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  • “Pretty Damn Frightening”: Wash. Post’s Volokh Conspiracy Imagines Trump’s Justice Department

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Contributor to the Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blog Orin Kerr wrote that the Department of Justice under Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would be “pretty damn frightening.”

    During last week’s Republican National Convention, Trump called for more aggressive policing, threatened critics with lawsuits, and suggested that his opponents, such as Hillary Clinton, be jailed. Trump has also praised strongmen like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan for their ability to lead and to take control in times of crisis.

    In a July 22 article, Kerr wrote that Trump’s “long-standing passions” of silencing dissenting voices and threatening lawsuits against critics convinced him that a Trump Department of Justice would be “pretty damn frightening.” Kerr argued Trump’s Justice Department would be “aggressive” against those who oppose and criticize it, citing Trump’s “expressed admiration" for dictators such as Putin, his dismissal of other country’s civil liberties violations, and Trump's response to “the ‘vicious’ and ‘horrible’ way that the Chinese government massacred pro-democracy protesters" in Tiananmen Sqaure. From the article:

    Trump’s Nixonian turn to law and order raises an important question: What would a Trump Justice Department look like?

    It would be pretty damn frightening, I think. Trump has two long-standing passions when it comes to law and law enforcement. His first passion is the suppression of protest and dissent. And his second passion is bringing lots of legal actions against his critics and threatening many more to get his way.

    [...]

     A few months ago, Trump expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin as “a strong leader” and “a powerful leader.” He has offered praise for Saddam Hussein. And just this week, when he was asked how he would respond to civil liberties violations by repressive regimes in other countries such as Turkey, Trump explained that he wouldn’t deal with that because the United States had its own mess to clean up. If you read the interview, Trump wasn’t saying that we had to to stop our own civil liberties violations before criticizing those of other governments. Rather, he was saying that the United States couldn’t criticize other countries because it needed to be “much more aggressive” at stopping the “riots” in the streets in places such as Ferguson and Baltimore. It would be “a wonderful thing,” Trump explained, if the response to the “riots” was more aggressive.

    [...]

    Trump also frequently threatens lawsuits as a way to silence his critics. If you want to focus on one example, this Politico piece on Trump’s efforts to intimidate a securities analyst who accurately predicted the failure of a Trump casino is a great read. And this week, a lot of people have seen the frivolous cease-and-desist letter that a Trump lawyer sent just this week to a Trump critic. Think about that. Right in the middle of the GOP convention, just a few days ago, Trump had his lawyers send a threat to bring a baseless lawsuit.

    Now imagine what a President Trump would do with the executive power of the United States granted to him under Article II. Under the unitary executive, President Trump would control all of federal law enforcement.

  • CNN’s Harry Houck Promotes Video Calling On Obama To “Ban Niggas”

    Video Claims “More People Murdered In A Day By Niggly Bears Than In A Year By Grizzly Bears”

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    CNN law enforcement analyst Harry Houck promoted a video that calls for President Obama to “ban niggas” in order to reduce violent crime, continuing Houck’s long history of peddling racist tropes about the African-American community.

    On July 25, Houck posted a link to a video on his Twitter account featuring Atlanta radio host and men’s rights activist Tommy Sotomayor, in which Sotomayor said that Obama should “ban niggas” because black men commit more violent crimes than other groups. Houck tweeted the video with the comment, “He knows what he’s talking about!”:

    Houck has used his platform on CNN to repeatedly suggest that African-Americans are prone to criminality and to blame black victims of police violence. Houck on Twitter has often warned about “black thugs,” referred to Black Lives Matter as a “thug group,” and even tweeted a link to a white supremacist website.

    Houck continues to be employed as a law enforcement analyst by CNN. He most recently appeared during the the July 17 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, where he attempted to link the shooting of three police officers in Baton Rouge to protests regarding the death of Alton Sterling.

  • PolitiFact Debunks Trump’s “Dead Wrong” Smear Of Tim Kaine

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    PolitiFact’s Warren Fiske corrected Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after he erroneously claimed that Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine took more undisclosed personal gifts than former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

    McDonnell and his wife were convicted in 2014 on 11 counts of corruption after being accused of taking “undisclosed” gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for connecting him to state officials, including $120,000 in loans, a Rolex watch and the use of Williams’ vacation home. The Supreme Court later overturned the conviction, saying it was unclear that McDonnell had acted inappropriately on Williams’ behalf. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine also took gifts from several companies, including Barr Pharmaceuticals, Dominion Resources and McCandlish Holton PC, but CNN’s Chris Frates explained that Kaine complied with the state law and “disclosed his gifts” while McDonnell did not.   

    PolitiFact noted that, contrary to Trump’s claim, McDonnell actually accepted almost three times as much in gifts as Kaine and that all of Kaine’s gifts were “disclosed as required by state law.” Fiske called Trump’s remark “dead wrong” and gave him PolitiFact’s highest rating of “Pants on Fire.” From the July 24 fact check:  

    Donald Trump welcomed U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., to the Democratic presidential ticket on Sunday by assailing the presumptive vice presidential nominee’s ethics.

    Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump said Kaine accepted more political gifts than former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

    That’s a big claim, because McDonnell, a Republican, stood trial for accepting $177,000 in undisclosed personal gifts from an entrepreneur who was seeking business with the state. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned McDonnell’s bribery convictions in June.

    "Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what Kaine took," said Trump, the GOP presidential nominee. "And I think, to me, it’s a big problem. Now, how do you take all these gifts? Hundreds of thousands of dollars."

    We wondered whether McDonnell’s gift-taking was, in fact, "a fraction" of Kaine’s. Trump’s campaign did not respond to our request for proof. So we set out on our own, comparing gifts Kaine received as lieutenant governor and governor from 2002 to 2010 to those McDonnell accepted as attorney general from 2006 to 2009 and as governor from 2010 to 2014.

    [...]

    Trump, speaking about gift-taking, said, "Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what (Tim) Kaine took."

    Kaine accepted $162,083 in gifts as lieutenant governor and governor, all of which was disclosed as required by state law.

    McDonnell disclosed accepting $275,707 in gifts as attorney general and governor. And there was another $177,000 that he didn’t disclose. That comes to a total of $452,707 in gifts - almost three times Kaine’s total.

    Trump has got this one dead wrong. We rate his statement Pants on Fire.

     
  • VIDEO: The Media's Years Of Sexist Attacks On Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› LEANNE NARAMORE

    The media has spent years hurling sexist attacks at presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. From attacks on her appearance, her cleavage, her sexuality, her "PMS," the tone and volume of her voice, her laugh, her emotions, her age, being a grandmother, being called a "bitch,""castrating" and a "vaginal American," the claim that she's only successful because of her husband and more, it's hard to overstate the barrage of sexism Clinton has faced during her time as first lady, senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate.

    Now that Clinton is set to become first female presidential candidate for a major party in U.S. history, the media should avoid falling into this inexcusable cycle of rampant sexism and misogyny in their general election coverage.

  • Report: Sexual Harassment At Fox News Goes Way Beyond Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following the ousting of former Fox CEO Roger Ailes amid allegations that he sexually harassed former network anchor Gretchen Carlson, The New York Times reported that a culture of sexual harassment and intimidation in Fox News may extend beyond Ailes. According to the Times, interviews with current and former Fox News employees revealed “instances of harassment and intimidation that went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.”

    On July 21, Fox News’ parent company announced that Ailes would be resigning his position at Fox News but would receive $60 million and continue to work “as a consultant” with 21st Century Fox. Ailes’ ousting from the company follows a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. According to The Washington Post, 25 women have come forward to make similar harassment claims against Ailes.

    The New York Times reported on July 23 that Fox News may have “a broader problem in the workplace,” that extends beyond Ailes after at least “a dozen women” told the Times that “they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or intimidation at Fox News or the Fox Business Network, and half a dozen more who said they had witnessed it. Two of them cited Mr. Ailes and the rest cited other supervisors.” From the Times’ report:

    The investigation by Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, focused narrowly on Mr. Ailes. But in interviews with The New York Times, current and former employees described instances of harassment and intimidation that went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.

    The Times spoke with about a dozen women who said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or intimidation at Fox News or the Fox Business Network, and half a dozen more who said they had witnessed it. Two of them cited Mr. Ailes and the rest cited other supervisors. With the exception of Ms. Bakhtiar, they all spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing embarrassment and fear of retribution. Most continue to work in television and worry that speaking out could damage their careers.

    They told of strikingly similar experiences at Fox News. Several said that inappropriate comments about a woman’s appearance and sex life were frequent. Managers tried to set up their employees on dates with superiors.

    [...]

    The women interviewed by The Times described similarly troubling experiences at Fox News and the Fox Business Network, a sprawling operation with about 2,000 employees on several floors of News Corporation’s headquarters on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.

    The networks were run with an iron fist by Mr. Ailes, the founding chairman and a former Republican strategist, who established the channels as a lucrative profit center and an influential voice in conservative politics.

    [...]

    It is difficult to know exactly how much Mr. Ailes set the tone. The investigation into his conduct revealed findings troubling enough to compel 21st Century Fox executives to move quickly and arrange his exit. Beyond inappropriate language, Mr. Ailes was also accused by employees of kissing and intimate physical contact, according to three people briefed on the investigation, and of making propositions that included quid pro quo arrangements.

    [...]

    Female staff members told of problems with other supervisors as well. One current employee said that she was with a male supervisor in a closed-door, one-on-one meeting in 2009 when she asked to work on an assignment. He turned to her and said, “Sure,” then conditioned it on oral sex. The woman said she laughed it off, thinking that she would face retaliation and be demoted if she told him that the comment was inappropriate.

  • Washington Post Reports 25 Women Have Come Forward To Accuse Former Fox CEO Ailes Of Harassment  

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson against former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, 25 women have come forward to make claims of similar harassment against Ailes, according to a July 22 report from The Washington Post.

    On July 21, Fox News’ parent company announced that Ailes would be resigning his position at Fox News but would receive $60 million in a “consultant” position with 21st Century Fox.  

    The Washington Post highlighted the “locker room” mentality at Fox News, alongside new allegations in a July 22 article which reports there are now 25 women accusing Ailes of misconduct and harassment, dating back decades:

    News of Carlson’s firing, and the lawsuit she filed shortly thereafter, have now prompted 25 women to come forward with what they describe as similar harassment claims against Ailes that stretch across five decades back to his days in the 1960s as a young television producer, according to Carlson’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith.

    Interviews with four of those women portray the 76-year-old television powerhouse as a man who could be routinely crude and inappropriate, ogling young women, commenting about their breasts and legs, and fostering a macho, insensitive culture. Among those who agreed to interviews is a 2002 Fox intern who spoke for the first time about her accusation that Ailes grabbed her buttocks and repeatedly propositioned her.

    […]

    The signals sent by Ailes were quickly picked up by the employees, the former staffer said. Some women began showing up to news meetings in short skirts and blouses that showed their cleavage.

    “It became common knowledge that women did not want to be alone with him,” the former staffer said. “They would bring other men with them when they had to meet him. It became a locker room, towel-snapping environment. He would say things like, ‘She’s really got the goods’ and ‘look at the t--s on that one.’ ”

    Sometimes, the former staffer said, Ailes made “jokes that he liked having women on their knees. The tone he set went through the organization.”

     

  • Wash. Post Editorial Board Excoriates Trump’s “Ignorance” And “Contempt For The Constitution”

    Post Editorial Board: “A Trump Presidency Would Be Dangerous For The Nation And The World”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an editorial titled “Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy,” The Washington Post’s editorial board excoriated the Republican nominee, warning “his contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.”

    Following Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention in which he accepted the Republican nomination for president, media called out Trump’s “campaign of fear,” with some saying the Republican Party “died” as a result of Trump’s nomination.

    After Trump’s acceptance speech, The Washington Post’s editorial board flatly stated that they “cannot salute the Republican nominee” because of Trump’s “contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends.” The Post’s editorial board added that Trump “doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power” and that electing “Mr. Trump would be to knowingly subject [the United States’ democratic system] to threat.” From the July 22 editorial:

    Donald J. Trump, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.

    Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.

    [...]

    Given his ignorance, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three. Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions should be punished . Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are “stupid,” but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.

    [...]

    Most alarming is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends. He doesn’t know what is in the nation’s founding document. When asked by a member of Congress about Article I, which enumerates congressional powers, the candidate responded, “I am going to abide by the Constitution whether it’s number 1, number 2, number 12, number 9.” The charter has seven articles.

    Worse, he doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those who criticize him will suffer when he is president. He has vowed to torture suspected terrorists and bomb their innocent relatives, no matter the illegality of either act. He has vowed to constrict the independent press. He went after a judge whose rulings angered him, exacerbating his contempt for the independence of the judiciary by insisting that the judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump has encouraged and celebrated violence at his rallies. The U.S. democratic system is strong and has proved resilient when it has been tested before. We have faith in it. But to elect Mr. Trump would be to knowingly subject it to threat.

  • These Five Reports From The Republican Convention Show How Badly The Trump Campaign Is Fumbling Latino Outreach

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    1. Univision’s Enrique Acevedo’s Tweet:

    Enrique Acevedo, who anchors Univision’s late night daily news show Edición Nocturna, commented on Twitter on the contrast between the Republican convention of 2000, which featured both a Latino theme and Mexican Ranchera singer Vicente Fernández performing on stage, and this year’s convention, which featured Trump’s favorite anti-immigration sheriff Joe Arpaio. Translated from Acevedo’s July 21 tweet:

    “16 years ago, the Bushes invited Vicente Fernández to sing at the Republican convention. Today Trump brought Sheriff Arpaio. Progress?”

    2. The New Yorker: GOP “Has Taken Steps” That Appear To Suppress “The Latino Vote.”

    A July 20 report on the Republican convention in The New Yorker highlighted a side event put together by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) in which Republicans defended their stance on stricter voter ID laws. According to The New Yorker, these laws “appear to be suppressing the Latino vote,” a point that is backed up by studies. According to The New Yorker, members of Hispanic media spoke out to debunk the myth that voter fraud is “overwhelming,” with one noting that in decades of reporting, she had never “found that situation”:

    In the background of the discussion was an issue that runs deeper than Trump: for all its talk of reaching out, the Republican Party has taken steps that actually appear to be suppressing the Latino vote. The Party has tried to pass stricter voter-ID laws across the country, even though studies have found that fraud is exceedingly rare and the laws have a disproportionate effect on minority turnout. (A recent study found that Latino turnout is 10.8 percentage points lower in states with strict photo-ID laws.) Lori Montenegro, a Telemundo correspondent, questioned whether voter fraud was being hyped by Republicans, saying, “I haven’t found evidence that there has been an overwhelming fraud.”

    Daniel Garza, who served in the Bush Administration, disagreed. “Well, I come from the Rio Grande Valley,” in South Texas. “It happens.”

    “That’s one place,” Montenegro said.

    Maria Hinojosa, the host of “Latino USA,” on NPR, spoke up. “I just want to second Lori in saying that, in twenty-five years, in all of my reporting, I have never found that situation.”

    3. Univision.com: The Trump Campaign Is The First In 20 Years Without A Spanish-Language Communication Team.

    According to Univision.com, Univision News’ efforts to reach the Trump campaign for comments always go unanswered, in part because Donald Trump is the first Republican presidential nominee in 20 years not to have a specialized Spanish-language communications team. The July 20 report explains that George W. Bush was the first to hire a spokesperson for Hispanic media, and that both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 followed his lead.

    4. The Hill: Spanish-Language Signs Meant To Represent Hispanics Had Grammatical Errors.

    The Hill reported on July 21 that the signs written in Spanish that were “being waved at the convention” by attendees had grammatical mistakes. They read “Hispanics para Trump,” failing to translate “Hispanics” and using the preposition “para” instead of the correct one, “por.”

    5. Fusion: “When You Photoshop White People Out” Of Republican Convention Pictures, “There’s Hardly Anyone Left.”

  • Aided By Right-Wing Media, Anti-Choice Groups Are Hijacking Black Lives Matter For Their Own Agenda

    How "#UnbornLivesMatter" Ignores Communities That Lack Reproductive Health Care Access

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Following the shooting deaths of two black men -- Alton Sterling and Philando Castile -- and the targeting of police officers in several U.S. cities, anti-choice groups have attempted to hijack the vocabulary of Black Lives Matter to attack access to reproductive care.

    Since the movement’s inception, the phrase “black lives matter” has been a grass-roots response to issues of race, policing, and structural violence against non-white bodies. In reaction, anti-choice groups have attempted to co-opt Black Lives Matter activists’ rhetoric by promoting their own phrase, #UnbornLivesMatter, to spread misinformation about abortion and its accessibility for women of color.

    Salon’s Amanda Marcotte described the discrepancies between those on social media “talking about the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile” and those tweeting with the hashtag #UnbornLivesMatter, many of which “focused on shaming liberals for believing there are more important things to worry about than women terminating unwanted pregnancies.” Marcotte traced the development of #UnbornLivesMatter and concluded that “while the hashtag surge was organized by a bunch of right wing fringe sorts, the grim fact of the matter is that this undermining, race-baiting language has trickled up to the more mainstream anti-choice movement.”

    Indeed, even before #UnbornLivesMatter’s recent prominence, anti-choice groups have long alleged that higher abortion rates among black women reflect an attempt by Planned Parenthood to explicitly target black communities.

    Clinic escort Pearl Brady told Vox that protesters “often target young women of color,” and patient advocate Amanda Patton said they shout things like: “‘Black babies’ lives matter!’” In a longer essay, clinic escort Lauren Rankin described the moment when two regular clinic protestors began using the language of Black Lives Matter to harass patients:

    But about a month ago, something changed. Two of our regular protesters—both men, neither of whom are Black—turned up at the clinic, megaphone, Bible, and camera in tow. Nothing unusual about that. But from the back of their crossover vehicle, they pulled out two new signs, both featuring a Black infant. The signs read:

    “Black life matters.”

    “Hands Up, Don’t Abort!”

    I felt paralyzed for a moment, genuinely stunned. My mind raced. Did they really just go there?

    [...]

    These two men have spent the better part of the last two years of their lives screaming at women who enter an abortion clinic. They and their hate-group (and I use that phrase deliberately) have filmed patients and companions as they enter the clinic, without their consent, and plastered those videos across the internet. These men associate with known anti-abortion terrorists, who have threatened violence against abortion providers.

    And yet, they feel perfectly comfortable appropriating a grassroots, progressive movement for racial justice in order to further shame Black patients and their partners. These men parade these signs specifically to target and harm Black women who have abortions. These men are accusing Black women who have abortions of perpetrating racial genocide, of inflicting systemic violence against their own children.

    These men are despicable, and they’re not alone.

    Right-wing media figures have amplified and repeated claims of a racist rationale behind the provision of access to abortion care. For example, frequent Fox News commentator and former GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson told ABC’s Martha Raddatz that Planned Parenthood engages in racist population control by placing “most of their clinics in black neighborhoods.” Beyond this, Carson has also criticized Black Lives Matter for supposedly excluding the black lives “eradicated by abortion.”

    Rush Limbaugh has made similar arguments on numerous occasions, alleging that “Planned Parenthood [is] doing the job the [Klu Klux] Klan could never finish” and that supporters of the reproductive health organization endorse the abortion of “60 percent of black babies.” Limbaugh has even stated that “the original goal of Planned Parenthood was to abortion various minorities out of existence.”

    Right-wing media have also frequently attacked the Black Lives Matter movement itself. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has labeled Black Lives Matter “a hate group” that wants police officers dead. Similarly, Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera referred to Black Lives Matter activists as “a bunch of troublemakers” who were “attracting a lot of attention to themselves.”

    According to a March 2016 fact sheet from the Guttmacher Institute, women of color do experience higher rates of unintended pregnancy and more frequently elect to abort. Think Progress’ Kira Lerner explained that these numbers actually reflect “the difficulties that many women in minority communities face in accessing high-quality contraceptive services and in using their chosen method of birth control consistently and effectively. A similar racial disparity exists for other health measures including rates of diabetes, breast and cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections.”

    Women of color are particularly vulnerable to the loss of a provider safety net when Planned Parenthood clinics are forced out of communities. According to Planned Parenthood’s associate director of global communications, Lori Adelman, “Planned Parenthood is often the primary health care provider for Latinos and African Americans in this country.”

    Black women are among the most adversely affected when access to Planned Parenthood and similar reproductive health care providers is denied. The National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda reported that “black women have more than double the unintended pregnancy rate of white women,” which is particularly concerning given “the risk of death from pregnancy complications was nearly three and a half times higher for Black women than for white women.”

    Renee Bracey Sherman wrote after the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby -- which enabled certain classes of employers to deny contraception benefits to their employees -- that because of these higher rates of unintended pregnancy and maternal mortality, “when employers deny access to birth control, they are actually putting Black women’s lives in danger.”

    In June 2016, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that Texas’ anti-choice law HB 2 was an “undue burden on abortion access.” In an amicus brief filed during the case, advocates outlined the disparate impact of anti-choice restrictions on women of color. They explained that “African-American women have been denied access to necessary reproductive healthcare services disproportionately” and this has impacted them “in numerous, measurable, and profound ways.”

    Despite this disparity, anti-choice legislators have frequently invoked the language of racial equality to push their own agendas.

    For example, in a speech demanding greater abortion restrictions, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-KS) attacked members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) for condoning higher rates of abortion in black communities. He said: “There is no one more hopeless and voiceless than an unborn baby, but [the CBC’s] silence is deafening. I can’t hear them. Where are they standing up for their communities, advocating and fighting for their right to life?”

    In Missouri, Rep. Mike Moon (R-MO) stole language from Black Lives Matter to promote his All Lives Matter Act -- a fetal personhood law which would enforce the scientifically unfounded belief that life begins at conception. Meanwhile, women have already been prosecuted for having miscarriages and stillborn births and for making attempts to self-abort, using laws that make actions taken by a pregnant person on her own body a criminal offense. For women of color, however, such laws also perpetuate harmful racial stereotypes.

    As Christine Assefa wrote for Feminist Wire, Moon’s bill “suggests that the state of Missouri codify into law the assertion that Black women are killing their own children, are incapable of making decisions about their own bodies, and cannot control their sexual desires.” She continued that these codifications “perpetuate historical, violent, and harmful stereotypes of Black women that reveal the deeply-rooted relationship between race and sexual politics."

    Beyond criticizing Moon’s bill, other reproductive justice advocates echoed these concerns about the hijacking of Black Lives Matter rhetoric to attack access to reproductive care.

    Planned Parenthood's director of constituency communications, Alencia Johnson, told Salon, “To appropriate the Black Lives Matter movement in the midst of the brutal tragedies too many in the black community face from state violence is repulsive.”

    Pamela Merritt, a co-director of the direct advocacy group Repoaction, argued that efforts by anti-choice groups to “to appropriate the language of Black Lives Matter are just the latest example of that movement's long history of pandering to their conservative and often racist base by insulting Black women and dismissing Black activism.” She concluded that this was particularly reprehensible when the “same movement is silent when Black children are shot and Black women are raped by police officers.”

    In a July 12 article Think Progress’ Laurel Raymond summarized the concerns of reproductive justice advocates about the rising popularity of phrases like “unborn lives matter”:

    "Black lives matter" provides a resounding answer to an unheard question: In the face of disproportionate policing and black deaths that are often unpunished and ignored, do black lives matter? Yes, they do. When other groups co-opt the phrase, they shift the focus away from this aspect of criminal justice -- and thus deemphasize the bigger problem at hand.

    "Unborn lives matter" goes one step further: not only does it derail that focus, but it also puts the primary blame on black women for choosing to have abortions. Anti-abortion rhetoric focused on black women argues for them to have that control over their bodies taken away from them -- even as black women take to the streets to protest for control of their bodies from the police.

     

  • The Daily Beast Highlights “The Shady Network” Of Nativist Organizations Trump Cited In His Speech

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Daily Beast profiled “the shady network” of nativist groups whose work and data Donald Trump cited during the anti-immigration sections of his Republican National Convention acceptance speech, noting that the groups Trump cited are “omnipresent in efforts to demonize immigrants.”

    Trump’s acceptance speech -- which the campaign made available -- includes 282 footnotes containing the sources for the candidate’s claims, with the work of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) being cited multiple times. FAIR has been classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric as well as its “ties to white supremacist groups, and eugenicists.” CIS, which FAIR’s founder John Tanton also helped found, has been repeatedly criticized for its shoddy research work and is labeled an “anti-immigrant nativist” organization by SPLC.

    As The Daily Beast points out, “CIS and FAIR provide the intellectual and organizational firepower for the immigration restrictionist movement” and their work always appears in efforts to “demonize immigrants.” The article continued, explaining that at one point anti-immigrant groups like CIS and FAIR were “pushed to the margins of the conservative conversation on immigration” but were kept relevant “thanks in part to powerful devotees in the talk-radio world and immigration-restrictionist stalwarts like Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert.” From The Daily Beast’s July 22 report:

    Trump’s team blasted out links to Trump’s remarks, including detailed footnotes showing the sources for his factual claims. And, unsurprisingly, many of Trump’s arguments are based on data from organizations funded by radical population control environmentalist activists. For instance, he cited a report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) to undergird his argument that the federal government enables crime by not deporting more undocumented immigrants.

    FAIR was founded by John Tanton, a virulently anti-immigrant nativist who has associated with white supremacists and dabbled in eugenics. He and his allies also fear that human population growth—particularly in the First World—jeopardizes the environment. Thus, they also back pro-abortion groups. This fact has left many on the right deeply concerned about citing their research or affiliating with their leaders. But not Trump.

    Trump’s speech also cited the Center for Immigration Studies—another group Tanton founded and helps fund. His team cited three different reports from CIS to support his assertions that immigration hurts American workers and that the federal government isn’t deporting enough undocumented immigrants.

    Along with NumbersUSA, CIS and FAIR provide the intellectual and organizational firepower for the immigration restrictionist movement. Their data and scholars are omnipresent in efforts to demonize immigrants, and they were all major presences during the 2013 Gang of 8 comprehensive immigration reform debate. Tanton and his funding link the three together.

    [...]

    In the pre-Trump era, these groups found themselves pushed to the margins of the conservative conversation on immigration. They never fully lost traction—thanks in part to powerful devotees in the talk-radio world and immigration-restrictionist stalwarts like Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert—but they had trouble. For several years, CPAC declined to give them airtime.

    [...]

    In the meantime, the Republican National Committee made an explicit effort to change the party’s rhetoric on immigration.

    [...]

    That dream is dead. Instead, Trump characterized immigrants as murderous, dangerous, and barbaric.

    [...]

    In his America, migrants are would-be rapists and definite job-thieves.

    It is, in the literal sense, a story of xenophobia—a view of the world predicated on the notion that anyone from a foreign country should be feared.