The Drudge Report falsely claimed that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "scapegoat[ed]" Republicans when she pointed out that political opposition to health care reform has complicated its implementation. Although Sebelius never assigned blame to a specific party, GOP obstructionism has in fact made implementation more costly and more complicated.
Drudge linked to an Investor's Business Daily article which claimed that, in recent remarks to the Harvard School of Public Health, Sebelius "was trying to find a way to blame Republicans for ObamaCare's failures when the inevitable problems start emerging." Drudge's headline for the article read, "Sebelius Scapegoats GOP For Coming Obamacare Mess":
But Sebelius never scapegoated the GOP; she only pointed to the "relentless and continuous" politics and state-level opposition as hindering factors:
SEBELIUS: The second thing that probably has been more difficult is just the politics has been relentless and continuous. And I would say I think there was some hope that once the Supreme Court ruled in July and then once an election occurred there would be a sense that, 'This is the law of the land, let's get on board, let's make this work.' And yet we will find ourselves still having sort of state-by-state political battles and again creating what I think is a lot of confusion. It is very difficult when people live in a state where there is a daily declaration, 'We will not participate in the law,' for them to figure out whether there are any benefits that they actually have a right to access and so getting that word out about setting up the infrastructure has been more complicated.
Although Sebelius never blamed the GOP, it is true that Republican obstructionism has made implementation more difficult and costly than it would be otherwise. The Washington Post's Wonkblog pointed out the "incredible burden on the administration" caused by the GOP's "strategy of harassment and intransigence":
Fox Nation has taken down a post it previously highlighted in which Ann Coulter joked about the death of Meghan McCain, the daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
On April 10, Fox Nation linked to a column by Ann Coulter under the headline "Coulter: Liberals Go Crazy For The Mentally Ill." In the post, Coulter wrote, "MSNBC's Martin Bashir suggested that Republican senators need to have a member of their families killed for them to support the Democrats' gun proposals. (Let's start with Meghan McCain!)"
After the post was highlighted across various outlets, Fox Nation pulled it from its website. A cached version of the website shows that Fox Nation's original post included Coulter's joke about McCain's death:
Following Coulter's post, Meghan McCain responded on Twitter, saying, "Apparently Ann Coulter made a joke about me being killed in a recent column. I should expect nothing less but disgusted regardless."
Fox News deceptively edited a clip of Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to make it seem as though she had not anticipated how complex implementation of President Obama's health care law would be when, in fact, Sebelius was pointing to the problems created by relentless political opposition to the bill.
On America's Newsroom, guest host Gregg Jarrett played a portion of Sebelius' appearance at the Harvard School of Public Health. Jarrett introduced the clip by claiming Sebelius "admitted there's been a lot of confusion associated with the rollout." Jarrett then played a portion of the clip in which Sebelius said, "There was some hope that once the Supreme Court ruled in July, and then once an election occurred, there would be a sense of, 'this is the law of the land, let's get on board, let's make this work,' and yet we find ourselves still having sort of state-by-state political battles."
After the clip, Jarrett responded by saying, "She underestimated its complexity. Well, my goodness, the law is 2,700 pages long with more than 15,000 pages of [regulations]. What does she expect?"
But Jarrett's interpretation of Sebelius' appearance is based on deceptive editing. Sebelius wasn't complaining about the bill's length or complexity -- she was explaining that political opposition to the law has made implementation more difficult. Fox began the clip after Sebelius pointed out that "politics has been relentless and continuous." In the portion after Fox's edited verision (comments begin around 13:30), Sebelius went on to explain that states which have expressed consistent opposition to the law make it more difficult to implement the law and explain benefits to health care consumers. In Sebelius' comments below, the portion aired by Fox is in bold:
National Review Online attacked a program that would make released inmates eligible for Medicaid as an "expensive addition" to the program, despite praise from experts who have pointed to the policy's potential to cut health care costs.
An NRO post attacked a provision in the Affordable Care Act which would make recently released prisoners eligible for Medicaid benefits. The blog attacked the program as an "expensive addition" to Medicaid, later complaining that "monumental poor life choices, including the ones felons have made ... will be subsidized by" taxpayers:
Obamacare expands Medicaid enrollment substantially. To deny someone enrollment because he'd served time in prison would surely violate the underlying intent of giving everyone equal health care. And if affordable health care is now a right, to deprive former felons would be to impose a punishment in addition to their original sentence. So to some extent, felons' new Medicaid eligibility makes legal sense.
But there's nevertheless an annoying hypocrisy here.
As Bloomberg's recent soda campaign so aptly demonstrated, once health care becomes a public expense, personal choices become a public concern. Taxpayers can expect to be nagged about small poor life choices like opting for a bigger beverage or a higher-calorie meal choice.
But monumental poor life choices, including the ones felons have made -- which result in lower incomes and worse health -- will be subsidized by those same taxpayers.
It may be equal, but it doesn't seem very fair.
But experts have pointed out that the program could lead to an overall reduction in health care spending. A Pew Stateline article quoted proponents of the program who explained that making released inmates eligible for Medicaid would reduce medical costs by providing access to preventive care and reducing the use of emergency care as a primary health care provider:
Rush Limbaugh attacked the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, as the "buy beer ... with a government credit card" despite prohibitions on the purchase of alcohol with program funds.
From Limbaugh's March 29 radio show:
SNAP explicitly prohibits the use of program funds to purchase alcohol. The program's website, which is operated by the Department of Agriculture, lists "Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco" as examples of products that SNAP benefits cannot pay for:
Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:
-- pet foods;
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco;
- Any nonfood items, such as:
-- soaps, paper products; and
-- household supplies.
- Vitamins and medicines.
- Food that will be eaten in the store.
- Hot foods.
Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney joined the right-wing media's crusade against Labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez by attempting to manufacture outrage over Perez hugging a respected Muslim leader in 2011.
In his March 26 Washington Times column, Gaffney said President Obama's nomination of Perez for Labor secretary "may be his most outrageous yet." In addition to rehashing right-wing smears, Gaffney attacked Perez for "his enthusiastic embrace of Islamists and their causes." As evidence, Gaffney highlighted a 2011 event in which Perez "leapt onto a stage at George Washington University in order to hug the leader of the largest Muslim Brotherhood front group in the United States: Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America."
But Magid is a respected Muslim leader who has worked to combat terrorism and curb extremism, and he has spoken out against domestic violence in the Muslim community.
In addition to serving as the president of ISNA and the executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Magid served on the Department of Justice's Countering Violent Extremism Working Group, a task force formed in 2010 by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to "work with state and local law enforcement as well as relevant community groups to develop and provide to me recommendations regarding how the Department can better support community-based efforts to combat violent extremism domestically -- focusing in particular on the issues of training, information sharing, and the adoption of community-oriented law enforcement approaches to this issue."
In January 2011, Magid co-hosted a forum on "Curbing Violent Extremism" in which panelists discussed "ways in which the American Muslim community can curb and prevent violent extremist tendancies [sic] from within its ranks." A 2005 Time magazine profile of Magid pointed out that he "is fighting his own war against radicals trying to hijack his religion. For Magid that has meant not only condemning terrorism but also working closely with the FBI in battling it. He regularly opens doors for agents trying to cultivate contacts in his Muslim community, and he alerts the bureau when suspicious persons approach his congregation."
Magid has also been an outspoken critic of domestic violence within the Muslim community. In October 2011, Magid worked with the Rhode Island Council of Muslim Advancement to sponsor a training for imams and chaplains "to discuss, in a private and confidential setting, effective strategies to respond to domestic violence situations within the Muslim community, and learn best practices to foster prevention." Magid has also endorsed Project Sakinah, an group that attempts to "achieve lasting change in the attitudes and behaviors of Muslims around the issue of violence within families." He also contributed an essay to the book Change From Within: Diverse Perspectives on Domestic Violence in Muslim Communities.
Fox News' Sean Hannity hosted former Republican New Hampshire Governor John Sununu to attack President Obama during his trip to Israel. But during the Bush administration, Hannity attacked progressives for criticizing the president while he was out of the country.
On his March 20 Fox show, Sean Hannity and Sununu criticized the president over his trip to Israel. Hannity claimed he was grateful for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's presence because "at least there was one adult in the room" and "one adult that understands the nature of -- the battle of -- the conflict between good and evil in our time." Hannity went on to claim that, while the leaders appeared friendly,"there's no way [Netanyahu] doesn't see through this president's b.s." Sununu added that Obama was "clumsy" in his handling of foreign policy and that Obama could not be trusted when it came to foreign policy. Hannity agreed, calling Obama "a demagogue, he lies with abandon and the media doesn't call him out on it. I don't trust him. I don't believe what he says, I think he's phony":
But in 2001, Hannity attacked then-Democratic Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota for criticizing President George W. Bush while Bush was overseas. In August 2001, Daschle said of Bush's foreign policy leadership: "Instead of asserting our leadership, we are abdicating it. Instead of shaping international agreements to serve our interests, we have removed ourselves from a position to shape them at all." On the August 14, 2001, edition of Hannity & Colmes (accessed via Nexis), Hannity played Daschle's comments and responded by saying "when a president goes overseas, criticism stops at the border. He gets support from both sides of the aisle":
HANNITY: So are the Democrats compromising the United States position with their own rhetoric, or are these attacks valid?
Flavia, you know, this is the same Tom Daschle -- you know, we usually -- when a president goes overseas, criticism stops at the border. He gets support from both sides of the aisle. But that wasn't the case with Tom Daschle. When the president went on a recent trip to Europe, he was en route there, he made these critical remarks. And as -- as I thought Trent Lott appropriately said, Daschle needs his training wheels because certainly, he's not in a position to handle the new power he's found.
In an attack on efforts to strengthen gun legislation, frequent Fox News guest Star Parker asked if background checks would prohibit women who have had abortions from purchasing firearms by invoking a long-debunked link between abortion and mental illness.
Appearing on the March 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Parker attacked proposals to impose universal background checks for firearm purchases. Parker asked if background checks, which would consider mental health, would apply to "people who have had abortions" because " according to the studies, [they] have a tendency to have mental challenges later on":
The claim that abortion is linked to mental health problems has long been debunked. The American Psychological Association formed a task force in 2008 "to examine the scientific research addressing mental health factors associated with abortion, including the psychological responses following abortion." The task force found "no credible evidence" of such a link:
Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Labor Tom Perez "made the call not to prosecute the New Black Panthers," a case that was concluded before Perez ever joined the Department.
President Obama nominated Perez on Monday to head the Labor Department on Monday. Reacting to the announcement, Limbaugh attacked Perez on his radio show, claiming Perez was "the guy in the Department of Justice in the civil rights division who made the call not to prosecute the New Black Panthers.
But Perez wasn't confirmed to his post at the DOJ until October of 2009, months after the case had already been resolved. The case involved two members of the New Black Panther Party who appeared outside a polling station in Philadelphia with one member carrying a club. Under President George W. Bush, the Department of Justice brought a voter intimidation lawsuit against the party. After President Obama took office, the case against the party was dropped as the DoJ decided to pursue the case against the defendant carrying the club.
As Slate's David Weigel noted, the DoJ decided to drop the case four months before Perez was confirmed:
Here's the problem. The DOJ dropped those charges in May 2009. Perez wasn't confirmed until October 2009. The reason, of course, was that Republicans delayed the vote as they bargained for more answers on the New Black Panther story. But even had Perez been confirmed right after his hearings, in June, he would have arrived after the decision was made to drop the case.
Limbaugh's comments were the latest in a wave of conservative attacks on Perez.
In an upcoming biography of Fox News president Roger Ailes, author Zev Chafets reports that Ailes hasn't donated to any Muslim charities, and connects that decision to comments tying all Muslim charities to terrorism. Ailes' brand of Islamophobia is mirrored in Fox News' coverage, which has repeatedly tried to connect all Muslims and Muslim institutions with terrorism.
In his new book Roger Ailes: Off Camera, an early copy of which was obtained by Media Matters, Chafets describes Ailes' charitable giving as being spread among a variety of religious charities. Despite giving to charities of various faiths, Chafets reported that Ailes has not given to any Muslim charities, quoting Ailes as saying he would only support those organizations "if they disarm" (emphasis added):
"I've been kicked out of every damn church I've ever belonged to," says Roger Ailes. It is a buccaneer's boast, meant to convey a hard-core irreverence. Ailes is not, by any means, a conventional born-again Christian of the Mike Huckabee variety, let alone Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. He wouldn't use the word himself, but he is ecumenical. He donates considerable sums each year to a small Protestant church near his home in Garrison, although he is not on its membership rolls. He donates upward of 10 percent of his net income to charities, many of them religious, including an annual fifty grand to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and another fifty grand to Catholic charities. He told me he'd be glad to give to Muslim charities, too, "if they disarm."
The implication that all Muslim charities are connected to terrorism is in line with the Islamophobic rhetoric that regularly appears on Fox News. Fox hosts and guests have a long history of invoking terrorism to attack Muslims and Islam: