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Gender

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  • As advocates work to protect LGBTQ people from conversion therapy, media often fail to explain its many harms

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH WASKO


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The conversion therapy industry seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people, and its practitioners are profiting off of the harm and sometimes eventual death of the queer and trans individuals subjected to this torture. Despite its being a total failure and there being zero evidence to support its efficacy, it is still legal in many states, and advocates are working to protect the LGBTQ community from the gruesome practice. Many folks have no idea how common conversion therapy remains, and the media has a responsibility to report the facts about its harms.

    Medical experts are in agreement -- conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior, and suicidal ideation. Conversion therapists have deeply held prejudices against queer and trans people that can wrongfully affirm self-hatred often already experienced by the patient.

    Media, however, tend to present conversion therapy as a two-sided issue by hosting conversion therapists or so-called “ex-gay” people on their programs. We spoke with The Trevor Project’s Sam Brinton, a genderfluid activist, nuclear engineer, and survivor of conversion therapy. In their words, “You do not need to have a person who believes the world is flat on your program.”

    Instead, Brinton says, the “press can report on an innovate and exciting way that the LGBTQ community is stepping up for itself and saying, ‘You will not erase us anymore.’” The LGBTQ community is doing just that, thanks in large part to The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign. They are working to ensure that every state introduces legislation that protects LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, and five states have enacted such measures in 2018 alone.

    Media outlets can do their part by reporting the facts about the dangers of conversion therapy without giving airtime to proponents of a harmful practice that can leave lasting scars on people in the LGBTQ community. “When the media is reporting about a recall for a product,” Brinton says, “they are trying to warn the public that this product could hurt them. That’s exactly what they should be doing with conversion therapy. We’re recalling it.”

    If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can contact The Trevor Project's TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

    Video filmed and edited by Miles Le
    Research contributed by Brennan Suen and Brianna January

  • Cable news has hardly mentioned the murder of Nia Wilson

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On July 22, an 18-year-old Black woman named Nia Wilson was stabbed to death at an Oakland, CA, train station while traveling home with her older sisters. She was the third person killed on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in five days, and a 27-year-old white man has been charged with her murder. Despite an outpouring of sympathy and outrage on social media and a huge response from activists, Wilson’s death received little coverage on cable news.

    Wilson’s murder, in which her sister Lahtifa was also stabbed and injured, inspired a massive response on social media, as well as substantial protests and demonstrations in Oakland. Both #NiaWilson and #SayHerName trended on Twitter following her death, and many people shared Wilson’s picture, details about her life, and artwork inspired by her. Writers and activists also drew attention to Wilson’s death, explaining why the story holds such significance in modern-day America.

    Despite the powerful public response to Wilson’s death, and significant coverage by newspapers including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, cable news networks spent less than eight minutes covering her murder. Fox News devoted just over two minutes of coverage to her death; in one of their two segments on Wilson, the network initially misstated the name of the suspect and displayed his picture through most of the segment, but didn’t show Wilson’s photo or say her name. CNN mentioned Wilson’s murder four times, but only in short reports totaling about 2 and a half minutes. MSNBC ran only one segment that discussed Wilson. That segment, which ran on PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, was a lengthy discussion about the reality of violence against black people in America that lasted more than 9 minutes, but specific discussion of Wilson took only about 3 minutes.  

    The MSNBC segment touched on many of the topics that activists and other social media users had been discussing. Some people on Twitter suggested that Wilson had been murdered because she was Black, while others pointed out the disproportionate violence Black women face in in America, or noted the fear that people of color are forced to live with in the United States. Writers like The New Yorker’s Doreen St. Félix further explained the particular poignancy of Wilson’s murder, writing that it “brings into brutal focus multiple American crises,” including the disproportionately high homicide rate for Black women as compared to white women, and society’s preference for a particular kind of victim, namely one who is “white, upper middle class, and beautiful.” As she explained:

    The mourning of Wilson on Instagram and Twitter is a shrewd and agonizing kind of revisionism: the ubiquity of her smiling face reframes our cultural devotion to the innocent and beautiful dead girl, who has not previously been imagined as having brown skin.

    Authorities are investigating whether the attack on the Wilson sisters was racially motivated and whether the killer can be charged with a hate crime, but they say they currently have no evidence to support that assertion. Members of Wilson’s family, however, believe that race did in fact play a role in her death. Her sister Malika Harris told The New York Times that the murder was “an act of racism.” Lahtifa recounted the attack to ABC7 News and told the station that “as young black women, we shouldn't have to look behind our back. ... We should be living freely like everybody else.”

    Methodology: Media Matters searched Snapstream for mentions of “Nia Wilson,” “BART,” “Oakland,” and any iteration of the word “stab” on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC on July 22 through the time of publication.

  • 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.

  • NY Times theater critic’s apology for misgendering a nonbinary character underscores the need for intentional writing about the trans community

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & BRIANNA JANUARY


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters 

    One of The New York Times’ top theater critics had to apologize after his review of the Broadway musical Head Over Heels purposefully misgendered a nonbinary character played by a trans actress, demonstrating the need for journalists and writers to better understand how to cover these communities.

    Ben Brantley, the Timeslongtime co-chief theater critic, wrote a review of the new musical, which is based on the music of The Go-Go’s and which features “the first trans woman actress to create a principal role on Broadway.” The groundbreaking role, Pythio, is currently being played by former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Peppermint, and the character identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronoun “they.” According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, nonbinary people “don’t neatly fit into the categories of ‘man’ or ‘woman,’ or ‘male’ or ‘female.’” In his review, Brantley unnecessarily mocked the character’s preferred pronouns, writing that another character found “himself strangely drawn to her -- I mean them”:

    These assorted role reversals are overseen by the wise oracle Pythio (Peppermint, a contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” described in the program as “the first transgender woman to create a principal role” on Broadway). Pythio identifies as “nonbinary plural.” Dametas (Tom Alan Robbins), the King’s viceroy and father of Mopsa, finds himself strangely drawn to her — I mean them. 

    LGBTQ advocates and journalists criticized Brantley’s language and successfully called on the Times to make changes to the piece:

    Following criticism of the review, Brantley issued an apology and edited the report to remove the offensive language:

    Bentley’s review and subsequent apology demonstrate the need for writers and journalists to be intentional in the way they cover the trans and gender-nonconforming community. The Associated Press Stylebook has recommended the use of “they” when referring to nonbinary people as a best practice for journalists for more than a year, and LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD has written that misgendering in reports can cause the community to see “a part of themselves erased and devalued.” This kind of reporting stigmatizes an already marginalized community and can have negative impacts on its members' self-confidence and mental health. The community experiences disproportionately high levels of discrimination and violence, and homicides against trans folks spiked in 2017.

    This is the second time in a little over a month that the Times came under fire for publishing anti-LGBTQ content. On June 25, the paper published a homophobic cartoon video and accompanying opinion piece depicting President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a same-sex relationship and featuring an extended scene of their tongues intertwining while riding a unicorn through rainbows. The video drew criticism for mocking same-sex relationships and making LGBTQ people the punchline of a joke. Unlike with Bentley’s review, the Times defended the cartoon and claimed that the filmmaker “would have used the same format to satirize Trump’s infatuation with another politician, regardless of sexuality or gender.”

  • Morning Joe promotes the new CRTV show of Eric Bolling, who was fired from Fox News for alleged sexual misconduct

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Former Fox News host Eric Bolling, who was fired last year, appeared as a guest on the July 23 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe to promote his new CRTV show.

    In 2017, Bolling was fired from sexual misconduct hub Fox News after HuffPost reported he had sent an “unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message” to at least three Fox colleagues.Despite this alleged sexual misconduct and a long record of pushing bigotry and promoting conspiracy theories, Bolling just got a new show on Mark Levin’s CRTV, home of like-minded bigot and misogynist Gavin McInnes.

    Bolling’s return to the airwaves is part of a larger trend of wealthy media men reported for sexual misconduct who are being allowed to make comebacks they have not earned. On his show, Bolling is unsurprisingly already getting cozy with other pro-Trump sycophants.

    During his MSNBC appearance, Bolling talked about a 15-minute call he had this past weekend with President Donald Trump, of whom he’s a self-described “fan.” Bolling shared the insights from the call, praised Trump, and claimed Trump's state of mind was “amazing,” saying, “He was fine. He was in a good place.”

  • Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and a men's rights activist spent an entire show attacking Black women

    Tommy Sotomayor is a men’s rights activist with a record of making anti-Semitic comments, including on David Duke’s show

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Gavin McInnes, the founder of the violent, fraternal men-only organization Proud Boys, devoted the July 16 episode of his CRTV show Get Off My Lawn to criticizing Black women, starting with Beyoncé. McInnes, whose misogyny is well-documented, also brought on Black men’s rights activist Tommy Sotomayor to avoid sounding “too white” in his critique. Sotomayor has built an online punditry career by bashing Black women and Jewish people.

    McInnes kicked off the discussion by falsely claiming that the targeted harassment campaign that far-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos led on Twitter against actress Leslie Jones was evidence of “Black women potentially being “double protected” in America. According to McInnes, the fact that Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter as a consequence showed that the platform was being deferential to Jones because she’s Black and a woman. McInnes’ revisionist history conveniently ignores the fact that Black women tend to be targets of online harassment at higher rates than white social media users.

    Sotomayor, whose real name is Thomas Jerome Harris, has built his internet presence around making inflammatory attacks against women, the Black community, and Jewish people. Sotomayor once said that then-President Barack Obama “shouldn’t try to ban guns, he should ban niggas.” The video was embraced and amplified by then-CNN pundit Harry Houck, who has a long history of repeatedly suggesting African-Americans are prone to criminality and are to blame for the police violence of which they are victims. Sotomayor also once referred to Black Lives Matter protesters as the “retarded kids in the class.” He hosted former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke on now-deleted YouTube livestreams, and appeared on Duke’s podcast to discuss “the destruction of the black community due to the cultural pollution that is being spewed out by the Jewish media elite.” One of Sotomayor’s discussions with Duke was even featured on the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.

    Sotomayor is also a recognized men’s rights activist whose anti-feminist punditry has been amplified by the misogynistic website A Voice For Men. In a since-deleted YouTube video, Sotomayor once took issue with a toilet paper ad that gave a “poignant salute” to single mothers on Father’s Day, claiming it showed that Hollywood was taking “aim, just like everyone else, at the American male.” An archived page of several of his now-deleted videos shows pejorative language and critical commentary about Black people.

    On his website, Sotomayor lists a number of YouTube channels as his own. He once explained that he has many channels because YouTube users keep flagging his content and “every video I put up, they take it down.” Sotomayor’s comment demonstrates just another way extremists circumvent YouTube’s weak attempts at dealing with hate speech.

    On McInnes’ Get Off My Lawn, Sotomayor enthusiastically enabled McInnes as he bashed Black women, agreeing with him that they are prone to violence and calling them “irresponsible being[s]” who are raising children with “100 percent autonomy” and making them violent as well.

    In an attempt to demonize Black mothers, Sotomayor shared an anecdote of a woman who had put a “sew-in weave” in her child’s hair, claiming “a normal person, a white woman” called his show saying that if she had “bleached” her 4-year-old’s hair, the school would’ve sent child protective services to her house. “It goes back to, again, no father,” Sotomayor claimed. “If a father’s there, he’s not even going to let his child dress up in this whore’s outfit.”

    Sotomayor also complained that President Donald Trump hasn’t done enough in terms of “cutting off the welfare,” claiming it is financially incentivizing people to have “children … in bad situations.” He bizarrely suggested that aiding single mothers and “all these rape cases that are coming up” were evidence of the way men are being mistreated in America.

    TOMMY SOTOMAYOR: I promise you, if you take away the financial benefit from having children -- it’s the same thing with all of these rape cases that are coming up and I know I’m opening up a different can of worms -- but when you see how men are being treated in the United States, there’s no wonder why Bruce Jenner decided to put on a dress and tuck his wang.

    This is not the first time Sotomayor has been a willing participant in the online crusades of far-right white men to victim-blame Blacks or attack women. During a guest appearance on “intellectual dark webrenegade Dave Rubin’s YouTube show in April 2017, Sotomayor blamed single mothers for not picking “the correct person to have the kid with” and complained that “the only person that’s being held responsible is the guy.” He said he was bothered by the fact men could be held responsible to help financially with the kids they had with women who claim, “It’s my body. I can do what I want to with it. But once I do it, I need help.” Rubin, a dramatically unsuccessful comedian, joined Sotomayor in complaining about the double standards that limit white comedians from making jokes about anything “remotely politically incorrect.”

    Sotomayor also joined one of YouTube’s professional misogynists, Stefan Molyneux, for some “man talk.” Molyneux has built a reputation out of bemoaning feminism and complaining about the plight of men (and promoting eugenics and scientific racism). During the discussion, Sotomayor complained that a man on trial for killing his wife couldn’t say “she was verbally abusive to me” as a defense but that “there are women who’ve gotten away” by saying the same thing.

    Sotomayor and the far-right media personalities he's joining are enjoying mutually beneficial relationships: Sotomayor gets additional venues to spread his hateful rhetoric, and the white men he's collaborating with get cover as they push racist and misogynist attacks on their shows. 

  • Coverage of the SESTA-FOSTA legislation must include sex workers’ voices

    The new law is meant to combat sex trafficking, but it harms trafficking victims and sex workers alike, particularly marginalized people. Media should include sex workers' perspectives in the coverage.

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH WASKO

    Sex workers use online platforms to stay safe, find clients, and maintain independence. With access to the internet, they can work from the safety of their homes, warn each other of aggressive clients, negotiate pay online, and find business without having to involve a third party. The passing of legislation known as SESTA-FOSTA this spring has taken these freedoms away and made their work more dangerous. This is especially true for marginalized people, who are more likely than others to turn to sex work as a means of making an income. Mainstream media should have done more to tell that story before it was too late.

    Two similar bills known as SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) were introduced in Congress in 2017 and were combined under FOSTA and ultimately passed with overwhelming majorities earlier this year. President Donald Trump signed the legislation into law in April, with some fanfare. It was widely regarded as legislation designed to combat sex trafficking (as the names suggest), but it conflated sex trafficking with consensual sex work. And sex workers were too often left out of the media conversation.

    In the lead-up to SESTA-FOSTA’s passing, mainstream media rarely featured sex workers’ perspectives -- often ignoring the sex worker and advocate opposition to the legislation entirely in their limited news coverage or featuring misinformed celebrities and politicians. Fox News, meanwhile, simply mocked sex workers’ concerns.

    And their concerns were significant: Websites that host user-generated content (like Craigslist) are now discouraged from moderating their content and reporting trafficking ads, because, according to the law, the host site is now also liable for what is posted. Because SESTA-FOSTA conflates sex trafficking with consensual sex work, consensual sex workers who used these kinds of platforms to find and conduct business are finding it more challenging to stay safe in their work. Law enforcement also used these sites to recover trafficking victims, and now that they’re gone, there’s no telling where traffickers will go.

    Sex trafficking is a heinous crime, but tragically, this law is exacerbating the issue and putting consensual sex workers in danger. This could have been avoided if sex workers were a bigger part of the mainstream media coverage of this law before it was passed. When communities affected by these laws are included in the conversation, the outcome is better for all parties.

    Video edited by Miles Le

    Story edited by Pamela Vogel 

  • Why does Fox News’ Steve Doocy still have a job?

    Two years after he was implicated in Gretchen Carlson's lawsuit, the Fox News host remains on air

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Two years ago today, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a civil lawsuit against then-Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, detailing serial sexual harassment and retaliation by Ailes and persistent gender-based harassment from her former co-host Steve Doocy. Two years later, the toxic culture for women at Fox has been exposed and Ailes and his deputy have both left the network in disgrace, but Doocy continues to co-host “the most powerful TV show in America.”

    Carlson held several on-air roles at Fox News from 2005 to the day she was fired from the network in 2016, about two weeks before she filed the lawsuit against Ailes. Her suit detailed pervasive harassment by Ailes and retaliation when she rejected his propositions. This included repeated sexual comments about Carlson’s body and several instances in which Ailes told Carlson that she should engage in a sexual relationship with him in order to improve her job standing.

    Carlson’s lawsuit further detailed allegations of harassment by her former Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy, also dismissed by Ailes:

    Carlson complained to her supervisor that one of her co-hosts on Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy, created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way, including by putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast.

    Doocy engaged in a pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment of Carlson, including, but not limited to, mocking her during commercial breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on air, belittling her contributions to the show, and generally attempting to put her in her place by refusing to accept and treat her as an intelligent and insightful female journalist rather than a blonde female prop.

    After learning of Carlson’s complaints, Ailes responded by calling Carlson a “man hater” and “killer” and telling her that she needed to learn to “get along with the boys.”

    Since Carlson filed the suit two years ago, a lot has changed. Ailes resigned shortly afterward, just as a flood of stories began to spill out reporting that he engaged in serial abuse of women at Fox. He died in May 2017. His right-hand man, Bill Shine, was named in subsequent reporting and lawsuits for reportedly aiding Ailes in covering up serial sexual misconduct. Shine also resigned from Fox, though he has now found another job for which this resume is perfectly suited.

    Media and activists have forced a spotlight on Fox News. More employees have come forward, reporting that the men in power -- Ailes, now-former host Bill O’Reilly, and several others -- subjected them to inappropriate misconduct. The stories also revealed a systemic, cultural disregard for the safety and autonomy of women at 21st Century Fox, exposing the toxic roots of the system. A movement has begun, and Carlson is now one of its pillars.

    But Steve Doocy still has a job.

    21st Century Fox’s initial statement about the 2016 lawsuit acknowledged Carlson’s statements about both Ailes and Doocy: “The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy. We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter.”

    With few exceptions, however, Doocy seems to have since been erased from the narrative on Fox News and workplace harassment.

    A former Fox News staffer told Politico shortly after the lawsuit was filed, “Everyone on staff knew about or saw Doocy make inappropriate comments.” Yet a Fox News source told CNN’s Brian Stelter that the internal investigation launched after the lawsuit appeared to be focused solely on Ailes. Carlson settled the lawsuit for $20 million in September 2016, and Fox issued a public apology as part of the settlement conditions. The apology did not mention Doocy (or Ailes) by name.

    Doocy continues to co-host Fox & Friends every weekday morning, beaming his inane and propagandistic commentary right onto the president’s TV screen. The program has been deemed “the most powerful TV show in America” because of its direct line to perhaps the nation’s most powerful sexual harasser.

    The years since Carlson’s lawsuit have yielded an important lesson: Fox News acts for the good of its employees only when it’s absolutely forced to -- because advertisers are fleeing, because the public is watching, because someone is loudly demanding accountability. Doocy has benefited from media silence for far too long.

  • MSNBC hosted Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens. It was a train wreck.

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    MSNBC interviewed Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Point USA, on July 5. The interview focused on the supposed increase in support for President Donald Trump among minorities and on embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, while omitting important context about Owens’ personal background. The interview gave Owens a mainstream platform to push several conservative talking points:

    • Owens pushed an astroturfed hashtag, #WalkAway, saying the phenomenon the hashtag supposedly highlights -- that Black people “are walking away from the Democratic Party” -- is “very real.” The hashtag has been linked to a Russian Twitter campaign. An analysis of the hashtag on Twitter found that it was a “psychological operation” aimed at shaping the conversation in segments just like this one. The hashtag's spread was driven by non-human activity. Accounts that tweeted their support had used pro-Trump hashtags like #magabefore they “walked away” from the Democratic Party.
    • Owens said “we shouldn’t be talking about” the possibility that Trump’s newest Supreme Court nominee could play a part in overturning or severely undercutting a landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, that formally recognized the legal right to an abortion. She called the discussion “a typical leftist tactic to … get everybody all upset and up in arms” and said that “we shouldn’t be talking about it whatsoever.” A Fox & Friends guest has already admitted that any Trump appointee would overrule Roe.
    • When asked whether Pruitt should remain in his job, Owens said that she did not care about the EPA administrator’s litany of scandals and that his alleged misconduct is “a sidebar and it’s something that has gotten way too much coverage.”
    • Melvin did not ask Owens about her recent remarks attacking the #MeToo movement. Owens claimed that #MeToo treated women as “stupid, weak & inconsequential.” When even conservatives pushed back on her, Owens doubled down and posted a video in which she claimed she speaks to CEOs who will not hire women; she blamed #MeToo. This isn’t the only sexist remark Owens has made.
    • Melvin also failed to ask Owens about the video she posted in the wake of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, in which she dismissed white supremacy as a narrative pushed by the media (Owens rose to #MAGA fame after she posted that video).

    CRAIG MELVIN (HOST): Explain the tweet, and how can you say that black voters have been politically irrelevant for decades?

    CANDACE OWENS (TURNING POINT USA): Right, so politically irrelevant because if you consistently vote for just one party, then you're not going to see people competing for your votes, and that's what we have seen happen. So, I feel that, on the Republican side, they weren't doing anything because they saw it as a monolith and they weren't trying to win over Black voters. And the Democratic side, they were able to present us a bunch of broken promises, if you will. We are seeing a huge difference, a huge shift, a bunch of Black people popping up on YouTube, and on social media, and the hashtag saying that they are walking away from the Democratic Party. It's something that hasn't gotten much airtime on liberal networks and it should because it's very real, and you can see that just by some of the polls that have been done that show that Black people are starting to support Donald Trump.

    MELVIN: Polls like?

    OWENS: Like the fact that he has the most support, Black support, since I believe Richard Nixon and that's a very big deal.

    MELVIN: Where's that poll from?

    OWENS: That’s a -- I -- I want to get the exact website, I’m going to have to look it up for you. But it’s a poll, that’s an exact poll, so.

    MELVIN: Because there have been a number of these polls -- and I’m using air quotes, because a number of these polls are not actually polls, they're opt-in surveys. But in terms of -- there's always been Black Republicans, this isn’t some new phenomenon. Are you asserting that, all of a sudden, there are millions of new Black Donald Trump supporters that we didn't know anything about before?

    OWENS: They weren’t Trump supporters to begin with, but we’re seeing a shift, a major shift happen, and Black supporters are leaving the left and going over to the right. You need to pay attention to the underground movement. And look, you are correct to say that just because a poll says something, it isn’t right. The polls told us that Hillary Clinton was going to win and she didn’t. But I wasn't fooled by the polls. I thought that Hillary Clinton was going to lose in the same way that I am also saying that I believe that Black voters are going to exit the left completely by 2020.

    MELVIN: But you didn’t vote for Donald Trump, to be clear.

    OWENS: I did not because I was sick. I was in bed for six months and I was unable to vote.

    MELVIN: NBC News has learned that the president has narrowed his Supreme Court search down to three contenders. What are you looking for in the next Supreme Court justice?

    OWENS: Look, I'm not looking for anything in particular, somebody that will uphold the Constitution, of course, I think that’s super important. I don't think that we should stress out until he makes a pick and then we talk about the different qualifications. But I think that, right now, there's mass hysteria over the fact he gets to pick somebody in the same way that Obama got to pick two people. I don’t understand what everybody’s so --

    MELVIN: Well, I think a lot of folks are annoyed by the third person that the president did not get to pick, Merrick Garland, who didn't get a hearing. But going back --

    OWENS: He did get two picks.

    MELVIN: Well, yes. That’s correct. Litmus test, Roe v. Wade, we were just talking about that a few minutes ago. Do you think there should be a litmus test with regards to Roe v. Wade.

    OWENS: No, I think that even the fact that we are discussing Roe v. Wade is a typical leftist tactic to get people -- it’s fearmongering to get everybody all upset and up in arms and think that something’s going to be overturned so that they boycott. We shouldn’t be talking about it whatsoever, we should be talking about the qualifications of the person that is going in --

    MELVIN: We shouldn’t be having a conversation about Roe v. Wade?

    OWENS: No. No. I think that the fact that --

    MELVIN: Because it’s settled law? Or --

    OWENS: No. No. We should not be having a conversation about Roe v. Wade before the president makes the pick for SCOTUS. It’s a way for the left to fearmonger, which is what they always do. They want people to be scared, as if somehow all of their rights are going to be violated because Donald Trump gets a Supreme Court pick, and that’s just not true.

    MELVIN: But it’s not just people on the left who are doing this “fearmongering.” There are people who --

    OWENS: It is.

    MELVIN: No, no, no.

    OWENS: It definitely is.

    MELVIN: I have friends and talk to lots of people who aren’t on the left, and there are people who are legitimately concerned about the next Supreme Court justice being able to upend some 45 years of settled law in this country --

    OWENS: Name your friends, please --

    MELVIN: I don’t think, I mean --

    OWENS: CNN?

    MELVIN: No. No -- well, I think you and I both know that wouldn’t necessarily be my friend, but to say that the entire left, or that the entire right is doing something, I just -- I don't know -- first of all, it can't be accurate. You know that's not accurate. That’s hyperbole.

    OWENS: It’s 100 percent accurate. It’s not hyperbole, it’s what’s going on right now. Hyperbole is this idea that every time Donald Trump does something, there's going to be an armageddon. It's the reason why so many people on the left have grown apathetic towards the Democrats, because you guys -- I don't mean to say you guys, I shouldn’t insinuate that you're a part of that.

    MELVIN: Thank you for the correction.

    OWENS: But because of what we see in the leftist media so much is, every single week, you’re outraged over something else. He gets a Supreme Court pick. You have to move on from that, let him pick somebody, and then we start to talk about things. But this fearmongering has to stop completely. This has to be more rational dialogue and thought here.

    MELVIN: So there’s been no fearmongering on other sides of the political spectrum?

    OWENS: If you have a point you’d like to make I can answer it.

    MELVIN: No, I’m just saying the president, from time to time, some of his tweets --

    OWENS: No, I don’t think -- I do not remember or recall, while Obama was in office for two terms, every single day waking up thinking that the world was going to end, to answer your question.

    MELVIN: I vividly recall being at a number of town hall meetings after Obamacare had been launched, and people showing up with automatic weapons. People claiming that they wanted to take their country back. So that all of a sudden the left is up in arms, I mean, the right was up in arms for a while as well.

    OWENS: About Obamacare, yes, that’s something that --

    MELVIN: Well, about the president in general, about the fact that he wasn’t born in this country, that he was a secret Muslim. There are fringes.

    OWENS: Are you suggesting that there has been this much outrage, the outrage that we’re seeing towards every single thing that Donald Trump does, that his daughter does, that his family does, was the same thing we experienced when Obama was in office?

    MELVIN: I can’t speak for everyone.

    OWENS: That’s a question -- I’m asking you to objectively say, right? That you think that there was this much outrage when Obama was in office for two terms?

    MELVIN: The beauty about doing what I do for a living is that I get to ask the questions --

    OWENS: Right.

    MELVIN: I don’t necessarily have to answer the questions.

    OWENS: I’ll take that as an answer.

    MELVIN: No, that’s not an answer.

    OWENS: I think that is one.

    MELVIN: One of the things that a lot of folks have been up in arms about specifically here, Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator. You are quite familiar, I'm sure, with a number of his scandals, some alleged, some confirmed, 15 current investigations as it relates to Scott Pruitt. Spending and management practices, I think we've got a partial list we can put up on the screen here -- a partial list of his scandals. This is Scott Pruitt, of course, former attorney general there in Oklahoma, and we've tried to condense it to one screen here. And there is this -- there continues to be this bizarre story about trying to secure a used mattress, as well, from a Trump tower hotel. Do you think that Scott Pruitt should remain EPA chief?

    OWENS: I think that I should remain focused on things that matter. This is not going to impact midterms. It's not going to impact Trump for support. It's a sidebar and it’s something that has gotten way too much coverage with all of the things that are going on right now in this nation.

    MELVIN: Now, wait a minute. But you can appreciate how a president who vowed to drain the swamp might receive some legitimate criticism from journalists and just the citizenry at large, because the guy who’s charged with --

    OWENS: Absolutely, absolutely I can appreciate that, but I don’t have to add to the dialogue. I don't have to pretend this is something that is a pressing issue that we need to discuss 24 hours wall-to-wall coverage on any network. And I choose not to. I choose to pay attention to the crack that is happening in the Democratic Party and the major shift that is happening, and I choose to be at the forefront of it.

    MELVIN: Candace Owens, there are lots of voices in this country, and we like to give all voices an opportunity to be heard here, so I thank you for coming on.

    OWENS: I like you, Craig. Thanks for having me.

    MELVIN: Thank you, Candace. You’re welcome to come back.

  • Maine newspaper editorial boards call on Gov. Paul LePage to protect LGBTQ youth from dangerous conversion therapy

    Blog ››› ››› BRIANNA JANUARY


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The editorial boards of major newspapers in Maine are urging the state’s Republican governor, Paul LePage, to sign a bill that would protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, a discredited and harmful practice that seeks to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

    In late June, lawmakers in Maine passed a bill that would protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. If LePage signs the bill into law, the state will become the 14th (in addition to Washington, D.C.) in the country to ban the practice; dozens of municipalities across the country have also enacted similar policies. Governors from both sides of the aisle have signed conversion therapy bills, but according to the Williams Institute, the practice remains prevalent throughout the country: The organization estimated in January that 20,000 LGBTQ youth would “receive conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before they reach the age of 18” in the states that at the time did not protect youth from the practice. Conversion therapy is supported by national anti-LGBTQ groups including the Alliance Defending Freedom, and its advocates frequently appear in local news to spread dangerous lies about it.

    As LePage considers signing his state’s recently passed bill, two of the largest newspapers in the state are urging him to to protect LGBTQ Mainers.

    The Portland Press Herald’s editorial board urged LePage to protect LGBTQ youth in the state from conversion therapy in a July 2 editorial, noting that should he refuse to sign the bill, he would be the first governor to veto such a measure. The editorial highlighted the major medical and psychological associations that have denounced the practice and cleared up some common misconceptions associated with efforts to protect LGBTQ youth:

    The bill does not interfere with any religious tradition. Preachers can still talk about sin and redemption as they see it. Parents remain free to communicate their values to their children.

    The only thing that would change is that a practitioner in Maine could no longer hang a shingle and charge money for pseudo-scientific treatment with the state’s approval.

    Same-sex attraction is not something that needs to be cured. The government also should have no role in telling people that their gender expression is right or wrong. Ethical psychotherapists have long ago stopped attempting this treatment because it doesn’t help their patients – it harms them.

    Thirteen other states have passed a bill like this, and no governor has vetoed one. It’s time Maine joined them by taking this humane step.

    The Bangor Daily News’ editorial board drew similar conclusions in an editorial also published on July 2. In it, the paper noted that conversion therapy has been condemned by major medical associations and that the practice “doesn’t work.” It also noted its harmful mental and physical health outcomes, which can include “shame, depression, anxiety, drug use and suicide among those its practitioners seek to ‘convert.’” The paper further wrote that “LGBTQ youth are already vulnerable to family rejection and experience homelessness, substance use, depression and suicide at higher rates than their heterosexual peers” and urged LePage to sign the legislation into law.