The conservative Media Research Center-owned website CNSNews.com has a habit of springing loaded questions on members of Congress. For example, it asked Obama administration official John Holdren to explain something he wrote in a book published nearly 40 years ago.
Apparently feeling confident (and sufficiently homophobic), CNS decided to target Rep. Barney Frank with a question about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell – specifically, whether he thought gay and straight soldiers should shower together. This was based on a statement calling for a ban on separate showers from the Pentagon's report on the impact of repealing DADT that CNS had previously singled out.
Frank saw this coming from a mile away. As CNS reporter Nicholas Ballasy slowly got out the words "shower with homosexuals," Frank let out an exaggerated gasp and responded, "What do you think happens in gyms all over America?" After calling it a "silly issue," Frank added, "What do you think goes wrong with people showering with homosexuals? Do you think it's the spray makes it catching? ... We don't get ourselves dry-cleaned."
Frank then turned the tables on his interviewer by quizzing Ballasy: "I know you're looking for some way to kind of discredit the policy. Do you think that gyms should have separate showers for gay and straight people? I'm asking you the question because that's the logic of what you're telling me. You seem to think that there's something extraordinary about gay men showering together. Do you think gyms should have separate showers for gay people and straight people?" Ballasy wouldn't answer, insisting that he was "just quoting the recommendation." Frank responded: "Don't be disingenuous. You're quoting those you think may cause us some problems. You're entitled to do that, but you shouldn't hide behind your views." Frank again asked the question of Ballasy, who again wouldn't answer, trying to change the subject: "So that's the question you would pose to people who have an issue with that part of the report, the recommendation?" Frank made his point one more time, and that's where the CNS ends the video.
The CNS article on Ballasy's gotcha interview ignores how Frank saw through his tactics, instead playing up the irrelevant point that Frank opposes opposite-sex soliders showering together. But give credit to CNS for posting the video of Frank using its reporter's gotcha tactics against him -- and thus providing other politicians with a how-to manual for the next time CNS pops up out of nowhere to fire a loaded question.
The third time's a charm for CNSNews.com reporter and nascent museum critic Penny Starr.
In March, Starr complained that a Smithsonian exhibit asking "What Does It Mean to Be Human?" lacked "references to God, creationism, or pre-natal existence." In June, Starr was annoyed that a Library of Congress exhibit on Bob Hope "focuses more on politics than it does on the legacy of a movie star who used his talents to support the U.S. military around the world," seemingly ignoring that the exhibit focused on "performers, politics and pop culture."
Those didn't get much attention. But now, one of her gems of museum criticism has finally hit the jackpot. In a November 29 article, she writes:
The federally funded National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show's catalog as "homoerotic."
The exhibit, "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," opened on Oct. 30 and will run throughout the Christmas Season, closing on Feb. 13.
Bingo! Something about "homoerotic" and "ant-covered Jesus," combined with a mention of the Christmas season, seems to have struck the right nerve among right-wingers. Drudge linked to it, and the Breitbart empire has weighed in. And it seems more than a little convenient that top congressional Republicans have told Starr they want the exhibit shut down, quickly followed by Starr's boss, the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell, demanding not just that the exhibit be killed but also that Congress investigate this "direct assault on Christianity."
As Starr acknowledged in her article, the exhibit -- like every Smithsonian exhibit -- is not paid for by taxpayer funds. But Bozell doesn't care because, as he wrote in one of his letters to congressional leaders, "[i]t is housed in a federal institution funded by the American people."
It seems like many on the right can't stop gushing about Carl Paladino's recent remarks about homosexuality -- except, actually, Carl Paladino. Even after New York's Republican gubernatorial candidate Paladino issued an apology yesterday for his remarks to Orthodox Jewish leaders on Sunday, anti-gay conservatives keep praising his speech, which included a call to protect children from being "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option" as heterosexual marriage.
Adding their voices to the many conservative pundits who have already applauded Paladino's comments, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah and CNSNews.com Editor-in-Chief Terence Jeffrey are now jumping on the bandwagon. In a post early this morning, Farah said that Paladino's comments were "perfectly reasonable" and said it's "undeniably true" that there's "an ugly, revolting side to the 'gay rights' movement." From the post:
Paladino doesn't want kids "brainwashed," he said. Most people don't realize that is exactly what happens in many or most public schools when it comes to homosexuality. Kids are taught values that would be anathema to their parents if they only knew what was happening. That's what Paladino was saying. He said there is an ugly, revolting side to the "gay rights" movement. That is undeniably true. When candidates boast about taking their kids to "gay pride parades," you have to wonder about their sanity. These are spectacles that could never be aired in their entirety on television because of obscenity laws.
Farah also falsely claimed that "the overwhelming number of Americans reject same-sex marriage." In fact, two recent polls -- one in September from the Associated Press, and one in August from CNN --show that a majority of Americans support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
Jeffrey spewed similar vitriol in a post today, writing that "no prominent politician who questions the wholesomeness of same-sex sex can escape a vicious beating by the liberal elite" and that these beatings are "designed to uproot the laws and norms of our society from the immutable natural law that is the true foundation of our freedom."
He also furthered the idea that gays want to "brainwash" children by falsely suggesting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit "ruled that parents cannot opt their kindergarteners out of Massachusetts public-schools classes that teach 5-year-olds that same-sex marriage is a good thing." Actually, the ruling simply stated that parents can't micromanage schools' curricula. The court never said parents don't have a right to move their children to another school, or a private school, or to homeschool them.
Paladino, in the meantime, issued a letter yesterday acknowledging that he made "mistakes" in his comments to the Jewish leaders. "I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the gay and lesbian community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong," he wrote.
Too bad we'll never see Jeffrey and Farah apologizing for their own comments.
CNSNews.com recently conducted an ambush interview of Obama science adviser John Holdren and used his unremarkable response to write a sensational, fearmongering headline and summary.
CNS' article is headlined "White House Science Czar Says He Would Use 'Free Market' to 'De-Develop the United States,' " and here's their summary:
In a video interview this week, White House Office of Science and Technology Director John P. Holdren told CNSNews.com that he would use the "free market economy" to implement the "massive campaign" he advocated along with Paul Ehrlich to "de-develop the United States."
Here's what they all downplayed: the "de-develop" line comes from a book that Holdren co-wrote in 1973, and in the ambush interview, Holdren explained that he was advocating "stopping the kinds of activities that are destroying the environment and replacing them with activities that would produce both prosperity and environmental quality." When asked how, he said, "Through the free market economy."
Conservative media have falsely warned that a provision in the Wall Street regulatory reform law institutes racial quotas for hiring and used that claim to revisit the smear that lending to minorities caused the economic crisis. In fact, the law sets no racial or gender quotas for hiring or lending.
Media outlets have run with the false claim that President Obama's upcoming interview on The View will mark the first time a sitting president has appeared on a daytime talk show, when in fact, President Bush appeared on Dr. Phil in 2004. Right-wing media have seized on this false claim and his appearance in general to attack Obama's "priorities."
Glenn Beck advanced the discredited claim that federal funding will go to fund elective abortions in Pennsylvania in order to suggest that President Obama lied when he promised federal funds would not pay for such abortions.
CNSNews.com, a subsidiary of the Media Research Center, "reports":
Middle Class--Not the Rich or the Poor--Pay Majority of Federal Taxes, Says CBO Data
Monday, June 21, 2010
By Terence P. Jeffrey, Editor-in-Chief
(CNSNews.com) - Middle-class Americans--not the rich or the poor--pay the majority of annual tax revenues taken in by the federal government, according to data released in a new Congressional Budget Office study. Households earning less than $34,300 per year, meanwhile, actually pay a negative average federal income tax rate.
Middle-class households that earned between $34,300 and $141,900 paid 50.5 percent of all federal tax revenues in 2007 (the most recent year analyzed), according to the CBO study released Thursday, and households that earned between $34,300 and $352,900 paid 66.7 percent of all federal taxes. [Emphasis added]
CNSNews is, of course, playing fast and loose with the definition of "Middle-class households" by including those households that earn up to $141,900 a year. Ninety-five percent of U.S. households make less than $141,900 a year. Ninety percent make less than $102,900. The 10 percent of American households that made at least $102,900 in 2007 paid 55 percent of federal taxes. So in order to claim that "middle-class households … paid 50.5 percent of all federal tax revenues in 2007," CNSNews included some of the very richest Americans among its definition of "middle class."
Why would CNSNews do that? Maybe because it's easier to argue for tax cuts for the wealthy if you call them the middle class.
We've previously written about zombie lies in the right-wing media -- claims long ago disproven yet still cited as fact. It seems there's a new zombie lie in the making: the claim that the cap-and-trade bill was written by BP.
Several days after PolitiFact declared Sen. Mitch McConnell's claim that BP wrote the energy bill sponsored by Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman to be false, Janet Porter was repeating it in her June 15 WorldNetDaily column:
What you may not know is that the BP candidate [Obama] will address the BP spill with a bill written by … BP!
No kidding. According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., "a major part" of the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade/global-warming bill was "essentially written by BP."
What to do about the BP oil spill? Let's pound on the podium about it. Let's take some pictures about it. And let's … pass the BP-drafted tax bill for government control!
In fact, as PolitiFact explained, while BP was one of many parties who floated ideas for the bill, "saying that the senators listened to BP's case is not the same as saying that 'a major part' of the bill 'was essentially written by BP.' " Further, three major initiatives pushed by BP do not even appear in the current version of the bill.
Porter went on to quote from a June 9 CNSNews.com article that quoted McConnell claiming "BP actually helped write" the cap-and-trade bill. But that was merely a report on McConnell's remarks, and no apparent attempt was made to verify what he said. To the contrary: CNS quoted Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe endorsing McConnell's claim.
A search of CNS' archives indicates that CNS has yet to report the fact that McConnell's claim has been shown to be false.
Between right-wing columnists' embrace of this false claim and the right-wing media's apparent disinterest in correcting the record, we may have ourselves a new zombie lie in the making.
On his radio show today, Glenn Beck falsely claimed that as the dean of Harvard Law School, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan dropped a constitutional law requirement from the curriculum because she "apparently decided that international law was more important than constitutional law." He later added: "Harvard does not require you -- because of Kagan -- to take a course on constitutional law."
It's simply not true.
Earlier this week we debunked that myth, which surfaced in a May 21 Americans United for Life memo and soon made its way to a May 25 Washington Times editorial chock-full of false claims and distortions.
The reality is, the curriculum changes Kagan instituted as dean, which were unanimously approved by the Harvard Law School faculty, added "new first-year courses in international and comparative law, legislation and regulation, and complex problem solving" and condensed the "traditional first-year curriculum (contracts, torts, civil procedure, criminal law, and property)." Kagan didn't "drop" or "replace" con-law -- it wasn't required in the first place. Prior to her deanship -- in 2002, for example -- Harvard did not require J.D. students to take a constitutional law class. Moreover, according to Kagan (who taught constitutional law at Harvard herself), the addition of a 1L "Legislation and Regulation" requirement, was designed to "naturally lead into, and enable students to get more out of, advanced courses in the 2L and 3L years, on legislation, administrative law, a wide range of regulatory subjects (e.g., environmental law, securities law, telecommunications law), and constitutional law."
Beck was reading - in part - from a May 28 CNSNews.com article that also picked up the falsehood. The CNS report quoted Robert Alt, "senior legal fellow and deputy director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation," falsely claiming Kagan "instituted three new courses to the required curriculum and, in so doing, got rid of a requirement to take constitutional law."
Conservatives -- including Rush Limbaugh -- have falsely claimed that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan opposes free speech. In fact, legal experts such as libertarian First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh have stated that Kagan's views on free speech are within the mainstream.
Fox News has finally found a neutral third-party with the credibility needed to stand up to the naysayers and defend the conservative network from detractors.
Enter Kim Kardashian of reality television fame.
As MediaBistro.com's FishbowlDC noted before the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner:
[Fox News Channel] has announced that it will bring Kim Kardashian as a guest to the White House Correspondents' Dinner. CBS's Katie Couric invited Kardashian and football star Reggie Bush a few months back, but Kardashian turned CBS down.
News that Kardashian turned down CBS News in favor of Fox News made CNSNews.com's heart flutter. The news gathering arm of the right-wing Media Research Center reported this week (emphasis added, though I use the word "reported" loosely when citing CNSNews.com):
Actress and model Kim Kardashian turned down CBS's invitation to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, but told CNSNews.com that she decided to attend as a guest of Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. Kardashian added that Fox News Channel, which is often criticized by liberals, is "very reputable" and "the only news in the house" where she resides.
Unless Brody Jenner or the cast of Real Housewives of New Jersey trump Kardashian with public statements in support of Glenn Beck, the reality show star's comments alone should be all we need here at Media Matters to pack-up and leave Fox News alone for a while.
Right-wing media sources have falsely claimed that funding for community health centers (CHCs) included in the recently-passed health care reform legislation will fund abortions. In fact, CHCs do not perform abortions, and the Department of Health and Human Services states that federal regulations ban the use of the CHC funds for abortions except in cases already allowed under current law.
Last night, Media Matters posted an item detailing how CNSNews.com, in a January 14 article, falsely portrayed references to "Christian identity" in a 2008 interview by Erroll Southers, nominated to head the Transportation Safety Administration, as generic references to Christianity. In fact, the context of the interview shows that Southers was referring to the Christian Identity movement, which according to the Anti-Defamation League has "virulently racist and anti-Semitic beliefs" and is tied to several domestic terrorists.
Now, you'd think that after this story was demonstrated to be false, CNS would issue a correction or withdraw it. Nope -- we just checked a little bit ago, and not only is the story still live and unchanged hours after it was proven to be false, it's the top story on the CNS website's front page:
We'd be embarrassed if such an obviously false claim was left uncorrected on our website -- and we sure wouldn't be playing it up long after it was debunked. The Brent Bozell-operated CNS, it seems, operates by a different set of rules.
Terence Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of the conservative website CNSNews.com, falsely suggested that the Senate health care bill "would mandate federally subsidized abortion" in a manner inconsistent with the Hyde Amendment's restrictions on the types of abortions for which federal dollars can be used. But the section of the bill Jeffrey cited explicitly prohibits the use of federal funds to provide coverage for abortions that are currently restricted under Hyde, and requires segregation of non-federal funds from federal funds to pay for those procedures in a manner similar to that used in many states that cover such abortions under the federally subsidized Medicaid program.