Sunday, January 31, 2021

Fox News rigging the debate on transgender issues by lying about Biden's executive order

We all know that the anti-LGBTQ industry is targeting the transgender community in an attempt to undermine President Biden's general push for LGBTQ rights. But we should as adept in knowing about the no-so secret weapon in its attack - Fox News. There is justifiable focus on distortions and lies propagated against the trans community as well as the groups pushing those lies, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. But equally important is spotlighting how Fox News is helping to spread these lies under the guise of "objective news coverage."

According to Media Matters:

On January 20, President Joe Biden signed an executive order telling federal agencies to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in numerous areas of public life, such as housing, health care, employment, public accommodations, and education. Despite the order’s myriad protections, over the following week, Fox News aired 19 segments -- totaling 51 minutes -- that miscategorized the order as a move that would destroy women’s sports; only one of those segments even alluded to its nondiscrimination protections. 

 . . . From January 20 through 27, Fox News aired at least 19 original segments that mentioned the executive order, amounting to a total of 51 minutes. In every segment, Fox hosts and guests misleadingly framed it as focused on trans athletes, falsely claiming it would allow boys to play in girls sports and that it would destroy women’s sports. The Fox personalities also repeatedly misgendered trans athletes as “biological males.” 

 In fact, only one segment of the 19 alluded to the broader nondiscrimination protections covered by the executive order. In that segment, anchor Sandra Smith asked, “President Biden signed an executive order aimed at eliminating discrimination based on gender identity, but instead of leveling the playing field, could this move threaten the future and fairness of girls sports?” 

 In some of the mentions, Fox framed the executive order around locker rooms and bathrooms in addition to athletics; right-wing media have long and falsely suggested allowing trans people to use the restroom would pose a threat to women’s safety and privacy. 

 And what's worse, according to Media Matters, not only did Fox News distort Biden's executive order, but the guests invited on its network shows to discuss the issue were others who did the same. 

 Notably, nine of the 19 segments were on Fox’s so-called “news” side programs (as opposed to opinion shows), and every single one of the guests or commentators who discussed the executive order held either right-leaning or anti-trans views. These included Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Beth Stelzer of anti-trans group Save Women’s Sports, and The Federalist’s Ben Domenech.

In other words, Fox News not only demonized trans Americans when talking about Biden's executive order, but also rigged the debate in general by inviting only the opponents of trans right to comment.

The report by Media Matters makes for good reading and studying if we are to call out the anti-LGBTQ industry's latest moral panic before it grows the teeth to bite us. The report underscores how the media's depiction of the debate over trans issues needs a huge overhaul with a bit more focus on trans Americans themselves and genuine medical experts who deal with their issues. It would definitely be an improvement over fake analysts,  phony experts, and the news personalities who enable them with fear stories and lies appealing to basic prejudices and ignorance.

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