From the September 17 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Regular Fox News viewers have no doubt heard a lot about transgender people lately: as America's cultural shift toward greater understanding of this community grows, so has opposition to it. But it's also likely Fox viewers have never actually seen or heard a transgender person on television, because Fox News has almost entirely excluded transgender people from its broadcasts, even as it continues to produce inaccurate, dehumanizing coverage of transgender people.
Fox News spends a lot of time discussing transgender people. The network's anchors, reporters, and show hosts have manufactured reasons to fear nondiscrimination protections for transgender people, mocked transgender inmates and attacked their access to gender-affirming healthcare, panicked over initiatives to make schools more gender inclusive, and compared being transgender to thinking you're a cat or cocker spaniel:
But according to a Media Matters study, Fox News failed to host even a single transgender person as a guest in the 27 segments it did on about transgender-related issues over the course of nine months, from September 1, 2014 to June 1, 2015. The network also broadcast some 40 news alerts about transgender-related stories, but only two included a transgender person actually commenting on the story:
It's not hard to imagine why Fox News might be avoiding bringing transgender people on the air; doing so would give them a platform to correct the anti-trans misinformation frequently peddled by the network and humanize transgender people in the eyes of Fox's viewers. Instead, Fox routinely treats the fight for transgender equality and acceptance as little more than a joke or a product of the "PC Police." Free from any transgender guests who might call them out on their behavior, Fox hosts regularly misgender trans subjects, mock their appearances, and peddle junk science about their medical treatment.
Experts have criticized Fox for its destructive coverage of the transgender community, warning that it could contribute to transphobic violence and discrimination. As GLAAD has explained, negative media depictions of transgender people can have a tremendous public impact, especially for audiences that aren't likely to personally know a transgender person:
[A]ccording to a GLAAD/Harris Interactive poll, only 8% of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender... [W]hen a stereotypical or defamatory transgender image appears in the media, the viewer may assume that all transgender people are actually like that; they have no real-life experience with which to compare it.
Given the growing epidemic of violence against transgender people, it's more important than ever that Fox News improve its coverage of trans issues. An easy first step would be giving transgender people the opportunity to tell their own stories and to ensure that the network's reporting speaks to, rather than about, the trans community.
Though Fox News regularly features segments and news headlines covering stories related to the transgender community, the network rarely hosts people who openly identify as transgender during its news programming. In nine months of covering transgender issues, Fox News didn't host a single openly transgender guest to speak during nearly thirty transgender-focused segments between September 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015.
From the September 14 edition of Fox News' Fox and Friends:
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Major news outlets have almost entirely failed to identify Liberty Counsel -- the group defending Rowan County clerk Kim Davis -- as an anti-LGBT "hate group," often only referring to the group as a "Christian" or "conservative" legal organization.
Fox News hosts have used the controversy surrounding Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis to repeatedly hawk the new book from a man considered one of America's most extreme and prominent anti-gay hate-group leaders.
Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization that has been labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center for spreading damaging lies about gay people, including the myth that they are more likely to engage in pedophilia.
Perkins' latest book, No Fear, was published on September 8 and tells the stories of "young people who have taken a stand for Biblical truth," including Aaaron and Melissa Klein, the Oregon bakers who were fined after refusing to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The book is a collection of misleading culture war stories aimed at depicting conservative Christians as the victims of religious persecution by liberals.
That's a popular narrative on Fox News, so it's not surprising that the network has promoted the book repeatedly during its news programming, playing off the controversy surrounding Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples:
Fox's knee-jerk endorsement of Perkin's book is also self-serving: Perkins himself admitted that many of the stories in No Fear were pulled from Fox's reporting.
Perkins and the Family Research Council have long benefited from their relationship with Fox News. Todd Starnes, the network's serially misinformed culture war reporter, regularly turns FRC press releases into national news stories, while FRC touts the network's reporting to reinforce its Christian persecution narratives about LGBT equality.
Perkins has also found a close ally in Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, who has hosted the hate group leader more frequently on her show than any other Fox News program has, regularly giving his anti-gay extremism a veneer of mainstream credibility.
With Fox News giving Perkins free airtime to promote his book, the network has become both a political and financial asset to one of the country's most extreme anti-gay hate groups.
Influential Iowa conservative Christian radio host Steve Deace attacked Fox News for interviewing legal experts critical of Kentucky's Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis' refusal to obey a court order to provide marriage licenses to same sex couples.
During a discussion on his September 9 show with Bob Vander Plaats, head of the virulently anti-gay group, The Family Leader, about a recent legal panel on Fox News, Deace compared Davis' disobeying the court order to America's Founding Fathers' rejecting England's King George III's authority. After playing a montage of Fox News panelists explaining that Kim Davis has a legal obligation to perform the duties of her elected office, Vander Plaats suggested that the panelists would have called for the Founding Fathers to be hung, too -- a comment to which Deace responded by suggesting the panelists should be hung, adding that* he "hates these people."
Deace finished by saying the problem with Fox News and the conservative movement -- which he included himself in -- is that "we're an industry, not a movement" and focused on "too many books to sell, too many commercial avail[abilitie]s to sell out [to], too many ratings...too many donor lists, too many conferences," all of which interfere with supporting true believers like Davis.
Deace will leave USA Radio Network on September 17 and has explained his impending departure by saying the station "was no longer able to meet the requirements of growing/managing" his current show. He also has a new book due out in February.
*CLARIFICATION: The original post described both Deace and Vander Plaats as suggesting the Fox panelists "deserved to be hung." After publication, a spokesperson from The FAMiLY LEADER contacted Media Matters to clarify that Vander Plaats instead was arguing that the Fox panelists would have directed that sentiment at the Founding Fathers. The text of this post has been changed accordingly and the transcript added.
VANDER PLAATS: And these guys [Fox News] would have called the founders completely nuts, completely insane, they deserve to be in jail --
DEACE: I hate these people in case you haven't noticed
VANDER PLAATS: Yea, they deserve to be hung, they deserve anything they get because they want their --
DEACE: You're talking about the people on Fox News panel, I agree with that.
VANDER PLAATS: Right, [laughs], they're in clear violation of the law.
From the September 8 edition of Fox News' Shepard Smith Reporting:
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Several right-wing pundits are invoking the Civil Rights movement as they rally to the defense of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, whose refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a federal court order resulted in her being arrested and held in contempt.
In response to a judge's decision to jail Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis for contempt of court because she refused to obey a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson suggested in an op-ed that a civil war might soon break out in America.
Since the historic June 26 Supreme Court decision that made marriage equality the law of the land, Kim Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, has refused to issue marriage licenses to either same or opposite-sex couples. The lengthy legal battle over her refusal culminated on September 3, when U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning ordered Davis detained for contempt of court after she continued to refuse to issue the licenses as required by a federal court order. In response to Jude Bunning's decision, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, who once previously said that countries with marriage equality are "bent on suicide," wrote an opinion piece for the IJReview that asked "How much longer until we have another civil war?"
While maintaining that "no one should want it and no one, myself included, does want it," Erickson listed what he said were potential reasons why a civil war could break out: Davis' jailing, Hillary Clinton's email practices, Internal Revenue Service audits, Supreme Court rulings, and "the President of the United States tell[ing] supporters that Republicans are the enemy and they should take guns to knife fights."
From Erickson's September 4, 2015 op-ed in the IJReview (emphasis added):
When Kim Davis, the Rowan County, KY, clerk was hauled off to jail for refusing to give marriage licenses, a White House spokesman said no official is above the law. Hillary Clinton cheered on Twitter. The left went wild. "Where is your god now?" one person tweeted.
Hillary Clinton using a private email server is no big deal to the left. Every changing story is met with acceptance. The Democrats' immigration plans have included trying to pull a fast one on a judge in Texas and the left applauded. The IRS can leak confidential donor lists of conservative groups and harass the same groups. Political opponents get awfully convenient "random" audits. Again and again, the left gets to ignore the laws it wishes to ignore while the right must comply.
On top of that, five Justices of the United States Supreme Court, who are some of the least representative of Americans, can invalidate the laws of a majority of states on a whim without actual legal reasoning. Because people want to be happy, the laws can be overturned.
At that point, the citizens will clash beyond the ballot box. We see that beginning with random killings of police and random killings by police. It will only get worse. No one should want it and no one, myself included, does want it. But how much longer until we have another civil war?
Our nation's leaders have excelled at nothing so much as dividing and pitting American against American. When the President of the United States tells supporters that Republicans are the enemy and they should take guns to knife fights, we should not be surprised when they take him seriously. Besides, who will punish them? They perceive themselves to be on the winning team.
How much longer before the cold war of citizenry fed and flamed by Washington turns hot?
Robert Morrow is the co-author of the forthcoming book The Clintons' War on Women with former top Donald Trump aide Roger Stone. Morrow has wished death on Hillary Clinton and been visited by the Secret Service; posted bizarre sexual writings about the former secretary of state; called Chelsea Clinton a "slut" and imagined how she would "have sex one day" with Bill Clinton; posted about "niggers" and "pro-faggot JUDICIAL ACTIVISM"; and claimed the Bush and Clinton families were involved in murders. Stone also has a disreputable history: he formed an anti-Clinton group called "C.U.N.T." and called Chelsea a "total bitch."
Iowa based radio host Steve Deace said Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis is comparable to civil rights icon Rosa Parks because, like Parks, who famously refused to give up her bus seat for a white person, Davis is refusing to obey a Supreme Court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Deace, an influential, nationally syndicated radio personality popular with Christian conservatives, tweeted the comparison between Davis and Parks on September 2 while promoting his afternoon radio show. The host, who has endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for president, also took to Facebook to criticize GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina for calling on Davis to do her job and issue marriage licenses to all couples who apply.
Deace's last show at USA Radio Network will air September 17 after the host said the station was "no longer able to meet the requirements of growing/managing" his show. USA Radio Network did not respond to Media Matters' request for comment about the split between Deace and the network.
From the September 2 edition of USA Radio Network's Steve Deace Show:
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Fox News used an on-screen graphic reading "Gender Bender," to highlight protests against a transgender student's use of the girls' locker room at her high school, and emphasized the protesters' claims that she "is still physically a male." Right-wing media have consistently spread myths about transgender-inclusive bathrooms that experts and school districts have debunked. From the September 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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In its reporting on the fatal shooting of two journalists in Virginia, CNN repeatedly and needlessly mentioned the shooter's history of registering gay porn websites as evidence that he was unstable and disturbed.
On August 27, CNN reported that Vester Flanagan II, the man who shot and killed two journalists on live television in Virginia, had set up domain names for several gay porn websites between 2007 and 2008.
CNN made no attempt to explain how the domain names could even be related to the shooting. The domain names were purchased years before Flanagan began working at WDBJ, the station that also employed the journalists he killed. And Flanagan openly identified as gay, so his sexual orientation was already public knowledge.
But throughout the day on August 27, CNN repeated its report about the websites Flanagan registered. During The Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN correspondent Drew Griffin called the report "just another disturbing twist" in the story of the shooting:
At the start of The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer teased the report while on-screen text blared the headline, "HISTORY OF INSTABILITY."
It was CNN's Don Lemon who finally challenged his network's report during an interview with Blitzer, saying, "I don't really see the relevance of it." He added, "I don't want to gay shame him. There's nothing wrong with being gay":
Injecting details about Flanagan's unrelated sexual history in reports about the shooting has the effect of associating homosexuality with deviancy, mental instability, and violence in the minds of viewers.
The practice of linking gay sexuality with violent or murderous acts isn't new or accidental. American media have a long, dark history of depicting gay sexuality as intrinsically violent and dangerous, especially when it comes to stories about brutal killings. And associating homosexuality with mental instability is a favorite right-wing tactic.
It's not surprising that fringe conservatives are suggesting that Flanagan's homosexuality is somehow linked to his decision to murder two people.
Without an explanation of how Flanagan's sexual interests are relevant to this week's brutal shooting, CNN reinforced a right-wing trope about homosexuality and violence without adding to its substantive reporting on the shooting.