Several Fox News figures' recent suggestions to improve the electorate and voting practices are eerily reminiscent of discriminatory election laws like Jim Crow.
Should homeless people vote? Probably not, according to network host Tucker Carlson. Appearing on Outnumbered on October 2, Carlson took issue with a Republican campaign ad encouraging young women to vote by spoofing the TLC show Say Yes To The Dress, asking, "You want your government run by people whose favorite show is Say Yes [To The Dress]?" He compared the competence of young women at the ballot box to that of homeless people and argued, "I don't think as a general matter you should be encouraging people who don't know anything about what they're voting for to vote. That's what the Democrats do, giving Newports to the homeless to get them to the polls. That's literally true. Republicans shouldn't follow suit on that. You shouldn't pander to people."
To be an informed voter, Fox contributor Ben Carson thinks you should read his new voter education guide. Just yesterday, Carson -- apparently also a likely presidential candidate -- hyped his new voting guide e-book in a National Review Online article. According to Carson, the country suffers from a dearth of informed voters and his e-book is the solution, providing information on politicians and policies to "make it easier for people to think for themselves, rather than being herded and manipulated by those in various political organizations who hunger for power, not liberty and fairness."
Just last month, Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck suggested it may be beneficial for Americans to pass citizenship tests before gaining the right to vote. Debating the advantages of requiring high schoolers to pass civics tests before graduating and becoming eligible to vote, Hasselbeck posited that such steps could make "a more meaningful measure when you vote, perhaps, too." She later asked viewers for their thoughts on the tests: "Civics test required to vote or graduate? Let us know."
Beyond implying that not all Americans are qualified to exercise a constitutional right, these Fox figures' voting suggestions share a common thread -- they hark back to discriminatory election laws like Jim Crow laws, rampant prior to the 1965 Voting Rights Act to keep would-be black voters away from the polls.
Laura Ingraham suggested that teaching young girls to dress modestly is an important step toward avoiding objectification, misogyny, and even date rape.
The ABC News contributor and conservative radio host spent a significant portion of her radio program on September 26 praising a Utah high school for refusing entry to about a dozen girls at a homecoming dance because of their "immodest" dresses. According to Ingraham, the teenagers were dressed to appear ten years older, and she argued that while the nation is focused on preventing date rape and misogyny, we should "start with the way we appear in public":
INGRAHAM: These are still girls. There are probably young women, probably 9th or 10th grade. And at the same time we're worried about date rape. At the same time we're worried about misogynistic behavior or making comments about peoples' appearances and bullying and all these other things. How about start with the way we appear in public. The way we treat people. How we speak to them. The language we use. And I'm sure a lot of these girls that dress this way, I'm sure they don't know any better.
"If we are trying to remind people that it's what's inside that counts, your heart, your spirit, the whole person," Ingraham instructed, "let's really ensure that the first thing a young boy sees in a girl is not her cleavage, or, you know, her pubic area because her skirt is so short."
On her Facebook page, Ingraham similarly asked, "Do you think girls dress in a way that invites trouble?"
Fox News continued to hype reports of an imminent Islamic State terrorist plot against U.S. and Parisian public transportation hours after the U.S. intelligence community discredited the rumor as "total bunk."
News broke on September 25 that Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had informed reporters at the United Nations of "accurate reports from Baghdad" detailing a terrorist plot by the group calling themselves the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in advanced stages against subways in the U.S. and Paris, France.
The prime minister's remarks quickly spread across American media, but by early afternoon, U.S. intelligence officials had roundly discredited the rumor. As NBC News reported, "Virtually every major U.S. law enforcement agency and intelligence agency said they had no evidence of any such plot. The report is viewed as 'total bunk,' according to a senior intelligence official."
CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto tweeted:
Yet over an hour later, Fox News continued to hype fears over the discredited plot. On The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson repeated the Iraqi prime minister's warning despite noting that an Obama administration official had not confirmed the report, cautioning, "Apparently the plot has not been thwarted."
Rather than acknowledging the fact that multiple U.S. intelligence agencies had discredited reports of the plot, Carlson simply said, "The other threat we heard about today from the Iraqi prime minister, which, by the way, the FBI says this administration doesn't know anything about it, but the word was that the attacks could be imminent on our subway systems here and in Paris."
There's a glaring hole in Weekly Standard senior writer Steve Hayes' argument that media figures do not typically warmonger because "there was no drumbeat for war in Syria" -- he himself called for U.S. military intervention against the Assad regime.
Many media figures -- including former fans of the Iraq War -- are calling on President Obama to intervene in Syria against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) with military power. Currently, the administration has conducted airstrikes against the State in Iraq and is considering further action in Syria, though officials have said there will be no U.S. combat troops on the ground.
Fox's Juan Williams pointed out the increased calls for war during the September 7 edition of Fox's Media Buzz, suggesting that media seem to consistently favor war over peace, perhaps for a ratings boost that international conflicts could bring television news. Williams noted that today's calls seem to parallel media's eagerness for military intervention in Syria back in 2013, over human rights abuses from the Bashar al-Assad regime.
But Hayes, who is also a Fox contributor, disagreed, asking "which media favored going to Syria?" According to Hayes, "There was no drumbeat for war in Syria from the media":
HAYES: If there had been, if the media were sort of predisposed to want war, to want the drama as Juan suggests, we would have seen that with respect to Syria. We didn't see that at all.
In fact, Hayes and his Weekly Standard colleagues were perhaps the loudest in the chorus of media figures calling for war with Syria just last year.
International incidents are a prime opportunity to daydream about foreign leaders who'd make better presidents than Barack Obama, at least inside the conservative media bubble. David Cameron has now joined Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu on the right's list of foreigners they'd rather have in the Oval Office than the man the nation elected.
On August 28, President Obama delivered remarks on the U.S. military's approach to the rising terror threat from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and recent developments in Ukraine. Right-wing media figures responded with disdain, accusing the president of failing to view the Islamic State as a threat and even suggesting it's understandable to think Obama sympathizes with terrorists. Yet when Cameron delivered similar remarks on the Islamic State's threat to the United Kingdom the next day, the right's response was much different -- Fox News contributor Erick Erickson tweeted:
Can we borrow David Cameron? He fights.-- Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) August 29, 2014
Cameron joins a select group of foreign leaders whom the right-wing media have determined to be better suited for the U.S. presidency than the man chosen by American voters.
August 26 marks Women's Equality Day, commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which gave women the right to vote. As President Obama emphasized in a proclamation marking the day, while there have been many advancements toward women's equality, "[t]here is still more work to do."
Bill O'Reilly's proclivity for using tragedies and racial disparities to lecture the black community was on full display in the wake of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri.
The St. Louis suburb has erupted in demonstrations following the death of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed teenager allegedly gunned down by police while he tried to run away. The unrest has prompted Brown's parents and civil rights leaders to call for peaceful protests and justice over the wrongful death.
On the August 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly attributed Brown's father's calls for justice to "talking through an emotional prism," adding that "many, many African Americans believe" that Brown was murdered "without knowing the facts." He wondered if the black community deserves criticism for viewing Brown's death as an injustice.
Salon's Joan Walsh aptly described how O'Reilly's response exposes his program as a "cable news show that sometimes doubles as an hour of moral instruction for black people." As Walsh explained, it was a lecture that smacked of "creepy paternalism," and one that "provides a window onto the worldview of aging authoritarian white conservatives." It's also a lecture O'Reilly has perfected.
The Fox host frequently attacks the black community for problems that, according to him, specifically plague black culture. He's staunchly denied the existence of racial disparities in arrest and conviction rates across the country, often attributing African Americans' over-representation in the nation's prison systems to "the culture" in "ghetto neighborhoods." "The culture" is also to blame for disproportionate poverty in the black community. O'Reilly's "solutions" often involve blaming black families and "young black girls" who became pregnant outside of marriage.
An upcoming Fox News special report promises to expose Obamacare problems in New Hampshire, where the network's former contributor Scott Brown is running for U.S. Senate. The special will feature an interview with Brown, who has declared that "Obamacare isn't working" and called the law a "monstrosity."
Airing the night of August 8, "Live Free or Die: Obamacare in New Hampshire" promises to chronicle the effect of the Affordable Care Act on New Hampshire residents, such as a doctor who retired rather than deal with health care reform and a "lesbian [who] opts out of Obamacare, questioning why she should pay for reproductive care she doesn't want or need."
Why the focus on New Hampshire? According to the network, in part because the state is "where this year's election will be key to determining which party controls the Senate." This appears to be the first time Fox has run a special focused on a single state since at least 2012.
Brown himself will participate in the special and promoted it earlier today, tweeting:
Fox is intimately involved with the New Hampshire Senate race, as its former contributor is seeking to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Brown began teasing his candidacy while still receiving a paycheck from Fox, and recently credited his role on the network with inspiring his campaign for Senate.
From the start, Brown has focused his campaign on his opposition to Obamacare. His website states that the "people of New Hampshire take pride in individual liberty and freedom. Obamacare demolishes both." He went on an "Obamacare isn't Working" tour and has repeatedly criticized his opponent for voting in favor of the law, which he deemed a "monstrosity" in need of repeal.
Fox News' morning program questioned a Texas official about providing emergency services to undocumented migrants, asking whether 911 calls from immigrants must be answered "even though for the most part, when you get there, you realize they're not even American citizens."
On July 23, Fox & Friends centered a discussion on how undocumented immigrants in Brooks County, Texas are "bombarding" the police department with 911 calls. Host Brian Kilmeade set up an interview with the Texas county's chief deputy by claiming that "illegal immigrants are learning the hard way there's a deadly cost to crossing the border." Kilmeade suggested Brooks County emergency response services might be strained because, "not only are they understaffed and lacking resources, now they've got to deal with illegal immigrants who have no business being here."
As an example, the program aired two emergency calls from Spanish speakers each identified on-screen as "Immigrant." In the first, a distressed male requests emergency assistance for his cousin, whom the man described as "turning blue." Another call featured a man and woman explaining to the 911 operator that they have not had access to water in three days.
Kilmeade asked the deputy, "So those calls, you have to respond to, even though for the most part, when you get there you realize, they're not even American citizens?"
Conservative figures have resorted to linking the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, to the July 17 crash of Flight MH17, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner reportedly shot down by pro-Russia rebels as it flew over Ukraine, killing nearly 300 people.
This form of exploitation has become commonplace among right-wing talking heads, who have repeatedly attempted to link Benghazi to a variety of unrelated events such as the Chris Christie bridge scandal, Yom Kippur, Monday Night Football, openly gay NFL prospect Michael Sam, the weather, and even the still-missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.
These media figures often invoke Benghazi to attack President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or to deflect scrutiny away from conservatives, and the deadly plane crash in Ukraine presented another opportunity.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh took aim at Obama's response to the plane crash by linking it to the administration's response to the Benghazi attacks. Criticizing Obama for not taking a harsher stance toward Russia and the pro-Russia rebels who reportedly shot down the plane, Limbaugh alleged on his July 21 show, "If we're not going to take action against Benghazi ... we're not going to take action here."