Conservative media outlets promoted an anonymously sourced claim published by U.S. News & World Report that an aide to Hillary Clinton circulated an attack on former Senator Jim Webb. Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill flatly denied the report, telling Media Matters it was "pure fabrication."
In a story discussing Webb's possible run for the presidency, U.S. News & World Report's David Catanese claimed that "Clinton loyalists are keeping an eye" on Webb as a potential rival for the Democratic nomination. As evidence, Catanese wrote that "the week before Thanksgiving, staffers of Philippe Reines, Clinton's longtime communications guru, pitched talk radio producers on the racy, sexually charged writings in Webb's novels, according to a source."
In a comment to Media Matters, Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill flatly denied the claim: "There is nothing true about this, it's pure fabrication, and if the reporter who wrote the story would have bothered to ask before printing it, we would have told him that."
Catanese doubled down on his claim in a follow-up report, writing that "of course, the Clinton team is denying Reines' underlings floated the material in the first place" and publishing Merrill's statement that the claim was "an unmitigated lie," before adding, "Our source, granted anonymity, stands by the account."
Several conservative media outlets ran with the anonymous U.S. News report, using it to attack Clinton's character.
The Drudge Report's headline linking to the report said "Team Clinton Already Dishing Oppo on Jim Webb."
New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin called the report evidence that Hillary Clinton was "trying to dirty up Jim Webb," and added, "Mud first, that's Hillary."
National Review's Jim Geraghty asked, "Why on earth would the Hillary team go after Jim Webb this early?" adding, "What is this, some form of mudslinging pregame stretching?"
At HotAir, conservative blogger Ed Morrisey said the story was evidence of "Clintonistas using a kitchen-sink strategy" which "sends a message to other Democrats who might dare to intrude on Coronation II: Hillary's Boogaloo."
American Conservative's James Carden said that "Clinton's team is seemingly alive to the danger a Webb candidacy poses" because of the report that "longtime Clinton henchman Philippe Reines had been pitching talk radio producers unflattering stories about Webb." Carden wrote that the incident "should raise additional questions about the former Secretary's powers of discernment, particularly when it comes to the character of some of her closest advisers."
National Review Online contributing editor Jim Geraghty suggested that President Obama "set the tone" for high profile leadership scandals including disgraced NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and embattled General Motors CEO Mary Barra who he claimed were influenced by Obama's alleged lack of "accountability."
Geraghty's September 22 National Review Online blog highlighted a number of recent scandals involving "leaders of large organizations" and compared their missteps to the purported example set by Obama, "the unaccountable leader." Geraghty asked, "Does our president just reflect a broad cultural trend in the behavior of leaders, or does he set the tone from the top?" He continued:
Consider some recent examples of leaders of large organizations with important responsibilities, once they find themselves in the public eye:
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told CBS This Morning he never saw the second tape of Rice striking his wife before Monday. He said, "when we make a decision we want to have all the information that's available. When we met with Ray Rice and his representatives it was ambiguous about what actually happened." Friday afternoon, he announced the league would be making a new effort in dealing with unacceptable player conduct... by forming a special committee.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra, whose company has recalled of 2.6 million cars with defective ignition switches. The faulty parts have been linked to at least 13 deaths and 54 accidents since 2009 and have led to numerous lawsuits. She said, "I don't really think there was a cover up. I think what we had, and it was covered in the report, there were silos of information, so people had bits and pieces and didn't come forward with the information or didn't act with a sense of urgency, and it simply was unacceptable."
These are all private sector scandals, of course. Every administration and every era has its scandals. What our current moment seems to feature is a bumper crop of (alleged) leaders insisting they can wait out he storm, often displaying a glimpse of indignation at suggestions that they resign because something terrible happened on their watch. Somehow tapes of criminal behavior never reach the folks at the top, nor reports of a defect in ignition switches.
Everybody's got rogue low-level staffers in Cincinnati, it seems.
The message has been sent, far and wide: Accountability is for suckers.
Right-wing media figures continue to misleadingly link Obama to unrelated scandals in order to attack his presidency. Not only have conservatives falsely accused Obama of attempting to help GM cover-up its ignition defect, they have baselessly linked the NFL domestic abuse scandal with the terror attacks in Benghazi, falsely suggesting the Obama administration was insufficiently transparent about the September 2012 attacks.
Conservative media are suggesting that the Obama administration is "working with foreigners to subvert the Constitution" by seeking a climate agreement with other nations without Senate approval, but legal experts agree that because it is not expected to be legally binding, the accord does not require Senate ratification.
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.
From the May 2 edition of NRA News' Cam & Company:
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Conservative media figures attacked debate questioner Katherine Fenton as a "feminazi" and "tool" for asking the candidates about their views on pay inequity.
Fenton asked, "In what new ways do you intend to rectify inequalities in the workplace? Specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn."
Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other conservative outlets are falsely claiming that President Obama, while discussing his own economic policies, said "we tried our plan -- and it worked." This quote has been taken out of context and distorted. Obama was referring to economic policies during the Clinton administration that taxed high income earners at a higher rate than they are currently charged. When Obama said "it worked," he was referring to low unemployment and strong economic growth when these rates were higher. Obama has advocated a return to Clinton-era tax rates for high income earners.
Slate's Dave Weigel, who described conservatives' editing of Obama's comments as "insanely misleading," points to Obama's full quote:
OBAMA: I'm running because I believe you can't reduce the deficit -- which is a serious problem, we've got to deal with it -- but we can't reduce it without asking folks like me who have been incredibly blessed to give up the tax cuts that we've been getting for a decade. (Applause.) I'll cut out government spending that's not working, that we can't afford, but I'm also going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, back when our economy created 23 million new jobs -- (applause) -- the biggest budget surplus in history and everybody did well.
Just like we've tried their plan, we tried our plan -- and it worked. That's the difference. (Applause.) That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term.
In order to argue that Obama is out of touch on economic issues -- a message that is nearly identical to the one pushed by Romney's campaign -- conservative media figures have spent the week removing all of the context from Obama's comments and juxtaposing them with the current high unemployment rate.
Conservative pundit Jim Geraghty is deflecting attention from Mitt Romney's weak job creation record as governor of Massachusetts, pointing to overall unemployment trends at the time. But that statistic, which one economist has argued is a "false indicator," doesn't change the fact that during Romney's tenure, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of all states in job creation.
Rush Limbaugh accused President Obama of lying about government job losses and, citing a blog post by National Review's Jim Geraghty, claimed that "government employment is actually increasing." In fact, seasonally-adjusted job numbers show that the public sector has been cutting massive amounts jobs, a point Geraghty was forced to acknowledge when he updated the post.
The conservative media are suggesting that former President Bush deserves more credit than President Obama for the death of Osama bin Laden. This is in stark contrast to their usual attacks that Obama is responsible for things that are happening during his presidency, including those tied to Bush-era policies like the Gulf oil spill, the weak economy, and the nation's deficit problems.
Responding to President Obama's budget speech, right-wing media have complained that Obama "blame[d] Bush" for the nation's deficit problems. In fact, Obama is right: Experts agree that President Bush's policies, along with the economic downturn, are largely to blame for the growing deficit.
The right-wing media have seized on an eight-second video clip of Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) to claim he called the Constitution "silly." In fact, McDermott was criticizing Republicans for not focusing on "job creation" in favor of doing "silly" things like reading the Constitution on the House floor.
Yesterday, news broke that a bomb "capable of inflicting multiple casualties" was found along a Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane, Washington. The FBI has described bomb as a case of "domestic terrorism."
Today, CNN's Erick Erickson and National Review's Jim Geraghty had the following Twitter exchange:
Erickson has previously spoken of pulling shotguns on government officials and beating state legislators to a "bloody pulp for being an idiot"and written that "metaphorically speaking," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner should get "punched in the face."
In other Erickson news, CNN has chosen him to provide "insight and analysis" for its State of the Union coverage.
Interestingly, on last night's edition of CNN's John King, USA, King apologized for a guest's use of the word "crosshairs":
Before we go to break, I want to make a quick point. We were just having a discussion about the Chicago mayoral race, just a moment ago. My friend Andy Shaw, who now works for a good government group out there, used the term "in the crosshairs" in talking about the candidates out there. We're trying-we're trying to get away from that language. Andy is a good friend, he's covered politics for a long time, but we're trying to get away from using that kind of language. We won't always be perfect. So hold us accountable when we don't meet your standards.
So, when a CNN guest uses the term "in the crosshairs" to describe political targeting, King apologizes to his audience and says "we're trying to get away from that language." And, at the same time, CNN gives a contributor who routinely uses far more graphically violent rhetoric a plum gig analyzing the State of the Union. And remember: Last week, King hosted Erickson for a discussion of inflammatory rhetoric, and adopted Erickson's criticisms of liberals' rhetoric without ever asking Erickson about his own track record.
In a recent profile in the Weekly Standard, Mississippi Gov. Harley Barbour (R) heaped praise on the white supremacist Citizens Councils for its role in barring KKK activity in his hometown of Yazoo City. After significant criticism, Barbour later stated that "the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation."
However, following the Weekly Standard piece, right-wing media rushed to Barbour's defense, dismissing his remarks as innocent nostalgia and decrying a left-wing smear campaign. For instance, Hot Air's AllahPundit asserted that "maybe [Barbour] was simply naïve about" the Citizens Councils' purpose.
In addition, linking to a National Review Online post defending Barbour, Fox Nation posted the headline "Haley Barbour Fends off Left-Wing Racial Smears with Ease."
Following the debate between Delaware senatorial candidates Christine O'Donnell and Chris Coons, conservative media have rushed to paint the moderators as biased, either by providing no evidence or by pointing to a question that is commonly asked in debates, as proof of bias.