Fox's Sean Hannity and Matt Drudge are giving credence to people who have reacted to President Obama's reelection by petitioning the president to allow states to secede from the United States, something his position does not have the power to do.
In 2011, Obama established a mechanism for people to create and sign petitions on the White House website, and if any petition receives 25,000 or more signatures within 30 days, White House officials will respond to the petition. In the days following Obama's reelection, people have filed secession petitions for more than 40 states, and the Texas secession has garnered more than 90,000 signatures.
Obama, however, does not have the power to grant secession. In the 1868 case of Texas v. White, the Supreme Court addressed whether Texas had legally seceded from the United States during the Civil War and held that the Constitution created an indestructible and perpetual union: "The Constitution, in all of its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States. When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation." Law professor Michael Dorf has concluded that a state may need a super-majority in Congress or even a constitutional amendment in order to secede.
Nevertheless, Fox News host Sean Hannity gave credence to the secession movement, something he has done before. On the November 13 edition of his show, Hannity interviewed Daniel Miller, president of the pro-secession Texas Nationalist Movement. Miller was previously the president of the "Republic of Texas," and in that capacity was included in an Anti-Defamation League "Rogue's Gallery" of extremists.
While Hannity suggested that secession might not be the best solution, he did not suggest at any point that secession was not a serious alternative for those who oppose Obama. Indeed, Hannity asked Miller to "explain constitutionally ... where you see the right to" secede.
Miller told Hannity that the petition would not accomplish anything by itself because Obama won't grant secession, but stated that there were processes that could achieve secession. The Texas Nationalist Movement website attacks Texas v. White as an illegitimate decision.
Right-wing media are ignoring anti-fraud protections the Obama campaign has in place to allege that the Obama campaign accepted donations from someone impersonating Osama bin Laden.
Matt Drudge is hyping an article by World Net Daily's Aaron Klein who claimed that "Using a Pakistani Internet Protocol and proxy server, a disposable credit card and a fake address, 'Osama bin Laden' has successfully donated twice to Barack Obama's presidential re-election campaign.' "
Drudge linked to Klein's story under the headline "REPORT: Obama camapign [sic] takes money from 'Osama bin Laden' ":
In fact, the campaign has explained that it has anti-fraud protections in place to stop fake or illegal donations and that just because a fraudulent donation "may initially appear to a donor to have been accepted," such a donation will soon be rejected.
In response to another attempt to show that the Obama campaign is accepting illegal donations, the campaign explained its address verification process to Election Law Blog:
"If a billing address is verified via AVS, then the credit card contribution is processed without delay. Some transactions caught by AVS may initially appear to a donor to have been accepted even though this is not the case. Obama for America employs a manual process to review any transaction flagged by AVS, also taking into account other fraud risk factors, and using fraud detection services provided by our credit card processor.
"As an example, the contribution discussed here http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/04/dubious-donations-illustrated-illegal-contributor-edition.php may have initially appeared to have gone through when the donor completed the transaction at 10:18 a.m. but it was rejected at 4:51 p.m. under our standard fraud detection procedures.
"So any claims that Obama for America has disabled AVS are inaccurate; any question about this would have been answered-if the question had been asked."
Right-wing media are scrambling to politicize Hurricane Sandy, attacking media outlets for reporting that Obama has returned to the White House to monitor the response to the storm, which could affect 60 million Americans.
Several conservative media outlets -- including Fox & Friends, Fox Nation, and The Drudge Report -- humiliated themselves by hyping Romney surrogate and fundraiser Donald Trump's latest absurd publicity stunt. In a YouTube video, Trump offered $5 million to charity in exchange for President Obama's college and passport records.
Before the release of the video, Trump had claimed on Fox & Friends that he would reveal "something very, very big concerning the president of the United States." He later claimed "This is not a media event or about Donald J. Trump -- this is about the United States of America."
Trump has previously suggested that Mitt Romney release his past tax returns in exchange for Obama's college records. In the press release accompanying today's stunt, Trump did not make any reference to Romney's still-unreleased records.
In February, Trump recorded robocalls for Romney, then endorsed his candidacy. That was followed by a Romney fundraiser that offered dinner with Trump as a prize to donors. Just a few days ago, Trump was one of the designated "special guests" at a "Romney Victory Fall Retreat." Trump's executive vice president and special counsel Michael Cohen told Business Insider that Trump has given "millions" to SuperPACs supporting Romney's candidacy.
Despite Trump's long history of indulging in conspiracy theories, hyping nonsense and trafficking in classic hucksterism, conservative media dutifully promoted Trump's latest attempt at getting his name back in the news.
Conservative media figures are taking a partial quote from President Obama out of context in order to attack him as reacting callously to the deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel.
In an appearance taped today for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, President Obama was asked if communication between government personnel had failed to provide "the optimal response" to the Benghazi attacks. Obama replied in part: "If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal. We're going to fix it. All of it. And what happens, during the course of a presidency, is that the government is a big operation and any given time something screws up. And you make sure that you find out what's broken and you fix it."
Conservative media figures like Matt Drudge, Monica Crowley, Hugh Hewitt, Mary Katherine Ham,John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, Erick Erickson and outlets like Fox Nation all used early reports of Obama's comments to attack him, with several falsely suggesting that Obama had said the deaths of American personnel in Benghazi, and not the communications effort, was "not optimal."
Media figures are dismissing video from a 2007 Obama speech despite Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson hyping the video as damning evidence of racially-charged rhetoric. Even some conservatives agree that the video has little significance in the presidential race.
Fox News' Brian Kilmeade is not the person one would expect to knock down a disingenuous attack on President Obama. Indeed, Kilmeade is as enthusiastic a GOP shill as anyone else on his network and isn't exactly known for his piercing insight. And yet this morning he provided a concise and effective rebuttal to the Daily Caller's Drudge-hyped video of President Obama using "racially charged rhetoric" in a 2007 speech: whatever Obama said, noted Kilmeade, he hasn't "governed in a racist way."
Conservative media figures are embracing Romney's comments about the 47 percent of Americans that he says are "dependent upon government" and will vote for President Obama by default, following publication of a secret video recording by Mother Jones.
The Drudge Report has deceptively edited President Obama's words to falsely suggest that Obama proposed additional bailouts or government control of private industry at a campaign event today in Colorado. In fact, Obama was promoting proposals to keep jobs in the United States, rather than outsource them -- not advocating government funded bailouts. Drudge's actions are in line with a recent conservative media pattern of distorting Obama's quotes.
When Matt Drudge released his report yesterday that Condoleezza Rice was the new top contender for the GOP vice presidential nomination, pretty much everyone saw it for what it was -- an attempt to distract the press from the mounting controversy over Mitt Romney's departure date from Bain Capital. It was so transparent and so improbable that even conservatives like Erick Erickson, while appreciative of the intent, were calling it "silly." But it worked: major newspapers and the network morning shows jumped on the Drudge rumor.
This morning on Today, NBC correspondent Peter Alexander reported on the "new VP speculation" and said the Romney campaign and Drudge wanted to "switch the topic," but never explained specifically why they wanted the topic switched, noting simply that Romney was "forced to defend his business experience."
The Drudge Report continued the false right-wing narrative that Obama is hostile to Israel by claiming that President Obama hasn't visited Israel. In fact, as a presidential candidate, Obama visited Israel in 2008.
Since as far back as 2008, right-wing media have waged a years-long campaign to make the President seem out of step with or even hostile to Israel. These ludicrously false attacks have included claims that Obama and members of his administration are anti-Semitic, claims that Obama had sympathies toward terrorist groups, and claims that Obama would actually use military force against Israel.
However, the first headline posted by Drudge links to a New York Times story that reported:
Mr. Obama, too, came here as a presidential candidate, in July 2008 before his speech in Berlin. He met with Mr. Netanyahu -- then the leader of the opposition -- as well as Israel's prime minister, defense minister, Mr. Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. He visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and museum, and Sderot, the Israeli town near the border of the Gaza Strip that is the frequent target of missile attacks.
Though President Obama visited Israel as a candidate, it hasn't been unusual for a president to not make a trip to Israel during a first term. None of the previous three Republican presidents made trips to Israel at this point in their presidencies; neither Ronald Reagan nor George H.W. Bush made trips to Israel as president at all.
Right-wing media are highlighting a new Gallup poll that found only 34 percent of Americans correctly identified President Obama's religion as Christianity. These same right-wing media outlets have previously questioned the president's religious faith.
The Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel invented a conflict of interest to accuse former White House adviser David Axelrod of profiting from health care reform.
In an article highlighted by Matt Drudge, Strassel claimed Axelrod unethically received money from his former firm, AKPD, at the same time that the firm was producing ads on behalf of a coalition of labor and business that supported health care reform. Strassel wrote:
Rewind to 2009. The fight over ObamaCare is raging, and a few news outlets report that something looks ethically rotten in the White House. An outside group funded by industry is paying the former firm of senior presidential adviser David Axelrod to run ads in favor of the bill. That firm, AKPD Message and Media, still owes Mr. Axelrod money and employs his son.
The story quickly died, but emails recently released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee ought to resurrect it. The emails suggest the White House was intimately involved both in creating this lobby and hiring Mr. Axelrod's firm -- which is as big an ethical no-no as it gets.
Mr. Axelrod -- who left the White House last year -- started AKPD in 1985. The firm earned millions helping run Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. Mr. Axelrod moved to the White House in 2009 and agreed to have AKPD buy him out for $2 million. But AKPD chose to pay Mr. Axelrod in annual installments -- even as he worked in the West Wing. This agreement somehow passed muster with the Office of Government Ethics, though the situation at the very least should have walled off AKPD from working on White-House priorities.
The fact is that while Axelrod does receive a planned deferred compensation from AKPD, he did not ever receive money as a result of those ads.
According to Politico, Axelrod sold his stake in AKPD in 2008, long before the ads were commissioned. Rather than receive a lump-sum for the sale, he and the company elected for Axelrod to be paid in "preset annual installments." Politico also reported that a source familiar with AKPD's finances said the company did not need the revenue from the ads to pay Axelrod.
From Politico (emphasis added):
AKPD is now owned by a group of consultants who helped steer Obama's campaign, mostly while working at the firm, and ASK is owned Axelrod's former partners there. Both firms will pay his buyouts in preset annual installments starting at the end of this year, terms that were settled on prior to Axelrod's White House service.
Axelrod would have received the same amount of money from AKPD whether or not the ads ran. Or in other words, Strassel's attack is bunk.
Right-wing media are touting a study claiming the health care reform law will not lower the deficit, but rather increase it by more than $300 billion. In fact, economic experts dismissed the study by conservative analyst Charles Blahous, saying it uses "discredited arguments."
More than ever, birthers are having a hard time being taken seriously. Since the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate last April, the birther faithful have mostly hung their hats on trying to prove that the certificate released by the White House is a "forgery" based on things like smudged stamp ink.
Earlier this month, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio held a press conference announcing the findings of the "cold case posse" he had assembled to investigate the certificate and declared that there was reason to believe it is a forgery. Media coverage of the event took on an appropriately mocking tone, leading Arpaio to complain, "The media all came to make fun of me." Arpaio even labeled the media downplaying birther concerns to be a conspiracy "bigger than Watergate."
If birthers are frustrated that nobody takes them seriously, their latest big story, which is premised on stories told by Bill Ayers' parents' former postman (not a typo), is certainly not going to help matters.
In what is probably the biggest mail-related flop since Kevin Costner's The Postman, WorldNetDaily supersleuth and Where's The Birth Certificate? author Jerome Corsi is out with a new report today suggesting the Ayers family paid for "foreigner" Obama's education.
The allegations are based on Corsi's conversations with former USPS postman Allen Hulton, who says that he used to deliver mail to Bill Ayers' parents in a Chicago suburb in the late 80s and early 90s. This should prove to be rock-solid.