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  • Betsy DeVos just perpetuated years of right-wing attacks on rape survivors

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Many have questioned the incomprehensible logic of President Donald Trump’s proposal to collaborate with Russia on cybersecurity policy, but Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appears to be deploying a similar strategy: collaborating with rape deniers on policy regarding campus sexual assault. This comes after right-wing media spent years questioning the severity of sexual assault and attacking the credibility of survivors.

    First reported by Politico, DeVos planned a July 13 meeting with “advocates for survivors of campus sexual assault, as well as with groups representing students who say they were wrongfully accused.”

    Politico identified several invitees as representatives from the men’s rights groups Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), and National Coalition for Men -- all of which have dedicated themselves to combating what they believe is rampant false reporting of sexual assault, and the lack of attention paid to the “true victims”: those who are accused.

    As The Daily Beast’s Robert Silverman noted, the Southern Poverty Law Center classified SAVE as an organization that is “promoting misogyny” and "lobbying to roll back services for victims of domestic abuse and penalties for their tormentors.” Jaclyn Friedman, an expert on campus sexual violence, told Silverman that groups like SAVE not only “actively publicize the names of rape survivors in order to intimidate them,” but also “blame women for ‘instigating’ men's violence against them” and believe that “victims' sexual histories should be fair game in rape cases.” According to ThinkProgress and BuzzFeed, organizations like FACE, National Coalition for Men, and the like are no better in their advocacy, nor less extreme in their beliefs.

    Despite posturing from these groups, false rape reports are actually a statistical minority -- representing between 2 and 8 percent of all reported cases. Meanwhile, according to research by the Rape, Abuse, & Incest Network (RAINN), 66 percent of rapes go unreported to law enforcement. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center found that “one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives,” while the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey revealed that “nearly half” of survey respondents “were sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.” Survivors already face rampant challenges when reporting sexual assault, and it is unlikely the Department of Education’s invitation to these men’s rights groups will improve these conditions.

    A July 12 press release explained that DeVos would meet with the various groups in a series of “listening sessions” meant to “discuss the impact of the Department’s Title IX sexual assault guidance on students, families and institutions.” In 2011, the Obama administration provided schools with guidance on how to “review and enforce Title IX complaints,” emphasizing the role assault and harassment play in the creation of “a hostile educational environment in violation of Title IX.” Many have speculated that DeVos’ openness to including men’s rights organizations in the meetings is just the latest signal that the department will revoke these protections.

    In April, ProPublica implied that DeVos’ selection of Candice Jackson to head the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) was a sign of bad things to come for Title IX and anti-sexual violence protections, noting that Jackson had previously “arranged for several of Bill Clinton’s accusers to attend a presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton” and that she called women who accused Trump of sexual assault “fake victims.” In June, ProPublica published a memo from Jackson that directed OCR staff to make changes to investigative procedures that “advocates fear will mean less consistent findings of systemic discrimination at colleges.” As ThinkProgress previously reported, DeVos herself has “long donated to organizations that frequently side with students accused of rape and sexual abuse.”

    The men’s rights groups DeVos plans to meet with aren’t alone in waging war on sexual violence protections and survivors. Some of Trump’s favorite right-wing media figures and staunchest cable news supporters have put on a masterclass in how to not report on sexual assault. After an uncovered 2005 audio showed Trump bragging about committing sexual assault, many Fox News employees seemingly made it their jobs to either downplay the severity of his comments or attack the many women who came forward with specific allegations against him.

    Even before Trump, right-wing media were especially adamant in their campaign of misrepresenting the severity of sexual assault and harassment. Beyond disputing the veracity of campus sexual assault statistics, right-wing media figures have called reporting on statutory rape “whiny,” claimed sexual assault victims have a “coveted status,” blamed feminism for encouraging sexual assault, and said attempts to curb sexual assault harm men and constitute “a war happening on boys.” Although she has since fled the network in an attempt to rehab her image at NBC, former Fox News star Megyn Kelly was a chief proponent of the “war on boys” talking point -- which was just part of her long history of criticizing sexual assault prevention measures and minimizing the credibility of survivors.

    Fox itself has spent the better part of the past year -- when not providing the ultimate safe space for Trump and his administration -- embroiled in a series of sexual assault allegations after years of harassment at the network. Such allegations ultimately led to the ouster of both the late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and longtime host (now aspiring podcast provocateur) Bill O’Reilly, as well as the recent suspension of Fox Business host Charles Payne.

    Although right-wing media have engaged in some of the most overt attacks on survivors, many other outlets are far from magnanimous in their coverage of sexual assault. As coverage around former Stanford student Brock Turner showed, media have a bad habit of sympathetically highlighting the past accomplishments of the accused, or bemoaning the costs to their lives and careers.

    The New York Times fell into this very trap in a July 12 article about the meetings. The Times began its report by highlighting the “heartfelt missives from college students, mostly men, who had been accused of rape or sexual assault” before going on to describe the consequences they faced, ranging from “lost scholarships” to expulsion. In one case, as the Times noted, a man had tried to “take his own life” but “maintained he was innocent” and “had hoped to become a doctor.” In another example, the Times highlighted the comments of the father of an accused student who complained that his son’s “entire world [was] turned upside down” and that, as the paper put it, he had been “forced to abandon his dream of becoming a college wrestling coach.” Reporting like this -- although seemingly benign -- not only perpetuates victim blaming, but also downplays the severity of allegations by treating offenders as the real victims.

    Slate’s Christina Cauterucci described DeVos’ planned meetings as “a classic case of false balance, because the two sides here do not have equal merit.” She noted that one side includes “advocates for sexual-assault victims” while the other is made up of “trolls who have made it their lives’ work to defend domestic violence.” She concluded that however unfortunate the decision to invite these men’s rights groups to meet, it was unsurprising. After all: “As a representative of an administration run by a man with an interest in protecting sexual harrassers, DeVos has every reason to side with the latter.”

    Undeterred, survivors aren’t letting DeVos off the hook that easily. While she meets with men's rights groups that have systematically tried to silence and shame survivors, organizations that advocate for them will be outside the Department of Education making their voices heard.

  • Daily Beast: FBI fired Trump adviser and frequent Fox News guest Sebastian Gorka for “anti-Muslim diatribes”

    “A senior FBI official assured outraged and embarrassed colleagues that the bureau would no longer use Gorka”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Donald Trump adviser, frequent Fox News guest, and former Breitbart editor Sebastian Gorka was fired by the FBI, who was paying him to give lectures on counterterrorism issues, due to “his over-the-top Islamophobic rhetoric.” Gorka, who has come under fire for being a “sworn member” of a “Nazi-allied” Hungarian group, has also defended claims that President Barack Obama was the “founder” of ISIS, blamed Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Pulse nightclub shooting, and blamed Obama for veteran suicides.

    In a June 21 story, The Daily Beast reports the FBI “ended its contract with Gorka just months before he joined the White House as a senior adviser to President Trump.” Gorka was fired after he “told attendees at the Joint Terrorism Operations Course … that all Muslims adhere to sharia law, which he said is in conflict with the U.S. Constitution and American democratic values.” The Daily Beast reported that after these remarks, “a senior FBI official assured outraged and embarrassed colleagues that the bureau would no longer use Gorka for any subsequent lectures or instructions”:

    The inflammatory pundit Sebastian Gorka worked for the FBI while he was a paid consultant to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, lecturing bureau employees on counterterrorism issues.

    Until the FBI terminated Gorka for his over-the-top Islamophobic rhetoric.

    The Daily Beast has learned that the Federal Bureau of Investigation ended its contract with Gorka just months before he joined the White House as a senior adviser to President Trump.

    [...]

    Gorka told attendees at the Joint Terrorism Operations Course, an introductory-level class for participants in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, that all Muslims adhere to sharia law, which he said is in conflict with the U.S. constitution and American democratic values. Officials familiar with his lecture said Gorka taught law-enforcement officials there is no such thing as mainstream Muslims—only those radicalized and those soon to be radicalized.

    The following month, a senior FBI official assured outraged and embarrassed colleagues that the bureau would no longer use Gorka for any subsequent lectures or instructions, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Beast.

  • HBO’s Vice News Tonight shows the reality of living in a state with just one remaining abortion clinic

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT

    On June 12, HBO’s Vice News Tonight highlighted the struggles abortion providers and patients face in the seven states with only one abortion clinic remaining. In particular, by allowing providers to speak in their own words about what it’s like to operate in a one-clinic state, HBO shined a light on the consequences of dwindling abortion access across the country.

    During the June 12 edition of Vice News Tonight, abortion providers in Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Mississippi discussed the challenges of operating the single remaining abortion clinic in their states. Although Vice News had previously profiled these clinics, the June 12 segment gave providers an even larger platform.

    For example, several providers underscored the pivotal role their clinics play for patients seeking abortion services and other forms of essential health care. Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said, “We’re resolute that we must stay open because if we’re not there, there is no one to take care of the women in our state and in our community.” Shannon Brewer, the clinic director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, MS, said that her clinic must stay open because people “have nowhere else to go. They can go to neighboring states, but why should they have to?”

    Research echoes these clinic directors’ comments about impact of abortion restrictions in their one-clinic states. The greatest burden of anti-choice restrictions is faced by already marginalized groups, particularly low-income individuals and people of color. These patients and others seeking an abortion in one-clinic states may have to travel great distances to even reach the clinic in their state. As The Daily Beast explained, in the center of the country, where "roughly 400,000 women of reproductive age" live, they have to travel at least 150 miles to get to the nearest clinic.

    In other cases, patients may be forced to travel to another state for abortion care. Before even getting to the clinic, however, those seeking an abortion will face any number of economic and logistical barriers -- including the cost for transportation and childcare, and the loss of income caused by taking time off work. This is further complicated in states with mandatory waiting periods, which force patients to not only take multiple days off work but also to arrange several trips to the clinic.

    Along with the burdens placed on patients, abortion providers face elevated threats of violence in states with one clinic remaining. Tammi Kromenaker, the clinic director and owner of Red River Women’s Clinic in North Dakota, told Vice News Tonight that the first abortion provider in the state faced threats from protesters coming to her home. As Ms. Magazine explained, the threat of violence against abortion providers means that sometimes when physicians leave a clinic, there is no one to replace them and the clinic must close. Nevertheless, right-wing media continue to push violent rhetoric against abortion providers and spread misinformation about abortion safety.

    With many states continuing to consider and pass abortion restrictions -- as well as the potential defunding of Planned Parenthood at the federal level -- more states may join the seven HBO highlighted, with just one clinic left to serve their entire population.

  • “Mind control,” “shadow government,” and Seth Rich: Sean Hannity’s history of pushing conspiracy theories

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News host Sean Hannity attracted widespread condemnation for pushing conspiracy theories about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer, but it wasn’t his first time promoting or entertaining such wild claims on air. From claiming that the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick protested the national anthem because he “may have converted to Islam” to implying that former President Barack Obama is a terrorist sympathizer, here are some examples of Hannity embracing conspiracy theories.

  • Fox News continues to push Seth Rich conspiracy after Rich family sent cease and desist to Fox contributor, demanded apology

    Fox News staffers are reportedly "embarrassed' by the network's promotion of Seth Rich conspiracy, asking "ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!"

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Fox News personalities are continuing to push an evidence-free conspiracy that former Democratic staffer Seth Rich was murdered for providing WikiLeaks with emails from the Democratic National Committee, even after the family expressed “severe mental anguish and emotional distress.” The family is so outraged by Fox’s actions, they have sent a cease and desist letter to a Fox contributor responsible for the conspiracy theory’s resurgence.

  • How Bill Shine Has Been Implicated In Fox News' Ongoing Legal Disasters

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    The Murdoch family might be looking to replace Bill Shine as co-president of Fox News after multiple reports named Shine as being complicit in burying sexual harassment complaints by helping to coordinate smear campaigns against women who reported harassment, or pushing them to settle and sign nondisclosure agreements. Shine has also been tied to a racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the network, and has been named in a more recent lawsuit for surveilling the private communications of a former Fox host who sued the network for harassment.

  • Bill O’Reilly’s History Of Racism

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News host Bill O’Reilly was widely criticized for his racist remarks in which he mocked the hair of an African-American congresswoman, saying it looked like she was wearing a “James Brown wig.” This isn’t the first time O’Reilly has made such comments; in fact, he has a history of saying racist things.

  • FBI Director Puts To Rest Two Weeks Of Fox Lies About Trump's False Wiretap Claim

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Since March 4, President Donald Trump and Fox News have been feeding each other evidence and defenses to back up Trump’s false claim that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, ordered a “wiretap” at Trump Tower. Fox figures, including Andrew Napolitano, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly, have been backing up Trump’s claim, and Trump and White House press secretary Sean Spicer have in turn recycled their comments in their attempts to substantiate the original claim. On March 20, FBI Director James Comey debunked Trump’s original tweet accusing Obama of wiretapping, unequivocally stating, “I have no information that supports those tweets. … The Department [of Justice] has no information that supports those tweets.”

  • These Four Outlets Are A Welcome Exception To Media's Failure To Appropriately Label This Anti-Immigrant Hate Group

    Media Need To Stop Helping The Center Of Immigration Studies Sanitize Its Nativist Image

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    The media’s problem of citing the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) as merely "conservative" -- and effectively elevating it as a legitimate source -- has allowed for the proliferation of anti-immigrant extremist groups in mainstream media. However, some outlets have become a welcome exception by appropriately describing “the nativist lobby” of CIS and its sister organizations, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has dubbed these three groups “the nativist lobby” for their ties to white supremacists. It has also specifically singled out CIS and FAIR as hate groups in its latest annual hate group census, listing them as among “the most extreme of the hundreds of nativist and vigilante groups that have proliferated since the late 1990s.” CIS is referred to as the “think tank” arm of the Nativist Lobby because it attempts to mask its extremist agenda under a veil of academic discipline. CIS produces studies that routinely use flawed methodologies, distort reputable research, and demonize immigrants despite its attempt to cast itself as being “low-immigration, pro-immigrant.

    Media have aided the group in sanitizing its image. Major newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Politico, and others have all cited CIS within the last year without accurately exposing the group’s anti-immigrant agenda and unreliable research. USA Today routinely publishes articles written by CIS members that misinform readers about immigrants and refugees; the paper justifies the platform as “the opposing view,” offering the space as a counterpoint to the paper’s editorials. CIS is also no stranger to mainstream cable news outlets like CNN.

    But a handful of outlets are offering a refreshing exception to this media pitfall. The New Yorker, New Republic, and La Opinión have recently joined The Daily Beast in exposing the CIS anti-immigration campaign that is having tangible effects via President Donald Trump's administration. The New Yorker zeroed in on the group’s growing influence, calling it one of the most “prominent nativist groups” and writing, “Under the Trump Administration, the relationships between anti-immigrant stalwarts and Border Patrol are being strengthened, and formalized, as never before.” New Republic lambasted CIS for bolstering Trump’s border wall proposal with false statistics, noting that the group has been “Trump’s go-to source for research about migrants and the dangers they pose.” La Opinión pointed to CIS, FAIR, and NumbersUSA as “the pillar organizations of the nativist movement today,” noting that their roots “emerge from their concern that Latinos bring maladies and defects that damage [American] society.”

    Articles like these are welcome nuggets of truth in a political climate often devoid of facts, especially when it comes to immigration. CIS responded to the New Yorker and New Republic articles, attempting to discredit the outlets as well as the SPLC, which the articles cited. The group’s response underscores the need for other media outlets to ditch the “conservative” label when mentioning CIS and its cohorts and apply the proper name: “anti-immigrant hate groups.” Failure to provide audiences with the complete truth about the nativist lobby will only serve to further their already established influence within the administration and throughout government.

  • Trump's Immigration Policies Come From This Nativist Group's Wish List

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    President Donald Trump has found in the nativist trio of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA the allies he needs for the inspiration, implementation, and support to turn his anti-immigrant campaign promises into policies, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.

    The relatively small groups, all founded by John Tanton, gained prominence throughout the Trump campaign with a helpful boost from the mainstream media. While the three organizations have a history of shoddy research and pushing misinformation that demonizes immigrants, their normalization in the media has often ignored or obscured their strong ties to white supremacists and the racist ideas that inspired Tanton. Now their messaging that immigrants threaten jobs and lower wages, drain government benefits, and make the country less safe is significantly influencing Trump’s policies. This pipeline makes it more crucial than ever for media to stop sanitizing CIS, FAIR and NumbersUSA by inaccurately presenting them as simply “conservative” -- many conservatives actually reject them -- or merely in support of “stricter” immigration rules, when the groups are in fact nativist organizations whose members promote the ideas of white nationalists.

    As reported by The Daily Beast, Trump’s White House seems to be relying on a CIS immigration wish list for immigration policy inspiration, as a “number of the 79 items” proposed by CIS “have been implemented or shown up in leaked draft proposals from the administration,” including Trump’s “controversial VOICE office,” which “may have had its genesis with CIS.” Additionally, all three nativist groups have received additional access to the administration and “to the people who make immigration policy decisions.” In February, CIS, FAIR, and NumbersUSA were invited to attend a stakeholder meeting between ICE and immigration advocates, an occurrence that immigrants rights advocates found to be “very disturbing.” From the March 12 article:

    On April 11, 2016, a tiny think tank with a bland name published a 79-point wish list. The list garnered virtually no media coverage, and in the 11 months since its publication has been largely ignored—except, apparently, by the White House.

    Today, Donald Trump seems to be working through it as he rolls out his immigration policy. A number of the 79 items on the list composed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), have either been implemented or shown up in leaked draft proposals from the administration. It’s a course of events that has that think tank cautiously exultant and has immigrants’ rights activists anxious and disturbed.

    [...]

    Mark Krikorian, CIS’s executive director, told The Daily Beast that last month, for the first time, his group scored an invite to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement stakeholder meeting, a gathering that happens a few times a year where ICE leaders talk policy and procedure with immigration lawyers and activists. And he said that since Trump’s inauguration, he’s been in touch with new appointees at the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a new level of access and influence that helps explain the quick, dramatic changes Trump has made in immigration policy—changes that will impact millions of people.

    [...]

    Just 50 days into his presidency, and Trump’s team has already discussed, proposed, or implemented upwards of a dozen of CIS’s ideas.

    [...]

    CIS isn’t the only restrictionist group to find newly open ears at DHS. Dan Stein, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told The Daily Beast his group was also invited to the meeting as well (though he added it received meeting invites from the Obama administration too). Stein said his group has found the Trump administration to be very open to their ideas.

    [...]

    And Roy Beck, who heads NumbersUSA—a restrictionist group that boasts a 1.5 million-member email list—said his organization was invited to the ICE stakeholder meeting as well, and has found open ears in the Trump administration, particularly DHS.

    [...]

    These three groups share a co-founder: John Tanton, a population control activist who flirted with racist pseudo-science, supported Planned Parenthood, and argued that immigration and population growth were bad for the environment. Immigrants’ rights advocates argue that the groups are covertly white supremacist and motivated by animus towards people of color.

  • Fox News Hosts Have No Clue What Planned Parenthood Does

    Hosts Of The Five Get Everything Wrong About Planned Parenthood In Order To Prop Up Republicans' Disastrous Health Care Bill

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    After the release of Republicans’ long-awaited plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Fox News’ The Five put on a masterclass in how to get everything wrong about Planned Parenthood’s services and the implications of the attempt to defund the essential health care provider.

    Earlier this week, Republicans unveiled their alternative to the ACA, called the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The proposed bill includes two provisions targeting abortion providers: one that would prohibit federal funds for nonabortion care from going to any organization that privately funds or facilitates abortions, and one that would disincentivize private insurers from offering abortion coverage in their plans. The Daily Beast noted that these provisions “could easily be a one-two punch for low-income women seeking reproductive health care, effectively choking out funding for their local Planned Parenthood clinic while dictating that … they’ll have to pay out-of-pocket or have the foresight to purchase a special abortion insurance rider.”

    During Fox News’ The Five, hosts Eric Bolling, Dana Perino, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Greg Gutfeld modeled exactly what media outlets should not do when reporting how the proposed bill would impact access to vital reproductive health care. Although no federal funds can or do support abortion services under current law, the hosts wrongly alleged that Planned Parenthood uses federal money to cover abortions in addition to spreading the debunked myth that community health centers (CHCs) can compensate for the loss of the organization’s essential services:

    1. The Five Repeated The Right-Wing Media Myth That Planned Parenthood Gets Federal Funds Earmarked For Abortion Services

    MYTH: Planned Parenthood gets federal funding to pay for abortion services.

    FACT: The Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal abortion funding -- with negative consequences for abortion access. 

    Right-wing media and administration officials like Kellyanne Conway have long insisted that Planned Parenthood uses taxpayer money to fund abortion services -- despite a longstanding prohibition on the use of federal funds for this purpose.

    Since 1977, the Hyde Amendment has barred the use of federal Medicaid funds to cover abortion care, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life. In January, the House of Representatives voted to codify and dangerously expand the Hyde Amendment -- making The Five co-host Eric Bolling’s March 7 allegation that federal funds being used for abortion was a “gray area of Planned Parenthood” even more baseless than when he made the same claim in December 2015.

    Although the Hyde Amendment prohibits even the allocation of federal funds for abortion, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle argued that “some of the federal funding from the United States government is allotted for abortion services” and that “federal funds should not be marked [for abortion].”

    To his credit, Fox’s Bob Beckel -- guest co-hosting during the March 7 segment -- attempted to refute his colleagues’ claims by explaining the Hyde Amendment and its implications for abortion funding. Unfortunately, Bolling interrupted Beckel, and admonished him that the hosts were "all familiar with the Hyde Amendment.” 

    Missing from the conversation was the devastating impact that provisions like the Hyde Amendment have on abortion access for the most vulnerable. A 2016 report from the Guttmacher Institute detailed the act’s effects on low-income and marginalized communities, finding that the “number of women potentially affected by the Hyde Amendment is substantial” given the significant number of women dependent on federally subsidized medical services.

    Women of color -- especially black women, Latinas, and American Indians -- also suffer a major impact from the Hyde Amendment's restrictions.

    2. Community Health Centers Can’t Replace Planned Parenthood -- Especially As A Provider Of Affordable Contraceptives

    MYTH: Community health centers can easily and seamlessly replace Planned Parenthood clinics.

    FACT: Planned Parenthood is an essential and irreplaceable primary and reproductive health care provider.

    Planned Parenthood is an essential care provider for millions of Americans nationally, 60 percent of them low-income patients covered through programs including Medicaid. Nevertheless, right-wing media and anti-choice lawmakers frequently -- and erroneously -- argue that the organization’s funds should be shifted to “community health clinics” (CHCs).

    During the March 7 edition of The Five, co-host Dana Perino echoed these claims about the alleged capacity of CHCs to replace Planned Parenthood. Perino stated that funding would transition from Planned Parenthood to CHCs, and that there wasn’t “going to be enough acceptance of that” among objectors to the AHCA. 

    Ignoring the fact that many CHCs don’t facilitate or support access to contraceptives, Perino also puzzlingly argued that Republicans would compromise on defunding Planned Parenthood by making contraceptives more accessible over the counter and at other clinics. In response to a question from Bolling, Perino further clarified that she thought Republicans would “try to get [Planned Parenthood’s] funding pulled but be able to provide access” to contraceptives through CHCs that would “handle this better than Planned Parenthood.”

    Although anti-choice lawmakers believe CHCs could absorb patient demand should access to Planned Parenthood be eliminated, experts call this claim “a gross misrepresentation of what even the best community health centers in the country would be able to do.”

    While Planned Parenthood clinics all offer preventive and basic care services, clinics can qualify to be classified as “community health clinics” while providing more limited care -- making direct comparisons between the overall numbers a misleading measure of actual health care provision capacity.

    Beyond questions of CHC’s capacity, Perino also missed the memo that transitioning contraceptives from a prescription-based product to an over-the-counter one would make this essential form of care prohibitively expensive and put it out of reach for many. As Slate’s Christina Cauterucci reported in 2016, “taking birth control out of the realm of insurances” only sounds “like a win to people who don’t want the government” providing contraception.

    3. Attacking Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Services Perpetuates Stigma

    MYTH: Abortion is wrong, “vile,” “sick,” or socially unacceptable.

    FACT: Abortion is a common and overwhelmingly safe medical procedure.

    Abortion stigma is the “shared understanding” that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable. This belief is reinforced through media coverage, popular culture, and by a lack of accurate information among many about the procedure itself.

    Despite the fact that abortion is both common and overwhelmingly safe, right-wing media and anti-choice groups have consistently attempted to “exploit the stigma of abortion” to restrict access to the procedure and shame providers and patients alike.

    During the March 7 edition of The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld claimed that funding Planned Parenthood forces people to “pay for someone else’s abortion,” which he called “a moral intrusion.” Ignoring the reality that taxpayer money doesn’t support abortion services, Gutfeld continued that pro-choice advocates’ goal is to “dehumanize the unborn child to a mass of cells” -- a common right-wing media allegation that perpetuates abortion stigma by casting those who have abortions as “selfish” or “sickening.”

    Abortion is a vital and essential part of comprehensive reproductive health care. As Steph Herold wrote for Rewire, separating “abortion from the rest of reproductive health care ignores the reality that millions of people across the country need access to abortion services, and that abortion services are a crucial part of family planning services.”

    A transcript of the March 7 edition of The Five is below:

    ERIC BOLLING: President Trump is offering the abortion provider a deal. The funding will stay if abortion goes away. Planned Parenthood has rejected that offer, saying they will always stand for women's ability to make decisions about their health and lives without interference from politicians. OK, bring it around, K.G. I think the offer -- look, as it stands, federal funding can't be used for abortions, but that’s that gray area of Planned Parenthood.

    KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: Right, certainly. So what he's doing is he's trying to make compromise -- he has acknowledged in the past that in fact Planned Parenthood does provide valuable medical services and screening for women. It does. The problem they have is that it is morally objectionable to millions of Americans that some of the federal funding from the United States government is allotted for abortion services. So the president is saying, you also take in a tremendous amount of money from private resources and donations. Perhaps you should earmark those funds that are private, do with it what you will, that's their business for their organization. But federal funds should not be marked for that.

    BOLLING: Well let me get Dana in.

    BOB BECKEL: Of course. Get the women in first.

    [...]

    BOLLING: Your thoughts on both the Trump administration and the Planned Parenthood response.

    DANA PERINO: I think this was a chance for President Trump to fulfill a campaign promise, and social conservatives really want this, Republicans want this. And remember when they were going to shut down the government last year when Republicans were all mad and they said the one thing that they really were mad about was that the Republicans weren't able to pull funding for Planned Parenthood. Even though Planned Parenthood itself actually has a pretty good approval rating, so it was harder back home. There were some senators, like Susan Collins of Maine , I think, who said that this shouldn't be in the Obamacare bill at all. Or I guess what we are calling it the American Health Care Act.

    The money, instead they are saying, will go to community health care centers. I don't know if there's going to be enough acceptance of that. Cecile Richard of Planned Parenthood, they’re going to fight tooth and nail. And I think what will actually end up happening is Republicans will put on the table that they believe that access to contraception should be available easily over the counter. And that that would be a way to maybe try to get this funding pulled but be able to provide access to the kind of products that they provide there.

    BOLLING: So, get it straight, Greg, I think, are you saying provide funds but earmark it for contraception --

    PERINO: Well, the money would go to community health centers, and arguably the community health centers would say, ‘Oh, well we can handle this better than Planned Parenthood.’

    GREG GUTFELD: Well, I mean. It comes to down to, if you believe that abortion is the taking of a life, then forcing you to pay for somebody else's abortion is a moral intrusion. That's the argument. I am amazed how the media salutes conscientious objectors over war but not abortion. And so instead what -- the goal here is to dehumanize the unborn child to a mass of cells. So it's like medical procedure, like getting a mole review -- a mole removed. So therefore somebody else could pay for it. So someone has to speak up for those who cannot speak up for those who cannot speak themselves which is why this dialogue, wherever it goes, is important. Because you are actually talking about this question.

    BOLLING: Why can't Planned Parenthood just decide to have one service for abortion and separated with a Chinese wall and all the other services?

    BOB BECKEL: They do. I hate to correct my learned colleagues. They actually have degrees. But there are not a single dime of federal dollars going to abortion. Something called the Hyde amendment. Henry Hyde made it --

    BOLLING: We're all familiar with the Hyde Amendment --

    BECKEL: Well --

    BOLLING: But if 80 percent of what Planned Parenthood does is abortion --

    BECKEL: No, it's not even close to that!

    BOLLING: And we're giving them $300 million a year, then --

    BECKEL: You're not asking the taxpayers a single thing for an abortion. Planned Parenthood does among other things, a lot of screening, a lot of mammograms, they save a lot of lives. And the idea that he would take on all of this -- first of all he was pro-choice when he was thinking about running for mayor 15 years ago. And the other thing, he has no idea. He doesn't know what Planned Parenthood does.

  • Report: Facebook Continues To Placate Conservatives By Donating To CPAC

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Daily Beast reports that Facebook donated more than $120,000 to the American Conservative Union’s annual event the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Mark Zuckerberg’s donation comes after he held a meeting with conservative media personalities such as Glenn Beck and Fox’s Dana Perino following allegations that the website had been suppressing conservative views.

    During the meeting, Zuckerberg lauded President Donald Trump for having “more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate” and Fox News for driving “more interactions on its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world.” Following the accusations of bias, Facebook laid off its entire editorial team and replaced it with an algorithm, a move which The Washington Post reported led to the rise and prominence of “fake news” trending on the website.

    According to The Daily Beast, Facebook continues to court conservatives with its “six-figure contribution to CPAC,” which includes a cash donation and “in-kind support.” From The Daily Beast:

    Sources with direct knowledge of the matter tell The Daily Beast that Facebook made a six-figure contribution to CPAC, the yearly conference for conservative activists which will feature President Donald Trump, White House advisor Steve Bannon, NRA president Wayne LaPierre, and other right-wing favorites.

    Facebook’s contribution is worth more than $120,000, according to our sources. Half of that is cash, and the other half is in-kind support for CPAC’s operations. Facebook will have a space at the conference for attendees to film Facebook Live videos, and will also train people on best practices for using the social network and Instagram.

    [...]

    The Wall Street Journal reported in October that Trump’s own Facebook posts fueled intense debate within the company about what kind of content was acceptable——particularly his calls for a ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. Mark Zuckerberg himself had to determine that Trump’s posts were okay, according to the paper’s report. And The New York Times reported that after Trump won the election, some company employees worried the spread of racist memes and fake news on the site may have boosted his candidacy.

    “A fake story claiming Pope Francis—actually a refugee advocate—endorsed Mr. Trump was shared almost a million times, likely visible to tens of millions,” Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina who studies the social impact of technology, told the Times. “Its correction was barely heard. Of course Facebook had significant influence in this last election’s outcome.”

  • After America, Breitbart Plans To Infect Politics Across Europe

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    After the 2016 election, Breitbart.com announced its plan to expand into France and Germany, and Italy is reportedly now a target as well. Breitbart’s current European bureau, Breitbart London, appears to be in charge of the website’s Europe content and has a close relationship with the nativist UK Independence Party (UKIP). That, coupled with its anti-immigrant content, suggests that the site will try to spread its nativism across Europe by continuing to stoke racist sentiment and allying with anti-immigrant political parties.

  • Trump Fanboy And Possible Administration Hire Eric Bolling’s Bigotry And Conspiracy Theories

    At Fox News, Bolling Has Pushed Racism, Anti-Muslim Views, Conspiracy Theories, And More

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT & JARED HOLT

    Fox News host Eric Bolling is reportedly in discussion to take a position in the Department of Commerce in the upcoming Donald Trump administration. During his employment by Fox News -- where the self-described Trump “fan” was one of the loudest pro-Trump voices on a pro-Trump network -- Bolling has trafficked in racist stereotypes, spread fear of Muslims in America, and engaged in conspiracy theories, including the birtherism made famous by Trump.

    Bolling’s Race Problem

    Bolling: "I Don't Think There's Racism," Because We Have A Black President And Black Entertainment Channels.

    Bolling: Rappers Should Be Happy White People Are Buying “The Black” Music And “Financing Their Lifestyles.”

    Bolling: El Chapo Is "The One Mexican We Want, We Can't Get."

    Bolling Calls Obama, Holder "Race Merchants" For Defending Voting Rights Act.

    Fox's Bolling: "In America, We Create, We Make iPhones," Whereas The Chinese Make "Finger Trap[s]."

    Bolling Tweet: President Obama Is "Chugging 40's" In Ireland "While Tornadoes Ravage MO."

    [Twitter, 5/23/11; Facebook, 5/23/11]

    Bolling: "What's With All The Hoods In The Hizzy?" During the June 10, 2011, edition of his Fox Business show, Bolling teased a segment about President Barack Obama hosting Ali Bongo Ondimba, president of Gabon, by saying: "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not the first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse." In a subsequent tease, Bolling said, "Smile for the birdie," while footage of a smiling Bongo with a flashing tooth, apparently made to resemble a gold-plated tooth, was shown on-air. Bolling continued: "Our president's sitting with one of Africa's most wanted. It's not the first time he's had a hood in the big crib." Footage of rapper Common appeared on air as Bolling spoke. Bolling began the actual segment by saying: "So what's with all the hoods in the hizzy?"

    Bolling: "There's No Racial Aspect Of Profiling."

    Bolling’s Anti-Muslim Record

    Fox's Eric Bolling: "Every Terrorist On American Soil Has Been A Muslim."

    Bolling: Downtown NYC Islamic Center "May Be A Meeting Place For Some Of The Scariest Minds -- Some Of The Biggest Terrorist Minds."

    Bolling: "The People Who Flew Planes Into [The Twin Towers] Are Going To Be Represented 500 Feet Away" At The Downtown NYC Islamic Center.

    Bolling Defended GOP Presidential Candidate Ben Carson’s Objection To A Muslim Being President. On the September 21, 2015, edition of Fox News’ The Five, Bolling said, “unless you're willing to denounce Sharia law as the governing law over yourself, and anyone you oversee, I wouldn't vote for a Muslim either.”

    Bolling Defended Trump Lie About U.S. Muslims Celebrating 9/11: "I Know There Were Muslims" In The U.S. "Who Were Happy That The World Trade Center Came Down."

    Bolling Claimed The Obama Administration "Answers To The Quran First And The Constitution Second." On the September 17, 2012 edition of Fox News’ The Five, Bolling said, “the Obama administration, through all this appeasement and apologizing, answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second.” Later in the show, Bolling said, “I have to clarify something very quickly. You remember when I said Obama, he answers to the Quran before the Constitution? What I meant was, rather than appeasing the Muslims, he should worry about free speech first. That's it. I'm done with it, and I don't want to hear about it."

    Bolling’s Conspiracy Theories

    Bolling: Border On Obama’s Long-Form Birth Certificate "Had To Be Photoshopped In." Following the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate, Bolling claimed that the birth certificate's "green border … had to be Photoshopped in." Bolling also suggested Obama's birth certificate wasn't authentic because the doctor "who signed it" didn't tell his family he had helped deliver baby Obama. [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 4/27/11]

    Bolling Repeatedly Suggested That Obama "Let" The Deepwater Horizon Rig Leak So He Could Limit Offshore Drilling. Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, Bolling suggested on the May 3, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends that the Obama administration might have "let" the rig leak before "address[ing] it." On the May 27, 2010, edition of Happy Hour, Bolling again speculated about whether Obama "let" the rig leak so he "could renege on his promise ... to allow some offshore drilling." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/3/10; Fox Business, Happy Hour, 5/27/10]

    Bolling Allowed Ann Coulter To Bring Lie That Obama “Attended Madrassas”Onto Fox News. While serving as a guest host for The O'Reilly Factor on December 28, 2009, and for Fox News' Glenn Beck on December 30, 2009, Bolling hosted conservative author Ann Coulter, who falsely claimed Obama "attended madrassas" or Islamic schools. As previously reported by Media Matters, Bolling did not challenge Coulter's claims on either show. [Media Matters, 12/31/09]

    Bolling Floats Conspiracy Theory That DNC Staffer Murdered In DC “Was A Hit.” As guest host on the August 10 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Bolling and frequent Fox News contributor Monica Crowley floated the idea that a Democratic National Committee staff murdered in Washington, D.C, was the victim of a “hit” and that there was “something more here” than what the official reports of the murder stated. “Where there is smoke, there is fire,” Bolling said. “Lots of smoke right now.” [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 8/10/16]

    Bolling Claimed United Nations Was Working To Achieve "Centralized Control Over All Of Human Life On Planet Earth." Bolling adopted conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theory that President Obama's White House Rural Council was evidence that he was implementing a United Nations plan aimed at achieving "centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth" and then creating a new "One World Order." [Media Matters, 6/25/11]

    Bolling Thought Obama Would Conduct A Military Strike In Libya To Benefit His Re-Election. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Bolling spun a conspiracy theory that claimed that when Obama mentioned a “bump in the road,” he was talking about American deaths in Libya, and that he might conduct a military strike in retaliation for those deaths -- but really for the benefit of his own re-election. Bolling said Obama should use a military strike “for the right reasons” instead of as “a campaign event.” [Media Matters, 9/26/12]

    Bolling Claimed The Muppets Was “Brainwashing” Children With A Liberal Agenda. In 2011, Bolling speculated that the writers of the movie The Muppets were trying to “brainwash” children with an anti-oil-industry liberal agenda, asking, “Is there any Occupy Wall Street muppets?” [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 12/2/2011]

    Bolling Thought Obama Was Trying To "Bring People Closer To The Cities" To Keep An Eye On Them. In 2012, Bolling claimed that “a lot of people” think the Obama administration is conducting “a whole social engineering thing” to bring people “closer to the cities” where there are “a lot more eyeballs they can keep on them.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/1/12]

    Bolling: "Did [Soros] Know? Does He Know" About $2 Billion Petrobras Deal? During a guest appearance on Fox News' Fox & Friends, Bolling revived the false conspiracy theory that Obama arranged for an Export-Import Bank of the United States loan to a Brazilian oil company in order to enrich billionaire philanthropist George Soros at the expense of the United States. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/24/11]

    Bolling Admitted Being A “Fan” Of Trump Throughout Presidential Campaign

    Daily Beast Reported That Bolling’s Colleagues Described Him As A “Trump Apologist.” The Daily Beast reported in a March 7 article that Bolling was “an unabashed Trump fan” whose colleagues have described him “as a Trump ‘apologist’ who ‘Trumpsplains’ the candidate's various offenses”:

    [Eric] Bolling himself is an unabashed Trump fan.

    The self-described "friend of [the] Trump family" has been described by his own colleagues as a Trump "apologist" who "Trumpsplains" the candidate's various offenses. Bolling's special guest for the network's New Year's Eve was none other than The Donald; and his interviews with the GOP frontrunner are games of slow-pitch softball. [The Daily Beast, 3/17/16]

    Bolling: "I'm A Fan" Of Trump. When discussing Trump's decision to sue Univision on the July 1, 2015, edition of The Five, Bolling said, "Donald Trump is just being Donald Trump on and off the campaign trail. I'm a fan." [Fox News, The Five, 7/1/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Agrees With Greg Gutfeld's Assertion That Bolling "Love[s] Talking About Trump." On the July 24, 2015, edition of The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld said, "You love talking about Trump." Bolling responded by saying, "No, no, I do":

    ERIC BOLLING: And so this is Friday, right? And now we're talking about this. And Martin O'Malley said, did mention this on Sunglass Sunday, right?

    [...]

    BOLLING: Five days later, because of the big Trump announcement, the big Trump hoopla that the media that's been following Donald Trump around everywhere, this was something we started to talk about on Monday.

    GREG GUTFELD: But you love talking about Trump.

    BOLLING: No, no, I do.

    GUTFELD: That's what's you talked about. [Fox News, The Five, 7/24/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Praised Trump In Interview: "I Like What Donald Trump Is Saying. I Like What He's Doing." During an interview with Trump on the August 1, 2015, edition of Fox News' Cashin' In, host Eric Bolling praised the then-candidate, saying:

    ERIC BOLLING: Yeah, so I've come out and said I like what Donald Trump is saying, I like what he's doing. I have a lot of -- a lot of my fans supports him, my fan base says I like Donald because he says what he means, means what he says, and it's refreshing to hear it. But I get beat up, even from some people in my own tent at times, for defending some of the things you're saying. [Fox News, Cashin' In, 8/1/15]

    Bolling: Trump Is Making The Rest Of Republican Presidential Field Better. On the June 17 edition of The Five, Bolling said Trump “is making the rest of the field better because he's speaking his mind" and "he's got the rest of the field thinking":

    [ERIC] BOLLING: Well. Look, I'm not done Donald Trump's spokesperson, but I will tell you I understand where he's coming from. We need to get tough with China. We need to get tough with all the other countries that are dumping their goods into America without any fees, but if we try to sell into Brazil, we try to sell into China, Japan, some of the other developed and developing countries, they charge us a fee, a tax. So it's like this unfair trade balance that goes on. I get it. He says get tough with them.

    With regards to the southern border, we talked about it yesterday. And I had no idea what his plan was, but I suggested maybe -- I don't know, maybe telling Mexico we're going to pay you $2 less per barrel of oil. Every barrel we buy from you, all the millions of barrels per day that we buy from you and spend the money securing the border. Whether it's a fence, whether it's a moat, whatever you do. Even if it's not even a fence, even if it's a border patrol, pay the border patrol through that. Look, here's the thing. Donald Trump is making the rest of the field better because he's speaking his mind. He's talking to people who have ideas and who are angry about the way politics have been for the last 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. And then finally, someone's willing to step up and have some other ideas. Let's at least try them. Let's at least think about them. See whether or not you like Donald, but you think he can be your president or not, he's got the rest of the field thinking. I think that's a good thing. [Fox News, The Five, 6/17/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Gushes Over Trump Family: "When The Kids Talk, It's Just, It's Amazing." On the July 18 edition of Fox News’ The Five, Bolling showered the Trump for raising “kids like that who love him the way they do” and who are “amazing” when they speak. Bolling also said Trump’s marriage seemed like “a great relationship all the way around.” [Fox News, The Five, 7/18/16s]

    Bolling Describes Himself As “A Friend Of Trump Family” In a Tweet.

    [Twitter.com, 10/2/15]

    Bolling: People Calling For Boycotts Of Trump Products Are "Economic Terrorists." On the July 2 edition of The Five, Bolling criticized those calling for boycotts of Trump's products as "economic terrorists." [Fox News, The Five, 7/2/15]

    Bolling Defended Trump After He Attacked John McCain's War Heroism. On the July 20 edition of The Five, Bolling defended Trump's remark that Senator John McCain wasn't a war hero, suggesting "it just kind of fell out of his mouth" and that Trump "wished he could take it back":

    BOLLING: Geraldo, do you really think that Donald Trump has disrespect or doesn't think that someone who is captured by the enemy and spent five years in captivity isn't a war hero? Do you honestly think that.

    RIVERA: I think.

    BOLLING: Do you think it just kind of fell out of his mouth and he, you know, he would wished he could take it back. Don't forget, the context of this was someone asked him about John McCain's service to the veterans and he said John McCain who dropped the ball as far as the veteran's administration. [Fox News, The Five, 7/20/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Has Been Forced To Apologize For Other Inappropriate Remarks

    Bolling Had To Apologize For Asking If The First Female UAE Pilot Who Bombed Islamic State “Would Be Considered Boobs On The Ground.” Bolling had to apologize for asking if the first female pilot leading the United Arab Emirates who conducted bombing against Islamic State terrorists “would be considered boobs on the ground.” Bolling said he “got home” and “got the look” from his wife and “realized some people didn’t think it was funny at all.” [Fox News, The Five, 9/25/14]

    Bolling Forced To Apologize For Claiming Obama Was A Drug Dealer.

    [Twitter.com, 5/11/12]