While mainstream media coverage of the serious allegations of improper practices at certain Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health clinics has been extensive in recent weeks, a bill to expand health care for veterans that was blocked by Senate Republicans in February received little attention.
Fox News repeatedly spun the words of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to suggest she had finally acknowledged the importance of the select committee on Benghazi, when in fact Pelosi had stressed her objections to the committee and called it an unnecessary "partisan exercise."
Right-wing media equated sensitivity training to "re-education camp" after an NFL player was disciplined for homophobic tweets.
On May 10, University of Missouri football player Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, becoming the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL. ESPN aired footage of Sam sharing a celebratory kiss with his boyfriend. Following the kiss, Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones reacted by tweeting "omg" and "horrible." The Dolphins fined Jones and barred him from team activities until he undergoes sensitivity training.
The conservative media took the opportunity to liken the sensitivity training requirement to being forced into a re-education camp. Fox personalities and guests alike proclaimed that Jones was being sent to a re-education camp, a claim The Washington Times echoed, calling the sensitivity training "modern-day equivalent of a re-education camp." Predictably, Rush Limbaugh joined conservatives decrying Jones "going to re-education camp" as "just creepy."
Real re-education camps are known for their vast human rights violations and still exist in countries like North Korea and China. A report on North Korea's camps in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the inhumane conditions at the camps:
North Koreans can end up in re-education camps for such crimes as listening to foreign radio broadcasts, secretly practicing a religion, or crossing the border to China in search of food. Inmates are subjected to forced labor and are required to memorize political tracts. They receive little food, no medical care and sometimes serve multiyear terms wearing the clothes in which they arrived at camp. I interviewed a woman who had been wearing high heels when she was arrested and had to bind her feet in rags when those wore out. Many prisoners die of abuse or malnutrition.
The New York Times described the conditions in China's "Re-education Through Labor" camps:
Conditions in re-education camps are dire: Physical abuse by guards and the criminal elements they entrust to enforce "order" is common, as are long hours of arduous work with no rest day; institutionalized corruption; deficient health care; and what the Justice Ministry refers to as "abnormal deaths."
Sensitivity training is nothing new in the NFL. In August 2013, Philadelphia Eagles receiver Riley Cooper attended sensitivity training after he used a racial slur. A typical training session lasts between two and four hours.
It should be obvious that comparing sensitivity training for a player's bigoted, anti-gay comments to brutal re-education camps in oppressive regimes are ridiculous, but right-wing media continue to embrace hyperbole in their opposition to gay rights.
As the Obama administration prioritizes efforts to curb sexual violence on college campuses, National Review Online responded by spending the week victim-blaming and dismissing the epidemic of sexual assault.
Fox News' "Medical A-Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow claimed that girls can "certainly provoke" harassment by wearing leggings to school.
On the May 9 edition of Fox's Outnumbered, Ablow and his fellow co-hosts discussed a school that is allegedly telling its female students that wearing leggings to school is inappropriate and distracting to the male students. Ablow said any harassment the girls might experience while wearing leggings "was certainly provoked" (emphasis added):
ABLOW: You cannot come in with leggings. Because my son wants to learn and the truth is it is distracting. And it is kind of inappropriate because when did we decide as a culture that tights would become an overgarment instead of an undergarment. The reason we're doing that is because girls are in a panic to be more and more sexual because we've taken all the restraint away from femininity. We've made girls into boys.
ABLOW: I don't know that we can restrain boys from being boys. So the long stare, the offhand comment, you have to -- what do you do, excuse it? Because it was certainly provoked. And I think girls put themselves in the line of fire that way.
Ablow has a history of wildly sexist remarks on Fox News. He has previously said that allowing women to serve in combat roles is "narcissism," that a parent who bought dolls for her son was "nuts" for "gender-bending," and that Newt Gingrich's three marriages would make him a strong president.
As media outlets focus on Republicans' select committee to investigate Benghazi, attention has centered on chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Throughout the right-wing campaign to scandalize the tragedy in Benghazi, Gowdy has used the media to push dishonest claims about the administration's response to the attack.
The New York Post continued its history of dismissing the epidemic of sexual assault by blaming assault victims' "bad judgment" for their "regrettable sex."
New York Post columnist Naomi Schaeffer Riley penned a May 6 op-ed denouncing national efforts to curb sexual assault on college campuses. Riley denied the existence of the widespread sexual assault epidemic, instead dismissing them as "sexual encounters fueled by bad judgment and free-flowing alcohol" (emphasis added):
The White House task force says at least one in five women will be sexually assaulted during their college careers.
Looking back, we can conclude that one of two things occurred.
In one scenario, the task force has its numbers right -- in which case our campuses have been overrun by thugs. What was needed was a good dose of law and order -- more likely to be doled out by, let's face it, conservatives.
Sexual assault is a serious crime. If campuses are really seeing these rates of violence, then nothing less than an overwhelming police presence is called for.
Not the keystone campus cops, either, but gun-wielding officers protecting women as they walk to classes, parties and club meetings, even escorting them home from dates. Maybe Ray Kelly would be up to the job; then again, even New York's worst neighborhoods don't report these rates of violence against women.
In the second (more likely) scenario, there's been no epidemic of assault but instead a preponderance of sexual encounters fueled by bad judgment and free-flowing alcohol.
Riley also disputed the fact that 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault on campus. But a report on sexual violence by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed that "in a study of undergraduate women, 19% experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college."
The New York Post's unwillingness to acknowledge the epidemic of sexual assault both on and off college campuses is well-documented. Last year the Post's editorial board called a homeless shelter criticized for reports of sexual assaults "too generous" and columnist Arthur Herman labeled military sexual assault reports a "bogus epidemic."
Mainstream media distorted Ret. Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell's Benghazi testimony to the House Oversight Committee, seizing on a partial remark that "we should have tried" to rescue the victims and ignoring the fact that Lovell later explained that he did not mean the military response was insufficient.
Fox News continued its history of undermining Fox News Latino by ridiculing concerns raised by a Mexican-American student -- and shared by Fox News Latino -- after Dartmouth College cancelled an "exploitative" fundraising event.
An April 29 Fox News Latino article reported on a Dartmouth College fundraiser that was cancelled after a Mexican-American student complained about the highly "exploitative" event which included "virgin piña coladas, strawberry daiquiris and Mexican-themed snacks." The article featured excerpts from student's email sent to Dartmouth officials outlining her objections to the "Phiesta":
"As a Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color, it was sadly unsurprising that a culturally-themed party was seen as a casual venture for such a privileged institution such as Dartmouth," she wrote in an email to various college organizations, including the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, and Dean Charlotte Johnson.
"There are various problematic structures and ideologies regarding a Cinco de Mayo-inspired event, and I am sure that we, as a Dartmouth community, could learn from the extensive literature written about the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo and its construction as a drinking holiday in the United States, cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities."
On the same day, Fox News' The Five covered the story by lampooning the student's concerns as political correctness run amok. Co-host Andrea Tantaros boiled Mexican culture down to guacamole, sombreros, and margaritas:
TANTAROS: I guess I'm just wondering, what are the rules for cultural sensitivity? So on one hand, universities are encouraging multiculturalism and they're encouraging us to celebrate and include all these other cultures but when we do it we're called racist. So I just want someone to tell me the rules because I love to drink margaritas, I may or may not have been known to wear a sombrero from time to time on Cinco de Mayo, and eat lots of guacamole. Am I a racist? Am I allowed to do that on Monday or not?
Fox figures praised armed supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy as good, patriotic, hard-working Americans, ignoring their threats of violence against Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents and indications that they were willing to put women in children in the line of fire.