Media Matters has previously discussed the right-wing media's efforts to malign Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's suggestion that Egypt look to South Africa's constitution for guidance as they draft Egypt's new Constitution. Ginburg's inoffensive suggestion that Egypt look to constitutions drafted more recently than the U.S. Constitution was aggressively distorted to suggest Ginsburg represented a "perverted judicial philosophy." The description was categorically nonsense. Ginsburg's full comments show her admiration for how the U.S. Constitution has served America and persevered over time.
With a new strain of the long running attacks against liberal Supreme Court Justices created, it comes as no surprise to see the National Rifle Association signaling that they're integrating the Ginsburg smear into their 2012 campaign.
The NRA's lobby shop has been pushing the depiction of Obama's future Supreme Court nominees and Ginsburg herself as broadly hostile to the U.S. Constitution:
But it was a much bigger shock when the [New York] Times reported in the same story that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a sitting associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and grande dame of the Court's liberal voting bloc, shares the Times' dim view of the Constitution. Ginsburg said "I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012." Her personal recommendations would instead include "the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the European Convention on Human Rights."
None of this should come as a surprise. One wonders, for example, if Justice Ginsburg even looks to the United States Constitution when interpreting it in 2012. [...]
While it is lamentable that the Times cannot see the greatness of our Constitution, it is far more troubling that Justice Ginsburg cannot. And most troubling of all is the possibility that if elected to a second term, President Obama could appoint even more justices who share Justice Ginsburg's views.
NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre also made potential Obama Supreme Court appointees a central focus in his speech at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, calling Justices Sonia Sotamayor and Elena Kagan "two of the most rabidly anti-gun justices in history." LaPierre also belittled Ginsburg, saying she looked like a "giddy school girl" when she hugged President Barack Obama at the State of the Union address, and suggested her comments on Egypt called into question her oath to "uphold and defend our Constitution."
Speaking to Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox pledged a piece of the gun lobby's reported $225 million dollar war chest to making the Supreme Court an issue in every Senate race in 2012. It remains to be seen whether their distortion of Ginsburg's constitution comments will be a part of that effort.
Veteran journalists and media ethicists -- including a former CBS News Washington bureau chief -- are criticizing CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson for accepting an award from Accuracy in Media, a conservative group with a long history of promoting anti-gay views and conspiracy theories.
Attkisson is scheduled to accept the award in person Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.
Several longtime news experts contend Attkisson is hurting her own credibility and that of CBS by participating in the event.
"If you go out and you've received an award from any organization with an agenda, then any reader of your work or viewer of your work has a right to question your impartiality or your fairness," Ken Auletta, media writer for The New Yorker, told Media Matters in an interview. "I don't think journalists should accept awards from either right-wing or left-wing, conservative or liberal organizations, or from any other organized group that has an agenda. We're not supposed to have an agenda. By accepting those awards or appearing, you are raising questions about your own dispassion. We have enough of those questions already about journalists."
Ed Fouhy, a former long-time CBS News producer and one-time Washington bureau chief for the network, called Attkisson a "pawn."
"Sharyl Attkisson is making a mistake in accepting an award from A.I.M. By doing so she becomes just another pawn in the ideological chess games being played with such intensity in Washington," Fouhy stated. "Her acceptance helps to legitimize A.I.M., a fringe group, whose sole agenda is and has been for many years, to undermine the credibility of the mainstream media, fueled by the donations of millionaire conspiracy theorists."
Fouhy, also a former CBS News vice president, then noted A.I.M's past efforts against the network dating back many years:
"Reed Irvine, founder of A.I.M., and his political heirs have long made CBS News a special target in their fevered attempts to propound the myth of the liberal media. Going back to Watergate days, A.I.M. has relentlessly tried to intimidate and harass CBS News journalists. Ms. Attkisson may not be aware of that history but she should know that accepting awards from groups with political agendas, whether of the right or the left, is a bad idea."
While CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson attends the far-right Conservative Political Action Conference this week to accept an award from the far-far-right group, Accuracy In Media, perhaps she will have extra time to take in some of the discussions scheduled to take place.
According to the posted agenda, these will be among the CPAC offerings Attkisson could sit in on:
-"How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America"
-"Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department"
-"Obama vs. The Constitution: How a Harvard Law Graduate President Is Shredding the Constitution"
Fascinating topics, no doubt.
Of course, last year CPAC made news when it banned the conservative gay group, GOProud, from being a conference sponsor in 2012. GOProud's inclusion in 2011 prompted angry boycotts from social conservative groups. AIM itself has a long and disturbing history of publishing columns condemning gays and their "sympathizers" as subversive agents of death.
There really is no cockamamie conspiracy AIM hasn't pursued over the years, including its pathetic attempts to promote the "cover-up" surrounding the death of Clinton aide Vince Foster.
Which reminds me, when Attkisson has finished her ten-minute award ceremony remarks for the appreciative CPAC audience, maybe she'll get a chance to ask Cliff Kincaid, director of AIM's Center for Investigative Journalism, about all the reporting he's done on President Obama's birth certificate.
In case Attkisson hasn't had time to read up, here's a sample of Kincaid's penetrating birther analysis:
-"Anybody who has an original copy of their own birth certificate, or a certified copy of their own original birth certificate, should immediately understand that the Obama version is lacking in basic information that should be publicly available."
You get the idea, even if CBS News does not: Sending a straight news reporter to an Obama-bashing conference to receive an award from a proud birther organization is a very, very bad idea, and one that will do needless damage to CBS' reputation.
As Media Matters accurately noted this week, AIM represents a "cesspool of hate and conspiracy theories." That's not hyperbole. That's the documented truth; go read for yourself.
So that's a problem in terms of CBS News maintaining its reputation as an honest news broker. But that's not all. When you add onto that the myriad of loony conspiracy theories that AIM has pushed, the Attkisson decision makes even less sense. And when you top it off with the fact that AIM represented an engine that helped drive the blind idiocy behind the birther charade, then you really have to wonder what CBS News is trying to accomplish this week at CPAC.
According to a network spokesperson, "CBS News journalists are regularly honored by a broad spectrum of organizations for their outstanding original reporting." That makes sense and I'm sure it's true. But at some point common sense ought to come into play.
Here's a simple, hypothetical question for CBS News executives: Eight years ago, would you have allowed a straight news reporter to accept an award from a radical left-wing group that dedicated untold hours trying to document how the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks? And would you have allowed your straight news reporter to receive the award, and to address an appreciative crowd, at a national conclave of Bush-hating nut jobs?
I didn't think so.
CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson is set to receive a journalism award at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference from Accuracy in Media, a right-wing group with a long history of promoting anti-gay views and conspiracy theories. Attkisson -- the first reporter from a mainstream news outlet to receive AIM's annual award -- has produced some notably bad journalism over the past year, particularly on the topics of clean energy and vaccines.
Pamela Geller reports on her Atlas Shrugs blog that right-wing lawyer and Obama Justice Department critic J. Christian Adams will be participating in a CPAC 2012 panel presented by her Stop Islamization of America organization. Geller writes of the panel, titled "Islamic Law in America, How the Obama Justice Department Is Selling Us Out":
The Obama Justice Department is not just tolerating, but actively aiding the assertion of Islamic law in the U.S., and the primacy of Sharia over U.S. law. This explosive conference will give the details of that effort and show Americans what we must do now to preserve our Constitutional freedoms.
In 2010, Adams set off a right-wing media firestorm after he left the DOJ, offering since-discredited claims that the Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panther Party case demonstrated racially charged corruption. He has since used his position as a blogger for the right-wing site Pajamas Media, often issuing false attacks on the Obama DOJ for its supposed politicization and "racial agenda," and he recently authored a book on the subject filled with falsehoods, misrepresentations, and baseless allegations.
Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), created in 2009, promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy "American" values. The organization warns of the encroachment of shari'a, or Islamic law, and encourages Muslims to leave what it describes as the "falsity of Islam."