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Todd Gregory

Author ››› Todd Gregory
  • REPORT: New York City Television Stations Give Lopsided Coverage To Black Crime

    ››› ››› TODD GREGORY, SALVATORE COLLELUORI & DANIEL ANGSTER

    A Media Matters analysis found that four major broadcast television stations in New York City gave disproportionate coverage to crime stories involving African-American suspects over the past three months. The stations' late-night news broadcasts on weeknights covered murder, theft, and assault cases in which African-Americans were suspects at a notably higher rate than the rate at which African-Americans have historically been arrested for those crimes in New York City.

  • A New Benghazi Hoax: Misrepresenting An Out-Of-Context Email

    Blog ››› ››› ARI RABIN-HAVT & TODD GREGORY

    Image via Steve Rhodes

    As part of the latest hoax about the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, Fox News is distorting a document recently unearthed by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.

    Fox and Judicial Watch are trying to keep alive the phony right-wing narrative that the Obama administration somehow covered up the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, in which four Americans were killed.

    A December 12 FoxNews.com article about the Judicial Watch documents says, "Newly released documents show an official at the State Department urged a contractor providing security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi not to respond to media inquiries, in the wake of the September 2012 terrorist attack."

    Thus far, the only portion of the "documents" that Judicial Watch has released is an out-of-context, three-sentence quote from an email sent by State Department contracting officer Jan Visintainer to Blue Mountain Group, a firm that helped provide security at the diplomatic post in Benghazi. The email is dated September 26, 2012 -- about two weeks after the attacks.

    In reality, the quote from the email shows that Blue Mountain Group first suggested declining to speak with the media, and Visintainer agreed that this was the correct course. Visintainer also said he spoke about the matter with public affairs personnel at the State Department.

    Here is the entirety of the quote cited by Judicial Watch and Fox News:

    "Thank you so much for informing us about the media inquiries. We notified our public affairs personnel that they too may receive some questions. We concur with you that at the moment the best way to deal with the inquiries is to either be silent or provide no comments."

    Yet, in a blog post misleadingly titled "State Dept. Ordered Benghazi Security Co. to Dodge Media," Judicial Watch called this email "scandalous."

    No matter. Fox News and others in the conservative media are more than happy to forward this latest exaggeration to continue to push their Benghazi hoax

    Image via Steve Rhodes

  • Limbaugh Promotes A New Myth: Greeks Gave Themselves HIV For Welfare Money

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Rush Limbaugh is citing an erroneous report about HIV in Greece to falsely claim that half of all recent infections there were self-inflicted for the purpose of receiving government benefits. In fact, the original report on AIDS and HIV in Greece does not confirm a single instance of a person intentionally infecting himself with HIV.

    Limbaugh is surely fascinated by this erroneous report because it fits into the false right-wing narrative that government programs that help the poor encourage laziness and dependency.

    Limbaugh read from a post about Greece by the British magazine New Scientist during his November 25 radio show:

    After reading from the post, Limbaugh attempted to link LGBT people to diseases by saying, "Is that true? Greece is like the gay capital of the world? You heard that? I just had a note flashed to me that says -- well, I don't know about that."

    The magazine reported that Greeks who have HIV receive a monthly benefit of 700 euros, which is currently about $945.

    For the statistic that half of all recent infections in Greece were self-inflicted, New Scientist cited a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), an agency of the United Nations. 

    However, the WHO report is incorrect. The WHO's source for this figure is a 2011 study in the British medical journal The Lancet. Here is what the Lancet study actually says:

    An authoritative report described accounts of deliberate self-infection by a few individuals to obtain access to benefits of €700 per month and faster admission onto drug substitution programmes. These programmes offer access to synthetic opioids and can have waiting lists of 3 years or more in urban areas. [emphasis added]

    Somehow, the "few individuals" mentioned by The Lancet became "half of new HIV infections" in the WHO report.

    Furthermore, the "authoritative report" cited by The Lancet says:

    An additional factor the committee believed worth considering is the well-founded suspicion that some problem users are intentionally infected with HIV, because of the benefit they are entitled to (approximately € 1,400 every two months), and also because they are granted "exceptional admission" to the Substitution Programme. It is well-known that the Substitution Programme has a long waiting list and that the waiting time can be over 3-4 years. Drug users with a severe chronic condition jump the queue and are admitted in a short period of time. [emphasis added]

    So, the original source for this claim merely says that there is a "well-founded suspicion" that "some problem users" of IV drugs had intentionally infected themselves. A "suspicion" is not the same thing as a documented occurrence, let alone "half" of all recent infections. 

    UPDATE:

    WHO posted a correction to its study on November 26, explaining that the claim that "about half of new HIV infections being self-inflicted to enable people to receive benefits" was the result of an editing error:

    In September 2013, WHO/Europe published "Review of social determinants and the health divide in the WHO European Region". The report incorrectly states that, in Greece: "HIV rates and heroin use have risen significantly, with about half of new HIV infections being self-inflicted to enable people to receive benefits of €700 per month and faster admission on to drug substitution programmes".

    This statement is the consequence of an error in the editing of the report.

  • Right-Wing Media Quote-Cropping Tactics On Display At Hagel Confirmation Hearing

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Chuck Hagel

    After former Sen. Chuck Hagel was nominated as defense secretary, right-wing media outlets attacked him with distorted quotes, and similarly deceptive uses of those quotes surfaced at Hagel's hearing on Thursday.

    During the hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) highlighted a statement that Hagel made in a 2006 speech about the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah that was occurring in Lebanon at the time. Cruz claimed that Hagel had accused Israel of committing a "sickening slaughter."

    But as Slate's Dave Weigel pointed out, this echoes a distortion promoted by The Weekly Standard. In reality, Hagel said that the "sickening slaughter on both sides must end" (emphasis added). As Weigel explains, Hagel "described the conflict that way -- a sickening slaughter was occurring -- blaming both sides, and quickly following up by criticizing Iran and invoking the 'special relationship'" between Israel and the United States.

    Cruz also showed video of Hagel answering questions on an Al-Jazeera show in 2009. One of the questions Hagel fielded on the show was an email that asked:

    Can the rest of the world be persuaded to give up their arsenal when the image of the U.S. is that of the world's bully? Don't we indeed need to change the perception and the reality before asking folks to lay down their arms (nuclear or otherwise)?

    On the program, Hagel responded, "Well, her observation is a good one, and it's relevant. Yes to her question."

    According to Cruz, the clip showed Hagel "explicitly" agreeing that the United States is "the world's bully."  This echoes the take of the Washington Free Beacon, which discussed this exchange in a January 9 post misleadingly headlined "Hagel Agrees that America is 'the World's Bully.' " But as is clear from the question itself, Hagel agreed that there is an image of the U.S. as a bully that needs to be corrected.

    Both BuzzFeed and NBC's First Read blog noted that Cruz adopted the same distortion during the hearing. They also noted that Hagel went on to blame that perception on Bush administration policies.

  • The 10 Worst Things Sarah Palin Said On Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY & CHELSEA RUDMAN

    Palin

    RealClearPolitics reported on Friday that Sarah Palin will no longer be a Fox News contributor. Her contract with Fox News, which began in January 2010, has ended and will not be renewed.

    In Palin's time on Fox News, she made many false and outrageous statements. Below are the 10 worst:

    10. Palin: "Nancy Pelosi Is A Dingbat"

    9. Palin: Elizabeth Warren Has "Almost Confessed To Her Marxist Views"

  • CNN's Brain Freeze On Climate Change

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Despite the clear scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that humans are causing it, CNN's Erin Burnett treated climate change as the subject of debate.

    Burnett set up a discussion on her Wednesday show with a weather report and CNN's opinion polling on climate change, rather than scientific facts.

    Throughout the segment, Erin Burnett OutFront aired a badly misleading graphic suggesting that global warming is "on ice" because public opinion has changed. The phrase carried a question mark during most of the discussion, but eventually dropped it:

    CNN global warming graphic

    In contrast, here's a chart from the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change showing the long-term change in global temperature:

    Met Office global temperatures chart

    Last year was also the hottest year on record in the U.S.

  • From The NRA Shooting Range: Hannity Gun Special Features Assault Rifle Demonstration

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Sean Hannity devoted a special episode of his Fox News show to defending and promoting the National Rifle Association -- complete with a demonstration of guns at the NRA shooting range.

    The Friday edition of Hannity featured an extensive interview with NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and a panel discussion about guns. Mixed in was a segment with world-champion shooter Jessie Duff firing weapons at the NRA range in Fairfax, Virginia, including an AR-15 assault rifle.

    Sean Hannity and Jessie Duff

    The AR-15 was used by the gunmen in both the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting and the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre.

  • Fox Fabricates Obama Hypocrisy On Executive Orders About Guns

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Fox News used part of a 2007 speech by President Obama to falsely accuse him of hypocrisy for considering the use of executive orders to reduce gun violence. The 2007 speech was actually focused on the Iraq war, and in it, Obama never mentioned executive orders.

    On Thursday's Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott reported that Vice President Joe Biden said Obama plans to use executive orders to respond to gun violence. Scott then said, "A few years ago, back in 2007, an Illinois senator named Barack Obama had some complaints about the White House issuing executive orders."

    After playing video of Obama's speech, Scott said to guest A.B. Stoddard, "So, I guess things change once you get into the Oval Office?"

    But the topic of Obama's speech had nothing to do with guns -- it was a foreign policy address regarding the Iraq war -- and Obama didn't use it to criticize the use of executive orders. (Full context below the jump.)

    Earlier this week, Fox News deceptively cropped a 2008 speech by Obama to falsely accuse him of being hypocritical for reportedly supporting an assault weapons ban.

  • Conservative Media Figures Blame Sandy Hook Massacre On "Feminized Setting" And "Helpless Passivity"

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Sandy Hook Elementary

    In a National Review Online post, author Charlotte Allen followed the lead of other right-wing media figures by suggesting that the deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut were the result of a "feminized setting" in which "helpless passivity is the norm."

    As The Nation's Jessica Valenti noted, Allen also suggested that "some of the huskier 12-year-old boys" at the school could have attacked the shooter and altered the outcome of the event.

    Similarly, Newsweek and Daily Beast special correspondent Megan McArdle wrote that people, even children, should be trained to "gang rush" active shooters, in contradiction to expert opinion on how best to handle such situations.

    McArdle, Nugent, NROAnd Washington Times columnist Ted Nugent wrote that the allegedly "embarrassing, politically correct culture" of the U.S. that "mocks traditional societal values" helped lead to the shooting. Nugent also told Newsmax that "political correctness and the sheep like behavior that goes with it" could be cured by arming teachers.

    These reactions echo right-wing media responses to the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that killed 32 people: a scapegoating of a "culture of passivity."