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Conservative pundits are bickering over Donald Trump's campaign, especially after National Review's "Against Trump" issue and the backlash it engendered. On one side are pundits who want to stop Trump's candidacy in its tracks. On the other are conservatives who are lauding Trump's candidacy, even if they have not officially endorsed him. Media Matters breaks down exactly who is on which side (click for the full-sized image):
If the annual Conservative Political Action Conference is any indication, conservative media won't be abandoning their scandal-mongering about the 2012 attacks in Benghazi any time soon. Though conservatives' conspiracies about the assault on U.S. diplomatic facilities have fallen apart under scrutiny, many CPAC attendees are upset with mainstream outlets for not being aggressive enough on the story.
"I would say the media isn't pursuing information about Benghazi enough, including FOIAs, trying to interview people who ... the government doesn't want interviewed and has discouraged from being interviewed and not in general doing due diligence," said John Fund, a conservative columnist at National Review. "I would compare the lack of follow through unfavorably to scandals such as Abu Ghraib and even Guantanamo."
Larry O'Connor, editor of Breitbart.com, offered a similar view when asked if Benghazi is being covered enough. "I see stories from Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News and Bret Baier's Special Report that I don't see other outlets covering."
Mainstream outlets have devoted significant coverage to the Benghazi story, if not always in the manner that those pushing the scandal would prefer. In December, The New York Times published an exhaustive six-part series on Benghazi which debunked several myths propagated by the conservative media. The fact-finding out of Congress also hasn't backed the scandal narrative; in January, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a bipartisan report stating that there was no attempt by the Obama administration to cover up the attacks and pointing out that no "stand down" order was given to the military.
Those facts aren't stopping the conservative media.
"We have still not gotten a great answer as to why the military did not respond when one of our embassies is attacked," said John Solomon, editor of The Washington Times. Regardless of what Solomon considers a "great answer," the various aspects of the military response the night of the attacks have been widely detailed.
TownHall.com editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich largely blamed the administration for reporters' difficulties covering the story, saying, "It is difficult for reporters to cover an issue when the government is not giving answers."
Support for more Benghazi investigations did not only come from media figures at CPAC. With former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton receiving massive attention over her potential run for the White House in 2016, conservatives clearly see Benghazi as a way to damage her possible candidacy.
During a speech, Sen. Mitch McConnell claimed media were "trying to fix Benghazi for Hillary" by not repeating the right-wing myths about the attacks.
There was also a Breitbart News-sponsored panel just a block away from the CPAC venue where participants claimed a cover-up exists, but offered few specifics.
Conservative commentator Michael Medved declared at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that it was a "liberal lie" that a state has ever banned same-sex marriage.
During a March 7 CPAC panel titled "Can Libertarians and Social Conservatives Ever Get Along?" Medved denied that gay couples have encountered state-sponsored discrimination. "There has never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage," Medved said:
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In a radio appearance on Monday, Mike Huckabee attacked actress Natalie Portman for having a child "out of wedlock." Huckabee said that it's "troubling" to see people like "Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, 'Hey look, you know, we're having children, we're not married, but we're having these children, and they're doing just fine.'" Huckabee added that "it's unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock."
Huckabee's remarks came in response to radio host Michael Medved, who discussed Portman's Academy Awards speech last Sunday. During her speech, Portman thanked fiancé Benjamin Millepied, "who choreographed the film, and has now given me my most important role of my life." Medved said that Millepied "didn't give her the most wonderful gift, which would be a wedding ring! And it just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic."
From the February 28 edition of Salem Radio's The Michael Medved Show:
MEDVED: Governor, I know you probably are out on book tour right now, you probably didn't have a chance to watch the Academy Awards last night?
HUCKABEE: I'm very happy to say that I missed it because usually it's about the most boring waste of several hours that I've ever experienced.
MEDVED: Well this was a - this was a low audience. However, there was - there was one moment where a very brilliant and admirable actress named Natalie Portman won Best Actress, and she won for a movie which I loathed called Black Swan. But in any event, she got up, she was very visibly pregnant, and it's really it's a problem because she's about seven months pregnant, it's her first pregnancy, and she and the baby's father aren't married, and before two billion people, Natalie Portman says, 'Oh I want to thank my love and he's given me the most wonderful gift.' He didn't give her the most wonderful gift, which would be a wedding ring! And it just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic.
HUCKABEE: You know Michael, one of the things that's troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, 'Hey look, you know, we're having children, we're not married, but we're having these children, and they're doing just fine.' But there aren't really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers, and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can't get a job, and if it weren't for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that's the story that we're not seeing, and it's unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.
You know, right now, 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock. 61 percent of Hispanic kids -- across the board, 41 percent of all live births in America are out of wedlock births. And the cost of that is simply staggering.
MEDVED: It's tremendously staggering.
Huckabee is a host for the Fox News Channel, and a potential presidential candidate. Portman's Black Swan is distributed by News Corp.'s Fox Searchlight.
In the early 1990s, then-Vice President Dan Quayle "ignited a firestorm of controversy when he criticized Murphy Brown, the powerful, intelligent character in an eponymous sitcom, for having a child out of wedlock -- and without any father in the picture whatsoever."
As Media Matters noted, conservative radio host Michael Medved penned a must-read opinion column in today's Wall Street Journal in which he eviscerates right-wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin for pushing the noxious notion that Obama is purposefully weakening and destroying America; that he's some sort of black Manchurian Candidate fixated on stripping us of our freedoms.
They label Mr. Obama as the political equivalent of a suicide bomber: so overcome with hatred (or "rage") that he's perfectly willing to blow himself up in order to inflict casualties on a society he loathes.
Noting the absurdity of the claim, not to mention its offensiveness, Medved makes the excellent point that the Obama Derangement Syndrome strategy is a sure-fire loser if the ultimate goal is to block the president's re-election next year:
Republicans already face a formidable challenge in convincing a closely divided electorate that the president pursues wrong-headed policies. They will never succeed in arguing that those initiatives have been cunningly and purposefully designed to wound the republic.
And here's another point Medved could have made: The strategy has already proven itself to be a political loser, yet Obama haters in the far-right press trudge on.
Just look at Obama's job approval rating. It has remained essentially unchanged for the last 18 months. Think about that. Palin and Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have thrown the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink and the basement sink at Obama with their he's-trying-to-destroy-America shtick for going on two years now. And the collective public response? A shrug of the shoulders.
Most voters don't care and they're tuning out the crazy, Obama-hating talk. But yes, other than than that the strategy is working to perfection.
In a February 14 Wall Street Journal op-ed, conservative radio host Michael Medved criticized Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh for their "distasteful charges" that President Obama is, in Palin's words, "purposefully weakening America." Medved further wrote that Obama's "most paranoid critics" label him "as the political equivalent of a suicide bomber: so overcome with hatred (or 'rage') that he's perfectly willing to blow himself up in order to inflict casualties on a society he loathes."
From Medved's op-ed, titled, "Obama Isn't Trying to 'Weaken America'":
This history makes some of the current charges about Barack Obama especially distasteful--and destructive to the conservative cause.
These attitudes thrive well beyond the blogosphere and the right-wing fringe. On Jan. 7, Sarah Palin spoke briefly on Laura Ingraham's radio show, saying, "What I believe that Obama is doing right now--he is hell-bent on weakening America." While acknowledging that "it's gonna get some people all wee-weed up again," she repeated and amplified her charge that "what Obama is doing" is "purposefully weakening America--because he understood that debt weakened America, domestically and internationally, and yet now he supports increasing debt."
The assumption that the president intends to harm or destroy the nation that elected him has become so widespread that the chief advertising pitch for Dinesh D'Souza's best-selling book, "The Roots of Obama's Rage," promises to "reveal Obama for who he really is: a man driven by the anti-colonial ideology of his father and the first American president to actually seek to reduce America's strength, influence and standard of living."
None of the attacks on Mr. Obama's intentions offers an even vaguely plausible explanation of how the evil genius, once he has ruined our "strength, influence and standard of living," hopes to get himself re-elected. In a sense, the president's most paranoid critics pay him a perverse compliment in maintaining that his idealism burns with such pure, all-consuming heat that he remains blissfully unconcerned with minor matters like his electoral future. They label Mr. Obama as the political equivalent of a suicide bomber: so overcome with hatred (or "rage") that he's perfectly willing to blow himself up in order to inflict casualties on a society he loathes.
On his radio show last July 2, the most influential conservative commentator of them all reaffirmed his frequent charge that the president seeks economic suffering "on purpose." Rush Limbaugh explained: "I think we face something we've never faced before in the country--and that is, we're now governed by people who do not like the country." In his view, this hostility to the United States relates to a grudge connected to Mr. Obama's black identity. "There's no question that payback is what this administration is all about, presiding over the decline of the United States of America, and doing so happily."
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On Faith, the Washington Post religion web site edited by Sally Quinn and Newsweek's Jon Meacham, currently features guest post by Media Research Center president Brent Bozell, writing on behalf of something calling itself "Citizens Against Religious Bigotry." Bozell and his ostensibly-anti-bigotry buddies are upset about some animated show Comedy Central may or may not produce and may or may not air.
What's striking about the Post's decision to grant Bozell and "Citizens Against Religious Bigotry" this forum is not the substance of their criticism of Comedy Central, but the fact that the coalition is made up of some of the most irredeemable bigots you'll ever encounter.
Take, for example, Catholic League president Bill Donohue. Donohue is a rabid anti-gay bigot with a long history of highly questionable commentary about religions he does not practice. He has said, for example, that "[p]eople don't trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty" and that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular." Donohue has also demonstrated selective outrage when it comes to the religious bigotry of others, defending conservative writer Jerome Corsi's attacks on the Catholic Church and conservative actor Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic rants. (Donohue has previously been granted a guest post at On Faith.)
Or Tony Perkins, another anti-gay bigot who is a member of the "Citizens Against Religious Bigotry." Perkins has said "the soil of the Islamic faith just does not work with democracy" and has spoken to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a hate group that "oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind … and to force the integration of the races."
Or Michael Medved, another member of the "Citizens Against Religious Bigotry." Medved has said that "Islam, as a faith" has "a special violence problem." (Medved also seems to have more problems with gay people than you might expect from a member of an anti-bigotry coalition.)
Tim Wildmon, another member of Bozell's band of self-described opponents of bigotry, has praised a far-right author who has advocated the execution of gays, adulterers, and doctors who perform abortions.
I'm sure there are plenty more examples, but you get the point: Bozell's "Citizens Against Religious Bigotry" is made up of some of the most notable bigots in American public life. And yet Sally Quinn and the Washington Post allowed them to portray themselves as opponents of bigotry, without any indication of their own enthusiastic bigotry towards a wide range of people.
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On his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck repeatedly suggested that the top Democratic presidential candidates have not shown support for the ongoing Writers Guild strike. In fact, all of the Democratic front-runners have expressed support for the striking writers. John Edwards joined them on a Los Angeles picket line, and Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton each issued statements of support for the writers. The candidates also withdrew from a planned December 10 CBS News debate, forcing its cancellation.
On Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz claimed that in a 2004 Chicago Tribune article, Sen. Barack Obama "said there wasn't much difference between his position and George Bush's position on the [Iraq] war." But Kurtz left out three key words from Obama's quote in the Tribune -- "at this stage" -- as well as the context of the remarks, both of which indicate that Obama was discussing how best to stabilize Iraq from mid-2004 onward, not claiming agreement with Bush on the war itself.