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  • Fox News Didn't Care About Sexual Harassment Until You Knew About It

    Fox’s Decision To Fire Bill O’Reilly Was Entirely Profit-Driven

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    As Fox News parts ways with longtime host Bill O’Reilly, some may be tempted to claim that his departure is a sign that the network and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, care about women who have been sexually harassed. But the decision has nothing to do with the systemic toxic misogyny Fox News traffics in; it’s about the bottom line.

    Following an April 1 New York Times story reporting that O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox together paid a total of $13 million to five women who said O’Reilly sexually harassed them, dozens of advertisers began to pull their ads from his Fox News program, The O’Reilly Factor. Estimates suggest that the boycott could cost the network nearly $40 million in advertising revenue. It wasn’t until it was faced with this loss in revenue that the media company decided to part ways with O’Reilly.

    If Fox cared about creating a safe workplace culture for women, O’Reilly would have been gone years ago. According to the Times, O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox paid a $9 million settlement in 2004 to O’Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris who reported that O’Reilly harassed her. 21st Century Fox continued to employ O’Reilly and other serial harassers and enablers for more than a decade after that settlement, even re-signing his contract with Fox News through 2020 just weeks ago.

    It’s no secret that Fox News fosters a culture of toxic misogyny. In the past year, several women have come forward saying former CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed them. And the men who went on to replace Ailes have their own histories of covering up serial harassment or reportedly engaging in harassment themselves. The network has continued to hide behind the investigation it commissioned the law firm Paul, Weiss to conduct after women spoke up about Ailes, but that examination has been revealed as a total sham.

    Fox is not even hiding its sexist crap behind the scenes. Just hours after the network announced that O’Reilly was leaving, Fox co-host Greg Gutfeld -- part of The Five, which will soon take over a 9 p.m. slot on the network in the aftermath of O’Reilly’s firing -- engaged in textbook sexual harassment by telling his female colleague that she was giving America an erection. And the other men filling prime-time slots in O’Reilly’s wake are sexist pigs, too.

    Fox News didn’t fire O’Reilly until he was losing the network money. Even then, the top executive was hesitant to let him go. While losing O’Reilly makes Fox a safer place for women to work without fear of harassment, that wasn’t what drove this decision. It was money.

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko

  • Refinery29 Properly Labels FAIR As An Anti-Immigrant Hate Group

    Refinery29 Gets Right What Many Mainstream Outlets Get Wrong

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    While reporting on the sponsored hashtag #BuildTheWall that trended on Twitter on April 19, Refinery29 got right what many mainstream outlets get wrong: it properly labeled the group behind the promotion, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), as an anti-immigrant hate group and showed evidence of the group’s white supremacist origins and nativist ties.

    FAIR paid to promote the #BuildTheWall hashtag on Twitter as part of its agenda to push President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies -- many of which have been lifted straight from the group’s wishlist and that of its sister organizations, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA. When covering Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, mainstream media outlets often mischaracterize or outright fail to disclose these groups’ nativist intent of “limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country,” thus helping hate groups sanitize their image. Media present these organizations merely as favoring “stricter control on immigration” or as calling “for added immigration restrictions” while giving them a platform to push their message. Trump has now tapped members of these groups for his administration and granted them a seat at the table, adding further legitimization to what started with media’s failure to properly identify “the nativist lobby” as hate groups.

    Refinery29 broke from this pattern, noting that FAIR has been labeled “an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League” and pointing out that the group is "very close to promoting a 'white-America only' point of view, under the guise of limiting illegal immigration." From the April 19 article:

    On Wednesday, #BuildTheWall was the top trend on the social network, thanks to an ad sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

    On its Twitter account, the organization says it "fights for a stronger America with controlled borders, reduced immigration and better enforcement. #NoAmnesty". The #BuildTheWall hashtag in itself isn't really a problem. Neither is the text below, which reads: "Help FAIR Push To Get President Trump's Wall Built." After all, people have the right to support the president's immigration policies, and Twitter has had political advertisements for a long time.

    The main issue for some social media users is that FAIR, the organization behind the trend, is considered an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League.

    "FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements," the SPCL's description of the organization reads. "Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country."

    It adds, "One of the group’s main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans. FAIR President Dan Stein has called the Act a 'mistake.'"

    In other words, FAIR is very close to promoting a "white-America only" point of view, under the guise of limiting illegal immigration.

    According to the SPCL, Stein is the current executive director of FAIR. He has not disavowed the statements made by Tanton, who was one step away from calling himself a white nationalist and who wanted the U.S. to have "a European-American majority." In fact, Stein said in 2009 that his predecessor was "a Renaissance man."

    [...]

    Stein seems to have a particular disdain for Latin American immigrants, as shown in a 1997 interview with Tucker Carlson for The Wall Street Journal. "Immigrants don't come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing… Many of them hate America; hate everything that the United States stands for," he said. "Talk to some of these Central Americans."

    The #BuildTheWall hashtag was not welcomed by many users, who felt Twitter should have stayed away from promoting ads tied to a hate group.

    [...]

    However, a Twitter spokesperson told Refinery29 that even though FAIR holds certain views, the promoted hashtag itself doesn't violate the platform's advertising policies. Therefore, the group is able to advertise with the social media giant.

  • Wash. Post’s Reporting On Social Security Disability Insurance Is Hopelessly Flawed

    A Longform Foray Into SSDI Echoed Conservative Misinformation, Was Replete With Data Errors

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Disability advocates hammered a faulty feature article published last month in The Washington Post that portrayed disability insurance as a form of long-term unemployment insurance in rural communities and claimed that as many as a third of people in those communities received disability assistance. Advocates analyzed the article’s data and found that the Post had vastly overstated the number of people receiving assistance on the program, prompting the paper to issue a correction. That correction, however, ignores the article’s more devastating flaws.

    The Post’s March 30 article titled, “Disabled, or just desperate?” followed Alabama resident Desmond Spencer and his family as they struggled to make ends meet and narrated his unease about applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The piece cited data purportedly provided by the Social Security Administration to argue that Spencer’s condition was typical of working-aged adults in rural communities around the country. A Media Matters analysis of the actual content found that it was filled with tropes, gimmicks, and dog whistles frequently promoted by right-wing opponents of SSDI. Disability advocates questioned the portrayal of a single anecdotal account as representative of millions of Americans, and Rebecca Vallas of the Center for American Progress (CAP) slammed the Post for creating a “dystopian portrait” of an SSDI system “riddled with rampant abuse.”

    A week after publishing the initial report, the Post’s editorial board cited the flawed article as part of its case in favor of unnecessary “reforms” of the disability insurance system that would add even more restrictions to SSDI. Media Matters again criticized the Post for mischaracterizing the program and peddling myths about the social safety net common in conservative media. Economist Dean Baker also browbeat the editorial for targeting a program that helps provide basic living standards at a time of rampant economic inequality.

    The core argument forwarded by the initial Post report was that as many as one-third of working-age adults in rural communities are reliant on SSDI for most or all of their monthly income. Yet, the paper did not acknowledge whether or not these people are actually disabled. Instead, the article wove a narrative of low-income Americans struggling to find gainful work who end up on disability as a form of long-term unemployment. An April 13 blog published by CAP outlined how analysts attempted “to replicate [the Post’s] analysis” only to find that “their numbers are flat-out wrong.” After a careful inspection, CAP discovered that the Post’s numbers overcounted the number of children and working-age adults receiving SSDI, and failed to correct for the double-counting of roughly 1.3 million people. CAP even uncovered that the paper was missing data entirely for nearly 100 of the “rural counties” the article was supposed to be analyzing. In response to the these revelations, the editors responsible for the Post’s report issued a lengthy correction to the article and updated it throughout to remove and amend data.

    In an April 18 blog post, the team at CAP noted that the fixes still didn’t go far enough since more accurate data actually disproved the Post’s core argument. The revised and corrected report is still built on questionable data and it continues overcounting the number of working-age adults reliant on disability insurance. Most importantly, the core claim that disability checks are a primary source of income for “as many as one-third of working-age adults” in rural communities encompassing “large swaths of the country” appears to be completely false; CAP’s team could find only one county -- out of 3,143 -- that fit the Post’s dystopian description of disability. From the Center For American Progress’s TalkPoverty.org (emphasis added):

    Even using The Post’s flawed methods, they were only able to find one county—out of more than 3,100 counties nationwide—where the story’s central claim that “as many as one-third of working-age adults are receiving monthly disability checks” holds up. Not a single other county even comes close. In fact, The Post’s own analysis—which it has now made available in a public data file next to the story, yields an average rate of about 9.1 percent of working-age adults receiving benefits across rural counties—just three percentage points higher than the national average.

    And yet the article is framed as follows: “Across large swaths of the country,” the article still reads, “disability has become a force that has reshaped scores of mostly white, almost exclusively rural communities, where as many as one-third of working-age adults are receiving monthly disability checks.”

    If by “large swaths” and “scores of… rural communities” The Post means McDowell County, West Virginia, population less than 21,000 residents—and nowhere else in America—then sure.

    But the fact is there’s a word for using data this way: cherry-picking.

  • On The Firing Of Bill O’Reilly: What Is Gone, And What Is Not

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    It’s official: Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News. What exactly does that change? What stays the same?

    On April 1, The New York Times wrote that O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, have paid out at least $13 million in settlements with five women reporting sexual harassment by O’Reilly. After weeks of relentless activism from progressive organizers including Media Matters, of advertisers pulling their ads from the O’Reilly Factor time slot, of more courageous women coming forward to share their own reports of misconduct by O’Reilly, of hundreds of sexual violence survivors asking Fox to do better, O’Reilly has been deemed too toxic for Fox.

    O’Reilly’s smug on-camera demeanor, his attacks on women for speaking up, and his attempts to blacklist media outlets that reported on his sexual harassment settlements as far back as 2004 will be diminished if not gone for good. The lies he tells about women’s bodies and the blame he lays squarely at women’s feet every night will be silenced, at least for now.

    But what happens to the company, and the culture, that allowed him to thrive for so long? O’Reilly abused the power he was given by Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Bill Shine, and Jack Abernethy. These are the same men who greenlighted a sham investigation into the workplace culture at Fox News, who oversaw decades of mistreatment of women employees, and who profited when O’Reilly and his peers (including replacement Tucker Carlson) launched racist and sexist attacks on their shows.

    Only one of those men is no longer in the picture, because he, too, abused the power he had to harass women. The rest remain, and thus it also remains to be seen if Fox News will actually change for the women it employs.

    What’s more, the way women move through the world won’t change because of O’Reilly’s firing. The statistics won’t change with the downfall of one man.

    One in three women between the ages of 18 and 34 has been sexually harassed at work.

    More than 90 percent of women who work in tipped wage positions in restaurants have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

    About 70 percent of women who experience workplace sexual harassment do not report it, for fear of retaliation.

    Our culture won’t change this quickly either. The pain of countless women lingers in O'Reilly's wake.

    Bill O’Reilly won’t be around every night to remind me -- and, I’m sure, countless others -- of the men who have hurt and violated us in the past. But the president of the United States will be; in fact, he’s come to O’Reilly’s defense

    Image at top created by Sarah Wasko. 

  • Discussing Fresno Attack, The NRA Decides When A Shooting Can Be Politicized

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    NRATV attacked anti-gun-violence activists in anticipation of them attempting to “politicize” the recent deadly shooting in Fresno, CA. But an NRA host later used the shooting to compare an anti-gun-violence leader to the Fresno shooter and suggested people need to arm themselves when “a deranged lunatic praising Allah pulls his firearm.”

    On April 18, Kori Muhammad opened fire on four men in Fresno, CA, killing three. The shooting occurred two hours after Fresno police identified him as the suspect in the killing of an unarmed security guard. Despite earlier speculation, the police confirmed that the suspect isn’t connected to terrorism, and called the shootings “solely based on race.”

    During the April 18 edition of NRATV’s Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards briefly mentioned the shooting in the show’s 4 p.m. hour, and highlighted that the gunman said “Allahu akbar” when he was being arrested. Edwards went on to bemoan that gun violence prevention groups “will be jumping on this and trying to politicize this crime … if they have not done so already”:

    CAM EDWARDS (HOST): We are watching some breaking news out of Fresno, California. Kori Ali Muhammad, who apparently was wanted in a murder last week in Fresno, taken into custody after shooting and killing at least three people in Fresno earlier today. We will bring you more details on that story, apparently shouted Allahu akbar when police arrested him. [The police] chief said he expressed a hatred of whites, taken into custody again in Fresno, California. I am assuming that, if they have not already done so, gun control groups will be jumping on this and trying to politicize this crime in California before long, if they have not done so already.

    But just one day after Edwards complained that anti-gun-violence groups would “politicize” the shooting, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield did just that. During the April 19 edition of NRATV’s Live Updates, Stinchfield said it was “delusional and … deceitful” not to consider the shooting an act of terrorism and warned that “you better be ready, because the reality is, there will be no one there to defend you”: 

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Kori Ali Muhammad calls white people the devil. He killed three of them yesterday while yelling in Arabic, “God is great” -- Allahu akbar. We’ve heard it too many times before. I call it a rampage, the media wants to call it a hate crime. What no one is calling it is a terrorist attack. The man yelled Allahu akbar. Call this heinous act what it is, terrorism on the streets of Fresno. Look at this article written by The Associated Press: Not once does it even mention the possibility of terrorism. It’s delusional and more likely deceitful. The media wants you to believe there is no such thing as radical Islam or the terrorists who practice it. Here is what Fresno police have to say:

    [...]

    STINCHFIELD: Come on, clearly radical Islam is alive and well. That is one example of it. And these holy warriors lurk on our streets; it is up to you to defend yourself from an attack like this. In the very moment a deranged lunatic praising Allah pulls his firearm, you better be ready. Because the reality is, there will be no one else there to defend you.

    Stinchfield began his 10-minute noon update by calling Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts “extreme” for promising to protest the NRA annual meeting at the end of the month and comparing her to to the Fresno gunman, who is “also extreme.” Stinchfield repeated that “Allahu akbar” is the “rallying cry of every Islamic holy warrior,” and therefore proof this attack is terror-related. NRA spokesperson and commentator Dana Loesch also slammed the police for calling this “a hate crime based on race,” and went on to state, “The guy is a terrorist, plain and simple.”

    The National Rifle Association has a well-established track record of hypocrisy when it comes to whether to politicize mass shootings and tragedies. The organization slammed gun violence prevention groups when they called to expand the national background checks system after the mass shooting in a Charleston church in June 2015. Edwards went as far as to say it is “completely inappropriate” to discuss gun policies the day after an incident. The NRA, however, quickly responded to a shooting at a naval facility in Chattanooga, TN, a month later and argued that it proved firearm regulations on military bases should be loosened. It seems that in the NRA's hypocritical worldview, calls for stronger gun laws are disrespectful, exploitative, and shameless -- while calls for less restrictions are sensible, timely, and relevant. Even worse, the gun group's post-shooting strategy operates from behind a façade of "respect" for the victims.

  • Glenn Beck Blames Media Matters For Advertiser "Purge" Of Serial Sexual Harasser Bill O'Reilly

    Beck Attacks Advertiser Boycotts While Simultaneously Claiming The Boycotters Never Even Advertised On O'Reilly's Show

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Almost six years after former Fox News host Glenn Beck insisted that Media Matters had nothing to do with the decline in his show’s advertising and its eventual termination, he went on his radio program to blame Media Matters for Fox dropping host Bill O'Reilly. A recent report revealed that O'Reilly and Fox News have paid $13 million in settlements for sexual harassment, sparking an advertiser boycott of his show and leading to his ouster from the channel.

    Beck devoted much of his April 19 radio show to calling on his listeners to help save O’Reilly after news broke that the board of directors of 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, would be meeting to decide O’Reilly’s fate. Just a few hours later, 21st Century confirmed that “Mr. O’Reilly will not return to the Fox News Channel.” O’Reilly’s advertisers largely abandoned his show after The New York Times reported on the settlements, and it appears that some advertisers are gearing up to drop Fox entirely. These advertisers are rejecting the hostile and predatory corporate environment Fox has created and allowed to fester for over a decade and are recognizing the liability that associating with such behavior presents for them.

    Beck’s own show, which aired on Fox News from 2009 to 2011, was terminated after a decline in revenue, ratings, and relevance. An advertiser boycott led by Media Matters President Angelo Carusone resulted in more than 300 advertisers pulling their ads from Beck’s program after he called former President Barack Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." In February 2010, the broadcast of Beck's show in the UK lost all advertisers and began airing without any commercials. Fox saw a decline in both the number of paid advertisements running during Beck's show and, according to industry data, in what key advertisers would pay for an ad during his show.

    The day before Fox announced that his show was being terminated, Beck insisted that Carusone’s campaign was not responsible for his show’s decline. Today he again claimed that the advertiser boycott didn’t hurt his show because the boycotters never advertised on his show to begin with; yet he’s now making a similar argument on O’Reilly’s behalf, while simultaneously insisting that Media Matters is “behind this with Bill O’Reilly.” According to Beck, the advertisers “that are boycotting Bill O'Reilly, most of them I'm sure never ever were even on Bill O'Reilly's show,” but he told his listeners to contact Fox News nonetheless to let it know that “‘we [can’t] stand with you if you're just letting Media Matters purge people.” From the April 19 edition of The Glenn Beck Program:

    Oh, and that's right, Media Matters, who's behind this with Bill O'Reilly, they said that they believe that Fox News and Bill O'Reilly are currently the leader in conservative misinformation.

    [...]

    This is a purge, and it's going to be a hard purge. It's going to hurt. You need to decide where you are, and I recommend that if you find, just Google search list of advertisers that won't -- that are boycotting Bill O'Reilly, most of them I'm sure never ever were even on Bill O'Reilly's show. Some of them were, but you should probably write to them today and say, “If Bill O'Reilly is fired because you canceled, I will never buy your product again." You should write to Fox News Channel, “I want you to know, I'm not sure we can stand with you if you're just letting Media Matters purge people.”

    Beck also invited O’Reilly’s lawyer to offer a defense of the Fox host on the program.

  • Statement Of Angelo Carusone As Bill O'Reilly Exits Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media Matters President Angelo Carusone, a recognized advertiser pressure campaign expert who also ran the @StopOReilly Twitter account, released the following statement regarding 21st Century Fox's announcement that Bill O'Reilly will not return to Fox News:

    Fox News was forced to act. They had years to address serial sexual harassment at Fox News. They didn’t; they actually enabled it. So, individuals and groups took action to educate advertisers. Advertisers fled because they immediately recognized what Fox News has ignored for over a decade: that serial sexual harassment is not only wrong, but bad for business.

    Without advertisers, Bill O’Reilly’s show was no longer commercially viable. Fox News had no choice but to fire O’Reilly. Accountability came from the outside, not from within. Fox News deserves no accolades, only scorn for the industrial scale harassment they have forced their employees to endure.

    On what’s next for Fox News, Carusone added:

    The open question is what Fox News will do about the epidemic of sexual harassment at Fox News that extends well beyond O’Reilly as it seems to be in-part facilitated by its current co-president Bill Shine. Shine reportedly retaliated against women that came forward with reports against former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes as well as those that came forward against Bill O’Reilly. Aside from mistreating staff, Shine put shareholders and advertisers at risk by resigning a contract with O’Reilly just a few weeks ago despite knowing all the allegations.

    If Fox News wants to signal that they’re serious about addressing sexual harassment, they’ll fire Bill Shine too. If not, then staff, advertisers and shareholders should beware.

  • Fox News Omits Key Facts Regarding Unprecedented Arkansas Death Penalty Cases

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST

    During its reporting on the state of Arkansas’ unprecedented plan to execute eight inmates in 11 days, Fox News repeatedly omitted important details about the legal challenges to the plan, downplayed the extent of criticism to the plan, and misled its viewers on the reasons the executions have not yet been carried out.

    On the April 18 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now, host Jon Scott opened a panel discussion by asking, “The reasoning for this holdup has nothing to do with the lethal injection drugs that are currently in question, right?” In fact, one of the orders blocking the executions was issued for that exact reason. The Arkansas circuit judge temporarily blocked the state from using one of its drugs, vecuronium bromide, a paralytic used in prisons for lethal injections (and for other purposes elsewhere).This ruling came after McKesson, a distributor of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, filed a complaint alleging that the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) “intentionally sought to circumvent McKesson’s policies by claiming that the drug would only be used for medical reasons in a health facility.” The ADC has to date declined to answer questions about how it obtained the restricted drugs or whether it planned to return them.

    An hour before Scott’s show aired, correspondent Casey Stegall noted on Fox’s America’s Newsroom that “states have had a difficult time getting new supplies of this drug [midazolam] because many critics say it should not be used to kill people.” He was referring to another drug that Arkansas has in its possession but which will expire on April 30. Stegall, however, failed to mention that these “critics” include the drug makers themselves. West-Ward Pharmaceuticals, the company that makes midazolam, and Fresenius Kabi USA, manufacturer of potassium chloride, another drug used in executions, have also expressed opposition to the use of their drugs for lethal injection. In an amicus brief they filed with the district court, the companies wrote that using their medicines in executions “runs counter to the manufacturers’ mission to save and enhance patients’ lives.” Spokespersons for Fresenius Kabi and West-Ward told The Washington Post that they had “recently learned” that their medicines “might be used in Arkansas lethal injections.” The reporting on these drugs shows that all three drugs used in Arkansas’ lethal injection cocktail are implicated in legal battles. Thus for Fox to imply that the planned executions are opposed merely by “critics” is a gross understatement of the legal challenges ADC is facing.

    During his reporting, Stegall also failed to provide context for the shortage of the drugs in the first place. Since 2011, many European drug companies, in an alignment with the European Union’s objection to death penalty, have decided to cease shipment of their drugs to U.S. prisons that carry out executions via lethal injections. This has created a shortage that has led U.S. prisons to turn to dangerous experimentation, as was in the case in 2014, when Dennis McGuire, an Ohio inmate on death row, was injected with a never-before-used drug cocktail. McGuire’s execution lasted 25 minutes, the longest in Ohio’s history, and witnesses said he “gasped several times throughout” before dying.

    After criminal defense attorney Yodit Tewolde explained that “for Arkansas to try to rush executions for the sake of a drug expiring at the end of the month is disrespectful to the intent of justice in this case,” Scott ignored her point and flippantly remarked that it “seems odd” to characterize the response to a crime that happened in 1992 as a “rush to judgment.” His comment and Casey Stegall’s claim that the “expedited timeline” was initiated because “the state is up against this deadline” of expiring drugs ignores the legal implications of their expiration. Arkansas’ “rush” to use drugs before their expiration for purposes which are opposed by the companies that sell them is a potentially illegal contract violation, and given the state’s reported admission that it violated contracts with drug makers in an earlier case, this context is especially important.

    Arkansas hasn’t carried out any executions since 2005. The state’s aggressive and potentially unconstitutional plan to execute eight inmates in 11 days is unprecedented, hugely consequential, and has drawn national scrutiny at a time when Americans’ support for the death penalty is on the decline. Leaving out important details when reporting on such a high profile case is an inexcusable journalistic failure, especially given the American public’s lack of knowledge about capital punishment in the nation’s prisons.

    Image by Sarah Wasko.

  • The FCC’s Big Giveaway To Pro-Trump Television Broadcasting Groups

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    UPDATE: The FCC has voted to reinstate the "UHF discount," which will "clear the way for Sinclair Broadcasting Group Inc. to purchase Tribune Media Co.," according to the Los Angeles Times

    ORIGINAL POST:

    The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote tomorrow to ease a media ownership rule that prevents greater consolidation of broadcast television stations. Two of the biggest expected beneficiaries of that decision will be Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Television Stations and the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, both key media allies of President Donald Trump.

    To prevent the consolidation of too much power in too few hands, current rules prohibit “a single entity from owning commercial broadcast television stations that collectively reach more than 39 percent of the total television households in the nation.”

    For more than 30 years, the FCC allowed station owners to count only 50 percent of the potential viewers in the markets where they owned stations that broadcast ultrahigh frequency (UHF) transmissions, rather than their entire potential audience. This “UHF discount” was granted because such transmissions had a more limited range at the time, but the transition to digital transmission eliminated this discrepancy, and in September 2016, the Obama-era FCC repealed that rule.

    But the FCC has new leadership under President Donald Trump -- the president promoted to chairman FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, a fierce opponent of media regulations who opposed eliminating the “UHF discount" -- and today the commission will reportedly act to benefit the media moguls who supported Trump’s election. According to Variety:

    That action, along with the prospect of deregulatory moves by the Republican-controlled FCC, have Wall Street analysts expecting consolidation among major station groups. Sinclair Broadcasting is reportedly eyeing Tribune Media, and other stations groups, like Nexstar, CBS Corp. and Fox Television Stations, seem to have found a sympathetic ear at the agency to their argument that the current regulations diminish investment.

    After Murdoch’s television and newspaper properties gave Trump overwhelmingly positive coverage during the presidential campaign, Trump reportedly asked Murdoch to submit a list of potential FCC chairman nominees during the transition. Murdoch’s media entities have been the president’s biggest cheerleaders over the first months of his administration, and garnered praise and access from Trump in return. Now that cheerleading is getting paid back with dollar signs.

    Through 21st Century Fox, Murdoch currently owns 28 television stations in 17 markets, including in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Orlando and Charlotte. His stations reach roughly 37 percent of U.S. television households, just under the FCC’s cap.

    The reinstatement of the “UHF discount” -- which 21st Century Fox has fought for in court -- will give the company more flexibility to purchase additional stations, increasing Murdoch’s grip on the media landscape. That will have a real impact for viewers, as Fox’s broadcast stations often adopt the same conservative talking points and story selection as Fox News.

    Sinclair Broadcasting Group would also benefit from the rule change. Sinclair has drawn scrutiny in the past for its conservative bent, and the company reportedly made a deal with Trump’s campaign in which its journalists received access to Trump in exchange for broadcasting interviews with him without commentary. Earlier this week, Sinclair announced it had hired former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn as its “chief political analyst.”

    As Variety noted, Sinclair is interested in purchasing television stations owned by Tribune Media. But such a deal would “would hinge on existing regulations being relaxed” because Sinclair is near the FCC ownership cap, according to Reuters.

    Trump’s FCC is acting to put the control of the media in the hands of ever-fewer corporate giants. And Pai is just getting started.

    Image by Sarah Wasko.

  • How Fox News’ Male Hosts Are Endangering Women All Across America 

    Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, And Sean Hannity Are Almost Always Wrong About Abortion, And They’re Giving Other Men A Platform To Push Further Misinformation

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    If you’re searching for the most misinformation-filled block of television during evening cable, look no further than the Fox News lineup of Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity. In a finding that will shock almost nobody with even cursory knowledge about abortion and reproductive rights, this all-male lineup has spent the past 12 months promoting rampant misinformation on these topics.

    Media Matters analyzed evening prime-time news programs on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC from March 7, 2016 through March 1, 2017, for segments featuring a substantial discussion of abortion and reproductive rights. The 354 total segments were then coded for the number of accurate or inaccurate statements they contained about three topics: the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and late-term abortion.

    Out of 116 total statements made during The O’Reilly Factor, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and Hannity (out of 120 total statements on the network), 103 were inaccurate. If the sheer amount of misinformation isn't enough, the vast majority of them were made by men. Of the 110 total appearances by hosts, guests, or network correspondents on these programs in 12 months, 81 were made by men (74 percent).

    When seeking information about abortion -- particularly accurate information -- most women presumably wouldn’t turn first to a man. Fox News, however, has ensured its prime-time block is dominated by male voices.

    With the exception of The Kelly File, which ceased airing after then-Fox news host Megyn Kelly left the channel, and The First 100 Days, which didn’t begin airing until after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Fox’s prime-time evening lineup is dominated by male-hosted programs. And these programs also promote mainly male voices when it comes to the topics of abortion and reproductive rights.

    From March 7, 2016, through March 1, 2017, The O’Reilly Factor featured 47 appearances from men (71 percent) and only 19 from women (29 percent) during segments about abortion. During the same 12-month period, there were 26 appearances by men (76 percent) and only eight by women (24 percent) to discuss reproductive rights on Hannity. Tucker Carlson Tonight did not begin airing until after the 2016 election, making the sample size smaller than either The O’Reilly Factor or Hannity. However, of the five months of Tucker Carlson Tonight considered in Media Matters’ analysis, the program featured 80 percent male appearances in discussions about the reproductive rights of women.

    Overall, during the 12-month study period, 74 percent of appearances among all three programs featured men talking about abortion and reproductive rights. Excluding guests who were employed by Fox News (as professional commentators, analysts, or contributors), all three programs also largely hosted male guests, many of whom have a history of anti-choice policy making.

    For example, The O’Reilly Factor served as a platform for guests including Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Mike Pence -- all of whom have openly supported anti-choice policies. The male guests on Hannity unsurprisingly included Reince Priebus, who would become Trump’s chief of staff, and then-Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci.

    Hannity was also the only person on evening cable news to host discredited anti-choice activist David Daleiden, founder of CMP. Every other program -- even, surprisingly, other Fox News programs -- deemed the anti-abortion activist who deceptively edited smear videos and has since been charged with 15 felonies in California an unpalatable guest.

    Luckily for Daleiden, there’s always Sean Hannity. With their powers combined, Daleiden and Hannity managed to conduct a full segment featuring 100 percent inaccurate information in terms of CMP, Planned Parenthood's essential services, and late-term abortion. During his April 2016 appearance on Hannity, Daleiden made five inaccurate statements about the veracity of CMP’s work -- even though multiple state and federal investigations found that the organization's claims about abortion providers were baseless. Hannity himself contributed three inaccurate statements about CMP during the segment and zero accurate ones. This pattern was not limited to just his segment with Daleiden, however. Hannity managed to make only inaccurate statements on these topics throughout the entire study period.

    Although Tucker Carlson appears to share Daleiden’s affinity for employing deceptive editing and even using actors to represent highly curated versions of opposing viewpoints, he managed -- without Daleiden's help -- to be wrong 100 percent of the time about CMP, Planned Parenthood's essential services, and late-term abortion.

    O’Reilly, Hannity, and Carlson also featured primarily guests who openly represent anti-abortion organizations, including Marjorie Dannenfelser (president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List), conservative commentator Crystal Wright, Alveda King (anti-abortion activist for Priests for Life and Civil Rights for the Unborn), and Abby Johnson (founder of CEO of And Then There Were None).

    Overall, Media Matters’ analysis found that 80 percent of statements about CMP, Planned Parenthood's essential servies, and late-term abortion made during Fox News’ evening prime-time programming were inaccurate. It should come as no surprise that The O’Reilly Factor, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and Hannity were responsible for 67 percent of the network’s inaccurate statements.

    Then again, if your ace prime-time lineup is composed of a man accused of being a serial sexual predator who can’t stop advertisers from fleeing his program (and is likely about to lose it), a hero of white nationalists who is known for bullying his guests, and Sean Hannity, you’re probably not that worried about ensuring accuracy or giving women’s voices an equal platform.

    *Graphics by Sarah Wasko