Black Lives Matter | Media Matters for America

Black Lives Matter

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  • NewsBusters doesn't know who John Legend is, but they are furious at him for defending NFL protests

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative outlet NewsBusters described 10-time Grammy winner John Legend as a “Slate writer” and “Slate progressive” in a piece attacking him as a “protest apologist and historical revisionist.” NewsBusters' attack came after Legend wrote a guest column for Slate in which he called the act of protesting “patriotic” and wrote that “protest has played a critically important role in elevating the voices of the most vulnerable in our nation.”

    Legend’s piece came amid historic protests by National Football League (NFL) players across the country, who knelt and locked arms during the national anthem before games over the weekend to raise awareness about racial inequality in America and as a show of solidarity against Trump’s bellicose rhetoric concerning NFL and NBA players.

    Other right-wing media figures have similarly attacked NFL players and defended Trump in his feud with the football league over its support for players who decided not to stand for the national anthem. One Fox News guest falsely claimed Trump didn’t call NFL player protesters sons of bitches, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham called the protesting players “punks,” and a Fox News contributor said NFL players protesting social injustice “ought to be thanking God” they don’t have to worry about “being shot in the head for taking a knee.”

    This isn't the first time Legend has been attacked by right-wing media for espousing political views. Fox News host Sean Hannity previously criticized the singer’s 2015 Oscar speech, complaining that Legend “decided to make all things political” and claiming he “doesn’t know anything about politics. From the September 24 NewsBusters article:

    NFL protests have given the liberal media a newfound "appreciation" of patriotism and the Constitution. Media covering this movement suffer from selective amnesia about U.S. history, however. Slate's John Legend is a protest apologist and historical revisionist as well who strains credibility.

    In his blog today, Legend argues "The NFL Protests are Patriotic." He writes, "The president of the United States loves to drape himself in the symbols of patriotism, but fails to respect the ideals at the core of our Constitution and national identity. Trump may love the flag, but he doesn’t love anything it’s supposed to stand for."

    [...]

    The Slate progressive asks if there would have been a Civil Rights Act without the Birmingham protests when Bull Connor unleashed dogs and firehoses on Black children.

    Legend skips over the fact that Connor was a Democrat. Would the Act have passed without Republican support? No. Democrats Al Gore Sr. and Robert Byrd were among the 21 Democrats who voted against civil rights, but Legend gives credit for it anyway to President Kennedy and President Johnson.

  • Poll finds Americans “mostly agree” with Black Lives Matter; Conservative outlet misreads, claims the opposite

    Media Research Center corrects error after Media Matters inquiry

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The conservative Media Research Center criticized PBS for purportedly burying its own poll results showing that Americans disapproved of the goals of Black Lives Matter. But the poll actually showed the opposite: “50% of Americans mostly agree with the beliefs of Black Lives Matter” while “33% of Americans disagree.”

    Tim Graham, NewsBusters Executive Editor and Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis, wrote an August 20 post criticizing “Taxpayer-funded PBS” for “liberal bias” in part because it “buried” poll results on a recent NewsHour program finding that when it comes to Black Lives Matter (BLM), “50 percent disapproved, and only 33 percent approved.”

    MRC’s Twitter account also wrote: “PBS, NPR bury their own poll results showing only 33 percent approve of Black Lives Matter.”

    But the poll actually found that 50% of respondents said they “mostly agree” with BLM, while only 33% “mostly disagree.” Here’s the Marist write-up of the poll it conducted with PBS and NPR:

    For most Americans, there is only one side to what unfolded in Charlottesville.  Few residents nationwide agree with the beliefs held by groups attending the “Unite the Right” rally including the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, or white nationalists.  Although the Alt-Right also has few adherents, more Americans are unsure about their feelings toward this group.

    In contrast, Black Lives Matter is viewed very differently than the groups on the right.  50% of Americans mostly agree with the beliefs of Black Lives Matter including a plurality of white residents, 46%.  33% of Americans disagree.

    NBC News political reporter Benjy Sarlin spotted MRC’s error and tweeted the actual results on the morning of August 20.

    Radio host Mark Levin shared the NewsBusters post on social media, writing: “Government funded media bury the facts.”

    Media Matters contacted Graham about the error today after it hadn’t been corrected in over a day. Graham subsequently fixed the post, which now has a “correction added” stating: “The original version of this article had these numbers incorrectly reversed.” NewsBusters tweeted a correction and Graham tweeted: "I made an honest mistake. I own it. I'm sorry it took so long to notice it. Correction is on the page.”

  • After 15-Year-Old Jordan Edwards Was Shot Dead By A Police Officer, Cable News Yawned

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN & MADELINE PELTZ

    Cable news devoted minimal coverage to the killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards by a police officer in the days after his death. At a time when President Donald Trump’s administration is taking steps to drastically reduce measures that hold police accountable, the media’s job as a watchdog is of utter importance. In this case, cable news all but abdicated that role.

    Edwards was shot by Officer Roy Oliver in a Dallas suburb on April 29. He died shortly after. A statement from the Balch Springs Police Department released on April 30 stated that Edwards was in “a vehicle backing down the street towards the Officers in an aggressive manner,” which led an officer to shoot at the vehicle. On May 1, however, police “changed their story on the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting,” according to CNN.com, after body camera footage “showed the car was driving forward, away from the officers, not reversing toward them." On May 2, the Balch Springs police chief announced that the department had fired Oliver.

    A Media Matters analysis found the story has barely broken through on cable news, if at all. In the four days after Edwards’ death, MSNBC has mentioned the fatal police shooting four times, while CNN has mentioned it two times. Fox News, however, did not mention the shooting at all. All of the mentions took place on May 2 and 3, meaning the cable networks did not cover the story until it was reported that the officer had lied about his account of the shooting.

    Media coverage of police brutality and abuses of power is especially important under President Trump. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to “cut back on federal oversight of local law enforcement,” USA Today reported. In the memo, Sessions wrote, “It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.” As The Atlantic wrote, “When local governments violate the basic constitutional rights of citizens, Americans are supposed to be able to look to the federal government to protect those rights. Sessions has made clear that when it comes to police abuses, they’re now on their own.”

    With Sessions reducing federal oversight on local law enforcement, the press is one of the most prominent institutions left to hold police accountable for bad behavior. This new reality is worrisome, to say the least, as media outlets have repeatedly criminalized black and other non-white victims of police violence. Additionally, conservative media have repeatedly portrayed advocates calling for reforms to curb police brutality, including Black Lives Matter, as criminals and terrorists. The lack of coverage cable news devoted to Edwards’ death shows that, so far, media haven’t stepped up to the plate.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News on SnapStream for mentions of “Edward” or “Jordan” between April 30 and May 3 and coded for mentions of Jordan Edwards. Mentions were counted if they took place between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m.

  • Right Side Broadcasting, The "Unofficial Version Of Trump TV," Hires Racist YouTube Prankster "Joey Salads"

    Salads: You’ll Get “Shot” If You “Steal A Niggas Food Stamp”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) has hired YouTube personality Joey Saladino, who produced a hoax video which purported to prove that the “black community is very violent toward” Trump supporters. Saladino, who also uses the moniker “Joey Salads,” has also tweeted racist remarks on his Twitter account, including that you’ll get “shot” if you “steal a niggas food stamp” and “Facebook is for old people and niggers.”

    The Washington Post wrote in October that RSBN “has been the unofficial version of Trump TV since last summer, streaming the Republican nominee's campaign events in all their unedited glory online.” The Post noted that the fledgling outlet had received a “boost of legitimacy … when the billionaire's campaign teamed up with Right Side to produce pre- and post-debate analysis shows that streamed on Trump's Facebook page.”

    Following Trump’s victory, RSBN announced it would be expanding operations by becoming “a 24-hour network very soon” and participating in White House press briefings. Politico Magazine reported on January 14 that Joe Seales, founder and CEO of the network, “messages regularly” with senior Trump officials and that the network “will be at the inauguration and inaugural balls.”

    RSBN has been expanding its operations by hiring new personnel, including former Infowars reporter Joe Biggs, who has tweeted his approval of date rape, sexual violence, and punching women and transgender people. He also threatened to release revenge porn of a “bitch” who allegedly cheated on him. The network also features discredited anti-immigrant filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch.

    RSBN announced in January that it will begin airing The Joey Saladino Show and claimed that “this guy is awesome. You will love this guy.” On his January 6 show for RSBN, Saladino said that Black Lives Matter is “worse than the KKK. They are the new KKK” and "worse than" terror organization ISIS. On the January 13 edition of his RBSN show, he said that Black Lives Matter protests are “started on lies.”

    RSBN CEO Seales told Politico Magazine last week that the company claims to not “stand for” offensive rhetoric against minorities after a staffer suggested that Islam is an inferior religion. But Saladino has made a living off of attacking minorities, especially African-Americans.

    In October 2016, Saladino published a racist video purporting to show that the “black community is very violent toward” Trump and his supporters. The video showed black men destroying a car that was adorned with pro-Trump messages. However, as The Daily Beast noted, the “entire video was staged”:

    After the intro, 30 minutes pass, according to the video. Then, captured by what appears to be hidden-camera footage, a black man with his face blurred walks up to the car. He calls up friends, and within 15 minutes the man is joined by four other black men.

    After opening the doors and trunk of the inexplicably unlocked car, the group spends about 30 seconds attacking the car with a metal pipe and a rock, smashing the car’s windows while ripping off some of the Trump signs attached to the car. Then, as quickly as they arrived, they run away.

    “As you can see from this video, the black community is very violent toward Trump and his supporters,” Salads says earnestly at the end of the video.

    Within hours of its posting to Salads’ more than 1.4 million YouTube subscribers, the video went viral, racking up more than a million views. It was even featured at the top of The Drudge Report.

    Saladino later apologized and said, “I thought I could of got away with it, but I didn’t.” The Daily Beast wrote of his other videos:

    Salads once dressed up as an Islamic terrorist and threatened people with fake bombs in a video uploaded just one day after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. He’s put on a wig and a dress and entered public bathrooms to “dress and act like a transgender,” concluding that “most women are not comfortable sharing a bathroom with a trans person.” He’s filmed nearly a dozen “Funny Public Hood Pranks,” where he attempts to anger black and Latino men on camera by tricking them into thinking he has called them racial slurs. 

    Saladino has repeatedly posted racist commentary on his Twitter account over the years. Here is a sampling of his social media activity:

    UPDATE (1/18): Saladino deleted several of his racist tweets and wrote on his Twitter account, “When they find your bad tweets from 5 years ago, the fact they took all that times shows I must be doing something right.” Screenshots of those deleted tweets can be found here and here.

  • Conservatives Baselessly Blame Attack On Black Lives Matter Movement With “#BLMKidnapping” Hashtag

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Conservatives are baselessly blaming the Black Lives Matter movement after a white man was kidnapped and attacked in Chicago. Four black people were arrested on January 4 after a Facebook Live video surfaced of a young white man with special needs being tied up, assaulted, and threatened. In the video, one of the assailants said, “Fuck Donald Trump, fuck white people.”

    Chicago police have filed hate crime and battery charges against the four suspects.

    Several conservatives and “alt-right” figures blamed the attack on the Black Lives Matter movement and used the social media hashtag #BLMKidnapping in discussions about the event. Yet the video does not reference Black Lives Matter and thus far, no connection between the assailants and Black Lives Matter has been established. CNN reported “police said they have not been able to make any connection to the Black Lives Matter activist group, contrary to some reports circulating on social media.”

    Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large for conspiracy theorist and Donald Trump ally Alex Jones’ website Infowars, was among the first to tie the attack to Black Lives Matter, with a Twitter post instructing others, “#BLMKidnapping is the hashtag to get this story trending.” Watson’s own write-up of the story on Infowars, which he linked to in his tweet, makes no mention of Black Lives Matter or a connection between the attack and the movement.

    Watson later described the victim of the attack as “the BLM torture victim” on Twitter.

    Rape apologist and “alt-right” figure Mike Cernovich wrote, “#BlackLivesMatter activists in custody after filming kidnapping video,” then used Watson’s hashtag to write, “#BLMKidnapping suspects are in custody.” He also described one of the suspects as a “#BLMKidnapping ring leader.” On his blog, Cernovich made the same assertion, without evidence to back it up.

    Lee Stranahan, a Breitbart contributor, questioned Cernovich’s assertions, particularly his claim that the attackers were Black Lives Matters supporters. Stranahan also pointed out that mainstream media reports on the attack had not mentioned Cernovich’s claims.

    In contrast to Stranahan, fellow Breitbart contributor Katie McHugh referenced “the victim of the Chicago #BLMkidnapping.”

    Fake news promoter and “alt-right” figure Jack Posobiec recorded a Periscope video about the attack with the #BLMKidnapping hashtag and claimed that the attackers were “members of Black Lives Matter in Chicago.”

    Trump supporter Bill Mitchell described the attack as a “#BLM atrocity” that “proves that given enough time, evil always shows its true nature.”

    Michael Flynn Jr., son of incoming Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, also labeled the event with the #BLMKidnapping in several tweets. Flynn was removed from the presidential transition team after it was reported that he helped to spread several fake news stories and conspiracy theories.

    Gavin McInnes, who has a history of making racist commentary, also used the hashtag.

    Conservative Steven Crowder wrote, “#BLMKidnapping and the media's reaction is proof positive that the left doesn't care about racism.”

    Conservatives have frequently, without evidence, blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for violence. Radio host Rush Limbaugh called them “a terrorist group committing hate crimes,” while frequent Fox News guest David Clarke called them a “subversive movement” attempting to “overthrow” the government. Fox host Sean Hannity compared Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan, Bill O’Reilly compared them to Nazis, and a Fox News graphic described it as a “murder movement.”

  • David Clarke, Sheriff Who Appears On Fox News To Attack Minorities, Under Consideration By Trump For DHS Head

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & CYDNEY HARGIS

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering right-wing talk radio host and Fox News favorite Sheriff David Clarke for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Not only is Clarke’s record as Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin questionable, he has repeatedly appeared on Fox News to spout racially-charged rhetoric, including comparing Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance to the Ku Klux Klan and calling Black Lives Matter a “subversive movement.”

  • The Bigotry Of Howie Carr, Donald Trump’s Friend And Town Hall Host

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Boston area right-wing talk radio host and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr -- one of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters in media -- will moderate a town hall event in New Hampshire with Trump. Carr has extensively used his media platforms to promote Trump’s campaign and frequently deploys discriminatory rhetoric against racial and religious minorities as well as women to support Trump’s divisive campaign.

  • On Fox, Trump Surrogate Pushes Conspiracy That Abortion Clinics Are “Strategically” Placed To Target Black Communities

    Pastor Mark Burns: “You Cannot Declare ‘Black Lives Matter’ When Black Baby Lives Don’t Matter”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    During an August 22 Fox News discussion about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s supposed appeal to African American voters, Trump campaign surrogate and radio host Pastor Mark Burns suggested abortion providers were targeting black communities.

    According to Burns, “abortion clinics” are “positioned strategically within urban communities” resulting in the abortion of “14 to 15 million black babies.” Burns additionally claimed that “you cannot declare ‘Black lives matter’ when black baby lives don’t matter” -- hijacking language used by racial justice advocates.

    Burns’ comments echo the well-known anti-choice conspiracy theory that abortion providers like Planned Parenthood have racist motivations. The allegation that Planned Parenthood clinics are strategically or primarily located in black or Latino neighborhoods has been previously debunked by the Guttmacher Institute which found that “6 in 10 abortion providers are located in majority-white neighborhoods.” In addition to pushing this myth, right wing media have also frequently co-opted the language of the Black Lives Matter movement to suggest that restricting abortion access improves black lives -- ignoring how women of color suffer when health care providers like Planned Parenthood are forced out of communities.

    From the August 22 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

     

    MARTHA MACCALLUM (HOST): What he is saying Marjorie that Democrats claimed to want to help the African-American community and they haven't. And then they come back at vote time and say, hey you better stick with us, we're only people who care about you. And Donald Trump is saying you know what? Listen to what both sides are saying maybe you might want to consider opening your mind up to voting in different way, because if you keep trying same thing time and time thing, it’s not working for you, maybe you ought to consider a different tact.

    […]

    MARK BURNS: Well let me just say this. The fact of the matter is, and I’m just I piggyback on what you're saying, American Americans have been voting and supporting the Democratic party for over 50 years and what do we have to show for it? What we have to show for it right now is the net worth of African American family is less than $5,000. Unemployment is even at a high. Food stamps and welfare benefits are at an all-time high. The net worth of a white family in American is $93,000 to $116,000. So there’s obviously a huge gap. What do we as African Americans have to show for? We got mass incarnations by the Democratic party. We have abortion clinics that are positioned strategically within urban communities in this country where we make up as African Americans 14 percent of the population but over 40 percent of the abortions are done by black women. So you cannot declare "Black lives matter" when black baby lives don't matter. That's over 14 to 15 million black babies that have been killed. So to sit here and to say oh let's continue to do the same thing but yet expecting different results, one writer said that is insanity. And it is insane for African Americans to consistently, continually to be backing a party who is not really even working for your vote, by the way, they’re not even working for our vote. They’re only declaring we own you, we provide for you, we own you. It’s an economic enslavement that is locking up African Americans around this country because they cannot grow and become dependent, they are being enslaved by the system.