Military Personnel & Veterans

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  • Fox News Plays Benghazi Commercial Over Khizr Khan's Anti-Trump Speech At The Democratic National Convention

    Fox News Plays Katy Perry Song After Khan Leaves Stage

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News ignored a speech by the father of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004 in the Iraq war, instead opting to air commercials during the speech. Fox later went live to a song by pop singer Katy Perry after the speech.

    During the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, Khizr Khan spoke about the honor he felt to be present at the convention with his wife, “as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.” Khan’s speech was preceded by a video that showed Hillary Clinton calling Captain Khan “the best of America” and explaining the circumstances of his death, for which he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

    The Washington Post reported that Khizr Khan turned his attention toward GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump:

    "If it was up to Donald Trump, [Humayun] never would have been in America," Khan said. "Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country."

    "Donald Trump," he said, "you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy." He pulled a copy of the Constitution from his pocket. "In this document, look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law.'"

    [...]

    "Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities," Khan said.

    "You have sacrificed nothing. And no one."

    While CNN and MSNBC aired the video and Khan’s speech in full, Fox News’ The Kelly File instead continued with its regular commentary featuring Brit Hume, then went to commercial as the speech began, showing slightly more than two minutes of the speech in a small window as commercials -- including a Benghazi attack ad -- overplayed it. Watch:

    And at the end of her show, Kelly cut off her panelists’ commentary to instead air several minutes of a Katy Perry performance at the convention.  

  • National Review’s David French: Lifting The Ban On Transgender Military Service Will Result In “Thought Control”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    In a post responding to the repeal of the transgender military service ban, National Review’s David French accused the military of “thought control” and lamented the decline of “warrior culture.”

    In a June 30 press conference, the Pentagon announced that the Department of Defense is lifting the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military. The decision comes after a year-long evaluation of “policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.” As a part of the evaluation, the Pentagon commissioned a study by the RAND Corporation which found that allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military would not impact unit cohesion and result in minimal costs.

    French quickly fired back with a June 30 post. French’s opposition to this policy change comes as no surprise given his former career at the anti-LGBT extremist legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who are best known for attacking the rights of transgender students and working internationally to criminalize gay sex. French has a history of expressing his outward disdain for transgender people. In the past, he lamented “transgender entitlement” and once described a young transgender woman as a “man” who is “on the verge of mutilating himself.”

    Part of French’s argument for opposing the lift of the ban was to accuse the military of trying to create a “social laboratory” that is promoting “radical LGBT theology”:

    But this move isn’t about national security, it’s about social engineering. Many members of the military will spend their entire careers without encountering a single transgender soldier, but they will endure hour upon hour of diversity training and thought control.

    […]

    There will be members of the military (aided and abetted by its civilian leadership) who will take this opportunity to try to retrain the ranks about the very concepts of sex and gender, introducing radical LGBT theology as the government-approved, Army-mandated world view. And God help the Army doctor or medical professional who refuses to facilitate a servicemember’s “transition.” Good luck being a chaplain preaching about the created order if there is a prickly leftist around. The administration is moving the military culture to Yale with guns just about as fast as it can.

    Fortunately the warrior culture is resilient. Infantry platoons aren’t likely to go full PC anytime soon, but the Left keeps chipping away. It will keep chipping away until the horrible reality of the battlefield reminds us all that our military isn’t a social laboratory. Our enemies focus on war while we sidetrack our soldiers with social justice.

  • Univision Lifts Up LGBT Voices In Its Coverage Of The Pentagon Repealing Ban On Transgender Military Service

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Univision’s late night news program continued Hispanic media’s trend of uplifting LGBT voices in its reporting on the Pentagon’s announcement that it is lifting its ban on transgender people openly serving in the military.

    On June 30, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Department of Defense would no longer forbid openly transgender people from serving in the military. In its report on the announcement, Univision's late night news program, Noticiero Univision: Edició​n Nocturna, hosted Antonia Pandilla, a transgender woman who served in the Air Force from 1978 to 1982, to talk about her experience serving under the ban. Contrasting right-wing media’s attacks on the policy change, Univision host Arantxa Loizaga described the end of the ban as “a victory for the LGBT community.” Coverage like this is yet another indication of how Hispanic media is improving its reporting on LGBT issues and making the effort to include transgender voices.

    From the June 30 edition of Univision’s Noticiero Univision: Edición Nocturna (translated from Spanish):

    ARANTXA LOIZAGA (HOST): In the United States armed forces, there are transgender soldiers but until today, they were not able to act openly. The Pentagon lifted a provision in light of the Defense Secretary’s idea that he has been pushing for more than a year. Andrea Linares tells us what this means.

    [START AUDIO]

    DEFENSE SECRETARY ASH CARTER: Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly.

    [END AUDIO]

    ANDREA LINARES: The announcement is historic. The Pentagon will allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the armed forces, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

    [START AUDIO]

    CARTER: These new measures will be implemented throughout the next year.

    [END AUDIO]

    LINARES: It is expected that by October 1 transgender soldiers can receive the medical treatment related to their sex change, and effective July 2017 the armed forces will allow the enlistment of new transgender members as long as they comply with the physical and psychological requirements required of any other member.

    ANTONIA PADILLA: I have been living two lives, the life of a man in the day and the life of a woman at night.

    LINARES: This is Antonia Padilla. She was born as a man in San Antonio, Texas, but she identifies as a woman. She was married for six years, had a daughter, and also served in the air force from 1978 to 1982.

    PADILLA: Ten years ago, I said I'm not going to have falsehoods, I'm going to live honestly, I'm going to live like the woman that I am.

    LINARES: Currently, Antonia works as a photographer. She says that it was difficult to live in the shadows when she was in the armed forces, but she never felt that this impeded her from carrying out her duties.

    PADILLA: I am very happy that finally this decision is reality.

    LINARES: A study done by RAND Corporation under the direction of Sec. Ash Carter found that of the 1.3 million active members of the army, almost 2,500 are transgender. But up until now, they have had to deny their condition in order to avoid being expelled from the military world, a situation that is now a thing of the past. The study also revealed that the medical expenses and the sex change operations will cost the Pentagon between $2.9 million and $4.2 million annually. They fear that not assuming this expense could result in a higher rate of substance abuse and suicides among transgender individuals. It's worth mentioning that the army has a budget of $610 million. Arantxa, back to you.

    LOIZAGA: Andrea, thank you, a victory for the LGBT community.

    While Univision’s decision to feature a transgender guest is part of the growing move towards more responsible coverage of the LGBT community by Hispanic media, the segment’s use of the word “condition” to innaccurately describe being transgender shows that there is still room to improve. The failure to use accurate, sensitive language when covering the transgender community isn’t isolated to Univision. While uplifting transgender voices is part of improving reporting on transgender people, Hispanic media should continue to look to guidelines from groups like GLAAD for how to improve the quality of coverage when reporting on transgender issues.

  • Veterans’ Groups Call Out The NRA: "Don't Use Our Dead To Score Political Points"

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Veterans’ groups are criticizing the National Rifle Association for releasing a pro-Donald Trump ad that was apparently filmed at a national cemetery in violation of government policy, calling for the ad to be taken down and accusing the gun group of “using our dead to score political points.”

    The ad, launched Thursday by the NRA Political Victory Fund, features veteran Mark Geist –- a survivor of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks -- as he walks in and stands in front of a national cemetery; the graves of military personnel are featured prominently.

    During the ad, Geist attacks the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, saying, “Hillary as President? No thanks. I served in Benghazi. My friends didn’t make it. They did their part. Do yours.” The ad ends with a graphic supporting Trump.

    As ABC News reported, the ad is in apparent violation of Department of Veterans Affairs’ “strict prohibition of filming campaign ads on national cemetery property that contains the graves of military personnel, veterans and their spouses.”

    Jessica Schiefer, public affairs officer for the National Cemetery Administration, told Media Matters the NRA did not seek permission to film at a national cemetery, and that they would have rejected the request had they received one.

    “To date, the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has not received or approved any filming requests of this nature,” she said via email. “NCA did not receive a request from the NRA to film the subject advertisement. If we had received such a request, we would have denied it based on the partisan content. Partisan activities are prohibited on national cemetery grounds as they are not compatible with preserving the dignity and tranquility of the national cemeteries as national shrines."

    She added, “As always, our Veterans, their families and survivors are our top priority. To maintain the sanctity and decorum of VA National Cemeteries as national shrines, our filming policy states that filming may not be used for the expression of partisan or political viewpoints, or for uses that are (or may be interpreted as) an endorsement of a commercial entity.”

    NRA officials did not respond to several requests for comment, but told ABC News the ad was filmed outside of the cemetery, although they declined to reveal where exactly it was made. (The NRA’s attempt to claim the ad was filmed “outside” the cemetery makes little sense, considering Geist is shown walking among headstones.)

    In addition to the apparent violation of government policy, the NRA ad has triggered outrage among some veterans groups, who contend it is improper. 

    “Don’t use our dead to score political points,” Joe Davis, a Veterans of Foreign Wars national spokesman and an Air Force veteran of Desert Storm, told Media Matters. “We fought for everybody’s First Amendment rights and everything, but we don’t want any candidate using our dead to score political points.”

    Jon Soltz, an Iraq War Veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org, responded with a statement that said, "This ad should be taken down immediately. It is insensitive to those buried at the cemetery -- most, if not all, of whom died before Benghazi, and many of whom may not have been NRA supporters. Further, it violates Veterans Affairs policy. It should be taken down."

    Despite apparently violating government policy, there is no indication the NRA plans to pull the advertisement, which is reportedly being backed by $2 million and is scheduled to run in several key battleground states over the next two weeks.

    In contrast to the NRA, several previous political ads that aired images and footage from national cemeteries were either altered or removed. In 1999, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign aired an ad featuring unauthorized footage filmed at Arlington National cemetery -- the campaign apologized and recut the ad to remove the footage. More recently, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) pulled a 2014 ad that was filmed at a North Dakota veterans’ cemetery.

  • Trump Gave Money To Organization With “Years-Long” Relationship With Fox Host Sean Hannity

    While Hannity Defended Trump On Fox News, He Failed To Disclose Personal Ties To Veterans Group That Received Trump Donation

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Best Friends!
    Fox News host Sean Hannity has vehemently defended Donald Trump from criticism surrounding his alleged donations to various veterans groups. But Hannity failed to disclose his own ties to one of the veteran’s organizations that received a donation from Trump.

    According to The Washington Post, as Hannity went to bat for Trump on the issue of donations to veterans groups on the May 31 edition of his Fox News show, he failed to disclose his “years-long relationship with one of the groups Trump had just chosen for a donation”:

    What Hannity didn't say on air was that he had a years-long relationship with one of the groups Trump had just chosen for a donation. The charity, Freedom Alliance, received a $75,000 gift.

    That money had originally come from other big donors, who had entrusted it to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, on the promise that Trump would pass it along to individual veterans groups.

    On Wednesday, there were conflicting accounts of Hannity's current connection to the group. In a statement, a Fox News spokeswoman said Hannity no longer works with Freedom Alliance.

    "Sean Hannity has generously donated to, and proudly worked in the past with the Freedom Alliance organization, but has not worked with them for a number of years, including the current election cycle,” a Fox News spokeswoman wrote.

    But the president of Freedom Alliance told The Washington Post in a telephone interview that Hannity still remained informally connected to the group, telling others about its work. Hannity is not listed as an officer or employee of the group in its tax filings.

    Trump has enjoyed a cozy relationship with Hannity since declaring his candidacy, with Trump at one point suggesting their close relationship was as if the two were “twins.” Hannity has also been heavily criticized for being “very soft” with Trump in interviews.

    Hannity has defended himself by asserting, “I’m not a journalist, I’m a talk show host” and said on his radio show, that he’s not critical of Trump or Cruz because he wants the Republican nominee to win. He has also said he “absolutely plead[s] guilty” to “going soft in interviews on Republicans.”

    Fox News as an institution has also defended Trump’s delayed donations to veterans groups, with various hosts suggesting they were “disturbed by” media “giving [Trump] a hard time” and that “there’s something to be said for” the donation. Even Bill O’Reilly dishonestly argued that “there was no data … that said [Trump] didn’t give the money” to veterans groups and that the story was “fabricated by anti-Trump people in the press.” But according to CBS News, much of the money that was donated was dated “May 24, the day The Washington Post published the story questioning whether he had distributed all of the money."