The Islamophobic rhetoric spewed by right-wing media in response to the deadly attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris is just the most recent in a long history of conservative anti-Islam vitriol.
At least 15 Fox News hosts and contributors have recently campaigned with two political organizations created and heavily funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Many of those same Fox News personalities have also defended the Kochs from attacks and praised their political efforts on-air.
The controversial conservative brothers founded the 501(c)(4) group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and its 501(c)(3) sister group the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) in 2004. David Koch has called AFP the group he feels "most closely attached to and most proud of" and chairs AFPF's board. (The Washington Post notes of the IRS code distinction: "A 501(c)(4) is allowed to do considerably more issue advocacy work than a 501(C)(3), however. Neither group has to disclose the identity of its donors or the amounts of money those contributors have given.")
Politico's Ken Vogel reported that AFP "intends to spend more than $125 million this year on an aggressive ground, air and data operation benefiting conservatives, according to a memo distributed to major donors and sources familiar with the group." The Washington Post wrote that with a paid staff of 240, split between 32 states, AFP "may be America's third-biggest political party." In 2012, "More than $44 million of the $140 million the organization raised in that election cycle came from Koch-linked feeder funds."
AFP and AFPF are part of a massive $400 million network of political groups spearheaded by the Kochs. The Huffington Post's Paul Blumenthal noted, "It is the electoral focus of the Koch nonprofits and their sophisticated efforts to shield donors' identities -- plus the vast sums of money they move -- that has brought them the unwanted attention of both Democratic Senate leadership and reporters. There exists no outside network or organization supporting Democratic Party candidates in elections, while not disclosing its donors, that spends money in comparable amounts."
AFP states that it "mobilizes citizens to effectively make their voices heard in public policy issue campaigns" and "educates citizens about where their elected officials stand on our issues." AFP campaigns have included false attacks about health care reform, clean energy, economic issues, and elected Democrats like President Obama.
Fox News personalities are the public face of many AFP/AFPF events. Promotional materials heavily tout the speakers' affiliation with Fox News to increase attendance. According to a Media Matters review, the following Fox News personalities have participated in AFP and AFPF events since 2012: Guy Benson, Tucker Carlson, Monica Crowley, Jonah Goldberg, Greg Gutfeld, Mary Katharine Ham, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Andrew Napolitano, Sarah Palin, Charles Payne, Dana Perino, John Stossel, Cal Thomas, and Juan Williams.
The Koch/Fox News events are aimed at rallying attendees to support conservative causes and fight progressive initiatives. For example, an invitation for a May event featuring Tucker Carlson stated the rally will "send a message to the Left that we know the truth and support free market solutions." Information for a November 2013 rally with Monica Crowley said participants will "learn how you can fight back against government restrictions, taxes, and out-of-control spending." And an October 2012 event with John Stossel was a "Hands Off My Health Care Rally" which sought "to fully repeal Obama's deeply flawed health care bill."
Media Matters previously documented how numerous Fox News personalities campaigned for Republican candidates and organizations during the 2011-2012 election cycle.
Conservative media are exploiting alleged problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to argue for the privatization of the VA's health care system -- a solution opposed by experts and veterans organizations as unnecessary and ineffective.
Fox News contributor Ben Carson is slated to be the keynote speaker at the first Gala dinner of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), becoming the latest Fox figure to appear before an extreme anti-gay group.
In a May 6 email to supporters, NOM President Brian Brown wrote that "it's 1972 for marriage," referring to the year before the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a woman's right to an abortion and the growing expectation that the Court will take up marriage equality once again by 2015. To protest the frightening possibility that same-sex couples nationwide will soon enjoy civil equality, NOM will hold its second annual March for Marriage in Washington on June 19. Brown's email touted Carson's appearance - previously flagged by GLAAD's Jeremy Hooper - at NOM's gala that same evening (emphasis original):
It was a crisp winter day in 1973 when the United States Supreme Court issued their horrific decision in Roe v Wade. How much would you sacrifice to go back in time to a few months before that fateful decision, to the Fall of 1972, and mobilize the American people BEFORE the Supreme Court issued that infamous decree?
Just about anything, right? Well, when it comes to marriage, we have that chance!
You see, it's 1972 for marriage. Within the next 12 months, it is very likely that the United States Supreme Court will take up the marriage issue again. Many people have bought in to the lie that the courts redefining marriage is somehow "inevitable." Well, I refuse to believe that, because it's simply not true!
That's why the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is organizing its second annual March for Marriage this summer on June 19th in Washington, DC -- bringing together thousands of marriage activists from all across the country to make sure the elites in our nation's capital hear loud and clear: Marriage matters because every kid deserves a mom and a dad!
One incredibly courageous leader who is standing up for marriage is Doctor Ben Carson, who will be the keynote speaker at NOM's first ever Gala dinner on the evening of the March for Marriage. He said in a speech earlier this year that the "P.C. police" have "tried to shut him up" because he's willing to state his belief publicly that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Social conservatives will descend on Washington, D.C., next month for the Values Voters Summit (VVS), an annual convocation put on by an assemblage of anti-LGBT groups that will prominently feature high-profile right-wing media figures.
Sponsored by organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA) - both Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)-designated hate groups - VVS got its start in 2006. As in the past, this year's gathering promises to feature leading opponents of equality for women and LGBT people. Several confirmed speakers will be familiar faces to consumers of right-wing media:
Among the right-wing media personalities slated to speak at the conference:
From the August 14 edition of FoxNews.com's DEFCON 3:
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Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Cal Thomas has joined the chorus of right-wing commentators proclaiming national doom in the wake of the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decisions last week.
In a July 1 column for FoxNews.com, Thomas condemned the high court for its rulings striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismissing the Proposition 8 case on the grounds that its supporters lacked standing. Like his Fox colleague Todd Starnes - who tweeted that the Supreme Court had "overrule[d] God" - Thomas accused the Court of poking its finger in the eye of the Almighty
The Supreme Court has narrowly, but effectively, removed another standard on the way to full acceptance of its right to redefine marriage and raise itself to a level higher than the Creator.
What or who is to stop them? Various religious-political groups formed over many years to confront cultural erosion are in retreat and increasingly ineffective.
Thomas then proceeded to reprise his claim that a nation that embraces marriage equality will soon condone polygamy and pedophilia:
Polygamist groups have made it known they wish to be next in line to enjoy full constitutional protection for their lifestyle. Utah was forced to outlaw polygamy before admission to the Union. Can it, should it, revert to its previous practice and who has the authority to say "no"?
There are people who favor sex and marriage between adults and children. On what basis should they be denied their "right to happiness"?
Today's "that goes too far" easily becomes tomorrow's "right" with a morally vacuous media leading the charge and a morally exhausted people who are afraid to say "stop," for fear they'll be labeled "bigots."
Among the developments Thomas cites as the basis for the nation descending a slippery slope into accepting polygamy and pedophilia: "The New York Times recently editorialized in favor of transgender rights."
In Thomas' estimation, the advance of equal rights for LGBT citizens will lead to nothing less than civilizational collapse: "History is full of examples of empires that collapsed from within before they were conquered from without."
While Fox's relatively tame reaction to the Court's rulings suggested that the network was wary of leading a crusade against marriage equality, its willingness to grant moral scolds like Thomas a platform indicates that bigotry and anti-gay misinformation still enjoy an outlet there.
Fox News contributor and conservative columnist Cal Thomas promoted the popular right-wing talking point that marriage equality would create a slippery slope toward polygamy and marriage with children, despite the fact that this myth has been consistently disproven.
In a March 12 column for FoxNews.com on "what we ought to be asking gay marriage advocates," Thomas posed the question - if same-sex marriage is legalized, what reason can be given for denying polygamous marriages or marriages with underage children?:
What advocates for same-sex marriage should be asked is whether they consider any other human relationship worthy of similar constitutional protection and based on what standard? The Constitution doesn't guarantee the right to marry. States, not the federal government, issue marriage licenses.
Current laws restrict "underage" marriage, as well as polygamy. If same-sex marriage is approved, what's to stop polygamists from demanding legal protection and cultural acceptance?Justice Antonin Scalia predicted as much in 2003 in his dissent of the Lawrence v. Texas case, in which the Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas. So I ask, if "fairness" and "equality" are the standard, isn't it also "unfair" to "discriminate" against polygamists who wish to live in "loving" and "committed" relationships?
Since we are rapidly discarding the rules for living and social order set down in a book found in most motel room drawers, what is to replace it? Opinion polls? Clever legal arguments? Fairness? What exactly does "fairness" mean and who decides what's fair? Many things may seem "unfair," but not all can, or should, be addressed by courts. [emphasis added]
Right-wing pundits frequently use former President Ronald Reagan's name to apply a stamp of approval on anything or anyone they deem symbolic of the ideal conservative -- even when Reagan's actual record on issues ranging from taxes to the deficit deviated far from the ideological standards of today's conservative movement.
Republican darling du jour Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) is the latest to receive the Reagan badge. Ahead of his delivery of the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Karl Rove said Monday that "in Rubio, the Republicans have got probably one of their best communicators since Ronald Reagan." On MSNBC's Morning Joe, The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis called Rubio "Reaganesque." And in November 2012, pundit Cal Thomas published a column on Townhall.com titled, "Marco Rubio: A Hispanic Reagan?"
Rubio is just the latest in a long line of Republican politicians to receive the ubiquitous accolade:
Mitt Romney: Fox News figures repeatedly linked former presidential candidate Romney to the Gipper during both opinion and news shows in the months leading up to the 2012 election. Bill O'Reilly said that Romney "is going to mirror the ghost of Ronald Reagan," while political correspondent Carl Cameron said Romney, on his bus tour, spent a lot of time "sort of echoing Ronald Reagan."
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI): Fox News figures from K.T. MacFarland to Megyn Kelly compared Ryan to Reagan as part of their cheerleading for Ryan after he was chosen as Romney's vice presidential candidate.
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ): Fox Nation highlighted a column by the director of the American Enterprise Institute with the headline, "Christie's Starting to Look Like Reagan."
Sarah Palin: A post on Breitbart's BigJournalism.com said that Palin "carries the torch of liberty and American exceptionalism in the palm of her lovely hand" before calling her the "surviving embodiment of the spirit of 1776 and the Reagan reformation."
Gov. Scott Walker (WI): On Sean Hannity's Fox show, conservative radio host Mike Gallagher called Walker "the Ronald Reagan of our time."
Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA): Karl Rove, on Hannity's show, called Virginia governor Bob McDonnell "a Reaganite conservative."
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA): In February 2008, Rush Limbaugh called Jindal "the next Ronald Reagan."
Right-wing media figures have splashed the "Reagan" label about so freely that they're in danger of rendering the compliment meaningless.
From the November 10 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch:
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From the April 28 edition of Fox News Watch:
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Following GOP strategy, Fox News is again blaming the Obama administration for rising gasoline prices -- a claim that has been repeatedly debunked by energy analysts. But back in the summer of 2008, when the average U.S. gasoline price hit a record high of $4.11, Fox said that "no President has the power to increase or to lower gas prices."
In 2008, Fox's coverage occasionally even mirrored the facts: expanding domestic oil drilling will not significantly lower prices, and the only way to reduce our vulnerability to gas price spikes is to use less oil. Perhaps there was more room for reality-based coverage at Fox when there wasn't an incumbent president to defeat?
In case you missed it, here's how Fox is covering gas prices now:
During his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday, Cal Thomas cracked that MSNBC host Rachel Maddow "is the best argument in favor of her parents using contraception. I would be all for that. And all of the rest of the crowd at MSNBC, too, for that matter" (h/t Think Progress).
Maddow responded to Thomas' comment on her show Thursday night: "Mr. Fox News person speaking there, I am sorry that you feel that way about me, that you wish I had never been born. Personally, I'm glad that you were born. Otherwise, how would Republicans get the special Fox News bat signal that it's time to be outraged now, about what used to be Republicans' own policy idea?"
In addition to being a syndicated columnist, Thomas is a regular panelist on Fox News' "media criticism" show, Fox News Watch. In 2012, he has appeared on the January 14, January 28, and February 4 editions of the weekly show.
Thomas' comment was so offensive that at least one of his Fox News co-workers has called for him to apologize. On her Gretawire blog, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren wrote: "Cal Thomas needs to pick up the phone and make a personal call to Rachel Maddow. Then he needs to publicly apologize."
Does Van Susteren's criticism portend Fox News itself sanctioning Thomas for his ugly remarks about Maddow? We shall see.
From the January 28 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch:
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From the November 14 edition of FoxNews.com's FoxNews.com Live:
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