Author Page | Media Matters for America

Sophia Tesfaye

Author ››› Sophia Tesfaye
  • "Los Inmigrantes Son Más Peligrosos Que ISIS" Y Otros 10 Momentos Odiosos Anti-Inmigrantes De Ann Coulter

    ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE & ALEXANDREA BOGUHN English language version

    Según dijo la comentarista conservadora Ann Coulter durante una entrevista reciente con Jorge Ramos, periodista de Fusion y Univisión, los inmigrantes que vienen a EE.UU. constituyen una amenaza mayor para los estadounidenses que el grupo terrorista Estado Islámico (ISIS). Sin embargo, esta no es la primera vez que Coulter hace comentarios ofensivos al hablar sobre el tema migratorio. Media Matters recopiló ejemplos del historial de retórica anti-inmigrante que Coulter ha usado en el pasado.

  • Immigrants Are Supposedly More Dangerous Than ISIS And 10 Other Horrible Anti-Immigrant Media Moments From Ann Coulter

    ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE & ALEXANDREA BOGUHN Versión en español

    Conservative commentator Ann Coulter agreed that immigrants to the United States are a bigger threat to Americans than the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group during a recent interview with Fusion's Jorge Ramos -- hardly the first of Coulter's offensive comments on immigration. Media Matters looked back at Coulter's marked history of inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric.

  • Fox News Suggests Clergy Will Be Forced To Marry Gay Couples If Supreme Court Rules For Marriage Equality

    Blog ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS & SOPHIA TESFAYE

    Fox News' Special Report cherry-picked Justice Antonin Scalia's religious freedom concerns from the Supreme Court's oral arguments on constitutional protections for same-sex marriage to question whether clergy may "be required to conduct same-sex marriages." But this selective reporting ignores the fact that Scalia's line of questioning was immediately debunked by his fellow justices as well as the pro-marriage equality lawyer.

    On April 28, the court heard landmark arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that will decide whether the U.S. Constitution forbids states from banning same-sex marriages, or at least requires them to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where it's legal.

    During the April 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report, anchor Bret Baier highlighted a dubious line of questioning between Scalia and Mary Bonauto, the lawyer representing the same-sex couples, that suggested a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage would require clergy with religious objections to perform those ceremonies. Baier reiterated Scalia's question to The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, who agreed and argued that a ruling in favor of marriage equality would leave religious liberties vulnerable:

    BAIER: There's one more thing. If states license ministers to conduct marriages, would those ministers -- if it is constitutional -- then be required to conduct same-sex marriages?

    HAYES: Right, and then you go to the religious liberty argument. I mean, this is one area where I think conservatives are shifting their focus now, in a sense almost conceding that the gay marriage debate for all intents and purposes in the political realm is over, but can they sort of protect those religious liberties that, you know, certainly I would argue that the founders intended.

  • O'Reilly Falls For Absurd Campaign Demanding Justices Ginsburg And Kagan's Recusal From Marriage Equality Case

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    In the lead up to next week's landmark Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of marriage equality, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly is amplifying a fringe -- and absurd -- right-wing campaign calling on Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elana Kagan to recuse themselves because they have officiated same-sex marriages. But these actions, along with Ginsburg's comments noting the American public is rapidly turning against anti-LGBT discrimination, are not grounds for legitimate recusal.

    In January, the American Family Association (AFA) -- a notorious anti-gay hate group -- announced a campaign titled, "Kagan and Ginsburg: Recuse Yourselves!" In a statement, the AFA, best known for its infamous anti-gay spokesman Bryan Fischer, called on the justices to recuse themselves ahead of next week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. The group argued that Kagan and Ginsburg "should recuse themselves from making any same-sex marriage decisions because they have both conducted same-sex marriage ceremonies."

    On April 20, Fox legal correspondent Shannon Bream twice reported on "public calls, petition drives, and appeals directly to Justices Ginsburg and Kagan to recuse themselves from hearing next week's case on same-sex marriage." During Fox News' Special Report, Bream pointed to the justices' past history officiating same-sex weddings and a February 2015 interview during which Ginsburg said that it "would not take a large adjustment" for Americans to get used to nationwide marriage equality. On April 21, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly picked up the argument in his "Is It Legal" segment on The O'Reilly Factor, declaring "these ladies have to recuse themselves," because "[t]he Supreme Court is supposed to be an incorruptible institution, but reports say Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has herself performed three gay marriages, and Justice Elena Kagan, one":

  • Media Misleadingly Compare Anti-LGBT Indiana Law With Federal And State Religious Freedom Laws

    ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE & CAL COLGAN

    Media outlets have argued that Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) mirrors RFRAs passed in other states as well as the federal RFRA signed into law in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton. In fact, Indiana's RFRA is broader than other versions of the law, and experts say it could allow private businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers on the basis of religion.

  • Journalism Professors Issue Letter Critical Of 60 Minutes Ebola Coverage

    Scholars: 60 Minutes' Ebola Coverage Managed To "Render People Of Black African Ancestry Voiceless And All But Invisible"

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    60 Minutes' Ebola Coverage

    More than 150 writers and professors sent a letter to CBS criticizing 60 Minutes' Ebola coverage, which they described as a "frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent." 

    According to Politico, former New York Times foreign correspondent and associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Howard D. French, along with 150 academics and journalists sent a letter to 60 Minutes' executive producer Jeffery Fager, condemning what they called "many of the worst habits of modern American journalism on the subject of Africa." The letter takes issue with 60 Minutes' failure to air the perspective of Africans during their reports on Ebola from areas like Liberia, noting that "the only people heard from on the air were white foreigners who had come to Liberia to contribute to the fight against the disease." The letter continued: 

    Africans were reduced to the role of silent victims. They constituted what might be called a scenery of misery: people whose thoughts, experiences and actions were treated as if totally without interest. 

    [...]

    Liberians not only died from Ebola, but many of them contributed bravely to the fight against the disease, including doctors, nurses and other caregivers, some of whom gave their lives in this effort. Despite this, the only people heard from on the air were white foreigners who had come to Liberia to contribute to the fight against the disease.

    Taken together, this anachronistic style of coverage reproduces, in condensed form, many of the worst habits of modern American journalism on the subject of Africa. To be clear, this means that Africa only warrants the public's attention when there is disaster or human tragedy on an immense scale, when Westerners can be elevated to the role of central characters, or when it is a matter of that perennial favorite, wildlife. As a corollary, Africans themselves are typically limited to the role of passive victims, or occasionally brutal or corrupt villains and incompetents; they are not otherwise shown to have any agency or even the normal range of human thoughts and emotions. Such a skewed perspective not only disserves Africa, it also badly disserves the news viewing and news reading public.

    In a statement to the Columbia Journalism Review, a 60 Minutes spokesperson responded that they have invited French to discuss the issue and said that "60 Minutes is proud of its coverage of Africa and has received considerable recognition for it."  French told CJR that he "would be happy to speak with them, but the only basis for sincere conversation that I can detect would be engaging on the points of my letter, and they have not done that." 

  • Bill O'Reilly Attacks "Restorative Justice" Programs That Reduce Racially Disproportionate School Discipline

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attacked efforts to decrease school suspensions and expulsions with programs known as "restorative justice," ignoring that these traditional punishments disproportionately target students of color.

    For decades, many school districts followed zero-tolerance policies on student discipline. Such policies encouraged schools to suspend students for many types of violent and non-violent misconduct, including "insubordination," often at racially disproportionate rates. According to a report by UCLA's Center for Civil Rights Remedies, American students lost almost 18 million days of school instruction due to suspensions just in the 2011-12 school year. In 2014, the Department of Education and Department of Justice reported that the racial disparities "are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color," and issued new guidelines aimed at reducing racial disparities in school discipline.

    In an effort to combat such racially disparate suspension rates, some school districts have promoted alternative school discipline models known as "restorative justice" programs. These programs typically involve working with students to get them to take responsibility for their behavior through group talking and dialogue rather than outright suspension or expulsion. New York City recently announced that "principals must get approval from the Education Department central office before [a] student can be suspended," and in recent years has included "more alternatives to traditional punishments, like peer mediation and early interventions."

    During the March 17 edition of his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly hosted New York Post columnist Paul Sperry for a segment titled, "Chaos in Public Schools." O'Reilly claimed that "liberal mayors all over the country are making it easier for violent students to remain in public schools." O'Reilly added that "students can actually assault teachers without being suspended or expelled in some cases."  

    But O'Reilly's dismissal of such school discipline reform efforts ignores the racially disparate impact of zero-tolerance policies. As Capital New York explained, "during the 2013-2014 school year, the most recent year for which data is available, 53,000 suspensions were issued, and black or Hispanic students made up 87 percent of those suspensions" in New York City. According to U.S. News & World Report, "Black Americans are suspended and expelled at three times the rate of white students. They make up 16 percent of school enrollment, but account for 32 percent of students who receive in-school suspensions, 42 percent of students who receive multiple out-of-school suspensions and 34 percent of students who are expelled":                                          

    The school discipline reforms that O'Reilly attacked have resulted in fewer suspensions. The Christian Science Monitor in 2013 described the impact of such a program in the Oakland Unified School District: 

    In the 2011-12 school year, African-Americans made up 32 percent of Oakland's students but 63 percent of the students suspended. In middle schools, principals suspended about 1 out of 3 black boys.

    The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights investigated whether the discipline was discriminatory. Before making a legal finding, OCR collaborated with the district last fall on a five-year voluntary resolution plan to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and the racial disparity.

    [...]

    Suspensions not only dropped by 51 percent last year, but they continue to fall, and [Ralph J. Bunche Academy] eliminated disproportionality in suspensions for African-Americans.

  • Fox's Perino Lashes Out At Democrats For Preventing Expansion Of Anti-Abortion Hyde Amendment In Human Trafficking Bill

    Fox's Dana Perino: "Democrats Are Jerks On This Issue"

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    Fox's Dana Perino lashed out at Senate Democrats, calling them "jerks" for preventing a Republican attempt to expand the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of taxpayer funded abortions, to include fees collected from criminal human traffickers. Republicans' latest anti-abortion manuever now jeopardizes the passage of a bipartisan anti-human trafficking bill. 

    The Justice For Victims of Trafficking Act, a bipartisan anti-human trafficking bill once fast-tracked for approval is now on hold after Senate Democrats discovered language in the bill "that would extend the longstanding Hyde Amendment barring the use of taxpayer funds for abortions to the new Domestic Trafficking Victims' Fund," according to the Washington Post. Senate Republicans have demanded that the bill, which would establish a fund for victims of human trafficking using money collected through fines levied against convicted smugglers, "be subject to the limitations" outlined in the Hyde Amendment.

    During the March 12 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Dana Perino chided Senate Democrats for demanding the removal of the anti-abortion language from the bill, claiming that "the human trafficking bill is not moving forward today because Democrats are jerks on this issue":  

    Currently, the Hyde Amendment only forbids federal tax dollars from funding abortions. The Washington Post explained that although the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act does not specifically mention the word "abortion," the Hyde Amendment language would apply "to the new fund, which is supported by a proposed $5,000 assessment on those convicted of a wide variety of federal crimes related to sexual abuse and human trafficking." Furthermore, the anti-abortion language in the bill, unlike the Hyde Amendment which must be renewed each year, would be permanent, leaving trafficked victims of sexual violence cut off from abortion related services. 

  • Megyn Kelly Claims Racist Emails Circulate At Most Companies To Downplay DOJ's Ferguson Report

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    Fox News host Megyn Kelly and Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens dismissed the Department of Justice (DOJ) report on Ferguson Police Department's disproportionate targeting of blacks as a "case of bad apples." Despite serious findings of racial bias and stereotyping in the department, Kelly called the report "problematic," arguing that "there are very few companies in America...[where]...you won't find racist emails."

    A Department of Justice investigation into the Ferguson Police Department found that the city's "approach to law enforcement both reflects and reinforces racial bias, including stereotyping." The report also found that the disproportionate arrests and citations of African Americans could not be explained by differences in the rate of crime committed by blacks and whites. 

    According to NBC News, the investigation also "highlighted seven racist emails sent by police and court employees." CNN reported that the emails "resulted in three Ferguson, Missouri, city employees resigning or being fired," noting:

    [T]he racist emails include one sent in October 2011 that showed a photo of bare-chested dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption "Michelle Obama's High School Reunion." A June 2011 email described a man trying to put his dogs on welfare because the canines were "mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no ... clue who their Daddies are."

    During the March 9 edition of her Fox News show, Kelly hosted Stephens who downplayed the DOJ's report as merely a report about traffic citations, "not a story of institutional racism." Kelly agreed, saying it is unfair to "tar the entire organization" as racist because "there are very few companies in America, whether they are public or private" where "you won't find any racist e-mails, [or] any inappropriate comments."

  • After Hearing From NFL Star Victor Cruz, Fox News Suddenly Believes In Healthy School Nutrition

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    Fox News championed a campaign to encourage healthy school nutrition in an interview with New York Giants player Victor Cruz, sharply contrasting with the network's long history of attacking similar efforts as government fiat. 

    On the March 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Victor Cruz promoted Fuel Up to Play 60, the "nation's largest in-school wellness program." The initiative, a partnership between the National Football League and the National Dairy Council, aims to encourage support for school nutrition by creating "a system for increasing breakfast participation by delivering reimbursable meals to classrooms for student consumption before or during class," pointing to research that suggests offering "breakfast free to all children improve[s] student achievement, diets and behavior."

    Cruz's campaign received a warm welcome by the Fox & Friends co-hosts who donned Cruz jerseys while interviewing him during National School Breakfast Week. Co-host Steve Doocy lauded Cruz for working to ensure "every kid in America is eating a healthy breakfast." Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck praised Cruz's campaign, saying, "I know how important you understand nutrition is for kids. You do so much for kids, and this Play 60 campaign that you're running with here is so important. Tell us about why breakfast really counts for kids":