Right-wing media have been hyping the claim that a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks shows that President Obama had planned to "apologize" for the bombing of Hiroshima during his 2009 visit to Japan. But the cable only shows there was speculation from "anti-nuclear groups" that Obama might travel to Hiroshima after expressing support for a "nuclear-free world," and the Obama administration has said no apology was ever planned.
Yesterday, Andrew Breitbart, Sean Hannity, and National Review Online's Andrew McCarthy claimed that, in Sean Hannity's words, then-Senator Barack Obama was "hanging out" with a group of New Black Panther Party members during a 2007 event in Selma, Alabama. The charge was totally false, as it was based on cropped photos and dishonest descriptions.
In reality, the event was the 42nd anniversary of the 1965 march from Selma, a pivotal event in the civil rights movement that ended when the marchers were attacked by law enforcement at Edmund Pettus Bridge.
During the commemoration, Obama was in the company of people like the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who Martin Luther King Jr. once described as "the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South." Shuttlesworth died today at the age of 89.
Here's a picture from Reuters of Obama pushing Shuttlesworth in a wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the event mentioned by Breitbart, Hannity, and McCarthy:
This closes the book on the latest shameful attempt at race-baiting by Breitbart, McCarthy, and Hannity.
At National Review's The Corner, Andrew McCarthy is excitedly hyping Andrew Breitbart's ridiculous "report" this morning on President Obama and the New Black Panthers. I'll reproduce just the first paragraph of McCarthy's post, because it's really all you need:
At Big Government, Andrew Breitbart reports that, as a presidential candidate in March 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama appeared and marched with members of the New Black Panther Party. Included in Obama's Panther entourage was Malik Zulu Shabazz, the racist group's "national chief." Shabazz was one of the Panthers charged in the voter intimidation case that the Obama/Holder Justice Department dismissed in 2009 -- even though the government had already won the case (the Panthers defaulted) and the evidence supporting the civil charges was overwhelming.
OK, let's see what McCarthy left out.
1) Obama and the NBPP were at a march commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the 1965 march from Selma, a seminal moment in the civil rights movement. By leaving that out, McCarthy made it seem as though Obama just showed up at a New Black Panther march.
2) If we're going to count Shabazz as part of Obama's "Panther entourage," then we have to count the several thousand other people who were in attendance. But why do that when you can just leave the (absolutely false) impression that Obama was walking arm-in-arm with Shabazz?
3) DOJ actually obtained judgment against NBPP member Samir Shabazz, and the department's Office of Professional Responsibility concluded "that Department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment, but rather acted appropriately, in the exercise of their supervisory duties in connection with the dismissal of the three defendants in the NBPP case."
Actually, this is too much fun -- let's see what else McCarthy got wrong:
Andrew also notes that visitor logs indicate that a man identified as "Malik Shabazz" visited the White House two months after attorney general Holder dismissed the Panthers case. The White House has refused to clarify whether that Malik Shabazz is the Panther national chief.
Untrue! The White House clearly identified "Malik Shabazz" as one of the "false positives" that came up in their visitor logs: "The well-known individuals with those names never actually came to the White House."
Andrew further reminds us that, in March 2008, the Obama campaign website posted an endorsement of Obama by the New Black Panther Party.
Also untrue! The NBPP posted their own endorsement of Obama on the my.barackobama.com user-generated blog, and the campaign deleted the endorsement when they became aware of it.
The Breitbart report displays photos of Shabazz prominently speaking at the rally, and of Obama flanked by Shabazz and a uniformed New Black Panther Party member.
If by "flanked" McCarthy meant "several feet behind Obama as part of a large crowd" then perhaps this is accurate.
By my count, that's at least six demonstrably false claims or misleading omissions. Given that McCarthy's post comes in at under 400 words, that's an impressively high concentration of pernicious, race-baiting garbage.
Right-wing media have attacked President Obama by seizing on his comment that America "had gotten a little soft." But Obama said that the United States is a "great country" and that he "wouldn't trade our position with any other country on Earth" because "[w]e still have the best universities, the best scientists, and best workers in the world. We still have the most dynamic economic system in the world."
Following the lead of Sen. James Inhofe, conservative media are distorting an Inspector General's report in an attempt to discredit EPA's finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. But the IG report addresses obscure procedural issues, not the merits of EPA's finding or the science on which it was based, which even the Bush administration said was robust enough to require an endangerment finding.
EPA explained in a court brief that by phasing in greenhouse gas regulations and focusing on large sources of emissions, the agency avoids a scenario in which 230,000 new workers would be required. Somehow, the Daily Caller's Matthew Boyle concluded from this that "The EPA is asking taxpayers to fund up to 230,000 new government workers." Other conservative media outlets, including Fox News, repeated Boyle's false report.
Conservative media are using the announcement that poverty increased to return to their allegation that the poor in America don't have it so bad because they own appliances. In fact, poverty affects Americans in profound ways, such as their health, education, and housing.
Right-wing media are portraying President Obama's recently released jobs plan as being "all about tax hikes." In fact, more than half of the bill's cost comes from tax cuts for small businesses and extending the payroll tax cut for millions of Americans, which experts say will boost both employment and the economy.
In advance of a special election in New York's Ninth Congressional District, Fox News and National Review Online are raising the specter of voter fraud in case a Democrat wins the seat. In fact, the evidence they are citing has been debunked, and right-wing media regularly cry voter fraud when elections are close.
In a blog post yesterday, National Review Online's Carrie Severino attempted to downplay two decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that threw out challenges to the Affordable Care Act.
Severino wrote: "Both decisions rest on grounds that will not affect the other appellate decisions now en route to the Supreme Court." However, Severino obfuscated the fact that two of the three judges also said that the challenged portions of the Affordable Care Act were valid under the Constitution, while the third judge declined to say one way or the other.
In Liberty University, Inc. v. Geithner, a two-judge majority said it did not have jurisdiction over the case, because of a federal statute, the Anti-Injunction Act, that bars lawsuits "for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person." The majority ruled that the law constituted a tax for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act and dismissed the case.
Unmentioned by Severino, however, was that one judge, Andre Davis, dissented and wrote that "both the individual and employer mandates pass muster as legitimate exercises of Congress's commerce power." In doing so, Judge Davis arrived at the same result as Judges Jeffrey Sutton and Boyce Martin on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld the Affordable Care Act. Davis also joined dissenting Judge Stanley Marcus on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, who also wrote that the law was unconstitutional.
But that's not all: one of the two Fourth Circuit judges who joined the majority decision dismissing the case, Judge James Wynn, wrote that the dissent's position that the law was constitutional under the Commerce Clause "is persuasive." Wynn also stated that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional for another reason: It was a legitimate exercise of Congress' taxing power.
In a concurring opinion, Wynn said: "[W]ere I to reach the merits, I would uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act on the basis that Congress had the authority to enact the individual and employer mandates under its plenary taxing power."
So, to the extent that the Supreme Court places any significance on the views of lower court judges, a majority of the lower court judges who have decided the issue have said that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.
Right-wing media have continued their long history of attacking President Obama's speeches by scrambling to criticize his September 8 address in which he proposed the American Jobs Act.
National Review Online blogger Ed Whelan attacked the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for assigning two gay attorneys to the team of attorneys working on Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, a case in which the Supreme Court will address the extent to which religious organizations can engage in discrimination without running afoul of sex discrimination law.
In a blog post, Whelan quoted discredited research from Pajamas Media to attack one of the attorneys, Aaron Schuham, for his previous position with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an organization dedicated to preserving the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
But Whelan then went a step further, stating that Schuham has a "same-sex partner [who] is ... Chris Anders, federal policy director for the ACLU's LGBT Rights project." Whelan further reported that another Justice Department attorney working on the case, Sharon McGowan, "was also a staffer on the ACLU's LGBT Rights project" and that she is married to a woman who is "the Family Equality Council's 'federal lobbyist on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender family issues.' "
Whelan then used this information to spin a conspiracy theory about the Justice Department possibly using the discrimination case as a step in their agenda to "have gay causes trump religious liberty":
Thus, insofar as personnel is policy,* it may well be that the Obama DOJ's hostility to the ministerial exemption in the Hosanna-Tabor case is part and parcel of a broader ideological agenda that would have gay causes trump religious liberty.
So, in Whelan's opinion, should all gay lawyers have been barred from working on a case that deals with the application of anti-discrimination laws to religious freedom, or just the ones who were previously gay-rights activists or have same-sex partners who are gay-rights activists? Or is it OK to assign gay lawyers to the case, but only if the Justice Department takes a position more to Whelan's liking? Whatever Whelan meant, it's a ridiculous argument.
In a National Review Online article, convicted fraudster Conrad Black became the latest member of the conservative media to attack billionaire investor Warren Buffett for calling for higher taxes on the rich, writing: "I am far from an iconoclast, but I am getting a little weary of Warren Buffett's posturing as a social democrat. He is a brilliant investor and a pretty good aphorist, and his shtick as friendly, folksy Uncle Warren, the Sage of Omaha, though a tired routine, has been an effective one."
Black also devoted space to bemoaning the fate of "run-of-the-mill millionaires": "The top one percent of American income-earners, as he is perfectly aware, a number that gets us pretty far down into the ranks of run-of-the-mill millionaires, pay 38 percent of federal personal income taxes, the lower 50 percent pay 3 percent, and nearly half of American families pay none."
A distinct mantra from far-right press critics in recent years has centered around the fantastic claim that not only do the media have a liberal bias, but that the corrupted press corps works in unison with the Obama White House at all times; that the press no longer functions independently but that its role is to protect Obama at all costs.
The result of the grand media conspiracy? The press has refused to ask Obama tough questions.
Not only has Fox News — the supposed mouthpiece of the GOP — put on a far, far, far better debate than CNN did (or MSNBC could), it has subjected the GOP contenders to tougher, rougher, questions than any debate I can remember. In fact, I don't think Obama ever received this kind of grilling as a candidate or as president.
Goldberg and Hannity don't think Obama has ever received a press grilling, even as a candidate in 2008. What do they think was missing from the questioning of Obama back then? Inquiries about Jeremiah Wright? William Ayers? Controversial comments that Obama had made on the campaign trail?
Well, a simple Google search produces this instant result, from a Howard Kurtz column in the Washington Post, April 18, 2008:
The ABC moderators found themselves under fire for focusing on campaign gaffes and training most of their ammunition on Obama.
In the first 40 minutes of Wednesday's two-hour Democratic debate, the moderators asked Obama about his remarks that small-town residents bitterly cling to guns and religion; the inflammatory sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright ([George] Stephanopoulos follow-up: "Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?"); why Obama doesn't wear an American flag pin; and his relationship with William Ayers, a former Weather Underground radical who has acknowledged involvement in several bombings in the 1970s.
But right, Obama hasn't been grilled by the press.
Right-wing media have falsely claimed that "unions and left-wing groups" spent roughly $30 million, or have otherwise ignored money spent by conservative groups, to influence the recent Wisconsin recall elections. In fact, about $30 million was reportedly spent by right-wing and left-wing groups combined, "with a slight edge possible to Republicans overall."