Some conservative media figures are praising Clint Eastwood's performance from the final night of the Republican National Convention, in which the actor spoke to an empty chair representing President Obama. Eastwood rambled on at length, engaging in an awkward, one-person back and forth with the imaginary president that was meant to critique Obama's policy record.
Politico reported that "the Romney family seemed less than thrilled when the camera panned to them" during Eastwood's "disjointed moment." The Washington Post said Eastwood's performance "looked bizarre on the television screen." The New York Times spoke to Romney aides, who anonymously described the performance as "strange, " "weird," and "theater of the absurd."
Right-wing media are stirring up outrage over a UCLA online learning program that will offer students, regardless of legal status, the chance to study immigrant and labor rights. The one-year program, which is open to any student who has graduated from a U.S. high school, will cost the same for all students. But Fox News claimed the program would be a "much better deal" if "you are an illegal alien" than a legal resident or American citizen.
UCLA recently launched the National Dream University as a joint effort with the National Labor College. The program is a one-year, accredited program which does not offer a degree, and is comparable to 18 academic credits that are "transferrable to other institutions of higher education." The program offers six courses to be completed in trimesters over the course of 2013 on topics related to labor and immigration policy.
On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said that if you are "illegal and qualify for this program, it will cost you $2,400. If you made the foolish mistake of becoming a resident and belong here, then you'll get punished and be paying $6,642." Fox & Friends aired the following on-screen graphic:
But Fox's numbers are wrong. The cost of the program, which is "open to everyone regardless of their immigration status," is the same. An extensive search of the UCLA website Fox cited as a source provided no tuition figures that match the "Legal Student" costs projected during the Fox & Friends segment. Further, in an email to Media Matters, Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center, confirmed that tuition for the program does not change based on the student's status:
Right-wing media have distorted efforts by President Obama's re-election campaign to restore early voting for all Ohio voters, claiming the campaign is suing to restrict voting for members of the military. In fact, the Obama campaign's lawsuit seeks to restore early voting for all Ohioans, including members of the military and their families.
Right-wing media are fearmongering over an Obama campaign smartphone app that makes it easier for any smartphone user and Obama supporter to get involved in the campaign without first having to visit a campaign office. Conservative media are claiming that it will allow users to "spy" on their neighbors and report that information back to the campaign.
In fact, the app is designed to simplify the process for getting involved in the 2012 campaign; it includes only information that is publicly available; and it has built-in privacy protections against abuse. Moreover, the Romney campaign also makes voter information freely available to anyone who registers on its website.
On July 30, the Obama for America campaign introduced an iPhone app that "will make it even easier to connect with the campaign and pitch in wherever you are." From the campaign:
This campaign's strength has always come from the millions of grassroots supporters who are organizing their communities, and the new Obama app puts the latest organizing tools right at your fingertips.
With the new app, you can easily find local volunteer events near you, get a list of voters to talk to in your neighborhood, and access all the information you need to spread the word: from President Obama's record to state-specific voting info. You can also stay up to date with breaking news, which you can instantly share with friends and family using Facebook, Twitter, email, and text messaging.
In an article on the app, Pro Publica noted: "All this is public information, which campaigns have long given to volunteers. But you no longer have to schedule a visit to a field office and wait for a staffer to hand you a clipboard and a printed-out list of addresses." Pro Publica went on to report:
It's unclear if the app displays all registered Democrats who live in a certain area, or only a subset of voters President Obama's campaign is trying to reach.
Asked about the privacy aspects of the new app, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign wrote that "anyone familiar with the political process in America knows this information about registered voters is available and easily accessible to the public."
The information included in the app has "traditionally been available to anyone who walks into a campaign field office," said the spokesperson, who declined to be named.
While the app makes voter information instantly available, it displays only a small cluster of addresses at a time. It has built-in mechanisms to detect when people are misusing the data, "such as people submitting way too many voter contacts in a short period of time," the spokesman said.
Republican politicians running for office and dinging the so-called liberal media for being unfair isn't considered news. In fact it's expected. But Romney's comments were noteworthy because of the larger conspiratorial dots he tried to connect. The Republican didn't simply portray the press as prejudiced, he suggested Beltway reporters and pundits are working in collusion to help the Obama administration during the campaign [emphasis added]:
And I realize that there will be some in the Fourth Estate, or whichever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran. They'll instead try and find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country.
That's significant because it indicates how deeply into the right-media bubble the Romney campaign has gone and how it operates alongside discredited far-right bloggers who insist reporters are really hired hit men obediently serving the Obama White House. Note that Romney clearly insinuates members of the press actively try to "divert" voters' attention from Obama's failures, and that's why they covered his stumbles in Europe.
It's as if confused Breitbart bloggers are now running the Romney campaign:
Conservative media are attempting to use a new paper by climate contrarian Anthony Watts to question the reliability of global temperature records. But the paper, which has not been peer-reviewed, only addresses surface temperature records in the continental U.S., which have been confirmed by satellite data.
Breitbart.com contributor Seton Motley is one of the right's loudest critics of net neutrality -- or, at least, what he thinks is net neutrality. He wrote a piece yesterday excoriating various and sundry "leftists" (the word "leftist" is used 16 times throughout) who want to use net neutrality to "make it as difficult as possible for continued private Internet investment" and "leave government as the nation's sole Internet provider."
That certainly sounds terrible. It also bears zero resemblance to the regulatory structure put in place by the FCC's Open Internet order, which established net neutrality policies for internet service providers. The regulations prevent ISPs from acting as gatekeepers, restricting consumer access to legal online content. They grant the government none of the draconian powers Motley envisions.
Instead of grappling with the actual regulatory policy, Motley's warnings of the net neutrality apocalypse are based on this 2009 quote from Free Press co-founder Robert McChesney:
At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.
Shadowboxing with a single three-years-stale quote from an academic is far, far easier than delving into complicated policy -- which is probably why Motley has made a habit of doing it. This quote from McChesney has served a long, distinguished career as Motley's net neutrality bop bag.
Breitbart News contributor Jeremy Segal spoke at a conference promoting birtherism and other conspiracy theories on Thursday, July 19. Segal also received an award from event organizer Cliff Kincaid, inscribed "our nation gives thanks" for Segal's work in the conservative movement.
Roughly 40 people attended the conference, entitled "The Vetting: Obama, Radical Islam and the Soros Connection," which took place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The conference, which Kincaid promoted through the website leninandsharia.com, purported to expose the supposed communist roots of President Obama and those around him, as well as communism's purported connection to radical Islam and the threat that conspiracy poses to American security.
Kincaid told attendees that he was working on an anti-Obama film, The Unvetted. Breitbart.com has frequently claimed that President Obama hasn't been properly scrutinized by the media and has devoted a series of posts branded "THE VETTING" to accomplish the job.
Right-wing media are amplifying attacks on President Obama over his recent dismissal of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez as a threat to the United States, while ignoring that experts are in agreement with Obama.
In an interview with a Miami television station on Wednesday, Obama said, "We're always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe." He added, "But overall, my sense is that what Mr. Chavez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us."
In response, Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), attacked Obama for downplaying the threat of Chávez and suggested that he is weak on national security.
Experts, however, have offered assessments that support Obama's remarks. In a statement to The Miami Herald, Riordan Roett, the director of Western Hemisphere Studies and the Latin American Studies Program at John Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies, dismissed the criticism as "just pure electoral politics."
Did you know that American doctors are so incensed over Obamacare's big-government communist socialism that more than eight in ten are going to quit doctoring? It's true, according to a terribly conducted survey conducted by a shady right-wing group, reported credulously by the Daily Caller, and hyped by Matt Drudge and Fox News.
"Eighty-three percent of American physicians have considered leaving their practices over President Barack Obama's health care reform law, according to a survey released by the Doctor Patient Medical Association," reported the Daily Caller yesterday. What is the Doctor Patient Medical Association? The Daily Caller didn't seem too interested (beyond calling them "a non-partisan association of doctors and patients") so we'll have to fill in a few gaps.
The Doctor Patient Medical Association's founder, Kathryn Serkes, is a long-time veteran of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a collection of crackpot malcontents that opposes mandatory vaccinations, wrongly believes undocumented immigrants spread leprosy, and dabbled in Vince Foster conspiracy theorism. The group itself is solidly conservative in its politics: it boasts membership in the National Tea Party Federation; describes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as "Destruction Of Our Medicine," or DOOM; and published a sheet of talking points about the health law to help grassroots activists "beat back the White House spin machine!"
Right-wing media have praised the decision made by many Republican governors to not participate in the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid eligibility. But the provision being rejected by GOP governors would expand affordable health care coverage to millions of struggling Americans.
Breitbart.com loves to complain that the "mainstream media" is working as part of President Obama's re-election campaign. That's why it's a little strange to see Breitbart so eager to portray itself as an integral part of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
On June 29, Breitbart.com published an interview with Romney campaign officials describing how Breitbart and other right-wing websites "influence the way their campaign receives and delivers the news." Lenny Alcivar, the campaign's digital director, is quoted as saying:
Never before -- in a way that has taken Democrats off stride -- have we seen the confluence of an aggressive online community, led by Breitbart, and an aggressive campaign team not willing to cede an inch of ground to Democrats. This combination has created a new political reality. We no longer allow the mainstream media to define the political realities in America. The rise of Breitbart, Drudge and others, combined with an aggressive Romney campaign is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the conservative movement.
If I talk to Breitbart about an issue, thousands more will hear our message than if we give a quote to one of the hill rags.
Breitbart followed that up by demonstrating just how much the Romney campaign can count on it to get the message out. In a July 2 Breitbart article, Warner Todd Huston rushes to spin Romney's stance on an individual mandate in health insurance, mostly by sounding like he's quoting talking points from the Romney campaign:
Romney has said far more than just that it was "meant for Massachusetts only." He has in fact based his position on the 10th Amendment, a truly American principle.
He stands firm on the point that he employed the truly American idea of 10th Amendment experimentation. He stands on the concept that the states are the laboratory of freedom, that the states should have as much leeway as possible to come up with their own solutions and plans for their own problems. He gave it a try to solve the healthcare problem in Massachusetts. But those solutions he tried, he says, he does not want the federal government to try. That is his position.
Further he has committed 100 percent to repealing Obamacare.
Of course, Romney has a long history of claiming that the reforms he passed in Massachusetts should serve as a model for the nation.
The Breitbart crew's willingness to shill for Romney -- and to be so proud of it -- undercuts its attacks on the "mainstream media" for purportedly doing the same thing.
Drudge, Fox Nation and Breitbart distorted comments made by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to claim she "trashed the uninsured" by calling them "free riders." Pelosi's comments were not directed toward all uninsured Americans, but were specifically referring to health care consumers who remain uninsured until they have a health care need, overburdening the market and increasing health care costs. This is a claim almost identical to policy recommendations made by Mitt Romney in a 2009 op-ed.
In a recent interview with San Francisco's KQED radio, Pelosi pointed out that Thursday's Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act in its entirety meant "goodbye to the free riders." In the comments that followed, Pelosi made it clear that she was referring to people who "just decide you're not going to apply for health insurance" and then when "[y]ou get sick or in an accident, your health care costs are a burden to everybody else."
Breitbart's Joel Pollak acknowledged that Pelosi defended the penalty as " necessary because some (many?) of the uninsured actively choose not to buy health insurance, even though they can afford it." But these were the very people Pelosi was talking about when she discussed free riders - not everybody without insurance. That fact is obscured by the Breitbart headline, which was highlighted by Drudge and Fox Nation.
The difference between Pelosi's comments and Pollak's suggested interpretation is significant. Pelosi was not referring to people who currently have no ability to access or afford health care coverage, but to those who have the resources to purchase insurance but choose not to, making their eventual care a liability for themselves and to taxpayers. Because the low-income premium subsidies in the Affordable Care Act make health insurance affordable for millions more people, and the group previously labeled "free riders" will largely consist of those who refuse to pay for health care instead of being simply uninsured due to a lack of affordability.
Right-wing media have reacted to the Supreme Court's ruling upholding President Obama's health care law by claiming it is "a dark day for freedom" and "the end of America as we know it." But the decision allows the health care law to implement reforms that will protect and extend affordable insurance coverage to millions of Americans.
Right-wing media figures are heaping harsh criticism on Chief Justice John Roberts for his opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act as constitutional. These critics ignore Roberts' record as Chief Justice, which is very conservative. But even this conservative justice recognized that the Constitution gives Congress the power to address the nation's health care crisis with the Affordable Care Act.
Breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro blasted the Chief Justice:
I knew that Roberts was a bad pick because he didn't have a proven track record of adherence to the Constitution. He was picked by President Bush because Bush knew he didn't have a track record - and he knew that Roberts would sail through the confirmation process without a hitch.
That should have been an indicator that Roberts was a rotten pick. Nobody doubted Robert Bork's originalist credentials. Nobody doubted Clarence Thomas'. Nobody doubts Judge Janice Rogers Brown's. But nobody had any reason to buy into Roberts as an originalist. Yet they did.
Dan Gainor, Media Research Center's vice president for Business and Culture called the decision to nominate Roberts "awful."
Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes applied the "L word" to Roberts.
This attempt to paint Chief Justice Roberts as a closet liberal is absurd. Experts have called the Supreme Court under Roberts the "most conservative in modern history." As the leader of a five justice conservative majority, Roberts has played a leading role in decisions like Citizens United (empowering corporations and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited money in political campaigns); Wal-Mart (preventing women alleging sex discrimination from joining together to seek justice); Concepcion (allowing corporations to manipulate fine print in contracts to keep ripped off consumers from joining together in court); and Ledbetter (preventing a woman who was paid less than men from going to court).
Also, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce enjoyed a perfect year with the Roberts Court this term, winning every case in which the Court ruled on the position the Chamber took, according to a study by the Constitutional Accountability Center. (The Chamber took no position on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, but merely argued that if the mandate were struck down, the entire Act should be invalidated). According to the study, the Chamber has not won every case in a term since at least 1994.
Rather than calling John Roberts names or trying to make the absurd case that he is a closet liberal, the right should simply acknowledge that their crusade to kill the Affordable Care Act failed because they lost the vote of the deeply conservative, Republican-appointed Chief Justice who heads one of the most conservative and pro-corporate courts in history.