New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd defied her own paper's reporting to hype false Republican attacks on Ambassador Susan Rice.
Dowd devoted much of her November 27 column to quoting questions Republican Sen. Susan Collins (ME) had for Rice -- who currently serves as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and is rumored to be a possible nominee to become the next secretary of state -- regarding statements Rice made during September appearances on Sunday political shows about the attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. But the questions Dowd posed have already been answered by Times reporting, and those answers show that Rice is being unfairly attacked.
This is the second time that Dowd has defied her own paper's reporting to attack Rice.
Dowd wrote that Collins "wants to know Rice's basis for saying on ABC that the attacks were 'a direct result of a heinous and offensive video' " -- a reference to an anti-Islam video that sparked unrest across the Muslim world. In fact, the Times has repeatedly reported that the Benghazi attackers cited the video as motivation for their attack. In an October 15 article, the Times reported:
To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck the United States Mission without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as members of a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence.
The Times similarly reported on November 27 that "[w]itnesses to the assault said it was carried out by members of the Ansar al-Shariah militant group, without any warning or protest, in retaliation for an American-made video mocking the Prophet Muhammad."
The Washington Post misled about the cost of Social Security to claim the program's costs are skyrocketing and will need to be restrained as part of any deal to curb federal deficits.
The Post asserted in a November 25 article: "Without a deal on taxes, there is not much hope for agreement on a broader strategy for restraining the national debt that also tackles the skyrocketing cost of federal retirement programs such as Social Security and Medicare." The Post later paired statements by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) stating that Social Security is not a major problem with comments by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) saying Social Security benefit cuts are necessary. The Post, however, made no attempt to report the facts on Social Security:
Republicans want cuts to fast-growing federal retirement programs, projected to be the biggest driver of future borrowing. Their opening bid included a demand to apply a less-generous measure of inflation to Social Security, which would slow the rise of benefit payments.
Obama agreed to the idea in talks with Boehner during the summer of 2011. But since the election, liberal groups have mobilized against it and Reid has ruled it out. On Sunday, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), appeared to endorse Reid's position, though he argued that Democrats should ignore calls to take Medicare off the table.
"Social Security does not add one penny to our debt -- not a penny. It's a separate funded operation," Durbin said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "Medicare's another story -- only 12 years of solvency if we do nothing. So those who say, 'Don't touch it. Don't change it,' are ignoring the obvious."
Durbin suggested higher payments for "high-income beneficiaries" but expressed concerns about another idea Obama has previously accepted -- raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C) said on the same show that gradually raising the retirement age -- for both Medicare and Social Security -- is exactly the kind of "eminently reasonable" entitlement reform Republicans will demand.
"I don't expect Democrats to go for premium support or a voucher plan," Graham said, referring to a Medicare proposal championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). "But I do expect them to adjust these entitlement programs before they bankrupt the country."
Contrary to the Post's assertions that Social Security costs are "skyrocketing" and "fast-growing," the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Social Security spending is not projected to rise sharply, especially in contrast to Medicare. According to CBO, Social Security spending as of 2011 is equal to 4.69 percent of Gross Domestic Product. Seventy-five years later, CBO estimates that Social Security spending as a share of GDP will rise only to 6.63 percent of GDP.
Furthermore, as Durbin noted, Social Security is prohibited from running a deficit. So if Congress does not act, beginning in 2034, Social Security will pay out 81 percent of its promised benefits but won't add a penny to the deficit.
Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei misrepresented a poll to claim that progressive Democrats are out of step with most people who voted for President Obama over how to deal with Social Security and Medicare.
VandeHei stated on the November 20 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe that Obama voters are "at odds with the liberal base" of the Democratic Party on Social Security and Medicare:
VANDEHEI: [T]here's a lot of divisions inside the Democratic Party over what to do on entitlement reform. You're not going to get any Republican votes for an increase in taxes unless you have some changes to Medicare and to Social Security. And inside the Democratic Party, there's a big divide. Third Way, which is a group that represents centrists Democrats, they're out with a poll of Obama supporters this morning that show the vast majority of Obama supporters actually support changes to Medicare and Social Security, which puts them at odds with the liberal base of the party in the House and in the Senate."
VandeHei was echoing a Politico article that stated "a Third Way poll of 800 Obama voters set for release Tuesday found that efforts to fix Medicare and Social Security enjoy broader support than liberals suggest."
The Third Way poll asked Obama voters to rate on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) how important it was for the president to take action that "fixes Social Security and Medicare" during his second term. Eighty-five percent responded with at least a six and 48% responded with a nine or 10 rating.
But the poll does not show a split between Obama voters and progressive Democrats as VandeHei claimed because progressives do not oppose proposals to strengthen Social Security and Medicare. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she is open to reforms that "strengthen Social Security" and Medicare as long as they don't include benefit cuts, and as long as the reforms are not used as part of a deal to subsidize tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Similarly, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has said that "decisions to change Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security 'must be based on what is best for their beneficiaries' " provided there are no cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits.
Progressive economist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman has also embraced reforms to Medicare that do not involve benefit cuts. He also pointed out that Social Security is not a long-term drag on the nation's finances and therefore does not need major reform.
Fox's Sean Hannity and Matt Drudge are giving credence to people who have reacted to President Obama's reelection by petitioning the president to allow states to secede from the United States, something his position does not have the power to do.
In 2011, Obama established a mechanism for people to create and sign petitions on the White House website, and if any petition receives 25,000 or more signatures within 30 days, White House officials will respond to the petition. In the days following Obama's reelection, people have filed secession petitions for more than 40 states, and the Texas secession has garnered more than 90,000 signatures.
Obama, however, does not have the power to grant secession. In the 1868 case of Texas v. White, the Supreme Court addressed whether Texas had legally seceded from the United States during the Civil War and held that the Constitution created an indestructible and perpetual union: "The Constitution, in all of its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States. When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation." Law professor Michael Dorf has concluded that a state may need a super-majority in Congress or even a constitutional amendment in order to secede.
Nevertheless, Fox News host Sean Hannity gave credence to the secession movement, something he has done before. On the November 13 edition of his show, Hannity interviewed Daniel Miller, president of the pro-secession Texas Nationalist Movement. Miller was previously the president of the "Republic of Texas," and in that capacity was included in an Anti-Defamation League "Rogue's Gallery" of extremists.
While Hannity suggested that secession might not be the best solution, he did not suggest at any point that secession was not a serious alternative for those who oppose Obama. Indeed, Hannity asked Miller to "explain constitutionally ... where you see the right to" secede.
Miller told Hannity that the petition would not accomplish anything by itself because Obama won't grant secession, but stated that there were processes that could achieve secession. The Texas Nationalist Movement website attacks Texas v. White as an illegitimate decision.
New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman reported that after Fox News initially made the call that President Obama had won Ohio, Karl Rove -- a contributor to the network and the head of a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC -- fought against the decision, causing "Fox News' top producers" to call a meeting with Rove and two of the people in charge of making the Ohio call, Arnon Mishkin and Chris Stirewalt.
Ultimately, Fox decided to have Mishkin and Stirewalt explain their reasoning on-air. But rather than have the duo appear on camera, producers decided to have Fox anchor Megyn Kelly "walk through the office and interview" Mishkin and Stirewalt in a conference room. Sherman reported that an anonymous Fox insider said: "This is Fox News ... so anytime there's a chance to show off Megyn Kelly's legs they'll go for it."
From Sherman's article:
Shortly after 11 p.m., Bret Baier went on-camera to read a script written by Fox's Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, based on an analysis by the network's decision desk, announcing Ohio for Obama. "That's the presidency, essentially," Baier said.
Instantly, Fox phones lit up with angry phone calls and e-mails from the Romney campaign, who believed that the call was premature, since tallies in several Republican-leaning Southern counties hadn't been been fully tabulated. "The Romney people were totally screaming that we're totally wrong," one Fox source said. "To various people, they were saying, 'your decision team is wrong.'" According to a Fox insider, Rove had been in contact with the Romney people all night. After the Ohio call, Rove -- whose super-PAC had spent as much as $300 million on the election, to little avail -- took their complaints public, conducting an on-air primer on Ohio's electoral math in disputing the call.
This time, it was the network divided against itself, and Fox News' top producers held a meeting to adjudicate. The decision desk stood their ground. They knew how momentous the call was. Earlier in the night, according to a source, before making the call, Arnon Mishkin, who heads the decision desk, told Fox brass, "let's remember this is Fox News calling Ohio. This will say something beyond Ohio going for Obama." Fox brass told Mishkin to get the numbers right and ignore the politics: "If we think Ohio has gone Obama, we call Ohio," said a Fox News executive.
With neither side backing down, senior producers had to find a way to split the difference. One idea was for two members of the decision team, Mishkin and Fox's digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt, to go on camera with Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier to squelch the doubts over the call. But then it was decided that Kelly would walk through the office and interview the decision team in the conference room. "This is Fox News," an insider said, "so anytime there's a chance to show off Megyn Kelly's legs they'll go for it."
Fox appears poised to manufacture a scandal involving the New Black Panther Party appearing at a polling station in Philadelphia.
On Election Day 2008, two members of the New Black Panther Party appeared outside a polling station in Philadelphia, with one of them carrying a club. The Department of Justice (DOJ) under then-President George W. Bush brought a civil voter intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party and several of its members over the incident. After President Obama took office, the DOJ decided to pursue the case against the defendant carrying the club but dropped the lawsuit against the other defendants.
Fox and other right-wing media outlets obsessed about DOJ's decision to drop some of the claims, saying that DOJ was corrupt and refused to pursue charges against African Americans. The story never added up and was dismissed by a broad and bipartisan group of media and political figures.
Ultimately, DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility investigated the allegations against DOJ attorneys and determined that Justice Department attorneys "did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment, but rather acted appropriately, in the exercise of their supervisory duties in connection with the dismissal of the three defendants in the NBPP case." The investigation also found no evidence that decision-makers at DOJ "were influenced by the race of the defendants, or any considerations other than an assessment of the evidence and the applicable law."
But Fox appears ready to go through the same cycle again, highlighting a reported member of the New Black Panther Party who reportedly showed up outside the doors of a polling station and was shown on video opening a door for someone going inside. Co-host Steve Doocy stated that "the organization claims they are monitoring the 2012 election, but some critics say that it looks like intimidation like in 2008."
Joe Scarborough repeatedly shouted over Morning Joe co-host Mika Brezinksi's attempt to discuss reports of early voting problems in Florida, a result of voting restrictions enacted by the Republican-dominated state government.
Recent changes in Florida's voting laws led to long lines and confusion the weekend before Election Day, with some voters waiting up to seven hours and others being turned away from the polls just days before their last chance to vote. Circumstances were so difficult for South Florida voters that the Atlantic Wire ran a story on Monday morning titled, "Voting Is Already a Mess in Florida."
In response to these reports, Brzezinski said "We've been talking about the impact of early voting in this race. There are some issues with early voting in Florida over the weekend when the Miami-Dade elections department closed its doors with hundreds of people still lined up outside. The center was shut down for an hour until officials were given permission to extend in-person absentee voting. Democrats have now filed a federal lawsuit to force the state's Republican-controlled government to extend early voting hours in South Florida."
Scarborough dismissed the story as an attempt to say: "Republicans bad. Rick Scott bad. Voting suppression." As Brzezinski and the Morning Joe guests continued to discuss the early voting issues in Florida, Scarborough repeatedly interrupted, yelling "Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi," making it nearly impossible for anyone to get a word in edgewise.
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer pushed a claim debunked by the Post's own fact-checker to bash President Obama for supposedly having an un-American agenda.
Krauthammer asserted in his November 1 column that an "Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment -- the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance -- continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state." He also claimed: "Every four years we are told that the coming election is the most important of one's life. This time it might actually be true. At stake is the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract."
To back up his argument, Krauthammer wrote that during his first term, Obama "enacted liberalism's holy grail: the nationalization of health care." But as the Post's fact-checker Glenn Kessler has explained, "the core of the health system in the United States will remain the existing private insurance market. So it in no way resembles the government-run health systems used in most industralized countries in the world." Other fact-checkers agree with Kessler, and Politifact even labeled the related claim that Obama enacted "a government takeover of health care" its 2010 Lie of the Year.
As Politifact pointed out,
[T]he law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market:
• Employers will continue to provide health insurance to the majority of Americans through private insurance companies.
• Contrary to the claim, more people will get private health coverage. The law sets up "exchanges" where private insurers will compete to provide coverage to people who don't have it.
• The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors.
• The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.
• The law gives tax credits to people who have difficulty affording insurance, so they can buy their coverage from private providers on the exchange. But here too, the approach relies on a free market with regulations, not socialized medicine.
Washington Post columnist George Will covered up the fact that millions of American women would instantly lose their reproductive freedom if Roe v. Wade is overturned in order to present a more moderate version of Mitt Romney.
Romney has said he would appoint Supreme Court justices committed to overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision recognizing a woman's right to have an abortion, but the right-wing media have repeatedly tried to downplay the harm that a Romney presidency would do to women's rights.
In the latest example of the right-wing media's attempts to soften Romney's abortion stance, Will attacked Vice President Joe Biden for saying during his debate against Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that "overturning Roe v. Wade would 'outlaw' abortion." Will asserted: "Actually, this would just restore abortion as a subject for states to regulate as they choose."
But Will severely understates the effect that overturning Roe would have. According to the Guttmacher Institute, if Roe was overturned, "20 states have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion." Of those 20 states, four states -- Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota -- have laws that would automatically criminalize abortion if Roe were to be overturned. The other states either still have pre-Roe abortion bans on the books or have expressed an interest in restricting abortion to the "maximum extent permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court" if Roe were overturned.
Furthermore, Romney himself said in 2007 that if he became president and the Supreme Court overturned Roe, he would be "delighted to sign" a federal ban on all abortions. Romney has also voiced support for the long-time Republican goal of a constitutional amendment that would ban abortions whether or not the Court revisited Roe.
For all of Will's spinning, the fact is that if Roe were overturned, many women would lose their reproductive rights and, if Romney had his way, the federal government would put in place a nationwide ban on abortion.
Meet the Press host David Gregory helped Republican Governors Scott Walker (WI) and John Kasich (OH) take undeserved credit for the job recoveries in their states. In separate Meet the Press interviews, both governors took credit for an increase in jobs during their term, but Gregory did not point out that jobs were already on the upswing before either of them came into office.