Media personalities rushed to scandalize President Obama for saluting Marines while simultaneously holding a coffee cup, criticizing the move as disrespectful -- forgetting former President George W. Bush's habit of saluting service members while holding his dog.
Right-wing media are using President Obama's plan to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as another opportunity to attack him. Conservatives are calling the president a "hypocrite" because he's sending "more soldiers to fight Ebola than we are sending to fight ISIS"; labeling the plan "arrogant" because of problems with HealthCare.gov; and accusing him of trying to "change the subject" by "fighting a really bad flu bug."
The White House announced on September 16 that the United States would send 3,000 troops to Africa to help combat the Ebola threat. The U.S. military and broader uniformed services effort will "entail command and control, logistics expertise, training, and engineering support."
President Obama said in a speech that "[m]ore than 2,400 men, women and children are known to have died -- and we strongly suspect that the actual death toll is higher than that ... In West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic of the likes that we have not seen before. It's spiraling out of control. It is getting worse. It's spreading faster and exponentially. Today, thousands of people in West Africa are infected. That number could rapidly grow to tens of thousands. And if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political and economic."
Conservatives responded to the plan by mocking the president and his policies:
From the August 27 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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Fox News contributor Allen West is endorsing and holding events for GOP candidates and organizations across the country. Republicans are accepting West's help despite his history of toxic remarks, including calling President Obama an "Islamist" and "disgusting racist," attacking feminists for "neutering American men," and smearing Democrats as communists, Nazis, and anti-Semites.
From the August 5 edition of BlogTalkRadio's African-American Conservatives:
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Allen West is chiding Democrats for fundraising off of the prospect of impeachment, which he assures his readers is "not happening." But in recent weeks, West has repeatedly solicited donations from subscribers to his email list to help bolster the impeachment movement, which he claimed was "gaining speed!"
In a July 30 post to his website, West, a Fox News contributor and former Republican congressman, advised readers, "As much as you'd like to, don't fall into the impeachment trap."
He explained that "evil" Democrats had "successfully made the word 'impeachment' verboten in America," adding, "In fact, they've managed to turn it into political heyday as they celebrate fundraising records based on generating fear among their base over something that's not happening."
West lamented how Democrats "have effectively outmaneuvered the fail safe measures entrusted to us by our Founding Fathers to replace the rule of law with the rule of one." Instead of impeaching the president, West posited that Republicans "must do that which the Democrats truly fear: ensure they lose control of the U.S. Senate and expand the GOP House majority."
West's warning about the dangers of impeachment stand in stark contrast to what he's been saying on the issue for months. In June, following the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, West called on the House of Representatives to "draft articles of impeachment as no one is above the law in America."
While he now claims impeachment is "not happening," fundraising emails he recently sent to his followers struck a decidedly different note. For example, on July 10, after fellow Fox News contributor Sarah Palin joined the conservative calls for impeachment, West sent out an email soliciting "emergency contribution[s]" to help his PAC distribute a survey asking people whether the House should impeach the president. According to West, Palin's support for impeachment was evidence "This movement is far from over....it's gaining speed!" He also described impeachment as a "growing movement" and a "huge grassroots movement."
On June 28, West asked for "emergency donation[s]" to his PAC, telling subscribers, "the time has come to hold [Obama] accountable." West pointed to House Speaker John Boehner's lawsuit targeting the president as the "initial steps that I believe will lead to impeachment."
In a June 19 email to subscribers with the subject line, "Breaking- Enough votes to impeach Obama?", West touted comments from Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) claiming the House "probably" had enough votes to impeach the president. Once again asking for an "emergency donation," West explained, "Now - more than ever - we need to get the Guardian Fund's impeachment survey into the hands of every conservative in America."
Right-wing media and Republicans are blaming Democrats and President Obama for allegedly "ginning up" the issue of impeachment for political benefit, but that Pandora's Box was opened by conservatives themselves, who have been demanding impeachment since Obama first took office.
In an interview with conspiracy website WND (which has its own "Impeachment Store"), Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) told conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi that President Obama "wants us to impeach him now" because "his senior advisors believe that is the only chance the Democratic Party has to avoid a major electoral defeat. Evidently Obama believes impeachment could motivate the Democratic Party base to come out and vote."
Stockman's proclamation that the president is "begging to be impeached" was quickly trumpeted as the top story on the Drudge Report and Fox Nation, and Stockman isn't the only one trying to pin the increase in impeachment discussion on Democrats. While refusing to answer whether impeachment is off the table for House Republicans, incoming House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) claimed "this might be the first White House in History that's trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president."
Fox News America's Newsroom host Martha MacCallum also attempted to distance impeachment rhetoric from the right and pin it on Democrats, claiming that while "some" Republicans have called for impeachment, "The White House itself has been talking a lot about this potential impeachment, even though a lot of members of the GOP want nothing to do with it."
She continued, saying impeachment was "kind of crazy when you think about it," and dismissed Fox News contributor Sarah Palin's impeachment call, saying "it really gained no traction among Republicans. A couple talk show hosts also liked the idea, apparently, but that seemed to be pretty much as far as it went. And now, there seems to be a move to convince Americans that all Republicans are interested in that option." Her guest, Republican New Hampshire Senate candidate and former Fox News contributor Scott Brown, responded by saying that there is "no appetite" for impeachment among Americans.
While MacCallum claimed Palin's call for impeachment "gained no traction among Republicans," in Fox News' own poll released last week, a majority of Republicans (56 percent) endorsed the idea of impeaching Obama.
Furthermore, these attempts to pivot and shift blame towards Democrats for invoking impeachment severely downplay conservatives' responsibility for the narrative.
There's a brewing conservative media war over whether to impeach President Obama.
Largely relegated to the fringe for years, the prospect of impeachment has been invigorated thanks to conservative media figures like Fox News contributors Sarah Palin and Allen West, who have spent recent weeks loudly demanding Obama's removal from office. But not everyone in conservative media is on board, with several prominent figures arguing that impeachment is ill-fated, politically toxic, and could severely damage Republicans' chances in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections.
Last week, Fox News polled on the question, finding that while a strong majority of Americans (61 percent) oppose impeachment, 56 percent of Republicans are in favor of it.
Over the weekend, impeachment got another boost thanks to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the incoming House Majority Whip, appearing on Fox News Sunday and refusing "to take impeaching President Barack Obama off the table if Obama takes executive action to limit deportations." On Saturday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) announced on Breitbart News Saturday that if the president uses more executive actions on illegal immigration, "we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives."
In June, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) introduced a plan to sue the president over the delayed implementation of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. While Boehner has repeatedly dismissed impeachment talk, reporters like the New Republic's Brian Beutler have speculated that the lawsuit was designed to "serve as a relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment."
If Boehner's lawsuit was designed to cool impeachment fever, it's not working. Several conservative media figures have lashed out over his "political stunt" and continue to bang the impeachment drum. As November approaches, the fight over impeachment among conservative media is getting increasingly acrimonious with each side convinced the other is hurting the country.
Media Matters looks at where various conservative commentators currently stand on impeachment.
Fox News contributor Allen West is claiming that President Obama is "purposefully creating drama globally" like the recent Malaysia Airlines M17 crash.
In a post on his website headlined, "298 souls on MH17 have paid the price for Obama's 'flexibility,'" West referenced a 2012 video of Obama telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev he would have "flexibility" after his re-election, writing:
Sadly, hundreds of Ukrainians and 298 souls on MH17 have paid the price for the weakness and abject cowardice of Obama's "flexibility."
And here in America we quibble over a lawsuit against this charlatan.
The blood on Vladimir Putin's hands was poured by Barack Obama who is indirectly responsible, accountable accountable [sic] and no different than Neville Chamberlain's weakness in the face of the 20th Century maniacal dictator Adolf Hitler.
He concluded: "So much for no drama Obama. He is purposefully creating drama globally." West did not expand on why he thinks Obama is "purposely creating" "drama" like the Malaysia crash.
Fox News contributor Allen West didn't dispute an audience member who falsely claimed that "Obama is a Muslim," responding that he's "not going to get into that" but the president "has an Eastern orientation, I'll put it that way."
During the event's question and answer segment, an attendee told West: "I personally believe that Obama is a Muslim. I believe he has a corrupt administration. And I believe that he is doing everything in his power to bring this country down."
West agreed that Obama is bringing down the country, and then moved on to the Muslim claim by stating: "Now the point about him being a Muslim or not, you know, I'm not going to get into that. But this is what I will tell you. The formative years of your life have an incredible impact upon your worldview and your perspective. Okay? My years from zero to ten, I was learning all the SEC football fight songs. I was going to Atlanta Braves, you know, baseball games."
By contrast, West said, "The president has an Eastern orientation, I'll put it that way. You go back and you look at the speech he gave at the Turkish general assembly and also the speech he gave in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009. That defines his perspective. Anybody that allows Muslim Brotherhood affiliated individuals to be advisers in your, in his administration -- I got a problem with that. Okay? And I will tell you, that's an impeachable offense, folks."
He concluded: "Don't care whether or not he's a Muslim. I care about his orientation. And his association. But you're absolutely right. One thing I'll tell you -- he has told us exactly what he wants to do."
If you're a conservative who wants to impeach President Obama, time is running out. You need to give Allen West money, and quickly. It's an "emergency."
In a series of emails sent to subscribers in recent weeks, Fox News contributor and former Republican congressman Allen West has implored people to donate to his PAC, the Allen West Guardian Fund, in order to hasten Obama's impeachment. And West isn't alone -- numerous conservative media figures and political groups are looking to cash in on Obama's supposedly impending impeachment through donations, books, and various impeachment merchandise.
Right-wing media have been pushing for Obama's impeachment for more than five years over a wide range of issues, but impeachment chatter got a boost earlier this July when Sarah Palin penned an opinion piece for Breitbart.com. She called for Obama's removal from office, arguing that the president's "unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, 'no mas.'" She reiterated her call on Fox's Hannity, telling viewers it was time to "get going" on impeachment.
While numerous members of the conservative noise machine are agitating for impeachment, not everyone is on board. Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, for one, thinks "impeachment would be crazy" at the moment.
But regardless of whether impeachment is good politics for conservatives, it's starting to look like good business.
Fox News' Special Report highlighted conservative calls for President Obama's impeachment, but hid that the calls they cite as coming from "some prominent outside conservative voices" actually originated with Fox's own contributors.
On the July 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox correspondent Mike Emanuel reported that "some prominent outside conservative voices have called for President Obama to be impeached":
After years of conservative media figures agitating for congressional Republicans to impeach President Obama, today House Speaker John Boehner announced plans to sue the president for not "faithfully executing the laws of this country."
Discussing the suit -- which would be filed on behalf of the House of Representatives -- Boehner claimed that it was "not about impeachment." But in a piece for The New Republic, Brian Beutler argues that conservatives' push to stir up outrage over Obama has led Republicans to seek a "relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment":
Having created a clamor within the GOP conference, and the conservative base, over Obama's use of executive power, Republicans now must satisfy the consequent appetite to do something about it. Suing Obama is meant to do that. The goal is to be head-turning enough to simultaneously address coalition management obligations--calm restive conservatives, keep the base energized--and serve as a relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment.
The risk is that it'll whet rather than diminish the right's appetite for impeachment. But Boehner doesn't have much choice. You can't gin up this much outrage over Obama's actions, and then do nothing to stop him, when the Constitution provides you so many tools to do just that.
Much of the building pressure for impeachment has come not only from congressional Republicans, but from conservative media figures, whose calls for impeachment have been a steady drumbeat since Obama took office.
Fox News contributor Allen West dismissed the recent capture of Benghazi terrorist suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala as a "smoke and mirrors" ploy and questioned whether Abu Khattala was really the "mastermind" behind the attacks or "the Obama administration's fall guy." Yet West just months ago co-signed a letter calling for Khattala's capture because he was the "ringleader of the attack."
During an appearance today on Fox News Radio, West said that Abu Khattala has been "seen out in public and everything, and now all of a sudden the American people are supposed to believe that he is the mastermind?" He added: "He ends up being the Obama administration's fall guy. Just the same as the poor guy who produced the quote, unquote, anti-Islamic video," a reference to Innocence of Muslims filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
On January 6, West co-signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner demanding a Benghazi select committee and calling for the capture of Abu Khattala. The letter, which is posted on West's website, states:
Not a single terrorist in this well-planned and executed military attack by radical Islamists has been apprehended. Ahmed Abu Khattala, a ringleader of the attack, granted long interviews to reporters in Benghazi cafes, while the Obama administration -- and you -- have done nothing. Nearly 16 months after the terrorist attack, American public has no accountability and no plan of action from House leadership.
On the radio, West also bizarrely claimed that the attention on Benghazi was distraction from matters such as Iraq and immigration, stating: "This is all smoke and mirrors. This all distraction. This all wag the dog stuff coming out of the Obama administration while we have a serious situation going on in Baghdad, while we have a serious situation going in on our southern border." (To "wag the dog" means to "purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance.") West similarly wrote on his website yesterday that Abu Khattala was "conveniently captured to deflect attention from all the other nightmares."
Listen to West's comments from the June 18 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
Since the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, media have scandalized the administration's negotiations with the Taliban, conducted through a third-party, despite the fact that foreign policy experts and military leaders have long acknowledged the necessity of such negotiations.