration problem.
Fox & Friends mocked students pushing for gender-neutral, uniform graduation robes in Maryland schools as the "P.C. police."
Students in Montgomery County, Maryland, are pushing for district schools to switch from a gendered dual-color scheme to single-color robes for all graduates. According to The Washington Post, the effort started at James Hubert Blake High School after the school's gay-straight alliance became aware that four students at another county high school were barred from wearing the color robe that conformed with their gender identity:
The student group believed single-color robes were the best way to go for many of their peers, including those who are transgender or questioning their gender identity.
So they wrote to the principals last June, noting that colleges use robes in one color as well as practical benefits of a change: Same-color robes make it easier for staff to organize students and for families watching the ceremony to follow along. Girls would no longer have to buy white outfits to wear beneath white robes, and more families would be able to pass down robes from child to child.
On the June 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade teased a segment on the school's decision to adopt uniform graduation robes for all students by saying "I believe there's way too many gender-bending stories in the news right now":
Later in the show, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck introduced a segment on the graduation robes by claiming "the P.C. police are on patrol in Maryland schools, and this time mandating that graduation robes be gender-neutral." Hasselbeck spoke to Julie Gunlock, the Culture of Alarmism Director of the conservative Independent Women's Forum, who asserted that students should worry about "real hardship in the world" like ISIS:
GUNLOCK: I do think it's also important that educators and parents teach kids about real hardship in the world, I mean, in ISIS-controlled Iraq, you have women that are being raped and mutilated and murdered. Homosexuals are being thrown off rooftops; Christians are being hunted down and executed. This seems to me the real issues we should be concerned about -- not having to wear a color that conflicts with your own identity for one hour.
Blake High School's Allies 4 Equality explained the significance of gender-neutral robes in a letter to county principals: "Graduation is a day of celebration. People don't feel like they can celebrate if they feel pressured to accept gender roles that make them uncomfortable. Some in the community may protest that two colors of robes is a tradition. Our concern is that this tradition is hurtful to some students, who may not have the courage to speak out about it."
Fox News hosted Larry Pratt, the leader of far-right group Gun Owners of America, to defend actor Vince Vaughn's recent comments on the Second Amendment, even though Pratt has repeatedly said politicians who support gun safety laws should fear being shot.
In a recent interview with British GQ, Vaughn argued that the purpose of the Second Amendment is "to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government":
"I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don't have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It's not about duck hunting; it's about the ability of the individual."
During a June 2 appearance on Fox & Friends, Pratt defended Vaughn's insurrectionist view of the Second Amendment, stating, "I think Vaughn's point really needs to be emphasized. The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in our Constitution in order to protect the people's right to protect themselves from tyrannical government."
Fox & Friends hosted Pratt despite his long history of inflammatory commentary and radical interpretations of the Second Amendment. Notably, he has repeatedly stated that politicians who endorse gun violence prevention laws should fear being shot by GOA supporters. During a November 2014 interview, when Pratt was asked about his oft-made claim that politicians should have a "healthy fear" of being shot, he responded: "Sure, that is what the Second Amendment is all about."
Pratt, who is considered to be one of the founding members of the 1990s right-wing militia movement, has engaged in extremism on the gun issue for decades.
In 1996, Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan after The New York Times reported "that he had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements" and published articles about guns the magazine of a white supremacist group. The Boston Globe subsequently reported Pratt "had attended a 1992 conference of militant white supremacists in Colorado in the aftermath of the shootout with federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho," whose attendees included the leader of the racist and anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement, a former KKK leader, and Aryan Nation officials. Pratt reportedly spoke out in favor of the creation of "armed militia" units at the meeting.
In the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, Pratt suggested that far-right anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh was justified in carrying out the attack as a response to the government's conduct during the 1993 Waco standoff at the Branch Davidian compound. And in 2014, Pratt claimed that President Obama supports stronger gun laws to prevent Americans from using firearms "to keep people like him from becoming tyrants."
In addition, Pratt has proposed that the government itself stages violence and civil unrest. Appearing on right-wing conspiracy theory radio shows, Pratt suggested that the 2012 mass shootings in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School may have been government-staged events.
More recently, Pratt claimed it was "reasonable" to suspect that Obama orchestrated the civil unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, going on to argue that police should have shot and killed rioters to bring calm to the city.
Despite Pratt's history of extreme right-wing views, national news shows sometimes treat him as a credible source on gun violence in the wake of mass shooting tragedies. Over the year-and-a-half following Sandy Hook, Pratt made 13 appearances on evening and Sunday cable news programs, even appearing on Fox News Sunday to discuss the one year anniversary of the mass shooting.
His reputation also hasn't been enough to scare away GOP presidential candidates. In May, Senator Ted Cruz agreed to remotely address a town hall meeting hosted by GOA.
Despite his history of extremism, Pratt continues to make appearances on cable television to discuss gun issues. When asked why major media outlets continue to host Pratt, freelance reporter Alexander Zaitchik, who has extensively written about Pratt, explained in a video series on Pratt's role in the gun-rights movement, "I think a big part of it is just attention span... and historical memory is getting shorter and shorter," explaining that news outlets "seemed to think he was you know, springing up out of the ground and didn't have this long, multi-decade history of radicalism and extremism." According to Zaitchik, Pratt also moderates his message while appearing on national television, saving his more extreme commentary for the fringe right-wing radio shows he frequents.
Fox & Friends cried reverse racism when St. Louis University relocated what students and faculty considered a racially and culturally insensitive statue of Native Americans kneeling in front of a white missionary.
Following student and faculty complaints, St. Louis University relocated a statue depicting Native Americans being converted by Belgian missionary Fr. Pierre DeSmet, S.J. According to St. Louis Magazine, university officials pointed to concerns of cultural insensitivity and "white supremacy" in explaining the decision to move the statue inside the university's art museum:
Clayton Berry, SLU's assistant vice president for communications, tells SLM that the statue was moved to the university's art museum after staff voiced concerns.
"In more recent years, there have been some faculty and staff who have raised questions about whether the sculpture is culturally sensitive," Berry says. "Hearing that feedback, the decision was made to place the piece within the historical context of a collection that's on permanent display in our SLU Museum of Art."
University staff weren't alone in finding the statue of two Indian men submitting to a white man troubling. Two years before its removal, the student newspaper called it "the most controversial and misunderstood of all the artwork on the Saint Louis University campus." During Occupy SLU, the six-day student protest against racial inequality sparked by the Ferguson protests, Twitter user @EmmaculateJones shared photos of the statue, calling it a visual representation of "white supremacy on SLU campus."
However, Fox contributor Tucker Carlson called the relocation an "act of racism" on the May 29 edition of Fox & Friends, insisting to co-hosts that the statue's detractors were likely "wholly ignorant" of DeSmet's good works:
KILMEADE: It's a statue of Father Pierre Jean DeSmet ... And right there he is blessing American Indians back in his day. You know why? He was a Belgian Catholic priest who was able to convert countless members of American [[-]] Indians back in that day, and the American Indian community embraced him and his legacy. And among his good friends was actually Sitting Bull.
CARLSON: Despite those facts, of which I think the student body is likely wholly ignorant, the statue has beenremoved and shuttled off to a museum where it will be shown with the appropriate cultural context. Why? Because he was a white supremacist? No. Because he was white. His skin color is itself considered so offensive by the school that this statue can no longer be on display.
KILMEADE: Did anyone even Google this?
HASSELBECK: I mean, just do your homework! He was a friend to that community, reached out, and because of him a major treaty was signed. And after he died, only then did things get even more violent. He was the peacekeeper between the two groups.
Mainstream media outlets are misrepresenting Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's stance on pay equality, reporting on her claim that she supports equal pay without noting her opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Media should take note that a new Supreme Court voting rights case with important implications for Latinos is being advanced by Edward Blum, an anti-civil rights advocate with past ties to the right's "dark money ATM" and a long history of using the courts to undermine decades of anti-discrimination precedent.
On May 26, the Supreme Court agreed "to decide whether the Constitution requires only eligible voters be counted when forming legislative districts" in a lawsuit brought by anti-Voting Rights Act (VRA) activist Edward Blum:
The lawsuit was advanced by Edward Blum, whose Austin-based Project on Fair Representation has been litigating for years to roll back affirmative action, Voting Rights Act enforcement and other policies intended to benefit minorities.
The group's goal is to remove noncitizens and illegal immigrants from the legislative district count, but the Supreme Court has the option of considering whether other nonvoters should be excluded in calculating voting district sizes, such as minors, felons and even people who are eligible to vote but haven't registered.
The case represents a massive shift from the current system of calculating total residents and would benefit Republicans by shifting electoral clout away from Democratic-leaning urban areas. The change would dilute Hispanic communities' representation and "devastate" Latino voting power. Although currently focused on undocumented immigrant populations, Blum's latest efforts could also exclude minors, felons and eligible but unregistered voters from being counted, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Project on Fair Representation has seen some success in undermining the VRA. Blum masterminded Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, in which the Court overturned a key section of the VRA that prevented states from making potentially discriminatory changes to election law or district maps without Department of Justice approval. That decision cleared the way for numerous states to pass voter suppression laws in the lead-up to the 2014 midterm elections. In the lead-up to Shelby, Blum was allowed to push falsehoods about the VRA and voter suppression in The Wall Street Journal, while right-wing media figures hyped unfounded fears of voter fraud and distorted the continued need for voter protections.
In addition to voting rights, Blum has gone after affirmative action policies aimed at improving diversity in higher education. Although ultimately unsuccessful in the courts, Blum's affirmative action challenge was based on frequently cited myths about affirmative action's benefits.
Blum's efforts to undermine voting rights and eliminate affirmative action have been bankrolled by the conservative Donors Trust, deemed the "dark money ATM of the conservative movement" by Mother Jones.
Despite Blum's extensive anti-civil rights resume, mainstream media have historically failed to report his ties to conservative dark money, a mistake they should not repeat as his latest voter suppression effort makes its way to the Court.
A local reporter's five-year investigation into rape kit backlogs in Ohio helped inspire state-level reforms and identify hundreds of serial rapists, evidencing how good reporting can bring about positive change to states' handling of sexual assault -- a stark contrast to conservative media's dismissal of sexual assault that may actually discourage victims from coming forward.
Reporter Rachel Dissell discovered a decades-long backlog of untested rape kits while researching sexual assaults for Cleveland's The Plain Dealer. As she told NPR's Fresh Air, the Cleveland police possessed at least 4,000 untested kits, which contain DNA evidence that could be used to identify and prosecute perpetrators. While many factors contribute to why the kits were left untested, Dissell explained that often times the perceived credibility of the victim played a role: "A lot of the victims whose cases didn't go forward and whose kits weren't tested were minorities. They were drug addicts. They had mental health issues -- all kinds of things like that that just really made them the most vulnerable and the least likely to be believed."
Dissell and The Plain Dealer's reporting helped inspire a groundbreaking Ohio law mandating that old and new rape kits be tested, leading to the reopening of nearly 2,000 rape investigations and the identification of over 200 serial rapists or potential serial rapists.
The positive impact of such reporting shines a light on conservative media's comparatively dangerous coverage of sexual assault, which actively reinforces the stigma surrounding sexual assault victims.
Conservative media have repeatedly attempted to discredit research showing that one-in-five women experiences a completed or attempted sexually assault at college, mocking those who do come forward and dismissing efforts to address the crime as proof of a "war" on men.
Glenn Beck's TheBlazeTV argued that the sexual assault epidemic is "completely untrue" by acting out sexual positions and labelling each skit "RAPE!", while George Will asserted that victim has become a "coveted status." Pundits from Rush Limbaugh to The Weekly Standard's Harvey Mansfield have blamed women for the epidemic, while other conservative talking heads stoke fears about a supposed increase in false reports of sexual assault. Others have explicitly blamed victims for their sexual assault, describing sexual assault survivors as "bad girls...who like to be naughty" and lecturing women about the burden of personal responsibility, saying, "It is the truth that if you are the victim of violent crime or the victim of an attempted violent crime, it is not the patriarchy that puts the burden on you to defend yourself, it is not rigid gender roles, it is -- it's a fact of life."
Such disparaging coverage not only stigmatizes victims, it can actually discourage victims from reporting the crimes and their attackers in the first place. And sexual assault is already a vastly underreported crime -- estimates show that sexual assault goes unreported nearly 70 percent of the time.
In her interview with Fresh Air, Dissell described how discrediting sexual assault victims helps their rapists go unpunished: "They knew if they chose the most vulnerable women - the least likely to be believed - that they would never get caught. And I just don't know how that happened. How did we let them outsmart us for all that time?"