Media Matters' Simon Maloy details below how the Fox Cycle -- in which right-wing attacks go mainstream with the help of the network before being inevitably debunked -- bore fruit this morning as Republican members of Congress questioned Attorney General Eric Holder about the Fox-pushed New Black Panthers Party phony scandal.
But that same congressional hearing also saw the birth of a new transmission belt for conservative attacks. I'll call this one the Adams Cycle, after its propagator J. Christian Adams, the GOP operative and former DOJ attorney who started the New Black Panthers Party fabrication.
The Adams Cycle goes as follows:
1. Sources at DOJ -- almost definitely conservative attorneys hired under the Bush administration's politicization of that department -- leak information or documents to Adams.
2. Adams attacks DOJ with bogus story based on leaked information.
3. Republican representative raises bogus story during House hearing, crediting Adams.
4. DOJ shoots down story.
The Fox Cycle may -- but does not necessarily have to -- kick in between steps 2 and 3 of the Adams Cycle.
Here's today's example.
From the February 21 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
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This morning, we laid out how the conspiracy theory Andrew Breitbart has laid out with regard to the settlement of the Pigford black farmer discrimination appears to require the complicity of the Senate Republican caucus, the Bush administration, and Hillary Clinton, among others. Over the next few days, we will dissect the faulty logic and lack of basic research Breitbart employs in putting his conspiracy together.
This post examines Breitbart's theory that after his misleading video catapulted Shirley Sherrod's name into the headlines, Senate Democrats pulled funding for the Pigford II settlement from a supplemental appropriations bill because they were worried that because Sherrod was a prominent Pigford claimant, her story would draw attention to the lawsuit and lead to the exposure of the Pigford "fraud."
This theory makes no sense, for a variety of reasons. The Pigford funding was removed after Republicans voted en masse against passing a bill with that funding; it was removed not alone but as part of a package of $22 billion that the House had added to a previous version of the bill; Senate Democrats publicly slammed Republicans for voting against that funding; and Senate Democrats vowed to attach the funding to other bills.
Andrew Breitbart claims that working for Media Matters for America means that we "by default disagree with everything" he says. This isn't necessarily true, but it's clear to us that no matter where you work, you should take everything Breitbart says with an entire lick of salt; he tweaks, twists and flat-out tramples the truth too often to maintain a semblance of reliability.
In an interview at the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC), Breitbart told Media Matters for America's Joe Strupp that MSNBC blamed him (Breitbart) for Congress' failure to appropriate settlement funds for black farmers because Breitbart published his phony Shirley Sherrod scandal that same week. He said:
BREITBART: MSNBC twice that week blamed me for the black farmers not getting their settlement because it was supposed to be passed that week. They thought I was setting up a trap...MSNBC blamed me for that.
Breitbart was repeating a claim he published in a BigGovernment.com blog post on December 6, 2010:
Nation editor Chris Hayes was filling in for Rachel Maddow and reported that I was responsible for black farmers not getting their settlement money.
"Conservative con artist, 1; black farmers, 0," liberal Journolist Hayes said snarkily.
Breitbart's characterization is simply false. As the video Breitbart linked to makes clear, Hayes actually said the exact opposite:
HAYES: It doesn't appear that last week's fake [Sherrod] scandal was what caused the Senate to strip restitution for victims of actual, real-life, documented discrimination from the appropriations bill.
Breitbart's truth-twisting was accentuated by a repeated misquote, In his blog post above, he quotes Hayes saying "Conservative con artist, 1; black farmers, 0."
In fact, Hayes said in that segment: "It's just that as the dust clears from last week's collective frenzy, take a look at the score: conservative con artists, 1, victims of real-world racial discrimination, 0."
He repeats the imprecision later in his interview with Media Matters (and removes the "con artist" language while he's at it), saying: "MSNBC thought it was a compelling argument last week when they accused me in a segment that said 'conservative activist, 1; black farmers, 0.'"
But Hayes wasn't, as Breitbart alleges, claiming that Breitbart had defeated the black farmers and kept them from receiving Pigford funds. He was comparing two different stories -- the failure to pass Pigford funds and Breitbart's invitation to appear at a Republican National Committee event -- to point out that despite Breitbart's Sherrod smear, he was still being rewarded at the same time victims of discrimination were being punished.
The fact that Breitbart misquotes Hayes about whether he used the phrase "black farmers" or "victims of real-world racial discrimination" isn't a big deal in itself, but it's part of a larger pattern of lazy mistakes and general disregard for accuracy.
This disregard for the truth (and an accompanying persecution complex) couldn't be more apparent in his complete mischaracterization of MSNBC's reporting. When these little mistakes pepper so much of Breitbart's work, it makes you wonder what other corners he's cut.
We've documented that Andrew Breitbart's admitted months-long obsession with the settlement of the Pigford black farmer discrimination is intimately wrapped up with his quest for vindication over his smear of Shirley Sherrod.
In that quest for vindication Breitbart has dreamed up an intricate conspiracy theory that involves Sherrod, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former Vice President Al Gore, Paul Friedman (the federal judge overseeing the Pigford case), and the plaintiffs' lawyers who filed the Pigford case. The apparent goal of the conspiracy, in Breitbart's mind, was to give reparations to African Americans, give Sherrod $13.3 million, "screw over" all "real" African American farmers other than Sherrod, and ultimately elect Obama as president.
In a nutshell, Breitbart says that the Pigford settlement is not about helping black farmers who were the subject of discrimination, but was about giving reparations. It was a vehicle for Democrats to win black votes in 2000 and beyond: Obama agreed to support legislation helping Pigford claimants because all of a sudden he needed to get a leg up in his successful run for the 2008 Democratic nomination.
In Breitbart's world, Sherrod, who has been awarded more money than any other Pigford claimant to date, was fired from her job because the deceptively-edited video Breitbart posted that falsely portrayed Sherrod as racist threatened to shine a spotlight on Sherrod and therefore on the Pigford fraud supported by Obama.
Even at first glance, not much about Breitbart's theory makes sense. For instance, Obama first co-sponsored a Pigford bill in February 2007, well before any primaries had taken place. Furthermore, why would firing Sherrod make it less likely that the media would focus on her?
In addition, in order for his theory that Pigford was about reparations and getting Obama elected to work, others would also have to be involved, or else be dupes. Other conspirators include Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, President Bush's Agriculture Department, President Bush's Department of Justice, and the following Republicans in Congress: Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), the rest of the Republican caucus in the Senate in 2010, and Reps. Steve Chabot (OH) and James Sensenbrenner (WI). Others who may be involved include the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office.
That's one crazy conspiracy.
From the February 12 coverage of CPAC 2011:
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From the February 11 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
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From C-SPAN's February 10 coverage of CPAC 2011:
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In a February 9 Washington Times op-ed, global warming skeptic Steve Milloy urged Republicans to defund the Environmental Protection Agency, stating that the GOP's "best (and really only) shot at reeling in the arrogant Obama EPA is to cut the agency's funding." He later stated: "Cut the EPA's budget. Cut it in March. Close down the federal government if necessary. Save us now."
From Milloy's op-ed:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has hit the ground running with its greenhouse-gas regulations. But congressional Republicans are just getting around to introducing well-intended, but futile legislation to stop the agency.
There is another way. The GOP could rescue us from the EPA as soon as March, but it won't.
Though these and many more jobs around the country are threatened by the EPA and its new authority, the GOP seems to be doing everything but addressing the problem head-on.
Its best (and really only) shot at reeling in the arrogant Obama EPA is to cut the agency's funding. Without House approval, the EPA has no budget. A great opportunity to choke off EPA funding arrives early next month when last December's deal to fund the federal government until March 4 expires.
But the GOP needs to gird itself for battle. The EPA is coming for our jobs, electricity and economy. The Obama administration is preparing to make cap-and-trade look like a walk in the park compared to EPA regulation. Its regulatory apparatus is running amok.
Cut the EPA's budget. Cut it in March. Close down the federal government if necessary. Save us now.
Erick Erickson claims Media Matters has bolstered his allegation that the Obama administration suppressed an annual CDC report on abortion statistics because we posted an email showing that the abortion report was submitted to CDC's scientific publication for review and editing in November. According to Erickson, the fact that the report was not published promptly after it was submitted for review is evidence that CDC "suppress[ed]" the report. That's some pretty strained reasoning. (SEE UPDATE BELOW: Editor of the publication explains why Erickson's claim is false.) Moreover, it's clear that Erickson didn't read our item.
For one thing, he's still claiming that "each year since 1969 the Centers for Disease Control has published its 'Abortion Surveillance System' the week after Thanksgiving," which we showed was simply not true. Either Erickson is deliberately misleading people about this, or he didn't read our item, which noted that while the report was published in November during most of the Bush administration, the publication date has varied greatly in the past.
Erickson further claims:
On RedState.com, CNN contributor Erick Erickson claimed that the Obama Administration has canceled an annual Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on abortion statistics because it is "afraid of the truth," and continued to insist that the report was "killed" even after the CDC said it was merely delayed and will be published. Indeed, an internal CDC email obtained by Media Matters shows that the report was submitted for review and editing on November 12.
The Washington Times editorial board has demanded a congressional investigation into the allegations pushed by right-wing fabulist Andrew Breitbart of fraud in the Pigford settlement for black farmers who were victims of discrimination committed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But the Times op-ed is filled with distortions intended to bolster those fraud allegations and use them to attack President Obama.
While the right-wing media have declared former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams a "whistle-blower" for his claims that the department's handling of the New Black Panthers case constitutes racially charged corruption, it has long been clear that Adams has an extensive history of GOP activism. In the final blow to any claim that Adams is neutral or impartial, Adams is scheduled to appear as a panelist during next month's CPAC, the conservative activist convention.
The right-wing media's smear that the Obama administration Department of Justice as engaged in race-based justice depends on the credibility of the witnesses that have come forth to make those allegations. That's why the conservative media has been so diligent in lauding them as career attorneys and "whistle-blowers."
In their interim report on the Justice Department's response to the New Black Panther Party case, the right-wing Republicans at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights likewise do their darndest to cover the tracks of their top witness, Justice Department attorney Christopher Coates. They claim that Coates has been victim of a vicious smear campaign to paint him as a right-wing hack, and cite his past credentials as an attorney for the ACLU as evidence that he is no such thing:
The troubling nature of these allegations of misconduct in the Division might explain why some anonymous sources within the Department have attempted to paint Coates as a disgruntled right-wing ideologue. A review of his career, however, speaks for itself and paints a picture at odds with his detractors' characterization.
Before beginning his work at the Department, Mr. Coates served with the Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in Atlanta, Georgia. During his time there, he litigated cases on behalf of African-American clients, particularly those challenging at-large election procedures. In 1993 he argued a case before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of six African-American citizens in the local NAACP chapter in Bleckley County, Georgia. For his service with the ACLU he was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Decade Award by the Georgia Conference of the NAACP, as well as an award from the Georgia Environmental Association for his representation of African-American clients opposing the installation of landfill in their neighborhood.
Of course, the Commission has a bit of a problem: The primary evidence that Coates is a "right-wing ideologue" comes not from leaks from the DOJ, but from his own mouth.
Back in 2008, the Justice Department's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility found that Douglas Schlozman, a senior Bush appointee in the department, had improperly considered ideology when making personnel decisions and cited numerous emails in which Schlozman discussed adding conservative members to "the team." In one of those emails, Schlozman recommended a DOJ attorney for a position as an Immigration Judge, writing: "[D]on't be dissuaded by his ACLU work on voting matters from years ago. This is a very different man, and particularly on immigration issues, he is a true member of the team."
In September testimony before the USCCR, Coates admitted that he believed he was the person to whom Schlozman was referring. Moreover, he defended Schlozman's hiring practices, saying:
Mr. Schlozman found a Civil Rights Division that was almost totally left-liberal in the basis of the ideology of the people who were working in it, and that he made some concerted effort to diversify the division so that conservatives as well as liberals could find work there.
Kind of sounds like a right-wing ideologue, doesn't he?
As for J. Christian Adams, the Commission's other top witness, don't look through the report for the USCCR's attempt to wash away his years as a GOP activist before and after (and during?) his work on the New Black Panthers case. They don't even make an attempt, instead simply ignoring his past and referencing him as a "Voting Section attorney" and the like.
From the January 31 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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