Right-wing media sharply criticized the resignation of University of Missouri President Timothy M. Wolfe after a wave of protests over racial tensions erupted on the university's flagship campus. Several conservative media figures attacked the protesters, calling them "thugs" and a "mob," and claimed that Wolfe was "forced to resign" for the "crime of being a white male."
From the November 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From Fusion's November 5 live-streamed interview with Ben Carson:
Fox News co-host Eric Bolling dubiously claimed violence against police officers has been increasing, and attributed the supposed increase to the Black Lives Matter movement and criticism of police.
On the November 5 edition of Fox News' The Five, the show's hosts discussed recent comments from film director Quentin Tarantino regarding police officers and Drug Enforcement Administration head Chuck Rosenberg speculating that the "Ferguson effect" -- the idea that increased scrutiny and criticism of police brutality is leading to increased violence, especially against police officers against police officers -- was real and recent criticism of the police was leading to more violence. Bolling claimed "Violence to police officers is going up as well based on" criticism of police and Black Lives Matter has "blue blood on their hands":
ERIC BOLLING: That's when the ... downside of Quentin Tarantino making a comment like that, that cops are murderers, he walks it back. In the meantime it feeds into the narrative. "What do we want, we want them dead, cops, dead cops," walking through the corridors here of Manhattan. Calling for dead cops and violence against cops rise. Remember the two guys who were executed over here in Brooklyn? In days after that, that protest. People, as Dana points out, people look up to Quentin Tarantino. They look up to Hollywood actors and directors, and it feeds into that narrative. Cop violence is going up. Your point, Juan, violence at the end of a police officer is going up. Violence to police officers is going up as well based on this. Black Lives Matter has blood on their hands, they have blue blood on their hands.
However, recent data show that both killings and assaults of police officers have been trending downward. Data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund comparing police officer fatalities between January 1 through November 5, 2015 and January 1 through November 5, 2014 found firearms-related fatalities were down 23 percent from 2014. Furthermore, as Radley Balko of The Washington Post noted in September, 2015 "is on pace" to "end with the second lowest number of murdered cops in decades," and "assaults on police officers are in decline as well":
So far, 2015 is on pace to see 35 felonious killings of police officers. If that pace holds, this year would end with the second lowest number of murdered cops in decades.
The other way you could measure the rate of killings of police officers is to look at the number with respect to the overall population. Here's another graph from [the American Enterprise Institute's Mark A. Perry] that plots those figures:
As you can see, by this measure 2015 is shaping up to be the second safest year for police ever, after 2013.
But assaults on police officers are in decline as well. That is, not only are fewer people killing police officers, fewer people are trying to harm them.
Fox News has run a continuous campaign to hype up the "Ferguson effect" and demonize the Black Lives Matter movement. Numerous experts and mainstream outlets have debunked the theory, noting there's no evidence at this time to support it.
Fox News host Shepard Smith derided "factually wrong" reporting that was used to turn up negative rhetoric against the Black Lives Matter movement, much of the reporting was perpetuated by conservative media and Fox News.
After months of investigation following the suspicious September 1 death of Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz in Fox Lake, Illinois, investigators determined his death was a "carefully staged suicide."
However, not having all the facts didn't stop conservative media from attempting to build a pattern that would support their "war on cops" narrative and demonize the Black Lives Matter movement.
Gliniewicz's death was used by conservative media to trumpet their "war on cops" narrative and demonize the Black Lives Matter movement. According to MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Fox News even "trotted out a string of law enforcement officials" to lend credibility to the "so-called phenomena." On the November 5 edition of his show, Fox's Shep Smith admitted that some in the media falsely connected the story to the Black Lives Matter movement, contributing to turning "up the rhetoric" when it was "factually wrong."
From the November 5 edition of Fox's Shepard Smith Reporting:
SHEP SMITH: And think of the narrative that came out of that from so many, many places, about-- "it's the fault of the Black Lives Matter movementand all of this stuff that was just-- it really turned up the rhetoric and it really was factually wrong.
DAN SCHORR: Right, and one of the lessons of this story is you have to really sift through all the information and wait for it to come in and not jump to big conclusions and make giant conclusions based on a little bit of information. You have to find out all the facts first.
SMITH: Don't get ahead of the news.
SMITH: It will run you over.
From the November 5 edition of Working Family Radio Network's The Union Edge:
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Virginia Delegate Scott Surovell (D) debunked claims following Virginia's November 3 statewide elections that some Democrats' advocacy for stronger gun laws cost the party a chance to control the state Senate.
Prior to Election Day, Democrats needed to pick up one seat to effectively obtain control of the chamber (the Senate would have been split 20 - 20 with a Democratic lieutenant governor casting tie-breaking votes). Democrats did not gain the seat, retaining the 19 - 21 party split.
Following the election, media pundits seized on the Senate race in District 10 to baselessly argue that the gun issue caused Democrat Dan Gecker to lose to Republican Glen Sturtevant. Gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety had spent $700,000 on advertising in support of Gecker.
The Washington Post ran an article with the headline, "Did gun control cost McAuliffe and Democrats the Virginia election?" while the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board concluded Gecker accepting help from Everytown was "a massive mistake." None of these claims had any basis in fact: the evidence actually suggested that the ads helped Gecker close the gap, although he ultimately did not prevail.
In an op-ed at the Post, Surovell explained that "the focus on gun safety actually made District 10 a tighter, tougher fight for the Republicans than it should have been," and also noted commentators on the election are ignoring that the Democratic candidate in Senate District 29 -- who was supported by gun safety ads -- prevailed in a high-profile race. From the op-ed:
There's been a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking about how firearm violence prevention played in Virginia elections this year. Let's look at the two state Senate races where the issue played a central role: Senate District 10 in the Richmond area and Senate District 29 in Prince William County. In both races, gun safety was either the winning factor or helped tighten a race in a previously non-competitive GOP-held district.
First, polling in and outside of Virginia shows more than 85 percent of Americans support common-sense firearms-violence prevention rules such as universal background checks or keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals. Notwithstanding that, the NRA and other groups continue to give "F" ratings to any elected official who dare to support reasonable safeguards on weapon acquisition.
In Senate District 29, only a few miles from the NRA's Fairfax headquarters, gun safety was the issue that put the victor, Democratic candidate Jeremy McPike, over the top. Hal Parrish, the NRA "A"-rated, popular mayor with high name recognition, was handpicked by the GOP to win an open seat but was soundly defeated by McPike, an NRA "F"-rated candidate who had never held elected office.
Parrish consistently led in pre-election polls until Parrish's unpopular gun positions and his inability to articulate what he would do to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminals were exposed to voters. Phone calls, door knocks and television ads on firearm-violence prevention narrowed the gap, solidified undecided voters and moved a race that began within the margin of error to an 8 percent win in McPike's favor. That spread is the new price to be paid for sticking by the gun lobby and being out of step with Virginia voters.
In Senate District 10, Republicans kept an open seat they held for 17 years. Glen Sturtevant, the NRA-backed candidate won -- but by a margin of less than 3 percent, fewer than 1,500 votes. Four years ago, John Watkins won by 12 percent, 4,300 votes.
Even in Powhatan County -- the most conservative county in the district - Sturtevant underperformed his predecessor by 4 percent.
While blaming one issue for winning or losing elections is an interesting political parlor game, it is a vast oversimplification for a process that divines the intentions of more than 30,000 people. The focus on gun safety actually made District 10 a tighter, tougher fight for the Republicans than it should have been, closing the gap to a spread much closer than the prognosticators were expecting.
PolitiFact Rhode Island acknowledged that both halves of a two-part claim about the incidence of mass shootings in the United States were "true," but bizarrely concluded that the overall claim was only "half true."
In a November 1 article, PolitiFact Rhode Island purported to fact check a claim by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who said that "There have been more than 300 mass shootings in the United States this year -- more than any other country in the world."
There is strong evidence for both the claim that more than one mass shooting happens each day in the United States and that mass gun violence occurs in the U.S. in a way that is not seen in other countries, as PolitiFact acknowledged.
PolitiFact, however, rated the overall claim "half true," arguing, "while both parts are basically correct, Cicilline was off base when he put them together. ... The first half of his sentence is true and the second half is true. But two trues, in this case, don't make the whole truth."
This conclusion is as convoluted as the reasoning used to reach it.
PolitiFact first acknowledged that it is "true" that there have been more than 300 mass shootings in the United States this year. PolitiFact cited the same data source as Cicilline, the Mass Shooting Tracker, which counts any shooting in the United States where four or more people are shot, regardless of whether anyone was killed, or whether the incident occurs in public or in private residences.
PolitiFact asserted, however, that "The second half of the congressman's claim" -- which dealt with mass shootings in other countries -- "is more problematic because it has little in common with the first half of the claim."
To determine the incidence of mass shootings in other countries, PolitiFact cited a study of public mass shootings in foreign countries by University of Alabama professor Adam Lankford.
The difference between the definition of a "mass shooting" and a "public mass shooting" is that mass shootings encompass all incidents where large numbers of people are shot (even in private homes), while "public" mass shootings are a subset, only including shootings at shopping centers, movie theaters, churches, and schools, and other places where victims are typically shot indiscriminately in a public or semi-public space.
The other distinction is that the Lankford study only included public mass shootings where at least four people were killed, while the Mass Shooting Tracker counts incidents where four individuals were shot regardless of whether the victims were injured or killed.
Lankford's study concluded that public mass shootings are more common in the United States than other countries, and significantly, Lankford told PolitiFact "Any politician who says that is correct."
But in its summation, PolitiFact argued, "The problem with [Cicilline's claim] is that he mixes disparate facts to draw a single conclusion. The 'mass shootings' of the first part are not the same as the 'public mass shootings' of the second part":
And so while both parts are basically correct, Cicilline was off base when he put them together. The Mass Shooting Tracker does not tally foreign shootings. And the social scientist from the University of Alabama looked at different events from a different period of time.
The first half of his sentence is true and the second half is true. But two trues, in this case, don't make the whole truth.
The problem with this logic is that the disparities in the data could actually strengthen Cicilline's point. Lankford's study identified 90 individual public mass shooters -- who killed at least four victims -- in the U.S. between 1966 to 2012. That was five times more mass shooters than the next highest foreign country, according to his study. Even if the Mass Shooting Tracker captures more private shootings than Lankford would have counted, it still identified 65 shootings just this year where 4 or more people died; and the chances of another country increasing their incidents of public mass shootings enough to gallop past the U.S. just since 2012 seems deeply unlikely.
Overall, the evidence is on Cicilline's side concerning the grotesque incidence of mass shootings in the United States, and PolitiFact's criticism of his claim seems to rest more on grammar than on the data.
From the November 4 edition of NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers:
From the November 4 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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From the November 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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A Washington Post article on the 2015 Virginia elections relied on punditry rather than data to suggest that "advocacy of gun control in a pivotal Senate race in the Richmond area may have backfired," costing Democrats a chance to gain control of the state Senate.
Prior to statewide Virginia elections on November 3, Democrats needed to pick up one seat to effectively obtain control of the chamber (the Senate would have been split 20 - 20 with a Democratic lieutenant governor casting tie-breaking votes). Democrats did not gain the seat, retaining the 19 - 21 party split.
A November 4 Post articled claimed that following the election "one possible mistake stands out: [Democrats'] aggressive advocacy of gun control in a pivotal Senate race in the Richmond area may have backfired by producing a pro-Republican backlash," referring to the defeat of Democrat Dan Gecker in the 10th Senate district.
According to the Post, victorious Republican Glen Sturtevant "beat Democrat Daniel A. Gecker after GOP supporters ran ads blasting Gecker for trying to win the seat with $700,000 of outside help from pro-gun-control TV advertisements paid for by a group linked to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg."
The article quotes several elected officials and political strategists who suggested that advocacy for gun safety or pro-gun safety TV advertisements explained Gecker's loss.
Here are the actual facts on the ground in Virginia and how they relate to gun safety advocacy:
- While Gecker did not win, he outperformed expectations. According to unofficial election results issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Gecker lost with 47 percent to Sturtevant's 49 percent. Four years ago, during the last District 10 Senate race, the Democratic candidate received 43 percent of the vote and lost by more than 13 points. Gecker was running in a district where Republican voters outnumber Democrats. According to internal polling viewed by Media Matters, the party ID of the district was 41 percent Republican versus 36 percent Democrat. The poll, taken in July before the spending highlighting Gecker's support of stronger gun laws began, showed a generic Republican defeating a generic Democrat for the seat by a 48 percent to 39 percent margin. Gecker would ultimately lose the seat by just 2 points.
- The Post article made no mention of the race in Senate District 29 where Democrat Jeremy McPike defeated Republican Hal Parrish in a "high-stakes race." According to an October 22 Post article, Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety spent $1.5 million on the race in support of McPike. Notably there is no Post article positing that but for spending on pro-gun safety ads, Democrats would have had a net loss of one Senate seat. Just last week the Post reported that the race in the 29th district was "guns vs. tolls," noting that McPike was being hammered by ads that associated him with a plan by McAuliffe that Republicans claim would cause a siginficant increase in toll fees on Route I-66, which passes through the 29th district. Significantly, McPike prevailed with the help of gun safety ad spending and in the face of spending that tied him to higher tolls.
- According to Senator Donald McEachin, Chair of the Virginia Democratic Senate Caucus, gun safety ads helped both Gecker and McPike. In a statement, McEachin said in part, "In both races, polls showed our candidates trailing in the weeks before Election Day. Gun safety advocates helped us to close those gaps. As a result, we won one race and came very close in the other -- despite running in a difficult political environment."
Media often blame the issue of gun safety for losses by progressive candidates, even when there is no actual evidence to support the claim. This is due to a longstanding but fact-free conventional wisdom within the media that the gun lobby has the ability to defeat pro-gun safety candidates for office at will.
After the publication of this post, The Washington Post added language to its article that tempered the claim that the gun issue was responsible for conservative voter turnout in the 10th district. While the original article said, "Sturtevant won the District 10 seat after benefiting from huge turnout in the conservative Powhatan area that analysts attributed to the gun issue," it now reads (emphasis added), "Sturtevant won the 10th District seat after benefiting from a huge turnout in conservative Powhatan County, which analysts attributed in part to the gun issue."
The Post also added language to indicate that "leaders from both sides said the gun issue cut both ways because it helped energize the Democratic base in the district's liberal neighborhoods in Richmond."
The article now has a quote from Sen. Ryan McDougle, who chairs the Senate Republican caucus, stating, "It certainly increased the intensity for some people who were pro-Second Amendment but also for some people who were pro gun control."
Putting claims about the relationship between the gun issue and turnout in Powhatan County in clearer context, the article added language explaining that McDougle "and others also said that hotly contested local races, such as for sheriff and county supervisor, had boosted turnout in Powhatan."
The article is still largely premised on the fact-free claim that the gun issue cost Gecker his election and thus Democrats control of the Senate.
Conservative Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson defended an Iowa school bus driver who was jailed after video surfaced of the driver assaulting a student with special needs. Mickelson claims the child should have known to obey the adult's authority and said he refuses to call the child a victim.
According to the Des Moines Register, a Johnston, Iowa school bus driver was "arrested on charges of assaulting a child with special needs." The October 29 Des Moines Register article reported that, according to police, the driver "pulled the student out of his seat... hit the student in the head and pushed him down to the floor of the bus", after the student allegedly told the bus driver to "shut up." A video posted on social media shows other students on the bus yelling at the bus driver to stop. The Register reported that students then got off the bus and went to the sheriff's office to report the incident. According to police the driver was arrested and the student received medical attention in an ambulance on scene.
On his November 4 show, Mickelson -- a former bus driver -- commented on the news of the driver's arrest, saying he was "rooting for the bus driver." He responded to reports that the fifteen-year-old victim has the mental capacity of an eight-year-old, arguing "an eight-year-old understands obeying the people who are in charge" and refused to call the student a victim, stating, "even a special needs kid can be a twerp."
JAN MICKELSON: Alright, 'You can't put your hands on another kid.' And you heard the attorney say 'it's never okay to put your hands on a child when angry.' That's rubbish. There are many times when a parent is angry and they must put their hands on a child. It is never right to manhandle a child, whether angry or not, inappropriately. If there's a safety issue involved or if there's an authority issue involved -- I know that you can be charged with assault, but some cases putting your hands on a child to restrain them from hurting themselves or others is necessary. I am not saying that was what happened in this case but I'm also not entirely thrilled with the way this is being positioned, either.
'Johnston school bus driver arrested on charges of assaulting a special needs student.' Now, that immediately, the language of that immediately puts any school bus driver on the defensive because, 'Oh, this child had special needs.' Well the story itself said he was a fifteen-year-old had a mind of an eight-year-old. I would argue that an eight-year-old can restrain themselves. And an eight-year-old can obey simple directions like, 'You can't sit there and you have to move.' And an eight-year-old can understand adult authority and school authority. And an eight-year-old understands obeying the people who are in charge. And I'm not going to call this kid, special needs or otherwise, a victim.
This kid thought of himself as having special needs and was demanding that he not be required to move. It was a question of wills. And you have an adult, a sixty-one-year-old bus driver, apparently got fed up with the mouthy little twerp. Now even a special needs kid can be a twerp. Because they are in one sense diminished doesn't mean they're automatically virtuous.
No, I don't think everybody that's a twerp needs to be whacked. But in this case I'm thinking, I could be persuaded to the other side of this, but because of my own experience as a bus driver I'm thinking right now that I'm rooting for the bus driver. You can persuade me otherwise. [Mickelson in the Morning, 11/4/15]
Below is video of the incident on the bus as filmed by another student:
This Johnston bus driver hit and yelled at a special ed kid this made me cryðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ pic.twitter.com/0LKpZdpVKC-- Mikayla Gibson (@mikaylagibsonn) October 29, 2015
From the November 4 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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From the November 3 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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