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  • As news of Texas school shooting broke, Fox called for armed guards. After finding out there was an armed guard, Fox called for arming teachers.

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    On May 18, a school shooting left at least eight dead and others injured in Santa Fe, TX.

    As the news broke, Fox News hosted a guest, introduced as a former member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, who insisted that “the time has come to put armed police officers in schools.”

    Just minutes later, Fox confirmed that there was in fact an armed security guard in the school, leading guest Buck Sexton, a Fox regular, to argue that armed security isn’t enough -- there should be more guns.

    JULIE BANDERAS (CO-ANCHOR): It’s interesting that you point out that they did have an armed guard, somebody who was supposed to be watching over these kids. This person cannot be in every classroom at every minute of the day. So even if you have one person there who is armed and ready to defend these defenseless kids, I'm told there are over 1,400 kids in this high school. One person with a gun can't possibly defend that many kids.

    BUCK SEXTON: Well, this is where I think the conversation about people on campus who are trained personnel, adults who have concealed carry permits, also comes into play.

    BANDERAS: Are you referring to teachers?

    SEXTON: Yes. Teachers, anyone -- it could be teachers, could be maintenance personnel, could be athletic coaches, anyone who has the proper training and skill set.

  • Trump to keynote anti-abortion group's gala after it promoted his DC hotel

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    In anticipation of its annual gala, the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) has been promoting official room blocks for the event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and running a contest in which the prize includes a free stay at the property during the gala. On May 14, during the White House press briefing, deputy press secretary Raj Shah then announced that President Donald Trump would be delivering the keynote address at the gala.

    Since Trump’s election, many experts have warned about the potential for the president to benefit from expenditures made at Trump Organization properties. As part of an ongoing analysis of how political groups leverage use of the Trump hotel in D.C. to gain influence with the administration, The Washington Post noted that since Trump’s election, the property has “turned into a Republican power center where foreign governments, political groups, religious organizations and business interests have held dozens of events.” In March, CNN reported that in February alone, Federal Election Commission documents indicated that “the RNC spent more than $271,000 on venue rental and catering at Trump properties in Florida and Washington, DC," noting that "more than half of that" was spent at the Trump International Hotel. Politico similarly explained, “Because Trump has maintained his financial interest in his vast business while president — and, unlike previous presidents, filed for reelection soon after taking office — the relationship between pro-Trump political groups and the Trump businesses has no precedent.”

    SBA List is one group cashing in on its ties to President Trump. On May 22, the group will host its annual “Campaign for Life” gala, with Trump as the keynote speaker. Before Trump’s appearance was announced, SBA List promoted on its website a discounted room rate ($399 per night) at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. for those attending the gala. However, after the White House announced Trump as the speaker, SBA List’s website stopped listing the hotel among its accommodation options. It’s unclear exactly when the change was made, but according a Google cached version of the webpage, SBA List took down the page listing the hotel and discounted rate as early as the night before the announcement.

    In addition, before and after the announcement of Trump as keynote speaker, SBA List promoted a contest in which its members could win a trip to the gala and a stay at the Trump International Hotel.

    SBA List enjoys close ties to the president and his administration. Last year, Vice President Mike Pence delivered the gala’s keynote address, while this year “longtime friend” of the organization Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, will be awarded “SBA List’s 2018 Distinguished Leader Award.” Previously, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser was appointed to lead Trump’s “Pro-Life Coalition.”

  • Violence against women is a guns issue, but not the way the NRA wants you to believe

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    After multiple reports of physical abuse came out against former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the National Rifle Association’s media arm, NRATV, used the reports to falsely claim the solution to violence against women is more  gun ownership. In reality, the presence of firearms in households where there is domestic violence drastically increases the likelihood that women who live there will be killed or injured.

    A May 7 New Yorker article reported that four women say Schneiderman committed “nonconsensual physical violence” against them. According to the article, he “repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent,” as well as choked them. Just hours after the story broke, Schneiderman announced his resignation.

    NRATV wasted no time using Schneiderman’s reported abuse of women as a pretext to slam gun regulation and push for female gun ownership as a means of defense against sexual assault and domestic violence. During the May 8 edition of her NRATV show Relentless, NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch claimed that Schneiderman’s views on gun regulation were motivated by his abusive behavior, saying, “Let’s not forget that Schneiderman just hates lawful gun ownership. Hearing these stories about him it’s no wonder why. The last thing human filth like this would want is for a woman to be in a position to defend herself.”

    The next day on NRATV’s news show Stinchfield, Loesch said that it was “fitting that Eric Schneiderman is also anti-gun because predators such as men like him, they don’t like for their victims to be armed” and claimed that abusers are usually “far-left individuals who want women to remain victims and are absolutely aghast when women speak about their right to defend themselves”:  

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): I am tired of using the word hypocrisy over and over again for just about everything the left does, but once again here we are. I don’t know how else to describe it.

    DANA LOESCH: Well, it seems fitting that Eric Schneiderman is also anti-gun because predators such as men like him, they don’t like for their victims to be armed.

    [...]

    People like Eric Schneiderman and Harvey Weinsteins of the world -- he apparently was the Harvey Weinstein of New York politics -- these individuals, more often than not, they are far-left individuals who want women to remain victims and are absolutely aghast when women speak about their right to defend themselves or do anything else that would be in anyway considered self-empowerment. So I’m not surprised. I think hypocrites should feel the double force of the law, personally.     

    In actuality, there is a mountain of evidence that the presence of a firearm makes domestic violence situations more dangerous. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.” One study found that among women living in the United States, “about 4.5 million have had an intimate partner threaten them with a gun and nearly 1 million have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner.” Another study that interviewed women at women’s shelters found that 71 percent of women who reported living in a household with a firearm had been attacked or threatened with a gun, but only 7 percent had successfully used a gun in self-defense. In fact, a September 2013 Violence Policy Center study titled "When Men Murder Women" found that women were more than three times more likely to be murdered when there was a gun in their household.  

    According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner.” On average, three or more women are murdered by their husbands and boyfriends every day. And one in four women have been the victim of severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime -- that's roughly 40 million women. The issue also disproportionately impacts women of color.   

    While the NRA continues to dangerously advocate for greater firearm ownership as a solution to violence against women, it has also historically fought efforts to strengthen laws to keep domestic abusers from accessing guns. The group also spent more than $30 million in support of President Donald Trump’s campaign and stood by him when a tape emerged of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. The organization used its NRATV platform to shill for Trump while accusations of sexual misconduct mounted against him, including pushing the claim that such reports were getting too much attention in the press.

  • NRA President-elect Oliver North smears Parkland survivors as criminals

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Incoming National Rifle Association President Oliver North, a former Fox News contributor and a national security aide in the Reagan administration, claimed that survivors of the February school shooting in Parkland, FL, are engaged in “intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking” in their advocacy for stronger gun laws.

    North, who was chosen president of the NRA by the group’s board of directors earlier this week, made the comments in an interview with The Washington Times.

    North commented on activism by survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, saying they were involved in harassment, intimidation, and illegal activities. He did not provide any evidence for his claim. From the Times:

    He said the young survivor-activists who have emerged as representatives for gun restrictions — and as fierce opponents of the NRA — are getting swept up by a broader propaganda machine.

    “What they did very successfully with a frontal assault, and now intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking, is they confused the American people,” he said. “Our job is to get the straight story out about what happened there, and to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again because the proper things are being done with the advocacy of the NRA.”

    Unlike the Parkland activists, North does know something about criminal activity. While serving in the Reagan administration, he was a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved the U.S. secretly selling arms to Iran, and was convicted of three felonies for his role in it. North’s convictions were later vacated, although in 1994, a judge revoked his permit to carry a concealed gun in public, citing North’s “conviction for crimes involving moral turpitude.”

    North also said that the NRA was receiving threats and that a “cyberwar” was being carried out against the organization, and he compared the NRA to victims of the Jim Crow era:

    Mr. North said the NRA is now the victim of “civil terrorism” after vandals splashed fake blood on the Virginia home of a top NRA official and other opponents aimed personal “threats” at NRA leaders and members.

    “They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” he said.

    “You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things — even there you didn’t have this kind of thing,” he said. “We didn’t have the cyberwar kind of thing that we’ve got today.”

  • Facebook agrees to a much-needed civil rights audit in the worst possible way

    Blog ››› ››› MELISSA RYAN

    After months of advocacy from civil rights groups, this morning Facebook announced that it will conduct a civil Rights audit of its platform. Via Axios:

    The civil rights audit will be guided by Laura Murphy, a national civil liberties and civil rights leader. Murphy will take feedback from civil rights groups, like The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and advise Facebook on the best path forward.

    Calls for a civil rights audit, led by Muslim Advocates and Color of Change, along with the Center for Media Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, have been ongoing. As the Color of Change petition notes, “Through their data malpractice, opaque interactions with law enforcement, erasure of Black activist voices, and inability and unwillingness to tackle the rise of white supremacist organizing and hate speech on the platform, Facebook's failures have put our communities at risk.”

    The civil rights audit is a win. After months of pressure, Facebook has agreed to examine how its platform has been weaponized to spread hate and harm underrepresented communities and people of color. If Facebook takes the audit seriously and implements its recommendations, the platform could change for the better, making Facebook a safer space and a creating better overall user experience for all communities.

    But alongside this welcome announcement from Facebook came a not-so-welcome one. Also from Axios:

    To address allegations of bias, Facebook is bringing in two outside advisors — one to conduct a legal audit of its impact on underrepresented communities and communities of color, and another to advise the company on potential bias against conservative voices.

    ...

    The conservative bias advising partnership will be led by former Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, along with his team at Covington and Burling, a Washington law firm.

    The civil rights audit isn’t partisan. Hate speech, safety, and privacy aren’t political issues, but moral issues. Yet by announcing the audit at the same time as a “conservative bias advisory partnership” (presumably to address a claim that has already been debunked), Facebook is conflating the two. It suggests that the audit is meant to address criticism from the political left, not the problems underrepresented communities face on the platform every single day.

    Muslim Advocates addresses this concern in its response:

    We are concerned, however, about the pairing of this announcement with another that Facebook will be bringing on advisors responsible for determining bias against conservatives. We strongly reject the message this sends regarding the moral equivalency of hate group activities and conservative viewpoints. Despite this concern, we hope this first step is a sign that Facebook will begin to take responsibility for the hate and bigotry that has flourished on its platform.

    Safety online isn’t partisan. Facebook’s users should have the expectation that their civil rights won’t be violated while using the platform. Pairing the civil rights audit with a partisan panel on supposed conservative bias on the platform suggests that Facebook doesn’t take civil rights seriously, instead viewing it as a partisan complaint that must be appeased.

    This is not acceptable. Facebook must fully commit to ensuring its users are safe online and that their rights aren’t violated. Today’s announcement was a big misstep. It creates the impression that Facebook sees the audit as a political issue and not a moral one. The ball is in Facebook’s court to correct this.