Ben Shapiro calls for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, while praising additional military spending
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During a meeting on immigration policy in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump reportedly questioned the United States’ policy of accepting immigrants from, what he said, were “shithole countries,” such as Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations. In the aftermath of the president’s racist remarks, many in right-wing media rallied around him to defend his comments.
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Media Matters looks back at some of the worst smears, lies, and liars attacking the transgender community in 2017
Right-wing media figures and anti-LGBTQ hate group representatives have a long history of spreading anti-trans hatred and lies, and 2017 was no different. From hate groups attacks on trans children and students to Alex Jones’ anti-LGBTQ extremism, Media Matters rounded up some of 2017’s most transphobic misinformers and their lies.
Right-wing conspiracy theorist and ally to President Donald Trump Alex Jones has cemented his place as an anti-trans extremist this year as he repeatedly used the slur “tranny,” dehumanized trans people's existence, and spread vile rhetoric about them. Though Jones has repeatedly said he is “not against gay people,” Media Matters has documented a pattern of extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that proves otherwise.
In one segment on his show, for example, Jones said that transgender women may be gay men who want “to go pick up more guys” by getting “breast implants” and trying to “doll [their] hair up.” On another episode, Jones compared a transgender man who had a baby to Jones deciding that he is a “50-foot, red, purple, striped giraffe” that “give[s] birth to leprechauns.” In other segments, Jones has said that accepting transgender people is a slippery slope to “brain chips” and suggested that former first lady Michelle Obama has a penis and may have killed late comedian Joan Rivers, saying that he was “not putting trannies down” with the comments.
Jones accused transgender women of being gay men who want “to go pick up more guys” by getting breast implants and dolling up their hair.
[Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 7/10/17]
Jones compared a pregnant transgender man to a “50-foot, red, purple, striped giraffe” that gives “birth to leprechauns.”
[Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 8/3/17]
Jones said that accepting transgender people is a slippery slope to “brain chips.”
[Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 8/7/17]
In 2017, hate group leaders and right-wing media personalities continued their fight against LGBTQ equality in schools, attacking transgender students and children, their parents, and teachers who teach trans-inclusive lessons. These attacks are also happening on a policy level, with hate group Alliance Defending Freedom spending much of the year trying to block transgender student equality by inserting itself in debates at local school districts and in state legislatures about transgender students’ access to restroom facilities that align with their gender identity.
In July, anti-LGBTQ hate group American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) President Dr. Michelle Cretella asserted that parents accepting their transgender children's’ gender identity is “child abuse” and spread myths and junk science about transgender people during an episode of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight. ACPeds is a small, deceptively named hate group with only a few hundred members that is meant to be confused with the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics. In another example, right-wing media figures attacked a California elementary school teacher for reading two children’s books about gender identity to her kindergarten classroom after a transgender student brought one in to share. Right-wing website PJ Media suggested that parents “move out of [their] community” if they feel it is necessary to protect their children from being turned into “mind-numbed robots who nod affirmatively in the face of lies,” and anti-LGBTQ FoxNews.com contributor Todd Starnes called the events “an example of how schools have been indoctrination grounds for the LGBT agenda” and “activist bullies.”
Anti-LGBTQ hate group ACPeds’ Cretella called accepting transgender children “child abuse.”
[Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/24/17]
Right-wing figures and anti-LGBTQ hate groups continued to reinforce the debunked “bathroom predator” myth, which asserts that policies allowing trans people to use restrooms that align with their gender identity will create an opening for sexual predators to assault women. That myth has been long debunked by experts and government officials in more than a dozen states, school administrators, and sexual assault and domestic violence prevention experts, but pundits and anti-LGBTQ figures continued to push the lie in 2017.
On February 15, Tony Perkins, the president of anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council (FRC), dubiously claimed that Target’s trans-inclusive bathroom policy gives people a “good chance” of seeing a “live rendition of CSI … because increasingly you’ve had crime scenes in their restrooms and in their changing rooms.” Similarly, on an episode of a special panel show on Houston’s Fox 26, president of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Conservative Republicans of Texas (CRTx) Jared Woodfill said that “registered sex offenders who somehow believe that they’re a woman” would be “allowed to go into the restroom where our wives, our daughters, and our mothers are going to be.” In yet another example, Charmaine Yoest, a right-wing political commentator who is now in a top communications post at the Department of Health and Human Services, asserted that “the real issue” with trans-inclusive policies “is the opening that it provides for sexual predators … who might be using this as a way to get access to young girls and women.
FRC’s Perkins claimed that Target’s trans-inclusive restroom policy gives people a “good chance” of seeing a “live rendition of CSI … because increasingly you’ve had crime scenes in their restrooms and in their changing rooms”
[Fox Business, Varney & Co., 2/15/17]
CRTx’s Woodfill claimed that “registered sex offenders who somehow believe that they’re a woman” would be “allowed to go into the restroom where our wives, our daughters, and our mothers are going to be” with trans-inclusive restroom policies.
[Fox 26, What’s Your Point, 5/22/17]
Former right-wing pundit Yoest said that “the real issue” with trans-inclusive policies “is the opening that it provides for sexual predators … who might be using this as a way to get access to young girls and women.”
[CNN, CNN Newsroom, 2/23/17]
When Trump announced he would ban transgender people from the military, right-wing media and hate groups pushed misinformation about transgender service members and called them “mentally ill.” (The ban has so far been paused by the courts.) Other right-wing lies about the ban included the claim that the cost of medically necessary health care for transgender service members would be in the billions, that allowing transgender members to serve would interfere with military readiness and cohesion, and that a majority of transgender people are unable to be deployed due to their health care needs. Analysts have found minimal additional costs involved in providing health care to transgender service members and no negative impacts on military cohesion or readiness.
Right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro responded to the ban by saying that “the military should not accept mentally ill soldiers.” Shapiro tweeted that “no one has the ‘right’ to serve in the military,” and again implied that transgender people have a “mental illness.” Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who is the vice president of anti-LGBTQ hate group FRC, similarly pushed the myth that transgender people have some “kind of physical or mental illness” and claimed that their inclusion in the military was part of “a test bed for nothing but social experiments.” According to the American Psychological Association, “Identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder.” Other leading medical organizations agree.
FRC’s Boykin pushed the lie that transgender people are mentally ill, saying, "We shouldn't recruit people with any kind of physical or mental illness."
[Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 8/24/17]
Shapiro claimed that “no one has the ‘right’ to serve in the military. People are 4F [unfit to serve] for a variety of reasons. Mental illness can be such a reason.”
No one has the "right" to serve in the military. People are 4F for a variety of reasons. Mental illness can be such a reason.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 26, 2017
Shapiro said that “The military should not accept mentally ill soldiers,” but Trump’s announcement “should not have been done by tweet.”
1. The military should not accept mentally ill soldiers.
2. This should not devalue the heroism of those who want to serve. (/1)
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 26, 2017
Over the past year, right-wing media figures attacked transgender people with offensive language, anti-trans slurs, and even the denial of trans existence. In addition to the steadfast slandering of transgender people by Alex Jones, other right-wing media figures employed transphobic rhetoric that can have severe consequences on transgender people and youth. Calls from transgender youth to the Trevor Project’s suicide hotline increased this year, and the project cited “anti-transgender rhetoric” coming from elected officials and others as “putting lives at risk.”
In a November rant lamenting the surge of LGBTQ victories in 2017 elections, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh used the anti-trans slur “tranny” and insisted that LGBTQ people be referred to only as “homosexual,” saying, “the word is homosexual.” On Fox, Carlson hosted a transgender guest and insulted her by accusing transgender people of “faking” and repeatedly pushing the myth that people can just “decide” to be transgender on a whim. This kind of rhetoric places doubt on transgender existence.
After trans candidates won 2017 elections, Limbaugh insisted that all LGBTQ people be referred to as “homosexual” and used the anti-trans slur “tranny.”
[Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/9/17]
Carlson insulted a transgender guest and accused transgender people of "faking."
[Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 2/24/17]
In his weekly “power player of the week” segment, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace presented a glowing profile of former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro without acknowledging Shapiro’s history of bigotry, extremism, and misinformation.
On the December 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace lauded Shapiro’s “special brand of combative conservatism,” and noted that his “militant conservative views” sometimes “spur protests.” What Wallace failed to tell his viewers is that Shapiro has a long track record of promoting racism, sexism, and extremism. In addition to Shapiro’s bigotry, he also has a penchant for misinformation,.
Shapiro frequently expresses anti-Muslim and racist views, once tweeting that “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage.” He is quick to downplay police brutality, arguing that, “if you don’t commit a crime, you’re not going to be arrested for it,” and has claimed that income inequality between races in the United States “has nothing to do with race and everything to do with culture.”
It is not the first time that Wallace has ignored the obvious failings of his weekly “power players,” nor is it the first time that media outlets have failed to hold Shapiro accountable for his hateful and dangerous views. Just last month, The New York Times published a flattering portrait of Shapiro, referring to him as “the cool kid’s philosopher.” From the December 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday:
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): If you've ever wondered who will eventually succeed Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as the voice of conservative opinion, it may just be Ben Shapiro. Who's that? Here's our power player of the week.
BEN SHAPIRO: In a free country, it is up to you to succeed or fail on your own merits. So, get off your ass and do it.
WALLACE: Yes, Ben Shapiro talks fast. But then for most of his 33 years, he’s been a man in a hurry.
SHAPIRO: I’m Ben Shapiro. This is The Ben Shapiro Show.
WALLACE: He’s the host of the most listened to conservative podcast in the country.
SHAPIRO: I do like that that Trump does have a rotating series of about 10 insults that just keeps going around and around.
WALLACE: He’s the editor of The Daily Wire, which gets 100 million pageviews a month. And he’s a big presence on college campuses, where his militant conservative views spur protests.
SHAPIRO: You’re not a man if you think you’re a man.
WALLACE: This exchange with a 22-year-old college student over transgender identity has attracted 47 million views on Facebook.
SHAPIRO: Why can’t you identify as 60? What is the problem with you identifying as 60?
SHAPIRO: You’re right. Age is significantly less important than gender. You can’t magically change your gender. You can’t magically change your sex. You can’t magically change your age.
WALLACE: At the University of Utah, he listed what he calls the hierarchy of victimhood in America.
SHAPIRO: So, there’s LGBTQ, and then black folks. Then there’s Hispanic folks. And then women. And then Jews. And then Asians. And then way down at the bottom, white, straight males. Right? Those are the people who are at the very bottom. And then their opinions do not matter at all.
WALLACE: Shapiro has been called the voice of conservative millennials. How are conservative millennials different from conservative baby boomers?
SHAPIRO: By the time a lot of conservatives hit baby boomer age, there's a mentality that’s set in that they're always losing and that every choice, every political choice particularly, is a lesser of two evils choice. If you’re conservative millennial, I think that you tend to be a little bit more idealistic, just as younger people are generally.
WALLACE: While he applauds some of President Trump’s policies, he says the tweets are needlessly divisive and turn off his generation.
SHAPIRO: Young people in the United States dramatically dislike this administration and they dramatically dislike the Republican Party. And it is President Trump’s responsibility, for conservatives anyway, to fix that. And sitting there on Twitter and retweeting Britain First is not going to do that.
WALLACE: Shapiro worked for Breitbart in the campaign, but quit when he said it was turning into a Trump propaganda arm. As for Steve Bannon:
SHAPIRO: I think that Steve is very interested in being perceived as powerful, as being perceived as a mover and shaker. But I don’t think he’s nearly as much of a mover and shaker as he wants to be seen as.
WALLACE: As we said, Shapiro has always moved fast. At age five, he dressed for Halloween as John Adams. By age 17, he wrote a nationally syndicated political column.
SHAPIRO: I skipped a couple of grades. I was a virtuosic violinist. I actually, when I went to college, thought that I was going to double major in genetic science and music. So, I was always pretty driven.
SHAPIRO: Things that I hate.
WALLACE: And his only plan now is to keep pushing his special brand of combative conservatism.
SHAPIRO: Sometimes the best way to get a message across is to just speak bluntly. And so, I'm not going there to deliberately offend people. I'm saying things that I think are true with precisely the amount of verve I think necessary to convey the message.
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After The Washington Post published a report alleging that Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore had initiated sexual encounters with a then-14-year-old girl in 1979, when Moore was 32, several right-wing media figures jumped to his defense, attacking the accuser, asserting that “Roy Moore Did Nothing Wrong,” and demanding that media cover the supposed misdeeds of others instead.
Right-wing radio hosts such as Sean Hannity and Mark Levin have been acting as paid pitch people for a company that promises to help train members on how to use guns to “survive a mass shooting.” Hannity has been especially vocal about the company and used the recent Las Vegas mass shooting to shill for it on his radio program.
The U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) is a pro-gun company that sells membership plans featuring “education, training, and self-defense insurance” for gun owners. It also criticizes attempts to enact gun control laws and publishes Concealed Carry Magazine. The group claims to have over 250,000 members and has attempted to grow its membership over the years through numerous advertising buys with conservative media.
Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Ben Shapiro are all part of the association’s latest advertising campaign for a “100% FREE Complete Concealed Carry & Family Defense Guide,” which includes tips on “how to survive a mass shooting” and “the safest AND most dangerous places to sit in a restaurant” (the sign-up takes people to a page that urges them to pay for a membership).
The USCCA created dedicated landing pages for each individual host participating in the advertising campaign, including the following identical quote which was cut and pasted for each person:
Prior to the Las Vegas shooting, these media personalities did advertisements for the campaign that aired in late September. Here are those ads, along with their dedicated website URL: Beck (ProtectAndDefend.com), Hannity (DefendFamily.com), Levin (DefendThem.com), and Shapiro (DefendMyFamilyNow.com) .
Hannity has continued to tout USCCA as a solution to surviving a mass shooting following the Las Vegas tragedy. During his October 5 radio program, Hannity segued from talking about the mass shooting to introducing “our friends at the United States Concealed Carry Association,” saying, “I’m proud to be associated with them. They have offered a family defense guide. You’re going to learn -- and this is 164 pages -- how to survive a mass shooting. How to detect attackers before they see you.”
Previously, Hannity used the shooting at a congressional baseball practice in June to push USCCA membership.
The association, which did not respond to requests for comment, features a Hannity testimonial on its website under the headline: “Why Sean Hannity Joined The USCCA… Hear Why One Of The Most Trusted Conservative Voices In America Is A Proud Card-Carrying Member.”
Hannity used his October 4 Fox News program to advocate for concealed carry while discussing the Las Vegas shooting. He praised right-to-carry laws and said that “having more citizens that are armed leads to a decrease in violent crime.” He did not mention he’s being paid by a pro-right-to-carry group during the program.
Despite Hannity’s claim, as The Atlantic noted in June, “academic studies have strongly suggested” that right-to-carry laws “lead to higher rates of violent crime. The latest -- and, at least according to one of its authors, most comprehensive -- was released earlier this month by the non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research.” The study concluded, “There is not even the slightest hint in the data that [these] laws reduce violent crime.”
Media Matters previously documented that Hannity repeatedly used his Fox New program to push his radio sponsor’s concealed carry agenda without any disclosure about his financial relationship. He similarly used his Fox News program in 2014 to promote the fundraising efforts of the Tea Party Patriots, which sponsored his radio program.
Right-wing media figures attacked Jimmy Kimmel, host of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, after Kimmel sharply criticized Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) as having “lied right to my face” about health care in May. Kimmel pointed out that the Affordable Care Act repeal package Cassidy is co-sponsoring does not protect all children with pre-existing conditions, even though Cassidy told Kimmel he would support only those bills that passed that test.
Right-wing media figures have helped promote a series of myths about transgender service members in the U.S. military in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would ban them from serving. These debunked myths include the claim that the cost of medically necessary health care for transgender service members would be in the billions, that allowing transgender members to serve would interfere with military readiness and cohesion, that a majority of transgender people are unable to be deployed due to their health care needs, and that being transgender is a mental illness that makes people unfit to be in the military.
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Conservative media outlets and personalities, along with anti-LGBTQ hate groups, applauded President Donald Trump’s Twitter announcement that he will be banning transgender people from serving in the U.S. armed forces because the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
ISIS has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in Manchester, England, which killed more than 20 people. During Barack Obama’s presidency, right-wing media figures exploited terrorist attacks that ISIS claimed responsibility for to blame, criticize, and attack the president. Additionally, right-wing media figures castigated Obama for not leaving a foreign trip in the aftermath of an attack.
Right-Wing Media Scandalize Report That Susan Rice Allegedly Asked For Legal Unmasking Of Trump Officials Found In Intel Reports About Russians
On April 2, alt-right media figure Mike Cernovich reported that former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the unmasking of Trump officials. The next day, Bloomberg’s Eli Lake confirmed that Trump administration lawyers accused Rice of requesting “the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign.” Right-wing media figures quickly ran with the report as a “BOMBSHELL,” but according to numerous legal and national security experts, “Rice’s actions are likely legal.”