Fox News supports the right to protest, unless, it seems, the protesters are students of color shining a spotlight on incidents of racial injustice.
Protests against racial discrimination on college campuses across the country are garnering national media attention with students criticizing administration responses to incidents at University of Missouri, Yale, U.C.L.A, University of Oklahoma and other institutions.
Fox News responded to the student protests with disdain and attempts to belittle the protesters' arguments. Primetime host Megyn Kelly called the protesters in Missouri "angry black students," while Bill O'Reilly likened the protests to fascism. When Juan Williams attempted to explain why students of color may feel marginalized on campuses, Fox host Eric Bolling diminished the students' complaints, suggesting they were solely upset "because of two incidences." On the November 12 edition of Fox & Friends, the hosts repeatedly called the country-wide university protests anarchy. In one instance, Fox displayed an on-screen graphic characterizing the protests as "anarchy in the making." Meanwhile, the student protesters at the University of Missouri have actually been threatened with violence, and two suspects have been arrested for threatening black students.
But Fox's coverage of protests has looked drastically different when those protesting have aligned with the network's conservative agenda.
Recall when Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy faced off with the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over his refusal to pay grazing fees for his cattle's use of public lands in April 2014; he threatened violence and incited protests -- which included armed militia supporters -- to resist BLM efforts to collect on his debt. Fox News rocketed Bundy to conservative folk-hero status, lauding the rancher with the network's support even as numerous media reports described Bundy supporters pointing guns at federal law enforcement. BLM was even forced to suspend its operations when protesters -- some of them armed -- marched toward where BLM had impounded Bundy's cattle. Fox personalities praised Bundy supporters as "good, hardworking Americans," "law-abiding American citizens," and "patriotic Americans," and one Fox host, Clayton Morris, sanitized the interactions between Bundy supporters and law enforcement, claiming, "Suddenly people are there protesting peacefully, arguing against government intervention here ... and all of these police and folks roll in with guns and sniper rifles pointing at them."
And when hundreds of protesters gathered in Murrieta, California in July 2014 to oppose the planned housing of immigrant mothers and children at the federal Border Patrol station in the city, Fox championed the protests. These protests contained such vitriol that immigration officials were forced to reroute the buses transporting immigrants from overcrowded, unsanitary facilities in Texas for fear of the immigrants' and federal officers' safety. Despite the virulent nature of the protests, Kimberly Guilfoyle, co-host of The Five, applauded the protesters for being "able to get out there, [and] voice [their] opinion," saying "I love it, because you can do that in America." Her fellow co-host Eric Bolling commented that "finally, citizens are standing up and saying enough is enough." Host Greta Van Susteren emphasized that the protesters were just "exercising their First Amendment right," and Bill O'Reilly told Murrieta Mayor Alan Long "you should be very proud of your town," for keeping the protests safe.
Just this year Fox News celebrated when Duke University decided to cancel planned weekly broadcasts of Muslim calls to prayer from the campus chapel in response to "numerous verified instances of credible threats" against members of the university community. Host Steve Doocy applauded the outcome, attributing it to Fox viewers, saying "A lot of you made your opinion known, a lot of people contacted Duke, and they have done a 180." Martha MacCallum quipped, "Community outcry prompted this change ... They got some word from donors as well, from what I hear. That helped them expedite that decision."
Only on Fox News are armed militia members protesting federal law "patriotic," while university students and faculty speaking out against racism are labeled as anarchists.
Four Planned Parenthood clinics have been attacked in scarcely three months since the anti-choice group Center For Medical Progress (CMP) released the deceptively-edited videos smearing the women's health care provider. But the attacks -- which law enforcement authorities consider possible acts of domestic terrorism -- have garnered very little media attention, revealing the media's willingness to ignore the real and urgent danger women and abortion providers face at clinics, a problem that is far from new.
A clinic in Thousand Oaks, California, was firebombed on September 30, less than a month after a similar arson at a Pullman, Washington Planned Parenthood clinic on September 4. Terroristic attacks also occurred at clinics in Aurora, Illinois on July 19 and New Orleans on August 1.
Since July 14, CMP has released at least 10 videos containing undercover footage of discussions with Planned Parenthood personnel and staff members of private, for-profit biomedical procurement companies. The videos purport to show, and the accompanying press releases allege, that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal tissue and altering abortion procedures in order to profit from the sale of fetal tissue. Scores of media outlets have reported -- and multiple investigations have verified -- that the combined footage shows no illegal behavior by, or on behalf of, Planned Parenthood, and that the words of Planned Parenthood personnel who were secretly filmed have been "grossly [taken] out of context."
Despite the fact that the videos have been widely discredited, right-wing media have repeatedly cited them, using violent language to promote misleading attacks against Planned Parenthood and call for the organization to be defunded by Congress. Fox News contributor Erick Erickson said Republicans who won't vote to defund the health provider "should be destroyed, " and conservative blog RedState called Planned Parenthood "our Auschwitz." Fox host Bill O'Reilly described Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation as "Nazi stuff," while many conservative media figures drew comparisons to the notorious Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele, who conducted painful and often fatal human experiments on concentration camp prisoners.
Fox hosts also misled viewers about the services Planned Parenthood offers to wrongly suggest the organization is obsolete, and used needlessly graphic language to imply that Planned Parenthood's practices are violent. Fox correspondent Peter Doocy claimed that he searched Planned Parenthood's website for "fetal baby part prices" but found no results because the sales are a "well-kept secret," and host Megyn Kelly accused the organization of "celebrating its practice of harvesting the organs of aborted fetuses for money."
While there is no definitive evidence the clinic attacks are the result of the vitriolic anti-Planned Parenthood fervor that has emerged following the release and conservative media hype of CMP's deceptively-edited smear videos, it's crucial to note that the incidents have occurred in the midst of the smear campaign. Planned Parenthood regional CEO Karl Eastlund said the arson attacks are "unfortunately a predictable ripple effect from the false and incendiary attacks that fuel violence from extremists."
The violent attacks on Planned Parenthood have garnered very little media attention -- and their relationship to right-wing media's promotion of the CMP smear videos has received even less -- shedding light on the media's willingness to dismiss the real and urgent danger women and abortion providers face at clinics.
The LA Times pointed out that "as long as abortion has been legal in the U.S., abortion clinics throughout the country have been subject to arson and bombings" and "abortion providers have been murdered." And according to RH Reality Check, "A report released in February found that threats of harassment, intimidation, and violence against women's health clinics have doubled since 2010. Reproductive rights advocates have raised concerns that radical anti-choice activists have been emboldened by a wave of GOP legislative attacks on reproductive rights."
The Anti-Defamation League called anti-abortion violence "America's forgotten terrorism," explaining, "Anti-abortion violence has actually remained a consistent, if secondary, source of domestic terrorism and violence, manifesting itself most often in assaults and vandalism, with occasional arsons, bombings, drive-by shootings, and assassination attempts." And according to the Feminist Majority Foundation's 2014 National Clinic Violence Survey, which polled 242 abortion provider throughout the country, "nearly 1 in 5" abortion clinics experience severe violence.
And CMP is no stranger to this type of violence -- board member Troy Newman, who is the president of Operation Rescue, once called the murder of an abortion clinic doctor a "justifiable defensive action."
A Media Matters review found that cable news shows and leading newspapers around the country remained largely silent on arson attacks that targeted Planned Parenthood clinics following the release of a series of deceptively-edited, anti-choice videos smearing the health care provider. Prime-time cable news shows and the nation's three highest-circulation newspapers dedicated minimal coverage to the arson attacks. The LA Times and Spokane's Spokesman Review provided the most coverage of the attacks.
Fox News' flagship morning show has emerged as Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's most effusive protector in the wake of his controversial suggestions that mass shooting victims shared some of the blame for their deaths, and that a Muslim should not be president. Fox & Friends' defense of Carson should come as no surprise considering the network's history of promoting the candidate's presidential ambitions.
Ben Carson has been a longtime fixture on Fox News, which essentially turned him into a presidential candidate, but the network's job as a mouthpiece for the GOP has taken on a new meaning in the wake of the candidate's repeated controversial comments.
After Carson told Fox & Friends hosts on October 6 that if confronted by a gunman, he would "not just stand there and let him shoot me," in response to the October 1 mass shooting that killed 10 at Umpqua Community College, the hosts were quick to use their platform in the following days to shield him from criticism. When the comments garnered outrage for suggesting that the victims of the shooting did not do enough to protect themselves, Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck accused Carson's so-called "heartless" critics of irresponsibly "mischaracterize[ing]" the comments. Co-host Brian Kilmeade clarified for Carson that the comments were not intended as a judgment of the Oregon shooting victims, explaining that "he was just answering [a] question," and even featuring a guest to praise Carson's spirit.
This is not the first time that Fox & Friends has helped Carson spin his inflammatory rhetoric. Carson sparked widespread backlash -- even among fellow conservatives -- when he said he "absolutely would not agree with" a Muslim being elected president of the United States. Fox & Friends quickly tried to rehabilitate the statement, reasoning that a Muslim president would be synonymous with violent Islamists and the fundamentalist system of "Sharia law." Kilmeade framed the comments as part of an age-old debate, claiming that the Founding Fathers "were debating whether a Muslim should be a president back in the creation of our country," and co-host Steve Doocy suggested that Carson was actually talking about Muslims who adhere to Sharia law, not all Muslims. Fox & Friends also attempted to paint backlash against Carson as a "gotcha moment," and argued it was irrelevant to the current political debate: "it's a total non sequitur. There is no Muslim running for president."
Fox & Friends' public relations work for Carson follows reports that "Fox chairman Roger Ailes has been impressed by Carson, a former Fox pundit, ... is promoting his candidacy inside the network," and "has told producers to push Carson and put him on whenever he wants to go on." And notably, Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company, apologized October 8 after praising Carson while calling for "a real black president" in response to a New York magazine column that posed the question, "Did Barack Obama do enough for his own community?"
A Media Matters analysis of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal found that The Post dedicated extensive coverage to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's boast that the House Select Committee on Benghazi was part of a partisan strategy that damaged Hillary Clinton's presidential chances. The Post featured 17 online or print articles or blog posts that mentioned or covered McCarthy's comments. The Times mentioned or covered the comments in five online or print articles or blog posts, and The Journal neglected to offer any print coverage, but had five online articles and blog posts that mentioned or offered coverage.
A Chicago Sun-Times editorial board member made the inflammatory and false suggestion that sex workers cannot be victims of rape.
In a September 12 column, the Sun-Times' Mary Mitchell wrote about criminal charges against an Illinois man who is accused of raping a sex worker at gunpoint, claiming that the case "is making a mockery of rape victims" and arguing that "it's tough to see this unidentified prostitute as a victim."
Mitchell contended that the case is "actually more like theft of services" rather than sexual assault to push the false suggestion that sex workers cannot be raped.
Furthermore, sex workers have a dramatically higher-than-average chance (45 to 75 percent) of experiencing sexual violence at some point during their careers, and the homicide rate for female prostitutes "constitutes a higher occupational mortality rate than any other group of women ever studied," according to a 2012 report from anti-human trafficking group Fondation Scelles.
In her column, Mitchell also engaged in victim blaming, writing that "when you agree to meet a strange man in a strange place for the purpose of having strange sex for money, you are putting yourself at risk for harm." Mitchell even asserted that she is "grateful" that the man charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault in the case "isn't being accused of snatching an innocent woman off the street," absurdly implying the victim had a hand in bringing on her own assault. From Mitchell's column (emphasis added):
A recent case involving a prostitute and a john is making a mockery of rape victims.
Authorities say Roy Akins went to Backpage.com and agreed to pay a prostitute $180 for sex.
When the unidentified woman showed up at his Austin home for the transaction, Akins allegedly took her to the bedroom and, instead of handing over the cash, pulled a gun.
I don't have one iota of sympathy for Akins' plight. But I'm grateful he isn't being accused of snatching an innocent woman off the street.
But when you agree to meet a strange man in a strange place for the purpose of having strange sex for money, you are putting yourself at risk for harm.
It's tough to see this unidentified prostitute as a victim. And because this incident is being charged as a criminal sexual assault -- when it's actually more like theft of services -- it minimizes the act of rape.
Earlier this month, we saw what a rape victim looks like. Melissa Schuster, 26, of Willowbrook, was stabbed 17 times and suffered a fractured nose, broken bones and eye injuries when she was raped by a man who broke into her home after demanding cash.
As Jezebel's Stassa Edwards accurately noted, Mitchell's assertion that "real rape victims ... are women who have been beaten, bruised and assaulted despite doing 'nothing to bring about this terrible, terrible ordeal'" implies that sex workers are less than human, and consequently suggests -- incomprehensibly -- that "being raped at gunpoint is hardly a crime."
Media should know 5 key facts about anti-choice group The Center For Medical Progress' latest deceptively-edited video attacking Planned Parenthood, which provides no evidence clinics broke any laws by allowing women to voluntarily and safely donate fetal tissue from abortions. The video relies on the account of a former third-party procurement technician who has never worked for Planned Parenthood, admits that Planned Parenthood engages only in the legal donation of fetal tissue with informed consent, and provides no evidence that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from these legal donations.
Conservative media appear to be drafting Donald Trump's talking points.
It's been one month since the real estate mogul officially entered the Republican primary, after years of using regular Fox News appearances to promote previously-elusive presidential ambitions and push absurd conspiracies. In that time, Trump has already managed to prominently trumpet at least four right-wing media myths to explain his positions on the economy, immigration, gun safety, and the presidency, launching the long-debunked claims back into the spotlight.
Trump exaggerated the nation's unemployment rate by nearly 800 percent during a Fox News appearance on July 15, telling Sean Hannity that unemployed, impoverished Americans are "very important," and declaring: "Somebody actually last week said we have a 40 percentunemployment, so I've been saying 19 - 21 percent, but somebody actually came out last week and said we have a 40 percent, and they might very well be right."
Just a couple weeks ago, Rush Limbaugh repeatedly claimed that "the actual unemployment rate in the United States of America is not 5.5 percent ... It is 42.9 percent," citing a blog written by former Reagan official David Stockman.
According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, notably, June's unemployment rate stood at 5.3 percent.
Last week, Trump tripled the U.S.' undocumented immigrant population during a July 8 interview on CNN's The Lead, claiming, "We have 34 million [undocumented immigrants] in the country. I used to hear 11, now I hear it's 34 million." The real number of undocumented immigrants is nearly 20 million less -- experts confirm that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. actually hovers around 11 million, according to a Washington Post analysis that compared Census, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Pew Research Center data.
Trump appears to have relied on a year-old, long-debunked report from conservative website Breitbart.com. In 2014, Breitbart.com misrepresented a contracting bid the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for card stock to print a maximum of 34 million green cards and work authorization cards over a five year period, spinning the listing to claim the Obama administration was preparing a massive "executive amnesty." Neither of these cards are specific to undocumented immigrants. And as The Hill explained at the time, not only is such a contracting bid "typical," these cards are for use by immigrants who have been legally granted permanent residency and "a single recipient could receive up to five work permits over the life of the contract." Because this is not, in fact, an estimate of the undocumented population, both the White House and USCIS called suggestions that it was a "precursor" to the president's executive action on immigration "crazy" and "too clever."
Discussing his views on gun safety regulations in a July 7 interview with Ammoland.com, Trump revived conservative media's false claim that former President Bill Clinton banned guns on military bases. He asserted that "President Clinton never should have passed a ban on soldiers being able to protect themselves on bases."
Trump's misinformation originated from conservative media's attempt to blame Clinton for the 2013 mass shooting at Washington D.C.'s Navy Yard facility, seizing on a March 1993 Army regulation they claimed banned the carrying of guns on military bases. In fact, the 1993 regulation came from a 1992 directive issued under former President George H.W. Bush -- which actually allows guns to be carried on military bases under a substantial number of circumstances. Military experts have said more permissive gun carrying rules are a bad idea.
Trump is even still pushing perhaps the most infamous conservative media myth of the Obama presidency -- birtherism. "I really don't know" where President Obama was born, Trump declared in a July 9 interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, an accusation that follows years of the candidate teaming up with Fox News to push the absurd conspiracy theories that Obama had not released a valid birth certificate and may have been hiding the fact that he was not born in America.
The pervasiveness of right-wing media talking points in Trump's positions is not surprising given that he's been a Fox News fixture for years. He reportedly met with Fox president Roger Ailes before announcing his presidential candidacy, and since then, the network has only increased his exposure. In Media Matters' most recent study of appearances by likely and declared Republican presidential candidates on the network, Trump topped the entire field in airtime. During the month of June, Trump appeared on Fox 10 times, racking up 1 hour and 48 minutes of airtime, 23 minutes more than his nearest competitor, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Since the beginning of May, Trump has the most airtime of any of the candidates.
In a report on the Murdoch restructure of Fox News' parent company, Fox's Howard Kurtz glazed over the 2011 phone hacking controversy that implicated the Murdoch family in England -- a stark contrast to Kurtz's critical reporting of how Fox News avoided coverage of the scandal while he worked for CNN.
Rupert Murdoch is reportedly planning to step down as CEO of Fox News' parent company 21st Century Fox. According to CNBC, Murdoch's son James will take over as CEO and son Lachlan will assume the role of "executive co-chairman" of the company in coordination with their father. James Murdoch previously resigned his role as the head of News International -- which published several tabloids and newspapers abroad -- amid the widespread scandal over phone hacking at News of the World, a since-shuttered UK tabloid he oversaw. As part of the fallout from that scandal, Murdoch also resigned his position as chairman of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
On the June 14 edition of Fox News' Media Buzz, host Howard Kurtz used news of the company restructuring as an opportunity to highlight Rupert Murdoch's career, praising him for bringing "huge changes to the media landscape," including "conquering the world of British newspapers, revolutionizing TV sports here in the states, launching the fourth American broadcast network, and of course building a hugely successful and profitable cable news network." To highlight Murdoch's influence, Kurtz added that "when something goes wrong like the phone hacking scandal at the now defunct News of the World, he gets the blame."
Kurtz's report glazing over Murdoch's involvement in the phone hacking scandal and mentioning it only as a way to highlight the former CEO's influence stands in stark contrast to the way Fox's media critic covered the scandal while working for CNN.
In July 2011, as the host of CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz criticized Fox News for underplaying coverage of Murdoch's phone hacking scandal which involved Fox's then-parent company News Corp., and said that news networks that avoid covering their own controversies create "a double standard" and "undermine your credibility":
KURTZ: I feel very strongly about this. I mean, we do it on this program all the time when CNN has controversy, I always cover it. And otherwise, what you're signaling to viewers is there's a double standard. We're only aggressive when some other organization is in trouble. And I think that can undermine your credibility.
Kurtz has made a habit of ignoring controversies related to Fox News during his employment at the network, despite promising to bring an "independent brand of media criticism" to Fox.
Fox News' Chris Wallace cast doubt on the fact that many journalists have donated to the Clinton Foundation, asking to see a list for proof while ignoring the fact that the co-chief operating officer of the parent company of his own network donated money to the Clinton Foundation.
After ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos disclosed charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation "in support of the work they're doing on global AIDS prevention and deforestation," media falsely equated donations to the Foundation with contributions to a Democratic political campaign, ignoring the fact that the Foundation's work is expressly nonpartisan, and has been supported by numerous Republicans and conservative media figures.
On the May 17 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Wallace expressed skepticism that "lots of journalists gave money" to the Clinton Foundation after Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers asserted the Clinton campaign "is making a point of" noting donations made by journalists, adding that he'd "like [to see] that list."
But the non-profit arm of Fox News' then-parent company donated to the Clinton Foundation. The News Corp. Foundation, the charitable arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which at the time was the parent company of Fox News, donated between $500,001 to $1,000,000 to the foundation. James R. Murdoch, the co-chief operating officer of Fox News' current parent company, 21st Century Fox, and son of Rupert Murdoch, donated between $1,000,001 to $5,000,000.