Race & Ethnicity

Issues ››› Race & Ethnicity
  • Nine Black Employees Are Now Suing Fox News For Racial Harassment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Seven more African-American Fox News employees are expected to join two black colleagues who are suing the network for racial harassment from former comptroller Judy Slater and accounting director Tammy Efinger, according to a new report from New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman.

    This escalation in Fox’s legal troubles comes amid longtime host Bill O’Reilly’s ouster due to multiple sexual harassment allegations and an adviser exodus from his show, and Fox owner Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take over British satellite broadcasting company Sky News -- which threatens British broadcasting standards thanks to the toxic corporate culture exposed by allegations of widespread sexual and racial harassment at Murdoch’s key American TV network. It also comes as the explicit sexism and racism of Fox News continues to fester, with the leadership of Fox now under Bill Shine, a man who helped cover up harassment at the network by former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.

    The network was originally forced to fire Slater after she made racist comments to co-workers. According to The New York Times, the original lawsuit from a Fox payroll manager and payroll coordinator alleges they were racially harassed with “racially charged comments” from Slater, “including suggestions that black men were ‘women beaters’ and that black people wanted to physically harm white people.” The lawsuit alleged, “Slater’s superiors did little to address her behavior, which created a hostile work environment that resulted in ‘severe and pervasive discrimination and harassment.’”

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported in an April 23 piece that seven other black employees plan to join this racial discrimination lawsuit. According to lawyers representing the affected employees, “Not once did Ms. Efinger step in or attempt to interfere with Ms. Slater’s outrageous conduct," instead “laugh[ing] or giggl[ing] following Ms. Slater’s vitriol.” The letter also details new racist, Jim Crow-era behavior from Fox’s accounting department, such as forcing the black employees to have “‘arm wrestling matches’ with white female employees in [Slater’s] office.” In an appearance discussing his report on MSNBC’s AM Joy, Sherman said these new descriptions of racist behavior at Fox “are really evident of a culture that is entrenched and that has not changed in the wake of Bill O'Reilly's departure.” From the report:

    The Murdochs hoped firing Bill O’Reilly would signal a changing culture at Fox News. “We want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect,” Rupert and his sons, James and Lachlan, wrote in a memo to Fox News employees on Wednesday. But the dismissal of Fox News’s highest rated host isn’t going to end the crisis at the network. The toxic culture, fostered for 20 years by former CEO Roger Ailes, is proving far more difficult to remedy.

    Next week, according to sources, seven black Fox News employees plan to join a racial discrimination suit filed last month by two colleagues. The original lawsuit alleged that Fox News’s longtime comptroller, Judy Slater, subjected members of Fox’s payroll staff to racial insults for years. (Fox News fired Slater in February after those employees began litigation against the network.)

    Lawyers representing the payroll employees are demanding that Fox’s accounting director, Tammy Efinger, also be removed from supervising an employee because she allegedly participated in Slater’s racist behavior. In a letter to the network’s lawyers obtained by New York, the attorneys state: “Not once did Ms. Efinger step in or attempt to interfere with Ms. Slater’s outrageous conduct.” The letter adds, instead, “Ms. Efinger chose to laugh or giggle following Ms. Slater’s vitriol.”

    According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Slater demanded that black employees hold “arm wrestling matches’” with white female employees in her office, just down the hall from Ailes’s office on the 2nd floor of Fox headquarters. “Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” the letter says, referring to the practice of paying black men to fight blindfolded at carnivals for white spectators’ entertainment. The lawyers argue that Efinger bragged about wanting to “fight” a black employee.

  • STUDY: Cable News Morning Shows Drastically Skew White And Male

    Latino, Black, Asian-American, And Middle Eastern Voices Are Critically Underrepresented, And Women Comprise Only A Quarter Of The Guest Appearances On Morning Shows

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    A Media Matters analysis of morning shows on cable news networks from January 1 to March 31 found that white men make up an overwhelming percentage of guest appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC's morning shows. The study found that black, Latino, Asian-American and Middle Eastern voices are critically underrepresented, and women make up only a quarter of guest appearances.

    Guests On Cable Morning Shows Were Overwhelmingly White. Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, and Asian-American guests were routinely underrepresented on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC’s morning shows. On MSNBC, 89 percent of guests who appeared on Morning Joe during the time period were white. Of all the guests who appeared on Fox & Friends, 85 percent were white. And 83 percent of guests who appeared on CNN’s New Day were white. Additionally, white men comprised 72 percent of total guest appearances on MSNBC's Morning Joe, 66 percent of all guest appearances on CNN's New Day, and 65 percent of guest appearances on Fox & Friends.

    Racial And Ethnic Minorities Are Underrepresented On Morning Shows. Morning shows aren’t reflective of the racial and ethnic demographics of the United States. Latinos, who according to the census make up 17 percent of the population, were notably absent on morning shows. Just 5 percent the total guest appearances on New Day were Latino; Fox & Friends had 4.6 percent, and Morning Joe had less than 2 percent Latino representation. And even though 13 percent of the U.S. population is black, black voices were severely underrepresented on the cable morning shows. Across all three networks, the percentage of black guests did not reach double digits; 7 percent of guests who appeared on Fox & Friends were black, compared to 8 percent on New Day and 9 percent on Morning Joe. Across all networks, the representation of Asian-Americans -- the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. -- was less than 3 percent, with Fox & Friends leading with 2.3 percent, and New Day and Morning Joe following with 1.4 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. The census doesn’t yet include data for the population size of people of Middle Eastern heritage. Media Matters’ analysis found that people of Middle Eastern heritage made up 2.4 percent of all guest appearances on New Day, 1.3 percent on Fox & Friends, and 0.2 percent on Morning Joe. Additionally, Middle Eastern women were entirely left out of Fox & Friends and Morning Joe.

    Women Were Significantly Underrepresented On Cable Morning Shows. It wasn’t just racial and ethnic demographics that didn’t match reality, but the gender breakdown as well. Even though men make up 50 percent of the U.S. population, men comprised more than three-quarters of all guests invited on morning shows. During the first three months of 2017, only 19 percent of guest appearances on Morning Joe were women. On New Day, 23 percent of guest appearances were women, while on Fox & Friends women made up 25 percent of total guest appearances.

    Methodology

    Media Matters reviewed every edition of CNN's New Day, Fox News' Fox & Friends, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe from January 1 to March 31, 2017, and coded all guest appearances for gender and ethnicity. Network contributors and correspondents were included as guests when they were brought on to provide commentary and engaged in significant discussions with other guests or hosts, as opposed to just reporting on a news package. Media Matters defines a significant discussion as a back-and-forth exchange between two or more people.

    Not all percentages add up to 100 due to rounding, inability to satisfactorily identify some guests' ethnicities, and some guests identifying as multiple ethnicities. U.S. Census data comes from the most recent 2015 estimates and adds up to more than 100 percent due to respondents selecting more than one race in surveys. Census data for Middle Eastern guests could not be found as the census does not provide that category in its reports.

    Madeleine Peltz and Katherine Hess contributed research to this study. Graphics by Sarah Wasko.

  • Fox News Promotes Eric Bolling, Noted Bigot, Conspiracy Theorist, And Muppet-Hater

    ››› ››› CAT DUFFY, ZACHARY PLEAT & JARED HOLT

    In the wake of Bill O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News following an advertiser boycott stemming from sexual harassment settlements involving the prime-time host, Fox News announced a new lineup that includes giving host Eric Bolling his own show at 5 p.m. This promotion comes despite Bolling’s history of trafficking in racist stereotypes, promoting fear of Muslims in America, and engaging in conspiracy theories, including the birtherism made famous by now-President Donald Trump.

  • Fox News Rewards O’Reilly Minion Jesse Watters With Prime-Time Slot On The Five

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ, ZACHARY PLEAT & CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Fox News is rewarding Jesse Watters with a prime-time slot on the panel show The Five as part of the shakeup caused by Bill O’Reilly’s ouster. Watters, a former O’Reilly producer and longtime protégé, was widely condemned last year for a racist segment set in New York City’s Chinatown. His ambush interviews have disparaged immigrants, women, African-Americans, the homeless, and members of the LGBTQ community, and he earned notoriety for an incident in which he “followed, harassed, and ambushed” a female journalist on camera.

  • As He Leaves Fox, Here Are Bill O’Reilly’s Worst Moments On The Air

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & KATHERINE HESS

    Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly has helped set the bar for the normalization and dissemination of right-wing hatred, offering incendiary commentary about sexual harassment and assault, gender, race and ethnicity, low-income people, the LGBTQ community, Muslims and refugees, immigrants, and reproductive rights. Now that O'Reilly has been forced to step down from The O'Reilly Factor after an advertiser revolt over revelations that Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, paid $13 million in settlements to women who came forward with reports that O’Reilly was a sexual predator, Media Matters takes a look back at some of the lowlights of his career, including his history of inaccurate and embellished reporting.

  • San Bernardino School Shooting Shows Which Crime Victims Matter For TV News

    Television News Ignored The Dangerous Intersections Of Intimate Partner Violence, Access To Firearms, And Black Women’s Lives After San Bernardino School Shooting

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    On the morning of April 10, a man entered a special education classroom at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, CA, and opened fire with a revolver. He shot and killed the teacher -- his estranged wife Karen Smith -- and an 8-year-old student named Jonathan Martinez, and injured another student before killing himself. By April 12, national television news had virtually stopped talking about it.

    News media coverage of intimate partner violence has the power to shape public perception of the issue, and inadequate or dismissive coverage can ultimately normalize or perpetuate this epidemic of violence against women.

    In the United States, a woman is assaulted every nine seconds, and “an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute.” One in three women and one in four men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. And access to firearms, like the revolver used to murder Karen Smith and Jonathan Martinez, only increases the likelihood that intimate partner violence will end with a woman dead.

    According to Everytown for Gun Safety, in more than half of U.S. mass shootings from 2009 through 2016, “the perpetrator shot a current or former intimate partner or family member.” One study found that among women living in the United States, “about 4.5 million have had an intimate partner threaten them with a gun and nearly 1 million have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner.” A 2016 Associated Press analysis of FBI data concluded that “an average of 760 Americans were killed with guns annually by spouses, ex-spouses or dating partners between 2006 and 2014.” The connection between intimate partner violence and firearm deaths can also sometimes carry a larger body count: “Many mass shooters have a history of domestic violence,” like the San Bernardino school shooter did.

    And this dangerous intersection of normalized intimate partner violence and access to firearms hurts black women, like Karen Smith, most. As Teen Vogue’s Morgan Jerkins noted:

    It's also important to note that intimate partner violence disproportionately affects black women, like Smith. In 2014, Time reported that black women are nearly three times as likely to experience death as a result of domestic violence than white women. What’s more, in 2014, black women were murdered by men more than twice the rate of white women. And like the murder in San Bernardino, most homicides against black women are committed by men whom they know.

    Yet Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone pointed out that, though “a shooting at an elementary school might be expected to receive outsize coverage due to the shocking nature of the act,” that didn’t seem to happen with the Monday murders of Karen Smith and Jonathan Martinez:

    On Monday night, the three major broadcast evening newscasts led with the San Bernardino school shooting story, but the anchors remained in New York. By Tuesday, the story was already receding from the headlines. Cable morning shows, like CNN’s “New Day” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” only covered it in passing. And The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal didn’t run front page stories on it.

    And a search of Nexis and Snapstream transcripts from the major news networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -- for the week since the shooting has come up almost completely empty on necessary context.

    In these available transcripts from Monday, April 10, through Monday, April 17, not a single segment or report on the shooting shooting mentioned the prevalence of intimate partner violence in the U.S. or hinted at the role guns play in making instances of intimate partner violence deadlier. There were also no mentions of the disproportionate danger to black women that intimate partner violence poses.

    Mainstream media seem unwilling to devote much coverage to intimate partner violence, even when women die. And there is a particular lack of coverage concerning the violence routinely perpetrated on black women’s bodies. When television media silence helps to perpetuate the normalization of violence -- particularly against black women -- it becomes deafening.

    Methodology

    For the time period between April 10 and April 17, Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts for any mentions of the terms “San Bernardino,” “Karen Smith,” or “Karen Elaine Smith.” The search included all available news transcripts for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Nexis transcripts include all-day programming on CNN, evening programming on MSNBC and Fox News, and morning, evening, and Sunday news shows on the broadcast networks. Snapstream transcripts were used to analyze daytime programming on MSNBC and Fox News.

    Do You -- Or Does Someone You Know -- Need Help?

    If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

    For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

    Image at top created by Sarah Wasko.

  • Murdoch Takeover Of Sky Would Undermine British Broadcasting Standards, Joint Report Shows

    Fox News And 21st Century Fox Have Faced Legal Action For Enabling Pervasive Workplace Discrimination And Sexual Harassment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media Matters, in partnership with global activism group Avaaz, submitted a report to U.K.'s chief broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, detailing the risks Rupert Murdoch’s desired takeover of British satellite broadcasting company Sky poses to British broadcasting standards. On March 16, U.K. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley had referred Murdoch's takeover bid to Ofcom for a thorough investigation on the grounds of "media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards." Ofcom has to report back to Secretary Bradley by May 16.

    Since the referral, more alarming information has come out about the toxic corporate culture and alleged improper conduct in Murdoch’s company. Media Matters and Avaaz detailed these additional concerns in their report:

    In recent months, serious allegations of sexual harassment, other abuse and discrimination, and corporate misgovernance have been levelled at subsidiaries of 21C Fox. Many of these allegations are against the highest and most influential people at the organisation. Investigative news reports, victims’ testimonies, and court documents paint a picture of a management with no meaningful accountability and no credible governance structure. The situation is so serious that federal prosecutors are now investigating.

    In July 2016, Fox News anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes in the New Jersey Superior Court. After reportedly trying hard to campaign against the culture of harassment, she alleges that Ailes “sabotaged” her career because she “refused his sexual advances.” She was forced to file against Ailes and not Fox News because her contract had a clause that mandated employment disputes be resolved in private arbitration - an approach Fox News adopts repeatedly, denying victims their day in court.

    A stark pattern of corporate negligence and management failure emerges, with a number of alleged incidents occurring after 2012, the date when 21C Fox claims to have introduced a new corporate conduct compliance mechanism. This pattern has strong echoes of years-long attempts by executives to mislead authorities, investors, staff and the public about phone hacking and other illegal activity in the UK.

    This joint report builds upon a previous report on 21st Century Fox’s unsuitability to take over Sky -- which oversees Sky News. The new document, details the corporate governance failures of Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox, including the new lawsuits and reports of sexual harassment.

    This culture of discrimination and abuse is also reflected in the programming of Fox News. As detailed in the new report, the network has repeatedly violated the standards of the Broadcasting Code of Britain’s 2003 Communications Act through “a consistent pattern of derogatory or abusive statements about a variety of groups, religions and communities as well as singling out specific individuals for unfair treatment. … All in all, there is a consistent pattern of regular abusive and derogatory treatment of a range of individuals, groups, religions and communities that is absolutely not justified by the context of the broadcasts in question. Fox has largely failed to adequately correct or respond to complaints, and has let similar abusive and derogatory material air on subsequent occasions -- again, uncorrected."

    Murdoch's Fox Effect: How full ownership of Sky risks undermining British broadcasting standards by Media Matters for America on Scribd

  • VIDEO: Media Can't Ignore The Voices of Activists

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & JOHN KERR

    In a time of historic protests and activism against bigoted and hateful policies of President Donald Trump and his administration, news outlets need to scrap the so-called “fair and balanced” panels of pundits and politicians speculating and judging protests from a studio.

    Since day one of the Trump administration, there have been organized efforts around the country to protest the president’s policies. These include the Women’s March On Washington in January which mobilized an estimated 3.6 to 4.6 million protestors around the world, demonstrations at airports across the U.S. a week later to protest banning and detaining Muslim travelers, the International Women’s Day Strike, the upcoming Tax Day March in April to pressure Trump to release his full tax returns, the People’s Climate March in the same month, and the Immigration March in May. Journalists can no longer ignore the activists, organizers and protestors who are taking to the streets and to town halls across the country to demand accountability and change.

    Media have dismissed the protests as spectacles, alleged that they are being staged, or falsely claimed that the protesters are paid to show up. Activists have been central to the evolution of American democracy and have fought for policies that are more inclusive and that better their communities.

    News outlets need to let activists tell their stories.

  • The “New Right,” Brought To You By Former Allies Of The “Alt-Right”

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Online personality Mike Cernovich fabricated the existence of a “new right” movement to downplay his active relationships with “alt-right” media personalities and white nationalist thought leaders. But like the nonsense diet supplements and self-help books that Cernovich hawks to his audience, the “new right” should be treated for what it is: a load of marketing bullshit.

    The truth is that although Cernovich and his media pals will claim they don’t advocate white nationalism in the same way that “alt-right” leaders like Richard Spencer do, the so-called “new right” has actively parroted the “alt-right” to build its brands. It is a mistake to give the “new right” a chance to disown the relationships that helped it blossom.

    Cernovich coined the term “new right” last year after he banned “alt-right” media personality Tim Treadstone, known online as Baked Alaska, from attending an inauguration party Treadstone had assisted Cernovich in planning called “The Deploraball.” Treadstone had published several tweets about the “Jewish Question” -- an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that suggests Jewish people scheme to dominate global media and governments. Cernovich replaced Treadstone with equally terrible “alt-right” personality Milo Yiannopoulos, who had been banned from Twitter for inciting a racially motivated harassment campaign and was later disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) after a video surfaced in which he appears to condone pedophilia. The drama fractured the “alt-right” media landscape into factions, with some hoping to rebrand and distance themselves from the openly white nationalist fan base they had used to inspire their brands.

    After uninviting Treadstone, Cernovich introduced the concept of the “new right” in an interview with Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large of the conspiracy theory website Infowars, denouncing white supremacist messages spread by some members of the “alt-right." After the interview, Watson also peddled the concept of a “new right” to his fan base on social media, claiming that “there are two ‘Alt-Rights’” and that one faction is “more accurately described as the New Right.” Watson claimed the “new right” includes people who wear Trump hats, “create memes [and] have fun.” This group, he wrote, is entirely separate from “a tiny fringe minority” of people under the “alt-right” banner who “obsess about Jews, racial superiority and Adolf Hitler.”

    The public relations move worked, and soon many other notable pro-Trump new-media personalities were clustered under the “new right” brand coined by Cernovich. They included Vox Day, who wrote a manifesto on what it means to be “alt-right” that claimed “diversity + proximity = war”; “alt-right” poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos, who praised the group's membership; The Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich, who made an “alt-right” hand signal in the White House briefing room; and blogger Stefan Molyneux, who receives wide praise among white nationalist groups.

    Cernovich told The Atlantic that he “for sure” pictured himself as the leader of the “new right” and that he and his media partners “want to do nationalism without white identity politics.” Cernovich explained to New York magazine that his initial support for the “alt-right” was based on a misunderstanding: He “didn’t realize it was, like, a white, ethno-nationalist thing.” Right Side Broadcast Network (RSBN), which hired Cernovich to host a program on the pro-Trump news stream, defended Cernovich and allowed him to whitewash his track record of vile statements.

    But Cernovich and his new-media allies openly pandered to a growing pro-Trump “alt-right” media audience during the 2016 election by publishing media meant to promote fear of Muslims and pieces that attacked “social justice warriors” and others who speak out against the sexist, misogynistic, and racist rhetoric Cernovich and other “alt-right” personalities spew. Cernovich also once announced that his next project would be “part alt-right, part fitness, part anti-cuck,” and he has praised the “alt-right” movement as “sophisticated, suspicious, and combative” and declared it “woke.” The ignorance defense the “new right” is using is soiled by these figures’ year-long track record of employing such rhetoric to bolster one another's public profiles.

    Cernovich and his new-media allies are snake oil salesmen who adopt whatever controversial punditry will earn them publicity and let them promote their bogus products. For example, Cernovich uses his platform to sell copies of his self-help book for men and promote his in-development “experimental nootropic” pills that he claimed will regrow neurons inside the brain and build a “supercharged mind” that most people can’t handle.

    The “new right” is nothing more than a shallow attempt to legitimize commentary that draws upon the “alt-right” philosophy, which has been used to promote conspiracy theories like the “Pizzagate” claim that top Democratic officials were complicit in a Washington, D.C., child sex-trafficking ring run out of a pizza restaurant. Media should not grant Cernovich and his colleagues a free pass to abandon the “alt-right” talking points that they used to force themselves into media relevancy in the first place.