Jonah Goldberg

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  • Right-Wing Media Use Wisconsin Primary Turnout To Dismiss Discriminatory Impact Of Voter ID Laws

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ, ALEX KAPLAN & DINA RADTKE

    Right-wing media figures are using the high April 5 voter turnout during the presidential primary in Wisconsin, which has a voter ID law, to dismiss concerns about the discriminatory impact of such laws. But experts say conclusions about the impact of voter ID laws cannot be drawn based only on high voter turnout, and several media outlets reported that the law did harm potential voters in the state's primary.

  • Jonah Goldberg Furious After Two National Review Colleagues Endorse Trump

    Right-Wing Economic Policy Darlings Larry Kudlow And Stephen Moore Are Regular Contributors To National Review

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Moore and Kudlow

    National Review senior editor Jonah Goldberg berated two right-wing economic policy figureheads -- Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow -- for what Goldberg saw as their abandonment of conservative principles by supporting Donald Trump's presidential candidacy. Both men have written extensively for National Review Online (NRO) promoting the conservative movement's economic agenda, with Kudlow acting as a contributing editor for the publication.

    The right-wing media civil war was on full display on March 9 when Goldberg attacked Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore and CNBC senior contributor Larry Kudlow for endorsing Trump, despite the Republican front-runner's lack of apparent conservative policy bona fides. Goldberg argued that Moore and Kudlow had abandoned conservative purity by endorsing "winning at any cost," and that Trump's policies are a "populist deformation of conservatism." Goldberg's decision to target Moore and Kudlow for their embrace of Trump is particularly interesting given how much the two men have contributed to National Review and National Review Online over the years.

    Moore's regular publication history with the outlet dates back to 2003, when he was an ardent champion of the Bush administration's tax cuts, and picked up steam in 2014 when he used NRO to promote Republican talking points on tax and regulatory policy, the federal budget and deficit, and the minimum wage. Kudlow's ties to the outlet where he serves as both a contributing editor (in print) and a columnist and economics editor (online) are even more extensive, dating to 1999.

    Goldberg may be targeting Moore and Kudlow for apostasy now, but they have been boosting Trump for some time now -- weeks in the case of Moore, and months for Kudlow. Moore praised Trump in a February 11 column for The American Spectator, suggesting he could "expand the Republican base to include independents and union Democratic voters" and claimed that "Trump is the anti-Obama in every way ... . Trump emanates love for America and pledged to 'make America great again.'" CNBC contributer James Pethokoukis also listed Moore as part of Trump's "council of wise men" on February 22. Goldberg wrote that Kudlow "has moved markedly in Trump's direction" on policy, and Kudlow also expressed his support for Trump's tax plan in September when it was released.

    In January, the National Review launched a conservative war on Trump with a dedicated "Against Trump" issue, referring to him as a "philosophically unmoored political opportunist." Goldberg's March 9 article berating Moore and Kudlow is just another barrage in the right-wing media civil war over Trump (emphasis added):

    In 2009, then-senator Jim DeMint declared he'd rather have 30 reliable conservatives in the Senate than 60 unreliable ones. Ted Cruz launched his presidential campaign on the premise that deviation from pure conservatism cost Republicans the 2012 election. The only way to win was to refuse to compromise and instead give voters a clear choice. Many of the right's most vocal ideological enforcers cheered him on.

    Until Trump started winning. Suddenly, the emphasis wasn't on winning through purer conservatism but on winning at any cost.

    Consider Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore. In August, the two legendarily libertarian-minded economists attacked Trump, focusing on what they called Trump's "Fortress America platform." His trade policies threaten the global economic order, they warned. "We can't help wondering whether the recent panic in world financial markets is in part a result of the Trump assault on free trade," they mused. As for Trump's immigration policies, they could "hardly be further from the Reagan vision of America as a 'shining city on a hill.'"

    Months later, as Trump rose in the polls, Kudlow and Moore joined the ranks of Trump's biggest boosters -- and not because Trump changed his views. On the contrary, Kudlow has moved markedly in Trump's direction. He now argues that the borders must be sealed and all visas canceled. He also thinks we have to crack down on China.

    [...]

    Instead of converting voters to conservatism, Trump is succeeding at converting conservatives to statism on everything from health care and entitlements to trade.

  • Right-Wing Media Panic Over Donald Trump's Front-Runner Status On Super Tuesday

    Right-Wing Media: If Trump Gets Nomination, "The GOP In Its Current Form Ends"

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Right-wing media figures lamented Donald Trump's primary success, after he won the majority of Republican primary contests on Super Tuesday. Their attacks against the front-runner follows a New York Times report on the formation of the "Our Principles" political action committee, a right wing PAC devoted to a "full-fledged campaign against Donald J. Trump."

  • Marco Rubio's Poor Shaming Comments Come Straight From Fox News' Talking Points

    Rubio On Policies To Alleviate Child Poverty: "Ultimately, There's No Law I Can Pass To Make People Better Parents"

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & CYDNEY HARGIS

    Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) blamed poverty on bad parents and a lack of strong family values during a CNN Republican presidential townhall, parroting Fox News' talking points and long history of poor-shaming.

  • Sorry Right-Wing Media, The Bork Comparison Doesn't Fit The Scalia Story

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Faced with the radical Republican proposal that President Obama abstain from filling Justice Antonin Scalia's vacancy on the Supreme Court, conservative commentators have been put in a difficult position of arguing the proposal isn't that unusual, even though what Republicans are demanding has never been done before in American history.

    So how do you pretend that something unprecedented is really rather common? Apparently you grab a bunch of apples and oranges and start treating them as the same.

    Specifically, more and more conservatives have decided that the current, Republican-made court controversy is like the time Judge Robert Bork was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, only to have the U.S. Senate vote down the confirmation.

    "Democrats have been blowing up the appointment process piecemeal since they turned Judge Robert Bork's last name into a verb back in 1987," wrote Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times, in a column about the fight over replacing Scalia.

    "Look at what the Democrats have done in poisoning the well, particularly on judicial nominations, stretching back to 1987 and the character assassination against Robert Bork," complained Townhall political editor Guy Benson on Fox News.

    Bork's confirmation battle was indeed unusually partisan, contentious, and left political scars that some Republicans are still nursing. (Being "Borked" became a verb in conservative circles.) But there's nothing remotely similar to the Bork nomination battle and the current obstructionist crisis over Scalia's death. The Bork battle revolved around a specific jurist. The Scalia battle revolves around the idea that the entire nominating process be shelved for at least a year.

    Distressingly, it's not just the right-wing media playing this game by conflating objection to a specific court nominee with the GOP's current objection to putting forward any nominee. On CBS This Morning, reporter Jan Crawford falsely accused Hillary Clinton of hypocrisy because she has criticized Republican obstructionism on filling the Scalia vacancy despite having voted against Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination when she was a senator.

    Of course those are two entirely separate circumstances. It's self-evident: Voting no on a Supreme Court nominee after full, public hearings is not the same thing as preemptively deciding to block any potential nominee.

    Yet the comparisons roll on. "In 2016, it's the Republican Senate that's threatening to Bork whoever President Obama wants. And they have every right to do so," wrote Tim Stanley in The Telegraph.

    "All of a sudden they think immediately approving Supreme Court nominations is some kind of solemn duty of the Senate? Where were these 'dishonoring the Constitution' lectures back when Democrats were dragging Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas into the town square and assassinating their character in front of the jeering hordes?" demanded Matt Walsh at The Blaze.

    Note how Walsh snuck in the idea that Democrats today are upset about Republicans not "immediately approving" Obama's next court nominee. Wrong. Democrats are upset Republicans won't acknowledge Obama's right to nominate anybody for the Supreme Court, a truly radical notion.

    Also trying to play the game of gotcha, Breitbart News looked back at the Bork controversy and announced, "It's useful to remember that one member of the Obama administration -- Vice President Joe Biden -- once had a very different opinion on the Senate's ability to block a president's nominee at all costs."

    More apples and oranges. Democrats never told Reagan don't send Congress a Supreme Court nominee because he or she won't be considered. Obviously, Democrats did consider the Bork nomination; he received an up-or-down vote.

    Yet the stubborn claim lives on that what Democrats did to Bork is just like the Republicans' planned approach to any Scalia replacement.

    And just how extreme was Bork's record? As NPR reported [emphasis added]:

    He wrote an article opposing the 1964 civil rights law that required hotels, restaurants and other businesses to serve people of all races.

    He opposed a 1965 Supreme Court decision that struck down a state law banning contraceptives for married couples. There is no right to privacy in the Constitution, Bork said.

    And he opposed Supreme Court decisions on gender equality, too.

    Meanwhile, as angry conservatives point to the Bork defeat as an example of partisanship run amok during the nominating process, it's important to note that six Republican senators crossed the aisle and voted against Bork's nomination. Among the six was Sen. John Warner (R-VA), who the New York Times described at the time as being "almost unfailingly loyal" to the Reagan White House

    In the end though, Warner announced: ''I searched the record. I looked at this distinguished jurist, and I cannot find in him the record of compassion, of sensitivity and understanding of the pleas of the people to enable him to sit on the highest Court of the land.''

    That's how far out of the mainstream Bork was as a jurist.

    If conservatives can put forward a common sense argument why Obama should ignore his constitutional obligation to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court, they ought to detail that argument. Because pretending today's crisis is just like the Bork battle only highlights the holes in the GOP proposal.

  • The Worst Islamophobia Of 2015 (VIDEO)

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC WUESTEWALD

    Fleeing from terror and indiscriminate violence in parts of the Middle East, millions of people have packed up and left their homes to start safer lives for themselves and their families elsewhere. But if you tuned into Fox News anytime in the last year, you'd think the refugees themselves -- many of them Muslim -- were responsible for the violence. In fact, painting Muslims as terrorists, radicals, and tacit supporters of ISIS, baseless demonization of Islam was the channel's modus operandi in 2015. And it wasn't just right-wing media. CNN also joined the smears, asking a Muslim human rights lawyer if he supports ISIS, questioning a Michigan mayor if she's afraid of her majority Muslim-American city council, and forcing responsibility for the recent attacks in Paris onto an innocent French Muslim.

    From berating a teenager for his interest in technology to inventing so-called "no-go zones," watch how the media fearmongered about Muslims in 2015:

    As Columbia Journalism Review explains in their annual list of the worst journalism in 2015, the media has a special responsibility to get these stories right and not perpetuate Islamophobia, as inaccurate and "reactionary coverage" can "influence policy makers to take drastic measures under the guise of popular fears."  

  • National Review's Jonah Goldberg Suggests Ben Carson Is "Even More Authentically African-American" Than Obama

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    National Review senior editor and Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg claimed that "one could argue" that Ben Carson is "even more authentically African-American than Barack Obama."

    In his October 30 National Review column, Goldberg invoked the two politicians' family backgrounds to justify his observation that Ben Carson may be "more authentically African-American" than Obama, pointing to the fact that "Obama's mother was white and he was raised in party by his white grandparents," while Carson "grew up in Detroit, the son of a very poor, very hard-working single mother":

    True enough; Carson has the highest favorables of any candidate in the GOP field.

    But what's remarkable is that at no point in this conversation [on MSNBC's Morning Joe] did anyone call attention to the fact that Carson is an African-American. Indeed, most analysis of Carson's popularity from pundits focuses on his likable personality and his sincere Christian faith. But it's intriguingly rare to hear people talk about the fact that he's black.

    One could argue that he's even more authentically African-American than Barack Obama, given that Obama's mother was white and he was raised in part by his white grandparents. In his autobiography, Obama writes at length about how he grew up outside the traditional African-American experience -- in Hawaii and Indonesia -- and how he consciously chose to adopt a black identity when he was in college.

    Meanwhile, Carson grew up in Detroit, the son of a very poor, very hard-working single mother. His tale of rising from poverty to become the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital is one of the most inspiring rags-to-riches stories of the last half-century. (Cuba Gooding Jr. played Carson in the movie about his life.) He was a towering figure in the black community in Baltimore and nationally -- at least, until he became a Republican politician.

    And that probably explains why his race seems to be such a non-issue for the media. The New York Times is even reluctant to refer to him as a doctor. The Federalist reports that Jill Biden, who has a doctorate in education, is three times more likely to be referred to as "Dr." in the Times as brain surgeon Carson. If the Times did that to a black Democrat, charges of racism would be thick in the air.

    [...]

    How strange it must be for people who comfort themselves with the slander that the GOP is a cult of organized racial hatred that the most popular politician among conservatives is a black man. Better to ignore the elephant in the room than account for such an inconvenient fact. The race card is just too valuable politically and psychologically for liberals who need to believe that their political opponents are evil.

    Carson's popularity isn't solely derived from his race, but it is a factor.

    Goldberg promoted his claim with this October 30 Tweet:

  • Media Return To Deriding Hillary Clinton's Laugh

    "The Cackle," "A Record Scratch," And Other Tired Attacks From The Debate

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Clinton and Sanders at the October 13 debate

    Multiple media figures derided Hillary Clinton's laugh during the first Democratic presidential debate, calling it a "cackle" and "a record scratch." During the 2008 presidential race, Clinton's laughter was repeatedly attacked, despite criticism that such attacks were rooted in sexism.

    During the October 13 CNN debate in Las Vegas, Clinton laughed after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders defended her from repeated questions about her use of private email by criticizing the media for fixating on the issue and saying, "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!" Clinton and Sanders shook hands as the crowd applauded.

    The moment has been described by several outlets as a highlight of the night.  

    But several media figures initially focused on Clinton's laugh. BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski tweeted, "oh god the Clinton laugh is out," while the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote, "THE CLINTON LAUGH," and Fox's Sean Hannity tweeted "Omg that laugh."

    Several conservative media figures took it further, calling it a "cackle":

    Attacking Clinton's laughter was a common theme during the Democratic primary before the 2008 election. In September 2007, after Clinton appeared on several Sunday political talk shows and laughed in response to some questions, media figures spent weeks debating and mocking her laughter. Fox News led the charge, with Bill O'Reilly even discussing Clinton's laughter with a "body language expert" who deemed it "evil," and Sean Hannity calling the laugh "frightening."

    The mainstream press picked up on the attacks on Clinton's laugh, with New York Times political reporter Patrick Healy writing an article with the headline "Laughing Matters in Clinton Campaign," in which he described Clinton's "hearty belly laugh" as "The Cackle," calling it "heavily caffeinated" and suggesting it may have been "programmed."

    Then-Politico reporter Ben Smith also described Clinton's laugh as her "signature cackle," while Politico correspondent Mike Allen and editor-in-chief John F. Harris wrote that Clinton's laugh "sounded like it was programmed by computer."

    And New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who has a long history of nasty attacks on Clinton, claimed Clinton's laugh was allowing her to look less like a "hellish housewife" and a "nag" and more like a "wag":

    As Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, once told me: "She's never going to get out of our faces. ... She's like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won't stop nagging you about it until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn president, just leave me alone."

    That's why Hillary is laughing a lot now, big belly laughs, in response to tough questions or comments, to soften her image as she confidently knocks her male opponents out of the way. From nag to wag.

    The list goes on: MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, then-MSNBC host David Shuster, then-MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, radio host Mike Rosen, Dick Morris, the Drudge Report, The Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi, Time magazine's Joe Klein, the New York Times' Frank Rich, CNN's Jeanne Moos, and others all debated or derided Clinton's laughter during Clinton's first run for president.

    Politico's Allen said on MSNBC during all of this that "'cackle' is a very sexist term," and disputed MSNBC's Chris Matthews' use of it in reference to Clinton. Other outlets agreed; Jezebel called out Matthews for his "cackle" criticism and other derisive remarks, asking, "can we agree that no matter what your political allegiances, this is not the way you speak of a woman -- whether she is a senator or not?" Rachel Sklar, writing in the Huffington Post, said at the time "I keep finding sexist Hillary Clinton bashing everywhere I turn," noting that criticisms of the candidate's laughter "turn completely on the fact that she's a woman. 'The Cackle?' So would never be applied to a man. We all know it."

    Unfortunately, the criticism hasn't stopped in the intervening seven years. The Washington Free Beacon has a "Hillary Laugh Button" permanently on its site. The National Journal published in June 2014, many months prior to Clinton declaring her second bid for president, a "Comprehensive Supercut of Hillary Clinton Laughing Awkwardly With Reporters." And conservative tweet-aggregator Twitchy in August mocked "scary as hell" pens which featured "Clinton's cackling head."