After African-American communities in Baltimore and Ferguson, MO came together to demonstrate against the deadly and racially disparate policies of law enforcement, Fox News branded the protests a "war on cops." But when the story became a mostly white Texas biker gang plotting to kill police with grenades and car bombs, the network took a decidedly less sensationalist approach in its reporting.
Fox host Sean Hannity declared on May 12 that there is a "war on police in America" and tied recent statistics on law enforcement officers' deaths to protestors in Baltimore who took to the streets in response to the unexplained death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
Earlier in May, Fox host Eric Bolling responded to the killing of NYPD officer Brian Moore by suggesting that liberals waging a "war on cops" were to blame. He said, "The 'anti-cop left' in America seems to be ... fueling some of this hatred and, you know, murderous streak that's going on against cops."
On March 12, Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs directed viewers to vote in an online poll that asked, "Has the Obama administration's war on law enforcement contributed, in your opinion, to violence in Ferguson and other communities around the country?"
On the December 29, 2014 broadcast of Fox News' Special Report, contributor Charles Krauthammer responded to the pattern of unarmed black men being shot by police officers by saying, "If there's a pattern here, it's the war on police. I don't see a war on young black men."
But on a major story that involved serious threats against law enforcement, the "people versus the police" warlike rhetoric has been conspicuously absent from Fox's news coverage.
On May 17 in Waco, TX, a shootout between rival biker gangs and law enforcement left nine people dead and more than 190 people in custody. In the immediate aftermath, some gang members issued death threats against uniformed officers. Days later, reports of more violent threats emerged -- members of the Bandidos biker gang who serve in the military were giving their fellow members grenades and C4 explosives, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. CNN reported on the existence of Bandidos "plots targeting high-ranking law enforcement officials and their families with car bombs":
The Bandidos want to retaliate against police for shooting "their brothers" as they came out of the Twin Peaks restaurant, the bulletin says.
The gang has ordered a hit against Texas troopers and other officers, according to the bulletin. Among the threats are running over officers at traffic stops and the use of grenades and Molotov cocktails and firearms.
Fox News reported the threats, but despite the element of military-grade tactics in the story, has completely refrained from describing the plot as part of its much-hyped "war on cops." Instead, the network has played it straight, with just-the-facts news reports read on camera with no accompanying pictures or video.
The contrast is noteworthy, and highlights the double-standard that the media in general has exercised when reporting on the biker club shootout versus how it reported on the protests in Baltimore -- something even CNN noticed.
The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan criticizes the "Trigger-Happy Generation" in her latest column, adding to the increasingly wide range of media figures questioning the merits of "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" on college campuses. But her attacks in particular reveal a troubling element largely missing from this debate: an honest assessment of the crisis of mental health support for students.
Trigger warnings and safe spaces, in theory, attempt to warn and shield students from material that might remind them of past trauma or reinforce a hostile experience. In practice, they take on many different forms, giving ammunition to both defenders and critics who often see them as overzealous attempts to shield students from reality.
In her May 21 column, Noonan places herself squarely in the critics' camp, labeling on-campus advocacy for safe spaces and trigger warnings as "part of a growing censorship movement." She specifically targets an opinion piece in a Columbia University newspaper, which described in part a survivor of sexual assault wanting greater protection after feeling triggered during a class discussion on the rape scenes in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Noonan argues that the world is an unsafe place, and that students shouldn't try to shape it into something more comforting:
There is no such thing as safety. That is asking too much of life. You can't expect those around you to constantly accommodate your need for safety ... [I]f you constantly feel anxious and frightened by what you encounter in life, are we sure that means the world must reorder itself? Might it mean you need a lot of therapy?
Noonan is being flippant, but her dismissive joke actually points to a growing problem: colleges don't offer students enough mental health support, which may be one explanation for the growing trend of students trying to create safe spaces and safe texts for themselves.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and the same day Noonan's column was published, a report released as part of the campaign found that millennials who work (which would include many college students) have the highest rates of depression of any generation. Last year, The Washington Post noted that according to recent studies, "44 percent of college students experienced symptoms of depression, and suicide is one of the leading causes of death among college students."
And victims of rape, intimate-partner violence, stalking, or sexual assault -- which the Columbia University student Noonan highlighted reportedly was -- are "drastically more likely to develop a mental disorder at some point in their lives," according to a 2011 Journal of the American Medical Association study, CNN reported at the time.
These students often don't have access to help, including the therapy Noonan blithely suggested. In 2011, the American Psychological Association labeled the state of mental health on campuses a "growing crisis," and they've continued to track the concerns since. College counseling centers, they explained, "are frequently forced to come up with creative ways to manage their growing caseloads. For example, 76.6 percent of college counseling directors reported reducing the number of visits for non-crisis patients to cope with the increasing number of clients." 88 percent of campus counseling centers surveyed by the American College Counseling Association said they experienced staffing problems due to the increase in demand, the Baltimore Sun reported in 2013.
But as of 2012, only 56 percent of four-year colleges and universities offered on-campus psychiatric services. Fewer than 13 percent of community colleges did as well. The services can't keep up with the rise in demand.
To be sure, not all of the students asking for safe spaces or trigger warnings on their campuses need therapy, nor are they all seeking these spaces because of a general lack of robust mental health service on their campuses. However, I know at least some of them are, because that's exactly what I did.
The Associated Press suggested it was unethical for then-first lady Hillary Clinton to push for tax breaks for those who donated to nonprofit organizations while the William J. Clinton Foundation was soliciting donations for the Clinton administration's presidential library -- but its own article later undermined those claims, outlining how the proposed measure had been building momentum since 1997, three years prior to the alleged conflict of interest. In fact, as the AP admitted, the proposal in question would provide no "direct" benefit to the foundation.
Hillary Clinton endorsed a plan proposed by the Clinton administration to provide tax breaks to "private foundations and wealthy charity donors" while she was first lady, according to a May 22 report from the AP:
As first lady in the final year of the Clinton administration, Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed a White House plan to give tax breaks to private foundations and wealthy charity donors at the same time the William J. Clinton Foundation was soliciting donations for her husband's presidential library, recently released Clinton-era documents show.
The AP suggested that the "blurred lines between the tax reductions proposed by the Clinton administration in 2000 and the Clinton Library's fundraising were an early foreshadowing of the potential ethics concerns that have flared around the Clintons' courting of corporate and foreign donors for their family charity before she launched her campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination."
But the AP's own article went on to undermine its allegations of a conflict of interest that "blurred the lines" between the proposed tax reductions and donations to the Clintons' nonprofit. As a spokesperson for Bill Clinton's office explained, the "administration was not trying to incentivize giving to the foundation, but instead was spurred by a 1997 presidential humanities committee that urged tax breaks for charities to aid American cultural institutions," meaning that the proposal was born from a committee three years prior to the timeline the article used to suggest a conflict of interest.
As The New York Times wrote at the time, the nonpartisan committee had made the recommendations because "cuts in public, private and corporate spending on the arts and humanities [were] undermining cultural and educational institutions in the United States." Funding from donations to nonprofits accounted for "90 percent of the nation's cultural financing," and the proposed tax measures would have helped fund cultural institutions that the federal budget would no longer be able to support.
And as the AP's report later explained, quoting former economic adviser to Bill Clinton, Gene Sperling, not only were the nonprofit tax reductions "'developed at the Treasury Department, endorsed by experts and designed to encourage all forms of charitable giving'" but the foundation also "would not have benefited directly by the tax proposals" at all, and any indirect benefits would also have helped "many other U.S. charities."
A segment on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor argued that President Obama's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program made it so that it is now easier for undocumented immigrants to come to the country than it is for legal immigrants, a gross misrepresentation of the policy and its actual effects on current undocumented immigrants.
On the May 20 edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly claimed that "folks who want to come to the USA legally, [are] not being able to do so because of the current policy on illegal aliens [DACA]." Fox correspondent Shannon Bream explained that legal immigrants are waiting longer to enter the U.S. because the agency in charge of immigration has prioritized current DACA recipients. O'Reilly concluded that the rules mean that "it is much more difficult to come here legally than illegally."
In reporting on the recent Amtrak derailment near Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured up to 200 others, broadcast evening news programs and the Sunday morning political talk shows have largely ignored an outdated federal law that could deny financial compensation to victims and their families.
After the horrific Amtrak passenger train crash on May 12, much of the media coverage has focused on the technical causes of the accident and whether increased infrastructure spending might prevent future tragedies.
But a Media Matters analysis of evening news broadcasts and Sunday shows' coverage of the derailment indicates that the major networks have largely ignored how the victims of this crash might be denied financial compensation from Amtrak that will adequately cover their medical expenses going forward. Because of a 1997 federal law that limits the amount of money the victims can recover for their injuries to $200 million, many of the victims -- and the families of those who died -- may get stuck trying to pay for the costs associated with the crash out of their own pockets.
Only the May 17 edition of ABC News' This Week briefly mentioned the outdated law, in a segment with ABC's Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams. As Abrams explained, the $200 million cap is not per victim, but the total amount that can be paid out per incident, regardless of the number of fatalities or extent of survivor injuries:
Fox News was quick to criticize President Obama for emphasizing how climate change is a core threat to national security, arguing the president should have focused instead on foreign terrorist organizations during his Coast Guard Academy commencement speech. In fact, the Coast Guard will be at the forefront of the nation's response to the significant challenges afoot due to the earth's changing climate.
Obama spoke at length about the national security threats presented by climate change during his May 20 commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The president highlighted how "climate change increases the risk of instability and conflict" around the world, citing severe droughts in the Middle East and North Africa that have contributed to the rise of extremist groups, rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms sparking humanitarian crises, and the impact of Arctic sea ice reduction on international maritime rivalries.
Fox News roundly mocked the address, charging that Obama "seems to have utterly lost his way" on national security issues. Others disapproved of the Coast Guard Academy as the setting for his climate remarks, suggesting it reflected poorly on Obama's priorities and management of the resources of the U.S. military.
But the Coast Guard is perhaps the most appropriate of the five armed service branches to focus future planning efforts on combating the effects of a changing climate. As the president stated, "the threat of a changing climate cuts to the very core" of the Coast Guard's mission.
The breakup of Arctic sea ice presents new challenges for the Coast Guard. Shortly before retiring from the service, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp discussed how climate change affects the Coast Guard's mission in an interview with Defense News:
Part of our maritime governance is to make sure that ships and cargo get safely in and out of our ports. So if the water rises, how does that affect our aid navigation system? How does that affect dredging with the Army Corps of Engineers? These are marine safety type issues.
In July 2014, Papp was appointed as U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic Region for the express purpose of advising American strategy with regard to climate change in the world's northern oceans.
Sea level rise, another direct result of climate change, is occurring faster than previously predicted and threatens low-lying areas of the United States and neighboring countries. According to the United Nations, sea level rise could be up to four times more pronounced in island nations, many of which dot the Caribbean Sea and are likely destinations for Coast Guard humanitarian relief operations.
Climate change exacerbates the impact of extreme weather events and has been shown to supercharge hurricane systems that target the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf coast every year. When these storms destroy communities and threaten American lives, the Coast Guard is among the first responders on-scene to rescue and care for stranded victims. The Coast Guard's "dangerous and exhausting" rescue missions proved to be a lonely silver lining during the Bush administration's botched response to Hurricane Katrina.
Despite Fox News' protests, the Coast Guard is "on the front lines of climate change and national security."
Fox News attacked Planned Parenthood Action Fund for acknowledging that 2016 Republican hopeful Carly Fiorina's policy positions may threaten women's health, suggesting that her positions could not harm women because Fiorina is female.
Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck took issue with a Planned Parenthood Action Fund poll that asked "which GOP presidential contender is the worst for women's health" because it included a female candidate, Carly Fiorina. On the May 21 edition of the program, Hasselbeck wondered, "How is a female candidate a threat to women?" before suggesting even conducting such a poll on the election's impact on healthcare policy was inappropriate because Planned Parenthood receives government grants.
Hasselbeck steered clear of addressing Fiorina's actual policy stances, many of which would disproportionately harm women.
Fiorina has pushed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which greatly improves women's access to health care, claiming that it "does not solve problems -- it creates them." She supported a dangerous ban on abortions after 20-weeks so extreme even Republican congresswomen opposed it. Running for U.S. Senate in 2010, Fiorina said that she would "absolutely" repeal Roe v. Wade if given the opportunity.
She has opposed policies to address the gender pay gap, disputing the necessity of the Paycheck Fairness Act, and repeatedly objected to efforts to raise the minimum wage, which would greatly benefit the nearly two-thirds of minimum wage earners who are women and help close the gender pay gap.
CNN declined to comment on whether Newt Gingrich is still employed at the network in light of news that he is joining the world's largest law firm.
Gingrich will start working for Dentons in June as a "senior advisor" in its public policy and regulation practice. It's unclear whether Gingrich, who has a history of conflict of interest problems, will simultaneously work for the firm and as a CNN contributor -- the network declined to clarify his current employment status to Media Matters. According to a Nexis search, Gingrich was last on CNN on March 3, 2015. During the appearance, he was identified as a CNN contributor.
While he'll work with lobbyists at Dentons, he will not officially register as one. The Wall Street Journal reported that the firm earned more than $1.275 billion in revenue last year and has "more than 6,600 lawyers and professionals" and "will have 125 offices in more than 50 countries."
Dentons' public policy and regulation practice is involved in dozens of areas such as energy, the environment, health care, and national security. Dentons US banked more than $6.5 million in lobbying income in 2014 from clients like Allstate, Credit Union National Association, Lumara Health, and Time Warner Cable, according to OpenSecrets.org. The firm's chairman stated that Gingrich will "engage and advance the goals of our clients."
Gingrich told the Journal that "he's 'clearing a fair amount of time' to work at Dentons, but he'll continue doing some other projects" such as writing a novel. A request for comment passed along by Dentons to Gingrich's office was not returned.
The firm's large client list and practice areas would create innumerable conflicts for Gingrich as a media commentator.
Gingrich, who previously hosted CNN's now-defunct Crossfire reboot, has shown little concern for adhering to media ethics regarding conflicts of interest. In 2013, CNN drew an onslaught of criticism from reporters for allowing Gingrich to discuss candidates his political action committee gave money to without disclosing it. His media company also received money from the Republican National Committee, but Gingrich did not divulge that while hosting Crossfire.
Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor who predicted in 2003 that proponents of the U.S. invasion of Iraq would be "vindicated" upon the discovery of weapons of mass destruction there, is holding fast to the idea that the deadly and expensive conflict was the right move. Kristol's justifications for the war, however, have changed dramatically.
In a May 20 op-ed for USA Today, Kristol argued that U.S. intervention in Iraq was justified in 2003 "to remove Saddam Hussein, and to complete the job we should have finished in 1991." Kristol added that "we were right to persevere" in Iraq, "even with the absence of caches of weapons of mass destruction."
Kristol went on to blame President Obama for the failure of the war and the rise of ISIS, writing, "Obama threw it all away":
Even with the absence of caches of weapons of mass destruction, and the mistakes we made in failing to send enough troops at first and to provide security from the beginning for the Iraqi people, we were right to persevere through several difficult years. We were able to bring the war to a reasonably successful conclusion in 2008.
When President Obama took office, Iraq was calm, al-Qaeda was weakened and ISIS did not exist. Iran, meanwhile, was under pressure from abroad (due to sanctions) and at home (due to popular discontent, manifested by the Green uprising in the summer of 2009).
The Obama administration threw it all away. It failed to support the dissidents in Iran in 2009, mishandled the Iraqi elections in 2010, removed all U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011, and allowed the Syrian civil war to spiral out of control from 2011 on.
We see, this week in Ramadi but this year throughout the Middle East, the predictable consequences of this disastrous policy of withdrawal and retreat.
And even though the threat is now clear as day, this administration shows no sign of changing course, as President George W. Bush did when it became clear his strategy in Iraq wasn't working.
Kristol's stance on the war's justifications today differs considerably from his arguments in favor of invading Iraq in 2003. At that time, Kristol -- one of many conservative voices drumming up support for the war -- claimed American forces "will be welcomed in Baghdad as liberators" and argued that "we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction." From the March 5, 2003 edition of ABC's Nightline:
TED KOPPEL: Does it bother you that it appears that it is going to be a largely unilateral policy? I don't want to diminish the influence of our British friends, but this is clearly an American policy.
BILL KRISTOL: It is. One would always prefer to have more allies rather than fewer. And I think we actually will have lots of help in the reconstruction and democratization, actually, of Iraq. But, look, I think what we've learned over the last ten years is that America has to lead. Other countries won't act. They will follow us, but they won't do it on their own. And in this case, I think we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq.
The editors of USA Today summarized the consequences of the Iraq War in a May 20 editorial:
Nearly 4,500 Americans died, tens of thousands more were wounded, and $2 trillion was squandered in a war to destroy weapons of mass destruction that were never found.
And though the war disposed of a bloody dictator, Saddam Hussein, it ushered in something worse, at least for the United States: A sectarian civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and gave birth to Islamist terrorism, now under the banner of the Islamic State.
Gun Owners of America -- a far-right gun group whose leader has been linked to white supremacists and has suggested that mass shootings are staged by the government -- will host Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to address the group's "activists."
GOA is headed by Larry Pratt, a conspiracy theorist who frequently espouses extreme views on gun regulation. The group is considered to be to the right of the National Rifle Association touts itself as "the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington."
According to an e-mail sent to GOA supporters, Cruz will speak at a "Tele-Town Hall" meeting on May 27. GOA "is surveying and interviewing all of the candidates," but Cruz is the first to agree to address the group:
Cruz, who has received campaign contributions from GOA, previously praised the group as "strong defenders of the Second Amendment."
Although media sometimes ignore GOA's extremism, the group and its leader ascribe to a hard-right ideology. In 1996, Pratt was forced to leave Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign after it came to light that he had spoken at a militia conference alongside leaders of the white supremacist movement. GOA also donated "tens of thousands of dollars" to white supremacy group CAUSE in the 90s.
On the issue of gun violence, Pratt has flirted with the idea that the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting and the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater mass shooting were carried out by the government. Pratt has also suggested that politicians who support gun violence prevention laws should fear being shot and recently claimed that rioters in Baltimore should have been shot on sight. Among Pratt's lowlights: