After news reports of a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, right-wing media figures reacted by attacking Muslims, chastising calls for gun safety, and dismissing the prevalence of gun violence in the United States.
As House Republicans try to slash funding for research and development of new energy technologies, conservative figures who once proclaimed their support for such initiatives have been curiously silent.
Buoyed by Republican lawmakers, the House recently passed a spending bill that cuts funding for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the key federal program that invests in research and development of new energy technologies, by 81 percent. ARPA-E is a bipartisan Bush-era creation modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which spurred breakthroughs like the internet and stealth fighter. Now, even a midpoint reconciliation with the more generous Senate spending bill could leave funding for the program in tatters.
These cuts are an extreme departure from the rare interparty comity that has typically surrounded research and development for alternative energy. Indeed, conservative media figures have frequently embraced such efforts -- as opposed to programs that award loans to address the so-called "valley of death" between development and commercialization -- echoing the pro-ARPA-E views of free-market groups and some Republican leaders. Among the latter was former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who supported increasing funding. But with ARPA-E now in trouble, these figures appear tongue-tied.
Right-wing media have been pushing multiple dubious claims related to the recent revelation that the IRS used inappropriate criteria to scrutinize some conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. Media Matters has compiled five of the worst offenders.
Right-wing media are falsely claiming that excerpts of interviews with IRS employees prove that improper targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status originated from IRS supervisors in Washington, D.C. But House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa admitted on CNN that no such proof is contained in the excerpts.
Breitbart.com is in the midst of a hiring spree that promises to generate more pageviews and money for the publication while keeping its readers chasing Obama administration conspiracies for the next four years.
The publication is reportedly offering reporters from other right-wing outlets big salary increases and annual bonuses to sign four year contracts. It's no wonder that the website has money to spend; in at least one month this fall Breitbart.com passed its rivals to take the lead as the highest trafficked right-wing news site. Traffic drives ad sales, which, together with venture capital, has filled the publication's coffers.
What's significant is what Breitbart.com has done to build the traffic, and who they're planning on hiring with the resulting profits.
Breitbart.com was an important piece of the right-wing media bubble that kept conservatives blissfully unaware of major events during the 2012 election and focused on flawed efforts to "vet" President Obama. The publication fixated on efforts to reveal aspects of Obama's youth and college years, claiming that the media hadn't sufficiently put the president under the microscope in 2008 and set out to correct their failures.
Thus a major right-wing news site spent its resources during the last election running massive investigations into topics like the president's 20-year-old hug of a Harvard Law professor and the claims his literary agent made about his memoir in a 1991 pamphlet. Meanwhile, they worked overtime to try to discredit the vast weight of polling that suggested Obama was cruising to reelection. And shackled to their base, Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP's officeholders were taken along for the ride, latching on to the sorts of claims that made sense inside the right-wing bubble and nowhere else.
Woefully misleading their audience apparently brought in enough money for Breitbart.com to make fat offers to staffers at other right-wing media publications. And they're using it to bring in more "talent" that will keep the Breitbart.com gravy train running and their audience in the dark.
Matthew Boyle was the first to "enlist in Andrew Breitbart's army" in order to "go to war" against "leftwing outlets" like "The New York Times, Politico, [and] NBC News" after several years working at The Daily Caller. His December 2 announcement came less than 14 days after his previous employer had all but retracted one of his stories.
Fox News likes to promote the idea that President Obama is trying to buy votes through welfare benefits. Fox is now taking it a step further by explicitly pushing the claim that people who receive government benefits are the base of the Democratic Party.
On Your World, Townhall's Guy Benson discussed an effort in Massachusetts to send voter registration forms to people who receive government benefits, which the state is required to do as part of a legal settlement. Benson said, "If I were a lefty or a liberal, I'd want the same thing. Get the natural base of the Democrat Party, people who are reliant on government, get them out to the polls."
On Hannity, The Washington Times' Kerry Picket echoed Benson, claiming that the Massachusetts program was being used "to actually get the Democratic base vote out."
On The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly echoed a similar theme. Discussing a Fox News poll showing Obama favored by 49 percent of respondents, O'Reilly said that "included in that 49 percent have to be everybody getting welfare payments, because Romney's saying he's going to do away with all that."
But wasn't Ann Coulter saying just the other day that the Democratic base was "stupid single women"?
In response to requests from Republican-led states, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it will consider allowing states to create more efficient ways to report on the work requirement for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The conservative media have responded by falsely claiming that this is the "end of welfare reform" and that it "guts" the work requirement.
Since sexual harassment allegations against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain have emerged, right-wing media figures have blamed a wide range of people and entities for the story's emergence, from the "Democratic machine" to the "liberal media" and even "the left-wing nutjobs at Media Matters."
After Fox News' Chris Wallace dismissed an anonymous claim, reported by The Washington Times' Kerry Picket, that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was behind the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain, Picket is back at it again with help from the Fox Nation.
Today, Picket's targets are former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and his one-time chief of staff.
In a November 2 blog post, Picket reported a claim by an anonymous source that Emanuel likely leaked the story about sexual harassment allegations against Cain:
Herman Cain's campaign is revealing suspicions about who is behind the story regarding the former unidentified employees who accused Mr. Cain of sexual harassment in the late 1990's.
According to a source who is friends with the Cain campaign, not only is the Rick Perry campaign involved but also the Mayor of Chicago and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is likely involved with the sexual harassment accuser attacks. A friend of the Cain campaign believes a National Restaurant Association (NRA) employee out of the Chicago office leaked the story to the Perry campaign via information and influence from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.
When asked about Picket's report, Wallace said it "seems really thin." Wallace also suggested it doesn't make sense that Emanuel would leak the story, because it would not benefit Obama, whereas leaking it in "September or October of 2012" would. Nevertheless, right-wing media, including Fox, hyped the anonymously sourced claim about Emanuel to cast doubt on the allegations.
Picket, an editor and opinion blogger at the Times, has now tried to cast suspicion on Illinois Restaurant Association president Sheila O'Grady, who served as chief of staff to Daley until 2007. But Picket's innuendo seems just as thin now as it did before.
The conservative media is divided on anonymous sources: Some right-wing media figures have been hyping a claim by an anonymous source that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is "likely involved with the sexual harassment" allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. At the same time, however, other conservative media figures have tried to cast doubt on the sexual harassment allegations against Cain by pointing out that they are based on anonymous sources.
In a Washington Times piece, Kerry Picket criticized the Department of Justice for saying that its Civil Rights Division is "committed to ending bullying and harassment in schools" and for highlighting its "authority to enforce federal laws that protect students from discrimination and harassment at school because of their race, national origin, disability, religion, and sex, including harassment based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes."
Echoing The Washington Times piece, a National Review Online blog post also attacked the Justice Department's initiative on bullying.
What's wrong with the department's anti-bullying initiative? If harassment rises to the level of a civil rights violation, shouldn't the Department of Justice step in to do something about it?
Not according to Picket. Picket writes that there is a "catch" to what the Department of Justice is doing. It is only targeting some types of bullying, and not dealing with the scenario in which an "overweight straight white male who is verbally and/or physically harassed because of his size."
But here's the thing. If a person is harassed "because of his size," and his size alone, the Justice Department does not have the power to step in. And it's irrelevant whether the victim is straight, gay, or bisexual or white, Asian, black, or Native American. In this context, the Department of Justice enforces civil rights laws, and there is no current civil rights law dealing with discrimination on the basis of weight. On the other hand, if the white male were being bullied because of his race or gender, there may be a role for the Justice Department.
Perhaps law professor David Bernstein at the libertarian Volokh Conspiracy blog put it best: Picket's piece "seems like a cheap rhetorical trick-trying to insinuate that the administration has something against 'straight white males' when the administration is simply staying within the limits of its legal authority."
Right-wing blogs have seized on Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) claim that President Obama is refusing to "secure the border" in order to force the GOP to support comprehensive immigration reform -- a claim the White House has since flatly denied. Indeed, the Obama administration has already taken numerous steps to boost border security but argues that "truly securing the border will require a comprehensive solution," which is a view shared by immigration experts as well as several Republicans.
A February 15 post on Washington Times' Water Cooler blog, which was later highlighted by The Fox Nation, attacked Al Gore for "sticking to his guns" on climate change "[i]n the midst of heavy snow fall all over the United States and a recent admission from global warming advocate Phil Jones that there has been no warming since 1995." The Times also repeated the smear that apparently stolen emails from East Anglia University show that "scientists were covering up climate science."
The right-wing media have spent the year BEGGING for progressive leaders to call them Nazis.
Back in April, media conservatives freaked out over declassified Department of Homeland Security report detailing potential increases in right-wing extremism. Ignoring the possibility that the election of a black president could have an actual effect on the radicalism and recruitment of actual hate groups - like, for instance, the Klan - the Limbaughs and Hannitys of the world were convinced that the report was actually aimed at them.
Then in August, Nancy Pelosi commented that protestors are "carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care." Sure enough, swastikas and other Nazi icons had appeared on signs carried by those protestors, who were suggesting that the Democrats' health care reform plans were reminiscent of Hitler's Germany. But the right-wing was sure that Pelosi was talking about them, and had been calling the protestors or opponents of health care reform "Nazis."
Now, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is getting the same treatment. In a floor speech yesterday, Whitehouse criticized Senate Republicans' rampant obstructionism of health care reform efforts, specifically their refusal to support cloture on a defense appropriations bill in hopes of slowing down attempts to move to a vote on health care. Whitehouse stated that Senate Republicans were "desperate to break this president," adding "They have ardent supporters who are nearly hysterical at the very election of President Barack Obama. The birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Barack Obama should exist."
From Whitehouse's December 20 floor speech (about 115 minutes in):
The lowest of the low was the Republican vote against funding and supporting our troops in the field in a time of war. As a devise to stop health care, they tried to stop the appropriation of funds for our soldiers. There is no excuse for that. From that, there is no return. Every single Republican member was willing to vote against cloture for funding our troops, and they admitted it was a tactic to obstruct health care reform. The Secretary of Defense warned us all that a "no" vote would immediately create "a serious disruption in the worldwide activities of the Department of Defense," end quote, and yet every one of them was willing to vote "no."
Almost all of them did vote no. Some stayed away, but that's the same as "no" when you need 60 "yes" votes to proceed. Voting "no" and hiding from the vote are the same result. Those of us on the floor see it was clear. The three of them who did not cast their yes votes until all 60 Senate votes had been tallied and it was clear that the result was a foregone conclusion. And why? Why all this discord and discourtesy, all this unprecedented destructive action? All to break the momentum of our new young president.
They are desperate to break this president. They have ardent supporters who are nearly hysterical at the very election of President Barack Obama. The birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Barack Obama should exist. That is one powerful reason. It is not the only one.
Rather then assess the validity of Whitehouse's claims - do such people exist, and do they support Republcian senators? - the right-wing started screaming about how Whitehouse was accusing them all of membership in hate groups.
Washington Times blogger Kerry Picket got the ball rolling, providing Whitehouse's full comment but doing so under the headline, "Sen. Whitehouse: foes of health care bill are birthers, right-wing militias, aryan groups." RedState's Erick Erickson took over from there, claiming that Whitehouse said that "If you oppose health care deform, you are a racist, hate-spouting, Aryan who roots for the assassination of Barack Obama" and "labeled everyone opposed to the legislation as racist hatemongers rooting for bullets against the President." The claim spread through the right-wing blogosphere from there, and just made the jump to Lou Dobbs' radio show.
What seems oddest about the right-wing media's obsessive claims that progressives are calling them Nazis is the implication that comparing your political opponents to Hitler and company is out of bounds. If the right really believes that such comparisons are beyond the pale, maybe its time for them to stop informing us how much Obama and his politics remind them of Hitler.
The Washington Times is waging an anti-gay war on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, including penning eight editorials since late September specifically aimed at smearing and discrediting him. These editorials have used anti-gay rhetoric, falsehoods, and distortions to attack Jennings, including accusing him of "promoting homosexuality in schools" and falsely suggesting he "encouraged" the "statutory rape" of a "15-year-old high school sophomore."