Fox News personalities claimed that a new rule change by Democrats in the Senate is hypocritical because both parties have obstructed when in the minority, ignoring the historically high level of GOP obstruction of President Obama's executive and judicial nominees.
On November 21, Democrats changed Senate rules so that "judicial and executive branch nominees no longer need to clear a 60-vote threshold to reach the Senate floor and get an up-or-down vote."
During a November 21 broadcast of Fox News' America's News HQ, co-host Alisyn Camerota asked Geraldo Rivera whether GOP gridlock was to blame for Democrats moving to change Senate rules. Rivera responded, "You know, I wish we could pull up some of the newscasts from eight years ago during the Bush Administration and you would hear the same thing. ... This is a game that they have played historically since the third president--since Thomas Jefferson":
During a press conference on the rule change, Fox White House Correspondent Ed Henry questioned Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest about whether Obama was being obstructionist because in 2005 he said he would block Bush nominees because he wanted Bush to fix guidelines on lead paint. Henry asked, "wasn't that obstruction?":
But Fox' false equivalency ignores the fact that recent GOP obstruction is unprecedented. Fox personalities ignored the GOP filibustering of Obama's judicial nominees who have been described as highly-qualified, non-controversial, and diverse.
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent explained that GOP obstruction was "the highest that's ever been recorded" during the last Congressional session. People For The American Way (PFAW) pointed out the "unprecedented" level of obstruction in a chart of cloture votes on executive nominees:
In fact, comparing Bush administration nominees to Obama's shows that the GOP is far more obstructionist today than Democrats were during the Bush presidency, with regard to the percentage of nominees confirmed and the amount of time nominees wait until confirmation vote. Right-Wing Watch, a project of PFAW, published several more charts illustrating these points:
Sean Hannity called the Senate's passage of filibuster reform a "lawless maneuver" despite having supported it in 2005 under Republican President George W. Bush.
After the Senate voted to change the rules on judicial nominees to allow confirmation with a simple majority vote, Hannity called the move a "lawless maneuver," saying "Democrats break the rules":
But in 2005, under a Republican president and Republican-controlled Congress, Hannity called judicial nominations one of the "specific instances in the Constitution where they call for a supermajority," arguing that it was "unconstitutional to filibuster":
HANNITY: Senator [John McCain], one last question before we let you go here.
There are seven specific instances in the Constitution where they call for a supermajority. I believe it's unconstitutional to filibuster. It is not about advice and consent now to ask for a supermajority on judicial nominations. I believe that is not constitutional.
There's been a lot of talk about what we describe as the "constitutional option," which is that the Republicans would unite and vote, and there would be an up-or-down vote on all of the judicial nominations. Do you think that's the right thing to do? Will you support [then-Senate Majority Leader] Senator [Bill] Frist if he does it?
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed out, of the 168 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations that have occurred in the history of the U.S. Senate, half have occurred during the Obama administration.
Source: Senate Democrats
National Review editor Rich Lowry, who previously called judicial filibusters a "perversion" of democratic checks and balances and urged the Republican Senate majority leader to end them and then "sleep the sleep of an utterly justified defender of Senate tradition" is lashing out at Senate Democrats for taking his advice.
On November 21, Senate Democrats responded to the Republican minority's unprecedented wave of filibusters of President Obama's executive and judicial nominees by changing the Senate rules to allow their confirmation with the support of a simple majority. In 2005, when Senate Democrats were in the minority and blocked the confirmation of a handful of President Bush's judicial nominees, many in the conservative media urged then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to take that same step. That "nuclear option" was not deployed after several Senate Democrats agreed to allow the confirmation of most of the held-up nominees.
Discussing the issue on Fox's The Real Story, Lowry accused President Obama of trying to "pack" a prominent appeals court and called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "the biggest hypocrite in the country" because he supposedly "made the filibuster for judges sound like the most sacrosanct institution in our Constitutional republic" in 2005 and "now, when it's convenient for him, he's changing it."
While accusing others of hypocrisy, Lowry sweeps under the rug his fulsome support for eliminating the filibuster in 2005 after Democrats filibustered several arch-conservative Bush nominees. At the time, Lowry called judicial filibusters a "perversion" that flew in the face of the Senate tradition of bringing "a president's nominees to the floor for an up-or-down vote without filibusters." He urged Frist to "take away [Democrats'] ability to mount unprecedented judicial filibusters through the so-called nuclear option, then sleep the sleep of an utterly justified defender of Senate tradition."
Reid and the Senate Democrats are responding to the dramatic change in circumstances since 2005. While Democrats blocked a handful of nominees who they considered ideologically extreme, Republicans have engaged in an unprecedented effort to obstruct the confirmations of virtually all Obama nominees, including some positions for which they say they will accept no nominee at all.
As the Office of the Majority Leader explains, according to the Congressional Research Service, "nearly half of all the filibusters waged on nominations in the history of the United States have been waged by Republicans under President Obama. In the history of the U.S., 168 nominees have been filibustered - with 82 occurring during the Obama administration. In the history of the U.S., 23 district court nominees have been filibustered - with 20 being Obama nominees."
This effort has included the blanket filibustering of all nominees for the U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which Republicans now claim does not require a full complement of judges. Republicans have filibustered more than twice as many Obama executive branch nominees as were blocked during the Bush administration.
In response to unprecedented Republican obstructionism, Senate Democrats have voted to change Senate rules regarding the filibustering of most presidential nominees. Media Matters looks back at the numerous conservatives who, during the Bush administration, decried filibustering and supported the tactic Democrats have now enacted.
The office of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) revoked access to a Senate meeting room for a right-wing confab planning to discuss how American social conservatives can learn from Russia's draconian crackdown on LGBT people. Among the participants slated to speak at the event was Breitbart.com columnist and notorious homophobe Austin Ruse.
BuzzFeed's J. Lester Feder reported on November 14 that Kirk - who supports marriage equality and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) -- had shut down the planned November 15 "Family Policy Lessons From Other Lands: What Should America Learn?" conference. A Kirk spokesman explained that "Sen. Kirk doesn't affiliate with groups that discriminate."
Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Instiute (C-FAM) and Breitbart.com's go-to anti-gay extremist, lashed out at Kirk, calling him a "coward" and blasting the "shameful" cancellation of the event. But while Ruse and his fellow anti-LGBT activists might be too fringe for the Senate's meeting rooms, he's always welcome to spew his hate at Breitbart.com and conservative websites like The Daily Caller, where he penned a column titled "Putin is not the gay bogeyman." At Breitbart.com, Ruse has been a relentless cheerleader for Matthew Shepard trutherism and supporter of Russia's anti-gay crackdown, which Ruse considers vital to "human rights." In his capacity as C-FAM president, Ruse has worked to block a U.N. treaty on the rights of people with disabilities and supported the former right-wing government of Poland in its effort to fire pro-gay teachers.
Ruse's Breitbart.com column on the "human rights" groups supporting Russia's anti-gay laws touted a joint statement signed by social conservative organizations from around the globe endorsing the Kremlin's crackdown and expressing concern "about the heavy attacks that the Russian Federation is facing" in the wake of the laws' passage. Several of the groups that signed the statement were planning on participating in the now-canceled Senate-sponsored conference. They include the Illinois-based World Congress of Families (WCF), whose spokesman says that the U.S. is "doomed to extinction" thanks to marriage equality. WCF has also worked internationally to defend laws criminalizing homosexuality. The anti-contraception Population Research Institute, another signatory of the pro-Kremlin statement, was also to have been represented at the November 15 event by President Steven Mosher.
The symposium would have been much more than a gathering of figures who wish to "discriminate." Ruse and his anti-LGBT compatriots are enthusiastic backers of vicious laws that have stoked a horrific climate of violence and vigilantism toward gay Russians. If full-throated support for such grievous human rights violations isn't disqualifying at Breitbart.com, what is?
Sean Hannity hosted Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Citizens United as they used Fox News as a platform to launch a campaign targeted at ending the so-called congressional exemption to the Affordable Care Act. There's one problem: the congressional exemption does not exist.
On the November 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity, David Bossie, president of the conservative political organization Citizens United, and Vitter joined Hannity to announce a new campaign calling on Congress to "Live By Your Laws." While the segment aired, Citizens United's Twitter account encouraged its followers to "join the movement" with Bossie, Hannity, and Vitter to stop a rule within the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) that allegedly exempts members of Congress and their staffs as well as the White House from having to take part in the ACA's health insurance exchanges. Hannity introduced the segment by playing most of Citizens United's new advertisement.
Contrary to the trio's claims, the reality is that the ACA requires Congress and its staff to obtain health insurance on the exchanges and also prohibits them from receiving subsidies under the ACA. Because of this "special punishment" as The Washington Post's Ezra Klein called it, congressional staffers would be forced to cover the entire cost of their health insurance. To avoid that punishment, the Office of Personnel Management clarified that it would continue to subsidize congressional employees' health insurances costs just like most employers throughout the country do. One Republican lawmaker said of the clarification, "There's no question it was the right thing to do."
Republican and conservative media figures lauded a report from CBS' 60 Minutes on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, using it to advance their attacks on the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. But that report has since come under fire following the revelation that the piece's key Benghazi "eyewitness" had previously claimed he was nowhere near the compound on the night of the attack.
CNN's State of the Union misleadingly hyped congressional Republican demands to interview survivors of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The report ignored, however, that multiple key witnesses to the attack have already testified before Congress and more are scheduled to testify in the future.
Fox's Bill Hemmer refused to accept a U.S. senator's correction and admonishment of the network's misreporting on the health care plans of Congress and congressional staff under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare).
During the fight over the government shutdown and Affordable Care Act, a favorite refrain of the right-wing media and the tea party has been the line that Congress is receiving exemptions and special treatment under the ACA that normal Americans cannot obtain. This is not true -- staffers receive the same employer-sponsored health care that most employed Americans receive.
A conservative pundit repeated this myth in an October 23 segment on America's Newsroom, and when Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) came on after a commercial break to discuss violence in Egypt, he wanted to correct the record -- but Fox host Hemmer wouldn't allow it.
Near the end of Corker's interview, Hemmer revealed that the senator was displeased with Fox's handling of the Congressional exemption story in the previous segment, saying in part, "You were listening to our program a bit earlier during the commercial break. You took strong exception to the fact that you think Congress is playing by the same rules that regular Americans are playing by when it comes to Obamacare."
Corker replied, "I think there's been a lot of misreporting and sort-of a myth around what's happening with Obamacare."
The senator then made three different attempts to tell the truth about congressional coverage.
Each time, Hemmer interrupted Corker. He parroted the myth that Congress receives special treatment and rebuked Corker's explanation with claims that people "get lost" in the facts.
From the October 17 edition of Cumulus Media Networks' The Mark Levin Show:
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From the October 17 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
Right-wing media that demanded the Republican Party shut down the government and put the debt ceiling at risk as a strategy to damage ObamaCare are already signaling that they blame members of Congress who were insufficiently supportive for the plan's failure.
That's consistent with the theory Media Matters laid out yesterday that the right-wing media has become convinced that conservatism cannot lose, and thus any evidence suggesting that a conservative strategy failed will be rejected on the grounds that either the strategy didn't really lose, or the real fault lies with its implementers who somehow betrayed the plan.
Last night, the House GOP failed to coalesce around a bill that would have funded the government, raised the debt ceiling, and implemented various conservative policies. Current reporting indicates that both Houses of Congress will now pass the Senate's bill, which will fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, but without the sort of Republican demands that have stalled those objectives for weeks.
Observers across the spectrum are calling this a crushing defeat for the Tea Party strategy that linked must-pass legislation to defunding or delaying ObamaCare, and it's easy to see why. For weeks it's been clear that because Republicans control only the House of Representatives, the only deal that could pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law by President Obama would be one that relied largely on Democratic votes in the House. House Speaker Boehner's attempt to pass a bill with only Republican support never had a chance, led to devastating poll numbers for his party, and in the end the GOP couldn't even find a set of demands that they all agreed with.
But among the members of the right-wing media who promoted this strategy, it's not the plan that was at fault, it's the failure of Republican leaders to stick it out. Fox News contributor Erick Erickson responded to the latest developments by blaming the House Republicans who "have signaled they are giving up" and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was "outsmarted" by Majority Leader Harry Reid (who also happens to control the majority of the Senate). His next step?
We only need a few good small businessmen and women to stand up and challenge these Republicans who are caving. If they refuse to fight for us, we must fight them. It is the only way we will finally be able to fight against Obamacare.
I am tired of funding Republicans who campaign against Obamacare then refuse to fight. It's time to find a new batch of Republicans to actually practice what the current crop preaches.
From the October 16 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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Fox News' timeline of the ongoing government shutdown cherry-picked dates to omit congressional Republicans' conception and furtherance of the shutdown over their demand to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare).
The Wall Street Journal misleadingly praised the government shutdown, suggesting it could help the economy. In fact, the shutdown has already cost the economy billions and is predicted to harm economic growth even further.