Following the release of reportedly stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, numerous right-wing media figures have attempted to undermine the case for action against global climate change by comparing the scientific consensus that human activity is driving global warming to a "cult." However, as the Union of Concerned Scientists has stated, the scientific understanding of climate change is "based on the work of thousands of scientists from hundreds of research institutions" and "[t]he e-mails provide no information that would affect" this understanding.
In a November 11 editorial, Investor's Business Daily claimed that Judge David Hamilton, nominee for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, is a "radical" judge. In addition to invoking Hamilton's views on "empathy" -- a favorite conservative attack -- the editorial misleadingly suggested that Hamilton discriminated against Christianity by banning the word "Jesus" from state legislature prayer, but allowing the word "Allah," and suggested that Hamilton is not qualified by citing his 1994 rating by the American Bar Association while ignoring Hamilton's current ABA rating of "well qualified."
An Investor's Business Daily editorial falsely claimed that Al Gore "still claims" hurricanes "are increasing in frequency and intensity" as a result of global warming and that "[w]hat has happened in the past three years is that such claims have been thoroughly debunked as the earth has cooled, possibly for decades hence." In fact, Gore has said that there is no consensus that warming is causing more frequent hurricanes, and the author of the study IBD claims has "debunked" predictions about the effect of warming on tropical cyclone (TC) intensity has stated that his findings "do not contradict the recent climate change/TC linkage literature."
In the wake of the Senate Finance Committee's October 13 passage of a health care reform bill, the fifth such bill passed out of congressional committees this year, numerous media figures have advanced the claim that the bill and the process of crafting health reform more generally was overly partisan, and have blamed Democrats. But these charges ignore the numerous Republican amendments included in both Senate health reform bills, and turn a blind eye to Republicans Senators' refusal to negotiate on health care reform in good faith and to their efforts to bring about, in the words of Sen. Jim DeMint, Obama's "Waterloo."
On the October 20 broadcast of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh advanced the false claim from an Investor's Business Daily editorial that New York Times environmental writer Andrew Revkin "proposed" instituting carbon credits for having fewer children, and then asked why, if Revkin "really thinks that humanity is destroying the planet," he doesn't "just go kill [him]self and help the planet by dying." In fact, in both the blog post and panel discussion to which the IBD editorial referred, Revkin specifically stated that he was engaging in a "thought experiment, not a proposal."
Numerous conservative media figures have seized on outdated Treasury Department memos obtained September 11 by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) to falsely suggest that the Obama administration estimates that cap-and-trade legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives would cost up to $200 billion per year or $1,761 per household, and that, in Sean Hannity's words, "they didn't tell you the truth." However, the Treasury memos do not address the current House climate change bill but, rather, a proposal that would auction 100 percent of the emissions allowances; the bill under consideration spends revenue created by the program to offset costs to households and businesses.
Reading Investor's Business Daily editorials can have something of a cathartic effect. After doggedly researching and fact-checking the dubiously nuanced claims of more sophisticated misinformers, it can be sometimes fun to take a (brief) dip into their troubled fantasy land where even the most fevered conspiracy theories can leap from the pages of FreeRepublic and get their brief, shining moment in the sun. Consider that IBD has implausibly claimed that the House health care bill would outlaw private insurance, absurdly claimed that Colombian terrorists had an inside line to President Obama's campaign, and outright racistly claimed that Obama would put the interests of his "tribe" ahead of national interests.
But, it turns out that IBD has a polling outfit that complements the partisan hackery on display in their editorials. According to the latest IBD/TIPP survey, "[t]wo of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted." This finding fits neatly with the conservative argument against health care reform, and runs contrary to just about every other poll of doctors, which show overwhelming support among physicians for health care reform.
As polling guru Nate Silver explains, the IBD poll is garbage:
[T]he Investors' Business Daily poll purporting to show widespread opposition to health care reform among doctors is simply not credible. There are five reasons why:
1. The survey was conducted by mail, which is unusual. The only other mail-based poll that I'm aware of is that conducted by the Columbus Dispatch, which was associated with an average error of about 7 percentage points -- the highest of any pollster that we tested.
2. At least one of the questions is blatantly biased: "Do you believe the government can cover 47 million more people and it will cost less money and th quality of care will be better?". Holy run-on-sentence, Batman? A pollster who asks a question like this one is not intending to be objective.
3. As we learned during the Presidntial campaign -- when, among other things, they had John McCain winning the youth vote 74-22 -- the IBD/TIPP polling operation has literally no idea what they're doing. I mean, literally none. For example, I don't trust IBD/TIPP to have competently selected anything resembling a random panel, which is harder to do than you'd think.
4. They say, somewhat ambiguously: "Responses are still coming in." This is also highly unorthodox. Professional pollsters generally do not report results before the survey period is compete.
5. There is virtually no disclosure about methodology. For example, IBD doesn't bother to define the term "practicing physician", which could mean almost anything. Nor do they explain how their randomization procedure worked, provide the entire question battery, or anything like that.
Silver concludes: "There are pollsters out there that have an agenda but are highly competent, and there are pollsters that are nonpartisan but not particularly skilled. Rarely, however, do you find the whole package: that special pollster which is both biased and inept. IBD/TIPP is one of the few exceptions."
The Drudge Report, a Heritage Foundation blog, and Rush Limbaugh all falsely claimed that President Obama, in Limbaugh's words, "admit[ted] he doesn't know" what's in the House health care bill. In fact, Obama said he was "not familiar" with opponents' false talking point that the bill will make individual private medical insurance illegal.
Investor's Business Daily falsely claimed that the House tri-committee health-care reform bill includes "a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal."
Conservative media figures have used the Supreme Court's decision in Ricci v. DeStefano to revisit smears that Sonia Sotomayor -- in the words of Rush Limbaugh -- "is racist."
Many media figures have dubbed President Obama's health care reform proposal "ObamaCare," reinventing the terms "HillaryCare" and "ClintonCare" that were used by opponents of the Clintons' reform proposal. In doing so, these media are often seeking to frame the debate in negative terms.
Bill Sammon, Gretchen Carlson, and Investors Business Daily each claimed that the stimulus bill is funding what Sammon described as a "guard rail to nowhere." However, the Army Corps of Engineers has said that the project is "not going forward."
Echoing Dick Cheney's recent speeches and media appearances, several conservative media figures and outlets have claimed that the Bush administration's policies with respect to the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay "kept us safe." In fact, there is substantial evidence that the opposite is true.
An Investor's Business Daily editorial stated, "Starting in the early 1990s," Rep. Barney Frank "(and other Democrats) stood athwart efforts by regulators, Congress and the White House to get the runaway housing market under control." It specified that "[i]n 2002, Frank nixed reforms" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and that in 2003, "led by Frank, Democrats stood as a bloc against any changes" that President Bush proposed making to Fannie and Freddie. But in 2002 and 2003, Republicans controlled the House and could have passed legislation regarding Fannie and Freddie in the House without the support of Frank or any other Democrats.
In criticizing a large-scale economic stimulus plan favored by President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, an Investor's Business Daily editorial echoed other media by citing the New Deal and Japan's "lost decade" as purported evidence that stimulus spending is "the least effective way to give the economy a boost." However, according to prominent economists, economic conditions in 1930s America and 1990s Japan were improving following major increases in stimulus spending -- trends that were reversed only when the respective governments decided to cut spending and raise taxes in an attempt to reduce the deficit.