Fox News host Oliver North is attacking President Barack Obama for visiting Boston to attend a memorial service for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, suggesting that his visit could hurt the bombing investigation.
North wrote on his Twitter account: "How many law officers were pulled off the marathon massacre investigation to provide protection for Obama in Boston?"
During his visit to Boston, Obama will meet with families of the victims and first responders. Obama has declared a state of emergency in Boston, which allows Massachusetts to receive federal funding to cope with the aftermath of the attack.
While North is apparently criticizing Obama for visiting the site of the bombing, the right-wing media have previously attacked Obama for monitoring disasters from Washington, DC, and for leaving the country following a disaster.
North hosts the Fox News program War Stories but is best known for his central role in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration. He unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate from Virginia, and has kept active in helping the Republican Party. As a Fox News analyst, North has pushed bogus claims about military affairs and attacked Obama for having "failed as commander-in-chief" and possessing a "core philosophy of being anti-American."
Following the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon, radio host Alex Jones was quick to suggest the attacks may have been a "false flag" operation staged by the U.S. government. Jones' reaction is far from surprising; he has made a career out of pushing outlandish conspiracy theories.
Among other conspiracies, Jones has blamed the U.S. government for perpetrating, coordinating, or otherwise being involved in the 9-11 attacks, the Aurora movie theater shooting, the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. But despite Jones' well-known history, he is regularly validated by conservative media figures, politicians, and prominent activists that frequent his program, as well as by right-wing websites that promote his work and mainstream outlets that host him on their networks.
In recent years, former Rep. Ron Paul and current Sen. Rand Paul; Fox News figures Lou Dobbs and Andrew Napolitano; gun activists Ted Nugent and Larry Pratt; and climate misinformer Marc Morano have all repeatedly appeared on Jones' show. His immensely popular website Infowars is also frequently promoted by conservative websites like The Drudge Report.
Shortly following the April 15 Boston attacks, Jones tweeted that "our hearts go out to those that are hurt or killed," but added that "this thing stinks to high heaven" and suggested it was a "false flag" operation.
On a special webcast of his show that aired the night of April 15, Jones elaborated on his suggestion, saying, "You saw them stage Fast and Furious. Folks, they staged Aurora, they staged Sandy Hook. The evidence is just overwhelming. And that's why I'm so desperate and freaked out. This is not fun, you know, getting up here telling you this. Somebody's got to tell you the truth."
As Jones uses yet another national tragedy to push baseless, absurd conspiracy theories, it's worth asking whether there's anything he can say or do to lead media figures, politicians and activists to stop validating him.
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Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow told a Tea Party rally that they're like "slaves" who have become "enslaved by the notion of ever-increasing taxes," health care reform, and gun laws. Ablow told the crowd that those grievances "can't stand, because slaves always revolt."
Ablow spoke at an April 13 Tax Day Tea Party Rally in Boston. In a video of the speech posted to YouTube, Ablow, who was billed as a "FOX NEWS expert on psychiatry," attacked President Obama as someone who is psychologically damaged because he was "abandoned" as a child (a frequent critique by Ablow).
Near the end of his remarks, Ablow invoked slavery:
ABLOW: Dependency on anything, a drug or the government, does not last. It can't last because deep in our souls, we know that only independence works. Not far from here, my mentor, Ted Nadelson, once told me, "You know, the thing with slaves is you can't keep them, they always revolt." And that's what's going to happen here. Enslaved by the notion of ever-increasing taxes; told that we can't spend our money, even the money we do take home, the way we want to; told that adulthood starts at 25 [a reference to the Affordable Care Act allowing dependents to stay insured until age 26], if ever; told that nobody really should be able to hold a firearm and know that he can, or she, can defend his family or her family, if push comes to shove. That can't stand, because slaves always revolt.
Ablow has a long history of launching incendiary attacks against progressives and dispensing "pop-psychology nonsense" as a member of Fox's purported "Medical A-Team." Ablow once blamed the rise of conspiracies about President Obama's birth certificate on Obama supposedly "sever[ing] himself from all core emotion." Following the 2012 vice presidential debate, Ablow claimed that Vice President Joe Biden may be suffering from dementia. And Ablow regularly launches anti-LGBT attacks that, in the words of an American Psychiatric Association fellow, "have little basis in current clinical practices."
Fox News contributor Scott Brown reportedly said he's not "done with politics" and refused to rule out running for New Hampshire's U.S. Senate seat in 2014. Brown has followed the well-trodden path of other Fox-favored politicians by signing with the conservative network, which has afforded him a paycheck and a national platform while allowing him to consider future runs for political office.
Since signing with Fox News in February, Brown has been a regular presence across the network and Fox Business. His most high-profile stint came on April 1, when he guest hosted The O'Reilly Factor and delivered an opening commentary built off of a Republican press release.
Brown reportedly told media gathered at a New Hampshire non-profit event yesterday, "I don't think I'm done with politics." When asked if he is considering running for office in New Hampshire, Brown -- who owns a home in New Hampshire -- replied: "I'm not going to rule out anything right now, because I really haven't thought a heck of a lot about it."
While Brown reportedly said yesterday he won't rule out "anything right now" in New Hampshire, he appeared to take a different approach last month. When asked during a March 11 press conference if he would "rule out any sort of political race in New Hampshire," Brown replied: "Yeah, it's something I read about actually and was a little bit surprised about. Certainly my mom lives there, my sister lives there, I have a house there, and I have a lot of good feelings about New Hampshire. But Massachusetts is my home, and if I do anything in the future, it'll most likely be in Massachusetts."
Brown has also recently said that he's "thinking about" running for Massachusetts governor next year, telling a local Fox affiliate in February: "Of course I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about a lot of different thing. But right now the best thing I can do for myself and for my peace of mind and I think for the people of Massachusetts is just to hang tight and recharge and be active." A report in the Boston Globe last month indicated such a run isn't likely for Brown.
Fox News host Eric Bolling criticized conservatives for pushing recent conservative darling Dr. Benjamin Carson as the next Republican presidential nominee. Bolling said that while Carson is "a great conservative" that could have a role in the next Republican administration, he has "no political experience," and "the right is just so desperately grasping for anyone that makes sense, they threw this poor guy into the fire."
Carson has recently been at the center of a controversy over offensive comments he made about marriage equality during an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News program. Hannity has been at the forefront of Fox News' efforts to recruit Carson as a 2016 candidate.
During an April 1 appearance on Cumulus Media Networks' Geraldo, Bolling was asked to respond to the controversy over Carson's recent remarks on Fox News and replied:
BOLLING: As far as Dr. Carson, yes, a lot of people are saying he's the, you know, he should be the Republican candidate for president in 2016. I've said from the very beginning, on The Five and anywhere else, he's a great conservative. He has a role somewhere in a Republican administration, and a conservative voice, but how in the world can you take a guy who's really had no political experience, maybe just a couple of speeches, and say he's going to be the next Republican candidate for president? The right is just so desperately grasping for anyone that makes sense, they threw this poor guy into the fire.
Now he probably didn't realize that he was walking into the same sort of buzzsaw that some of the other Republicans over, you know, over the last cycle ran into. Look, these aren't the issues. What every Republican should, or conservative should do is focus on the economy. Focus on jobs. Focus on -- the government is taking more and more of your hard-earned tax money and wasting it. Those are the issues that Republicans need to worry about, not the social issues. But he didn't -- again, if he wants to make a run for president, he better get some very, very smart handlers.
Bolling's colleagues at Fox News and The Wall Street Journal -- which, like Fox, is owned by News Corp. -- have devoted substantial time and energy to touting Carson as a Republican presidential contender.
Dr. Benjamin Carson, who has come under heavy criticism in recent days for comparing marriage equality supporters to advocates of bestiality and pedophilia, wrote in his 2012 book that marriage equality "is a slippery slope with a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire."
In a March 26 appearance on Fox News (where he has recently become a regular fixture), Carson said, "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition." He added that his argument is "not something against gays," but "against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications."
Carson also pushed anti-marriage equality views in his most recent book. Carson warned in America the Beautiful that attempts to "redefine marriage" could lead to a "disastrous ending" for America on par with the fall of the Roman Empire. He explained that his opposition is "a logical and reasoned view" because marriage between a man and a woman benefits the "family structure and the propagation of humankind. ... God obviously knew what he was doing when he ordained the traditional family, and we should not denigrate it in order to uplift some alternative."
Carson added that he has "no problem whatsoever with allowing gay people to live as they please, as long as they don't try to impose their lifestyle on everyone else" and would support "gays or non-gays" having a legally binding relationship "that helps with the adjudication of property rights and other legal matters." Carson then compared this legal relationship to allowing Muslims to privately practice religion: "Likewise, I have no problem with Muslims or other religious groups who want to practice their religion in their homes, which may be vastly different from traditional Judeo-Christian religion, as long as they don't try to impose that on others or violate our laws."
Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes is standing by his anti-gay attacks and his claim that acceptance of marriage equality could lead to legalized bestiality. When challenged by colleague Alan Colmes, Starnes also confirmed he "absolutely" believes that liberals want to "destroy the fabric of the American family," and linked marriage equality to the spread of venereal disease.
During a March 27 appearance on Fox News Radio's The Alan Colmes Show, Starnes doubled down on his anti-gay attacks. Colmes asked Starnes if he -- "a nice, mild mannered guy" -- really believes that "the left's ultimate agenda is to destroy the family." Starnes replied: "I really do believe that the agenda of the left is trying to destroy the fabric of the American family. I really do. ... I absolutely believe that."
As the Supreme Court hears arguments this week on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), conservative media figures have responded with their usual vitriol.
Rush Limbaugh led the way by telling his listeners that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment was never intended to have anything to do with "gay marriage or animal marriage." Limbaugh later expanded on a caller's argument against marriage equality by pondering, "at some point who's to say that you cannot have sex with a child."
Limbaugh's commentary about the Prop 8 case is nothing new for conservative media figures, who have spent years demonizing marriage equality with offensive, outlandish, and downright bizarre arguments. Media Matters reviews some of the lowlights over the past decade.
Fox News contributor and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson added to the ongoing Republican civil war by calling conservative nonprofits "parasites" on conservatism who have consumed "literally billions of dollars" and "achieved virtually nothing in the last thirty years." Carlson also remarked, "If there's a more useless group of people in the world, I'm not aware of it."
Since Mitt Romney's defeat last November, Republicans have been feuding among themselves over the future of the party and conservative ideals. The fight exploded when Karl Rove and his allies at American Crossroads announced plans to, in the words of The New York Times, "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts." Conservative media figures conservative groups like FreedomWorks have hit Rove over the project. FreedomWorks raised nearly $41 million last year and has come under heavy scrutiny recently due to bizarre internal feuding and questions about its finances.
Carlson made his remarks on the March 18 broadcast of WMAL's Mornings on the Mall during a discussion about the Republican infighting. From the program:
CARLSON: There are a ton of sleazy consultants out there. A lot of them are getting rich, I live near a lot of them, so I can vouch for their richness, for sure. The irony, though, is that these charges are being thrown by almost always people in the conservative nonprofit sector, and if there's a more useless group of people in the world, I'm not aware of it. I mean, conservative nonprofits in Washington consume over time, over the last forty years, literally, literally billions of dollars. And the country has become much more liberal in every single way.
So they have failed to do anything other than, you know, buy weekend houses and send their kids to college. I mean they've profited from it. But they haven't won, you know, any important ideological victory in thirty years. So like, wait a second. They need to reexamine their own status. I mean, these are parasites too, as far as I'm concerned. They really are.
LARRY O'CONNOR (CO-HOST): Just a quick follow up because you're making it sound like this is really a battle over money. Are you saying those nonprofits are hammering consultants like Karl Rove because they don't like all that money being donated to -- to the consultants instead of going to the nonprofits?
CARLSON: I'm saying they ought to take the plank out of their eye before they point out the speck in their neighbors, I guess is what I'm really saying. I mean, I think there are a lot of really sincere, decent conservatives working in nonprofits, I know them, of course. I don't want to make a blanket indictment. However, they as a group have achieved virtually nothing in the last thirty years. I know, because I've lived here. And look at the results. Our taxes are higher, more people are pro-choice. I mean -- you know, like all their stated goals have not been achieved. And they've consumed a huge amount of money doing it, so it's time for some serious soul-searching. And for those people to get up and start screaming about how other people are wasting money and aren't sincere and are cynical, I mean, it's nauseating. To me, I'm not a consultant or an employee of a nonprofit so I think I can see it with some clarity, there are a lot of parasites on the, you know, on conservatism.
Carlson's remarks were highlighted on the video website of the conservative nonprofit Media Research Center. The MRC is headed by conservative activist Brent Bozell, who has harshly criticized Rove and discouraged donors from giving money to his group. In addition to heading the MRC, Bozell is also the chairman of ForAmerica, a conservative nonprofit.
On the tenth anniversary of the American-led invasion of Iraq, Media Matters looks back at the work of some of the media's most prominent pro-war voices. Instead of facing consequences for backing the invasion based on information that turned out to be false and criticizing war opponents, many of these media figures continue to hold positions of influence and continue to provide foreign policy reporting and commentary.