Fox News peddled a new lie about Houston, TX's LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, blaming the measure for unrelated subpoenas issued against a number of local anti-gay pastors.
On October 10, the city of Houston subpoenaed documents related its recently-passed Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) from five local pastors who had opposed the law. The subpoenas are part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit filed by opponents of the ordinance who allege that the city wrongly disqualified petition signatures supporting a repeal referendum. Conservative media outlets, led by Fox News, have inaccurately accused the city of attempting to "harass" and "bully" the anti-gay pastors, depicting the subpoenas as an assault on religious liberty.
During the October 17 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Anna Kooiman falsely stated that the subpoenas were actually "part" of the non-discrimination ordinance:
KOOIMAN: The city now being accused of ordering its pastors to "show us your sermons" or be held in contempt of court. The move, part of an ordinance aimed at ending discrimination against the LGBT community but critics say it actually stifles religious liberty. [emphasis added]
Kooiman's lie was echoed during the same day's edition of Fox News' Outnumbered. Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers attacked the ordinance, accusing the measure of trying to "legislate speech":
POWERS: This is such a blatant violation of the First Amendment. It's so chilling. And these anti-discrimination statutes, the way that they're being implemented is very scary and very chilling as well because it's basically, they're deciding what your views are supposed to be on certain things and they're now trying to legislate it. And they're trying to legislate speech. [emphasis added]
Fox News hosts offered a spirited defense of a recently fired Forbes contributor who wrote that "irresponsible" intoxicated women "are the gravest threat to fraternities" in part because of the possibility that the fraternity would be liable if a woman was sexually assaulted at a party.
On September 23, Forbes published and quickly retracted a column in which contributor Bill Frezza identified "drunk female guests" as "the gravest threat to fraternities." The since-deleted column warned fraternity members that:
[W]e have very little control over women who walk in the door carrying enough pre-gaming booze in their bellies to render them unconscious before the night is through ...
In our age of sexual equality, why drunk female students are almost never characterized as irresponsible jerks is a question I leave to the feminists. But it is precisely those irresponsible women that the brothers must be trained to identify and protect against, because all it takes is one to bring an entire fraternity system down.
Frezza was subsequently fired for his controversial column.
Some of the co-hosts of Fox News' Outnumbered came to Frezza's defense on the September 25 edition of the show. Co-host Andrea Tantaros agreed that Frezza expressed a "legitimate fear" and said, "I don't know why this writer is taking so much heat because this is actually a problem that goes on." Tantaros asked, "the guys, what are they supposed to do, lock them out?" Co-host Kirsten Powers complained of a "culture now where we literally cannot tolerate differing ideas," and guest host Jesse Watters suggested that intoxicated women were responsible for their own assaults:
WATTERS: Let's just try to identify this guy's fear here, Andrea. What he's afraid of is he hosts a party at the house and these girls pregame too hard and they come over sloppy drunk. They take too many shots and they go up to your room and the next thing happens in the morning, I don't know what happens, I can barely remember what happens, she gets hurt, she gets assaulted, anything could happen and then they're liable.
Not every Outnumbered host defended the inflammatory article. Co-host Kennedy pointed out that fraternities are responsible for the safety of their guests, and her colleague Sandra Smith added, "I feel like it's the fault of the fraternity that has ...no policies to handle this."
The Outnumbered hosts previously suggested a link between drinking and sexual assault when they agreed it was wise that college women avoid consumption of alcohol in order to avoid the risk of sexual assault. As an expert explained to USA Today, "People don't get raped because they have been drinking, because they are passed out or because they are drunk. People get raped because there is a perpetrator there -- someone who wants to take advantage of them."
Fox News hosts defended the practice of catcalling, insisting women should "let men be men" and downplaying the harmful impact widespread street harassment has on women.
On the August 28 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, hosts highlighted a New York Post opinion article that suggested women "deal with" "flattering" catcalls. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle defended street harassment saying, "let men be men," and, "look, men are going to be that way. What can you do?" Guest host and Fox contributor Arthur Aidala reenacted his personal signature "move" -- aiming a slow round of applause at women on the street, which one host said she'd find flattering:
Fox News has devoted a significant amount of time to finding new ways to baselessly attack the Women's Health Protection Act, a federal bill that would counteract laws that single out and punish abortion providers. The network parroted extreme anti-choice talking points and largely ignored the opinion of leading health organizations that these laws have dangerous consequences for women.
Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers debunked the suggestion that problems at the Veterans Health Administration bode ill for those insured under President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
On May 15, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki testified before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee after the VA's inspector general launched an investigation into what The Washington Post described as "multiple reports of alleged preventable deaths and attempts to cover up treatment delays at VA health clinics." Conservative media have suggested these events prove government provides inferior health care and have attacked Obamacare and pushed for the privatization of the VA's health system.
On the May 25 edition of Fox News Sunday, George Will echoed these claims, stating that the unfolding story shows that "big government is too big for meaningful oversight and effective management" and citing the Postal Service and Amtrak as other examples.
Asked by host Chris Wallace whether she agrees with the notion that "it's the VA now and it will be Obamacare later," Powers pointed out that Obamacare and the veterans health system are very different. She went on to explain that "this idea that somehow putting things off into the private sector is going to make everything work also doesn't work if you consider your experiences, at least experiences I've had with insurance companies, health insurance companies," and noted that Republicans "funnel" all their arguments through the notion that "big government is a problem." Watch:
POWERS: They're not the same thing. Of course, the VA is really government-run health care where you have the government controlling everything. That's not what Obamacare is. Obamacare is more like insurance. You don't have the doctors working for Obamacare. So I don't think it's the same thing. I also think the private sector has a lot of problems. You know, Amtrak, if you have a problem with Amtrak, well I have a lot of problems with USAir and American and United. So this idea that somehow putting things off into the private sector is going to make everything work also doesn't work if you consider your experiences, at least experiences I've had with insurance companies, health insurance companies. So this is not a surprising argument coming from Republicans. It is always their argument. Take anything that is happening in the world and this is the argument that they funnel it through. It's always proof that big government is a problem. So it's not surprising.
As The Washington Post editorial board noted, "studies have shown that the VA system, which serves almost 6.5 million veterans annually, as a whole outperforms the rest of the health care system by just about every metric." Indeed, VA hospital patients consistently receive better care than individuals in the private sector and have higher customer satisfaction.
Fox News' Outnumbered, which features four female anchors and one male guest in an hour-long show, is billed as "a news show first and foremost," but in its first week the jaw-dropping program has proven to be anything but.
Even before its debut, it was evident that Roger Ailes' brainchild would be incredibly sexist. The name Outnumbered alone announces that the show operates from the perspective of its sole male guest, who must inevitably feel outnumbered in the presence of four female hosts (never mind the fact that many of Fox's current programs, like Fox & Friends or The Five, feature more male hosts than female yet carry no such designation).
Outnumbered likewise doesn't depart from Ailes' trademark exploitation of Fox women -- immediately evident in the no-pants dress code thus far for female anchors, whose legs are on prominent display and nearly always crossed toward the male guest du jour, known to the Twittersphere as #OneLuckyGuy.
Before the program first aired, Jay Wallace, Fox's senior vice president for news, described the show as "a news show first and foremost," with "journalism at the heart."
Nearly all of Fox's purported news programs churn with an undercurrent of sexism. But with Outnumbered, the network drops the veil. It's more a parody of a news program, devoting the vast majority of the first week to decidedly non-news, fluff stories that highlight stereotypical altercations or disparities between the sexes. Rather than mention actual news stories that pertain to women's issues -- such as a new White House report on college sexual assault -- Outnumbered relayed George Clooney's groundbreaking recent engagement and a new plastic surgery that will enable women to better wear sky-high heels, stories built around gender stereotypes.
Mainstream media outlets attempted to cast doubt on White House press secretary Jay Carney's explanation that a memo advising Susan Rice on her TV appearances referred to global protests as opposed to the September 11 attack specifically. However Sunday news coverage from Rice's press tour demonstrates that discussions of Benghazi did include broader context of anti-American protests in the region, as Carney had asserted.
Fox News is using a newly released White House memo disclosing media talking points for Obama administration officials as vindication of its campaign of lies and misinformation about the Benghazi terror attacks.
After months of championing anti-gay business owners and criticizing efforts to protect gay and lesbian customers from discrimination, Fox News is finally waking up to the consequences of its fear mongering campaign - and it doesn't like what it's seeing.
The Supreme Court's historic decision to strike down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013 left many anti-gay marriage activists reeling. Recognizing that their decade long fight against marriage equality was quickly becoming a lost cause, many anti-gay conservatives turned their attention to an issue that they believed might offer them more traction - the religious liberty of anti-gay business owners.
While opponents of marriage equality have long warned about businesses being forced to serve gay couples, it's only recently that the issue of protecting anti-gay business owners became a rallying cry for social conservatives.
That rallying cry has been largely amplified by Fox News, which in recent months has worked to tout anti-gay business owners as martyrs, victimized by gay activists seeking services for their same-sex weddings and commitment ceremonies.
Falsely accusing gay activists of ushering the "death of free enterprise" in America, Fox News has highlighted a number of anti-gay horror stories in which religious business owners have faced penalties for refusing to serve gay customers:
In each of these cases, the business owners were found to have violated their state's non-discrimination laws. And in each of these cases, Fox News depicted the business owners as victims whose religious freedoms were being threatened by being required to serve gay customers.
Continuing his defense of draconian state legislation to allow individuals and businesses to refuse services to gay people on religious grounds, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson suggested that businesses serving gay couples were "aiding and abetting sin."
Erickson continued his criticism of his Fox News colleague Kirsten Powers' recent USA Today column, in which Powers criticized "homosexual Jim Crow laws" currently being debated in several state legislatures. Those laws would allow businesses to refuse service to gay customers for religious reasons.
In her column, Powers, an evangelical Christian herself, argued that Christians shouldn't refuse services to people simply because they disagreed with them, noting that many "Christians serve unrepentant murders through prison ministry." Erickson responded by asserting that, unlike prison ministers, businesses that serve gay couples would be "aiding and abetting" sin:
Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers and Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes continued their feud over Kansas' anti-gay segregation bill, with Powers calling Starnes out for "lying" in his criticism of her opposition to the measure.
The feud between Starnes and Powers began on February 19 with a USA Today column in which Powers challenged supporters of a Kansas bill which would have allowed businesses to refuse to serve gay and lesbian couples on religious grounds. "Christians backing this bill," Powers charged, "are essentially arguing for homosexual Jim Crow laws." Powers' Fox colleagues Starnes and Erick Erickson swiftly criticized the column and defended the Kansas bill as an effort to protect religious liberty.
Starnes reignited the feud with a February 20 tweet alleging that Powers - an evangelical Christian who quoted religious opponents of the Kansas bill in her column -- showed an ignorance of Christianity:
Powers pushed back, accusing Starnes of lying:
Starnes continued to take umbrage at the comparison between Jim Crow laws and "license to discriminate" legislation, charging Powers with "smearing people" who supported the legislation and accusing his critics of "playing the race card":
Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers condemned a legislative push in Kansas to legalize religiously-motivated anti-gay business and employment discrimination, contradicting Fox News' pattern of defending anti-gay discrimination and sparking criticism from Powers' Fox News colleagues.
In a column for USA Today published on February 19, Powers blasted a Kansas bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse services to same-sex couples based on the owner's religious views. Since its passage by the state House of Representatives on February 12, the bill has been shelved by the Kansas Senate. Powers took issue with supporters of "homosexual Jim Crow laws" using Christianity to justify anti-gay bigotry - a common practice at Fox News (emphasis added):
Whether Christians have the legal right to discriminate should be a moot point because Christianity doesn't prohibit serving a gay couple getting married. Jesus calls his followers to be servants to all. Nor does the Bible call service to another an affirmation.
Christians backing this bill are essentially arguing for homosexual Jim Crow laws.
Christians serve unrepentant murderers through prison ministry. So why can't they provide a service for a same-sex marriage?
Some claim it's because marriage is so sacred. But double standards abound. Christian bakers don't interrogate wedding clients to make sure their behavior comports with the Bible. If they did, they'd be out of business. [Evangelical pastor Andy] Stanley said, "Jesus taught that if a person is divorced and gets remarried, it's adultery. So if (Christians) don't have a problem doing business with people getting remarried, why refuse to do business with gays and lesbians."
Maybe they should just ask themselves, "What would Jesus do?" I think he'd bake the cake.
Powers' Fox colleague Erick Erickson made clear that he wasn't a fan of her column, tweeting a link to a blog post that criticized her position and called the right to refuse service essential to "the common good." Erickson called the post "your must read of the day":
Fox's Bill O'Reilly downplayed the gravity of the gender pay gap, going so far as to question "the point" of discussing wage disparities between men and women.
On January 9, Maria Shriver and the Center For American Progress released The Shriver Report, a study dedicated to exposing and reducing the gender wage gap by focusing on the drivers of gender-based income inequality. Although women make up approximately half of all workers in the United States, they earn on average only 77 percent of what the average male makes.
On the January 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly questioned whether the Shriver Report was "a big deal," asking his two female guests what "the point" is to drawing attention to the gender wage gap other than advocating for the government to "guarantee equal wages." O'Reilly went on to attribute gender wage disparities to differences in education level:
2013 was an epic year of right-wing media misinforming the public on the health care debate, particularly on women's health issues. Ignoring women's health experts, conservative media spent this year stoking fears about everything from birth control to maternity care, ignoring science, distorting state and federal regulations, and demonizing women's health care options in the process. These are the top six scare tactics from 2013.
Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers attacked the new health care law for requiring all new insurance plans to cover essential services such as maternity care and mental health care, ignoring the fact that individuals with these conditions are often discriminated against in the insurance market and that requiring coverage for these services will help the economy and reduce economic insecurity.
On the November 12 edition of Special Report, Powers complained that under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance plans are now required to cover benefits such as maternity care and mental health care, despite the fact that an individual might not ever need to use these services:
POWERS: The idea that they think that 50-year-olds should have maternity care is very concerning to me. You know, people are being forced to pay for things that they will not use. It is not for them to tell people -- I don't need to be told I need to have mental health coverage. If I wanted it, I would have gotten it. And I think people are getting a little fed up, even Democrats, with this stuff.
In fact, without the ACA's requirement that essential health benefits be covered by new insurance plans sold on the exchanges, Powers may not have been able to get mental health coverage or maternity care if she wanted it. Individuals who needed those services before the law's passage were routinely discriminated against while trying to obtain necessary health insurance, by being required to pay significantly more for coverage, left unable to get a plan offering specific coverage, or rejected from health insurance all together.
As CNNMoney explained, previously insurance companies were able to keep costs down for many by offering plans without some essential benefits, like maternity care and mental health services, and cherry picking "among applicants to only pick the healthiest ones." The New York Times reported that in 2011, "62 percent of women in the United States covered by private plans that were not obtained through an employer lacked maternity coverage," and a Washington Post columnist explained that according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), nearly 20 percent of people currently in the individual market have "no coverage for mental-health cases, including outpatient therapy visits and inpatient crisis intervention and stabilization." (Approximately 57.7 million Americans experience a mental health condition per year, and half of all Americans will experience one in their lifetime.) Many individual market insurance plans did not offer these services.
The entire concept behind the Affordable Care Act was to change this, ensuring that all Americans, regardless of their personal finances or current health states, could have access to quality, comprehensive health insurance that covered their needs. The law thus mandates ten essential health benefits -- including maternity care and some mental health services -- that all new insurance plans must include at minimum for every American.
Powers' argument also ignored that requiring insurance companies to cover these essential services in all health plans has significant economic benefits.