Glenn Beck said many odd, fear-mongering things in tonight's special show on school indoctrination, but California was a particular target. Among other things, he claimed that "lawmakers there voted in 2008 for children to be taught by communists."
As you might expect, Beck isn't telling the whole story.
Children being "taught by communists" is not some sort of mandate, as he suggests. In 2008, the state legislature passed a bill repealing a Cold War-era state law that made "knowing membership in a communist party" by a teacher a firing offense. California was the only state in the union that allowed public employees to be dismissed for membership in a political party.
Does Beck oppose freedom of association? It appears so -- after all, it is a progressive idea.
In January, we detailed how The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Gilbert Ross, medical director of the American Council on Science and Health, on the issue of reimported drugs. The Journal didn't mention, however, that Ross had been convicted of Medicaid fraud, for which he served nearly four years in prison and lost his license to practice medicine.
Well, Ross has struck again -- this time at The Washington Times, which published a March 4 op-ed defending the drug Avandia. (Are you getting the feeling that Ross' group is funded by the pharmaceutical industry? You would be correct.)
The Times has now issued a disavowal, also appended to the top of Ross' column:
On March, 4 2010, The Washington Times ran an oped by Dr. Gilbert Ross, medical director of the American Council on Science and Health, entitled "When senators play doctor." Dr. Ross has written for USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Times previously. Dr. Ross did not disclose to the Times that he had been convicted of Medicaid fraud and, for a period of years, lost his license to practice medicine. Had the Times known these facts, we would not have run the article.
That's a good start. The problem for the Times is that it didn't make a one-time error. The March 4 op-ed is the sixth it has published in the past two years -- the others were on March 5, 2008, April 24, 2008, September 14, 2008, January 18, 2009, and March 13, 2009. A search of Nexis uncovered a total of 13 op-eds by Ross (including a book review) published by the Times since 1998.
Seems like the Times should be apologizing for publishing any op-ed by Ross, not just the most recent one.
The Times seems to be offering something of a defense by noting that "Dr. Ross has written for USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Times previously." Indeed, USA Today has published Ross' writings; a search in Nexis for Ross' work at the Los Angeles Times yielded only letters to the editor and an article in which he was quoted. Seems like an apology is in order from USA Today as well (we're inclined to let the Los Angeles Times off with a warning -- a letter to the editor is not the same thing as an op-ed).
The Journal, meanwhile, could take a cue from The Washington Times' (albeit incomplete) disavowal -- even though two months has passed since Ross' op-ed appeared there, we found no evidence that the Journal has alerted its readers to his background.
P.S. It's worth noting that on the board of trustees for Ross' group is none other than Betsy McCaughey, who Media Matters recently named Health Care Misinformer of the Year. Why are we not surprised?
At least 80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his March 5 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From Glenn Beck's March 5 email newsletter:
Literature? Nope. Film? Nope. Music? Nope. Cuisine? Nope. Theater? Nope. Art? Nope.
Gay blood, gay sex scandal and that scary African-American reverend!
"Culture" brought to you courtesy of Fox Nation. Sigh.
From Sam Stein's March 5 Huffington Post article, headlined "Conservatives Turn Against Liz Cheney - As Bad As McCarthy":
The backlash is growing against Liz Cheney after she demonized Department of Justice attorneys as terrorist sympathizers for their past legal work defending Gitmo detainees -- and now it's coming from within deeply conservative legal circles.
On Friday, the conservative blog Power Line put up a post titled, "An Attack That Goes Too Far." Author Paul Mirengoff, called Cheney's effort to brand DoJ officials the "Al Qaeda 7," "vicious" and "unfounded" even if it was right to criticize defense lawyers for voluntarily doing work on behalf of Gitmo detainees.
Reached on the phone, Mirengoff offered an even sharper rebuke, contrasting what Cheney is doing to the anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and, in some respects, finding it worse.
"It could be worse than some of the assertions made by McCarthy, depending on some of the validity of those assertions," Mirengoff said, explaining that at least McCarthy was correct in pinpointing individuals as communist sympathizers. "It is just baseless to suggest that [these DoJ officials] share al Qaeda values... they didn't actually say it but I think it was a fair implication of what they were saying."
Mirengoff isn't alone among conservative legal theorists who think the ad campaign by Cheney's group, Keep America Safe, is distasteful. In a statement to the American Prospect, John Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, called the effort "unfortunate."
"It reflects the politicization and the polarization of terrorism issues," Bellinger said. "Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be attacking officials in each other's administrations based solely on the clients they have represented in the past."
In the real world, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If you're a right-wing media figure, extraordinary claims require no evidence whatsoever.
For the last few months, these people have been running around with their hair caught on fire, screaming about the "corrupt" practices the Obama administration has been supposedly using to get health care reform passed, with nothing even remotely resembling evidence to back up their claims.
First, it was former McCain aide and Weekly Standard writer Michael Goldfarb's claim that the White House was "threatening to close" Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base "to extort" Sen. Ben Nelson's vote - a bizarre, ever-shifting claim that was denied by both Nelson and the administration. (The allegation caused a two day hubbub and then died, probably because no one could come close to substantiating it. Even Goldfarb himself abruptly dropped it.)
Next, The Weekly Standard's John McCormack launched his completely baseless accusation that President Obama is buying Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-UT) vote on health care reform by appointing his brother, Scott Matheson, to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. McCormack provided no evidence to support the allegation, and the White House and Rep. Matheson both denied the claim.
Today, it's Dick Morris launching the baseless conspiracy theory that Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) is facing an ethics investigation because he voted against health care reform:
Even as Matheson basks in the glow of presidential bribery, Eric Massa, a renegade Democrat from the Southern Tier of New York State faces his wrath. Massa's sin was to vote against Obamacare. So Pelosi and the ethically-challenged House Ethics Committee are investigating him for "verbally abusing" a male member of his staff. In this age of more serious offenses, using "salty language" to express his displeasure with staff work would not seem to rank high on the list of indictable offenses. If it were, Lyndon Johnson would have been impeached. But Massa is being hung out to dry as an example to other would-be independent minded Democrats. The attacks on him have gotten so bad that Massa has announced his retirement after only one term in office.
Needless to say, Morris offers no evidence whatsoever for his claim. But get ready to watch this circulate through the right-wing blogosphere.
As the Huffington Post notes today:
In a letter to the editor of the Daily Mail, published Thursday, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) blasted the West Virginia newspaper for an editorial the paper ran on earlier this week related to health care reform.
Byrd charged that the newspaper demonstrated a clear misunderstanding of congressional rules and procedures, which resulted in the publication confusing its readers.
The Democratic senator went on to write that the editorial more closely resembled the "barkings from the nether regions of Glennbeckistan" than the "sober and second thought" of his hometown newspaper.
As Glenn Greenwald and Jamison Foser have pointed out, The Washington Post suggested that right-wing attacks on Department of Justice attorneys who have represented terror suspects are based on "ignorance," "fear," and "hysteria" and published an op-ed calling the attacks "shameful," even though Bill Kristol, one of the leading proponents of the smear, writes a regular column for the Post.
But Kristol is not alone.
Marc Thiessen, a weekly columnist for the Post has not only attacked the DOJ attorneys who represented terror suspects, but has also attacked "senior partners" at law firms in which other lawyers took on such cases for allowing "work on behalf of America's terrorist enemies" to continue.
From a chapter titled "Double Agents" in Thiessen's book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack:
Some argue that, with the exception of [Neal] Katyal, none of these lawyers directly represented terrorists, so they should not be held responsible for the actions of other lawyers in their firms. That might be true for a junior partner. But the fact is, [Department of Justice officials Eric] Holder, [Lanny] Breuer, [David] Ogden, [Thomas] Perrelli, and [Tony] West were all senior partners at their firms at the time when these firms were deciding whether or not to accept terrorist clients. They had the power to say no and stop this work on behalf of America's terrorist enemies. They chose not to do so.
I spoke to several partners at major law firms that have chosen not to represent terrorists. None wanted to criticize their competitors on the record, but all agreed that the work would not have gone forward without the approval of Holder and his colleagues. One attorney explained that law firms pride themselves on collegiality, and if one or more partners expressed opposition, that is sufficient to kill a pro bono project. He said the reason his firm does not represent terrorists is because partners like him spoke up and made clear they opposed the firm doing such work. If such opposition could stop this work at his firm, this lawyer says, Holder could have done the same at Covington. "Eric Holder's law firm did this with the full blessing and support of Eric Holder," he says. "He's responsible for it." [Pages 257-58]
At the end of the chapter, Thiessen claimed that the attorneys who took on the cases of terror "are aiding and abetting America's enemies," which is pretty close to the constitutional definition of treason -- providing "aid and comfort" to America's enemies:
The attorneys fighting these cases -- some intentionally, others unwittingly -- are practicing what has come to be called "lawfare." They are aiding and abetting America's enemies by filing lawsuits on their behalf, and turning U.S. courtrooms into a new battlefield in the war on terror. These lawsuits tie our government in knots and make it more difficult for our military and intelligence officials to defend our country from terrorist dangers. And they undermine America's moral authority by echoing the enemy's propaganda that America systematically abuses human rights. [Page 274]
Regarding the attacks against lawyers who represented terror suspects, the Post March 5 editorial stated:
It is important to remember that no less an authority than the Supreme Court ruled that those held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, must be allowed to challenge their detentions in a U.S. court. It is exceedingly difficult to exercise that right meaningfully without the help of a lawyer. It is also worth remembering that the Bush administration wanted to try some Guantanamo detainees in military commissions -- a forum in which a defendant is guaranteed legal representation. Even so, it took courage for attorneys to stand up in the midst of understandable societal rage to protect the rights of those accused of terrorism. Advocates knew that ignorance and fear would too often cloud reason. They knew that this hysteria made their work on these cases all the more important. The video from Keep America Safe proves they were right.
The Post also published a March 5 op-ed by Walter Dellinger, former head of DOJ's office of legal counsel and former acting Solicitor General stating that "[t]he only word that can do justice to the personal attacks on these fine lawyers -- and on the integrity of our legal system -- is shameful. Shameful." From Dellinger's op-ed:
It never occurred to me on the day that Defense Department lawyer Rebecca Snyder and Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler of the Navy appeared in my law firm's offices to ask for our assistance in carrying out their duties as military defense lawyers that the young lawyer who worked with me on that matter would be publicly attacked for having done so. And yet this week that lawyer and eight other Justice Department attorneys have been attacked in a video released by a group called Keep America Safe (whose board members include William Kristol and Elizabeth Cheney) for having provided legal assistance to detainees before joining the department. The video questions their loyalty to the United States, asking: "DOJ: Department of Jihad?" and "Who are these government officials? ... Whose values do they share?"
That those in question would have their patriotism, loyalty and values attacked by reputable public figures such as Elizabeth Cheney and journalists such as Kristol is as depressing a public episode as I have witnessed in many years. What has become of our civic life in America? The only word that can do justice to the personal attacks on these fine lawyers -- and on the integrity of our legal system -- is shameful. Shameful.
Under the headline "Is Harry Reid Losing It?" Fox Nation linked to a March 5 Hot Air blog post that grossly distorted video of Sen. Harry Reid saying it is "good" news that the economy lost only 36,000 jobs in February -- an assessment many economists agree with. The video cut out Reid's accurate explanation that the "good" news was that unemployment and job losses were lower than economists had expected.
From Fox Nation: