Influential conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace likened ESPN to Nazis after the sports network suspended former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling as a commentator for posting an Islamaphobic meme to his Facebook page.
In an August 28 article for the Conservative Review, Deace wrote that the network's executive "brown shirts" (sic) -- a reference to the Nazi's feared Sturmabteilung assault division -- were overreacting to Schilling's post, a meme likening Muslims to Nazis. Schilling has a long history of posting offensive material to social media. Deace also quoted Hitler's Mein Kampf to support his claim that, in punishing Schilling for his hate speech, ESPN was "trying to take down [American] culture" by taking away people's "freedoms" (emphasis added):
No such legend will be allowed to broadcast the rest of the Little League World Series, though, because it turns out Schilling has a personal life with opinions unapproved by ESPN's division of politically correct goose-steppers.
You know, like the Nazis. What a hilarious coincidence. Because what Schilling got in trouble for was taking to Twitter to compare Islamic extremists to Nazis. Not all Muslims, mind you, but the murderous Islamic extremists who viciously kill Muslims and infidels alike.
So let's do the mentally insane math here. Compare a group of murderers bent on global hegemony to another group of murderers bent on global hegemony and your status with ESPN's brown shirts gets called into question? That's the kind of irony that reminds me of when Islamo-Fascists lash out violently in protest to claims their religion promotes violence.
If I didn't know any better, I'd think ESPN is trying to take down a culture here. But that might be giving them too much credit. Perhaps the cult of progressivism is simply so ridiculous it routinely produces stupidity like this.
If you were trying to take down a culture you would know this: "The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed."
That's from Mein Kampf, which is on the approved-reading list of Jihadists, who actually aligned with Hitler during World War II. History, I'm sure the brass at ESPN is totally unaware of. Because, tolerance. And the crusades.
When the news of Schilling's suspension first broke, Deace defended the former ballplayer on Twitter by echoing the meme's message.
In an August 30 USA Today opinion piece, the former U.S. attorney who oversaw the prosecution of retired Gen. David Petraeus for mishandling classified state secrets debunked the false comparison by conservative media of Hillary Clinton's email use to Petraeus' actions, explaining that the "comparison has no merit" because "Petraeus knowingly engaged in unlawful conduct" and "Clinton is not being investigation for knowingly sending or receiving classified materials improperly."
Right-wing media frequently hype what they claim are similarities between the two cases, despite the fact that columnists and thought leaders in mainstream media have dismissed it as "inapt," and experts insist "there's no comparison between the Clinton email issue and the Petraeus case."
Writing in USA Today, Anne M. Tomkins, the former U.S. attorney who oversaw the prosecution of Petraeus (and current Hillary Clinton campaign donor), effectively dismantled conservative media's comparison, explaining, "Unlike Petraeus, Clinton did not 'knowingly' store or share classified information in violation of the law":
Both the law and his oath required Petraeus to mark these books as "top secret" and to store them in a Secured Compartmented Information Facility. He did neither.
Rather, Petraeus allowed his biographer to take possession of the journals in order to use them as source material for his biography.
Importantly, Petraeus was well aware of the classified contents in his journals, saying to his biographer, Paula Broadwell on tape, "I mean, they are highly classified, some of them. They don't have it on it, but I mean there's code word stuff in there."
When questioned by the FBI, Petraeus lied to agents in responding that he had neither improperly stored nor improperly provided classified information to his biographer. As Mukasey also highlighted, the key element is that Petraeus' conduct was done "knowingly." That is, when he stored his journals containing "highly classified" information at his home, he did so knowingly. Petraeus knew at that time that there was classified information in the journals, and he knew they were stored improperly.
In sharp contrast, Clinton is not being investigated for knowingly sending or receiving classified materials improperly.
Indeed, the State Department has confirmed that none of the information that has surfaced on Clinton's server thus far was classified at the time it was sent or received. Additionally, the Justice Department indicated that its inquiry is not a criminal one and that Clinton is not the subject of the inquiry.
Fox News host and resident media critic Howard Kurtz questioned Jorge Ramos' journalistic integrity in the wake of the Univision anchor's contentious press conference questioning of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, concluding that Ramos was little more than "a heckler."
During an August 25 press conference in Dubuque, Iowa, Ramos pressed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on his promise to forcibly remove millions of undocumented immigrants, and presumably in some cases their American-born children, from the United States as part of a sweeping and expensive redesign of the American immigration system. Trump's initial reaction was to have his security team escort Ramos from the room, before eventually engaging in a minutes-long argument with the journalist over the feasibility and legality of his plan.
Ramos' actions during the press conference have been widely criticized at Fox News. On August 26, Fox contributor and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson claimed that Ramos is "not a reporter," but rather "an editorialist" and "an activist" whose questioning of Trump was not protected by the First Amendment. Fox host Bill O'Reilly complained that media were not "report[ing] this story honestly" before proceeding to lecture Ramos on journalistic etiquette and concluding that the Univision anchor was not "an objective purveyor" of the news. During an interview with Ramos, Fox host Megyn Kelly asked if he could "understand Trump's side" of the dispute, citing a seemingly unrelated legal battle between Univision and Trump's Miss USA beauty pageant.
On the August 30 edition of Fox News' Media Buzz, host Howard Kurtz used his program as a platform to continue Fox's campaign against Ramos as well as its defense of the Republican frontrunner. Kurtz allowed conservative columnist Mercedes Schlapp to forward the unsubstantiated claim that conservative and mainstream media "both agree that Jorge Ramos was out of line." Washington Examiner correspondent Susan Ferrechio accused Ramos of interrupting other reporters to get his point across, before Kurtz concluded that Ramos was acting like more like "a heckler" than a journalist:
KURTZ: Jorge Ramos is the chief anchor of Univision, chief news anchor, which is the largest Spanish-language network in the country. And so, he clearly has opinions on this issue, but he's not paid to go and disrupt events. I mean, I thought at times he seemed like a heckler -- like a heckler.
The ejection of Ramos from Trump's August 25 press conference garnered national headlines and was roundly condemned by Spanish-language media, but the reaction among right-wing media personalities has been to instead attack Ramos for speaking out of turn. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh denigrated Ramos as a "shill" and "activist" who was merely attempting to elevate the profile of his network, and Erick Erickson called Ramos a "thug" and dismissed him as "a self-absorbed, self-righteous leftwing activist."
Fox News tried to blame First Lady Michelle Obama's healthy school lunch program for reports of financial woes and layoffs at school districts, but it failed to disclose that the study it cited comes from a group supported in part by food industry companies that sell their product to schools, including PepsiCo, General Mills, and Domino's.
On the August 26 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier highlighted the findings of a new study from the School Nutrition Association (SNA) that claims implementation of the National School Lunch Program's healthier nutritional standards has led to school district worker layoffs and financial struggles. The standards were established after Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, the centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative.
Baier told viewers, "School is back, or soon will be, and healthy school lunches are resulting in unhealthy school finances." He went on to cite the SNA study's claim that "56 percent of districts have lost lunch participants because of the new healthy standards championed by the first lady" and that "seven of 10 [school districts that responded] say the standards have hurt the financial situation of the local meals programs, with almost half choosing to reduce staffing."
But Baier failed to disclose that the School Nutrition Association, which describes itself as "a national, nonprofit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country," has deep ties to the industry that sells food products to school districts. As Media Matters has previously written, the SNA lists Schwan's Food Service, a company that specializes in providing pizza to schools and restaurants, as a "major" donor. The association has also accepted funding from PepsiCo, General Mills, ConAgra, and Domino's Pizza. Schwan and PepsiCo also hold seats on the SNA's board of directors.
Schwan, ConAgra, and General Mills were also among major members of the food industry behind successful lobbying efforts to preserve pizza's classification as a vegetable for the purpose of school nutritional standards in 2011.
CBS Evening News allowed discredited gun researcher John Lott to attack the view that gun violence is a public health issue with the unsupported claim that murder rates have increased everywhere guns have been banned.
Lott is a well-known pro-gun advocate and frequent source of conservative misinformation about gun violence. He rose to prominence during the 1990s with the publication of his book, More Guns, Less Crime, although his conclusion that permissive gun laws reduce crime rates was later debunked by academics who found serious flaws in his research.
During an August 27 segment on CBS Evening News that discussed the shocking killing of two Virginia journalists, Lott said he did not believe gun violence was a public health issue and claimed, "Every country in the world, or place in the world, [that] has banned guns has seen an increase in murder rates, it's not just Washington, D.C. and Chicago."
Lott's claim is unsupported by the data. It's also a red herring; in the United States, sweeping gun bans were found to be unconstitutional in the 2008 Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, effectively making the proposition of banning all guns irrelevant in serious policy debates over gun laws, which are focused most strongly on strengthening the background check system for firearm sales.
Lott's claim about higher murder rates where gun sales are all but banned falls apart after examining one of the cities he cites, Washington D.C.
Lott is technically correct that the D.C. murder rate in 1976 -- the year a ban on private ownership or possession of handguns in nearly all circumstances went into effect -- was 26.8 people per 100,000 residents, and was 31.4 in 2008, the last year the ban was in place. But those two data points don't tell the whole story. For example, the murder rate in the last full year in which D.C. did not have a gun ban, 1975, was 32.8 -- higher than the murder rate when the ban ended
In fact, D.C.'s murder rate during the last year of the gun ban was lower than the murder rates in each of the five years before it was implemented (31.4 vs. 32.8, 38.3, 35.9, 32.8, and 37.1).
Homicide trends in D.C. also cast doubt on Lott's suggestion of a causal connection between the District's handgun ban and number of murders. Murders in D.C. peaked in 1991 -- a crack epidemic was raging at the time -- at 80.6 per 100,000 residents. During the last 17 years D.C.'s gun ban was in effect, the rate fell by more than half, suggesting that factors other than the ban were driving the murder rate.
Data from Australia also casts doubt on Lott's premise that more restrictions on firearms equal more murders. Following a series of mass shootings that culminated with the 1996 Fort Arthur massacre of 35 people, Australia enacted extremely restrictive gun laws that placed strong limits on firearm ownership -- especially for handguns and semi-automatic rifles -- and confiscated 650,000 privately owned guns.
After Australia implemented these laws, according The Washington Post, an academic study found that "the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides."
In a more general sense, an examination of research on guns and homicide by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found "case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide."
Although Lott is well-known to reporters and news producers, he should not be considered a credible source for information about gun violence. In addition to his flawed research, Lott has been embroiled in a number of ethics controversies, including his admission that he used the pseudonym "Mary Rosh" to defend his works from critics and praise his own research in online discussions. He has also faced allegations that he fabricated the results of a study on defensive gun use and has been caught attempting to surreptitiously revise his data after critics discovered errors.
Despite the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates, conservative talk radio seem unified on their favorite: Donald Trump.
Thanks to talk radio, Buzzfeed News' Rosie Gray noted in her August 27 article "The Real Media Machine Behind Trump: Conservative Talk Radio," "you can almost listen to pro-Trump News all day." Gray pointed how "some of the biggest names in conservative talk radio -- Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Savage -- have praised Trump and his bashing of the politically correct left and Republican establishment":
Unlike cable news, conservative talk radio speaks directly to the disaffected conservative base fueling Trump's rise. Rush Limbaugh's is still the most-listened-to talk radio program in the country, pulling in 13 and a quarter million weekly listeners, according to estimates in Talkers magazine, an industry publication (Limbaugh himself has estimated it in the past at 20 million). Talkers puts Sean Hannity in second, with 12.5 million. Mark Levin ties with Glenn Beck (a Trump critic) for fourth, with 7 million. Savage has more than 5 million, according to Talkers' estimates.
And if you're someone who listens to a lot of talk radio, you can go from Ingraham to Limbaugh to Hannity or Savage to Levin in a day and hear nary a word of displeasure with Trump.
Though many hosts have avoided a formal endorsement, they've heaped praise on the candidate and signaled to their listeners that Trump is their guy.
Indeed, Limbaugh has spent the summer praising Trump for tapping into the base Republicans need to win and for his "ability to illuminate" issues. Hannity has lauded Trump as "impressive and refreshing," while Ingraham has claimed he resonates with voters because he's willing to say what "no one else is saying."
It's not mere compliments spewing from talk radio -- the conservative pundits are championing Trump's offensive and dangerous proposals. And as Gray noted, "[i]f Rush Limbaugh or Mark Levin or Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham decide that birthright citizenship is going to be a big issue, then lo, it becomes the issue of the week, or month." She went on:
And right now, Trump's embrace of hardline immigration ideas like ending birthright citizenship matches up perfectly with the policies that some of these hosts have been promoting for some time. The Trump-inspired debate over immigration is allowing them to mainstream ideas that once didn't have much purchase, the birthright citizenship question being a notable recent example. Both Levin and Limbaugh have seized on a quote by Sen. Jacob Howard, the original sponsor of the Citizenship Clause, that they're using to bolster their case that the 14th amendment doesn't guarantee citizenship to the children of people in the country illegally. Laura Ingraham has also referenced it.
Limbaugh has bragged that Trump's smear of Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and criminals is similar to what he's been saying on the radio for years. On birthright citizenship, Limbaugh applauded Trump's call to end the constitutional right, saying Trump "has people standing up and cheering." Hannity and Levin joined forces to declare that "Trump was right" on the 14th Amendment.
The praise should come as no surprise, as Trump's call to end birthright citizenship is itself taken from right-wing talk radio talking points. For years, Ingraham and Levin have been demanding an end to birthright citizenship, which Levin dismissed as a "nut-job policy" and Ingraham attacked as "nonsense."
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson, who is under fire for suggesting that undocumented immigrants should become "property of the state" unless they leave Iowa, applauded a decision by Texas' Department of State Health Services to deny birth certificates to American children of undocumented immigrants.
On his August 28 show, Mickelson criticized what he called "street hustler" civil rights groups who have filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of State Health Services for refusing to issue birth certificates to U.S. citizen children born to undocumented immigrant parents. As Talking Points Memo explained, the plaintiff's complaint alleges that Texas stopped allowing "matricula consular" identifications -- official papers issued by the U.S.-based consulate of the immigrant parents' home country -- "to meet the requirements to acquire a birth certificate for their U.S.-born children" around two years ago.
Mickelson, who denies that the 14th Amendment's guarantee of birthright citizenship applies to the children of undocumented immigrants, said he thinks it is "cool" that Texas is refusing to issue these birth certificates and expressed his appreciation of Texas' approach as "Iowa passive-aggressive," which will prevent such children "to start this process of looting." Listen (emphasis added):
JAN MICKELSON: The Mexican government has now filed its amicus brief -- that's 'a friend of the court' -- supporting a coalition of undocumented parents who are suing the state of Texas because they were denied birth certificates for their kids. So all of the usual suspects, the ACLU, La Raza, and every street hustler organization that has its hooks in us, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid Society and the Department of Health and Social Services and the Friends of Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala, have all decided to sue the state of Texas because they can't get documentation of the birth of their kids, that were illegitimately born here in the United States and they're not following form. Now Texas is doing the Iowa passive-aggressive thing, "Okay, you can be born here, just no record of your existence and you can't use anything from us to start this process of looting." That is cool.
Mickelson has come under fire recently for comments he made on his August 17 radio show advocating that undocumented immigrants who refuse to leave Iowa after being warned become "property of the state" and be forced into "compelled labor." It was the latest of Mickleson's many anti-immigrant remarks, which include his assumption that anyone with a Hispanic-sounding name who gets involved with the police is an undocumented immigrant, and his declaration that educating undocumented children in public schools is "a scam."
Fox's Tucker Carlson declared that a new mandate requiring New York City police officers to provide written justification for stop-and-frisk encounters is "an attack on police practices that have worked."
NYPD officers will soon be "required to inform some suspects why they're being stopped and frisked" after a federal judge approved a mandate proposed by the federal monitor tasked with addressing the department's stop-and-frisk tactics. "The form would explain that officers are authorized to make stops in some circumstances and spell out what might have prompted the stop, including suspicion of concealing or possessing a weapon, engaging in a drug transaction or acting as a lookout,"The Wall Street Journal explained, noting how the move comes after a federal judge found "the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional and ordered an overhaul of the department's procedures."
Although conservative media have consistently claimed that stop-and-frisk reduces crime, there is little evidence to support the assertion. In a 12-year report on the subject released by the New York Civil Liberties Union in 2014, the policing tactic was found to be largely ineffective at reducing violent crime.
Nevertheless, network host Tucker Carlson rushed to defend the program on the August 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends. Carlson criticized the NYPD's move to issue a receipt after stops that did not result in arrest, claiming that it was "an attack on police practices that have worked":
Washington Post opinion writer David Ignatius checked the "overstated" uproar over Hillary Clinton's email use as secretary of state, citing national security legal experts who roundly dismiss the idea that any criminal mishandling of classified information occurred.
In an August 28 post describing "The Hillary Clinton e-mail 'scandal' that isn't," Ignatius cited legal experts and agency officials to explain how Clinton's use of a private server is "not something a prosecutor would take to court" and how transmitting unmarked, then retroactively classified emails does "almost certainly not" constitute a crime:
Does Hillary Clinton have a serious legal problem because she may have transmitted classified information on her private e-mail server? After talking with a half-dozen knowledgeable lawyers, I think this "scandal" is overstated. Using the server was a self-inflicted wound by Clinton, but it's not something a prosecutor would take to court.
"It's common" that people end up using unclassified systems to transmit classified information, said Jeffrey Smith, a former CIA general counsel who's now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.
Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state has been a nagging campaign issue for months. Critics have argued that the most serious problem is possible transmission of classified information through that server. Many of her former top aides have sought legal counsel. But experts in national-security law say there may be less here than it might appear.
First, experts say, there's no legal difference whether Clinton and her aides passed sensitive information using her private server or the official "state.gov" account that many now argue should have been used. Neither system is authorized for transmitting classified information. Second, prosecution of such violations is extremely rare. Lax security procedures are taken seriously, but they're generally seen as administrative matters.
Informal back channels existed long before e-mail. One former State Department official recalled the days when most embassies overseas had only a few phones authorized for secret communications. Rather than go to the executive office to make such a call, officers would use their regular phones, bypassing any truly sensitive details. "Did we cross red lines? No doubt. Did it put information at risk? Maybe. But, if you weren't in Moscow or Beijing, you didn't worry much," this former official said.
Back channels are used because the official ones are so encrusted by classification and bureaucracy. State had the "Roger Channel," named after former official Roger Hilsman, for sending secret messages directly to the secretary. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had a similar private channel. CIA station chiefs could send communications known as "Aardwolves" straight to the director.
Are these channels misused sometimes? Most definitely. Is there a crime here? Almost certainly not.
Ignatius also knocked down conservative media's oft-repeated refrain that Clinton's email use was akin to David Petraeus' crimes, noting how intent to mishandle classified information is central to culpability:
Potential criminal violations arise when officials knowingly disseminate documents marked as classified to unauthorized officials or on unclassified systems, or otherwise misuse classified materials. That happened in two cases involving former CIA directors that are cited as parallels for the Clinton e-mail issue, but are quite different. John Deutch was pardoned in 2001 for using an unsecured CIA computer at his home to improperly access classified material; he reportedly had been prepared to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. David Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in April for "knowingly" removing classified documents from authorized locations and retaining them at "unauthorized locations." Neither case fits the fact pattern with the Clinton e-mails.
In its reporting on the fatal shooting of two journalists in Virginia, CNN repeatedly and needlessly mentioned the shooter's history of registering gay porn websites as evidence that he was unstable and disturbed.
On August 27, CNN reported that Vester Flanagan II, the man who shot and killed two journalists on live television in Virginia, had set up domain names for several gay porn websites between 2007 and 2008.
CNN made no attempt to explain how the domain names could even be related to the shooting. The domain names were purchased years before Flanagan began working at WDBJ, the station that also employed the journalists he killed. And Flanagan openly identified as gay, so his sexual orientation was already public knowledge.
But throughout the day on August 27, CNN repeated its report about the websites Flanagan registered. During The Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN correspondent Drew Griffin called the report "just another disturbing twist" in the story of the shooting:
At the start of The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer teased the report while on-screen text blared the headline, "HISTORY OF INSTABILITY."
It was CNN's Don Lemon who finally challenged his network's report during an interview with Blitzer, saying, "I don't really see the relevance of it." He added, "I don't want to gay shame him. There's nothing wrong with being gay":
Injecting details about Flanagan's unrelated sexual history in reports about the shooting has the effect of associating homosexuality with deviancy, mental instability, and violence in the minds of viewers.
The practice of linking gay sexuality with violent or murderous acts isn't new or accidental. American media have a long, dark history of depicting gay sexuality as intrinsically violent and dangerous, especially when it comes to stories about brutal killings. And associating homosexuality with mental instability is a favorite right-wing tactic.
It's not surprising that fringe conservatives are suggesting that Flanagan's homosexuality is somehow linked to his decision to murder two people.
Without an explanation of how Flanagan's sexual interests are relevant to this week's brutal shooting, CNN reinforced a right-wing trope about homosexuality and violence without adding to its substantive reporting on the shooting.