Conservative blog The Daily Caller posted an article with the headline: "Barack Obama, Wife Beater."
The July 1 post, posted just before midnight with an anonymous "Daily Caller contributor" byline, featured just five words -- "He's wearing a wife beater" -- accompanied by two pictures of President Obama, in which a "wife-beater" sleeveless shirt is visible under his white dress shirt. The headline read "Barack Obama, Wife Beater."
As of Thursday morning, the piece was featured on The Daily Caller's homepage.
A poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 20 percent of women who attended college in the past four years were sexually assaulted, contrary to claims in the right-wing media that the problem of campus sexual assault is overblown.
The poll of 1,053 men and women, conducted by phone between January and March, found that 20 percent of women and five percent of men reported being sexually assaulted either by force or while incapacitated. A further 11 percent of women reported an attempted assault.
The poll also underlined the problem of under-reporting in sexual assault cases, with three-quarters of victims saying they told someone else, but only 11 percent saying they told the police or college authorities. 89 percent said no one was held responsible or punished for the incident.
Men and women in the poll were sharply divided on what they perceive to be the rate of campus sexual assault, too: "58 percent of men believe the share of women sexually assaulted at their school is less than 1 in 5. An identical majority of women believe the share assaulted is 1 in 5 or greater."
The Post story highlighted the stories of some of the women who were given follow-up interviews:
A 21-year-old at a public university in the Southeast who participated in the poll said she was raped by a male student who escorted her out of a nightclub after she suddenly became woozy and separated from a group of friends. Someone, she suspects, had slipped a drug into her rum drink.
"In the morning, I woke up and my lip was so swollen," the woman said. "I just remember sobbing and sobbing and sobbing the next day. You learn a lot of lessons."
Like most who said they had been assaulted, the woman did not report the incident to university officials or police. She said she worried about whether she would ruin the man's future and wondered what to make of what had happened: Had there been a misunderstanding? Should she have been more vehement in saying no? She remembers clearly crying during the attack. She knew it was rape. But how would others see it?
Many in the right-wing media have downplayed concerns about college sexual assault. Previous studies with similar findings caused widespread outrage among right-wing media figures when the White House cited them in its campus sexual assault strategy launch, with the Daily Caller describing a Centers for Disease Control study that found one in five women is sexually assaulted in college as "bizarre and wholly false." On an NRA News show, The Washington Examiner's Ashe Schow claimed that the "one in five myth" was driving "hysteria" on campuses. And Rush Limbaugh went so far as to call the issue of college sexual assault "fake" and "made up."
Last year, the Post's own George Will described efforts to combat such assaults as an attempt to "make victimhood a coveted status that confers privilege," calling a 20 percent assault rate "preposterous." Not long after the poll's publication, the Post's fact-checker Glenn Kessler tweeted that he was removing the single "Pinocchio" that he had given President Obama for his citation of the one-in-five statistic.
The Daily Caller misrepresented an academic essay Hillary Clinton penned in 1973 to suggest that the former secretary of state views marriage as a valid comparison to slavery. However, the context of Clinton's essay makes clear she was discussing the evolving legal status of various groups such as women, slaves and children over time.
Clinton's 1973 essay for the Harvard Educational Review "raises serious questions about what kind of America Clinton foresees," The Daily Caller claimed on June 9, because in it Clinton "compared the institution of marriage and the dependency of childhood to slavery." As evidence, the conservative blog pointed to where Clinton discussed how the "basic rationale for depriving people of rights in a dependency relationship is that certain individuals are incapable or undeserving of the right to take care of themselves" and noted:
Along with the family, past and present examples of such arrangements include marriage, slavery, and the Indian reservation system.
To claim Clinton was comparing the institution of marriage to slavery is a gross misrepresentation of the essay, which highlighted how the legal status of minorities like women, slaves, and Native Americans evolved over time as an example for how children's rights might evolve.
Clinton's article examined "the changing status of children under the law" and focused in part on the "specific direction [children's right's] reform might take." Contemplating how the law might logistically abolish minority status, Clinton referenced how the "abolition of slavery and the emancipation of married women" did not automatically bestow these groups with full-citizenship rights, citing Henry H. Foster, Jr. and Doris Jonas Freed, who argued that the children's rights movement presented "the same arguments that were advanced over the issues of slavery and the emancipation of married women." The full context of Clinton's article (emphasis added):
Age may be a valid criterion for determining the distribution of legal benefits and burdens, but before it is used its application should be subjected to a test of rationality. Assessing the rationality of age classifications could be expedited by legislative abolition of the general status of minority and adoption of an area-by-area approach (as has already been done to a degree, for example, in the motor vehicle statutes).
It could also be accomplished by judicial declaration that the present classification scheme is over-inclusive, after which the state would bear the burden of justifying its restrictions on infants. As Foster and Freed point out, "... the arguments for and against perpetuation of minority status have a familiar ring. In good measure they are the same arguments that were advanced over the issues of slavery and the emancipation of married women." The abolition of slavery and the emancipation of married women did not automatically invest previously "inferior" persons with full adult citizenship rights, but the state at least had to begin to rationalize its treatment of those groups. The abolition of minority, more justifiably, need not mean that children become full-fledged miniature adults before the law. Their substantive and procedural rights could still be limited or modified on the basis of supportable findings about needs and capacities at various ages.
The Daily Caller's misrepresentation of Clinton's essay is a decades-old attack. As The Los Angeles Times pointed out in 1992, Clinton's reference to marriage referred not to women's rights in the modern institution, but to women's historical struggle for legal identity outside that of her husband:
At various times in history--including ancient Greece, some of the years of the Roman Empire and even 19th-Century England--a wife was considered in the power of her husband, usually incapable of making contracts or governing her financial affairs.
Some media outlets are distorting comments made by President Obama claiming he admitted he doesn't have a "complete strategy" to fight the terrorist group the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). But the full context of the remarks -- which were reported correctly by a number of media outlets -- shows that Obama was only referencing the complete strategy of training and equipping of Iraqi soldiers.
Conservative media are promoting a deceptively edited video from a Republican opposition research firm that purports to show Hillary Clinton coldly demanding that a supporter "go to the end of the line," to allege that Clinton is out of touch with voters. But even as the dishonest attack made its way to Fox News, network contributor Guy Benson admitted the full context of the video "casts [Clinton] ... in a far less damaging light."
Some conservative media pundits suggested 2016 presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) may have disqualified himself from the presidency after his opposition to the National Security Agency's bulk phone collections program caused parts of the PATRIOT Act to lapse.
Conservative media are lashing out at a Columbia University student who protested her school's handling of her sexual assault allegation, distracting from yet another report confirming the widespread prevalence of the crime on college campuses.
In 2014, Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz made headlines for her senior art thesis, a performance piece titled "Carry That Weight," in which she pledged to carry a mattress whenever she was on campus in protest of her college's handling of her own sexual assault complaint against a fellow student. On May 19, Sulkowicz graduated from Columbia, crossing the stage while carrying her mattress with the aide of four friends.
In a May 20 post for National Review Online, Ian Tuttle attacked Sulkowicz, accusing her of having lied about being assaulted. Pointing to a letter in which Sulkowicz expressed disappointment that her personal social media pages had been sorted through in order to find evidence to cast doubts on her claims, Tuttle wrote that all victims of sexual assault should "by definition" have to "submit one's own private life to scrutiny" if they want their accusations taken seriously and reported. Another post that same day by the Daily Caller's Jim Treacher similarly attacked Sulkowciz, promoting a "@FakeRape" Twitter campaign against her to make the debunked claim that false rape accusation are common.
Right-wing media's attacks on Sulkowicz come as growing evidence suggests that sexual assault is occurring at epidemic levels on college campuses.
A new study released May 20 in the Journal of Adolescent Health "surveyed 480 female freshmen at a university in upstate New York in 2010" and found that about one in five were the victims of sexual assault or attempted rape while in college, and the majority experienced it during their first three months on campus. As the Huffington Post reported, "The results confirm other research that has found about 20 percent of women are victimized by sexual assault in college. A Centers for Disease Control report last year showed 19.3 percent of women are victims of rape or attempted rape during their lifetimes." Quoting researcher Kate Carey, a professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University's School of Public Health, the article noted that this research is further evidence that "rape is a common experience among college-aged women" and there is an urgent need to address it. Carey explained that "if a similar number of young people were breaking their legs in their first year of school, 'we would expect that the community would do something to enhance the safety of the environment.'"
Conservative media have consistently worked to discredit research showing that one in five women experiences a completed or attempted sexually assault at college, mocking those who do come forward and dismissing efforts to address the crime as proof of a "war" on men. Their efforts to dismiss the epidemic of campus sexual assault further stigmatizes a crime that according to the Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network already goes unreported up to 68% of the time.
The Environmental Protection Agency is updating its air pollution safeguards for new wood-burning stoves and heaters, with the initial pollution reductions taking effect on May 15. Conservative media have frequently fear-mongered and misinformed about these standards, so here's a handy guide to rebutting the most egregious media myths that are sure to resurface in the days ahead.
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.
Conservative media outlets rushed to scandalize Bill and Hillary Clinton using the newly released "Deflategate" NFL report finding it was "more probable than not" the New England Patriots conspired to tamper with footballs.
After Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced she was charging six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, the Daily Caller reported on how she's a "sexy," "smoldering civil servant."
Gray's death and treatment while in police custody has sparked national outrage and contributed to riots and peaceful demonstrations in Baltimore over the last week. Mosby, who is Baltimore's chief prosecutor, announced during a May 1 press conference she had filed the charges against the officers after a medical examiner's report ruled the death a homicide.
Daily Caller Sports Editor Christian Datoc reported on the press conference by calling Mosby a "smokeshow" with "'crazy girl' eyes":
Throughout the presser, the 35-year-old prosecutor managed to maintain a fiery, authoritative demeanor AND flashed some serious "crazy girl" eyes, a combination which -- if truth be told -- I found incredibly sexy.
I wouldn't mind being unrestrained in the back of Ms. Mosby's paddy wagon.
Datoc's post also featured tweets from individuals calling Mosby attractive, writing "it looks like we weren't the only ones smitten with this smoldering civil servant."
The Daily Caller has an extensive history of sexist commentary demeaning women. Recently, the Caller's founder and Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson dismissed controversy surrounding an email his brother sent, which called New York City Major Bill de Blasio's female spokesperson a "self-righteous bitch" with "dick-fright." Previously, Caller writer Patrick Howley came under fire for inappropriate comments about a female reporter. The conservative website also published a sexist cartoon attacking Meghan McCain which featured a photograph of McCain with speech bubbles emerging from her breasts. Tucker Carlson told Politico in 2014 that the site frequently publishes "slideshows of the female form" because they "care about traffic."
It's Earth Day, a day on which people around the world put "environmental concerns front and center" to help build "a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come." But for the right-wing media, Earth Day signifies something else entirely: The opportunity to engage in another round of conspiracy theories, anti-science claims, and unwarranted attacks. Here's how they are celebrating this year:
Rush Limbaugh celebrated Earth Day by inventing a new and extremely bizarre conspiracy theory: Earth Day has prompted the government to tell people to ignore food expiration dates, which will lead them to "ration" health care and eventually lead to "death panels."
On the April 22 edition of his show, Limbaugh berated the U.S. Department of Agriculture for trying to limit food waste by providing consumers with a tool educating them on the types of foods that have incorrect or overly cautious expiration dates. Limbaugh went on to claim that the government will eventually use expiration dates to ration medicine and health care, and that "there are going to be death panels." He concluded: "All of this has as its root, Earth Day."
Right-wing websites National Review and Townhall thought it was important to "remind" their audiences about the story of Ira Einhorn, who claimed that he was the co-founder of Earth Day and was convicted for murder several years later. Both outlets stated that Einhorn "composted" his girlfriend. Though Einhorm participated in the first Earth Day, leaders and organizers of the original 1970 Earth Week Committee of Philadelphia have made clear that Einhorn inappropriately disrupted the event and played no role in organizing it.
Right-wing media attacked President Obama's Easter prayer breakfast speech, claiming he "smeared" Christianity by referring to "less-than-loving" statements from Christians.
Right-wing media have falsely suggested that the civil rights protections in Indiana's "religious freedom" bill force business owners to endorse messages that they share serious ideological disagreements with. But a recently-decided discrimination case in Colorado debunked this argument, differentiating between discrimination on the basis of ideology and discrimination on the basis of membership in a protected class.
On April 2, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed an anti-discrimination amendment to his state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) after facing widespread criticism due to the law's potential to authorize anti-LGBT discrimination. To address that danger, the amended law explicitly prohibits individuals and business owners from invoking RFRA to deny services on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Right-wing media were quick to criticize Pence, arguing that the amendment "gutted" the state's RFRA and claiming that the revision would "force" the devout to violate their religious beliefs by holding them accountable to generally applicable civil rights protections. A number of conservative media outlets like The Wall Street Journal took this argument further, falsely claiming that forcing religious business owners to abide by anti-discrimination laws would also "compel" them to serve customers with "politically unacceptable thoughts":
For that matter, should a Native American printer be legally compelled to make posters with an Indian mascot that he finds offensive, or an environmentalist contractor to work a shift at a coal-fired power plant? Fining or otherwise coercing any small number of private citizens -- who aren't doing anyone real harm but entertain politically unacceptable thoughts -- is thuggish stuff.
But a recent "religious discrimination" case from Colorado illustrates how this hypothetical betrays a fundamental inability to understand that the RFRA debate was over discrimination against gay people, not gay "thoughts."
Conservative media are grossly distorting a recent study on aerosols' climate impact as a "death blow to global warming hysteria." But the study's author himself stated in response that his research does not contradict the scientific consensus on global warming.
A recent study provided new estimates for the rate at which aerosols -- tiny particles of matter suspended in the atmosphere -- deflect the sun's rays, measuring what is known as aerosol "radiative forcing." The study from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, which analyzed data from 1850 to 1950, found that the level of radiative forcing from aerosols is "less negative" than commonly believed, suggesting that aerosols do not cool the atmosphere as much as previously thought.
According to right-wing media, the study represents a "death blow to global warming hysteria." The reasoning behind the claim, which originated in a Cato Institute blog post, is that climate models rely on aerosols to offset much of the projected greenhouse gas effect from carbon dioxide. So if aerosols offset less warming than commonly believed, Cato claims "the amount of greenhouse gas-induced warming must also be less" and "we should expect less warming from future greenhouse gas emissions than climate models are projecting." The Cato blog post was picked up by the Daily Caller, American Thinker, Alex Jones' Infowars, Investors' Business Daily, and Rush Limbaugh. Daily Caller even claimed that the recent study directly disputes the scientific findings of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, writing: "Basically, the IPCC says aerosols deflect a lot of warming -- the opposite of the Max Planck study's finding."
But the study does nothing to dispute the scientific consensus on global warming, according to the study's author himself. In response to media outlets using his study to make inference's about the climate's sensitivity to carbon dioxide, climate scientist Bjorn Stevens published a statement on the Max Planck Institute's website, debunking the notion that human-induced climate change is "called into question" by his study. He also wrote that his estimates of aerosol radiative forcing are "within the range" of the IPCC's previous findings (which he actually co-authored), and that "I continue to believe that warming of Earth's surface temperatures from rising concentrations of greenhouse gases carries risks that society must take seriously." From Stevens' statement: