Lis Wiehl

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  • How Conservative Media Enabled Trump’s Outrageous Lies

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & JARED HOLT

    Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and conservative media figures repeatedly enabled each other to spread baseless smears and outright lies throughout the Republican presidential primary election cycle. Voices in conservative media repeatedly legitimized Trump’s debunked conspiracies, policy proposals, and statistics, some of which echoed longtime narratives from prominent right-wing media figures.

  • David Daleiden Is Not A Journalist

    Media Outlets Debunk CMP’s Fraudulent Claim That Its Work Is “Investigative Journalism”

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Despite the indictment by a grand jury and numerous lawsuits over Center for Medical Progress (CMP) founder David Daleiden’s attempts to smear Planned Parenthood, right-wing media have claimed that CMP’s deceptively edited videos are “investigative journalism.” Other media outlets have rejected this claim, confirming that CMP’s videos are misleading, fraudulent, and, above all, not journalism.

  • Fox Co-Host Praises Center For Medical Progress' Misleading Planned Parenthood Videos As "Investigatory Journalism"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News' Kimberly Guilfoyle lauded the Center for Medical Progress' (CMP) deceptively-edited footage of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue donation as "investigatory journalism."

    On the January 19 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Guilfoyle and contributor Lis Wiehl discussed Planned Parenthood's lawsuit against CMP for breaking "federal and state laws, including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, as well as invasion of privacy and recording laws." Guilfoyle criticized the lawsuit arguing that they were within their constitutional rights "and they were doing investigatory journalism getting to the heart of the matter":

    CMP's videos used footage of undercover activists' conversations with Planned Parenthood officials and staff members of private, for-profit biomedical procurement companies. The videos were deceptively-edited  to cut out important context to make it appear that Planned Parenthood officials were "sell[ing] the body parts of aborted fetuses," and agreeing to alter abortion procedures to profit from the sale of fetal tissue. The complete footage released on CMP's website debunked the sensationalist claims of the deceptively-edited videos, showing that Planned Parenthood officials were discussing routine legal reimbursement for costs associated with fetal tissue donation, not selling "baby parts" for profit.

    The videos Guilfoyle described as "investigatory journalism" led to CMP's designation as Media Matters' 2015 Misinformer of the Year.

  • O'Reilly Falls For Absurd Campaign Demanding Justices Ginsburg And Kagan's Recusal From Marriage Equality Case

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    In the lead up to next week's landmark Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of marriage equality, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly is amplifying a fringe -- and absurd -- right-wing campaign calling on Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elana Kagan to recuse themselves because they have officiated same-sex marriages. But these actions, along with Ginsburg's comments noting the American public is rapidly turning against anti-LGBT discrimination, are not grounds for legitimate recusal.

    In January, the American Family Association (AFA) -- a notorious anti-gay hate group -- announced a campaign titled, "Kagan and Ginsburg: Recuse Yourselves!" In a statement, the AFA, best known for its infamous anti-gay spokesman Bryan Fischer, called on the justices to recuse themselves ahead of next week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. The group argued that Kagan and Ginsburg "should recuse themselves from making any same-sex marriage decisions because they have both conducted same-sex marriage ceremonies."

    On April 20, Fox legal correspondent Shannon Bream twice reported on "public calls, petition drives, and appeals directly to Justices Ginsburg and Kagan to recuse themselves from hearing next week's case on same-sex marriage." During Fox News' Special Report, Bream pointed to the justices' past history officiating same-sex weddings and a February 2015 interview during which Ginsburg said that it "would not take a large adjustment" for Americans to get used to nationwide marriage equality. On April 21, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly picked up the argument in his "Is It Legal" segment on The O'Reilly Factor, declaring "these ladies have to recuse themselves," because "[t]he Supreme Court is supposed to be an incorruptible institution, but reports say Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has herself performed three gay marriages, and Justice Elena Kagan, one":

  • Conservative Media's Double Standard For Former Secretaries Of State On Separation Statements

    ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Conservative media fabricated perjury charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, demanding to see a copy of a separation form they argued she violated through her use of her personal email. Those same media figures did not demand to see the same form from Colin Powell -- whom State Department officials say did not sign the same form.

  • Fox News Can't Decide Whether Executive Action On Immigration Is Constitutional Or Not

    Blog ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    Fox News is sending a mixed message about whether or not President Barack Obama has the legal authority to address the immigration crisis through executive action, even though legal experts agree that such action is perfectly lawful.

    After Republicans in the House failed to consider a comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate, President Obama announced that he would take steps to address the issue through lawful executive actions. One possibility is the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which temporarily halts deportation proceedings for young law-abiding undocumented immigrants -- an exercise of standard prosecutorial discretion typical of law enforcement agencies. After the Democrats lost control of the Senate on November 5, the president repeated his promise to move on immigration reform in the absence of congressional action, explaining at a press conference that "we're gonna take whatever lawful actions that I can take that I believe will improve the functioning of our immigration system."

    Some Fox News hosts were skeptical about whether the president has the authority to take unilateral executive action, however. On the November 7 edition of Outnumbered, co-host Andrea Tantaros complained that Obama "doesn't care about the constitution" and that he would "get away with" executive action on immigration because "some pointy-nosed Harvard lawyers [will argue] whether or not this is constitutional."

    Tantaros' complaints echoed her Fox colleague Sean Hannity, who on the November 6 edition of his show criticized the president's pledge to take executive action on immigration. In an interview with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Hannity argued that the president "may not have the authority do this" and that "immigration law does not allow for the amnesty that the president wants to grant." Lee agreed with Hannity's assessment, and suggested that the proposed order would "lead us from behind into a constitutional crisis":

  • Fox News Confuses The Constitutionality Of Stop And Frisk Enforcement Tactics With The Unconstitutional NYPD Version

    ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

    Fox News hosts repeatedly attacked a federal court opinion that found that the New York Police Department's (NYPD) version of stop and frisk was unconstitutionally applied by arguing stop and frisk in general is constitutional, a misleading conflation of the NYPD's enforcement tactics and proper stop and frisk procedure.

  • Despite Claims From Fox's O'Reilly, Michigan's Ballot Application Burdens The Right To Vote

    Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

    Bill O'Reilly and Fox News legal analysts Kimberly Guilfoyle and Lis Wiehl dismissed and mischaracterized a lawsuit alleging that a citizenship question on certain Michigan ballot applications illegally burdens the right to vote. But the "citizenship checkbox" may keep citizens from voting, as the state's Republican Governor anticipated when he vetoed an earlier attempt to implement the practice.

    The ACLU of Michigan has filed a lawsuit accusing Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R) of once again violating state and federal law by including a checkbox to re-determine a voter's citizenship on absentee and election-day ballot applications. Although supporters defend the practice as a means to prevent noncitizens from voting, election experts have pointed out redundant citizenship verification is a solution to an almost non-existent problem, contrary to the claims of Johnson and Fox's Guilfoyle.

    O'Reilly characterized the ACLU lawsuit seeking to eliminate the citizenship checkbox as "madness and stupidity," and threatened that if a "crazy judge[]" granted the injunction, he would "put the judge's face on the screen and then send [Fox's Jesse] Watters out to see him."  Fox's legal analysts not only agreed with O'Reilly's evaluation of the facts and law, but also his unsupported allegation regarding the motive behind the lawsuit:

    What the ACLU wants is they don't want people committing perjury when they register. They do want people voting, who are not American citizens, to advance. They believe that most of those people would vote for the Democratic candidate in Michigan. That's exactly what's going on here.

    No one acknowledged the actual arguments behind the lawsuit, namely that including a checkbox for citizenship affirmation on these ballot applications violates state and federal law and suppressed voters in Michigan's most recent primary election. It was this concern that led Governor Rick Snyder (R) to veto the proposed citizenship checkbox law in July. In his veto message, Snyder, a conservative Republican, stated the citizenship question could impermissibly "create voter confusion."

    Voting by noncitizens is not a problem nationally or in Michigan. Indeed, according to the authoritative and exhaustive News21 study of thousands of alleged instances of voter fraud in the U.S., voter fraud such as noncitizen voting is "virtually non-existent." With respect to Michigan, an analysis by Wayne State University Law Professor Jocelyn Benson of the Michigan Center for Election Law demonstrates that:

    [Secretary of State] Johnson has irresponsibly declared that 4,000 noncitizens vote in Michigan's elections, falsely claiming that the federal government is forcing her employees to register ineligible voters.

    Her data is incomplete and unverified. The 4,000 number is no more than a general estimate of how many of Michigan's 7.5 million registered voters are not citizens.

    In reality, she claims to have discovered 54 noncitizens who may have voted in Michigan's elections in the past decade, and as many as 900 others who are registered but have not voted. Yet the secretary of state is able to provide details on only two noncitizens who have recently voted. That's a far cry from 4,000.

    State efforts, such as Michigan's, duplicate federal law that already prohibits and punishes ineligible voting and place excessive burdens on eligible voters. A recent Advancement Project report indicates that the Latino vote in particular is susceptible to the low turnout caused by redundant citizenship screens. According to the Michigan Election Coalition, this sort of unconstitutional burden was precisely what occurred during the 2012 Michigan primary election when poll workers across the state gave contradictory and erroneous instructions to eligible voters about the voluntary nature of the checkbox. It was this inconsistent treatment of voters across the state that led the ACLU to challenge the checkbox as a violation of the federal equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, not the due process clause as Fox's Wiehl incorrectly stated.

    Furthermore, Johnson may not even have the power to place the citizenship question on the ballot. The state legislature originally tried to pass the election change in a bill, and Michigan law does not appear to allow the Secretary to unilaterally adopt this failed legislation. Even if it did, there does not appear any justification for the Secretary to then ignore the standard administrative notice and comment procedure behind the introduction of new state rules. Finally, the Secretary appears to have passed an election practice change statewide, despite the fact that the federal Voting Rights Act -- in order to prevent illegal racial or national origin discrimination -- requires certain townships in Michigan to pre-clear any such changes with the U.S. Department of Justice before they are put into effect.