In the past week, monitoring Breitbart and similar far-right websites so you don't have to, we've found plenty of transphobia and Islamophobia, both with some new twists. There is also the revisiting of a 20-year-old scandal, in the name of exalting Donald Trump and demonizing the woman who lost the presidency to him, despite winning the popular vote.
It's no surprise that Breitbart and its ilk are thrilled that the Trump administration has revoked Obama-era guidelines on what schools should do to assure they aren't discriminating against transgender students. There are some surprises, though, in the claims they're making about what can happen when society recognizes trans people's identity and treats them accordingly. The "bathroom predator" myth is still there, but now they've amped up the argument by saying women may be erased from history books.
"If individuals can freely flip their sex from male to female or vice versa, then the nation's many single-sex institutions will face enormous legal pressure to admit people of the opposite biological sex," Breitbart contributor Neil Munro wrote last week. "For example, shelters for battered women may be forced to open their doors to men who claim battery, women's sports leagues will be forced to admit bigger and stronger men who claim to be women, and schoolbooks and parenting guides used by government grantees would be forced to define 'women' merely as people who say they are women, effectively discarding the nation's cultural history of women, girls and feminists." We never knew the right cared so much about feminism. And of course, Munro ignores the fact that transgender women housed with men in single-sex institutions, such as homeless shelters or jails, face great danger of physical and sexual abuse.
Over at Townhall, columnist Michael Brown claimed to have sympathy for transgender people but effectively denied their existence. "There is no settled science confirming transgender identity," he contended (erroneously) in a column published Monday morning. He recommended that readers reach out to people who identify as transgender and "help them find wholeness in the Lord," essentially a "pray the trans away" approach. He added, "And while I'm at, let me say this to CNN's Chris Cuomo: Sir, it is not intolerant for a father not to want his daughter to see a boy's penis at school. That's called being a good dad." Cuomo had engaged in a Twitter exchange about the revocation of the guidelines. (By the way, schools with trans-inclusive policies take plenty of steps to assure students' privacy.)
The folks at Breitbart have a fondness for Linda Tripp, the woman who helped expose President Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the late 1990s, and they're happy to give her a platform to make some outrageous allegations. In a piece published on the site over the weekend, Tripp claimed Saturday Night Live and major news outlets are conspiring to discredit Donald Trump.
"Now I think what is going on on SNL is a part of it," Tripp, a former Pentagon employee, told Aaron Klein on his radio show, in an interview he summarized for Breitbart, where he holds the title of senior investigative reporter. "It's all of a piece, though. It's almost a psychological warfare tactic. I worked with special operations for many years. And I can't overstate the effectiveness of this campaign that they are waging.
"You have to understand that the media backed one candidate. And after she was defeated and after a campaign where the so-called mainstream media, which is a true misnomer, advocated essentially as an arm of the [Democratic National Committee]. After her defeat, they have done nothing but double down in an attempt to take down what they perceive as their opponent. Because he had the nerve to actually win. When, if you will recall, virtually everyone in the mainstream media laughed on air about even the possibility of his winning."
The media's portrayal of Trump "is a sabotage of the truth," she continued. "And it's on a grand scale. And for me it is painful to watch because even though the president has a bully pulpit, even he is at the mercy of what people refer to as the mainstream media. A private citizen has no chance. But even the president will face obstacles because this is an orchestrated effort." Hmm, and we thought it was Trump who was sabotaging the truth.
In previous Breitbart interviews, Tripp has said she believed her life and Lewinsky's were in danger, apparently from Bill and Hillary Clinton. Tripp had secretly recorded conversations with Lewinsky, who considered her a friend, about the relationship with Bill Clinton. Tripp then turned those tapes over to special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Lewinsky later said she felt betrayed by Tripp, but Tripp insists Lewinsky should be grateful.
"I say today and I will continue to say that I believe Monica Lewinsky is alive today because of choices I made and action I took," she said last September on Klein's show, another interview that formed the basis for a Breitbart piece. "That may sound melodramatic to your listeners. I can only say that from my perspective I believe that she and I at the time were in danger, because nothing stands in the way of these people achieving their political ends."
Melodramatic indeed. We don't excuse Bill Clinton's sexual behavior, but in case you wonder why some people think he and Hillary are monsters, well, it's because they read Breitbart -- and take it seriously.
World Net Daily, a site even farther to the right than Breitbart, agrees with Trump's characterization of the media. "It was a fair statement" when the president called the mainstream media an "enemy of the people," WND's top editor, Joseph Farah, wrote in a column last week.
"The vast majority of the media have been lying about Trump and his agenda," Farah asserted. "You will not find a more hostile environment regarding Trump than in most American newsrooms. They hate him. They detest him. There's nothing they admire about him. They don't believe he was really elected president. And they will never stop attacking him -- personally, politically, spiritually, you name it. They will even do stories that claim he is mentally unhinged. They even concoct stories out of the whole cloth."
Actually, most stories coming out about the Trump administration stand up to pretty rigorous fact checking. And elsewhere in the column, Farah remarked, "The central role of a free press in a free society is to serve as a watchdog on government with an eye toward exposing corruption, fraud, waste and abuse, including abuse of the Constitution." Well, can't argue with that. And many media outlets, in addition to federal courts, have determined that Trump has been abusing the Constitution with some of his actions -- but Farah seems to believe they're making that up.
WND also recently reported rather hysterically on the influx of Muslims into Macomb County, Mich., a suburban area near Detroit. The city of Sterling Heights, to settle a complaint from the U.S. Department of Justice, has agreed to let a third mosque be built in the community. The city has a large population of Middle Eastern Christians, some of whom suffered at the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda, but the WND coverage pretty much conflates these groups with Muslims in general. It approvingly quotes a Sterling Heights resident who calls Islam "a culture that doesn't believe in our Constitution and our laws." And it suggests that Middle Eastern Muslims are invading America on the sly, sometimes with the help of Catholic and Lutheran charitable groups, with an eye to transforming the U.S. into something un-American.
In Warren, near Sterling Heights, "Businesses once run by Americans have changed hands and now cater to Muslims with hookah shops, halal meats and Middle Eastern markets," WND reports breathlessly. "The local Walmart is frequented by women in burqas and hijabs." And the site quotes a local woman critical of the new immigrants, who says, "Here in Macomb County, we live by the old adage that all religions are equal but some religions are more equal than others." If that sounds familiar, well, it's a paraphrase of a line from George Orwell's Animal Farm, a novel about a totalitarian society.
We'll continue monitoring these sites so you don't have to. Check back next week for more of their outrageous claims.