Conservative media have gone to great lengths to portray Planned Parenthood as an organization of "child killers" bent on eliminating entire minority populations. These unhinged claims have led to sexist attacks on women and women's health services.
Following the president's deficit speech Wednesday, CNN's Erick Erickson quickly grasped at straws to revive one of the right-wing media's go-to falsehoods about healthcare: death panels.
From Erickson's RedState.com post, "Barack Obama Fully Embraces Death Panels":
While everyone else was focused on Barack Obama bashing Paul Ryan, I noticed that he took full ownership of death panels yesterday. Naturally, Obama did not call them death panels. He called them "an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers." But his description hits dead on with what his death panels will do.
According to Barack Obama yesterday, the death panels "will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services seniors need."
We already know what they'll recommend as "the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending". Barack Obama's own advisers have told us. They will prioritize giving health care to healthier people and let sicker people die. At end of life, they will deny people life sustaining treatment because, after all, they're going to die anyway. Note his phrasing: "protecting access to the services seniors need." Dying people, according to Obama's advisers, need hospice not hope. They certainly do not need expensive treatments that may buy them time to see the birth of a new grandchild or other reasons.
You may not like the use of the phrase "death panel," but make no mistake about it -- at the end of your life, in Barack Obama's America, his death panel will throw you under the bus in a way much closer to reality than metaphor.
Right-wing media responded to budget negotiations and the debate over Planned Parenthood funding by making sexist attacks against women and deriding women's health services as, among other things, "non-vital" and "optional."
In a post on his RedState.com blog titled, "Barack Obama: Out of touch with large families," CNN contributor Erick Erickson falsely claims that Obama told a parent of ten kids who was concerned about high gas prices "to sell his van that holds his ten kids and get a hybrid car." Erickson calls Obama's comment "amazing."
In fact, in the video Erickson himself posted, during banter with the parent, Obama said, "You definitely need a hybrid van [emphasis added]," not a "hybrid car."
That was also just one part of the exchange with the parent in which Obama stressed the need to increase domestic oil production, increase fuel efficiency standards, and "start looking at electric cars and maybe natural gas cars." He also told the audience that if they are "getting eight miles a gallon, you may want to think about a trade-in."
Members of the right-wing media have distorted the administration's policies in the wake of the BP oil spill, claiming that President Obama shut down all drilling and production in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the temporary moratorium on drilling in the Gulf only applied to new deepwater wells and did not affect the thousands of wells already producing oil and gas.
CNN's Erick Erickson on Libya:
Using the same rationale George W. Bush used to go into Iraq, Barack Obama has now gone into Libya.
Erick Erickson, just four sentences later:
Whether you think he lied, was misled, or was right, George W. Bush did make a case to Congress and the American people prior to going into Iraq that Iraq was training Al Qaeda and, given its weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda, was an imminent threat to the United States.
Maybe I just missed it, but I don't remember Barack Obama claiming that Libya's weapons of mass destruction constitute an imminent threat to the U.S. I haven't seen any members of his administration warning of a "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud." The administration and its allies haven't been suggesting that Libya was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks.
So, no, Barack Obama isn't "using the same rationale George W. Bush used to go into Iraq." Erick Erickson is just lying. And he's doing it incompetently -- he can't even make it three paragraphs without accidentally debunking his own nonsense.
I wonder how long someone who claimed in March of 2003 that President Bush had manufactured the Iraq war in order to win re-election would have remained employed as a CNN contributor?
While you think about that, check out current CNN contributor Erick Erickson's "working theory on Obama in Libya":
There is not in any way, shape, or form any rational explanation for the United States engaged in Libya to do nothing except for one I can think of — Barack Obama's re-election.
Suddenly Obama can look Presidential again — all through manufacturing the need for American involvement where there was no need. Barack Obama wants to be re-elected. The best playbook for his re-election is that of Bill Clinton. But Clinton had a government shutdown and Kosovo. In the absence of either, Barack Obama must manufacture them.
And he has.
Hey, it's just a theory.
During the March 21st broadcast of his radio show, Erickson elaborated: "Is Barack Obama trying to get in good with defense contractors before the 2012 election?"
Here's another Erickson theory about Libya, also from the his March 21 radio show:
ERICKSON: By the way, it's the women's fault. … It's, apparently, the women in the Obama administration who have decided we needed to go to war in Libya. … This is typical. This is so typ-- i'm mean, I'm going to bring my inner sexist out I'm afraid tonight, some of you are going to be very upset with me. But this is like women drivers. We're going to war in Libya, we have no plan, we have no map, even if we have a map of war, um, it wasn't going to get read, they were going to pull over and ask the French apparently for help, or at least make the guy pull over and ask the French for help. This is crazy.
ERICKSON: This is just silly. I mean, back-seat driving by the women, and they're gonna get Barack Obama lost. What is it with Barack Obama caving to the women? I mean, now we know who rules his personal life. I guess Michelle is firmly in charge as well, if Barack Obama is going to cave that easy to three women in his administration over what to do with Libya.
And even more:
ERICKSON: It took the women to get him involved, and the women apparently went in without a clear plan. No shopping list.
Remember: CNN hired this third-rate Limbaugh-wannabe to be a contributor, and used him as an analyst for its State of the Union coverage.
The conservative media has steadily advocated for Republicans to force a government shutdown, with a recent piece in the Washington Examiner saying that a shutdown "doesn't sound that bad." At the same time, however, conservative media figures are pushing the talking point that a shutdown would be the Democrats' fault.
CNN drew criticism last Friday for an article headlined "Are whites racially oppressed?" In addition to legitimizing "pro-White" commentators James Edwards and Peter Brimelow, the article quoted the president of a Texas group called "Former Majority Association for Equality" that exists solely to provide college scholarships to white men. FMAE president Colby Bohannan told CNN, "There was no one for white males until we came around."
As it turns out, that wasn't the first attention CNN gave Bohannan and the Former Majority Association for Equality. On Tuesday, March 1, CNN posted an interview with Bohannan on its web page, then devoted two segments to it during that day's edition of CNN Newsroom. During that coverage, CNN contributor Erick Erickson endorsed the FMAE's white-men-only scholarships:
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think, Erick? Isn't this just another in a multitude of specific scholarships for lots of different kinds of people?
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, absolutely. It is. If we're going to get rid of scholarships for African-Americans and get rid of scholarships for Hispanics and get rid of scholarships for Asians and get rid of scholarships for women, then let's get rid of the scholarships. But if we're not going to get rid of those, then let's keep this one.
Erickson then suggested that women, Hispanics, and Asians have not been historically disadvantaged in America:
ROMANS: But Erick, don't you think
this is a little bit different. Because we have a history that's tortured and painful in this country that makes, even today when you start talking about a white-male only scholarship it makes people kind of cringe. Because there was a time when white men frankly ruled this country and had all of the access, and the reason why we have all of these --
ERICKSON: Absolutely. But they don't anymore. You can justify that, for example, a scholarship for African-Americans, given the history of this country. But can you for Asians or Hispanics or for women? Now we've reached the point in Texas, at least, where the white men are no longer the majority in Texas.
In addition to Erickson's endorsement of the white-men-only scholarship, CNN's Newsroom coverage of the topic was noticeably unbalanced. CNN twice played video clips of Bohannan, but did not air or quote any comments by opposing advocates or experts. Five times during the broadcast, CNN anchor Christine Romans read reader comments left on CNN's web page in support of the scholarship; she only read an opposing comment once. Romans repeatedly characterized CNN readers' response to the whites-only scholarships as overwhelmingly positive without noting that there is absolutely no reason to think that comments left on a blog are a representative sample of anything. Romans even claimed "The vast majority of the comments we got on the blog support the scholarship, and these are people of all different ages and races," suggesting that support for whites-only scholarship is strong among all demographics. But she had no way of knowing that the blog comments (which aren't a representative sample of anything anyway) really were from "people of all different ages and races."
Though CNN didn't quote or refer to any experts or advocates who disagree with Bohannan, an ABC News article last week quoted a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board noting that Bohannan's central premise is flawed:
"Our largest state-funded financial aid program is the Texas Grants program, and in 2009 we served about 63,000 students," said Dominic Chavez at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which promotes greater access to higher education in the state.
"I am not sure I accept the premise that these programs are targeting students of color," Chavez said. "These programs are targeted to poor Texans. There is no consideration of race [or] ethnicity for the allocation of these awards."
The board's goal is to increase enrollment of every single ethnic group in higher education by 5.7 percent -- that includes whites as well as blacks, Asians and Hispanics, said Chavez, who pointed out that college enrollment rates are down among males across all ethnic groups.
Looks like someone at CNN told contributor Erick Erickson to post an update to his smear of Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent, detailed here yesterday. Unfortunately, Erickson's update is just further nonsense, but I won't go into that here -- if you're interested, just read Erickson's update along with my post from yesterday and Sargent's.
Erickson's continued dishonesty about what Sargent wrote isn't really the interesting part -- after all, continued dishonesty is an Erickson specialty. The interesting part is the editor's note at the end of the update:
Editor's Note: The blog is a place for a freewheeling exchange of ideas and opinions. CNN does not endorse anything said by its contributors.
It's great that CNN is starting to feel some heat over its relationship with Erickson, but this doesn't fly. Erickson's CNN-hosted attack on Sargent wasn't an "exchange of ideas," it was a one-sided hit job. Even the update isn't an "exchange of ideas and opinions" -- if it was, it would contain some views of what happened other than Erickson's.
And the part about CNN not endorsing anything its contributors say? There are a few problems with that. CNN pays Erick Erickson. It gives him a television and internet platform. It promotes his comments. CNN's John King invites Erickson to attack liberals, then adopts Erickson's attacks in his own reporting. And in doing so, King ignores Erickson's history of doing the very things he attacks liberals for.
CNN can't credibly claim Erickson is just part of a "freewheeling exchange of ideas" when it treats him with kid gloves. And it can't credibly say it doesn't endorse his comments when John King invites him to level hypocritical attacks on liberals, then amplifies those attacks, all without questioning Erickson about the hypocrisy. Repeatedly.
If CNN wants to distance itself from Erickson, it's going to have to do better than this.
Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent notes that John King's CNN blog has posted a bogus attack on Sargent by CNN contributor Erick Erickson. Erickson pretends Sargent "encourag[ed] unions in Wisconsin to get violent," which, as Sargent ably explains, is nonsense. In fact, even Erickson acknowledges that Sargent was being sarcastic, though he does not seem to grasp the fact that Sargent was tweaking conservatives who have been so eager to decry union violence that they seem to be rooting for it to occur, just so they have something to complain about.
Anyway, Sargent doesn't need my help debunking Erickson's silly claims. And, as Sargent notes, the bigger problem is that CNN and John King are giving those silly claims a platform:
This kind of misdirection and and sleight of hand, of course, is par for the course for a huckster like Erickson. But you'd think King and the professional journalists at CNN would check out the facts of the matter before disseminating such an incendiary charge, particularly given Erickson's track record.
At bottom this is another cautionary tale, akin to the recent episodes involving Andrew Breitbart, about what happens when real news organizations let people like Erickson smuggle their complete absence of standards onto their platform. I'm assuming King and the other reputable journalists at CNN are unaware of what Erickson did here, since it's hard to imagine they'd be okay with CNN.com enabling Erickson's efforts to smear another reporter for political reasons.
Now, here's what's really appalling about all this: CNN and John King are promoting Erick Erickson's false claims about Sargent without noting Erickson's own history of violent rhetoric. This is becoming something of a habit for King and CNN, who have repeatedly invited Erickson to denounce rhetoric coming from liberals, all while politely avoiding mention of Erickson's own track record. Which, for those who are unfamiliar with Erickson's work, includes talking about pulling shotguns on government officials and beating state legislators to a "bloody pulp for being an idiot."
So, to sum up: CNN and John King are ignoring CNN contributor Erick Erickson's history of violent rhetoric, even as they invite him to criticize liberals' rhetoric and promote his falsehoods about Sargent.
CNN's Erick Erickson spent much of the January 31 broadcast of his radio show discussing criticism of the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A for its support for anti-gay organizations -- and in doing so, Erickson agreed with a caller who asserted that gays "have nothing to be happy about" and did not disagree with the same caller's explanation that "their life is perverted. It's evil." Erickson also suggested that gays cannot be part of "real families" and condoned workplace discrimination against gays and non-Christians.
A January 29 New York Times article noted that Chick-fil-A has faced criticism for "strict hiring practices, which require potential operators to discuss their marital status and civic and church involvement" (the company settled a lawsuit filed by a Muslim restaurant owner who said he was fired for not praying to Jesus) and that "the company's operators, its WinShape Foundation and the Cathy family have given millions of dollars to a variety of causes and programs, including … groups working to defeat same-sex marriage initiatives." Most recently, a Pennsylvania Chick-fil-A franchise's "sponsorship of a February marriage seminar by one of that state's most outspoken groups against homosexuality" drew criticism.
And Erick Erickson knows all of that -- we know he knows it because he read a portion of that very article on-air. But despite being aware of the fact that Chick-fil-A settled a lawsuit filed by an employee who says he was fired for not praying to Jesus, Erickson repeatedly downplayed the Chick-fil-A controversy, pretending it is based entirely on the donation of some chicken sandwiches by an individual franchise, and mockingly claiming that Chick-fil-A critics are complaining that the company is racist for serving only white meat.
Here's how Erickson explains the controversy:
ERICKSON: The gays are boycotting Chick-fil-A because a Chick-fil-A franchisor -- not the company, ladies and gentlemen, not the corporation, not all of the Chick-fil-A operators in the country, one Chick-fil-A independent franchisor in Pennsylvania provided free food to a nonprofit group that just happens to be conservative, and supports families. Like, real families.
Erickson knows that isn't true -- he's read a New York Times article that explains that there have been complaints about the parent company, not just an "independent franchisor in Pennsylvania." In other words, he's lying. (And, in doing so, implying that "real families" do not include gays.)
Following GOProud's invitation to participate in the annual conservative conference CPAC, many social conservatives objected, with several groups--including the Heritage Foundation and the Media Research Center--vowing to boycott the event, in part because of gay conservative group's inclusion. As CPAC begins, many in the right-wing media have taken sides against GOProud.
Erick Erickson is the latest conservative to take sides in the battle between social conservatives and GOProud, a gay conservative organization. In a post on Red State, Erickson claimed GOProud "is not a conservative organization" after GOProud co-founder Chris Barron called conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell a "bigot." From Red State:
I have, for me, shown an amazing amount of restraint in keeping my mouth shut on an issue about which I can stay silent no longer -- GOProud and CPAC.
I have done my best to stay out of this business, keep my mouth shut, and appreciate my friends on both sides of the CPAC divide. Had I not seen this particular attack by GOProud against long time solid conservatives I'd continue keeping my mouth shut. But this is too much. And my guess is that there aren't many if any willing to call foul, so I will do it.
As someone who spent time trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I accept this as conclusive proof that, while it is a Republican organization, GOProud is not a conservative organization.
Those groups and people who have sat out CPAC this year have done so not because they hate the gays, as Grover Norquist and GOProud would have you believe, but because GOProud is not a conservative organization and its agenda is not a conservative agenda.
For that, they are called losers and nasty bigots.
These losers and nasty bigots have done a lot more for the conservative movement than GOProud. And I am very happy to call them my friends.
This week, I'd much rather be with them than be at CPAC.