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Harry Reid Mocked by Conservative Media for Linking Unemployment to Domestic Abuse

February 23, 2010

As Media Matters points out today, Senator Harry Reid is being mocked by multiple right-wing commentators for his citing, on Monday, of a 2004 study demonstrating that instances of domestic abuse rise during times of economic downturn, like the current recession. Many of the comments focused on Reid's low approval rating in his state of Nevada.  Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy remarked, after viewing a video of Reid's comments, "I wonder how abusive he would be if he's out of work after this next election." In a similar vein, Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft wrote, "Harry's wife ought to take this as a warning come November," and posted a Photoshopped picture depicting a mug shot of Reid holding a sign reading, "Soon-to-be ex-Senator Harry Reid...arrested for fear of domestic abuse after he loses his job in November 2010." Mocking not only Senator Reid – whose mother was abused by his father – but also the seriousness of domestic abuse nationally,  these comments undermine the reality of women and men harmed by their partners. MediaMatters has also compiled a comprehensive list of recent studies and experts backing up Senator Reid's assertions: •  Michael L. Benson and Greer L. Fox, funded by the National Institute of Justice: Rate of violence against women with unemployed partners is higher than those whose partners have stable employment. •  New England Journal of Medicine study: "Women at greatest risk for injury from domestic violence include those with male partners who ... are unemployed or intermittently employed." •  National Institute of Justice: Women who are unemployed also have great risk of abuse. •  National Network to End Domestic Violence, Jane Doe Inc. heads: "Economic stresses often lead to more frequent abuse." •  The Atlantic's Christina Davidson, December 2009: "[P]rofessionals in many states [say] that the frequency and severity of abuse they've been seeing has increased significantly." •  Domestic abuse shelter CEO Susan Miller, December 2009: Economy is having an "alarming impact" on abuse victims. Still, Washington Times writer Kerry Picket wrote of Senator Reid's remarks, "Apparently, Mr. Reid is ether looking at some anecdotal evidence or just pulling thoughts out of thin air." The blatant dismissal of facts by commentators points not to any real concern about stigmatizing the unemployed or denying the personal responsibility of perpetrators, as Fox's Laura Ingraham claimed, but to a partisan critique against Reid's citing of a sound study on a serious national issue.  It's a dire national climate indeed – and not just in terms of the economy – when politics takes precedence over safety.