Fox News is falsely claiming that a new study concerning the survival rate of premature newborns will have an outsized impact on abortion law.
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) suggests that an extremely small number of premature babies born at 22 weeks can survive outside the womb with extensive medical intervention. The New York Times reported that, according to the study, "a vast majority died or suffered serious health issues" despite these best efforts. Because the Supreme Court has held that states cannot ban abortion prior to fetal viability, many pro-life advocates and now Fox News are already suggesting that the current medical standard of viability be lowered to 22 weeks - a conclusion the study does not support.
In fact, not only does this claim misrepresent the science, it also misinterprets how the Supreme Court has defined "viability" in its rulings on reproductive rights.
Although the overwhelming medical consensus is that viability is generally 24 weeks, and most states that regulate abortion use the 24-week date as a cut-off, the Supreme Court does not use this as a bright-line rule. But on the May 7 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Jenna Lee falsely claimed that it does, and suggested that the new study would accordingly upset the Supreme Court's rulings on reproductive rights. In an interview with Dr. Carla Simonian, Lee erroneously claimed that Roe v. Wade had set "28 weeks as viable has been a marker not only in the medical community but also in the legal community," and that in the court's 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 28 week viability date "became 24 weeks."
Based on her misunderstanding of these decisions, Lee went on to wonder whether 22 weeks would become a new legal standard for viability:
In reality, the Supreme Court has never set viability at a specific week -- rather, it has acknowledged that viability is different for every pregnancy and is determined on a case-by-case basis by a woman and her doctor. The court specifically noted in Colautti v. Franklin that viability "may differ with each pregnancy" and that it "is reached when, in the judgment of the attending physician on the particular case before him, there is a reasonable likelihood of the fetus' sustained survival outside the womb."
Moreover, in Casey, the court held that a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy before viability without interference from the state, but did not definitively set viability at 24 weeks or any other date. In short, the Supreme Court still defers to medical science, which is why Fox News' question, "Are we looking at even 22 weeks?" as the new legal date of viability is not only unsupported by the NEJM study, it also incorrectly explained how the constitutional right to abortion is protected.
While conservative politicians and right-wing media may attempt to exploit this study to promote more archaic restrictions on reproductive rights, the Supreme Court is not bound by its findings to revisit its reproductive rights jurisprudence. Life-saving advancements in medical science and technology are good news, but under current law, the point of viability continues to vary, depending on the pregnancy.
Fox News contributor Rob O'Neil said the thwarted attempted terrorist attack in Garland, Texas was "a prime example of the difference between a gun-free zone and Texas," a state with permissive gun laws. But in fact, civilians were banned from bringing guns to the event where the attack took place.
On May 3, two gunmen armed with assault weapons opened fire outside The Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, wounding a security guard. An armed police officer quickly killed both men. The attackers' target was an event hosted by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller that featured a contest of cartoon drawings of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
On the May 6 edition of Fox & Friends, O'Neil, citing the attack on the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, suggested that the outcome of the Texas attack could have been far worse had the event been held in a "gun-free zone." He also said that the gunmen "were quickly introduced the Second Amendment" when they opened fire, and declared, "People need to realize that the best way to protect themselves from these attacks would be to arm yourself."
Conservative media frequently advance the evidence-free claim that "gun-free zones" -- their term for places where civilians are not allowed to carry firearms -- are vulnerable to mass shootings and invite attacks by terrorists.
The thwarted attack, however, actually did take place in what conservative media would characterize as a "gun-free zone," proving the fallacy of O'Neil's suggestion.
Conservative columnist Morgan Brittany thinks the recent unrest in Baltimore may be a "set-up" and that President Obama might "have to institute martial law to preserve order, form a national police force and postpone the 2016 elections" if the police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death are acquitted.
In her new column for conspiracy website WND, Brittany announces that "something is not right" and speculates, "I don't think the chaos in Baltimore 'just happened'; I think it was planned and is the next step in the breakdown of our society."
Brittany laments that Obama "was supposed to be the one to unite all Americans and heal the divide, but instead, he did everything he could to turn the heat up and make sure the divide became wider." According to Brittany, the president has "inserted himself into every controversy that had a racial component" and "always took the side of the African-American." Following news of Gray's death, Brittany argues, "The leaders of chaos rushed to take advantage of that situation and all hell broke loose."
After suggesting that charges filed against police officers allegedly involved in Gray's death are an "overreach," Brittany pondered whether Obama would react to potential acquittals by imposing martial law, an idea she grants is "maybe" crazy:
So she and all of the people involved in making that decision have possibly created an even bigger problem. If indeed after all of the evidence and testimony is given in this case and the officers are acquitted, what then? I predict at that point the lid will blow off, and we will have another Rodney King situation.
From now until the verdict in this trial, the agitators will continue to travel and communicate city to city, town to town, stirring up unrest and hate, keeping people on edge waiting to see the result of this cliff-hanger. If the verdict is not what they want, perhaps Obama will have to institute martial law to preserve order, form a national police force and postpone the 2016 elections.
Crazy? Maybe, but we are on the edge in this country. Attacks are coming from all sides, from inside and outside of our borders, and we are becoming overwhelmed. What happens when Baltimore spreads across the country and our television screens show four or five cities burning at once? Who will we turn to at that point? "One Nation under God" - we need Him now more than ever.
Last year, Brittany speculated in a column that the Obama administration may have been orchestrating Ebola and other crises in order to declare martial law and seize people's guns.
Brittany's column shares today's WND opinion page with a column from newly-announced presidential candidate Ben Carson, which warns of the dangers of an EMP attack. The day he announced his candidacy, Carson published a WND piece pitching readers on what he will "accomplish as president."
The Wall Street Journal editorial board is siding with four teachers in California who are suing their unions, claiming "coercion" and "political extortion" because "critical benefits" are being withheld from non-member employees who don't pay for them, but failed to mention the challenge is seeking to overturn decades-old precedent.
In April, four teachers filed suit against the California Teachers' Association and several other teachers' unions, arguing that their denial of certain benefits to non-members was unconstitutional, despite Supreme Court precedent to the contrary. The teachers had refused to join their representative unions because they disagree with the groups' "political activity," which is funded by members who pay full membership dues. While even non-members are required to pay some dues to the union -- a reduced share known as "agency" or "fair share fees" -- that money cannot be used for political activities.
In a May 4 editorial, the Journal sided with the suing teachers, calling their lawsuit an opportunity "to end the political extortion" by unions, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of agency fees. The editorial took special exception to the fact that non-members aren't covered by a disability insurance program that provides paid maternity leave, claiming that it is unfair for teachers to have to "ante up to receive substantial employment benefits":
Teachers who disagree with the union's agenda can opt out of membership and not pay dues. Trouble is, they then must forfeit material benefits including legal representation in workplace disputes as well as union insurance that is necessary for disability and maternity leave. They also cannot vote on collective-bargaining agreements that govern the terms and conditions of their employment.
The coercion is particularly insidious in the case of maternity leave, which the union does not collectively bargain. Teachers who want to take leaves of absence are guaranteed full-time pay only for their unused sick days. After that, their pay gets docked substantially. So if new mothers want to take a couple of months off, they in effect must either join the union -- and finance its political advocacy -- or take a huge pay cut.
Imagine if a bank made maternity leave and flex time available only to workers who contribute to a Republican political action committee. This is essentially what the union public-school monopoly does: restrict critical benefits to those who support their political spending.
Iowa radio host Steve Deace claimed there was no evidence proving African-Americans are treated differently by police in Iowa, despite overwhelming data showing that racial disparities in Iowa arrest rates are among the worst in the nation.
From the May 4 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the May 1 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is again raising conservative media talking points in court, advancing the debunked idea that the definition of marriage has remained unchanged for a "millennia."
On April 28, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that will determine whether state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. During arguments, the conservative justices, including Scalia, expressed concern about "redefining" the institution of marriage to include gay couples. In one exchange with Mary Bonauto, the lawyer representing the same-sex plaintiffs, Scalia wondered if it was appropriate for the court to "decide it for this society" since marriage has applied only to heterosexual couples "for millennia."
The idea that the definition of marriage has had a fixed tradition or definition "for millennia" is untrue, although right-wing media have pushed that notion in varying forms for years -- and Scalia's propensity for embracing right-wing talking points is well-known. In 2012, he repeated the idea that if the Affordable Care Act was upheld, the federal government might be allowed to force Americans to buy broccoli -- an argument borrowed from Rush Limbaugh's talk show. Earlier this year, Scalia claimed that if the court struck down the availability of health care subsidies, Congress would move quickly to fix the problem -- apparently convinced by right-wing media's false claims that Senate Republicans had a viable back-up plan if the court hobbled the Affordable Care Act. When the Supreme Court struck down Arizona's notorious anti-immigrant racial profiling law in 2012, Scalia dispensed with legal arguments to instead attack the unrelated deferred action program for DREAMers and scaremonger that the "state's citizens feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants." Professor Jeffrey Rosen of George Washington University said Scalia's commentary in that case "sound[ed] more like a conservative blogger or Fox News pundit than a justice."
Kwame Rose, the Baltimore resident who confronted Fox News' Geraldo Rivera over media's biased coverage of the city, responded to Rivera's personal on-air attacks in an interview with Media Matters. Rose reacted to video of his interaction with Rivera going viral, discussed the media landscape in Baltimore, and highlighted racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
National media has swarmed to cover the Baltimore protesters who have taken to the streets to voice concerns about the criminal justice system following the shocking death of Freddie Gray, a young Baltimore resident whose spine was fatally severed while in police custody. Fox's Rivera was among those pundits reporting on the protests when Rose confronted the Fox personality and expressed frustration that the network failed to spotlight Gray's death in favor of hyping the unrest that ensued, an exchange that quickly found a large audience online.
Rivera later used his platform on Fox News to bash Rose as a "vandal," "annoying," and an "obstructionist" on-air. He accused Rose of displaying "exactly that kind of youthful anarchy that led to the destruction and pain in that community."
Rose has responded to Geraldo and to the video's popularity, in an email exchange with Media Matters.
"I want people to know that this issue is bigger than some clip of me, it's about Black Lives," said Rose, after emphasizing that being featured in a viral video was never his intention. His frustration lies with establishment media and its depictions of Baltimore in the wake of the unrest.
"I have been out protesting for almost two weeks now without being on one camera," Rose explained. "After Monday night when the media started pouring in, I sat at work and watched how the media basically forced people to believe that Baltimore was some Third World city. I just wanted to set the record straight and let it be known that this generation refuses to be misinterpreted."
Rose noted how the media paid attention to the violence in Baltimore, but failed to cover the community's efforts to unite and clean up the city.
"I sat and watched the media set up their camps in front of boarded up homes ... while we were cleaning up the streets as one community. The cameras weren't rolling, nobody cared. Outside agitators such as Fox News came onto the scene trying to exploit the situation. I don't care about the people watching Fox News, but I will not let you report lies about the people of this city."
From the April 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre relied on numerous falsehoods to claim that President Obama will move to ban sales of all firearm ammunition before he leaves office, thus making "the very real nightmare of every single gun owner in this country" a reality.
In the May issue of the NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom, LaPierre wrote, "President Barack Obama is setting the table to ban your ammunition -- all of it," and claimed that "the remaining two years of Obama's term pose the greatest threat ever to the Second Amendment and our freedom."
LaPierre imagined a ludicrous scheme where "two fatal turns of events" would lead the EPA to ban all lead ammunition and, subsequently, the Obama administration to ban all non-lead ammunition. According to LaPierre, "The president's bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are partnering with private enviro-radicals to ban lead projectiles -- including all hunting bullets -- as hazardous."
Despite the fact that the EPA has given no indication that it is preparing regulations on lead ammunition, LaPierre insisted that the agency is still seeking a ban.
The facts prove him wrong. In December 2014, FoxNews.com reported that "[i]n a decision favorable to gun enthusiasts," a federal court ruled against environmentalists who argued that the EPA has the authority to regulate lead ammunition. According to FoxNews.com, "The National Rifle Association and much of the pro-gun lobby intervened on the EPA's side in urging the federal appeals court to uphold the dismissal of a lawsuit by 101 environmentalist organizations." (The EPA does not believe it has authority to regulate lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.)
Media are parroting conservative lawmakers' and activist groups' characterization of the D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) as an "abortion law," an inaccurate portrayal the GOP is pushing in its effort to repeal the legislation. The law actually provides women vital protection from discrimination based on reproductive health decisions, like assisted pregnancy and even premarital sex.
Fox News' Geraldo Rivera was confronted by a Baltimore resident frustrated by the network's history of biased and incendiary coverage of racial issues. Rivera responded by retreating before going live on-air where he described the young black man as a "vandal," yelling at him, "you're making a fool of yourself!"
On April 28, Geraldo Rivera was confronted by a young black Baltimore resident as he prepared to report on the unrest in the city following the death of Freddie Gray. The resident explained his frustration with Fox News' failure to spotlight Gray's death while hyping the unrest that ensued. The young man explained to Rivera, "I want you and Fox News to get out of Baltimore City, because you are not here reporting about the boarded up homes and the homeless people under MLK. You're not reporting about the poverty levels up and down North Avenue. ... But you're here for the black riots that happen. ... you're not here for the death of Freddie Gray." Watch:
National Review Online is calling on the Supreme Court to uphold states' rights to ban same-sex marriage because, in its view, recognizing marriage equality would redefine the institution to favor lesser "emotional unions" and adopted children over married procreation.
On April 28, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that could finally allow same-sex couples to marry in every state or, at minimum, require states that ban same-sex marriage to recognize the legality of same-sex marriages performed legally elsewhere. During arguments, Mary Bonauto, the lawyer representing the same-sex couples challenging state marriage bans, asserted that such bans "contravene the basic constitutional commitment to equal dignity" and that "the abiding purpose of the 14th Amendment is to preclude relegating classes of persons to second-tier status."
Several justices were receptive to Bonauto's argument, including conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is widely expected to cast the deciding vote in the case.
But NRO is less convinced. In an April 28 editorial, the editors called on the justices to "refrain from taking [the] reckless step" of recognizing that the fundamental right to marry should be extended to gay couples. The editorial also rejected the idea that gay couples who can't get married are routinely denied the same dignity that "traditional" married couples enjoy, and argued that the "older view" of marriage -- which prioritizes "the type of sexual behavior that often gives rise to children" -- is "rationally superior to the newer one":
An older view of marriage has steadily been losing ground to a newer one, and that process began long before the debate over same-sex couples. On the older understanding, society and, to a lesser extent, the government needed to shape sexual behavior -- specifically, the type of sexual behavior that often gives rise to children -- to promote the well-being of those children. On the newer understanding, marriage is primarily an emotional union of adults with an incidental connection to procreation and children.
We think the older view is not only unbigoted, but rationally superior to the newer one. Supporters of the older view have often said that it offers a sure ground for resisting polygamy while the newer one does not. But perhaps the more telling point is that the newer view does not offer any strong rationale for having a social institution of marriage in the first place, let alone a government-backed one.
From the April 29 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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