Conservatives have responded to the bipartisan Senate proposal to expand thebackground check system for firearms purchases with apocalyptic, conspiratorial, and absurd rhetoric.
On April 10, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) announced they had reached an agreement on an amendment that would require criminal and mental health background checks for those seeking to purchase firearms at gun shows and online. The proposal is likely to be added to legislation currently being debated in the Senate. Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support requiring a background check for more gun buyers.
Right wing radio host Mark Levin compared the deal to policies that bring about "genocide," arguing that "the greatest inhumanities ever committed have been by centralized governments against their people."
From the April 10 edition of Cumulus Media's The Mark Levin Show:
I just want to remind you, ladies and gentlemen, that the greatest inhumanity -- the greatest inhumantity has been committed by centralized governments against their people. The greatest inhumanity ever committed has been by centralized government against their people. Whether we call it national socialism or communism or facsism, I just call it all statism to make it easy, borrowing from Aristotle to Reagan.
You and I can't commit genocide. You and I can't destroy a nation from within.
There are many sick people in this world. They're killers. They kill people. They'll be killing people today. They'll be killing people tonight. I wish it wasn't so, but it is so. There are many evil people on the face of this earth. The way we try to deal with them is through law enforcement. The way we try to deal with them is culling them out from the rest of society and punishing them.
But the more that we put down the law-abiding people, the more we herd and shepherd the law-abiding people, the more information we gather on the law-abiding people, put them in central government databases and all the rest, the more we're destroying our society.
We are free people. We are a good people. These politicians seek to define you and me, by the evil people. And so they project these images onto you and me, and then they try and pass laws to control us, and deny us of liberty.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson claimed in a series of tweets that the mental health provisions in the agreement would allow a doctor to say someone was "crazy for believing in resurrected Jesus" which would lead to "liberal docs" barring the faithful from gun ownership.
Fox News host Eric Bolling argued that the deal was "knocking on the door to a national registry." In fact, creating a national registry is already illegal and the proposal reaffirms that illegal status andincreases the penalty for creating a registry.
As the Huffington Post reported, "In addition to a potential jail sentence of 15 years, officials who create a gun registry or misuse federal records on gun sales or ownership would face a monetary fine."
Breitbart.com and National Review Online (NRO) are using today's Equal Pay Day holiday to misinform about gender wage inequality. Right-wing media have routinely downplayed and obscured legitimate concerns about wage inequality.
Equal Pay Day was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages. According to a White House proclamation released on Equal Pay Day in 2012, "National Equal Pay Day represents the date in the current year through which women must work to match what men earned in the previous year, reminding us that we must keep striving for an America where everyone gets an equal day's pay for an equal day's work."
Breitbart.com and NRO both posted a video today that claims the gender wage gap is a myth, positing that the gap fails to account for women's choices, which are primarily responsible for any discrepancies in salary. The video comes from the conservative Independent Women's Forum, a group The New York Times described as "a right-wing public policy group that provides pseudofeminist support for extreme positions that are in fact dangerous to women."
Although the wage gap has decreased since the 1963 passage of the Equal Pay Act, women's earnings remain far below that of men. A report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that "in 2011, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 23 percent." According to the National Women's Law Center, the wage gap for minority women is even worse: African-American and Hispanic women make 64 and 55 cents for every dollar their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts earn. The claim that personal choice is responsible for the gender wage gap has also been debunked, mostly recently in the AAUW's 2013 Gender Pay Gap Report.
Breitbart.com and NRO's misleading claims about gender wage inequality follow a long trend of right-wing media's misinformation on equal pay. Here are just a few examples since 2012:
From the April 7 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From the April 5 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Fox News' The Five claimed that the U.S. has the lowest gun-related murder rate in the world and that public opinion is turning against President Obama on gun control, ignoring that the U.S. has a higher gun homicide rate than other developed nations, and that a vast majority of Americans favor expanded background checks on gun purchases.
Fox News' Eric Bolling doubled down on his praise of former Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice, who was fired for physically and verbally abusing players, saying, "The best coaches are coaches like that."
Appearing on the April 4 edition of Fox News' America Live, Bolling claimed that Rice's dismissal is symptomatic of the "wussification" of American men, echoing a similar statement he made while co-hosting The Five the previous day.
Rice was fired after ESPN's Outside The Lines broadcast a video of a Rutgers basketball practice in which Rice is seen throwing basketballs at his players' heads, kicking players, and shouting homophobic slurs, among other abuses. Rice's behavior was sharply criticized by everyone from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to NBA stars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Rice was critical of his own behavior, saying, "There's no explanation for what's on those films. Because there is no excuse for it. I was wrong."
Some of Fox News' most prominent personalities have taken a different approach to evaluating Rice's coaching tactics. Sean Hannity joined Bolling's defense of Rice, claiming the coach was just "trying to bring the best out of" his team.
From the April 3 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News host Eric Bolling criticized conservatives for pushing recent conservative darling Dr. Benjamin Carson as the next Republican presidential nominee. Bolling said that while Carson is "a great conservative" that could have a role in the next Republican administration, he has "no political experience," and "the right is just so desperately grasping for anyone that makes sense, they threw this poor guy into the fire."
Carson has recently been at the center of a controversy over offensive comments he made about marriage equality during an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News program. Hannity has been at the forefront of Fox News' efforts to recruit Carson as a 2016 candidate.
During an April 1 appearance on Cumulus Media Networks' Geraldo, Bolling was asked to respond to the controversy over Carson's recent remarks on Fox News and replied:
BOLLING: As far as Dr. Carson, yes, a lot of people are saying he's the, you know, he should be the Republican candidate for president in 2016. I've said from the very beginning, on The Five and anywhere else, he's a great conservative. He has a role somewhere in a Republican administration, and a conservative voice, but how in the world can you take a guy who's really had no political experience, maybe just a couple of speeches, and say he's going to be the next Republican candidate for president? The right is just so desperately grasping for anyone that makes sense, they threw this poor guy into the fire.
Now he probably didn't realize that he was walking into the same sort of buzzsaw that some of the other Republicans over, you know, over the last cycle ran into. Look, these aren't the issues. What every Republican should, or conservative should do is focus on the economy. Focus on jobs. Focus on -- the government is taking more and more of your hard-earned tax money and wasting it. Those are the issues that Republicans need to worry about, not the social issues. But he didn't -- again, if he wants to make a run for president, he better get some very, very smart handlers.
Bolling's colleagues at Fox News and The Wall Street Journal -- which, like Fox, is owned by News Corp. -- have devoted substantial time and energy to touting Carson as a Republican presidential contender.
Fox News host Eric Bolling baselessly attacked the Senate Democrats' legislative proposal to reduce gun violence -- which includes expanding background checks, cracking down on gun trafficking and improving school security -- by suggesting that amended legislation would include a "national gun registry" and would infringe on the Second Amendment. Bolling's claims stand in contrast to numerous constitutional scholars who have backed the constitutionality of gun violence prevention laws.
On the March 29 edition of Fox & Friends, Bolling addressed remarks made by Obama in favor of the Senate package by stating that Obama "said it's not going to be controversial. Well yes it was. It's not going to infringe on your Second Amendment rights. Well yes they would."
In his remarks, Obama expressed support for the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, and also advocated for the passage of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines:
OBAMA: Earlier this month, the Senate advanced some of the most important reforms designed to reduce gun violence. All of them are consistent with the Second Amendment. None of them will infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.
Now, in the coming weeks, members of Congress will vote on whether we should require universal background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that criminals or people with severe mental illnesses can't get their hands on one. They'll vote on tough new penalties for anyone who buys guns only to turn around and sell them to criminals. They'll vote on a measure that would keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate these mass killings off our streets. They'll get to vote on legislation that would help schools become safer and help people struggling with mental health problems to get the treatment that they need.
None of these ideas should be controversial.
Multiple legal experts have explained how current gun violence prevention proposals, including expanded background checks and an assault weapons ban, are constitutional under the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller.
Fox News spent an entire week hyping a supposed "War on Easter," pointing to the decision made by a few school boards to hold "Spring egg hunt[s]" instead of Easter egg hunts. In seven days, Fox devoted 10 segments to what host Bill O'Reilly called the continued "war on Judeo-Christian tradition."
On March 21, O'Reilly lambasted President Obama and the White House for empowering "secular progressives" to pressure school districts around the country to eliminate terms like "Easter bunny" and "Easter egg." O'Reilly complained that "the war on Judeo-Christian tradition continues in some public school districts," citing districts in five states that he said "are having Spring egg events. Moderated by a Spring bunny":
O'REILLY: I know it's stupid. You know it's stupid. But it's happening, and there is a reason why it's happening. Secular progressives are running wild with President Obama in the White House. They feel unchained, liberated and they are trying to diminish any form of religion. The goal is to marginalize religious opposition to secular programs.
In the past week, several Fox shows followed O'Reilly's lead, airing segments that criticized the "P.C. police" and focused on "assaults" that have put Christianity "on the run in this country":
From the March 19 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the March 12 edition of Fox News' The Five:
ERIC BOLLING: Check this story out. A town in Georgia has proposed a new law requiring every head of a household to possess a firearm. The town is Nelson, Georgia, population 1,000. They have only one police officer, and that guy works one eight-hour shift. So I'm on board with this.
GREG GUTFELD: Mandatory gun ownership? The next thing you know we have mandatory health care. Weird. And why is this so radical? At least the town is doing this legally, unlike Detroit and Chicago, where you have mandatory gun ownership -- it's called gang membership. Look, if an outlaw is going through the country and looking for a town to hit, he's going to drive right past this one and he'll find a gun-free zone. It's just like we talked about the theater shooter. He found a place where there were no guns.
BOLLING: Dana, 90 percent of the town agrees with this. By the way, it isn't a law yet, it has to go through the city council. It's proposed right now. I believe there will be a vote April 1st. Ninety percent of the town agrees with it and the one police officer agrees with it, too.
DANA PERINO: Yeah, so I'm for local control and for Washington to mind its own business. The local control that was tried here in New York City yesterday was about soda drinking. I think that this one -- if this town feels that this is what they need to do to protect themselves, I'm for it. Plus, if it's mandatory, people will be trained, they'll have the background checks. and all the laws will be covered.
BOLLING: And Bob, If you don't like it, if you object, if you have a conscientious objection to it, you don't have to have the gun. It sounds like a good idea.
BOB BECKEL: It sounds to me like one of the worst ideas I've heard. I mean, the idea that you're going to mandatory -- it's mandatory if you don't object and you don't have a religious problem with it or you're not -- whatever. That you have to buy a gun when you may not like guns --
BOLLING: Well, you can object --
GUTFELD: Replace that with health care, Bob.
BECKEL: Let's not talk health care. The idea -- why don't we next make it mandatory for over the have a bazooka on their roof. I mean --
GUTFELD: Or health care.
BECKEL: You know who's behind this? This is an NRA-sponsored deal. They've done this before. Georgia seems to be --
BOLLING: This has nothing to do with NRA.
GUTFELD: Replace NRA with AARP, and you have health care.
ANDREA TANTAROS: As much as I love they're doing this and I understand that the next town over has the same law on the books -- so I love the law in theory. I actually don't like being mandated to do anything. And so, that's like someone saying, OK, we mandate you to exercise your First Amendment all the time, and to exercise it you must say, 'I love Obama.'" And what if you live in a town with 90 percent of the people -- or maybe New York -- believe that way? So I try to put the shoe on other foot.
PERINO: That was all those Philadelphia counties -- Pennsylvania counties.
BOLLING: A hundred percent, right? A hundred and one percent, actually.
BECKEL: Why don't you just make it nationwide? Why doesn't everybody make it mandatory --
BOLLING: It'd be a safer country.
BOLLING: By the way, If you're a criminal, Bob -- honestly you're driving down the road, looking to rob, stick up a house -- are you going to go to the town where you know every house, every door you knock on or break into has a gun behind it? You're going to go to the next town where --
BECKEL: I don't think, first of all, they're going to stop and read The New York Times and figure out who's got a town like that.
GUTFELD: You know, the police exist primarily to respond to crime, not to prevent it. It's up to you to prevent it.
Zeb Colter, an anti-immigrant character from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) that has recently drawn the ire of right-wing pundits like Glenn Beck, would be right at home in the conservative media. Many of Colter's bigoted and flawed arguments have been the right's stock-in-trade for years.
Beck targeted the Colter character on his radio show, arguing that Colter is "demonizing the Tea Party." Beck also accused the WWE of "mocking me for standing up for the Constitution." Beck's co-host Stu Burguiere complained: "It seems that the villain, the guy you're supposed to hate, is this stereotype of a conservative that I've never met."
Colter currently appears on WWE programming alongside wrestler Jack Swagger, spouting a lot of heated anti-immigrant rhetoric in the middle of a scripted feud with Mexican-born wrestler Alberto Del Rio. According to WWE, Colter's rhetoric is intended to "to build the Mexican American character Del Rio into a hero given WWE's large Latino base."
WWE explains that in order "to create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines."
Conservative media voices have insisted that an increase of the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $9 would harm the economy. However, a wealth of economic evidence disputes the claims that minimum wage hikes are job killers, that the minimum wage is already high, and that it only applies to jobs held by relatively young workers.
Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, previewing Sen. Marco Rubio's response to President Obama's State of the Union speech, Fox News political analyst Karl Rove labeled Rubio "the American experience" and declared him "probably one of the best communicators since Ronald Reagan."
Over-the-top praise of Rubio on the network is nothing new. Rubio's increasingly prominent role in the national political conversation is thanks, in part, to the help of Fox News, which has served as his primary cheerleader since his 2010 Senate campaign.
In recent weeks, Rove in particular has showered praise on Rubio and his role in the debate over immigration reform. His comparison of Rubio to Reagan on The O'Reilly Factor wasn't even the first time he had done so on Fox's airwaves this month; he made similar comments during a February 4 appearance on Special Report.
Rove isn't alone in his adoration of the Florida senator. Fox personalities have fawned over Rubio on-air for years, boosted his 2010 Florida Senate run (including helping him fundraise on-air), hosted him for dozens of primetime appearances on the network, and repeatedly touted him as an ideal vice presidential pick for former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In this report: