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TV news spent just 43 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021

Last year marked the deadliest year of anti-trans violence on record, but coverage by corporate TV news networks dropped by 20%

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Alex Paterson | WASHINGTON – A new comprehensive analysis of national cable and corporate broadcast TV news coverage from Media Matters’ LGBTQ Program found that in 2021, networks failed to devote air time to the epidemic of anti-trans violence.

When they did cover the issue –  a paltry 43 minutes across 19 segments – the segments left much to be desired, further highlighting the need for better and more robust coverage.

At least 57 transgender or gender-nonconforming people were killed in the United States in 2021, making it the deadliest year on record for the community. The vast majority of these victims were Black or Latina trans women.

A Media Matters analysis of broadcast news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as cable news coverage on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC found that cable and corporate broadcast TV news networks failed to adequately report on anti-trans violence in 2021, discussing the topic in just 19 segments for a total of 43 minutes of coverage.

Despite a surge in brutality, broadcast and cable TV news spent just 43 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021

Corporate TV news networks have clearly demonstrated that they have the capacity to cover anti-trans violence but continuously choose to ignore the subject. Each network has a responsibility to inform their viewers with accurate coverage and finally improve this woeful dearth of reporting.

“More than five months into 2022, we have already seen a push from state legislatures to attack trans lives, while right-wing media outlets – like Fox News – have launched hateful attacks against the trans community. The lack of substantive reporting from national TV news about this violent epidemic further highlights the need for these networks to report accurate information and provide quality coverage instead of letting right-wing media control the narrative around trans identities.”

For the second year in a row, the United States witnessed the deadliest year on record for transgender and gender nonconforming people, with at least 57 individuals killed in 2021. The vast majority of these victims were Black or Latina trans women. Despite this uptick, Media Matters’ latest study documented a 20% drop in the total amount of coverage of anti-trans violence from our 2020 report.

The study analyzed coverage of anti-trans violence for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC between January 1 and December 31, 2021 and found that:

  • Cable news networks spent approximately 35 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021, with the vast majority of coverage airing on MSNBC. MSNBC spent the most time reporting on the topic, with 29 minutes of coverage across 9 segments. This was more than four times as much coverage as CNN and Fox News combined. 
    • CNN covered anti-trans violence for 4 minutes across 3 segments, while Fox News covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. 
    • All three cable networks decreased their total amount of coverage from 2020 to 2021.
  • Morning and evening corporate broadcast TV news shows spent 9 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021. CBS produced the longest reporting, with 5 minutes across two segments. ABC spent 2 minutes covering the topic in 1 segment and NBC covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. 
    • Both ABC and CBS decreased the total amount of coverage from 2020, while NBC stayed the same. 
  • There were some troubling trends in coverage: 
    • The majority of national TV news coverage of anti-trans violence did not include a trans person as a guest, with only 7 of the 19 segments featuring a trans or gender-nonconforming guest. 
    • Only 4 of the 19 segments even mentioned the name of a slain trans person. 
    • Nearly one-third of the reporting on anti-trans violence occurred during LGBTQ Pride Month in June, with these networks covering the topic for 13 minutes in that month. This is a decrease from 2020, when these networks aired 29 minutes total.

Reports from MSNBC accounted for more than two-thirds of this coverage; every other network covered the topic for 5 minutes or less each.

  • Top trends from a year of anti-trans violence coverage on broadcast and cable TV news
    • Cable and corporate broadcast TV news networks failed to adequately report on anti-trans violence in 2021. 
    • From 2020 to 2021, every network’s total amount of coverage of anti-trans violence either decreased or stayed the same, and the quality of this coverage varied drastically across networks. 
    • TV news coverage of anti-trans violence decreased from 54 minutes of coverage in 2020 to 43 minutes in 2021, despite the fact that incidents of violence increased. 
    • Deadly violence against trans people was discussed in only 19 segments; corporate broadcast networks covered the topic for just 9 minutes, while cable networks covered it for 35 minutes.
    • The majority of TV news coverage of anti-trans violence did not include a trans person as a guest, with only 7 of the 19 segments featuring a trans or gender-nonconforming guest. 
    • Only 4 of the 19 segments even mentioned the name of one slain trans person.
    • MSNBC produced the most reports on the topic, with 29 minutes of coverage combined across 9 segments, more coverage than all other networks combined. 
    • CNN covered the topic for 4 minutes across 3 segments, while Fox News covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. In comparison, Fox News aired 86 segments about trans people from January 20, the day President Joe Biden took office, through March 18 — primarily fearmongering about trans athletes and lying about best practice health care for trans youth.
    • On the corporate broadcast networks, ABC covered the topic for 2 minutes, CBS for 5 minutes, and NBC for 2 minutes.
    • Nearly one-third of the total coverage came during LGBTQ Pride Month in June, with cable and corporate broadcast TV news networks reporting on the topic for 13 minutes in that month.
  • At least 57 transgender or gender nonconforming people were killed in 2021 — the deadliest year on record
  • In 2021, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) identified at least 57 transgender or gender-nonconforming people who were brutally killed in the U.S., marking the deadliest year on record. The majority of victims were trans people of color; at least 36 of the victims were Black, 34 of whom were Black trans women, and 10 were Latino, including nine Latina trans women. Official records of anti-trans violence only go back to 2008 and likely represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to such crimes, as many of the crimes against trans people go unreported or are reported using the incorrect name.The 57 transgender or gender-nonconforming people who HRC reported were killed in 2021 were:
  • Tyianna Alexander, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffery “JJ” Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond Kyree Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Jaida Peterson, Dominique Lucious, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smut, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Keri Washington, Jahaira DeAlto, Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, Sophie Vásquez, Danika “Danny” Henson, Serenity Hollis, Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, Thomas Hardin, Poe Black, EJ Boykin, Aidelen Evans, Taya Ashton, Shai Vanderpump, Tierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo, Pooh Johnson, Disaya Monaee, Briana Hamilton, Kiér Laprí Kartier, Mel Groves, Royal Poetical Starz, Zoella “Zoey” Rose Martinez, Jo Acker, Jessi Hart, Rikkey Outumuro, Marquiisha Lawrence, Jenny De Leon, Angel Naira, Danyale Thompson, Cris Blehar, Nikai David, Ke’Yahonna Stone, Za’niyah Williams, Nikki Turietta, Rubi Dominguez, Keeva Scatter, Martina Caldera, and Gerri Judd.
  • In addition to lethal attacks, trans people faced alarming rates of violence in the past year: they were sexually assaulted while incarcerated, stabbedbeaten at workand relentlessly attacked in public. Trans people are disproportionately vulnerable to violence due to discriminatory social factors, such as heightened barriers to accessing health carestable housing, and jobs. A 2021 Williams Institute study found that “transgender people are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization.” In 2022,  at least 12 trans people have been killed in the U.S. so far. This coincides with right-wing media outlets – including Fox News – launching hateful attacks against the trans community, including specific calls for violence. On March 31, Fox’s Tucker Carlson even falsely claimed that trans people face relatively lower rates of violence, lying that in the U.S., “you are a lot better off being trans than being not.” Right-wing outlets have also incessantly lied that trans people are “grooming” children for sexual activity, and trans people in turn have faced real-world harassment and violence, including being publicly assaulted and called a “groomer.”
  • Cable news networks spent 35 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021, with the vast majority of coverage airing on MSNBC
  • From January 1 to December 31, 2021, Media Matters reviewed news programming between 6 a.m. and midnight on cable channels CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. During that time frame, cable news networks spent a total of 35 minutes discussing anti-trans violence across 14 segments. MSNBC spent the most time reporting on the topic, with 29 minutes of coverage across 9 segments. This was more than four times as many minutes of coverage as CNN and Fox News combined. MSNBC’s Velshi produced three segments on anti-trans violence throughout 2021, the most of any cable or corporate broadcast news show. CNN covered anti-trans violence for 4 minutes across 3 segments, while Fox News covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. Fox News’ 2 segments on the topic were about L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón, who was allegedly blocked from pursuing “gang enhancement” charges against “an alleged MS-13 gang member” who was charged with assaulting a trans woman in Los Angeles.
  • Morning and evening broadcast TV news shows spent 9 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021
  • From January 1 to December 31, 2021, morning and evening corporate broadcast TV news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC spent 9 minutes across 5 segments covering anti-trans violence. CBS produced the most reporting, with 5 minutes across two segments. ABC spent 2 minutes covering the topic in 1 segment and NBC covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. 
  • The quality of coverage of anti-trans violence varied across networks
  • Key moments and notable trends include
    • From 2020 to 2021, TV news coverage of anti-trans violence decreased from 54 minutes of coverage to 43 minutes. Every network except NBC decreased its total amount of coverage during this time period. NBC’s coverage stayed the same at 2 minutes.
    • The majority of TV news coverage of anti-trans violence did not include a trans person, with only 7 of the 19 segments featuring a trans or gender-nonconforming guest. CBS and NBC each aired 1 segment that included a trans guest, while ABC’s only segment on the topic did not. As for the cable networks, 4 of MSNBC’s segments included a trans guest while only 1 of CNN’s 3 segments did. Fox News did not include a trans guest while covering the topic.
    • Only 4 of the 19 segments — two from MSNBC and 1 each from CBS and CNN — actually said the name of a trans person who was killed in 2021. 
    • Additionally,  during a CBS Mornings segment on the topic, CBS reporter Jamie Yuccas deadnamed Nikki Kuhnhausen, a 17-year-old trans girl who was killed in Washington in 2019. Deadnaming is when someone calls a trans person by their former name – and it goes against journalistic best practices
    • Nearly one-third of the reporting on anti-trans violence occurred during LGBTQ Pride Month in June, with TV networks covering the topic for 13 minutes in that month. 
  • Violence facing the trans and gender nonconforming people deserves robust TV news coverage
  • It is paramount that broadcast and cable networks produce accurate coverage about the record levels of anti-trans violence — and that coverage must actually feature trans voices. That TV news networks decreased the amount of coverage they dedicated to anti-trans violence at a time when right-wing voices are spreading anti-trans hate and encouraging the passage of discriminatory legislation is just one symptom of corporate TV news’ larger failure to adequately report on issues facing trans people. Corporate TV news networks have clearly demonstrated that they have the capacity to cover anti-trans violence but continuously choose to ignore the subject. Each network has a responsibility to inform their viewers with accurate coverage and finally improve this woeful dearth of reporting.
  • Methodology
  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream database for all original programming on cable networks CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC and corporate broadcast news networks ABC, CBS, and NBCfor any of the terms or any variations of the terms “transgender,” “trans,” “transphobe,” “transphobia,” “gender identity,” “gender nonconforming,” “nonbinary,” or “gender fluid” within close proximity of any of the terms “violence,” “crime,” “hate,” “attack,” “homicide,” “shoot,” “shot,” “murder,” “death,” “die,” “dead,” “kill,” “stab,” “strangle,” “beat,” or “burn” from January 1 through December 31, 2021, 6 a.m. EST to midnight daily.
  • We also searched for the names of the transgender and gender-nonconforming people who were killed in 2021: Tyianna Alexander, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffery “JJ” Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond Kyree Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Jaida Peterson, Dominique Lucious, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smut, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Keri Washington, Jahaira DeAlto, Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, Sophie Vásquez, Danika “Danny” Henson, Serenity Hollis, Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, Thomas Hardin, Poe Black, EJ Boykin, Aidelen Evans, Taya Ashton, Shai Vanderpump, Tierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo, Pooh Johnson, Disaya Monaee, Briana Hamilton, Kiér Laprí Kartier, Mel Groves, Royal Poetical Starz, Zoella “Zoey” Rose Martinez, Jo Acker, Jessi Hart, Rikkey Outumuro, Marquiisha Lawrence, Jenny De Leon, Angel Naira, Danyale Thompson, Cris Blehar, Nikai David, Ke’Yahonna Stone, Za’niyah Williams, Nikki Turietta, Rubi Dominguez, and Keeva Scatter. Martina Caldera and Geri Judd, whose names were added to the HRC tracker after the conclusion of this study, were not searched for.
  • Early police reports and local coverage often referred to victims by their deadnames. We also searched for the deadnames of the 2021 victims but have not listed those names here as deadnaming is a form of harassment.We also searched transcripts in the Nexis database for all of the above terms and names; however, this double-check was limited to news shows airing between 5 p.m. and midnight on Fox News and MSNBC. We were able to search all cable news transcripts for CNN and all broadcast news transcripts for ABC, CBS, and NBC.
  • We included segments about anti-trans violence, which we defined as instances when anti-trans violence was the stated topic of discussion or when there was significant discussion of anti-trans violence. We defined “significant discussion” as any back-and-forth exchange between two or more people about anti-trans violence; we did not include passing mentions. We also excluded teasers, which we defined as short mentions from the host of segments coming up later in the broadcast. We rounded all times to the nearest minute.

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Alex Paterson is a researcher for the LGBTQ program at Media Matters, where he has worked since 2019. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Montana State University and has a background in LGBTQ advocacy, including previous work at the National LGBTQ Task Force.

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The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

Research/Study

LGBTQ youth in juvenile correctional settings higher risk for suicide

Girls and youth of color were overrepresented among incarcerated LGBTQ youth: 64% of incarcerated LGBTQ youth were girls

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Campus Kilpatrick juvenile facility Malibu (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that LGBTQ youth are disproportionally represented in juvenile correctional facilities. The majority of LGBTQ youth held in custody are girls (64%) and youth of color (72%), and they face a significantly greater risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and self-harm.

Using data from the Minnesota Student Survey, a statewide population survey of youth, researchers from UCLA, Vanderbilt, Brown, and Yale Universities examined the mental health experiences of LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ youth in juvenile correctional facilities and public schools. Results show that compared to straight, cisgender youth in public schools, incarcerated LGBTQ youth were twice as likely to think about suicide, six times more likely to attempt suicide, and nearly four times more likely to engage in self-harm. 

Among incarcerated youth, LGBTQ youth had a greater risk of suicide and self-harm than their straight, cisgender peers.

“LGBTQ youth start with more stressful experiences as children, which lead to adverse mental health outcomes. But rather than being cared for, they end up in juvenile correctional facilities in larger numbers than non-LGBTQ youth,” said study co-author llan H. Meyer, Ph.D., Distinguished Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “These youth must manage the stress of a carceral setting while also navigating sexual and gender minority identities, which can increase exposure to violence, bullying, and isolation.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in Minnesota correctional facilities: 29% of youth in correctional facilities identify as LGBTQ compared to 20% of youth in public schools.
  • Girls and youth of color were overrepresented among incarcerated LGBTQ youth: 64% of incarcerated LGBTQ youth were girls compared to 48% of straight, cisgender youth in high schools, and 28% of incarcerated LGBTQ youth were white compared to 73% of straight, cisgender youth in high schools.
  • All youth in correctional facilities as well as LGBTQ youth in public schools showed an elevated risk of suicide ideation, suicide attempt, and self-harm compared to straight, cisgender youth in public schools. However, incarcerated LGBTQ youth had substantially greater risk.
  • Compared to straight, cisgender youth and LGBTQ youth in high schools, LGBTQ youth in correctional facilities reported the highest prevalence of suicide ideation (42%), suicide attempts (38%), and self-harm (58%).
  • More than half (54%) of incarcerated LGBTQ youth reported experiencing four or more adverse childhood experiences, including various forms of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. In contrast, 6% of non-LGBTQ youth in public schools reported the same.

“Interventions are needed to reduce pathways to incarceration for LGBTQ youth and to buffer the harmful effects of adverse childhood experiences,” said lead author Kirsty A. Clark, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University. “Supportive policies that lessen exposure to minority stressors and increase coping skills in the face of victimization are warranted.”

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Research/Study

Meta still profiting off ads using anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur

Meta has earned nearly $14,000 on ads using “groomer” rhetoric this year, despite the platform’s ban on hate speech

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Camden Carter | WASHINGTON – Media Matters has identified over 150 ads that have run on Meta’s platforms baselessly accusing people of being a “groomer” or “grooming” children, including 94 ads that Meta has failed to remove since our initial reporting last month and 19 additional ads that have been created since, even though Meta has clearly stated that “groomer” rhetoric violates its policies. Ads with harmful “groomer” rhetoric reviewed by Media Matters have earned over 1 million impressions. 

Right-wing media, political figures, and organizations have increasingly pushed the long-debunked myth that LGBTQ people pose a threat to minors and seek to “groom” them, using the baseless smear to attack teachers and progressive figures more broadly. This rhetoric has coincided with a conservative push to create legislation that strips away the rights of LGBTQ people, especially trans people. 

Even though Meta publicly confirmed that use of the word “groomer” to baselessly describe members of the LGBTQ community violates its hate speech policies, the company continues to profit from ads containing this messaging. 

On September 6, Media Matters reported on 134 ads that ran on Meta’s platforms and used “groomer” rhetoric. Since our previous report, Meta has removed 40 of those ads for violating its policies, but 94 remained. 

Now, Media Matters has identified 19 new ads that have run on Meta’s platforms since September 6, meaning the company has allowed a total of over 150 ads that baselessly accuse people of sexually grooming children to run on its platforms so far in 2022. According to data from the Dewey Square Adwatch tool set, these ads have cost a combined total of at least $13,600 and have garnered more than 1 million impressions (the number of times the ads appeared on users’ screens).

From September 6 through October 12, Meta allowed at least 19 new ads to run using “groomer” rhetoric, which cost at least $900 and earned at least 154,000 impressions. These include: 

  • An ad from conservative student group Turning Point USA featured a tweet from the Daily Wire’s Candace Owens stating that she has “no patience for this child groomer movement” and that she “always has the time to protect children.” This ad ran on both Facebook and Instagram and earned at least 20,000 combined impressions. 
An ad from TPUSA using groomer rhetoric
  • The Dallas Express — part of a network of right-wing propaganda sites disguised as local news and run by Metric Media — ran an ad on both Facebook and Instagram promoting its article discussing the group Gays Against Groomers being banned from Venmo and PayPal. The ad referred to the anti-trans group as an “an organization against the sexualization, indoctrination, and medicalization of children.”
An ad from The Dallas Express that ran on Meta platforms using groomer rhetoric
  • Far-right think tank the Claremont Institute ran an ad on both Facebook and Instagram promoting its article titled “Grooming Future Revolutionaries.” The ad claimed that children of military service members are being subjected to “anti-American and anti-family hatred in the name of perverse, dangerous, and false ideologies.” The article itself claims that the K-12 educational curricula on military bases are being “infused with cutting-edge left-wing pedagogical techniques in the service of radical gender ideology” as part of an attempt “to disrupt stable sexual identities.” 
An ad that ran on Meta platforms from the Claremont Institute that uses groomer rhetoric
  • New Jersey’s Holmdel Republican Party ran an ad on Facebook and Instagram that asked voters to support candidates who will oppose “the woke agenda of the Left” and “publicly state their opposition to the States new sex education curriculum which sexualizes our children to advance the agenda of groomers.”
An ad that ran on Meta's platforms from the Holmdel Republican Party using groomer rhetoric
  • Philip Nagel, a Republican running for state Senate in Illinois, has run two ads using false “grooming” rhetoric. One of the ads featured a video in which Nagel claims that he is “fed up and pissed off with the sick perversion that is being pushed on our children” by “a political class full of pedophiles and groomers.”

  • An ad from Idaho gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy features a video in which he claims that “our children are being groomed” and that if elected, he will protect children and use “all means necessary to keep them safe from this perverse sexualized ideology.” In 2016, Bundy led an armed occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon, which was aided by the anti-government militia group The Three Percenters. 

Separately, we identified several ads that have run on Meta’s platforms that falsely link the advancement of LGBTQ rights to the supposed normalization of pedophilia in society. (For years, right-wing groups have tried to smear LGBTQ people by falsely associating them with pedophiles.) 

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Camden Carter is a researcher at Media Matters.

The preceding article was first published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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Research/Study

Matt Walsh’s sordid history as a radio host, exposed

Recently, Walsh has been helping lead a campaign against children’s hospitals providing gender-affirming care

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Graphic by Molly Butler for Media Matters

By Ari Drennen | WASHINGTON – From early 2010 through August 1, 2011, Matt Walsh co-hosted a radio show called The Matt and Crank Program along with Andrew “Crank” Murr at WZBH “The Beach” 93.5 FM based in Georgetown, Delaware. The show featured all of the worst of Walsh’s bluster and bigotry without the production value given to his current work as a host for The Daily Wire, where he was hired in August 2017

Recently, Walsh has been helping lead a campaign against children’s hospitals providing gender-affirming care. On August 15, Walsh made the false, incendiary claim that these hospitals are “butchering, mutilating, and sterilizing their young patients.” The hospitals highlighted by Walsh and others have been inundated with violent threats — threats that the Daily Wire personality dismissed as a hoax before continuing his campaign.

A review of Walsh’s commentary for The Matt and Crank Program reveals that the pundit has previously praised violent political action, saying that enacting change means that “you have to make people hurt. … Holding signs and yelling loudly will not make anyone hurt.” 

The current Daily Wire personality and What is a Woman filmmaker also claimed that “we probably lost our republic after Reconstruction” and that “as the Anglo-Saxons, which were the original Americans, die off, our identity and our culture goes with it.” And he performed racist impressions and defended teenage pregnancy and marriage, saying that “at about 16, you’re an adult who is mature and can make decisions. … It’s just recently where all of a sudden we’re all r——- until we’re 25.” Walsh additionally encouraged subordinates to participate in sexually demeaning stunts, coercing an intern into exposing himself and allowing Walsh to shock him with a stun gun “in the ass.”

Matt Walsh’s violent political worldview: “You have to make people hurt”

While working at WZBH, Walsh attracted attention with a speech at a tea party rally glorifying violence, saying, “If you want extreme things to happen, you have to be willing to take — to go to extremes.

MATT WALSH: Our Founding Fathers had very specific goals in mind that they wanted to accomplish. There wasn’t a generalized sense of outrage. It was, these are our goals we want to accomplish. And by the way, they were willing to back it up with guns and violent force. If you want extreme things to happen, you have to be willing to take — to go to extremes. … Everyone keeps bringing up our Founding Fathers. They were willing to pick up guns and kill people for what they wanted. A sign won’t do it. And calling your congressman won’t do it.

On air, Walsh expanded and doubled down on his comments, saying that “if you want extreme change, you must take extreme action. … You have to make people hurt” and adding that “we probably lost our republic after Reconstruction,” seemingly criticizing the country’s first attempt at a multiracial democracy after the Civil War. Walsh further derided members of the so-called tea party movement as “not willing to do what they [the Founding Fathers] did.”

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): But what I was trying to say, if you want extreme change, you must take extreme action. What you have to do is look at the situation and decide what exactly you want to have happen. And then you have to honestly approach it and say, what do we have to do to make this happen? But it is, in fact, true that you have to make people hurt. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry. But holding signs and yelling loudly will not make anyone hurt.

Most people will admit that we’ve been on this path not for a year, because of Obama; not for 10 years, because of Bush; not for 20 years, because of Clinton. Not Reagan, not Carter. We’ve been on this path for a hundred years or more. We probably lost our republic after Reconstruction. If you want actual change that isn’t going to reverse itself in 10 years or five years or even one year, then you do have to look at extreme action. 

And by the way, I’m not the one — you go to these tea parties, you’ve got people that are literally dressed up like it’s a costume party, dressed up like our Founding Fathers, dressed up like Samuel Adams and so forth. They’re the ones that keep harkening back to the revolutionary times. You’re the ones, tea party people, that are comparing yourself — in a not subtle way at all — to the revolutionaries. 

ANDREW MURR (CO-HOST): But then you forget what they did to accomplish their goals.

WALSH: Right. I’m saying, OK, you guys are dressing up like revolutionaries, you’re calling this the Tea Party. Don’t you understand what they did? Even the Tea Party was an illegal act. It was trespassing and vandalism. Don’t you get that? OK. You — don’t, don’t compare yourself to them because you’re not willing to do what they did.

Walsh has called for and defended political violence in many more recent examples, calling for “real men” to assault drag queensdefending secession after the January 6 storming of the Capitol, and defending violence against abortion providers in response to a mass shooting.

Matt Walsh defended pregnancy and marriage for teenage girls: “At about 16, you’re an adult who is mature and can make decisions” 

Walsh defended girls as young as 16 getting pregnant as long as they’re marrying men, saying, “The problem is not, per se, teenage pregnancy — it’s unwed pregnancy.” Walsh used an ableist slur to dismiss the idea that people are unable to consent to life-changing decisions before age 25 and said that girls “still in high school … want, biologically and metaphysically and with everything in their body, they want to settle down, they want to start a family.”

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): Teen pregnancy is a new problem.

In the sense that it’s only recently that we decided that it is a problem, OK? But it is not a new problem in the sense that it’s a new phenomenon. It is not. In fact, ever since the beginning of time, teenage girls have been getting pregnant. It used to be more common.

WALSH: That’s my point, OK? So to all of a sudden act like this phenomenon of girls getting pregnant at that — at a young age — that we consider young, 16 or 17, to act like it’s a new thing is ridiculous. It’s always been that way. … Girls between the ages of like 17 and 24 is when they’re technically most fertile. 

… 

WALSH: OK? That’s biological. That’s a fact. I am just stating facts. That’s all I’m doing. But what happened recently, and this is the fourth fact, recently in the last 30 years or so, we decided that that’s way too young to start a family. 

WALSH: So what I’m saying is that the problem is not, per se, teenage pregnancy — it’s unwed pregnancy. That’s the problem in society. It’s only problematic when you are not married and you don’t have the man there to help you take care of the kids because he’s a coward.

… 

What I’m saying, though, is that if society was, if society was different and that we stopped insisting that you’re a kid until you’re 25 and we just deal with the reality that at about 16, you’re an adult who is mature and can make decisions — you are that at 16. I don’t care what anybody says. And if you’re going to tell me it’s different, well, then how come for the first 10,000 years of human civilization, that’s the way it was? It’s just recently where all of a sudden we’re all r——- until we’re 25?

And I got some more news for you. 17-year-old girls and 18-year-old girls that are still in high school, just getting into college, many of them want, biologically and metaphysically and with everything in their body, they want to settle down, they want to start a family, and that’s always gonna be that way, no matter what you do.

ANDREW MURR (CO-HOST): And I think a good example as to why that’s probably true is the whorish behavior of these same-aged girls when they get to college.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: There are some sluts.

MURR: They start, you know, these girls — believe me, when I went to the University of Maryland and I was a little bit older than everybody, it was like you get there and you see these innocent girls and by the end of the year, it’s just like the stories you’ve heard about them — it’s like this internal need to breed and it just comes out at the wrong time. They’re out there trying to get an education, but meanwhile —

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: To biology, that’s the perfect time. That’s when they’re, like Matt said, is most fertile. But society has told you that when you’re 18, that’s when you’re an adult, not when you’re 16 or 17.

WALSH: Yeah, and that’s a problem.

Walsh has repeatedly defended sexualization or sexual abusers of children in the more recent past, saying of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal that “the problem is not pedophilia; the problem is gay priests” and saying that the response to a sexual abuse scandal in the Boy Scouts of America was “a lesson to us all” that “surrendering to the Left” will lead to being “completely obliterated.” 

Walsh initially defended Josh Duggar after the reality TV star was accused of sexual abuse of children, minimizing the allegations before later issuing a retraction once it came to light that Duggar had also cheated on his wife as an adult. The Daily Wire host has also minimized the #MeToo movement, suggesting that it’s “a hysterical witch hunt” and saying that women who feel violated after casual sex “consented to, and participated in, [their] own degradation.”

Matt Walsh’s racist worldview: “As the Anglo-Saxons, which were the original Americans, die off, our identity and our culture goes with it.”

As a radio DJ, Matt Walsh promoted the racist great replacement theory, expressing anxiety about “the extinction of the Anglo-Saxon race” and saying that “as the Anglo-Saxons, which were the original Americans, die off, our identity and our culture goes with it.”

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): It is because we’re all dying off. Yes. That’s what the problem is. It’s not that, it’s not that we’re just, as the Mexicans come in, we magically meld with them and become like them. It’s not like that. It’s that we are dying off just like, just like any other species of animal does. We’re dying. And the way that animals — there’s two ways that animals die off. Well, three ways. One is disease. Two is deforestation, or they lose their habitat, which OK, look at us. And then the third one is that they stop reproducing. And those — and usually all three of those things happen kind of simultaneously. And that’s what’s happening with us. The extinction of the Anglo-Saxon race is just like that.

The Western white race is not having kids. They’re just not. That’s why before, 10 years ago, was like the average family was, whatever it was, 2.3 kids, now it’s 1.-something. I mean, we’ve lost a whole kid in 10 years. And, I mean, you just can’t survive when you refuse to have kids.

When the Mexican people come here, which is fine that they want to come, as long as they come legally, which most of them aren’t, but they bring with them — being that they’re a different culture, a different race, and everything else — they bring with them a identity, and they bring it to America. And so as the Anglo-Saxons, which were the original Americans, die off, our identity and our culture goes with it. Now, China and Japan and Korea and Vietnam and Egypt, all those countries, for thousands of years, have got to keep their identity and their culture. They’ve been allowed to preserve it, whereas ours is dying off in less than 200 years.

At other times, Walsh performed racist impressions of Black men, including calling Barack Obama Elementary School and pretending to be a father trying to enroll his son in the school. He pretended to have heard that the school was lenient with its grades, saying while posing as a Black man that Obama’s “main principle was that just cause you ain’t put in the work for something don’t mean that you shouldn’t be supplied with it.”

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): Yeah, but let me put you on the spot right quick, because what is y’all honoring about my man Barack Obama?

EMPLOYEE: Well, just in terms of, they named the school after him, you know, and inside the school, they, you know, have pictures of him and they probably teach the students, you know, some of who he is. But overall, this, it’s still a regular school. You know, it’s not a school that — overall, the school is still run like the other schools are run. 

WALSH: OK. But it just seemed to me that the way that he would want to run it, you know, was similar to the way that he would want to run the health care and the economy, whatnot. Well, he want to make sure that, you know, I mean, just because you ain’t worked for something don’t mean that you shouldn’t get it. I mean, you feel me on that, right? 

EMPLOYEE: Um — 

WALSH: Well, just because — just cause you ain’t really put in the work for something don’t mean that you shouldn’t be, shouldn’t be supplied with it, because that’s a right that we have as Americans. 

EMPLOYEE: Well yeah, there are certain rights that we have, right? 

WALSH: Yeah. We got, I mean, I got a right. I mean, my kid got a right as an American to really get good grades in school and whatnot. You know, he’s got a right to that.

Yeah, but y’all’s, y’all Barack Obama Elementary, you know, I mean, which — which makes me presume the fact that y’all follow his principles, you know, his guiding principles and whatnot. 

EMPLOYEE 2: Yeah.

WALSH: His, his main principle was that just cause you ain’t put in the work for something don’t mean that you shouldn’t be supplied with it, because that’s the equal right that all Americans have, you know? So I want to make sure that I bring my kid over to you. You know, he can do his thing laid back, you know, but he still gonna be supplied with the grades, same as, you know, his big pops, hat would be me, you know, I’m going to be supplied with the checks, the government checks and whatnot. You know, just because I ain’t currently working don’t mean that I shouldn’t be supplied with it, you know? 

EMPLOYEE 2: Exactly. 

WALSH: So. So would that be the way you y’all run things, like maybe everybody, you know, they do their own thing, they get their own grades at the end of the semester or whatever how y’all partition it. They, you put all the grades in one pool and then, y’all split — 

EMPLOYEE 2: No, all kids. I mean. No. 

WALSH: So you telling me–

EMPLOYEE 2: You said in one pool? 

WALSH: Yeah. Yeah. You put all the grades together, you average it out, and then everyone get that average so that it’s really a team effort, you know what I mean? And everyone get the same thing because no one really has the right to be above no one else, especially when they kids. Right? 

EMPLOYEE 2: Well, all kids are treated equally. 

WALSH: Yeah, so. But how, but that ain’t the way in the school now. The school he at now right, he ain’t being treated equally. You know? Because he getting a E, he failing out while other people, you know, was getting A’s and passing on. My man on the second grade twice now, you know, and other people, they in fourth grade by now. So that ain’t equal. You know, I’m looking for some real equality. And I knew that when I saw Barack Obama Elementary was open and I said, now my man is going to supply me with what I’m looking for, because my man’s gonna run school the way he run the economy, the way he run health care — where he said, everybody’s going to get it whether you work for or not. You’re going to get it. 

EMPLOYEE 2: Well, no, he’s not in charge of the school.

Since this video, Walsh has said that white supremacists “don’t exist, for the most part” and the great replacement conspiracy theory is “just a fact.” Walsh has expressed doubt that racism exists and said that “when a white person says that all white people are inherently racist, all he’s really done is confess to being personally racist.” Walsh has also attacked Muslims, deriding them as “easily provoked,” and suggesting that “every mass attacker is Muslim.” One video from The Matt and Crank Program shows Walsh wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt.

Matt Walsh’s sexually demeaning workplace stunts: “I think we should shock you in the ass” 

At The Matt and Crank Program, Walsh appears to have sexually harassed someone at least posing as his employee (named only “Intern A” on camera), demanding that his subordinate remove his pants and allow Walsh to use a taser on his exposed butt despite multiple protestations.

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): I would never usually suggest that a man expose his buttocks to me. … Well, here’s a serious suggestion. Why don’t we seriously shock you in the ass? Got a lot of padding in there. A lot of muscle … lot of muscle in that ass, boy.

INTERN A: You don’t want me to pull it out.

ANDREW MURR (CO-HOST): Yeah, I don’t either. I really don’t. I think we should just go.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: Hear me out. For the comedy of it, and also because that will hurt the least, I think we should shock you in the ass, at least at first.

INTERN: I think we should shock you.

WALSH: No, I don’t like that idea. What I do like is shocking you in the ass. So get over here.

INTERN: You’re not shocking my butt. 

MURR: And I do want you to put the old hardhat on. There we go. Does he not look amazing now?

WALSH: I’ll shock you in the stomach. All right? I’ll shock you in the stomach. Are you ready for this?

INTERN: No! No. I am not ready for this. 

MURR: I’m ready.

INTERN: This is not cool!

MURR: I’m totally ready for this.

WALSH: This is cool.

MURR: Matt, are you ready?

WALSH: I’m totally ready.

MURR: I’m totally ready. 

WALSH: As long as we’re ready, that’s all that matters.

MURR: That’s all that matters.

WALSH: Should I press it? Hold on a sec.

INTERN: Whoa. Oh no!

WALSH: Hold up. I’m not hitting it yet, I’m not hitting it, I’m not hitting it, but should I put it up against him like this? And then do it — is that how you do it?

(CROSSTALK)

INTERN: Oh, my God, I thought you were my friend.

CRANK: We are. That’s why we’re doing it.

WALSH: This is for your own good. This is for your own good, intern.

INTERN: I love you so much I’m hurting you.

WALSH: This hurts you more than it hurts me.

MURR: Yes it does. Oh God. I’m tingly with anticipation.

WALSH: One, two, three, go!

INTERN: Ow!

MURR: Did it shock you too?

WALSH: Wait, I only got like half a second.

INTERN: That’s all you’re supposed to get.

WALSH: Let’s try it one more time.

INTERN: That hurts.

MURR: You want me to hold onto you while we do it?

INTERN: That hurts.

MURR: Do you want me to hold onto you while we do it?

WALSH: Let’s try one more time. I dropped it. I didn’t get a good one.

INTERN: Not in the stomach anymore, because that hurts.

WALSH: All right, we’ll do it in the uhh —

INTERN: Chesticle.

WALSH: All right, in the chest. But this time we’re going in for the real thing!

INTERN: Wait, just do it in the arm. One, two, three, go.

WALSH: Hold on, hold on.

INTERN: Go! Ow!

WALSH: How bad does it hurt? Describe it.

INTERN: It’s like being muscle tenched.

MURR: What?

(Intern reaches for stun gun)

WALSH: Muscle tenched? I’m not giving you this thing, dude.

INTERN: Was it good for radio? You want to do it in the butt?

WALSH: I do, kind of. Let’s just try it once in the ass. Turn around. Ready?

MURR: I don’t even know if we can put this on the blog site.

WALSH: You’ve got a pimply, pale ass, bro.

INTERN: Go! Ow! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow! All right, we’re done. That’s it. All right, good radio. You’re welcome, Delmarva. You’re welcome.

This was part of a series of videos of Walsh, Murr, the intern, and another man called “Tater” participating in a series of fraternity-style challenges, sometimes involving sexually suggestive behavior. In another video, “Intern A” was dressed in a diaper, wrestling a man who gave his name as “Tater.” In a video called “Intern A Earns His Name,” the titular intern was encouraged to lick the inside of a dumpster.

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): He’s going to lick the inside of this dumpster. This dumpster has not been licked in years. So what it’s going to be is he’s going to sort of kneel down, put his tongue against the wall and then stand up.

A further video available on the old YouTube channel for Matt and Crank showed “the intern” washing a car in underwear while disco music played.

According to one report, Walsh announced his departure from The Matt and Crank Program just hours after recording his final episode on Monday, August 1, 2011, claiming that he wouldn’t be allowed to do further shows to say goodbye. The next day, he announced a two-week hiatus that he walked back the day after to let fans know that he’d be taking a job at WGMD, a smaller station in the region where he would work for less than a year. In December 2013 Walsh announced that he was “leaving radio forever” to spend more time with his blog. While Walsh spun this as voluntary, critics reported that WLAP’s programming director had said that the show had been canceled. After a period of time joining Matt at WGMD, reports say Walsh’s co-host returned to WZBH through 2015.

Additional Research by  JASON CAMPBELLMIA GINGERICH & ALEX PATERSON

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Ari Drennen is the LGBTQ program director for Media Matters, where she has worked since January 2022. She has a bachelors degree in political science and economics from Middlebury College. Previously she worked at the Center for American Progress and the League of Conservation Voters

*******************

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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Research/Study

Suicide risk & access to care among LGBTQ college students

LGBTQ college students with access to mental health services through their college had drastically lower odds of attempting suicide

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LGBTQ+ UCLA graduates (Photo Credit: UCLA LGBTQ Campus Resource Center)

NEW YORK – The Trevor Project’s researchers team published new data this week that assessed suicide risk, access to mental health services, and access to LGBTQ student services among a national sampling of LGBTQ+ college and university students.

The report’s findings show that LGBTQ college students with access to mental health services through their college or university had drastically lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those without access.

The data in the report takes on greater relevance as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is observed this September and highlight the ways in which community leaders, parents, and others can help prevent suicide among LGBTQ youth — a group that is more than four times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their straight and cisgender peers.

Key Findings:

  • LGBTQ college students with access to mental health services through their college had 84% lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to LGBTQ college students without access. 
    • LGBTQ college students reported that common barriers to accessing care included that they did not feel comfortable going (33%), long waitlists, (29%), and privacy concerns (17%).
  • LGBTQ college students with access to LGBTQ student services through their college had 44% lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to LGBTQ college students without access.
    •  Over six in ten (63%) LGBTQ college students reported that their college had LGBTQ-specific services, such as an LGBTQ center, available. 
    • Those who did not have access to LGBTQ student services through their college reported significantly higher rates of seriously considering suicide in the past year (41%) compared to those who did have access (30%). 
  • One in three (33%) LGBTQ college students seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 7% reported a suicide attempt in the past year. 
    • Rates of considering suicide were higher among LGBTQ college students of color (35%), multisexual students (35%), and transgender and nonbinary students (39%),
    • LGBTQ students of color (9%) and transgender and nonbinary students (9%) reported significantly higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year compared to White LGBTQ students (6%) and cisgender LGBQ students (4%).
  • Nearly nine in ten LGBTQ college students (89%) reported that their college was accepting of LGBTQ people, and this was associated with the availability of LGBTQ-specific student services.

“These findings are strikingly clear: LGBTQ college students who reported having access to mental health services at school had dramatically lower odds of attempting suicide compared to those without access,” said Dr. Jonah DeChants (he/him), Research Scientist at The Trevor Project.

“While college environments offer a number of positive and protective factors for LGBTQ students, the reality is that suicide risk still very much persists, especially among those who do not have access to affirming spaces and services. We urge all colleges and universities to realize that access to mental health care services, as well as LGBTQ-specific student services, on college campuses is critical for ensuring the mental health and safety of their LGBTQ student body,” he added.

Read the report here (Link)

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Research/Study

Black men account for 91% of HIV-related arrests in Louisiana

A new data interactive looks at the impact of HIV criminal laws on people living with HIV in nine states, including Louisiana

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Screenshot/YouTube

BATON ROUGE – Since 2011, as many as 176 people have had contact with Louisiana’s criminal legal system because of allegations of HIV crimes, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. HIV-related crimes are disproportionately enforced based on race and sex. In Louisiana, Black men represent 15% of the state population and 44% of people living with HIV, but 91% of those arrested for an HIV crime.

Using data obtained from the Louisiana Incident-Based Reporting System and from the state’s most populous parishes, researchers found that enforcement of HIV crimes is concentrated in East Baton Rouge Parish, Orleans Parish, and Calcasieu Parish. Furthermore, the number of HIV incidents—or interactions with law enforcement involving allegations of HIV crimes—is not declining over time.

HIV criminalization is a term used to describe laws that either criminalize otherwise legal conduct or increase the penalties for illegal conduct based upon a person’s HIV-positive status. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. states and territories currently have laws that criminalize people living with HIV.

A new data interactive looks at the impact of HIV criminal laws on people living with HIV in nine states, including Louisiana.

Louisiana has one criminal law related to HIV, which makes it a felony for a person who knows of their HIV-positive status to intentionally expose another person to HIV through sexual contact or other means without consent. The maximum sentence for an intentional exposure conviction is 10 years, and people convicted of an HIV crime are required to register on the state’s sex offender registry for at least 15 years.

Louisiana’s HIV criminal law does not require actual transmission, intent to transmit, or even the possibility of transmission to sustain a conviction. Between 2011 and 2022, incarceration for HIV crimes cost Louisiana at least $6.5 million.

“The cost of Louisiana’s HIV criminal law is likely much higher. Even with only partial access to the state’s criminal enforcement data, the trends were dramatic,” said lead author Nathan Cisneros, HIV Criminalization Analyst at the Williams Institute. “Louisiana’s HIV criminal law may undermine the state’s public health efforts by deterring the communities most impacted by HIV, including people of color and sex workers, from seeking testing and treatment.”  

KEY FINDINGS

  • Most HIV criminal incidents (80%) in Louisiana involved only allegations of an HIV-related crime; no other crimes were alleged in the incidents.
  • Black people—and especially Black men—were the majority of people identified as suspects and arrested for HIV-related crimes in Louisiana.
    • Across the state, 63% of suspects were Black and 45% were Black men. For incidents that resulted in arrest, all of those arrested were Black and 91% were Black men.
    • In New Orleans, close to 80% of all suspects were identified as Black and 58% were Black men.
  • Black people and women were overrepresented among victims of HIV-related incidents.
    • Across the state, Black women and white women each represented 28% of all victims.
    • In New Orleans, Black men were 58% of all victims.
  • Since 1998, there have been at least 47 separate HIV-related convictions resulting in sex offender registration, involving 43 people.
  • Most people (63%) on the sex offender registry because of an HIV-related conviction are on the registry only because of the HIV-related conviction.
  • Three-quarters of people on the sex offender registry for an HIV-related conviction were Black.
  • Guilty outcomes resulted in an average sentence of 4.3 years.
  • Incarcerating people for HIV-related charges has cost Louisiana at least $6.5 million.

This report is part of a series of reports examining the ongoing impact of state HIV criminalization laws on people living with HIV. Take a look at our new data interactive summarizing the findings of our research.

Read the report

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Research/Study

Moms for Liberty hiding behind front groups targeting schools

Moms for Liberty’s Book Look & Book Looks are facilitating the book banning process as they gut public school libraries

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Graphic by Molly Butler for Media Matters

By Olivia Little | WASHINGTON – As we enter Banned Books Week 2022, a new movement to gut public school libraries is sweeping the nation, with far-right “parental rights” group Moms for Liberty and two pro-censorship organizations — Book Look and Book Looks — at the forefront.

Moms for Liberty’s book banning campaign is growing in both size and intensity, with a clear strategy: manufacture moral panic in your community to pressure public schools into removing titles with LGBTQ themes or discussions of racism in American history. With the help of Book Look and Book Looks, it’s been increasingly successful.

With over 200 chapters, Moms for Liberty has become the largest driver of the nationwide book banning crusade, which has led to harassment and threats against public school teacherslibrarians, and education officials. Moms for Liberty chapters have challenged Martin Luther King Jr. and the March to Washington because of “photographs of political violence” and Ruby Bridges Goes to School because of “racist remarks,” among other objections. Moms for Liberty is also a vocally anti-LGBTQ organization and has advocated for trans bathroom bans in public schools.

Now, Media Matters has obtained documentation showing that Moms for Liberty has created “Books/Library Director” chapter positions that would be responsible for surveying and evaluating library book lists and challenging them within local school districts. These positions would allow each individual chapter to have a member organizing the gutting of public school libraries. One chapter has already started a “book review committee” and encouraged parents to go to their child’s public school open house and take pictures of books in the library containing “material most of us would not want our kids reading.”

Media Matters has also uncovered evidence that Moms for Liberty chapters “have teamed up” with Book Look and Book Looks, which appear to be distinct entities that are crowdsourcing parents’ book reviews and using them as justification for literature bans in public schools. And while the two organizations are separate, they use nearly the same book rating system, have overlapping book reviews, and operate in a seemingly identical manner.

book look v book looks

Book Look and Book Looks both collect reports to expedite the process of challenging books, helping conservative activists organize campaigns around parents’ outrage and demand a book’s removal without even reading it. Anonymous volunteers create reports by documenting examples of profane or inappropriate content with their corresponding page number, which are then packaged into “easy to understand book content reviews centered around objectionable content.” Books are given a rating on a scale from zero to five, with zero being “appropriate for all audiences” and five being “might be arrested for reading at school board meetings.”

The rating system allows heavily biased right-wing reviewers to disguise themselves as objective arbiters. For example, a Book Looks report about Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home — an award-winning graphic novel about the author’s “journey from childhood to college student to adult in relation to both her identity as a lesbian and her dynamic with her family, particularly her father who is a closeted gay man” — cites the depiction of “alternative sexualities” and “alternative gender ideologies” among other justifications for why it should be removed from school libraries. It was given a four rating: “Not for minors.”

In addition to rating books, sharing out-of-context quotes on Facebook of “objectionable” books is another part of the groups’ broader strategy that they say “gathers attention” on social media and “gets people engaged with outrage.” Individuals are also encouraged to send school boards snippets of the most objectionable books and attend board meetings to “ask publicly about progress,” or, “if you have brave volunteers, attempt to read some passages from these books and ask if the board thinks this is OK for minors. Let them stand behind this material and own it if they are not working to get rid of it.” 

Notably, Book Look’s website directs parents to links about the anti-LGBTQ “grooming” smear and articles about Moms for Liberty “fighting against porn” in schools; it also provides users with anti-trans memes to spread on social media. Some of the group’s infographics push back against the accusation that Book Look and Moms for Liberty encourage banning books, claiming that they “support the process of challenging and removing books in school libraries” and establishing “book boundaries” — which they argue is distinct from “the banning of books.” (It’s not.)

book banning infographics

There is a clear electoral initiative in this strategy, as the last point on Book Look’s plan of action is to “vote them [school board members] out next election if they refuse to work on this issue.” Taking over school boards has been a key strategy of Moms for Liberty since its inception, and it’s no surprise that the group’s efforts are accelerating as the midterms approach.

In addition to overlapping strategies, there is an undeniable connection between Moms for Liberty and these two organizations. Book Look was originally formed as the Moms for Liberty Library Book Committee, and while Book Looks claims to be unaffiliated with Moms for Liberty, Book Riot uncovered that the organization was actually spearheaded by a Moms for Liberty member. Book Looks also uses the same rating system that was shared on the Moms For Liberty Brevard County public Facebook page one month before the group formally began.

Even though the organizations are clearly tied, they have successfully duped reporters. The Washington Post extensively reported on Book Look and Book Looks without mentioning their close affiliation with Moms for Liberty (although the piece did quote the chair of a local Moms for Liberty chapter praising the group’s efforts to “prevent children from encountering sexually explicit material”). MIT’s Technology Review did the same.

Moms for Liberty has positioned itself at the center of the book banning movement to whitewash American history and push an anti-LGBTQ agenda while placing right-wing propaganda in school libraries instead. And it is using the cover of supposed parent reviews to advance this right-wing campaign, intentionally stoking outrage and encouraging distrust in public schools.

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Olivia Little is a researcher at Media Matters. She holds a bachelor’s degree in law and public policy from Indiana University. Olivia previously worked as a research associate for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign.

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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