Fox host Ainsley Earhardt aided and abetted two right-wingers in dishonestly demonizing a Biden administration effort to ensure non-discrimination in healthcare as anti-religion.
As documented by Media Matters, Fox News is actively promoting a divisive and deceitful campaign against the transgender community. Last week, Fox & Friends reinforced the propaganda with the presentation of two Catholic activists whose anti-transgender views, wrapped in the guise of “religious liberty,” seemed benign but was peppered with religious lies.
Earhardt began with a report that the Biden administration has “filed an appeal against a January court order to keep in place a mandate that would force religious doctors and hospitals to perform gender transition procedures.” She added that “critics say that the mandate would have devastating implications not only for the religious freedoms but medical ethics as well.” Earhardt didn’t explain that “the mandate” is, as part of the Affordable Care Act, a commitment to non-discrimination in health care.
She introduced her two guests, The first was Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a radiologist and policy advisor for the Catholic Association, who once tweeted the lie that late-term abortion (not a medical term) “is never necessary for the mother’s health.”
The other guest, Mark Rienzi, is head of the Becket Fund, a Catholic group which specializes in cases involving the religious right. Rienzi, in his capacity as a lead counsel for the conservative, anti-gay Becket Fund, has appeared on Fox as part of the network’s inaccurate advocacy for the Little Sisters of the Poor who refused to cooperate with the standards of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control requirement. Rienzi once told Fox’s Chris Wallace that God told the nuns not to cooperate with the ACA’s policy.
Earhardt asked “Dr. Rienzi” (a lawyer, not a doctor) to explain the court decision. He informed us that “the mandate” goes back to the Obama administration and has lost in court, twice, because the courts believed that the government should not be able “to force” religious doctors to go against their religious beliefs. He explained that the “important” thing about this latest decision is that the Biden administration is trying to reverse it.
In response to Earhardt’s question of whether Dr. Pozo Christie would ever perform gender reassignment surgery (Uh, she a radiologist?), the doctor said that she would never do anything “that could potentially cause significant harm” to her patients. She asserted that there is “no medical consensus” as to whether the surgery helps patients in the long term “to cure” their gender dysphoria.
FACT CHECK: While Dr. Grazie Pozo claims that there is no “consensus” about the benefits of gender reassignment surgery, a number of sources do believe that it “has a positive effect.” The prestigious and well-credentialed AMA states that “medically necessary” services which treat gender dysphoria include “gender affirming surgeries."
FACT CHECK: In referencing how transitioning is problematic when it comes to children, Pozo Christie further claimed that most children “grow out of gender dysphoria with appropriate support," a claim that has been debunked.
Earhardt adroitly framed the anti-Biden talking point: “Why would they want to force a doctor to do this surgery if they don’t believe in it, a, or they’re not trained in it?” (Huh? There is nothing in the “mandate” that addresses training.) She also “asked,” “Wouldn’t that harm the patient?”
Rienzi responded that the last person you would want operating on you would be somebody who is opposed to it and believes it’s harmful. He claimed that the federal government often doesn’t cover transition procedures because Obama administration doctors said, “there’s insufficient evidence that these procedures are actually helpful for anybody…yet they’re trying to force these doctors and hospitals and nurses to provide them against their will.”
FACT CHECK: What Rienzi didn’t say was that those who produced the position paper on Medicare coverage for the surgery could not issue a final conclusion because “the clinical evidence for gender reassignment surgery was inconclusive for the Medicare population at large.” Also, “The low number of clinical studies specifically about Medicare beneficiaries’ health outcomes for gender reassignment surgery and small sample sizes inhibited our ability to create clinical appropriateness criteria for cohorts of Medicare beneficiaries” So not as cut and dry as Rienzi would have you believe.
Earhardt provided another opportunity for more anti-Biden propaganda when she asked whether there are constitutional protections for those who claim religious reasons for not abiding by the law. Rienzi described it as “outrageous” that the Biden administration is “asking courts to take that away.”
This is a stellar example of Fox’s distillation of complex issues into right-wing sound bites serving a political agenda which fosters more hatred towards a community of people who are being made into political pawns - and that's outrageous.
Check out the latest in Fox News’ anti-transgender propaganda from the April 22, 2021 Fox & Friends.
The danger in the current scenario is that angry Right Wingers have packed our judiciary with partisan idealogues who are likely to take actions that could have dire consequences for most Americans. In the past, these kinds of feints were just the usual sops to the angry Right Wing base of voters, and everyone knew that it was unlikely that anything would actually be done. The Right Wing campaigned against reproductive rights for decades, since they could endlessly use the issue to fundraise but knew it was unadvisable to take us back to the days of coat hangers in alleys. Today, unfortunately, angry Right Wingers now accurately believe they have sufficient control over the judiciary that they can toss out the precedents of the Earl Warren Supreme Court and take their revenge against the rest of the country.
With the current Far Far Right Supreme Court, we’re very much looking at a situation that should have the gay and Trans communities extremely worried. Fox News can claim some responsibility for the damage, as they’ve specialized in running propaganda pieces like the one referenced in this article. I’d like to think that something can be done about it, but that will take years, if not decades, and not until the Supreme Court is no longer loaded with a 6-3 majority of extreme partisans.