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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

2019 was dominated by conflict and change in the U.S. and across the world. Massive pro-democracy protests erupted in major cities; there was a continuing international rise of authoritarian governmentswhite nationalist hatred continued to spread around the globe; the Trump administration faced an existential threat as House Democrats launched an inquiry into the president’s conduct with Ukraine and brought articles of impeachment against him; and the number of mass shootings outpaced the number of days this year. And yet, Fox News still found time to be outraged about a series of faux controversies in 2019.

As the year comes to a close, it seemed appropriate to look back at some of the most ridiculous non-troversies Fox News aired.

Gillette ad

In January, shaving company Gillette released an advertisement directed toward men in the #MeToo era. The advertisement showed clips depicting bullying among young boys along with sexism in the corporate world and entertainment media. The ad was crafted as a rebuttal to toxic masculine culture and encouraged men to step up, “say the right thing,” and “act the right way.” While many saw the advertisement as an attempt to promote a better society, Fox News blasted the ad and Gillette for attacking men in an unfair and derogatory manner.

Female 007

Lashana Lynch would be cast as 007 in an upcoming James Bond film, “taking over Bond’s secret agent number after his character leaves MI6.” Though Daniel Craig, the current Bond, retained the title role, in September, he and former Bond actor Pierce Brosnan expressed support for the idea of casting a woman for the role in the future. Of course, on Fox News, such rumors of a woman character taking the 007 code name were met with deep-seated outrage and contempt.

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A has long been on the frontlines of right-wing media’s culture wars. In November, however, the company announced that it would no longer donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations. Whenever Chick-fil-A happened to be in the news, Fox News was previously quick to trumpet its support for the fast food business. But in this particular case, the network showed deep consternation over what it viewed as the company crumbling in the face of “leftist” attacks.

Nike’s Betsy Ross shoes

Nike planned to release a new shoe for the Fourth of July that would have displayed the 13-star American flag associated with the Revolutionary War and Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross. After former NFL player Colin Kaepernick privately criticized the design to the company, Nike cancelled its planned release of the flag-emblazoned shoe. Fox News took Nike’s cancellation of the Betsy Ross shoe as further proof that “the left” was labeling America and all those who loved it as racists.

The Hunt

After the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, this summer, Universal Pictures first pulled the ads and then cancelled the planned September release of its new film, The Hunt. The film depicted “deplorables” being hunted by “elite liberals” and drew widespread condemnation from right-wing media. On Fox News, the film was presented as evidence of the hypocritical left which wants to sow divisions in the country and pour ridicule on Trump voters.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

Singers John Legend and Kelly Clarkson announced plans to release an updated edition of the classic 1944 Christmas song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The song has recently been the subject of controversy for its lyrics, which hint at sexual harassment. Fox News took this new edition as another sign of “the Left’s” relentless drive to destroy all things fun and nostalgic. 

Ms. Monopoly

Toy and board game company Hasbro announced an updated version of their classic game Monopoly this year. Ms. Monopoly would pay women more than men at the beginning of the game and whenever they passed “Go.” The game sought to highlight the ongoing existence of the gender pay gap, something conservatives often dismiss. Fox News greeted the new game by fearmongering about the rise of socialism in America and claiming that it merely patronizes women.

The “War on Thanksgiving”

Fox News’ holiday culture war vitriol just keeps beginning earlier every year. This year, it was a “War On Thanksgiving.”

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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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