Conservative media figures are attacking Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's plan to revitalize coal communities by deceptively claiming Obama administration environmental policies that Clinton supports are responsible for "destroying" and "crippling" coal country in the first place. But these media figures are downplaying -- or outright ignoring -- more significant factors that have led to the coal industry's decades of decline, such as competition from natural gas and renewables, depletion of easily recoverable coal reserves, and advances in mining technology.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to protect Alaska's Bristol Bay, home to the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, from the adverse environmental impacts of a proposed mineral excavation project called the Pebble Mine. Proponents of the mine have been pushing an array of falsehoods, many of which are being propagated in the media as the EPA's process for evaluating the project was scrutinized in a November 5 Congressional hearing. Here are the facts.
Several media outlets have published op-eds by Monica Martinez, the president of a group called Hispanics in Energy, attacking net metering policies that support rooftop solar energy. But these outlets failed to disclose the ties Martinez's group has to numerous oil and utility companies -- including companies that are actively fighting net metering policies -- and many of Martinez's claims about the impact of net metering on low-income and minority communities are inaccurate.
Conservative media are defending the "right" of fossil fuel companies to knowingly deceive the public about climate change, after a group of climate scientists and members of Congress called for an investigation of such companies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Contrary to claims by conservative media that these advocates are seeking to "shut down free speech," RICO would only apply to those who purposefully misled the public about climate change, with some Congressmen pointing to recent reports that ExxonMobil funded climate science denial for decades after discovering that fossil fuels drive climate change.
Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow is defending Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's controversial remarks that fewer people would have been killed in the Holocaust had they been armed by criticizing German Jews for not having "more actively resisted" the Nazis.
Carson sparked an outcry after he claimed the outcome of the Holocaust "would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed." Carson has stood by his comments. The Anti-Defamation League called Carson's remarks "historically inaccurate."
In an October 9 FoxNews.com piece, Ablow defended Carson's comments by asserting, "If Jews in Germany had more actively resisted the Nazi party or the Nazi regime and had diagnosed it as a malignant and deadly cancer from the start, there would, indeed, have been a chance for the people of that country and the world to be moved to action by their bold refusal to be enslaved."
Ablow, who is Jewish, also lamented that German Jews did not learn "the lesson of the Old Testament" of "sacrifice":
The mindset that Jews surrendered with their guns is far more important than the hardware they turned over: They surrendered the demonstrated intention, at all costs, to resist being deprived of liberty. If Jews in Germany had more actively resisted the Nazi party or the Nazi regime and had diagnosed it as a malignant and deadly cancer from the start, there would, indeed, have been a chance for the people of that country and the world to be moved to action by their bold refusal to be enslaved.
Yes, that would have required immeasurable courage. Yes, that would have required unspeakable losses. But is that not the lesson of the Old Testament? Does not Abraham bind his son Issac to an altar, willing to sacrifice his son's life to God's Word--to the truth? Must not we all be ready to sacrifice ourselves to stand in the way of evil?
Granted, I was not there. Granted, hindsight is 20/20. But it turns out it was a bad idea for any Jew to have turned over a gun. It was a bad idea for any Jew to have boarded a train. It was a bad idea for any Jew to have passed through a gate into a camp. It was a bad idea for any Jew to do any work at any such camp. It was a bad idea for any Jew to not attempt to crush the skull or scratch out the eyes of any Nazi who turned his back for one moment. And every bullet that would have been fired into a Nazi coming to a doorway to confiscate a gun from a Jew would have been a sacred bullet.
Both Ablow and a disclosure attached to the FoxNews.com piece noted that the Fox News contributor "hosted a fundraiser for Dr. Ben Carson." Ablow reportedly hosted a Newbury, Massachusetts fundraiser for Carson on September 24. Tickets for the event ranged from $500 to $2,700.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's controversial comment -- that the number of people killed in the Holocaust "would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed" -- echoes an old conservative media talking point that has long been condemned as "historically inaccurate."
As the nation's student loan debt burden continues to grow and voters look to 2016 presidential candidates for solutions, right-wing media continue to perpetuate debunked myths about college costs, financial aid, and student loans. Here are the facts that conservative media outlets ignore.
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.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano decried how the "tone" of the national immigration law debate "has taken an ugly turn" with the increasing use of nativist rhetoric to attack "anchor babies," yet glossed over the fact that his Fox colleagues have been some of the loudest proponents of the slur and ending birthright citizenship.
Napolitano condemned attacks on birthright citizenship as "dangerous" and "anti-American" in a September 3 opinion piece for Foxnews.com, detailing how Hispanics are "being demonized because of the politics of nativism." Revoking the 14th Amendment right to birthright citizenship, Napolitano wrote, would change the country "far more radically and dangerously than any wave of undocumented immigrants did":
Today, the potential victims of public indifference and government repression are Hispanics in America. Hispanics here without documentation are being demonized because of the politics of nativism. Nativism -- we are exceptional; we are better people than they are; we were here first -- is very dangerous and leads to ugly results.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution underscore the truism that all persons have the same natural rights, irrespective of where their mothers were when they delivered them.
The Fourteenth Amendment requires this, and its language is inclusive: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States..." Though written to protect former slaves, its language is not limited to them.
When the history of our times is written, it might relate that the majority repressed the rights of minorities by demonizing them using appeals to group prejudice -- by blaming entire ethnic groups for the criminal behavior of some few members of those groups.
That history might reflect that this was done for short-term political gain.
If that happens, it will have changed America far more radically and dangerously than any wave of undocumented immigrants did.
And that would be profoundly and perhaps irreparably un-American.
Yet Napolitano's criticism fails to note that his Fox colleagues have been some of the loudest proponents of revoking birthright citizenship and using "anchor baby" slurs to demonize immigrants.
Even before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed amending the constitution to revoke the 14th Amendment right, Fox figures like Bill O'Reilly, Steve Doocy, and Laura Ingraham were calling for an end to birthright citizenship. Their demand grew even louder after Trump voiced his support -- Sean Hannity demanded an end to birthright citizenship to stop "anchor babies" while Fox & Friends lauded Trump's plan as "remarkable." Lou Dobbs proposed a legal justification to spur along the end of birthright citizenship, which Fox radio host Todd Starnes declared would put "Americans first."
What's more, Fox figures applauded Trump's use of the term "anchor baby" -- Brian Kilmeade even said "a lot of people think that [term] would be a compliment," while Hannity claimed "there is no other term to use."
Beyond a purported wave of "anchor babies" being an anti-immigrant myth, the term is offensive to Hispanics. As NBC News explained, it's a "dog whistle" or a "term used to describe coded language that means one thing in general but has an additional meaning for a targeted population. According to one expert, 'anchor baby' is used as a code 'to stimulate fear about changing racial demographics.'"
Fox News cited anonymous sources to scandalize the State Department's decision to recategorize some of Hillary Clinton's emails, using technical language to avoid admitting that the emails were simply designated as privileged communications -- a common type of redaction to protect agency deliberations. Instead, Fox hyped the change as evidence of a concerted cover-up to "hide classified info."
Fox News highlighted a blog post by a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) freshman to attack an English course on the "literature of 9/11" for being one sided in favor of so-called "terrorists," despite evidence that the course includes diverse perspectives on the attacks and the War on Terror that followed.
On the August 31 editions of Fox & Friends and Outnumbered, Fox hosts criticized a course offering at the University of North Carolina, entitled "The Literature of 9/11." The segments drew from an August 28 post at the conservative blog The College Fix, written by a UNC freshman, that was also featured on FoxNews.com. Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed that the course did not represent the views of victims of the 9/11 attacks or their families, then briefly interviewed a man who lost his cousin in the attacks:
ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: Students at one of the top universities in the country will learn about the September 11th attacks through the eyes of the terrorists, instead of the victims. A UNC-Chapel Hill's freshman seminar class, "Literature of 9/11," sympathizes with the terrorists who sparked the national tragedy, presenting America as imperialistic. Some of the required reading includes poetry by Guantanamo Bay detainees, but nothing at all from the perspective of September 11th victims or their families.
Outnumbered co-host Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery introduced a segment on the class by citing The College Fix's claims that "None of the readings assigned in the freshman seminar present the Sept. 11 attacks from the perspective of those who died or from American families who lost loved ones." The co-hosts then focused their discussion on the supposed "one-sided" perspective of the course, and questioned whether the class should be cancelled. Kennedy went on to read her own comic take on what a poem written by a Guantanamo detainee might sound like, and stated that "most of this writing would make great lining for the bottom of my parrot's cage":
KENNEDY: I want to point out a little bit of the syllabus. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a little bit of literature told from the perspective of a Pakistani-American who finds America to be greedy and imperialist.
SANDRA SMITH: It appears from the course's online description, of which you read some of it, it says "We will explore a diverse array of themes related to the 9/11 attacks and the War on Terror." A diverse array of themes. But, you-- going back, none of the readings assigned in the freshman seminar present the perspective of those who died, or the families who lost loved ones. How is that a diverse array of theme? There's no diversity in this course.
KENNEDY: It's not diverse at all. And I think we should offer a thousand dollars to the first student who takes this class from Professor Neel Ahuja and actually disagrees with him, and we'll see what kind of a grade they get. Because I guarantee you--
HEATHER MACDONALD: Right, because he will shut down debate, that professor. Yeah.
KENNEDY: I guarantee the first person who presents a logical argument for why much of this writing would make great lining for the bottom of my parrot's cage -- I don't have a parrot, but if I did I would probably line the bottom with a lot of this literature -- and, you know, present a more well-rounded opinion of what actually happened.
The course, titled "ENGL 072: Literature of 9/11," is one of 82 freshman year seminar courses across all departments offered at UNC for the Fall 2015 semester, as of August 31. Professor Neel Ahuja, an Associate Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Geography, has taught the course since 2010. The original College Fix post about the course also cited a UNC student-driven rating page called Blinkness, which posts anonymous comments from supposed former students, to suggest that Ahuja had a personal agenda. Professor Ahuja's rating page received just four relatively positive comments from 2010 through August 29, 2015, but has since been swarmed with dozens of hateful messages demanding that he be fired, deported, or handed over to the terror group ISIS. According to his personal website, Ahuja was raised in Topeka, Kansas.
In addition, the full list of assigned readings for the course does in fact contain diverse literature representing the perspectives of Arab-Americans, residents of New York City, members of the U.S. military and their families, survivors of the attacks, non-partisan terrorism researchers, artists, historians, musicians, and the international Muslim community, as well as several texts aimed to honor or memorialize victims of the attacks. Here are just a few examples the Fox hosts failed to mention:
The course does include a collection of poems written by detainees at Guantanamo Bay, but all of the selections were cleared for release by the United States military during the Bush administration. One of the poets was detained at 14 and held for seven years without charge before his release. Another poet, the only journalist ever held in Guantanamo, was also released without charge after seven years in captivity.
Right-wing media have falsely claimed Hillary Clinton's debt-free college plan eliminates student financial responsibility and doesn't address rising tuition costs. In fact, students on the plan would be required to work, and the proposal ties federal funding to states lowering school costs.
Taylor Woolrich, who made national headlines in 2014 over her efforts to carry a gun on her college campus after being stalked, revealed that John Lott, a discredited gun researcher, was the actual author of an op-ed published at FoxNews.com under her name that portrayed her as an unconditional supporter of campus carry laws and was picked up by dozens of media outlets.
Woolich was interviewed for an August 13 Buzzfeed article that recounted how she was stalked for years by an older man - beginning when she was a teenager and continuing after she went to college 3,000 miles away - and how her story went viral after it became enmeshed with the gun lobby's efforts to allow students to carry firearms on college campuses.
In her interview with Buzzfeed, Woolich criticized Lott, alleging that he pressured her into allowing him to submit an op-ed he wrote -- "Dear Dartmouth, I am one of your students, I am being stalked, please let me carry a gun to protect myself" -- to FoxNews.com under her name.
Lott, a columnist for FoxNews.com, is one of the country's best-known pro-gun advocates and a frequent source of conservative misinformation about gun violence; his research linking permissive laws regarding the carrying of guns in public to lower crime rates has been debunked. He has also faced accusations of data manipulation and fabrication in order to advance a pro-gun agenda.
Woolrich told Buzzfeed that her primary objective in telling her story publicly last year was to raise awareness about stalking, but that Lott's "first priority was his cause" of pro-gun advocacy, explaining, "He saw me as a really great asset" in that endeavor. She added that in the brief time she spent with Lott, "I was trying to be brave and just speak up. I didn't realize I was being turned into an NRA puppet."
Woolrich met Lott after agreeing to speak on a panel at an August 2014 conference held by Students for Concealed Carry, a group that advocates for colleges and universities to allow students to carry guns on campus, a practice that has been traditionally prohibited. According to Buzzfeed, Lott, who runs pro-gun group Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), helped fund the conference.
After learning Woolrich's story, Lott convinced her to co-author an op-ed with him for FoxNews.com about her experience, and Woolrich says she sent him details of what she had been through. Lott submitted a double-bylined piece to Fox News that included Woolrich's story, as well as his own well-worn talking points in favor of allowing concealed carry on campus. The network rejected it.
Woolrich told Buzzfeed that the same day she spoke at the conference, she gave an interview to a reporter from the BBC, and when Lott learned about it, he became "extremely, inappropriately pushy" and "controlling."
By then, the media had caught wind of Woolrich's compelling story, and Fox News had changed its mind about running a piece. But it didn't want the original, co-authored op-ed -- only one written by Woolrich, with her thoughts, not Lott's. Woolrich told Buzzfeed that when Lott told her this, she responded that she didn't have time to write a new piece and he pressed her to let him write it for her. She said struggled with the decision before agreeing, thinking, "I don't know if I should just say yes and not piss him off." In return, she says, he used her as "an asset" for his agenda:
The piece incorporated elements of her talk at the conference, but otherwise it was the essentially the same article written by Lott, which is still online at the Daily Caller. "It's his op-ed," she says. "Word for word, except the chunks that match what's said in my speech." The references to Lott's disputed research? Not hers. The link to the Amazon sales page for his book? Not hers. The headline? "Dear Dartmouth, I am one of your students, I am being stalked, please let me carry a gun to protect myself."
"I think his first priority was his cause," she says. "He saw me as a really great asset."
It is unclear to what extent Fox News knew that the op-ed, which concludes with the line, "If schools and society can't guarantee my safety and the safety of victims like me, it's time we have the chance to defend ourselves so we can stop living in fear," was written by a male pro-gun advocate.
Although the piece carries an editor's note saying only that Lott "contributed to this article," according to emails viewed by Buzzfeed, Lott admitted to a Fox News editor, "It was actually easier for me to write this in the first person for her than the way I had originally written it." In a statement to Buzzfeed, Fox News Executive Vice President and Executive Editor John Moody said FoxNews.com "published what was characterized to us as a first person account of Ms. Woolrich's experiences."
Lott promoted the op-ed in a post on the website of his Crime Prevention Research Center under the headline, "Taylor Woolrich's op-ed at Fox News describes what it is like to be stalked, lots of other media coverage."
Accompanying the post, Lott wrote, "Taylor Woolrich has a very powerful op-ed at Fox News that starts this way," before offering an excerpt. The post noted that Woolrich's story was gaining national media coverage, listing dozens of outlets that had covered the story including Fox News, NBC, MSNBC, and BBC.
Woolrich told Buzzfeed that she "wanted to talk to the media, if it could mean something positive. But I wanted to talk to the media about stalking." Her interaction with Lott, she said, left her feeling like "an NRA puppet":
"It's not like John Lott held a gun to my head and told me to talk to the media," Woolrich says. "I wanted to talk to the media, if it could mean something positive. But I wanted to talk to the media about stalking." In response to the flurry of interview requests, she changed her number and did not return Lott's or Riley's messages.
"I thought I was doing something good, and I thought it would be good for other girls," Woolrich says. "I was trying to be brave and just speak up. I didn't realize I was being turned into an NRA puppet."
Fox News' response to Buzzfeed on the op-ed controversy marks the second time in recent months that the conservative network has been forced to respond to something Lott has said or done. In June, Lott claimed in a CPRC fundraising letter that Fox News had "agreed to start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders." (According to a survey of mass public shootings over a 30-year period by Mother Jones, this is not a phenomena that actually happens.) Fox News denied Lott's claim in a statement to The Washington Post's Erik Wemple.
This is also not the first time Lott has written from the perspective of a woman. In 2003, Lott was caught defending and promoting his own work online while writing under the name "Mary Rosh," who described herself as a former student of Lott's -- "the best professor I ever had" -- and wrote about how she needed a gun in case she had to defend herself from a larger male attacker.
According a 2003 Post exposé on Lott's use of the "Rosh" pseudonym, "In postings on Web sites in this country and abroad, Rosh has tirelessly defended Lott against his harshest critics. He is a meticulous researcher, she's repeatedly told those who say otherwise. He's not driven by the ideology of the left or the right. Rosh has even summoned memories of the classes she took from Lott a decade ago to illustrate Lott's probity and academic gifts."
After Lott was revealed to be "Rosh" by a blogger at the libertarian CATO Institute, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin wrote that the episode showed Lott's "extensive willingness to deceive to protect and promote his work."
CPRC published a post on its website, disputing Woolrich's characterization of her experience working with Lott and calling the BuzzFeed article a "hit piece."
Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski falsely reported that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence must pay more than $200,000 to ammunition dealers that supplied a gunman who attacked moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. The misleading article was published after a court dismissed a lawsuit against the companies.
In fact, the plaintiffs in the case - parents of one of the victims - were ordered to pay the ammunition companies' legal fees because of a special carve-out in Colorado law for the gun industry.
On July 20, 2012, a man wearing body armor and carrying an arsenal of firearms and tear gas fatally shot 12 people and wounded 58 others during a midnight screening at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. The Brady Center subsequently filed a lawsuit against companies that had supplied the gunman, on behalf of Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the shooting.
The lawsuit alleged that Lucky Gunner and several other companies had negligently supplied the gunman with thousands of rounds of ammunition, body armor, a high-capacity drum magazine that could hold 100 rounds of ammunition, and canisters of tear gas.
In April, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit and Lucky Gunner and other defendants moved to collect attorney's fees from the plaintiffs. On June 17, a judge granted that request, ordering the Phillipses to pay $203,000. The decision is currently under appeal.
On June 29, Beacon staff writer Gutowski reported on this development, but botched his analysis to claim that the Brady Center, rather than the Phillipses, was ordered to compensate companies that supplied the Aurora gunman.
In an article headlined, "Federal Judge Orders Brady Center to Pay Ammo Dealer's Legal Fees After Dismissing Lawsuit," Gutowski wrote, "A federal judge has ordered that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence pay the legal fees of an online ammunition dealer it sued for the Aurora movie theater shooting." The actual order, which is cited in the article, contradicts this claim by describing at length how the plaintiffs, who are listed at the top of the order as Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, must pay fees to companies that enabled their daughter's killer.
Discredited gun researcher John Lott falsely claimed that guns are "banned" in South Carolina churches to blame the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on "gun-free zones."
On the evening of July 17, a gunman opened fire during a bible study meeting at the church, killing nine people.
Lott, who invented the debunked "more guns, less crime" hypothesis and is a frequent source of conservative misinformation on gun violence, quickly blamed "gun-free zones" for the shooting. On the website of his group, Crime Prevention Research Center, Lott wrote, "Not surprising that yet another mass public shooting has taken place where guns were banned. Yet, again, the ban only ensured that the victims were vulnerable." Lott titled his article, "Another Shooting in a Gun-free Zone: Nine Dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina."
Lott then offered a "synopsis" of South Carolina law - taken from an article on CriminalDefenseLawyer.com - that suggested guns cannot be carried in churches and some other locations.
Lott's synopsis linked to S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31-215, which says that individuals with concealed carry licenses can bring guns into churches with the permission of a church official. Here is what the actual law says:
M) A permit issued pursuant to this section does not authorize a permit holder to carry a concealable weapon into a:
(8) church or other established religious sanctuary unless express permission is given by the appropriate church official or governing body;
In an opinion piece for FoxNews.com, Lott similarly mischaracterized South Carolina law, writing, "the massacre took place in a gun-free zone, a place where the general public was banned from having guns." Lott also speculated that gun policies formed the shooter's motive, writing, "Churches, like the one in Charleston, preach peace, but the killer there probably chose that target because he knew the victims were defenseless."