From the February 26 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Radio host Rush Limbaugh suggested that reports of the recent arrests of three suspected American supporters of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) are actually a ploy by the Obama administration to push net neutrality regulations and a ruse to "ban the sale of bullets."
On February 25, two men were arrested in New York City, along with an accomplice in Florida, charged with "providing support for the Islamic State" according to The New York Times.
During the February 25 edition of his radio program, Limbaugh suggested that the news of the arrests was politically timed to coincide with the FCC's ruling on net neutrality regulations. Limbaugh also described the arrests as a media conspiracy meant to give cover for the government to "ban the sale of bullets," an apparent reference to a proposal by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to limit the availability of ammunition that when fired from a handgun is capable of penetrating body armor worn by law enforcement officers. Listen:
LIMBAUGH: Barack Obama is taking over the Internet today. He's gonna be sued. It's going to have a long shake out period. I mean, it's not gonna cease to operate today the way you're used to it. But the objective is to put it all under the control of government -- and here comes the story how ISIS has sympathizers in New York City. They're in Brooklyn and in all 57 states, and ISIS is using the Internet to recruit terrorists, and the government must have control of the Internet if we are to be safe.
The narrative just happens to magically fit the Democrat Party agenda every day. The narrative in the news media just happens to be exactly what the issues that Barack Obama cares about happen to be. And banning bullets -- what do you bet, when the story breaks, it becomes mainstream that this action, that this stuff we've learned about ISIS operating in New York City -- well, we have to, we have to take extraordinary actions to maintain homeland security. We can't have bullets readily available over-the-counter with ISIS in the country -- 57 states with outposts buying up weapons themselves and ammo. It all happens under the aegis of your safety. It all happens under the claim of making you safe and secure. Because the Democrat Party really cares about you -- and they know they can't ban everybody's guns, but to keep you safe they will ban the sale of bullets.
Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy pushed a Republican attempt to tar net neutrality when he said that it "could do to the Internet what Obamacare did to the healthcare system," a right-wing attack widely discredited when Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) pushed the idea in November.
During the February 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Peter Doocy reported that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on net neutrality protections for the Internet on February 26. Doocy compared the alleged lack of transparency in the FCC's proposed plans to the Affordable Care Act's passage and claimed, "some critics already calling a slowed down web Obamanet, and their fear is that these changes could do to the internet what Obamacare did to the healthcare system."
This attack echoes right-wing media outlets and Republican lawmakers who pushed the analogy that net neutrality regulations would be like "ObamaCare for the web." In a February 22 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, L. Gordon Crovitz dubbed net neutrality regulations "Obamanet." But the idea behind the term gained popularity after a November tweet sent by Sen. Ted Cruz where he asserted that "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet."
"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.-- Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 10, 2014
Cruz was roundly criticized for his misleading attack. Tech blog Gizmodo called Cruz' tweet "disingenuous" and "dangerous." And according to Salon, "Cruz was absurdly wrong on the substance and demonstrated an ignorance of both healthcare and tech policy." Salon did concede however that healthcare and internet service did share some "common features":
Healthcare and Internet service in America do share some common features - specifically, we pay a lot for both, and the product we get in return kinda sucks relative to how much we spend. Head to Europe or Asia and chances are that you'll be able to purchase faster Internet access for far less money than you'd pay here. Also, Internet connections abroad are getting faster and cheaper, while prices and speeds are pretty much staying the same in the U.S.
Click here for more information on net neutrality
Fox News host Eric Bolling suggested that there haven't been any recent examples of right-wing terrorism in order to downplay a recent Department of Homeland Security report warning of right-wing extremists. In fact, there have been multiple deadly right-wing attacks in the U.S. in recent years, far outpacing other types of extremist attacks.
From the February 22 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz:
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Fox contributor Erick Erickson parroted Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) to cast doubt on President Obama's Christianity, alleging he is not a Christian "in any meaningful way," despite the fact that right-wing attempts to call Obama's faith into question have long been discredited.
On February 21, Erickson expressed doubt about President Obama's Christianity, writing on Twitter that Obama is not a Christian "in any meaningful way":
I don't think Barack Obama is a Christian. He certainly is not one in any meaningful way.-- Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) February 22, 2015
Erickson's statement echoes the comments of 2016 presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who told an interviewer "I don't know" whether Obama is a Christian, or whether "Obama loves his country" earlier the same day. As Democratic National Committee (DNC) spokesperson Holly Shulman pointed out, Walker's comments come after he sat "silently by when Rudy Giuliani made an outrageous comment that our President doesn't love America," -- a comment that has been condemned in mainstream media, but fiercely defended by conservative media like Fox News, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
Just as when right-wing media rushed to justify Giuliani's baseless assertion that Obama doesn't love America, Erickson's echoing of Walker's absurd statement will likely pressure other GOP presidential hopefuls to parrot claims that Obama is not a Christian in order to avoid attacks from the right-wing pundits who will help shape the opinions of conservative primary voters.
Fox News and conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have a long history of questioning Obama's religion, and even pushing the debunked myth that he is a Muslim, despite the fact that references to his Christian faith are commonplace in Obama's public speeches, and accusations that Obama is a Muslim have no basis in reality.
Right-wing media are scandalizing President Obama's refusal to conflate terrorism with all of Islam, attacking the president for not focusing on "Islamic extremism" in the three-day White House summit to combat violent extremism. But the conservative outrage ignores the fact that conflating terrorism with an entire religion would harm U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by alienating allied Muslim nations and play into the hands of terrorists who claim the U.S. is at war with Islam.
Media are recycling old news that The Clinton Foundation accepts foreign donations when neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton hold political office to fearmonger over "ethical concerns" surrounding the donations, ignoring the fact that it is not unusual for foundations to receive foreign donations and that Clinton's record as Secretary of State makes clear that she was not politically influenced by previous donations to the Foundation.
From the February 19 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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From the February 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Rush Limbaugh advocated for Senate Republicans to eliminate Democrats' ability to filibuster a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill, his latest in a series of reversals on the legality of filibuster reform.
On the February 17 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh urged Senate Republicans to eliminate the filibuster, which would keep Democrats in the minority from blocking the GOP's DHS funding bill that would "gut years of the Obama administration's directives on immigration reform."
Limbaugh advocated for a complete elimination of the filibuster, saying "it would be poetic justice" following Democrats' 2013 vote to eliminate the ability of the minority party to filibuster most presidential nominees (a move taken in response to years of unprecedented Republican obstruction). He assured Republicans, "It would also be good. It would work" to halt Obama's immigration reform.
What Limbaugh doesn't admit is that when Democrats changed the filibuster rules in 2013, he raged that Democrats had taken a step towards "total statist authoritarianism." At the time, Limbaugh complained that "250 years of rules, Senate rules, out the window, as the Democrats have made it plain they're not interested in democracy.
Conveniently, now that Republicans have majority control of the Senate, Limbaugh argues, "we ought to do the same thing."
The radio host's selective outrage is not at all surprising given the fact that he enthusiastically supported similar filibuster reform when Republicans controlled the Senate in 2004. Then he even called the so-called "nuclear option" -- the ability of the majority party in the Senate to eliminate the minority's ability to block presidential nominations -- the "Constitutional option," encouraging Republicans to pursue it.
From the February 17 edition of TawkrTV's The Bill Press Show:
In a piece exploring the political spin surrounding the fight over funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Journal turned exclusively to House Republicans for commentary -- even while noting that Republicans are strategically lecturing journalists for political gain.
On February 27, DHS will shut down if Congress fails to pass a spending bill that will fund the department. The bill has been stuck in the Senate after House Republicans attached a measure to defund President Obama's executive actions on immigration to the legislation and Democrats subsequently refused to pass it.
In a February 16 article, National Journal presented the talking points of Republicans defending their use of the spending bill to block Obama's actions on immigration. Explaining "how to spin a government shutdown," the article outlined the GOP's claims that forcing a shutdown of DHS would be blamed on Democrats, that the shutdown "won't be that bad," and that it will end up blowing over. But the perspective given on the shutdown was roundly one-sided -- of the sources quoted in article, all were Republicans.
What's more, National Journal quoted top Republicans confessing a need to manipulate media coverage to their advantage:
More and more, Republican members are beginning to sound like journalism professors, instructing reporters in person on several occasions over the last week on how to report out the story. Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, put his editor cap on for a moment during a press conference on Thursday.
"I would suggest to our friends in the Fourth Estate," Cruz said, "that every one of those Democrats when they walk off the Senate floor, you should be asking them: 'If DHS funding is so important, why are you filibustering funding for DHS?' ... I would suggest to each of you in the Fourth Estate another question that would be entirely appropriate to ask them: 'Were you telling the truth or were you lying when you said you opposed the president's unconstitutional executive amnesty? Because if you were telling the truth, why then are you filibustering?' "
Indeed, National Journal seemed to fall prey to a reporting style that privileged the GOP -- setting up the entire piece about the shutdown by equating the severity of the acts from either side of the aisle, "pox on both houses" style of reporting:
Congress has packed its bags and gone home for the week, leaving lawmakers with just five legislative days to find a way to keep the Homeland Security Department open. Senate Democrats remain intractable in their filibuster of legislation to fund the department, just as House Republicans refuse to bring up a clean bill, leaving open the real possibility that Congress will allow part of the federal government to shut down for the second time in two years.
Media outlets are reporting that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) will attempt to block the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as U.S. attorney general on the grounds that the president's "illegal executive amnesty for illegal immigrants would be implemented" by the nominee. However, in reports about the January 28 hearing in which Vitter explained his "huge concern" about the "unconstitutional" executive actions on immigration, both mainstream and right-wing media failed to note that the statutory provision the senator relied on was not only the wrong one, it was out-of-date.
Lynch, the federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York, has been widely praised across the political spectrum, and multiple conservatives -- including current Republican senators -- support her nomination. Her credentials are so strong, even right-wing media favorites called to her confirmation hearing by GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed she was unobjectionable. Nevertheless, from the moment President Obama nominated Lynch, conservative media have attempted to smear her -- attempts that have been riddled with spectacular mistakes.
Right-wing media are now hitching their opposition to Lynch to the positions of Vitter, who has repeatedly stated he will do his best to block the nominee's confirmation because she does not oppose the president's executive actions on immigration. On her radio show, Laura Ingraham hosted Vitter and agreed with his opposition to Lynch because of her support for "executive amnesty," repeating the debunked myth that Lynch believes there is a legal right for undocumented immigrants to work. Breitbart.com, which has struggled mightily to successfully criticize the nominee, also highlighted Vitter's obstructionist intentions toward Lynch, noting that "Lynch's outspoken support for President Obama's executive amnesty" was in part responsible for the current Republican delay on an up-or-down vote.
Mainstream outlets have reported on Vitter's antipathy toward Lynch as well, based on her support for the "reasonable[ness]" of the justification for the immigration actions. These reports have specifically noted that the senator laid out his case for the illegality of deferred action for certain undocumented immigrants at her recent hearing, where he accused the administration of flouting the law by assigning Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to the Department of Homeland Security. As Vitter said during the hearing, "I've read the plan, and the plan as I read it is for all of that to be done in the Department of Homeland Security. So my question would be, what is the statutory basis to allow that, when under the statute -- not some order, not some legal opinion -- the statute, the law, word by word it says the attorney general is in the middle of that decision[.]" The Washington Post, for example, included a photo of the oversized copy of 8 U.S. Code § 1182(d)(5) that Vitter displayed as he repeatedly questioned the nominee for agreeing with the White House's legal defense of the immigration actions. Vitter finally remarked, "Well, again, I'll have to be following up for the fourth time, but that'll be a central question. The plan is not for the attorney general to be in the middle of this at all. The statute says that 'the attorney general is.' Why aren't we following the statute?"
Unfortunately, both right-wing and mainstream media reporting on Vitter, the January 28 hearing, and his opposition to Lynch have failed to note that Vitter's questioning was referring to the wrong part of the law, which has since been superseded.
The Wall Street Journal glossed over Jeb Bush's close ties to the neoconservative movement that shaped the foreign policy of his brother, former President George W. Bush, suggesting that Jeb Bush's foreign policy would be more moderate than that of his brother's. But Jeb Bush has praised his brother's foreign policy, specifically the decision to invade Iraq, and even signed a founding neoconservative document.