For Immediate Release
Jess Levin (202) 772-8162
Fox News Launches Another Smear Campaign Against an Obama Official
Network relies on made-up charges, homophobic attacks, distorted quotes in witch hunt against Department of Education official
News-driven smear campaign, in which right-wing media figures have called for
Department of Education official Kevin Jennings to be fired. Conservative media
have promoted the made-up charge that Jennings
"cover[ed] up statutory rape." They have painted him as a
"radical" "gay activist" and have misrepresented and
"Fox News' allegations
about Kevin Jennings covering up a statutory rape are wholly unsupported by the
facts," said Eric Burns, president of Media Matters. "But Fox has
already proven that facts don't matter in its campaign against Jennings. Who needs facts
when your reports are built on made-up charges and anti-gay bigotry?"
The latest target in the Glenn Beck-driven conservative media witch hunt for
Obama administration "czars" is Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools
director Kevin Jennings. In their attacks on Jennings,
numerous conservative media figures have resorted to thinly veiled homophobic
appeals to paint Jennings, who is gay, as a
"radical" "gay activist" with an "agenda" of
"promoting homosexuality in schools," and have misrepresented or
previous comments about religion and tolerance.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Fox News -- led by Sean Hannity --
right-wing media have claimed that Department of Education official
Jennings "cover[ed] up statutory rape" and violated Massachusetts law
by not reporting to authorities a 1988 conversation in which a high
student told Jennings about his relationship with an older man. In
fact, Jennings' attorney wrote in a 2004 letter that the student
was 16 years old, which is -- and was at the time -- the legal age of
A Washington Times
editorial accused "safe school czar" Kevin Jennings of
"encourag[ing]" a relationship that amounted to "statutory
rape," by suggesting that his only response to an underage student's
revelation that he had sex with what the Times
described as an "older man" was to "make sure 'to use a condom.'
" In fact, Jennings stated that he hoped the student "knew to use a condom" to protect
against STDs; moreover, the FoxNews.com article from which The Washington Times based this claim
truncated Jennings' remarks to exclude his statement that he thought to say
this because his "best friend had just died of AIDS the week before."
In its Glenn Beck-driven witch hunt for "czars" in the Obama
administration, Fox News has turned its attention to attacking Office of Safe
and Drug-Free Schools director Kevin Jennings, with Sean Hannity and Fox & Friends asking whether
Jennings should be "fired" and whether he is "the guy for the
job." In pressing for Jennings to be fired
and misconstruing Jennings'
past comments, Fox News continues its pattern of using gross distortions to
attack President Obama's advisers.
Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.