Iowa radio host Steve Deace hosted Troy Newman, a radical anti-abortion activist and president of anti-choice group Operation Rescue, to hype the deceptively edited Planned Parenthood videos Newman helped produce and release. Newman has a history of violent speech and actions directed at abortion service providers, including systematically harassing clinic workers and defending the murder of an abortion clinic doctor.
Following the July 21 release of a second deceptively edited video purportedly showing a Planned Parenthood staff member engaging in a discussion about "selling" fetal tissue for medical science, Deace hosted Newman to discuss the videos he admitted helping create:
Although not discussed by Deace, who also has some extreme thoughts of his own about women's reproductive rights, Newman and Operation Rescue have a track record of aggressive anti-choice rhetoric and actions. According to a 2003 Operation Rescue West press release, Newman defended Paul Jennings Hill, an anti-abortion activist who murdered a Florida abortion doctor and his security guard in 1994. In the release Newman said Hill's conviction was unfair because Hill was unable to present "the legal defense that his conduct was justifiable defensive action" to "save the lives of pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day."
For his part, Newman has engaged in personal harassment of clinic staff. As the Los Angeles Times reported in a February 17, 2004 article, he planned to stalk clinic workers -- who he compared to infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele -- to "make it clear they're not welcome in Wichita":
Newman will pick through clinic workers' trash to figure out where they do business; he'll trail them at a distance to learn their routines.
His goal is not just to make their lives uncomfortable. He wants to unsettle and disgust their friends and associates, so their hairstylists and their pharmacists, even their neighbors, make it clear they're not welcome in Wichita.
"If Josef Mengele came into a bank saying, 'Here are a few gold teeth I ripped out of the Jews before I gassed them,' the bank would be horrified. They'd say, 'I'm not taking your blood money.' That's the picture of abortionists that we have to paint," Newman said.
The videos Newman's organization consulted on and took credit for on Deace's show are full of deceptive edits and do not show any illegal activity. As the New York Times explained in an editorial discussing the videos, the full first video, which was edited down from over two hours to less than 10 minutes, "shows something very different from what these critics claim" by "eliminat[ing] statements made by Dr. Nucatola explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donation." The editorial continued:
The Center for Medical Progress video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal. Lawmakers responding by promoting their own anti-choice agenda are rewarding deception and putting women's health and their constitutionally protected rights at risk.
Factcheck.org agreed, saying the deceptively edited videos did not show Planned Parenthood violating any laws and highlighting experts who said that the money discussed in the video "represents a reasonable fee" for tissue donation.
Journalists planning to cover the upcoming Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa should be aware of the extreme anti-gay rhetoric regularly voiced by several of the event's sponsors and speakers, including host Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader and one of the most influential conservative activists in Iowa. Attendees will also hear from Tony Perkins, the head of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council and Brian Brown, the head of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, among others.
After days of criticizing "sanctuary cities" and claiming they give safe haven to criminals and terrorists, Fox News' Sean Hannity had little to say on the matter while interviewing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who enforced his own "sanctuary policies" during his eight years in office.
Following the July 1 shooting death of a San Francisco woman allegedly by an undocumented immigrant, conservative media reignited a debate on so-called "sanctuary cities," which limit local police enforcement of federal immigration laws. Hannity made his views known by declaring such cities dangerous safe havens for criminals and terrorists.
But then, on the July 8 edition of his show, Hannity hosted former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to discuss "sanctuary cities" and the unsubstantiated claim that undocumented immigrants, in general, engage in a wide range of criminal activity. Giuliani explained that New York City's "sanctuary city" policy -- which he admitted he helped develop -- was adopted as a way to reduce crime by focusing on immigrant criminals instead of undocumented crime victims who aid police, children whose parents may be undocumented, or people seeking emergency hospital treatment. Guiliani described his city's policy as one of "don't ask." Hannity's only comment was to agree that not deporting undocumented residents who help with police investigations "makes sense" before he refocused the conversation on undocumented criminals. He neither refuted nor criticized Guiliani's explanation of the valid reasons to establish "sanctuary cities." Watch:
While Guiliani attempted to distance New York's policy from that of San Francisco, the fact is that New York's policy is nearly identical to San Francisco's and other "sanctuary cities'." As FactCheck.org pointed out after Guiliani attempted to claim that New York was never a "sanctuary city," cities like Seattle and San Francisco have similar "sanctuary policies" but if someone commits a crime, "then, in virtually all these localities and states, you're no longer protected or insulated":
New York's executive order, first issued in 1989 and later renewed by Giuliani, called for local-federal cooperation in cases of suspected criminal activity and also allowed city employees to talk to federal agencies about an immigrant when it was "required by law." Other cities on CRS' list have similar requirements. San Francisco, for instance, which declares itself "a City and County of Refuge," permits cooperation between law enforcement and federal authorities if an immigrant is arrested on felony charges or has been previously convicted of a felony. Seattle's policy says: "Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prohibit any Seattle city officer or employee from cooperating with federal immigration authorities as required by law." Police may also ask about immigration status if an officer believes a felony suspect previously may have been deported.
"There are different levels of detail in the policies. There are different goals in the policies," says Marshall Fitz of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "But for the most part, I think they are designed to provide a comfort level to immigrants that the police are, unless you're engaged in a crime, the police are not immigration agents. ... If you commit a crime ... well then, in virtually all of these localities and states, you're no longer protected or insulated."
San Francisco and other "sanctuary cities" -- like New York, which under Guiliani attempted to sue the federal government to ensure its sanctuary policies were not dismantled by federal legislation -- have been found to be in accordance with all federal and state laws. In addition, as the Congressional Research Service has noted, as long as there is no specific policy banning the transfer of information from local authorities to federal immigration authorities, which don't collect such information -- or as Giuliani said, have a "don't ask" policy -- all "sanctuary cities" are in accordance with federal law and legal precedence.
In the wake of the shooting death of a San Francisco woman by an undocumented immigrant, Fox News has blamed so-called "sanctuary city" policies for the murder, incorrectly claiming that these policies are illegal. However, multiple experts and government officials have confirmed that these local and state policies do not conflict with federal immigration law.
As national media begin to focus their political coverage on campaigning by Republican presidential candidates in the lead-up to the New Hampshire primary, it's incumbent upon journalists to disclose the history of misinformation and conservative bias of the state's top newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, as well as the ties between the Koch brothers and oft-quoted state political expert Charles Arlinghaus.
A June 30 report by Politico highlighted how the crowded field of GOP contenders are viewing next January's first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire as "do or die" and already jostling for position. The piece said, "Never before have so many White House hopefuls bet so much on a single primary," and included quotes from Charles Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Institute, and Drew Cline, editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. But Politico failed to mention Arlinghaus' ties to the Koch brothers and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), or the Union Leader's long history of publishing conservative misinformation.
As other New Hampshire newspapers have been closing their state house bureaus because of budget cuts, the Union Leader's voice in statewide politics has gained prominence. Fox News is co-hosting a debate in August with the paper and presidential candidates are lining up to be interviewed by the Union Leader's publisher via live streaming. With so much access to candidates, and hardly any competition, the Union Leader's outsized influence could push candidates further to the right.
Publisher Joe McQuaid enjoys a prominent role as a must-visit member of the media for presidential primary candidates. In addition to his publishing duties, McQuaid has written sensationalist editorials for the paper, including one that called for a travel ban during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa -- a move most experts agreed would only exacerbate the spread of the virus. As the Daily Beast pointed out in the run-up to the 2012 election, McQuaid "is one of the more influential voices in American politics." McQuaid himself "figures that the Union Leader 'may be able to sway a few percentage points in close elections,'" much of that due to the editorial stance of the paper, which is written by only two people: McQuaid and editor Cline, who also runs the editorial page.
Although the 2012 Union Leader-endorsed candidate, Newt Gingrich, failed to win the primary, Gingrich's polling numbers spiked following the endorsement. However, as Politico explained, because of the way the Union Leader operates, the endorsement the paper gives is more than just a "one-time front-page feature," because the paper "tends to interweave its endorsement with its news coverage, bolstering its pick and attacking the other candidates ... most likely in addition to the opinion columns that tend to run in the paper echoing the official choice."
The two-man editorial board of McQuaid and Cline often echoes national conservative media talking points. The board has fabricated a need for harmful voter ID laws, attacked successful Head Start programs -- which help provide a pre-K education for New Hampshire's children - and even downplayed the impact of sequestration's steep budget cuts.
The Union Leader's editorial board has been attacking President Obama and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since 2010 and published a massive amount of misinformation on the law. The board warned of spiking insurance premium prices that never came to pass, criticized cost-saving measures in the law, and said initial glitches in the rollout of the online exchanges meant the entire law was a failure. The board also attacked Medicaid expansion and promoted a misguided voucher program to privatize the program.
On foreign policy issues, the Union Leader has demonstrated reckless bias by calling opponents of the release of the Senate report on CIA torture "wusses," and pushed a false narrative that blamed Hillary Clinton for the kidnapping of hundreds of African girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
Outside of its opinion pages, the Union Leader has also at times blatantly misinformed its readers. In 2013, the paper published a lightly-edited press release authored by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) -- the Koch brothers-funded conservative advocacy group -- attacking the ACA. The article gave free publicity to AFP while helping to fulfill its larger mission, which, according to The Washington Post, is to "spread as much confusion and dishonesty about the [health care] law as possible."
The conservative slant to the Union Leader's news section is also apparent in what the paper chooses not to cover. A 2012 Media Matters study found that it failed to report on the "environmental, health, and economic benefits" of new government regulations in stories that emphasized how they would hurt the economy.
The Union Leader also publishes a regular op-ed by Charles Arlinghaus, the president of the Josiah Bartlett Institute, a think tank with strong connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council's conservative model-legislation mill (ALEC). In 2012, Arlinghaus and ALEC representatives co-hosted an event to denounce the Affordable Care Act.
The Josiah Bartlett Institute is part of the Koch brothers-funded State Policy Network -- state-based think tanks that incubate and legitimize conservative policy ideas that often benefit corporate sponsors. A representative for the Center for Media and Democracy told the Nashua Telegraph that Koch donations associated with Arlinghaus and the institute show that Arlinghaus is "working on a national conservative agenda, not a local, New Hampshire-based agenda."
Simon Conway, one of most influential voices in Iowa talk radio, missed an opportunity June 24 to press Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on his support for the Duggar family in the wake of its child molestation scandal -- something he promised to do just two weeks ago. On his June 25 show, Conway had another opportunity to press a GOP candidate on a divisive issue -- this time, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has defended the right of states to fly the Confederate battle flag, which Conway has equated with Nazi imagery. He again failed to do so.
On his June 4 show, Conway responded to Mike Huckabee's public vow to stand by and continue to support, and receive support from, the Duggar family despite the revelation that Jim Bob Dugger covered up his son Josh's molestation of several children. Conway initially posited that part of the reason Huckabee wouldn't come on his show was because he knew Conway would bring it up, and he vowed that the next time he interviewed Huckabee, he would, promising, "This is not something I want to see swept under the carpet."
Conway had that chance on his June 24 show, but despite having Huckabee on for three full segments - almost the entire first hour of his show -- Conway did not press him on the Duggar controversy.
Radio host Michael Berry criticized the decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds by positing that if the gunman were Muslim, no one would be calling to "outlaw the Koran" or mosques in response.
On his June 23 show, Berry, who is an outspoken proponent of the Confederate battle flag, criticized the calls to remove the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds in response to the fatal shootings of nine black church members on June 17. Dylann Storm Roof, who has been charged with the attack, told law enforcement officials he was influenced by white supremacists, who see the Confederate flag as a symbol of their beliefs. Berry said taking down the flag made no sense because when a Muslim commits a terrorist attack -- something he falsely claimed is more likely than an attack by a non-Muslim -- there aren't any calls to "outlaw the Koran" or to "outlaw mosques."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, attacks on Muslims after 9/11 "skyrocketed some 1,600%," and as recently as 2010, some 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes were committed. North Carolina and Florida have passed "anti-sharia" laws, and as The New York Times reported, towns in Tennessee, California, and Wisconsin have tried to stop the construction or expansion of mosques.
Texas-based radio host Michael Berry criticized a Twitter user who, in the wake of the June 17 killing of nine black worshippers at an historic black church in Charlestown, South Carolina, tweeted that the state's governor had defended the Confederate "Stars and Bars" flag over the state capitol last October. Berry claimed the flag merely represents "the heritage of the state" and accused critics of wanting to "revise the history."
Berry spent a large portion of his June 18 morning show downplaying the racist motivations behind Dylann Storm Roof's attack on a prayer group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. While condemning those he said have rushed to judgement about the white shooter's motivations, Berry responded to a tweet by a former official at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development that pointed out that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) had defended flying the Confederate flag outside the statehouse in October 2014. Berry said it was silly to blame the capitol's display of the "Stars and Bars" flag of the former Confederate States for encouraging the attack because it merely "represents the heritage of the state." He added that opponents want to "revise the history and take the flag away." Listen:
Berry, who called black teens at a pool party in McKinney, Texas "jungle animals" and told black UCLA students who were trying to improve diversity on campus to "get the F over themselves," has caused more than a few controversies with his racially insensitive remarks. His defense of the Confederate flag epitomizes what Philip Klein, managing editor of the conservative Washington Examiner, criticized in a recent column that said, "Conservatives who try to defend the flag (or who are afraid to criticize it) are only reinforcing the perception that supporters of limited government don't really care about the historical or modern day struggles of black Americans." But considering the fact that Berry's promotional material for his show features a picture of him wearing a Confederate flag hat, (see above), it seems unlikely he cares.
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson, the state's self-appointed vetter of GOP presidential candidates, recently told members of the League of Women Voters that it should be harder for people to vote, suggesting it be limited to state property owners or people who pass a civics test -- both of which were used to disenfranchise black voters and others in colonial America and the Jim Crow era.
On the June 4 broadcast of Mickelson in the Morning, Mickelson hosted two representatives of the League of Women Voters. During the discussion, Mickelson declared that unlike his guests, whose group works to register more Americans to vote, he is in "the voter repression business" and doesn't want people to vote "unless they agree" with him. He also suggested that in order to vote, Americans should have to pass a "civics test" to prove they're smart enough.
Iowa radio host and Washington Times columnist Steve Deace strongly criticized Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) after Pence agreed in a press conference to amend Indiana's recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which would give businesses the right to discriminate against LGBT Americans, calling Pence "gutless" and comparing him and other state Republicans to "eunuchs."
Deace, who is notoriously anti-gay, initially supported Pence on his March 30 radio show, instead blaming the "rainbow jihad" and "religious bigots" for causing an unnecessary issue with a law he incorrectly claimed was the same as in 19 other states.
Despite the backing of likely 2016 Republican presidential candidates, Pence held a press conference announcing he would revisit the law and ensure there were protections for LGBT Americans. On his March 31 show, Deace called Pence a "gutless hack," and said that any chance he had at the Republican presidential nomination is gone. Deace added of Republicans: "When you look between their legs, there's no there, there. Eunuchs all. Well, almost all. GOP leadership is rapidly removing any reasons for a conservative to vote Republican, let alone remain one."
In an interview with the Washington Post and on his show, Deace said RFRA is "the first litmus test of the race" and that for him, if a candidate did not align themselves with anti-gay laws, they would be a non-starter in his eyes.
Deace, who has frequently appeared on cable television to discuss how national stories will play out in Iowa, was recently called one of the "most powerful Republicans you've never heard of" by Bloomberg Politics because of his influence in the key primary state of Iowa.
Full segment below: