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  • MSNBC's Ali Velshi Outlines The "Built-In Unfairness" Of Trump's Tax Plan

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    MSNBC outlined the major problems in President Donald Trump's proposed tax cut plan, which drastically reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent while lowering personal tax rates for high-income individuals at expense of almost all tax deductions that benefit the middle class.

    On the April 27 edition of MSNBC's MSNBC Live, host Katy Tur discussed Trump's tax outline with correspondent Ali Velshi and conservative economist Peter Morici, outlining how the plan could greatly reduce the president's personal and business tax burden while saving the Trump family billions of dollars in future estate taxes. Velshi argued the proposed reductions in corporate tax rates and creation of a new income loophole for some contractors and business owners created "built-in unfairness" in the tax system. Morici added that Trump's plan would not assist the middle class and complained that the administration had only produced a one-page memo "with a lot of white space" despite having five months to craft substantial tax reform proposals:

    During the next hour of MSNBC Live, Velshi introduced another segment on the proposed tax cuts by noting that Trump is making "a frantic last push for what has eluded him in his first 100 days: a major legislative accomplishment." Joined by MSNBC contributor Charlie Sykes and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, Velshi noted that "we don't actually know" what Trump's tax agenda is to which Sykes responded, "this is not a bill, it's basically a press release ... there is no meat to the substance." Sykes added that, while he leans toward conservative tax policy, he does not think "there is any rational way" to claim Trump's plan helps the middle class or can avoid "blow[ing] an enormous hole in the federal deficit." After Velshi detailed a laundry list of middle-class tax credits that "could go away" under the plan, McMahon highlighted that Trump's plan "is going to be an absolutely huge windfall for very wealthy people":

  • Sean Hannity: A Bill Shine Departure May Be The “Total End” Of Fox News

    Hannity Tweets Support Of Sexual Harassment Enabler Amid Questions Of Shine’s Future At The Network

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following a report that Fox News co-president Bill Shine “is expressing concern about his future at the network,” Fox host Sean Hannity expressed support for Shine on Twitter, suggesting that if he departs Fox, “that’s the total end of FNC as we know it.”

    Shine was promoted to co-president after former president and CEO Roger Ailes’ ouster in August 2016 over repeated sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits. But Shine has been named in various lawsuits against the network for his “complicity,” and it has previously been reported that Shine played a key role in helping cover up Ailes’ conduct by silencing and “smearing” women who complained.

    On April 27, New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Shine is privately worried about his future at Fox, and that he recently asked James and Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO and co-chairman of Fox parent company 21st Century Fox, “to release a statement in support of him, but they refused to do so.” Sherman wrote that this refusal to publicly back Shine could mean that the Murdochs are finally prepared to clean house at the scandal-ridden network:

    By refusing to back Shine at this tumultuous moment for the network, the Murdochs may finally be signaling that they’re prepared to make the sweeping management changes they’ve so far resisted after forcing out CEO Roger Ailes last summer. Shine’s continued leadership has angered many Fox News employees, especially women, who view him as a product of the misogynistic Ailes culture. Shine joined the network in 1996, served as Sean Hannity’s producer, and rose through the ranks to become Ailes’s deputy. In that role, sources say he had the power to stop multiple instances of sexual harassment, including that of former Fox booker Laurie Luhn, but did not do so. (Through a Fox News spokesperson, Shine denies this.) He’s currently a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed this week by former Fox host Andrea Tantaros.

    In response to the story, Hannity wrote several tweets in defense of his former producer:

  • Heartland's Effort To Bring Climate Denial To Classrooms Earns "F" For False In NY Times Op-Ed

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    An op-ed published in The New York Times takes aim at the Heartland Institute’s campaign to bring its brand of climate denial into classrooms across the country.

    The Heartland Institute, a fossil fuel-funded think tank known for promulgating climate science denial, is now seeking to influence the country’s educators. The think tank plans to mail its book “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” to 200,000 K-12 and college science teachers across the country. A cover letter accompanying the mailing asks educators to “consider the possibility that the science in fact is not ‘settled’” and argues that the 97 percent consensus among climate scientists “is not only false, but its presence in the debate is an insult to science.”

    In an April 27 op-ed published in The New York Times, paleoclimatologist Curt Stager pushed back against Heartland’s misinformation, writing that “multiple surveys of the scientific literature show that well over 90 percent of published climate scientists have concluded that recent global warming is both real and mostly the result of human activity.” Indeed, in the past decade, there have been numerous surveys by a number of different researchers that confirmed human-caused global warming, and the country’s leading scientific institutions confirm the reality and urge action to address it.

    Stager -- who describes himself as having been “cautiously skeptical myself before reaching the consensus position” on climate change -- further noted that increased scientific understanding over the past several decades “made it clear that the recent warming is not simply a result of natural variability or cycles.”

    Stager also points out the lack of scientific expertise behind Heartland’s book, noting that despite Heartland’s claim that the book’s authors are “highly regarded climate scientists,” none of them “have the publication record of an accomplished expert in the field, though they may be lauded by the conservative media.” Stager could have additionally pointed out that each of the book’s authors’ -- Craig Idso, S. Fred Singer, and Robert M. Carter -- have extensive fossil fuel ties.

    From the April 27 op-ed:

    PAUL SMITHS, N.Y. — The Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank known for attacking climate science, has been mailing a slim, glossy book to public school teachers throughout the United States. The institute says it plans to send out as many as 200,000 copies, until virtually every science educator in America has one.

    The book, “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” presents the false premise that the evidence for human-driven climate change is deeply flawed. To understand where the Heartland Institute is coming from, consider a recent comment by its president, Joseph Bast, who called global warming “another fake crisis” for Democrats “to hype to scare voters and raise campaign dollars.”

    [...]

    The cover letter inside, however, made the book’s premise clear. “Claims of a ‘scientific consensus’ ” on climate change, it read, “rest on two college student papers, the writings of a wacky Australian blogger, and a non-peer-reviewed essay by a socialist historian.” In fact, multiple surveys of the scientific literature show that well over 90 percent of published climate scientists have concluded that recent global warming is both real and mostly the result of human activity.

    For example, a study in 2010 found that 97 percent of the 200 most-published authors of climate-related papers held the consensus position, and a survey in 2013 of 4,014 abstracts of peer-reviewed climate papers found 97 percent agreement. The Heartland-distributed book disputes the methods used in these and similar surveys but provides no definitive counterarguments against the overall weight of evidence. The fact is that survey after survey, involving multiple approaches and authors, finds a strong consensus among scientists who are most knowledgeable about climate change.

    This latest edition contains a foreword by Marita Noon, described by the book as a columnist for Breitbart and executive director of Energy Makes America Great.

    Ms. Noon introduces the book’s three authors as “highly regarded climate scientists.” Not quite true. Despite their academic credentials, none have the publication record of an accomplished expert in the field, though they may be lauded by the conservative media.

    Having been cautiously skeptical myself before reaching the consensus position, I remember that some legitimate uncertainty about the human contribution to global warming did exist within my specialty of paleoclimatology several decades ago. Since then, however, high-quality climate reconstructions from ice cores, tree rings, lake sediments and other geological sources, coupled with rigorous analyses of solar activity, volcanism and fossil fuel emissions, have made it clear that the recent warming is not simply a result of natural variability or cycles. Long after the newer, better data convinced me and the vast majority of other climate scientists of the powerful human role in global warming, climate-change deniers still cling to the outdated idea of natural causes.

  • "Oh, Boy": Media Matters Bill O'Reilly Ad In The Hollywood Reporter

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    One week after Fox News was forced to fire Bill O’Reilly after advertisers boycotted his show because of reports of serial sexual harassment, Media Matters for America released its first ad emphasizing that companies must be mindful about where they spend their advertising dollars. This ad is running on page 67 of issue 13 of The Hollywood Reporter.

    The ad features a picture of a forlorn-looking Bill O’Reilly with text that reads: "Harassment, hate, and bigotry are bad for business. Know what you’re sponsoring, and avoid the next crisis."

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko.  

  • 4 Women In Sports Journalism Exposing The Truth On Sexual Assault And Domestic Violence In Sports

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Many women reporting on sports in the media have done an incredible job shining a light on the truth regarding the intersection of sports and sexual assault and violence against women. Four women in particular have been unrelenting in their quests to hold those in charge accountable for the systematic mistreatment of women by athletes, some even using their own experiences to better empathize with survivors in their coverage. While women are largely shut out of ESPN’s coverage of these issues, these women deserve recognition for their unique perspectives and insightful commentary.

    Jessica Luther

    Jessica Luther has written extensively on how rape culture intersects with sports, especially at the collegiate level. In her book, Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape, Luther outlines what she calls the “playbook" of how universities and their athletic departments respond to cases of domestic violence or sexual assault, and she creates a new one for addressing sexual assault and college football. Writing for The Dallas Morning News, Luther states, “The first play in this new playbook has to be about consent, because we just don't talk about it enough. Honestly, it's hard to imagine that we could talk about it too much.”

    Luther also outlined her own struggles as a Florida State football fan in navigating “the overlapping of football culture and rape culture,” after a female student said quarterback Jameis Winston raped her, writing in Rewire:

    Football culture clouds our ability to see him as anything other than a famous kid with a nice-guy persona and amazing athletic skills. Rape culture demands that we mistrust the victim, question her credibility, and try to poke holes in her story. It creates this familiar narrative in which people who have invested their own hopes and dreams in Winston claim his innocence immediately and refuse to hear anything else.

    Luther’s innovation and public soul-searching make her an invaluable reporter in this area.

    Amelia Rayno

    Amelia Rayno, now a features writer for Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, is a former sports reporter who invoked her own experience to strengthen the newspaper’s coverage of sexual assault and sports. After Norwood Teague, the University of Minnesota athletic director, resigned amid sexual harassment complaints, Rayno wrote for the paper about a time when Teague had harassed her. In the August 11, 2015, piece she explained:

    Teague asked me about my longtime boyfriend, as he often did. My mistake was acknowledging that we had just broken up. The switch flipped. Suddenly, in a public and crowded bar, Teague tried to throw his arm around me. He poked my side. He pinched my hip. He grabbed at me. Stunned and mortified, I swatted his advances and firmly told him to stop. He didn’t.

    “Don’t deny,” he said, “our chemistry.”

    I told him that he was drastically off base, that my only intention in being there was as a reporter – to which he replied: “You’re all strictly business? Nothing else?”

    I walked out. He followed me. I hailed a cab. He followed me in, grabbing at my arm and scooting closer and closer in the dark back cabin until I was pressed against the door. I told him to stop. I told him it was not OK. He laughed. When I reached my apartment, I vomited.

    Later that night he texted: “Night strictly bitness.’’

    Rayno called the accounts from women who said Teague harassed them “troubling,” “gross,” and “more of the same, all over again.” Rayno’s ability to write about her personal experience as a survivor of sexual harassment to empathize with others and give a deeper account of the story makes her writing on this issue especially important.

    Katie Nolan

    Katie Nolan of Fox Sports has been one of the most outspoken advocates for women in all of sports media. In October, Nolan slammed the NFL and the New York Giants for taking more action against a player who abused a kicking net than against John Brown, a Giants player who admitted in his journal that he had physically and emotionally abused his wife. Nolan called on the league to “get serious” about addressing domestic violence and encouraged officials to adopt a policy where players must participate in counseling and support programs.

    Nolan has also called out a lack of agency among women in sports media, saying in a 2014 video:

    KATIE NOLAN: Women in sports television are allowed to read headlines, patrol sidelines, and generally facilitate conversation for their male colleagues. Sometimes, they even let us monitor the internet from a couch. And while the Stephen A. Smiths, Mike Francesas, Dan Patricks and Keith Olbermanns of the world get to weigh in on the issues of the day, we just smile and throw to commercial.

    Nolan also criticized journalists who asked Dallas Cowboys player Greg Hardy, whose girlfriend said he strangled her, if he found particular women “attractive,” saying they failed to “act with just a shred of human decency.” Nolan’s insightful commentary and willingness to call out the media’s role in normalizing violence against women makes her work impactful.

    Julie DiCaro

    Chicago-based journalist Julie DiCaro has done strong work highlighting sexual assault and reporting on the ways female sports journalists are targeted online. DiCaro has written about her own sexual assault and said it helped her understand the struggles survivors go through, writing for HuffPost:

    I don’t know what happened between Jameis Winston and his accuser. I do know that, after a woman is raped, the prospect of a police interrogation and cross-examination second-guessing your behavior is paralyzing frightening. So frightening in fact, that many of us choose to keep quiet. And I know that every time we see one of these “we can’t prove it” press conferences, it confirms what many of us believe: That unless there are severe injuries and/or witnesses to your rape, you might as well not even bother reporting it.

    DiCaro was also one of the two women behind a 2016 viral video which highlighted the barrage of sexual harassment and threats women in sports journalism face on a daily basis, especially online. DiCaro’s empathy and willingness to bring unsavory issues to the forefront makes her a valuable voice in sports journalism.

    Correction: This piece was updated to correctly identify Julie DiCaro's work affiliation.

  • The Press Struggles To Finally Break Its “Populist” Habit For Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Like smokers trying to quit a pack-a-day habit, some journalists are finally trying to drop the long-running practice of portraying President Donald Trump as a “populist.” 

    Sparked specifically by Trump’s blatant economic flip-flops this month regarding trade deals, currency policy concerning China, and the Export-Import Bank, more members of the press seem willing to concede that Trump’s attempt to govern as a populist has quickly ended.  

    Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus announced that Trump’s “populist revolution” is “already over -- at least for now.” The Week agreed that Trump is “beating a hasty retreat from populism.” And even The New York Times, which has been an aggressive promoter of the “populist” meme, recently noted that Trump, “has stocked his administration with billionaires and lobbyists while turning over his economic program to a Wall Street banker.”

    But like any stubborn habit, the “populist” one won’t be easy to quit. Note that while that Times article detailed Trump's obviously non-populist agenda, Times reporters regularly use the label to describe him in other pieces.

    This month alone, the Times has referenced Trump’s “populist appeal,” credited a “populist economic message” for his political rise, grouped him with “fellow populist Marine Le Pen,” and described both him and Turkey’s president as “populist leaders.”

    And the Times isn’t alone in clinging to the narrative. The Christian Science Monitor last week reported, “Trump the populist is back.”

    Reminder: Populism represents a political struggle on behalf of regular people against elite economic forces. Today, Trump’s brand of pro-corporate, anti-worker politics represents the exact opposite.

    The clues have not been hard to find, as Trump quickly stacked his administration with a cavalcade of pro-business multimillionaires and billionaires. But that was just the beginning.

    The president and his Republican allies have spent much of this year trying to repeal health care for 20 million Americans, pass massive new tax cuts for the wealthy, eliminate a State Department program “which sends food to poor countries hit by war or natural disasters,” greatly expand the Pentagon’s budget, potentially block overtime pay for workers making less than $47,000 a year, defund Planned Parenthood, defund public broadcasting, abolish the government block grant program that helps fund Meals on Wheels for the elderly, and roll back rules protecting net neutrality.

    So no, Trump’s not a “populist,” even if he has “styled himself as a man of the people.” (Trump’s residence in New York City, where the first lady currently lives, is an apartment that’s decorated in 24-karat gold.)

    The whole Trump’s-a-populist trope has been a media mess for more than a year now.

    And why “populist”? Why is that almost always the catch phrase journalists reach for when “white nationalist,” “nativist,” and “authoritarian” are likely more accurate descriptions of Trump?

    The truth is, “populist” serves as a crutch. And when it’s still used today, the identifier represents a lazy shorthand used to describe Trump’s grab bag of often contradictory political positions.

    Last year, the narrative served as a campaign mirage: the Brigadoon of American politics. Trump’s “populism” enticed the press and provided journalists with an acceptable, nonthreatening way to address his primary and general election successes. It was a way to downplay white nationalism, race-baiting, and sexism as the driving forces of his campaign. Yes, Trump cynically embraced populist rhetoric. But journalists ought to be able to see beyond campaign ploys like that.

    To this day, the concept allows journalists to engage in more "both sides" analysis, comparing and contrasting Trump’s “populism” with the approach of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who actually does promote a populist, pro-people agenda.  

    Sanders’ signature political crusade revolves around making sure all American have access to health care. By contrast, Trump continues to plot the overthrow of the Affordable Care Act, which would cause millions of Americans to lose their insurance coverage.

    How does any working journalist look at those two sets of facts and conclude, yeah, Trump and Sanders are both populists?

    Even more troubling have been the press pronouncements that some of Trump’s deeply nativist proposals are somehow populist.

    As The New York Times wrote [emphasis added]:

    For the first two months of Mr. Trump's presidency, Mr. Bannon occupied an unassailable perch at the president's side -- ramming through key elements of his eclectic and hard-edge populist agenda, including two executive orders on freezing immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

    This is especially upsetting. Trump's goal of banning people from Muslim countries from entering the United States, and his scheme to build a $20 billion wall to fix a nonexistent immigration crisis, have very little to do with “populism.” But they do have a lot to do with nativism and the idea that white America is under siege and that the federal government must take unprecedented action to protect its fragile sovereignty.

    Portraying that as “populism” -- as Trump sticking up for the little guy -- is dangerous and deeply misguided.

  • The Vindication Of Rachel Maddow

    Journalists Panned Her Report On Trump’s Tax Returns, But It Produced The Best Evidence Trump’s Tax Proposal Boosts His Own Bottom Line

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Under pressure to show some sign -- any sign -- that President Donald Trump’s administration hasn’t squandered its first 100 days in office, the White House yesterday released a one-page collection of bullet points billed as a tax plan.

    There are many unanswered questions relevant to the 200-word proposal -- among them whether the massive tax cuts it proposes, channeled mostly to corporations and the wealthy, would be temporary or permanent; whether the tax cuts would be paid for, and how; and how much the proposal would cost. Top administration officials making the rounds on the morning news shows say they don’t know how the plan would affect the budget deficit and can’t guarantee that it wouldn’t raise the taxes of the middle class.

    One thing seem seems clear, however: If this proposal becomes law, the Trump family will be the big winners.

    As The New York Times’ Neil Irwin noted after detailing the proposal:

    It is striking how many of the categories listed above affect the president and his family. He is a high-income earner. He receives income from 564 business entities, according to his financial disclosure form, and could take advantage of the low rate on ''pass-through'' companies. According to his leaked 2005 tax return, he paid an extra $31 million because of the alternative minimum tax that he seeks to eliminate. And his heirs could eventually enjoy his enormous assets tax-free.

    We don’t know precisely how much Trump will benefit from the policies he supports because he refuses to release his tax returns, breaking decades of precedent and taking a hammer to an important political norm that curbs political corruption. And so as Irwin demonstrates, Trump’s “leaked 2005 tax return” provides the best available evidence of the impact Trump’s proposal will have on his own wallet.

    For that, we have MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and The Daily Beast’s David Cay Johnston to thank. It is a vindication for Maddow in particular, who was widely criticized by political reporters for the way in which she revealed documents that none of them had been able to obtain.

    Six weeks ago, Maddow set the political world on fire with a single tweet issued fewer than 90 minutes before her show began:

    After journalists and political commentators spent nearly an hour burning up Twitter with theories about what precisely Maddow had uncovered, she revealed that her show was going to feature the president’s 1040 form from 2005, which Johnston had obtained.  

    When her show began, Maddow did not open with the contents of the document. Instead, she used her first segment to provide context, detailing the long saga of Trump’s unwillingness to reveal his tax returns and the evidence about his income that had been made public thus far. Only after returning from a commercial did she and Johnston reveal what they had learned: Trump had paid a mere $5.3 million in income taxes -- a rate of less than 4 percent on an income of more than $150 million -- but had to pay $31 million more under the alternative minimum tax, which he had proposed eliminating during the campaign.

    And the political press went wild. Not because they had learned new information about the president’s taxes that he had kept from the public in unprecedented fashion. Not because the tantalizing scraps that Maddow and Johnston had unveiled suggest that Trump’s interest in keeping his returns secret is at least in part because they reveal how much he would benefit from policies he supports.

    No, the press freaked out because reporters had to wait for 20 minutes on a weeknight and watch a cable news program to hear a scoop none of them had been able to get over the previous 20 months, and because the actual content of that scoop didn’t match whatever they were expecting.

    In real time, political media Twitter exploded with criticism for the MSNBC host. Afterward, the critique from journalists seemed to overwhelm the actual news the show had produced.

    Maddow had used “a windup that some fellow journalists, eager for any bombshells, found exceedingly lengthy,” according to the Times. She had “disappoint[ed] many in the political-media establishment with a report that was widely characterized as overhyped,” CNN reported. Her program was a “cynical, self-defeating spectacle.” She “bur[ied] the lede,” having “talked . . . and talked . . . and talked” for what “felt like an eternity.” She had made a “big-time blunder” and her “bombshell” had “fizzled.”

    Poynter.org chief media writer James Warren was one of Maddow’s few defenders on style, excoriating the press for its “mix of impatience and internet-fueled craving for instant gratification” in the face of a garden-variety effort by a media outlet to ensure the largest possible audience for its scoop. As to the revelation’s content, as The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple noted, “The president wants to abolish the part of the tax code that stings him the hardest. In what news world is that not a bombshell?”

    With the White House’s release of a tax proposal that eliminates that part of the tax code, Maddow’s bombshell is more important than ever. But don’t expect to see apologies any time soon -- even news reports that detail how the 2005 1040 shows how Trump would benefit from the proposal don’t give Maddow any credit for unveiling it.

    This post has been updated for clarity.

    Images by Sarah Wasko.

  • Why Neo-Nazis Are Kvelling Over Tucker Carlson

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    “If there’s any talking head you can safely classify in the spectrum of ‘alt-right,’ it’s Tucker Carlson.” -- Neo-Nazi Eric Striker, The Daily Stormer

    Tucker Carlson’s takeover of Fox News’ 8 p.m. time slot has been greeted with cheers by his fans in the neo-Nazi, white nationalist, and misogynistic corners of the Internet.

    As the news began to break last week that Bill O’Reilly would not be returning to Fox, “alt-right” figures began expressing their hope that Carlson, who has garnered a large audience at the network since his show launched late last year, would get the coveted hour.

    “Tucker Carlson taking O'Reilly's time slot would be huge win for America,” tweeted Mike Cernovich, an online personality with a history of making white nationalist and misogynistic commentary who helped push the “pizzagate” conspiracy theory.

    Jazzhands McFeels, the pseudonymous co-host of the popular “alt-right” podcast Fash the Nation for the anti-Semitic website The Right Stuff, similarly claimed that Fox had the “opportunity for an all-star lineup” led by Carlson.

    The dregs of the so-called “alt-right” championed Carlson’s promotion because they think he is actively working to mainstream their despicable beliefs.

    Like many Fox hosts, including the one he replaced, Carlson has a long record of offering virulent commentary about women and people of color, and he has served as a cheerleader for President Donald Trump, another white nationalist favorite. But it is the Fox host’s interview style -- in particular the way he demolishes perceived enemies of the “alt-right” on air for his audience’s amusement -- that has turned his show into must-see viewing for members of the misogynistic and racist movement.

    “The key to his success is that he destroys people everyone hates,” writes Eric Striker on the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, which recently celebrated the 128th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birth and has a section devoted to the “Jewish Problem.” “He mocks and berates an assembly line of Jewish liars, literally laughing at the absurdity of their canned talking points about everything from immigration to Russia to trannies,” Striker continued.

    In the post, which was devoted to congratulating the Fox host for his debut ratings in the 8 p.m. time slot and his forthcoming book, Striker claims that if there’s “any talking head you can safely classify in the spectrum of ‘alt-right,’ it’s Tucker Carlson.” He concludes that Carlson is “America’s voice and we need to draft him for President.”

    Other Daily Stormer headlines about Carlson’s show over the past week include “Tucker Carlson SUFFOCATES and SODOMIZES Illegal Spic Goldman Sachs Employee,” “Tucker Carlson BARBARICALLY MUTILATES Fat Black Woman Demanding Free College for Black Slaves,” and “Tucker Carlson GASSES Jew Mark Cuban with a DIESEL MOTOR Salvaged from a SOVIET SUBMARINE.”

    Several white nationalist and neo-Nazi figures were particularly pleased that Carlson would replace O’Reilly, whom they view as a “cuckservative” whose time had passed.

    The neo-Nazi website InfoStormer, whose mission is “Destroying Jewish Tyranny,” wrote of Carlson’s promotion: “Dumb move by these feminists. They pushed out Bill O’Reilly only to see Tucker Carlson installed in his place. Carlson is a one man gas chamber who gasses Jews and feminists on a nightly basis. He is literally and figuratively Hitler.” The website also commented that it was good that Carlson would replace O’Reilly because he is “a much better pundit than O’Reilly and has been regularly lampshading Jews on national television.”

    The anti-Semitic writer Kevin MacDonald, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the neo-Nazi movement's favorite academic,” says that Carlson is “far edgier & less cuckservative” than O’Reilly, adding, “Tucker is red-pilled but manages to stay mainstream.”

    And according to Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who coined the term “alt-right,” Carlson “is a much better figure” who is “more intelligent” than O’Reilly and “is at least sympathetic towards the alt side of things” in a way his predecessor is not.

    A bigoted movement desperate for attention and implicit approval is now getting it from the biggest megaphone in cable news.

    Images by Sarah Wasko.

  • Meet The NRA’s Resident Academic Racist

    NRATV’s Bill Whittle Has Promoted “Scientific” Racism On Intelligence And Crime

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON & CYDNEY HARGIS

    Bill Whittle, a newly hired commentator for the National Rifle Association’s news outlet NRATV, has promoted the racist notion that black people are inherently intellectually inferior to people of other races and suggested that races could be divided along the lines of "civilized man" and "barbarian."

    Whittle is a commentator for the NRA who appears on a daily basis during the NRA’s live updates, which are broadcast at the top of the hour between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. He typically appears during the 1 p.m. hour, where he discusses issues of the day with host Grant Stinchfield.

    According to his website, Whittle began his gig with the NRA on January 3. “Since then, he has guest-hosted for Grant and [NRATV host] Collion (sic) Noir” and co-anchored the NRA’s afternoon coverage of the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference, the site notes. The NRATV website lists more than 80 appearances by Whittle on NRA programming this year. In addition to his employment with the NRA, Whittle is a longtime conservative commentator who is best known for his work with conservative outlet PJ Media.

    Whittle will be part of NRATV’s broadcast crew during the outlet's live coverage of the NRA’s annual meetings, which will be held this year in Atlanta, GA, from April 27 through 30.

    During a 2016 appearance on libertarian-turned-“alt-right”-commentator Stefan Molyneux’s webshow, Whittle revealed his acceptance of theories commonly called “academic” or “scientific” racism that tie together IQ scores, race, and crime. He also positively cited a white nationalist to claim people in inner cities “don't have access to cognition.”

    In the February 12 broadcast, which was released with the title “Why Liberals Are Wrong About Inequality,” Molyneux premised his discussion with Whittle with claims that in terms of average IQ scores, Ashkenazi Jews “clock in at about 115” and “after the Jews come the East Asians, right, the Koreans, the Chinese, the Japanese, and so on. They clock in at 105, 106, but very good on visual-spacial skills and very, very fast reaction times, which is another way that they measure intelligence. Caucasians come in at about 100 and then below that are Hispanics, clocking in at around 90, and then American blacks, clocking in at around 85 -- partly because they have 20 percent European mixture in their gene pool -- and then sub-Saharan Africans, clocking in at around 70, which is obviously very tragic, but this is the reality of what's happened. And slightly below that are the aboriginals in Australia, clocking in around 67 or whatever.”

    The attempt to classify certain races as genetically inferior on the basis of IQ scores is a classic example of academic racism promoted by white nationalists like Richard Lynn, and it has served as the premise for widely denounced “research” by writers like Charles Murray in The Bell Curve and Jason Richwine in his infamous proposal on Latino immigration.

    This type of sorting of the races by supposed genetic differences relating to intelligence has been widely discredited by scientists and anthropologists, even as white nationalists have increasingly attempted to revive the theories to push a racist agenda.

    During his conversation with Molyneux, however, Whittle accepted and promoted ideas based on these discredited theories.

    INDEX:

    Whittle Cited A White Nationalist To Promote "Scientific" Racism

    Neo-Nazi Website Feted Whittle's Appearance

    Scientists And Anthropologists Have Rejected Whittle's Claims

    Whittle Has A History Of Racism

    What Is NRATV?

    Whittle Prefaced His Racist Claims On Molyneux’s Show By Citing A White Nationalist And Indicating An Acceptance Of Academic Racism

    At the top of Whittle’s appearance, he cited The Bell Curve in indicating his acceptance of the notion there are differences in intelligence between races while offering an analogy he said Molyneux has used -- that “you can’t put somebody on a basketball team to make them taller” -- and linking race and intelligence to crime:

    STEFAN MOLYNEUX: We, of course, have had a whole bunch of experts from both the left and the right on talking about IQ differences between ethnicities, and I think that helped to bring the issue more to the forefront of your thinking, is that fair to say?

    BILL WHITTLE: Yeah, I mean obviously that's the controversial part of The Bell Curve is the IQ difference between ethnicities, but I think the deeper issue is since IQ seems to -- general IQ, g, right is the term they use -- since it so closely correlates to both poverty and crime on one hand and generally success and wealth on the other, it would be useful to be thinking about what a society that was recognizing these differences looked like. You can't -- I just love your example, I’ve used it every time with attribution, although it’s hard for me because it’s such a damned good analogy, but it’s like you said, you can’t put somebody on a basketball team to make them taller.

    Later in the broadcast, Whittle turned to the “enormous societal problems” we have “to solve,” and said of research claiming to show differences in intelligence among races: “It's not a question of whether or not this is true; it's a question of what do we do with what appears to be overwhelming information that IQ correlates to a lot of our social problems.”

    Whittle then cited Linda Gottfredson, saying, “She said that when you really get down to it, it's not that we have a -- that in terms of like really rigid poverty, it's not that we have a money problem; we have a cognitive problem. They don't have access to cognition, I think is what she said.”

    Gottfredson is a well-known white nationalist who has received funding from the Pioneer Fund. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “Gottfredson argues that racial inequality, especially in employment, is the direct result of genetic racial differences in intelligence.” SPLC notes that the Pioneer Fund’s “original mandate was to pursue ‘race betterment’ by promoting the genetic stock of those ‘deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.’” It says the organization “still funds studies of race and intelligence, as well as eugenics, the ‘science’ of breeding superior human beings that was discredited by various Nazi atrocities.”

    In his appearance, Whittle also made a racist characterization of aboriginal Australians, claiming that members of that ethnicity would be unable to learn how to do a job such as Molyneux’s to make the point: “That’s the thing about intelligence is it can adapt down, but you can’t adapt beyond your ability”:

    WHITTLE: Well it's interesting when somebody would say that a bushman in Australia survives in the desert much better than you could -- that's undoubtedly true -- but the part that they're leaving out is that with several months or weeks or a year of being with the Aborigines, you could learn those techniques about as well as they could or certainly well enough to survive. The question is could they learn the techniques that you use in order to do what you do for a living and the answer apparently is not. That’s the thing about intelligence is it can adapt down, but you can’t adapt beyond your ability. 

    Arguing that an IQ difference among the races “certainly seems to be real,” Whittle also offered an analogy to a Star Trek episode in suggesting his claims of IQ differences among races is like comparing a “civilized man” to a “barbarian”:

    WHITTLE: If this IQ difference is real -- certainly seems to be real -- then it is not a two-way street. Forgive me for going back to my entire studio, which is nothing but a museum of Star Trek, right, but I mean there was a really fascinating point and I remember hearing it when I was probably 7, 8, 9 years old when I heard it. And it's from the classic, classic episode called Mirror, Mirror where they teleport into the alternate universe and Spock has a goatee … and Kirk in the alternate universe succeeds because of his savagery and his ruthlessness, right? Here's the whole line -- they finally solve all the stuff, they beam back to their own ships and the universes go their separate ways and Spock says to Kirk, he says, “You as a civilized man had a much easier time portraying a barbarian than a barbarian ever could as a civilized man.” And I thought yeah, yeah, yeah that's it, right?

    Perhaps most disturbingly, Whittle made clear that his beliefs about intelligence differences among races should inform public policy, claiming during his appearance that “if we don’t understand, as you said, that this cognitive ability has an impact on society in the same way that a height ability has an impact on the society of the NBA, for example, we’re going to just be throwing money at problems.”

    Neo-Nazi Website The Daily Stormer Feted Whittle’s Appearance

    The week following Molyneux’s broadcast, Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi operator of The Daily Stormer, celebrated the episode with an article headlined “Stefan Molyneux has Gone Full Shitlord.” (Although “shitlord” seems like an insult, neo-Nazis have appropriated the term as a compliment.)

    The Daily Stormer is a virulently racist and anti-Semitic website. For example, it recently characterized offensive claims about the Holocaust made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer by saying Spicer “confirms Hitler never gassed anyone” while joking (warning: disturbing image) that Nazis instead drowned Jewish babies “in buckets.” Anglin was recently sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for allegedly orchestrating a harassment campaign against a Jewish woman.

    In his write-up of Molyneux’s broadcast, Anglin said, “Here’s a good interview with Bill Whittle,” and wrote, “As I predicted would happen, Stefan Molyneux has pretty well entirely abandoned his libertarian claptrap and family counseling nonsense and gone full shitlord. Ultimately, everyone who is honestly looking for the truth is going to come to the same conclusions that we have, and he has, for the most part, come to these conclusions.”

    Real Scientists And Anthropologists Have Rejected The Claims About Race And Intelligence That Whittle Promoted

    Claims that genetic differences make certain races inherently less intelligent, often linked to the IQ test -- like those pushed by Whittle and Molyneux -- have been discredited by mainstream science.

    To begin, race is no longer viewed as a biological phenomenon by the majority of scientists. As explained in a 1992 article in peer-reviewed academic journal Ethnicity & Disease, “For some time, biologists and anthropologists have overwhelmingly rejected the partitioning of modern humans into biological ‘races.’ An examination of recent human evolutionary history suggests that the zoological definition of race, based on significant genetic differences, cannot be legitimately applied to contemporary humans.”

    As Ta-Nehisi Coates explained at The Atlantic, claims that are premised on supposed racial differences in intelligence proceed “from a basic flaw -- no coherent, fixed definition of race actually exists.” The leading view among scientists is that race is a “social construct without biological meaning.”

    On race and intelligence specifically, research published in 2012 found that “heritability of IQ varies significantly by social class,” and that “almost no genetic polymorphisms have been discovered that are consistently associated with variation in IQ in the normal range.” Put another way, the findings offered strong evidence that non-genetic factors are primarily responsible for intelligence.

    According to the late Robert Sussman, who worked as an anthropology professor at Washington University, “There is no indication from any scientific evidence that different populations have any specific physical or intellectual attributes, or abilities. Those characteristics relate back to one’s socialization or upbringing (or nutrition).”

    Strong evidence that intelligence is a product of environmental factors rather than genetics is found in the Flynn effect, which is “the observed rise over time in standardized intelligence test scores, documented by [psychologist James] Flynn ... in a study on intelligence quotient (IQ) score gains in the standardization samples of successive versions of Stanford-Binet and Wechsler intelligence tests.”

    Rejecting claims that linked race and intelligence on the basis of IQ scores, science journalist John Horgan wrote in 2013 that “to my mind the single most important finding related to the debate over IQ and heredity is the dramatic rise in IQ scores over the past century. This so-called Flynn effect, which was discovered by psychologist James Flynn, undercuts claims that intelligence stems primarily from nature and not nurture.”

    Whittle Frequently Makes Racist Commentary About Black People And Middle Easterners

    Whittle has offered racist commentary during appearances on Molyneux’s other broadcasts, in videos released under his own brand, and on NRATV:

    • Whittle claimed that there is a “Muslim invasion” of Europe during a November 2015 appearance on Molyneux’s show. Whittle’s comments came during a discussion of r/K selection theory. The theory posits that r-selected species emphasize having large numbers of offspring, and investing few resources in each offspring, while K-selected species have fewer offspring to which they devote more resources. Humans are a K-selected species under the theory, although Whittle and Molyneux attempted to brand Muslim immigrants as an r-selected species.
    • While discussing “black America” during a December 2015 appearance on Molyneux’s program, Whittle described African Americans who support the Democratic Party as literal slaves who prefer to remain in captivity. He said that that the party has “30 million” slaves and the “terms of their slavery are very simple -- there’s a word for somebody who is fed, and clothed, and housed, and whose health care is taken care of by another person, and that word is slave.” Whittle then suggested that African Americans commit voter fraud on behalf of Democrats as a condition of their slavery, claiming, “On the voting plantation that the Democratic Party has set up in America, we demand two hours of work from you every two years. Every two years we demand that you go down to the voting places and vote, once, twice, three, four times, however [many] times as you can imagine, or manage, and that’s the work we expect for you in exchange for keeping you in bondage.”
    • During another 2015 appearance on Molyneux’s show, Whittle compared the “Islamic invasion of Europe” to “inner cities” in America “that are absolutely toxic, violent, enraged, bitter, [and] racist.” He went on to claim Black Lives Matter is “the street muscle” of the Democratic Party and that the group will make sure “everything’s gonna burn” if welfare is reduced. Again drawing a comparison between Europe and the United States, Whittle said, “We have the exact same problem here with these same kind of communities. They’re unemployable -- unemployed and unemployable -- they’ve been on assistance their entire lives, they’ve never had to work before,” and he said that these people should get jobs because a job “beats the laziness” out of people and “disciplines” them into “civility.”
    • Whittle called President Obama an “unqualified, unknown individual” who was elected “specifically and only because he is black” and said that electing Obama was “atoning for our slavery” during a January 2016 appearance on Molyneux’s show. Moments later he said, “I didn’t own any slaves, and therefore I’m not responsible for slavery. I’m not benefiting from slavery because I never owned any slaves,” and he said, “There’s nothing in this country that survived the Civil War that was the result of slavery.” Continuing to discuss the Civil War, Whittle said the “greatest tragedy in American history” is “not slavery, it’s not the Civil War, it’s what happened after,” before complaining about the philosophy of W.E.B. DuBois.
    • In 2013, Whittle published a video for PJ Media with the title “The Lynching” that discussed the February 2012 shooting of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Whittle suggested that George Zimmerman, who killed Martin, had an experience tantamount to a lynching. Whittle said that text messages found on Martin’s phone, which he said were “not ‘airable’ here for extreme graphic content,” showed that Martin was “violent and highly sexualized.” What was “airable” on Whittle’s video, however, was an image (warning: disturbing image) of Martin’s body after he had been shot, which Whittle left on the screen for several minutes.
    • Whittle bizarrely labeled CNN anchor Don Lemon “racist” against white people because Lemon pointed out that President Donald Trump sounds different when he is using a teleprompter, as compared to when he speaks without one, during a March NRATV appearance.

    What Is NRATV?

    Whittle’s outlet, NRATV, was launched in October 2016 as a rebranding of the NRA’s long-running news outlet NRA News with the aim of offering more live programming created by the gun group and its advertising firm Ackerman McQueen.

    While NRA News flagship program Cam & Company, which continues to air on NRATV, serves as a font of misinformation about the debate over guns in the United States, new NRATV programming, such as the live updates on which Whittle appears, are better characterized as pro-Trump propaganda with a heavy dose of xenophobic commentary, particularly on the topic of Islam.

    NRATV is strident in its defense of Trump, and the overall NRA organization has said that it will serve as “Donald Trump’s strongest, most unflinching ally.” For example, shortly after launching NRATV, host Grant Stinchfield attacked the media for covering numerous reports of sexual assault against Trump, saying outlets should instead cover instances where guns were used in self-defense.

    While the NRA has long claimed that the media are part of a conspiracy against everyday Americans, the group’s attacks against the press in defense of Trump have entered new territory in recent months, with the gun outlet labeling both dissent against Trump and protected-speech reporting about Trump and his administration as oppositional to the U.S. Constitution and American values.

  • ESPN’s Repeated Airing Of Duke Lacrosse Documentary Reinforces Myths About Sexual Assault

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A Media Matters analysis found that nearly one-third of the total time that ESPN and its three sister channels devoted to coverage of sexual assault and domestic violence in the beginning of 2017 consisted of repeatedly airing a documentary on sexual assault allegations made against the Duke lacrosse team in 2006. By devoting so much time to one case in which the charges were dropped, ESPN gave fuel to the conservative myth that men are often targeted by women who baselessly accuse them of sexual misconduct.

    Media Matters found that across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN News, the documentary Fantastic Lies aired 11 times in the first three months of 2017. The 2016 ESPN-produced documentary revisits statements made by Crystal Mangum, a black woman who was hired as an exotic dancer, that three members of the Duke lacrosse team raped and sexually abused her. The lawsuit against the three players, who were all white, was later dropped after prosecutors couldn’t substantiate what Mangum had said.

    The same Media Matters analysis found that reports of sexual assault and domestic violence by athletes were prevalent in the first three months of 2017, and that ESPN and its sister channels devoted minimal time to the subject. By frequently airing Fantastic Lies and not covering current cases fully, the ESPN networks are feeding into the conservative myth that women often falsely accuse men of sexual assault. For years, right-wing media figures have been pushing this myth to minimize the ongoing sexual assault epidemic on college campuses. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, only between 2 and 10 percent of rape accusations are falsified. This statistic, however, may include reports that were true but unverified, which the International Association of Chiefs of Police says should not be counted as false allegations.

    And sexual assault is an epidemic. As much as right-wing media continue to downplay it, sexual assault is rampant on college campuses. The Centers for Disease Control found that one in five women will experience sexual assault while they are in college. Just this year, the University of Texas at Austin reported that 15 percent of its female undergraduate students have been raped.

    The Duke lacrosse case specifically has become a focal point for the far right and is emblematic of the stereotypes that men’s rights activists and “alt-right” figures highlight in defense of their movements’ misogyny. The Duke case has now become “a dog-whistle to many on the far right,” according to New York magazine. “Alt-right” leader Richard Spencer told New York magazine, “The Duke lacrosse case changed the course of my career," after he was commissioned to write about the piece for The American Conservative. Spencer later dropped out of college to write for the magazine full time. And Stephen Miller, who is now an adviser to President Donald Trump and has white nationalist ties, became one of the most vocal advocates for the lacrosse players 10 years ago.

    By airing Fantastic Lies so frequently, ESPN is skewing the way people view sexual assault. ESPN’s viewers, who are overwhelmingly male, are presented with a documentary, repeatedly, that reinforces conservative myths about sexual assault. Denying and downplaying this epidemic is irresponsible and no way to reduce the trauma that thousands of women experience.

    Dayanita Ramesh created the graphic for this piece.