Trace Gallagher | Media Matters for America

Trace Gallagher

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  • Fox News largely ignored a major new climate change report

    Fox's one substantial segment on the U.N. report featured right-wing arguments against taking dramatic action

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A new landmark report from a United Nations scientific panel warns that humanity is rapidly running out of time to take the unprecedented action needed to prevent horrific impacts from climate change. The report, released on Sunday night at 9 p.m. EDT by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was covered by a number of major media outlets the following day. CNN reported, "A sobering major report on climate change warns that we could be careening toward catastrophe." The New York Times noted that the report "paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought." The BBC reported, "It's the final call, say scientists, the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures."

    But Fox News aired very little coverage of the report on Monday.

    In morning coverage, Fox skipped the climate report but found time to criticize Taylor Swift

    Fox did not air a single segment that mentioned the U.N. report in its coverage from 4 a.m to noon EST on Monday. In contrast, CNN spent more than seven and a half minutes on the report over that period, and MSNBC spent more than four and a half minutes.

    While Fox couldn't spare a moment from its morning lineup for climate catastrophe, the network dedicated more than nine minutes to pop star Taylor Swift's Instagram post endorsing two Democratic candidates in Tennessee and encouraging people to register to vote. Fox hosts and guests criticized Swift's post and argued that she didn't know enough to weigh in on politics.

    In prime-time coverage, Fox skipped the climate report but found time to criticize Indigenous People's Day

    Fox's nightly prime-time shows on Monday also completely neglected to mention the report.

    Host Tucker Carlson did make a mention of pollution, but he meant the pollution of the public sphere by liberal ideas. Guest Cesar Vargas, an immigration attorney, greeted Carlson with, "Happy Indigenous Peoples Day." Carlson responded, "Don't pollute the show with that nonsense. It's Columbus Day, pal, come on."

    Carlson also made time to read lyrics from John Mayer's song "Your Body Is a Wonderland" and call toxic masculinity "some made-up, dumb feminist term."

    Fox covered the climate report just twice on Monday

    During Fox's "Special Report With Bret Baier" on Monday evening, host Baier spent about 30 seconds during a news rundown giving a straightforward overview of the report.

    "Shepard Smith Reporting" on Monday afternoon spent about two and a half minutes on the report, kicking off with Smith saying, "Climate change is real, the situation is urgent, and time is running out. That's the new warning from a landmark United Nations report." But Smith's summary of the report was followed by Fox correspondent Trace Gallagher using right-wing talking points to argue against taking the dramatic action that scientists say is needed:

    Gallagher: Even outside scientists who acknowledge that something has to be done to prevent the planet from warming say the goal laid out by the United Nations is really unreasonable because it would mean draconian cuts in emissions and dramatic changes in the way that we use energy, meaning extremely high gas prices, a lot more regulations, and putting governments right in the middle of decisions on how people utilize their private property. As you noted, the authors say that these goals really are a long shot. The conservative Cato Institute called some of the conclusions absurd. But former Vice President Al Gore praises the report, says he believes technology is the answer but we need to rely on solutions available today.

    Fox has spent years downplaying and mocking climate change

  • Fox pushes bogus Trump administration claim of historically transparent Supreme Court nomination process

    Hundreds of thousands of Brett Kavanaugh documents are still being withheld from the Senate

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court began on September 4 with hundreds of thousands of documents from Kavanaugh’s past positions in the George W. Bush administration withheld from senators’ scrutiny. Democrats on the committee highlighted this attack on transparency as the hearing began by protesting Republicans’ refusal to provide the requested documents.

    Although the Trump administration and Republican committee members have blocked access to numerous Kavanaugh documents, the show Fox News at Night broadcast, without questioning, a White House statement that its Kavanaugh nomination process is the most “comprehensive, thorough and transparent review of any nomination for the Supreme Court in U.S. history.” From the September 12 edition of Fox News at Night:

    TRACE GALLAGHER (FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT): Despite Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh answering 32 hours of questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee, it appears, as you say, committee members are still a bit curious, because they submitted an additional 1,287 questions in writing. That’s the most ever by a mile. For example, last year, Neil Gorsuch got 324 questions in writing. In 1991, Clarence Thomas got 18. And of the 1,287 written questions, 1,278 were from Democrats, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse wanting to know if Kavanaugh has a gambling problem. Turns out Kavanaugh’s 2016 financial disclosure showed more debt than positive investments, and the White House attributed that to him buying baseball tickets for friends who had not yet reimbursed him. Sen. Whitehouse wanted the names of the friends and more detail. Judge Kavanaugh responded, saying he buys season tickets every year for the Washington Nationals, divides the tickets between old friends, and they pay him back. Face value, no more, no less.

    But the onslaught of questions prompted Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley to release a statement reading, quote: "Submitting this many written questions appears to be just one more effort to gum up the process. It’s unnecessary and dilatory, especially when many have already decided to vote against Judge Kavanaugh. What more do they need to know to vote no?”

    The White House also released a statement calling the process the most, quote, “comprehensive, thorough and transparent review of any nomination for the Supreme Court in U.S. history.”

    Meantime, Sen. Cory Booker has released more committee confidential documents about Judge Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House. And the conservative group Judicial Watch has filed a complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee, saying Booker has violated Senate rules and could be expelled.

  • After officers shoot Stephon Clark 20 times, Fox News smears protesters and portrays police as the victims

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On March 18, police officers in Sacramento, CA, gunned down Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old black man and father of two, in his grandmother’s backyard, sparking protests and drawing nationwide media coverage. Fox News’ reporting on the shooting has almost entirely focused on the most disruptive protests, diminishing the message of the demonstrators while portraying them as intimidating and lawless. One Fox correspondent also said the reactions to Clark’s death could actually end up harming police officers, pointing to the officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, as an example.

    Fox has a history of disparaging coverage of protesters -- even peaceful protesters -- particularly those protesting police brutality. The network will commonly exaggerate the disruption caused by protests and cherry-pick examples to misrepresent the overall movement. (The pattern, of course, doesn’t hold true if those protesters are white nationalist, anti-immigrant, or tea party protesters.)

    Mainstream media outlets allow activists’ voices to be heard and provide a well-rounded account of the protests

    An ABC affiliate spoke to protesters at a Sacramento City Council meeting, one of whom explained that the demonstrations are “the first step, and you want to have conversations with the people who can make the changes.” An ABC affiliate aired balanced footage of protesters yelling, but also sitting, speaking calmly, and supporting one another. The report emphasized that the protesters showed "solidarity" and that they were "sisters, brothers, fathers, and mothers." They also spoke to one protester at the meeting who said, “I know there's good cops out there, you know, and I don’t believe all cops are bad. I think we have some issues that need to be changed, some systemic issues that need to be changed.”

    Other national cable news networks provided well-rounded depictions of the March 27 protests and allowed the protesters’ voices to be heard. MSNBC’s Joe Fryer described footage in his report as “Stephon Clark’s brother Stevante bursting into the council chambers” while “some in the crowd called for calm.” The MSNBC report showed clips of activists describing the pain in their community after the fatal shooting and included an interview with Clark’s grandmother. CNN correspondent Dan Simon highlighted the more chaotic aspects of the protests while also underscoring the “impactful moment” when activists voiced their discontent.

    CNN: “There was no violence and there were no arrests” at the protest outside the Sacramento Kings game. CNN’s coverage of the March 22 protest outside the Kings basketball game made clear that the team was supportive of the protests and mentioned that “there was no violence and there were no arrests.” The reporter also spoke to Stevante Clark, whose comments included, “We’re afraid. We’re afraid. It’s not the first, and it won’t be the last. I think that’s what hurts the most.”

    N.Y. Times highlighted comments from the Clark family’s lawyer, reporting that he “emphasized that in high-profile criminal cases when proven assailants are white … police officers showed restraint that is not afforded to black suspects.” The New York Times reported on comments made by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who will be representing the Clark family, who asked, “Why is that young black people and young brown people don’t get the same consideration” as white assailants do when they are pursued by police. The Times also published comments from a protester who said, “We run because we’re scared because they have the right to shoot us, they get away with it every day.”

    Fox’s coverage casts protesters as violent and unproductive

    Reporter describes March for Our Lives protesters as more peaceful than Clark protesters. Fox correspondent Alicia Acuna reported on Saturday that she “did not see instances where there was a lot of anger expressed” at the March for Our Lives and that protesters there “were relatively peaceful.” By contrast, Acuna commented, “That is far different from what they saw last night” in Sacramento, with the report cutting to video of protesters yelling while surrounded by police.

    Fox host Abby Huntsman: “Demonstrators in Sacramento showing no sign of calming down.” On March 24, a Fox & Friends headline report about protesters in Sacramento over the weekend focused on participants “confronting police officers and blocking drivers in traffic, some even becoming violent by breaking the window of a car.”

    Fox report focuses on critics of protests outside a Sacramento Kings game, including one man who hyped demonstrators as violent. Fox correspondent William LaJeunesse spoke to people attending a March 22 Sacramento Kings game who were temporarily blocked from entering the arena and who complained about the inconvenience imposed upon them by the protesters. One man commented, “The violence kind of muddles the message,” and LaJeunesse reported that one man was knocked unconscious.

    Fox & Friends sensationalized Sacramento City Hall protests, repeatedly playing footage of protesters jumping on tables. Fox & Friends' coverage of the March 27 demonstrations focused on footage of protesters yelling and standing on tables.

    Fox’s Jonathan Hunt: Protesters “have targeted the Sacramento Kings.” Fox co-host Sandra Smith introduced a report on the March 27 protests by commenting that the “protesters [were] standing on tables demanding answers.” She and correspondent Jonathan Hunt both reported that protesters also “targeted the Sacramento Kings.” In an earlier report, correspondent Trace Gallagher had mentioned that the Kings supported the protests, but Hunt failed to include that context in his coverage.

    A Fox correspondent compared Clark to Michael Brown, emphasizing that the officer who killed Brown “lost his job, got numerous death threats, and still lives in relative isolation.” After reporting on the facts surrounding Clark’s murder, Gallagher made a foreboding comparison between Clark and Michael Brown and seemed to portray  Brown’s killer, Darren Wilson, as a victim.
  • Nevada Attorney General corrects Fox News reporter’s misleading claim about the Las Vegas shooter

    AG Adam Laxalt: “As of right this moment, it is still a single person operation”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt immediately corrected misleading reporting on Fox News claiming that Las Vegas authorities currently believe that the gunman that killed scores of people from the Mandalay Bay hotel had an accomplice. He explained that despite the report on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, “The Clark County Sheriff has gone on the record saying that he believes Stephen Paddock did have an accomplice in all this.”

    Laxalt stated “the Sheriff did not say there was any evidence of an accomplice,” and that “I think he was expressing what we all feel, which is it’s hard to believe that a crime of this magnitude could have been done by one person.” Laxalt additionally stated “as of right this moment, it is still a single person operation.” From the October 5 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight:

    TRACE GALLAGHER: The Clark County Sheriff has gone on the record saying that he believes Stephen Paddock did have an accomplice in all this. He said he would be Superman if he did not have an accomplice, and pulled this off on his own.

    We have now learned that in the days running up to this shooting, that Stephen Paddock was gambling very heavily inside the Mandalay Bay for hours at a time, seven, eight hours at a time, also drinking heavily, and that he was with a female companion. Police are now looking for that female companion.

    And there are reports tonight that his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, told the FBI in her five and a half hours of interviews yesterday, that he may have had some mental issues, that she would see him on the bed moaning, things like "Oh, my god," and screaming "Oh, my god." Four days later, Tucker, still no motive for this mass shooting.

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is playing a major role in that investigation, of course, and he joins us tonight with the latest. Mr. Attorney General, thanks a lot for coming on. So, I'm sure you've got to be as anxious as anyone to understand why this man, Paddock, did something like this. Are you any closer to figuring that out?

    ADAM LAXALT: You know, I'd like to correct at least one thing that was said in the last segment. You know, the Sheriff did not say there was any evidence of an accomplice. I think he was expressing what we all feel, which is it’s hard to believe that a crime of this magnitude could have been done by one person.

    CARLSON: Yes.

    LAXALT: But as of right this moment, it is still a single person operation. And, you know, dealing with this horrific tragedy here in our great city, it has been a real shocker for all of us, but people have really pulled together to try to get some answers that we know that we want, and the country as a whole want.

  • STUDY: MSNBC Provides Exemplary Coverage Of Voter Suppression While Fox Pushes Voter Fraud Myths

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    A Media Matters analysis of cable news prime-time coverage of voter fraud and voter suppression efforts between October 27 and November 2 found that Fox News completely ignored or dismissed voter suppression in this time period while fearmongering about rare and isolated threats of voter fraud. MSNBC dedicated 10 segments to voter suppression and debunking claims of widespread voter fraud, while CNN discussed voter suppression twice and voter fraud once.

    Over the past week, Fox News discussed voter suppression once once, during a November 1 O’Reilly Factor segment (via Nexis) where host Bill O’Reilly and The Five host Kimberly Guilfoyle dismissed concerns of voter intimidation. The two criticized a lawsuit alleging that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign was intimidating voters by calling on supporters to challenge the qualifications of voters at the polls. During the segment, O’Reilly questioned, “How can you intimidate someone after they have already voted?” later calling the lawsuit “a total publicity stunt.” Guilfoyle asked what the “point of the lawsuit” was and asserted that it was “going to fail.”

    In contrast, Fox News devoted two segments to fearmongering about voter fraud, one on The Kelly File and another on The O’Reilly Factor. On the October 27 edition of The Kelly File (via Nexis), Fox’s Trace Gallagher reported on “voting machines flipping votes” in Texas and “a few other states,” alleging that votes for Republicans had been suspiciously flipped to votes for Democrats. NPR also reported on this story but added the context that the likely problem with voting machines is that they are old, that voters “see it happen right in front of them on the voting machine screen” in the “handful” of reports, and that voters can easily fix the error:

    Voters can usually change the selection to the right one before their ballot is cast. If not, they can let a poll worker know there's a problem so they can move to a machine that works. In many places, such machines also have paper ballot backups, if there's ever a question about the vote.

    Trump appeared on the October 27 edition of The O’Reilly Factor (via Nexis), where he alleged that “there are 1.8 million people who are dead who are registered to vote, and some of those people vote.” O’Reilly did ask Trump to provide data or facts on vote flipping in Texas, which Trump could not do: “No, they just call in,” he said, presumably referring to people who have reported that their votes were flipped.

    On MSNBC, however, hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes primarily focused on the threats of voter suppression in the 2016 election, with Maddow’s show covering the topic in every episode over the course of a week and Hayes covering it during four of five episodes of his show All In. Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell covered it once, combining to make a total of 10 discussions on the topic on MSNBC. When the shows covered voter fraud, the hosts always debunked the myth that it is widespread. For example, on the November 1 edition of Maddow’s show, Maddow discussed the controversial Voter Integrity Project in North Carolina, which “famously claimed they had identified 30,000 dead people who were registered to vote” in the state and whose website once ran a piece headlined “Raping the Retard Vote.” Maddow debunked the group's claims, stating:

    RACHEL MADDOW (HOST): That story did get awkward when these supposedly dead people in North Carolina started turning up, raising their hands, talking to the press, making a pretty convincing case that they were, in fact, not dead. They were alive. We hosted an elections official in North Carolina at the time who confessed to us how many man-hours, how much work, how many resources the state was having to put in to chasing down these supposedly 30,000 dead people on the rolls after they got so much press.

    Ultimately, they were not able to find a single instance of voter fraud despite all those headlines. They hadn`t been able to find any real dead people really voting.

    MSNBC’s hosts also noted that many of these voter suppression efforts have a disproportionate impact on minorities. During the October 31 edition of his show (via Nexis), Hayes explained that a North Carolina voter ID law was struck down for “deliberately target[ting] African-Americans with almost surgical precision in an effort to depress and suppress black turnout at the polls.” Hayes noted that the Republican-controlled state and local government there targeted “the means of voting that they know will be disproportionately used by black voters.”

    Although CNN only discussed voter suppression twice, Don Lemon devoted a substantial portion of the November 2 edition of his show (via Nexis), CNN Tonight, to voter suppression in North Carolina and a lawsuit there brought by the NAACP. The lawsuit claimed that the “restrictive voting laws” in the state “are really designed to keep African-Americans from casting their ballots.” Guest Irving Joyner, a professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, highlighted the case of 100-year-old Grace Bell Hardison, an African-American woman who was nearly wrongfully purged from the voter registration rolls because a postcard the Voter Integrity Project sent her was returned unanswered.

    CNN also had one significant discussion on voter fraud during the October 27 edition of CNN Tonight, where Lemon asked CNN contributor and Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany what was “behind this rigging theme from the Trump campaign.” Lemon pushed back on McEnany’s claims that Obama said “people who are in power tend to tilt things their way,” noting that is “very different than saying the entire system is rigged.”

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News prime-time (8 p.m. through 11 p.m.) transcripts on Nexis between October 27 and November 2 for the following terms or variations of terms within 50 words of the terms and variations of “vote,” “ballot,” “poll,” and “election”: “suppress,” “intimidate,” “fraud,” “impersonate,” “dead,” “fake,” “watch,” “monitor,” “imposter,” “improper,” “integrity,” “security,” or “switch.” Media Matters counted segments where voter suppression or fraud was the stated topic of conversation or monologue or there was an exchange of two or more people discussing the point in an exchange. These segments do not include mentions of voter suppression relating to voter enthusiasm.

  • Politico Magazine Highlights Fox’s Megyn Kelly's “Bad Practice” Of Reporting Conspiracy Theories  

    A “Chunky Stream Of Likely Hokum Flowing Like An Open Sewer On Her Show”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Politico Magazine highlighted Fox News' Megyn Kelly peddling anti-Clinton conspiracy theories and disinformation on Fox News’ The Kelly File, and the “bad practice” that has infected the 2016 presidential campaign.

    On the October 3 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly and correspondent Trace Gallagher covered debunked Clinton conspiracy theories including Hillary Clinton’s supposed plans to carry out a drone strike on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Politico Magazine described these stories as a “chunky stream of likely hokum flowing like an open sewer on her show,” and described the air time she gave the stories as “bad practice.” From Politico Magazine:

    Earlier this week, Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly provided a prime-time example of how to inject unsubstantiated rumors into the news flow. In a brief segment on her show, she allowed Fox News correspondent Trace Gallagher to promote three spurious Clinton rumors. One was about Hillary Clinton’s health, picked up from a story in the always dubious Daily Mail online, which was an excerpt from Ed Klein’s new book Guilty as Sin. The second was a two decades-old-plus supermarket tabloid allegation, resurfacing in a Drudge Report headline, that Bill Clinton had a son by an Arkansas prostitute. And the third cited a report from the super-dubious True Pundit website citing “sources at the State Department” alleging that while serving as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton asked of Julian Assange, “Can’t we just drone this guy?”

    “OMG,” Kelly said twice after Gallagher’s segment, making little effort to arrest the chunky stream of likely hokum flowing like an open sewer through her show. Now, all three of these tales may be eventually confirmed. The smart journalist never says never. But until there’s more to go on than hearsay, it’s bad practice to repeat somebody else’s tips as if they’re news.

  • In Fox News Tradition, O’Reilly And Megyn Kelly Smear Police Shooting Victim Keith Lamont Scott As A Criminal

    Fox Has A Long History Of Dehumanizing Black Victims

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox hosts Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly unsurprisingly smeared Keith Lamont Scott, the latest high-profile black victim of police brutality, using his prior criminal record to deride protests in North Carolina over his death and call into question whether his killing was justified.

    On his September 28 show, O’Reilly listed prior criminal offenses on Scott’s record to ask whether “protesters once again jump[ed] to false conclusions,” suggesting that Scott’s alleged “violent history” was a factor in whether police were justified in killing him.

     

     

    Similarly, Kelly, as well as Fox correspondent Trace Gallagher and Fox contributor Mark Fuhrman, all smeared Scott by bringing up his criminal record on The Kelly File.

     

     

    The chorus of Fox figures smearing Scott is in keeping with Fox News’ long history of race-baiting and victim-blaming when it comes to police brutality.

    Sean Hannity, perhaps the worst offender, has slandered Freddie Gray as the “lowest scum parasite in the world,” was adamant that his prior “arrest record” mattered, because he was “not a pillar of the community,” and blamed Gray for his own death, because he “[ran] at 8:30 in the morning.” Hannity has also smeared Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Samuel DuBose, and Philando Castille.

    Likewise, Kelly is notorious for shaming and blaming black victims of police brutality. Kelly suggested that Sandra Bland's death could be due in part to her failure to obey the police officer, arguing that her death could have been averted if she had just "compl[ied] and complain[ed] later." Kelly also interjected that the black teenage girl manhandled by a McKinney police officer "was no saint either," after bemoaning that people had "made this into a race thing.”

    Fox’s smear campaign against black victims of police brutality extends beyond the cable network’s primetime lineup: contributors, guests, and other hosts are all part of the network’s long-running effort to dehumanize black victims, discredit nationwide protests over police brutality, and deflect any blame away from those who should be held accountable.

  • Right-Wing Media Sideline Security Concerns To Compare Obama’s Louisiana Flooding Response To Hurricane Katrina

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media figures have compared President Obama’s response to the historic flooding in Louisiana to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina under President George W. Bush, while ignoring the governor of Louisiana’s concerns that a presidential visit in the midst of a massive disaster response could hinder authorities’ efforts to save lives.

  • Latest Abortion Statistics Put To Rest The Right-Wing Media Myths Behind The Texas Anti-Choice Law

    Long-Awaited Texas Abortion Statistics Confirm Anti-Choice Laws Aren't Making Abortion Safer Than It Already Is

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that Texas’ extreme anti-choice law HB 2 was unconstitutional because it imposed an “undue burden on abortion access.” Since the law was passed in 2013, anti-choice lawmakers and right-wing media alike have insisted that HB 2’s restrictions were necessary to protect women’s health.

    Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) drew criticism for seemingly withholding its annual abortion statistics report for 2014 -- information that could have informed the court’s opinion about the impact of HB 2 on women’s health and access to care. In a June 15 letter, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas alleged that DSHS “appears to be concealing abortion statistics … for 2014, the first full year that Texas implemented portions of its controversial abortion regulations.” As Trisha Trigilio, ACLU of Texas staff attorney, wrote, “Rather than responding honestly and claiming a legal basis for withholding the 2014 statistical tables, it appears that your agency has chosen to hide the truth.”

    On June 30, the Texas DSHS released these statistics and confirmed what reproductive rights advocates, researchers, and Texas women had been saying all along: HB 2 was an undue burden on abortion access and had nothing to do with women’s health.

    According to MSNBC’s Irin Carmon, the key findings from the 2014 statistics showed a “sharp decline in abortions overall that was disproportionately experienced by Latinas, and the growing share and absolute number of second-trimester procedures.” As Trigilio wrote in a response for the ACLU of Texas:

    We will leave it to statisticians to undertake deeper analyses of this data but at first glance the numbers demonstrate the devastating effect House Bill 2 had on the women of Texas. Given the overall drop in abortions – especially in vulnerable communities along the border – as well as the precipitous 70 percent drop in medication abortions, these numbers show that this law never had anything do with women’s health. It’s clear why lawmakers might have wanted to keep this information out of the public eye before the Supreme Court made its decision.

    If HB 2 had been upheld, it would have required that abortion providers have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic and that these clinics meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). Proponents of HB 2 claimed these restrictions were medically necessary to protect the health and safety of women during abortions. In particular, Texas lawmakers pushing for HB 2 in 2013 capitalized on anti-choice myths about abortion safety to insist that abortion providers needed greater regulation. These arguments were echoed by right-wing media outlets, which have waged a continued campaign of misinformation about HB 2 since.

    For example, during a 2015 appearance on Shepard Smith Reporting, Fox News correspondent Trace Gallagher amplified Texas lawmakers’ arguments that the requirements of HB 2 were intended to protect women from supposedly unsafe abortion procedures, without mentioning the ample evidence that abortion in Texas was already safe. Gallagher said Texas lawmakers “argue they're simply looking out for the well-being of women, saying better equipment and more staffing helps alleviate the dangers that are associated with abortion."

    In reality, these restrictions are based on medically inaccurate information -- a conclusion underscored by the extremely in-depth, fact-based majority opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer. Breyer wrote that “each [restriction] places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion.” Although the justices did not have access to Texas’ most recent abortion statistics, the release of the 2014 data affirms Breyer’s point and cuts through the right-wing media noise to end the myths that have long sustained HB 2.

    For those studying the impact of anti-choice laws on Texas women, the findings in the 2014 abortion statistics were no surprise.

    In an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) argued that the additional barriers to abortion access created by HB 2 would pose “severe burdens in accessing reproductive healthcare.” Citing an earlier district court decision, NLIRH argued that “there is no question” HB 2 would negatively impact Latinas due to the majority Latino populations of the Texas counties most impacted by clinic closures.

    An independent analysis of Texas’ 2014 data by TheTexas Observer confirmed these warnings and pointed out the comparative loss of access to abortion experience by Texas Latinas. As Alexa Garcia-Ditta reported, “In 2013, over 24,000 of Texans who got abortions were Hispanic; in 2014, that number decreased by 18 percent to under 20,000.” In comparison, she noted, there was “a 7.7 percent decrease among black Texans who got abortions” and a “6.7 percent drop among white Texans, after the law went into effect.”

    Similarly, researchers for the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) had also previously warned about the risk of HB 2 delaying or in some cases preventing access to abortion care. In the January 2016 study, TxPEP interviewed women “who either had their abortion appointments cancelled when clinics closed or who sought care at closed clinics.” According to a news release about the study, researchers found that women’s health care was “delayed, and in some cases [women were] prevented altogether, from obtaining an abortion.”

    In addition to proving the accessibility challenges created by HB 2, the 2014 statistics include an additional figure that thoroughly rebukes anti-choice arguments about abortion safety. As The Austin Chronicle’s Mary Tuma explained:

    One stat that anti-abortion activists will surely continue to conveniently leave out of their ostensible quest for stringent abortion safety standards is the number of women that died while undergoing the medical procedure in 2014 – that figure, much like the number of facts anti-choice legislators used to defend HB 2, comes out to zero.

  • The Supreme Court Just Exposed Right-Wing Lies In A Landmark Abortion Access Case

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that Texas’ anti-choice law HB 2 placed an “undue burden on abortion access.” Supporters of the unconstitutional law argued that HB 2’s restrictions were necessary to protect women’s health and prevent another “Kermit Gosnell scandal” -- talking points pushed by right-wing media. Writing the majority opinion of the court, Justice Stephen Breyer rebuked these anti-choice myths, saying there was unequivocal  evidence that HB 2 lacked medical benefits and posed extreme harm to Texas women.

  • From Right-Wing Media Myth To Oral Arguments In A Landmark Abortion Case

    Right-Wing Media’s Favorite Myths About Abortion Made It To The Supreme Court In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In June 2016, the Supreme Court will release its decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a controversial case that will determine the constitutionality of a Texas anti-choice law (HB 2) that severely limits access to abortion and medical care. Right-wing media have alleged that HB 2 is necessary to protect women’s health and prevent another “Kermit Gosnell scandal” -- talking points that made their way into Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller’s defense of HB 2 during oral arguments before the Supreme Court.