President Obama has nominated Thomas E. Perez as Secretary of Labor. Right-wing media used this announcement to push false attacks about Perez based on his service in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and other civil rights work and advocacy.
After President Obama's re-election, conservative media figures attacked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his praise of the president's leadership following Hurricane Sandy. Their attacks followed News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch's pre-election statement that Christie would be to blame if Obama won the election.
Question: If the snap polls, along with the pundit consensus, had indicated Mitt Romney had won Tuesday's debate, would anyone on Fox News have cared what moderator Candy Crowley said while the two candidates discussed last month's terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya?
The hysterical, and at times deeply disturbing, reaction to Crowley's moderator role only erupted as way to explain away Romney's poor showing. Angry that Romney's weak performance might hurt his November chances, conservatives lashed out at the nearest target, Crowley. ("Shut your big fat mouth, Candy.")
But conservatives didn't simply condemn Crowley's performance as a journalist. ("Disgraceful"!) They spent the week turning her into a mythical figure of liberal destruction; a potentially violent agent (a "suicide bomber") sent by Obama to dismantle the Republican campaign for the presidency. In doing so, unglued commentators attached Crowley to a sweeping campaign conspiracy.
Is criticizing a debate moderator out of bounds? Of course not. Media Matters found fault with Jim Lehrer's performance at the first presidential debate this year. Is it completely insane to denounce a moderator by likening him or her to a political killer?
Despite a long history of scapegoating lower-income families and those in need, media conservatives continuously attack President Obama's proposals by shouting "class warfare." In fact, the majority of Americans support reforms that would address systematic inequality.
The conservative media is divided on anonymous sources: Some right-wing media figures have been hyping a claim by an anonymous source that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is "likely involved with the sexual harassment" allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. At the same time, however, other conservative media figures have tried to cast doubt on the sexual harassment allegations against Cain by pointing out that they are based on anonymous sources.
A New York Times/Bay Citizen article cherry-picked statistics from a Brookings Institution report and reportedly misrepresented interviews to call the goal of creating 5 million green jobs in 10 years a "pipe dream." Conservative media have seized upon the Times article to claim that "even" the "left" agrees that investment in green jobs is a "a waste of money and time."
Right-wing media figures have recently promoted a study co-written by David Yerushalmi claiming in part that more than 80 percent of U.S. mosques feature texts that promote or support violence. However, as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has noted, Yerushalmi has "a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry."
Perhaps the reason most successful comics are liberals is because the right-wing media have repeatedly proven that they can't take -- or properly make -- a joke. They proved this point in the aftermath of President Obama's remarks on border security in El Paso, TX, yesterday, when he joked at Republicans' expense, stating that "they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they're going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That's politics."
Unable to take the joke, right-wing media attacked Obama over the comment.
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade discussed Obama's comment during the May 11 broadcast of the show. After airing a clip of the president's moat remarks, he stated, "I guess you're allowed" to mock Republicans. Co-host Steve Doocy responded to this by interjecting, "He's campaigning." Kilmeade went on to criticize Obama's steps toward immigration reform. On-screen text during the segment read, "Obama's Partisan Attack."
The right-wing media is grasping for coherence in its attempts to portray military action in Libya as "Obama's Iraq."
Betsy McCaughey -- best known for repeatedly misleading about health care reform -- made numerous false or misleading claims in order to attack the effectiveness of the stimulus bill.
It's more than a month until Election Day, but it seems conservatives are already scraping the bottom of the barrel for baseless attacks on Democratic Delaware Senate candidate Chris Coons.
First up is Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator. Lord -- who we last saw trying to parse whether Shirley Sherrod was "lying" about a relative being lynched because only two people were involved in the act, a position so ridiculous that even his fellow Spectator writers wouldn't back him up -- attacked Coons' work as a college student with the South African Council of Churches. Why? Because Coons was "emerging as a leftist," and thus "decided he had some sort of obvious attraction to the work of SACC," which "support[ed] Black Liberation Theology." Things get tangential from here, as Lord plays Six Degrees of Black Liberation Theology (with a brief stop at Rev. Jeremiah Wright) to depict the SACC has having "pro-Marxist, pro-socialist, anti-capitalist views." Lord proclaimed, "Now, the liberation theology chickens that Chris Coons was supporting in Africa have come home to roost in America."
Lord overlooks a few things. Like: What is the one thing people think of when they think of South Africa in the 1980s? Apartheid. And what was one of the leading groups fighting apartheid in that country? The South African Council of Churches. Bishop Desmond Tutu, a prominent anti-apartheid leader and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a former secretary-general of SACC, and Nelson Mandela praised the group as being among those who "resisted racial bigotry and held out a vision of a different, transformed South Africa."
Isn't it more logical that Coons was attracted to working for the SACC over its anti-apartheid stance? Yep. Does Lord make that connection? Nope -- he's too invested in his convoluted conspiracy theory.
Jeffrey Lord is now defending himself in the comments section of fellow American Spectator writer James Antle's post criticizing Lord's comments about Shirley Sherrod and the lynching of Bobby Hall.
The results are not pretty.
Lord is now claiming -- and this is not a joke -- that he never personally claimed that Bobby Hall was not lynched, that he just pointed out that the Supreme Court supposedly said he hadn't been lynched.
Lord, responding to Antle's criticism of his argument:
I confess I am continually astonished at the notion that the lynching standards are MY standards. I simply said what the Court said ... the color of law business comes straight from the decision, written by William O. Douglas and signed onto by Hugo Black, Stanley Reed, Chief Justice Stone. Wiley Rutledge later made the fifth vote.
Lord, in his original piece:
Plain as day, Ms. Sherrod says that Bobby Hall, a Sherrod relative, was lynched. As she puts it, describing the actions of the 1940s-era Sheriff Claude Screws: "Claude Screws lynched a black man."
This is not true. It did not happen.
More comparisons of Lord's latest defense with his prior comments below the fold.
From a July 27 post at The American Spectator by associate editor W. James Antle:
For a variety of reasons I have not wanted to pile on, not least being my respect for Jeff personally and for his fine work. But I am afraid his latest post is wildly unpersuasive, to put it mildly.
By the standard Jeff is employing here, Emmett Till was not lynched because he was murdered by only two men and he was not hanged. Nothing was hung around Till's neck until his murderers wanted to weigh down his dead body after dumping it in a river. (Though I realize we've gone from implying that a lynching must be by noose to quibbling about the number of people it takes to form a proper lynch mob.)
Similarly, according to this idiosyncratic definition James Byrd was not lynched because he was murdered by three men and dragged to his death while chained to the back of a pick-up truck. Both of these high-profile, racially motivated, 20th-century murders are widely and popularly described as lynchings. Shirley Sherrod said her fair share of crazy things in her full, unedited speech but I think most people would regard her use of the word "lynch" as reasonable.
Even if we adhere to Jeff's precise requirements for what constitutes a lynching, I cannot fathom how nit-picking over the proper terminology to describe the brutal beating death of a black man strikes a blow against the New Black Panther Party, the federal lawsuit against Arizona, and all the assorted misdeeds of the left mentioned in his post. Instead it is a distraction that will leave most people bewildered if not offended and an argument that does not meet Jeff's normally high standards.
Experts on the history of lynching are criticizing an American Spectator report which claimed that Shirley Sherrod's statement that her relative Bobby Hall was lynched was "factually, provably untrue."
In his article, Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan administration official, said that because Hall was beaten to death, rather than hanged, Sherrod's statement that Hall had been lynched was a "straight out fabrication." Lord's article has come under fire, both from other American Spectator writers and from progressive bloggers and columnists, since its publication on July 26.
"I don't know how in the world you can say" Hall's death is "not a lynching," said Christopher Waldrep, a professor of history at San Francisco State University. "People at the time had no question that it was a lynching. I mean, there was no particular debate." Waldrep has authored several books on lynching, including The Many Faces of Judge Lynch: Extralegal Violence and Punishment in America, in which he discusses the Hall case.
Michael Pfeifer, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the author of Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947, likewise concluded that "Jeffrey Lord's reasoning is fallacious" and "profoundly ahistorical." Pfeifer added that while the word "lynching" "has always eluded simple, consensus definitions," its use "was most often, but never exclusively, hanging (shootings, beatings, burnings, etc. were also called 'lynchings')."
"The term had no official definition," agreed Illinois State University professor Amy Wood, author of Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940. Wood said that anti-lynching activists used varied definitions in the first half of the last century, but "No definitions of lynching limited it to hanging."
While Lord continues to dispute Sherrod's statement that Hall was lynched because lynching supposedly requires "mob action" and "Three people are not a 'mob,'" Wood says that "the NAACP (which had the most influence in crafting anti-lynching legislation) defined lynching as an extralegal killing, committed by at least 3 person in the name of justice or tradition." Pfeifer adds that "by the early to mid twentieth century racially motivated murders perpetrated by small groups -- as opposed to large mobs -- became most characteristic of such violence."
Asked for comment, University of North Carolina professor Fitzhugh Brundage, author of Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1990-1930, said that "Sherrod's use of the term is well within the conventions that both blacks and whites have recognized for at least a century." He also calls Lord "clearly insensitive to the ways in which African Americans used the term lynching," given what he terms an "historical imprecision of the term lynching in general."
Brundage also identified a flaw in Lord's argument that the Supreme Court agreed that Hall was not lynched because they did not identify his death as a lynching in the ruling in which the case ultimately resulted. Brundage commented, "The Supreme Court would have had no reason to label Sheriff Screws' actions a lynching; there was no federal statute against lynching so the Court would have no reason to invoke the language of lynching in its decision."
Waldrep similarly identified Lord's Supreme Court argument as "kind of crazy" and "nuts," saying that the Supreme Court did not address the issue of whether Hall was lynched in their decision because it was "not the question they were being asked."
Waldrep went on to say that while they did not address whether Hall was lynched in their decision, the Court was well aware that his death was a lynching. He cited 16 pages of notes taken by Justice Frank Murphy during the Court's private discussions on the case, in which Murphy quoted Justice Robert Jackson stating that if they upheld the convictions of Hall's murderers, they would have effectively created the federal anti-lynching statute that had failed to make it through Congress. "They knew full well it was a lynching," said Waldrep. "That was the problem."
According to Waldrep, Murphy's notes are published in Del Dickson's The Supreme Court in Conference (1940-1985): The Private Discussions Behind Nearly 300 Supreme Court Decisions. The notes are "readily available," said Waldrep. Finding them "doesn't take any great feat of detective work."
Jeffrey Lord begins his July 26 American Spectator article with this provocative assertion:
Shirley Sherrod's story in her now famous speech about the lynching of a relative is not true. The veracity and credibility of the onetime Agriculture Department bureaucrat at the center of the explosive controversy between the NAACP and conservative media activist Andrew Breitbart is now directly under challenge. By nine Justices of the United States Supreme Court. All of them dead.
Actually, not so much (except for the part about the Supreme Court justices in question being dead -- Lord did get that right).
Lord is writing about a reference in Sherrod's now-famous speech to a county sheriff in segregation-era Georgia by the name of Claude Screws. To summarize the case: Screws and two other law enforcement officials arrested a black man named Bobby Hall at his home on a warrant over a theft charge; he was handcuffed and taken to the courthouse. According to the Supreme Court ruling that this case ultimately resulted in, when Hall got out of the car at the courthouse, Screws and his companions began beating him with fists and blackjacks, and continued beating for as much as a half-hour after Hall had been knocked to the ground. Hall was then dragged feet first through the courthouse yard into the jail. He was later taken to a hospital, where he died. Screws and his companions claimed that Hall had reached for a gun and had used insulting language against them, but there was also evidence that Screws had a grudge against Hall and threatened to "get" him. Screws and his companions were convicted of depriving Hall of his civil rights; that conviction was appealed to the Supreme Court, which in 1945 essentially overturned Screws' conviction on a technicality over jury instructions.
"Claude Screws lynched a black man," Sherrod said in her speech. This is false, Lord asserts. Why? Because Screws and his companions didn't use a rope, and the court ruling didn't use the word "lynching."