Michael Fumento was once fired after it was revealed that he was writing in favor of industry interests while receiving money from those interests and authored a book titled The Myth Of Heterosexual AIDS. The New York Post now thinks you might want to know what he thinks about climate science.
The Post published an op-ed by Fumento on December 5 titled "Global-warming 'proof' is evaporating." In it, Fumento falsely suggested that a slowdown in recent temperatures means that "previous warming may not have been man-made at all" and compared accepting man-made climate change to "cult beliefs" and believing "before Columbus" that the Earth was flat (yes, Fumento appears to need a history lesson about Christopher Columbus in addition to a science lesson).
Like many pseudo-scientific "experts" on climate change, Fumento previously downplayed the dangers of cigarettes while receiving money from the tobacco industry. In the 1990s, Fumento was on the advisory board of the tobacco-funded "Advancement of Sound Science Coaliton" while downplaying the addictive nature of cigarettes and the dangers of secondhand smoke in the media.
It wasn't the last time Fumento took money from powerful industries while writing in favor of them. In 2006 Bloomberg BusinessWeek revealed that Fumento had received $60,000 from agribusiness giant Monsanto while writing columns in favor of both agribusiness and Monsanto. Soon after the revelation, Scripps Howard News Service canceled his syndicated column. Afterwards, Fumento published a public appeal for "patron support" for his writing, boasting that some of his published articles "have 50 hyperlinked citations in pieces only 900 words long."
Fumento, who is a lawyer and has no scientific training, has also previously pushed scientific misinformation. In 1990, Fumento wrote The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS; it only sold 12,000 copies, which he attributed to a conspiracy against him that included his own publisher. Despite the sensationalist title, Fumento did not actually argue that heterosexual people cannot get AIDS. Rather, he suggests that because rates of AIDS are low for the white, middle-class heterosexual people who do not use intravenous drugs, the U.S. is spending too much money on the issue. In order to downplay heterosexual transmission rates, Fumento stated in 1992 that former basketball player Magic Johnson, who contracted HIV, would "eventually probably" be "outed," and in any case probably has more opportunities to "have intercourse with inner-city black women than would a promiscuous heterosexual white basketball player."
From the December 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Far-right website WND teased an article on the possibility that gay men will soon be allowed to donate blood with a banner asking, "Does Obama Want You Infected With This?"
From WND's home page:
WND's December 3 article noted that a federal advisory panel is considering lifting the blanket ban on donations by gay men, in effect since 1985. The website hyped one researcher's support for the ban, citing statistics showing that men who have sex with men constitute the majority of HIV infections to justify prohibiting all gay men from donating blood, regardless of whether they practice safe sex or are monogamous:
Should homosexual men - a group with the highest HIV-infection rates in the nation - be allowed to donate blood?
That's the question the federal government is considering this week as it re-evaluates whether it should lift the 30-year ban on homosexual blood donation.
On Thursday, members of the Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability will revisit the issue.
But a leading pathologist is warning that the move would heighten the risk of spreading HIV to other Americans.
Dr. Jay Brooks, an expert in blood banking and transfusion at the University of Florida's College of Medicine, told WND the problem with "donations from men who've had sex with men is that they have a much higher prevalence of HIV than the heterosexual community."
"They have a much higher prevalence," he emphasized.
Conveniently, WND omitted the fact that the American Medical Association (AMA) opposes the ban, calling it "discriminatory" and "not based on sound science." Under current policy, a heterosexual woman who has had intercourse with an AIDS- or HIV-infected partner can give blood after a one-year waiting period. Any gay man who has had sex since 1977, however, can never donate. According to the AMA, a case-by-case approach makes far more sense than a sweeping ban.
Other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Japan, and South Africa have already lifted bans on gay blood donations.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a Scottsdale, AZ-based legal group committed to rolling back the rights of women and LGBT people on the grounds of "religious liberty." The organization has played a leading role in combatting marriage equality and non-discrimination policies in the U.S. while working internationally to criminalize homosexuality. Despite its rabid anti-LGBT extremism, ADF receives reliably friendly treatment from Fox News.
Established as the Alliance Defense Fund in 1994, ADF's founders include such religious right leaders as Focus on the Family's James C. Dobson and Campus Crusade for Christ's Bill Bright. According to ADF's website, the organization changed its name to Alliance Defending Freedom in 2012 to highlight its "enduring mission to gain justice for those whose faith has been unconstitutionally denied in the areas of religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family."
Headed by President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears, staffed by more than 40 attorneys, and boasting an annual budget in excess of $30 million, ADF bills itself as "a servant ministry building an alliance to keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel by transforming the legal system." As part of its effort to remake the American legal system along quasi-theocratic lines, ADF has:
ADF's relentless legal campaign against LGBT equality led the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to describe the organization as "virulently anti-gay." SPLC proved instrumental in exposing an aspect of ADF's work that the organization chooses not to tout on its website - its international work to criminalize homosexuality.
Both CNN and MSNBC devoted significant coverage to the Obama administration's commemoration of World AIDS Day on December 2. Fox News, on the other hand, spent less than 20 seconds acknowledging President Obama's speech outlining significant new efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Syndicated columnist and radio host Dennis Prager uncritically recited Stephen Jimenez's shoddily-reported claims that Matthew Shepard's 1998 murder wasn't an anti-gay hate crime, using the claims put forth in Jimenez's discredited book to assail the "lies" allegedly used to advance progressive goals.
In a December 3 column for National Review Online, Prager joined the chorus of right-wing praise for The Book of Matt -- a book which attempts to prove that Matthew Shepard's murder wasn't motivated by anti-gay bias. In the book, Jimenez claims that Aaron McKinney and Aaron Henderson attacked Shepard as part of a meth deal gone wrong, not because Shepard was gay. Filled with wild conjecture, questionable or anonymous sources, and cavalier dismissals of strong evidence of McKinney's homophobia, the book has nevertheless served as a rallying cry for right-wing media figures determined to undermine the LGBT movement galvanized by Shepard's death.
Prager's column continues in that same vein, indicating a stronger interest in using the book as a cudgel against progressives than actually getting to the bottom of Shepard's murder (emphasis added):
It turns out that Matthew Shepard's murder had nothing to do with his being gay.
As early as 2004, the ABC News program 20/20 broadcast (to its credit) a denial by both murderers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, that the murder had anything to do with Shepard's being gay. It was, they both claimed, a robbery gone bad.
"It was not because me and Aaron had anything against gays," Henderson told ABC.
As a result, ABC News was widely attacked by all those who had a vested interest not in truth but in maintaining the homophobia story: the liberal media, the gay-rights movement, and the lawyers for the victim's mother.
Now a book has been published, written by Stephen Jimenez, himself a gay man, that confirms the accuracy of the 2004 ABC News report. Matthew Shepard was involved in the hyperactive Wyoming meth drug culture; he was murdered over a drug deal; and his primary murderer was a bisexual who had probably slept with Shepard.
[I]t shows how powerful the left-wing media are, how they are dedicated to agendas rather than to truth, and how much of what Americans believe is shaped accordingly.
It would indeed be convenient for Jimenez's cheerleaders if only those with "a vested interest" were disputing his account of Shepard's murder. In reality, however, The Book of Matt has been condemned by Tim Newcomb, Henderson's appellate attorney, former Laramie police commander David O'Malley, and Detective Rob Debree, who said that investigators thoroughly probed the drug issue before concluding that Shepard's murder wasn't a "meth crime."
Meanwhile, despite changing his story on multiple other aspects of the case, McKinney -- a self-proclaimed "homofobick [sic]" individual -- has consistently denied knowing Shepard prior to the attack.
Given his determination to call out allegedly biased or unreliable critics, you'd think Prager would apply the same scrupulous standards of objectivity and reliability to Jimenez's sources. They include confessed meth addicts, a disbarred attorney who agreed to talk to Jimenez on the condition that he disputed the conventional understanding of Shepard's death, and one purported former lover of Shepard's - whom Newcomb revealed had apparently attempted to extract money in exchange for information on the case. But Prager simply transcribes Jimenez's arguments as the gospel truth, apparently uninterested in the sources behind them.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly kicked off his annual obsession with the War on Christmas by blessing the Alliance Defending Freedom organization, an extremist anti-gay group O'Reilly credited with helping him save the holiday.
O'Reilly has become infamous for his annual fight against the so-called War on Christmas, a manufactured issue that O'Reilly has covered more than actual, ongoing wars for the past two years. He promised to continue the annual battle on the December 2 edition of his Fox program, decrying how the efforts of "secular groups" have resulted in "Happy Holidays syndrome" and wondering, "why are we allowing anti-Christmas madness?" O'Reilly went on to applaud the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) for its help in the fight:
O'REILLY: So once again this year, I will keep an eye on the situation. Helping me is the Alliance Defending Freedom organization based in Scottsdale, Arizona. They have been very successful in defending traditional rights in the courts. Therefore I say to them, 'God bless you, each and every one,' with apologies to Dickens.
O'Reilly then hosted ADF's senior vice president, Doug Napier, to discuss the organization's legal battles, which Napier described as a fight for Christians' "right to enjoy the season without the interference of a few bah humbug bullies." O'Reilly repeatedly allowed Napier to hype the ADF and its website, and the two men praised one another for their War on Christmas efforts:
NAPIER: And what we have to do -- and you're doing a great job, Bill, of getting the information out to the American public -- Alliance Defending Freedom sent out 13,000 letters to school districts to tell the truth about Christmas. Armed with the truth, Christmas can come back in, and the bah humbug folks can go out.
O'REILLY: It's good to let people know that your organization will defend them gratis, pro bono, if they are harassed by these other people.
What O'Reilly omitted from his praise of the ADF for "defending traditional rights" is that the group is "virulently anti-gay," as the Southern Poverty Law Center put it. ADF has fought against gay rights at every turn and linked homosexuality to pedophilia, even currently working internationally to criminalize homosexuality.
From the December 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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National Review Online writer Charles C. W. Cooke urged fellow conservatives not to criticize the use of anti-gay slurs, writing that such "political correctness" would stifle public debate.
In a December 2 column, Cooke weighed in on the controversy surrounding actor and former MSNBC host Alec Baldwin's apparent use of anti-gay speech during a confrontation with a photographer. Video captured by TMZ appeared to show Baldwin calling the photographer a "cocksucking fag." After announcing that it would suspend Baldwin's program for two weeks, MSNBC decided to end his Friday night show Up Late entirely.
Cooke wrote that it wasn't surprising that Baldwin - a public supporter of LGBT equality and other progressive causes - would generate a backlash for his outburst, asserting that "[t]hose who live by the sword must watch out lest they die by it, too." Despite his political disagreements with Baldwin, however, Cooke argued that "passes" should be distributed to all users of anti-gay slurs "equally" (emphasis added):
As sequels go, this was the last-ditch effort that even the most generous of critics couldn't excuse. Among the notable public figures who felt compelled finally to leave his side were the American-British writer Andrew Sullivan and GLAAD's own Rich Ferraro. Sullivan, who has evidently decided that Baldwin "cannot be defended any longer," contended that Baldwin's instincts under pressure "reveal who he actually is" and that what he "actually is" is a "raging, violent bigot." Ferraro simply lamented that Baldwin had declined to turn his shouting into a learning opportunity. As a reward for their troubles, Sullivan and Ferraro were termed by Baldwin as part of "the fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy" and accused of "killing" his show.
The latter part of this is possibly true: Baldwin has certainly lost his act, and the signals that Sullivan and Ferraro sent presumably had no small part in opening the floodgates to the condemnation that poured down on Baldwin. But the claim that Baldwin was undone by extremists? No, he wasn't. In truth, he was undone by a movement of which he is a fully paid-up member. I agree wholeheartedly with The Partially Examined Life's Wes Alwan, who resisted the hive mind last week and postulated that judging individuals by their outbursts is unwise. But I am not sure that this is the most important point here, which is instead this: Those who live by the sword must watch out lest they die by it, too. [added space]Alec Baldwin is an outspoken progressive who as recently as last week was referring derisively to "libertarian trash" and who flies off the handle at the slightest misrepresentation of his private life. He himself has promised to end countless careers. To expect to be treated differently than he treats others is naïve and entitled.
Nevertheless, we can all react to these things, and how we react matters. However tempting it might be for the Right to celebrate when one of their antagonists is canned, it should take a deep breath and resist. One does not beat the would-be arbiters of speech by joining them, nor does one persuade people that a reflex is wrong by indulging in it when the other side is on the hook. As a rule, the Right has long prided itself on its disinclination to call for scalps, on the eminently reasonable grounds that such a precedent merely opens the door for all sorts of witch-hunting and leaves anyone even remotely controversial at the mercy of rapidly changing fashions. As a rule, it has recently been conservatives who have led the fight against speech codes, against political correctness, and against trying to punish people for what they believe. Why stop now?
Andrew Sullivan is correct to observe that, because Baldwin is simpatico with the progressive agenda, doyens of the professional Left have long given him "a pass when they would never dream of doing so with anyone who was conservative or Republican." He is also correct to say that this represents "a glaring double standard" and one that "cannot stand any more." Still, there are two ways of ending a double standard. And, in a country that puts a premium on open discourse, it is infinitely preferable to insist that passes be handed out to everybody equally than to request that they be taken away from progressives -- the one political group that, however unfairly, still enjoys their protection.
Cooke doesn't explain how calling someone a "cocksucking fag" contributes meaningfully to an "open discourse," but a writer who defends the armed intimidation of political activists is bound to harbor bizarre views about what words and actions should be part of a healthy public dialogue.
Fox News spent under five minutes covering the controversy between Republican Wyoming Senate candidate and former Fox News contributor Liz Cheney and her openly gay sister Mary Cheney over Liz's opposition to marriage equality - significantly less than CNN and MSNBC, who both devoted more than one hour.
Rush Limbaugh is citing an erroneous report about HIV in Greece to falsely claim that half of all recent infections there were self-inflicted for the purpose of receiving government benefits. In fact, the original report on AIDS and HIV in Greece does not confirm a single instance of a person intentionally infecting himself with HIV.
Limbaugh is surely fascinated by this erroneous report because it fits into the false right-wing narrative that government programs that help the poor encourage laziness and dependency.
Limbaugh read from a post about Greece by the British magazine New Scientist during his November 25 radio show:
After reading from the post, Limbaugh attempted to link LGBT people to diseases by saying, "Is that true? Greece is like the gay capital of the world? You heard that? I just had a note flashed to me that says -- well, I don't know about that."
The magazine reported that Greeks who have HIV receive a monthly benefit of 700 euros, which is currently about $945.
For the statistic that half of all recent infections in Greece were self-inflicted, New Scientist cited a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), an agency of the United Nations.
However, the WHO report is incorrect. The WHO's source for this figure is a 2011 study in the British medical journal The Lancet. Here is what the Lancet study actually says:
An authoritative report described accounts of deliberate self-infection by a few individuals to obtain access to benefits of €700 per month and faster admission onto drug substitution programmes. These programmes offer access to synthetic opioids and can have waiting lists of 3 years or more in urban areas. [emphasis added]
Somehow, the "few individuals" mentioned by The Lancet became "half of new HIV infections" in the WHO report.
Furthermore, the "authoritative report" cited by The Lancet says:
An additional factor the committee believed worth considering is the well-founded suspicion that some problem users are intentionally infected with HIV, because of the benefit they are entitled to (approximately € 1,400 every two months), and also because they are granted "exceptional admission" to the Substitution Programme. It is well-known that the Substitution Programme has a long waiting list and that the waiting time can be over 3-4 years. Drug users with a severe chronic condition jump the queue and are admitted in a short period of time. [emphasis added]
So, the original source for this claim merely says that there is a "well-founded suspicion" that "some problem users" of IV drugs had intentionally infected themselves. A "suspicion" is not the same thing as a documented occurrence, let alone "half" of all recent infections.
WHO posted a correction to its study on November 26, explaining that the claim that "about half of new HIV infections being self-inflicted to enable people to receive benefits" was the result of an editing error:
In September 2013, WHO/Europe published "Review of social determinants and the health divide in the WHO European Region". The report incorrectly states that, in Greece: "HIV rates and heroin use have risen significantly, with about half of new HIV infections being self-inflicted to enable people to receive benefits of €700 per month and faster admission on to drug substitution programmes".
This statement is the consequence of an error in the editing of the report.
The actor who plays a transgender character on the Fox television series Glee responded to criticism from Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who warned that allowing "dopey kids" to watch a transgender character on television might encourage them to experiment with homosexuality.
In April 2012, O'Reilly criticized Glee for introducing a transgender character - Wade "Unique" Adams - struggling with her gender identity in high school. According to O'Reilly, the presence of a transgender character on television might convince "dopey kids to identify as gay or transgender" (emphasis added):
November 20 marks the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance - a day to memorialize the members of the transgender community who lost their lives as a result of transphobic hate and violence. Transgender people are disproportionately the targets of hate-motivated attacks, and acts of brutal transphobic violence are a constant reminder of the work that remains to be done on the path to full LGBT equality and acceptance.
Unfortunately, much of this violence is fueled by misinformation and hate speech regularly peddled by right-wing media outlets. Experts on transgender violence have noted that media misinformation about transgender people legitimizes and contributes to the high rates of violence and abuse experienced by the transgender community.
Over the past 12 months, conservative news outlets like Fox News have routinely engaged in transphobic scare tactics and misinformation.
There was the case of former Army Private Chelsea Manning, who was routinely misgendered even by mainstream media outlets, and CNN in particular. One MSNBC guest suggested that offering Manning hormone therapy would "coddle" her. Fox News mocked Manning's gender transition as "confus[ing]" and "bizarre." The Fox & Friends crew ended a segment on Manning's transition by playing Aerosmith's "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)," and a Fox host warned viewers not to be "deceived" by outlets referring to Manning as a female. The Daily Beast even published an op-ed suggesting that, as a transgender woman, Manning would have a lovely time being sexually exploited in federal prison.
Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus took Mary Cheney to task for challenging her sister Liz's opposition to marriage equality, arguing that - even though it's wrong to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry - Mary Cheney and her wife Heather Poe should have stayed silent instead of "[g]oing nuclear on Facebook."
In her November 20 column, Marcus echoed right-wing pundits who are casting Mary Cheney as the villain in the family feud, accusing Mary of unfairly jeopardizing Liz's chances of being elected to the U.S. Senate by deigning to say how she feels about having a sister who opposes her right to marry:
In the matter of the Cheney Family Feud: Something in me balks at leaping on the let's-all-bash-Liz bandwagon.
Sure, it would be fun. For one thing, she's wrong about same-sex marriage. As her sister, Mary, now famously posted on Facebook after her big sis re-proclaimed her opposition on "Fox News Sunday": "Liz -- this isn't just an issue on which we disagree -- you're just wrong -- and on the wrong side of history."
Then there is the unfortunate matter of waging this family war in public. It's easy to imagine how infuriating it felt for Mary and her wife, Heather Poe, to be sitting at home watching Liz spout off on Fox News. The urge to fight back obviously was irresistible.
But taking matters further public? Going nuclear on Facebook? Heather's post painted her sister-in-law as a political carpetbagger who shifted positions along with states:
"I can't help but wonder how Liz would feel if, as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other," Heather wrote in a post Mary shared.
Look, I would have been tempted to post, too. I would have been tempted to tweet. Then I would have thought better of it -- or, more likely, my spouse would have told me to step away from the keyboard. That's what Heather should have done for Mary. Instead, Mary reposted Heather's incendiary message.
Like a number of right-wing pundits before her, Marcus argues Mary is to blame for the public Cheney family feud. Liz, who chose to run for public office and make her anti-equality position known, apparently bears no responsibility for putting her gay sister and her family in the spotlight.
The reality is that while gay and lesbian couples are able to marry in 15 states and the District of Columbia, they're second-class citizens in the rest of the country. Pointing out that Liz's position relegates millions of gays and lesbians to second-class status isn't "incendiary" - it's basic truth-telling.
To be fair, Marcus criticizes Liz Cheney's claim that she has always been "compassionate towards" Mary and her family, but she concludes by suggesting that Mary's family may have read too much into Liz's previous warmth. Perhaps, Marcus offered, Liz Cheney was just "being polite":
And [Heather Poe posted], "when Mary and I got married in 2012 -- she [Liz] didn't hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us. To have her now say she doesn't support our right to marry is offensive to say the least." But maybe Liz was merely being polite at the time. To say she's happy for the married couple is not the same as saying she embraces their marriage.
It's easy for Marcus - who's never had her right to marry put up to a referendum or become a political wedge issue - to call for restraint. But Mary and Liz aren't having a minor political disagreement. Liz's opposition to marriage equality has a direct impact on the livelihood and well-being of her gay sister. For gay and lesbian couples - whose freedom to marry isn't uniformly enjoyed and whose legal protections have come only after years of hard-fought struggle - keeping quiet just isn't that simple.
Senior Daily Caller contributor Matt Lewis condemned Mary Cheney for objecting to her sister Liz's opposition to marriage equality, writing that Mary Cheney's criticism epitomizes modern society's lack of "family loyalty" and shows "selfishness" on her part.
In a November 19 blog post, Lewis weighed in on the Cheney sisters' feud, which was sparked by remarks made by Liz Cheney, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming, opposing marriage equality. Liz Cheney reiterated that position in a November 17 appearance on Fox News Sunday, stating that while she'd always tried to be "compassionate toward" Mary Cheney and her wife Heather Poe, "this is just an issue in which we disagree." Mary Cheney and her wife responded sharply, with Mary Cheney writing on her Facebook page, "Liz - this isn't just an issue on which we disagree you're just wrong - and on the wrong side of history."
Lewis argued that Liz Cheney was merely "pandering" in order to win the GOP nomination in Wyoming and that she will "probably 'evolve' on the issue" after she is elected. According to Lewis, by not putting up with a "short-term inconvenience," Mary Cheney is "messing that up" (emphasis added):
Let's begin with loyalty to one's blood relatives -- and the fact that Mary Cheney apparently has none. Let's all let Mary in on a little secret here: YOUR SISTER IS PANDERING. That's right, once safely ensconced in the U.S. Senate, Liz Cheney will probably "evolve" on the issue.
But Liz is also attempting to actually win a U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming. And to make that happen, Mary, Liz may have to say some things you won't like. This is a short-term inconvenience. (When you run, Mary, maybe Liz will similarly bite her tongue?) But she needs you now. And you, Mary, are messing that up.
When people talk about the breakdown of the traditional family unit, I suppose this what they mean. It has nothing to do with gay marriage -- but everything to do about putting selfishness and individualism ahead of the collective good of the family name.
Putting personal political views ahead of blood relatives (I get that Mary is now married -- and this constitutes her new family) seems like a relatively new phenomenon. This is partly because of social media (all Mary Cheney had to do was get angry and sign on to Facebook), but, my guess is this has something to do with our new individualistic world -- and the fact that expectations of familial loyalty are diminished.
Lewis' post reflects what appears to be a right-wing media effort to portray Mary Cheney as the villain in this squabble. Radio talk show host Lars Larson appeared on Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on November 18 to decry Mary Cheney's lack of "respect" for her sister's anti-marriage equality position, which Liz Cheney and her parents have asserted is her genuine and long-held view.
Since the Cheney family feud erupted into public view, Mary Cheney has written, "This isn't like a disagreement over grazing fees or what to do about Iran. There isn't a lot of gray here. Either you think all families should be treated equally or you don't. Liz's position is to treat my family as second class citizens. That's not a position I can be 'lovingly tolerant' towards."