Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Todd Starnes defusing anti-gay argument of 'religious liberty' with his numerous reporting errors

Todd Starnes
To be such a proponent of religious right bastardization of the term 'religious liberty,' Fox News personality Todd Starnes is making a litany of mistakes in his pursuit to give it credibility.

According to Media Matters, in writing about the recent case of the bakery in Oregon which got into trouble for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple, Starnes made a huge error:

Fox News' Todd Starnes falsely reported that the Oregon bakers who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple could face up to $200,000 in fines, badly misinterpreting local reports about the case, according to the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries.

On January 29, an administrative law judge in Oregon rejected a request from the lawyers representing Sweet Cakes by Melissa to dismiss a discrimination complaint filed against shop owners Aaron and Melissa Klein. The case has been ongoing since early 2013, when the bakers refused to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in violation of the state's non-discrimination law. A March 10 hearing will determine what damages the couple is owed.

On February 3, Fox News reporter and serial misinformer Todd Starnes published his report on the Kleins' failed attempt to have the complaint dismissed, stating that the bakers could face $200,000 "in fines and damages"

Media Matters also points out that this led to a rebuke by Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) Communications Director Charlie Burr:

Todd Starnes is writing that the bakery owners face fines of up to $200,000 in damages. That's false. In fact, it's the Kleins who have asked for $200,000 in damages from our agency for our enforcement of the Equality Act. We rejected the request due to jurisdictional issues. The agency's prosecution unit is seeking up to $75,000 per person in damages, but no ruling on amounts has been made. [emphasis original]

Starnes has since corrected the error. However, in the same piece , he commits what can be debated to be a deliberate oversight.  The piece in question included is a listing of  how Christians are supposedly being persecuted for stances against marriage equality and the lgbt community. Of course Starnes includes the recent controversy involving former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran. Notice how he describes the situation:

Kelvin Cochran was fired from his job as the fire chief of Atlanta after he wrote a book that affirmed biblical morality. The book included references to homosexuality that angered the city’s LGBT community. The city’s mayor denied Cochran was let go because of his religious beliefs, but I believe the evidence seems to prove otherwise.

Starnes' description of the Cochran incident omitted a HUGE amount of information. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was very detailed as to why Cochran was let go and this was reported in numerous places.  As a matter of fact, Mayor Reed's office released an internal report which said:

Cochran did not have permission to publish his book..

Cochran freely exploited his capacity as Atlanta's fire chief in the book, when in the past he disciplined firefighters for speaking in support of Chick-Fil-A while in their capacity as firefighters during the controversy in which its founder, Dan Cathy, made anti-gay comments.

While no witness could point to any incident in which Cochran unfairly treated his employees because of his religious beliefs, there was a sentiment of "distrust and disgust" and many felt that the booklet

This isn't the first time Starnes has gotten into trouble, even amongst Christian writers, for his penchant of omitting details and generally getting the story wrong in order to fit his narrative.

And I doubt that it will be the last.

'Anti-gay groups, supporters not totally unified on marriage equality tactics' & other Wednesday midday news briefs

Inside The Last-Ditch Conservative Campaign To Target LGBT Americans - Marriage equality isn't a reality yet, so I'm not dancing but this article is very interesting. The unity amongst the religious right is falling apart. 

Anti-gay group NOM: 'To deprive a child of [a mother and a father] is akin to orphaning them' - Meanwhile there has been a steady, underground attack on same-sex families. The good thing is that it isn't happening under our noses. Many of us lgbt bloggers know what's going on and we are merely observing for now. 

 If Brittany Newmark Klein wants to be a player, she should spine up and use her real name - For those who are curious about the last news brief, this one gives more detail.

Leading UK Evangelical Leader Comes Out As A Lesbian - Yet more evidence that there are some folks who are falsely appropriating the term "Christian." Being a Christian and an lgbt are identities which can overlap WITHOUT guilt or shame but with pride. 

 Manhattan Declaration’s Eric Teetsel: God May Let LGBT Equality Destroy Society - Somehow, I DOUBT that is going to happen.