Leave it to the Lean Forward network to entrust fair reporting on pro-life legislation in Congress to a woman who won the 2013 New York Abortion Access Fund's Champion for Choice Award.
In her January 28 story, "House passes abortion insurance restriction," MSNBC.com's Irin Carmon quoted from just one Republican who voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and yet found three male Democratic congressmen and one female Democratic congresswoman to slam the measure:
Chris Matthews, on Thursday's Hardball, took GOP Congresswoman Virginia Foxx to task for claiming that Republicans "passed civil rights bills in the sixties" as he accused her of having a bad memory, going as far as to compare her to one of the androids from the science fiction classic Blade Runner:
Up next wait ‘til you hear the latest from Congresswoman, whoa! Wait ‘til you catch this. Well this is another version of The Dream, let's put it that way. This is Virginia Foxx, in action. She's actually trying to say -- remember this? It was the Republicans, don't you remember? They are the ones that pushed through civil rights back in the sixties. Remember it was not the Democrats, remember that? Interesting memory there. Next in the "Sideshow." I think she's one of these replicants from Blade Runner where they had an imposed memory put into them. [audio available here]
After playing a clip of Foxx claiming it was Republicans "who passed the civil rights bills back in the sixties, without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle," Matthews charged it was the GOP who became the political "winners" in the South for "opposing civil rights." While Foxx's claim wasn't entirely accurate, Matthews also needs a history refresher course as the Republicans were pivotal in getting the legislation passed, something the late Paul Weyrich pointed out in a July 2004 column:
The CNN anchor devoted an entire segment 37 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour to the North Carolina Republican’s speech on Monday against a health care “reform” bill sponsored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Representative Foxx denounced the bill as “a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill,” and continued that Americans “have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.”
Griffin began to cast doubt on the Republican’s statement from the very beginning of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. After playing a clip of Rep. Foxx, where she touted her party’s alternative proposal wouldn’t “put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government,” the CNN correspondent, filling in for anchor Rick Sanchez, promoted his upcoming segment on the remark, and first hinted that it was a false accusation on the part of the representative: “Um, are people really concerned that a new health care bill will let old people die? We’ll drill down on the facts, the fiction and possible misrepresentations swirling around the debate.”
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, which aired at 9:00 p.m. after President Obama's news conference, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann viciously slammed Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx for claiming that murder victim Matthew Shepard – whom the current hate crimes bill is named after – was targeted out of a desire to commit robbery rather than because of anti-gay sentiment by his attacker, contradicting the conventional wisdom that the grisly murder was a hate crime. The MSNBC host was so outraged at the North Carolina congresswoman that he named her as the night’s "Worst Person in the World" and showed particular venom toward her, even suggesting she should resign. Olbermann: "She is at best callous, insensitive, criminally misinformed. At worst she is a bald-faced liar. And if there is a spark of a human being in there somewhere, she should either immediately retract and apologize for her stupid and hurtful words or she should resign her seat in the House."
On the 11:00 p.m. special edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews and guests Joan Walsh of Salon and MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard also lambasted Foxx for her claim, with Walsh contending that she was either "lying" or "ignorant," and Matthews calling Foxx’s words "rough stuff." Walsh: "She's a hoax, Chris. She disgraced herself today. That was inaccurate. And what I really don't know is whether she’s lying – she knows the facts and she’s lying – or whether she’s so ignorant and arrogant that she didn’t need to delve into the facts."
But, on the November 26, 2004, 20/20, ABC host Elizabeth Vargas ran a report in which a number of figures tied to the case, including the prosecutor, were interviewed, and made a credible case that Shepard was targeted by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson not because of anti-gay sentiment, but because McKinney was high on methamphetamines, giving him unusual violent tendencies as well as a desire for cash to buy more drugs. Vargas not only found that a meth high can lead to the kind of extreme violence perpetrated against Shepard, but that McKinney had gone on to similarly attack another man, causing a skull fracture, very soon after his attack on Shepard. Additionally, McKinney’s girlfriend and another friend of McKinney’s even claimed that McKinney himself has bisexual tendencies, although McKinney himself denied it.
Vargas appeared on the November 19, 2004, The O’Reilly Factor on FNC and summarized her findings: