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  • Video: Coverage of gun violence must include police violence against black people

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH, MILES LE & SARAH WASKO

    Police in America shoot and kill more people than police in other highly developed countries do, and a disproportionately high number of those killed are black Americans. In 2012, black people accounted for 31 percent of police killings, even though they made up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. Research shows that black Americans are more likely to be shot and killed by police than other races.

    This is the grim reality. But right-wing media, conservative personalities, and some mainstream media figures criminalize black victims of police violence. Here are some examples:

    • Former CNN “law enforcement analyst” Harry Houck said the officers who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice acted “properly” when they shot him while he played in a park.

    • After a police officer shot and killed Walter Scott, who was unarmed and merely ran, Fox’s Geraldo Rivera said: “This civilian has dared to have a physical altercation with the officer.” (Rivera has also repeatedly victim-blamed black teenagers.)

    • After Stephon Clark was shot eight times, mostly in the back, Fox News’ William La Jeunesse remarked: “Now, Clark does have a criminal record.”

    • Fox host Sean Hannity called Freddie Gray, who died “days after suffering a severe spinal injury while riding in the back of a police van,” the “lowest scum parasite in the world” and said: “Look at this guy's record, look at his arrest record. … I'm saying that he's obviously not a pillar of the community.”

    • Hannity also said that Terrence Crutcher, who was shot even after following orders by a police officer, “has a long criminal history and appeared to be under the influence.” (More of Hannity's race-baiting remarks can be found here.)

    • CBS’ David Begnaud claimed that Alton Sterling, who was pinned to the ground, tased, and shot, “has a lengthy criminal history.”

    • Fox’s Mark Fuhrman said of Sterling: “Now, this man has to take responsibility that he did have a gun, and he conducted himself in some manner to draw attention to a citizen who called the police.” (Fuhrman has a long history of making racist remarks.)

    • In another instance, Fox News blatantly ignored dashcam footage in its coverage of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by police officer Jeronimo Yanez. The footage revealed that Castile had alerted the officer that he was armed and had a valid permit for his firearm.

    Following the school shooting in Parkland, FL, and the resulting March for Our Lives movement for gun regulation, Parkland students have tried to shift media focus to the widespread gun violence against people of color, which they note has not drawn as much media attention as they have.

    The disparity shows a failure by national media to highlight black and brown voices and to recognize the systemic failures and historical context that have led to the unfair targeting of black Americans by law enforcement. State violence against people of color has been part of the fabric of the U.S. since its formation. But you wouldn't know that from some media coverage.

    Black Americans are dying at the hands of police officers. Media should hold law enforcement accountable and treat victims of police brutality the same way they treat victims of gun violence.

    (Charts and Images via CBS News, Family of Stephon Clark, Fibonacci Blue on Flickr, MSNBC, NBC News, Sun Sentinel, Tiffany Dena Loftin, Vox, Wikimedia Commons, and WLRN. Footage via CBS News, CNN, The Crisis Magazine, Fox News Channel, Tiffany Dena Loftin, and WJLA.)

  • Former Sinclair TV reporter: “Anything that went against anything that corporate wanted was just shot down.”

    Veteran reporter Suri Crowe details to BuzzFeed how Sinclair management insisted on false balance in news stories about climate and guns

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF



    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Former Sinclair reporter Suri Crowe provided BuzzFeed with a detailed account of how Sinclair Broadcast Group’s far-right agenda has affected local news coverage of stories from climate change to gun safety.

    Sinclair is the largest TV station owner and operator in the country, with about 190 stations, including affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, that reach approximately 38 percent of American homes. The conservative media company is awaiting final approval of its $3.9 billion bid to buy Tribune Media, which owns 42 TV stations, including in the major markets of Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

    Media Matters has documented Sinclair’s rapid growth and its alliance with the Trump campaign and administration. If Sinclair completes its planned purchase of Tribune, the company’s right-wing bias and disregard for journalistic ethics could inform what 72 percent of American households see on their local news. Its reach is already so pervasive, Media Matters created a tool to inform viewers about the stations near them that Sinclair now owns or could soon acquire.

    Sinclair takes an aggressive approach to ensuring local viewers are exposed to the company’s agenda, Media Matters has found. It forces local stations to air corporate-mandated “must-runs,” which include segments from the company’s chief political analyst, and former aide to President Donald Trump, Boris Epshteyn.

    Crowe’s account to BuzzFeed about her time at WSET-TV, an ABC-affiliated station owned by Sinclair, provides an in-depth look at how local station operators can undermine or quash stories that run counter to the conservative ideological agenda of the company’s owners and executives. 

    Beginning in 2015, the veteran reporter was reprimanded by news directors who insisted her stories on climate change and gun legislation include more “balance.” Crowe, who won a Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters award in 2016, was ultimately forced out of her job in 2017.

    From BuzzFeed:

    Sinclair Broadcast Group executives reprimanded and ultimately ousted a local news reporter who refused to seed doubt about man-made climate change and “balance” her stories in a more conservative direction.

    [...]

    In one 2015 instance, the former news director of WSET-TV in Lynchburg, Virginia, Len Stevens, criticized reporter Suri Crowe because she “clearly laid out the argument that human activities cause global warming, but had nothing from the side that questions the science behind such claims and points to more natural causes for such warming.”

    [...]

    Crowe told BuzzFeed News that before the October 2015 climate change segment aired, she was ordered by Stevens to include Donald Trump’s opinion on the matter. “When I instructed you to balance the story, by including some of [the] other argument, you insisted there was no need to add such balance to the story,” he wrote in her Jan. 22, 2016, performance review.

    A veteran reporter who has worked at news stations in Texas and Virginia, Crowe said she viewed the story as environmental — not two-sided or political. “I was always covering the flu. I don’t remember a time when for balance I went out to a group of 20 people who are nutjobs that say flu shots kill,” she told BuzzFeed News. The scientific consensus is that climate change is real and humans are largely to blame, but Crowe ultimately read the updated, “balanced” script on air. “That was the moment where I realized how things were going to go there,” she said.

    [...]

    “Your story on proposed gun legislation was not balanced,” Stevens wrote in Crowe’s performance review. “You wrote of the proposed gun restrictions, ‘Sounds like a good idea, right? Well, not to those in charge of passing new gun laws.’ And that tone is carried throughout the story. Another line: ‘Several polls show the majority of Virginians are in favor of tighter restrictions on gun purchases... But Republican lawmakers in Richmond... won’t go for it.’”

    On another gun story about the state attorney general’s decision to revoke a reciprocity agreement with other states for concealed carry permits, Stevens wrote that the sum total Crowe offered the other side was a single sentence: “The NRA on the other hand released a statement condemning the attorney general’s decision.” Stevens added that Crowe “had access to the press release sent by the NRA, yet included nothing from the actual statement... This kind of approach damages our reputation as a fair and balanced news organization.”

  • Sandy Hook families are suing Alex Jones. This is what he said about the shooting.

    Blog ››› ››› LEANNE NARAMORE

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is being sued for defamation by the parents of two children who were killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, that left 20 students and six educators dead.

    Over the past five-and-a-half years, Jones has repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about the tragedy, including casting doubt about whether it even happened or claiming that the shooting was staged by nefarious groups using actors.

    Jones has said the shooting has “inside job written all over it,” called it “synthetic, completely fake, with actors, in my view, manufactured,” claimed “the whole thing was fake,” said it was “staged,” called it a “giant hoax,” suggested that some victims’ parents lied about seeing their dead children, and pushed other toxic conspiracy theories:

  • NRATV correspondent compares a black waiter to President Obama, says that job "meets his qualifications" 

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton tweeted a picture of himself with a black waiter on April 16, writing that he “ran into Barack Obama” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who finally has “a job which meets his qualifications.” 

    Holton appears daily as a commentator on NRATV’s news-of-the-day show Stinchfield and has guest hosted the program when the show's host Grant Stinchfield is out. He also co-hosts NRATV international affairs program Frontlines with Oliver North.

    Holton has a history of making disparaging and sometimes racially charged comments about the former president. In November 2016, Holton commented that a picture of President Donald Trump shaking Obama’s hand was a photo of “Trump grabbing a pussy.” Two days after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, Holton made a reference towards Obama’s race when he tweeted, “Let’s get busy scrubbing Obama’s mocacchino stain off of America!”

    In August 2016, Holton called into the NRA’s talk radio show Cam & Co. to say that white privilege is just “a culture of responsibility,” and told black Americans, “You’re welcome to come. All you have to do is join us in respecting authority and taking responsibility for your own actions.” During a July 2017 appearance on Stinchfield, Holton warned of the prospect of Black Lives Matter protesters committing mass rape and murder against white people.  

    He also frequently retweets Stefan Molyneux, a far-right commentator known for promoting scientific racism, eugenics, and white supremacy on his YouTube channel.

  • Far-right trolls launch harassment campaign against judge who upheld assault weapons regulations

    On harassment-enabling sites 8chan and Gab, pro-gun trolls publish Judge William Young's information to "show him what we got"

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Far-right trolls are using harassment-enabling platforms like 8chan and Gab to encourage threats against a federal judge for recently upholding a Massachusetts ban on assault weapons. The trolls published what appears to be Young’s home address and phone numbers and claimed that Young had signed his “death certificate” by ruling to uphold existing gun laws.

    On Friday, U.S. District Judge William Young issued a decision upholding Massachusetts’ ban on assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, declaring -- in line with other federal courts -- that they are not protected under the Second Amendment. Pro-gun trolls took to online message board 8chan and social media platform Gab to doxx Young, posting without his consent what they claim is the judge’s personal contact information, in clear efforts to target him for harassment. The 8chan post showing the judge’s information invited trolls to “show him what we got”:

    On Gab, the same contact information appeared under search results for Young’s name:

    Anonymity and lack of oversight on online message boards 4chan and 8chan have long made these sites enablers of illegal activity and ideal places for trolls to coordinate harassment campaigns. Gab, a Twitter alternative that has become a “haven for white supremacists” and allows users to regularly post extremist content with no consequence, has clearly become another enabler of harassment. Despite Gab CEO Andrew Torba recently announcing that the site had banned “alt-right” congressional candidate Paul Nehlen for doxxing a white nationalist online troll by supposedly revealing his true identity, Gab's community guidelines appear to extend the courtesy of protecting private information only to other Gab users. This policy makes the site, similar to 8chan, an ideal hub for white supremacists, anti-Muslim extremists, and now, pro-gun trolls, to coordinate the harassment of their political opponents.

    Dina Radtke contributed research for this piece.

  • Sinclair personality faces boycott after saying he wants to “ram a hot poker up David Hogg’s ass” 

    Jamie Allman’s abusive tactics may finally be catching up with him

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    UPDATE: Asked about Allman’s comments about David Hogg by The Washington Post, a spokesperson for Sinclair said, “We have accepted Mr. Allman’s resignation, and his show has been cancelled.”

    ORIGINAL POST:

    Conservative TV and radio host Jamie Allman, Sinclair’s primary local news personality in St. Louis, MO, is now facing a boycott after tweeting on March 26 that he wants to “ram a hot poker up David Hogg’s ass.” The horrific attack on the Parkland, FL, high school shooting survivor is just the latest from Allman, who has a history of engaging in unhinged online abuse and hateful commentary. 

    On April 6, local alt-weekly the Riverfront Times reported on a threatening tweet that had been circulating around social media in which Allman stated that he’d “been hanging out getting ready to ram a hot poker up David Hogg’s ass tomorrow . Busy working . Preparing .”

    Allman hosts both a morning radio show and a nightly news show called The Allman Report on KDNL (ABC 30), the St. Louis TV news station owned and operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that, in response to Allman’s tweet, state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) called for an advertiser boycott of Allman’s show -- and some advertisers have now discontinued their spots on his radio show.

    Allman’s disgusting attack on the high school student echoes obsessive targeting of Hogg by far-right conspiracy theorists and should be no surprise to local viewers and others familiar with Allman’s history of online harassment and abusive rhetoric. Media Matters first documented Allman’s extremism in October, noting his promotion of fringe conspiracy theories, use of anti-immigrant slurs and race-baiting language on air, and frequent misogynist tweets. Many of these examples predated his hiring by Sinclair -- but none of this seems to matter to the local TV news giant.

    In fact, in 2015, the Sinclair station began running what it calls Allman’s “non-traditional newscast” in place of any straightforward local news broadcast, airing each edition three times per weekday during time slots typically reserved for news updates.  

    And Allman has discussed Hogg twice on his Sinclair news show since his March 26 tweet. On the March 30 edition of The Allman Report, he tried to make a case for attacking the teenagers, arguing that Hogg “can’t have it both ways” and had to choose between being a “kid” or being “a revolutionary.” Allman went on to accuse the Parkland students of “grabbing [their] blanket” whenever they were criticized.

    On April 3, Allman again mocked Parkland students for their opposition to some heightened security measures at the school, such as being required to use clear backpacks. At one point he imitated a student whining, “This place feels like a prison!” Allman also zeroed in on Hogg specifically and suggested it was “very confusing” that Hogg would advocate for the right to carry different types of backpacks but not different types of guns.

    Sinclair was largely silent in response to the publication of Media Matters’ research on Allman last October. Allman, however, locked down his Twitter account briefly before unlocking it to tweet bonkers, sometimes threatening messages at this author for an hour straight, between 2 and 3 a.m. one morning. The tweets included photoshopped images of me, images of Carrie (from the eponymous film) covered in blood, and claims I hate my father and have a drinking problem.

    Allman has now locked down his Twitter account again and, according to the Riverfront Times, the account was silent yesterday after spending two days retweeting supporters in defiance. Because I had reported the account previously, I received a vague update from Twitter yesterday that Allman’s account has now been found in violation of the platform’s rules against abusive behavior.

  • NRATV and Dana Loesch to host pro-gun pundit who called Parkland students "silly little immature ‘media prosti-tots’”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s media outlet, announced on April 6 it would be hosting gun activist Mark Robinson during that evening’s broadcast of NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch’s show Relentless. Robinson, who recently went viral after making pro-gun comments during a town hall in Greensboro, NC, has a lengthy history of bigoted statements.

    Robinson previously appeared on Fox News’ Fox & Friends after his town hall comment demanding politicians “start standing up for” gun owners who have never shot anybody gained nationwide attention on social media.

    As first reported by Shareblue’s Oliver Willis, who previously worked for Media Matters, Robinson has made a litany of bigoted and offensive comments on his Facebook account. The gun activist has called LGBTQ people “devil worshiping child molesters,” referred to some black Democrats as “slaves,” called the Parkland survivors “silly little immature ‘media prosti-tots’” and used a male pronoun to describe Michelle Obama.

    Robinson also appeared on the April 6 broadcast of NRATV's talk radio program Cam & Company.