Media Matters has an important new report about the alarming frequency with which leaders of the Family Research Council appear on cable news shows. You might ask why that’s a big deal. As the report spells out, it’s because FRC regularly traffics in false, demonizing rhetoric about the LGBT community.
Since being designated a hate group by the highly respected Southern Poverty Law Center in November 2010, FRC staff have appeared on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC 52 times. Only two of those segments mentioned FRC’s designation as a hate group. (Despite FRC’s claims to the contrary, the SPLC designation stated “Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.”)
A few notable hateful, misleading claims by FRC leaders cited in the Media Matters report:
- The “It Gets Better” Project is a disgusting and “part of a concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that ‘lifestyle.’”
- “The ‘Research is Overwhelming’ that gay men are more likely to molest children.”
- “Senators Who Vote For [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] Repeal Will Have ‘The Blood Of Innocent Soldiers On Their Hands.’”
In addition to these examples, we’ve also noted FRC’s willingness to make inflammatory false claims on a variety of issues, such as:
Having diverse viewpoints in the news media is important. But so are accuracy and credibility. Giving FRC an elevated platform in the public debate on critical issues implicitly extends to them an image of honesty and integrity they simply do not deserve. Kudos to Media Matters for so thoroughly cataloguing this problem.
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In his most recent column, E.J. Dionne joins the chorus Amy Sullivan at TIME started laying out ground rules for bringing up candidates’ religious views and identity.
Dionne says point-blank, “The Mormon faith of Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman should not be an issue in this campaign. Period.”
He argues, similar to Sullivan, that faith should only be evaluated or broached when it is directly relevant to the candidate’s decisions as an elected official. Dionne writes:
In the United States, we have no religious tests for office. … But to say this is not the same as saying that religion should be excluded from politics. The test should be: To what extent would a candidate’s religious views affect what he or she might do in office?
He also articulates the broad range of issues that can be influenced by religious views:
Yet there are many questions — and not just concerning abortion — on which the ethical and moral commitments that arise from faith would have a direct impact on what candidates might do in office. Those should be argued about. My own views on poverty, equality and social justice, for example, have been strongly influenced by Catholic social thought, the Old Testament prophets and the civil rights preachers. Religious conservatives have arrived at convictions quite different in many cases from mine, after reflection on their own faith and their traditions.
It’s a helpful reflection in a context where faith and politics seems like a combination hopelessly fraught with conflict and tension. We ought to examine candidates’ religious beliefs in a way that is consistent with our democratic and faith values, and only in ways that shed light on relevant policy stances.
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This video of an un-aired Fox News interview of #OccupyWallStreet participant Jesse LaGreca is deservedly making the rounds on the Internet this week for LaGreca’s willingness to confront Fox News.
But I thought the most interesting part of the interview was when he articulated the policies he thought we should be talking about and the values behind them:
LaGreca: I think myself as well as many other people would like to see a little more economic justice or social justice–Jesus stuff–as far as feeding the poor, health care for the sick.
The Religious Right has long tried to convince Americans that only conservatives are politically inspired by faith while people who disagree with them are hostile to religion. It’s great to see LaGreca representing progressives who value their faith traditions and exposing these reductionist stereotypes.
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Since his “Restoring Honor” rally in D.C. in August of last year, Glenn Beck’s celebrity has taken a series of crippling hits. After over 300 dropped sponsors, falling ratings, and public criticism of his extreme personal attacks — including attacks on religion and people of faith — Fox News dropped Beck’s show last spring. Without the high-profile backing and endorsement, Beck has struggled to gain relevancy since and has receded into a more marginal role in the conservative movement.
But none of this seems to bother the Family Research Council, who have confirmed that Beck will be speaking at their Values Voters Summit this weekend. Beck now joins other fringe figures with histories of radical statements like American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer to share the stage with GOP candidates for President at the event.
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On his radio show Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh shared his cohesive explanation for the problems ailing the country. Unsurprisingly, his theory was heavy on ridiculous partisan accusations and light on actual substance.
Attacking ‘compassion’ as the word “that has had the most disastrous effect on the advancement of everybody in this culture,” Limbaugh articulated his theory that federal support programs are actually a liberal plot to win votes by creating an angry underclass infantilized by government spending:
We don’t have a shortage of finances in this country, we don’t have a shortage of revenues…We’ve got a spending problem out the wazoo and the spending that’s taking place, in large measure–the majority portion of it–is being wasted, is being spent to destroy the lives of people…because it robs them of their initiative, it robs them of motivation, it robs them of inspiration, it robs them of desire.
You give them just enough to get by and they live their lives in constant anger and rage. And so you keep feeding that rage by telling them their conditions are because the Republicans don’t care about them or what have you. They constantly vote Democrat and that’s how you destroy a country, that’s how you destroy a culture, that’s how you destroy a Great Society.
Limbaugh’s rhetoric, of course, mirrors the “dependency argument” we’ve highlighted before as an increasingly popular way for conservatives to attack crucial safety net programs even in the midst of tremendous economic downturn.
This view of working Americans victimized by government spending, however, doesn’t match with reality. Helping working families keep their heads above water in tough times prevents them from slipping to more dangerous levels of poverty that are harder to escape from and ultimately cost taxpayers more money.
What’s more, Limbaugh’s vision ignores the numerous examples of Americans who have used this kind of assistance to springboard themselves to better futures.
As the millionaire who asked President Obama to raise his taxes at a townhall meeting last week put it “I would like very much to have the country to continue to invest in things like Pell grants and infrastructure and jobs training programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am.”
Faced with a choice between Americans with first-hand experience with these programs and Rush Limbaugh’s rambling fantasies, I’ll take the former.
H/T Media Matters
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