A week after Lamar White broke the story of Rep. Steve Scalise's 2002 speech before a white supremacist group, the fallout is still going strong as Scalise faces withering criticism, including from conservative outlets.
On December 28, White broke the news that Scalise spoke to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EUARO) in 2002. Scalise, who represents Louisiana's 1st District and holds a leadership position as the House majority whip, has since apologized for the appearance, claiming he was unaware of the group's racist background. While Scalise has been heavily criticized, Republican Party leadership has so far not called on him to give up his position as majority whip.
"It is fascinating," White, who has edited CenLamar.com since 2006, told Media Matters in an interview. "It has highlighted this major fraction between the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party and the more sensible wing of the party, or mainstream wing."
Criticism of Scalise has been widespread, even from normally conservative editorial pages such as the Boston Herald and Chicago Tribune, which have both called for Scalise to give up his leadership post.
"By playing footsie with this group, Scalise has disqualified himself from a position of leadership in a party that needs to do a better job of understanding and addressing the suspicions it arouses among many minority Americans," the Tribune editorial board wrote.
USA Today also urged Scalise to step down.
Other newspaper editorial boards, such as the Sacramento Bee and Scalise's hometown Times-Picayune of New Orleans, have stopped short of calling for Scalise to give up his leadership position, but offered harsh rebukes of his actions.
"U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise never should have agreed in 2002 to speak at a conference organized by a hate group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. It was a grievous error in judgment," the Times-Picayune opined, later adding, "his credibility has suffered with Louisianians who find David Duke and his anti-black, anti-Jewish, anti-gay beliefs abhorrent. He will have to work diligently to repair it."
Bill O'Reilly raised the issue on his Fox News program Monday night, interviewing EUARO leader David Duke about the issue and stating, "don't sit here and tell me that you're not trying to promote the cause of the white people, because you are."
White, who has been involved in Louisiana news and politics for years, said the key element for coverage is Scalise's leadership position.
Newspapers across the country have been publishing misleading op-eds attacking the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy without disclosing the authors' oil-industry funding. The op-eds, which attack the wind energy policy as "corporate welfare" and "government handouts," ignore the fact that the oil and gas industry currently receives far greater government subsidies and that the PTC brings great economic benefits.
Hillary Clinton's recent statement that her "biggest regret is what happened in Benghazi" led to a media feeding frenzy who treated her statement as a groundbreaking revelation, while ignoring the fact that immediately following the attacks, Clinton accepted responsibility multiple times including during her testimony with the Senate and House committee.
Several local media outlets published editorials and opinion pieces highlighting and praising CBS' faulty 60 Minutes Benghazi report. Now that CBS has apologized and withdrawn its report, will local media follow suit?
On October 27, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a report highlighting comments from security officer Dylan Davies, who went by the pseudonym "Morgan Jones" and said that he was an eyewitness to the September 12, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. After several inconsistencies surfaced in Davies' statements about the evening, CBS pulled its report, apologized to viewers, and said it would "correct the record" on the next edition of 60 Minutes.
Immediately following the 60 Minutes report, various local media outlets across the country published editorial and opinion pieces hyping the report and heralding it as evidence that President Obama and his administration were lying about the attacks. At least six local media outlets, including The Columbus Dispatch, The New Hampshire Union Leader, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Washington Times, The Charleston Post and Courier, and The Boston Herald, all hyped the CBS report with one outlet calling it a "damning report" while another said the administration's "coverup [is] being exposed." Pittsburgh Press writer Jack Kelly published a piece in the Post-Gazette claiming the report was "noteworthy for the new information provided -- in particular the interviews with 'Morgan Jones' and [Lt.] Col. [Andrew] Wood."
The 60 Minutes report reinvigorated the widely debunked myth that there are "lingering questions" about the Benghazi attack and continued to push a right-wing media narrative that the Obama administration has engaged in a cover-up in response to the attacks. The pervasiveness of the myth even hit Congress as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to hold up presidential nominations until questions surrounding Benghazi were answered.
Now that CBS has retracted its report, will local media outlets who also injected this misleading myth into their opinion pages do the same, or will they continue to rely on debunked information that misleads their readers?
Fox News accused MA Gov. Deval Patrick of "playing politics" by refusing to release details of welfare benefits reportedly used by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. But as Patrick has noted, state and federal law prevents the release of this information.
On April 24, an article in the right-leaning Boston Herald reported that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects had received some government assistance as children and that deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev's family received some welfare benefits until 2012. The paper later reported that Massachusetts state officials had "clamped down the lid" on the Herald's requests for more details on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's government benefits.
Fox hosts seized on this to criticize Gov. Patrick on the April 26 edition of Fox & Friends. Co-host Steve Doocy said that "the governor told all the state agencies to clam up" and on-air text asked if Patrick is "playing politics."
Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson said:
CARLSON: Well, apparently Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts won't exactly explain what taxpayer assistance the bombers actually received because he says it's a matter of protecting their personal privacy. Well, that's interesting because one of those suspects is dead, and so what kind of personal privacy would be at hand to not be able to at least release what should be public knowledge if the taxpayers actually were financing these two people and their families for the last 10 years.
Fox failed to note that state and federal laws prohibit the government officials from releasing such information, a fact that Patrick had pointed out after facing questions about why the government had not released more details. On April 25, the Boston Herald reported:
Gov. Deval Patrick defended his administration's refusal to release financial aid, welfare, unemployment and other information about the suspected Boston Marathon bombers today.
"It's not about a right to privacy, it's about abiding by the law," said Patrick in Jamaica Plain today. "We'll do what we can do within the law. I'm curious, too. I understand people's curiosity."
Patrick added that he would be "happy" to release whatever information the law allows.
The Associated Press reported that the Massachusetts welfare agency later acknowledged that it had been a "mistake" to release the information to the media, saying it "inappropriately confirmed" media inquiries on the issue. The agency further stated: "Disclosing such information is not allowed by law. Regardless of the circumstances, we are obligated to follow state and federal law."
Media coverage of the debt ceiling frequently claims that raising the limit without simultaneous spending cuts would give President Obama a "blank check," repeating a pattern of promoting this false narrative -- or failing to correct it -- that occurred during the unprecedented brinkmanship of 2011. The phrase implies that the debt ceiling governs additional spending desired by the White House, when in fact it is a restriction on the executive branch's ability to borrow money to pay for spending measures already enacted by Congress.
After four years of unprecedented personal attacks and hateful rhetoric, it was a given that the homestretch of President Obama's re-election campaign would be clouded by right-wing media ugliness, and that wild, odious allegations would be their calling card.
The Benghazi story, or specifically the one the GOP Noise Machine is committed to tell about the September 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, perfectly captures the fevered Obama hatred that conservatives have carried throughout his first term. And it's a story they seem desperate to broadcast during the final weeks of the campaign.
The upsetting national security news from Libya, the kind that has been spared this level of politicization in the past, is now being used as a vehicle for conservatives to spin their ugliest fantasies about the president and to depict him as heartless traitor who chose to let Americans die at the hands of Islamic terrorists.
This is the natural culmination of four years worth of Obama Derangement Syndrome.
Benghazi has entered the realm of churning, right-wing myth making. (Think Waco and Vince Foster). The story has become completely detached from reality, and the twisted narrative feeds off itself with constant misinformation that's repeatedly presented as 'fact.' This process is powered by Fox News and the burning desire within the GOP Noise Machine to portray Obama as a monster who is at war with the United States.
A recent column in the conservative Boston Herald almost perfectly captured the important role the Benghazi story plays within the Obama-hating community. Benghazi allegedly proves Obama is "cowardly" and "dishonest" and that he lacks "integrity" as well as "competence," and has a "reflexive impulse to blame, rather than defend, America."
Keep in mind that while there is a government investigation underway to determine what mistakes were made guarding the consulate, there's no evidence that Obama himself did anything wrong in connection to the Benghazi attack.
But the desire is so strong among his critics to paint the president in the most dastardly way possible (so close to the election), that Obama's role has been super-sized, fictionalized, and pushed to the forefront, so that he stars as the villain in a right-wing production about a treasonous president.
The right-wing media have declared that Fox News contributor Sarah Palin was indeed correct when she claimed that "part of Paul Revere's ride" involved "ringing...bells," "send[ing]...warning shots" and "warn[ing] the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms." In fact, Revere's "warning" to the British occurred after he was captured and was not the purpose of his ride.
A conservative newspaper, the Herald was once owned – SURPRISE – by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
I wonder if Fox News Channel will do the right thing and confess to its own "cheerleading" for Brown.
From the January 24 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Following Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that a federal prosecutor will be conducting "a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated" during interrogations of detainees suspected of terrorism, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) asserted that the investigation would be a "declaration of war against the CIA, and against common sense." Several conservative media figures have similarly advanced the claim that by looking into interrogation abuses, the Obama administration or the Justice Department has "declared war" on the CIA.
In a Boston Herald column, Michael Graham repeated the falsehood that union autoworkers have "$78-per-hour jobs." In fact, the figure representing the hourly cost of labor to U.S. automakers -- a cost that GM puts at $69 -- includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.
On January 17, InsightMag.com posted a story stating that Sen. Barack Obama attended a madrassa as a boy and that this information had originated from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's camp. With the aid of the conservative media, InsightMag.com's anonymously sourced report turned into 11 days of baseless accusations against two leading contenders for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Since the Democratic Party won control of both the House and the Senate, the media have focused on such issues as Pelosi's choice of attire and whether being female will affect her ability to lead. MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer wondered if Pelosi's "personal feelings [were] getting in the way of effective leadership" -- a problem she suggested would not surface in "men-run leadership posts" -- and whether men were "more capable of taking personality clashes."