MoJo Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/articles/%27%20%20%20page_obj.img%20%20%20%27 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Welcome to the Manosphere: A Brief Guide to the Controversial Men's Rights Movement http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/manosphere-mens-rights-movement-terms <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/warren-farrell-mens-rights-movement-feminism-misogyny-trolls" target="_blank"><img alt="Warren Farrell" class="image" src="/files/MENSRIGHTS-250.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/warren-farrell-mens-rights-movement-feminism-misogyny-trolls" target="_blank"><strong>Mad Men: Inside the Men's Rights Movement&mdash;and the Army of Misogynists and Trolls It Spawned </strong></a></div> </div> <p><strong>Men's Rights Movement (</strong><strong>mrm</strong><strong>):</strong> A loose-knit network of groups and activists (MRAs) who believe men are an oppressed class. Most adherents consider Warren Farrell to be the intellectual father of men's rights.</p> <p><strong>Fathers Manifesto:</strong> An early MRM website that combined calls for paternal custody rights with claims that blacks should be exiled and Catholic priests were sexually abusing children as part of a plot to spread AIDS.</p> <p><strong>A Voice for Men: </strong>Founded in 2009 by truck driver Paul Elam to "expose misandry on all levels," <a href="http://www.avoiceformen.com/" target="_blank">the site</a>, now a hub of the movement, is aimed at those turned off by the fringe politics of other men's rights forums.</p> <p><strong>Register-Her.com:</strong> An offshoot of A Voice for Men, an "<a href="http://register-her.com/" target="_blank">offender registry</a>" purporting to track female murderers and rapists as well as women who make false rape accusations.</p> <p><strong>National Coalition for Men:</strong> A <a href="http://ncfm.org/" target="_blank">nonprofit group</a> that "raises awareness about the ways sex discrimination affects men and boys." Its leaders have filed lawsuits <a href="http://ncfm.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/130405-NCFM-Selective-Service-lawsuit-complaint-3.pdf" target="_blank">challenging registration for the draft</a> and <a href="http://ncfm.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/Woods-v-Shewry-published-decision.pdf" target="_blank">seeking to defund shelters for battered women</a>.</p> <p><strong>Fathers 4 Justice:</strong> A <a href="http://www.fathers-4-justice.org/" target="_blank">British paternal rights group</a> that gained notoriety in the mid-2000s after activists, some dressed as superheroes, <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/3209640.stm" target="_blank">scaled public monuments</a>, allegedly <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4622880.stm" target="_blank">threatened to kidnap the prime minister's son</a>, and <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-25656305" target="_blank">defaced a portrait of the queen</a>.</p> <p><strong>Red pill: </strong>In the classic sci-fi film <em>The Matrix</em>, the hero must choose between swallowing a blue pill, which will allow him to remain in a pleasant illusory world, or a red pill, which will open his eyes to the reality in which he is enslaved. In men's rights parlance, "<a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/TheRedPill/" target="_blank">red pillers</a>" realize that men, not women, are oppressed.</p> <p><strong>Pickup Artists (</strong><strong>pua</strong><strong>): </strong>Self-proclaimed or aspiring "alpha males" who attempt to seduce women through a system of psychological gambits called "the game." Notable PUA figures include <a href="http://www.rooshv.com/" target="_blank">Roosh V</a> (Daryush Valizadeh) of the Return of Kings website, who has published a collection of sex travel guides such as "Bang Brazil," in which he writes, "Poor favela chicks are very easy, but quality is a serious problem."</p> <p><strong>Anti-Slut Defense (</strong><strong>asd</strong><strong>): </strong>Tactics that Pickup Artists <a href="http://www.pua-zone.com/showthread.php?8483-Anti-Slut-Defense-What-It-Is-amp-How-To-Handle-It-%28Long-And-Detailed%29" target="_blank">believe</a> women use to dodge responsibility for sex, such as offering "token resistance" or claiming afterward that they were too drunk to say no.</p> <p><strong>Incel: </strong>A man who is "involuntarily celibate" and feels that women owe him sex. Mass murderer Elliot Rodger <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/05/27/inside-the-manosphere-that-inspired-santa-barbara-shooter-elliot-rodger/" target="_blank">described himself as one</a>.</p> <p><strong>pua</strong><strong>hate</strong><strong>: </strong>A site for those who feel disillusioned by the PUA movement. Rodger, who blamed women for his sexual frustration, was a frequenter; Roosh V <a href="http://www.returnofkings.com/36135/no-one-would-have-died-if-pua-hate-killer-elliot-rodger-learned-game" target="_blank">concluded about him</a>: "Until you give men like Rodger a way to have sex, either by encouraging them to learn game, seek out a Thai wife, or engage in legalized prostitution... it's inevitable for another massacre to occur." (PUAhate shut down shortly after Rodger's rampage.)</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/10/gamergate-explained" target="_blank">Gamergate</a>: </strong>An ongoing conflict that pits "traditional" video game enthusiasts (mostly white males) against feminists and others who call for game culture to become more inclusive. Misogyny and violent threats are a hallmark of the online controversy.</p> <p><strong>4chan:</strong> An anonymous and often graphic <a href="http://www.4chan.org/" target="_blank">online forum</a>; used by Gamergaters to strategize about revenge tactics and by hackers who posted stolen nude photos of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence.</p> <p><strong>8chan:</strong> An <a href="https://8chan.co/" target="_blank">anonymous forum</a> that Gamergaters started using after 4chan banned their threads.</p> <p><strong>Subreddit:</strong> A forum on the social sharing site <a href="http://www.reddit.com/" target="_blank">Reddit</a>, a.k.a. "the front page of the internet." Gamergaters, PUA followers, and others congregate in dedicated subreddits.</p> <p><strong>Honey Badger Brigade:</strong> A <a href="http://honeybadgerbrigade.com/" target="_blank">group</a> of mostly female supporters of the men's rights movement; its weekly online radio show features such topics as "the top 13 creepiest feminist behaviors," including "humorless vagina art."</p> <p><strong>Mangina:</strong> What some men's rights activists call a man who supports feminism.</p> <p><strong>Social Justice Warrior (</strong><strong>sjw</strong><strong>): </strong>What MRAs and Gamergaters call someone who advocates equal rights for women and minorities.</p> <p><strong>Men Going Their Own Way:</strong> A <a href="http://www.mgtow.com/" target="_blank">faction</a> that vows to avoid contact and relationships with women because they think women will inevitably treat them as "disposable utilities."</p></body></html> Politics Media Sex and Gender Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:02:23 +0000 Rebecca Cohen 265846 at http://www.motherjones.com Mad Men: Inside the Men's Rights Movement—and the Army of Misogynists and Trolls It Spawned http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/warren-farrell-mens-rights-movement-feminism-misogyny-trolls <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="KTKTKT" class="image" src="/files/MENSRIGHTS_A-630_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Warren Farrell </strong>Photograph by Winni Wintermeyer</div> </div> <p><span class="section-lead">On a balmy afternoon</span> last June, dozens of demonstrators carrying "Stop the Violence" and "Rape is Rape" placards <a href="http://motorcitymuckraker.com/2014/06/08/lens-on-detroit-controversial-mens-rights-group-draws-protest/" target="_blank">descended on the Hilton DoubleTree</a> in downtown Detroit. They had come to protest the first-ever national gathering of the men's rights movement, which aims to battle discrimination against men but has drawn criticism for stirring up hatred of women. Two weeks earlier, a sexually frustrated 22-year-old named Elliot Rodger had gone on a suicidal rampage in Santa Barbara, California, killing 6 people and injuring 13. He had left behind a chilling <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1173808-elliot-rodger-manifesto.html" target="_blank">137-page manifesto</a> suffused with a bitter misogyny and language commonly found in men's rights forums. "The girls don't flock to the gentlemen. They flock to the alpha male," Rodger wrote. "Who's the alpha male now, bitches?" His attack ignited a firestorm online, spurring women to share their experiences of misogyny via the hashtag #YesAllWomen, and bringing major media attention to the men's rights movement.</p> <p>With irate phone calls and <a href="http://www.avoiceformen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/05/AVFM-Security-Letter-REDACTED.pdf" target="_blank">even death threats</a> pouring into the hotel in the run-up to the conference, its organizer, <a href="http://www.avoiceformen.com/" target="_blank">A Voice for Men</a>, was forced to move the event to a local Veterans of Foreign Wars hall. The group <a href="http://www.avoiceformen.com/allbulletins/important-message-for-avfm-conference-ticket-holders/" target="_blank">warned ticket holders</a> by email that "ideological opponents" were likely to show up, and that they would be "looking for anything they can to hurt us with."</p> <p>When conference goers arrived several weeks later, they were greeted by a cadre of burly security guards. A computer glitch at the check-in desk sent the line snaking into the parking lot, where some men lounged listlessly on the hot asphalt. Finally, about an hour and a half after the first workshop had been scheduled to begin, the doors swung open. The crowd clattered up the stairs to a dimly lit room with scuffed mint-colored walls and a water-stained ceiling. There, amid rows of folding chairs, stood Warren Farrell.</p> <p>A soft-spoken septuagenarian with a silver beard and delicate hands, Farrell explained with a smile why he'd asked the security team to stand down: "I said it didn't look like there were any killers out there." There was a burst of laughter. After a while, he asked everyone to stand up. "Put anything you have in your hands down and just give that person in front of you a nice shoulder rub," he said. Tension faded from the men's faces. Over the next several hours, Farrell doled out hugs, regaled them with stories about his days as a feminist icon, and waxed lyrical about fatherhood and male sacrifice. He also invited the men to share their personal pain. Some wept as they spoke.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/manosphere-mens-rights-movement-terms" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/men-only-hotel200.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/youve-got-male" target="_blank">Welcome to the Manosphere: A guide to terms of the men's rights movement</a> </strong></div> </div> <p>Farrell is widely considered to be the father of the men's rights movement. In a series of books published since the 1980s, he has made the case that the primary victims of gender-based discrimination are men&mdash;casualties of a society that relies on their sacrifices while ignoring their suffering. He blames this phenomenon for a litany of woes, from the plight of blue-collar workers to the state of veterans' health care and rising suicide rates among young men. Many of today's men's rights activists view Farrell's 1993 book,<em> <a href="http://www.warrenfarrell.org/TheBook/" target="_blank">The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex</a></em>, as their touchstone, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/youve-got-male" target="_blank">the online forums where they congregate</a> are steeped in Farrell's ideas.</p> <p>For some, the "manosphere" offers a place to air real grievances about issues such as bias in family courts or sexual abuse suffered by men. But it also has spawned a network of activists and sites that take Farrell's ideology in a disturbing direction. Men's rights forums on sites like 4chan and Reddit are awash in misogyny and anti-feminist vitriol. Participants argue that false allegations of rape and domestic abuse are rampant, or that shelters for battered women are a financial scam. Others rail against women for being independent or sexually promiscuous.</p> <p>These ideas have given rise to aggressive tactics and rhetoric. The <a href="http://ncfm.org/" target="_blank">National Coalition for Men</a>&mdash;whose board of advisers includes Farrell&mdash;has fought to cut off state funding for domestic-violence programs if men aren't included. A Voice for Men's founder, Paul Elam, who is a friend and prot&eacute;g&eacute; of Farrell's, has justified violence against women and written that some of them "walk through life with the equivalent of a I'M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH&mdash;PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads." Other activists have published names of women they consider enemies and have praised online stalkers, such as the "Gamergate" mobs who bombard feminist critics with rape and death threats.</p> <p>Farrell told me that these tactics make him uncomfortable, but he argues that all movements have&mdash;and need&mdash;their extreme factions. "I've been through the movements," he said. "I've seen how Martin Luther King alone was dismissed. It took Stokely Carmichael and Eldridge Cleaver to say things that were pretty ridiculous in some ways, but that brought the attention that led to Martin Luther King being seen as the nice, centered, balanced person." He also cited the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCUM_Manifesto" target="_blank">SCUM Manifesto</a> written by 1960s feminist Valerie Solanas, who shot Andy Warhol. "SCUM means 'Society for Cutting Up Men,'" he noted. (Read Farrell's post-publication response to this story <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/warren-farrell-mens-rights-movement-feminism-misogyny-trolls#comment-1821612589" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>We were sitting poolside at Farrell's home, a wood-shingled bungalow overlooking San Francisco Bay in the hills of tony Marin County. As his personal assistant served us a m&eacute;lange of roasted vegetables sprinkled with pine nuts, Farrell, who has a warm and thoughtful air, mused about his walks in the woods with John Gray, author of the best-selling book <em>Men Are From Mars</em>, <em>Women Are From Venus</em>. He and Gray recently landed a contract for a sequel called<em> Beyond Mars and Venus</em>, which will lay out Farrell's evolving utopian view of gender relations. "We're all interested in beyond Mars and Venus," he explained. "That's the search for the unique self."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">Farrell traces</span> his interest in gender issues to his childhood. His mother had given up a scholarship to Cornell to find a husband, but being a housewife made her miserable. "I had seen her move in and out of depression," Farrell later <a href="http://www.menstuff.org/columns/farrell/archive.html" target="_blank">wrote</a>. "Into depression when she was not working, out of depression when she was working." His mother took medication to ward off the gloom, but it made her dizzy and prone to stumbling. She died at age 48 after falling in the garage one day and hitting her head. Farrell was still reeling from the loss when he moved to New York in the late 1960s to pursue a doctorate in political science and encountered the fledgling women's movement. He shifted his research focus to feminism and joined the board of the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter, which made him a hot commodity. "Feminists were constantly asking, 'How can we clone you?'" he recalled. "At parties, women would plop me down in front of their husbands with instructions to 'tell him what you told me.'"</p> <p>NOW tapped Farrell to organize a nationwide network of men's consciousness groups, including one that he told me was attended by John Lennon. In these sessions, and in his popular 1974 book, <a href="http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Liberated_Man_Beyond_Masculinity.html?id=qQOxAAAAIAAJ" target="_blank"><em>The Liberated Man</em></a>, Farrell argued that women were not the only ones hindered by sexism: Gender roles hurt men too, by forcing them to shoulder the financial burden of supporting families and stifle their emotions. Soon Farrell was burning up the talk show circuit and mingling with the likes of Gloria Steinem and Barbara Walters. <em>People</em> ran <a href="http://www.whoiswarrenfarrell.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/People-January-201975.jpg" target="_blank">a glowing four-page spread</a> with photos of Farrell cooking breakfast in his Upper West Side apartment and tossing a football in a park with his then-wife, Ursula, a Harvard-educated mathematician and rising IBM executive. The <em>Financial Times</em> named Farrell one of its 100 "top thought leaders," while other papers hailed him as "the Gloria Steinem of Men's Liberation."</p> <p>Farrell's calling card during this era was role-reversal workshops. In <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2R3vl6sxyE" target="_blank">one session at a Tony Robbins seminar</a> in Hawaii, he made the 100-plus men in attendance gather on the stage for a beauty pageant. Contestants pumped their biceps and swiveled their hips while Farrell led the women in chants of "Shirts off! Shirts off!" and "Slut! Slut! Slut!" Those who attracted the loudest catcalls were named finalists and ordered to turn around and show off their butts, while the rejects huddled, shirtless and humiliated, on the floor. Farrell then organized the women into rows based on their earning prowess and blasted the ones in the back as "losers." While men generally were game for these exercises, Farrell said, he was disappointed to find that women often decamped during the second half of the program.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="TKTK" class="image" src="/files/MENSRIGHTS_C-300.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Farrell crowning the winner of a "male beauty pageant" as Alan Alda looks on </strong>Toronto Public Library/Getty</div> </div> <p>The cultural tumult of the 1970s was also shaking up family dynamics and turning divorce into a political issue. NOW came out in favor of awarding child custody to the primary caregiver, in most cases the mother. Farrell, who was by then teaching at Rutgers University, came to believe that feminists were more interested in power than in equality&mdash;a view that resonated with a growing number of men. Women's entrance into the workforce, combined with a stagnant economy, was making it harder for men to be sole breadwinners, and many divorced fathers found themselves cut off from their children. The men's liberation movement began to fracture, as Farrell and others grew disillusioned with feminism.</p> <p>Farrell shifted his intellectual focus again and began work on a book about incest, including case studies. One involved a New York writer who regularly had sex with his 17-year-old daughter and occasional three-way trysts involving his daughter's friend. In <a href="http://www.thelizlibrary.org/site-index/site-index-frame.html#soulhttp://www.thelizlibrary.org/warren-farrell/warren-farrell2.htm" target="_blank">a 1977 interview with <em>Penthouse</em></a>, Farrell explained that some saw incest as "part of the family's open, sensual style of life, wherein sex is an outgrowth of warmth and affection." The magazine also quoted him as saying that "genitally caressing" children was "part of a caring, loving expression" that helped them develop healthy sexuality.</p> <p>Farrell maintains that he said "generally caressing" and that the magazine conflated his ideas with those of his subjects. "The question is, how does a man or a woman justify having incestuous relations?" he told me. "I was reporting how people justified it. In most cases the article made that clear, but in some cases what the people I interviewed had said got mixed up with what I said."</p> <p>But Farrell chose not to fight the misperception. "That taught me how the research could be misused by anyone looking for a reason to advocate incest," he says. Instead, he abandoned the book project.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Warren Farrell" class="image" src="/files/MENSRIGHTS_B-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Farrell cooking dinner for his then-wife, Ursula, in 1972 </strong>Graham Bezant/<em>Toronto Star</em></div> </div> <p>The following year, he and his wife, who was the primary breadwinner, divorced. Farrell says he still remembers the conversation that led to their split: He asked her who she would marry if he were to die&mdash;somebody like him or the type of man she worked with? "She said, 'I feel I'd have a lot more in common with another IBM executive,'" he recalls. "And I took a big, deep breath."</p> <p>A few years later Ursula did marry a fellow IBM executive, while Farrell, who would not remarry for two decades, came out swinging against feminism. By 1988 he had collected his evolving views into his book <em>Why Men Are the Way They Are</em>, depicting a world where women&mdash;particularly female executives&mdash;wield vast influence. Even those women who are less successful have "enormous sexual leverage over men" and "can use the power to get external rewards," he wrote. Men, on the other hand, have been reduced to "success objects," judged solely by their status and earning potential.</p> <p>After the book's debut, Gloria Steinem quit returning his phone calls. Actor Alan Alda stopped asking him to tennis. But once again Farrell's ideas lit up the talk show circuit. During an appearance on the <em>Oprah Winfrey Show</em>, he blasted women who expected men to pick up the tab on dates. When a female guest tried to protest, Farrell pulled a fat wad of cash from his pocket and shoved it in her face. "When you say a guy can't afford you, what you're asking the guy to do is take the money out and say, 'How much, honey?'...We have to ask, is there any difference between Abby and a prostitute?" The book rocketed up the bestseller list. Farrell, whose file drawers were bursting with grateful letters, outfitted his cream-colored Maserati with "Y MEN R" vanity plates.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/10/gamergate-explained" target="_blank"><img alt="gamergate" class="image" src="/files/gamergate200_0.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/10/gamergate-explained" target="_blank"><strong>Women Harassed Out of Their Homes. Mass Shooting Threats. How #Gamergate Morphed Into a Monster. </strong></a></div> </div> <p>In 1993, Farrell published his full-throated manifesto, <a href="http://www.warrenfarrell.org/TheBook/" target="_blank"><em>The Myth of Male Power</em>: <em>Why Men Are the Disposable Sex</em></a>. The book tackled a number of pressing issues affecting men. It also took some bizarre turns: At one point Farrell pondered whether the American male was the new "nigger." ("When slaves gave up their seats for whites, we called it subservience; when men give up their seats for women, we call it politeness.") He took a sledgehammer to bedrock feminist ideals, claiming that women have themselves to blame for unequal pay, that domestic violence is a two-way street, and that government programs to benefit women only exacerbate inequality.</p> <p>Farrell also argued that female sexual power was eclipsing any societal advantages that men might have. "The powerful woman doesn't feel<em> </em>the<em> </em>effect of her secretary's miniskirt power<em>, </em>cleavage power and flirtation power," he wrote. "Men do." And thanks to feminism, he argued, when women felt ill-treated they could now more easily pursue sexual-harassment or date rape charges&mdash;a notion that carries strong currency among today's men's rights activists. "No one has taught men to sue women for sexual trauma for saying 'yes,' then 'no,' then 'yes,'" Farrell opined. "Men were left with less than one option. They were still expected to initiate, but now, if they did it badly, they could go to jail."</p> <p><em>The Myth of Male Power</em> struck a chord among a new generation of would-be activists for whom "male disposability" became a rallying cry. "It's their bible," says <a href="http://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/sociology/people/faculty/kimmel.html" target="_blank">Michael Kimmel</a>, a sociologist who studies gender issues at New York's Stony Brook University. "It's really the foundational text."</p> <p>Marc Angelucci, a Los Angeles attorney, first read the book<em> </em>as a law student in the 1990s. "It's not an exaggeration to say it transformed my life," he told me when we met at the men's rights conference in Detroit. Like many in the movement, he likens this sudden paradigm shift to the pivotal scene in the dystopian sci-fi film <em>The Matrix</em>, when the hero swallows a red pill and wakes up thrashing and naked with a tangle of wires and plugs bored into his skin. The world he's inhabited, the hero realizes, is merely an illusion designed to keep him docile and enslaved. (This is also a key trope for Pickup Artists, a subculture focused on manipulating women into sex. PUAs, who congregate along with men's rights activists in the subreddit <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/theredpill" target="_blank">/r/TheRedPill</a>, were a fixation of Elliot Rodger's.)</p> <p>In the late 1990s, Angelucci joined the National Coalition for Men; he later founded the Los Angeles chapter and began filing lawsuits to force battered women's shelters to take men in too, alleging they were discriminatory. (One case ended in a <a href="http://ncfm.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/Woods-v-Shewry-published-decision.pdf" target="_blank">ruling</a> requiring state-funded shelters to do so.) Angelucci has also fought to <a href="http://ncfm.org/military-conscription/" target="_blank">make the draft compulsory for women</a>, and he has worked to <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/national-coalition-for-men-endorses-gop-version-of-vawa-bill" target="_blank">water down the Violence Against Women Act</a>.</p> <p>Farrell, who serves on the advisory board of Angelucci's group and strongly supports these efforts, says the goal is "to create equality" and force discussion of issues such as domestic violence against men.</p> <p>As Angelucci did battle in the courts, the dot-com era was taking hold, and men's rights activists scattered around the country were coalescing into an online movement. The manosphere was littered not only with anti-feminist diatribes but also with racism, homophobia, and far-right conspiracy theories. One early site, Fathers Manifesto, interspersed excerpts of Farrell's writing with calls to exile blacks from America and claims that Catholic priests were sexually abusing children as part of a plot to spread AIDS.</p> <p>Farrell, a self-proclaimed technophobe, rarely ventured online, but he continued to write books and seek publicity for his cause. In 2003, he ran for governor of California against Arnold Schwarzenegger on a fathers' rights platform, garnering around 600 votes. Later, Farrell approached the Obama administration with a proposal for a White House Council for Men and Boys and signed on luminaries like former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, but the plan did not come to fruition.</p> <p>It wasn't until recent controversies drew attention to the men's rights movement that Farrell began to feel his ideas were having a real impact. During <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/09/02/343970601/men-s-rights-movement" target="_blank">an interview on NPR's <em>All Things Considered </em></a>in September, Farrell suggested that men's rights activists were tackling the very problems that may prompt young men to go on shooting rampages. "We're all in jeopardy," he said, "if we don't pay attention to the cries of pain and isolation and alienation that are happening among our sons."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">During Farrell's private </span>workshop in Detroit, he focused on male sacrifice. "What I'm going to ask you to do is just close your eyes with me for a moment. I'm going to ask you to find a time in your father's life when your father had what you would say is a glint in his eye." As the men bowed their heads, he told a story about a man who went home after one of his workshops and spoke to his father. "He said, 'Dad, I realized that I had thought a lot about me but not a lot about you. I didn't ask you about what your sacrifices were and what really made you happy.' And his dad's response was to cry for the first time that he had ever seen his father cry."</p> <p>When the men lifted their heads, their faces were flush with emotion. Farrell went around the room asking them to share their stories. Tom, a portly, gray-haired man with Coke-bottle glasses, described how his father, a textile worker, had struggled for 20 years before stumbling into a college teaching job and finding a modicum of fulfillment. "I didn't really realize how much of a glint in his eye it was until he passed away," Tom said. "Unfortunately, he didn't stick around very much to enjoy it."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/mens-rights-movement-women-who-love-it" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/karenstraughanfinal200.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/mens-rights-movement-women-who-love-it" target="_blank"><strong>Meet the Women of the Men's Rights Movement </strong></a></div> </div> <p>Next up was Brian, a lanky, bearded 30-year-old barge hand who'd driven up from Tennessee for the event. After his parents' divorce, he only saw his father&mdash;a power line technician who was a workaholic&mdash;once or twice a year. "The joy in him was buried so deep that it took me a minute to get clarity on where the glint came from," Brian explained as he broke down crying. "It came from me&mdash;when he'd see me step off the plane." As Brian spoke, Farrell wrapped an arm around his shoulder. Some of the other men wiped away tears or buried their heads in their hands.</p> <p>Later Matt, a clean-cut young man in a polo shirt and khaki shorts, recalled how his father spent decades working a job he hated at the IRS. Only last December, after his father passed away, did Matt realize that his father had harbored a secret passion for writing. "Basically he drank himself to death. And when my siblings and I were cleaning out his apartment we found a lot of empty liquor bottles, but also a lot of unpublished poetry and scripts," he said, looking down. "Also, I found his application to the federal government, which was from 1971&mdash;about the same month my older brother was conceived. So things sort of fell into place for me."</p> <p>Farrell had repeatedly asked me to serve as a stand-in for women&mdash;I was the only one present&mdash;and at the end of the exercise he called me to the front of the room and asked me to interview some of the men so that they could practice discussing their concerns. First up was Jim, a slender, amiable ex-professor with freckles and curly red hair. When I asked how he became interested in men's rights, he faced the group and flashed a sly smile. "Well, my ex-wife had a lot to do with that," he said. "She had me arrested for the crime of domestic violence. I went to trial because I was innocent, and I spent six months in a box with other angry men. I lost my job and my career."</p> <p>"Make good eye contact," Farrell prodded. "Connect from the heart, so you can keep track of where you're connecting with her and where you're disconnecting." Jim spun around, looked at me intently, and further explained that the episode had sparked his interest in "general biases against men in society."</p> <p>The next morning, 100 or so men were scattered around the VFW's main hall, a vast, fluorescent-lit room with a wood-paneled bar and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. A group from Farrell's workshop ushered me over to where they were sitting. Jim, the redhead, smiled and patted me on the back, as if to say, "Welcome to the club."</p> <p>At the podium, Farrell was introducing Paul Elam, the founder of A Voice for Men. Farrell explained how he'd initially heard that the site was a hub for "angry" activists, but later discovered it was a thoughtful group of people wrestling with the same issues he cared about. He added that one of the main differences between him and his prot&eacute;g&eacute; was that Elam was "secure enough internally to allow the space for the anger." He then embraced Elam, who went on to give a speech about the plight of blue-collar men.</p> <p>A gruff man with a thick charcoal beard and glasses perched on the end of his nose, Elam says he long sensed that working men had gotten a raw deal but that he couldn't put a finger on the problem until he cracked open <em>The Myth of Male Power</em> in the early 1990s and had his red-pill moment. "The next thing you know, I was two days without sleep reading it," he told me during an interview last fall. "It turned my world upside down."</p> <p>Elam, who had been working as a drug and alcohol counselor, became convinced that his field was rife with anti-male bias. "We began to identify and treat masculinity as the disease and the cure for it was misandry&mdash;the hatred of men and boys," he would later write. "Men's groups devolved into sessions of shame, clinically applied and charged for by the hour." Elam began raising unsettling questions, such as why women checking into the clinic were routinely asked whether they'd been battered while men were asked whether they'd hit their wives. His colleagues' reaction was "incredibly hostile," he told me, which only stoked his rage. Eventually, he waded into the manosphere. While he was put off by the bigotry and conspiracy mongering, he believed the internet could help rally scattered men's rights activists into a formidable movement. In 2009, Elam, who was now working as a truck driver, launched A Voice for Men from a laptop in the cab of his 18-wheeler. "I aimed to attract the kind of people who could make a movement," he said, "women, people of color, gay men&mdash;anybody regardless of demographic, as long as they were aware of and concerned by issues of men."</p> <p>A Voice for Men has succeeded in bringing some women into the fold, among them Karen Straughan, a brash fortysomething waitress turned YouTube sensation. Her most popular video, "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp8tToFv-bA" target="_blank">Feminism and the Disposable Male</a>," which rehashes the central theme of <em>The Myth of Male Power</em>, has racked up more than a million views. A Voice for Men also works with Janet Bloomfield, a driving force behind the viral social-media campaign <a href="http://womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Women Against Feminism</a>, which features photos of women holding signs with anti-feminist slogans.</p> <p>Elam pairs his big-tent approach with brazen, in-your-face rhetoric. When video surfaced last September of NFL star Ray Rice punching out his fiancee in an Atlantic City elevator, Elam argued that Rice was justified because she had lunged at him (though he suggested Rice shouldn't have hit her so hard). Elam has also <a href="http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/domestic-violence-industry/if-you-see-jezebel-in-the-road-run-the-bitch-down/" target="_blank">dubbed October "Bash a Violent Bitch Month"</a> and declared that men who are physically attacked by women should "beat the living shit out of them."</p> <p>"I don't mean subdue them, or deliver an open-handed pop on the face to get them to settle down," <a href="http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/domestic-violence-industry/if-you-see-jezebel-in-the-road-run-the-bitch-down/" target="_blank">he wrote on his website</a>. "I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won't fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles. And then make them clean up the mess."</p> <p>Elam says the post was a satirical retort to the feminist blog <em>Jezebel</em>, which had made light of women hitting their boyfriends. He also maintains that A Voice for Men deploys over-the-top language and tactics because it's the only way to overcome public indifference and draw attention to the urgent problems facing men. "I don't know a social movement that has made any progress without anger," he told me. "We all saw what happened with Warren Farrell. He spent 40 years engaging in very reasoned, polite discourse about men and boys, and society basically said, 'So what?'" (Read Elam's post-publication response to this story <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/warren-farrell-mens-rights-movement-feminism-misogyny-trolls#comment-1821620158" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>But such rhetoric could lead to violence, warns Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups. "When you have a movement pumping out nasty propaganda, it invariably finds fertile ground in the mind of someone like Elliot Rodger or the man behind the 1989 Montreal massacre," she says, referring to 25-year-old <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_L%C3%A9pine" target="_blank">Marc L&eacute;pine</a>, a misogynist who shot 14 women to death at a university.</p> <p>Beirich cited a third example: mass murderer Anders Breivik, who carried out attacks on a government building and summer camp in Norway in 2011, killing 77 children and adults. Breivik wrote a <a href="https://info.publicintelligence.net/AndersBehringBreivikManifesto.pdf" target="_blank">manifesto</a> that seized on men's rights ideology&mdash;he declared that fathers had become "disposable," that women use their "erotic capital" to "manipulate" men, and that the media turns men into a "touchy-feely subspecies who bows to the radical feminist agenda."<em> </em>Men's rights activist Peter Andrew Nolan, who runs a site called Crimes Against Fathers, praised Breivik, suggesting he was "a hero." (Some men's rights activists, including Elam, disavow Nolan as a dangerous radical.)</p> <p>The same year, a distraught father named Thomas Ball, who had been denied visitation with his daughters, walked up to a courthouse in New Hampshire and laid his driver's license and car keys on the steps. He then doused himself with gasoline and pulled out a lighter. Following Ball's death, A Voice for Men published his manifesto, which called on aggrieved men to "start burning down police stations and courthouses" and warned there would be "some casualties in this war." The group insisted it wasn't encouraging bloodshed by publishing the document, which has since been taken down. "I regard violence as a bad outcome to be avoided," then editor in chief<a href="#correction">*</a> John Hembling <a href="http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/government-tyranny/a-father-burns-himself-to-death/" target="_blank">wrote</a> on the group's website. "But it's coming."</p> <p>Soon after, A Voice for Men launched a site called <a href="http://www.register-her.com/index.php?title=Main_Page" target="_blank">Register-Her.com</a>; modeled after sex offender registries, it purported to track female murderers and rapists, as well as women who scheme against men. The site's motto: "Fuck Their Shit Up."</p> <p>"Mary Jane Rottencrotch wants to say that her husband beat her just for the sake of gaining leverage in a divorce," Elam <a href="http://www.blogtalkradio.com/avoiceformen/2011/06/29/ftsu-big-time" target="_blank">complained on his online radio show</a>. The solution, he said, was to give the husband a place to publish her personal information, "even the route she takes to work, if she bothers to have a job." Elam added that there would no longer be "any place to hide on the internet anymore" for "lying bitches."</p> <p>Publicizing personal information to make someone a target of harassment (a.k.a. "doxing") is a common practice among men's rights activists. In late 2013, someone posted photos of Rachel Cassidy, a 20-year-old college student in Ohio, on the anonymous online forum 4chan, alleging she had lodged false rape accusations. Nolan, who has made it his mission to "name and shame" women who wrongly accuse men, dug up every bit of information he could find about Cassidy and <a href="http://www.crimesagainstfathers.com/australia/Forums/tabid/82/forumid/232/threadid/8012/scope/posts/Default.aspx" target="_blank">posted it to Crimes Against Fathers</a>. Police and university officials <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/this-is-what-happens-when-anonymous-accuses-you-of-faking-a#3yvquof" target="_blank">were explicit</a> that Cassidy had nothing to do with the rape charges in question. Nevertheless, she was inundated with hateful messages and death threats, forcing her to delete all her social-media accounts and quit attending classes.</p> <p>The venomous tactics deployed by some men's rights activists have helped fuel a backlash against Warren Farrell. One cool evening in November 2012, Farrell arrived at the University of Toronto to deliver a speech on the "boy crisis." A throng of angry students was massing near the auditorium entrance. Campus police hustled Farrell in through a rear door, but backstage he could hear demonstrators chanting, "Fuck Warren Farrell! No hate speech on campus!" Soon protesters in black hoodies were barricading the entrance and heckling ticket holders: "Fucking rape apologist! Incest-supporting, women-hating, fucking scum!"</p> <p>A Voice for Men posted <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iARHCxAMAO0" target="_blank">footage of the protests</a>, edited to play up images of angry feminists taunting police as they cleared the scene. The video went viral and helped make Elam's site a leading outlet for the movement. A Voice for Men later started posting video from other feminist demonstrations and publishing the names and photos of some of the protesters on Register-Her.com.</p> <p>A few months after the Toronto incident, Elam, who hadn't known Farrell previously, met Farrell at his Marin County home. "I had been just walking around with a great big man crush for 20 years, and suddenly there he was," Elam said. He began publishing Farrell's writings on his site, and Farrell started cohosting a monthly online chat with Elam. Soon, a new generation of activists was clamoring to read <em>The Myth of Male Power</em>. In early 2014, Farrell published a new edition; the cover featured a woman's bare derriere, a paean to women's Delilah-like sexual power.</p> <p>"I felt that it was a tasteful message that had not been communicated effectively to women about how powerless men feel around the beautiful woman's body," Farrell told me. Cupping a hand over his crotch, he added, "Our upper brains stop working and the lower brain starts working."</p> <p>Following Elliot Rodger's murder rampage last May, Farrell and the men's rights movement drew attention like never before. There is no evidence that Rodger (or other killers) had any ties to Farrell, Elam, or men's rights organizations. But commentators highlighted Rodger's focus on <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/youve-got-male" target="_blank">the Pickup Artist scene</a> and his ideas about women and their sexual dominion over men. "They think like beasts," he wrote.</p> <p>Conservatives rushed in to defend the men's movement: Helen Smith, who blogs for the website PJ Media, <a href="http://pjmedia.com/drhelen/2014/05/25/the-elliot-rodger-case-if-pickup-artists-are-guilty-then-so-are-the-feminists/" target="_blank">argued</a> that "feminists and their supporters who block funding and education going to boys' and men's issues" may have been to blame for Rodger's attack. After the protesters showed up at the Hilton DoubleTree in Detroit, Fox News suggested their goal was "muzzling" men. "Feminists are up in arms, calling a men's conference a hate group even though it included all races and sexes," <a href="http://video.foxnews.com/v/3653398640001/feminists-protest-mens-rights-conference-/#sp=show-clips" target="_blank">said morning show host Steve Doocy</a>, pointing to the diverse community Elam had built. "So who are the ones being intolerant?" An <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/31/opinion/randazza-ray-rice-fiancee/index.html" target="_blank">opinion piece on <em>cnn</em><em>.com</em></a> by Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer who has spoken up for Rush Limbaugh, violent video games, and the pornography industry, suggested that A Voice for Men had endured protests and threats simply because it had the "audacity to question certain issues from a man's perspective."</p> <p>Missing from that coverage were the group's fierce tactics, which have continued unabated. In October, with vicious misogyny raging online around the Gamergate controversy, feminist pop-culture critic Anita Sarkeesian <a href="http://www.sltrib.com/entertainment/1712334-155/sarkeesian-threats-threat-usu-utah-lecture" target="_blank">canceled a talk at Utah State University</a> after administrators received an email threatening "the deadliest school shooting in American history." A Voice for Men responded with <a href="http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/anonymous-feminist-provides-anita-sarkeesian-with-a-potential-new-source-of-revenue/" target="_blank">an essay</a> asserting that the email's author was in fact a feminist posing as a men's rights activist, and insinuating that Sarkeesian stood to profit from the episode.</p> <p>The same month, A Voice for Men <a href="http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/feminist-lies-feminism/avfm-launches-whiteribboncampaign-org/" target="_blank">set up a copycat website</a> that appeared intended to divert traffic and donations from the White Ribbon Campaign, a violence prevention group founded in response to the 1989 mass shooting in Montreal. In addition to claiming that its namesake was a scam, Elam's fake White Ribbon site argued that "corrupt" academics have conspired to cover up the epidemic of violence against men, and that women's shelters are "hotbeds of gender hatred." When critics called him out for the deceptive site, Elam wrote a scathing retort. "Go right straight to Hell, you gang of bigoted, lying scumbags," it read. "That is, if Hell will even have you pieces of shit."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">On day three </span>of the Detroit conference, Elam was speaking from the podium in the main VFW hall. "One of the things that we've missed in this culture, especially over the last 50 or 60 years, is mentoring," he said. "But I also think that we adapt, especially as men, and that we can receive mentoring from their words, which I've received for many years now from Dr. Farrell."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="TKTKT" class="image" src="/files/MENSRIGHTS_D-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Farrell posing in 1987 with Gloria Steinem.</strong> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dr._Warren_Farrell_with_Gloria_Steinem,_1987.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia</a></div> </div> <p>Farrell, who had joined him on the stage, wiped away a tear and gave Elam a hug. "Paul, that was really beautiful," Farrell said, touching his hand to his heart. He described how his father, after reading the first draft of <em>The Myth of Male Power</em>, had asked him if he was prepared to wait a whole generation for his book to be acknowledged. "Like my dad said, 21 years later, that's finally happening. It's happening here. It's happening now. It's happening with us. It's happening, in part, because of Paul Elam." Farrell then asked everyone who had contributed to Elam's site, or "gone the distance" to attend the conference, to stand and give themselves a round of applause.</p> <p>Two nights before, I'd met some of the men from Farrell's workshop at an Irish pub. They were huddled around a long table on the patio. Jim, the redhead, hugged me and offered me his stool, and Peter, a sweet sixtysomething man with bifocals and a broom-handle mustache, came over to tell me that the workshop had inspired him to be more supportive of his son, who had a child out of wedlock. "I want to tell him how proud I am of him for being a good father," he said as his eyes welled with tears.</p> <p>Later in the evening, a man named Kevin sidled up and grabbed my hand. His breath smelled of alcohol and he was twitching and swaying within inches of my face. He told me a rambling story about a woman he dated who had put another man in prison on false rape charges. He claimed to have landed in jail for a week himself over phony abuse allegations. "Magically, your soon-to-be ex-wife finds an attorney," he said, "and it's basically all lies from then on." With a note of triumph, he added that he left his job as a program manager for Microsoft around his 2008 divorce to avoid paying taxes to a "corrupt government" he believes coddles women at men's expense.</p> <p>When I got up to leave, Kevin handed me a business card for "John Galt Industries" (a reference to the anti-government hero of Ayn Rand's novel <em>Atlas Shrugge</em><em>d</em><em>)</em>. As I tucked it in my pocket and headed for the door, he trailed me so closely that I could feel his breath on my neck. "I'm not stalking you," he said. "I'm not stalking you."</p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction: The original version of this story in the January/February 2015 issue of the magazine misstated Hembling's job title.</em></p></body></html> Politics Longreads Media Sex and Gender Top Stories Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:00:46 +0000 Mariah Blake 265836 at http://www.motherjones.com With Liberal Views Like These, Ben Carson's Going to Have a Tough Time Winning the GOP Nomination http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/ben-carson-liberal-views-2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tea party favorite Ben Carson has said some out-there stuff. The former neurosurgeon, author, and possible Republican presidential candidate once <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/ben-carson-evolution-fossil-record" target="_blank">compared</a> women who get abortions to dog-abuser Michael Vick, blamed the decline and fall of the Roman Empire on gay marriage, and concluded that believing in evolution was like thinking that "a hurricane blowing through a junkyard could somehow assemble a fully equipped and flight-ready 747."</p> <p>But in his writings and public remarks, he has also voiced views on hot-button issues&mdash;immigration, foreign policy, gun control&mdash;that place him well outside the tea-party mainstream. He once <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/ben-carsons-1996-health-care-plan#.ayVEyrLqo" target="_blank">embraced</a> a universal catastrophic health care plan, and some of his other past positions&mdash;gasp!&mdash;sound downright liberal. Here are some of the comments that may put him at odds with the conservative GOP base.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/01/ben-carson-liberal-views-2016"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics 2016 Elections Elections Top Stories Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:30:06 +0000 Tim Murphy 268936 at http://www.motherjones.com There's More Global Warming Coverage on Your Television http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/climate-change-cbs-nbc-abc-fox <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's some good news: According to a new study, the major broadcast news networks are covering climate change more than they have in years. Now here's the bad news: Much of that coverage includes misleading arguments from commentators who reject the scientific consensus that humans are warming the planet.</p> <p>The <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/01/28/study-how-broadcast-networks-covered-climate-ch/202232" target="_blank">new analysis</a> is set to be released Wednesday by the liberal group Media Matters for America. (Disclosure: I used to work there.) Media Matters reviewed 2014 climate coverage from the evening newscasts and Sunday morning talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Company. All told, the networks devoted 154 minutes to global warming last year&mdash;up 19 percent compared to 2013 and far more than any year since 2009. That increase is a big deal. <a href="http://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/evening-news-ratings-week-of-jan-12/253114" target="_blank">Millions of Americans</a> watch the networks' evening news shows. And the Sunday shows&mdash;ABC's <em>This Week</em>, CBS' <em>Face the Nation</em>, NBC's <em>Meet the Press</em>, and <em>Fox News Sunday</em>&mdash;frequently set the agenda for the week's political reporting elsewhere in the media.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="mmfa_chart1" class="image" src="/files/mmfa_chart1.jpg" style="height: 500px; width: 630px;"></div> </div> <p>The networks have been under pressure in recent years to pay more attention to the climate. After Media Matters <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/01/16/study-how-broadcast-news-covered-climate-change/197612" target="_blank">reported last year</a> that the Sunday shows had aired a combined total of just 27 minutes of climate change coverage in all of 2013, a group of Democratic senators <a href="http://www.sanders.senate.gov/download/letter-to-executives-climate-change-coverage?inline=file" target="_blank">sent a letter to network executives</a> calling for a greater focus on the issue. They got their wish: In 2014, the Sunday shows tripled their global warming coverage to a combined total of 81 minutes. Each of the shows devoted about 20 minutes to climate.</p> <p>Among the evening news shows, CBS led the way with 35 minutes of climate reporting, followed by NBC with 25 minutes, and ABC with just 13 minutes. (Fox's broadcast network, which is separate from the Fox News cable channel, doesn't have an evening news program.)</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="mmfa_chart7" class="image" src="/files/mmfa_chart7_0.jpg" style="height: 500px; width: 630px;"></div> <p>Of course, sheer quantity isn't the only&mdash;or even the most important&mdash;measure of climate change reporting. For years, news outlets have been plagued by a tendency to balance the scientific fact that we're warming the Earth with the very unscientific arguments of those who disagree. That was certainly the case on the Sunday shows last year. Nearly two-thirds of the climate coverage on NBC's&nbsp;<em>Meet the Press </em> featured discussions that Media Matters classified as "false balance." That included <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/meet-the-press/flurry-of-storms-a-result-of-climate-change-155284035966" target="_blank">a debate</a> between science educator Bill Nye and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who used the opportunity to argue that there is no scientific consensus on global warming. Both Nye and moderator David Gregory pushed back against Blackburn's claims, but many viewers may have been confused by the segment.</p> <p>A far worse discussion <a href="https://archive.org/details/FOXNEWSW_20140216_230000_FOX_News_Sunday_With_Chris_Wallace?q=global+warming#start/2640/end/2700" target="_blank">aired on <em>Fox News Sunday</em></a>, where <em>Washington Post </em>columnist George Will and <em>Wall Street Journal </em>columnist Kimberley Strassel rattled off a series of climate denial talking points, with little pushback from anyone on the panel. "Of course the climate is changing; it's always changing," said Will. "[Global warming] became climate change when you couldn't prove that there was much global warming anymore&hellip;as the temperature didn't change," said Strassel. In all, nearly half of the 2014 climate coverage on both <em>Fox News Sunday </em>and ABC'S <em>This Week</em> featured false balance, according to Media Matters. Of the four Sunday shows, only CBS's <em>Face the Nation</em> managed to avoid false balance entirely.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="mmfa_chart6" class="image" src="/files/mmfa_chart6_0.png"></div> <p>"The networks continue to provide a platform for climate science deniers&mdash;despite the fact that 97 percent of climate scientists agree human activities are causing global warming," said Andrew Seifter, the director of Media Matters' climate and energy program, in a statement. "We hope that the networks will better inform their viewers by putting an end to this false balance in 2015."</p></body></html> Environment Climate Change Climate Desk Media Science Top Stories Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:00:08 +0000 Jeremy Schulman 268911 at http://www.motherjones.com Why the Media Focuses So Much on the Koch Brothers—Explained in 5 Tweets http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/koch-2016-democracy-alliance-republican-party <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Any time news breaks about <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/koch-brothers-family-history-sons-of-wichita?page=1" target="_blank">the billionaire Koch brothers</a> and their <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/koch-backed-political-network-built-to-shield-donors-raised-400-million-in-2012-elections/2014/01/05/9e7cfd9a-719b-11e3-9389-09ef9944065e_story.html" target="_blank">shadowy network of donors and advocacy groups</a>, conservatives grumble that the media singles out the Kochs, that we reporters are unfair toward and obsessed with them while <a href="https://twitter.com/WarForLiberty/status/559847272650113025" target="_blank">giving a pass</a> to wealthy liberals like George Soros and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/19/tom-steyer-super-pac-climate-change" target="_blank">Tom Steyer</a> and the progressive donor club <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/05/democracy-alliance-liberal-donors-koch-brothers" target="_blank">the Democracy Alliance</a>. Koch Industries, the international conglomerate run by Charles and David Koch, <a href="http://www.kochfacts.com/kf/category/setting_record_straight/" target="_blank">keeps a ticker</a> tracking the number of Koch mentions in the <i>New York Times</i>. The response to Monday's revelation&mdash;the Kochs and a few hundred of their donor allies <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/koch-brothers-889-million-2016-elections" target="_blank">plan to spend an eye-popping $889 million</a> on 2016 elections and policy fights&mdash;was no different.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/MotherJones">@MotherJones</a> How much are Soros and Hollywood heathen going to spend idiots?</p> &mdash; Gary OMalley (@fatheromalley1) <a href="https://twitter.com/fatheromalley1/status/560126114585006082">January 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>But there's a very good reason the media covers the Kochs so closely: Increasingly, the data shows, they're the biggest outside money players in town. By a <em>long shot</em>.</p> <p>Robert Maguire, a <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/news/tag/robert-maguire/" target="_blank">cracker-jack researcher</a> at the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks the flow of cash (disclosed and dark money) in American elections, lays out, in just five tweets, why exactly the media report on the Kochs so much&mdash;and why it makes perfect sense to do so.</p> <p>In the 2012 campaign, Maguire shows, the Kochs and their network already ranked as one of the biggest outside entities:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>(1/5) <a href="https://twitter.com/washingtonpost">@washingtonpost</a> &amp; .<a href="https://twitter.com/OpenSecretsDC">@OpenSecretsDC</a> found that the Koch-net filtered $400m in nondisclosing network in 2012 <a href="http://t.co/B9yGmB2a2X">http://t.co/B9yGmB2a2X</a></p> &mdash; Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) <a href="https://twitter.com/RobertMaguire_/status/560075362873671681">January 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The bulk of that cash was dark money&mdash;meaning the true source of the contributions was hidden. And the Koch network's dark money spending made up a notable chunk of <em>all</em> reported dark money spending in the 2012 elections:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>(2/5) That network was responsible for at least 1/4 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/darkmoney?src=hash">#darkmoney</a> dollars reported to FEC in 2012 <a href="http://t.co/zPBZXIzqPY">http://t.co/zPBZXIzqPY</a> <a href="http://t.co/Y6n62riXQS">pic.twitter.com/Y6n62riXQS</a></p> &mdash; Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) <a href="https://twitter.com/RobertMaguire_/status/560075389645881345">January 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Yes, the progressive movement has its own donor club, the <a href="http://www.democracyalliance.org" target="_blank">Democracy Alliance</a>, whose members are secret and whose giving is anonymous. But the DA, as it's called, pales in comparison to Kochworld:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>(3/5) Lib <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/darkmoney?src=hash">#darkmoney</a> net, Democracy Alliance, combined 9yr revenues roughly equal 1yr Koch-net <a href="http://t.co/f6SknkiWQl">http://t.co/f6SknkiWQl</a> <a href="http://t.co/9tPrSB5ASw">pic.twitter.com/9tPrSB5ASw</a></p> &mdash; Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) <a href="https://twitter.com/RobertMaguire_/status/560075413859631104">January 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Since the Supreme Court's 2010 <em>Citizens United</em> decision, Koch-linked dark-money spending has outpaced liberal dark-money spending:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>(4/5) And Koch-net recipients poured more <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/darkmoney?src=hash">#darkmoney</a> into 2012 elecs than lib orgs since <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CU5?src=hash">#CU5</a> <a href="http://t.co/DwMajSDaAG">http://t.co/DwMajSDaAG</a> <a href="http://t.co/hkXISkrjjK">pic.twitter.com/hkXISkrjjK</a></p> &mdash; Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) <a href="https://twitter.com/RobertMaguire_/status/560075431165317120">January 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>And as you can see, the Kochs' $889 million goal for 2016 more than doubles its 2012 budget. The figure exceeds the Republican Party's <a href="https://twitter.com/nickconfessore/status/559818727508967424" target="_blank">campaign committee spending</a> in 2012 and isn't far off from what the Obama and Romney campaigns each spent in the last presidential race.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>(5/5) Now they're announcing they're going to spend much more in 2016 (<a href="http://t.co/sIXozm7ilu">http://t.co/sIXozm7ilu</a>) So, that's why there's so much focus on Kochs</p> &mdash; Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) <a href="https://twitter.com/RobertMaguire_/status/560075457908207617">January 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>So there you have it. The Kochs and their allies&mdash;again, just a few hundred people hoping to raise and spend <em>nearly $900 million</em> in 2016&mdash;are in a different league than their liberal counterparts. Make no mistake: The Democracy Alliance and its state-level counterpart, the Committee on States, are absolutely deserving of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/committee-on-states-democracy-alliance-redistricting-2020" target="_blank">tough reporting</a> and serious scrutiny. But at this point, Kochworld is essentially <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/politics/kochs-plan-to-spend-900-million-on-2016-campaign.html?ref=politics" target="_blank">its own political party</a>, on par with the Democratic and Republican parties, and it should be covered just as rigorously.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/koch-brothers-web-dark-money" target="_blank"><img alt="the koch 130" class="hover-opacity" src="/files/thekoch130-promo.jpg"></a></div></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Dark Money Elections Money in Politics The Right Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:02:33 +0000 Andy Kroll 268926 at http://www.motherjones.com Future President Ben Carson Wrote 6 Books. We Read Them So You Don't Have To. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/ben-carson-evolution-fossil-record <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/ben-carson-iowa-summit-114553.html" target="_blank">rallied</a> Republicans at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday, stirring up speculation once more that the conservative activist will seek his party's presidential nomination next year. Carson has never run for office and only recently registered as a Republican, but as the author of six books over more than two decades, he does have a considerable paper trail&mdash;and it's starting to get him into trouble.</p> <p>In his 1992 book <em>Think Big</em>, for instance, Carson proposed a national catastrophic health care plan modeled on federal disaster insurance, which would be funded by a 10-percent tax on insurance companies. He also proposed re-thinking best practices concerning end-of-life care, advocating for a "national discussion that would help us all rethink our culture's mind-set about death, dying, and terminal illness"&mdash;similar to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that conservatives now dismiss as "death panels." (A Carson spokesman told <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/ben-carsons-1996-health-care-plan#.iqVDbd2EJ" target="_blank"><em>BuzzFeed </em></a>last week that the health care proposal is "as relevant to his view today as our current military action in Afghanistan is compared to our military strategy in Afghanistan two decades ago.")</p> <p>Although filled with inspiring stories of medical miracles and his own rough-and-tumble roots, Carson's books also reflect the views of a social-values warrior whose anti-gay comments recently caused him to withdraw as a commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins University, his longtime employer. A sampling:</p> <p><strong>On intelligent design (from <em>Take the Risk</em>):</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>From what I know (and all we don't know) about biology, I find it as hard to accept the claims of evolution as it is to think that a hurricane blowing through a junkyard could somehow assemble a fully equipped and flight-ready 747. You could blow a billion hurricanes through a trillion junkyards over infinite periods of time, and I don't think you'd get one aerodynamic wing, let alone an entire jumbo jet complete with complex connections for a jet-propulsion system, a radar system, a fuel-injection system, an exhaust system, a ventilation system, control systems, electronic systems, plus backup systems for all of those, and so much more. There's simply not enough time in eternity for that to happen. Which is why not one of us has ever doubted that a 747, by its very existence, gives convincing evidence of someone's intelligent design.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On the failing of the fossil record (from <em>Take the Risk</em>):</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>For me, the plausibility of evolution is further strained by Darwin's assertion that within fifty to one hundred years of his time, scientists would become geologically sophisticated enough to find the fossil remains of the entire evolutionary tree in an unequivocal step-by-step progression of life from amoeba to man&mdash;including all of the intermediate species.</p> <p>Of course that was 150 years ago, and there is still no such evidence. It's just not there. But when you bring that up to the proponents of Darwinism, the best explanation they can come up with is "Well...uh...it's lost!" Here again I find it requires too much faith for me to believe that explanation given all the fossils we have found without any fossilized evidence of the direct, step-by-step evolutionary progression from simple to complex organisms or from one species to another species. Shrugging and saying, "Well, it was mysteriously lost, and we'll probably never find it," doesn't seem like a particularly satisfying, objective, or scientific response. But what's even harder for me to swallow is how so many people who can't explain it are still willing to claim that evolution is not theory but fact, at the same time insisting anyone who wants to consider or discuss creationism as a possibility cannot be a real scientist.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On abortion <strong>(from <em>America the Beautiful</em>):</strong></strong></p> <blockquote> <p>This situation perhaps crystallizes one of the major moral dilemmas we face in American society today: Does a woman have the right to terminate another human life because it is encased in her body? Does ownership convey absolute power of life and death over the owned subject? If it does, then NFL quarterback Michael Vick was unfairly imprisoned for torturing and killing dogs in Atlanta.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On gay parents (from <em>The Big Picture</em>):</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>Recently a homosexual couple brought a child in to be examined on one of our neurosurgical clinical days. During lunch, after the couple had left, one of my fellow staff members commented favorably on the couple's obvious love and commitment to the child. He said to me, "I know you don't approve of homosexual relationships and wouldn't consider their home a healthy atmosphere in which to raise a child. But I was impressed by that couple. I think their sexual orientation is their business. Think what you want, but it's just your opinion."</p> <p>My response wasn't nearly that politically correct. "Excuse me, but I beg to differ," I said. "How I feel and what I think isn't just my opinion. God in his Word says very clearly that he considers homosexual acts to be an 'abomination.'"</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On how gay marriage brought down the Roman Empire (from <em>America the Beautiful</em>):</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>I believe God loves homosexuals as much as he loves everyone, but if we can redefine marriage as between two men or two women or any other way based on social pressures as opposed to between a man and a woman, we will continue to redefine it in any way that we wish, which is a slippery slope with a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On Washington[Redacted] owner Dan Snyder (from <em>One Nation</em>):</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>On the other hand, many of the greatest achievers in our society never finished college. That includes Bill Gates Jr., Steve Jobs, and Dan Snyder, who is the owner of the Washington [NFL franchise].</p> </blockquote> <p>(Carson elsewhere defended Snyder's refusal to change his team's name and <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/24/carson-playing-a-name-game-with-the-redskins/" target="_blank">called</a> the oft-criticized owner "far from the demonic characterization seen in the gullible press that allows itself to be manipulated by those wishing to bring about fundamental change in America.")</p> <p><strong>On <em>Independence Day </em>(from <em>Think Big</em>):</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>I do not get to see many movies, but when I watched the video of <em>Independence Day</em> with my sons, I was struck by the portrayal of the resistance efforts mounted against the alien invaders from outer space. The frail and arbitrary distinctions so often made between various segments of society, even between different countries and ideologies, instantly melted away as the people of the entire world focused not on their differences but upon a common threat and the common goal uniting them&mdash;the protection of the planet from alien invaders.</p> </blockquote> <p>Unlike some of his fellow candidates, though, Carson has made little effort to sugar-coat his most polarizing views. Even before he revealed any political ambitions, he'd moonlighted as a traveling Creationism advocate, giving speeches on the subject and even debating skeptic Richard Dawkins on evolution in 2006:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/JPxGnN7RV1Y" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Elections Science Top Stories Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:30:07 +0000 Tim Murphy 268836 at http://www.motherjones.com Netanyahu to American Jews: Get Lost http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/netanyahu-boehner-congress-american-jews-get-lost <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It was not so shocking that House Speaker John Boehner would seek to undermine President Barack Obama and his attempt to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to deliver an address to Congress, in which Netanyahu will presumably dump on Obama's efforts. Nor was it so shocking that Netanyahu, who apparently would rather see another war in the Middle East than a deal that allows Iran to maintain a civilian-oriented and internationally monitored nuclear program, agreed to mount this stunt two weeks before the Israeli elections&mdash;a close contest in which the hawkish PM is fighting for his political life. Certainly, Netanyahu realized that this audacious move would strain his already-ragged ties with the Obama administration and tick off the president, who will be in office for the next two years and quite able to inconvenience Netanyahu should he hold on to power. (Even Fox News talking heads <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/01/when-will-benjamin-netanyahu-finally-go-too-far" target="_blank">acknowledged</a> that Boehner's invitation and Netanyahu's acceptance were low blows.) But what was surprising was how willing Netanyahu was to send a harsh message to American Jews: Drop dead.</p> <p>For the past six years, one big question has largely defined US politics: Are you for or against Obama? The ongoing narrative in Washington has been a simple one: The president has tried to enact a progressive agenda&mdash;health care, gun safety, a minimum-wage hike, climate change action, immigration reform, Wall Street reform, gender pay equity, expanded education programs, diminishing tax cuts for the rich&mdash;and Boehner and the Republicans have consistently plotted to thwart him. The GOP has used the filibuster in the Senate to block Obama initiatives and routine presidential appointments. The House Republicans have resorted to extraordinary means&mdash;shutting down the government, holding the debt ceiling hostage, ginning up controversies (Benghazi!)&mdash;to block the president. All this has happened as conservative allies of the Republican Party have challenged Obama's legitimacy as president (the birth certificate) and peddled vicious conspiracy theories (he's a Muslim socialist who will destroy the nation). Throughout the Obama Wars, one demographic group that has steadfastly stood with the president is American Jews.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/01/netanyahu-boehner-congress-american-jews-get-lost"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Congress Foreign Policy International Obama Top Stories Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:00:11 +0000 David Corn 268856 at http://www.motherjones.com In 2014, a Record-Busting Number of People Were Freed After Being Locked Up for Years http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/2014-was-record-year-exonerations <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In 2014, 125 people across the United States who had been convicted of crimes were exonerated&mdash;the highest number ever recorded, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/1509618-exonerations-in-2014-report" target="_blank">according to a new report from the National Registry of Exonerations</a> at the University of Michigan Law School. The 2014 number included 48 who had been convicted of homicide, 6 of whom were on death row awaiting execution. Ricky Jackson of Ohio spent 39 years behind bars, the longest known prison term for an exoneree, according to the NRE. Jackson was sentenced to death in 1975 after false testimony implicated him in a robbery-murder he did not commit. Texas led the nation with 39 exonerations; it is followed by New York (17), Illinois (7), and Michigan (7). The federal government exonerated eight people.</p> <p>So, why was 2014 such a record year? There were 91 exonerations each in 2013 and 2012, previously the highest totals. The NRE points to the increasing number and competence of so-called conviction integrity units (CIUs), groups established by local prosecutors that "work to prevent, to identify and to remedy false convictions." The first CIU was established in California's Santa Clara County in 2002; now, there are 15 in operation, working in high-population areas such as Houston, Dallas, and Brooklyn. As CIUs have grown, so has their effectiveness in obtaining exonerations: In 2013, CIUs' work led to 7 exonerations; in 2014, they were responsible for 49.</p> <p>The Harris County CIU, which encompasses Houston, is responsible for 33 of last year's exonerations. In early 2014, it reviewed drug cases it had prosecuted after learning that many people who had pled guilty to possession had not, in fact, possessed actual drugs. The Harris CIU's findings reflected another trend: 58 exonerations this year, nearly half of the total, were so-called "no-crime exonerations," which means, according to the NRE, "an accident or a suicide was mistaken for a crime, or&hellip;the exoneree was accused of a fabricated crime that never happened."</p> <p>Sam Gross, a University of Michigan criminal-justice expert who helps run the NRE, acknowledges that there's been a long-term rise in exonerations, but that the work of CIUs were the "engine" behind this record-setting year. He says it's likely that the number of exonerations could grow in 2015, with new districts opening their own CIUs. Despite the rising numbers, however, exonerations are still very difficult to obtain. "If we didn't get it right the first time," Gross says, "it's hard to be right the second time." If anything, the most lasting impact of CIUs' spotlight on past mistakes could be its role in preventing future errors. "It makes everyone involved sensitive to the fact that errors are possible and could happen to them," Gross says. "It's not an obscure thing that happens once in a while."</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Prisons Top Stories Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:00:10 +0000 Sam Brodey 268831 at http://www.motherjones.com Democrats Accuse Republicans of a Benghazi Cover-Up http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/dems-accuse-republicans-benghazi-cover-up <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's back. Actually, it never left. Benghazi. That is, the GOP's never-ending Benghazi crusade. Last year, after Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) was tapped by House Speaker John Boehner to lead yet another Benghazi probe, he promised to helm an inquiry that would "transcend politics." But now, eight months into this latest investigation, Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi have hit Gowdy with a sharp charge: that he and his Republican investigators have conducted secret meetings with witnesses without informing their Democratic colleagues on the committee. And they say that some of these interviews have yielded information that undercuts anti-Obama Benghazi allegations promoted by conservatives. In other words, the Democrats are suggesting that Gowdy has been mounting a Benghazi cover-up of his own.</p> <p>In November, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the Benghazi committee, sent Gowdy <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1509403-2014-11-24-eec-to-tg-bipartisan-committee.html" target="_blank">a private letter</a> noting that though Gowdy had assured him that the committee's work would be conducted in a bipartisan manner, the five Democratic members of the panel and their staffer had been excluded from at least five witness interviews. Moreover, Cummings said these interviews had produced testimony that failed to corroborate key allegations.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/01/dems-accuse-republicans-benghazi-cover-up"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Congress Crime and Justice Obama The Right Top Stories Tue, 27 Jan 2015 01:02:44 +0000 David Corn 268886 at http://www.motherjones.com The FBI Just Arrested an Alleged Russian Spy Who Wanted to Know How to Trigger an Economic Meltdown http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/high-frequency-trading-russian-spies <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Friday, federal prosecutors in New York filed a complaint accusing three men, Evgeny Buryakov, Igor Sporyshev, and Victor Podobnyy, of spying for Russia. Buryakov, who was arrested in the Bronx on Monday, allegedly posed as a Russian bank official while working for Russia's intelligence service, the SVR. According to the <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/documents/1509342-buryakov-et-al-complaint" target="_blank">26-page complaint</a>, which was unsealed Monday, Buryakov had a good reason to choose that cover: He was interested in learning about high-speed Wall Street trading, automated trading algorithms, and "destabilization of markets."</p> <p>This is a real threat. As I <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/high-frequency-trading-danger-risk-wall-street" target="_blank">reported in 2013</a>, markets have become dramatically faster in the years since the <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2008/BUSINESS/09/15/lehman.merrill.stocks.turmoil/index.html" target="_blank">collapse of Lehman Brothers</a>. Automated trading algorithms can buy and sell financial products in less time than it takes you to blink. Markets move way too fast for regulators to monitor. On August 1, 2012, rogue computer code at Knight Capital ran for 45 minutes before anyone at the firm could stop it. By the end of the day, the company was insolvent. And that was just "a canary in the mine," says <a href="http://www.law.umaryland.edu/faculty/profiles/faculty.html?facultynum=059" target="_blank">Michael Greenberger</a>, a University of Maryland law professor and former regulator at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The big worry is trading algorithms causing "a series of cascade failures," warns Bill Black, another former regulator. "If enough of these bad things occur at the same time, financial institutions can begin to fail, even very large ones."</p> <p>So is it possible Russian spies are trying to find out how to purposefully unleash this chaos? The complaint doesn't make clear whether the alleged spies were trying to find out how to destabilize US markets or worried about Russian markets being destabilized. But "fears of algorithmic terrorism, where a well-funded criminal or terrorist organization could find a way to cause a major market crisis, are not unfounded," John Bates, a computer scientist who, in the early 2000s, designed software behind complicated trading algorithms, <a href="http://apama.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/02/index.html" target="_blank">wrote in 2011</a>. "This type of scenario could cause chaos for civilization and profit for the bad guys and must constitute a matter of national security."</p> <p>According to the complaint, the FBI learned of the alleged spies' interest in market destabilization by eavesdropping on a May 2013 phone call between Buryakov and Sporyshev, a Russian trade representative. Sporyshev was the person "responsible for relaying assignments from Moscow Center to Buryakov," according to the complaint; Podobnyy was mostly responsible for "analyzing and reporting back to Moscow Center about the fruits of Buryakov's intelligence-gathering efforts." (Sporyshev and Podobnyy, who were protected by diplomatic immunity, were not arrested and have left the country.) Buryakov and Sporyshev usually met in person, but on that day they didn't have time. On the phone, Sporyshev asked Buryakov what questions an unnamed Russian news organization should ask New York Stock Exchange executives that would be useful to Russian intelligence, according to the complaint. Buryakov allegedly suggested the news organization inquire about high-frequency and automated trading systems.</p> <p>According to the complaint, Buryakov was especially interested in Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), which are baskets of financial products that are combined and bought and sold like stocks. Many Americans might assume the Russians were interested in destabilizing American markets, but "it might be the other way around, where they are concerned with us attacking them," says Eric Hunsader, who runs Nanex, a market data firm that tracks high-speed trading. On April 23, 2014, Hunsader's company tracked <a href="http://www.nanex.net/aqck2/4619.html" target="_blank">extremely unusual movement</a> in trades of RSX, RUSL, and RUSS&mdash;three ETFs that are based on the Russian stock index. "It was something that was definitely manipulated," Hunsader says. "You don't generally see that kind of movement go on&hellip;Maybe they're concerned about us screwing with them."</p> <p>But here's another fear: If foreign intelligence services are looking into algorithms, high-speed trading, and destabilizing financial markets, nonstate actors are probably not that far behind.</p> <p>Here's a relevant excerpt from the complaint:</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-200527">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1509342-buryakov-et-al-complaint/annotations/200527.js'); </script><p>Read the rest of the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/1509342-buryakov-et-al-complaint" target="_blank">complaint against the alleged Russian spies</a> here.</p></body></html> Politics Economy Foreign Policy Tech Top Stories Mon, 26 Jan 2015 23:04:03 +0000 Nick Baumann 268891 at http://www.motherjones.com