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  • All the right-wing lies about Trump’s transgender military ban, debunked

    ››› ››› REBECCA DAMANTE

    Right-wing media figures have helped promote a series of myths about transgender service members in the U.S. military in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would ban them from serving. These debunked myths include the claim that the cost of medically necessary health care for transgender service members would be in the billions, that allowing transgender members to serve would interfere with military readiness and cohesion, that a majority of transgender people are unable to be deployed due to their health care needs, and that being transgender is a mental illness that makes people unfit to be in the military.

  • What media are getting wrong about Trump, Mattis, and the transgender troop ban

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Media outlets widely and misleadingly reported that Defense Secretary James Mattis had “frozen” President Donald Trump’s plan to ban transgender people from the military. A few days after Trump sent him a directive on the issue, Mattis announced on August 29 that he would “carry out the president’s policy direction” while “in the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.” But Mattis’ statement was exactly in line with each step of Trump’s directive, which granted the defense secretary time to “determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving” in the military.

    Numerous headlines and reports on August 29 suggested that Mattis had paused Trump’s transgender military ban, framing the situation as if Mattis was defying Trump’s orders. The New York Times said Mattis had “kicked President Trump’s proposed ban … down the road,” and an ABC affiliate’s headline said Mattis had made the decision “despite Trump’s order.” The Washington Post said Mattis announced “that he is freezing the implementation of” the ban. Many other headlines asserted that Mattis’ announcement constituted a freeze of or “hold on” Trump’s policy. Similarly, Politico’s Eliana Johnson called Mattis’ statement “kind of a rebuke” of Trump’s announcement during an appearance on MSNBC.

    But Mattis’ statement is exactly in line with Trump’s August 25 directive. That directive gave Mattis until February 21 to “determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving in the United States military” and called for “further study” of the issue even though there has already been extensive study on transgender service members. A Pentagon-commissioned 2016 Rand Corporation study found that “allowing transgender personnel to serve openly” would have “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness” and minimal costs.

    Trump’s directive explicitly called for reinstating the ban, asking the Pentagon to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016,” when the Obama administration announced that transgender Americans “may serve openly” in the armed services.

    Other experts and media figures have pointed out media's incorrect framing of Mattis' response, with Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern calling it “an extreme mischaracterization of the facts.” Stern wrote that Mattis “is doing exactly what Trump directed him to do in a recent memo” and noted that the defense secretary “is not suspending the ban or disobeying Trump, but simply following orders.” The Slate report also quoted Chase Strangio, an ACLU attorney, saying that Mattis’ “statements do not change the directive nor has he been given the power to retain transgender service members indefinitely.” And Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center of Lesbian Rights, told Stern that USA Today’s “inaccurate reporting” is “playing into a patently bogus strategy to make it appear that there is going to be some new 'study' that will legitimize what is already a forgone conclusion: the discriminatory banning of military service by transgender people, based on a characteristic that has no bearing on their fitness to serve.’”

    A report by ThinkProgress’ Zack Ford noted similar points, saying that though “multiple outlets” reported that Mattis “had somehow frozen, paused, or stalled” the ban, there “is no justification for this framing.” Ford continued, “Mattis’ statement says that the military will implement the order exactly as directed.” The article laid out the expectations set forth in Trump’s memo, noting that Mattis’ statement “matches what was in Trump’s order.” And though the Post published a piece about Mattis “freezing the implementation” of the ban, another story in the newspaper noted that “defying orders was not what Mattis was doing.” The report added that Mattis’s actions were “to freeze [the ban’s] impact for the moment” and that “such a delay was pretty much authorized by Trump in his formal memorandum.” It continued, “Mattis did not reverse Trump or defy him on the broader ban against new recruits who are transgender people.”

    There are repercussions to the misleading reports and headlines on Mattis’ statement. Stern’s post in Slate concluded that the stories about a “freeze” “serve the administration’s narrative in two ways: They legitimize a ‘study’ that is designed to reach a foregone conclusion, and they falsely portray the ban as more lenient or unsettled than it really is.” This morning, a panel discussion on MSNBC’s Morning Joe suggested that perhaps Trump “didn’t really want to” implement the ban. Host Joe Scarborough remarked that “Donald Trump saying I really don’t want to do this” would make “a lot of sense,” and he also echoed debunked but insidious arguments that Trump might be “supportive” of LGBTQ rights.

    Despite those suggestions on Morning Joe, media should have no doubts about Trump’s intention to ban transgender people from the military. On July 26, Trump explicitly said on Twitter that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” and he has done nothing to indicate otherwise since then. Trump’s August 25 directive clearly stated his intent to reinstate the ban, and Mattis’ statement did not suggest that he would not be complying with the directive.

  • Trump's trans military ban eschews years of research in favor of junk science from a hate group

    ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on July 26 that he would reinstate a ban on transgender individuals serving in the United States military, citing “tremendous medical costs” and “disruption.” The announcement came just two days after anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council published a report on the issue -- which was parroted by right-wing media -- that stated the projected costs of trans-inclusive military service would amount to 8 times higher than previous estimates. FRC’s projections run counter to the large body of research and years of analysis that was used to inform then-President Barack Obama’s decision to allow transgender people to serve openly in the armed forces.

  • Fox Salutes Trump Plan To "Listen To The Generals" Despite His Claim To Know More About ISIS

    Trump Has Also Mentioned A Secret Plan For ISIS That He’s Withholding In Order To Be "Unpredictable"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    After Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivered a foreign policy speech in which he promised to “ask the generals to present a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS,” the hosts of Fox News’ Outnumbered took “a lot of comfort in the fact that he would say he’d listen to the generals.” But in the past, Trump has said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do,” and he has claimed that he has a secret plan for defeating ISIS that he is keeping quiet so as to be “unpredictable.”

    This shift is both the latest of Donald Trump’s flip-flopping, “patently uninformed,” and “literally insane” foreign policy proposals and the most recent example of Fox News jumping to defend them. From the September 9 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered:

    CHARLES HURT: The most important point on there is the first one, where he says that immediately after taking office, Mr. Trump will ask his generals to present a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS. What he’s doing there, and I think that he did a very good job of this, is he’s saying that he’s going to trust his generals to go after ISIS in a very forceful way. Donald Trump has impeccable timing. He is very lucky in this respect. And that is that Hillary Clinton is running for Barack Obama's third term and as such he gets to run against her resumé, he gets to run against everything that’s going wrong in the world today. And as long as he stays there and just says, “I’m going to listen to my generals,” as long as he says that, he is going to beat her when it comes to military, foreign policy, and all that stuff.

    HARRIS FAULKNER (CO-HOST): Well it’s interesting too because you start there, that’s exactly where President Obama has had so much criticism, the questions about whether he listens to the people who are the experts militarily. What are your thoughts?

    MEGHAN MCCAIN (CO-HOST): My first thought was the best line was when he was talking about Hillary Clinton showing how vulnerable we are when it comes to cyberterrorism. Every foreign policy expert I’ve spoken to says this is the final frontier, this is what’s coming next. This woman has shown first and foremost that if you don’t follow the rules you can literally put our national security at risk and give our secrets to our enemies. So I thought that was very vulnerable -- or very powerful, excuse me. He wasn’t talking exactly about how we’re going to pay for everything, so I would like a little more policy specifics when it comes to that. But I think this is actually a really strong speech. A lot of us have been asking for him to start showcasing what he’s going to do, and I take a lot of comfort in the fact that he would say he’d listen to the generals in the first 30 days.

  • Journal editorial claimed military met recruitment goals because "troops believe in mission," ignored lower aptitude requirements for new soldiers

    ››› ››› ROB DIETZ

    A Wall Street Journal editorial asserted that the Army's achievement of exceeding its goal of recruiting or retaining 80,000 troops for fiscal 2006 demonstrates that "many troops believe in the mission." But the editorial omitted the fact that the Army exceeded its goal by "recruit[ing] more than 2,600 soldiers under new lower aptitude standards this year," according to an AP report.

  • Schieffer reported Rumsfeld's rejection of Democratic study on military strain, omitted Pentagon-funded study with similar conclusion

    ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

    CBS anchor Bob Schieffer reported that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld rejected a Democratic study that showed that the military has been strained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Schieffer did not note that Rumsfeld also rejected a Pentagon-funded report that came to a similar conclusion.