Desperate to discredit a growing movement to hold Wall Street accountable for exploding income inequality, right-wing media figures have turned to trolling Craigslist.
For years, the Working Families Party has used the popular website to recruit canvassers to organize communities and engage in traditional grassroots lobbying -- often using hot button issues as a way to catch the eye of potential workers.
Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party, tells Media Matters:
This is a standard job description for our entry level canvass job. We hire canvassers year round to knock on doors and discuss our agenda with voters, including job creation, public financing of elections, reigning in Wall Street greed, and a lot more. And any one of our canvassers can tell you that these issues -- the same issues the Occupy Wall Street activists are trumpeting -- are resonating with the people they talk to at the doors.
Since late September, the Working Families Party has been tapping into the mounting anger at Wall Street to recruit workers.
Harry Siegel at The Village Voice explains:
The latest twist came today as bloggers took note of what to the uneducated eye appears to be a run-of-the-mill Craig's List ad of the sort that left-leaning groups like the WFP and NYPIRG have run for years, under some topical banner, to find kids willing to take low-paying, rather lousy canvassing jobs. The ad, for $300-$650-a-week "immediate hires," ran under the banner "FIGHT TO HOLD WALLSTREET ACCOUNTABLE NOW! MAKE A DIFFERNENCE GET PAID!" [sics all around]. It reminded me of the Voice classified that resulted in a miserable summer at 17 begging door-to-door for the Sierra Club.
EPA explained in a court brief that by phasing in greenhouse gas regulations and focusing on large sources of emissions, the agency avoids a scenario in which 230,000 new workers would be required. Somehow, the Daily Caller's Matthew Boyle concluded from this that "The EPA is asking taxpayers to fund up to 230,000 new government workers." Other conservative media outlets, including Fox News, repeated Boyle's false report.
Right-wing media are portraying President Obama's recently released jobs plan as being "all about tax hikes." In fact, more than half of the bill's cost comes from tax cuts for small businesses and extending the payroll tax cut for millions of Americans, which experts say will boost both employment and the economy.
Right-wing media have continued their long history of attacking President Obama's speeches by scrambling to criticize his September 8 address in which he proposed the American Jobs Act.
In an editorial blasting President Obama's green jobs initiatives, the New York Post falsely claimed that despite significant investments in clean energy, California's "environmental sector has actually lost jobs, not gained them":
[T]he Obama administration's entire green-jobs initiative has been a massive boondoggle.
As The New York Times reported last month, Obama's grand plan to create 5 million green jobs over 10 years has turned into an enormous "pipe dream."
In California, for example, the environmental sector has actually lost jobs, not gained them.
Which raises serious questions about this administration's ability to come up with any kind of plan that will productively address America's unemployment crisis.
In fact, those job losses refer only to the San Jose metro area, not to the state of California as a whole, which has gained almost 80,000 green jobs since 2003 - a 4.2% annual increase - and leads the nation in the number of clean economy jobs.
Those numbers come from a recent Brookings Institution report assessing green jobs nationally and regionally, which was the subject of the New York Times/Bay Citizen article cited by the New York Post editorial. The Times article has been criticized for cherry-picking information from the Brookings report to paint a misleadingly negative picture of green job growth.
After Fox News aired a doctored version of Teamsters president James Hoffa's Labor Day speech, the right-wing media pointed to the clearly edited video to accuse Hoffa of encouraging violence against conservatives. In fact, unaltered video -- video aired by Fox hours after the clearly edited version had been heavily promoted throughout the conservative media -- shows that Hoffa was encouraging the crowd to vote against Republicans in the 2012 election.
Right-wing media have seized on a 2008 video of then-candidate Barack Obama, in which he criticized President Bush for adding $4 trillion to the debt, to accuse Obama of hypocrisy because $4 trillion in debt has also accumulated since Obama took office. However, this ignores the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected $1.2 trillion in deficit before Obama took office -- based entirely on Bush's actions and economic conditions -- and that wars, policies, and the economic downturn that all began under Bush continue to inflate the debt.
Conservative pundits have attributed economic growth and job creation in Texas to the success of conservative policies like low taxes and small government. But government has played a significant role in Texas' recent economic record: Federal spending helped balance the state budget, and strict regulation helped shield it from the housing bubble.
"Has a central tenant [sic] of global warming just collapsed?" That's the first sentence of a July 29 Fox News article about a recent study which shows nothing of the sort, demonstrating just how broken climate change coverage is at news outlets like Fox, where scientific illiteracy meets political slant.
Last week, Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), one of the few climate scientists who think we don't need to worry much about global warming, published a paper purportedly challenging mainstream climate models that is both limited in scope and, by many accounts, flawed. After a Forbes column by James Taylor of the libertarian Heartland Institute misinterpreted the study and declared that it blows a "gaping hole in global warming alarmism," an avalanche of conservative media outlets, including Fox, followed suit:
Following McDonald's decision to offer "more nutritionally-balanced" Happy Meals and First Lady Michelle Obama's praise of its move, the right-wing media jumped to attack McDonald's for supposedly bending to the will of the "fat police" and making Happy Meals "less happy." However, numerous studies show that childhood obesity leads to significant health problems, and moreover, McDonald's reportedly made their decision in part so that parents could feel "less guilty" about buying their kids Happy Meals.
With the debt limit deadline approaching and deficit-reduction talks underway, right-wing media are parroting the old GOP talking point that the nation's deficit is a "spending problem, not a revenue problem." But numerous economic experts have said that decreased revenue is a major cause of the deficit.
After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, many right-wing bloggers criticized the decision or downplayed its significance. But one of the judges who voted to uphold the statute was Jeffrey Sutton, an appointee of President George W. Bush who was such a proponent of states' rights during his legal career that he once proclaimed that he became involved in states' rights issues because "I really believe in this federalism stuff."
Media Matters has long noted that the right-wing media is unparalleled in its willingness to throw its weight behind entirely fabricated conspiracies and fake stories. In their world, the Shirley Sherrod controversy was "orchestrated" by the White House to "smear" Andrew Breitbart; the Obama administration deliberately ignored the BP oil spill in order to stop future drilling; and President Obama secretly skipped his daughter's soccer team in order to do... something.
So it should come as no surprise that the right-wing media have turned a controversial program from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) into an elaborate conspiracy directed from the highest reaches of government intended to bolster the case for gun control legislation - even as they acknowledge there is no evidence for this claim.
Last week, the House Oversight Committee held two hearings into the ATF's Project Gunrunner, a division that seeks to halt the flow of firearms to Mexico, and a controversial initiative it began in 2009 called Operation Fast and Furious. According to the committee's report, under Fast and Furious, ATF knowingly allowed guns to be trafficked across the border to Mexico in order to "identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case." Reports indicate that the program may lead to acting ATF director Kenneth Melson's replacement.
But rather than stick to the facts, the right wing has again created an alternate reality. Spokesmen for the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America have used Fox News appearances to declare that what actually happened was a clever plot involving Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder aimed at creating a "river of guns" flowing into Mexico to create "political advantage" and "set the stage for more gun restrictions on the law abiding people in this country."
The right-wing blogosphere has since jumped on the story, but apparently aware of just how far-out all this sounds, they have generally couched the theory in a series of questions or even outward admissions that they have no evidence to support it.
Take Bob Owens, a Pajamas Media blogger who has previously openly discussed armed revolution and written that he hopes that makes Media Matters researchers "feel threatened." This week, Owens has written two articles speculating about whether Fast and Furious was "never designed to succeed as a law enforcement operation at all" and was instead "a PR op for gun control."
In his second piece, Owens writes, "We admittedly do not have any direct evidence of this allegation." That's generally where responsible people decide not to further comment until and unless they actually amass some sort of evidence. But Owens can't do that, you see, because the "circumstantial case... has proven strong enough to have few detractors and raises questions that must be answered."
Several right-wing media figures and outlets have attacked Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for accurately saying that President Obama "began to turn the economy around."
Media conservatives have found yet another excuse to push the myth that President Obama's economic policies have failed to increase employment, this time pointing to Obama's unremarkable observation that eliminating unnecessary regulations might speed up business activity and help create jobs. Economists have said that Obama's economic policies have boosted employment and raised gross domestic product.