Apparently Glenn Beck isn't the only Fox News figure that thinks God speaks through them. According to a report by The New Republic's Bradford Plumer on Ralph Reed's return to prominence after being linked to con man Jack Abramoff, Reed told a gathering in Washington, D.C. that Fox News' Sean Hannity convinced him to come back to the political fray. Considering Hannity's long history of GOP boosterism, this is not particularly notable. What is notable how Reed claims Hannity accomplished this:
"Broken" was once the perfect word to describe Reed's career. In 2006, his campaign for Georgia's lieutenant governorship imploded after investigators revealed his work with con man Jack Abramoff. Reed, the choirboy-faced moralist, had been secretly lobbying on behalf of an Indian casino, and the press was quick to write his political obituary. But after Barack Obama swept into the White House on the strength of a high-tech political organizing juggernaut, friends implored Reed--the former executive director of the Christian Coalition and one of the key architects of the GOP congressional takeover in 1994--to get back in the game. As Reed tells his audience at the Mayflower, a phone call from Sean Hannity persuaded him. "I wanted to know that this was not me," Reed says, "that this was not any ambition of mine. I wanted to know that this was the Lord." Reed breaks into a sly grin as he recounts Hannity's response: "Ralph, God is speaking through this phone line right now, and he's using me to deliver the message."
Apparently, after Reed returned to politics, he chose to help Hannity's Fox News colleague (and self-proclaimed fellow vessel for God) Glenn Beck assist with the founding of the Black Robe Regiment. Beck has since invited his "friend" Reed onto his radio show to thank him for his role in the 8-28 rally.
Reed was actually not the only Abramoff-linked figure involved with Beck's 8-28 rally. Black Robe Regiment member and repeated Beck guest Rabbi Daniel Lapin is the man whom Abramoff reportedly "credits" with "introducing him to" Tom DeLay.
To recap: God is supposedly speaking through Fox News hosts, and he's telling them to help rehabilitate the political prospects of people linked to convicted felon Jack Abramoff.
In politics, hyperbolic language is the rule, not the exception.
Since Obama has taken office, conservative media figures have taken things to a ridiculous level. Civil war! Revolution! Death panels! Shariah law! Streets on fire!
The constant drumbeat of over-the-top rhetoric is exhausting, and it can be difficult to pinpoint comments deserving of closer attention. However, prominent conservative media figures -- including two who double as putative candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination -- have taken to invoking Armageddon. And I don't mean "Armageddon" in the metaphorical "the world is going to end if we pass health care" sense -- they are invoking actual Biblical Armageddon.
Yesterday, during a conversation with the conservative publication Newsmax, Sarah Palin engaged in the favorite conservative pastime of pushing for war with Middle Eastern countries and warned that allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons "is not just Israel's problem or America's problem, it is the world's problem. It could lead to an Armageddon. It could lead to that World War III that could decimate so much of this planet."
Clearly, Palin's invocation of "Armageddon" did not bother Fox News -- quite the opposite, in fact. They promoted her interview with Newsmax on Fox Nation, using her comment as the headline:
If you are unfamiliar with Iran and Israel's role in the (always) impending Armageddon, Pastor John Hagee can help explain. Back in June, Glenn Beck hosted Hagee on his Fox News show and labeled him one of the "brave preachers" that "need to start standing up." During that show, Beck plugged Hagee's "excellent" new book, Can America Survive? 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation, saying that he "just started to read last night."
A couple of weeks ago, Forbes published a falsehood-ridden cover story from pseudo-intellectual hatchet man Dinesh D'Souza about Barack Obama's supposed "anti-colonial" worldview. Though D'Souza's theory drew praise from people like Newt Gingrich and Glenn Beck, the article became an embarrassment for Forbes. After the publication initially defended the piece by laughably claiming that it's "facts" were not in contention (they were), the fact-checker they tasked with vetting the article -- after it had already been published -- turned up inaccuracies and the magazine was impelled to issue a correction.
The article drew criticism from, among many others, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Forbes columnist Shikha Dalmia, who ripped D'Souza's "intellectual goofiness," "factual problems," and "unsubstantiated ideological accusations."
Apparently not content to sit idly by while Forbes took the lion's share of embarrassment for promoting baseless smears of the president, the Washington Post decided to give D'Souza a platform in their paper this morning to explain "Why Barack Obama is an anti-colonialist." As we detailed this week, D'Souza's new book laying out this theory is filled with absurd leaps of logic, baseless accusations, and outright lies. Why, after D'Souza's lies have already been exposed and another publication already got burned by his serial mendacity, did the Post think it was a good idea to give him space to misinform their readers?
Last year, after the Post gave Sarah Palin column space to spread numerous falsehoods about climate science, op-ed editor Autumn Brewington defended the decision to publish the op-ed because Palin "is someone who stirs discussion and we are in the business of putting out opinion." Essentially, the Post argued that they are content to publish garbage, as long as you'll click on it.
While this D'Souza op-ed is sure to "stir discussion," that discussion is likely going to focus on the lack of standards at the Post and the ongoing trainwreck that is their op-ed page. Is that really the type of discussion they want to have?
Earlier, we noted Rupert Murdoch's lame explanation for News Corp.'s recent donations to the Republican Governor's Association and GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce. In short, Murdoch laughably claimed that the donation to the RGA "had nothing to do with Fox News" because he only gave the money due to his friendship with John Kasich, the former Fox News host that is currently the Republican nominee for Ohio Governor.
Discussing Fox's million dollar donation to Chamber of Commerce, Murdoch told Politico's Keach Hagey that News Corp. "didn't expect" the donation to become public. This raises the question: why is News Corp., which owns the largest cable news organization in the country, making secret political donations to GOP-aligned groups? And based on Fox's non-stop boosterism of the GOP, it's worth asking: has News Corp. made any other donations to GOP-aligned groups that they didn't "expect" will become public?
Last night, Politico's Keach Hagey got a response from Rupert Murdoch about News. Corp.'s recent million dollar donations to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governors' Association. Murdoch claims that the donation to the RGA "doesn't reflect on Fox News" and "had nothing to do with Fox News." Murdoch buttresses this assertion by stating that the gift was actually a result of his "friendship with John Kasich."
Murdoch apparently has an interesting definition of "nothing to do with Fox News." John Kasich is the former Fox News host who is currently running for governor of Ohio. Kasich was with Fox News for nine years and used his platform there to position himself for his eventual run for governor. Despite announcing in March of 2008 that he was paving the way for a gubernatorial run, Kasich continued to appear regularly -- in at least 123 segments* -- on-air as a Fox contributor and host until he formally announced his run on June 1, 2009.
After Kasich officially declared his candidacy, he has continued to benefit from his close relationship with the network, with Fox hosts and personalities campaigning for him, offering him easy interviews/infomercials, and openly rooting for his candidacy. As Hagey noted, Kasich's relationship with the network has raised ethical concerns in the past. The Democratic Governors Association "filed a complain with the Ohio Elections Commission accusing Fox News of making an illegal in-kind donation to Kasich by running a chyron featuring Kasich's website while he was on 'The O'Reilly Factor' soliciting donations."
RGA chairman Haley Barbour has previously said that he "asked Rupert Murdoch to help us, and he thought about it, and called me back, and said he wanted to help us. I'm very grateful."
Fox News is so far down the ethical rabbit hole that Murdoch apparently thinks "this donation had nothing to do with Fox News, I was only donating because I'm close friends with the former Fox News host running for Governor of Ohio" is a reasonable explanation. News. Corp's treatment of Kasich bodes well for their current stable of no less than five potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates.
And what about Fox's other million dollar donation to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce? Well, Murdoch has an explanation for that, too. See, he "didn't expect" it to become public, and News. Corp is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, so Murdoch "just thought [he] was being a good member."
Add another example to Rupert Murdoch's "see no evil" approach to his flagship news property.
*CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to clarify that Kasich appeared in at least 123 segments on Fox News. When Kasich guest-hosted The O'Reilly Factor, Media Matters counted each segment.
Continuing her ongoing quest to embarrass herself and the media outlets that treat her as an expert (instead of an anti-Muslim bigot -- that means you, Fox Business), Pam Geller announced this morning that the design of the Park51 Islamic community center includes "Tumbling Star of Davids [sic]." Have a look for yourself:
Under the image, she announces that the "Islamic supremacists get more bold and naked in their motive." While Geller is content to play Magic Eye with artists' renderings in order to argue that the people behind Park51 are anti-Semites, in the real world, Imam Rauf reportedly said that he can "confidently assert that I am closer to my Jewish and Christian brothers...than the Muslim militants carrying a narrow view."
Geller has a long history of finding secret hidden messages in otherwise innocuous images. She has discovered imaginary Islamic crescents in the 2010 Nuclear Summit logo and the design of the Flight 93 memorial. In March, she claimed that a preponderance of "purple" -- actually blue -- neckties on Democratic officials meant that Obama and Democrats were "Flying The Gangsta Colors At The White House." However, if Geller wants to win the race to the bottom for finding absurd architectural reasons for opposing Park51, she'll have to work harder to outdo NewsBusters' "chilling" revelation that the center has four sides and is shaped like a building.
With a few exceptions, the upper echelon of the conservative blogosphere is a mess.
Breitbart's "Big" websites traffic in misleading non-scandals and have published people like 9-11 truther Michael Moriarty, racist penis-enlarger/vagina-tightener Kevin Pezzi, and former SNL actress/spouter-of-incomprehensible nonsense Victoria Jackson. NewsBusters and The Media Research Center spend a lot of time finding the liberal bias in television shows that don't treat their gay characters as ostracized sub-humans.
Atlas Shrugs is run by a woman that is haunted at every turn by Islamic crescents, and whose hatred for the president once compelled her to claim that his penchant for "purple" (actually blue) neckties meant that Democrats were "Flying the Gangsta Colors at the White House." Confederate Yankee Bob Owens - who also writes for Breitbart and the Washington Examiner - openly speculates about whether he and an army of "freshly-experienced combat veterans and graying patriots" are going to have to start killing people to combat the "slavery" of health care reform.
But despite all this stiff competition, Jim Hoft (aka Gateway Pundit) stands out as uniquely incompetent. Hoft runs with (or spawns) almost every inane story that bubbles up in the conservative blogosphere, has proven that he has absolutely no vetting process for the sources he cites, and apparently has a hard time with basic reading comprehension.
Hoft -- who has modeled for a John Deere catalogue and "played a cop on 'Unsolved Mysteries' twice" -- has "never had any training in politics or journalism," but now has the "#8 ranked political blog in the United States" that is "frequently mentioned on top national news shows."
Indeed, in spite of the fact that Hoft embarrasses himself on a near-daily basis and has shown time and again that he is either willfully dishonest or staggeringly inept, he has managed to carve out a role as one of the most-read, most respected writers in the conservative blogosphere. And his influence extends beyond the blogs. Hoft's stories are regularly featured on Fox News' Fox Nation website, and he has been cited as a source on-air by Fox News on multiple occasions.
Hoft's ongoing position of influence in the conservative media is evidence that the entire movement is intellectually bankrupt.
Like clockwork, another conservative-organized rally has led to hilariously overblown crowd predictions. In a post about the anti-Park51 rally she helped promote, Pam Geller announced in a headline that "AMERICA SPEAKS! HISTORIC 911 RALLY DRAWS 40,000." Writing about the crowd at the "historic" rally, Geller claimed that "There was no end. You could not see the horizon. The media pretends these tens of thousands [sic] people don't exist. It's criminal."
It's true -- the "criminal" media is apparently pretending these "tens of thousands" of people don't exist. According to noted liberal bastion The Wall Street Journal, "about 1,500" people attended the anti-Park51 rally. But perhaps the WSJ has been getting their information from biased sources, as opposed to Geller's more reliable numbers. The WSJ bases their estimate on "the police." Geller bases her estimate on...well, nothing.
She provides absolutely no citation for the estimate, other than this rather scientific observation about the reportedly larger pro-Park51 rally: "If the America haters had 4,000, we had ten times more. The media is playing the dueling rallies; it was no such thing."
Geller is no stranger to the conservative game of thinly-sourced hyper inflated crowd estimates. During the game of conservative telephone that turned the 9-12 crowd last year into "2 million" people, Geller cited someone who "claims to have overheard DC police discussing crowd numbers."
The crowd is now 40,000 (or 1,500 if you believe the biased police). Based on past experience, we can expect estimates to be up to around 200,000 or so by the middle of the week.
Evidence continues to mount that Glenn Beck's supposedly non-political Black Robe Regiment is, predictably, just a thinly-veiled attempt to boost conservative candidates in the upcoming midterm elections (and beyond).
As we detailed last week, two Black Robe members indicated that part of the group's mission is to boost voter involvement. And Beck, though he claims he would leave any church that "preach[ed] who to vote for," formed the Black Robe Regiment with the help of James Dobson, who has a long history of using churches to attempt to influence elections.
Now it appears that members of Beck's Black Robe Regiment -- including David Barton, whom Beck credits with helping form the idea for the group -- are closely tied to former Speaker of the House and putative 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and his "Renewing American Leadership" group.
As described on their "Who We Are" page, the mission of Renewing American Leadership (ReAL) is to "preserve America's Judeo-Christian heritage by defending and promoting the three pillars of American civilization: freedom, faith, and free markets." They explain that they are "dedicated to educating, organizing, training, and mobilizing people of faith to renew American self-government and America's role in the world."
In a U.S. News article from last year on the launch of ReAL, Gingrich spokesperson Rick Tyler - who doubles as "Founding Director" of ReAL - describes the group in explicitly political terms, saying that he wants to "prove" to Republican donors that "that mobilizing evangelical voters leads to the best economic policies."
David Barton - described in the article as having "spearheaded the Republican National Committee's rigorous outreach to pastors in 2004" -- is quoted expressing his hope that the group can help cease the "circular firing squad" between social and economic conservatives.
After Ann Coulter agreed to headline an event for gay Republicans, conservative publication WorldNetDaily axed her scheduled role as keynote speaker of their "Taking America Back National Conference." Since then, the two sides have been engaged in a war of words, culminating in Coulter labeling Joseph Farah "swine" and a "publicity whore" after he revealed details of a private email exchange he had with Coulter. Coulter also said that Farah "could give less than two sh-ts about the conservative movement - as demonstrated by his promotion of the birther nonsense."
Though Coulter -- who has a long history of anti-gay rhetoric - was apparently deemed insufficiently bigoted for WND, conservatives have a deep bullpen for this sort of thing. Enter "American phenom" Michael Savage, who not only hates gay people, but is also a big fan of the "birther nonsense."
In a blog post last night, WND announced that "talk-radio superstar" Savage is going to make a "rare public appearance" at the event. Savage has a long, long history of incendiary, bigoted remarks about the LGBT community:
So if WND was looking for someone that wouldn't embarrass them by showing signs of humanity and tolerance, it looks like they've found their man.