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Homophobes, misogynists, bigots… what a wonderful world. Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Kim Davis

This is just getting ugly. The right of same-sex couples to get married in all 50 states, which was enshrined in the SCOTUS ruling in June, continues to be obstructed by a cluster of obstinate local government officials and the special interest groups that back them in court. And now — even after losing in court — a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky named Kim Davis is doubling down on the “religious liberty” bunk and ignoring a federal judge’s order to begin issuing marriage licenses.

This is the same county clerk who was the subject of a video that went viral in July, showing a gay couple attempting to get a marriage license and getting blown off by the craven bureaucrat. The ACLU subsequently brought an action against Davis, and on Wednesday a federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, ordering her to resume issuing licenses — a ruling conservative Christians say “advances the homosexual agenda.”

Davis was represented by Liberty Counsel, a law firm that advocates for anti-gay, anti-abortion policies, and is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They issued a statement Thursday saying: “Kim Davis did not sign up as a clerk to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Her job duty was changed by five lawyers without any constitutional authority. At a minimum, her religious convictions should be accommodated.”

In his opinion, U.S. District Judge David Bunning said that Davis’ Constitutional right to practice her religion was not at all under threat from same-sex couples, writing:

[Davis] may continue to attend church twice a week, participate in Bible Study and minister to female inmates at the Rowan County Jail. She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do. However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.

On Thursday, however, she refused to obey the judge’s order (she had previously ignored Kentucky governor Steven Beshear also). And she isn’t even the only clerk in Kentucky doing this — let alone the country.

Next: Ted Nugent 

4. Ted Nugent

Mike Licht via Flickr

Speaking on Bill Keeler’s radio show Wednesday, “Freedom drenched killer American music” aficionado Ted Nugent weighed in on the whole fracas that erupted when Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump made crass remarks about Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle after she grilled him during last Thursday’s GOP debate.

The Nuge said he was a “big fan” of Trump since he believes in “bold, aggressive, unapologetic truth,” and that he’s not a fan of Kelly since she pretends to be a member of the status quo — “either that or she’s just getting stupid.” Bottom line, quoth Nugent: “Donald Trump is the good guy, currently Megyn Kelly ain’t.”

Of course his remarks about Kelly were not at all limited to her journalistic competence or politics: “Sometimes when I’m loading my magazines,” he said, referring to ammunition, “I like to just look at her. And I usually sit naked on the couch dropping hot brass on my stuff.”

Media Matters has a rundown of Nugent’s long, sad history of misogyny. But it’s okay. Even if he manages to alienate every woman on Earth, he’ll always have his guns.

Via Media Matters

Next: Erick Erickson

3. Erick Erickson and RedState

Naturally, Nugent wasn’t the only misogynist troll to weigh in on the Kelly/Trump row this week. But at least Nugent is consistent. Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of the right-wing blog RedState, is a hypocrite.

First Erickson banned Trump from the conservative candidates’ summit he organized last weekend on account of the billionaire businessman’s comments, saying: “No legitimate candidate suggests somehow a female asking questions is doing it because she’s hormonal.”

Then Erick “I’m Not One To Judge” Erickson turned around and published a featured blog post from one of his site’s contributors, which claimed that Hillary Clinton lacked a “unique selling propostion [sic] beyond proving even a homely woman can sleep her way into power.”

Media Matters highlighted Erickson’s double standard — that some women you’re allowed to target, and others you aren’t — and his habit of making sexist remarks, while providing a link to the original post.

RedState‘s response to Media Matters highlighted the central dilemma of calling attention to trolls — at the end of the day, you’re really just feeding them. (We suppose we are guilty of this too.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 4.20.07 PM

Yes, as a matter of fact, we did.

Via Media Matters

Next: Pat Robertson

2. Pat Robertson 

PatRobertsonScreenshotConservative televangelist Pat Robertson is blowing hard gusts of hate this week, calling same-sex marriage part of a “flood of evil” that threatens to overwhelm the United States.

In a recent edition of The 700 Club for the Christian Broadcasting Network, Robertson asked viewers: 

Who would’ve thought, 30 or 40 years ago when we began, that the Supreme Court would’ve said that homosexuality is a constitutional right? Who would’ve thought that the Supreme Court would’ve said marriage between homosexuals was a constitutional right? Who would’ve thought that the slaughter of babies, over 55 million of them, would’ve been declared a constitutional right by the Supreme Court?

Who would’ve thought after 55 years of broadcasting at CBN, Robertson would still be spewing the same closed-minded trash?

Who would’ve thought nearly $57 million would be donated in 2014 to CBN, the same company whose founder and host questions whether members of the LGBTQ community have the right to live openly in the United States?

Who would’ve thought any person who has been alive as long as Robertson — 85 years — would still not have learned that love wins?

The mad would-be prophet of the airwaves also said this week that only the draconian Biblical laws in the Book of Leviticus dealing with homosexuality apply. God-fearing, heterosexual Christians, need not worry, Robertson says. Jesus fulfilled all the laws for Christians, and apparently paid all Christians’ tabs.

Just be sure to love God and love your neighbor as yourself, Robertson added.

But what if your neighbor is gay, Pat?

Since the Bible seems inconclusive, should we consult the Supreme Court?

Next: Linda Harvey 

1. Linda Harvey

Linda Harvey is the president of Mission: America, an Ohio-based conservative Christian, anti-gay, anti-trans advocacy group, which believes that “homosexuality is not normal and natural” and that America is a “gravely ill” nation that can only be saved by “the blood of Jesus Christ” Oh, and the Southern Poverty Law Center considers them a hate group.

Harvey is a former ad exec who started the group in 1995, their site says, “after years of being ‘part of the problem.’ Lord, forgive us.”

She’s also a blogger for the perennially cracked WND, where in a post published Tuesday, titled “‘Equality Act’: Gaystapo’s Latest Attack,” she rips into the “fascist attempt” of the “gay lobby” to dismantle the First Amendment to the Constitution, and lays out her case against the “Equality Act,” which, according to the Human Rights Campaign, would “guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBT people.” The horror.

Harvey’s not having any of that. In nearly 1,000 words of verbal ipecac, inveighing against “Christ’s enemies,” the “sexual anarchy lobby,” “homosexual advocates,” and “gender-bending people,” she describes the act as “tyranny” and a “weapon of revolution” against American Christians of conscience. “Christianity,” she says “is now a target to be obliterated.”

Unpacking her ignorance, she writes:

If you support religious liberty – or say you do – you cannot support the “Equality Act.” It kills religious liberty. And an amendment won’t fix it…

[…] “LGBT” pressure groups do not dictate Christian doctrine, first of all. Our Almighty God has already done that. And they define “discrimination” as any opinion they don’t like, even if the view is based on reality.

Homosexuality is not inborn – it’s not like race – and the behavior is harmful to individuals and societies. These identities and attractions do not characterize separate types of “persons” (as the Obergefell majority ruling incorrectly assumed). So they are not defensible under the 14th Amendment.

[…]  We must not let them do this. This bill should be Priority No. 1 to defeat this year, next year and as long as it takes. Everyone needs to make it clear to congressional representatives that this fascist attempt to dismantle the First Amendment, to defy parental authority and to drive Christians out of jobs simply cannot happen.

Harvey concludes by saying that the “so-called ‘Equality Act’ is not about equality – we already have that. It’s about calling evil good, calling sin a right, and about punishing and silencing the voices of morality and faith.”

It is encouraging to hear that “we already have that,” Ms. Harvey. We’re not exactly sure who gets to be included in your particular “we,” but if you could just step down from that soapbox you think is Sinai, you might find that equality is actually a lot more elusive in this country than you think.

Photo: Glenn Halog via Flickr


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Rep. Bennie Thompson

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Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Friday afternoon announced the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has issued subpoenas to 14 Republicans from seven states who submitted the forged and "bogus" Electoral College certificates falsely claiming Donald Trump and not Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in their states.

The Chairman appeared to suggest the existence of a conspiracy as well, noting the "the planning and coordination of efforts," saying "these so-called alternate electors met," and may know "who was behind that scheme."

Keep reading... Show less

Chris Cuomo

News Literacy Week 2022, an annual awareness event started by the News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to making everyone “smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy” has closed out. From January 24 to 28, classes, webinars, and Twitter chats taught students and adults how to root out misinformation when consuming news media.
There’s no downplaying the importance of understanding what is accurate in the media. These days, news literacy is a survival tactic. One study estimated that at least 800 people died because they embraced a COVID falsehood — and that inquiry was conducted in the earliest months of the pandemic. About 67 percent of the unvaccinated believe at least one COVID-19 myth, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It’s not that accurate information isn’t available; people are rejecting reports of vaccine efficacy and safety because they distrust the news media. A third of Americans polled by Gallup said they have no trust at all in mass media; another 27 percent don’t have much at all.
Getting people to believe information presented to them depends more on trust than it does on the actual data being shared. That is, improving trust isn’t an issue of improving reporting. It’s an issue of improving relationships with one’s audience.
And that’s the real news problem right now; some celebrity anchors at cable news outlets are doing little to strengthen their relationships with their audiences and a lot to strengthen their relationships with government officials.
The most obvious example is how CNN terminated Prime Time anchor Chris Cuomo last month for his failure to disclose the entirety of his role in advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on the sexual harassment accusation that unfolded in Albany, a scandal that eventually led to Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.
But there are others. Just this month, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol revealed that another anchor on another cable news network, Laura Ingraham of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, texted then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows last January, advising Meadows how Trump should react to reports of possible armed protests at state capitols around the country. This revelation followed the story that Sean Hannity, host of the eponymous news hour at Fox News, also texted Meadows with advice last year.
And while he didn't advise a government official, CNN anchor Don Lemon revealed information not available to the public when he texted embattled Empire actor Jussie Smollett to tip him off about the Chicago Police Department’s wavering faith in his story about an assault. That’s from Smollett’s own sworn testimony.
When English philosopher Edmund Burke joked about the press being the Fourth Estate — in addition to the First, Second and Third (the clergy, nobility and commoners, respectively) — his point was that, despite their influence on each other, these “estates” — bastions of power — are supposed to be separate.
The Fourth Estate will always be an essential counterweight to government. But, since Donald Trump was elected in 2016, we’ve been so focused on stopping an executive branch from pressing the press to support an administration's agenda — either by belittling journalists or threatening to arrest them for doing their jobs — that we’ve ignored the ways that it affects and influences other Estates, and not necessarily through its reporting.
That is, we have news personalities-cum-reporters who are influencing government policy — and not telling us about it until it’s too late.
The United States has fostered an incredible closeness between the Second Estate — which in 2021 and 2022 would be political leaders — and the Fourth Estate. About a year ago, an Axios reporter had to be reassigned because she was dating one of President Biden’s press secretaries. Last year, James Bennet, the former editorial page editor of the New York Times and brother of Colorado Senator and 2020 Presidential candidate Michael Bennet, had to recuse himself publicly from the Gray Lady’s endorsement process. In 2013, the Washington Post reported at least eight marriages between Obama officials and established journalists.
To be clear, there aren’t any accusations that anyone just mentioned engaged in anything other than ethical behavior. But I, for one, don’t believe that James and Michael Bennet didn’t discuss Michael’s campaign. I don’t think the Axios reporter and her West Wing-employed boyfriend — or any journalists and their federally employed spouses, for that matter — didn’t share facts that the public will never know. Such is the nature of family and intimacy.
And as long as those conversations don’t affect the coverage of any news events, there’s nothing specifically, technically wrong with them. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t damaging.
As these stories show, when we don’t know about these advisor roles, at least not until someone other than the journalist in question exposes them, it causes a further erosion of trust in news media.
What’s foolish about the Cuomo, Ingraham, Hannity, and Lemon improprieties is that they don't necessarily need to be the problem they’ve become. Cuomo’s show contained opinion content like 46 percent of CNN’s programming. An active debate rages on as to whether Fox News is all opinion and whether or not it can rightly even be called opinion journalism since its shows are so studded with inaccuracies and lies.
What that means is that Cuomo, Ingraham, Hannity, and Lemon are allowed to take a stand as opinion journalists; Cuomo and Lemon never really worked under a mandate of objectivity and Ingraham and Hannity likely wouldn’t honor it if they did. Indeed, a certain subjectivity — and explaining how it developed for the journalist — is part of an opinion journalist’s craft. To me, little of these consulting roles would be problematic if any of these anchors had just disclosed them and the ways they advised the people they cover.
But they didn’t. Instead, the advice they dispensed to government employees and celebrities was disclosed by a third party and news of it contributes to the public’s distrust in the media. While personal PR advisory connections between journalists and politicians haven’t been pinpointed as a source of distrust, they may have an effect. Almost two-thirds of respondents in a Pew Research poll said they attributed what they deemed unfair coverage to a political agenda on the part of the news organization. No one has rigorously examined the ways in which individual journalists can swing institutional opinion so it may be part of the reason why consumers are suspicious of news.
Cleaning up ex post facto is both a violation of journalistic ethics and ineffective. Apologies and corrections after the fact don't always improve media trust. In other credibility contests, like courtroom battles, statements against one’s interests enhance a person’s believability. But that’s not necessarily true of news; a 2015 study found that corrections don’t automatically enhance a news outlet’s credibility.
It’s a new adage for the 21st century: It’s not the consulting; it’s the cover-up. Journalists need to disclose their connections to government officials — up front — to help maintain trust in news media. Lives depend on it.

Chandra Bozelko did time in a maximum-security facility in Connecticut. While inside she became the first incarcerated person with a regular byline in a publication outside of the facility. Her “Prison Diaries" column ran in The New Haven Independent, and she later established a blog under the same name that earned several professional awards. Her columns now appear regularly in The National Memo.

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