In his new biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman lays out how Fox hired journalist Peter Boyer after Boyer published an Ailes-friendly profile in The New Yorker.
According to Sherman, Ailes "was pleased" with the profile, while neighbors in Ailes' New York hometown -- who were feuding with the Fox head -- "felt Boyer got spun." A year and a half later, after a stint at Newsweek, Boyer was snapped up by Fox News and added to their investigative reporting team.
Boyer's role in Sherman's book was highlighted earlier this week by Gawker, which took aim at New York Times book critic Janet Maslin's "inexplicably hostile takedown" of the Ailes biography. According to Gawker, Maslin has "maintained a 30-year friendship with" Boyer, a fact they contend should have been disclosed in her review, given Boyer's role in Sherman's narrative. (The Times responded that Maslin's relationship with Boyer was "completely irrelevant".)
So who is Peter Boyer? While he carried an impressive resume to Fox News (18 years at the New Yorker, stints for PBS, NPR, the NY Times and others), he also has a history of friendly treatment of prominent conservatives.
Fox News promoted its upcoming food stamp special by stigmatizing participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, by complaining that recipients don't feel sufficient shame and by hyping anecdotal evidence that the system is being manipulated.
In a preview for Fox News' upcoming special The Great Food Stamp Binge, America Live guest host Gregg Jarrett and Fox News editor-at-large Peter Boyer attacked SNAP recipients, complaining that while there "used to be a sense in this country that if you are on the government dole, there was a little bit of a stigma attached, a little bit of shame involved" but that the "government to some degree has helped to try to break down the resistance" to joining the program. The segment aired an interview with a man Jarrett referred to as "surfer dude" and "surfs by day, plays in his band at night, and eats wonderfully, lobster, generally speaking, on his food stamps, courtesy of you, the taxpayer":
Jarrett and Boyer's attack on SNAP recipients is only the latest in Fox's campaign to stigmatize low-income Americans. Fox host Stuart Varney has long attacked SNAP recipients, and low-income individuals in general, claiming they are the victims of a government plot to increase dependency and buy votes, that they have appliances to make their lives comfortable, and that they lack "richness of spirit." The campaign against SNAP and its beneficiaries has been driven by Fox News hosts across the network.
But contrary to Fox's characterization of SNAP recipients as lacking shame and their promotion of "surfer dude's" story, the majority of recipients are working-class Americans with jobs, senior citizens, or children. A 2013 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that the "overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do so" (emphasis original):
The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do so. Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP -- and more than 80 percent work in the year prior to or the year after receiving SNAP. The rates are even higher for families with children -- more than 60 percent work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90 percent work in the prior or subsequent year.
The number of SNAP households that have earnings while participating in SNAP has been rising for more than a decade, and has more than tripled -- from about 2 million in 2000 to about 6.4 million in 2011. The increase was especially pronounced during the recent deep recession, suggesting that many people have turned to SNAP because of under-employment -- for example, when one wage-earner in a two-parent family lost a job, when a worker's hours were cut, or when a worker turned to a lower-paying job after being laid off.
A separate report pointed out that "Almost 70 percent of SNAP recipients are not expected to work, primarily because they are children, elderly, or disabled."
Fox's attack on SNAP recipients comes as hunger and poverty have reached elevated levels following the economic downturn. A 2012 study by the Department of Agriculture found that nearly 15 percent of U.S. households were "food insecure at least some time during" 2011, "including 5.7 percent with very low food security - meaning that the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food."
Fox News editor-at-large Peter Boyer previewed the network's special on the Kermit Gosnell murder trial by falsely claiming the trial illustrates "what abortion is," and that Gosnell's alleged crimes were the natural response to Roe v. Wade.
Gosnell is currently facing eight counts of murder for horrific acts committed under the guise of women's health at a clinic he operated in Philadelphia, PA. Since early April, right-wing media have criticized the media's perceived lack of coverage of the trial, and a new Fox documentary on the case is scheduled to air May 3.
In an advance interview with Breitbart.com, Boyer previewed Fox's upcoming Gosnell documentary, claiming that "though abortion itself is not on trial--it ends up being that it really is," and suggested that "Roe v. Wade created a specialized niche in the marketplace and Gosnell filled that niche in an urban, minority community."
However, as Media Matters previously noted, Gosnell's alleged actions bear no resemblance to legal abortion procedures, which is why he faces criminal charges. The grand jury in Gosnell's case noted that "Gosnell's approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low - and break the law. That was his competitive edge." The grand jury report elaborated:
Pennsylvania, like other states, permits legal abortion within a regulatory framework. Physicians must, for example, provide counseling about the nature of the procedure. Minors must have parental or judicial consent. All women must wait 24 hours after first visiting the facility, in order to fully consider their decision. Gosnell's compliance with such requirements was casual at best. At the Women's Medical Society, the only question that really mattered was whether you had the cash. Too young? No problem. Didn't want to wait? Gosnell provided same-day service.
As University of California reproductive health professor Dr. Tracy Weitz pointed out, the procedures Gosnell is accused of performing have "nothing to do with the way in which the standard of care and later abortion procedures are performed in the United States," and that his actions are "nowhere in the medical literature."
Abortion procedures in the U.S. are highly regulated for safety. Women face fewer complications during legal abortion procedures than during childbirth: just 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions compared to 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the vast majority of states prohibit abortions after a fetus reaches "viability," typically between 20 to 24 weeks, except primarily in cases when the procedure is "necessary to protect the woman's life or health." Such procedures make up just 1 percent of abortions in the United States.
Though Boyer blamed the legalization of abortion for creating the "niche" that Gosnell's clinic exploited, research has shown that laws promoted by anti-abortion activists that raise access barriers to abortion push women toward such unsafe and unlawful operations as Gosnell's. According to the American Journal of Public Health:
Several studies indicate that the factors causing women to delay abortions until the second trimester include cost and access barriers, late detection of pregnancy, and difficulty deciding whether to continue the pregnancy. In part because of their increased vulnerability to these barriers, low-income women and women of color are more likely than are other women to have second-trimester abortions.
The grand jury in Gosnell's case stated: "Gosnell catered to the women who couldn't get abortions elsewhere." And as Salon's Irin Carmon noted, "The abortion rate is higher in countries where it's illegal, and around 47,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions in clinics that likely look a lot like Gosnell's."
Pro-choice activists have publicly condemned Gosnell. A Planned Parenthood official called the actions committed at his clinic "horrifying and outrageous," and NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said:
So let me be loud and clear: Kermit Gosnell is a dangerous predator. He wouldn't exist, couldn't exist, without the work of Rep. Duffy and his friends in the anti-choice movement. Opponents of women's rights have hounded safe, legal health providers halfway out of business and blocked women's access to the quality care they need.
In a New Yorker profile of Rudy Giuliani, Peter Boyer uncritically reported that "Giuliani speaks often of his own expertise on terrorism" and asserted that he "performed well on September 11th." He added: "The common refrain among New Yorkers" is that "Giuliani showed leadership on the day of the terrorist attacks." However, Boyer did not mention that Giuliani's performance before, during, and after the attacks has been questioned and criticized.
On Hardball, The New Yorker's Peter Boyer asserted that "Jim Webb was not exactly a Daily Kos Democrat in Virginia." In fact, Webb is a Daily Kos member who has a diary at the website. He has also repeatedly credited bloggers -- including Daily Kos -- and Internet support for his 2006 Senate election. Further, Webb was endorsed by Daily Kos and others as one of their "Netroots Candidates" during the 2006 election cycle.