Justice & Civil Liberties

Issues ››› Justice & Civil Liberties
  • Why Is Reuters Avoiding The Facts About The Smear Campaign Against Planned Parenthood?

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    A Reuters article on a recent Planned Parenthood legal victory in Utah gave equal weight to both discredited claims by Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert that Planned Parenthood had violated fetal tissue laws and the truth: Planned Parenthood Association of Utah had not violated the law.

    Last August, Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert instructed the state’s Department of Health to stop distributing federal funds to Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU), citing videos produced by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) -- Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year -- that used misleadingly edited footage to baselessly accuse Planned Parenthood of engaging in illegal activities. In September, PPAU sued the state for blocking its funding and argued that the governor’s attack was motivated by his position against abortion. On July 12, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision, allowing PPAU to continue to receive funding for STD testing and sex education programs.

    As reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, the 10th Circuit concluded that “the governor's personal opposition to abortion could likely be demonstrated as a motivation for blocking Planned Parenthood's funds.” The court determined it was “undisputed that at no time has [Utah’s Department of Health] complained about the services provided by PPAU” or alleged that PPAU was misusing the funding. The court also noted that none of the multiple state and federal investigations into Planned Parenthood yielded evidence of illegal activity and that “no evidence was found to support the CMP videos’ claim” of illegal actions. Moreover, the court explained that Gov. Herbert had already admitted that PPAU was not engaging in illegal behavior (citations removed):

    During the press conference on August 17, 2015, Herbert acknowledged that the events depicted in the video “may not have happened in Utah.” And in opposing PPAU’s motion for preliminary injunction in the district court, Herbert made more specific admissions. To begin with, he admitted that the CMP videos involved other affiliates of Planned Parenthood and not PPAU. Herbert further admitted that “there is no evidence, or even accusation, that PPAU has ‘colored outside’ of any lines, including because PPAU does not participate in any program that provides fetal tissue for scientific research.” … In addition, Herbert admitted that the accusations made by CMP in the videos regarding Planned Parenthood and its other affiliates had not been proven and indeed were false.

    Yet despite the court’s conclusion that claims in CMP’s videos were unproven and false, Reuters framed CMP’s claims as “he said/she said” rather than relying upon the facts found by the court:

    In ordering the cutoff, Herbert, an abortion opponent, cited secretly recorded videos provided by the Center for Medical Progress that allegedly showed out-of-state Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue.

    Planned Parenthood has said it did nothing wrong and that the videos were heavily edited to distort their content.

    In contrast to Reuters, other media outlets directly described the falsity of CMP’s videos and claims. The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that “the videos … were determined to be inaccurate and misleading,” while The Associated Press noted both that multiple investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and that a Texas grand jury indicted CMP’s founder and his associate. Even the local Fox affiliate in Salt Lake City, Fox 13, reported that “the videos have been widely discredited as noted by the court decision calling them ‘unproven and in fact false.’”

    Media Matters has extensively documented the deceptive edits and misleading claims made in all of CMP’s videos. In February, a federal judge also found the videos “misleadingly edited” and said they included “unfounded assertions.” And since CMP put out the first video nearly a year ago, numerous media outlets have repeatedly demonstrated their deceptive nature.

    In March, the Los Angeles Times published an investigative report showing that the unreleased footage from CMP revealed CMP’s founder “coaching” answers from a supposed “documentary” testimony and trying to “plant phrases” in the mouths of targeted individuals.In May, the Columbia Journalism Review wrote that CMP founder David “Daleiden’s video footage and commentary did not reveal any attempt to profiteer [from illegal activity], and his editing sensationalized the evidence that he actually had.” The Washington Post’s editorial board also concluded that “as we now know, those videos are bunk, neither accurate nor reliable” while The New York Times’ editorial board wrote that CMP’s “charges against Planned Parenthood were completely bogus.”

    Given that CMP’s allegations have been so thoroughly disproven it’s beyond time for all media outlets to stop relying on false balance and just use the actual facts: The videos were deceptively edited in order to lodge false allegations against Planned Parenthood.

  • Right-Wing Media Are Still Helping Anti-Choice Extremists Funnel Their Lies Straight To Congress

    Select Panel Uses Anniversary Of Anti-Choice Smear Videos To Preview The Next Act In The “Benghazi Treatment” of Planned Parenthood

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Today, the Republican members of Congress’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives released an interim update to House leadership and held a press conference to update the media on its investigation of abortion providers and medical researchers across the country.

    In the interim update, the select panel alleged that its investigation had revealed potential violations of federal law by abortion providers and tissue procurement companies. At the press briefing, select panel Chairman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said the mid-year report’s findings included “documentation that shows abortion clinics and middlemen who are exploiting women and selling baby body parts as part of business plan to make more money.”

    In reality, these allegations are actually recycled misinformation from anti-choice groups that right-wing media have spent the better part of the past year attempting to misrepresent as truth. With this latest release, the select panel Republicans have confirmed the long-held suspicion that they are also merely carrying water for the unfounded allegations of anti-choice extremists.

    Since the select panel’s inception, the media have criticized its actions as a politically motivated “witch hunt” -- a “Benghazi treatment” of Planned Parenthood. In its 10 months of operation, the select panel has found no substantiated evidence of wrongdoing, prompting one publication to call its efforts “a wild goose chase” and numerous lawmakers to call for its disbandment. Instead, the select panel has continued to function merely as a conduit through which anti-choice groups have consistently funneled information in order to give their otherwise baseless attacks a thin veneer of legitimacy.

    As the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), explained, Blackburn and her colleagues have long been suspected of “relying on information from anti-abortion extremists” in order to substantiate their otherwise unfounded attacks. Media Matters has previously reported that numerous documents from the select panel’s submitted evidence could be sourced to the website of the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP.) The panel’s interim update confirms this pattern -- including citations from numerous anti-choice groups such as CMP, Life News, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and the Radiance Foundation.

    The select panel was formed in October 2015, several months after CMP began releasing deceptively edited videos in an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood. Although these videos purported to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illicit sale of donated fetal tissue, they have been repeatedly discredited and multiple states investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

    Today marks exactly one year since CMP began its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.

    Since then, CMP has earned the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year, been indicted for fraud by a grand jury in Houston, TX, been subject to lawsuits, and had its work soundly rejected by multiple judges and journalists alike. Undeterred, CMP founder David Daleiden has openly voiced his lack of concern about the severity of these charges:

     

     

    In contrast, for the abortion providers and researchers targeted by CMP and the select panel, the past year has been marked by increased harassment, threats, and violence.

    According to the National Abortion Federation, in 2015 there was a “dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder” of abortion providers -- likely inspired by CMP’s incendiary allegations and rhetoric. Since the release of CMP’s first video in July 2015, at least five Planned Parenthood facilities have been attacked. In September 2015, the FBI released an intelligence assessment that warned of an uptick in violence against abortion providers and clinics. This prediction was borne out tragically in November 2015 when suspected shooter Robert Dear killed three people and injured several more at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health care center.

    Nevertheless, the select panel has recklessly issued countless subpoenas demanding the names not only of abortion providers, but also of the “researchers, graduate students, laboratory technicians and administrative personnel” who may have participated in fetal tissue research.

    Right-wing media have also spent the past year giving CMP a platform and capitalizing on the opportunity to push misinformation about Planned Parenthood and agitate for the organization to be defunded. In a recent study, Media Matters found that during a 14-month period from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, Fox News’ evening news programs routinely relied on extreme anti-choice figures and information to help propagate CMP’s false allegations against Planned Parenthood.

    For example, in a single day Fox News devoted 10 segments to hyping CMP’s videos and false claims about Planned Parenthood. Similarly, Fox host Bill O'Reilly called for an FBI investigation into Planned Parenthood, while network correspondent Peter Doocy claimed that he “searched the Planned Parenthood website for fetal baby part prices” but didn’t get any results because the practice is a “well-kept secret.” Other conservative media figures used CMP's videos to compare Planned Parenthood to Nazis, and used the videos to call for completely defunding the women's health care provider -- even going so far as to demand a government shutdown to do so.

    These calls have made their way to anti-choice legislators across the United States and prompted 10 states to attempt to defund Planned Parenthood -- despite the detrimental impact this move would have on health care access in many communities.

    Since its creation, the select panel has cost taxpayers $790,000 -- with an additional $490,000 recently authorized by the House in order to sustain the investigation through the end of the year. The costs for abortion providers -- in terms of their loss of safety -- has already become incalculable. Ranking member Schakowsky has been resolute: “This has not been -- nor will it ever be -- a fact-based investigation.” In response to the Republicans’ July 14 report, Schakowsky reiterated the danger of allowing a congressional body to act as mouthpiece for anti-choice extremists:

    Once again Republicans are making inflammatory claims that they cannot substantiate and relying on manufactured documents and fraudulent videos that have been thoroughly discredited. Never before have I witnessed such a disconnect between allegations and the facts.

    If the Panel were just a waste of taxpayer money and congressional time, it would be bad enough. But this has serious and devastating effects on real people. If you rely on Planned Parenthood provided health care, they want to close women's clinics. If you think women should make their own health decisions, they want politicians to dictate your choices and limit your right to decide when and whether to have children based on your own situation. If you support medical research, their attacks on fetal tissue research are already stalling work on diseases like MS.

    And if you believe that congressional Republicans care about individual privacy and safety, you would have learned otherwise today. Despite public promises to “act responsibly with each and every name” that they are collecting -- Republicans today publicly named names without regard to the consequences.

    Their interim report, which Democrats learned about through a press advisory, proves that this Panel needs to be disbanded now, before more lives are put at risk.

  • Donald Trump Defends Roger Ailes Against Allegations Of Sexual Harassment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump defended Fox News CEO Roger Ailes against allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women and fired former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in retaliation for denying his sexual advances.

    Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes, alleging he fired Carlson “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances” and challenged “what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm to report similar experiences of mistreatment. Multiple reporters have detailed Ailes’ longstanding track-record of sexism and allegations of sexual harassment against him, including his obsession with displaying female anchors’ legs on Fox programs, and numerous sexist remarks to employees.

    Trump also has a reported history of degrading and inappropriate behavior toward women including “unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct.”

    In a July 14 article, Washington Examiner reported that the presumptive nominee believed allegations against Ailes were “unfounded ... totally unfounded.” From the Washington Examiner’s report:

    Republican nominee Donald Trump is defending his friend Fox News CEO Roger Ailes from accusations that he sexually harassed female employees.

    In an interview Thursday with the Washington Examiner, Trump said he doesn't believe the allegations recently leveled against the 76-year-old Fox News chief executive.

    "I think they are unfounded just based on what I've read," said Trump. "Totally unfounded, based on what I read."

    Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson last week announced her lawsuit against Ailes, which alleged that he declined to renew her contract after she complained of unwanted sexual advances from Ailes, and also alleged sexist behavior from some of her other male colleagues.
     

  • Report: Roger Ailes Accuser Tried To Make Her Sexual Harassment Claim Against Him Decades Ago

    One Of Ailes’ Accusers Reportedly Made Claim To LA Weekly In 1990s, Which Received No Clear Denial From Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Chicago Reader’s Michael Miner reported that one of the women alleging Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed her “tried to tell the world” about her harassment “decades ago” and that Ailes didn’t “clear[ly] den[y]” the allegation at the time.

    On July 6, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a “sexual harassment/retaliation” lawsuit against Ailes, alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Since Carlson filed her lawsuit, New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported six more women have come forward alleging Ailes harassed them. Ailes’ lawyer called the women’s allegations “all 30 to 50 years old” and “false.” 

    In a July 14 article, Miner wrote that he has personally known one of the women who spoke to New York magazine since childhood, and that she told him "about her encounter with Roger Ailes decades ago and—more to the point—she tried to tell the world too.” Miner claimed that the woman, using the pseudonym “Susan,” tried to tell the newspaper LA Weekly about her incident in 1992, and that according to the editor of the Weekly, Ailes “‘didn't really make any clear denial’” when asked about the charge, but instead “‘was fumbling around in self-pity.’” From Miner’s article:

    New York magazine interviewed some of the women who'd contacted Carlson's lawyer, and last weekend posted "Six More Women Allege That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Them." One of these women was "Susan."

    [...]

    So I write here to put something on the record: I've known Susan, not her real name, since we were both children. She did not just come out of the woodwork. She told me about her encounter with Roger Ailes decades ago and—more to the point—she tried to tell the world too.

    In 1988 she saw Ailes rise to national prominence as the media svengali in Bush's come-from-behind victory over Michael Dukakis, the artisan of negativity chiefly responsible for Bush's devastating "revolving door" TV attack ad. Four years later Bush ran for reelection, and Susan expected more of the same from Ailes. (Ultimately, he had no formal role in Bush's 1992 campaign.) Susan typed up an account of the Mike Douglas Show encounter and sent it to the primary alternative newspaper in what was by then her home town, LA Weekly. "Roger, You Made Me a Democrat," she called her story, and went on to say that, pre-Ailes, she'd been a "Goldwater Girl," her mother a Republican committeewoman.

    The story she submitted in 1992 was a more detailed version of the account just published by New York Magazine. Jay Levin, the editor of LA Weekly at the time, remembers it. Levin assigned a staff writer, Ron Curran, to call Ailes. "We had expected the usual 'She’s lying and I will sue you,'" says Levin; "Instead, Curran said he got a kind of mumbling self-pity from Ailes. So I decided I needed to hear him myself."

    Levin got the same. "To the best of my memory," he says, "Ailes repeated something about being in a bad place in his past life. He didn't make any threats and he didn't really make any clear denial. He was fumbling around in self-pity. I said, 'OK, to be clear, are you denying this or not? Are you saying she's a liar? I don't hear a clear denial.' He said, weakly, 'Yes, I'm denying it,' and he wanted to know what we were going to do."

    Levin said he didn't know, and in the end LA Weekly didn't publish Susan's account—for reasons I understand. This was a story requiring strong corroboration, and Levin had no other names. Furthermore, Ailes was in the east, and following up would have meant hiring a reporter there to spend weeks tracking down women who'd worked for him. There was the obvious risk of a lawsuit. And Ailes wasn't then who he is now—one of the most powerful men in American media. "Going after him," says Levin, "would be a misallocation of resources."

    [...]

    When I read about Carlson suing Ailes, I sent Susan an e-mail that said, "Isn't this your guy?" Susan told me she'd already called Carlson's lawyers.

  • Federal Court Rejects Right-Wing Myths, Maintains Utah's Planned Parenthood Funding

    Appeals Court Rules That Gov. Gary Herbert’s Attack On Planned Parenthood Was Meant To “Punish” The Organization

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On July 12, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision and granted Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU) an injunction, blocking Gov. Gary Herbert’s order to cut off funding to the organization.

    In the decision, the appeals court explained that not only was Herbert’s order to defund PPAU based on misinformation, but also that his politically motivated attack on the Planned Parenthood affiliate was meant to “punish” the health care provider.

    The controversy began last year after Herbert attempted to defund PPAU in response to deceptively edited videos from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which claimed Planned Parenthood illegally profited from the sale of donated fetal tissue. In reality, this smear campaign was so fraudulent that a Houston, TX, grand jury indicted CMP’s founder David Daleiden, and the organization earned the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year. CMP’s videos have been repeatedly discredited, and multiple state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

    Nevertheless, Herbert followed in the footsteps of anti-choice legislators in many other states and ordered “state agencies to cease acting as an intermediary for pass-through federal funds to Planned Parenthood.”

    Since the release of CMP’s deceptively edited videos, right-wing media have consistently pushed misinformation about Planned Parenthood as part of an ongoing attempt to defund the organization. Right-wing media have justified these defunding efforts by claiming that community health clinics can effectively fill the gap left by barring Planned Parenthood from state and federal health care programs, an allegation echoed in Utah.

    In an August 2015 article, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that even though Herbet admitted that the alleged violations shown in the CMP videos “may not have happened in Utah,” he maintained that his decision was appropriate and would not adversely “affect educational programs for preventing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.” Instead, he argued that “the monies we have right now are going to be put into the marketplace with other qualified providers, it just won't be going to Planned Parenthood.”

    Despite his claims, there is ample evidence that removing Planned Parenthood from such programs has a detrimental impact on community health. In fact, health policy experts have explained that the idea of community health services filling in for Planned Parenthood is “a gross misrepresentation of what even the best community health centers in the country would be able to do." This is particularly true in Utah, where “PPAU is currently the only statewide organization that provides reproductive health services to anyone who requests them … without regard to a patient’s health insurance status, socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity.”

    Recent studies show that defunding Planned Parenthood can lead to decreased access to contraception, particularly for low-income women. In February, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that when Texas eliminated Planned Parenthood from its family planning program, there were “over 30 percent fewer claims for long-acting and injectable contraceptives among low-income patients using the Women’s Health Program.”

    Access to contraception is not the only service patients lose when states defund Planned Parenthood. In 2011, Indiana cut funding to Planned Parenthood, leaving one rural county without an HIV testing center as it experienced a sharp increase in HIV infections. Similarly, the Texas Observer found in June that in Harris County, TX -- which had the highest number of new HIV diagnoses in the state in 2014 -- the county’s health department hadn’t conducted a single HIV test since the county ended its decades-long contract with Planned Parenthood for HIV testing and prevention in December.

    The 10th Circuit further noted that prior to Herbert’s defunding order, “at no time has UDOH [Utah Department of Health] complained about the services provided by PPAU, or otherwise claimed that PPAU was not qualified to provide services.” The opinion further explained that not only had PPAU won competitive contracts from the state on multiple occasions but the amount provided through those grants had also been increased in exchange for continuing service.

    As the court concluded, Herbert “more likely than not” put politics above program effectiveness when making his decision to block PPAU’s funding:

    Considering all of this evidence together, we conclude that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert issued the Directive to punish PPAU for the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights it has identified in this litigation. In particular, we conclude that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert, a politician and admitted opponent of abortion, viewed the situation that presented itself by release of the CMP videos as an opportunity to take public action against PPAU, deprive it of pass-through federal funding, and potentially weaken the organization and hamper its ability to provide and advocate for abortion services.

  • Fox Personalities Respond To Gretchen Carlson's Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With Familiar Victim-Blaming

    Fox’s Response Serves As A PSA In How NOT To Cover Sexual Harassment Stories

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    After Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger Ailes, Fox News personalities have rushed to defend Ailes while disparaging Carlson’s character, dismissing her allegations, and accusing her of having ulterior motives. Their response mirrors the false tropes the network hosts push in their sexual assault coverage.

    On July 6, former Fox News host Carlson filed a lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger Ailes, alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Carlson also alleged that while she was a host of Fox & Friends, her co-host Steve Doocy “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” of Carlson. Carlson has been a witness to years of sexism from her male colleagues, plenty of it directed at her.

    Several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm to report similar experiences of mistreatment.

    Numerous Fox figures have rallied to Ailes’ defense, falling back on the network’s long-held strategy of dismissing sexual harassment – and even sexual assault – allegations by blaming the victims, trying to discredit the allegations by disparaging the victims’ characters, and rushing to defend the character of the accused. Just as New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman predicted, the “Fox News PR machine” is fighting the sexual harassment allegations by “try[ing] to discredit Carlson’s claims and any of the other women’s claims who come forward.”

    Disparaging The Victim’s Character

    After Carlson filed her lawsuit, her former Fox colleagues defended Ailes by immediately disparaging her character, dismissing her allegations, and suggesting she may have had ulterior motives.

    Greta Van Susteren suggested Carlson may have falsely accused Ailes of sexual harassment because she was “unhappy that her contract wasn’t renewed.”

    In a flurry of tweets on July 12, Sean Hannity dismissed Carlson’s allegations, suggesting that if she had really been harassed, she would not have stayed, asked for more airtime, or written to Ailes:

    Brit Hume asked Carlson why she didn’t just quit following the alleged harassment:

    This behavior isn’t new for Fox figures. In the past, Andrea Tantaros has asked, “At what point do women need to take some responsibility” for sexual harassment. Hannity blamed a victim of sexual harassment for “staying in the car” with the accused offender after the alleged harassment. Greg Gutfeld claimed that victims allege sexual harassment “to safeguard future reputation-damaging things.”  

    The network’s victim-blaming isn’t limited to sexual harassment. Hosts have blamed victims of sexual assault for “wearing a miniskirt,” characterized victims as “bad girls … who like to be naughty,” and altogether disputed the prevalence of sexual assault.

    Defending The Character Of The Accused

    Fox figures also responded to Carlson’s lawsuit by touting Ailes’ character.  

    Jeanine Pirro called Carlson’s allegations “absurd” and called Ailes a “no-nonsense guy,” saying, “I just loved him.”

    Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed that of the women she’s talked to at Fox, “Nobody believed” Carlson’s allegations, adding that Ailes “is a man who champions women.”

    Bret Baier said that’s “not the Roger I know,” and added, “I can’t say enough good things about Roger.”

    Neil Cavuto called Carlson’s allegations “sick” and said they “don’t remotely resemble the Roger that I know” because Ailes “is ALL professional.”

    Ainsley Earhardt, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner have also vigorously defended Ailes, calling him a “father figure” and a “terrific boss.”

    By focusing on defending the character of the accused, reporters treat the accused offender as the victim. And it’s not just Ailes. Fox has a history of treating accused offenders as victims, including by claiming  that the focus on campus sexual assault amounts to “a war happening on boys” and dubiously hyping the frequency of false accusations of sexual assault against men, even though  false accusations are rare.  

  • Former Fox Host Gretchen Carlson Speaks Publicly About Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Roger Ailes

    For First Time Publicly, Carlson Details Her Treatment By Ailes And Her Former Colleagues

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson spoke publicly for the first time since she filed a sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, detailing the alleged harassment and recounting her experience working at Fox.

    On July 6 reports emerged that Carlson filed a sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit against Roger Ailes. Following the report, Carlson’s law firm claimed that an additional 10 women contacted them in reference to their  treatment at Fox, and New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman interviewed an additional six women who detailed their claims of inappropriate behavior by Ailes.

    Fox News figures have vigorously defended their boss, with Fox’s Howard Kurtz attacking Carlson’s ratings, Sean Hannity going after reporters covering the story, and Fox News reaching out to media outlets offering interviews with women who have worked with Ailes and were willing to defend him.

    In a July 12 interview with The New York Times, Carlson reiterated her claims of harassment and spoke of “between six and 10” meetings with Ailes in which she made complaints of harassment and he talked about her body:

    In the interview, Ms. Carlson said she complained of harassment as early as 2009, when Steve Doocy, then her co-host on “Fox and Friends,” pulled her arm down while on the air to “quiet” her, Ms. Carlson said.

    She said in her complaint, and repeated on Tuesday, that she had several meetings with Mr. Ailes over the years in which her complaints of harassment went nowhere, and that he said demeaning things to her himself.

    “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” Mr. Ailes told her, according to the lawsuit.

    Likewise, according to the suit, Mr. Ailes labeled her a “man hater,” and instructed her to “learn to ‘get along with the boys.’”

    That sort of language from Mr. Ailes, she said on Tuesday, was “continuous,” adding that she had “between six and 10” meetings with him in which he talked about her body and heard her complaints of harassment.

    When asked if there was ever a problem within the Fox News Culture, She said: “Everyone knew how powerful Roger Ailes was. I certainly felt intimidated by that.”

    She added, “The culture of ‘Fox and Friends’ was intimidating to me.”

  • Right-Wing Media Attack Obama’s Eulogy For Fallen Dallas Police Officers As A “Middle Finger To Cops”

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Appearing alongside former president George W. Bush in Dallas, Texas, President Obama eulogized police officers targeted in a “hate crime” last week during a Black Lives Matter march. Right-wing media figures immediately lashed out, calling Obama’s speech “bullshit,” labeled Obama the “divider-in-chief,” and claimed his statements “gave a middle finger to the cops.”

  • Meet Harry Houck, CNN’s Resident Race-Baiter And Police Brutality Apologist

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    CNN contributor Harry Houck -- who recently claimed that black people are prone to criminality -- has a long history of extreme race-baiting on the network, frequently blaming victims of police brutality and describing Black Lives Matter as a “thug group.”

    During the July 11 edition of CNN’s New Day, Houck -- a retired NYPD detective who works as a “law enforcement analyst” for CNN -- responded to concerns about the over-policing of black communities by suggesting that African-Americans commit crimes at higher rates than whites. When guest Marc Lamont Hill pointed out that Houck was suggesting black people are “prone to criminality,” Houck responded, “Well, they are!”:

    CNN frequently hosts Houck in the wake of high profile stories of police brutality and anti-black violence. He is a reliable race-baiter and police apologist, regularly blaming black people for police mistreatment.

    He has repeatedly suggested that minorities, and specifically black people, commit more crime than white people, and that the solution to the problem of police brutality is for black people to “stop committing crimes.” He’s denied that African-Americans receive different treatment from whites in the criminal justice system, and claimed that any police officer who acts inappropriately is punished for it.

    He’s also blamed Al Sharpton for starting riots in Ferguson and called Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance “racist.”

    Houck consistently finds ways to blame black victims of violence, especially at the hands of police officers. According to Houck:

    • Sandra Bland was arrested because she was “very arrogant” and “uncooperative.”
    • A South Carolina student who was body slammed by a police officer in her classroom “had no respect for the school… probably has no respect at home or on the street.”
    • The police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice acted “properly.”
    • Trayvon Martin was killed because he had a “street attitude.”

    Houck’s Twitter presence makes his race-baiting on TV look subtle by comparison. He regularly tweets about the threat posed by “black thugs,” refers to Black Lives Matter as a “thug group,” and decries what he calls “black thug privilage” (sic).

    He’s called “Black on Black murders the real problem,” tweeted a link to a white supremacist website, and claimed that the goal of the Black Lives Matter movement is to “turn criminals into victims and cops into criminals.”

    Houck also peddles bizarre conspiracy theories. In one tweet, Houck claimed that Saul Alinsky has recruited Hillary Clinton to help promote “racism in every aspect of society” -- including releasing violent criminals from prison -- in order to make minorities dependent on Democrats, “the real slave masters.”

    In another, Houck claimed that Democrats “want all the refugees” because they want to “put them on welfare” so that they will “vote for liberals.”

    Houck’s inflammatory rhetoric isn’t limited to the black community. He’s called anti-Trump protesters “terrorists” and “the biggest danger we now face in this country.” He’s argued for wrapping the “remains of terrorists in pork fat so they go to hell!” And in October, he posted an image from a right-wing website that read “THIS IS AMERICA… WE SPEAK ENGLISH… IF YOU DONT LIKE IT TOUGH SHIT.”

    In July, 2015, the group ColorOfChange launched a petition asking CNN to “Drop Harry Houck,” writing:

    Harry Houck has a long record of victim blaming young Black people like Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and now this young Black girl at Spring Valley High School, all while blindly supporting their assailants. It is well passed time CNN dropped Harry Houck from their broadcasts and replace Harry Houck with someone capable of discussing the state of racism and prejudiced policing.

    Despite his rhetoric, CNN continues to pay Houck as an expert, bringing his race-baiting to a national audience any time a story of over-policing or police brutality makes headlines.

    Marlee Pittman contributed research to this post. Image by Sarah Wasko.

  • NRA’s Ted Nugent Smears Philando Castile And Says Obama Wants To Start A Race War

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent reacted to the police shooting of Philando Castile and the mass shooting targeting police officers in Dallas, TX, by claiming President Obama wants to start a race war and by smearing Castile with an unsubstantiated report that he may have carried out an armed robbery.

    Nugent made the claims during a series of Facebook posts on July 9. Reacting to the July 7 mass shooting in Dallas, TX, where a gunman reportedly angered by recent police shootings of African-Americans opened fire during a peaceful protest, killing five police officers and wounding seven more, Nugent claimed Obama wants to start a race war.

    Nugent wrote Obama “wants a racewar (sic)” and that he “will go down in history as a maniac America hating freak with his fundemental (sic) transformation scam.”

    An hour later Nugent “liked” a comment predicting a race war, and added his own commentary, “yeah no shit. blacks slaughtering blacks at an unprecedented rate. Blacks killed more blacks this week than the KKK has in 50yrs. braindead goofballs”:

    Nugent also reacted to the July 6 fatal shooting of black motorist Philando Castile in St. Anthony, MN. Castile had a permit to carry a concealed gun and reportedly may have been trying to explain that fact to the officer who shot him. Following the shooting, the NRA was criticized for failing to comment on the shooting of a law-abiding gun owner.

    In the aftermath of the shooting, it was reported that the officer who shot Castile believed that he matched the description of an armed robbery suspect, according to the officer’s attorney. There is, however, no evidence that Castile was involved in the armed robbery in question.

    But Conservative Treehouse, a blog that played a key role in smearing Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager shot and killed while out walking in his neighborhood, published an article on July 8 suggesting Castile was connected to a July 2 robbery at a convenience store.

    In response to a commenter asking “why has the NRA not commented on Philando” given that Castile “was doing what any law abiding (sic) gun owners would do,” Nugent wrote, “not really” and shared the Conservative Treehouse article:

    Snopes has debunked the Conservative Treehouse article, concluding, “The Conservative Treehouse article employed a series of half-truths, misleading claims, and unsupported speculation in an attempt to justify the fatal force used by an officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota. No real evidence has yet come to light supporting the notion that Castile had been involved in an armed robbery or was carrying a firearm illegally when he was killed.”

    (The NRA had actually commented on the Castile shooting at the time of Nugent’s comment. The gun group issued a “tepid” statement on July 8 that failed to mention Castile’s name.)

    In a subsequent comment on the same thread where he smeared Castile, Nugent wrote that it was time to “oust” President Obama:

    UPDATE: 

    Nugent made a subsequent Facebook post that appears to allude to the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Castile. The implication of Nugent's advice is that he believes Castile did not have "enuf brainmatter (sic)" to avoid being shot: