After African-American communities in Baltimore and Ferguson, MO came together to demonstrate against the deadly and racially disparate policies of law enforcement, Fox News branded the protests a "war on cops." But when the story became a mostly white Texas biker gang plotting to kill police with grenades and car bombs, the network took a decidedly less sensationalist approach in its reporting.
Fox host Sean Hannity declared on May 12 that there is a "war on police in America" and tied recent statistics on law enforcement officers' deaths to protestors in Baltimore who took to the streets in response to the unexplained death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
Earlier in May, Fox host Eric Bolling responded to the killing of NYPD officer Brian Moore by suggesting that liberals waging a "war on cops" were to blame. He said, "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."
On March 12, Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs directed viewers to vote in an online poll that asked, "Has the Obama administration's war on law enforcement contributed, in your opinion, to violence in Ferguson and other communities around the country?"
On the December 29, 2014 broadcast of Fox News' Special Report, contributor Charles Krauthammer responded to the pattern of unarmed black men being shot by police officers by saying, "If there's a pattern here, it's the war on police. I don't see a war on young black men."
But on a major story that involved serious threats against law enforcement, the "people versus the police" warlike rhetoric has been conspicuously absent from Fox's news coverage.
On May 17 in Waco, TX, a shootout between rival biker gangs and law enforcement left nine people dead and more than 190 people in custody. In the immediate aftermath, some gang members issued death threats against uniformed officers. Days later, reports of more violent threats emerged -- members of the Bandidos biker gang who serve in the military were giving their fellow members grenades and C4 explosives, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. CNN reported on the existence of Bandidos "plots targeting high-ranking law enforcement officials and their families with car bombs":
The Bandidos want to retaliate against police for shooting "their brothers" as they came out of the Twin Peaks restaurant, the bulletin says.
The gang has ordered a hit against Texas troopers and other officers, according to the bulletin. Among the threats are running over officers at traffic stops and the use of grenades and Molotov cocktails and firearms.
Fox News reported the threats, but despite the element of military-grade tactics in the story, has completely refrained from describing the plot as part of its much-hyped "war on cops." Instead, the network has played it straight, with just-the-facts news reports read on camera with no accompanying pictures or video.
The contrast is noteworthy, and highlights the double-standard that the media in general has exercised when reporting on the biker club shootout versus how it reported on the protests in Baltimore -- something even CNN noticed.
Right-wing media have a plan to solve the national crisis of poverty in America -- and it's all about "personal responsibility."
Roughly 45 million Americans live in poverty, 1 in 7 received food stamps just last year, and 20 percent of children under the age of 18 were impoverished in 2013. Politicians and media figures have offered many possible solutions to help low-income Americans break free from this systemic cycle of inequality, including expanding the social safety net and educational opportunities for all.
But over the years, conservative media have offered their own strategies. Watch as Media Matters looks back at the five easy steps they've proposed to help Americans living paycheck to paycheck find that "richness of spirit":
From the May 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News is outraged that an ABC News anchor waited to disclose charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation, despite the network's marked history of failing to disclosure its pundits' political and financial conflicts of interest.
From the May 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News defended Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush after he said he would still have authorized the invasion of Iraq "given what we know now," claiming that Bush simply misunderstood the question.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush faced criticism from conservatives for comments he made during a May 11 interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, where he said that he would have authorized the invasion of Iraq after Kelly asked him if he would have done so "knowing what we know now." Conservative columnist Byron York called Bush's response a "disastrous defense of the Iraq War" and radio host Laura Ingraham commented that "there has to be something wrong" with Bush for his answer.
But Fox News quickly helped Bush whitewash his comments as a misinterpretation. On May 11, soon after the interview aired, Kelly said that Bush was trying to answer a different question.
On the May 12 edition of his radio show, Fox's Sean Hannity gave Bush a platform to "clarify" his comments because "The media seems to be taking it another way and I wanted to see if I could clarify that today." Bush claimed that he "interpreted the question wrong" but argued "I don't know what that decision would have been" on invading Iraq.
Later on The Kelly File, Kelly discussed Bush's comments with Fox senior political analyst Brit Hume. Hume argued that Bush "clearly misunderstood your question, although the question was quite straightforwardly posed." Hume added that Bush's answer was "clearly and unmistakably an answer to a question about what you would have done had you not known what we know now."
From the May 12 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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Right-wing media accused First Lady Michelle Obama of "wasting an opportunity," "playing the race card," and reciting a "litany of victimization" after the first lady's commencement address at Tuskegee University in Alabama.
Fox host Sean Hannity invited extremist anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller to debate radical imam Anjem Choudary on his show, disingenuously creating a false dichotomy with two extreme figures in a debate on Islam and free speech.
On the May 6 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity hosted Pamela Geller and Anjem Choudary to discuss Geller's anit-Islam cartoon contest in Garland, TX, the scene of a shooting on May 3. Choudary said he supports the death penalty for those who draw cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and for people who leave Islam. Geller claimed President Obama has "created an environment that raised the stakes" on terror in the United States.
Choudary is a radical Islamic preacher from the United Kingdom, and has links to Britons who have fought in Syria for the Islamic State. The advocacy group Hope Not Hate has described Choudary as "the single biggest gateway to terrorism in recent British history," saying he has "facilitated or encouraged" many Muslims to join the anti-Assad militants in Syria. Muslim groups in the United Kingdom have also denounced Choudary. The Muslim Council of Britain called him "a self-serving publicity seeker," and the Islamic Society of Britain said Choudary "has no legitimacy in the Muslim community."
Despite Choudary's clearly extreme views -- for example, he described ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as "the caliph of all Muslims and the prince of the believers"-- Hannity has repeatedly invited him onto his show. In January, Hannity hosted Choudary to discuss the Charlie Hebdo shootings.
Pamela Geller is an extreme anti-Muslim activist who runs the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik cited her work frequently in his "manifesto." She has claimed that President Obama has "sided with" terrorists and warned that teaching Arabic in US schools was the "spearhead of an ideological project that is deeply opposed to the United States of America." In 2010, she campaigned against the so-called "Ground Zero mosque," which she described as a "triumphal mosque" on "conquered lands."
In an email to Media Matters, Heidi Beirich, the director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, said of the segment:
"We're disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that Sean Hannity would offer a national platform to two well-known haters. Ms. Geller and Mr. Choudary represent nothing more than an extreme political fringe. Their divisive behavior is made even worse by the fact that Ms. Geller is now positioning herself to be a defender of free speech, while Mr. Choudary is purporting to speak on behalf of all Muslims."
From the May 5 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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Baltimore's WBAL-TV investigative reporter Jayne Miller highlighted serious concerns with a Washington Post report that a prisoner who was in the van with Freddie Gray heard Gray trying to injure himself, pointing to WBAL's reporting from medical experts on Gray's injuries.
On April 29, The Washington Post published a report, based on a police document obtained by the paper, that said a prisoner who was in the police van with Gray heard him "banging against the walls" and thought he "was intentionally trying to injure himself." The paper noted that the prisoner "was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him," and included comment from Gray's family attorney.
But WBAL-TV's Jayne Miller says her reporting undermines this claim. She appeared on the April 30 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, where she explained that "according to our sources familiar with this investigation, at that stop when that prisoner is loaded, Gray is unresponsive -- not able to bang his head against the wall." Miller went on to say that the preliminary autopsy findings indicated no injury to Gray other than to his spine, although the family says his voice box was injured. The Baltimore Sun reported on April 25 that "[p]olice have said that a preliminary report on Gray's autopsy showed he had no injuries except to his spinal cord." Miller also noted that their reporting indicated "the medical evidence does not suggest at all that he was able to injure himself," because "the force of this injury" was "akin to have the force involved in a car accident." This was also reported in the Baltimore Sun.
Miller had previously tweeted on April 23 that the Baltimore police commissioner said the other prisoner reported Gray was "mostly quiet."
The report was also called into question by Dr. Marc Siegel on Fox News' Fox & Friends, who said there was "no way that you could sever your spine by bashing your head against a wall or side of a car," and added there was "no chance" that Gray could have injured himself "to the extent where he would sever his spine."
The Daily Beast's Michael Daly suggested that the "banging" the prisoner says he heard might have been Gray "signaling his need for help." Daly said the "purpose of that banging seems to have been made clear when Gray asked for medical assistance."
The story has been widely reported by other outlets, including CNN, Business Insider, CBS and The Hill. The report was also covered on Fox News. On The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly described the report as "explosive," and on Hannity, Sean Hannity suggested this report indicated there was a "rush to judgment without any facts by the president and others."
The Post story said that it's "not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner's version." What is clear is that there is available, credible information that contradicts the other prisoner's account, which the Post could have included before the story was uncritically repeated in other mainstream outlets. And as Salon's Joan Walsh pointed out, this sort of caution is even more necessary in the absence of an official police report on the incident.
Fox News' Geraldo Rivera was confronted by a Baltimore resident frustrated by the network's history of biased and incendiary coverage of racial issues. Rivera responded by retreating before going live on-air where he described the young black man as a "vandal," yelling at him, "you're making a fool of yourself!"
On April 28, Geraldo Rivera was confronted by a young black Baltimore resident as he prepared to report on the unrest in the city following the death of Freddie Gray. The resident explained his frustration with Fox News' failure to spotlight Gray's death while hyping the unrest that ensued. The young man explained to Rivera, "I want you and Fox News to get out of Baltimore City, because you are not here reporting about the boarded up homes and the homeless people under MLK. You're not reporting about the poverty levels up and down North Avenue. ... But you're here for the black riots that happen. ... you're not here for the death of Freddie Gray." Watch:
From the April 28 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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TV weather forecasters aren't always climate change experts. But they are often responsible for informing the public about climate change impacts in real time, so it's important that they accurately reflect the science.
Fortunately, a new survey from George Mason University provides some hope in that regard. It found that more than nine out of ten broadcast meteorologists acknowledge that climate change is happening, and about two-thirds say human activities play a significant role.
Sean Hannity falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton's campaign admitted to paying female staffers less than male staffers while she was a senator, when in fact the opposite was true. Clinton's campaign reported that she paid men and women equally.
On the April 22 edition of his radio show, Hannity said that the Clinton campaign had "confirmed the accuracy" of a report from the conservative Free Beacon that Clinton had paid female staffers less than male staffers in her senate office:
HANNITY: There is another story I wanted to bring up about Hillary, and her campaign confirmed the accuracy of which to the Washington Free Beacon -- an analysis that showed that women working in Clinton's senate office were paid 72 cents for each dollar paid to men. The campaign told FactCheck.org that it does not dispute the accuracy of the report, which analyzed the office's publicly available disbursement forms from fiscal years 2002 to 2008, and found that men working for Clinton had a median salary of $15,708 higher than women.
In fact, the campaign told FactCheck.org that the Free Beacon analysis had been based on "incomplete" information and provided data showing that Clinton paid women equally. From the FactCheck.org article:
"The Free Beacon based their analysis off an incomplete, and therefore inaccurate set of numbers," said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign. "The fact is, Hillary paid full-time men and women equally."
The FactCheck.org article states that the campaign supplied Clinton's senate staff employment records, which show that female staffers' median salaries were "virtually identical" to the male staffers' salaries. Those records also indicated that Clinton hired twice the number of women as men.
The article explains that the Free Beacon used a different data set to arrive at its conclusion that women were paid less - and quoted American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman Ornstein, who said he "believes the Clinton campaign methodology provides a more accurate measure of her record on pay equity."