Conservative media figures, led by Rush Limbaugh, have continually distorted and exaggerated the content of Sandra Fluke's testimony before Democratic members of Congress.
They have gone so far afield of Fluke's actual testimony that it often appears as if they never actually watched or read it.
Here are some of the conservative claims about Fluke's testimony, along with what she actually said.
After relentlessly pushing the false claim that the so-called "Climategate" controversy showed climate scientists deceitfully manipulating data, conservative media are celebrating a Rasmussen Reports poll finding that a majority of Americans believe "some scientists" have likely "falsified research data" to support "their own theories and beliefs about global warming."
If you anchored an evening newscast and were reporting on a statement by the Senate majority leader, where would you look for a rejoinder?
If you were Bret Baier, you'd read the remark from Harry Reid and then quote a "slightly different take" from "one conservative blogger" -- the blogger in question being JammieWearingFool.
Here's Baier on Monday's Special Report:
Apart from the questionable cleverness of JammieWearingFool's response, Baier should have been more selective for a solid journalistic reason: JammieWearingFool is a bad source of information. He has a history of picking up hoaxes and presenting them as genuine. He treated a blog post about Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) spending time in a "mental hospital" as potentially real -- but the post was marked "satire." Likewise, he fell for another bit of satire about a global warming activist freezing to death in Antarctica. He also promoted the easily debunked line of attack that it was "[a]nother slap in the face to our veterans" for Obama to honor the troops on Memorial Day somewhere other than Arlington National Cemetery. (The past three Republican presidents have done the same.)
And then there was the time that he compared Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan's looks to those of a male former CNN reporter.
In a way, Baier's decision to quote JammieWearingFool makes sense, given Fox News' long history of harvesting phony stories and bankrupt lines of attack from right-wing bloggers -- the utterly discredited Jim Hoft quickly jumps to mind.
Numerous right-wing media have agreed with Rep. Joe Barton's (R-TX) claim that the BP escrow account fund designed to aid Gulf residents affected by the oil spill resulted from a White House "shakedown," despite the fact that the plan was "mutually agreed to" by both the administration and BP.
This morning, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Energy committee, apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for what he called the "$20 billion shakedown" of the company by the Obama administration. Huffington Post's Sam Stein reported:
"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) during a hearing on Thursday morning with BP's CEO Tony Hayward." I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown -- in this case a $20 billion shakedown -- with the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the American people, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, which has no legal standing, which I think sets a terrible precedent for our nation's future."
"I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize," Barton added. "I do not want to live in a county where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, [it is] subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown."
The "shakedown" that Barton referred to is the $20 billion escrow account negotiated between the Obama administration and BP to pay for damages resulting from the oil spill. Several members of the GOP have rushed to distance themselves from Barton's comments, with Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) actually calling for Barton to resign his committee post.
If you thought nobody could possibly defend Barton's apology to BP, then let me introduce you to the conservative blogosphere.
Noted hack Jim Hoft agreed with Barton, writing, "Of course it was a shakedown. It's the Chicago way." Hoft added "well said, Congressman." JammieWearingFool wrote: "Let's hear it for Rep. Joe Barton." Regarding White House press secretary Robert Gibbs' denunciation of Barton's comments, JWF wrote: "Aww, the poor babies can't handle the truth."
These defenses of Barton arrived on the heels of several conservative media figures leaping to BP's defense by claiming that Obama is "demonizing" the company.
As my colleague Oliver Willis remarked to me after Barton's apology: "Sorry, BP, that we got our dirty ocean water in your oil."
Now that Barton has apologized for his apology, it will be interesting to see how Hoft and JWF try to spin things. After all, JWF said Barton's words were "the truth," and Hoft declared that Barton's words were "well said" and specifically praised Barton's use of the term "shakedown." Per his apology, Barton disagrees that his words were "well said":
"I apologize for using the term 'shakedown' with regard to yesterday's actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP," Barton said.
Conservative media have attacked President Obama, claiming that his plans to attend a Memorial Day ceremony in Chicago while allowing Vice President Joe Biden to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery are disrespectful to the military. However, previous presidents -- including Ronald Reagan -- allowed others to lay the wreath at Arlington to honor fallen troops.
Right-wing media figures have responded to Elena Kagan's nomination to be the fourth female Supreme Court justice in history by attacking her physical appearance.
The right-wing media's tendency to believe anything that bolsters their worldview is well-documented. Last October, for example, they rushed to trumpet a blogger's entirely unsourced claim that President Obama attacked the Founders and the Constitution in his college thesis, only to end up looking extremely foolish once it became clear that the initial blog post that started the firestorm was tagged "Satire."
So you'll probably guess where I'm going when I mention that several right-wing news sources -- including Fox News -- today jumped on an EcoEnquirer.com report that "Famed global warming activist James Schneider and a journalist friend were both found frozen to death on Saturday, about 90 miles from South Pole Station."
Yup, EcoEnquirer.com is a satire site currently fronting "Breaking News" about the successful 2027 Bali global warming conference. Other EcoEnquirer.com stories include "U.S.-Canada Border Conflict Continues" and "EPA to Mandate Reductions in Emissions from Volcanoes."
The wall of shame is below the fold:
Conservative blogger JammieWearingFool, 2008 Weblog Award Winner for "Best Big Blog," today confirms that at least one-third of his name is accurate.
In a post titled "Was Alan Grayson Really a Mental Patient?" he excerpts at length and links to a post titled "Congressman Grayson Briefly Spent Time in Mental Hospital in 1980s" at the blog Right Handed Pitcher. The post alleges that Grayson "spent four days in the Psychiatric Institute of Washington," and that he "was extremely combative with fellow employees, including slapping a female intern in the face."
While JammieWearingFool is careful to add a question mark to his headline and couch his post in wishy-washy language like "take it for what it's worth," this is yet another case of conservative bloggers proving they lack even basic fact-checking skills.
While there are several things that probably should have given JammieWearingFool pause before he forwarded this story, one stands out above the others. The byline on The Right Handed Pitcher post is Matthew Avitabile. You may remember Matthew Avitabile from last Friday, when a hoax post about Obama's thesis with Avitabile's byline was picked up by Michael Ledeen, then Limbaugh, Dobbs, et. al. Back in January, Avitabile also fooled gullible conservatives with a bogus story about an Obama military oath. While I suppose it is unreasonable to expect every conservative blogger to keep up with the embarrassing failures of their compatriots on the right -- it's a lot to keep track of -- perhaps the "Satire" tag at the bottom of the Right Handed Pitcher post might have been a good tipoff.
We can probably look forward to another game of conservative telephone, where everyone cites each other making outrageous claims without anyone doing basic fact-checking.
The conservative media: where no story is too flimsy to run with.