The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) bills itself as an event convened to "crystallize the best of the conservative thought in America" that will showcase "all of the leading conservative organizations and speakers." Media covering CPAC 2013 should know that the conference's speakers, from the most prominent to the lesser-known, have a history of launching smears, pushing conspiracy theories, and hyping myths about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.
Fox's Neil Cavuto dishonestly spun the release of a voluntary health survey to claim that "death panels are back," echoing a fictional claim spread by Sarah Palin about health care reform. In fact, the survey is simply a tool created by researchers that doctors can choose to use as a guideline when discussing treatment options with patients.
Cavuto declared that Sarah Palin "was right" while discussing the survey with Fox News health editor Dr. Manny Alvarez. On-screen text labeled the surveys "new gov't-funded 'death tests.' " Alvarez claimed the tests would lead to elderly patients being denied care and concluded, "Death panel? You're looking at it. This is what they're making me do in the future."
But the survey, a "mortality index," was developed by San Francisco researchers as a tool doctors can voluntarily use to evaluate "whether costly health screenings or medical procedures are worth the risk" for elderly patients, as CBS News reported. CBS News explained:
[D]octors can use the results to help patients understand the pros and cons of such things as rigorous diabetes treatment, colon cancer screening and tests for cervical cancer. Those may not be safe or appropriate for very sick, old people likely to die before cancer ever develops.
Contrary to Alvarez's claim, the index is not compulsory for any doctor or patient.
Fox News hosts have been dismissing the effects of the across-the-board government spending cuts known as sequestration, claiming that "nothing is happening" following the cuts taking effect. But the cuts are already having negative economic consequences that will continue unless the cuts are replaced.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly broke down and screamed at his guest Alan Colmes for identifying spending cuts that President Obama has proposed, shouting at Colmes, "That's bullshit!" and repeatedly claiming Obama hasn't proposed specific cuts to replace the across-the-board cuts known as the sequester. But Colmes was correct: Obama has proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid as part of his plan to replace the sequester.
During the March 5 broadcast of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly repeatedly claimed that Obama "refuses" to endorse specific spending cuts, shouting at Colmes, "Give me one damn program he said he'd cut!" even as Colmes highlighted Medicare and Medicaid as two programs Obama has proposed cutting:
Colmes is correct: Obama has proposed $400 billion in cuts to federal health spending, which includes a $140 billion reduction in "payments to drug companies" and a $25 billion reduction for Medicaid and affiliated programs:
Washington Post editor Bob Woodward appeared on Fox News' Hannity Thursday and attempted to distance himself from his suggestion that a White House adviser used threatening language in an email to him.
On the February 28 broadcast, Woodward discussed his comments to Politico regarding a series of heated exchanges he had with a White House official, who was later identified as economic adviser Gene Sperling. Woodward said that others had described him as labeling an email from Sperling as "a threat" and claimed, "I haven't used that language."
In an interview with his own newspaper published the same day, Woodward said of Sperling's language, "I never characterized it as a 'threat.' ... I think that was Politico's word. I said I think [Sperling's] language is unfortunate, and I don't think it's the way to operate."
Yet Woodward's initial comments in the February 27 Politico article made it clear he found Sperling's use of the word "regret" intimidating.
Fox News' Sean Hannity brushed aside Rep. Keith Ellison's (D-MN) assertion that Hannity was "immoral" for "saying things that aren't true." Yet Hannity has a long history of using his Fox News program to push false and misleading claims.
Fox News host Bill Hemmer highlighted a recent increase in gasoline prices to raise concerns about its "drag on the economy," then claimed that gas prices "rarely" decrease. But the very chart Hemmer used during the segment debunks his own claim -- and Hemmer has previously fearmongered over the economic impact of low gas prices as well.
During the February 14 edition of America's Newsroom, Hemmer followed Fox Business host Stuart Varney's assertion that gas is at "the highest price ever for a gallon of regular gas in the month of February" by pointing to a chart comparing gas prices in early 2012 with those in 2013:
Hemmer said that gas is currently "up 11 or 12 cents over the average where we were a year ago," then repeatedly emphasized the "drag" rising gas prices could have on the economy before concluding, "When these prices go up, rarely do they go back down."
But Hemmer's own chart debunks this claim. As Hemmer noted, average gas prices in January 2013 were "10, maybe even 15 cents" lower than those in January 2012.
Right-wing pundits frequently use former President Ronald Reagan's name to apply a stamp of approval on anything or anyone they deem symbolic of the ideal conservative -- even when Reagan's actual record on issues ranging from taxes to the deficit deviated far from the ideological standards of today's conservative movement.
Republican darling du jour Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) is the latest to receive the Reagan badge. Ahead of his delivery of the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Karl Rove said Monday that "in Rubio, the Republicans have got probably one of their best communicators since Ronald Reagan." On MSNBC's Morning Joe, The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis called Rubio "Reaganesque." And in November 2012, pundit Cal Thomas published a column on Townhall.com titled, "Marco Rubio: A Hispanic Reagan?"
Rubio is just the latest in a long line of Republican politicians to receive the ubiquitous accolade:
Mitt Romney: Fox News figures repeatedly linked former presidential candidate Romney to the Gipper during both opinion and news shows in the months leading up to the 2012 election. Bill O'Reilly said that Romney "is going to mirror the ghost of Ronald Reagan," while political correspondent Carl Cameron said Romney, on his bus tour, spent a lot of time "sort of echoing Ronald Reagan."
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI): Fox News figures from K.T. MacFarland to Megyn Kelly compared Ryan to Reagan as part of their cheerleading for Ryan after he was chosen as Romney's vice presidential candidate.
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ): Fox Nation highlighted a column by the director of the American Enterprise Institute with the headline, "Christie's Starting to Look Like Reagan."
Sarah Palin: A post on Breitbart's BigJournalism.com said that Palin "carries the torch of liberty and American exceptionalism in the palm of her lovely hand" before calling her the "surviving embodiment of the spirit of 1776 and the Reagan reformation."
Gov. Scott Walker (WI): On Sean Hannity's Fox show, conservative radio host Mike Gallagher called Walker "the Ronald Reagan of our time."
Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA): Karl Rove, on Hannity's show, called Virginia governor Bob McDonnell "a Reaganite conservative."
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA): In February 2008, Rush Limbaugh called Jindal "the next Ronald Reagan."
Right-wing media figures have splashed the "Reagan" label about so freely that they're in danger of rendering the compliment meaningless.
A Wall Street Journal editorial downplayed the economic consequences of looming across-the-board government spending cuts and even claimed they will "help the economy." But the Journal's own MarketWatch agrees that the cuts, commonly referred to as the "sequester," would greatly harm the economy: it could halve U.S. economic growth and lead to one million lost jobs.
The Journal editorial, headlined, "The Unscary Sequester," claimed that "[t]he most disingenuous White House claim" about the sequester is that it "will hurt the economy." The editorial continued, "Reality check: The cuts amount to about 0.5% of GDP," and went on to claim that the sequester will actually help the economy "by leaving more capital for private investment."
Yet the Journal's own MarketWatch noted on Tuesday that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the sequester "will halve U.S. growth in 2013." MarketWatch explained:
U.S. economic growth in 2013 will be 1.4%, the Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday, up from a previously estimated decline of 0.5% pinned on the so-called fiscal cliff. CBO said however that growth would be about 1.5 percentage points faster in 2013 if not for fiscal tightening including the so-called budget sequester.
The Bipartisan Policy Center has also estimated that the full sequester would cause approximately one million job losses.
The editorial also supposes that the sequester would help economic growth, which ignores the fact that the 2012 fourth-quarter decline in GDP was largely due to a steep drop in government spending. While the report on the GDP decline showed that private sector investment had increased, it was not enough to lift GDP growth into positive territory because of the large drag on the economy imposed by lowered government spending. This discredits the Journal's claim that if government spending were decreased through the sequester, private capital would be able to sustain positive economic growth.
Indeed, while the Journal editorial dismisses the effects of the potential cuts by claiming that affected programs "are hardly starved for money," the threat of the sequester alone has already contributed to economic slowdown and negatively impacted government agencies. Experts have noted that the decline in government spending -- particularly in defense -- that contributed to the recent economic contraction was likely due to uncertainty caused by the sequester.
Fox News and Rush Limbaugh have each attacked President Obama for his recent comments pointing out their influence on the political process. But both Fox News and Limbaugh have indeed influenced Republican politicians' actions in the past.
In a recent interview with The New Republic, Obama said he believes that bipartisan legislation is more likely to pass if a Republican member of Congress isn't "punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest."
Fox News' Megyn Kelly and Chris Stirewalt discussed Obama's comments on Monday's broadcast of America Live. Kelly claimed Obama was "saying if somebody disagrees with him, if these Republicans disagree with him, it has to be because someone has manipulated them" and said that his comments sounded "dismissive of heartfelt beliefs that Republicans may hold, or their constituents may hold."
Stirewalt agreed, saying that Obama "imputes to his critics the worst possible motives." Stirewalt also claimed that Obama feels that "anybody who opposes him on these things is doing so because they're a coward, because they're being controlled by Rush Limbaugh or because of what's being said by the purveyors of opinion on the Fox News Channel."
Limbaugh also discussed Obama's comments on his radio show Monday and concluded that Obama is "trying to goad me into saying something extreme -- like that would ever happen -- so that he can kick off a new boycott." He then said listeners had told him they fear that "talk like this from the president has a chilling effect on free speech and the freedom of the press," and responded by saying sarcastically, "My friends, Obama would never do anything to try to limit Fox, or me and my right to express myself. ... Only dictators like Hugo Chavez do things like that."