Right-wing media figures spent the months leading up to Jeb Bush's decision to actively explore running for president criticizing him as the "dumbest Bush," a "base pander," and a candidate who presents problems for the base.
Two years after the fact, right-wing media are trying to flip the narrative that sunk their presidential aspirations in 2012 by charging that current personal wealth and the fees for paid speeches since leaving the State Department make former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "out of touch." Often aided by Beltway reporters who are fixated on Clinton's so-called "money problem," conservative pundits are trying to dispel any narrative that supports the majority of Americans's belief that the potential Democratic nominee for president can relate to and understands average citizens.
The facts show that Clinton's earnings on the speaking circuit are consistent with a number of men of similar prominence. According to one estimate, over 15 months from the end of her term as Secretary through May 2014, Clinton made $5 million dollars. In the 13 months before former Mayor Rudy Giuliani ran for president in 2007, he earned more than $11 million dollars, charging anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000. According to a number of reports former Secretary of State Colin Powell has received between $100,000 and $200,000 per speech, earning an estimated $6.7 million in speaking fees in 2000 alone.
As the charges against Clinton illustrate, the GOP still doesn't understand why the "out of touch" label resonated with voters in 2012. It wasn't former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's wealth, or that he did well financially during his time at Bain Capital. Rather it was the GOP presidential nominee's comments writing off 47 percent of the American electorate, claiming they just wanted "free stuff," as well as his support for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans as a job creation strategy while imposing steep spending cuts impacting everyone else.
In short, Romney really WAS out of touch. While the Clintons have done well financially since President Bill Clinton left office, Secretary Clinton has been consistent in her support for issues like increasing the minimum wage, paid family medical leave, and support for equal pay. She also has a long record advocating and supporting policies around the economic empowerment of women, the role they play in a nation's economy, and micro-lending, from her time as first lady of Arkansas to the White House to the State Department to the Clinton Foundation.
Enter former Florida governor Jeb Bush to the 2016 equation. Based on the conservative line of argument against Clinton, will the millions he's made on paid speeches since leaving office in 2007, or the $3.2 million in board fees and stock grants he's received from publicly traded companies, also label him "out of touch" in the eyes of conservative media? What about his million-dollar salary from Barclays or what the New York Times termed his "unapologetic determination to expand his wealth," including "telling friends that his finances had suffered during his time in government"?
Or, will conservative media hold Bush to the same standard they did for Romney in 2012, when they declared that neither his wealth, his offshore accounts, nor his record at Bain Capital were relevant issues in the election in evaluating Romney's candidacy? Back then such concerns were "an effort to distract" from real issues like jobs and the economy, as one Fox News anchor put it. Never mind that it was Romney himself who held out his Bain experience as evidence that he understood the economy and how things worked, yet didn't seem to have much regard for the impact of jobs lost when Bain shut down a company had on the personal economy of middle and low income people.
Even Romney now admits that his work at Bain Capital was a liability to his presidential aspirations, recently suggesting that because of his work in private equity Bush may also have a "Mitt Romney problem." Or as described by a recent Bloomberg Politics report, "As a budding private equity mogul, he's begun to resemble a Mini-Mitt."
The report examined a number of Bush's private sector enterprises, but it's the detail about the three funds he's launched through Britton Hill Holdings, which he co-founded in 2013, that could require some explaining. They include a $40 million fund focused on shale oil exploration and a $26 million fund called BH Logistics, which is backed in part by investors from China, where the Bush name carries significant clout. Bush was also recently named chairman and manager of an offshore private equity fund called BH Global Aviation. Incorporated in the United Kingdom, the firm is not subject to U.S. taxes or regulations and raised $61 million in September through unknown foreign investors.
Over the weekend Bush said that in an effort to promote transparency, he'd be releasing 250,000 emails from his time as governor of Florida and an e-book outlining his approach to governing. Those efforts will help frame his position on issues like education reform and immigration reform, which put him at odds with the Republican primary electorate and parts of the conservative press.
But given that its unlikely right-wing media will hold Governor Bush to the same standard as Secretary Clinton, will Bush also be transparent about the details of his time in the private sector? More broadly, will the media fully examine the "potential political problems" of Jeb Bush's "unapologetic" expansion of wealth?
From the December 16 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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From the December 15 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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Right-wing media outlets manufactured phony outrage over President Obama's recent remark on ESPN Radio that he usually watches SportsCenter while working out in the morning. In 2007, President Bush similarly admitted to watching ESPN while working.
Fox News hosts rushed to minimize the severity of interrogation methods used by the CIA during the Bush administration in the wake of a Senate report outlining the agency's brutal techniques. Here are some of the network's worst attempts to trivialize torture.
Right-wing media are relying on a litany of myths to defend the use of torture on terrorism suspects, responding to the findings of a Senate investigation on the practice by pretending "torture isn't torture" and improperly crediting brutal interrogation for information that led to the capture of Osama bin Laden.
Republican lawmakers reportedly plan to demand the suspension of first lady Michelle Obama's school lunch program in order to avoid a government shutdown, an ultimatum that follows follows a sustained conservative media campaign against her anti-obesity efforts.
According to The New York Times, congressional Republicans plan "to scale back Michelle Obama's school-lunch nutrition mandates and curtail some clean water regulations in a $1 trillion spending bill that would avert" a government shutdown on December 11. Republicans have staked their ground against a program the Times describes as an attempt to "improve school nutrition by reducing the sodium content and increasing the percentage of whole grains in school lunches."
While Pew polling has found that a majority of Americans agree that "the government should play a significant role in reducing obesity among children," Michelle Obama's efforts to combat childhood obesity have been met with consistent opposition from conservatives, including right-wing media. Here are some of the worst attacks on the first lady's school nutrition initiative:
Healthy School Lunches Are Government Fiat
Michelle Obama Is Too Fat To Lead Nutrition Efforts
Nutrition Standards Caused "Plate Waste" And Hunger
Michelle Obama's Efforts Lead To Higher Pedestrian Deaths
From the December 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the December 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Radio host and ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham accused President Obama of "play[ing] to the sentiment" of the audience when responding to a question on race relations from Black Entertainment Television (BET), arguing that Obama made different remarks during an ABC interview on the same subject. In fact, Obama's answers during the interviews were similar, emphasizing the progress made in the United States on race since the Civil Rights era.
Fox News originally ignored a House GOP report debunking many of its Benghazi myths but is now attacking the report's credibility to promote the need for more Benghazi Select Committee hearings.
In November, the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Republicans, released the results of a lengthy investigation that "debunk[ed] a series of persistent allegations" perpetuated by conservative media outlets about the events and culpability surrounding the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The report reaffirmed the findings of several previous investigations and once again determined that "there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria."
Fox News remained mostly silent in the wake of the report's publication, giving the report only cursory coverage while flagship news program Fox News Sunday ignored it entirely. The network's lack of coverage earned condemnation from CNN media critic Brian Stelter and even Fox's own media analyst, Howard Kurtz. The absence of coverage stood in stark contrast toFox's exhaustive focus on the formation of a select committee to investigate Benghazi in June, when the network devoted at least 225 segments to the select committee over a mere two-week span.
With another Benghazi Select Committee hearing scheduled for December 10, Fox has changed its approach from silence to overt attempts to undermine the GOP report's credibility.
Bret Baier, host of Fox's Special Report, claimed on December 3 that "many" believe the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report "went soft on the Obama administration and was filled inaccuracies" and emphasized the further investigation by the Benghazi Select Committee. To bolster this allegation, investigative reporter Catherine Herridge noted the "eyewitness accounts" of Kris Paronto and John Tiegen, who, according to Herridge, "say there was an intelligence failure. They were directly warned in late August a strike was likely, yet no Defense Department assets were available on the September 11th anniversary."
Special Report's December 3 panel went to further lengths to undermine the Intelligence Committee report as Baier, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, and The Hill's A. B. Stoddard suggested that the investigation was insufficient.
But Fox's latest attempts at subverting the committee report amount to nothing more than highlighting a smattering of Republican lawmakers who claim to remember events occurring differently than they were laid out in the final report. In a December 5 article for FoxNews.com, Herridge reported that newly declassified testimony contained the statements of members of Congress recalling that former CIA director David Petraeus connected the Benghazi attack to the protests against an anti-Muslim YouTube video in an off-the-record coffee meeting two days after the attack:
If the lawmakers' recollection is accurate, that means Petraeus' brief on Sept. 14, 2012, was instead in line with the White House, and then-Secretary Hillary Clinton's State Department. It was a State Department press release at 10:07 p.m. ET, before the attack was even over, that first made the link to the obscure anti-Islam video. The newly declassified testimony says $70,000 was spent on advertising in Pakistan, denouncing the anti-Muslim film.
During this testimony, GOP Rep. Jeff Miller questioned Petraeus' original testimony, stating the former CIA director "even went so far as to say that it had been put into Arabic language and then was put on this TV station, this cleric's TV station. I mean, [Petraeus] drove that in pretty hard when he was in here. "
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., added "it was said in here a little bit earlier that the CIA never said Benghazi was part of a Cairo protest and of the video. And we were given just the opposite message by the Director of the CIA on the [September] 14th [2012.]"
Rogers noted there was no transcript for the brief, only staff notes, but after the Petraeus incident in September 2012, the practice was changed to always run a transcript on the briefings. The Sept. 14, 2012, brief was a coffee meeting with members.
USA Today reported that the Fox-promoted Select Committee may cost $1.5 million this year, despite numerous other independent investigations finding no wrongdoing with relation to the events in Benghazi.
The Washington Post is helping a former official from President George H.W. Bush's administration walk back his 1990 congressional testimony that Bush's executive action on immigration could have helped up to 1.5 million people and using that to decry the Obama administration's use of the figure to justify its upcoming immigration action. But the official, then-Federal Immigration Commissioner Gene McNary, was the person who introduced the 1.5 million figure, and an immigration expert's analysis of immigration numbers at the time shows that the figure is plausible.
From the December 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the December 2 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:
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