Yesterday, the noise machine's nonsense scandal du jour was that the Obama administration supposedly "supported" the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Fox News' Dana Perino, FoxNews.com, Drudge, and several conservative bloggers hyped the story, with the always-unhinged Pam Geller going so far as to call for a "special investigation" and a "charge of treason." Rush Limbaugh claimed that Obama "backed the release," because he "wanted to make nice with the Muslim world." As we pointed out at the time, reports indicated that the administration opposed the release of the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds, but stipulated that if he were to be released, he should go to Scotland, and not to Libya.
Predictably, the story has continued to disintegrate. Yesterday, The State Department released its correspondence with the Scottish Ministry of Justice, which states in no uncertain terms that the administration "is not prepared to support Megrahi's release on compassionate release or bail," and that "it would be most appropriate for Megrahi to remain imprisoned for the entirety of his sentence."
Responding to the release of the letter in a post headlined "Two Cheers For The Administration On Megrahi," PowerLine's John Hinderaker states that this story is a "non-controversy in which the State Department and the Obama administration acted honorably and appropriately."
Despite the letter from the State Department clearly demolishing this non-scandal, some conservative bloggers just won't give up the ghost. Undeterred (as usual) by reality, Jim Hoft responded to the letter by announcing in a headline that the administration "Preferred [Lockerbie Bomber's] Release." This serves as more evidence that Hoft either does not bother to read the things he links to, or that his deranged hatred of the administration is such that it leads him state with a straight face that up is down.
Even more embarrassing than Hoft's post was this inane screed by RedState's Lori Ziganto about how Obama "can't seem to man up." This was posted after the release of the letter, yet completely ignored its existence:
The right-wing media are distorting a U.K. Sunday Times article to claim that the "White House backed [the] release of [the] Lockerbie bomber," Abdel Baset al-Megrahi. In fact, the Sunday Times article right-wing media figures are citing makes clear that "the United States wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime."
Conservative media outlets have launched another bogus smear on Shirley Sherrod, attacking her participation in a lawsuit charging the U.S. Department of Agriculture with discrimination against African American farmers. In fact, congressional Republicans and a federal judge agree that the USDA discriminated against African American farmers.
If Fox News, The Washington Times, and Gateway Pundit are all telling you something is true, there's a high likelihood that what they're telling you it isn't the full truth.
A FoxNews.com article asserted that "[t]he Obama administration is offering incentives to Kenya to approve a controversial new constitution that would legalize abortion for the first time." This was followed by Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft claiming that Obama is "accused of illegally funding a pro-abortion referendum in Kenya," using citing the highly biased LifeNews.com as his source. (Bonus: Hoft goes on to repeat the discredited claim that Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga is Obama's "cousin." Hadn't heard that one in a while.) Then, in a July 16 editorial, The Washington Times asserted that the new constitution "explicitly allows a 'trained health professional' to snuff the life of an unborn baby at any stage of a pregnancy."
As can be expected from this triumvirate, the story they are peddling is largely untrue.
The new Kenyan constitution does not legalize abortion, which is already illegal except to save the life of the mother. According to the Associated Press, what the new constitution does is allow a "trained health professional" to make the determination to allow an abortion when the life or health of the mother is endangered.
To argue that allowing a "trained health professional" to determine if a mother's life or health is sufficiently endangered is the same thing as legalizing elective abortion is absurd.
Overstating one's case in contradiction of the facts, as Fox News, Hoft, and the Times do, doesn't exactly instill confidence that anything these folks have to say is true.
Following the NAACP's resolution condemning "the Tea Party's continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements," right-wing media have gone on the defense, going so far as to claim there is "no evidence of racism within the movement." But the NAACP's charge of "racist elements" within the tea party is supported by allegations of racial epithets hurled at African-American congressmen and racially charged signs and slogans from various tea party protests.
Whenever I doubt that there is anything Fox News won't politicize, I am quickly proven wrong. Take, for example, the big scandal surrounding Wonder Woman's new comic book wardrobe that the right-wing cable outlet finds not sufficiently patriotic. I'm not kidding. Mediaite's Jon Bershad brings us the hilarious story:
Apparently the folks at DC Comics have given Wonder Woman a new costume that removes her star-covered hot pants. The reasoning behind the move apparently has to do with current tastes in the medium as well as the fact that it's the year 2010 and she was running around in freaking star-covered hot pants. However, Fox News is blaming another source: the creeping evil of GLOBALISM!
Holy sensationalism, Batman!
From Fox News:
"Wonder Woman may have finally been given a pair of pants, but has she been stripped of her patriotism?
The new and allegedly improved Wonder Woman (a.k.a Diana Prince), has been given a head-to-toe makeover by artist Jim Lee, replacing her signature American flag decorated briefs with skintight black pants and purging the super hero of all her trappings of Americana."
There are so many things to point out here: The fact that Wonder Woman is a Greek demi-goddess and not an American. The fact that she's changed her costume before including once wearing an all-white dress that completely lost the flag look. The fact that, unlike Superman, she was not created to uphold American values but instead to "bring the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality." The fact that she was also created so that her creator, a psychologist named William Moulton Marston, could indulge in his love of sadomasochism that he enjoyed in his polyamorous relationship (hence all the lasso bondage). The fact that Fox News is looking for signs of anti-American sentiment in Wonder Woman's costume!
UPDATE: True to form, Geekosystem's Susana Polo has a hilarious post about what Fox News should really attack Wonder Woman for.
Numerous media outlets seized on a dubious January London Sunday Times report which claimed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2007 statement on Amazon rain forests was "unsubstantiated" and without scientific basis in order to attack the IPCC's credibility and global warming science in general. However, The Sunday Times has now retracted that claim, noting, "In fact, the IPCC's Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence." Will these media outlets follow suit?
On the eve of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings, right-wing media pushed numerous myths and falsehoods regarding Kagan's nomination.
The following timeline of 24 hours of Fox News "journalism" demonstrates the networks' willingness to disregard the facts when faced with an opportunity to advance a damaging narrative about the Obama administration.
Yesterday morning, FoxNews.com reported Gabrielle Giffords' (D-AZ) claim that the Department of Education and the U.S. Border Patrol "have joined the 'boycott Arizona' trend and nixed conferences there out of concern over the state's immigration law." The article stated that "FoxNews.com is awaiting response from both agencies," and said "the cancellations ... may have been more out of a desire to steer clear of controversy than outright protest of the law." Nevertheless, the headline on the front page of FoxNews.com asserted as fact that "two federal agencies join the 'boycott Arizona' campaign":
Shortly thereafter, Fox News' America Live, one of Fox's purportedly "straight news" programs, did a segment about "reports now that two government agencies have recently cancelled events planned to happen in Arizona. These are the federal -- this is the federal government cancelling events now, raising questions about whether the feds are now engage in an effort to try to punish Arizona for its new immigration law," in the words of host Megyn Kelly.
The progression of Fox's wildly misleading reporting about the closure of a small strip of land in an Arizona wildlife refuge has been quite impressive. First, "straight news" anchor Shannon Bream reported on June 15 that a "massive stretch of Arizona [is] now off limits to Americans. Critics say the administration is, in effect, giving a major strip of the Southwest back to Mexico." On June 16, Fox Nation followed by promoting her report with the laughable headline "Obama Gives Back Major Strip of AZ to Mexico." (As we noted, the closed area is about five miles square, it's been closed since 2006, and it's, uh, still U.S. territory.) A FoxNews.com article from the same day at least managed to correctly report the fact that the land has been closed since 2006.
On the evening of June 16, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put out a statement attempting to clear up confusion surrounding the closure, which is in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Part of the statement said that while the closure had been implemented "due to human safety concerns," "since 2006 the Refuge has experienced a significant decline in violent activity in the area thanks to ongoing cooperation between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Customs and Border Protection." Sounds like good news.
So, how did Fox do on June 17?
FoxNews.com posted an article that incorporates quotes from the Fish and Wildlife statement. Headline?
FOXNews.com and WorldNetDaily reported Sen. Jeff Sessions' attack on Elena Kagan for a donation to Harvard from a Saudi prince that -- according to Sessions -- established a center for Sharia Law. In fact, the gift was given to Harvard University, not Harvard Law School, it did not establish a center for "Sharia Law," and the prince is a major shareholder of Fox News' parent News Corp.
Media are criticizing President Obama's address on the Gulf oil spill as lacking specifics. MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski described such criticism as "drivel" and argued that they would criticize his speech no matter what he says; indeed after past speeches and press conferences, the media attacked him for being too professorial, lecturing, boring, or arrogant.
From the May 19 edition of FoxNews.com's Freedom Watch:
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FoxNews.com reported yesterday that while President Obama issued a proclamation for the National Day of Prayer, "critics note that Obama, unlike his predecessors, has not held a traditional White House prayer service since he took office":
President Obama issued a proclamation last Friday as his Justice Department appeals a federal judge's ruling last month that the day of prayer is unconstitutional.
"Prayer has been a sustaining way for many Americans of diverse faiths to express their most cherished beliefs, and thus we have long deemed it fitting and proper to publicly recognize the importance of prayer on this day across the Nation," Obama said in the proclamation.
But critics note that Obama, unlike his predecessors, has not held a traditional White House prayer service since he took office.
"Every time I hear the president casually end a speech with 'God Bless America,' I wonder if he realizes that phrase is a prayer -- not another edict from Washington," said Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition.
"I can't remember a time when America was more in need of God's blessing, but the president doesn't see it," she said.
By "predecessors," FoxNews.com means George W. Bush. According to the Christian Post, Obama's decision not to hold a Prayer Day service at the White House marks a return "to the conventional practice of past administrations besides that of George W. Bush's." Similarly, Dan Gilgoff wrote in a US News & World Report blog post last year:
Historically speaking, the White House's decision to skip a formal event for the National Day of Prayer isn't too big a deal. So far as the National Day of Prayer Task Force can tell, no administration prior to George W. Bush regularly hosted an event to mark the day. But the Obama White House's decision has set many tongues wagging in the media, particularly the conservative and religious press.
After President Obama released a video message highlighting 2010 efforts to turn out the vote among minorities, right-wing media responded with inflammatory rhetoric, including claims that Obama is playing the "race card." Those media figures have ignored that Republicans have issued similar appeals to minority voters.