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."
Right-wing media capitalized on the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling with the refrain that the so-called 'war on women' is nonexistent, a bizarre take on a decision that relied on conservative talking points to deal a devastating blow to women's rights and health access.
Last month the Supreme Court ruled that "closely held" for-profit secular corporations like Hobby Lobby are exempt from the so-called contraception mandate, a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires employer-sponsored health insurance to cover comprehensive preventive health care including birth control. Right-wing media cheered the decision -- made by a conservative all-male majority relying on right-wing media myths in the opinion -- by mocking the notion that it limited women's access to health care or evidenced a larger war on women.
Bill O'Reilly argued that Hobby Lobby exemplifies how the war on women narrative is being falsely sold by liberals by citing the fact that his two female guests, both Fox News figures, disapprove of "paying for other people's birth control" and haven't themselves experienced "gender bigotry."
Similarly, Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum predicted Democrats will use the decision to campaign on the "so-called war on women" with the "message that something's been taken away" from women. MacCallum deemed the notion "hard to understand" because, according to her, women still "have the freedom to get whatever kind of birth control they want to get," either from Hobby Lobby's health coverage or "free from Planned Parenthood."
Other Fox figures laughed at the idea of Hobby Lobby's connection to a war on women by comparing the term to the "Rocky Movie Franchise" which "just sort of keeps on going with different evolutions," and by describing it as a fabricated Democratic campaign strategy.
The war on women, a term coined by advocacy groups, describes the barrage of attacks from "far-right national and state lawmakers, in coordination with Religious Right activists" on "not just abortion rights, but also access to birth control and preventative care, as well as contemporary views of women's roles in the workplace, the family and the halls of power," as People for the American Way explained.
MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh corrected attempts to cast doubt on the fact that Hillary Clinton served as defense attorney on a decades-old criminal case at the direction of the court, pointing out that, in fact, the judge had compelled Clinton to take the case.
The July 8 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews rehashed Hillary Clinton's work as a court-appointed defense attorney in the 1975 prosecution of an alleged rapist, a role that, while known publicly for years, is reemerging in wake of the conservative Washington Free Beacon's improper appropriation and publication of an interview Clinton gave in the mid-1980s discussing the case.
During the discussion, frequent MSNBC guest and president of the conservative Bernard Center for Women Michelle Bernard repeatedly suggested that Clinton had elected to represent the defendant of her own volition. Joan Walsh, Salon editor and MSNBC analyst, attempted to correct the record on Clinton's court appointment, pointing out that "she was court-appointed" and that the judge had forced her to take the case. Bernard, however, continued to imply Clinton may have voluntarily accepted the role after speaking with the prosecutor.
The fact that the court appointed Clinton to represent the defendant is not in doubt. The judge -- not the prosecutor -- directed Clinton to take on the case, as Glenn Thrush established in a 2008 Newsday report:
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler misquoted Hillary Clinton while criticizing her recent and accurate comments about the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision.
Kessler specifically took Clinton to task over a comment she made during the Aspen Ideas Festival:
CLINTON: It's very troubling that a salesclerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer's health-care plan because her employer doesn't think she should be using contraception.
But in taking issue with the portion of Clinton's remarks about the affordability of contraception, Kessler actually misquoted what she said:
As for "very expensive," this is in the eye of the beholder. Studies have indicated that when times are tough, women have tried to save money by skimping on birth control, such as skipping pills and delaying prescription refills.
Clinton never said that contraception is "very expensive." She said it was "pretty expensive." The distinction is meaningful in light of the fact that Kessler specifically went on to criticize Clinton for not being careful while making extemporaneous remarks.
Kessler also criticized Clinton for observing that a Hobby Lobby sales clerk would not be able to access contraception because her employer doesn't think she should be using it. Here's Kessler's rationale:
In the specific case, the company on religious grounds objected to four of 20 possible options, leaving other possible types of contraceptives available to female employees -- though not necessarily the most effective or necessary at the moment.
Contrary to Kessler's reasoning, it's entirely accurate to say that a sales clerk could decide in consultation with her doctor that a valid form of contraception is the best option for her health needs and yet be denied access because her boss doesn't think she should be using it.
Kessler addressed similar criticism from readers in an update, calling it an "interesting parsing" but standing by his original analysis.
Right-wing media personalities took victory laps following the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Court ruled that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide health coverage for employees that includes contraception if the employer has a religious objection.
Conservative talk radio hosts lashed out at Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran for beating his tea party primary challenger, Chris McDaniel, with the help of votes from blacks and Democrats.