Rush Limbaugh claimed that the government only arrested suspect Paul Kevin Curtis for allegedly sending ricin-tainted letters to government officials because he was a white southerner. But the letters were signed with Curtis' initials and catch phrase.
Curtis, who is from Mississippi, was arrested last week for allegedly mailing letters containing the poison ricin to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Lee County, Mississippi Justice Court judge Sadie Holland. Though his case is still pending, Curtis was released from federal custody on bond after investigators failed to find evidence of ricin in Curtis' possession.
Limbaugh interpreted his release as evidence that authorities merely arrested Curtis because they wanted the ricin suspect to be a white southerner. He told listeners, "You know the ricin letters that were sent? The drive-bys so desperately wanted the culprit to be a hayseed, hick southerner, so they went out and found this poor guy from Mississippi and they accused him of it," and concluded, "They really wanted the ricin guy to be a white southern guy and not a dark-skinned something-or-other."
Details of Curtis' release are still unclear, but court documents reveal the FBI followed credible evidence -- not based on his skin color -- to connect Curtis with the tainted letters.
As the AP reported, FBI agent Brandon Grant explained at Curtis' hearing:
Grant testified Friday that authorities tried to track down the sender of the letters by using a list of Wicker's constituents with the initials KC, the same initials in the letters. Grant said the list was whittled from thousands to about 100 when investigators isolated the ones who lived in an area that would have a Memphis, Tenn., postmark, which includes many places in north Mississippi. He said Wicker's staff recognized Curtis as someone who had written the senator before.
According to the criminal complaint against Curtis, as ABC News reported, each ricin letter was signed "This is KC and I approve this message," a phrase Curtis frequently used in internet postings and other letters.
Hours after it was debunked, Glenn Beck continued to beat the drum of a conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is deporting a Saudi national who was behind the tragic bombings at the Boston marathon.
The conspiracy theory arose when Steve Emerson, a guest on Fox News' Hannity, accused the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of preparing to deport a Saudi national "person of interest" in the bombings at the Boston marathon. Right-wing blogs like Glenn Beck's The Blaze, Breitbart.com, WND, and Infowars quickly latched on to the story, alleging President Obama wishes to cover up Saudi Arabian and Al Qaeda ties to the attack.
The myth pretends that a Saudi national who was hospitalized after sustaining injuries in the bombing -- initially reported to be a "person of interest," though he never was -- is the same man DHS is allegedly in the process of deporting for visa violations.
DHS soundly discredited the conspiracy theory this afternoon, explaining to CNN's Jake Tapper that the rumors are confusing two very different men.
Still, hours later, Beck continued to run with the debunked conspiracy on his television program, claiming his "sources" knew better (emphasis added):
We at the Blaze know that this Saudi national is a bad, bad, bad man ... This administration is playing an extraordinarily dangerous game. They have very little regard for what it takes to be a citizen. Before the sequester cuts happened, they opened the prison and let illegals out. Who does that? Remember also, the Saudi national that was -- is about to get on a plane -- involved in blowing the legs off of American citizens, being held in protective custody or being protected, at least, by our administration. He will be put in protective custody and the plans are to deport him.
Beck's claims, of course, are far from true.
When confronted with the fact that a majority of the nation's gun owners support expanded background checks for gun purchases, Fox anchor Bret Baier hid behind the National Rifle Association (NRA) to allege that such support does not exist.
The NRA has lobbied aggressively against a bipartisan proposal in the Senate that would have expanded background checks on gun show and online gun purchases. Among other efforts, they spent $500,00 in one day -- the day the Senate voted on the bill -- on ads calling the proposal "Obama's gun ban," according to the New York Times.
The background check proposal failed to pass the Senate, a result Fox contributor Juan Williams lamented on Special Report, stressing how even "gun owners say, 'Yes, it's a good thing' ":
WILLIAMS: It's like a tragedy ... the U.S. Senate can't take action on simple background checks that overwhelmingly the American people, in poll after poll, say that it's a good idea, it would be a good thing. Gun owners say, 'Yes, it's a good thing.' But again, the power of big money, the NRA, and the gun manufacturers has carried the day. So let's look at the record then--
BAIER: Well, hold on. Gun owners overall don't say that. You mentioned the NRA. They say this. (emphasis added)
Baier then read the NRA's statement opposing the Senate bill, which asserts that "[e]xpanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in schools."
Despite Baier's claim, the NRA's view are contrary to that of the majority of gun owners on this issue. In February 2013, the Pew Research Center determined that gun owners overwhelmingly support expanded background checks. Pew found the number to be:
The vast majority of gun owners have repeatedly expressed their approval of more background checks. At the beginning of the year, a Quinnipiac University poll showed 91 percent of gun owners were in support; in March, they found that number to be little changed, with 85 percent of gun owners in favor of universal background checks.
Fox News reported that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found 679 renewable energy initiatives to be overlapping -- but the GAO only stated that 679 was the number of such initiatives that existed in 2010; further, the GAO explicitly stated that it could not evaluate whether the programs overlapped.
In the GAO's 2013 annual report, which seeks to identify wasteful and overlapping federal government programs, the office determined that "23 agencies and their 130 subagencies implemented 679 renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010."
Fox's Special Report, however, claimed that all 679 of these programs were duplicative and wasteful. Host Bret Baier reported: "Fox has obtained the results of a new GAO report finding 162 areas of duplication or wasteful spending, adding almost $100 billion a year on top of a larger amount from two previous reports. Renewable energy programs topped them all with 679 overlapping programs."
This characterization is actually contradicted by the report itself. While the report found that a handful of wind initiatives may have "provided duplicative support," the GAO specifically stated that the office "could not comprehensively assess the potential for overlap or duplication" among the renewable energy initiatives:
Although GAO examined characteristics, such as energy source and recipient type, for the nearly 700 renewable energy initiatives identified in its February 2012 report, GAO could not comprehensively assess the potential for overlap or duplication among the initiatives because existing agency information was not sufficiently complete to allow for such an assessment.
Fox's falsehood echoes a release from Republican Senator Tom Coburn that also claims 679 renewable energy initiatives were found to be duplicative.
Fox News is blasting Beyoncé and Jay-Z for traveling to Cuba in light of U.S. sanctions against the country -- but the network previously published articles with advice and tips on traveling to Cuba.
Under current sanctions against Cuba, an American citizen can obtain a "people-to-people" license from the Treasury Department -- which requires visitors to take tours that are strictly educational -- in order to travel to the country. Last week, singers Jay-Z and Beyoncé spent their anniversary in Havana, Cuba, after reportedly gaining such authorization, according to Reuters.
This visit drew the ire of Fox & Friends -- co-host Gretchen Carlson said, "[T]he trip appears to be just a vacation going against a 51-year travel embargo. So what is Hollywood's obsession with Havana?" Co-host Steve Doocy wondered, "Why would they spend money in a place where Cubans are being beaten and arrested for disagreeing with the Castros and the government?"
The Five co-hosts also criticized the couple for traveling to Cuba -- co-host Dana Perino asked, "Whose idea was this initially?" while co-host Bob Beckel said the two were traveling to "a racist country" and concluded, "I don't get it."
But a few years ago, Fox's website detailed "a few points to keep in mind if you're considering traveling to Cuba legally." In an article reporting on President Obama's reinstating the "people-to-people" exchange, FoxNews.com laid out helpful hints to readers on how to take advantage of the program, concluding, "there's no better time to book a trip."
Fox News' on-screen text misleadingly identified Rev. Luis Leon as the "Obama pastor" after President Obama attended worship services at Leon's St. John's Church, contradicting Fox's own reporting. The Fox text echoed other right-wing media attempts to attack the president for attending a sermon that referenced political issues, even while Fox News host Megyn Kelly admitted dozens of presidents have attended Leon's services.
Obama and his family attended Easter Sunday services at St. John's Church, known as "The Church of the Presidents." According to church history, every president since James Monroe has attended worship services at the church, which even has a "Presidential Pew" reserved for the president's use when he's attending. The Obamas are not members of the church.
During this year's Easter sermon, St. John's Reverend Luis Leon touched on politics and "the religious right," prompting Fox's Megyn Kelly to host a debate on the appropriateness of Leon's comments. Kelly acknowledged that dozens of presidents have attended St. John's services and noted that Rev. Leon previously delivered the invocations at the second inaugurations of both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama.
But even as Kelly spoke, text aired on screen dismissed her words and deemed Rev. Leon to be the "Obama Pastor":
Fox's text echoes the trumped-up relationship also pushed by Fox Nation and other right-wing media.
There's no shortage of enthusiasm among conservatives to move past the 2012 election and fix the manifold problems facing the conservative movement. However, this eagerness on the part of conservatives for a Republican resurgence isn't matched by a willingness to actually alter the self-destructive behaviors that have marginalized the right. Liz Cheney joined up with this "cry change but do nothing" crowd in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that counsels conservatives to move past 2012 and start fighting President Obama... with the exact same arguments and talking points used by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Put them side-by-side, and the daylight between Cheney's op-ed and the Romney-Ryan campaign just about disappears.
|Liz Cheney: "[Obama] believes that more government borrowing and spending are the solution to every problem."||Romney-Ryan: "The president has the same old answers as in the past: he wants another stimulus, he wants more government workers, and he wants to raise taxes." -- Mitt Romney|
|Liz Cheney: "[Obama] seems unaware that the free-enterprise system has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system devised by man."||Romney-Ryan: "Redistribution of wealth undermines the true sources of America's prosperity and progress: our entrepreneurial people and our free enterprise system. Mitt Romney understands that. He knows that American free enterprise has lifted more people out of poverty than any government program in history." -- Romney campaign surrogate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)|
|Liz Cheney: "Perhaps [Obama's] ignorance of that fact explains his hostility toward the private sector."||Romney-Ryan: "The fact is every time they attack Mitt Romney for his experience in the private sector, they reinforce the idea that President Obama is hostile to the private sector." -- Romney campaign senior adviser Ed Gillespie|
|Liz Cheney: "[Obama] has launched a war on religious freedom."||Romney-Ryan: "President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith." -- Romney campaign ad|
|Liz Cheney: "[Obama] has launched a war on fossil fuels."||Romney-Ryan: "Obama wages war on coal while we lose jobs to China." -- Romney campaign ad|
|Liz Cheney: "[Obama] doesn't believe in creating a bigger pie with more opportunity for all. He believes in greater redistribution of a much smaller pie."||Romney-Ryan: "Our job is not to fight over a shrinking pie in redistributed slices, our job as leaders is to grow the pie so that everybody has a better shot at the American dream, and everybody can pick themselves up." -- Paul Ryan|
|Liz Cheney: "If you're unsure of what this America would look like, Google 'Cyprus' or 'Greece.'"||Romney-Ryan: "We've gone from $10 trillion of national debt to $16 trillion of national debt. If the president were re-elected, we'd go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece." -- Mitt Romney|
Fox News gave credence to debunked conspiracy theories surrounding the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, presenting outlandish fears about the treaty's potential effects on domestic gun policy as legitimate reason to oppose it.
Members of the United Nations are meeting this week to negotiate an international arms trade treaty, which would regulate the transnational transfer of weapons in an attempt to keep weapons from human rights abusers and war criminals.
America's Newsroom highlighted arguments for and against the U.S. joining the U.N. treaty, laying out how "critics" in the U.S. "fear that this new treaty will create international gun control, and that it will restrict American gun rights." Fox correspondent Eric Shawn uncritically explained how specific provisions in the treaty have caused some to fear it could create a gun registry and infringe upon the 2nd Amendment.
Fox then aired comments by an unidentified man furthering these conspiracies: "The treaty isn't clearly limited to the international arms trade. There are points in the draft treaty where it seems like it could apply to domestic arms sales and transfers inside the United States." Shawn noted how the National Rifle Association (NRA) also "strongly opposes" the treaty, believing it will restrict Americans' gun rights.
Rather than report on the merits of these conspiracy theories, Shawn explained that supporters of the treaty disagree with the NRA and argue the treaty is needed for various human rights reasons.
The treaty's actual language clearly explains that it does not dictate or impact nations' domestic affairs. The treaty's draft preamble says that a State party to this treaty "reaffirm[s] the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional systems."
Fox News ignored military testimony in order to claim that the proposed overhaul of Guantanamo Bay facilities is intended to improve conditions for alleged terrorists, when in fact U.S. troops would be the primary beneficiaries.
Earlier this week, General John Kelly, head of U.S. Southern Command, spoke before the House Armed Services Committee on the immediate need for upgrades to U.S. detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Kelly testified that the proposed overhaul to the base would cost between $150-170 million and would, among other things, build a new dining facility, hospital, and barracks for U.S. troops stationed there. Gen. Kelly urged Congress to approve the expenditures, stating, "We need to take care of our troops."
Notably, as NPR reported, "Kelly said none of the projects are aimed at improving the 'lifestyle' of the detainees. But the improvements will increase security and improve the ease of movement for the detainees, which will benefit the guards by making their jobs less complicated."
Fox & Friends Saturday omitted any mention of how the proposed renovations would improve facilities for U.S. troops. Instead, guest-host Jesse Watters, a producer for The O'Reilly Factor, suggested that they were intended to better the lives of suspected terrorist detainees: "These are terrorists. They were living in caves in Afghanistan, in mud huts, basically. Now we're saying Guantanamo bay, a federal facility in the Caribbean is not good enough for these guys?"
MSNBC's Morning Joe selectively edited comments Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave in 2002 to assert that she was "beating the drums of war" in the run up to the Iraq war, but the highlighted comments come from a speech in which Pelosi urged Congress to vote against authorizing the use of force in Iraq.
During Morning Joe's coverage of the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq war, co-host Mika Brzezinski introduced a prepared video montage on how "it was a lot easier for some members of Congress to support the conflict before they were against it." Co-host Joe Scarborough provided the voice-over in the video, and claimed it showed how "the very same people who spent years beating up George Bush were the very ones beating the drum for Iraq's regime change and Saddam Hussein's ouster."
The video juxtaposes comments made by members of Congress purportedly "beating the drum for Iraq's regime change," against later comments by the same members of Congress criticizing President Bush over the war. One of the voices Scarborough highlights is Pelosi, shown in the video saying:
I applaud the President on focusing on this issue and on taking the lead to disarm Saddam Hussein.
But contrary to what Morning Joe implied, these comments come from a floor speech Pelosi gave in 2002 opposing the Iraq war, arguing that it would weaken the country by diverting resources from the war on terror (portion MSNBC aired in bold):
I come to this debate, Mr. Speaker, at the end of 10 years of service on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was one of my top priorities. I applaud the President's focusing on this issue, and on taking the lead to disarm Saddam Hussein.
It is from the perspective of 10 years on the Intelligence Committee that I rise in opposition to this resolution on national security grounds. The clear and present danger that our country faces is terrorism. I say flat out that unilateral use of force without first exhausting every diplomatic remedy and other remedies and making a case to the American people will be harmful to our war on terrorism.
Pelosi concluded her speech by urging her House colleagues to vote "No" on the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, as she did.
UPDATE: On the March 20th edition of Morning Joe, the hosts issued a correction and apologized for the mistake, showing the clip of Rep. Pelosi in full context and acknowledging her opposition to authorizing the use of force in Iraq in 2002.