Several media outlets have distorted comments by an EPA official, falsely suggesting that he said "oil companies should be crucified." In fact, the official was using an analogy, which he has since apologized for, to describe a common approach to regulatory enforcement: making examples out of those who break the law.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day, rallying across the country to raise awareness about pressing environmental challenges. Organized by a Democratic senator and a Republican congressman, Earth Day 1970 "achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats," according to Earth Day Network, and provided momentum for the passage of landmark legislation to protect our air, water, and endangered species.
But in today's political climate, even Earth Day has become the target of partisan attacks from the right.
This past Sunday, as millions of Americans celebrated Earth Day, conservative media figures spent the day downplaying the impact of human activity on the environment, advocating for more fossil fuel development, and taking credit for misleading the public about the threat of climate change. Others attempted to spread fear about the holiday by noting that it falls on Vladimir Lenin's birthday, and by linking it to a convicted murderer who falsely claimed to be behind the first Earth Day.
And one right-wing blogger recalled how he tried to delay his son's birth because he "really didn't want a child born on Earth Day."
It was not long ago that Earth Day -- and the values of conservation and environmental responsibility it represents -- enjoyed bipartisan support. The Times-Picayune reported on Sunday on the shift that has taken place over the last 40 years:
A recent New York Times article highlighted two studies that the article claimed "question the pairing of food deserts and obesity" and may "raise questions about the efforts to combat the obesity epidemic simply by improving access to healthy foods." While right-wing media have seized on the article to claim that food deserts are a "make-believe" issue, food experts have called the Times article "sloppy" and have said the two studies it highlights are "definitely outliers," in the face of "over 50 studies" in the past three years finding "the opposite."
Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.
Right-wing media are claiming that a Republican "war on women" is "phony" and "invented" by the left to distract attention from issues such as the economy and gas prices. But Republicans throughout the country have indeed pushed a plethora of legislation during the past few years that would result in limiting women's reproductive rights, access to health care access, and access to equal pay; moreover, right-wing media themselves launched a bullying campaign against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke after she testified in favor of expanded contraception coverage.
Conservative media figures have been attacking President Obama's economic record by citing the fact that approximately 88 million Americans are not considered part of the labor force. In fact, only a small fraction of those "not in the labor force" actually want to work, and economists say the long-term decline in labor force participation is due to changing demographics -- a trend that is likely to continue over the next decade.
Experts on Korea and U.S. national security have commended a recent deal between the United States and North Korea on nuclear testing as "a positive development" and an indication that the U.S. has "turned a new page with the North Koreans." Nevertheless, conservative media are attacking the deal as a "sham" and a "fool's deal."
The majority opinion did not hold that the Constitution requires all states to allow same-sex couples to marry. Instead, the decision held that a law that has no purpose or effect "other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians" violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
The majority took great pains to explain the special circumstances in California that led to this decision. In California the state constitution previously allowed same-sex couples to marry. California then enacted a constitutional amendment that stigmatized same-sex couples by taking away the designation of marriage from their relationships, but the state -- by retaining a civil union law -- did not change any substantive legal rights involved.
Earlier today the Susan G. Komen Foundation released a statement "apologizing" for their decision earlier this week to cease grants to Planned Parenthood to pay for breast cancer screenings. Komen says it will "continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood," though what will happen in the future seems a bit murky.
Regardless, the same conservatives who cheered Komen's decision earlier in the week are now upset at the breast cancer awareness charity's apparent reversal of course. National Review's Daniel Foster this morning called the backlash to Komen "disgusting" and lashed out at Planned Parenthood and "the Left" for their "gangsterism":
In the NROHQ kitchen just now, Charlie Cooke wondered aloud, and here I paraphrase: "Does anyone on the Left even ask the basic question of whether a private charitable organization has the right to dispose of its money as it sees fit?" But in fact, that anyone thinks there is a question here is a sign we've already lost.
The Komen Foundation is a private organization. Planned Parenthood is ostensibly a private organization as well, but one with the highest of public profiles, a maximally polarizing mission, and a conduit of taxpayer dollars. If either of the two should be wary of politicizing its decision-making process, it should be PP, no? And yet Komen is getting hammered for a practical organizational decision (for the zillionth time: PP does not provide mammography) while pro-choice auxiliaries are gleefully fomenting the rage.
Will Wilkinson, who is pro legal abortion and probably the libertarian with whom I agree least often, gets it exactly right on this score, observing that there is more than a little gangsterism in the response from the PP set.
There are a couple of things to point out here. First, to look at the Komen situation and see Planned Parenthood as the bad-faith actor requires an astonishing amount of willful obtuseness. Komen's executives and PR team have spent the better part of the last three days dissembling their way through various media debacles claiming that they didn't alter their grant-making rules specifically to target Planned Parenthood (The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg obtained quotes from Komen insiders and uncovered internal documents showing this to be false).
As to the "gangsterism" charge and the exasperated kitchen quotes about "the Left's" lack of respect for a private organization's private donating decisions, I'd point out that anti-abortion rights activists have been pressuring Komen for years to end their relationship with Planned Parenthood. When Komen's decision was announced on January 31, National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez celebrated the longstanding efforts by those activists:
This Komen-Planned Parenthood relationship has long been a target of pro-life activists and, media bias aside, this appears to be a remarkable turning point. Planned Parenthood may have trained the AP well -- and has been as American as apple pie to Republicans and Democrats alike for all too long -- but it has really seen itself exposed in new and deep ways since Lila Rose started her gutsy undercover work.
Scott Lemieux points out the obvious: the right of a private institution to dole out money in the ways they see fit does not exempt that institution from criticism. The anti-choice crusade against Komen's Planned Parenthood funding should be proof enough of that, and reason enough not to pop off about liberal "gangsterism" when things don't go your way.
President Obama recently outlined his proposal that would give millions of homeowners a chance to save thousands of dollars annually by refinancing their mortgages at a lower interest rate even if their homes are currently underwater. The right-wing media immediately went on the attack, claiming that Obama's mortgage relief plan is a political stunt being used to "pander" to voters during an election year.
Mark Krikorian was surprised to learn on Thursday that labor unions are lobbying in support of marriage equality in Maryland. In his National Review Online post, he wrote that the reason it "seems improbable is that until recently, American organized labor, while misguided on many economic questions, was deeply traditionalist." He concluded that unions are now supporting marriage equality only because "the unions no longer represent many workers."
But what Krikorian has apparently failed to understand is that marriage equality has many economic benefits. The Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law argues that marriage equality creates jobs. It also estimated that in the first year same-sex marriage was legalized in six states, wedding spending from those marriages totaled at least $249 million:
Forbes estimated in 2004 that if laws were changed to legalize same-sex marriage in the entire United States, the wedding industry would see "a short-term gain of prodigious proportions" and eventually provide a nearly $17 billion boost to the economy over time. In another estimate, San Francisco's chief economist stated in 2010 that the "annual wedding-related spending would rise by $35 million in San Francisco, with an additional $2.7 million in hotel spending, if same-sex marriage were legal."
Business groups and leaders have also expressed support for marriage equality due to its economic benefits. The executive director of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce in New Hampshire praised the economic potential of civil unions in December 2007. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce argued that marriage equality in California "would improve the business climate" and would enhance "the ability of California businesses to compete nationwide for top talent."
In April 2011, top New York business leaders urged the state to adopt marriage equality "to remain competitive" and "attract top talent." A few months later, more than 75 business leaders in North Carolina signed an open letter opposing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages "because of the significant harm it will cause our state's pro-business environment, its major employers, and efforts to spur job-creation in North Carolina."
The lack of same-sex marriage recognition has been shown to be costly to workers as well. As CNNMoney reported last week, same-sex couples "are paying as much as $6,000 a year in extra taxes because the federal government doesn't recognize gay marriage."
Right-wing media have called President Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during a Senate recess of fewer than three days an "open declaration of war on constitutional principles" and an "unprecedented power grab." However, neither the Constitution nor the courts have specified how long the Senate must be in recess for a president to make a recess appointment; past presidents have made recess appointments during recesses of three days or fewer; and congressional Republicans are engaged in unprecedented obstructionism that is preventing hundreds of Obama nominees from being confirmed.
Since President Obama took office, the right-wing media have engaged in a smear campaign against Obama administration officials as well as people Obama has nominated for spots in the judiciary. This witch hunt has continued unabated in 2011.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed a motion to cut off a filibuster against the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Halligan has been smeared by the right-wing media based on a number of myths about her record. Media Matters has posted an extended debunking of those media myths and presents a summary of them here.
REALITY: Halligan Has Support From Across The Political Spectrum. Halligan's supporters include:
With Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) having filed a motion to cut off a filibuster of the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, often called the second most important court in the country, Media Matters presents a rebuttal to myths and falsehoods right-wing media have used to attack Halligan.