With Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton facing a barrage of criticisms over the tone of her voice during a recent speech, Media Matters looks back at the rampant sexism she faced from the media during her 2008 presidential bid.
In a post on her personal website, conservative blogger Debbie Schlussel used the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs, who she called a "genius," to make a wide-ranging attack on Islam and Muslims. Responding to emails she said she's been getting claiming that "Steve Jobs was a Muslim," Schlussel wrote:
Ever since Jobs announced his resignation from Apple, they sent me the claims. Here's a tip, Muslims: Steve Jobs was a Buddhist.
Yes, technically, according to Islamic law, Jobs would be considered a Muslim, just as Barack Obama would. His biological father was a Syrian graduate student (in the U.S. on a student visa) who impregnated an American Christian grad student. They eventually married, but after Jobs was given up for adoption. The Syrian, Abdulfattah John Jandali, is now, at age 80, Vice President of a Nevada casino, so he's clearly not a religious Muslim. And Jandali never met Jobs nor did he even know Jobs was his son until a few years ago.
Jobs was raised by Paul and Clara Jobs. Steven Jobs was never raised with any connection to Islam, Syria, or Arabs. He never made any connection with or outreach to these groups later in life when he could have and was trying to reconnect with his past. Jobs never made an appearance at a mosque, never cited the Koran, never identified with Islam or Arabia in any way. Never uttered a single sentence or phrase in the lingua franca of their extremist politics.
It's a safe bet that if Steven Jobs had been raised as an Arab Muslim, there would be no Apple. Not even Al-Apple. And a lot of great inventions that made our lives better and more enjoyable would never have happened. Jobs' story is the success of American capitalism. And it's about the kind of innovation and technological spirit that only happens in two countries in the world: the U.S. and Israel. This story would never have happened in Syria, pre- or post-Arab Spring.
Schlussel has a long history of anti-Muslim rhetoric:
UPDATE: Kristina Schake, communications director for First Lady Michelle Obama, made the following statement about these attacks:
The words, meaning and context in these claims are all wildly off the mark. The First Lady was commenting to the President on how moving and powerful it always is to watch all that America's firefighters and police officers do to honor the flag. It was an emotional moment on a powerful day and she was awed by the ceremony and all that the flag symbolizes.
The Washington Times' senior editorial writer for foreign affairs James Robbins and right-wing bloggers are claiming that Michelle Obama likely disparaged the American flag during a ceremony commemorating the 9/11 attacks.
They have posted video of Michelle Obama whispering something inaudible to her husband during the ceremony and are speculating that she said "all this just for a flag," "all that for a flag," or "all of this for a damn flag." (They disagree on exactly what she said.)
Blogger Jim Hoft, still in the running for the Dumbest Man on the Internet, didn't even have the confidence to type the fake Michelle Obama quotation himself. He instead provided a link to an American Thinker post making the accusation for him.
The video the bloggers have posted has no audio of Michelle Obama at the relevant point, and their lip-reading is hindered by the fact that Michelle Obama's lips disappear behind a partition at one point:
But they still believe Michelle Obama must have said something extremely controversial. We leave you with the ramblings of Debbie Schlussel, who seems to believe it doesn't matter what Michelle Obama said, because we all know what "she's thinkin' ":
I can't really tell for sure, but a number of people are abuzz about this video of Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Hussein Obama Idi Amin Dada. The consensus seems to be that the First Ms. Thang is saying to hubby Barack, "All of this for a damn flag." (She said this about the American flag -- you know the one brave men died for.) Wouldn't be surprised if that's what she said because we know she hates America and previously said she wasn't proud of our country until Obama had a chance to become Prez. Looks like that's what she said, but I can't tell for sure. I would need a deaf person or other expert lip reader to confirm. Watch and see if you agree (like I said, even if she didn't say exactly that, we know she's thinkin' it).
In the wake of the brutal and devastating sexual assault committed against CBS News international correspondent Lara Logan by an Egyptian mob, many in the right-wing media have used the attack to fuel their anti-Muslim agenda.
During a news brief on this morning's Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson reported that CBS correspondent Lara Logan had been "beaten and sexually assaulted by a mob of men while covering the political uprising in Egypt." While Carlson reported the story as nothing but factual, during her report, the onscreen text read, "Journalist Assaulted in Egypt? Report: Protesters Attacked CBS' Lara Logan."
Is Fox really questioning the validity of the story? If not, why the question mark?
Fox isn't alone in having a completely inappropriate response to Logan's tragic assault. Others have seized on the story to attack Logan, suggesting that the reason this happened was because she was a pretty woman reporting in the middle of a war zone. As Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams observed:
In a stunningly offensive blog post titled "Lara Logan, CBS Reporter and Warzone 'It Girl,' Raped Repeatedly Amid Egypt Celebration" for LA Weekly, writer Simone Wilson managed to mention Logan's "shocking good looks and ballsy knack for pushing her way to the heart of the action" before getting to the assault itself. She then went on to imagine how it happened: "In a rush of frenzied excitement, some Egyptian protestors apparently consummated their newfound independence by sexually assaulting the blonde reporter." Well, sure, what other motive for an assault could there be, given that Logan is, in Wilson's words, a "gutsy stunner" with "Hollywood good looks"? And how else do Egyptians celebrate anyway but with a gang assault? It's not like she deserved it, but well, she is hot, right?
Wilson wasn't the only person out there to be wildly tone-deaf in response, either. When the news broke, Nir Rosen, a fellow at the New York University Center for Law and Security, promptly whined to Twitter, "It's always wrong, that's obvious, but I'm rolling my eyes at all the attention she'll get," adding, "She's so bad that I ran out of sympathy for her." He soon backpedaled, deleting several of his most offensive posts and tweeting, "I apologize and take it back. joking with friends got out of line when i didnt [sic] want to back down. forgot twitter is not exactly private." Apparently he still hasn't remembered that sexual assault isn't great joking around material.
Rosen since resigned his post at NYU.
But he's not alone.
As Media Matters noted, Schlussel said Fakih's win was the result of the "politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate" in America and calling her a "Lebanese Muslim Hezbollah supporter with relatives who are top terrorists."
Enter the Washington Times editorial:
Miss Fakih, who as Miss Michigan took the Miss USA crown last weekend, was born in southern Lebanon and, as commentator Debbie Schlussel has reported, has extensive family connections to Hezbollah. But that reportage has been overshadowed by the more politically correct "first Arab-American Miss USA" storyline, dovetailing as it does with President Obama's efforts to promote Islam at home and abroad.
The first Arab-American to win the Miss USA crown was really Julie Hayek in 1983. However, Miss Hayek was a Lebanese Christian, and the notion of Christian Arabs is probably too complicated for the liberal media to bother explaining.
The Times goes further in its attacks, raising the notion that Fakih beat out Miss Oklahoma Morgan Elizabeth Woolard because Woolard had indicated her support for the controversial new Arizona Immigration law:
This year's victim was [Woolard], who was hit with a hot-button question regarding Arizona's new law against illegal immigrants. She said she was "a huge supporter of states' rights" and that the Arizona law was "perfectly fine." Miss Woolard had been leading Miss Fakih by a wide margin through the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the competition, but - like Miss Prejean last year - the Okie finished as first runner-up.
The judges passed up the opportunity to ask Miss Fakih about her views on radical Islamic terrorism or whether Israel has a right to exist.
Of course, it mattered little to the Times that Woolard has rejected the idea that she lost to Fakih because of her answer, saying, "I don't believe that answer cost me the crown."
I'm hesitant to take anything Debbie Schlussel says seriously, given her track record. That rather large disclaimer aside, Schlussel has posted what is, on its face, a potentially damaging investigation of Sean Hannity and the Freedom Alliance charity. Given the public statements by New York Times and Washington Post editors about the need to be more responsive to stories developed on conservative web sites, you have to wonder if they'll look into this:
For the last several years, Sean Hannity and the Freedom Alliance "charity" have conducted "Freedom Concerts" across America. They've told you that they are raising money to pay for the college tuition of the children of fallen soldiers and to pay severely wounded war vets. And on Friday Night, Hannity will be honored with an award for this "Outstanding Community Service by a Radio Talk Show Host" at Talkers Magazine's convention.
But it's all a huge scam.
In fact, less than 20%-and in two recent years, less than 7% and 4%, respectively-of the money raised by Freedom Alliance went to these causes, while millions of dollars went to expenses, including consultants and apparently to ferret the Hannity posse of family and friends in high style. And, despite Hannity's statements to the contrary on his nationally syndicated radio show, few of the children of fallen soldiers got more than $1,000-$2,000, with apparently none getting more than $6,000, while Freedom Alliance appears to have spent tens of thousands of dollars for private planes. Moreover, despite written assurances to donors that all money raised would go directly to scholarships for kids of the fallen heroes and not to expenses, has begun charging expenses of nearly $500,000 to give out just over $800,000 in scholarships.
Schlussel then summarized Freedom Alliance's revenues and expenses for several years. For example:
According to its 2006 tax returns, Freedom Alliance reported revenue of $10, 822, 785, but only $397,900-or a beyond-measly 3.68%-of that was given to the children of fallen troops as scholarships or as aid to severely injured soldiers.
Those numbers check out (pdf). But Freedom Alliance's mission is broader than scholarships and aid to injured soldiers (a fact Schlussel overlooks), so it's certainly possible that it is spending an appropriate proportion of its revenues to advance that mission. But Schlussel doesn't merely criticize the charity's disbursements; she also contends the Freedom Alliance's fundraising practices have been deceptive:
And then, there are the 2008 Freedom Alliance tax forms, which were signed in November 2009 and filed only recently. That year, Freedom Alliance took in $8,781,431 in revenue and gave $1,060,275.57 total-or just 12%-to seriously wounded soldiers and for scholarships to kids of the fallen. Remember, this is well below the 75% required to be considered a legitimate charity. And after claiming in written letters to donors that 100% of the money donated, via the Freedom Concerts or otherwise, to the scholarships would go directly to the scholarships and not to expenses, the Freedom Alliance decided to do the contrary and charge expenses anyway-charging a whopping $436,386 to give out $802,250 in scholarships. That means that 35% of the $1,238,636-all of which was supposed to go to scholarships for these kids of the fallen-went to Freedom Alliance. [Emphasis added]
Unfortunately, Schlussel doesn't provide any documentation for the assertion that Freedom Alliance claimed in writing that 100 percent of donated funds would go to scholarships, so we don't know if it's true.
Schlussel's characterizations and assertions need to be taken with more than a grain of salt -- they require an entire salt lick, at least. But her numbers seem to check out. If her assertions that Hannity has made false claims in raising money for the charity are also true, that would be scandalous.
Editors at The New York Times and the Washington Post have said in recent months that their papers need to do a better job of picking up on stories right-wing web sites are pushing. Schlussel's investigation into Hannity and Freedom Alliance would seem like a good place for the Post and Times to do some digging -- unless, of course, they only intend to follow up on conservative attacks on liberals.
Right-wing media figures have used the shooting at Fort Hood as an excuse to attack Islam and American Muslims in particular, with Debbie Schlussel, for example, urging readers to think of the alleged shooter "whenever you hear about how Muslims serve their country in the U.S. military." Additionally, commentators have blamed the shooting on "political correctness," with Fox News host Brian Kilmeade suggesting the implementation of "special debriefings" for Muslim American soldiers to prevent future attacks.
In a June 23 post on her blog, conservative pundit Debbie Schlussel wrote that Michelle Obama is "the new pimp for Obamacare. And it has echoes--very, very scary echoes!--of Hillarycare. It's like deja vu with a bigger booty. Well, since we're comparing with Mrs. Clinton, maybe even that's the same, too." From her post:
I don't know about you, but when I entered the polling booth on Election Day, back in November of last year, Michelle Obama's name wasn't anywhere on my ballot. No mention of her or of Michelle LaVaughn Robinson or of Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Hussein Obama Idi Amin Dada.
But, for some reason, this First Lady is now a policymaker and spokeschick for a number of Obama causes. First, she addressed Department of Homeland Security employees and snubbed ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Then, she led cheers for Obama Supreme Court nominee Justice J-Lo a/k/a Sonia From the Block a/k/a So-So a/k/a Sonia Sotmayor.
Now, she's the new pimp for Obamacare. And it has echoes--very, very scary echoes!--of Hillarycare. It's like deja vu with a bigger booty. Well, since we're comparing with Mrs. Clinton, maybe even that's the same, too.
"My hope is that if I play a role in sort of ringing the bell of prevention and wellness and exercise."
You can best do that by telling your husband to stuff it . . . his absurd, socialist medical plan.
Whatever happened to the good old days . . . when First Ladies knew their place and stuck to reading books to children and visiting libraries and hospitals?
That was a whole lot preferable to unelected spouses who don hijabs for the Islamic world (Mrs. Bush) and pimp socialized medicine (Mrs. Obama).
Memo to the chicks of the White House: You weren't on the ballot. Stay out of policy and stick to the garden, china, and draperies.
In an entry on her website, Debbie Schlussel posted "Valentines," in the form of candy hearts, about Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The hearts for Obama were black instead of the usual pastel colors and referenced widely debunked allegations that Obama is, or has been, a Muslim. A number of the candy hearts Schlussel posted for Clinton referenced David Shuster's remark, "But doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"
In a post on her website, Debbie Schlussel claimed that Media Matters is "anti-American, anti-Israel, and funded by [philanthropist] George Soros, a Jew who proudly worked for the Nazis rounding up Jews and sending them to their deaths." She also wrote, "I believe Donny Deutch [sic] was lying about his own religious status" in the interview, and that she "doubt[s] that" he is a "practicing Jew," because "his show is on live during the Jewish Sabbath, and keeping the Jewish Sabbath is the most important commandment for a religious Jew to keep."