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  • Time Magazine Cover Story Fact Checks Right-Wing Anti-LGBT “Bathroom Predator” Myth

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Time magazine’s cover story profiling the fight for transgender equality debunked the anti-LGBT “bathroom predator” myth that nondiscrimination protections for transgender people endanger women’s safety.

    Time magazine's May 30 cover story, “Battle of the Bathroom,” dissected the high-profile battle for transgender equality centered largely around access to bathrooms. In reporting on transgender equality, many media outlets have uncritically parroted the widely debunked myth that nondiscrimination protections for transgender people will allow male sexual predators to sneak into women’s bathrooms by pretending to be transgender.

    To debunk the “bathroom predator” myth, Time cited Los Angeles Unified School District’s decade of experience protecting transgender students from discrimination with zero safety issues. Pointing out that “there is not yet any anecdotal evidence that trans-friendly rules have been abused by predators” the article also noted that cisgender men have assaulted women in bathrooms for decades undeterred by “laws and rules requiring sex separation.” Time also addressed the right-wing myth that transgender people are “confused” by citing settled medical evidence that being transgender is not a matter of “choice,” and that there is no medical treatment to “reverse” being transgender.

    From the May 30 edition of Time:

    Yet the specter of a sexual predator abusing transgender-friendly laws continues to frame the debate. Conservatives in Houston successfully overturned a city equal-rights ordinance in 2015 with a ballot measure passed after television ads re-enacted a hypothetical scene in which a faceless man barges in on a schoolgirl in a bathroom stall. “No men in women’s bathrooms” was the simple and effective campaign slogan.

    [...]

    The FBI and local law enforcement do not keep consistent stats on the number of crimes committed in public restrooms, so there is no way to track every claim. “What we’re talking about is probably some sort of assault, maybe some sort of low-level kind of voyeurism,” says Jeffrey Ian Ross, a criminologist at the University of Baltimore. “That stuff goes underreported all the time.” But there is not yet any anecdotal evidence that trans-friendly rules have been abused by predators, or that incidents of violence or sexual assault have increased. For decades, men have sometimes been caught and prosecuted for entering women’s restrooms or dressing rooms, either in drag or dressed as men, to watch or film women. The laws and rules requiring sex separation did not prove a deterrent in those cases.

    The Los Angeles Unified School District, a community of 550,000 students, has allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms they identify with since 2005. “I have never had misconduct by a transgender student. A lot of fears people expressed, we have never realized those, we have never seen them,” says Judy Chiasson, who runs the district’s office of human relations, diversity and equity. “We’ve been doing this for 11 years. It works.”

    The burden for transgender people when it comes to bathrooms is less disputed. A 2016 analysis of a survey of more than 2,000 transgender college students found the rate of suicide attempts increased 40% among those who said they had been denied access to a bathroom. In a separate survey of 100 transgender people in Washington, D.C., 70% said they had been denied restroom access or harassed, and 58% said they had avoided going out in public because they feared being able to find a bathroom. “At some point they had just decided it wasn’t worth it to go out in public and have to deal with the bathroom situation,” says Jody Herman, a scholar at UCLA’s Williams Institute, who authored the study.

    [...]

    Underlying the battle over toilets is a complicated discussion about what it means to be transgender and why it happens. As a matter of science, the issue is largely settled. The transgender experience is not—-as Texas’ Patrick joked–a matter of choice. No transgender American stands before the W on the restroom door and thinks, Whatever.

    “What we have to accept is that the duality–male or female, which we see as a very clear dichotomy–it’s a little bit more complicated,” explains Catherine Dulac, a Harvard professor of biology. The official diagnosis is gender dysphoria, and it is recognized by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and major medical institutions. As with same-sex attraction, there is no treatment to reverse it, and many of the negative effects arrive not from the personal experience but from the social reactions to it.

    For many in this debate, however, these facts are hogwash, peddled by liberal academics with different value systems. “Children have vivid imaginations. This is nothing but an adult agenda being pushed on the backs of innocent children,” says Nancy Stacy, a school-board member in Marion County, Fla., of the transgender experience in school. She recently voted to deny access to a transgender student who wanted to use the boys’ bathroom. For her, the act of changing bathroom rules to match the preference of a student is just the start of a slippery slope. “That would be like me saying, ‘Oh, a child believes she’s Cinderella today, so we’re going to have a horse and carriage on the playground.'”

  • Conservative Opposition To Overtime Pay Brought To You By The National Retail Federation

    NRF Claims Overtime Expansion Will “Demote” Working Americans “To Clock-Punchers”

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Right-wing media and Republican politicians blasted the Labor Department’s decision to update and expand overtime protections, clearly taking their cues from the National Retail Federation (NRF) -- a business association known for spreading falsehoods on worker rights. The NRF and its allies are portraying overtime expansion as something that will hurt workers and the economy, ignoring the association’s own report, which found that the change would likely result in new jobs and fewer unpaid hours for retail workers.

    The Department of Labor released an update to overtime rules for salaried employees on May 17, raising the minimum annual salary threshold to qualify for guaranteed overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476 -- an announcement that was denounced by right-wing media. Conservative outlets claimed the rule was “interfering” with businesses and would result in less flexibility and possibly lower pay, citing the NRF’s 2016 report “Rethinking Overtime” as proof, but they failed to acknowledge that the NRF has consistently opposed better pay for workers, fair scheduling, and collective bargaining rights. Contrary to claims that the expanded overtime will harm the economy, the NRF’s own report found the overtime rule would lead to over 117,100 new part-time jobs.

    The Wall Street Journal decried the updated overtime rule in a May 18 editorial, claiming employers will lower salaries as a result. The Journal cited the NRF study, which found that businesses will “shift about a third of salaried retail and restaurant workers to hourly status” and bizarrely pointed to the study’s finding that one in 10 workers on salary will work fewer hours (which are already unpaid) as proof that the rule is not in the best interests of employers or workers. Townhall also pushed the narrative that salaried workers working fewer unpaid hours is a negative, citing NRF’s report.

    During NRF’s campaign against overtime expansion, the lobbying group has claimed the new rule is “outrageous” and will force employers “to demote their middle management professionals to clock-punchers.” On the May 18 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, NRF senior vice president David French called the rule “a massive overreach.” Earlier that day on Fox’s America’s Newsroom, correspondent Kevin Corke said the rule will mean “more red tape and fewer advancement opportunities” and falsely claimed that “most of the people impacted by this change will not see any additional pay.” Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) echoed NRF’s statement on the May 19 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., claiming the overtime rule imposes “more red tape on job creators, which translates into fewer opportunities for people.” In statements released May 18, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) referred to the overtime rule as “more red tape” while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) claimed it was an “absolute disaster” that will end up “hurt[ing] the very people it alleges to help.”

    Despite the coordinated condemnation from conservative media outlets and politicians, overtime expansion is vitally important in a country where 50 percent of full-time workers already work more than 40 hours per week. In an April 21 op-ed in The New York Times, economist and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich argued that many Americans are unaware that overtime protections have eroded over generations, and he noted that working unpaid overtime limits worker productivity and hiring. Reich also pointed out that the proliferation of unpaid overtime contributes to soaring corporate profits.

    The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that overtime expansion will “reduce excessive hours of unpaid work” while adding at least 120,000 jobs in the retail sector -- the very one the NRF claims to represent. The rule change is also expected to change employer behavior; some employers will hire more workers, while other employers will become more efficient. Employees in many instances work unnecessary hours because company cultures value “how much people work (or seem to)” instead of “the quality of their output,” according to an article by professors Erin Reid and Lakshmi Ramarajan in the June 2016 edition of the Harvard Business Review.

    The NRF has a history of pushing a right-wing, anti-worker agenda. The group opposes collective bargaining and fair scheduling, and was an outspoken opponent of increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour when the debate first gained prominence in 2014.

  • VIDEO: The Repugnant Way The NRA Talks About Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› COLEMAN LOWNDES & TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association will surely attack Hillary Clinton during its annual meeting. Members of the NRA’s leadership have attacked Clinton for years with vile and paranoid claims.

    The NRA is holding its annual meeting from May 19-22 in Louisville, KY. On May 20, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, NRA top lobbyist Chris Cox, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and other conservative figures will speak at the meeting’s biggest event, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum.

    The NRA began its opposition to Clinton in earnest during its 2015 meeting with a gender-based attack. While addressing the NRA’s members, LaPierre said of the prospect of electing Clinton after President Obama’s term, “I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.” During that year's leadership forum, LaPierre claimed that Clinton “will bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair” to America.

    While LaPierre supplies many of the NRA’s paranoid claims about Clinton and gun confiscation, the organization’s best-known leadership figure, board member Ted Nugent, offers disgusting attacks. Nugent has called Clinton a “toxic cunt,” a “two-bit whore,” and a “worthless bitch,” among other insults.

    Here is how the NRA leadership talks about Clinton:

     

     

     

  • South Carolina’s Anti-Choice Fetal Pain Bill Is “Turning Lies Into Law”

    Nineteen-Week Abortion Ban Contradicts “Medical Consensus” About Fetal Development

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On May 17, South Carolina’s legislature passed a bill to ban abortion after 19 weeks based on the false premise that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization. Armed with a wealth of anti-choice propaganda and right-wing media myths, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) is likely to sign the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” into law with no exceptions for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest.

    Despite the wealth of scientific evidence to the contrary, assertions about fetal pain have framed right-wing media’s coverage of abortion and supplied talking points for anti-choice politicians to push medically unnecessary laws targeting abortion access. In March,  Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) invoked the idea of fetal pain to sign a dangerous bill requiring Utah doctors to administer anesthesia during abortions performed after 20 weeks. Although South Carolina’s bill does not mandate the use of anesthesia, it is based on the same disputed premise about fetal pain.

    Samantha Allen explained in an article for the Daily Beast that by signing this bill, Gov. Haley not only would make South Carolina “the 17th state in the country to institute a 20-week abortion ban,” but she would “also be turning lies into law.” According to Allen, although the South Carolina bill states that “there is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by twenty weeks after fertilization,” the majority of credible scientific evidence undermines this fallacious claim.

    Anti-choice legislators claim in the South Carolina bill that fetal reactions to stimuli at 20 weeks post-fertilization prove that the fetuses are capable of feeling pain. In particular, they claim research shows that “a functioning cortex is not necessary to experience pain.” There is little evidence to support this claim, or other claims of fetal pain prior to 24 weeks of development.

    As Allen explained, the so-called science behind anti-choice legislators’ claims contradicts “the current medical consensus that fetal pain depends on the functioning of pathways in the brain between the thalamus and the cortex.” A 2015 article in FactCheck.org found there was no causal relationship between fetal withdrawal from stimuli and feelings of pain because any “recoil is more of a reflex” that is distinct from “the experience of pain” itself.

    In an interview with Salon, Columbia University Medical Center’s Dr. Anne Davis said these warnings about fetal pain and brain development are “created concerns” that are “based in politics,” not science. According to Davis, a fetus’s brain is not sufficiently developed to perceive pain until 24 weeks gestation. Politicians “can have an opinion about that, but it doesn’t change the information,” she told Salon. A March 2010 report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists affirmed that “research shows that the sensory structures are not developed or specialised enough to experience pain in a fetus less than 24 weeks.”

    Furthermore, Allen noted, two of the three researchers whose work is cited to support fetal pain bills “have already publicly disagreed with the way in which their findings have been used by anti-abortion advocates”:

    In 2013, Dr. Merker told The New York Times that his frequently-cited research “did not deal with pain specifically.” Even Dr. Anand, who believes that fetal pain could start earlier than the literature suggests, told the Times that he used to testify in court cases on abortion bans but that he stopped because “it’s just gotten completely out of hand.”

    In Slate, writer Nora Caplan-Bricker warned that there are compounding negative effects when 20-week bans operate in conjunction with other targeted restrictions on abortion care. She argued that South Carolina’s bill “constricts an already narrow window of opportunity” for patients to access abortion because in “states with multiple restrictions on abortion -- of which South Carolina is one -- women who decide to terminate early in pregnancy can be delayed for weeks or months as they scrape together money or contend with logistics.”

    South Carolina’s anti-choice lawmakers aren’t stopping with a ban on abortion at 19 weeks. As ABC reported, the South Carolina legislature is already hard at work on its next attack on abortion access: “a bill opponents say would essentially ban abortion past 13 weeks.”

  • Buzzfeed Highlights Anti-Transgender Hoax Stories Spilling Over To Conservative News

    Transgender Advocate: Hoax Stories “Encourage Vigilantes To Come Out Of The Woodwork And Hunt Trans People"

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Buzzfeed highlighted the recent slew of anti-transgender hoax stories -- published on on fake news websites -- going viral and spreading to right-wing outlets.

    In a May 19 post, Buzzfeed founding editor Craig Silverman spotlighted the recent surge in anti-transgender hoaxes on fake news websites. These fake news stories -- at least one of which has spread to real conservative news websites -- spiked largely in response to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law (HB 2) that broadly bans transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity in publicly run facilities and schools. Many of the fake stories Buzzfeed profiled -- like the hoax about a transgender women getting caught taking pictures of underage girls at Target -- stem from the anti-LGBT “bathroom predator” myth that sexual predators will exploit nondiscrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms by pretending to be transgender. Anti-LGBT extremists have long peddled the myth in conservative and mainstream media to oppose basic nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. 

    Buzzfeed interviewed the owner of several fake news sites and found that the hoax stories are a way to make “easy money” by capitalizing off of “the political polarization and anti-LGBT stance at the heart of HB 2.” Buzzfeed also spoke with Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who voiced her concern that these hoaxes -- one of which ended with a vigilante shooting a transgender women -- will fuel anti-transgender violence. There have been several recent instances of anti-transgender harassment in bathrooms.

    From the May 19 Buzzfeed post:

    On Saturday, a report began spreading online that a transgender woman was shot and killed after she followed another woman into a Colorado department store bathroom.

    [...]

    It’s one of several trans-themed hoaxes that have spread widely on Facebook in recent weeks. BuzzFeed News looked at the most shared articles from over 40 fake news websites and found other recent viral hits, including the fake story of a trans woman getting caught taking pictures of underage girls at a Target, a satirical article headlined “Transgender Dog Unsure Which Tree To Pee On,” and one that reported “Ann Coulter Arrested For Using Women’s Bathroom.” A false claim that Caitlyn Jenner is going to de-transition has also been circulating for weeks.

    The spike in anti-trans hoaxes began after North Carolina passed a law, House Bill 2, that repealed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances and that banned transgender people from restrooms in government-run buildings. It resulted in national coverage that caught the attention of the burgeoning fake news industry.

    [...]

    “As you have likely noticed, the bathroom issue has really hit a nerve with evangelicals and Conservatives making it a ripe topic for ridicule,” said Allen Montgomery, the pseudonym used by a man who runs NationalReport.net and other fake news sites. “These topics that highlight their (perceived) persecution complex are good business for those in the hoax and/or satire industry.”

    He said he’s only published three or four stories pegged on the bathroom issue, but that others are going after what he calls the “easy money” of HB 2 hoaxes.

    The result is that fake news sites are churning out new trans-themed stories on an almost-daily basis to capitalize on the political polarization and anti-LGBT stance at the heart of HB 2.

    [...]

    Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she’s noticed a spike in anti-trans rumours and hoaxes since the law was passed.

    “Trans people all over the U.S. are really really on edge right now, and every time one of [these hoaxes] comes out lots of trans people hear them and react to them,” she said.

    Keisling is concerned that hoaxes about trans people harassing other people in bathrooms will “encourage vigilantes to come out of the woodwork and hunt trans people.”

  • Sponsor Of NRA Leadership Forum Routinely Smears Slain Black Youths And Their Families

    Trump To Address NRA Faithful At Forum

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The co-sponsor of the NRA’s upcoming leadership forum routinely attacks African-American youths killed in controversial shootings, and he has more than once smeared the mothers of two deceased Florida teenagers as liars motivated by money in their opposition to Stand Your Ground laws.

    On May 20, Donald Trump and other Republican politicians will speak at the National Rifle Association's annual Institute for Legislative Action leadership forum. The event is being held at the NRA’s annual meeting in Louisville, KY, which runs from May 19-22.

    According to the NRA’s website, the forum will be co-sponsored by Bearing Arms and Townhall Media. Bearing Arms is a well-known gun blog run by Bob Owens.

    Owens frequently makes inflammatory claims. In October 2015, he authored a post on his blog suggesting that “radical” Democrats will be hanged after they start a civil war against Republicans over issues including gun ownership. Owens illustrated his post with an image of gallows. In 2010, when Media Matters documented another instance in which Owens fantasized about a second civil war in the U.S., Owens responded by writing that he hopes the "propagandists" at Media Matters “feel threatened.”

    Owens has weighed in on the shooting deaths of African-American youths Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Tamir Rice, in each instance also attacking a member or members of the deceased’s family.

    In a recent post on his website, Owens called Martin “a semi-literate violent criminal,” among other insults. Owens has also claimed that Martin’s mother opposes controversial Stand Your Ground self-defense laws because she wishes to enrich herself through a lawsuit.

    Owens has also attacked the mother of Jordan Davis, a Florida teenager who was killed in a gas station parking lot by a man angry about the volume of Davis’ music. Owens called Davis’ mother, Lucy McBath, a “serial liar” for accurately noting that Stand Your Ground played a role in the George Zimmerman trial.

    Owens has also attacked Tamir Rice, blaming both the 12-year-old and his parents for Rice’s death.

    Trayvon Martin

    Owens frequently directs invective toward deceased Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. In February 2012, Martin, then 17, was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. A confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman occurred after Zimmerman began to follow Martin as the high school student walked from a convenience store to his father’s house.

    While Zimmerman has a well-documented history of violence -- both before and after the Martin shooting, including an assault on a police officer and multiple domestic violence allegations -- Owens routinely attacks Martin’s character.

    In a May 11 blog post, Owens called Martin “a violent, drug-abusing thug who appeared to get off on hurting people” and “a semi-literate violent criminal,” and he slammed an upcoming musical about Martin’s life, which he claimed would be “whitewashing a black heart” and which he called an attempt to “whitewash a thug’s death.”

    In a 2014 post, Owens argued that “good people … will arm themselves against violent young predators like Trayvon Martin” because “any society that hopes to survive simply has no choice.”

    Owens has also attacked Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton. In a 2013 post, he claimed that Fulton had raised a “monster” and that her advocacy against Stand Your Ground laws, like the one cited by a juror in explaining Zimmerman’s acquittal, was really about personal enrichment.

    Owens wrote:

    As for why Fulton and her attorneys and Democratic lawmakers in general want Stand Your Ground laws repealed, that’s blisteringly obvious as well.

    Money.

    A provision of Stand Your Ground law in many states is that if a person is found not guilty during a criminal trial, then that defendant win (sic) civil immunity, and that keeps the families of deceased street thugs from suing the survivors for millions of dollars in civil court.

    Jordan Davis

    Owens called the mother of slain Florida teenager Jordan Davis a “serial liar” over her advocacy against Stand Your Ground laws following Davis’ killing. In fact, Owens is the one lying about Stand Your Ground.

    In November 2012, Davis, 17, was murdered by Michael Dunn in a Jacksonville, FL, gas station parking lot. Dunn had told Davis and his friends to turn down their music before he fired 10 rounds into the car Davis was sitting in.

    In February 2014, Dunn was found guilty on four charges, including three for attempted second-degree murder on the other teens in the car, but the jury could not come to a decision on the first-degree murder charge tied to Davis' death. During closing arguments, Dunn’s attorney cited Stand Your Ground in arguing against a murder conviction for Davis’ death. A mistrial was declared on the murder charge, and Dunn was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder during a second trial that concluded in October 2014.

    Following Davis’ killing, his mother, Lucy McBath, has become an outspoken advocate against Stand Your Ground laws. Owens attacked McBath for this advocacy in a May 13 post, claiming, “She has become radicalized, and now travels the nation attempting to strip law-abiding citizens of their most basic natural right as a human being, the right [to] bear arms for self defense.”

    According to Owens, “McBath has become a serial liar, and sadly seems to be more comfortable with her lies as time goes on,” because she wrote an opinion piece that said Stand Your Ground played a role in the Zimmerman trial.

    While Owens claimed McBath is a liar because “Stand Your Ground laws had nothing at all do do (sic) with the [Zimmerman] case,” he is wrong.

    The language of Stand Your Ground was included in instructions to the jury considering whether to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder. Prior to the law’s enactment in 2005, the instructions given to the jury were much different. As explained by a former Florida state senator, the change in the letter of the law “fundamentally changed the analysis used by juries to assign blame in these cases.” Following Zimmerman’s acquittal, a juror told CNN that Zimmerman was found not guilty “because of the heat of the moment and the Stand Your Ground.” Zimmerman also benefited from Stand Your Ground pre-trial, as local government officials cited the law as the reason Zimmerman was not initially arrested.

    Owens also called McBath a liar because she wrote that Stand Your Ground laws “promote a culture of shoot first, ask questions later, a culture that upends traditional self-defense law and emboldens individuals to settle conflicts by reaching for their firearms, even when they can safely walk away from danger.” But McBath is correct; academic research has established that Stand Your Ground laws increase homicide by “lower[ing] the cost of using lethal force.”

    Tamir Rice

    Owens frequently defends the widely criticized police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. In November 2014, Rice was shot in a public park in Cleveland, OH, after a 911 caller reported seeing Rice waving around an Airsoft replica pistol. Police shot Rice within two seconds of coming onto the scene, apparently mistaking the toy gun for a real firearm (the 911 caller’s repeated suggestion that the gun was “probably fake” was not relayed to the responding officers).

    After the city of Cleveland agreed to a monetary settlement with Rice’s family, the local police union caused controversy by arguing that some of the money should be used “to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms.”

    Owens weighed in on the controversy, attacking the deceased 12-year-old and his family. Of Rice, Owens wrote that “it is entirely fair to ‘blame the victim’ when it was the specific actions of the victim that led to his demise” and that “Tamir Rice died because he made poor choices.”

    He also suggested that Rice’s family was responsible for his death, claiming that the Rice family’s outrage over the police union suggestion means “perhaps the Rice family doesn’t care any more about being responsible after Tamir’s death than they did about teaching him to be responsible with realistic toy guns while he was alive.”

  • If We Follow Bill O'Reilly's Logic, Only Trump Sycophants Can Cover Trump

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    According to Fox's Bill O'Reilly, feminist journalists should not be allowed to report on Donald Trump because “Trump is the antithesis” of feminism. By O’Reilly’s standard, any journalist Trump may have offended would be disqualified from reporting on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

    On the May 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly speculated on whether "the national media can cover Trump with any fairness," suggesting that editors should not let feminist journalists report on Trump because his past in the beauty pageant world would bias feminists against him (emphasis added):

    BILL O'REILLY: She is a feminist. Trump is a beauty contestant purveyor. Do you let a feminist report on a beauty contestant person who is now turned politician?

    [...]

    O’REILLY: Wait, wait. If I'm an editor and I know there is a feminist woman in my newsroom who is brilliant, because I think this woman is an excellent reporter, I don't let her report on a guy like Trump because Trump is the antithesis of that. And so I don't want any margin of error here. There are plenty of reporters who can do the story. Do you not see that?

    Based on O'Reilly's logic, anyone who has reasons to find Trump's positions problematic is unfit to cover him. This standard disqualifies a lot of people:

    • Trump has referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, so they’re out.
    • Trump sent a culturally offensive tweet featuring a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo, so Hispanics would be disqualified from covering him.
    • Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. means Muslims can't cover him fairly.
    • Trump derided John McCain's status as a war hero because Trump likes "people who weren't captured." So cross off all the journalists who have been captured in conflict zones.
    • Since Trump suggested that women who have had abortions deserved "some form of punishment," any journalist who has had an abortion would be eliminated.
    • Trump mocked a disabled reporter with a congenital joint condition, so any journalist with a disability is off the list.
    • Also disqualified? 97 percent of climate scientists:

     

     

    Under this rubric, the only people left to cover Donald Trump would likely be those who have made softball interviews of the candidate their specialty, like Sean Hannity, those amplifying Trump’s conspiracy theories like Alex Jones, or people who share a “personal friendship” with the candidate, like O’Reilly. Following O’Reilly’s logic, media’s role of vetting, fact-checking and challenging a candidate, would become a thing of the past.

  • Fox Host Says Trump Would Never Back Down From A Debate, But He Has Repeatedly

    Fox’s Eric Bolling: “You Want To Be President Of The United States? ... Donald Trump Wouldn't Back Down From A Debate"

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News co-hosts argued that unlike presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton “would never” agree to a debate on Fox, forgetting that Trump has repeatedly backed out of debates during the GOP primaries -- including a debate on Fox News.

    During a discussion on the possibility of conducting a Democratic debate hosted by Fox News on the May 18 edition of Fox’s The Five, co-host Eric Bolling, argued that someone who wants to be president of the United States would not back down from a debate on Fox News, adding, “Donald Trump wouldn’t back down from a debate like this”:

     

    But Donald Trump did back down from a Fox News debate in January, citing unfair questions from moderator Megyn Kelly and a “wise-guy press release” from Fox News:

    Trump long has objected to the participation of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as one of the three moderators, claiming she has treated him unfairly with both her questioning of him at last August’s debate and her commentary since then.

    Trump also said that a “wise-guy press release” that the network issued earlier on Tuesday belittling him was inappropriately antagonistic and childish.

    Trump has also threatened to pull out of a CNN debate citing “one-sided and unfair reporting” from the network. Furthermore, a NBC debate was cancelled in March, after Trump said he would not attend because “I think we’ve had enough debates,” and following critical editorials of Trump, ABC News dropped The New Hampshire Union Leader as a co-sponsor from a February Republican debate, which Trump took credit for.

    Additionally, The Five co-host Meghan McCain claimed that Clinton wouldn’t agree to a debate on Fox because she is scared to take questions from Fox host Bret Baier, claiming “she knows that Bret Baier ain’t Rachel Maddow, honey. She’s going to have to answer some real questions and a lot of times she gets a lot of passes from the media.”

    But Hillary Clinton did take questions from Bret Baier during a Fox News presidential town hall event in March in which Baier asked Clinton eight separate questions about her private email server.

  • VIDEO: Megyn Kelly Repackaged A Year’s Worth Of Fox Interview Questions To Trump

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY, COLEMAN LOWNDES & JOHN KERR

    Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s widely panned interview with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump failed to bolster her carefully crafted image as a hard-hitting journalist. Indeed, Kelly recycled a series of softball questions her fellow Fox personalities have previously asked Trump.

    Kelly’s May 17 interview was promoted as an exclusive, hard-hitting exchange and reconciliation between the presumptive nominee and Fox’s primetime anchor after the months-long public feud between Trump and the network over Kelly’s questioning of the candidate. Kelly herself said her goal for the interview was an “interesting, compelling exchange.”

    But the interview not only featured a series of fuzzy, softball questions -- “Has anyone ever hurt you emotionally?,” “Are you going to stop [combatively tweeting] as president?” -- it also mirrored the way other Fox News hosts have engaged with Trump on air, shattering the illusion that Kelly is somehow different than her colleagues. A series of questions that Kelly tossed to Trump last night sounded conspicuously familiar, and for a good reason: they echoed questions that her colleagues have asked the presumptive GOP nominee over the past year.

    Take Bill O’Reilly back in March, asking Trump:

    BILL O’REILLY: Donald Trump now is not speaking as the Art of the Deal guy or The Apprentice guy. You’re not speaking anymore on that level. Now you are speaking for the United States. You may be president. I mean, so your rhetoric means so much more than it used to mean. You know, you’re in a different place. A place you have never been in. I'm just wondering how much you’ve thought about all that.

    And compare with Megyn Kelly last night:

    MEGYN KELLY: You're no longer just Donald Trump, businessman, or Donald Trump, host of Celebrity Apprentice. Now you're steps away from the presidency. Have you given any thought, in this position, to the power that your messaging has on the lives of the people you target and on the millions of people who take their cue from you?

    Megyn Kelly has spent years cultivating a reputation as an unbiased journalist, which has been boosted by a number of laudatory profiles that have largely ignored that her show “is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time" and that “her talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own.” 

  • The Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen Slams Media’s False Narrative That Trump Appeals To Progressives

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    MSNBC producer Steve Benen criticized media outlets for their "plainly wrong" portrayal of some of Donald Trump’s policies as “progressive.” Benen lamented the failure of The Washington Post and The New York Times to explain the contradictions between Trump’s policies and historically liberal ideology, and slammed their misleading thesis that Trump may have something to offer progressive voters.

    Media have reported Trump’s false claim that he originally opposed going to war in Iraq to claim that he is to the left of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on foreign policy, while ignoring his openness to nuclear proliferation, his support for military intervention in both Iraq and Libya, and his call to send tens of thousands of ground troops to Syria. And despite his support for reductions in Medicare and Social Security, ​The New York Times compared Trump's positions on entitlements to those of Bernie Sanders.

    In the May 18 blog post, Benen criticized The Post and the The Times for reporting Trump's stances as progressive, saying that “given it’s historical underpinnings, there’s nothing liberal about Trump’s “America’s First” vision” and slamming the media for falsely reporting that Trump is willing “to shift ‘to the left on the minimum wage and tax policy.’” Benen explained that the media may find it appealing to tout Trump as having national appeal that transcends political ideologies, but this “thesis is belied by reality” given that Trump’s position “offers literally nothing for progressive voters” (emphasis added):

    Some of the political media establishment has apparently settled on a new “narrative”: Donald Trump will appeal to Democrats by breaking with Republican orthodoxy and endorsing some progressive goals. It might be a compelling thesis, if it were in any way true.

    The Washington Post got the ball rolling last week with a provocative, attention-getting headline: “How Donald Trump is running to the left of Hillary Clinton.” As proof, the article noted, among other things, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, and his willingness to shift “to the left on the minimum wage and tax policy.”

    The problem, of course, is much of this is factually incorrect. Given its historical underpinnings, there’s nothing liberal about Trump’s “America First” vision, and the media hype surrounding Trump’s purported shifts on the minimum wage and tax policy turned out to be completely wrong. The Post’s entire thesis struggled under scrutiny.

    And yet, there it was again in the New York Times yesterday.

    [...]

    Again, if these observations were rooted in fact, the thesis might have merit, but it’s important not to fall for shallow hype and bogus narratives. Trump did not endorse a minimum-wage hike; he actually said there shouldn’t be a federal minimum wage at all. He did not call for higher taxes on the wealthy; he proposed literally the exact opposite.

    And far from “attacking Mrs. Clinton from the left on … Wall Street,” a few hours after the Times article was published, Trump insisted he would repeal Dodd-Frank reforms – which represents an attack from the right, not the left.

    [...]

    It’s easy to get the impression that the media likes the idea – not the reality, but the idea – of Trump having broad national appeal, enough to woo disaffected Democrats and Bernie Sanders’ most ardent backers, and defeat Clinton in a general election. But the thesis is belied by reality. Trump’s platform – on the economy, on immigration, on taxes, on policies towards women, on race, on torture – offers literally nothing for progressive voters, which is probably why Sanders has said he’s prepared to fight as hard as he can in the coming months to ensure Trump’s defeat.