Rush Limbaugh expressed disgust that his homophobic views aren't treated with tolerance during a rant over a male professional athlete coming out as gay.
This week NBA center Jason Collins became the first male openly gay player in a major American sport, revealing in an April 29 Sports Illustrated story:
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
On his radio program April 30, Limbaugh bemoaned the fact that Collins' sexual preference was even a topic of conversation, as people have "gay-news fatigue." He asked repeatedly, "Why does [being gay] have to be rammed down our throats?":
LIMBAUGH: Folks, I grew up in a family where people's sexual orientation preferences, whatever, weren't even discussed. Why - why can't - why can't everybody just put your sexual preferences on Facebook and call it a day? What do we need to stop everything and have a national day of celebration - or mourning, depending on your view - recognition, or whatever, about this.
If you're like everybody else, they're sick of hearing this. They've got gay-news fatigue. Alright, we got it. Just put it up on Facebook and forget it. Why does it have to be rammed down our throats, figuratively speaking? Why does this have to be thrust at us?
Limbaugh then launched into a heated tirade about society's intolerance of his homophobic views. He complained that just because he's "not big on that" -- people identifying as gay -- he's labeled a bigot, racist, extremist, and a homophobe:
LIMBAUGH: And this tolerance, you know, it only goes one way. So, Person X of some national stature announces his sexual orientation is gay. And, applause. 'Great day for America. We're really taking giant leaps ahead.' If anybody says, 'You know, I'm not big on that.' 'You bigot! You - You - You racist! You - you extremist! You - you - you homophobe!' There is no tolerance at all here. Not only do these people have to publicly announce, everybody else has to applaud and accept it. My point the other day about how it's only us conservatives who are divisive. You know, I'm one of the most loving, unifying, want everybody to do well, like everybody, hope everybody has a great life-kind of guy you'll ever run into. But because I'm not a liberal, I'm called divisive. Liberals are never divisive. You know why that is? 'Cause to them, liberalism is just status quo. Anything that's not liberal is divisive. So, liberals believe this country has been racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, and now we're making great strides.
At the close of his program, Limbaugh expressed his respect for ESPN's Chris Broussard, a reporter who called homosexuality an "open rebellion" against God when he was asked during an appearance on ESPN about his views on Collins. Limbaugh told a caller, "I really respect him for saying it."
Listen to more of Limbaugh's rant on Collins' announcement:
The right wing media's promotion of a widely-debunked Alex Jones conspiracy theory about the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) ammunition acquisitions prompted House Republicans to hold a hearing to investigate. The theory, which assigns some sinister motivation behind the recent ammo purchases, first gained traction on the websites of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones before finding its way to Fox News and Fox Business and finally to the halls of Congress.
On April 25, Republican Reps. Jim Jordan (OH) and Jason Chaffetz (UT) held a joint hearing "to examine the procurement of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General." The hearing followed right wing media reports speculating about the reasons for the acquisitions.
The conspiracy theory picked up steam in March 2012 after a series of reports were posted to Alex Jones' InfoWars.com, including one that claimed "it's not outlandish" to conclude that the government, "is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest." An opinion piece at The Daily Caller cited the reports to suggest that the Obama administration is planning to kill thousands of American citizens. The DHS purchases were brought up on Fox News, prompting Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade to ask, "why they need all those bullets." And while covering the story, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs wondered why the government was "arming up" while trying to "disarm American citizens."
Forbes contributor Ralph Benko wrote that "It's Time For A National Conversation," and called for Congressional action:
If Obama doesn't show any leadership on this matter it's an opportunity for Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, to summon Secretary Napolitano over for a little national conversation. Madame Secretary? Buying 1.6 billion rounds of ammo and deploying armored personnel carriers runs contrary, in every way, to what "homeland security" really means.
Reps. Jordan and Chaffetz answered that call.
As Media Matters has previously noted, the claim that DHS is stockpiling ammunition for some ominous purpose is simply wrong. In reality, the Associated Press reported that while DHS did buy 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, the government bought the bullets in bulk to save money on ammunition used in training and in the field. As the AP noted, "More than 90 federal agencies and 70,000 agents and officers used the department's training center last year." On a separate occasion, Media Matters reported that DHS responded that ammunition purchases are lower than in previous years and that while the law allows DHS to set purchase contracts of billions of rounds in order to reduce prices and save money, the government hasn't actually purchased nearly that many rounds.
Alex Jones, who has called President Obama the "global head of Al Qaeda," and claimed that the terrorist attacks in Boston, New York City, and Oklahoma City were carried out or sponsored by the government, has gained influence with the right wing media. Recently, Drudge Report's Matt Drudge promised that 2013 would be "year of Alex Jones."
UPDATE: The hearing on Alex Jones' conspiracy theory inspired new legislation that's now before Congress. On April 26, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced bills in both chambers of Congress in order to limit federal agencies from stockpiling ammunition. From Inhofe's statement (emphasis added):
"President Obama has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans' access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights," said Inhofe. "One way the Obama Administration is able to do this is by limiting what's available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition. As the public learned in a House committee hearing this week, the Department of Homeland Security has two years worth of ammo on hand and allots nearly 1,000 more rounds of ammunition for DHS officers than is used on average by our Army officers. The AMMO Act of 2013 will enforce transparency and accountability of federal agencies' ammunition supply while also protecting law-abiding citizens access to these resources."
Fueled by a report from the conservative Boston Herald, right wing media outlets such as Fox News, the New York Post, and the Washington Times, are demonizing government assistance programs by tying them to the heinous terror attacks committed at the Boston Marathon. Conservative blogs used sensationalized headlines and rhetoric to make their attacks, like RedState's "Does The US Welfare System Benefit Jihadists?" and Monica Crowley's "Nice Return on Our Investment, Huh?"
On April 24, 2013, the Boston Herald published a report that claimed, "Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism."
On the April 24 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer hyped the report and complained that "taxpayers were giving money to at least one of the bombing suspects."
In reality, the right-wing smear uses an absurd guilt-by-association non sequitur in an attempt to smear government spending programs. But where does this logic end? The Tsarnaev brothers presumably used taxpayer funded roads to physically reach the Boston Marathon finish line. Will right wing media next attack government spending on highway maintenance for literally paving the way for the Boston terror suspects to commit their crimes?
Conservatives are trying to take advantage of the horrific attacks to taint the public perception of yet another policy they dislike. Since the terrorist attack on April 15, the right wing media has exploited the tragedy in Boston to smear Islam, immigration reform, education, a member of Congress, the Obama administration's foreign policy, and even the constitutional rights of American citizens.
UPDATE: During his radio program, Rush Limbaugh also jumped on this bandwagon. Limbaugh claimed the Herald's report shows "another great example of your tax dollars at work."
LIMBAUGH: Now we hear that the entire Tsarnaev family was on welfare. How could he not be an Obama supporter?
So we have another great example of your tax dollars at work. Your tax money helped to pay for the explosives, as well as Tamerlan's at least two trips back to Dagestan, his late model Mercedes, his $900 shoes. No wonder this guy hated America.
Dr. Ben Carson, a rising star in conservative media, announced today that he would step down as commencement speaker at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His decision followed a widespread backlash in the media and on campus after he compared the LGBT community to "NAMBLA" and "people who believe in bestiality."
From the Baltimore Sun:
Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson stepped down Wednesday as commencement speaker at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after complaints from students about controversial comments concerning same-sex marriage.
"Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interest of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year," he wrote in the letter to [Dean Paul] Rothman, which the dean shared with the Hopkins community.
Media Matters previously documented Ben Carson's promotion by right wing media figures after he trumpeted conservative policy ideas during a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Carson was ultimately burned by that media exposure.
The controversial remarks cited by the Baltimore Sun came during Carson's March 26 appearance on Fox News' Hannity. In reference to efforts to overturn bans on same-sex marriage, Carson said, "No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are -- they don't get to change the definition."
Those comments led Johns Hopskins students to launch a petition for his removal as commencement speaker, which petitioners said more than half of the graduating class had signed. Carson was also criticized by colleagues at Johns Hopkins who called his comments "hurtful" and "extremely discouraging." In a statement to Media Matters, the co-director of Johns Hopkins University's Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Professor Todd Shepard, said Carson's statements made him look, "nasty, petty, and ill-informed." Carson eventually apologized for his comments, before calling his critics "racists," and then apologizing again.
Carson once wrote that marriage equality could lead to the fall of America like the "fall of the Roman Empire." As of April 2, Carson was scheduled to give the keynote address at a banquet hosted by the Illinois Family Institute, an anti-gay hate group.
According to the Baltimore Sun, "Carson also stepped down as speaker for the Johns Hopkins University School of Education diploma ceremony. New speakers have not been chosen for either commencement address."
During a tease for Fox & Friends Saturday, Fox News hosts Alisyn Camerota and Clayton Morris perpetuated mischaracterizations of a Phoenix, AZ program designed to diversify the lifeguard ranks at city pools. Camerota falsely claimed that Phoenix would be hiring minority applicants as lifeguards, "even though they cannot swim" because the city must "meet quotas for diversity."
Camerota was echoing discredited myths about a lifeguard diversity program that right-wing websites like Fox Nation, Glenn Beck's The Blaze, and National Review Online have peddled in recent days. There is no evidence that a quota system is being used. In fact, the program she referred to is a scholarship that covers the cost of lifeguard-certification courses for minority students in order to encourage a more diverse field of applicants.
Despite Camerota's claim, all scholarship-sponsored applicants will still be required to pass a swim test before they are hired.
Will Fox News correct these mischaracterizations during their April 6 segment?
Several right-wing media sites stoked race-based fears to manufacture controversy over a Phoenix, AZ program designed to diversify the lifeguard ranks at city pools, falsely claiming the program hires minorities who can't swim and could "get someone killed."
On March 28, NPR reported that the Phoenix aquatics department was trying to attract more minority lifeguards by using a scholarship to cover the cost of training for those applicants who were not strong swimmers. Fox Nation claimed that minorities would be hired, "even if they can't swim." National Review Online echoed that headline. The Blaze alleged that such a program could "actually get someone killed."
National Review Online:
In reality, scholarship applicants will still be required to pass a swim test before they can apply to become city lifeguards. The scholarship covers the cost of lifeguard-certification courses for minority students in order to encourage a more diverse field of applicants. According to one survey, minorities report lower swimming proficiencies than whites.
While NRO and The Blaze have a questionable record on race, Fox Nation in particular has a well-documented history of race-baiting. In one infamous example, Fox Nation labeled President Obama's 50th birthday party, "Obama's Hip Hop Barbecue."
Conservative media infighting over Dr. Ben Carson deteriorated into name-calling when radio host Mark Levin attacked Fox News' Dana Perino. Levin's attacks were in response to a segment on Fox's The Five in which Perino claimed that the media are not doing Carson "any favors" by hosting him so often. Levin called Perino a "jerk" and suggested she was one of the "preening, elitist, country-club Republicans." He also said that Perino's statements were "pathetic."
Levin's vitriol came during the April 2 edition of his show and seemed to be a response to comments Perino made on Fox News' The Five earlier in the day. Perino criticized Carson's numerous cable and talk news appearances -- which included an appearance on Levin's show April 1 -- saying, "I do not think anyone does him any favors by burning him up on -- putting him out everywhere, all the time."
Levin joined Rush Limbaugh and Megyn Kelly in defending Carson, but Carson has fallen out of favor with other right-wing media figures after he made controversial statements equating marriage equality to bestiality and pedophilia. Fox News has also received criticism for giving him a platform.
Fox News host Jon Scott questioned the amount of media coverage paid to last week's historic Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality, saying that only "three or four percent of the population is actually gay" and suggesting media should have spent more time covering more impactful issues.
Scott's March 29 criticism was based on a Mediaite post about coverage of the hearings. Here's a look at some of the stories covered by Happening Now that week:
A trio of Fox Business commentators attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) advocacy for an increased federal minimum wage by wildly mischaracterizing comments she made during a Senate committee hearing. In addition to incorrectly implying that Warren is advocating for a $22 per hour minimum wage, the panelists dismissed the need for any increase in the minimum at all by relying on misinformation and distorted arguments.
At a March 14 hearing on the ties between economic growth and the federal minimum wage, Warren said that if minimum wage had been pegged to productivity as it had increased from 1960 until now, "the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour."
On the March 19 edition of Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney and two guests, Fox Business contributor Charles Payne and Fox Business reporter Sandra Smith, mischaracterized Warren's statement to claim she was advocating for raising the minimum wage to $22 per hour. For instance, Smith claimed that Warren is "fighting for you to make $22 an hour."
Payne also misleadingly suggested Warren's numbers were incorrect by comparing the $22 figure -- which is tied to worker productivity -- to the unrelated metric of inflation.
In fact, as the Huffington Post noted, Warren was not making the case for raising the minimum wage to $22, but was in fact referring to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) that supports her position that an increase in the minimum wage is overdue. According to the CEPR study, "Between the end of World War II and 1968, the minimum wage tracked average productivity growth fairly closely. Since 1968, however, productivity growth has far outpaced the minimum wage. If the minimum wage had continued to move with average productivity after 1968, it would have reached $21.72 per hour in 2012 - a rate well above the average production worker wage."
Payne also claimed that the minimum wage is not meant to support a family and is usually earned by teenagers, saying: "This is a stepping stone. This is not something that -- it was never designed for people to live on, per say." But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just over half of all workers receiving the federal minimum wage in 2011 were aged 25 and above For her part, Smith also repeated the myth that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs, but numerous studies show that's not true.
Fox's Laura Ingraham brought on Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), to attack the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and rebut SPLC's identification of FAIR as a "hate group." Ingraham and her guests ignored the fact that the SPLC, a non-profit organization that monitors hate groups and crimes, attached the label to FAIR in part as a result of the group's anti-immigrant advocacy, ties to white supremacists and the racist rhetoric of the group's founder John Tanton.
On the March 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Dane attempted to discredit the SPLC as a "far-left political attack machine" and compared the SPLC's activism to McCarthyism. Before the segment was over, Dane denied the very existence of hate groups, claiming that while hate crimes are real, "a hate group is a concoction, an invention of the politically-left Southern Poverty Law Center." Watch:
FAIR has a history of holding rallies where immigrants are smeared as "disease-ridden" criminals. One FAIR event featured a guest who had threatened, "We should hang you and send your body back to where you came from." FAIR also has close ties to the White Nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens and has received over $1 million in funding from a white supremacist group. According to the SPLC, FAIR is "the most important organization" in a network of 13 hate groups founded by John Tanton, who once warned of a coming "Latin onslaught."