Many Fox News hosts and pundits rushed to brand recently released Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a deserter and a traitor, but Shepard Smith took a different line by saying he was "disgusted" by the rush to judgment, cautioning that Bergdahl is innocent until proven guilty.
On May 31, the White House announced it had secured the release of Bergdahl from the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Right-wing critics of President Obama began reporting as fact that Bergdahl had been a deserter and collaborated with the enemy, despite the fact that an investigation into the matter has not yet taken place.
On the June 3 edition of Shepard Smith Reporting, host Smith took umbrage at the reporting, saying, "If you desert or commit treason, you have to be proved to have done so. We can't just decide because some people come on television and yakety yak, and we've got a report of this and a report of that and that's what happened. As the Army said, as the Pentagon said, you bring them home. You bring them home first, and then you investigate."
A new web series for young people produced by the National Rifle Association is being widely panned by critics as a phony and out-of-touch attempt at messaging. And for good reason -- the NRA's Noir is really about the same themes the NRA has been ranting on for decades, that the NRA is the only group that can stand up for persecuted gun owners and save America in the face of machinations by anti-gun elites.
Recently launched on the NRA's new "Freestyle" network, Noir promises to report on "the latest on firearms, fashion, pop culture and other hot topics." The show is hosted by NRA News commentator Colion Noir -- best known for his bizarre claim Martin Luther King Jr. was a gun proponent -- along with co-host Amy Robbins and is sponsored by gun manufacturer Mossberg.
Early reviews of Noir report that it reeks of inauthenticity. Indeed the 16-minute premiere episode is rife with product placements and lame pop culture and sports references, all awkwardly interspersed between features on high-powered, expensive-looking firearms.
In one cringe-worthy moment, Noir complains that the cardboard box his $5,000 rifle came in looks like "a Build-A-Bear beginning set of a homeless guy's apartment." During a glowing review of a compact Smith & Wesson handgun, Noir analogizes the pistol to Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson: "Sure he is small and unimposing, but the moment you drop your guard he will tear your ass up." There is also an obligatory twerking reference.
This fakery led Gawker's Adam Weinstein to describe the show as "hilariously bad poser garbage." Writing for Vocativ, Mike Spies summed up the show as "public-access television: Think Wayne's World, but with a focus on sleek weapons" and concluded that "NRA employs millenial-friendly tropes to attract younger members -- and fails miserably." While Spies imagined the show being "produced by aliens who spent an hour studying American pop culture," Weinstein poked fun at "the cringe-inducing 'urban' script copy dropping out of Noir's mouth like it was written by a white Mitch McConnell intern on summer break from Liberty University."
Beyond the widely noted production and messaging problems, the NRA has failed to create a different message that can resonate with young people with Noir. The NRA must realize that young people are unlikely to embrace the bombastic paranoid rants of its executive vice president Wayne LaPierre. But as the video below shows, Noir is more of the same from the NRA, only delivered with a less abrasive tone and buried between pop culture references.
In honor of Women's History Month, Media Matters looked back at seven examples of women standing up for their rights on cable news, be it in response to right-wing opposition or simply to further awareness of gender disparities.
Fox News is once again pining for the days when more work came with less pay, claiming that expanding overtime pay protections "undercuts work ethic."
The knee-jerk reaction that amending existing policy to help workers is somehow harmful to the American work ethic is a common theme at the network, and has been brought up to undermine the minimum wage, disparage the Affordable Care Act, and demonize vital assistance programs.
Watch Fox hearken back to a bygone era when worker protections weren't impeding the American Dream:
Fox News has an enemy in the education debate, and that enemy is teachers unions.
In the weeks since New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would block three charter schools from using public school space rent-free, conservative media have sent themselves into a tizzy distorting the mayor's record, accusing him of waging a "war on children" and calling him "Comrade Bill." Perhaps no outlet was more indignant about de Blasio's decision than Fox News, whose hosts and pundits seemed incapable of discussing the story without blaming teachers unions, devoid of any evidence or support.
Watch below for Fox's "All Speculation, No Corroboration" approach to blaming teachers:
Fox's misguided outrage is unsurprising given the network's track record on unions. Its hosts and commentators have previously asked if "teachers unions [are] ruining your kids' education" and referred to labor unions as "parasites" that are "not doing anything" for workers. Fox host Dana Perino even suggested earlier this year that instead of making an "anti-NRA" film, filmmaker Harvey Weinstein could better "tackle gun violence if he would take on the teachers unions."
Fox News displayed a striking double standard on politicians appearing on comedy shows, questioning the appropriateness of President Obama's comedic interview, and ten minutes later praising Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) Letterman appearance
On America's Newsroom, Fox co-hosts Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum questioned the appropriateness of Obama's interview with comedian Zach Galfianakis on his Funny or Die show "Between Two Ferns." Ten minutes later, the same Fox hosts lauded McCain's appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, laughing at a joke he had made and declaring that McCain had "knocked it out of the park":
According to a New York Times report about Gabriel Sherman's upcoming biography of Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, Ailes proclaimed to fellow Fox executives before the 2012 election that he wanted "to elect the next president." Here's a quick look at how he tried to do so:
Right-wing media figures have repeatedly accused Obama administration officials of using "scare tactics" for correctly pointing out that the U.S. will default if the debt ceiling is not raised by October 17. Economists, however, have echoed the administration's warnings, saying such claims that the U.S. will not default is "crazy talk."
Here's a look at some of the right-wing media's worst accusations:
Fox continued to prove itself a safe haven for conservatives as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld enjoyed an easy interview on Fox & Friends. Fox News chose to ignore Rumsfeld's role in the Iraq war while other outlets questioned him about manipulated intelligence and the role the war played in America's standing in the international community.
The softball questions lobbed by hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade stood in stark contrast to the challenging questions asked by Chris Cuomo of CNN's New Day and Savannah Guthrie of NBC's Today. The Fox interview comes on the heels of a new report detailing the cozy relationship between Fox News and Republicans and the friendly forum Fox presents to their conservative guests.
While Cuomo and Guthrie asked Rumsfeld questions about the lingering effects of the Iraq war and Rumsfeld's role in the intelligence failures leading up to it, the hosts of Fox & Friends chose to avoid any mention of Iraq. Hosts Gretchen Carlson, Brian Kilmeade, and Steve Doocy made no mention of the botched intelligence and instead asked leading questions that gave Rumsfeld an opportunity to criticize President Obama's handling of the developing situation in Syria.
Fox's treatment of the former Defense Secretary, and Republicans in general, has become a noticeable pattern. The Rumsfeld interview comes after a recent report by Harvard University's Shorenstein Center detailing Fox's unique role as a safe haven for conservative candidates.
On August 12, a federal court judge ruled that the New York Police Department (NYPD) was improperly performing the common police tactic of "stop and frisk" by unconstitutionally targeting persons of color without reasonable suspicion. The New York City Council agreed, and passed legislation over a mayor's veto on August 23 to safeguard against future unconstitutional applications of this long-standing enforcement tactic. Right-wing media responded by ignoring the constitutional violations and instead defended the NYPD's actions for "establishing a sense of order."