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  • Wash. Post: Roger Ailes’ "Offensive Style Of Broadcasting” On Display With O’Reilly’s Meltdown Over Slavery

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post journalist Erik Wemple hammered Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly for defending his comments that slaves who built the White House were “well-fed and had decent lodgings,” lambasting both his “offensive” remarks and the “gap” between “historical fact” and O’Reilly’s assertions.

    On July 26, O’Reilly responded to Michelle Obama’s Democratic National Convention Speech, where the first lady paid homage to the slaves who helped build the White House, by inexplicably adding that they were “well-fed and had decent lodgings by the government.” The media widely criticized O’Reilly’s “morally bankrupt” comments.

    O’Reilly, who has a long and sordid history of racist attacks, responded to the media criticism by doubling down, saying on July 27 that his “commentary” was “100 percent accurate” and “fact.”

    Washington Post’s Erik Wemple excoriated O’Reilly, noting that his remarks fit right in line with the “offensive style of broadcasting” that thrived under recently ousted former Fox President, Roger Ailes. Wemple noted that historians roundly criticized O’Reilly’s false claims, explaining that the real conditions of slaves were unknown because “slaves were not given a choice on what they ate or where they lived.” Wemple added that O’Reilly reached new “extremes” by lashing out at the “far left” and calling for his entire network “to band together … to call out the people who are actively trying to destroy this network” because “they want me dead.” From the July 28 Washington Post article:

    Well, it’s been a week since Ailes left, and his offensive style of broadcasting lives on. On Wednesday night, host Bill O’Reilly took to the network’s airwaves to attempt a defense of his comments of last night regarding first lady Michelle Obama’s Monday night speech here at the Democratic National Convention. She said, in part, “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

    [...]

    As the Erik Wemple Blog pointed out this morning, Jesse J. Holland, who wrote the book on slaves and the White House, noted that the slaves were housed in a barn and were provided with food. Yet there’s a gap between that historical fact and what O’Reilly alleged, which, again, is that they were “well fed” and resided in “decent lodgings.”

    [...]

    Information scarcity notwithstanding, O’Reilly stands by his conclusions about well-fed-decent-lodgings. At this point, it’s incumbent on him to substantiate these judgments or concede that he’s making them without supporting documentation — a common malaise on certain Fox News programs. A smaller point pertains to O’Reilly’s sudden and complete faith in the ability of government to provide sustenance and accommodations for its people. Why does this guy, a small government proponent, all of a sudden think that the public sector can perform such programs with such efficiency?

    [...]

    Further evidence that O’Reilly has reached new extremes emerged in this comment: “I think the time has come now where this whole network is going to have to band together — all of us — and we are going to have to call out the people who are actively trying to destroy this network by using lies and deception and propaganda. We’re going to have to start to call them out by name because that’s how bad it’s become.” What O’Reilly failed to mention is that the sexual harassment scandal of his former boss — Ailes — is doing far more to destroy Fox News than could any outside critic.

  • Fox News Completely Ignores Convention Speech By Mother Whose Son Was Killed In Orlando Massacre

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    As CNN and MSNBC aired a moving speech from Christine Leinonen, a mother whose son was killed at the Orlando, FL, massacre at a gay nightclub, during the Democratic National Convention, Fox News completely ignored the appearance, instead holding a panel discussion about inner city poverty and Donald Trump’s appeal to disaffected voters.

    On July 27, Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher "Drew" Leinonen, a victim in the hate crime massacre at the Pulse Nightclub, spoke onstage at the Democratic National Convention to advocate for common sense gun safety laws, endorse Hillary Clinton, and memorialize her son. Leinonen lamented the lack of “common sense” gun safety laws prohibiting the sale of assault weapons in her speech. Both CNN and MSNBC aired Leinonen’s full remarks:

    On Fox News, an outlet that has brought lies and fearmongering to the debate over gun safety and shamed victims of the Orlando massacre for not fighting back, the appearance went unmentioned:

  • Forbes Highlights Roger Ailes’ Use Of “Sex Appeal” And “Objectification Of Women” To Boost Fox News’ Ratings

    Forbes, Citing Former Fox Anchor, Reports Ailes Stipulated Female Contributor “Remain A Size Four”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Former Fox News president Roger Ailes exploited female employees' “sex appeal” and instituted a “culture of objectification of women” to boost ratings, according to Forbes. Reportedly among the “sexually charged culture fostered by Ailes” was a condition in a female Fox contributor's contract that “required her to remain a size four.”

    Ailes had a long and sordid history of rampant sexism and misogyny during his time as Fox News’ chief. Since former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, dozens of women have reportedly come forward to make claims of similar harassment.

    Amid fallout from the allegations and Ailes’ ouster, media reports unearthed a culture of sexual harassment and intimidation at Fox that went beyond Ailes and suggested a “broader problem in the workplace.”

    Forbes’ Madeline Berg, citing “former Fox employees,” wrote that Ailes “fostered” a “sexually charged culture” at Fox News that rested upon the “objectification of women” and “sex appeal.” Ailes frequently relied on showing “a thin blonde, often large-chested, invariably heavily made up, wearing a fitted and brightly colored dress or skirt, visible through the transparent desk” as a “formula for boosting ratings,” according to the article. Berg quoted a “former anchor” who said a female contributor “claimed her contract required her to remain a size four,” and a "former producer" who said "skirts were a 'requirement'" for female employees. From the July 27 Forbes article:

    These “second floor” recommendations reflect one of many examples of the sexually charged culture fostered by Ailes at Fox News and Fox Business News, the two networks he created and ran for the parent company 21st Century Fox.

    Following a lawsuit filed against Ailes earlier this month by former anchor Gretchen Carlson alleging sexual harassment and retaliation, FORBES spoke to a number of former Fox employees to get a sense of what went on behind the scenes during the Ailes era.

    21st Century Fox declined to comment on the story. Representatives for Ailes did not respond to requests for comments. But the former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described a culture of objectification of women and an unwillingness to stand up to superiors, including the authoritarian and god-like Ailes, who earned an extraordinary degree of autonomy from his notoriously hands-on boss, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, due to the unprecedented success he brought to 21st Century Fox.

    [...]

    One part of Ailes’ formula for boosting ratings: sex appeal.

    A look at almost any show on the network often shows a thin blonde, often large-chested, invariably heavily made up, wearing a fitted and brightly colored dress or skirt, visible through the transparent desk.

    [...]

    A former anchor recalled a contributor who claimed her contract required her to remain a size four—very thin, especially considering she was 5’9’’.

    And a former contributor and guest host said that he even knew female anchors who chose to wore (sic) waterbras to enhance their cleavage due to pressure to look a certain way.

  • Wash. Post’s Dana Milbank: Trump Loves Conspiracies Until They Involve Him

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has finally found a conspiracy he doesn’t like -- one that involves himself.

    Milbank’s column noted reports that security experts say Russian hackers are behind the publication of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails on the night before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. The timing and sourcing of the email dump led media to question whether Russian officials were attempting to influence United States elections and whether Trump had any connections to Russian officials that may have played a role in the hack.

    Trump has a well-documented history of invoking and encouraging conspiracy theories, claiming a “fix” was in when the FBI decided not to indict Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state, suggesting President Barack Obama was sympathetic to terrorists and not an American citizen, and claiming the suicide of a Clinton aide was “very fishy.” Trump has also praised conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who believes the government coordinated the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that a New World Order plans to exterminate 80 percent of the world.

    In the July 26 article, Milbank wrote that despite engaging in theories that “President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination,” Trump is "conspicuously incurious" about suggestions that he is working with Vladimir Putin to swing the U.S. presidential election. If Clinton were in Trump’s position, Milbank wrote, “it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin.” From the Milbank column:

    Donald Trump never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like — until now.

    He has dabbled in, among other things, the notion that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination.

    But on one topic, Trump is conspicuously incurious: the suggestion that he is complicit in a plan by Vladimir Putin to influence the U.S. election. Consider how Trump might react to the following fact pattern if the candidate involved weren’t “Donald Trump” but — let’s pick a name at random here — “Hillary Clinton”:

    The candidate’s real estate empire, unable to borrow from most U.S. banks, gets capital from Russian sources. Such transfers couldn’t occur without Putin’s blessing.

    [...]

    If the Clinton campaign, and not the Trump campaign, were so extensively interwoven with Putin’s Russia, it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin — just as he demanded Obama release his birth certificate.

    He would also very likely float allegations masquerading as questions by using the phrases “a lot of people have said” or “I’m hearing,” or “there’s something we don’t know about.” But Trump, I’m hearing, won’t be doing that in this case. 

  • Vox: Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards Was First Convention Speaker To Mention Abortion On Stage

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
    On Tuesday night, Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards addressed the Democratic National Convention in a speech that CSPAN was the only cable network to air in full. Richards was also the first speaker at the convention to use the word "abortion" on stage. 
     
    Vox’s Emily Crockett pointed out that reproductive rights advocates in recent years have pushed to de-stigmatize abortion, a campaign that involves encouraging people to publicly talk about a procedure -- including by naming it -- that one in three U.S. women will have in her lifetime.

    It might seem strange that Democrats, most of whom are pro-choice and willing to speak out against things like Planned Parenthood funding cuts, are often so reluctant to actually use the word "abortion."

    But it’s very common for Democrats and other pro-choice advocates to instead use euphemisms like "a woman’s right to choose." There’s also a tendency to implicitly apologize for abortion by emphasizing that federal funds for Planned Parenthood don’t go toward abortion, or to focus only [on] how great the organization's contraception and sexual health services are.

    […]

    In recent years especially, pro-choice advocates have pushed to fight the stigma against abortion in order to protect it as a fundamental right. They say that about one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and many people don’t realize that abortion is a safe, routine medical procedure.

    Abortion should be treated like the normal medical care it is, advocates say, not separated out and turned into a political football. And they say that saying the word "abortion" like it’s a normal thing is one way to break the stigma and accomplish that goal.

  • NRA's New Testimonial For Trump Features Man Who Promoted Sandy Hook Conspiracy

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A testimonial video for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released by the National Rifle Association prominently features a man who posted online content suggesting that some Sandy Hook Elementary School parents were actually actors.

    NRA News, the NRA’s media arm, published a nearly eight-minute testimonial in support of Trump on July 25. The NRA endorsed Trump on May 20 during its annual meeting in Louisville, KY.

    The testimonial echoes claims made at the annual meeting, focusing on the false claim that Hillary Clinton would abolish the Second Amendment as president. The testimonial also features video footage of terrorist attacks, including the recent attack in Nice, France, that left 84 people dead.

    Throughout the testimonial, the NRA presents interviews of people attending the NRA annual meeting expressing support for Trump. One individual identified by the NRA as Vince Resor is featured five times in the video.

    Resor first comments on gun-free zones (“Gun-free zones have cost us a lot of lives and it’s time to put an end to that”) and the future of the Supreme Court (“America won’t be America. The Supreme Court can make or break the country for the next generation”) before offering words of encouragement for Trump.

    Resor says that he is “excited” about Trump, that “he is right for the country at this time,” and “You either vote for Trump or you vote for a dim future for all Americans, and your kids, and generations to come.”

    The NRA video gives Resor the last word, with his pitch closing out the testimonial: “Keep your foot on the gas, Donald Trump. This is no time to let up. We’re sliding down the slippery slope and it’s time to put the hammer down and get the job done.”

     

    On his public Facebook page, Resor suggested that parents of two children who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of a 2012 mass shooting, are actually actors. Sharing a false report from a conspiracy website about the parents of two Sandy Hook students, Resor wrote weeks after the shooting, “What is amazing here is not how despicable this is, but how unremarkable it is to learn that the mainstream media deceives us with propaganda to advance their cause. Disgusting.”

    He also referenced the same conspiracy in April 2013, writing, “Now are these the real Newtown parents or the actors from Florida?”

    The claim that certain people who made media appearances or appeared in news footage following the Sandy Hook mass shooting were actually “crisis actors” is a central tenet to the conspiracy theory that the shooting was a hoax.

    Other conspiracies appear on Resor’s page, including the claim that President Obama is a Muslim:

    Resor also operates a blog where he wrote that he is “all for racial profiling” and “and any other method that helps law enforcement civil servants rid us of the criminal element fouling our society,” arguing, “If you wear a towel around your head, you get searched. If your crack is exposed because your pants are too low, you get searched.”

  • Lies, Body-Shaming, And Character Attacks: Right-Wing Media Indignant During DNC's Second Night

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    During the second night of the Democratic National Convention, conservative media figures reacted on Twitter by spreading debunked lies about Planned Parenthood, criticizing Lena Dunham's body, and attacking Bill Clinton.

    Right-Wing Media Attack Planned Parenthood And President Cecile Richards

    Conservatives Body-Shame Lena Dunham 

    Right-Wing Media Criticize Bill Clinton

    Right-Wing Media Attack Planned Parenthood And President Cecile Richards

    Conservatives Body-Shame Lena Dunham 

    Right-Wing Media Criticize Bill Clinton

     

  • Fox News Completely Ignores The “Mothers Of The Movement” During Democratic National Convention

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    As CNN and MSNBC aired the emotional Democratic National Convention tribute by mothers who lost children to gun violence or police shootings in its entirety, Fox News completely ignored the appearance “Mothers of the Movement.” The mothers seek to rebuild police-community relationships and strive to end gun violence.

    On July 26, the nine women who comprise the Mothers of the Movement gathered on stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to endorse Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The women said that Clinton was a leader “who will say our children’s names” and one who “isn’t afraid to say that black lives matter” while stressing the need for criminal justice reform and “common sense gun legislation” to stem the tide of violence in their communities. Both CNN and MSNBC aired the full, heartrending remarks before concluding with a brief analysis.

    On Fox News, an outlet that has worked to demonize Black Lives Matter -- labeling it as “a hate group” and a “murder movement,” and equating it with the Ku Klux Klan -- and diminished its calls for necessary criminal justice reforms, the appearance went unmentioned.

    Rather than hearing the stories of the grieving mothers,” Fox host Bill O’Reilly continued his show uninterrupted, interviewing guests on general election polling and border security:

  • Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin Downplays The Historical Importance Of First Female Presidential Nominee

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin downplayed the historic relevance of Hillary Clinton becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party, claiming that “the lack of suspense” over Clinton’s victory and that there have been “women in high places for decades” somehow made her nomination less historic.

    In her column, Rubin describes Clinton’s nomination as a “significant” rebuke of “the far-right media” and Donald Trump’s “nonchalant misogyny,” but claimed “gender simply is not as big a deal in 21st-century America as race still is”:

    Some of the “wow” factor is diminished by the lack of suspense. Clinton has been running for president forever (well, about 10 years), and despite a mild scare from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was always going to be the nominee. A surprise, this was not.

    Moreover, gender simply is not as big a deal in 21st-century America as race still is. We’ve had women in high places for decades, and we do not have a divide between the sexes (thank goodness) to the degree that we still have along racial lines. We fought a civil war and a brutal battle to do away with Jim Crow. I could go on, but most would agree that this is not as big a deal as nominating or electing the first African American. Frankly, seeing civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was repeatedly beaten and jailed in the 1960s, put Clinton’s name into nomination only underscored the lack of equivalence.

    Clinton’s nomination is nevertheless significant and a testament to Americans’ devotion to equality, which to a large degree defines the United States. It is a rebuke to the sophomoric and nonchalant misogyny of Donald Trump and some of the far-right media.

    We can hope this lowers the heat on the “war against women” rhetoric, but do not count on it. Americans, after nearly eight years of President Obama, are signaling record levels of pessimism about race relations. Let’s hope that if she wins, Clinton does not do for gender relations what Obama did for race relations.

    Rubin has a long  history of attacking Clinton including recycling debunked Clinton Foundation smears and perpetrating evidence-free Benghazi lies.

  • Trump Says He “Would Think About” Hiring Disgraced Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes To Work On Campaign

    Trump: Ailes Is A “Very Capable Guy,” And “A Friend Of Mine”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Donald Trump “would think about” hiring disgraced ex-Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who was forced to resign following a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson. Following the announcement of Carlson’s lawsuit, dozens of women have come forward to allege sexual misconduct by Ailes going back decades.

    Despite the allegations, which include sexual harassment that was “encouraged and protected” at Fox News under Ailes, Trump praised Ailes and described him as “a friend of mine” and “very capable”:

    There have been all sorts of rumors about Roger Ailes potentially helping the Donald Trump campaign now that he’s out as Fox News Chairman & CEO, and Trump himself isn’t discounting the idea.

    In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trump said, “You know, Roger’s been a friend of mine for a long time and he’s done an incredible job … but nobody has actually — Roger has never mentioned it to me at all.”

    That being said, Trump admitted he “would think about it.” He praised Ailes as a “Roger very capable guy and he’s a friend of mine.”

    [h/t Mediaite]