Justice & Civil Liberties

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  • This Reporter Couldn't Be More Wrong About Anti-Trump Activism

    Fact Check: A Historic Number of Activists Have Taken To The Streets To Protest The Trump Regime

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    New York Times White House correspondent Michael Shear claimed during the May 5 edition of CNN’s Inside Politics that there hasn’t been “the [same] kind of intense activism on the Democratic side” against President Donald Trump and his administration as there was “instantly in the Tea Party revolt” against former President Barack Obama.

    Shear must not have been paying attention, because he couldn’t be more wrong about the scope of activism against Trump. Here are some numbers for Mr. Shear:

    • On Trump’s first day in office, an estimated 3.2 to 5.2 million people marched in the Women’s March across the United States and even more people marched around the world. There was even a march in Antarctica.

    • Estimates vary on attendance for marches and demonstrations opposing Trump’s proposed Muslim ban. But some estimates put 8,000 people at the U.S. Capitol and 10,000 people at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in New York. Others outlets estimated that 7,000 people protested at Los Angeles International Airport, and an activist leader told NBC that 12,000 signed up for the protest at Battery Park in New York.

    • An estimated 125,000 marched on April 15, the weekend before Tax Day, to demand that Trump release his tax returns. Shear’s New York Times even had a correspondent embedded with the Tax March in New York.

    • On April 22, Earth Day, at least 10,000 people took part in the March for Science in Washington, D.C., along with thousands more in New York and at hundreds of sister marches around the world.

    • On Trump’s 100th day in office, roughly 200,000 people took part in the People’s Climate March in Washington to demand action against global climate change.

    • By contrast, the largest protest during Obama’s first few months was the Tea Party protest on Tax Day 2009. A nonpartisan analysis showed that it drew 300,000 total attendees across the country despite heavy promotion and participation by Fox News and major conservative donor groups.

    This is a time of historic protests and activism against the bigoted and hateful policies of President Donald Trump. Activists have been central to the evolution of American democracy and have fought for policies that are more inclusive and that better their communities. Shear’s dismissal of the efforts of millions of Americans is line with the outdated tradition of mainstream news outlets speculating about and judging protests from a studio, rather than reporting real information from the scene or interviewing activists and protestors.

    Media should do better.

  • Orlando Sentinel Highlights Trump, Rubio Headlining Rally With “Anti-LGBT Extremist” Groups

    Blog ››› ››› ABBY BLACHMAN & MARLEE PITTMAN

    The Orlando Sentinel highlighted the “anti-LGBT extremist[s]” speaking with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at a two day event in Orlando, FL, this week. The Sentinel elevated the voices of LGBT rights advocates protesting the event, which comes just two-months after a gunman killed 49 people at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando.

    The “Rediscovering God in America Renew Project” event is being held on August 11-12 and coincides with the two-month anniversary of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. Trump and Rubio are headlining the event alongside several anti-LGBT speakers, including a pseudo historian who claims that God is preventing scientists from finding a cure for HIV/AIDS as a “consequence” of “homosexual behavior.” The anti-LGBT rally is financed by the American Family Association and promoted by the Liberty Counsel -- both designated as anti-LGBT hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

    While many Florida outlets initially failed to report on the event’s ties to anti-LGBT speakers and the rally’s insensitive timing, Florida newspapers have recently called out the event’s extremism. In an August 11 report, the Orlando Sentinel spotlighted the anti-LGBT activists speaking at the event and included perspectives from LGBT advocates and family members of victims of the tragedy in Orlando. Celia Ruiz, who lost her brother at the Pulse massacre, called the event a “slap in the face to me, to my family, to the 49 other families, to the 53 survivors, to all of the people that were there [and] to the Orlando community.” The Sentinel added that event speaker Mat Staver is the founder of an SPLC-designated “anti-LGBT extremist group.”

    From the August 11 edition of the Orlando Sentinel:

    Faith leaders and gay rights activists led a protest Thursday morning, denouncing a gathering of evangelical pastors in Orlando where U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump are expected to speak.

    "This conference and all of its speakers are fueling the fires of homegrown bigotry," said Carlos Guillermo Smith, of Equality Florida. "It's a bigotry that dehumanizes LGBT people and paves the way for discrimination and violence."

    The two-day event, entitled "Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project," began Thursday at the Hyatt Regency on International Drive, sponsored by the Florida Renewal Project.

    Among those announced to speak at the conference was Mat Staver, founder of Maitland-based Liberty Counsel, which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers an anti-LGBT extremist group, though Liberty Counsel denies that label.

    [...]

    After Rubio was announced as the conference's featured speaker, Florida Democrats called for him to apologize to the gay community in a statement describing the event as "an anti-LGBT rally." Rubio responded that it was "nothing of the sort."

    "The event I will be speaking at in Orlando is a gathering of local pastors and faith leaders," he said in a statement.

    However, local gay-rights activists were not convinced.

    They were joined Thursday by Celia Ruiz, whose brother Juan Ramon Guerrero was among those killed at Pulse. Rubio and Trump, she said, are "attending this conference that promotes hate and intolerance to the LGBT people."

    "This is a slap in the face to me, to my family, to the 49 other families, to the 53 survivors, to all of the people that were there [and] to the Orlando community," she said.

    Said Smith: "Our message to Donald Trump and Marco Rubio is simple: If you care about the LGBT community, help us disarm hate and uproot bigotry with action, or you're going to have a hell of a wake-up call come November."

  • Amid Ailes Scandal, Trump Tells Fox Contributor Women Harassed At Work Should Find “Another Career Or … Company”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a USA Today opinion piece, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told Fox’s Kirsten Powers that women should “‘find another career’” if they are sexually harassed by their employer, referring to former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s allegations against ousted Fox CEO, and current 21st Century Fox consultant, Roger Ailes.    

    Trump previously defended Ailes during a Meet the Press interview, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd that Ailes has helped the women who are “complaining,” and noting that the women have said “wonderful things about [Ailes].” Trump went on to say the situation is “very sad … I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person.” Trump also has consulted with Ailes throughout the campaign, including the week that he announced his departure from Fox News. When asked if he would consider bringing Ailes on the campaign in an official capacity, Trump said he would consider it, and called Ailes “a very capable guy.”

    In a phone interview with Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, Trump doubled down on his defense of Ailes, suggesting Carlson wouldn’t have said “fabulous things” about her former boss if she was had been harassed. Powers asked Trump what his daughter Ivanka would do if she was in Carlson’s position. Trump responded that he would “‘like to think she would find another career or … company if that were the case.” From the August 1 opinion:   

    Donald Trump thinks it’s “very sad” that women at Fox News are “complaining” about being sexually harassed by former Fox chief Roger Ailes.

    As allegations against his old friend piled up, Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd on July 24 that, “Some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he's helped them…And when they write books….and say wonderful things about him….[N]ow, all of a sudden, they're saying these horrible things about him.”

    Without passing judgment about the specific allegations, which are currently under investigation by 21st Century Fox, one should be able to accept that a woman could both have been promoted by a boss and harassed by him. Women are often forced to maintain good relations with men who abuse them precisely because those men have power.

    When I mentioned this to Trump in a phone interview last Tuesday, he doubled down on his retrograde take. “There was quite a bit of fabulous things said [about Ailes by Gretchen Carlson],” he told me. “It would be easier for me and more politically correct for me to say you are right.  But you would think she wouldn’t say those things.”

    I pointed out that it wasn’t just Carlson who had made allegations. “I didn’t know it was more than just her,” Trump told me, even though his comments to Chuck Todd referred to women, plural.

    What if someone had treated Ivanka in the way Ailes allegedly behaved?

    His reply was startling, even by Trumpian standards. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” he said.

    But most women don’t have the financial resources of Ivanka. They can’t afford to quit their job without another in hand, something that is impossible to do when you are under contract and forbidden to speak to competitors. Most importantly, why should a woman be expected to upend her career just because she ended up in the crosshairs of some harasser?

    Trump’s defense of Ailes and criticism of the alleged victims comes as the media blackout of Trump’s own alleged sexual assault continues. Trump denied the allegations by pointing to an article that had appeared in The National Enquirer.

  • Meet Harry Houck, CNN’s Resident Race-Baiter And Police Brutality Apologist

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    CNN contributor Harry Houck -- who recently claimed that black people are prone to criminality -- has a long history of extreme race-baiting on the network, frequently blaming victims of police brutality and describing Black Lives Matter as a “thug group.”

    During the July 11 edition of CNN’s New Day, Houck -- a retired NYPD detective who works as a “law enforcement analyst” for CNN -- responded to concerns about the over-policing of black communities by suggesting that African-Americans commit crimes at higher rates than whites. When guest Marc Lamont Hill pointed out that Houck was suggesting black people are “prone to criminality,” Houck responded, “Well, they are!”:

    CNN frequently hosts Houck in the wake of high profile stories of police brutality and anti-black violence. He is a reliable race-baiter and police apologist, regularly blaming black people for police mistreatment.

    He has repeatedly suggested that minorities, and specifically black people, commit more crime than white people, and that the solution to the problem of police brutality is for black people to “stop committing crimes.” He’s denied that African-Americans receive different treatment from whites in the criminal justice system, and claimed that any police officer who acts inappropriately is punished for it.

    He’s also blamed Al Sharpton for starting riots in Ferguson and called Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance “racist.”

    Houck consistently finds ways to blame black victims of violence, especially at the hands of police officers. According to Houck:

    • Sandra Bland was arrested because she was “very arrogant” and “uncooperative.”
    • A South Carolina student who was body slammed by a police officer in her classroom “had no respect for the school… probably has no respect at home or on the street.”
    • The police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice acted “properly.”
    • Trayvon Martin was killed because he had a “street attitude.”

    Houck’s Twitter presence makes his race-baiting on TV look subtle by comparison. He regularly tweets about the threat posed by “black thugs,” refers to Black Lives Matter as a “thug group,” and decries what he calls “black thug privilage” (sic).

    He’s called “Black on Black murders the real problem,” tweeted a link to a white supremacist website, and claimed that the goal of the Black Lives Matter movement is to “turn criminals into victims and cops into criminals.”

    Houck also peddles bizarre conspiracy theories. In one tweet, Houck claimed that Saul Alinsky has recruited Hillary Clinton to help promote “racism in every aspect of society” -- including releasing violent criminals from prison -- in order to make minorities dependent on Democrats, “the real slave masters.”

    In another, Houck claimed that Democrats “want all the refugees” because they want to “put them on welfare” so that they will “vote for liberals.”

    Houck’s inflammatory rhetoric isn’t limited to the black community. He’s called anti-Trump protesters “terrorists” and “the biggest danger we now face in this country.” He’s argued for wrapping the “remains of terrorists in pork fat so they go to hell!” And in October, he posted an image from a right-wing website that read “THIS IS AMERICA… WE SPEAK ENGLISH… IF YOU DONT LIKE IT TOUGH SHIT.”

    In July, 2015, the group ColorOfChange launched a petition asking CNN to “Drop Harry Houck,” writing:

    Harry Houck has a long record of victim blaming young Black people like Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and now this young Black girl at Spring Valley High School, all while blindly supporting their assailants. It is well passed time CNN dropped Harry Houck from their broadcasts and replace Harry Houck with someone capable of discussing the state of racism and prejudiced policing.

    Despite his rhetoric, CNN continues to pay Houck as an expert, bringing his race-baiting to a national audience any time a story of over-policing or police brutality makes headlines.

    Marlee Pittman contributed research to this post. Image by Sarah Wasko.