A new study from The New Republic determined that the Drudge Report's use of race-baiting headlines has soared in the last five years, a fact that lends context to the recent flood of conservative media amplifying random, interracial crimes and baselessly assigning them a racial motive.
Matt Drudge's conservative website Drudge Report is infamous for its obsessive coverage of alleged black-on-white crime and race-baiting headlines. But it's only getting worse, according to a new analysis by The New Republic. The magazine analyzed Drudge's use of race-related terms in headlines after 2008 -- the year President Obama established himself as a national figure with his first presidential campaign -- with Drudge headlines before 2008, and the results are striking. According to the analysis, since 2008, Drudge headlines:
Notably, the analysis highlighted that Drudge often altered headlines to inject a racial component when the original source contained none. This method of race-baiting has spilled over into the broader media. Recently, conservative outlets have seized upon local crime stories and baselessly assigned them racial motives when no such evidence existed. This spate of reckless race-baiting has been repeatedly accompanied by inapt comparisons to the killing of Trayvon Martin, an attempt to highlight a supposed double standard among civil rights leaders and media figures.
When a video of three teenage students beating up another student on a Florida school bus surfaced in early August, local media reported that the attack was in retaliation for the victim notifying school officials that the three teens tried to sell him drugs. But because the perpetrators happened to be black and the victim white, conservative media broke into a chorus of race-baiting, complaining that civil rights leaders hadn't spoken about the assault. Fox News bragged about its insertion of race into the crime, highlighting that it was the only network to bring race "to the forefront" on the story.
When three teens -- two black, one white -- allegedly shot and killed an Australian college student last month because they were "bored," law enforcement officials emphasized there was no evidence "to indicate that the killing of Christopher Lane was related to either his race or to his nationality."
Undeterred by facts, right-wing media again repeatedly manufactured a racial motive. Fox argued that the murder was "likely motivated by race" and even criticized other media outlets for "ignoring the race issue" in the crime. Drudge featured photographs of the two black suspects, neglecting to include the photo of their alleged white accomplice.
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen dismissed the real-life rape of a minor as "manhandl[ing]" and refused to acknowledge the realities of the sexual misconduct, a longstanding and common practice for Cohen.
In a Post op-ed on September 2, Cohen highlighted singer Miley Cyrus' recent MTV performance where she infamously twerked in order to bring attention to a New Yorker report by Ariel Levy on the horrific rape of a minor in Steubenville, OH in August 2012. Cohen euphemistically characterized the victim as being stripped and manhandled:
The first thing you should know about the so-called Steubenville Rape is that this was not a rape involving intercourse. The next thing you should know is that there weren't many young men involved -- just two were convicted. The next thing you should know is that just about everything you do know about the case from TV and the Internet was wrong. One medium fed the other, a vicious circle of rumor, innuendo and just plain lies. It made for marvelous television.
The New Yorker piece was done by Ariel Levy, a gifted writer. When I finished her story, I felt somewhat disconcerted -- unhappily immersed in a teenage culture that was stupid, dirty and so incredibly and obliviously misogynistic that I felt like a visitor to a foreign country. That country, such as it is, exists on the Internet -- in e-mails and tweets and Facebook, which formed itself into a digital lynch mob that demanded the arrest of the innocent for a crime -- gang rape -- that had not been committed. It also turned the victim into a reviled public figure, her name and picture (passed out, drunk) available with a Google query.
And yet what indisputably did happen is troubling enough. A teenage girl, stone-drunk, was stripped and manhandled. She was photographed and the picture passed around. Obviously, she was sexually mistreated. And while many people knew about all of this, no one did anything about it. The girl was dehumanized. As Levy put it, "[T]he teens seemed largely unaware that they'd been involved in a crime." She quoted the Jefferson County prosecutor, Jane Hanlin: "'They don't think that what they've seen is a rape in the classic sense. And if you were to interview a thousand teen-agers before this case started and said, "Is it illegal to take a video of another teenager naked?," I would be astonished if you could find even one who said yes.'"
Illegal is sort of beside the point. Right, proper, nice, respectful, decent -- you choose the word -- is more apt. This is what got me: a teenage culture that was brutal and unfeeling, that treated the young woman as dirt. "'She's deader than O.J.'s wife. She's deader than Caylee Anthony,' " one kid exulted in a YouTube posting. "'They raped her harder than that cop raped Marsellus Wallace in "Pulp Fiction." She is so raped right now.' " Yes, I know, they were all drunk, woozy and disoriented from a tawdry cable TV and celebrity culture.
After bizarrely emphasizing that what happened in Steubenville did not involve rape by intercourse, Cohen later referred to the crime as stripping and manhandling without ever definitively acknowledging that the assault amounted to rape. Of course, an Ohio jury found that the victim was raped and two teens were guilty of the crime.
National Review editor Rich Lowry declared that the civil rights dream of the 1960s has been "won," and thus assertions of ongoing discrimination are "imagined slights and manufactured controversies," a claim that dismisses the current reality of economic inequality and voting rights struggles.
August 28 marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on Washington, an event dedicated to calling for civil and economic rights for African-Americans. It was there in 1963 that Dr. King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech, and the events helped bring about enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. For the anniversary celebration, tens of thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to hear President Obama and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) - a speaker at the 1963 march - give remarks.
In a Politico op-ed the next day, National Review editor Rich Lowry used the anniversary celebration as a vehicle to criticize today's civil rights movement as "an intellectually exhausted disgrace" with leaders who are a "degeneration" to the original effort. This is because, according to Lowry, Dr. King's dream "was a glorious triumph" and the fight for equal rights "is won," while today's movement "subsists largely on imagined slights and manufactured controversies unrelated to the welfare of real people."
As evidence of these "manufactured controversies," Lowry mocked the notion that recent voter ID laws are discriminatory and declared: "What the contemporary civil rights establishment can't bring itself to acknowledge is that cultural breakdown has more to do with the struggles of blacks than any officially sanctioned discrimination." He also ignored the continuing problem of economic inequality between whites and African-Americans.
Lowry's dismissal of the discriminatory nature of voter ID laws is illustrative of falsehoods he's pushed in the past. At least 11 percent of American citizens do not possess a government issued photo ID, and the percentage of African-Americans without a photo ID is even higher - one study estimated the number at 25 percent. Even if a state purports to issue an ID for "free," there are costs associated with obtaining one that amount to a poll tax. As the Brennan Center for Justice determined, voter ID laws "create more burdens for minority citizens."
Conservative media have championed the recent spate of state-restrictions on women's constitutional right to abortion access as necessary to protect women's health. But a new report reveals the heavy toll the laws have taken on women's health clinics around the country.
After the 2010 midterm elections, state legislatures passed a record number of restrictions on abortion, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Twenty-four states enacted 92 provisions restricting access to abortion services, a number which tripled the former record set in 2005. The next year, 2012, was the second-highest year on record for new abortion restrictions, with 19 states passing 43 provisions limiting women's access.
Fox News and conservative media championed this flood of abortion restrictions, claiming the measures are necessary to protect women's health and denying that the laws would affect women's access to clinics. In June, Fox contributors Kirsten Powers and Monica Crowley claimed that reproductive rights groups' fears over Texas' infamous SB5 bill -- predicted to force most of the state's clinics to close -- were exaggerated and "ridiculous," because, as Powers stated, "I don't think that many clinics are going to close."
But according to a nationwide analysis released August 26 by the Huffington Post, at least 54 abortion providers in 27 states have closed their doors or ended abortion services since 2010, and "several more clinics are only still open because judges have temporarily blocked legislation that would make it difficult for them to continue to operate." The report found that the states which enacted severe new abortion restrictions and slashed funding planning funding also lost the most clinics -- Texas has lost nine clinics, or more than 20 percent of the state's total abortion facilities.
The state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute explained to Huffington Post that this level of clinic closures is "incredibly dramatic." She went on, "What we've been seeing since 1982 was a slow decline, but this kind of change ... [is] so different from what's happened in the past."
Rather than protecting women's health, these new restrictions -- and the striking number of clinic closures they force -- place women in severe danger. Requiring women to travel long distances in order to exercise their constitutional right to abortion means procedures will often be delayed, which puts women's health in jeopardy.
In response to a new ad that cites the death of Trayvon Martin to encourage states to end Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws, Fox's Hannity claimed the laws actually benefit black Americans more than any other race. The falsehood, first pushed by the conservative blog The Daily Caller, ignores the fact that homicides with black victims are disproportionately found to be justified in SYG states, as well as SYG's impact on states' homicide rates.
New reports indicate that Fox News' sister company is no longer in talks to produce a controversial miniseries on Hillary Clinton, a move that takes pressure off the Republican Party as it moved to boycott NBC and CNN -- but not Fox -- for their involvement with Clinton-related projects.
Last month NBC Entertainment and CNN Films each announced intentions to produce biopics on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton timed to precede the 2016 presidential race. Though both outlets claim their network's news division will not be involved in the effort, the proposed specials have raised concerns about the obvious conflicts of interest for NBC's and CNN's parent companies, and their news divisions' ability to report objectively in the event of a 2016 Clinton presidential campaign. Journalists from both NBC News and CNN News have publicly worried that the specials will damage their news divisions' reputations, and both Media Matters founder David Brock and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called on the outlets to cancel the plans.
Priebus even threatened to ban NBC and CNN from hosting GOP primary debates during the 2016 presidential election cycle -- a threat the RNC ultimately fulfilled when it voted this week to exclude the networks if they "continue to move forward" with their Clinton projects. Priebus explained his thinking to Fox News on August 6, saying it's "ridiculous" to allow "moderators who are not serving the best interests of the candidates."
Given that Preibus wants moderators who serve the "best interest" of the GOP, it was unsurprising that days later when the New York Times reported Fox News sister company Fox Television Studios might produce NBC's Clinton biopic, Priebus refused to extend his boycott threat to Fox News. Responding to State of the Union host Candy Crowley's question as to whether Fox's news division will "be subject to the same kind of scrutiny" he applied to CNN and NBC news divisions over the plans of their sister companies, Priebus claimed he was only "going to boycott the company that puts the miniseries and the documentaries on the air for the American people to view."
A New York Times story on the philanthropic Clinton Foundation contained flawed details about the Foundation's finances, former President Bill Clinton clarified today. As a result of its errors, the story provided predictable fodder for attacks from right-wing media -- rabid for new opportunities to smear former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in anticipation of a yet-unannounced 2016 presidential campaign.
The Clinton Foundation, recently renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, was the subject of an August 13 Times report which speculated the non-profit was experiencing "unease" over financial and management issues. The paper noted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staff will soon move into the Foundation's Manhattan headquarters, and questioned the capabilities of senior Foundation employees. The Times also asserted that the Foundation "ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in." As purported evidence, the paper claimed the charity ran a $40 million deficit in 2007 and 2008 and an $8 million deficit in 2012, citing tax returns.
But the Foundation corrected the record today in a letter from former President Bill Clinton. He explained that the Times failed to provide the context and facts essential to its story and misconstrued the Foundation's basic accounting according to the law, casting a shadow based on a false premise. That is because the IRS requires tax-exempt organizations such as the Foundation to report multi-year financial commitments occurring in the year the commitment was made. So in 2005 and 2006, the Foundation reported a surplus exceeding one hundred million dollars. In subsequent years, that money is reported as spending, but not cash inflow. Clinton also pointed out the difficult reality all non-profits face fundraising during a recession.
The Times was also incorrect in its assessment of 2012 deficits, Clinton stated. The paper relied on unaudited numbers from the 2012 annual report, but audited financials will reveal a surplus.
Predictably, conservative media did not wait to learn these facts surrounding the Clinton Foundation, preferring to cite the initial Times story to decry imaginary scandals and lob both new and old attacks at Hillary Clinton.
CNN's Candy Crowley is the latest critic of planned special programming on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressing concern that a CNN Films' Clinton documentary would threaten CNN News' reputation for objective reporting.
In July, NBC Entertainment announced plans to produce a Clinton-based miniseries timed to precede the 2016 presidential race, and soon thereafter, CNN Films announced its own intention to produce a feature-length documentary film on Clinton to premiere in 2014.
Though both outlets claim their network's news division will not be involved in the effort, the proposed specials have raised concern about the obvious conflicts of interest involved for NBC and CNN parent companies and the news divisions' ability to report objectively in the event of a 2016 Clinton presidential campaign. Media Matters founder David Brock and RNC chairman Reince Priebus have each called on the outlets to cancel their plans due to these ethical issues.
In recent days, even NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd spoke out against NBC's project, calling it a "total nightmare" for NBC News given the fact that a perceived bias in the miniseries -- whether for or against Clinton -- will damage NBC News' credibility for objective reporting.
Now, CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley is voicing her own concern over CNN's plans, telling Politico the Clinton documentary will "make life more difficult, I think there's no doubt about it." Like Todd, Crowley expressed concern that to the public, CNN News and CNN Films are arms of the same machine: "You can say all you want, this is a commissioned documentary from people who are not in the employ of CNN. It's not me. It's not Wolf Blitzer. It's not John King. It's an outside documentary group. But we're with CNN and so this is not a story where the nuances are well-received, particularly by Republicans."
Crowley's concerns come as CNN finds itself under scrutiny for its reporting in an August 6 special focused on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Even the network's teases for The Truth About Benghazi were riddled with inaccuracies, and the feature itself was no different. Host Erin Burnett and correspondent John King filled the special with right-wing talking points about the Obama administration's response to the Benghazi attacks, repeatedly asking questions about conspiracy theories the network itself had debunked months before.
Just last month, CNN president Jeff Zucker told Fortune magazine that a "valid criticism" of CNN is that the network does not dedicate enough air time to conservative points of view. Given Zucker's apparent desire to reach out to more right-wing voices and the network's fumbling of its Benghazi reporting, CNN's ability to air a Clinton documentary without sacrificing its integrity for impartiality appears questionable, and legitimizes Crowley's concerns.
A predictable mix of falsehoods and sexist stereotypes resulted when two male Fox figures attempted to debunk "gender myths" like the gender pay gap, female versus male drivers, and the need for Title IX to support women's athletics.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy welcomed Fox Business' John Stossel on August 8 to ostensibly debunk common gender myths. Doocy opened the segment by asking if the differences between boys and girls are so clear, "why are the feminists still pushing gender equality?"
Doocy and Stossel first attempted to tackle the gender pay gap. While admitting that it is true women are paid 77 cents for each dollar men make, Stossel claimed the discrepancy is because, "we don't work the same jobs." The reason, according to him, is that "women have their priorities in order. They often choose jobs that are less time-consuming, not so far away, and not as dangerous." He concluded that if a true pay gap existed, the market would have sorted it out.
The pair ignored the central fact that the gender pay gap measures discrepancies in pay for an equal amount of work. As of 2011, "women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 23 percent," a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found. And as the Institute for Women's Policy Research explained, "Women's median earnings are lower than men's in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women."
When it came to driving records, Doocy and Stossel did acknowledge that on average, men behind the wheel are more likely to run stop signs, speed, and kill other people. But these statistics did not stop the two from laughing that women are "clearly" worse drivers than men, in part because "they can't maneuver as well."
Back in May, Fox & Friends dedicated more than 13 minutes and multiple segments to questioning whether women can drive or park well.
Last, the men discussed "the myth that Title IX allowed women to play sports in college." Stossel took the stance that without Title IX, which prohibits colleges and universities from discriminating based on gender, this "would have happened anyway. Because at the time, when they passed this, women couldn't get credit cards without a man's signature. Women weren't going to bars alone, or allowed to smoke socially. Life would have changed." Stossel concluded that the law pretends just as many women want to play sports as men do, but "they don't. More men do."
In reality, when Congress passed Title IX in 1972, roughly one in 27 girls, or four percent, participated in sports, according to The New York Times. Just six years later, that number had exploded to 25 percent. Today, roughly one in three girls plays a sport. This increased participation rate is "proof," according to the National Women's Law Center, "that interest often reflects opportunity."
Fox has already sparked outrage this summer with its gender comparisons: In May, host Lou Dobbs called a rise in families with female breadwinners a sign of society's downfall, and paid contributor Erick Erickson added that "biology" and "the natural world" evidenced that men, not women, should hold that "dominant role."
Click below for Stossel and Doocy's full "debunking" attempt.
Rush Limbaugh concocted a bizarre theory during a rant against feminism and homosexuality, arguing that Russia's ban on gay athletes at the Olympics somehow stems from a desire for population growth and a backlash against an allegedly feminist belief that children represent "an albatross" to independence.
On his August 7 broadcast, Limbaugh read from a Buzzfeed post on "Why Russia Turned Against The Gays," which cited a Russian lawmaker saying the country's new ban on the "propaganda" of same-sex relationships -- a growing international controversy due to Russia hosting the 2014 Olympic games -- is needed in part to resolve a "demographic crisis." Limbaugh ran with the idea, suggesting that homosexuality is a threat to a nation's economic power.
Limbaugh professed that America's population boom at the nation's founding contributed to our status as a superpower, and that Russia needs its own population boom to regain a similar status. According to Limbaugh, that is the purpose of Russia's homophobic laws: "Whether they will admit it or not," the desire for population growth "is one of the reasons why there is this movement against homosexuality. It does not procreate. And the Russians need people," he explained, because "it's a key element when discussing the economic growth and the power of any country."
Inexplicably, Limbaugh then tied his discussion of economic power, population growth and homosexuality to feminism, claiming that "the elite feminist movement's got a problem with birth. Abortion they promote. It is the sacrament" to them (not the first time the radio host has leveled such a charge). Rush asserted that "one of the teachings of modern feminism" is that children are "an albatross," just a "trap laid for women by men, to keep them home, to keep them subservient, to keep them as servants ... to occupy a woman so that the husband can run around and do whatever he wants."
Limbaugh eventually pulled his ideas together into a final theory, supposing that the Russians must have noticed the trending feminist beliefs about childbearing and the apparent effect on the U.S. birth rate, and that is, "ergo, the reason why the ban on gay athletes at the Olympics":
LIMBAUGH: Feminists are starting to lose themselves in these philosophical discussions, which of course are rooted in self-absorption and maybe tinges of guilt. Because what's going on here is -- it's continual -- a full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy. And so the Russians -- just to close the loop on this -- the Russians and Putin are putting their foot down. They're saying, 'Enough of that. We aren't going to have that here. We need a growing population. We need a country that's growing. We need more people. We need more people working. We need more productivity. And we're not going to sign up for all this new-age, so-called elitist brilliance. So ergo, the reason why the ban on gay athletes at the Olympics.
Limbaugh's justification for Russia's homophobia is a view shared by other members of the conservative media. The same day, the Daily Caller's White House correspondent Neil Munro attacked President Obama for voicing his opposition to the Russian laws, echoing Limbaugh's assertion that a low-birth rate rationalizes anti-gay policies.