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  • Right-wing media are filling a void of abortion-related coverage with misinformation

    Fox News is dominating the conversation about abortion on evening cable news -- and the network is doing it all wrong

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT

    A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs found that Fox News dominated discussions of abortion and reproductive rights and that the network was wrong about four common abortion-related topics 77 percent of the time.

  • Cable news networks forgot Trump sexually assaulted women, until the Harvey Weinstein stories broke

    Evening programming on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC all devoted much more time to the allegations against Trump after The New York Times reported on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    By and large, 2017 was a year of reckoning for men who have sexually harassed and assaulted women. But 2017 was also the year evening programming on cable news forgot about the women who said President Donald Trump sexually assaulted them.

    Over the past year, we’ve seen powerful men lose their jobs and reputations after women and men came forward telling their stories of harassment and assault. One man whose reckoning has yet to come, however, is the president of the United States. By October 2016, at least 20 women had said then-candidate Trump engaged in sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. The accusations largely came after a video clip emerged of Trump admitting to sexual assault in 2005.

    A Media Matters analysis found that the stories these women told about Trump’s alleged -- and admitted -- sexual misconduct were largely forgotten by evening cable news hosts and guests in 2017, especially on Fox News. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of coverage came only after The New York Times initially reported on Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault, which precipitated a wave of coverage about dozens of men who now stand credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

    This study found:

    Fox News spent less than 40 minutes on Trump's sexual misconduct in 2017

    Between January 1 and December 15, 2017, evening Fox News programs spent a total of 37 minutes and 21 seconds on the women who said Trump assaulted or harassed them.


    John Whitehouse / Media Matters

    In contrast, CNN spent 2 hours, 53 minutes, and 22 seconds on the allegations, while MSNBC spent 2 hours and 16 minutes discussing them.


    John Whitehouse / Media Matters

    While many shows ignored and minimized the allegations against Trump, some of his most ardent defenders on Fox faced them head-on to merely dismiss them out of hand.

    On the December 13 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham attempted to discredit the allegations against Trump, asking, “If someone accused of you something from 20 years ago and you denied it ... would it be fair for people to say, God, he’s accused?"

    And on the November 16 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity alleged that the women who spoke out against Trump said they were “taken out of context purposely by The New York Times.”

    Most of the discussions of Trump's sexual misconduct took place after reporting about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault

    The vast majority of the reporting on the accusations made against Trump on evening cable news took place after The New York Times reported on October 5 about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault. The so-called “Harvey effect” spurred women to come forward to discuss their experiences of sexual violence. In turn, the reporting on Weinstein also appeared to create an opening for cable news to bring up the allegations made against the president. In the nine months before The New York Times reported on Weinstein, evening cable news spent less than an hour discussing the allegations made against Trump. However, in about 2 1/2 months after the Times reported on Weinstein, evening cable news devoted nearly five hours to reporting on the accusations against Trump.


    John Whitehouse / Media Matters

    For many survivors across the country, it’s nearly impossible to forget that 20 women have reported sexual harassment and assault committed by our president, who has admitted to such behavior. Cable news shouldn’t forget about it, either.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched Nexis for mentions of “Trump” within 50 words of all permutations of “assault,” “rape,” “harass,” “grope,” “grab,” “sexual,” or “allege” that took place on evening ( 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.) programs on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News between January 1 and December 15, 2017. For inclusion in this study, segments had to feature a significant discussion of the allegations made against Trump.

    We defined a “significant discussion” as one of the following:

    • a segment where the allegations against Trump were the stated topic of discussion;

    • a segment in which two or more speakers discussed the allegations; or

    • a host monologue during which the allegations were the stated topic of discussion.

    Qualifying segments were then timed using iQ media. Repeated segments were not counted. Teasers for upcoming segments were also not counted.

    * Due to substantial reorganization of Fox News’ programming during the study period, programs that were either added or removed from the network during the study period are marked with an asterisk.

  • STUDY: Voting rights coverage was dominated by Trump's lies and ignored systemic problems

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs and broadcast morning shows and nightly newscasts found that discussions of voting rights and issues related to voting featured misinformation pushed by Republican lawmakers and were dominated by President Donald Trump’s false claims about voter fraud and noncitizen voting. Additionally, coverage also lacked discussions of gerrymandering, the impact of voter suppression on the 2016 election, and laws on the state level to curb voting rights.

  • A dangerous anti-immigrant policy O'Reilly dreamed up on Fox's airtime could become the law of the land

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Congress is expected to vote on a new version of “Kate’s Law,” an anti-immigrant law that was first proposed by Bill O’Reilly when he was a Fox News host.  

    Named after Kate Steinle, a young woman who was fatally shot by an undocumented immigrant in 2015, O’Reilly’s proposed legislation was part of a wave of anti-immigrant reactions to Steinle’s death. Like others in right-wing media, O’Reilly immediately fixated on the alleged assailant’s immigration status and exploited Steinle to push his anti-immigration policy ideas to the forefront. Focusing on the fact that the shooter had been deported and repeatedly re-entered the country illegally, O’Reilly subsequently used his Fox News platform to launch a relentless lobbying campaign to pressure lawmakers into passing a law that would mandate a five-year minimum prison sentence for certain illegal re-entries. After he first proposed it on air, a Nexis search of transcripts of The O’Reilly Factor during the month of July in 2015 shows the former host devoted at least sixteen episodes to hyping his proposed policy.

    Ousted Fox News host Bill O’Reilly first proposed the original Kate’s Law on July 6, 2015, on his now-defunct show The O’Reilly Factor:

    The next day, O’Reilly proposed language about the mandatory minimums:

    O’Reilly’s campaign for Kate’s Law employed the familiar right-wing media tactic of wildly stereotyping and fear-mongering about immigrants. In the past, conservative media have used Ebola fears to cast immigrants as disease-carrying invaders and seized upon terror attacks in Europe to curry favor for President Trump’s ban on refugees. One of these outlets' favorite constructed narratives is the false link between immigrants and crime.

    Breitbart and others have endless caches of articles depicting immigrants as murderers. When two undocumented immigrants were initially accused of allegedly raping a girl in Rockville, Maryland, right-wing outlets led by Fox’s Tucker Carlson touted the story at length and then hardly whispered when both immigrants were cleared.

    Right-wing media’s supposed evidence of an immigrant-crime crisis holds no water when faced with statistics, but Republicans have ignored the facts and offer policy solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist. Now, in an environment riddled with conservative media lies about immigrants, O’Reilly’s anti-immigrant sentiments have a chance of being imminently voted on in Congress.

    The legislation the House is expected to vote on is different than O’Reilly’s original proposal, but would still lead to the overcriminalization of a problem of widespread immigrant crime that does not exist, by expanding the two-year maximum prison sentence for re-entering the country to a 10-year maximum and expanding the penalty for re-entry after being convicted of criminal offenses -- including nonviolent ones -- to up to 25 years.

    As The Daily Beast pointed out with O’Reilly’s original proposal, Kate’s Law “could sizably increase the prison population by forcing nonviolent offenders to spend years in prison—and, conservative criminal justice experts say, without having a sizable impact on how many deported immigrants unlawfully return to the United States.” Moving away from mandatory minimum sentences has gained bipartisan support, especially given that “skyrocketing federal prison budgets are stealing critical funding for investigators, police, and prosecutors,” which could have a negative impact on public safety, according to a study by the Families Against Mandatory Minimums. In fact, the libertarian Cato Institute already stated its opposition to the legislation, citing its outsized cost and low effectiveness.

    Because of a slow bipartisan move away from ineffective and wasteful sentencing policies, Kate’s Law was repeatedly killed in the Senate. But the fact that it has been brought to a vote multiple times shows the dangerous power that right-wing media’s xenophobia still wields over legislators.

  • In 100 Days, Trump Has Attacked The Press Over 100 Times. Here’s How Fox News Cheered Him On.

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office have been defined, in part, by his administration’s hostility to the press. As Media Matters has documented, Trump has attacked the press well over 100 times to date. As Trump vilifies the press, Fox News hosts, contributors, and guests help cheer him on by supporting, enabling, and condoning his attempts to discredit mainstream media outlets.

  • Fox News Didn't Care About Sexual Harassment Until You Knew About It

    Fox’s Decision To Fire Bill O’Reilly Was Entirely Profit-Driven

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    As Fox News parts ways with longtime host Bill O’Reilly, some may be tempted to claim that his departure is a sign that the network and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, care about women who have been sexually harassed. But the decision has nothing to do with the systemic toxic misogyny Fox News traffics in; it’s about the bottom line.

    Following an April 1 New York Times story reporting that O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox together paid a total of $13 million to five women who said O’Reilly sexually harassed them, dozens of advertisers began to pull their ads from his Fox News program, The O’Reilly Factor. Estimates suggest that the boycott could cost the network nearly $40 million in advertising revenue. It wasn’t until it was faced with this loss in revenue that the media company decided to part ways with O’Reilly.

    If Fox cared about creating a safe workplace culture for women, O’Reilly would have been gone years ago. According to the Times, O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox paid a $9 million settlement in 2004 to O’Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris who reported that O’Reilly harassed her. 21st Century Fox continued to employ O’Reilly and other serial harassers and enablers for more than a decade after that settlement, even re-signing his contract with Fox News through 2020 just weeks ago.

    It’s no secret that Fox News fosters a culture of toxic misogyny. In the past year, several women have come forward saying former CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed them. And the men who went on to replace Ailes have their own histories of covering up serial harassment or reportedly engaging in harassment themselves. The network has continued to hide behind the investigation it commissioned the law firm Paul, Weiss to conduct after women spoke up about Ailes, but that examination has been revealed as a total sham.

    Fox is not even hiding its sexist crap behind the scenes. Just hours after the network announced that O’Reilly was leaving, Fox co-host Greg Gutfeld -- part of The Five, which will soon take over a 9 p.m. slot on the network in the aftermath of O’Reilly’s firing -- engaged in textbook sexual harassment by telling his female colleague that she was giving America an erection. And the other men filling prime-time slots in O’Reilly’s wake are sexist pigs, too.

    Fox News didn’t fire O’Reilly until he was losing the network money. Even then, the top executive was hesitant to let him go. While losing O’Reilly makes Fox a safer place for women to work without fear of harassment, that wasn’t what drove this decision. It was money.

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko

  • Fox News Rewards O’Reilly Minion Jesse Watters With Prime-Time Slot On The Five

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ, ZACHARY PLEAT & CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Fox News is rewarding Jesse Watters with a prime-time slot on the panel show The Five as part of the shakeup caused by Bill O’Reilly’s ouster. Watters, a former O’Reilly producer and longtime protégé, was widely condemned last year for a racist segment set in New York City’s Chinatown. His ambush interviews have disparaged immigrants, women, African-Americans, the homeless, and members of the LGBTQ community, and he earned notoriety for an incident in which he “followed, harassed, and ambushed” a female journalist on camera.

  • Glenn Beck Blames Media Matters For Advertiser "Purge" Of Serial Sexual Harasser Bill O'Reilly

    Beck Attacks Advertiser Boycotts While Simultaneously Claiming The Boycotters Never Even Advertised On O'Reilly's Show

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Almost six years after former Fox News host Glenn Beck insisted that Media Matters had nothing to do with the decline in his show’s advertising and its eventual termination, he went on his radio program to blame Media Matters for Fox dropping host Bill O'Reilly. A recent report revealed that O'Reilly and Fox News have paid $13 million in settlements for sexual harassment, sparking an advertiser boycott of his show and leading to his ouster from the channel.

    Beck devoted much of his April 19 radio show to calling on his listeners to help save O’Reilly after news broke that the board of directors of 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, would be meeting to decide O’Reilly’s fate. Just a few hours later, 21st Century confirmed that “Mr. O’Reilly will not return to the Fox News Channel.” O’Reilly’s advertisers largely abandoned his show after The New York Times reported on the settlements, and it appears that some advertisers are gearing up to drop Fox entirely. These advertisers are rejecting the hostile and predatory corporate environment Fox has created and allowed to fester for over a decade and are recognizing the liability that associating with such behavior presents for them.

    Beck’s own show, which aired on Fox News from 2009 to 2011, was terminated after a decline in revenue, ratings, and relevance. An advertiser boycott led by Media Matters President Angelo Carusone resulted in more than 300 advertisers pulling their ads from Beck’s program after he called former President Barack Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." In February 2010, the broadcast of Beck's show in the UK lost all advertisers and began airing without any commercials. Fox saw a decline in both the number of paid advertisements running during Beck's show and, according to industry data, in what key advertisers would pay for an ad during his show.

    The day before Fox announced that his show was being terminated, Beck insisted that Carusone’s campaign was not responsible for his show’s decline. Today he again claimed that the advertiser boycott didn’t hurt his show because the boycotters never advertised on his show to begin with; yet he’s now making a similar argument on O’Reilly’s behalf, while simultaneously insisting that Media Matters is “behind this with Bill O’Reilly.” According to Beck, the advertisers “that are boycotting Bill O'Reilly, most of them I'm sure never ever were even on Bill O'Reilly's show,” but he told his listeners to contact Fox News nonetheless to let it know that “‘we [can’t] stand with you if you're just letting Media Matters purge people.” From the April 19 edition of The Glenn Beck Program:

    Oh, and that's right, Media Matters, who's behind this with Bill O'Reilly, they said that they believe that Fox News and Bill O'Reilly are currently the leader in conservative misinformation.

    [...]

    This is a purge, and it's going to be a hard purge. It's going to hurt. You need to decide where you are, and I recommend that if you find, just Google search list of advertisers that won't -- that are boycotting Bill O'Reilly, most of them I'm sure never ever were even on Bill O'Reilly's show. Some of them were, but you should probably write to them today and say, “If Bill O'Reilly is fired because you canceled, I will never buy your product again." You should write to Fox News Channel, “I want you to know, I'm not sure we can stand with you if you're just letting Media Matters purge people.”

    Beck also invited O’Reilly’s lawyer to offer a defense of the Fox host on the program.

  • Statement Of Angelo Carusone As Bill O'Reilly Exits Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media Matters President Angelo Carusone, a recognized advertiser pressure campaign expert who also ran the @StopOReilly Twitter account, released the following statement regarding 21st Century Fox's announcement that Bill O'Reilly will not return to Fox News:

    Fox News was forced to act. They had years to address serial sexual harassment at Fox News. They didn’t; they actually enabled it. So, individuals and groups took action to educate advertisers. Advertisers fled because they immediately recognized what Fox News has ignored for over a decade: that serial sexual harassment is not only wrong, but bad for business.

    Without advertisers, Bill O’Reilly’s show was no longer commercially viable. Fox News had no choice but to fire O’Reilly. Accountability came from the outside, not from within. Fox News deserves no accolades, only scorn for the industrial scale harassment they have forced their employees to endure.

    On what’s next for Fox News, Carusone added:

    The open question is what Fox News will do about the epidemic of sexual harassment at Fox News that extends well beyond O’Reilly as it seems to be in-part facilitated by its current co-president Bill Shine. Shine reportedly retaliated against women that came forward with reports against former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes as well as those that came forward against Bill O’Reilly. Aside from mistreating staff, Shine put shareholders and advertisers at risk by resigning a contract with O’Reilly just a few weeks ago despite knowing all the allegations.

    If Fox News wants to signal that they’re serious about addressing sexual harassment, they’ll fire Bill Shine too. If not, then staff, advertisers and shareholders should beware.

  • As He Leaves Fox, Here Are Bill O’Reilly’s Worst Moments On The Air

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & KATHERINE HESS

    Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly has helped set the bar for the normalization and dissemination of right-wing hatred, offering incendiary commentary about sexual harassment and assault, gender, race and ethnicity, low-income people, the LGBTQ community, Muslims and refugees, immigrants, and reproductive rights. Now that O'Reilly has been forced to step down from The O'Reilly Factor after an advertiser revolt over revelations that Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, paid $13 million in settlements to women who came forward with reports that O’Reilly was a sexual predator, Media Matters takes a look back at some of the lowlights of his career, including his history of inaccurate and embellished reporting.

  • How Fox News’ Male Hosts Are Endangering Women All Across America 

    Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, And Sean Hannity Are Almost Always Wrong About Abortion, And They’re Giving Other Men A Platform To Push Further Misinformation

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    If you’re searching for the most misinformation-filled block of television during evening cable, look no further than the Fox News lineup of Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity. In a finding that will shock almost nobody with even cursory knowledge about abortion and reproductive rights, this all-male lineup has spent the past 12 months promoting rampant misinformation on these topics.

    Media Matters analyzed evening prime-time news programs on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC from March 7, 2016 through March 1, 2017, for segments featuring a substantial discussion of abortion and reproductive rights. The 354 total segments were then coded for the number of accurate or inaccurate statements they contained about three topics: the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and late-term abortion.

    Out of 116 total statements made during The O’Reilly Factor, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and Hannity (out of 120 total statements on the network), 103 were inaccurate. If the sheer amount of misinformation isn't enough, the vast majority of them were made by men. Of the 110 total appearances by hosts, guests, or network correspondents on these programs in 12 months, 81 were made by men (74 percent).

    When seeking information about abortion -- particularly accurate information -- most women presumably wouldn’t turn first to a man. Fox News, however, has ensured its prime-time block is dominated by male voices.

    With the exception of The Kelly File, which ceased airing after then-Fox news host Megyn Kelly left the channel, and The First 100 Days, which didn’t begin airing until after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Fox’s prime-time evening lineup is dominated by male-hosted programs. And these programs also promote mainly male voices when it comes to the topics of abortion and reproductive rights.

    From March 7, 2016, through March 1, 2017, The O’Reilly Factor featured 47 appearances from men (71 percent) and only 19 from women (29 percent) during segments about abortion. During the same 12-month period, there were 26 appearances by men (76 percent) and only eight by women (24 percent) to discuss reproductive rights on Hannity. Tucker Carlson Tonight did not begin airing until after the 2016 election, making the sample size smaller than either The O’Reilly Factor or Hannity. However, of the five months of Tucker Carlson Tonight considered in Media Matters’ analysis, the program featured 80 percent male appearances in discussions about the reproductive rights of women.

    Overall, during the 12-month study period, 74 percent of appearances among all three programs featured men talking about abortion and reproductive rights. Excluding guests who were employed by Fox News (as professional commentators, analysts, or contributors), all three programs also largely hosted male guests, many of whom have a history of anti-choice policy making.

    For example, The O’Reilly Factor served as a platform for guests including Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Mike Pence -- all of whom have openly supported anti-choice policies. The male guests on Hannity unsurprisingly included Reince Priebus, who would become Trump’s chief of staff, and then-Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci.

    Hannity was also the only person on evening cable news to host discredited anti-choice activist David Daleiden, founder of CMP. Every other program -- even, surprisingly, other Fox News programs -- deemed the anti-abortion activist who deceptively edited smear videos and has since been charged with 15 felonies in California an unpalatable guest.

    Luckily for Daleiden, there’s always Sean Hannity. With their powers combined, Daleiden and Hannity managed to conduct a full segment featuring 100 percent inaccurate information in terms of CMP, Planned Parenthood's essential services, and late-term abortion. During his April 2016 appearance on Hannity, Daleiden made five inaccurate statements about the veracity of CMP’s work -- even though multiple state and federal investigations found that the organization's claims about abortion providers were baseless. Hannity himself contributed three inaccurate statements about CMP during the segment and zero accurate ones. This pattern was not limited to just his segment with Daleiden, however. Hannity managed to make only inaccurate statements on these topics throughout the entire study period.

    Although Tucker Carlson appears to share Daleiden’s affinity for employing deceptive editing and even using actors to represent highly curated versions of opposing viewpoints, he managed -- without Daleiden's help -- to be wrong 100 percent of the time about CMP, Planned Parenthood's essential services, and late-term abortion.

    O’Reilly, Hannity, and Carlson also featured primarily guests who openly represent anti-abortion organizations, including Marjorie Dannenfelser (president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List), conservative commentator Crystal Wright, Alveda King (anti-abortion activist for Priests for Life and Civil Rights for the Unborn), and Abby Johnson (founder of CEO of And Then There Were None).

    Overall, Media Matters’ analysis found that 80 percent of statements about CMP, Planned Parenthood's essential servies, and late-term abortion made during Fox News’ evening prime-time programming were inaccurate. It should come as no surprise that The O’Reilly Factor, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and Hannity were responsible for 67 percent of the network’s inaccurate statements.

    Then again, if your ace prime-time lineup is composed of a man accused of being a serial sexual predator who can’t stop advertisers from fleeing his program (and is likely about to lose it), a hero of white nationalists who is known for bullying his guests, and Sean Hannity, you’re probably not that worried about ensuring accuracy or giving women’s voices an equal platform.

    *Graphics by Sarah Wasko