Breitbart.com inaccurately attributed a fake quote from a facetious tweet to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes in an attempt to smear the Obama administration for negotiating with Iran.
Rhodes sat down with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg on June 29 at the Aspen Ideas Festival to discuss the U.S.' nuclear talks with Iran. When asked whether President Obama believes negotiations will lead to a change in Iran's behavior, Rhodes responded affirmatively and added, "We believe that an agreement is necessary and has to be good enough to be worth doing even if Iran doesn't change. If 10 or 15 years from now Iran is the same as it is today, in terms of its government, the deal has to be good enough that it can exist on those merits."
Brookings Institute senior fellow Mike Doran ridiculed Rhodes' response in a June 30 tweet, summarizing it as an effort to "turn the Iranian frog into a handsome prince":
Ben Rhodes: "We believe that the kiss of the nuke deal will turn the Iranian frog into a handsome prince" | https://t.co/F7SkdslCJw-- Mike Doran (@Doranimated) June 30, 2015
In a rush to attack Rhodes and Obama, Breitbart.com reported the mocking tweet as an actual quote from the interview, apparently neglecting to watch the discussion between Rhodes and Goldberg. Breitbart.com editor Joel Pollak claimed in a July 1 post that the phrase came from Rhodes' "own words," accusing him of telling "fairy tales to the American public" (emphasis added):
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes-who lacks any prior qualifications for the post-has explained to the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg at the Aspen Ideas Festivalon Monday that the administration believes that a bad Iran deal is worth doing because political reform inside the Iranian regime is more likely with the deal than without. Or, to use Rhodes's own words: "We believe that the kiss of the nuke deal will turn the Iranian frog into a handsome prince."
A "fairy tale" analogy is appropriate indeed.
Goldberg called out Breitbart for "totally manufacturing quotes" on Twitter, and later Doran explained how he was merely "ridicul[ing]" Rhodes and it "did not occur to me that anybody would think he actually used those words":
@jvmadden I ridiculed him. It did not occur to me that anybody would think he actually used those words.-- Mike Doran (@Doranimated) July 7, 2015
Last year, Breitbart.com's Pollak similarly attacked the wrong Loretta Lynch in an attempt to smear the attorney general nominee, misidentifying a California based attorney for the president's pick for AG.
As of this posting, Breitbart.com has yet to correct their inaccurate report.
Several Fox News figures trumpeted news that real estate mogul Donald Trump officially declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination in 2016, lauding him as "a winner" and even comparing him to former President Ronald Reagan.
Fox News helped 2016 presidential candidate Rick Perry (R) and likely candidate Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) defend their state's discriminatory voting restrictions and whitewash their poor records on voting rights.
Hillary Clinton returned to South Carolina this week to rally support for her 2016 White House bid, and despite speaking at length about the substance of her campaign platform, media chose to fixate on her southern accent.
While speaking to the South Carolina Democratic Women's Council, Clinton laid out her vision for America and highlighted her support for President Obama following their 2008 primary fight. In her remarks, Clinton placed a heavy emphasis on her support for gender pay equality and helping middle class families, while pushing for civility and coalition-building:
CLINTON: We will have disagreements. We will have debates, but I want you to know that I will be remembering what I think should be at the core of every political campaign, how we treat one another, and how we care for this if we have been given, the United States of America.
Media's takeaway from the event? Clinton's southern accent.
CNN's New Day host Alisyn Camerota declared Clinton's accent is "an interesting twist" to her campaign, while MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said that, "Hillary Clinton got her southern accent back after, like, 20 years." Vox.com dedicated a post to exploring the origins of the accent, writing that "there is a certain fascination worthy to be had of public figures who can turn their accents on and off."
Such superficial coverage of Clinton's event is unsurprising, given media's seeming preference for fluff over substance in coverage of the Clinton campaign and their repeated attempts to sensationalize Clinton's voice.
Fox host Elisabeth Hasselbeck suggested that the U.S. justice system was too lenient on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who received the death penalty for the Boston Marathon bombing, complaining that his right to appeal upends the "justice" of the jury's verdict.
After a federal jury sentenced the Boston bomber to death last week, Fox & Friends hosted an attorney and death penalty advocate on May 18 to discuss Tsarnaev's right to appeal his sentence. Co-host Brian Kilmeade complained that the possibility of a lengthy process could mean "we're not going to get to kill this guy, are we?" Elisabeth Hasselbeck argued, "Where's the justice" if Tsarnaev can challenge the jury's verdict:
HASSELBECK: That relief was felt in Boston. We've got friends and family there ourselves, and I think most Americans looked at this as justice is done. But now we hear about this appeals process, and we're wondering, well, where's the justice in that?
An appeal is automatic in a federal death penalty case like this one. Tsarnaev will reportedly be moved to the U.S. penitentiary for federal death-row inmates while his attorneys challenge the verdict.
Fox News dismissed criticism of 2016 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee's sham product endorsements, suggesting he was merely following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan, who appeared in product advertisements during his acting days.
Huckabee, a former Fox News host, has a history of peddling sham-medical cures, conspiracy theories, and financial fraudsters in rented space on his Fox-promoted email list. The GOP contender even promoted a "kitchen-cabinet cure" for diabetes in a recent online ad, a shady product The New York Times described as a "dubious diabetes treatment."
Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade jumped to defend Huckabee's product endorsements on May 11, one day after CBS' Bob Schieffer confronted the candidate about his "diabetes cure" hucksterism. Kilmeade compared Huckabee to former President Reagan, arguing that like Huckabee, Reagan "advertised for a few products in between becoming governor and president and when he was an actor":
KILMEADE: I like to add to this, just to give you color on the Huckabee situation. He was asked a question about some of the products he endorsed, including one for diabetes when he was in between being governor, when he was at Fox, and when he was in between running for president, which is now. I thought he gave a pretty good answer for that. He says I'm not embarrassed to say if something could help you with diabetes, I'm going to support it. Plus you're in the free market. I believe there's guys like Ronald Reagan who advertised for a few products in between becoming governor and president and when he was an actor.
While a Fox News employee, Huckabee profited from renting his MikeHuckabee.com email list to a wide range of shady characters, including a medical quack claiming he knew Alzheimer's disease cures; a for-sale stock pundit that was fired from Fox; a financial firm that was fined by the government for engaging in "deliberate fraud"; and a survival food company that profits off of readers' fears of being "herded into FEMA camps." Fox News helped grow his email list, and in turn, Huckabee used his eponymous program to bolster his own political ambitions, even announcing he was considering a presidential run on his final broadcast.
Right-wing media has a long history of serving as Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) biggest cheerleaders, dating back to Cruz's 2012 Senate victory which he credited to Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck, showcasing the influence of conservative media in shaping election outcomes.
Following Cruz's announced bid for the 2016 GOP nomination for president, Media Matters looks back at some of right-wing media's most effusive praise of Cruz.
After Cruz announced his candidacy, Hannity featured the senator in an hour-long special on the March 23 of edition his Fox News show. Hannity highlighted Cruz's campaign announcement speech, and allowed Cruz to promote his platform.
Hannity has fantasized about a Cruz campaign for years before the official campaign launch. During Cruz's February 26 speech at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Hannity jumped on the main stage to proclaim that with Cruz, "we can fundamentally transform America" in 2016.
After Cruz announced the launch of his campaign, Rush Limbaugh praised Cruz, suggesting that he "might be the smartest man in Congress."
In July 2014, Rush predicted that if Ted Cruz continued his rise in "dominant influence," he would lead a nascent Republican "revival" that is "just awaiting leadership."
In September 2013, Limbaugh lashed out at Fox News' Brit Hume for alleging that Cruz was influenced by Limbaugh and other conservative media in his repeated efforts to defund Obama's health care law. Limbaugh defended Cruz, asserting that "Ted Cruz isn't afraid of anybody," and went on to praise the Republican senator, saying "Ted Cruz is fighting for freedom in the greatest tradition of American freedom fighters." Limbaugh added that in his efforts to defund the health care law, "Ted Cruz is attempting to  marshal the support of the American people ... in the greatest traditions of the American founding and the existence of the country."
Beck praised Ted Cruz after the launch of his campaign, championing Cruz's "long, long, impressive resume," saying "you can't pigeonhole him as stupid," adding "I can't wait to see him in a debate."
On his radio show in December 2013, Beck likened Cruz to Ronald Reagan saying, he "may be our Ronald Reagan because that guy does not take prisoners. That guy is a thousand times smarter than 99 percent of the politicians I have ever met."
After Cruz announced his candidacy, Laura Ingraham applauded him for "stand[ing] firm for the constitution," and claimed Cruz will be tough competition for Republicans because he represents "more of a traditionalist point of view" and a more "Reagan-esque" form of conservatism.
Levin railed against Fox News for "trashing" Ted Cruz after the senator launched his campaign, likening Cruz to Reagan, and asserting that like Cruz, Reagan would have been "trashed all over" Fox News.
In August 2013, Levin declared Cruz "one of the bright lights of the Republican Party" for "exciting the base" after he "demonstrated that he can beat the establishment as he did" during his 2012 Senate campaign. Levin defended Cruz from a "vicious, vile, poisonous attack by the establishment including Bush staffers."
In June 2014, Hugh Hewitt proclaimed that Cruz "may be the smartest senator," telling Joe Scarborough on his radio program, "he's just not gonna back down and we need some of that in our party." Hewitt went on to compare Cruz to Reagan, saying he has "the same demeanor" as Reagan, "the same kind of charisma, easy affability and smart, smart, smart."
Cable news networks spent just 12 minutes covering the revelation that Jeb Bush waited seven years to comply with a Florida law requiring him to turn over his private email correspondence, while the same networks devoted hours to reports about Hillary Clinton's use of private email when she served as secretary of state.
Media outlets are holding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a higher standard by scandalizing her use of personal email while at the State Department, claiming the practice raises questions about her "transparency." In reality, other public officials -- including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R), who is attacking Clinton over the emails, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell -- have exclusively used personal email.
The Hill legitimized Republican claims that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to delay its vote on net neutrality to give the public time to review the idea, ignoring the fact that the agency received nearly 4 million comments -- which overwhelmingly favored net neutrality -- during an open-comment period in 2014.