Fox's Pete Hegseth hyped Islamophobic fears about Hamtramck, Michigan, the U.S.'s first Muslim-majority city, asking residents whether the mosques in the city "raise an eyebrow." Hegseth also hyped fears over the "integration" of Muslims and invoked the December 2015 San Bernardino, CA mass shooting -- implying a likeness between the shooting and the Michigan city, saying "Obviously, San Bernardino, there are fears, there have been over 120 arrests of ISIS members in the United States, is there no reason for other Americans to be worried?" The city has been a target of Islamophobia before. In an interview with CNN, the mayor was asked if she is "afraid" of her city with a Muslim majority. From the February 3 edition of Fox & Friends:
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From the February 1 edition of Anthony Cumia's The Gavin McInnes Show:
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The Huffington Post debunked Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's unsubstantiated claim that there are more undocumented immigrants in the U.S. now than there were five years ago.
During a January 31 appearance on NBC's Meet The Press, Rubio told host Chuck Todd that "we are worse off today than we were five years ago. We have more illegal immigrants here." As Huffington Post reporter Elise Foley pointed out on a February 1 article, Chuck Todd didn't press the candidate on the validity of his stats. Despite evidence that the undocumented immigrant population has been declining since 2008, Republican candidates have increasingly taken anti-immigrant stances and spouted alarmist anti-immigrant rhetoric that echoes the most extreme voices on right-wing media.
Foley cited data from Pew Research Center to indicate that the undocumented "population has remained essentially stable for five years," directly contradicting Rubio's claim. She also pointed to a report from the Center for Migration Studies that demonstrates that in 2014, the undocumented population reached its lowest point since 2003 and that it has continued to decline since. Citing some of the same data, Politifact also rated Rubio's claim as false. As reported by Foley, Rubio has been using the same undocumented population estimates -- 11 million to 12 million -- for the past three years (emphasis added):
Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio paints himself as the most informed and realistic candidate when it comes to immigration reform. He spent months helping draft a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, and has spent even longer defending it.
So it seems like he should be especially aware of how many undocumented immigrants are in the U.S. -- and the fact that the number has leveled off or even decreased in recent years.
Rubio said the opposite Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"We are worse off today than we were five years ago," he told host Chuck Todd. "We have more illegal immigrants here."
Rubio wasn't pressed on where he got that information. HuffPost contacted two spokesmen for Rubio on Sunday and again Monday to see if the senator had a source for his claim that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has risen in recent years, but neither of them replied.
What he said doesn't square with most reputable studies. Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank, estimated last year that there were 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. in 2014, and that the "population has remained essentially stable for five years." The number peaked in 2007 with 12.2 million undocumented immigrants, according to Pew estimates.
Center for Migration Studies, another think tank, released a report based on Census figures this month estimating there were 10.9 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. as of 2014 -- the smallest the population has been since 2003. The number has been on the decline since 2008, according to the Center for Migration Studies.
Rubio has been saying for years that there are 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. -- he used that figure in 2013, the year the Senate passed its comprehensive reform bill, and has cited it during the current campaign.
Other Republicans have also said the undocumented population is larger than it is, although with more specifics. Front-runner Donald Trump said last year that there were more than 30 million people living in the U.S. without authorization -- a claim for which Politifact found no basis, other than statements from conservative columnist Ann Coulter.
In one of the last rallies before the Iowa caucuses, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) allowed right-wing radio hosts, Glenn Beck, Michael Berry,and Steve Deace, to introduce him, despite their records of espousing extreme rhetoric.
Cruz's rally featured seven speakers including anti-gay activists like CEO of The Family Leader Bob Vander Plaats and Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson as well as Iowa's Rep. Steve King (R). However, it was the presence of radio hosts Glenn Beck, Michael Berry, and Steve Deace which best illustrated the divisive nature of Cruz's platform.
Beck, once of Fox News fame and now a television and radio host on The Blaze, previously caused controversy due to his claim that President Obama is a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." The host has been criticized in the past for his use of Nazi imagery, his history of violent rhetoric and for making outlandish claims like blaming President Obama for the November terrorist attack in Paris. Beck announced his endorsement of Cruz in January, making Cruz the first candidate he has officially endorsed in his broadcast career.
Iowa based radio host Steve Deace began supporting Cruz early in this election cycle and endorsed Cruz in August, saying he has a "commitment to our principals." Since his endorsement Deace has written at least 24 articles trumpeting Cruz, advised the candidate before debates, and appeared in a lengthy campaign ad for Cruz.
Deace's brand of extremism centers around a plethora of anti-gay ideas. Deace coined the phrase "rainbow jihad" to describe advocates for LGBT rights -- a phrase which Cruz paraphrased claiming "the jihad ... going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman." Deace's extreme views have led him to write about a hypothetical conversation with Jesus in which he claims to show Obama is not a Christian and an article which suggested divorce could make children gay. Deace has recently pushed the conspiracy theory that Obama may not leave the White House when his term is up in January 2017.
Rounding out Cruz's radio host speakers was Michael Berry, a supporter of Cruz's senate bid and "friend for over ten years." Much of Berry's show revolves around stoking the flames of racial tension. The host often undermines the intentions behind the Black Lives Matter movement, claiming "black lives matter, just not to black people" and that white people don't kill people the way black people do. Comedian Chuck Knipp, a frequent guest of Berry's, performs in blackface as "Shirley Q. Liquor" to mock racial stereotypes of black people.
Most egregious is Berry's weekly segment dedicated to mocking victims of gun violence in Chicago. Every Monday the host reads the "butcher bill," reciting the names of those shot while mocking their names and the circumstances in which they were wounded or killed. Berry has claimed that the segment is sponsored by Black Lives Matter.
William Daniel Johnson, a white nationalist activist and author who heads a political group supporting Donald Trump, gave the Republican presidential front-runner's campaign $250.
Johnson leads the American National Super PAC, which last month issued a robocall asking Iowa voters to support Trump because of his anti-immigrant views. Johnson, who identified himself during the call as a "white nationalist," told TPM he ultimately wants "a white ethno-state, a country made up of only white people."
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that Johnson wrote a book under a pseudonym in which he advocated "the repeal of the 14th and 15th amendments and the deportation of almost all nonwhite citizens to other countries. Johnson further claimed that racial mixing and diversity caused social and cultural degeneration in the United States." Johnson regularly appears in white nationalist media. He donated to Ron Paul's presidential campaign in 2012.
According to Trump's third quarter Federal Election Commission (FEC) report, Johnson gave Donald J. Trump for President Inc. $250 in September. The address listed for Johnson's donation is the same address as the American National Super PAC and the West Coast office of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, which Johnson also chairs. Trump's latest FEC report, which was filed yesterday and covers campaign activity through the end of 2015, does not indicate that the Trump campaign refunded Johnson's contribution.
In recent months, several media outlets have documented how white nationalist figures have been supporting Trump's campaign. His candidacy has also been a fundraising engine for white nationalist media websites, which have praised Trump for spurring "unprecedented interest in" their ideology and putting their ideas "firmly in the mainstream."
During a January 13 interview, CNN challenged Trump over his support from white nationalists. Trump responded that he "would disavow it, but nothing in this country shocks me. People are angry. They're angry at what's going on" with regard to illegal immigration. Johnson and fellow white nationalist robocaller Jared Taylor praised Trump's response. Johnson said "it was just a wonderful response. He disavowed us, but he explained why there is so much anger in America that I couldn't have asked for a better approach from him."
People For the American Way (PFAW) is calling on Trump to "immediately return" Johnson's contribution. In a February 2 statement, PFAW president Michael Keegan said:
Last year, when a White Nationalist was running racist robocalls backing Donald Trump, Trump brushed it off and said he would 'disavow' that kind of support. Now is his chance to show whether or not he means it by returning the contribution immediately. Trump can bash 'political correctness' all he wants, but anyone who aspires to our nation's highest office should understand that cashing checks from those pushing an explicitly racist agenda is unacceptable.
From the February 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Prominent media figures are cheering Megyn Kelly's performance as a moderator in the January 28 Fox News Republican presidential debate as "brilliant," while lauding her for asking "the toughest questions" and"throwing fastballs." Such praise ignores the conservative myth-filled questions Kelly has a history of asking guests on her show the rest of the year when she's not in the presidential debate spotlight.
From the January 28 edition of Fox News' Republican Presidential Primary Debate:
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From the January 26 edition of Anthony Cumia's The Gavin McInnes Show:
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Actress Kerry Washington explained how the lack of accurate and representative media portrayals of abortion can increase stigma, explaining to Women's Wear Daily that "by not having those moments represented in media, we add to the idea that there's something shameful to be talked about."
In a November episode of ABC thriller Scandal, Washington's Olivia Pope character had an abortion. In a January 27 interview with Women's Wear Daily, Washington explained the need for TV to reflect the full experiences of women who have abortions:
"[Abortion is] a reality, and more often than not, it's a really difficult choice to make. The same was true for Olivia," Washington said. "But by not having those moments represented in media, we add to the idea that there's something shameful to be talked about. It's always important that our storytelling reflects the real experiences of human beings, because it allows us to not feel as alone."
Fictional TV shows depict a wide range of human experiences, but until recently the stories told about abortion have rarely showed the common experience of a procedure that nearly one in three women will have by age 45.
The portrait of abortion in our fictional TV shows and movies has been typically distorted from reality in several ways, including over-associating abortion with maternal death, and rarely showing women of color accessing abortion care. Women on TV who obtain abortions rarely look like Kerry Washington's character, a black woman and a professional who is not a teenager and was not made pregnant as a result of rape. Gretchen Sisson and Katrina Kimport, academic researchers who study pop-culture depictions of abortion, have previously offered similar assessments to Washington's commentary, explaining that when fictional TV series fail to depict abortion, it "could contribute to feelings of internalized stigma or isolation among real women who obtain abortions." Sisson discussed the Scandal episode in an email to Media Matters:
Scandal represents the first time that a Black woman as a lead character has obtained an abortion on network television. While Black women account for about 30 percent of all abortions in the U.S., they only account for 5 percent of the abortion plot lines that are shown on television. This leaves just a handful of stories -- usually centered around peripheral characters -- representing an experience shared by millions of Black women in the U.S. Before Scandal, this meant that there were only two examples of a Black woman getting an abortion on TV (with an additional depiction of a biracial Black woman).
Additionally, Scandal has been the first show to depict a modern abortion procedure in a medical setting, without cutting away immediately before the abortion begins. It did this twice in 2015: an episode in May, where Olivia helped a Naval officer obtain an abortion, and again in November, with Olivia's own abortion.
According to Sisson, the only previous depictions of black women having abortions were on the broadcast show The Good Wife -- where it was a peripheral character -- as well on The L Word and The Fosters.
The portrayal of a black woman having a non-tragic abortion shouldn't be a nearly singular event in television history. Media that distort "the real experiences of human beings" -- as Washington aptly put it -- contribute to stigmatizing those experiences and those human beings. It's time for media -- all media -- to stop contributing to the stigmatization of health care services that are necessary for women.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Holocaust survivors warned about the demagoguery and rhetoric espoused by Donald Trump that they say echoes back to Nazi Germany -- the same rhetoric which has been sanctioned by right-wing media and praised by white nationalist media as "wonderful."
Student loan debt in America has reached a staggering $1.3 trillion, surpassing even credit card debt. But right-wing media figures have criticized efforts to combat student loan debt by pushing misinformation and blaming students for pursuing higher education.
Conservative media have labeled higher education as a "privilege" and suggested students ought to choose fictional cheaper colleges. Some outlets have even defended schools that take advantage of students and leave them with significant debt. But research shows college matters now more than ever, and the cost to attend is rising across the board. The student debt crisis is especially damaging for poor students and students of color, who more frequently attend cheaper open-access and community colleges and are still forced to borrow in higher numbers to pay for their education.
Blaming students for the student loan debt crisis ignores the facts and distracts from finding real solutions to America's skyrocketing student debt burden.
Vanity Fair's Evgenia Peretz wrote a glowing cover story on Megyn Kelly for the February edition of the magazine, praising her as "the brightest star at Fox News" and even a "feminist icon of sorts." Nearly a month later, Peretz followed up with some of the less laudatory aspects of Kelly's right-wing rhetoric that was left out of the original piece, noting that Kelly and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump "have more in common than you think" and that Kelly's "talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own."
Peretz's original profile was the latest in a series of laudatory profiles that similarly describe Kelly as someone who "buck[s] the conservative party line" while often ignoring her history of problematic coverage. One such example is how Kelly has obsessed about issues surrounding race, including the New Black Panther Party, to which she devoted "45 segments and 3.5 hours to hyping politically motivated and completely discredited allegations" during a two-week stretch of time. Kelly's history of inflammatory remarks about minorities, such as calling a 14-year-old black girl who was violently manhandled by a police officer "no saint either," has been well documented.
In the midst of Donald Trump dropping out of Fox's January 28 Republican debate over Kelly's role as a moderator, Peretz penned another piece: "Megyn Kelly And Donald Trump Have More In Common Than You Think." In a sharp contrast, Peretz includes what was left out of the original profile, that "Kelly, like Trump, is not above playing to her audience's fears on dog-whistle topics when it suits her." As an example, Peretz writes that she questioned Kelly over the Black Lives Matter movement during her original interview, whose protesters Kelly called "obviously beyond the bounds of decency." This was not published in Peretz's high-profile cover story. Peretz also acknowledges what was inadvertently apparent in her original piece, that Kelly's "talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own. She, after all, is considered by many to be the reasonable one at Fox":
As I wrote in my cover profile about her, Kelly is seeking to accomplish something far greater with her career than simply staring down Trump: she would like to become an influential and sought-after interview host, akin to Charlie Rose, or even Oprah Winfrey. To pull that off, she has strived to prove she can handle our thorniest national issues with the nuance and measure that they require, and not just her trademark "toughness." Yet Kelly, like Trump, is not above playing to her audience's fears on dog-whistle topics when it suits her.
One of these topics--the Black Lives Matter movement--came up during the course of our interview for my piece. Kelly's perspective on the the issue was pointedly firm. "They're going out there and yelling in the cop's face 'Pigs in a blanket. Fry 'em like bacon.' It's obviously beyond the bounds of decency," she said of the protestors. "You don't want to say that, that's your business. If you think that's not an Edward R. Murrow moment, great. Good for you. Enjoy being that anchor. I'm a different kind of anchor." It seemed like classic Kelly defiance, but fair enough. There is a radical component to any protest movement, and reasonable people can debate how much media attention should be given to the fringe.
Kelly has chided guests for "adding to the hate," but in these moments, her talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own. She, after all, is considered by many to be the reasonable one at Fox.
If Kelly truly wants to improve the level of discourse in this country, to elevate the conversation and indeed lay claim to the mantle of Rose or Winfrey, tomorrow night's debate--Trump or no Trump--is a good place to start. Indeed, Kelly told me that she has a "spiritual side," under-utilized at Fox, that she would like to dig into in the future. "I'm not talking about self-help exactly, but just the improvement of one's life. Those segments are interesting to me, how to improve one's own life and our world and our children's world." Perhaps she can tap into that.
From the January 25 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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The Washington Post editorial board called out Republican presidential candidates' anti-immigrant "rancor and outright nativism" that falsely gives "rise to the impression that illegal immigration has soared to unprecedented levels" when in reality recent studies show that illegal immigration is "now at its lowest level since 2003."
Right-wing media have emboldened Republican presidential candidates' use of "alarmist" rhetoric and disparaging terms to describe immigrants, have pressured them into taking hardline anti-immigration policy stances, and defended the candidates who have been criticized for adopting extreme positions.
In a January 24 editorial, The Washington Post editorial board wrote that "Republican rhetoric on immigration has not caught up" with data showing that the percentage of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. "is at its lowest point since the turn of the century." The board pointed to two recent reports from the Pew Research Center and the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) showing declining immigration rates, and called on Republicans to "grapple with that reality":
THE ANTI-ILLEGAL immigrant rancor and outright nativism afoot in the Republican primary field give rise to the impression that illegal immigration has soared to unprecedented levels and that the border is no more than a line in the sand, scarcely monitored and easily crossed. The truth diverges wildly from that rhetoric, as a pair of recent studies demonstrate.
Notwithstanding the demagoguery of Donald Trump and some of his GOP rivals, the number of illegal immigrants in this country, which has declined each year since 2008, is now at its lowest level since 2003, and the percentage of undocumented immigrants likewise is at its lowest point since the turn of the century.
That Mr. Trump has leveraged fact-free rhetoric for political advantage is not news. Still, it is noteworthy that so much of the GOP-primary oxygen, at least until the terrorist attacks in Paris, was consumed by alarmist rhetoric about border security, when in fact the border is more tightly patrolled than ever, and apprehensions at the southwestern border, a rough measure of illegal crossings, have been cut by about two-thirds since Sept. 11, 2001.
Republican rhetoric on immigration has not caught up to those numbers, nor to the reality that the U.S. economy, like other Western economies, cannot function without low-wage, low-skill labor, which Mexico has supplied. An estimate 7 million-plus undocumented immigrants, most of them Mexicans, are employed in this country. Mr. Trump's fantasies of mass deportation notwithstanding, they will not be replaced by native-born Americans. At some point, Republicans will need to grapple with that reality.