Anti-gay conservatives are criticizing CBS News' Bob Schieffer for correctly identifying one of his guests as the president of an anti-gay "hate group," accusing him of "anti-Christian bias" for doing so. The outrage over Schieffer's disclosure highlights why it's so important for the media to hold extremists accountable for their views when they appear.
During the April 26 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, Schieffer invited Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), to discuss the Supreme Court's upcoming oral arguments on marriage equality. Schieffer began the interview by noting that FRC has been listed as an anti-gay "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and citing critics who argue that Perkins' extreme views don't represent the views of most Christians:
SCHIEFFER: I'm going to start with probably the most vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and that is Tony Perkins. He is the president of the Family Research Council. And, Mister Perkins, I'm going to say this to you upfront. You and your group have been so strong in coming out against this -- and against gay marriage -- that the Southern Poverty Law Center has branded the Family Research Council an anti-gay hate group. We have been inundated by people who say we should not even let you appear because they, in their view, quote, "You don't speak for Christians." Do you think you have taken this too far?
Right wing media have latched onto comments made by new Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, in which he suggested that Hillary Clinton would not be a frontrunner in 2016 if not for her gender, dismissing Clinton's support as merely "enthusiasm to break the glass ceiling."
Charles and David Koch, brothers and the oil barons who are already shaping the 2014 midterm elections according to recently leaked audio recordings, are often portrayed as environmentally responsible advocates of the free-market that are unfairly targeted by Democrats. However, their political influence, which benefits the fossil fuel industry and their own bottom line, is unparalleled.
The Media Research Center (MRC) produced a video attacking Hillary Clinton for evolving on marriage equality, but that organization has no credibility on the issue, having promoted anti-LGBT messages for over two decades.
MRC released a video hosted by Dan Joseph in which he asked people on the campus of George Mason University to identify quotes out of context from someone opposed to marriage equality. When most of the people identified the unnamed speaker as a conservative or Republican, Joseph revealed that the quotes came from Hillary Clinton. The video portrayed Clinton's evolution on the issue - she announced support for marriage equality in a 2013 video produced by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group - as politically cynical.
The video was recently revived after a discussion of Clinton's position came up during the promotional tour for her book, Hard Choices.
From the May 14 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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The Media Research Center (MRC) drew an ugly and factually inaccurate comparison between billionaire Warren Buffett's charitable donations to women's health organizations and felon Kermit Gosnell, a convicted murderer who performed botched, illegal abortions.
A May 13 post from the Media Research Center (MRC) labeled Buffett the "billion-dollar king of abortion," alleging that the Berkshire Hathaway CEO financed "abortion groups" to the tune of $1.2 billion via the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. The MRC piece, as well as a FoxNews.com op-ed written by MRC's Dan Gainor, tried to make the case that Buffett and convicted murderer Gosnell are two sides of the same abortionist coin:
May 13, 2014, marks one year since Philadelphia abortion Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted of first-degree murder "in the deaths of three babies who were delivered alive and then killed with scissors at his grimy, 'house of horrors' clinic," according to the Associated Press. Gosnell instantly became the face of abortion in the prolife community.
But there's another, more recognizable face pushing abortion in the U.S. - liberal billionaire Warren Buffett. The so-called "Oracle of Omaha" has donated more than $1.2 billion to abortion organizations from 2001 to 2012.
That's equal to the cost of roughly 2.7 million first-trimester abortions - more than twice the number of abortions that occur in an entire year in the United States. Unlike Gosnell, however, everything Buffett has done has been entirely legal. But Buffett does share something else in common with the abortionist. Both their stories have been largely unreported.
Conservative outlets like FreeBeacon.com and The Drudge Report echoed MRC's accusations.
Conservative media are touting a video from the right-wing Media Research Center purporting to show that vendors at gun shows always refuse to sell firearms to felons and other disqualified persons and that legislation to expand the background check system is unnecessary. But according to prior undercover reports, when private sellers at gun shows were not aware they were on camera, a substantial portion agreed to sell guns to people they believed could not legally possess them.
Vendors who have a Federal Firearms License are required to perform background checks on their customers, but so-called private sellers who say they are not "engaged in the business" of selling firearms have no such requirement at gun shows in 33 states. This discrepancy has been termed the "gun show loophole" and is the reason narco-terrorists, illegal gun traffickers and other dangerous individuals seek out unregulated sales at gun shows. The most infamous use of the loophole is the 1999 Columbine High School massacre where all four guns involved were passed through a local gun show by private sellers.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has estimated between 25 and 50 percent of vendors at gun shows sell without a background check. Adding sales over the Internet and through newspaper classified adverts, a substantial proportion of firearms are transferred without a background check in the United States. Federal legislation to expand the background check system to cover private sales failed in the Senate last year.
Right-wing media figures jumped at reports that Sandra Fluke is running for political office in California with sexist attacks and falsehoods about her advocacy for the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control mandate.
Conservatives are misusing a deceptive study to claim that the "liberal media" is giving the recent bridge scandal involving New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration more coverage than they gave allegations that the Internal Revenue Service inappropriately targeted conservative groups. In their attempt to use the Christie story for political gain, conservatives accidentally point to a real media failure: after heavily covering the initial IRS allegations, the press has largely ignored subsequent revelations undermining the "scandal."
On January 8, the media reported on documents showing that close Christie aides were involved in the closure of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge in order to create gridlock in Fort Lee, NJ as political retribution. The next day, Christie gave a press conference apologizing and saying he had fired the aides. As the events involved malfeasance by the administration of perhaps the leading contender for the 2016 Republican nomination, they received heavy media coverage.
On January 10, the conservative Media Research Center (MRC) released a report that attacked the media for that coverage by claiming that ABC, CBS, and NBC had given "a staggering 88 minutes to the story" but "over the last six months have allowed a scant two minutes for the latest on Barack Obama's Internal Revenue Service scandal." The report has been widely cited by conservatives, particularly on Fox News.
On Fox & Friends this morning, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked how the media could "justify wall to wall coverage over a traffic jam in one region of the country when they practically ignored the IRS which affects everybody in the country." Commentary Editor John Podhoretz explained that it's because the Washington press corps socializes with members of the Obama administration and "don't believe that these people could do something that untoward," but they don't know and don't like Republicans like Christie.
This is deeply dishonest. As both the MRC study and the Fox segments ignore, the IRS story broke eight months ago, not six months ago. Rather than comparing the network's coverage of the initial revelations in both stories, the MRC study carefully leaves out the initial, heavy coverage of the IRS story.
But the conservative complaint does inadvertently get at a crucial failure of the media. After trumpeting the initial, damning allegations at the heart of the IRS story, journalists have largely ignored the subsequent revelations undermining the notion that it was, as the MRC terms it, "Barack Obama's Internal Revenue Scandal."
The IRS story was launched on May 10 when Lois Lerner, then the director of the IRS division that determines whether organizations are tax exempt, admitted to and apologized for improper scrutiny of tea party groups and other organizations seeking tax exempt status. Lerner's statement was intended to pre-empt a highly critical inspector general's report that was released soon after. In the days following Lerner's revelation, President Obama called the targeting "outrageous" and "inexcusable" and fired the acting director of the IRS, while Attorney General Eric Holder announced a federal investigation. Meanwhile, Republicans began holding hearings suggesting that the White House had been involved in the targeting. All of these events received heavy coverage in the media.
But less than two months later, new documents and reporting had largely diffused the scandal, as journalist Alex Seitz-Wald detailed:
But now, almost two months later, we know that in fact the IRS targeted lots of different kinds of groups, not just conservative ones; that the only organizations whose tax-exempt statuses were actually denied were progressive ones; that many of the targeted conservative groups legitimately crossed the line; that the IG's report was limited to only Tea Party groups at congressional Republicans' request; and that the White House was in no way involved in the targeting and didn't even know about it until shortly before the public did.
Those revelations, however, did not receive nearly as much coverage as the initial allegations, as Brendan Nyhan, an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College who studies political scandals, explained in an August 1 piece for the Columbia Journalism Review.
Nyhan examined the coverage of the story in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico, finding that while all three had heavily covered the initial allegations in mid-May, "as contradictory facts emerged in June and early July, they had already lost interest, publishing a fraction of the stories that ran during the initial weeks of the scandal."
Here are a few charts from his piece showing the huge drop-off in coverage:
Transgender actress Laverne Cox made waves with a recent appearance on Katie Couric's syndicated talk show, where she pushed back against Couric's fixation on the genitalia of Cox and fellow guest Carmen Carrera, a transgender model. In decrying the objectification of trans people, Cox highlighted a problem that plagues right-wing media coverage of transgender issues.
On the January 6 edition of Katie, Couric repeatedly focused on her guests' gender transitions, introducing Carrera by stating that "she was born a man and that's why she's on our show," before inquiring whether Carrera's "private parts" are "different now." Carrera challenged Couric's line of questioning, saying the issue was "really personal" and that "after the transition there's still life to live, I still have my career goals, I still have my family goals."
Couric pursued the matter further when Cox joined the segment, asking the Orange is the New Black actress for her take on Carrera and Couric's exchange. Cox responded that fixating on trans people's bodies detracts attention from the realities of transgender lives:
Compelling as they were, Cox's words fell on deaf right-wing ears. The Media Research Center's Tim Graham responded by mocking Carrera and Cox's handling of what he called "those uncomfortable wiener questions" and "the bulge issue." Graham derided the "two men" for believing "[i]t's possible to pretend to be a woman and use a urinal."
Graham's transphobia dovetails with the right-wing media's approach to transgender coverage, characterized by willful ignorance and expressions of derision and disgust. After Army Private Chelsea Manning announced her gender transition in 2013, Fox News mocked her transition as "confus[ing]" and "bizarre." Fox & Friends ended a segment on Manning's transition by playing Aerosmith's "Dude (Looks Like A Lady),"while one Fox host cautioned viewers not to be "deceived" by Manning's announcement that she's a female.
Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell slammed Hollywood for including too many gay characters in television programs and films, lamenting that gay characters "never face any real opposition to the gay agenda on these so-called 'inclusive' programs."
In an October 25 column for TownHall.com, Bozell criticized the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD's efforts to track the number of LGBT characters in television programs. Bozell mocked GLAAD for throwing a "tantrum" over the lack of LGBT characters on many networks, asserting that the group wants "children indoctrinated," because apparently it's "propaganda" to expose them to LGBT characters on their shows (emphasis added):
These cultural trend-enforcers went after the movies this summer, complaining that out of the 101 film releases by the major studios in the 2012 calendar year, "only 14 films contained characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. There were no films containing transgender characters."
In the 2012-13 TV season, GLAAD found a record number of LGBT characters -- 4.4 percent, or at least double their actual percentage of the population. Fox was honored for having these characters in 42 percent of their programming hours -- although that wasn't enough for "Excellent" status, merely "Good."
There's no wonder that a Gallup poll in 2011 found that on average, American adults estimate that 25 percent of Americans are homosexual. They're getting that crazy idea from TV.
They want children indoctrinated as well. GLAAD is also not shy when it comes to Teen Nick, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel. Apparently, children also desperately need the propaganda of gay characters in 42 percent of programming hours. They're extremely happy with the liberalism of "ABC Family" and have relayed that Disney Channel executives promised GLAAD they will "introduce LGBT characters in an episode of its original series 'Good Luck Charlie' set to air in 2014, a first for the network." The first of many, they expect.
Here's the catch: Gay characters never face any real opposition to the gay agenda on these so-called "inclusive" programs. There is no measure of Orthodox religious inclusion and no real debates. The victory of the left is assumed without thinking. When a conservative character is created -- like Ellen Barkin's "Nana" in "The New Normal" -- it's a vicious cartoon, the kind that those "against defamation" folks deeply enjoy.
An op-ed in the conservative Washington Times assailed the campaign for transgender equality, lamenting that "you no longer need lady bits to be a lady" and asserting that the LGBT movement is part of a broader left-wing effort to "dismantle" Western civilization.
In an October 9 column, the Media Research Center's Matt Philbin complained that it's becoming increasingly unacceptable to misidentify transgender individuals. According to Philbin, the notion that we should respect a person's gender identity is emblematic of a larger leftist cult of identity:
My privilege invalidates my perspective on how you identify.
If you had to read that sentence twice and maybe are still unsure what it means, you're woefully unfamiliar with contemporary liberal-speak. You see, "identify" and "privilege" are terms with great currency on the left these days. They are also two sides of the same magic coin, minted to instantly quash dissent and silence argument.
This became abundantly clear recently when I made the mistake of commenting on Twitter about the latest 6-year-old "Princess Boy" news story. My crime, according to the liberals I offended, was declining to call a boy a girl. I'm rather a stickler for reality, and because the child was a biological boy, to my benighted thinking, the male pronouns still applied.
First, that matter of "identifying": In 2013, you no longer need lady bits to be a lady. You need only "identify" as one -- reality be darned. In modern America, you can't earn a living the way you want to, or build on your own property if it impacts the habitat of the spotted slug. But call yourself a halibut, and you can self-righteously demand the world cover you in beurre blanc and serve you with a dry white.
How you identify is sovereign. If Bradley Manning says he's Chelsea, then, by golly, the world is expected to send gender-warming gifts with a C embroidered on them. (Would his and hers hand towels be inappropriate?) We're all expected to choose sides in Manning's argument with biology, and make no mistake: Biology is in the wrong. Anyone with the temerity to point out the empress has no womb is a bigot.
Woe unto the pronoun refusenik who happens to be a straight, white guy. As my possibly straight and definitely white Twitter interlocutors so damningly pointed out, I am guilty as charged. Told to "check my privilege," my instinctual response was to suggest they check their bong. In their eyes, I am a creature of privilege. My skin color and reproductive organs -- and how I use them -- have imparted it. White privilege makes my perspective invalid and my opinion unwelcome, as long as I'm disagreeing with liberals.
This charge of privilege amounts to a simple statement: You had your time, white guy. You built this civilization. You're going to sit quietly while we dismantle it. So "check your privilege" and shut up. [emphasis added]
Sean Hannity hosted the Media Research Center's (MRC) Brent Bozell on his Fox program Hannity, and together the pair weaved a distorted caricature of the ongoing government shutdown and the media coverage surrounding it. From their seats on one of the nation's largest news networks, Hannity and Bozell complained that liberal media bias was to blame for the public's low opinion of congressional Republicans' role in the shutdown, supporting their façade with a series of lies, omissions, and a dose of their own bias.
On October 1, the federal government shut down when congressional Republicans refused to pass legislation funding operations unless the funding was tied to the delay or defunding of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare).
On the October 3 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity and Bozell discussed media coverage of the shutdown, reflecting on "all the ways the mainstream media puts their liberal spin on the news," as Hannity put it. He proceeded to open the segment with his own conservative spin on the news, accusing President Obama of refusing to talk to Republicans about the shutdown and absolving Republicans of responsibility. But in fact, the president has called and met with Republican leadership, who are holding fast to their ACA demands.
Bozell stepped in to agree that media's focus on Republicans is inappropriate, complaining that, "In the media coverage -- 21 stories blaming Republicans, not one story blaming Democrats." Bozell's MRC study focused on network evening news stories, ignoring the multitude of Fox News segments blaming Democrats for the shutdown.
Bozell's study in fact confirms that network news is providing reality-based coverage of the shutdown, which persists because of a Republican refusal to extricate its opposition to the ACA from the nation's budget. Bozell fails to acknowledge this fact, and his complaints amount to little more than an argument in favor of journalistic "false equivalency."
Media Research Center's Noel Sheppard has once again used an image that he previously admitted was "anti-Semitic."
In a post on the MRC's NewsBuster's blog discussing comments from former President Bill Clinton about the Republican Party's "media base," Associate Editor Noel Sheppard used the following Photoshopped image of politicians laughing:
(copy of full page with image here)
Newsbusters used the same image, which is steeped in anti-Semitic imagery, in May 2012 in a post also written by Sheppard.
As noted at the time, in the manipulated photo President Obama's tie has a Jewish Star of David design, and the Israeli flag has been added to the tie of former Sen. Joe Lieberman. An Israeli flag pin has also been added to Obama's lapel.
The creator of the images describes the Holocaust as a "scam" on their website, and has several other images with anti-Semitic and conspiratorial themes on display.
After Media Matters pointed this out, Newsbusters removed the image and added an editorial note from Sheppard that said "the original article included a doctored picture of Obama and others that turned out to have anti-Semitic imagery that I didn't notice when I incorporated it into the piece."
Nearly a year and a half later, the same writer has used the same image on the same website.
If there's any doubt how clueless conservative media figures are when it comes to transgender issues, the recent freak out over California's new student non-discrimination law should put it to rest.
For the past several weeks, conservative media outlets have been stoking fears about a new California law that will allow transgender students to have access to school facilities and sports teams that match their gender identity. The law has drawn criticism from outlets like Fox News, which warns that the law will allow boys to sneak into girls' bathrooms and engage in inappropriate behavior.
Case in point: Media Research Center Content Specialist Dan Joseph, who on August 15 released a video in which he poses as a transgender female and asks a woman if she would be comfortable with him using the same restroom as her:
JOSEPH: Excuse me. Are you going into the locker room?
JOSEPH: My name is Dan. I'm a transgender. So that means I have the man parts but inside I feel more like a woman. I was just wondering, is it okay if I go in there with you in there and change and shower and stuff? Just because I don't really feel, like, comfortable in the men's area. It's just weird. Is that okay with you?
Other than attempting to feminize his voice, Joseph doesn't present himself in any way as a female in the clip. He is wearing men's clothing, has a full goatee, and goes by his male name, "Dan."
His impersonation is a perfect example of everything that's wrong with how conservative media imagine transgender people.