Sunday, June 04, 2023


The Washington Post just published a story about the right-wing campaign against Target under the headline "Target Gets Caught in Cultural Crossfire Over Pride Month Items." Of course, there is no "crossfire" -- only one side is actually fighting a war. Nevertheless, it's a reasonably good story, although it's flawed.
[Target] has pulled its Pride merchandise and promotional materials back from store windows in recent days after a string of threats and harassment against employees. The move then sparked multiple bomb threats, targeting stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah, from people claiming to be angry about the removal of merchandise....

At [a] Target in South Florida, shoppers have called employees “child groomers,” a far-right slang term for pedophiles, and accused them of “shoving your woke agenda down our throats,” according to the manager who spoke to The Washington Post.

When he donned a bright safety vest over his company-issued Pride-themed T-shirt to help a customer carry goods to his car, the shopper looked at him and said, “Oh, is that so I could shoot you easier?”
One flaw in the story is that the anger and intimidation are ascribed to the "far right" -- as if this campaign is out of the right-wing mainstream. (It isn't. It's very mainstream.) Beyond that, the story fails to identify specific figures responsible for riling up the right-wing base. We're told the anti-LBGTQ activities directed at Target and other companies
are part of a diffused but focused campaign that’s inflamed by influential conservatives exploiting TikTok and right-wing media.

One of those is Matt Walsh, an anti-LGBTQ commentator for the right-wing Daily Wire, who tweeted in April that conservatives should “pick a victim, gang up on it, and make an example of it.”

“We can’t boycott every woke company or even most of them,” he tweeted. “But we can pick one, it hardly matters which, and target it with a ruthless boycott campaign. Claim one scalp then move onto the next.”
So the person Post readers need to know about is one of those young whippersnappers who rouse the rabble on those online video sites all the kids watch. Fringe stuff!

Left entirely unmentioned is the massive influence of Fox News. Media Matters reports:
From May 23 through 9 a.m. ET May 30, Fox aired over 2 hours and 12 minutes of coverage of the Target controversy.
This coverage included one inflammatory claim that had been disproven:
Over the course of Fox News’ hours of coverage of the backlash against Target’s Pride Month collection, network hosts and guests repeatedly parroted the false claim that the retailer was selling “tuck-friendly” or “tuck-’em” swimsuits for children, even after the story was clearly debunked....

Even though The Associated Press debunked the claim on May 25, determining that the swimsuit in question was marketed only to adults, several right-wing figures on Fox and other right-wing outlets continued to assert that Target was selling the gender-affirming swimsuit for children.
Among them were top-rated Fox stars Jesse Watters and Rachel Campos-Duffy. Oh, and Fox attacked Target for supporting the pro-LGBTQ advocy group GLSEN even though Fox Corporation also supports the group.

There's been similar saturation coverage of Bud Light on Fox, and it hasn't let up. Fox is also obsessed with the Los Angeles Dodgers
and their decision to invite the satiric Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to a Pride Night celebration in mid-June. (On the Fox News website, the Sisters are routinely described as "anti-Catholic drag queens.")

This isn't a fringe phenomenon. It's a mainstream phenomenon. The Post should say so, and mention Fox by name.

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