Numerous conservative media outlets are scamming their followers with paid promotions for dubious marijuana stocks. In one instance, a promoted stock had its trading temporarily halted and was part of an FBI-investigated pump-and-dump scheme. In another, fine print acknowledged the promoters had "a direct conflict of interest" that would "negatively" affect "your shares."
Erick Erickson's RedState, Dick Morris, Newsmax, Townhall, and Human Events have all recently pushed the shady investments.
Readers who took the financial advice would have made a bad call as the stocks have plummeted. For example, conservatives sent sponsored emails recommending a company called MediJane at an entry point of $0.85. The stock's closing price on December 2 was $0.03. Dick Morris sent a sponsored email promoting Cannabis-Rx, Inc. on April 14, when it was trading at around $1. The stock's closing price on December 2 was $0.17.
Politico recently reported that pot companies "are a new vehicle for stock scammers promising big returns," prompting federal and state agencies to investigate stock manipulations. Scrutiny is focusing "on pump-and-dump schemes, which involve attempts to inflate a company's share price and then sell, or dump, the stock before unsuspecting investors get wise to the scheme." The schemes are more likely to target "penny stocks," which the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) defines as "a very small company that trades at less than $5 per share." Penny stocks are traded over-the-counter instead of on formal exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange.
The SEC issued an investor alert in May warning that "fraudsters" are using penny pot stocks "to lure investors with the promise of high returns." It cautioned that red flags include "E-mail and fax spam recommending a stock" and "SEC trading suspensions" -- both characteristics of the conservative-promoted stocks.
These shady stock promotions are part of a larger trend of conservatives scamming their followers for profit. Fox Business host Charles Payne was paid to promote now virtually worthless penny stocks. Tobin Smith sent paid promotions for stocks that ended up tanking; he was eventually fired from his position at Fox News for the practice. And Fox News host Mike Huckabee sent sponsored emails touting Smith's recommendation of Gray Fox Petroleum (GFOX); GFOX's price has since tanked and is now trading at a near 52-week low.
Below is a look at two recent marijuana stocks that conservative media promoted to followers.
Conservative media are freaking out after Jay Leno canceled an upcoming gig at the gun industry's 2015 trade show, the National Shooting Sports Foundation's (NSSF) SHOT Show, calling the comedian a "coward" who has "no spine." The NSSF had responded to the deadly 2012 school shooting in the association's hometown of Newtown, CT, by opposing all proposed gun safety measures.
Republican and conservative media figures lauded a report from CBS' 60 Minutes on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, using it to advance their attacks on the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. But that report has since come under fire following the revelation that the piece's key Benghazi "eyewitness" had previously claimed he was nowhere near the compound on the night of the attack.
By all accounts, the Heritage Foundation study that would have been the conservative media's cudgel to defeat comprehensive immigration reform a second time is all but rotting in the ground, buried under accusations of anti-immigrant and race-based bias. Beyond losing all credibility, its conclusions that reform will total at least $6.3 trillion have been exposed as bogus by the most respected conservative groups and immigration experts.
In fact, the only people left willing to defend Heritage are part of an anti-immigrant movement that mainstream conservatives are reportedly trying to confine to the fringe. But that hasn't stopped right-wing media outlets from amplifying these voices in an effort to tank a bipartisan immigration proposal currently being debated in the Senate.
In a column published by WND and Human Events, Pat Buchanan defended Heritage and Jason Richwine, the co-author of the study whose writings that race and intelligence are genetically linked forced his resignation.
As The Washington Post reported, Richwine wrote in his Harvard doctoral dissertation that Latinos are undesirable as immigrants because, he argued, they have lower IQs than white Americans. Other controversial comments by Richwine surfaced, including his claim that "psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, and then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks."
After citing a series of examples he argued showed "greater 'underclass behavior' among Hispanics," Buchanan warned that by granting legal status to the country's population of undocumented immigrants -- most of whom are from Latin American countries -- "America in 2040 is going to look like Los Angeles today." He added: "America in 2040 will be a country with whites and Asians dominating the professions, and 100 million Hispanics concentrated in semiskilled work and manual labor."
In his criticism of the Heritage study, American Action Forum president and former Congressional Budget Office head Doug Holtz-Eakin explained to a congressional committee:
You have to be very careful about the assumptions you make. We know that the labor force participation of first-generation immigrants is higher than the native-born. If you go to the second generation where people often worry about the take-up of public programs -- there are more college degrees in the second-generation immigrants than the native-born. There are more advanced degrees, graduate degrees. There's higher rates of labor force participation among those. So it's not the case that program participation is higher than in the native born population on the whole.
Buchanan has repeatedly stated that the influx of undocumented immigrants is "not immigration" but "an invasion of the United States of America." He has warned that America is "committing suicide" while "Asian, African, And Latin American children come to inherit the estate." He once argued against immigration reform by citing the views of white nationalists.
This is the core group of people who have joined Buchanan in defense of Heritage and Richwine's scholarship. It is basically a "who's who" of the anti-immigrant extremist establishment that continually argues against non-white immigrants and groups:
Right-wing media are furthering attacks on possible Labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez by demonizing an immigrants' rights organization he was involved with. But CASA is a respected Latino advocacy organization whose work helping immigrants has won a multitude of awards for outstanding community service.
The Associated Press reported on March 9 that President Obama is likely to nominate Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, to serve as the next Labor secretary. His possible nomination has set off a series of attacks from right-wing media, including Fox News, which has accused him of working with "hardcore Islamist groups" and tried to discredit him by invoking the manufactured scandal over the Justice Department's New Black Panthers intimidation case.
In a syndicated column peppered with slurs such as "illegal alien," Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin attacked Perez by smearing CASA, the organization where Perez served first as a volunteer then as board president in 2002, as a "notorious illegal-alien advocacy group:
During the Clinton years, Perez worked at the Justice Department to establish a "Worker Exploitation Task Force" to enhance working conditions for ... illegal-alien workers. While holding down his government position, Perez volunteered for Casa de Maryland. This notorious illegal-alien advocacy group is funded through a combination of taxpayer-subsidized grants (totaling $5 million in 2010 alone from Maryland and local governments) and radical-liberal philanthropy, including billionaire George Soros's Open Society Institute.
That's in addition to more than $1 million showered on the group by freshly departed Venezuelan thug Hugo Chávez's regime-owned oil company, Citgo.
Malkin went on to claim that CASA "opposes enforcement of deportation orders, has protested post-9/11 coordination of local, state, and national criminal databases, and produced a 'know your rights' propaganda pamphlet for illegal aliens that depicted federal immigration agents as armed bullies making babies cry."
Conservative media outlets pushed at least eleven misleading attacks on President Obama's energy policies that have become talking points used by Mitt Romney's campaign. The conservative media bubble has largely prevented voters from hearing the facts about clean energy programs, fossil fuel production and environmental regulation under the Obama administration.
The Drudge Report, Human Events and the Weekly Standard are taking Vice President Joe Biden out of context, falsely suggesting that he said Obama and Biden want to raise taxes on average Americans by a trillion dollars. In fact, Biden was merely restating the administration's years-old policy of wanting to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire.
Right-wing media expressed outrage over the Obama campaign's use of flag imagery in a campaign poster. But this is not unique to the Obama campaign: a modified American flag was used as a banner for Abraham Lincoln's 1860 presidential campaign.
Conservative media are attempting to use a new paper by climate contrarian Anthony Watts to question the reliability of global temperature records. But the paper, which has not been peer-reviewed, only addresses surface temperature records in the continental U.S., which have been confirmed by satellite data.
Right-wing media outlets are seizing on a recent study to claim that ultraviolet (UV) emissions from compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) pose a threat to human health and may even cause skin cancer. But experts agree that under normal conditions CFLs are perfectly safe, and the study's author says that there is "no link" between CFLs and cancer.
A study published in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology measured the effect of CFLs at distances of 2.5, 7.5 and 35 centimeters (0.98 to 13.78 inches) away from skin cells and found that "the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation." It concluded that "it is best to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover."
The UV risk is easily eliminated by purchasing double-envelope CFLs, using a lampshade, or staying more than a foot away from an exposed bulb.
Nevertheless, conservative media outlets have exaggerated these findings to once again portray CFL bulbs as unsafe. During a Fox & Friends news brief on the study, Gretchen Carlson reported that CFLs "could be bad for people," and Brian Kilmeade exclaimed: "Goodbye epidermis!" And a Newsmax headline declared that "Energy-Saving Light Bulbs Can Cause Skin Cancer."
But Dr. Tatsiana Mironava, co-author of the study, told Media Matters that "there is no link in scientific literature between CFL exposure and cancer." And dermatologist Dr. Howard Brooks explained that CFLs emit "such a small amount" of UV rays that they "shouldn't be a risk." Dr. Brooks said that skin damage would only be a concern after "prolonged exposure," such as sitting directly underneath a desk lamp for an extended period of time.
CNN contributor Erick Erickson and other conservative media are claiming that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood praised Chinese authoritarianism because he said that the Chinese have been successful in building infrastructure. But these outlets cropped LaHood's comments to exclude his explicit praise of U.S. democracy.
In an interview with Foreign Policy Magazine, LaHood said that the "Chinese are more successful" at building infrastructure "because in their country, only three people make the decision. In our country, 3,000 people do, 3 million."
Erickson used those remarks to claim in a post at RedState that LaHood "has come out in favor of the Chicoms over Americans," and that the Obama administration is "rooting against us and for a murderous regime of despots." But Erickson ignored that LaHood added that the U.S. has "the best system of government anywhere on the planet," as Foreign Policy Magazine reported:
LaHood said that despite this, democracy is still preferable. "We have the best system of government anywhere on the planet. It is the best. Because the people have their say," he said.
Republicans in Congress are attempting to prevent the military from purchasing alternative fuels, which Senator Inhofe (R-OK) believes are merely "perpetrating President Obama's global warming fantasies and his war on affordable energy." And conservative media are backing the attacks on climate change and clean energy programs, suggesting that these investments come at the expense of national security. But experts across the political spectrum agree that climate change poses a serious threat to our national security, and that transitioning to alternative energy will enhance military effectiveness. Here are 15 current and former national security officials in their own words on the threat of climate change:
The Pentagon recognizes that our dependence on oil is problematic not only because of the threat of climate change, but also because of volatile oil prices and supply disruptions that can threaten the military's energy supply. It's Operational Energy Strategy states:
Conservative websites are claiming a new release of documents show that the "White House" gave "classified information" to filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal for their upcoming film about the Osama bin Laden raid. However, even the group that released those documents, Judicial Watch, does not claim that the "White House" gave Bigelow and Boal "classified information."
In a recent interview with MSNBC.com, scientist James Lovelock said that he was too "alarmist" in his previous statements about the consequences of global warming and he now appears to be overcorrecting in the opposite direction. While conservative media have used his reversal to question the scientific consensus on climate change, the truth is that Lovelock's views were never in line with mainstream climate science.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a large group of experts that synthesizes climate research into massive reports on the state of the science. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2009 that Lovelock, who is known for formulating the Gaia hypothesis in the 1960s, considered those reports "too optimistic, constrained by 'consensus' (a word that makes his teeth itch) and wedded to computer models." Climate experts, in turn, distanced themselves from Lovelock's doomsday rhetoric. The IPCC's chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, told Agence France-Presse in September 2009 that Lovelock's predictions were "highly improbable"; RealClimate.org, a blog written by climate scientists, noted in 2006 that Lovelock's claims weren't supported by scientific research.
AFP labeled Lovelock a "scientific black sheep." The London Independent said in 2006 that Lovelock was "going out on a limb" and that his claims were "far gloomier than any yet made by a scientist of comparable international standing." And The Washington Post reported in 2006 that "the warming that Lovelock fears will occur is far more dire than that projected by many other scientists," and that his "dire talk no doubt occasions much rolling of eyes in polite circles, particularly among scientists in the United States."
The Daily Mail is a British tabloid that has repeatedly misrepresented climate research. Naturally, it is also one of Fox News' chief sources on climate science.
Last week the Daily Mail ran a story headlined: "Is this finally proof we're NOT causing global warming? The whole of the Earth heated up in medieval times without human CO2 emissions, says new study." Fox Nation ran a Newsmax summary of the article under the headline "Study Refutes Manmade Warming."
The Daily Mail, along with Newsmax, Fox, and other conservative media, distorted the very research they are trumpeting. The study's lead author, Professor Zunli Lu, said his paper "has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets" and "does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend."
It is unfortunate that my research, "An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula," recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets.
Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2 emissions. We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study "throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming," completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.
Lu also told Peter Sinclair that "The reporter of that Daily Mail article published it anyway, after we told him the angle that he chose misrepresents our work." If this reflects poorly on the quality of journalism at the Daily Mail, what does it say about outlets like Fox who simply parrot the tabloid's inaccurate reports?