In the latest entry in our ever-expanding Obama Derangement Syndrome series, the right-wing media are attacking Michelle Obama for a letter she addressed to parents in the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Conservatives are professing outrage that Obama would dare speak of "tolerance" following a shooting rampage that left six dead and over a dozen wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft, who's not known for turning away any opportunity to attack the Obamas, led the charge this morning with a post titled, "Michelle Obama: We Can Use the Tucson Shootings to Teach Our Children Tolerance ...Huh?" Hoft writes: "Some disturbed mental case goes on a shooting spree at a Safeway after months and years of bizarre behavior and Michelle Obama wants your kids to be more tolerant? That's so not right."
In the letter, Michelle Obama writes that the tragedy "makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in -- and the world in which our children will grow up," and tells parents that it provides "an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons -- about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away."
She goes on to write:
We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis. And we can help them do that in their own small way -- whether it's by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.
We can teach them the value of tolerance -- the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.
We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families. We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.
That was apparently too much for Rush Limbaugh, who replied: "I don't know if she got the message that her husband attempted in his inimitable, exclusive, and brilliant manner Wednesday night."
Once again, in their rush to attack President Obama, conservatives failed to check the accuracy of their claims. Yesterday, as part of their attacks on Obama over his widely praised speech at the memorial for the victims of the Tucson, Arizona shooting, conservative media figures cooked up the claim, absent any evidence, that the White House was behind the memorial's "branding." They accused the White House of coming up with the memorial's slogan, "Together We Thrive," and the design logo of the T-shirts that were handed out to attendees. Some even admitted that they had no evidence on which to base their claim.
Today, the "Truth-O-Meter" at PolitiFact.com rated the conservative claim "False," writing that "officials at the University of Arizona said the White House had nothing to do with the name or the logo." Discussing Michelle Malkin's post claiming that Obama was behind the event's branding, PolitiFact continued:
"The name of the event and the logo for the event were done entirely by the university," said Johnny Cruz, a spokesman for the University of Arizona. "Branding of the event was not done in consultation with the White House, or any elected officials or political organization."
The T-shirts were also the university's doing, Cruz said.
"That was the university's idea," he said. "We wanted to give people something to remember, to symbolize the community spirit."
The university bought the shirts without the use of taxpayer dollars, although he wasn't sure if the cost was borne by donations.
"Almost everything was done by the university," Cruz said, including selection of the location for the event and planning the agenda. Once the president accepted an invitation, he said, the White House helped coordinate some logistics, such as security, but that was the extent of the White House involvement.
And "Together We Thrive" was conceived by a University of Arizona student, he said.
Right-wing media that ran with the claim include:
During an interview on MSNBC's Hardball, Media Matters President and CEO David Brock accused Glenn Beck of being "responsible for three thwarted assassination attempts this year." Indeed, in each of the three examples Brock cited -- Gregory Giusti, Charles Wilson, and Byron Williams -- the incendiary and often violent rhetoric spewed by the Fox News host and elsewhere on the network was said to be a motivating factor, if not the inspiring factor, in the men's actions.
On Monday, we highlighted how upset CNN's Erick Erickson seemed to be with people not talking about a "saving faith in Jesus Christ" following the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is Jewish. In response, Erick Erickson wrote in a January 12 RedState post:
The atheists and twinkie eaters at Media Matters, also known as the Westboro Baptist D.C. Branch, are enraged that I dared mention Jesus and the absence of discussing him in the debate over Arizona.
The Westboro Baptist Church is an extremist anti-gay group known for protesting the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The group claims the soldiers' deaths are inflicted by God to punish the United States for accepting the "sin" of homosexuality. Members often carry signs reading "God Hates Fags" at the protests, which is also the name of its website.
The group had recently announced it would picket the funeral of a 9-year-old victim of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, before agreeing not to protest, reportedly in exchange for air time on two radio stations. According to ABC News, "[t]he group still plans to picket Friday's funeral of U.S. District Judge John Roll, and at the intersection where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were shot."
On his Fox News show, Glenn Beck claimed that lawmakers are considering "a ban on guns" in light of the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Beck has previously stoked fears that the government or President Obama "will slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun."
Neil Cavuto just can't catch a break. Today, another CEO of an American company shot down his pet theory that President Obama's tax policies are somehow harmful to the success of American business and the economy. Cavuto, ever skeptical of even the slightest economic upswing, refuses to believe the facts: notably, that Obama's position that tax cuts should not be permanently extended for the richest Americans is not what is keeping American companies from hiring workers.
During an interview with Tractor Supply Co. chairman and CEO Jim Wright about how companies plan to expand in 2011, Cavuto suggested that the recent success of Wright's company could face "uncertainty" in two years following the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest earners. Cavuto also went on to suggest that the health care reform law would further cast a pall over American business. But Wright squarely put his company's success and/or failure on the shoulders of consumers:
WRIGHT: Well, probably the best thing, being a retailer, we have a tremendous amount of data. Going back to the early days of 2008, we saw consumers change very abruptly. As a result, we called the recession three weeks into that year. So anything that would give us pause right now would be a change in the behavior of our consumers, not the behavior or the consumer confidence.
Similarly, in an interview with Cummins Inc. chairman and CEO Theodore "Tim" Solso a week ago, Cavuto suggested that businesses were unwilling to expand because they were "scared" of Obama and "scared that tax rates might not last much longer beyond the two years they've been extended."
You would think that by now, what with the "Happy Holidays" promos and its own "Holiday Party," Fox would just forget the whole "War on Christmas" war. For years now, Fox has heavily promoted this idea that "secular progressives" are engaged in a so-called "war" on Christmas, declaring over and over that the holiday is "under attack." In its efforts to continue this overhyped, manufactured non-controversy, the network has taken to misleading viewers and even has accused the Democrats of "waging their own War on Christmas."
When all that failed, Fox tried to rebrand the "War on Christmas" -- the "War on Christianity" -- except that facts, predictably, got in the way of that campaign. Today, Fox has a new culprit to go after for supposedly waging a War on Christmas. It's attacking the NBA for scheduling five games on Christmas Day.
This week, we reported on a staff email from Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon questioning the "veracity of climate change data" and directing the network's journalists to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question." While most of the nation's media have reported or commented on the story, Fox News has conspicuously avoided passing reference to it. Even Fox News' so-called media criticism show has ignored the story.
During its Saturday broadcast, Fox News Watch touched on a variety of issues from this week, including former President Clinton's return to the White House press briefing room and Larry King's departure from CNN. Host Jon Scott and the panel found time to talk about why the Tea Party wasn't chosen as Time's "Person of the Year," the Media Research Center's "Poison Tea Pot Award," and it even allowed Greg Gutfeld to get in a dig or two at the "No Label" campaign. But amidst all this, it didn't find any time to talk about Sammon's email.
As we reported, Sammon sent the email during crucial global climate change talks in Denmark, a mere 15 minutes after Fox correspondent Wendell Goler accurately reported on-air that the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization announced that 2000-2009 was "on track to be the warmest [decade] on record." At the time, Fox was relentlessly engaged in promoting the fabricated "Climategate" scandal, which revolved around misrepresentations of emails sent to and from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. But as we noted, the "scandal" did not undermine the scientific basis for global warming. Moreover, scientists, independent fact-checkers, and several investigations have since confirmed that the CRU emails do not undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet.
That leaked email followed on the heels of another: Last week we reported on another email sent by Sammon to Fox journalists at the peak of the health care reform debate, ordering them to avoid using the term "public option" and instead use variations of "government option." That email echoed advice from a prominent Republican pollster on how to help turn public opinion against health care reform.
This is just the latest example of Fox News Watch avoiding stories of its network's ethical problems. As we previously noted, the program has kept silent about Fox host Andrew Napolitano's remarks that he believed the government lied about the attacks on 9-11. The program also failed to comment on the five potential Republican candidates for president Fox News employs.
To Fox News' John Stossel, gender inequality and sexism simply no longer exist. In an appearance on Fox News' America Live yesterday, Stossel railed against Title IX, the 1972 legislation that mandated that schools and colleges getting federal funds provide the same opportunities for girls as boys. Stossel dismissed Title IX as legislation by "bully lawyers" whose "conceit and error" resulted in their believing that "just as many girls want to play sports as boys." He also stated that Title IX no longer is needed because, well, according to him, we live in a post-sexist world.
After host Megyn Kelly argued that, sometimes, "you need Uncle Sam to come in and say, hey, be fair to the little girls," Stossel summed up his attack on Title IX this way:
STOSSEL: No. No, the school's trying to attract customers. If the customers want this, and more girls do want to play sports, it will happen. But the conceit and the error of the Title IX lawyers is that the demand is equal -- that just as many girls want to play sports as boys. And I don't think that's true.
But the rapid growth of girls participating in sports since Title IX's passage completely undermines Stossel's argument.
It seems patently clear now that Andrew Breitbart will probably never accept responsibility for what he did to Shirley Sherrod. Indeed, here we are, six months later, and the conservative activist is still busy spinning his involvement, furiously claiming that the "intended target" of the two-minute video he posted that got her fired was the NAACP, "not Shirley Sherrod." "The target," he repeats in a December 6 post on his Big Government website, was "unambiguously clear" and so was the context, he insists, which was "excruciatingly clear." At the same time, he laments, "[b]efore the article and clips were analyzed in their entirety and put into its proper context, President Obama via the USDA chief Tom Vilsack, fired Shirley Sherrod."
From Breitbart's post:
My 1400-word article featuring two separate video clips of Shirley Sherrod speaking before the NAACP hit the Internet on Big Government. Before the article and clips were analyzed in their entirety and put into its proper context, President Obama via the USDA chief Tom Vilsack, fired Shirley Sherrod.
The story and the videos perfectly hit their intended target -- which was the NAACP, not Shirley Sherrod. Ben Jealous apologized immediately for the NAACP crowd's positive response to the moment when Sherrod describes one time when she treated a white farmer differently from how she would treat a black one.
My BigGovernment.com story made the target unambiguously clear: "Sherrod's racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups' racial tolerance."
All of this was put into excruciatingly clear context in a Big Government post, which included the two video clips, both received from an anonymous source who also described in broad strokes that she later sent the farmer to a white lawyer for help.
"Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help," I wrote. "But she decides that he should get help from 'one of his own kind.' She refers him to a white lawyer."
This is quite the astounding way for Breitbart to absolve himself of all blame, considering that, in the same post, he declares: "I strongly believed, and still believe, that I had irrefutable evidence" of racism on the part of the NAACP and it was "unambiguously clear" from the 2-minute video that Sherrod was telling a "racist tale."
Indeed, in the July 19 post titled, "Video Proof: The NAACP Awards Racism," that started it all, Breitbart claimed to show "video evidence of racism coming from a federal appointee and NAACP award recipient." Trumpeting Sherrod's testimony in the deceptively cropped video clip he posted as a "racist tale," he wrote that "Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer." Breitbart also posted a tweet asking, "Will Eric Holder's DOJ hold accountable fed appointee Shirley Sherrod for admitting practicing racial discrimination?"