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  • Trump parties with a birther who floated protecting schools from mass shooters with armed drones 

    Wayne Allyn Root spent a “magical evening” with Trump, alongside Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera, from whom Trump already echoed a talking point

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On February 17, after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL that left at least 17 students and adults dead, far-right Trump supporter, birther, and conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root tweeted at President Trump that it is “time to consider armed drones at every school in USA”:

    Hours later, Root tweeted about the “amazing night” he had with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

    Wayne Allyn Root is a talk show host and columnist for the Sheldon Adelson-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal who regularly pushes bizarre conspiracy theories. He helped spread fabricated reports of Puerto Rican truck drivers striking in the wake of Hurricane Maria in an attempt to make Trump look bad, claimed that Trump was “being victimized” by violence at his campaign rallies (and claimed media was blaming the victim), and fabricated a Seinfeld quote to attack President Obama, whom he called the “Marxist-in-Chief” and swore was a “foreign exchange student” at Columbia University. Root also pushes racist viewpoints. He claimed that “there’s no difference in when you call someone old versus when you call someone the N-word” and dismissed the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA as “paid actors & infiltrators hired by Soros.” 

    Regarding mass shootings, Root is no better: he claimed a real estate developer’s fine was a bigger story than the Parkland shooting and has repeatedly blamed the Las Vegas massacre on ISIS and/or antifa

    Joining Trump and Root at the “magical evening” at Mar-a-Lago was Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera. As CNN’s Brian Stelter noted on Reliable Sources, Rivera appeared on Fox News on Saturday morning to suggest that the FBI missed tips about the Parkland shooter because of an obsession with the Russia probe. Stelter pointed out that, according to The Washington Post, Rivera “had dinner with President Trump,” and that at 11:00 that same night, Trump tweeted the claim Rivera had shared earlier on Fox News. The claim is, of course, “nonsensical,” as Stelter explained:

    It's clear the president is feeling the heat of Robert Mueller's special counsel, and he's lashing out, implying that the FBI might have failed to stop the shooting because it's too obsessed with Russia. Let's be clear: The president is insulting your intelligence. Let's pull up, it says right there, "The FBI employs 35,000 people." 

    There are a small number of FBI agents working on the Mueller probe, but they have nothing to do with the investigation of tips like the one that was missed before the Parkland shooting.

  • Fox & Friends follows Infowars in running with right-wing video attacking college students

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News’ Fox & Friends and far-right conspiracy theory website Infowars both ran with the conservative activist group Campus Reform’s latest selectively edited hit piece against college students. Fox & Friends further edited the video and showed students' responses without giving much context to the nature of the questions that were posed to them. 

    Campus Reform is a discredited conservative group funded by right-wing dark money networks that takes students and professors out of context to fearmonger about perceived instances of liberal bias on college campuses. In its latest video, Campus Reform Media Director Cabot Phillips lied to students at New York University (NYU), telling them that President Donald Trump had already delivered his State of the Union address (the speech will take place January 30).

    Phillips gave the students fabricated information about what Trump said in the speech and asked for their thoughts. The video on Campus Reform's website features some of those questions. But on Fox & Friends, the hosts and Philips didn't always mention what he specifically asked the students, airing only the responses to his deceptive questions. For example, in the video posted on Campus Reform, Philips told some students: "One of the craziest moments [was] when he started a 'build the wall' chant with all the Republicans that were there. People on social media were accusing him of basically using the State of the Union as a campaign event." Fox deceptively aired only a response to this statement in which a woman said, "The fact that he started a chant, he's big on those."

    Alex Jones’ conspiracy theorist site Infowars and Fox & Friends have both given credence to the video. Fox’s flagship morning show aired parts of the video and hosted Phillips for an interview where they proceeded to mock the students.

    From the January 29 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): President Trump set to give his first State of the Union address tomorrow. So what happens when college students are asked about the speech before it actually takes place? Campus Reform went to NYU to find out. Watch.


    CABOT PHILLIPS (CAMPUS REFORM): What was your reaction to everything that was said?

    UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I didn’t watch it because I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

    UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Quite racist at the very least, if not up there with most racist.

    UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Hopefully everything that he’s outlined can be overturned by the public opinion.

    [END CLIP]

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Yes. Exactly. It’s called voting. Here now to discuss is correspondent Cabot Phillips. So, Cabot, welcome back. So the premise was, let’s ask people about a speech that hasn’t happened yet.

    PHILLIPS: Exactly.

    KILMEADE: And what was the NYU reaction?

    PHILLIPS: The reaction was overwhelming disapproval of this speech, which should be encouraging for President Trump because there’s nowhere but up from here because they haven't actually heard any speech. It hasn't happened. But we’ve been hearing so long how the left has shut down anything that has to do with President Trump, with conservatism. And most conservatives assume it's not based on facts. It's based on rhetoric. It’s based on feelings, and this kind of proves that. And isn't it ironic, too, that these are supposed to be the most open-minded segment of society, the left. But, yet, they’re not coming in with an open mind to Trump's presidency or to conservatism at all. They shut down completely without actually knowing the facts.

    EARHARDT: Did you have anyone, one or two at least, that said this speech hasn't happened yet?

    PHILLIPS: Not one person was able to tell me the speech did not happen.

    EARHARDT: Really?

    PHILLIPS: There were a few that said I don't want to go on the record. I'm not entirely sure what was said. But one thing that -- every college campus I go to with Campus Reform, there's always one thing in common, and it's that there is an overwhelming pressure and bias to hate President Trump at all costs, even if there are no facts there.

  • Cable news devoted scant coverage to fatal Kentucky high school rampage

    16 students were shot. Cable news covered the story for 16 minutes on Tuesday.

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A deadly shooting rampage at a Kentucky high school that left two students dead and 18 others wounded received minimal coverage on cable news the day of the shooting.

    Marshall County High School in Benton, KY, was the site of the nation’s 11th school shooting in 2018 after a 15-year-old student opened fire with a handgun the morning of January 23. Students Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, both age 15, were killed and 14 other people were shot. Four other people were injured escaping the attack. The Courier Journal reports that all the victims were students. The suspected shooter was taken into custody.

    The January 23 broadcasts of CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC covered the shooting for a total of just over 16 minutes, including headlines and teasers. CNN gave the most coverage to the story with just over 10 minutes, Fox News followed with five minutes of coverage, and MSNBC covered the shooting for just over a minute.

    The Marshall County High School shooting was the third shooting incident at a U.S. school over a two-day period. The Trace reported that shootings took place at a high school in Texas and a charter school in Louisiana on January 22.


    Media Matters searched SnapStream for “Kentucky” OR “shoot*” OR “shot*” OR “Bailey Holt” OR “Preston Cope” OR “Marshall County High School” on January 23 for the networks CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. All mentions of the shooting were timed, including teasers, headlines, and full segments.

    Rob Savillo, Lis Power, and Cydney Hargis contributed research to this study.

  • Video: Mainstream media ignored the Women's March. Here's what Women's March participants said about the media.


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    On January 20 and 21, over a million protesters marched all over the United States and the world for the 2018 Women’s March. Some estimates include: 200,000 marchers in New York City, 300,000 in Chicago, and 600,000 in Los Angeles. But despite the high turnout especially one year after the first Women’s March -- which not only broke records for attendance, but has since grown into a movement -- news outlets largely ignored these historic protests let alone actually interview anyone who organized or participated in them.

    We went to a sister march in Washington D.C. on Saturday, January 20 and spoke to a few of the estimated 10,000 protesters and activists who were there.

    Here’s what they had to say:

  • It's not just Masterpiece Cakeshop: Alliance Defending Freedom is attacking nearly every aspect of LGBTQ equality

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    On December 5, anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) will argue before the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case on behalf of a baker who refused to serve a gay couple. ADF is a highly influential, right-wing legal group that has worked to impact policy at the local, state, national, and international level, from working to ban transgender students from using the restrooms that align with their gender identity to helping write and defend the country’s most sweeping anti-LGBTQ state law in Mississippi.

  • Hate group Alliance Defending Freedom seeks to expand public funding for schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students


    Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is an anti-LGBTQ hate group and legal powerhouse that has vigorously promoted policies that discriminate against LGBTQ students in schools and is leading the fight against transgender students’ equal access to restroom facilities. The group has also litigated private school voucher cases in at least five states in an effort to make it easier for religious schools, including those that discriminate against LGBTQ students, to receive public funding. A recent U.S. Supreme Court victory by ADF may make it easier for voucher programs to expand to more states.

  • Anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom attacks Michigan school district for trans-inclusive policy

    ADF wrote a letter mentioning possible litigation to a Michigan school district over a trans-inclusive bathroom policy


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    International anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is once again trying to stop a local school district’s attempts to create an inclusive environment for transgender students. ADF sent a letter that mentioned possible litigation against the Grass Lake Community Schools district in Michigan and urged it to reverse a policy that allows transgender students to use the restrooms that align with their gender identity.

    During a September 18 Grass Lake school board meeting, anti-LGBTQ parent activists spoke out against the board’s policy allowing transgender students to use restroom facilities that align with their gender identity. Parent activists had previously distributed fliers opposing the policy, and a Facebook page they created touted an August 14 letter from ADF to the Grass Lake school board.

    ADF’s letter urged the school district to “reverse the policy, … which states that students will be allowed to use sex-separated facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identity regardless of biological sex.” The letter also threatened that the policy opens “the school district to a risk of litigation.”

    ADF has demonstrated a pattern of getting involved with local and state school policy, and has led the fight to deny transgender students equal access to school facilities. Recently, ADF emailed a letter to school districts across the nation in an attempt to push its model anti-transgender policies that would prevent students from using the restrooms that aligns with their gender identity; the group sent thousands of similar letters in 2014. Media Matters has identified at least four states and a number of schools whose "privacy" policy closely mirrored ADF's. Over the years, ADF has also sent out multiple letters threatening local schools and districts, just like Grass Lake, with litigation for proposing or implementing transgender-inclusive policies, and has sued the Department of Education and a number of school districts for implementing the policies. ADF affiliates and representatives have also run for school board positions in multiple states and have testified at local school events.

    The mother of a young transgender boy in the Grass Lake school district testified at the September 18 meeting, saying that her son is “now not able to make it through a full day of school every day because the depression is setting in because in his mind he is no longer good enough, he is no longer legitimate.” According to WILX 10, after the school board decided to allow the students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, it asked her son and other transgender students to use the gender neutral bathroom while they built stalls “around the urinals in boys bathrooms.” The mother continued that the boy felt that in having to use a private bathroom, he was being forced to “accommodate all the people who must hate him,” adding that it’s “destroying him.”

    The anti-LGBTQ parent group that received support from ADF mounted a petition to end the trans-inclusive policy. The petition claimed it’s “not true” that “transgender children MUST be allowed in the bathroom they identify with because suicide is a risk”: 

    We are being told that transgender children MUST be allowed in the bathroom they identify with because suicide is a risk if they aren't fully supported by the entire community. But this is not true. Even in a supportive setting, the risk of suicide stays the same or goes up.

    In reality, researchers at The Williams Institute, an LGBTQ think tank at the UCLA School of Law, reported that denial of access to restrooms is a serious issue. They said 60 percent of transgender students who responded to the 2015 National School Climate Survey were forced to use a bathroom that did not match their gender identity and that they reported negative physical and mental health impacts: “With respect to restroom access specifically, transgender students who are prohibited from using, or experience problems accessing, restrooms consistent with their gender identity report greater absenteeism, poorer school performance, withdrawing from public spaces and events, physical and mental health impacts (such as bladder infections, discomfort, and anxiety), having to change schools, or dropping out.”