Jezebel | Media Matters for America

Jezebel

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  • Right-wing media do the dirty work of anti-abortion groups by hyping attacks on Planned Parenthood

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    It comes as little surprise that Fox News once again carried water for the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), this time returning to an old tactic of using advance copies of documents to validate already debunked claims from CMP’s smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.

    On December 7, Fox News reported that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had “launched a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices and the sale of fetal tissue.” As evidence, the article cited “a letter first obtained by Fox News” that “formally requested unredacted documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee” that were gathered in 2016 as part of an investigation into Planned Parenthood. The article concluded that the DOJ’s actions would “reopen the years-long debate on whether Planned Parenthood and other providers violated the law with the illegal sale of body parts.” 

    As Jezebel noted, the DOJ’s “letter is essentially a procedural document,” and it “remains unclear whether or not the DOJ plans to launch a full investigation or whether or not this is simply a political attempt to garner headlines like the one published at Fox News” claiming that Planned Parenthood is being investigated even though “there is no formal investigation.”

    Claims about the alleged “sale of body parts” emerged in July 2015, when David Daleiden and his discredited organization, Center for Medical Progress (CMP), released a series of deceptively edited smear videos attacking Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation (NAF). Since then, multiple investigations have disproven Daleiden’s claims and, in fact, cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. In contrast, Daleiden is now subject to several legal actions -- during the most recent of which two of his attorneys were fined and held in contempt for violating a preliminary injunction by releasing materials that targeted individual abortion providers.

    In reality, both the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation and a parallel effort by the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives were considered from their inception to be politically motivated attacks on abortion access and reproductive health more broadly. During its 10 months of operation, the House select panel found no substantiated evidence of wrongdoing, prompting numerous lawmakers to call for its disbandment. As Rewire explained, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s efforts were similarly unfruitful, and the final report merely echoed “allegations disproven by three Republican-led congressional committee investigations, 13 states, and a Texas grand jury.”

    Although right-wing and anti-abortion outlets love to frame Daleiden and his co-conspirators as “citizen journalists” conducting an “undercover investigation,” a federal judge and journalism experts have agreed: Daleiden and his ilk are not journalists. In contrast, as data from NAF demonstrates, since the release of the videos in July 2015, violence and harassment of abortion reporters has skyrocketed. Despite this -- and Daleiden’s litany of legal issues -- right-wing and anti-abortion media have not been deterred from carrying water for CMP’s deceptive claims.

    This is not the first time that Fox News has received exclusive information relating to the congressional investigations of Planned Parenthood. In May 2016, Fox News’ Shannon Bream touted "exclusively obtained" copies of letters that the House select panel sent to various entities at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This “exclusive” ran on May 31 -- a full day before the letters were publicly released or shared with Democratic members of the panel, in direct violation of congressional rules. More recently, right-wing and anti-abortion media circulated footage from CMP that was barred from release by a district judge. Even after CMP was forced to remove the footage from YouTube, anti-abortion media outlets that had promoted the footage reposted and shared it.

    Before its conclusion, the House select panel was notable for its function as a conduit through which anti-abortion groups consistently funneled information in order to give their attacks a veneer of legitimacy. And if, in fact, the DOJ’s inquiry does signal a formal investigation, the release of the December 7 letter to Fox News a full day before ranking Democratic members received it should be a warning sign about the impartiality of this investigation.

  • 5 must-read debunks of the junk science abortion reversal scam

    ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT

    A so-called abortion reversal procedure lacks sound scientific support, but that hasn’t stopped anti-abortion groups from promoting it to inaccurately suggest patients inherently regret their decision to have an abortion. As anti-choice groups increasingly lobby for the elimination of abortion access, media often treat anti-choice pseudo-science, like abortion reversal, as the “other side” of the issue. But five media outlets recently provided comprehensive debunks that show how their counterparts should be reporting on abortion reversal and the junk science behind the procedure.

  • Women's media outlets to Trump: Stop exploiting MS-13’s violence against women to demonize immigrants

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Multiple women’s media outlets are condemning President Donald Trump’s July 25 speech, in which he linked gangs such as MS-13 to violence against women, saying he is exploiting the deaths of young women at the hands of immigrants, calling his remarks “xenophobic,” and explaining that his rhetoric is “effectively stereotyping all undocumented immigrants as gang members.” Trump has previously used MS-13 violence to justify anti-immigrant policies, but experts say that such policies “could actually make the gang stronger.”

  • Coverage of Rob Kardashian’s misogynistic abuse is garbage

    How coverage of entertainment news perpetuates sexism

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A wide array of media outlets, ranging from entertainment magazines to outlets targeting women (that have higher editorial standards than their entertainment counterparts), perpetuated sexism and attempted to shame female sexuality in their terrible coverage of Rob Kardashian’s misogynistic social media behavior against his ex-girlfriend. By doing so, they downplayed, if not completely ignored, the potential crime of revenge porn that Kardashian committed.

    On July 5, Kardashian, who is currently a sock designer but who rose to fame through different iterations of television reality shows featuring his family, took to his Instagram account in apparent spite to publish graphic images his ex-girlfriend Blac Chyna had sent him. After Instagram shut down Kardashian’s account for violating its no-nudity policy, he took to Twitter to post the same content.

    Entertainment magazines like Entertainment Tonight, US Weekly, and People, presented the incident as a “social media war,” focusing on the celebrity feud and the salacious images without mentioning that Kardashian’s sexist behavior was potentially criminal. While it’s not atypical for these publications to uncritically present the problematic behavior of celebrities as entertainment, the substandard coverage of Kardashian’s abusive stunt spread to other publications, including some that write for female audiences and have higher editorial ambitions.

    Coverage from Jezebel, LatinaMarie Claire, Bustle and Refinery29 to varying degrees shared a similar form of play-by-play reporting, paraphrasing most of Kardashian’s gross posts and giving the abusive narrative new life on their platforms, thus furthering a man’s shaming of a woman for her sexual activities. Their accounts failed to mention Kardashian’s behavior could amount to revenge porn, or the distribution of “nonconsensual pornography,” an act that has been illegal in California since 2014 and can be penalized with up to 6 months in jail and a fine.

    These outlets, specifically those that target female audiences, failed women by not contextualizing the abhorrent behavior and presenting it as what it is: shaming a woman for freely exercising her sexuality and publishing material that was meant to be private with the purpose of attacking a victim. They aided Kardashian in further advancing his hateful messages while failing to inform audiences of the illegality of his behavior. They missed an opportunity to provide useful sources -- like those provided by Without My Consent, a website advocating for victims of revenge porn -- for readers that have been victimized in similar ways.

    Not every article missed the mark. Outlets including Glamour magazine and The Washington Post provided good coverage that focused on how “Kardashian’s Instagram posts are the epitome of revenge porn,” and noted that not only were Kardashian’s actions “cruel,” but also possibly illegal. Glamour called out Kardashian’s “slut-shaming,” noting “he crossed a serious line,” and The Post gave a detailed account of what revenge porn is, providing statistics on the number of Americans who have been threatened with or subjected to revenge porn.

    Women’s media outlets have stood out in the past for their political reporting and for covering the effects different policy issues have on different communities. They shouldn’t let their celebrity coverage tarnish their credibility as a go-to source for many women.

    Kelly Matthews and Katherine Hess contributed research to this piece.

  • Meet The Anti-Abortion Group The NY Times Can’t Seem To Quit

    Human Coalition’s Founder Calls It “One Of The Larger” Anti-Abortion Groups That “No One Has Ever Heard Of”

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT

    Since January, The New York Times has published two op-eds by the anti-choice organization Human Coalition denouncing abortion access and care. Using big data and internet marketing strategies, Human Coalition targets “abortion-determined women” and tries to redirect them to crisis pregnancy centers. Here's what media need to know about Human Coalition, an organization designed to mislead people online. Given the organization's objectives and history, media should think twice before giving the group an uncritical platform. 

  • Planned Parenthood Is Under Attack In Texas, And Media There Are Failing The Challenge 

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Texas media are omitting crucial information in reports on the state’s move to cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood, including that Texas’ decision was largely based on debunked videos by an anti-abortion activist group, the Center for Medical Progress, and that the move will negatively impact women’s health. In contrast, reporting by online outlets geared toward women put Texas media to shame, explaining that the evidence behind the policy decision is misleading and that the defunding will have dire consequences for women’s health in Texas.

  • UPDATED: Must-Read Accounts From Women Who Have Actually Had Late-Term Abortions

    Media Highlight Experiences That Debunk Trump’s Deceptive Claims About Late-Term Abortion

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    During the final debate of the 2016 election, Republican nominee Donald Trump relied on right-wing media myths to allege that Hillary Clinton supports so-called “partial-birth” abortion. In reality, “partial birth” is a medically and legally inaccurate term invented by anti-choice groups -- a fact media have highlighted by giving individuals who have had late-term abortions a platform to both describe their experiences and, in some cases, directly refute Trump’s misinformed descriptions of the process.

  • Media: Meet Donald Trump’s New Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & LIS POWER

    Donald Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has long been a fixture in right-wing media and has a history of inflammatory statements, including claiming that “revulsion towards men” is “part and parcel of the feminist movement,” asserting that people “don’t want their kids looking at a cartoon with a bunch of lesbians,” and using false statistics on live television to claim sex-selection abortion is pervasive in the United States.

  • Media Highlight The “Misleading” Evidence Used During Congressional Panel’s Attack On Planned Parenthood

    Second Select Panel Hearing Was Just Like “A Bad House Of Cards Plotline”

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Following the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives’ second hearing, multiple media outlets heavily criticized the Republican members’ continued lack of objectivity. The select panel was established by Republicans in October 2015 based on discredited allegations against Planned Parenthood from the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP). Despite claiming to be “impartial,” Republican members during both hearings have relied on CMP’s deceptive work as evidence.

  • PBS Debate Moderators Ignore Social Media Campaign, Fail To Ask Candidates About Reproductive Rights

    NARAL: Failure To Ask About Abortion Is "Shameful And A Real Disservice To Voters"

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Despite a vigorous social media campaign imploring debate moderators to ask presidential candidates about their positions on reproductive rights, Thursday's Democratic debate passed without a single question on the topic. Moderators Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff emphasized a variety of issues in the February 11 debate, yet they failed to ask "how the candidates plan to empower women to make decisions for their lives and families," as NARAL Pro-Choice America put it.

    The omission of a reproductive rights question was particularly disappointing given NARAL's attempts to reach out to moderators prior to the debate through both social media and direct communications. Starting a Twitter campaign to #askaboutabortion, NARAL encouraged moderators to address the topic and urged candidates to more fully explain their respective positions on protecting women's access to abortion care.

    Similarly, on February 9, NARAL sent an open letter to Ifill and Woodruff making clear the consequences of excluding discussions of reproductive rights from the February 11 debate. Crediting the rising threat of anti-choice violence against abortion providers, as well as the efforts of "anti-reproductive freedom legislators and governors" to enact "dangerous restrictions on women's health care at near record numbers," NARAL warned that it was past time for voters to "hear from the Democratic candidates what they plan to do to protect women's reproductive-health care in this country." They wrote: "we find the lack of questions on this subject to be shameful and a real disservice to voters."

    NARAL was not alone in its criticism of prior debates, nor in its desire for journalists and moderators alike to exert more pressure on candidates about their reproductive rights positions. In a February 10 article, RH Reality Check's editor-in-chief, Jodi Jacobson, explained that moderators and journalists are "becoming complicit in the lies and stigma surrounding abortion care" by failing to ask candidates about abortion.

    Unfortunately, the silence on reproductive rights issues during debates has become entirely one-sided. Following the February 6 Republican debate, conservative media hyped candidate Marco Rubio's extreme abortion positions. As Daniel Marans reported for The Huffington Post, however, the failure to raise similar questions during Democratic debates means that "Republicans are setting the terms of the abortion debate," leaving Democrats with "themselves to thank for having to field abortion questions that play to their weakness rather than their strengths."

    The hesitance to openly discuss abortion during Democratic debates does not seem limited to just moderators. In an article for Jezebel, Anna Merlan noted that when the issue finally came up in the February 11 debate -- spurred by a question about the possibility of electing the first female president -- both candidates shied away from "using the word 'abortion'" at all. Instead, Sen. Bernie Sanders talked about "women having to make a very personal choice," and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hyped her endorsement from NARAL and said the GOP is trying to "set back women's rights." According to Merlan, this omission was puzzling given that a "Democratic president would" have to find ways to "work with the large chunk of the GOP who get up each day with the intent of rolling back Roe v. Wade."

    As NARAL explained in its letter, given the fact that women confront "near daily threats to their right to reproductive freedom in this country," the failure of debate moderators to ask about abortion is "shameful and a real disservice to voters." As the Supreme Court prepares to hear "the most important abortion case in decades," about a Texas law imposing restrictive rules on abortion clinics, it is crucial now more than ever that moderators ask candidates about abortion and encourage them to explain the effects their policies will have on women's access to safe, legal, and affordable care.