There are few things that seem to dominate the front page of the Drudge Report more than attacks on climate change science and fearmongering about European-style laws coming to America. So it was no surprise today to see Drudge hyping a story out of the UK which claims that the European Union plans to "ban" cars from its cities - which Drudge, of course, touts as a sign of a "NEW WORLD ORDER."
Unsurprisingly, right-wing blogs quickly picked up the claim. Climate change skeptic Anthony Watts knocked the proposal, arguing that "it will [be] the EU that's banned by 2050, not the automobile." Meanwhile, the Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott asked, "How long before Big Green Environmentalists here demand the U.S. ban cars, too?"
The Telegraph story that Drudge links to reports that "cars will be banned from London and all other cities across Europe under a draconian EU masterplan." However, while the EU's strategy document does call for a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in its transportation sector, it does not banish all cars from urban areas.
What the European Commission white paper does propose is the "gradual phasing out of 'conventionally-fuelled' vehicles" -- defined as those "using non-hybrid, internal combustion engines" -- from major cities by 2050. From the paper:
Cities suffer most from congestion, poor air quality and noise exposure. Urban transport is responsible for about a quarter of CO2 emissions from transport, and 69% of road accidents occur in cities. The gradual phasing out of 'conventionally-fuelled' vehicles from the urban environment is a major contribution to significant reduction of oil dependence, greenhouse gas emissions and local air and noise pollution. It will have to be complemented by the development of appropriate fuelling/charging infrastructure for new vehicles.
Following the memorial service for the victims of the tragic shooting in Tucson, several in the right-wing media attacked and mocked the inclusion of a Native American blessing as part of the invocation.
In a November 24 Washington Examiner op-ed, Cheryl K. Chumley promotes the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, touting its "collaborative approach to investigative journalism" and how it hires "veteran reporters with traditional muckraking skills." But Chumley is eager for you to dismiss all the evidence that the Franklin Center is a conservative group.
After quoting Franklin Center chief Jason Stverak saying how his organization partners with others to generate its stories, Chumley writes:
The majority of these organizational partnerships are forged with nonprofits of conservative or free-market bent. But Stverak says dismissing Franklin Center as a "right-wing group news site" is no more justified than ignoring ProPublica as a "leftist" media outfit.
ProPublica was started in 2007 with financial backing from wealthy liberal activists like Herb and Marion Sandler. Stverak, a former North Dakota Republican Party executive, praises the group's 2010 Pulitzer Prize recognition.
Note that Chumley doesn't mention where the Franklin Center gets is financial backing. That's because it has refused to release such information. (Media Matters' Joe Strupp has reported how the Franklin Center is one of a new crop of conservative nonprofit journalism organizations that like to keep their funding sources hidden from the public.) Stverak told Washington Monthly -- which noted that such secrecy "is more than a little ironic given Franklin's obsession with transparency in government" -- that it was irrelevant because his organization's credibility hands on the quality of journalism it produces, not who funds it.
There have been questions about the quality of that journalism. Chumley touts as the Franklin Center's top scoop the story of "White House claims to have saved jobs in districts that didn't even exist," stating that it "generated national recognition for Franklin's venture into investigative reporting soon after its inception." But as Washington Monthly points out:
The only problem: the story was, at best, misleading. In a "fact check" feature on Watchdog's scoop, the Associated Press's Matt Apuzzo took the step that the Watchdog reporters had not: he checked to see what was happening to the money. As it turns out, the funds were going exactly where they were supposed to go, not vanishing into black holes as the Watchdog sites had implied. The problem was simply that a handful of the local government agencies and nonprofits that had received stimulus funds had mistyped the zip codes when they entered information about their projects into the federal database. In other words, all the fuss had been over a few stray typos. "[T]he 'phantom congressional districts' are being used as a phantom issue to suggest that stimulus money has been misspent," Apuzzo concluded.
Even Chumley's noting that the training prospective reporters receive "includes a Computer-Assisted Investigative Reporting boot camp taught by Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott, who is a Franklin advisory board member" is presented not as evidence of conservative bias -- the Examiner's editorial page under Tapscott is aggressively conservative -- but as evidence that journalists receive training. Never mind, of course, that the link Chumley provides to Tapscott's boot camp goes straight to the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Chumley quotes Stvernak saying, "We ask the tough questions. When we push our reporters, when we train them, we tell them, 'You are not a stenographer.' I believe in an aggressive and honest Fourth Estate." Unfortunately, by not challenging Sternak on his organization's funding and pretending that the group really isn't conservative despite all the evidence to the contrary, stenography is precisely the approach Chumley took in writing about the Franklin Center.
Washington Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott writes in an October 12 blog post: "Nobody knows with certainty how many illegal votes were cast in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections, but odds are the total was in the millions, thanks to systematic vote fraud campaigns by leftist groups such as ACORN and mis-guided laws that allow individuals to register and vote on the same day."
Tapscott, however, offers no evidence of "systematic vote fraud" that resulted in "illegal votes" numbering "in the millions" -- perhaps because it didn't happen. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2008, election experts say that voter registration issues that had been associated with ACORN rarely result in fraudulent votes being cast because false and duplicate registrations are typically weeded out. The Chronicle goes on to state that "it's virtually impossible to pull off large-scale voter fraud without being discovered."
Tapscott's reference to ACORN is nothing more than yet another invocation of a right-wing bogeyman that has become so played out that it was getting tossed around indiscriminately; The Wall Street Journal's John Fund, for instance, insisted that one purported case involved people who allegedly "associated in the past with Acorn" that "may have" been involved in "advising" people "on how to perform" voter fraud, citing unnamed "local politicos." Scaremongering aside, Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall has pointed out that any actual vote fraud cases allegedly involving ACORN have been isolated.
Tapscott's baseless claim came in service to promoting Pajamas Media's "Voter Fraud Watch." He touted how one prominent name linked to Pajamas Media's project is "J. Christian Adams, the courageous former Justice Department attorney who blew the whistle on the Obama administration's craven cave-in to Political Correctness and left-wing ideology in the New Black Panthers Case."
The supposed "legal expertise" Adams intends to provide to "Voter Fraud Watch" doesn't exactly enhance the credibility of Pajamas Media's little project.
From the April 28 edition of MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show:
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Since President Obama declared the H1N1 pandemic a national emergency on October 24, conservative media figures have accused the Obama administration of attempting to, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, "create panic and chaos" in order to "sell health care." These charges ignore the prevalence of the disease, which, along with the consequent need to "enable U.S. health care facilities to implement emergency operations plans," were factors Obama specifically cited when he declared the national emergency.
Terry Krepel, a senior web editor at Media Matters and founder and editor of ConWebWatch, has a great piece up at Huffington Post about how the Washington Examiner is driven by its right-wing tilt.
Here's just a taste:
In early February, Washington Examiner editor Stephen G. Smith gushed over his new chief political correspondent, Byron York, calling him "a prototype of the modern journalist, equally at home in print, on television and on the Web."
One word not uttered by Smith, however, was "conservative" -- as in the political orientation of York's former employer, the National Review. Indeed, York has regularly peddled conservative misinformation from his National Review perch.
York is one of the latest manifestations of the rightward skew of the Examiner, a free tabloid daily created four years ago when conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz took over a chain of suburban papers and refashioned them after the publication he owns in San Francisco -- an interesting move since Anschutz himself hasn't talked to the media in decades.
The Examiner has had a conservative skew from its inception, as exemplified by its early hiring of Bill Sammon, a former Washington Times staffer who penned several books laudatory of George W. Bush and his presidency even while serving as a White House correspondent. Sammon moved last year to Fox News, but he left no ideological vacuum behind.
Ostensible "news" positions at the Examiner have become increasingly stocked with opinion-minded right-wingers -- for instance, Matthew Sheffield, executive editor of the conservative blog NewsBusters, is managing editor of the Examiner's website, and Chris Stirewalt, who has been lauded for his "outspoken conservative perspective," is political editor.
Be sure to check out the entire piece.