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Racial Justice

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  • Video: DeRay Mckesson calls out Fox News for painting Black communities as “violent people” to justify police violence

    In his new book, On The Other Side of Freedom, Mckesson wants to challenge audiences in thinking how to advance social and racial justice by “taking the truth with us everywhere we go,” while using hope as fuel

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    During a conversation with Media Matters, activist and author DeRay Mckesson touched upon the ways that local and national media coverage of police violence have improved in recent years, explaining that because of these changes, “now people generally have [the] language” to talk about these issues.

    Mckesson also addressed the role Fox News has played in pushing the false narrative that police violence against Black people is justifiable and the baseless claim that Black communities are violent, suggesting that progressives need to challenge these narratives and “attack the underlying idea” behind these falsehoods. His new book, On The Other Side of Freedom, provides data to combat myths that help perpetuate police violence against Black communities, tackles issues of identity, explores the role of social media, and suggests using hope to fuel the fight towards racial justice. Watch our conversation with Mckesson:

    Video by John Kerr and Miles Le

  • Video: Climate change worsens extreme weather and hurts people of color the most. When will mainstream media tell this story?

    Media severely under-covered Hurricane Maria, which affected mostly Latinx people.

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    Thousands of people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, researchers estimate, and it took 11 months to restore power to all residents. Maria was the worst weather disaster to affect Puerto Rico in 80 years and potentially the deadliest hurricane to hit the U.S. since 1900. But many news outlets failed to give much coverage to the storm and the ongoing recovery efforts.

    Why?

    Maybe because most of the victims of Hurricane Maria were people of color: 99 percent of the population of Puerto Rico is Latinx.

    Extreme weather and climate disasters have the biggest effects on people of color, the poor, and women, both in the U.S. and around the world -- and the media need to be talking about that.

    The first Sunday after Hurricane Maria made landfall, the five major Sunday political talk shows cumulatively dedicated less than one minute of coverage to the storm. When outlets did turn their coverage to Maria, it was because of the president’s antics. Coverage spiked when President Donald Trump got in a Twitter fight with the mayor of Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, and when he visited the territory and threw paper towels out into a crowd. When the drama ended, coverage dropped significantly and has stayed low even as Puerto Rico continues struggling to recover.

    On top of this lack of coverage is the problem that many mainstream outlets don’t talk to the people who are most affected by climate change, and they also don’t talk enough to scientists or climate researchers. Only 13 percent of guests featured during climate-related segments on Sunday shows in 2017 were people of color, just 29 percent of the guests were women, and no climate scientists or journalists were featured at all -- the second year that scientists and journalists were completely excluded.

    Mainstream media outlets need to talk to the people who are being hurt the most by climate change. They also need to connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather, to help everyone understand that climate change isn’t just something that will happen in the future or in faraway places. It's happening now, and it's happening everywhere.

  • Fox & Friends coverage of Unite The Right protests ignores white supremacists, instead fearmongers about antifa

    While happy to complain about antifa, Fox & Friends completely ignores that white supremacists are planning on gathering again

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    Fox & Friends Sunday’s only coverage of the August 12 white supremacist rally in Washington D.C. mentioned only that “tense protests” were expected in Washington, and focused largely on an alleged “antifa mob” in Charlottesville, VA. August 12 marks the one year anniversary of a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, during which an attendee with white supremacist and neo-Nazi ties allegedly drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one woman, Heather Heyer. White nationalists have planned to mark the occasion with a rally in Washington, organized by the same white supremacist responsible for Charlottesville.

    Fox & Friends Sunday failed to inform their viewers about the assemblage of neo-Nazis in D.C., however. While the show did note that August 12 is the “one year anniversary of a deadly white supremacist rally,” during four nearly identical short reports, the program only explained that “tense protests are expected today.” Ignoring that those protests were again in response to the presence of white supremacists, the show fearmongered about an “anti-police bash led by an antifa mob.”

    The only other mention of the Charlottesville rally during the show came when Fox host Martha Maccallum previewed what Fox News Sunday would cover -- she also failed to mention that white supremacists were rallying in D.C. this weekend.  

    Fox’s decision to castigate anti-racist protesters without mentioning that white supremacists are once again rallying on our streets comes as little surprise to anyone familiar with the network’s coverage of the violence in Charlottesville. Following last year’s rally, Fox & Friends Sunday defended white supremacist protesters, with host Pete Hegseth arguing,  “there’s a reason those people were out there.” A Fox contributor, Charles Hurt, contended that, “there are those instigators on both sides of this fight that was going on in Charlottesville.” President Donald Trump's remarks defending neo-Nazis after Charlottesville were even full of right-wing media talking points.

    In fact, Fox’s coverage of neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville was infinitely more sympathetic than their coverage of protesters rallying for gun control or sports players kneeling in protest of racial inequality.

  • Here are 52 examples of Laura Ingraham’s racism

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News’ Laura Ingraham has drawn widespread rebuke following a racist anti-immigrant rant on the August 8 edition of her Fox show. During her far-from-subtle diatribe, Ingraham bemoaned “massive demographic changes, … changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don't like,” and complained, “In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore.” Later in the program, she questioned whether “Black-on-Black” crime is a larger issue for the Black community than the racism that infects the criminal justice system. Her comments are a nearly perfect parallel of the rhetoric used by white supremacists and were embraced and commended by former KKK leader David Duke. Outside of white supremacist circles, however, politicians, activist groups, and other media figures widely condemned the rant.  

    Following the criticism, Ingraham defended her comments, arguing that the goal of her monologue was “to point out that the rule of law, meaning secure borders, is something that used to bind our country together.” Ingraham’s deflection, however, is disingenuous and undermined by her history of racist commentary and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Her Fox News show, The Ingraham Angle, is less than a year old, but Ingraham has already turned it into a racist, extremist cesspool.

    It isn’t difficult to find examples of Ingraham’s boundless hostility toward immigrants and her obvious apathy towards non-white communities. Here are just a few highlights from over the years (seriously, there are many more):  

    Ingraham has spent years demonizing and mocking immigrants.
     

    • On The Ingraham Angle, she dismissed asylum claims from Hondurans fleeing violence because, according to her, “it’s not our problem.”

    • She claimed that children torn from their parents as a result of the Trump administration policies and who were not yet reunited with their families were being protected by the administration because, “due to domestic or drug abuse, many of these parents are now deemed unfit to care for their children or dangerous for their children.”

    • Ingraham said, “Most people believe that if you come into the country illegally, it's sad when your family gets separated, no one wants to see that, but it's your responsibility.”

    • She hosted John Lott, president of the conservative Crime Prevention Research Center, to defend his debunked report alleging that undocumented immigrants in Arizona commit more crimes -- and more dangerous crimes -- than other Arizonans.

    • During a 2015 appearance on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Ingraham urged then-presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Scott Walker to support ending birthright citizenship to “throw something to the conservatives on immigration.”

    • During a 2013 appearance on the now-defunct Fox show The O’Reilly Factor, Ingraham claimed that a lot of recent immigrants “have wreaked havoc upon communities.”

    • Ingraham suggested that the United States should shoot deported immigrants who attempt to re-enter the country: “Why don't we ship [imprisoned undocumented immigrants] back home and say you come again, you'll be shot crossing the border?”

    • Ingraham defended then-candidate Donald Trump’s claim that Mexico is “sending rapists” to the United States and argued that Mexicans “have come here to murder and rape our people.”

    • She mocked children detained by U.S. officials after being separated from their families, calling the detention centers “essentially summer camps,” comparing them to “play spaces,” and saying that people’s outrage over children being held in cages is “hilarious.”

    • She claimed that immigration from Mexico would make the U.S. a “hellhole.”

    • She smeared the American children of undocumented immigrants as “anchor fetuses.”

    • Ingraham compared DACA protestors to “wild dogs” and attacked DACA recipients who serve in the U.S. military, saying, “This is the American military. This is not the military of mercenary illegal immigrants!"

    • She once claimed, “Nobody has a right to be here except the people who are born here.”

    • Ingraham blamed Muslim and Latino immigrants for Republicans losing elections in Virginia and added, “It will become increasingly difficult, for sure, for Republicans to win if Republicans don't get a handle on immigration.”

    • Ingraham contended that the middle class is frustrated that “everybody has to bow down to the new immigrant class.”

    • Ingraham celebrated her radio show’s role in blocking comprehensive immigration reform, commenting to viewers, “Guess who helped stop it? You’re listening to one of the reasons it was stopped.”

    • In 2014, she argued that the Hispanic Caucus should be called the “open borders caucus.”

    • She bemoaned that an “all-immigrant population have come and moved into Northern Virginia,” claimed that “we have a mass influx of illegal immigrants in Virginia,” and called immigrant communities “rabid fanatics.”  

    • Ingraham used a drug-related arrest of one man to besmirch immigrants as “trash.”

    • She argued that one way to “enforce our immigration laws” would be to “end birthright citizenship.”

    • In 2014, she derided Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's plan to attract skilled immigrants to work and live in bankrupt Detroit, saying "we can then wall off Detroit" to keep those immigrants from moving to other parts of the country.

    • Later that year, she referred to the thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing from violence in Central America as “an invasion facilitated by our own government."

    Ingraham has demonstrated particular vitriol for Muslim people, especially immigrants and refugees.
     

    • On The Ingraham Angle, she questioned White House chief of staff John Kelly about why Trump is bringing in so many "Islamic" refugees.

    • She was an early defender of the idea of a “Muslim ban” and suggested that Trump’s proposal “isn’t broad enough.” She claimed that she would “go further” and “do a pause on all immigration.”

    • She also said that Middle Eastern countries should be told that “we’re cutting you off,” adding, “You’re not going to come into this country and destroy what’s good about America.”  

    • Ingraham stated that the U.S. should only accept refugees that “we can verifiably say are Christians” and that Muslims should “stay in the Middle East.”

    • She has fearmongered about Muslim women, asking, “What’s under that Burqa, baby?”

    • She questioned why we even allow Muslim immigration when we “can’t tell if an Islamic individual is going to be radicalized.”

    • Ingraham argued that, in contrast to Muslims, Christian refugees do not “try to blow us up.”

    • She compared mosque surveillance to “body cameras on police.”

    • She questioned why "the Muslims" are "never supporting the conservatives on" anti-LGBTQ initiatives.

    Ingraham is routinely dismissive of any language that is not English and frequently demeans languages spoken by immigrants.
     

    • She has insisted that English “should be the national language of this country.”

    • She stated, “You’re only going to be here if you’re speaking our language.”

    • Ingraham argued that multilingual schools are "costing the good people, Catholics, Christians ... opportunities and money.”

    • She claimed multilingual schools make "you think you're in a foreign country."

    • She mocked MSNBC's Jose Diaz-Balart for translating for a Spanish speaking guest.

    • Ingraham attacked a person who was protesting deportations for speaking with an accent.  

    • She compared someone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic to a “skinhead” reciting the pledge and argued that “most people who love this country love it enough to speak” English.

    Ingraham has a history of making other racist and anti-Semitic comments, as well as disparaging organizations that serve minority communities.
     

    • On The Ingraham Angle, she said that Black NBA players LeBron James and Kevin Durant should “shut up and dribble.”

    • Ingraham called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality “bratty players” who “disrespect the country.” On a separate occasion, she also stated that “a lot of these guys are punks.”

    • She said that she “would’ve prefered Madea doing political commentary” instead of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

    • On her Fox show, Ingraham praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as a “truly great” man, and on Fox & Friends, she decried the destruction of a Confederate statue.

    • During an appearance on Fox & Friends, she accused the NAACP of “becom[ing] a push organization for racist sentiments in many ways."

    • Again on Fox & Friends, Ingraham claimed that terrorism is “the price ... to pay for multiculturalism."

    • During an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, Ingraham asked, “Are we supposed to hold the bar really low for President [Barack] Obama simply because he’s half-Black?”

    • She once argued that minority voters picked Obama because he was “half-Black.”

    • Ingraham called activist group Black Lives Matter “a complete fraud” and said they didn’t care about Black-on-Black crime.

    • She contended that “affirmative action is "shafting people who are not of the appropriate color, or background, or ethnicity."

    • Ingraham once stated that she doesn’t “think of Jewish people as minorities because they’re so successful.”

    • She attacked Univision and Telemundo as “toxic," "Hispanic-centric outlets," that "revile the American experience."

    • She also accused Spanish language media as a whole of teaching undocumented immigrants “how to avoid deportation.”

    • In 2014, Ingraham claimed that the left wants “a system of racial spoils in place to level the playing field.”

  • Oil industry enlists minority groups to publish pro-drilling op-eds

    Most Black and Hispanic Americans oppose offshore drilling, so these op-eds paint a distorted picture

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER



    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    As part of a partnership with the American Petroleum Institute (API), the largest oil and gas lobbying organization in the U.S., Black and Hispanic business groups have been placing op-eds in local newspapers touting the benefits of offshore drilling, as Reuters recently reported. Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be opposed to offshore drilling than white Americans, according to a Pew poll conducted in January. The op-ed campaign is part of an industry-driven effort to make offshore drilling look more broadly supported and to shift minority opinion by enlisting groups that purport to represent communities of color.

    Op-eds push oil industry statistics but fail to disclose oil industry connections

    Media Matters identified six newspapers in the Southeast that have published op-eds by minority business leaders or political leaders who argue in favor of increased offshore oil and gas drilling along the Atlantic Coast. Most of these minority authors are affiliated with the Explore Offshore alliance, which they mention in their pieces -- but they neglect to disclose that Explore Offshore is a project of API and that many of the talking points and statistics they cite in their op-eds come straight from API materials.

    API announced the Explore Offshore alliance on June 6, billing it as a “bipartisan coalition representing a diverse group of community organizations, businesses, and local associations across the Southeast that support safe and responsible expanded U.S. access to oil and natural gas through advanced technologies.” The minority business groups in the coalition are highlighted on the Explore Offshore homepage, while most other coalition members are listed in less prominent places on the website -- an indication that API wants to highlight Black and Hispanic participation. The minority groups in the coalition include the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the North Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce, and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, plus one minority religious organization, the Hispanic Pastors Association.

    Florida:

    In Florida, The Palm Beach Post and the Tallahassee Democrat published a pro-drilling op-ed written by Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Tampa Bay Times published a like-minded op-ed co-authored by Miriam Ramirez, a former member of Puerto Rico’s Senate and a co-chair of Explore Offshore Florida, a state affiliate of API's national Explore Offshore coalition.

    Fuentes and Ramirez and her co-authors took figures from API’s one-pager about the benefits of drilling in Florida’s waters. Fuentes wrote (emphasis added):

    Continued offshore development would put more than 56,000 Floridians to work and add $4.5 billion per year to our economy.

    API's one-pager says (emphasis added):

    Employment in Florida due to spending by the Eastern Gulf offshore oil and natural gas industry is projected to reach over 56,000 jobs.

    Contributions to Florida’s state economy due to spending on Eastern Gulf [Outer Continental Shelf] oil and natural gas exploration and development activities could be nearly $4.5 billion per year by the end of the forecast period.

    Ramirez and her co-authors wrote (emphasis added):

    Economic studies show that the industry’s spending would bring Florida $1.3 billion per year in government revenue within 20 years of opening up the area for oil and natural gas development.

    API's one-pager says (emphasis added):

    Florida could see a 37.5% share of the Eastern Coast bonuses, rents and royalties generated which are projected to reach $1.3 billion per year within 20 years.

    The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which Fuentes runs, receives support from Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light, two large utilities that are building natural gas-fired plants in Florida. The chamber and the two utilities have backed anti-environment campaigns in the past. In 2016, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce joined Duke, Florida Power & Light, and other power companies in supporting Amendment 1, a deceptive, utility-backed ballot measure designed to restrict consumer access to rooftop solar power in Florida. The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also receives support from Florida-based, third-party energy supplier Liberty Power, a company that recently paid a settlement to New York state for engaging in deceptive practices and is the subject of a cease-and-desist complaint filed by Connecticut’s Office of Consumer Counsel for allegedly deceiving consumers.

    The other Florida minority group that's part of API's Explore Offshore alliance, the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce, has fossil fuel ties as well. It is closely affiliated with the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which has received extensive funding from fossil fuel interests including ExxonMobil and Koch Industries. The National Black Chamber notoriously led minority opposition to the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which would limit pollution from power plants. Eugene Franklin, president of the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce, served on the board of directors of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Both the Florida chamber and the national chamber supported the pro-utility Amendment 1 in 2016.

    South Carolina:

    In South Carolina, The Post and Courier and The Greenville News published a pro-drilling op-ed by Stephen Gilchrist, chair of the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce and chair of Explore Offshore SC, the South Carolina branch of API's Explore Offshore coalition. Gilchrist also apparently relied on API statistics in his op-ed, writing (emphasis added):

    Offshore development could … add $3.8 billion to our state budget per year. This could create 34,000 much needed jobs in the state

    But Gilchrist appears to have gotten one of those API talking points wrong by a factor of 20. He claimed that offshore drilling could add $3.8 billion to South Carolina's budget each year, but API’s South Carolina one-pager claims the $3.8 billion would come in over a 20-year period (emphasis added):

    Employment due to offshore oil and gas development activities on the Atlantic Coast in South Carolina could reach over 34,000 jobs within 20 years

    The cumulative effect on the state budget from 2020-2040 is projected to be over $3.8 billion.

    Gilchrist has cultivated questionable alliances that many African-Americans in South Carolina would not be comfortable with. In 2015, Gilchrist invited Donald Trump to an event for Black entrepreneurs that was co-hosted by the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce. The crowd at the event was "predominantly white," according to The Post and Courier. In late 2017, Gilchrist invited his friend Steve Bannon, former Trump advisor and white nationalist sympathizer, to a minority business roundtable sponsored by his group.

    Virginia:

    In Virginia, the Daily Press published an op-ed co-authored by former state Del. Winsome Earle Sears, an African-American, who now serves as co-chair of Virginia Explore Offshore, API's Virginia coalition. Like her cohorts in other states, she drew talking points right from API materials. From her op-ed (emphasis added):

    With the exploration and potential for development of offshore energy resources, Virginia could gain 25,000 jobs, many with an average salary of $116,000 — more than double the commonwealth’s average. We’re also projected to attract $1.5 billion per year in private investment

    From API’s announcement of its Explore Offshore coalition in Virginia (emphasis added):

    • By 2035, the oil and natural gas industry could create over 25,000 new high-paying jobs in Virginia
    • Offshore development could result in $1.5 billion in private investment into Virginia ...
    • The average salary for oil and natural gas exploration and development jobs is $116,000.

    The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which is part of API's Explore Offshore coalition, joined a number of oil and gas trade associations in signing a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management urging the agency to allow more offshore drilling. The Virginia Hispanic chamber has also partnered with Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest and most powerful utility.

    Conservative groups with anti-environment agendas and fossil-fuel ties have a history of trying to co-opt minorities

    API is mimicking a well-worn strategy in which polluters target minority and low-income communities with industry-funded research and disinformation about energy. For example, in recent years, Americans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Edison Electric Institute, and the Heartland Institute, among many others, have waged a campaign to hinder the growth of solar energy at the state level. That effort has included the false claim, often advanced via minority politicians and front groups, that net-metering policies designed to make rooftop solar power more accessible would harm minority and low-income people.

    Fossil fuel industries and their allies, including the National Black Chamber of Commerce, also targeted minority groups with misinformation about the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which, if fully implemented, would have prevented thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of asthma attacks each year.

    These tactics are especially insidious because research consistently shows that minority and low-income communities suffer disproportionately from the burning of fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change. The third U.S. National Climate Assessment, released in 2014, found:

    Climate change will, absent other changes, amplify some of the existing health threats the nation now faces. Certain people and communities are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color.

    In early 2018, EPA scientists published a study in the American Journal of Public Health that found people of color in the U.S. are exposed to more air pollution than white people are, with African-Americans exposed to the most. A number of other studies have documented the negative health effects of air pollution on minority and low-income communities. A joint report released in 2017 by the NAACP and the Clean Air Task Force found that natural gas facilities in particular are harmful to Black Americans:

    • [M]any African American communities face an elevated risk of cancer due to air toxics emissions from natural gas development: Over 1 million African Americans live in counties that face a cancer risk above EPA’s level of concern from toxics emitted by natural gas facilities.
    • The air in many African American communities violates air quality standards for ozone smog. Rates of asthma are relatively high in African American communities. And, as a result of ozone increases due to natural gas emissions during the summer ozone season, African American children are burdened by 138,000 asthma attacks and 101,000 lost school days each year.

    Blacks and Hispanics also suffer disproportionately from climate change impacts such as extreme weather. Just last year, Hurricanes Harvey and Maria devastated African-American and Latino communities in Houston and Puerto Rico.

    Polls have shown that nonwhite people in the U.S. are more concerned about climate change than white people are. A 2015 poll of African-Americans found that 60 percent of respondents ranked global warming as a serious issue, while a 2017 survey of Latinos found that 78 percent of respondents were worried about global warming.

    Surveys have also documented strong support among minority groups for clean energy solutions. A 2015 poll found that 66 percent of African-Americans believed that using more renewable energy would create new jobs, and 57 percent believed that shifting to clean energy would decrease their energy costs. A separate poll conducted in 2015 found that 84 percent of Latinos believed that the U.S. should mandate greater use of clean energy sources like solar and wind power.

    Clearly, minority communities understand the risks of climate change and want clean energy solutions to mitigate those risks.

    But API has chosen to partner with minority business groups to erode support for clean energy solutions and promote pro-fossil fuel arguments that would harm the very communities these organizations purport to represent. And, in a decision that demonstrates just how out of touch Explore Offshore is with minority communities, API recruited former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), a confederate apologist, to be a national co-chair.

    Newspapers in the Southeast and around the country should not be letting oil industry allies spread propaganda and claim to represent minority interests. Op-eds that more accurately represent Black and Latino aspirations would point out that these communities have the most to lose from expanded offshore drilling and the most to gain from a shift to clean energy.