Right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham baselessly suggested that Muslims aren't condemning the violent tactics employed by the extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), though in reality many prominent Muslim voices have strongly denounced the group.
Recent news reports have documented shocking acts of terror that have made ISIS the "most feared organization in the Middle East." The group has warned Christians that they must either "convert to Islam or die," and according to Secretary of State John Kerry, its "grotesque and targeted acts of violence bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide."
During an August 11 conversation about ISIS' threats against Iraqi Christians with the National Review's Nina Shea, Laura Ingraham claimed that few, if any, Muslims have spoken out against the group:
INGRAHAM: And it would be nice if more in the Muslim world coming out and condemning what the Islamic State is doing. You're not hearing enough of those voices, if any. I mean, where are those people?
But in reality, many Islamic leaders have strongly denounced ISIS, and thousands more Muslims have gathered to promote messages of peace.
Iyad Ameen Madani, the Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation which represents 1.4 billion Muslims in 57 countries around the world, condemned ISIS' threats against Christians in Iraq, saying the "forced deportation under the threat of execution" is a "crime that cannot be tolerated." In an interview with Reuters, Turkey's highest ranking cleric, Mehmet Gormez, similarly decried ISIS' threats against Christians and argued that the statements were damaging to the Muslim community: "Islamic scholars need to focus on this (because) an inability to peacefully sustain other faiths and cultures heralds the collapse of a civilization."
In a July 7 statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called ISIS' actions "un-Islamic and morally repugnant." CAIR noted that the group's "human rights abuses on the ground are well-documented" and called on other Muslim community leaders to speak out against the violence. The Muslim Council of Great Britain's Shuja Shafi also said: "Violence has no place in religion, violence has no religion. It is prohibited for people to present themselves for destruction."
A day after politicizing the current West African Ebola crisis in order to stoke baseless fears that immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border could spread the disease to Americans, radio host Laura Ingraham flipped to criticizing the media for taking advantage of the crisis by whipping up "hysteria" about the crisis without consulting experts to put the situation in context.
Two American health workers who were infected with the Ebola virus while fighting the ongoing epidemic in West Africa recently returned to the U.S. for treatment. Radio host Laura Ingraham took advantage of the news to ratchet up her efforts to smear Central American immigrants and push back against immigration reform. On the August 4 edition of her radio show, Ingraham cautioned her viewers about the supposed health risks of having "a border that's so much like Swiss cheese that anyone could be coming across the border right now," and warned: "We could have Ebola people coming across the border right now." Ingraham concluded, "If you're going to be upset about Ebola, you'd better be upset about the border."
These comments stand in stark contrast to Ingraham's August 5 coverage of the Ebola outbreak. Ingraham bemoaned the fact that media outlets are whipping up "hysteria" with extensive ebola coverage and attacked the media for stoking baseless fears about the potential spread of the virus while neglecting to talk "to medical experts about what the truth is about infectious diseases, the spread of this, what measures we take and what measures aren't taken in Africa to deal with this."
But Ingraham's own coverage conspicuously avoided the facts she called for. The suggestion that, in Ingraham's words, "Ebola people" could be "coming across the border right now" has already gotten a "pants on fire" rating from Politifact, which actually contacted experts on the issue. As Politifact noted, the CDC reports that "There is no Ebola in the Western Hemisphere," and it is "extremely unlikely" that a migrant entering the U.S. across the Mexican border could be infected. Experts also noted that even if the illness spread to central America, an infected person would unlikely to survive the journey across the border:
Experts we asked issued a resounding "No."
First, we checked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose job includes tracking outbreaks of serious infectious diseases. Spokesman Daniel J. DeNoon confirmed that the CDC has received no reports of a human Ebola infection anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, much less the U.S.-Mexico border. "Ebola cases in humans have never been reported outside of Africa," DeNoon said.
William Schaffner, an infectious-disease specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, agreed. "The congressman is misinformed," he said. "There is no Ebola in the Western Hemisphere."
We also checked whether it was plausible for a child or adult entering the United States from Central America via Mexico to be infected with the Ebola virus. CDC scientists call it "extremely unlikely," DeNoon said.
Independent experts agreed. "It's very, very, highly unlikely if you are talking about someone from Central America who has not traveled to Africa," Thomas W. Geisbert, a microbiologist and immunologist specializing in Ebola at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
However, the profile of the jet-flying Ebola carrier doesn't mesh with the types of peoples now flocking to the U.S. border.
"The incubation period is two to 21 days, so theoretically, an African could fly from an infected area, land in a Mexican airport, take a bus toward the border, hire a coyote to take him across and then 'present' with Ebola," said Thomas Fekete, section chief for infectious diseases at the Temple University School of Medicine. "But this presupposes a suicidal person who also has the resources for this kind of travel."
Indeed, the prior, scattered examples of exotic and deadly diseases reaching the United States suggest that "the likelihood of an illegal migrant getting infected and introducing the disease to the U.S. is probably less than that of a 'legal' traveler," said Daniel G. Bausch, head of the virology and emerging infections department at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No.6 in Lima, Peru.
Another problem: If you had such an infection, the chances are good that you would die on the journey to the United States, said Arthur Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center. "You would be too sick to make it to the border by foot," he said.
Ingraham has a history of stoking fears of communicable disease in order to push her anti-immigration agenda.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is under pressure to apologize for his inflammatory comments on "ghetto neighborhoods" and black culture. These recent comments follow a long history of O'Reilly, the self-styled culture warrior, using his platform at Fox to lecture the black community and hearken back to a time when society functioned more smoothly because white culture was unified. O'Reilly portrays himself as the moral and intellectual authority on how to solve the problems he says plague black communities and black culture, decrying "race hustlers" and prescribing harmful "solutions" to issues like the mass incarceration of black men.
Here's a look at how O'Reilly talks about the black community's "culture":
Fox News is recycling old news about a 1998 plan to kill Osama bin Laden, calling recently released audio of Clinton discussing decisions not to pursue the plan as "disturbing" and "sickening." In reality, the 9-11 Commission detailed this very plan in its report years ago, reporting that top military and intelligence officials worried it would have resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and would not have succeeded in killing bin Laden.
Fox News compared openly gay NFL player Michael Sam to convicted dog fighter Michael Vick, suggesting that Sam's sexual orientation would be equally as distracting as Vick's criminal conviction.
On July 21, NBC sports analyst Tony Dungy and former NFL coach said that if he were still coaching, he wouldn't have drafted Sam because the media attention on Sam's sexual orientation would "be a distraction" to the team.
Fox & Friends defended Dungy's comments on July 23, comparing the attention given to Sam's sexual orientation to the coverage of former NFL player Michael Vick, who was convicted of participating in an illegal dog fighting ring in 2007:
DOOCY: On the Twitterverse, they're saying he's a hyprocite. When you look, for instance, at Michael Vick. He completely rehabbed himself, right, via Tony Dungy.
HASSELBECK: You know, 32 teams had seven chances to say yes or no to Michael Sam, right? And all but one time in those seven rounds of the draft, teams said no. They said exactly the same thing that Tony Dungy said when asked by Tampa Bay.
KILMEADE: And Michael Sam said I'm a fan of Tony Dungy and I'm glad the Rams don't feel like he did. But Steve, to your point, Michael Vick coming out of prison, he was a distraction in the locker room because that's a major story every time you walk in.
DOOCY: Absolutely. [emphasis added]
Politico's Roger Simon distorted President Obama's record to claim that his request for emergency funding to deal with the recent flood of unaccompanied minors crossing the border was tantamount to waking "from a deep slumber ... to fight a problem he has ignored for years." In reality, Obama has supported legislation in the past that addressed many of the underlying issues but the legislation has been blocked by the GOP.
Less than a minute after noting that the Obama administration requested increased funding for border security, Fox & Friends attacked the Obama administration for failing to request funding for border security.
In a July 9 report, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy described President Obama's request to Congress for $3.7 billion in supplemental funding to deal with the recent increase in border crossings by unaccompanied minors from Central America. As Doocy noted, the request explicitly included $433 million for border protection and "$1.1 billion for homeland security to step up enforcement and to deter border crossings." An on-air graphic underlined the point.
These facts disappeared from Fox's coverage less than a minute later. Co-host Steve Doocy responded to the report by criticizing the White House for allegedly failing to request funds to boost border protection:
DOOCY: Where's the money to stop people from coming in? That's the problem. We need a secure border. You know -- one side says we need it. The other side said 'oh, we have it.' But you've got eight-year-olds just walking across. We need a secure border.
A White House fact sheet outlined how Obama's funding request would be allocated to boost security at the border:
The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - $1.1 billion
This proposal would provide the Department of Homeland Security a total of $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Of this total:
$116 million would pay for transportation costs associated with the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children;
$109 million would provide for immigration and customs enforcement efforts, including expanding the Border Enforcement Security Task Force program, doubling the size of vetted units in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and expanding investigatory activities by ICE Homeland Security Investigations; and
$879 million would pay for detention and removal of apprehended undocumented adults traveling with children, expansion of alternatives to detention programs for these individuals, and additional prosecution capacity for adults with children who cross the border unlawfully.
The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection - $433 million
This proposal would provide the Department of Homeland Security a total of $433 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Of this total:
$364 million would pay for operational costs of responding to the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children and families, including overtime and temporary duty costs for Border Patrol agents, contract services and facility costs to care for children while in CBP custody, and medical and transportation service arrangements;
$29 million for CBP to expand its role in Border Enforcement Security Task Force programs, increasing information-sharing and collaboration among the participating law enforcement agencies combatting transnational crime; and
$39.4 million to increase air surveillance capabilities that would support 16,526 additional flight hours for border surveillance and 16 additional crews for unmanned aerial systems to improve detection and interdiction of illegal activity.
Fox News helped Republican Gov. Scott Walker (WI) rehabilitate his image following newly released details on a criminal investigation into potential coordination between Walker's recall campaign and outside spending groups, dismissing allegations of wrongdoing as merely attempts "to trash him."
Documents unsealed on June 19 offered details on an extensive investigation into whether the Walker campaign was involved in a "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate campaign activities with outside spending groups during his 2011 and 2012 recall elections.
Walker took to Fox & Friends the following day for a softball interview to respond to the allegations.
Walker repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, emphasizing that the investigation was halted by a federal judge. Co-host Steve Doocy agreed, speculating "These are documents that, for a case that does not exist anymore, it's not going anywhere, and they're just opening it up -- it looks like they're just trying to trash you." When Walker responded that the allegations detailed in the documents are nothing more than attacks by political opponents and the media, Doocy went on:
DOOCY: So the show's over, but they're trying to trash you. Are they trying to do to you what they did to Chris Christie in New Jersey?
Scott Walker, answering the charges. Not that there are any charges, just people trying to trash him.
It is true that the nearly two-year-old investigation is currently halted, and that no charges have yet been filed. But what Fox and Walker fail to admit is that the issue appears far from over. As Vox explained:
State law requires that any such nonprofits spending on election ads do so independently, without any coordination with Walker or his aides. Prosecutors are arguing that they didn't do so -- that, instead, Walker and two of his campaign consultants participated in a "criminal scheme" to "utilize and direct" the nonprofits' behavior. The investigation is being conducted under Wisconsin's unique John Doe law, which allows for many of the proceedings to be kept secret. The district attorney of Milwaukee, a Democrat, initiated the probe, but several other county prosecutors joined in, and a special prosecutor has since been appointed.
Importantly, no charges have been filed against anyone, and none appear imminent. Most of the legal wrangling so far has focused instead on whether prosecutors had probable cause to raid and subpoena documents from the consultants and nonprofit groups they believe to be involved.
It's an investigation being led by both Democrats and Republicans across five counties. In January and May 2014, a state judge and federal district court judge, respectively, ruled that prosecutors issued subpoenas without probable case during the investigation, but the state judge later stayed his own order, and the matter is currently pending before a federal appellate panel, which released the new documents at the prosecutors' request.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one of the largest newspapers in the Midwest, has dropped George Will's syndicated column, calling the conservative pundit's recent commentary on sexual assault "offensive and inaccurate" and apologizing for its publication.
In a June 7 column, Will disputed evidence that 1 in 5 women on U.S college campuses experience sexual assault, and claimed that efforts to fight what he called "the supposed campus epidemic of rape" have made victimhood a "coveted status." The Post-Dispatch called Will's comments "offensive and inaccurate," and in a June 18 editorial, it announced it would no longer publish Will's syndicated column:
The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier. The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it.
As Media Matters has reported, Will's column has drawn significant criticism from women's rights activists, writers, and several U.S. senators. Women's rights group UltraViolet launched a petition drive calling for Will's ouster from the Washington Post. National Organization for Women President Terry O'Neill agreed, saying "The Washington Post needs to take a break from his column, they need to dump him," adding that columns like Will's are "actively harmful for the victims of sexual assault."
As the backlash against Will's claims began to heat up, the Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt defended Will in a statement to Media Matters, saying his comments were "well within the bounds of legitimate debate":
George Will's column was well within the bounds of legitimate debate. I welcomed his contribution, as I welcome the discussion it sparked and the responses, some of which we will be publishing on our pages and website. This is what a good opinion site should do. Rather than urge me to silence a viewpoint they disagree with, I would urge others also to join the debate, and to do so without mischaracterizing the original column.
The Post-Dispatch noted that the move to drop Will's column had "been under consideration for several months," but Will's column on sexual assault "made the decision easier." This isn't surprising, given that Will's contributions to public debate have a problematic history of denying facts. According to Discover Magazine, Will has helped to "muddle our collective scientific literacy" by grossly distorting climate data -- a trend that the Los Angeles Times has similarly dubbed "mystifying." Will has also misrepresented the effects of the Voting Rights Act to claim that it has given "a few government-approved minorities ... an entitlement to public offices" and has come under fire for claiming that President Obama owed his success in the 2012 presidential election to his race.
Fox News' Catherine Herridge claims that a classified 2012 Department of Defense (DOD) memo would demonstrate that the Obama administration had deliberately concealed the fact that the Benghazi attack was perpetrated by terrorists. But news reports and subsequent investigations show that administration officials were quick to acknowledge the attackers' apparent links to terror groups.