As many in the conservative media grow more insistent that the Republican Party will not and should not impeach President Obama, major right-wing figures have started pushing back to keep the impeachment option on the table.
Over the past few weeks many mainstream conservatives such as the Republican congressional leadership and many Fox News personalities have dismissed the idea of impeaching the president, going so far as to shift the blame for the discussion of impeachment to the White House and other Democrats. This dishonest narrative was taken up by some mainstream reporters, despite the fact that conservatives and Republicans have long called for Obama's impeachment.
While some in the conservative media pretend this is all a cynical ploy by Democrats, not everyone is ready to give up the goal of impeaching the president.
On the July 29 edition of The Mark Levin Show, Mark Levin said during a six minute long rant about impeachment:
LEVIN: Our country is being destroyed. And I am sick and tired of people like Speaker Boehner, Minority Leader McConnell, various radio hosts and TV commentators going on and on about our imperial president, how it's outrageous how what he is doing is destructive to the Constitution and the country, and then when you bring up what the Constitution provides us, it's "oh, what a bunch of kooks."
Here's the dead truth -- Obama should be impeached. But he won't be impeached. Obama should be impeached if the Republicans take the Senate. But he won't be impeached if Republicans take the Senate. Obama has committed high crimes and misdemeanors by violating the Constitution.
A Fox News segment displayed a misleading chart based on a poll that appeared to show 110 percent of Americans disapproved of President Obama's job performance.
On the July 30 edition of Special Report, the following chart was shown during a report by Fox News political correspondent Carl Cameron on Obama's popularity in the "twelve states most likely to decide Senate control":
Without showing the number of likely voters who approve of Obama's job performance, viewers are left with the impression that more than 100 percent of respondents disapprove of the president's job performance. Watch:
Allen West is chiding Democrats for fundraising off of the prospect of impeachment, which he assures his readers is "not happening." But in recent weeks, West has repeatedly solicited donations from subscribers to his email list to help bolster the impeachment movement, which he claimed was "gaining speed!"
In a July 30 post to his website, West, a Fox News contributor and former Republican congressman, advised readers, "As much as you'd like to, don't fall into the impeachment trap."
He explained that "evil" Democrats had "successfully made the word 'impeachment' verboten in America," adding, "In fact, they've managed to turn it into political heyday as they celebrate fundraising records based on generating fear among their base over something that's not happening."
West lamented how Democrats "have effectively outmaneuvered the fail safe measures entrusted to us by our Founding Fathers to replace the rule of law with the rule of one." Instead of impeaching the president, West posited that Republicans "must do that which the Democrats truly fear: ensure they lose control of the U.S. Senate and expand the GOP House majority."
West's warning about the dangers of impeachment stand in stark contrast to what he's been saying on the issue for months. In June, following the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, West called on the House of Representatives to "draft articles of impeachment as no one is above the law in America."
While he now claims impeachment is "not happening," fundraising emails he recently sent to his followers struck a decidedly different note. For example, on July 10, after fellow Fox News contributor Sarah Palin joined the conservative calls for impeachment, West sent out an email soliciting "emergency contribution[s]" to help his PAC distribute a survey asking people whether the House should impeach the president. According to West, Palin's support for impeachment was evidence "This movement is far from over....it's gaining speed!" He also described impeachment as a "growing movement" and a "huge grassroots movement."
On June 28, West asked for "emergency donation[s]" to his PAC, telling subscribers, "the time has come to hold [Obama] accountable." West pointed to House Speaker John Boehner's lawsuit targeting the president as the "initial steps that I believe will lead to impeachment."
In a June 19 email to subscribers with the subject line, "Breaking- Enough votes to impeach Obama?", West touted comments from Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) claiming the House "probably" had enough votes to impeach the president. Once again asking for an "emergency donation," West explained, "Now - more than ever - we need to get the Guardian Fund's impeachment survey into the hands of every conservative in America."
Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins has all but ceased to appear as a guest on CNN and MSNBC. It's a dramatic change for the anti-gay hate group leader, whose constant appearances on cable news during the 2012 GOP primary cycle drew criticism from progressive faith groups.
Since becoming president of the Family Research Council in 2003, Perkins has used his position as a leader among social conservatives to command significant media attention. FRC hosts the annual Values Voters Summit, making Perkins an easy choice for networks looking for a prominent voice to comment on social conservatism and GOP politics.
Over time, networks also began turning to Perkins for commentary on LGBT issues like the fight over marriage equality and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Perkins was happy to oblige - he has a history of making incendiary comments about LGBT people, and FRC has turned the production of anti-gay propaganda into an art form.
In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled FRC an anti-gay "hate group," citing the organization's propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people.
That label, unfortunately, didn't stop cable news networks from continuing to invite Perkins on national television on behalf of social conservatives. During the 2012 Republican presidential primary season, Perkins appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News a total of 56 times. MSNBC was particularly friendly to Perkins, with Hardball host Chris Matthews praising Perkins as an "honest conservative" who always tried "to find the truth" during a November 2011 interview:
Perkins' platform on cable news didn't sit well with audiences familiar with his long and sordid history of bigoted anti-LGBT rhetoric. Faithful America, a progressive Christian group dedicated to "reclaiming Christianity from the religious right," launched a petition in February 2012 asking the network to stop inviting Perkins on air. The petition garnered 20,000 signatures, which were delivered to MSNBC's headquarters.
Perkins' platform at MSNBC created an awkward situation for Hardball host Chris Matthews. At a March 2012 book event, Matthews was asked about his willingness to invite Perkins on his show and admitted that his critics "may be right." At a book signing a few weeks later, Matthews told Faithful America members that the group had "a good argument" for no longer hosting Perkins." Perkins did appear on Hardball once more, in a joint appearance with gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA. But rather than offer the warm welcome Perkins had come to expect, Matthews grilled Perkins on his anti-LGBT extremism.
In the summer of 2013, Faithful America launched a similar petition targeting CNN after the network hosted Perkins to discuss the Supreme Court's ruling on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The petition urged CNN not to let Perkins "speak on behalf of America's Christians" and quickly gathered more than 32,000 signatures.
A new Equality Matters analysis finds that both MSNBC and CNN have largely ended their practice of hosting Perkins in the months since the end of the 2012 GOP primary. Perkins hasn't appeared on MSNBC since March 2013, when the Supreme Court heard arguments in two marriage equality cases. Meanwhile, Perkins' appearances on CNN have steadily declined in the last year, and he hasn't been on the network since February: At Fox News, on the other hand, Perkins' appearances have held steady and actually increased in the past year:
Conservative pundit Dick Morris, who wrote 2005's Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race and predicted Mitt Romney would win the 2012 election in a "landslide," now wants you to trust him with your retirement savings.
According to a July 30 press release, Morris is working with Retirement Media Inc. "to educate seasoned investors on how to protect their savings with safe alternatives outside of the stock market." Morris is headlining several events in the next few months where attendees will "hear market predictions from him." The event's website includes a video featuring "A Special Message from Dick Morris" in which Morris warns of people preying on "suckers."
Why anyone would voluntarily listen to "predictions" from Morris is unclear. Morris has a history of comically wrong political forecasting, incorrectly gave credence to warnings of a 2013 stock market crash, and has sent numerous pitches through his email newsletter promoting penny stocks which subsequently tanked and are now virtually worthless.
The former Fox News pundit -- whose tenure was marked by a pattern of ethical misdeeds -- became a national laughingstock after the 2012 election for his enthusiastic prediction that Mitt Romney would win in a "landslide." Other failed Morris predictions included his statements that "it's very possible" Obama would drop out of the race, that Donald Trump was "going to run" for president and "he could beat Obama," that Herman Cain would "overcome" sexual misconduct allegations, and Republicans would "win 10 seats in the Senate" in 2012.
Fox News finally let Morris go in February 2013. He was eventually hired by Philadelphia radio station WPHT for an afternoon program despite having "no ties to Philadelphia save for a few long-ago political consultancy gigs." Morris still makes regular appearances on Fox News -- he has appeared on Hannity eight times this year, according to a Nexis search.
Morris' previous warning of a stock market crash proved wildly wrong. On August 7, 2013, he posted a piece headlined, "Prediction Of A Crash In Next Two Weeks." Morris wrote that Jim Fitzgibbon "predicts a massive drop in the stock market and the economy this month that will continue, with brief spurts upward, until the end of the year and beyond. His track record in predictions is extraordinary." Morris concluded: "This is not a paid ad. It is my heartfelt wish that you hear what he has to say and take it seriously." The stock market did not crash -- in 2013, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 posted their biggest percentage gains since 1995 and 1997, respectively.
An easy way to lose money is to listen to stock advice sent through Morris' email list. Morris has regularly sent sponsored emails for penny stocks -- risky micro-cap stocks that often lack transparency and a long track record -- from dubious compensated stock pitchers who promise to "potentially double or triple your money" and turn "$2,000" into "$132,000." Many of the stocks promoted through DickMorris.com have become virtually worthless. Here are just five examples since 2013 (current stock prices as of posting):
In the past two months, Washington Post political reporter Chris Cillizza has used his platform at The Fix to obsess over the question of whether Hillary Clinton has sufficiently explained her family's wealth, dismissing Clinton's comments on income inequality while offering conflicting advice on how she should answer the question in a way that satisfies Chris Cillizza and The Washington Post.
Cillizza's latest post came in response to an interview Hillary Clinton gave to Fusion TV host Jorge Ramos that aired July 29. "Hillary Clinton still hasn't found a good answer to questions about her wealth," according to the July 29 headline over at The Fix. After crediting GOP opposition research firm American Rising with focusing his attention on Clinton's wealth, Cillizza concluded: "Until she finds three sentences (or so) to button up any/all questions about her wealth, those questions will keep coming. And that's not the way Clinton wants to run-up to her now all-but-certain presidential bid."
This is the third time in two months that Cillizza has posted a column fixated on Clinton's wealth and his belief that she is struggling to explain it -- and the third time since June 22 that The Fix has turned to America Rising to help define Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, a June NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll found that 55 percent of Americans say that Clinton relates to and understands average Americans.
"The Clintons are not 'average' people," Cillizza warned just a week before that poll came out. He concluded by advising Clinton to stop talking about her wealth and move on: "Instead of spending her time litigating just how wealthy she is, Clinton should acknowledge her wealth and then spend the vast majority of her rhetorical time making the case that through the policies she has advocated and pursued, she has never lost sight of the middle class."
The reality is that Clinton has already done exactly what Cillizza advises; he just largely chooses to dismiss it. When Clinton has been asked about her wealth, she has consistently paired her personal finances with discussing her lifelong advocacy and work on behalf of the poor and middle class.
Right-wing media reacted to an ad depicting gun-based domestic violence with the dangerous claim that keeping guns in the home would prevent such attacks. In fact, the presence of a firearm in a home where domestic abuse occurs increases the risk a woman will be murdered.
In an ad released on July 29, gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety depicted the harrowing scene of a domestic abuser breaking into his estranged partner's home and shooting her with a gun. The ad was released to bring attention to a July 30 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the relationship between guns and domestic violence. The Senate is currently considering legislation that would prohibit the purchase of firearms by individuals convicted of stalking and expand the definition of intimate partner violence "to include a dating partner."
Conservative media reacted to the ad by calling it a "mistake" and claiming that it "inadvertently proves why women need guns." Calling firearms "a great equalizer between men and women," National Review Online's Charles C.W. Cooke claimed that "the victim [in the ad] would have been better off with a gun in her hand than with a phone connected to the police department" and charged Everytown with supporting firearms policies that "put vulnerable people in danger." Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich wrote of the domestic violence scene shown in the ad: "All of this could have been prevented if the woman had a firearm in her possession as soon as she saw her ex-husband pounding on the door."
Hitting on what has become one of the Beltway media's favorite narratives of 2014, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza this week bemoaned the fact that increased polarization within the electorate, fueled by spiraling partisanship, means "we are increasingly moving toward two entirely separate Americas, a liberal one and a conservative one." According to the writer, we're two separate, stubborn nations unwilling to communicate or compromise.
This type of analysis has been repeated often in recent weeks, in part because of an influential Pew Research study that fueled a larger media discussion about polarization. But this focus on polarization misses the larger point and lets the GOP off the hook. Especially when you look at the polling on crucial issues facing the nation; issues President Obama has tried to get Congress to act on for years.
The Democratic president's been met with an unprecedented brand of Republican obstructionism, which the press has often been too timid to name. Rather than call the malady what it is, media now embrace claims of cultural "polarization" to explain away the radical GOP streak.
The press throws up its hands and announces the whole situation is hopeless: Americans are so divided there's no way anything can get done in Washington because gridlocked politicians simply mirror the voters' disdain for compromise. But by throwing up their hands, journalists basically absolve Republicans for adopting their radical say-no strategy, while ignoring the fact that there exists agreement among voters on a wide range of pressing issues.
Immigration reform, climate change, war, extended unemployment benefits, minimum wage, and tighter gun laws are all part of a laundry list of issues where a working majority of Americans agree. Meaning, Obama enjoys widespread support for many of the tenets of his legislative agenda, but Republicans block everything in Congress. ("Legislative constipation," is how Vanity Fair's James Wolcott describes it.) The press, decrying gridlock without adequately assigning blame, insists that as a country we're deeply, deeply divided, and that's why nothing gets done in Washington.
But we're not.
Just as News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch was attempting to put scandal behind him and acquire a major media corporation, two more of his former editors were charged with phone hacking while working at his now-shuttered tabloid News of the World.
According to Reuters, former deputy editor Neil Wallis and former features editor Jules Stenson have been charged with "conspiracy to intercept voicemails on mobile phones of well-known figures or people close to them." The tabloid's widespread hacking of the voicemails and phones of crime victims, celebrities, politicians, and British royalty in order to find fodder for stories became major international news after it was reported that News of the World had accessed the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a murdered teenager.
Murdoch was forced to shutter News of the World in 2011 when the scandal broke, and his company News Corp. has admitted that they have paid out millions in legal fees relating to the scandal. In June, former editor Andy Coulson was found guilty of conspiring to intercept communications at the end of a lengthy trial, though his fellow News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Stuart Kuttner were acquitted at the time.
Meanwhile, Murdoch's other company, 21st Century Fox (which owns Fox TV and Fox News), is trying to take over Time Warner, which would make it one of the largest media conglomerates in the world. However, his initial offer of $80 billion was rejected, and voices in media have suggested that putting the phone-hacking scandal behind him is key to his ability to expand and maintain his empire.
Now that more charges have emerged reminding the media of his past ethical blunders, whether such a risky merger could go forward remains to be seen.
The National Rifle Association has once again drawn condemnation from a Jewish group after one of its lobbyists invoked the Holocaust to attack a Washington state ballot initiative to expand background checks on gun sales. Despite regular denunciations from Jewish groups for misappropriating the history of Holocaust, the NRA routinely uses this type of rhetoric to demonize its opponents and gun legislation it dislikes.
According to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, recently released audio captured NRA lobbyist Brian Judy attacking Seattle businessman Nick Hanauer's support of Initiative 594 -- which would expand background checks in Washington -- because of Hanauer's Jewish background. Calling Hanauer "stupid," Judy argued that "he's put half-a-million dollars toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis."
Judy went on to mock the intelligence of anyone who is "anti-gun" and Jewish:
JUDY: You know, it's staggering to me, it's just, you can't make this stuff up. That these people, it's like any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun, I think: Are you serious? Do you not remember what happened?
And why did that happen? Because they registered guns and then they took them. And now you're supporting gun control -- you come to this country and you support gun control. Why did you have to flee to this country in the first place? Hello. Is anybody home here?
The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has called for Judy's resignation and asked that the NRA "make clear that it rejects his ignorant and unproductive dialogue."