Rich Lowry

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  • Right-Wing Media's Worst Attempts to Downplay Sexual Assault and Diminish Survivors


    For Sexual Assault Awareness month, Media Matters looks back at right-wing media's history of downplaying, and questioning the legitimacy of, sexual assault. Right-wing media figures have called reporting statutory rape “whiny,” claimed sexual assault victims have a "coveted status," said the sexual assault epidemic is "not happening," blamed feminism for encouraging sexual assault, and said attempts to curb sexual assault constitute "a war happening on boys."

  • "Marcobot": Media Rail Against Marco Rubio After His "Disastrous" Debate Gaffe

    Slate's Jamelle Bouie: Rubio's Gaffe Was "One Of The Most Uncomfortable Moments Of The Entire Republican Debate Season"

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media are calling Marco Rubio "robotic," and criticizing his "disastrous Republican debate gaffe" after the presidential hopeful "awkwardly pivoted four times to a well-rehearsed line," in an exchange with Gov. Chris Christie at the final Republican debate before New Hampshire voters cast ballots in the first primary of the election season.

  • How The Media Set Marco Rubio Up To Win By Losing In Iowa

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Media outlets including The New York Times and CNN have helped to temper the expectations of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's chances in Iowa by buying into his campaign's messaging that a third place finish in the Iowa caucuses would be a victory for Rubio.

  • INFOGRAPHIC: The Conservative Civil War Over Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative pundits are bickering over Donald Trump's campaign, especially after National Review's "Against Trump" issue and the backlash it engendered. On one side are pundits who want to stop Trump's candidacy in its tracks. On the other are conservatives who are lauding Trump's candidacy, even if they have not officially endorsed him. Media Matters breaks down exactly who is on which side (click for the full-sized image):

    Civil War over Donald Trump

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko, Research by Eric Hananoki
  • GOP Civil War: Conservatives Turn On National Review Over Anti-Trump Issue

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Right-wing media figures are criticizing the conservative magazine National Review after it released a comprehensive feature of conservatives blasting current GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump. The critics are claiming the magazine's criticism is "intellectual snobbery," that the magazine is "irrelevant," that it has "lost touch with the electorate," and that it is committing "suicide."

  • NYT Highlights How National Review Is Leading The Conservative Media Campaign To Stop Trump

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    The New York Times highlighted an effort by National Review's editor to persuade other "conservative thinkers" to speak out against Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump.

    A January 21 New York Times article revealed that National Review editor Rich Lowry was persuading "conservative thinkers" such as "Erick Erickson, William Kristol and Yuval Levin" to "lend their names to the manifesto against Mr. Trump." The Times article continued, explaining how Lowry has urged conservatives to "write essays buttressing the argument that Mr. Trump has no commitment to restraining the role of government and possesses authoritarian impulses antithetical to conservative principles." Further, the article highlighted that Republicans "can live with Mr. Cruz" despite "believing that his nomination would leave the party divided, but manageably so" unlike Trump who "poses the most serious peril to the conservative movement since the 1950s-era John Birch Society": 

    The Republicans who dominate the right-leaning magazines, journals and political groups can live with Mr. Cruz, believing that his nomination would leave the party divided, but manageably so, extending a longstanding intramural debate over pragmatism versus purity that has been waged since the days of Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. They say Mr. Trump, on the other hand, poses the most serious peril to the conservative movement since the 1950s-era John Birch Society.

    Rich Lowry, editor of National Review -- embracing the role of his predecessor, William F. Buckley, who in the 1950s confronted the Birch Society members -- has reached out to conservative thinkers to lend their names to the manifesto against Mr. Trump. He has drawn some of the country's leading conservatives, including Erick Erickson, William Kristol and Yuval Levin, to write essays buttressing the argument that Mr. Trump has no commitment to restraining the role of government and possesses authoritarian impulses antithetical to conservative principles.

    Lowry's effort to stop Trump comes as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been gaining heavy support from right-wing talk radio, which acts as his best line of defense during Trump-hailed attacks. In turn, Cruz parrots smears  and talking points originating from far-right media figures, while showering them with praise.

  • New Study Once Again Debunks Right-Wing Media's Favorite Myths About Campus Sexual Assault Statistics

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    A newly released study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)  found that more than one in four undergraduate women have experienced sexual assault, further debunking right-wing media's repeated assertions doubting the the frequency and severity of sexual violence on college campuses.

    The January 20 BJS report found that on average "21 percent of female undergraduates at the unnamed colleges and universities told researchers they had been sexually assaulted since starting their higher education," while "[o]ne in four female seniors reported being sexually assaulted in their undergraduate years." Huffington Post senior editor Tyler Kingkade wrote that the results of this latest study are "similar to the results of earlier research" and confirmed an earlier "survey of 300,000 collegiate women in 2007 that concluded 5 percent were raped annually, and 13 percent were raped before college or by the time they graduated."

    Kingkade wrote that researchers believe the study to be "a major advance in the research about sexual assault on campus" and quoted John Foubert, a researcher at Oklahoma State University, who said that "the study is well done" and researchers "have many excellent reasons to trust the results."

    This latest study once again rebuts conservative media's campaign of misrepresenting and outright rejecting studies demonstrating the frequency of campus sexual assault, casting previous, similar findings as "ridiculous" or "bizarre and wholly false." In December 2015, Fox News host Martha MacCallum criticized the earlier statistic that one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college, claiming that "other studies contradict that finding," and that "[n]o one really knows for sure." National Review's Rich Lowry previously alleged that studies documenting the severity of campus sexual assault are "bogus" because the measure "is based on a survey that includes attempted forced kissing as sexual assault."

    The BJS study is just the latest in an increasing trend of research confirming the high rates of sexual violence occurring on college campuses. As Kingkade summarized:

    • Among female sexual assault victims, only 12.5 percent of rapes and 4.3 percent of sexual battery incidents were reported to any official, defined as a university administrator, law enforcement or crisis centers.

    • A majority of women who experienced sexual assault reported only one incident happening to them, while about one-third said they experienced two incidents.

    • An average of 21 percent of female undergrads had experienced sexual assault since entering college, and 34 percent had experienced it in their lifetime.

    • An average of 7 percent of men said they had been sexually assaulted since starting college, and 11.2 percent experienced it in their lifetime.

    • Those who identified as LGBT or non-heterosexual reported sexual assault at higher rates than their heterosexual classmates.
  • Conservative Media Spin: Abortion Rhetoric Is Harmless, But Black Lives Matter Rhetoric Kills

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Risking severe whiplash injuries, Fox News and the rest of the conservative media have tried to execute a sudden about-face following the Planned Parenthood terror attack in Colorado Springs last week. Scrambling for political cover in the wake of the gun rampage and news that alleged shooter Robert Dear likely targeted Planned Parenthood for political purposes, conservative commentators quickly rewrote their long-held talking points about inciting violence.

    Here's the spin that the conservative press, along with the Republican Party, is now desperately trying to push: When you call people "baby killers" and "murderers" and claim organizations sell "baby parts" for profit, you're in no way promoting violence. And you're in no way responsible if a like-minded person takes matters into his own hands, opens fire on a Planned Parenthood facility, shoots eleven people, murders three, and then reportedly makes reference to "no more baby parts" when the carnage is over.

    There is no connection between acts of political violence and extremist rhetoric. It's simply "unfair." Or so goes the Fox News mantra this week.

    Why the whiplash injuries? Because for the last year Fox and its allies have been warning that rhetoric kills. And specifically, rhetoric from Black Lives Matter activists gets police officers killed. (There's no evidence to support that claim.) And for that, Democrats, including President Obama, are to blame for the so-called "war on cops." 

    So in a matter of just a few days (i.e. pre-Colorado Springs vs. post-Colorado Springs), Fox News has thrown away its established playbook and quickly written a new one where everyone should just chill about incendiary political taunts that are seen as being violent and potentially deadly. (Going one step further: "So what" if far-right rhetoric inspires killings?)

    Amidst the Fox News flip-flop, which brand of activist rhetoric is actually producing bouts of targeted violence today? As 2015 unfolds against the backdrop of Black Lives Matter protests, note that the number of officers shot and killed in the line of the duty has gone down this year.

    By contrast, Planned Parenthood has experienced a spike in attacks on its facilities and employees this year, most likely the result of a coordinated smear campaign against the organization in the form of duplicitous videos, which kicked off last summer and have been heavily promoted by Fox News and other conservative media.

    In fact, rather than producing violence as Fox suggests, Black Lives Matter protesters last week in Minneapolis were the target of gun violence. Four men have been charged in the shooting of five black protesters. Three of the arrested were reportedly fascinated "with guns, video games, the Confederacy and right-wing militia groups."

    The truth is Fox News has denounced Black Lives Matter as a "'murder' movement" and compared it to the Ku Klux Klan. It has also blamed the group for inciting violence.

    In May, after NYPD officer Brian Moore was killed, Fox host Eric Bolling responded by suggesting liberals and their "war on cops" was at fault. According to Bolling, "The 'anti-cop left' in America seems to be ... fueling some of this hatred and, you know, murderous streak that's going on against cops."

    As mentioned, there is no "murderous streak" against cops in this country. And as Vox recently noted, "The goals and message of Black Lives Matter have nothing to do with harming police officers in any way. The movement is explicitly concerned with reducing the racial disparities found in the criminal justice system."

    In December 2014, following the killings of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Fox News could not wait to blame the killings on rhetoric. The coverage of the New York killings leaned heavily on assigning a larger cultural, collective blame for activists who protested police misconduct, and Democrats who expressed support for the Black Lives Matter cause.

    Today's media contrast is startling. Following the Planned Parenthood attack, Fox News contributor and National Review editor Rich Lowry insisted that a "broad-based movement shouldn't be tarred by the crimes of one individual."

    You mean a broad-based movement like Black Lives Matter?

    National Review's Andrew McCarthy previously disagreed. Twelve months ago he wrote, "Cop killing is thus a foreseeable, if not inexorable, consequence of tolerating the movement as a well-intentioned display of our commitment to free speech."

    Cop killing was a foreseeable consequence of "violent rhetoric," McCarthy stressed, insisting the New York City cop killer last year was "patently inspired by" police protesters.

    Tragically, a policeman was among the victims last week in Colorado Springs. (A total of five officers were shot.) So what has McCarthy written about the anti-abortion "enablers" and the Planned Parenthood shooter being "patently inspired" by protesters? What's McCarthy's take on the dangerous, "foreseeable" connection between violent rhetoric and cop killing in the wake of the Planned Parenthood terror attack?

    The answer is, nothing. McCarthy hasn't bothered to address the issue at National Review. And that's where the conservative media denial comes in. 

    Keep in mind that Robert Dear's former wife described him as "extremely evangelistic." He was previously seen handing out anti-Obama pamphlets. He reportedly mentioned "no more body parts" after he was arrested. He made "anti-abortion" and "anti-government" comments to investigators. And he arrived at Planned Parenthood with a duffel bag full of guns and ammunition.

    Also, this from the New York Times' reporting [emphasis added]:

    One person who spoke with him extensively about his religious views said Mr. Dear, who is 57, had praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing "God's work." In 2009, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concerns for the privacy of the family, Mr. Dear described as "heroes" members of the Army of God, a loosely organized group of anti-abortion extremists that has claimed responsibility for a number of killings and bombings.

    Partisans on the right can pretend the motivation for the killing spree will remain an eternal mystery. But a plausible link obviously exists. As does a plausible link between blood-soaked verbal attacks against Planned Parenthood and the possibility they inspire people to commit violent, and even deadly, acts.

    "When Bill O'Reilly compares Planned Parenthood to Nazis," wrote Michelle Goldberg at Slate, "we shouldn't be surprised that some people conclude that taking up arms against it is permissible."  

  • Right-Wing Media Attack Hillary Clinton For Not Saying "Radical Islam" During CBS Debate

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    During the November 14 CBS Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton explained that she doesn't "think we are at war with all Muslims," but rather that "we're at war with jihadists." She noted that President George W. Bush expressed a similar sentiment following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Right-wing media figures immediately condemned Clinton for not using the phrase "radical Islam," accusing Clinton of "giving Islam a pass" and likening her comments to the claim that "Hitler wasn't an anti-Semite."

  • The Conservative Media War Over Donald Trump


    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign launch speech viciously denigrated Mexican immigrants and strongly split conservative media figures on his candidacy. While some argue Trump is a "rodeo clown," others think he is "saying things that need to be said." Several conservatives disagree with Trump's rhetoric but claim he's raising important issues.

  • Right-Wing Media See "Hysteria Against Cops" As Cause Of Increase In Homicides

    Blog ››› ››› LIBBY WATSON

    Media outlets are baselessly linking an increase in murders in Baltimore and other cities to "increased scrutiny" of police, without noting the legitimate reasons why such scrutiny of local police departments is needed. 

    Homicides have spiked in the last month in Baltimore, with 43 killings reported in May, the most in one month since 1971 and the highest monthly per capita rate on record, according to The Baltimore Sun. At the same time, arrests have plummeted, with a WBAL-TV investigation finding arrests have gone down 32 percent since the curfew was lifted, and the Sun reporting arrests in May this year were less than half the number in May last year.

    Several right-wing media figures are attributing these numbers to increased scrutiny of police, and this narrative is seeping into mainstream coverage. On the June 1 edition of Fox & Friends, during an interview with author Kevin Jackson, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle argued that "police are more concerned about their own well-being. They don't want to be arrested or persecuted for just putting on the blue every morning." She added that "when you have individuals like [Baltimore City State's Attorney] Marilyn Mosby going aggressively against the police," this "undermines the ability of law enforcement to keep people in the community safe," linking the increase in homicides to Mosby's decision to charge six Baltimore police officers in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.

    On the May 31 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, National Review Online contributor Heather Mac Donald similarly claimed the U.S. is "in the grips of a hysteria against cops," saying "cops have gotten the message that they should back off of policing." She faulted the "mainstream media, the university presidents talking about assaults on blacks and of course the president and former attorney general." Mac Donald, who has a history of deeply offensive commentary on race, was discussing her recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which she argued that the "most plausible explanation of the current surge in lawlessness is the intense agitation against American police departments over the past nine months." 

    The previous week, National Review editor Rich Lowry also advocated for increased incarceration in response to the spike in violence, and cited anonymous police officers who "say they feel that city authorities don't have their back, understandably enough when city leaders are loath to call rioters 'thugs.'"

    And now the Associated Press is adopting the same language. In a May 31 report on Baltimore homicides, the AP stated that "Some attribute the drop [in arrests] to increased scrutiny of police following the April death of Freddie Gray from injuries received in police custody."  

    Aside from the obvious problem with this argument -- that there is no evidence these feelings attributed to the police have resulted in an increase in murders -- this coverage has also missed a significant reason why people have called for increased scrutiny of police officers since the deaths of men like Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray: the fact that police killings and police brutality disproportionately affect people of color. 

    On May 30, the Washington Post released a study on police killings, which found that two-thirds of unarmed victims of police shootings were minorities, and "blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred." Their figures represent far greater total than the FBI statistics on police killings, which are "widely considered to be misleading and inaccurate": FBI records show about 400 shootings per year, compared to 385 so far this year in the Post's data. Three of the 385 shootings the Post reported on resulted in the officer being charged, or less than one percent. And over the last several years, the Department of Justice has found that numerous local police departments have engaged in a "pattern or practice" of improper discrimination against residents of color, and have disproportionately targeted them for stops and arrests.

    Faced with stark numbers like these, any media outlet should feel compelled to at least contextualize claims of a "hysteria against cops" with this evidence of disproportionate police violence against minorities.