Right-Wing Media Insists Supreme Court

Even After Abortion Ruling, Right-Wing Media Scoff At Threat To Privacy Rights

In reaction to clear signs that the Supreme Court may take aim at marriage equality after overturning Roe v. Wade, right-wing media outlets are employing the same tactics they previously deployed against Roe by denying that the precedent protecting gay marriage is at risk while simultaneously calling for it to be repealed.

On June 24, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, overturning Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and the long-held precedent guaranteeing federal protection for abortion rights nationwide. As part of the ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas released a concurring opinion calling for the court to “reconsider” several other cases, namely those protecting same-sex sexual activity, access to contraception, and gay marriage. Both Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito have also previously expressed an interest in overturning Obergefell v. Hodges (the case establishing protections for same-sex marriages). Conservatives have already seized on the ruling to attack LGBTQ rights, with Alabama citing Dobbs14 times in a recent court filing presented in support of the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Yet in the aftermath of the ruling, right-wing media have attempted to dismiss the genuine possibility that Obergefell could face the same fate as Roe, reflecting their earlier push to downplay the risks to Roe. Meanwhile, many right-wing outlets, including some of the same ones denying gay marriage is under threat, have called for Obergefell to be repealed.

Right-wing Media Claim Roe Ruling Doesn't Put Marriage Equality At Risk

The majority decision in Dobbs stated that the ruling did not set precedent for other cases unrelated to abortion. However, Thomas used the ruling to push for reconsideration of three other cases — Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down any remaining laws against same-sex sexual activity; Griswold v. Connecticut, which set the precedent protecting access to contraceptives; and Obergefell. Despite Thomas’ opinion and Alito’s previous statement suggesting support for overturning marriage equality, right-wing media argued that the precedent in the Dobbs ruling does not jeopardize Obergefell.

On June 24, Fox News guest Carrie Severino accused Democrats of “fearmongering” about the threat to marriage equality, adding, “Please don't pretend that it's going to have an impact on every other case in our society because it simply doesn't.” That night, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson similarly called the threat to marriage equality a “fearmongering talking point” and claimed President Joe Biden is “a liar” for noting the threat the ruling poses to the Obergefell.

Other Fox News personalities continued to push the claim that the Dobbs ruling exists in a vacuum and would not effect rights like gay marriage or contraception. They were joined by Newsmax’s show American Agenda, during which host Heather Childers called warnings by protesters and activists “fear-mongering” and guest Erin Elmore of Turning Point USA claimed that “the left is using fear in saying what’s going to happen to gay marriage or interracial marriage or the right to contraception.”

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board also said on June 24 that the “political left is making much of Justice Clarence Thomas’ argument.” The editorial asserted that Obergefell relied on stronger precedent than Roe because it made possible myriad marriage contracts across the United States, suggesting that Thomas had shown he would not approach the case in the same fashion. Also, during the June 24 episode of the Journal’s podcast Potomac Watch, members of the editorial board Kimberley Strassel and Kyle Peterson argued gay marriage was not put at risk by the ruling. Peterson said, “I am very skeptical that the Supreme Court would say those people can be married today and not married tomorrow in the United States” — which is in fact what the court had done that very same day for more than 33 million people’s ability to exercise their reproductive autonomy.

Adding a degree of cognitive dissonance, some of those adamantly asserting that Roe’s overturning did not endanger LGBTQ rights simultaneously called for Obergefell to be overturned. On the June 24 edition of his radio show, Fox News’ Sean Hannity called fear that Dobbs will be used against the gay community “left-wing lunacy” and cited the majority opinion to claim the ruling “applies to this case and this case alone.” However, on his show on June 27, Hannity discussed Thomas’ opinion, noting how it said “striking down Roe should open up the high court to review other precedents” before suggesting that striking down “Griswold, Lawrence, and some [other cases]” would be “the most democratic for this democratic republic that we live in.” The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro likewise tweeted on June 27 that the court “explicitly said they would NOT touch Obergefell or Griswold” but on June 24, a Daily Wire article had quoted him lamenting that, unlike Thomas, the other justices did not “have the actual stones” to attack cases like Obergefell.

Former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes also called for the court to evaluate “what constitutes a marriage,” BlazeTV’s Steven Crowder argued that “states should have the right to regulate same-sex marriage,” and far-right grifter Mike Cernovich falsely claimed Obergefell resulted from “SCOTUS discover[ing] it hidden in a 200 year old text” and suggested it was “anti-democratic.” Following the ruling, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also stated his support for removing protections for gay marriage, same-sex relations, and contraceptives, calling them “legislative issues.”

Conservative Pundits Made Same False Claims About Roe

In the years leading up to the Dobbs decision, right-wing media were equally adamant about Roe not being in jeopardy. During confirmation hearings for Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, many of those now accusing people of fearmongering over the fate of Obergefellsaid the same about Roe.

Leading up to the confirmation hearings for Barrett in 2020, Shapiro said the possibility of Roe being overturned was “basically zero” and said, “Roe v. Wade is not going to be overturned.” Hannity defended Barrett, saying, “In spite of the lies the left will tell you, Judge Barrett has been described as personally pro-life but has expressed doubts that Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned.”

Two years before that, during Kavanaugh’s confirmation, those on the right said the same. Severino said a “head-on challenge to Roe” was “unlikely.” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board argued that the strength of “stare decisis” meant the court was unlikely to overrule Roe — the exact same doctrine it cited in its June 24 editorial to dismiss concern for Obergefell.

As with the current round of rhetoric, Fox News was a major player in denying Roe would be overturned, often while making flawed arguments for why it should be.

Like Abortion Access, LGBTQ Rights Are Known To Enjoy Broad Public Support

As with their tactic on Roe, right-wing media outlets are intent on gaslighting their audiences into believing that the right to gay marriage is safe. They'll push that claim just long enough for the same powerful conservative organizations responsible for overturning federal abortion protections to overturn marriage equality. Two of the organizations that filed briefs in support of Dobbs, Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council, are both vocal critics of Obergefell and have leadership that is frequently featured on right-wing outlets like Fox News.

However, those in conservative media understand that fundamental rights like access to abortion and marriage have broad public support — 61% of Americans believe access to abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and support for gay marriage is at an all-time high, with 71 percent of Americans supporting it. The ability of right-wing actors to distract from and obfuscate the extreme policy they support is essential in their mission to make inroads with a broader audience.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

‘Pro-Business’ Wingnuts Laud Vindictive Crusade Against Disney Company

‘Pro-Business’ Wingnuts Laud Vindictive Crusade Against Disney Company

Right-wing pundits and figures lauded Republicans in the state for passing a bill designed to financially punish the company for its opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Republican lawmakers in Florida followed through with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ threat to strip Disney of its special self-governing status in the state, passing Senate Bill 4-C along party lines as part of their onslaught against the company for opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. Conservative media pundits and figures celebrated DeSantis “laying waste to Disney,” saying SB 4-C, which could potentially cost taxpayers in the state $1 billion, was the result of the company “completely hew[ing] to the demands of the woke universe.”

The measure was signed into law by DeSantis on Friday, with DeSantis saying he was “not comfortable having that type of agenda get special treatment” in Florida. It will eliminate special tax districts in the state established before 1968 — a designation limited solely to the district in which Disney World has operated since 1967. Prior to 2022, Republicans did not oppose tax incentives for Disney in Florida, with DeSantis approving more than half a billion dollars in tax breaks for the company. That changed following the company’s eventual opposition to the Republican Party’s drive to eliminate discussions of LGBTQ topics from public education.

Some journalists have remarked on the apparent hypocrisy of Republicans — a party historically associated with corporate interests that regularly bills itself as pro-free speech — attacking a company for taking a stance on civil liberties. Appearing on CNN, Business Insider’s Linette Lopez remarked that this “punitive punishment for Disney not agreeing with Ron Desantis” showed the “GOP is changing its tune” on the issues once central to its identity.

In reacting to SB 4-C passing, right-wing media and figures placed blame for this latest escalation on Disney, a company that is listening to its employees by standing up for LGBTQ youth, rather than on the party bent on escalating its feud with one of the state’s largest employers. The same commentators continued their anti-trans and homphobic campaign of labeling supporters of LGBTQ inclusion in education and the media as “groomers,” falsely claiming Disney and its supporters thought “kids should be learning about sex changes and gender fluidity at the age of 8.” The vague wording of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law means that it could be applied to teachers and students well beyond age 8.

  • On Fox News’ Jessie Watters Primetime, guest host Brian Kilmeade claimed Disney had a “problem” with DeSantis because he “doesn't think kids should be learning about sex changes and gender fluidity at the age of 8.” Watters said DeSantis was “not backing down” and Florida was “punching back even harder” by stripping Disney of its special status, calling it a “stunning blow to the company.”
  • Later in the show, right-wing radio host Clay Travis said Disney had “just completely hew[ed] to the demands of the woke universe” by opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, adding that “there's no reason for them to be trained in sexual orientation or taught it.” Travis said DeSantis was “going to throw a punch back at you, Disney, and you're going to have to take it.”
  • In an op-ed for Townhall titled “Laying Waste to Disney,” senior columnist Kurt Schlichter said Disney was “follow[ing] the urges and urgings of a bunch of blue-haired weenies with weird piercings who want to groom your children to make them gender non-binary, otherkin weirdos,” adding, “Ron [DeSantis] is not having it. Ron does not play that. Ron exercised his own kind of power.”
  • Matt Walsh opened an episode of his Daily Wire podcast by saying, “Now that the anti-groomer bill has been passed in Florida despite the pro-grooming efforts of Disney, Republicans in the state have moved on to punishing and exacting revenge on Disney. Some milquetoast conservatives are uncomfortable with this, but I think it's great.” Also during the episode, which is titled “It’s Time To Take Revenge On Disney,” Walsh claimed the company was “fully in favor of and committed to the sexual indoctrination of children” and had “proved itself to be an enemy of Florida parents and parents across the country and around the world.”
  • Right-wing radio host Joe Pags tweeted, “Maybe Disney should stop pushing sex, sexual orientation, sexual preference and gender ID. Kinda what got them to where they are to begin with right? Act like Walt is still alive.”
  • Brittany Hughes of the Media Research Center, a right-wing organization opposed to LGBTQ representation in the media, tweeted that “Disney chose to vocally and publicly side with radical leftists who want to teach other people's kids about sexual attraction and gender-bending,” adding, “Take them down.”
  • On the April 21 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said Disney had “ruined the greatest deal, the sweetest deal, ever” as part of the “clash between Gov. DeSantis and Disney over gender and sex education.” Doocy later chastised Disney leadership for opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying, “If you are a stockholder of Walt Disney, you got to be wondering why have they gone so woke because this could impact my savings and stock holdings in your company.”
  • Later in the episode, Fox & Friends brought on Turning Point USA’s Rob Smith, who said, “Gov. DeSantis is really putting Disney, and by extension a lot of these other woke corporations, on notice that they really should not be involved in these sort of culture war issues that the left always wants to drag them into.” Smith claimed Disney’s vocal opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was “really, really damaging Disney's brand” and claimed that “a lot of corporations are going to be looking at this and saying, when the next thing comes around, I'm not getting involved.”
  • Joseph Backholm, a senior fellow for the extremist anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council, suggested that the bill was passed “all because they aren’t allowed to talk to six year-olds about sex.”
  • Federalist Senior Editor John Daniel Davidson wrote an article titled “Gov. DeSantis Is Right To Attack Disney. Republicans Everywhere Should Follow His Lead” in which he wrote Disney “should be prepared to pay a heavy cost” for “[coming] out publicly as a very real threat to Florida parents who don’t want their second-graders instructed about sexual orientation and gender identity.” Later Davidson applauded the state’s GOP lawmakers, adding, “Finally, DeSantis and Florida Republicans have taken the enemy at their word, and responded in kind.”
  • On the April 21 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor Guy Benson claimed that “the left” had “bull[ied] institutions and corporations into following [its] will on various things” and asked if SB 4-C was “a way for Republicans in Florida to remind Disney, ‘Actually, hey, we have clout, too. And if you’re going to just, you know, thumb your nose at us, things might happen that you might not like.”

Printed with permission from Media Matters.

Fox News Smeared Georgia Election Workers -- Who Have Sued Website For Spreading Same Lies

Fox News Smeared Georgia Election Workers -- Who Have Sued Website For Spreading Same Lies

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Two former Georgia election workers recently filed a lawsuit against The Gateway Pundit, a fringe right-wing blog, and its founders for spreading conspiracy theories surrounding a video featuring the plaintiffs, claiming it showed voter fraud. The false claims spurred harassment and threats of violence against the workers.

Many of the facts the lawsuit cites to demonstrate that The Gateway Pundit is guilty of defamation also reflect the way Fox News covered the video.

Both outlets used their wide reach to falsely claim the video showed election fraud occurring, both outlets singled out specific workers as purportedly being at the center of a conspiracy, and both outlets continued to promote these claims even after they had been thoroughly debunked.

The video was originally presented by the Trump campaign to the Georgia Senate on December 3, 2020, as part of its fraudulent attempt to prove voter fraud had taken place. The campaign claimed the video showed workers unloading ballots from a concealed suitcase after ordering their Republican counterparts to leave. In actuality, the video was taken out of context and, when played in its entirety, showed normal ballot tabulation procedure.

Even though these claims were immediately debunked by both news sources and election officials, right-wing media latched onto the video and surrounding conspiracy theories as proof of voter fraud. The petition filed against The Gateway Pundit reveals that it was the first outlet to specifically name plaintiffs Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, resulting in an “onslaught of extremely violent and graphic threats and dangerous harassment” of the mother and daughter.

Although Fox News stopped short of naming Freeman and Moss, the network’s coverage consistently mirrored other elements of The Gateway Pundit’s coverage cited in the lawsuit. Not only did Fox News amplify the conspiracy theories, but it also frequently pointed out images of Moss and Freeman in the video and claimed the workers had engaged in illegal activity.

  • On December 3, Tucker Carlson played the footage on his show, saying it “appears to show poll workers pulling ballots out of suitcases after they told poll monitors to go home.” Carlson directed people to “pay attention to the top right-hand box” before playing the footage. The box Carlson directed his audience's attention to depicted two figures -- a woman with blonde braids and a woman in purple -- whom The Gateway Pundit would identify as Moss and Freeman that night and the following morning, respectively, according to the lawsuit.

The network’s coverage was in line with actions the lawsuit says constitute defamation, as, like The Gateway Pundit, Fox “disregarded reliable sources refuting their claims'' and “did not neutrally report the allegations about Ms. Freeman that were advanced by Trump lawyers and promptly disproven by Georgia election officials.

  • On the December 4 edition of Fox & Friends, correspondent Griff Jenkins reported that the claims had been refuted by state election officials, but the hosts continued to push the conspiracy theory, with co-host Ainsley Earhardt saying, “How about those suitcases that were pulled out from the table in Georgia?” and co-host Brian Kilmeade responding, “I was that last night. It’s pretty hard to dispute that there’s something going on that needs some explanation.
  • America’s Newsroom followed with yet another report from Jenkins, who explained that the claims were investigated and shown to be untrue. Again, the hosts undermined this evidence, playing the clip from the previous night’s Hannity where Moss was singled out on video. Guest and Wall Street Journal columnist Bill McGurn responded to the video, saying he thought “Sean’s right in the sense that it raises real concerns.”

  • During that night’s prime-time slate, guest host Trace Gallagher led off The Story with a report on the video, stating that a “senior source in the Georgia secretary of state’s office [told] Fox News that the claims had been ‘investigated and debunked’ and that observers were there the entire time and the case of the ballots in the video is a case that all ballots are supposed to be kept in.” He then brought on Trump legal team consultant Jenny Beth Martin, who repeated a series of false assertions in attempting to deny the video had been debunked and claimed the video showed “a violation of state law.” Later, during a panel discussion on the video, Gallagher said Martin “made a good point” in claiming that the video was “debunked in a heartbeat — very quick to debunk this thing without really taking a good look at all this and talking to all the witnesses involved.”
  • On his show that night, Carlson also doubled down on his claims, saying the video “looks like fraud” and that he had spoken with Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling, who informed him that “investigators looked into that video” and found no evidence of fraud. Nevertheless, Carlson continued to question what occurred “when the workers were unsupervised,” claiming that it was “not a conspiracy theory — those are legitimate questions.”
  • Hannity likewise returned to the story that night on his show, also claiming statements from election officials were untrue, saying their explanations “directly [contradict] the affidavits under the penalty of perjury and video evidence and reports from election night itself.” Later in the show, Hannity brought on Lara Trump, who baselessly claimed there were enough ballots in the video to, when combined with her additional false claim that 15,000 out-of-state voters cast ballots, show “Donald Trump overwhelmingly [won] the state of Georgia.”
  • On December 5, Fox & Friends Weekend brought on guest Brett Tolman, who also attempted to refute statements made by Georgia elections officials debunking the conspiracy theories. Tolman was introduced as a “former federal prosecutor and former U.S. attorney for the state of Utah,” but the show made no mention of Tolman’s participation in helping Trump’s campaign in its attempt to overturn the results of the election.
  • During special coverage on Fox News that day, anchor Trace Gallagher played the footage of Freeman, first referring to it as a claim made by Rudy Giuliani and later acknowledging that it had been debunked. However, after reading tweets from Georgia election officials debunking the video, Gallagher claimed there were “some very smart people saying, you know what, something about that video is off.”
  • On the December 7, The Five co-host Jesse Watters went further in naming individuals who he falsely claimed were responsible for fraud. Watters first claimed that the workers “counted all these ballots after sending all of these poll watchers and members of the media home and Biden put on a substantial number into his lead.” He then asserted that the “same guy that made up the lie about the burst pipe was the same guy that sent the media home before they pulled out the ballots from under the table. The guy's name is Ralph Jones, partisan Democrat.” Jones, a voter registration chief for the county, had not lied about a burst pipe, which turned out to be a water leak, and would later quit following “pressure and threats over his work during the 2020 election”; he was “targeted with violent threats and he reported strangers knocking on the door of the home where he and his family live.”

  • That night on his show, Hannity again played the video while repeating claims that observers were ordered out of the room before “election workers” removed suitcases “apparently filled with thousands and thousands of ballots, which were then counted by the workers that were allowed to remain in the room that pulled them out of the suitcases they conveniently had there, without partisan observers, without the media.” Hannity then claimed “nothing has been debunked by anybody,” before citing an article from The Federalist, which claimed to refute debunkings of the video; the same article was referenced in the lawsuit, which said the fact that Jim Hoft shared it on social media was evidence that he had “full awareness that his statements about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss had been flatly and fully refuted by multiple officials and multiple fact-checking organizations.”
  • On December 14, Fox & Friends aired an interview with then-President Donald Trump during which he repeated his campaign's claim about the video, saying, “People ... took all of those ballots, all of those Biden ballots, under the table with the black dress, and they took them and they started shoving them into machine.” Neither the reporter interviewing him nor the hosts commenting on the interview provided any pushback or correction to his claims.
  • As reported by Mediaite, at the end of December, Fox News started airing ads from the Trump campaign that featured the footage of Freeman and Moss and repeated claims that the video “shows poll workers pulling out trunks containing ballots from overwhelmingly Democrat precincts.” About a week after the ads began airing on Fox News, Freeman and Moss were forced to evacuate from their home when the FBI concluded it would not be safe for them to stay.

Amazon Selling Books From Neo-Nazi Publisher That Promote Violence And Finance Terrorism

Amazon Selling Books From Neo-Nazi Publisher That Promote Violence And Finance Terrorism

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Amazon is currently selling multiple books from a neo-Nazi publisher that is associated with a terrorist group. Proceeds from one of the books are going directly to the author, a white nationalist who is in prison for targeting minority-owned organizations.

The two books available for sale, The Movementarian Menace and The Futurist State, are listed as "sold and shipped by Amazon," which reportedly means that they were purchased as inventory by Amazon to be sold and shipped from one of its warehouses. Yet they both appear to violate Amazon's Content Guidelines for Books, which states that the company will not sell "certain content including content that we determine is hate speech," or content that "advocates terrorism." The same guidelines state that the company "invest[s] significant time and resources to enforce these guidelines, using a combination of machine learning, automation, and dedicated teams of human reviewers."

The books feature numerous slurs and smears directed at Jewish, nonwhite, and LGBTQ individuals. The Movementarian Menacemakes references to "Jews and other common enemies" and "blacks running rampant in the streets of America and demolishing everything in their path," calling for a "union of white individuals who will come together in blood and spirit to take down an enemy." The Futurist State calls for the murder of LGBTQ people, saying that "the LGBT movement" should be treated as "as an enemy occupation of our lands," adding, "You can't beg your way to power in an occupation, you can only kill your occupiers and take back power." The book makes numerous calls for violence with statements such as, "Through war and violence, we can see the betterment of our race and the proper and healthy growth of our race."

The publisher of the books, the American Futurist, describes itself as seeking "to spread the message and ideas of James Mason" through "the promotion of books, articles and all other forms of media." Mason, a neo-Nazi writer whose work is cited in The Movementarian Menace, is also a major influence behind Atomwaffen Division, a violent white nationalist terrorist group. As noted by the Counter Extremism Project, the American Futurist is associated with Atomwaffen Division (also known as the National Socialist Order) and multiple ex-members of the group have contributed content to American Futurist.

One such contributor is the author of The Movementarian Menace, Vincent Snyder, whose real name, the American Futurist notes, is John Cameron Denton. Denton, himself the former leader of Atomwaffen Division, was sentenced to 41 months in prison in May for taking part in a conspiracy that involved hate crimes targeting a historic African American church, an Islamic Center, and various other minority groups across the United States.

screenshot of Amazon list for The Movementarian Menacescreenshot of listing on Amazon

American Futurist states that all proceeds from the sale of Denton's book on Amazon will go to his "prison commissary fund." As Amazon has already purchased the books as part of its inventory, the company has already contributed directly to Denton.

The failure of Amazon's policies seem clear when you recognize that both Denton's book and The Futurist State are currently promoted by Amazon on its list of "new releases in radical political thought," with both books appearing in the top 10 as of September 27. Another book sold by American Futurist, Why We Fight, is listed as "sold out--limited availability." Why We Fight and The Movementarian Menace contain swastikas on their cover, and Why We Fight's listed author is "The Personal Office of The Wehrmacht," all of which should be expected to draw some scrutiny from Amazon at the very least.

Amazon's failure to moderate this content did not go unnoticed by the American Futurist, which, in its posting celebrating the sale of its books on Amazon, wrote, "Obviously these will be taken down sometime in the future by Amazon" but said that "Amazon tends to be pretty slow when taking stuff down and only really takes stuff down if they get pressure from certain people/groups that are higher up the chain." The publisher noted that one of Mason's books remained on Amazon for two months.

Amazon has a responsibility to provide better content moderation for its users, a responsibility it has historically struggled to fulfill. The fact that Amazon sells literature by groups and individuals that promote and engage in violence shows the potentially significant consequences of the tech company profiting off such a large marketplace without effective oversight.