The Evolution Of The Right-Wing Media's Class Warfare
From "Makers Vs. Takers" To Romney's "Gifts"
Research ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT
Rush Limbaugh and Fox News hosts are embracing Mitt Romney's claim that President Obama won reelection because he provided "gifts" to various groups of voters in the form of government policies and programs. These claims are the latest installment in Limbaugh and Fox News' multi-year narrative that roughly half of Americans are "takers" that mooch off of America's wealthy through government programs.
Romney: Voters Chose Obama Because He Gave Them "Gifts"
Romney: Obama Won Because He Lavished Gifts On African Americans, Hispanics, And Young People. On November 14, Mitt Romney told his campaign donors that the reason he lost is because the Obama campaign "was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people." Romney cited the Affordable Care Act as "a big gift to young people" and Obama's immigration policies as "a huge plus" to Hispanic voters.
Mitt Romney said Wednesday that his loss to President Obama was due in large part to his rival's strategy of giving "gifts" during his first term to three groups that were pivotal in the results of last week's election: African Americans, Latinos and young voters.
"The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people," Romney told hundreds of donors during a telephone town hall Wednesday. "In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups." [Los Angeles Times, 11/15/12]
Fox Hosts And Limbaugh Agree With Romney, Claim Obama Bought Votes With Government Aid
Fox's Varney: Obama Was "Buying Votes With Taxpayer Money." On Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney said that in Europe, "politicians have bought votes by handing out goodies to the population" for generations. He continued, "Now look over here. What position are we in in America right here? I say we're just getting started. We're throwing the handouts out left, right, and center." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade interrupted, saying: "Mitt Romney mentioned that yesterday. He said he couldn't win because all these other people were giving things away." Varney agreed, saying that American politicians are "buying votes with taxpayer money, handouts all over the place." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/15/12, via Media Matters]
Limbaugh Takes Credit For Romney's Claim. Rush Limbaugh opened his radio show by taking credit for what Romney said:
LIMBAUGH: Mitt Romney is out there saying that Obama won the election because he was focused on certain members of his base coalition. He gave them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then he worked very aggressively to turn them out to vote. So Romney's out saying that Obama was Santa Claus. Where have we heard that before? And then, Bobby Jindal said, no, that's not the way to go, no, no, no. So Bobby Jindal's cutting my Santa Claus bit out from under me. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/15/12]
Conservative Media's Embrace Of Romney's Comments Continues Their Pattern Of Pitting Working Americans Against The Wealthy
In 2011, Fox Ran Week-Long Series To Label Safety Net Beneficiaries "Takers"
Fox Business Unveiled "Entitlement Nation: Makers Vs. Takers" In 2011. Fox Business' website introduced the network's "week-long theme of Entitlement Nation: Makers vs. Takers" in May 2011, featuring the following graphic:
Fox's Dobbs And Barnes: "Most" People On "Government Handouts" Social Security And Medicare Are "Takers." On Lou Dobbs' Fox Business show, Peter Barnes and Dobbs determined that Social Security and Medicare recipients are "takers":
LOU DOBBS: All week this week, Fox Business presenting a special series called "Entitlement Nation, Makers Versus Takers," on the nation's growing dependence on government handouts. Peter Barnes and Ashley Webster here with two reports tonight. Peter, let's begin with you.
PETER BARNES: Well Lou, according to a report by the Urban Institute, most current Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries are takers, getting a lot more in benefits than they pay in payroll taxes. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 5/23/11, via Media Matters]
Fox's Napolitano: "Dependency Is Turning This Country From A Nation Of Makers ... Into A Nation Of Takers." Fox's Andrew Napolitano said on his discontinued Fox Business show that America is becoming "a nation of takers who primarily consume other people's wealth" through government programs:
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: But first, we turn to the welfare state in America. It's entitlement nation week here on Fox Business. Too many Americans, nearly half, get money from the federal government, and nearly half Americans -- of Americans pay no taxes. And the feds give away more money than they collect in taxes. The money is doled out primarily in the form of entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Not only are these problems unconst -- or, these programs unconstitutional, as the federal government is not authorized to take money from one group and give it to another, but they make Americans dependent upon big government. And dependency is turning this country from a nation of makers who come up with new ideas, who employ new people, who risk their wealth and create wealth, into a nation of takers who primarily consume other people's wealth. [Fox Business, Freedom Watch, 5/23/11, via Media Matters]
Fox's Asman: "Makers And Takers ... Embodies The Great Divide In This Country." Fox Business' David Asman said, "Kicking off tonight, for several weeks now, Scoreboard has been featuring a segment called 'Makers and Takers,' which we think embodies the great divide in this country between the folks who actually make things, and those who actually take what others make." Asman added that "most of the takers are in the government." [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 5/23/11, via Media Matters]
In 2012, Fox Continued To Disparage Working Americans As "Takers"
Fox's Bolling Hypes Conservative Group's Study To Pit "The Takers" Against "The Makers." On The Five, co-host Eric Bolling said that a study by the conservative Heritage Foundation showed that "the takers outweigh the makers." [Fox News, The Five, 2/9/12, via Media Matters]
Bolling: "People Who Are Takers Are Almost More Than 50 Percent Of America." Discussing comments made by radio host Rush Limbaugh, Bolling said on The Five: "Let's talk about what Rush said. He said it's a group that goes to work every day, works hard, pays their taxes, just wants to be -- wants to have a voice in the way things are going. The problem is that kind of defines the Tea Party. It looks like a conservative. It looks like the Tea Party. The problem is, it's almost not a majority anymore. People who are takers are almost more than 50 percent of America." [Fox News, The Five, 3/22/12, via Nexis]
Bolling Condemns "Takers" And "Makers" Rhetoric As "Class Warfare" -- Despite Pushing It Himself. Ignoring his own pitting of "makers" against "takers," Bolling said on The Five, seeming to refer to Occupy Wall Street protesters: "[T]his is class warfare. Anytime you highlight the takers, the makers, the haves, the have-nots, the 99 percent, the 1 percent, that's what they're playing. That's the game they're playing." [Fox News, The Five, 2/16/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Dobbs: Occupy Wall Street Is "Forever Trying To Pit The Makers Against The Takers." In criticizing the children's animated film The Lorax for allegedly "demonizing the so-called 1 percent and espousing the virtue of green-energy policies," Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said, "Where have we all heard this before? Occupy Wall Street, forever trying to pit the makers against the takers." [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 2/21/12, via Media Matters]
FoxNews.com Writer Warns Of "America's Coming Civil War Between The Makers And The Takers." In a July 12 FoxNews.com column, Arthur Herman declared that "another civil war is coming, with the 2012 election as its Gettysburg":
Call it America's coming civil war between the Makers and the Takers.
On one side are those who create wealth, America's private sector--the very ones targeted by President Obama's tax hikes announced Monday.
On the other are the public employee unions; left-leaning intelligentsia who see the growth of government as index of progress; and the millions of Americans now dependent on government through a growing network of government transfer payments, from Medicaid and Social Security to college loans and corporate bailouts and handouts (think GM and Solyndra). [FoxNews.com, 7/12/12]
As A Candidate, Romney Disparaged 47 Percent Of Americans As "Dependent On Government"
At A Fundraiser, Romney Attacked 47 Percent Of Americans "Who Are Dependent Upon Government." In a September 17 post, Mother Jones reported that Romney, to an audience of donors, disparaged those who receive government benefits as people who "believe that they are victims" and that "government has a responsibility to care for them." Romney said: "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives":
ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49 -- he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. He'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. [Mother Jones, 9/17/12]
Fox, Limbaugh, And Others Endorsed Romney's 47 Percent Comments
Fox's Hannity: In The End, Release Of 47 Percent Comments "Will Be Seen As A Godsend" For Romney. On his talk radio show, Fox host Sean Hannity declared that the release of Romney's 47 percent comments "will be seen as a godsend" for the presidential candidate. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 9/18/12]
Rush Limbaugh: Romney's 47 Percent Comments Are A "Golden Opportunity" And "Could Be A Slam Dunk" For Conservatism. Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show that the release of Romney's comments was a "golden opportunity" for "Romney and the entire conservative establishment, including the conservative media." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/18/12]
Fox's Stuart Varney: "Governor Romney Is Correct In That Latest Tape That's Been Released." On Fox & Friends, Stuart Varney voiced his support for the comments and said that Romney "identified the truth":
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): I feel that you cannot use this election cycle comparing it historically. Because historically everyone says, well, a president is never reelected when unemployment's over 8 percent. But I think this time it's different. I think some of these numbers don't matter as much to the American people precisely because of the amount of government handouts that are currently being given out
STUART VARNEY: You mean half the population --
STUART VARNEY: Governor Romney is correct in that latest tape that's been released. Half the population is living off the other half and will vote for President Obama. Therefore, the lousy economy doesn't matter.
VARNEY: I think what Governor Romney did was identify the truth. This is an entitlement nation. That is accurate. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/18/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Brian Kilmeade: "I Would Love" For Romney's Remarks "To Be A Message For Any Candidate On The Stump. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade applauded Romney's comments, saying that he'd like them to be "a message for any candidate on the stump." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/18/12]
Fox's Dick Morris: Romney Gets It Right. On FoxNews.com, Dick Morris wrote that Romney stated a "fundamental truth" when talking about entitlements:
[T]he fact remains that an Obama reelection would turn the tide psychologically in America from the land of upward mobility through hard work and initiative and toward a country akin to Greece: dependent on government aid in the form of a subsidy and government handouts.
By stating this fundamental truth, albeit off the record, Romney has done a service for which he should be praised not excoriated. [FoxNews.com, 9/18/12]
Drudge Report: "Romney Gets Real: Obama Supporters 'Dependent On Government.' " The Drudge Report promoted the video, billing it as "Romney Gets Real":
[Drudge Report, 9/18/12]
Fox Nation: "Romney Gets Real." Fox Nation echoed the Drudge Report with a similar headline:
[Fox Nation, 9/17/12]
Fox And Limbaugh Returned To Attacking Working Americans After The Election, Claiming They Voted In Order To Get Stuff
Rush Limbaugh: Obama Won Because "People Are Not Going To Vote Against Santa Claus, Especially If The Alternative Is Being Your Own Santa Claus." On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh posited that the election was not a rejection of conservatism but rather an embrace of "Santa Claus":
LIMBAUGH: Let me tell you, small things beat big things yesterday. Conservatism, in my humble opinion, did not lose last night. It's just very difficult to beat Santa Claus. It is practically impossible to beat Santa Claus. People are not going to vote against Santa Claus especially if the alternative is being your own Santa Claus. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/7/12]
Bill O'Reilly: "The Voters, Many Of Them Feel Like The Economic System Is Stacked Against Them, And They Want Stuff." Fox News' Bill O'Reilly explained Obama's likely election-night victory by deriding half of the voting public as people "who want stuff" and "things." He added: "And who is going to give them things? President Obama." He went on to say:
O'REILLY: The voters, many of them feel that the economic system is stacked against them, and they want stuff. You're going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama's way. People feel that they are entitled to things, and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things? [Fox News, America's Election Headquarters, 11/6/12]
Eric Bolling Accused Half Of Americans Of Voting For "Class Warfare." On Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling said he couldn't believe 50 percent of Americans would want four more years of "the class warfare guy":
BOLLING: We can't blame President Obama. We knew who he was. For four years, we've known exactly what he is. He's the class warfare guy, he's divisive, he's the maker versus taker guy. I have to sit back and go, Americans -- 50 percent of people who voted voted for more of that? Four more years of that? It's our own fault, people. [Fox News, The Five, 11/7/12]
Monica Crowley: Election Results Show More Americans "Now Are Dependent On Government Than Not." Saying that the election results "point to something much bigger" than the quality of the campaigns, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley claimed that President Obama and the left have "accelerated this process of changing the very nature and character of the country where more people now are dependent on government than not. He tried to accelerate us to that tipping point. The results last night, I think, show that perhaps he's gotten us there." [Fox News, America Live, 11/7/12]