Stop me if you've heard this one before: The conservative blogosphere appears to catch a progressive politician in a gotcha, saying or doing something in the past which seems to contradict their current words or deeds, only to have the charge unravel mere moments later because it was simply too good to check.
Today's case is this post by conservative blogger Dan Riehl discussing the "Vote Different" YouTube video that attacked then-Senator Hillary Clinton in 2007. Riehl billed it as an "early Obama commerical". The link to Riehl's blog post was then promoted by Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, whose post apparently prompted Reason's Nick Gillespie to describe the clip as "a pre-2008 Democratic primary season ad from future Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama". That Reason post was then re-amplified by Reynolds with a later blog post.
The only problem is, the ad didn't come from the Obama campaign.
The ad was created by Phil de Velils, who described his connection to the ad and the Obama campaign in a post on The Huffington Post three years ago:
Let me be clear: I am a proud Democrat, and I always have been. I support Senator Obama. I hope he wins the primary. (I recognize that this ad is not his style of politics.) I also believe that Senator Clinton is a great public servant, and if she should win the nomination, I would support her and wish her all the best.
I've resigned from my employer, Blue State Digital, an internet company that provides technology to several presidential campaigns, including Richardson's, Vilsack's, and -- full disclosure -- Obama's. The company had no idea that I'd created the ad, and neither did any of our clients. But I've decided to resign anyway so as not to harm them, even by implication.
This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed.
When people wonder why the conservative blogosphere has such a hard time being taken seriously, it's for episodes like this, and as my colleague Ben Dimiero pointed out earlier, this isn't even the sloppiest incident in the conservative blogosphere today.
Considering the way Fox merged the Hannity show with the Bachmann/Palin rally last night, you would at least think that Palin's support helps Republican candidates. If Palin is providing a siginificant boost to the out of power Republican party, that at least resembles something newsworthy and might possibly give a slight reason for Fox's relentless boosterism. Nope.
According to Fox's own polling, 51% of voters are less likely to support a candidate if Sarah Palin campaigns for them, versus 25% who are more likely to follow the former governor's lead.
Viewers tuning in to Sean Hannity's April 7 show on Fox News were treated to something unusual, even in the world of cable news. Hannity hosted his show from the Minneapolis convention center, the site of a rally earlier in the day for the re-election campaign of Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann, surrounded by a crowd with "Bachmann" placards.
Hannity was joined on stage by Bachmann, as well as Fox News contributor Sarah Palin. As Hannity noted, Palin had been the "headliner" at Bachmann's rally. The question is: where did the rally end and Hannity's show begin?
Hannity introduced the crowd by referring to the attendees as "conservatives rallying in support of the values that will help the Republican party take back control of the congress this November." In the past Fox has claimed that they had straight news shows separate from "editorial" shows, and while that was a demonstrably false assertion, they clearly need to add a category for "rallies for the Republican party" shows.
On his April 7 show, Glenn Beck deceptively cropped a speech from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in order to make it seem like she was saying something about health care reform that she wasn't.
Beck's video made it seem as if Speaker Pelosi simply said that "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it," and he went on to suggest that what Pelosi meant was that she was deceitfully hiding what was in the health care legislation until after it passed.
In fact, what Beck left off is the rest of Pelosi's statement. After commenting that discussion of health care reform had been focused on "the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill," she said in full, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy." (emphasis added)
In the past few months Beck has falsely claimed that health care reform will allow Obama to control your life, that it would create death panels, that it was the "end of the American Constitution", would send uninsured people to jail, and so on.
If that isn't the creation of a "fog of controversy," what is? No wonder Beck conveniently edited those comments out of the full statement. He just added to the fog.
Purporting to report "evidence of socialism" in President Obama's policies, Glenn Beck cited Obama "taking over" the auto industry, the banking industry, and AIG, as well as the supposed "total government control of our health care industry" and "control of the entire student loan industry" established through recent legislation. But aside from the fact that those policies are not socialist, many of them began under President Bush, while others retain significant involvement from private industry.
Since the last time Glenn Beck attacked net neutrality as Marxist plot to take over the Internet, he's had ample time to research and discover that the issue is in fact about keeping the internet as an open platform for individuals and businesses (an initiative supported by major corporations like Google, Amazon.com and Facebook). Beck would even have learned that conservative groups like the Christian Coaltion as well as Gun Owners of America and the Parents Television Council support net neutrality.
True to the pattern we've seen from Beck over the years, he has not learned.
On his Monday Fox News show Beck explained to his audience that net neutrality was all about silencing Glenn Beck and others opposed to the Obama administration. To call this missing the point would be generous and a disservice to anyone who has ever legitmately missed a point.
Glenn Beck says that net neutrality is about squelching freedom of speech, the exact opposite of what net neutrality is about. From The Free Press' statement on net neutrality (Free Press is a major organizer of the Save The Internet campaign for net neutrality):
We need to keep the Internet free, open and neutral. Network Neutrality is vital to ensuring that everyone can connect and share content freely, that we can access the information, visit the Web sites and say what we want online, free from discrimination or interference.
The phone and cable companies that control access to the Internet for most Americans want to get rid of Net Neutrality, the rule that prevents them from discriminating against online content. They want to become the Internet's gatekeepers, deciding which sites go fast or slow and which won't load at all -- based on who pays them the most.
We can't allow the information superhighway to become the phone and cable companies' private toll road. If they get their way, the Internet as we know it -- as a democratic platform for free speech and innovation -- will disappear.
Somehow, Beck turned Free Press' net neutrality advocacy into a Marxist plot "to limit America's free press and freedom of speech."
After decrying a campaign by Free Press to have individuals comment to the FCC supporting net neutrality rules as a power grab by "special interests," Beck directed his audience to go to nointernettakeover.com to oppose net neutrality. Somehow, he neglected to point out that nointernettakeover.com is run by the right-wing organization Americans for Prosperity, which receives tons of corporate "special interest" money.
Do you know who would benefit from net neutrality? Glenn Beck. People like Beck would continue to have open access to a platform to share their conspiracy theories no matter how ill-informed they might be. So far, there are few signs that Beck will ever get this.
Sean Hannity, purporting to explain what a "Reagan conservative" is, claimed that President Reagan created 21 million new jobs and doubled federal revenues. Neither of those claims are true.
On the March 24 edition of Hannity, Sean Hannity proved that even when corrected on an issue by a fellow conservative, he'll plow ahead no matter what the facts are. Hannity was discussing the new health care law with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and repeated the false claim that congress was exempt from the health exchanges in the bill. Sen. DeMint quickly corrected him:
That did not deter the intrepid Mr. Hannity, as minutes later he expressed his shock about the (nonexistent) exemptions in the law. Amazingly, Hannity referenced the very conversation in which Sen. DeMint had corrected his misinformation!
Once more, into the breach Hannity went a few minutes later, this time arguing with Juan Williams about the mythical exemptions in the bill. Echoing Sen. DeMint, Williams debunked Hannity, but these facts were mere playthings for Hannity to swat aside.
Hannity demonstrated once again that he wasn't going to let anything like the actual facts or multiple debunkings get in the way of putting some misinformation out there. But then, that's what Fox News has been doing all along.
With all the companies that have pulled their advertising from Glenn Beck, it's understandable that many of those still advertising with him aren't exactly blue-chip enterprises. Regardless, you've got to give it to the folks at Survival Seed Bank - who advertised on Glenn Beck's March 8 broadcast - for meshing quite nicely with the host's apocalyptic visions of the future.
There's nothing wrong with a business that serves some kind of demand in the marketplace, but it goes without saying that fearmongering about economic collapse followed by food shortages and citing World Net Daily for "strong evidence" is big time black helicopter stuff.
No wonder they're advertising on Glenn Beck.
On his February 23 show, Sean Hannity devoted the entire hour of his show to airing and discussing Generation Zero, a film produced by conservative activists about the financial crisis. In the segment below Hannity and the filmmakers lay blame for the crisis on baby boomers (or "'60's hippies," in the words of producer David Bossie) moving away from conservative ideas by taking advantage of corporate personhood in order to avoid personal responsibility for the risks they took with the funds their banks controlled:
This denies reality. It is in fact the conservative movement that has regularly supported the power of personhood for corporations, and the resulting dissolution of personal responsibility for corporate decisions. In fact, one of the producers of this very film is David Bossie. Bossie is behind Citizens United, the conservative activist group who recently won a Supreme Court case that affirmed the power of political speech for coporations like Citizens United (the case was decided 5-4 with the justices regularly categorized as conservative voting in the affirmative).
It might be possible, maybe, that Bossie is secretly one of those corporate loving hippies in disguise. But I'm doubtful.