Justice & Civil Liberties

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  • NRATV Complains That Sexual Assault Allegations Against Trump Are Getting Too Much Attention

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A new media effort from the National Rifle Association is attacking the press for covering allegations of sexual assault against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    During a broadcast of the recently launched NRATV, host Grant Stinchfield complained that national media were not talking about news stories where people defended themselves with a gun, but instead “they talk about Donald Trump's sexual allegations and all the like to get us to look some place else because they don't want to talk about the real issues that matter to America, because if those issues are talked about, there's no way Donald Trump loses.”

    The NRA, which has endorsed Trump, has spent more than $26 million on the presidential race, far surpassing the amount the group spent in 2012. The largest NRA ad buy of the election cycle featured a woman who defended herself against a male attacker with a gun, and the NRA has shown no signs of letting up in the wake of increasing allegations of misconduct against Trump.

    From the October 27 edition of NRATV:

    CAM EDWARDS (NRA NEWS HOST): We're going to be talking in our Hero of the Day segment today about an off-duty deputy in Massachusetts who is out to dinner with his wife when all of a sudden a guy runs in, he's got a knife, and he starts stabbing people in this restaurant. Nobody could have anticipated this attack. Thankfully that off duty deputy had his personal sidearm with him, and that off duty deputy was able to respond to that threat, was able to neutralize that threat, and save lives in the process. It's those types of stories, they never make the national news headlines, Grant, but they happen every day when you have citizens who are prepared to protect themselves, the people that they love, and those around them, if need be. 

    GRANT STINCHFIELD  (NRATV HOST): And instead what the media does, instead of talking about stories like that, because that is a story that affects women, gun ownership affects women, they talk about Donald Trump's sexual allegations and all the like to get us to look some place else because they don't want to talk about the real issues that matter to America, because if those issues are talked about, there's no way Donald Trump loses. 


    NRA Risks Complete Disaster Following Unprecedented Spending On Trump

    The NRA Is Trying To Reach Out To Women, But This Is How It Talks About Campus Sexual Assault

  • Media Matters And Civil Rights Groups Release Media “Field Guide To Anti-Muslim Extremists”

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Media Matters partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Center for New Community, and ReThink Media to release a journalist's guide to the network of anti-Muslim activists and surrogates spreading vitriolic rhetoric in the media and the best practices for countering these extremists’ misinformation.

    The report “profiles 15 prominent anti-Muslim extremists, many of whom are associated with organizations identified by the SPLC as hate groups,” who appear frequently in the media, “where they spread falsehoods that too often go untested.” Citing the “baseless” propaganda produced by these extremists who “have shamelessly exploited terrorist attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, among other things, to demonize the entire Islamic faith,” the full report details the way television news networks and leading newspapers have allowed these extremists to “routinely espouse a wide range of utter falsehoods” about Muslims without providing any pushback. The report contends that the media have enabled these extremists to vilify American Muslims by accusing them of conspiring to “impose Shariah religious law,” thereby creating a false impression of the community and resulting in “hundreds of violent hate crime attacks” against them. From the October 26 report:

    Ever since the Al Qaeda massacre of Sept. 11, 2001, American Muslims have been under attack. They have been vilified as murderers, accused of conspiring to take over the United States and impose Shariah religious law, described as enemies of women, and subjected to hundreds of violent hate crime attacks. A major party presidential nominee has even suggested that America ban Muslim immigrants.

    Fueling this hatred has been the propaganda, the vast majority of it completely baseless, produced and popularized by a network of anti-Muslim extremists and their enablers. These men and women have shamelessly exploited terrorist attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, among other things, to demonize the entire Islamic faith.

    Sadly, a shocking number of these extremists are seen regularly on television news programs and quoted in the pages of our leading newspapers. There, they routinely espouse a wide range of utter falsehoods, all designed to make Muslims appear as bloodthirsty terrorists or people intent on undermining American constitutional freedoms. More often than not, these claims go uncontested.


    This misinformation and hateful rhetoric have consequences. When huge numbers of Americans believe that a majority of Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, it can hardly be a surprise that some percentage of them engage in hate crime attacks. After all, they learned of the threat they believe Muslims pose from sources who were presented by the media as authoritative experts.

    This country faces an array of complex and daunting problems, the threat of terrorism indisputably among them. Let’s not make them worse by allowing self-described “experts” to propagandize our fellow Americans with defamatory and frightening falsehoods. Our media, in particular, has the opportunity to present an objective picture that illuminates, rather than distorts, reality.

    The 15 anti-Muslim extremists profiled in the report are Ann Corcoran, Steven Emerson, Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney Jr., Pamela Geller, John Guandolo, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, David Horowitz, Ryan Mauro, Robert Muise, Maajid Nawaz, Daniel Pipes, Walid Shoebat, Robert Spencer, and David Yerushalmi. The report lists various false and extreme claims from the extremists and calls on the media to stop presenting the extremists as “authoritative experts” and allowing them to “propagandize our fellow Americans with defamatory and frightening falsehoods”:

    The anti-Muslim extremists profiled here have, between them, claimed that Islamic extremists have infiltrated the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and other agencies; asserted that there are “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims including police are afraid to enter; suggested that there is a Muslim plot to impose Sharia religious law on U.S. courts; and claimed that President Obama is a secret Muslim. These claims, along with many others, have been shown conclusively to be false.

    According to the report, the media coverage of and interviews with these anti-Muslim extremists fail to contextualize their “defamatory and false rhetoric and their hate group associations” and thus don't tell their audiences that these extremists “are far outside the mainstream, and that their factual assertions are very often completely baseless.” The report includes best practices for media, noting that “too often, television networks, newspapers and other media organizations turn to these groups’ spokespeople as credible sources on national security, immigration and religious liberty, and valid counterpoints to real issue experts.”

    The report’s best practices include:

    1. Research the background of extremist spokespeople and consider other sources.

    2. If you do use anti-Muslim spokespeople, point out their extremism.

    3. Prepare to challenge hateful rhetoric and misinformation.

    4. Don’t rely on opposing guests to challenge extremists.

    To read the full report, click here.

  • Trump Surrogate Ted Nugent: Hillary Clinton Is A “Devilbitch,” “VOTE TRUMP!”

    Nugent, A Member Of The NRA’s Board, Has Called For Clinton To Be Hanged

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent called Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton a “devilbitch” moments after promoting a Donald Trump presidential campaign video that he appears in.

    In an October 27 post on his Facebook page, Nugent wrote of Clinton, “The devilbitch hates everything good about America! VOTE TRUMP!” while promoting an NRA attack on the Democratic nominee. The post came moments after Nugent shared a Trump campaign video, which he is featured in, that discusses hunting and the Second Amendment:

    In the Trump campaign video, which features a message from Trump and statements from a variety of gun regulation opponents, Nugent claims Clinton “will destroy the freedom that is uniquely American. Donald Trump will safeguard the things that make America the greatest place in the world.” Nugent has frequently called Clinton a bitch. Here is footage from an August concert where he said of Clinton, “That’s one toxic bitch, now why isn’t that bitch in jail?”:

    Earlier this year Nugent called for Clinton, as well as President Obama, to be hanged for treason. During primary season, Nugent promoted a fake video of Sen. Bernie Sanders graphically shooting Clinton, and added his own message, “I got your gun control right here bitch!” He has also called the former secretary of state a “toxic cunt.” In a 2007 concert video, an assault-rifle-wielding Nugent called Clinton a “worthless bitch” and said that she should "ride" on his machine gun.

    Nugent is associated with the Trump campaign despite his long history of making racist and inflammatory commentary. In 2016 alone, Nugent has promoted anti-Semitic content, used a racial slur against a Latino critic, promoted misogynist reasons why guns are better than women, and shared a racist meme advertising the fake moving company “2 niggers and a stolen truck.” In 2015, Nugent devoted an entire column to praising the use of the word “nigger,” even in a racist context.

    Nugent often uses his Facebook page to write testimonials for Trump that have sometimes included inflammatory commentary. For example, in an August post he called for “federal agents” to “coordinate the mass arrest they know they are sworn to make” -- presumably in reference to politicians he doesn’t favor -- and added, “When will America be America again? Trump November 2016 & WE THE PEOPLE raising hell onward!”

  • Six Must-Read Accounts From Women Who Have Actually Had Late-Term Abortions

    Media Highlight Experiences That Debunk Trump’s Deceptive Claims About Late-Term Abortion

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    During the final debate of the 2016 election, Republican nominee Donald Trump relied on right-wing media myths to allege that Hillary Clinton supports so-called “partial-birth” abortion. In reality, “partial birth” is a medically and legally inaccurate term invented by anti-choice groups -- a fact media have highlighted by giving individuals who have had late-term abortions a platform to both describe their experiences and, in some cases, directly refute Trump’s misinformed descriptions of the process.

  • As Election Approaches, NRA Hypes Horrific, America-Destroying ISIS Attack Scenarios

    NRA Tactics Include Showing Images Of Dead Children Before Calling For Leaders Who Will Say “Radical Islamic Terror”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    In the lead-up to the presidential election, the National Rifle Association is releasing a series of videos predicting increasingly deadly terror attacks, including one scenario that culminates with “urban street gangs” and Mexican drug cartels taking “control" of the United States.

    That hypothetical was described in an October 18 NRA Commentator video, with NRA News commentator Dom Raso saying he was going to “think like ISIS” before suggesting that the terror group could take down the United States’ entire power grid.

    According to Raso, as time passes after the power goes out, “food and water would be almost impossible to find and whatever stockpiles were left would become war zone. … I guarantee police would abandon their duty, to protect their own families. … Sewage would pile up in homes and run out into the streets. There would be no safe water for showers, and disease would inevitably start to spread. With their ruthless methods and superior organization, Mexican cartels and urban street gangs take advantage of everyone and take control.”

    Raso then said, “At this point, ISIS doesn’t have to kill anyone; they’ve already won”:

    In an October 11 video, Raso described another doomsday scenario, pre-emptively blaming President Obama for ISIS setting off a hypothetical nuclear device in Times Square. In this scenario, ISIS would smuggle the nuclear device across the U.S.-Mexico border.

    While showing images of Obama, Raso intoned, “If, God forbid, a massive attack is carried out on our own soil by terrorists who gained entry by crossing that border, it will be exactly because we decided to put the feelings and opinions of those politicians whose closest interaction with ISIS is watching the Paris attacks happen on CNN over the safety of the American people”:

    In an October 4 video, Raso claimed that Obama “talks about universal values we all share as if Islamic terrorists are just like us,” before predicting an ISIS terror attack against a school in the U.S. similar to the 2004 Beslan, Russia, hostage crisis that left hundreds dead.

    Without mentioning Trump by name, the video demanded that we elect federal leaders who will say “radical Islamic terror.”

    The NRA video is graphic and includes footage of dead and wounded children:

    The NRA most recently amped up its fearmongering with an “urgent message” to members from the group’s leader, Wayne LaPierre, in which he described the U.S. as an unlivable hellscape following eight years of Obama as president.

    Before the 2014 elections, the NRA’s election edition of its magazine fearmongered about terrorist attacks and "angry mobs" rioting "just for the sheer hell of it" in the U.S. before calling on supporters to "vote our guns" on Election Day. That magazine cover suggested that ISIS is at “our door”:

  • On Pat Robertson’s 700 Club,Trump Doubles Down On Myth-Based “Partial-Birth” Abortion Statements

    Robertson Agrees: “It Is The Most Barbaric Thing. … That’s Infanticide.”

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In an exclusive interview with the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump repeated his false allegations about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s support for so-called “partial-birth” abortion -- a right-wing media myth Trump previously invoked during the final presidential debate.

    During the October 19 debate, Trump asserted that Clinton supports abortion procedures that “rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month [of pregnancy]” in response to moderator Chris Wallace’s question about so-called “partial-birth abortions.” His comments reflect a longstanding right-wing media myth about late-term abortions and the phrase “partial-birth abortion,” which was invented by anti-choice groups as a mechanism to vilify and shame individuals who have abortions later in pregnancy.

    Trump repeated these allegations during his October 24 interview with Robertson, claiming that “according to the rules of Hillary, you can take the baby at nine months” or even “a day prior to birth.” Robertson not only endorsed Trump’s false description, but he also went further, describing the late-term abortion procedure as a process where “the baby is about two-thirds already born in the birth canal. The doctor turns it around to get its head, punches the back of its skull, and evacuates the brain”:

    PAT ROBERTSON (HOST): Something else that Hillary did. She took the radical feminist view in relation to abortion and she didn't back off one iota in that debate, not one. And you called her on partial-birth abortion and she said it's not as bad as you said. But the truth is it's worse than what she said --

    DONALD TRUMP: -- Probably worse. It’s probably worse. According to her it wasn't bad at all. I mean, it wasn’t even like a little bit bad.

    ROBERTSON: The actual partial birth is the baby is about two-thirds already born in the birth canal. The doctor turns it around to get its head, punches the back of its skull, and evacuates the brain. It is the most barbaric thing. And to defend that and say that's a woman's right?

    TRUMP: And I said it very strongly. A lot of people, I must say I have been called by a lot of pastors, I’ve been called by priests, thanking me because they have never heard anyone explain it quite the way I explained it. And, you know, I'm very happy about that. I'm happy we can get the word out because it's terrible.

    ROBERTSON: She defended that barbaric practice of partial birth and then she defended Planned Parenthood -- a $500 million-plus federal dollars. It's terrible.

    TRUMP: Well, according to the rules of Hillary, you can take the baby at nine months and you can imagine what you have to do to that baby to get it out. And you can take that baby at nine months and you can abort. And a day prior to birth you can take the baby. And I said it's unacceptable.

    ROBERTSON: That's infanticide.

    Neither Robertson’s nor Trump’s assertions are accurate -- legally, medically, or in terms of Clinton’s position. As numerous media outlets noted, Trump’s debate comments about late-term abortion bore little resemblance to reality. Talking Points Memo called his description “a grossly inaccurate view of abortion in the United States,” while Rolling Stone concluded that “nowhere in [the third debate] was his ignorance on brighter, flashier display than on the subject of late-term abortion.”

    Statements about later-term abortions from both Trump and right-wing media overestimate the frequency of these procedures, include inaccurate information about what is involved, and undervalue the agency and lived realities of those making the often medically necessary decision to abort a wanted pregnancy at this stage.

    Approximately 99 percent of abortions in the United States take place before the 21st week of pregnancy, but the Supreme Court has explicitly protected the right to have an abortion up to the point of fetal viability -- which most states set at 24 weeks. It also determined that any restrictions imposed after viability must include exemptions to protect the life or health of the mother. As Vox’s Emily Crockett explained, women can obtain a post-viability abortion only when "there is something seriously wrong with either the fetus or her own health."

    Not only is “partial-birth” abortion a right-wing media creation, but the allegation that Clinton supports such a practice is also inaccurate. On October 9, PolitiFact Texas rated as false a statement by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that Clinton “supports unlimited abortion on demand up until the moment of birth, including partial-birth abortion.” PolitiFact noted that “abortions in the weeks leading up to birth” are an extreme rarity and that “Clinton has long said that she’d support a late-term limit on abortion--provided it has exceptions” -- a position she reiterated during the October 19 debate.

    As Huffington Post contributor Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an OB-GYN, wrote, Trump’s recycled assertions about “partial-birth” abortion “couldn’t be further from the truth.” She continued that despite her insistence as a medical professional that “partial-birth abortions are an inexact term rejected by the American Congress of OB/GYN,” anti-choice groups and politicians have continued using the term to restrict access to necessary reproductive health care. Gunter concluded (emphasis original):

    The myth of “ninth month” abortions and partial birth abortions accomplish two goals: firing up the base for fundraising and getting more people to believe that at least some abortion restrictions are needed. Getting 100 percent of people to align with you on one small part of the procedure makes it easier to gradually push the bar. It is the thin edge of the wedge.

    The anti-choice movement needs the idea of partial birth abortions of a healthy fetus in the “ninth month” just like they need the devil. However, if you pull back the curtain on their sideshow, all you see are women in medically desperate situations in need of high quality medical care.

  • At His Most Unhinged, NRA’s LaPierre Sends “Urgent” Message To Members Describing America As A Hellscape

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The leader of the National Rifle Association insisted he wasn’t “crazy,” “paranoid,” or “nuts” before ranting to NRA members in an “urgent” video message where he made claims at odds with reality, including claiming that his widely ridiculed prediction that President Obama would come for Americans’ guns “came true.”

    During a six-minute get out the vote video, NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre described America after eight years of Obama as president in hellish terms unrecognizable to anyone who actually lives here, claiming that the president has “laid waste to the America we remember” causing the country to “completely unravel.”

    After describing a calamitous America, LaPierre claimed, “I told you exactly what [Obama] would do. The media said I was nuts. But in the end, America knows I was right.” You decide whether LaPierre was right:

    • LaPierre said his prediction that Obama “would come for our guns and do everything in his power to sabotage the Second Amendment” “came true” following the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, when Obama “exploited a horrible tragedy to launch a blizzard of gun bans, magazine restrictions, and gun registration schemes against law abiding gun owners all across the country.” (Nothing proposed by Obama would have violated the Second Amendment as understood in the Antonin Scalia-authored Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller. The background check bill that was voted on in the Senate after the massacre specifically prohibited the creation of registries.)

    • Following terror attacks carried out by ISIS, LaPierre claimed Obama “attacked you harder than he attacked ISIS. He used the terrorism his own weaknesses and failures made possible to try to gut your right to shoot back at the terrorists he refused to kill.” (As commander-in-chief, Obama is actually carrying out a military campaign against ISIS which routinely kills the group’s leaders and fighters. Nothing Obama has ever proposed would bar citizens from shooting back at terrorists.)

    • LaPierre claimed that Obama “has transformed America into a sanctuary nation for felons, criminal gangbangers, drug dealers, repeat offenders, and illegal aliens” and that “our inner cities now rank among the most dangerous places in the world.” (Although there have been upticks as well as dips, violent crime has continued to fall under President Obama.)

    • LaPierre said Obama “handed nuclear bombs to the Iranian mullahs who dream of killing us all.” (In fact, the deal negotiated with Iran will make it much more difficult for that country to make a nuclear bomb.)

    • Under Obama, LaPierre claimed, “Our economy is on life support. Health care is an utter failure. Our schools have never been worse. You can see the despair in every parent's eyes.” (The economy is growing, the uninsured rate is an all-time low, and the high school graduation rate is at a record high.)

    • LaPierre claimed Clinton “will come for your guns, she will attack your right to carry, she will attack your most basic right to defend your family with a firearm in your home.” (Independent fact-checkers have repeatedly debunked the claim that Clinton opposes gun ownership or that she has indicated she would abolish the Second Amendment.)

    If the present-day America described by LaPierre is frightening, the scenario he describes if Clinton were to be elected is outright terrifying. According to LaPierre, Clinton’s election would harken “the creation of a new, post-freedom America that you won’t even recognize” as Clinton twists “a knife into the heart of the one freedom that separates us from the rest of the world.”

    Displaying his trademark paranoia, LaPierre -- irresponsibly and without evidence -- claims that guns would be “forcibly” confiscated during Clinton’s presidency and “if you refuse to witness the self-destruction of the greatest nation the world has ever known” then NRA voters must ensure Clinton’s defeat so that America “will be great again.”

    LaPierre offered one more falsehood in his video message: He said that NRA supporters “are the Special Forces that swing elections.” The idea that the NRA has the ability to determine election outcomes has actually been vastly overstated.

    LaPierre’s entire paranoid rant:

    WAYNE LAPIERRE: I spent my entire life fighting for the Second Amendment and I’ve got the scars to prove it. The media and many in the political class have reserved some of their most vicious, nasty insults for me. Because they truly hate the freedom that I stand for and they hate that I tell the truth. They’ve called me crazy, paranoid, evil, and far worse. But the media is so focused on me, they forgot about you, the tens of millions of gun owners all over America. The men and women who come up to me at guns shows in places like Tulsa and Harrisburg, the mechanics and taxi drivers and Waffle House waitresses who tell me, “Never ever back down.” You give me the strength to speak the plain honest truth in the face of all the hate.

    When I said Barack Obama would come for our guns and do everything in his power to sabotage the Second Amendment, they savaged me. They called me a liar. But every one of those predictions came true. As soon as it was politically convenient, he exploited a horrible tragedy to launch a blizzard of gun bans, magazine restrictions, and gun registration schemes against law-abiding gun owners all across the country.

    I stood in front of the country and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” I said our children deserve at least the same level of protection that surrounds our jewelry stores, banks, office buildings, celebrities, and the political and media elite. They attacked me like never before. But you stood your ground, and you told me to stand mine.

    While radical Islamic terrorists shot, bombed, and butchered innocent Americans on our own soil, Barack Obama attacked you harder than he attacked ISIS. He used the terrorism his own weaknesses and failures made possible to try to gut your right to shoot back at the terrorists he refused to kill. Thank God we stopped him in his tracks. But while his term ends in a matter of months, his two Supreme Court appointees, easily among the worst justices to ever sit on that bench, will come after our guns for the rest of their lives. Eight years of his policies have laid waste to the America we remember. Through a deliberate lack of prosecution, he has transformed America into a sanctuary nation for felons, criminal gangbangers, drug dealers, repeat offenders, and illegal aliens. Our inner cities now rank among the most dangerous places in the world. Teenage girls are trafficked in sex trade that begins south of our porous border and ends up right under the noses of the elites in cities like Washington, D.C.

    His foreign policy enabled and inspired ISIS, handed nuclear bombs to the Iranian mullahs who dream of killing us all, emboldened Russia, China and North Korea, and left Europe on the brink of absolute implosion. Even the weakest leaders of third-rate countries feel free to publicly mock and disrespect our president while the world’s most cunning, power-hungry negotiators played him for a fool.

    Our economy is on life support. Health care is an utter failure. Our schools have never been worse. You can see the despair in every parent's eyes. Eight years; that's all it took for our country to completely unravel. I told you exactly what he would do. The media said I was nuts. But in the end, America knows I was right.

    So feel free to mark my words: If, God forbid, Hillary Clinton is elected, she will launch an all-out war on the Second Amendment. She will come for your guns, she will attack your right to carry, she will attack your most basic right to defend your family with a firearm in your home. And she will continue the disastrous policies of this administration to their inevitable conclusion: the creation of a new, post-freedom America that you won’t even recognize.

    There is no red line President Hillary Clinton will not cross when it comes to attacking your rights and forcibly taking your guns. She dreams of twisting a knife into the heart of the one freedom that separates us from the rest of the world. The only thing that can stop her is you. The NRA's 5 million members are history’s most committed, most elite defenders of freedom. You are the Special Forces that swing elections, and I need you now more than ever.

    Fight with me; stand by my side like you have at all these years. If you cherish the freedom that was won for you at Lexington and Concord and on the shores of Normandy, if you believe that this freedom makes America better and stronger than every other country, if you refuse to witness the self-destruction of the greatest nation the world has ever known, then join me: Arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, we will fight for each other, for our children and for future generations, and for our shared dream that American can and will be great again. On November 8th, you are freedom's safest place.

  • Daily Caller Rewrites Woman’s Personal Story About Late-Term Abortion To Demonize Her

    Using Stigmatizing Right-Wing Media Misinformation, The Daily Caller Lashes Out Over  A Woman’s Personal Narrative About Receiving Necessary Medical Care

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Following Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s inaccurate attacks on late-term abortion at the final presidential debate, The Daily Caller “edited” a woman’s personal story to vilify and shame her for having a legal and medically necessary late-term abortion.

    On October 20, The New York Times published an op-ed by Meredith Isaksen about her decision to terminate a wanted pregnancy after the 20th week. In the op-ed, titled “Late-Term Abortion Was the Right Choice for Me,” Isaksen described deciding to terminate after discovering that the developing fetus “was missing half his heart” and was “very unlikely [to] survive delivery.” Isaksen wrote that to “Trump and politicians like him, a late-term abortion is the stuff of ’80s slasher films” -- a depiction that is “void of consideration for women, medical professionals or the truth” -- and concluded that she had no doubts that “we made the right decision for our family.”

    In response, The Daily Caller attacked Isaksen -- mocking her personal experience and rewriting her narrative “for accuracy and clarity” by substituting stigmatizing language about late-term abortion that is frequently pushed by right-wing media. In one example, The Daily Caller “revised” Isaksen’s statement that she was “a better wife, daughter and friend” after making “the right decision for our family” to read as: “I am a better wife, daughter and friend [because I chose to kill him].” In another, The Daily Caller wrote:

    As the day of my termination [the death of my baby boy] approached and I felt my baby’s kicks and wiggles, I simultaneously wanted to crawl out of my skin and suspend us together in time. I wanted him to know [before I killed him] how important he was to me, that the well of my grief and love for him would stretch deeper and deeper into the vastness of our family’s small yet limitless life.He may have moved inside me for only five months, but he had touched and shaped me in ways I could never have imagined [and soon he would feel an abortionist rip him apart piece by piece].

    Women do not elect to terminate their pregnancies after the 20th week on a whim because they simply “don’t want to have the kid” anymore.

    Stigmatizing language about late-term abortion is often used by anti-choice groups and media to “vilify women” who are often facing the “loss of a wanted pregnancy.” The language used by The Daily Caller is a prime example of how not to speak about abortion no matter where you stand on choice, or about the countless women across America who have made the decision to have one or will need to in the future.

    As Isaksen wrote (in her original words):

    As the two-year anniversary of my abortion approaches, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that we made the right decision for our family — and that our government has absolutely no place in the anguish which accompanies a late-term abortion, except to ensure that women and their families have the right to make their choice safely and privately.

    Saying goodbye to our boy was the single most difficult and profound experience of my life, and the truth is, it has come to define me. Today I am a better mother because of him. I am a better wife, daughter and friend. He made me more compassionate and more patient. He taught me to love with reckless abandon, despite the knowledge that I could lose it all.

  • Trump’s Attack On Late-Term Abortion Is Unconstitutional, Ignorant, And Fueled By Right-Wing Media

    “Partial-Birth” Abortion Is A Right-Wing Media Myth Used To Completely Eliminate Abortion Access After 20 Weeks

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    During the final presidential debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump invoked the right-wing media myth of “partial-birth” abortion to falsely allege that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton supported abortion procedures that “rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month [of pregnancy.]”

    Trump’s “scare rhetoric” about so-called “partial-birth” abortion is both misinformed and problematic, but the issue goes beyond his repetition of this particular stigmatizing, anti-choice talking point. Media take note: Trump isn’t just echoing right-wing media myths about abortions occurring moments before live full-term birth; he’s using them to advocate for an unconstitutional ban on all abortions after 20 weeks.

    If elected, Trump has promised a panacea to right-wing media’s favorite anti-choice complaints: He’s promised a “national ban on [all] abortions after 20 weeks,” committed to “defunding Planned Parenthood,” and even pledged to appoint “pro-life justices” who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade.

    Trump’s anti-choice agenda, much like the right-wing media myths at its foundation, fails to account for the realities of abortion, or those who have them.

    The term “partial-birth” -- and by extension Trump’s misleading description -- is a fiction conjured up by anti-choice groups to vilify and shame individuals who have an abortion later in pregnancy. Although approximately 99 percent of abortions in the United States take place before the 20th week of pregnancy, the Supreme Court has explicitly protected the right to an abortion beyond this point when the life or health of the mother is endangered. As a result, some courts have rejected late-term abortion bans that either exclude these exemptions or attempt to restrict abortion prior to the point of fetal viability.

    For Trump and right-wing media to suggest women impudently or frivolously terminate pregnancies at the 20th week or beyond is not just insulting, but also a blatant misrepresentation of the circumstances many women face. As Vox’s Emily Crockett explained, women can obtain an abortion at this stage only when "there is something seriously wrong with either the fetus or her own health." She continued that "pretending otherwise" not only "misrepresents reality," but also “inspire[s] legislation that does real harm to women who have to make heartbreaking medical decisions very late in pregnancy” by eliminating their access to a necessary medical procedure.

    Unfortunately, these lived realities appear unimportant to Trump, who pushes what Talking Points Memo called “a grossly inaccurate view of abortion in the United States.” Rolling Stone concluded that “nowhere in [the third debate] was his ignorance on brighter, flashier display than on the subject of late-term abortion.”

    Following the debate, Breitbart News published its approximation of a fact-check: an inaccurate article claiming that Trump’s description of “partial-birth” abortions as “ripping babies apart” was “correct.” To reach this conclusion, the article conflated the “dilation and extraction” (D&X) procedure -- which it described as “puncturing the skull [of the fetus] with scissors” -- with the legal, and most common, late-term abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation (D&E).

    In Gonzales v. Carhart, the Supreme Court decided that although D&X procedures could be prohibited under the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, banning the vastly different -- and in fact, medically necessary -- D&E procedure constituted an “undue burden” on the constitutional right to an abortion. As Justice Kennedy explained, “The Act does not proscribe D&E,” which was found by a district court “to have extremely low rates of medical complications.” Clearly, the procedure being described by the Supreme Court as both legal and safe is a far cry from Breitbart News’ “partial-birth” abortion fever dream.

    In a similar show of ignorance, during the October 20 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly denounced women’s health exemptions for late-term abortion because “the health of the mother could be anything.” O’Reilly previously had the audacity to suggest that women abuse health exemptions by fabricating conditions like sprained hands or headaches because they have glibly decided to terminate pregnancies, even if the “kid is going to be born next week.”

    After a campaign steeped in misogyny, it’s not surprising that these are the right-wing media talking points Trump has adopted about abortion. And they are every bit as insulting, ignorant, and inaccurate as when anti-choice groups first invented them in order to stigmatize both abortion and those who exercise their constitutionally protected right to have one.

  • Trump Supporters Are Using Fox’s Contrived New Black Panther Scandal From 2010 To Defend His “Rigged Election” Claim

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Conservative media and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are revisiting the debunked right-wing media pseudo-scandal of voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party to defend Trump’s assertion that “large scale voter fraud” will affect the election.

    After the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, a video went viral of two members of the New Black Panther Party standing outside a Philadelphia polling station on Election Day. One was a registered Democratic poll watcher; the other held a nightstick. Under President George W. Bush, the Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation into the incident after Republican poll watchers complained (no voters ever alleged that they were intimidated by the men). Later, under Obama’s administration, the DOJ obtained a default judgment against the member carrying the nightstick and dropped the case against the poll watcher, the organization, and its leader.

    Bush’s U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which at the time was packed with conservative activists, responded to the conclusion of the case by opening an investigation, even though the Republican vice chairwoman of the commission called the case “very small potatoes” and criticized the “overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges.” Nevertheless, J. Christian Adams, an activist Republican member of the commission, went on a lengthy crusade against Obama’s Justice Department for dropping the charges, resigning and claiming the decision showed unprecedented, racially charged corruption.

    Adams found a friendly and eager platform for his position in Fox News, particularly with host Megyn Kelly. In 2010, Fox News devoted at least 95 segments and more than eight hours of airtime in two weeks to the phony scandal, including more than 3.5 hours on Kelly’s America Live. Adams admitted that he had no first-hand knowledge of the conversations leading to the decision.

    One year later, an internal investigation at the Justice Department found that “politics played no role in the handling” of the case and that “department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment.” Fox News spent only 88 seconds covering the debunking of a phony scandal of its own creation. Kelly spent only 20 seconds of her show covering the report.

    But the damage was already done, and the obsessive coverage of the non-event has bubbled back up in the 2016 presidential election.

    On October 17, Trump tweeted, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.” As they tried to play defense for their candidate, right-wing media figures invoked the faux New Black Panther scandal. CNN’s paid Trump surrogates Kayleigh McEnany and Scottie Nell Hughes got in on the action, with McEnany claiming that Trump “doesn’t want a scenario where there's New Black Panthers outside with guns, essentially like intimidating people from coming into the polls” and Hughes saying that “voter suppression happened when the Black Panthers stood outside the election room.” (CNN’s Kristen Powers retorted, “There was not a single complaint from a single voter.”)

    Conservative radio hosts joined in, with Mike Gallagher asserting that “in Philadelphia we know all about the New Black Panther movement and what they did in Philadelphia at the polling places,” and Howie Carr accusing the Obama administration of “refus[ing] to prosecute” them for “roaming outside polling places, precincts in Philadelphia with baseball bats and threatening white people.”

    Key figures in creating the scandal have also resurfaced to defend Trump’s voter fraud narrative. Fox & Friends hosted J. Christian Adams to push the myth that “dead people are voting … and it’s going to affect the election” (in reality, claims of dead voter fraud are “plagued by recurring methodological errors” and actual instances of this kind of fraud are exceedingly uncommon). The Trump campaign also hired Mike Roman as head of a “nationwide election protection operation.” Roman is a Republican political consultant who shopped the 2008 video to Fox News, worked with Adams to push the scandal, and offered to contact every Republican voter in the Philadelphia precinct to determine if any were intimidated at the polling location.

    The New Black Panther Party pseudo-scandal’s resurgence is only the latest example of how obsessive right-wing coverage of a comprehensively debunked myth, followed by scant coverage of news that does not fit the narrative, can allow a myth to pass as truth for years. Fox’s infatuation with Benghazi still continues to this day and, like the New Black Panther Party issue and other myths, it is frequently revived to attack Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or bolster ridiculous assertions by Trump. By bringing the overblown and debunked New Black Panther story back into the mainstream, Trump backers in the media are grasping at straws to defend his rigged election nonsense.

  • NRA Passes Largest Pro-Trump Super PAC In Outside Spending Opposing Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association committees making independent campaign expenditures to oppose Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have spent more than $14 million on the race, surpassing the spending of the most active pro-Trump Super PAC.

    According to FEC filings collected by ProPublica covering spending through October 20, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action has spent $7,057,970 opposing Clinton and the NRA Political Victory Fund has spent $7,127,423:

    The combined $14 million is more money than Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump Super PAC, has spent. Additionally, the NRA has spent nearly $9 million so far on independent expenditures supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom the NRA endorsed at its annual meeting in May.

    While other conservative outside spenders have backed away from Trump, the NRA has thrown its lot in with him -- and continues to do so despite Trump’s ongoing collapse in national polling amid multiple allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.

    As of October 12, the NRA had already spent a record-breaking $21 million attempting to get Trump elected, nearly double the $12 million the group spent in its failed “all in” effort to elect Romney in 2012.

    The NRA is showing no signs of letting up either. This week, it released a $5 million ad that distorted comments Clinton has made on the Second Amendment and on her use of a private email server in order to falsely brand her as a liar. Other NRA ads have pushed the falsehood that Clinton opposes all gun ownership, an NRA claim that has been repeatedly rated false by independent fact-checkers.

    As early as August, The New York Times reported that conservative outside spenders other than the NRA were backing away from Trump. The Times article reported that “Donald J. Trump’s candidacy has driven away throngs of Republican elected officials, donors and policy experts. But not the National Rifle Association,” noting that the NRA is “the institution on the right most aggressively committed to his candidacy, except for the Republican National Committee itself” and that the NRA “has spent millions of dollars on television commercials for Mr. Trump, even as other Republican groups have kept their checkbooks closed.”

    According to the NRA’s November magazine, the group is touting itself as “the key” to electing Trump and claiming he is the only candidate who can “save our freedom.”

  • NRA Offers Double The Falsehoods With New $5 Million Ad Buy Targeting Clinton On Both Emails And Second Amendment


    The National Rifle Association is misrepresenting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s past statements on both the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller and the investigation into Clinton’s private email server in order to falsely brand her a liar on both accounts.