A segment on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor argued that President Obama's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program made it so that it is now easier for undocumented immigrants to come to the country than it is for legal immigrants, a gross misrepresentation of the policy and its actual effects on current undocumented immigrants.
On the May 20 edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly claimed that "folks who want to come to the USA legally, [are] not being able to do so because of the current policy on illegal aliens [DACA]." Fox correspondent Shannon Bream explained that legal immigrants are waiting longer to enter the U.S. because the agency in charge of immigration has prioritized current DACA recipients. O'Reilly concluded that the rules mean that "it is much more difficult to come here legally than illegally."
In reporting on the recent Amtrak derailment near Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured up to 200 others, broadcast evening news programs and the Sunday morning political talk shows have largely ignored an outdated federal law that could deny financial compensation to victims and their families.
After the horrific Amtrak passenger train crash on May 12, much of the media coverage has focused on the technical causes of the accident and whether increased infrastructure spending might prevent future tragedies.
But a Media Matters analysis of evening news broadcasts and Sunday shows' coverage of the derailment indicates that the major networks have largely ignored how the victims of this crash might be denied financial compensation from Amtrak that will adequately cover their medical expenses going forward. Because of a 1997 federal law that limits the amount of money the victims can recover for their injuries to $200 million, many of the victims -- and the families of those who died -- may get stuck trying to pay for the costs associated with the crash out of their own pockets.
Only the May 17 edition of ABC News' This Week briefly mentioned the outdated law, in a segment with ABC's Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams. As Abrams explained, the $200 million cap is not per victim, but the total amount that can be paid out per incident, regardless of the number of fatalities or extent of survivor injuries:
Fox News was quick to criticize President Obama for emphasizing how climate change is a core threat to national security, arguing the president should have focused instead on foreign terrorist organizations during his Coast Guard Academy commencement speech. In fact, the Coast Guard will be at the forefront of the nation's response to the significant challenges afoot due to the earth's changing climate.
Obama spoke at length about the national security threats presented by climate change during his May 20 commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The president highlighted how "climate change increases the risk of instability and conflict" around the world, citing severe droughts in the Middle East and North Africa that have contributed to the rise of extremist groups, rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms sparking humanitarian crises, and the impact of Arctic sea ice reduction on international maritime rivalries.
Fox News roundly mocked the address, charging that Obama "seems to have utterly lost his way" on national security issues. Others disapproved of the Coast Guard Academy as the setting for his climate remarks, suggesting it reflected poorly on Obama's priorities and management of the resources of the U.S. military.
But the Coast Guard is perhaps the most appropriate of the five armed service branches to focus future planning efforts on combating the effects of a changing climate. As the president stated, "the threat of a changing climate cuts to the very core" of the Coast Guard's mission.
The breakup of Arctic sea ice presents new challenges for the Coast Guard. Shortly before retiring from the service, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp discussed how climate change affects the Coast Guard's mission in an interview with Defense News:
Part of our maritime governance is to make sure that ships and cargo get safely in and out of our ports. So if the water rises, how does that affect our aid navigation system? How does that affect dredging with the Army Corps of Engineers? These are marine safety type issues.
In July 2014, Papp was appointed as U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic Region for the express purpose of advising American strategy with regard to climate change in the world's northern oceans.
Sea level rise, another direct result of climate change, is occurring faster than previously predicted and threatens low-lying areas of the United States and neighboring countries. According to the United Nations, sea level rise could be up to four times more pronounced in island nations, many of which dot the Caribbean Sea and are likely destinations for Coast Guard humanitarian relief operations.
Climate change exacerbates the impact of extreme weather events and has been shown to supercharge hurricane systems that target the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf coast every year. When these storms destroy communities and threaten American lives, the Coast Guard is among the first responders on-scene to rescue and care for stranded victims. The Coast Guard's "dangerous and exhausting" rescue missions proved to be a lonely silver lining during the Bush administration's botched response to Hurricane Katrina.
Despite Fox News' protests, the Coast Guard is "on the front lines of climate change and national security."
Fox News attacked Planned Parenthood Action Fund for acknowledging that 2016 Republican hopeful Carly Fiorina's policy positions may threaten women's health, suggesting that her positions could not harm women because Fiorina is female.
Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck took issue with a Planned Parenthood Action Fund poll that asked "which GOP presidential contender is the worst for women's health" because it included a female candidate, Carly Fiorina. On the May 21 edition of the program, Hasselbeck wondered, "How is a female candidate a threat to women?" before suggesting even conducting such a poll on the election's impact on healthcare policy was inappropriate because Planned Parenthood receives government grants.
Hasselbeck steered clear of addressing Fiorina's actual policy stances, many of which would disproportionately harm women.
Fiorina has pushed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which greatly improves women's access to health care, claiming that it "does not solve problems -- it creates them." She supported a dangerous ban on abortions after 20-weeks so extreme even Republican congresswomen opposed it. Running for U.S. Senate in 2010, Fiorina said that she would "absolutely" repeal Roe v. Wade if given the opportunity.
She has opposed policies to address the gender pay gap, disputing the necessity of the Paycheck Fairness Act, and repeatedly objected to efforts to raise the minimum wage, which would greatly benefit the nearly two-thirds of minimum wage earners who are women and help close the gender pay gap.
CNN declined to comment on whether Newt Gingrich is still employed at the network in light of news that he is joining the world's largest law firm.
Gingrich will start working for Dentons in June as a "senior advisor" in its public policy and regulation practice. It's unclear whether Gingrich, who has a history of conflict of interest problems, will simultaneously work for the firm and as a CNN contributor -- the network declined to clarify his current employment status to Media Matters. According to a Nexis search, Gingrich was last on CNN on March 3, 2015. During the appearance, he was identified as a CNN contributor.
While he'll work with lobbyists at Dentons, he will not officially register as one. The Wall Street Journal reported that the firm earned more than $1.275 billion in revenue last year and has "more than 6,600 lawyers and professionals" and "will have 125 offices in more than 50 countries."
Dentons' public policy and regulation practice is involved in dozens of areas such as energy, the environment, health care, and national security. Dentons US banked more than $6.5 million in lobbying income in 2014 from clients like Allstate, Credit Union National Association, Lumara Health, and Time Warner Cable, according to OpenSecrets.org. The firm's chairman stated that Gingrich will "engage and advance the goals of our clients."
Gingrich told the Journal that "he's 'clearing a fair amount of time' to work at Dentons, but he'll continue doing some other projects" such as writing a novel. A request for comment passed along by Dentons to Gingrich's office was not returned.
The firm's large client list and practice areas would create innumerable conflicts for Gingrich as a media commentator.
Gingrich, who previously hosted CNN's now-defunct Crossfire reboot, has shown little concern for adhering to media ethics regarding conflicts of interest. In 2013, CNN drew an onslaught of criticism from reporters for allowing Gingrich to discuss candidates his political action committee gave money to without disclosing it. His media company also received money from the Republican National Committee, but Gingrich did not divulge that while hosting Crossfire.
Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor who predicted in 2003 that proponents of the U.S. invasion of Iraq would be "vindicated" upon the discovery of weapons of mass destruction there, is holding fast to the idea that the deadly and expensive conflict was the right move. Kristol's justifications for the war, however, have changed dramatically.
In a May 20 op-ed for USA Today, Kristol argued that U.S. intervention in Iraq was justified in 2003 "to remove Saddam Hussein, and to complete the job we should have finished in 1991." Kristol added that "we were right to persevere" in Iraq, "even with the absence of caches of weapons of mass destruction."
Kristol went on to blame President Obama for the failure of the war and the rise of ISIS, writing, "Obama threw it all away":
Even with the absence of caches of weapons of mass destruction, and the mistakes we made in failing to send enough troops at first and to provide security from the beginning for the Iraqi people, we were right to persevere through several difficult years. We were able to bring the war to a reasonably successful conclusion in 2008.
When President Obama took office, Iraq was calm, al-Qaeda was weakened and ISIS did not exist. Iran, meanwhile, was under pressure from abroad (due to sanctions) and at home (due to popular discontent, manifested by the Green uprising in the summer of 2009).
The Obama administration threw it all away. It failed to support the dissidents in Iran in 2009, mishandled the Iraqi elections in 2010, removed all U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011, and allowed the Syrian civil war to spiral out of control from 2011 on.
We see, this week in Ramadi but this year throughout the Middle East, the predictable consequences of this disastrous policy of withdrawal and retreat.
And even though the threat is now clear as day, this administration shows no sign of changing course, as President George W. Bush did when it became clear his strategy in Iraq wasn't working.
Kristol's stance on the war's justifications today differs considerably from his arguments in favor of invading Iraq in 2003. At that time, Kristol -- one of many conservative voices drumming up support for the war -- claimed American forces "will be welcomed in Baghdad as liberators" and argued that "we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction." From the March 5, 2003 edition of ABC's Nightline:
TED KOPPEL: Does it bother you that it appears that it is going to be a largely unilateral policy? I don't want to diminish the influence of our British friends, but this is clearly an American policy.
BILL KRISTOL: It is. One would always prefer to have more allies rather than fewer. And I think we actually will have lots of help in the reconstruction and democratization, actually, of Iraq. But, look, I think what we've learned over the last ten years is that America has to lead. Other countries won't act. They will follow us, but they won't do it on their own. And in this case, I think we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq.
The editors of USA Today summarized the consequences of the Iraq War in a May 20 editorial:
Nearly 4,500 Americans died, tens of thousands more were wounded, and $2 trillion was squandered in a war to destroy weapons of mass destruction that were never found.
And though the war disposed of a bloody dictator, Saddam Hussein, it ushered in something worse, at least for the United States: A sectarian civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and gave birth to Islamist terrorism, now under the banner of the Islamic State.
Gun Owners of America -- a far-right gun group whose leader has been linked to white supremacists and has suggested that mass shootings are staged by the government -- will host Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to address the group's "activists."
GOA is headed by Larry Pratt, a conspiracy theorist who frequently espouses extreme views on gun regulation. The group is considered to be to the right of the National Rifle Association touts itself as "the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington."
According to an e-mail sent to GOA supporters, Cruz will speak at a "Tele-Town Hall" meeting on May 27. GOA "is surveying and interviewing all of the candidates," but Cruz is the first to agree to address the group:
Cruz, who has received campaign contributions from GOA, previously praised the group as "strong defenders of the Second Amendment."
Although media sometimes ignore GOA's extremism, the group and its leader ascribe to a hard-right ideology. In 1996, Pratt was forced to leave Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign after it came to light that he had spoken at a militia conference alongside leaders of the white supremacist movement. GOA also donated "tens of thousands of dollars" to white supremacy group CAUSE in the 90s.
On the issue of gun violence, Pratt has flirted with the idea that the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting and the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater mass shooting were carried out by the government. Pratt has also suggested that politicians who support gun violence prevention laws should fear being shot and recently claimed that rioters in Baltimore should have been shot on sight. Among Pratt's lowlights:
Conservative media are lashing out at a Columbia University student who protested her school's handling of her sexual assault allegation, distracting from yet another report confirming the widespread prevalence of the crime on college campuses.
In 2014, Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz made headlines for her senior art thesis, a performance piece titled "Carry That Weight," in which she pledged to carry a mattress whenever she was on campus in protest of her college's handling of her own sexual assault complaint against a fellow student. On May 19, Sulkowicz graduated from Columbia, crossing the stage while carrying her mattress with the aide of four friends.
In a May 20 post for National Review Online, Ian Tuttle attacked Sulkowicz, accusing her of having lied about being assaulted. Pointing to a letter in which Sulkowicz expressed disappointment that her personal social media pages had been sorted through in order to find evidence to cast doubts on her claims, Tuttle wrote that all victims of sexual assault should "by definition" have to "submit one's own private life to scrutiny" if they want their accusations taken seriously and reported. Another post that same day by the Daily Caller's Jim Treacher similarly attacked Sulkowciz, promoting a "@FakeRape" Twitter campaign against her to make the debunked claim that false rape accusation are common.
Right-wing media's attacks on Sulkowicz come as growing evidence suggests that sexual assault is occurring at epidemic levels on college campuses.
A new study released May 20 in the Journal of Adolescent Health "surveyed 480 female freshmen at a university in upstate New York in 2010" and found that about one in five were the victims of sexual assault or attempted rape while in college, and the majority experienced it during their first three months on campus. As the Huffington Post reported, "The results confirm other research that has found about 20 percent of women are victimized by sexual assault in college. A Centers for Disease Control report last year showed 19.3 percent of women are victims of rape or attempted rape during their lifetimes." Quoting researcher Kate Carey, a professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University's School of Public Health, the article noted that this research is further evidence that "rape is a common experience among college-aged women" and there is an urgent need to address it. Carey explained that "if a similar number of young people were breaking their legs in their first year of school, 'we would expect that the community would do something to enhance the safety of the environment.'"
Conservative media have consistently worked to discredit research showing that one in five women experiences a completed or attempted sexually assault at college, mocking those who do come forward and dismissing efforts to address the crime as proof of a "war" on men. Their efforts to dismiss the epidemic of campus sexual assault further stigmatizes a crime that according to the Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network already goes unreported up to 68% of the time.
Fox News' misleading smear of food stamp recipients as surfing freeloaders found its way into a congressional hearing aimed at examining the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
On May 20, the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing addressing the "Past, Present, and Future of SNAP." Throughout the hearing, Fox News' misleading 2013 special, "The Great Food Stamp Binge" that attempted to make a surfing freeloader "the new face of food stamps" was referenced several times as evidence of abuse within the program.
Fox's misrepresentation of food stamp recipients found its way into the hearing when two members on the committee used the special as anecdotal evidence of abuse within SNAP. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) used Fox's example of a "surfer out in California living on food stamps and eating lobster" as evidence of abuse within the program, though he "forg[o]t which network" aired the special.
Later, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) also referenced "the surfer that was on one of the news channels," claiming, "unfortunately, we see that in our districts, and I hear stories about that every day."
The surfer mentioned by Reps. Gibbs and Yoho was Jason Greenslate who featured in Fox's special as part of Fox News' longstanding history of maligning the poor and misrepresenting food stamp recipients. After it aired, the network delivered physical copies of the special to members of Congress in an attempt to influence a vote to cut SNAP benefits by billions of dollars.
What the special failed to note was the fact that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service, the fraud and waste rate in SNAP is roughly only 1 percent. The special also ignored the fact that SNAP kept 4.7 million people out of poverty in 2011, many of whom are children, and that 82 percent of SNAP households include a child, elderly person, or disabled American.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), fought to correct the record by pointing out the "surfer on food stamps" is "not the reality of the program, and it's our job to tell anybody who says it is, that it isn't" (emphasis added):
REP. MCGOVERN: I want to make sure the record is corrected on this, we heard a couple of times mention the guy who is a surfer on food stamps. That is not the reality of the program, and it's our job to tell anybody who says it is, that it isn't. The majority of people on this program are kids, are senior citizens, are those who are disabled. And of those who are able-bodied, the majority of them work. Given the opportunity between working at a job that pays a wage where I wouldn't have to rely on this benefit, or a job that I have to work full-time and I still need to rely on SNAP, I mean, we know what people would decide. So let's not demonize this program by taking some examples that may have appeared on some news show that I won't mention the name of the news show, but anyway. But the point of the matter is we ought to be talking, we ought to make sure that the narrative we are echoing here reflects the reality.
A front-page Wall Street Journal report suggested that a top political appointee in Hillary Clinton's State Department improperly "blocked" documents sought under public records law. But even the article's anonymous sources don't support that allegation.
While career officials are supposed to make the final decisions on the release of documents sought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it is normal for political appointees to play a role in the process. As explained in a 2011 Inspector General report issued as part of an investigation into the role political appointees played in the FOIA processes of the Department of Homeland Security, both political and career officials "should undoubtedly ask questions and offer suggestions while a course of action is under consideration. This is the 'deliberative process' in which government employees must engage in order to make reasoned decisions. "The report noted that it is "appropriate that there be internal debate among DHS employees about DHS programs, and FOIA processing is no exception."
Echoing this understanding of how the FOIA process works, the Journal includes a State Department spokesman's comment that it is "entirely appropriate for certain Department personnel" to be consulted regarding FOIA requests, and a Clinton spokesman's statement that the focus of the article, former State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills, "did not inappropriately interfere with the FOIA process."