Zeb Colter, an anti-immigrant character from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) that has recently drawn the ire of right-wing pundits like Glenn Beck, would be right at home in the conservative media. Many of Colter's bigoted and flawed arguments have been the right's stock-in-trade for years.
Beck targeted the Colter character on his radio show, arguing that Colter is "demonizing the Tea Party." Beck also accused the WWE of "mocking me for standing up for the Constitution." Beck's co-host Stu Burguiere complained: "It seems that the villain, the guy you're supposed to hate, is this stereotype of a conservative that I've never met."
Colter currently appears on WWE programming alongside wrestler Jack Swagger, spouting a lot of heated anti-immigrant rhetoric in the middle of a scripted feud with Mexican-born wrestler Alberto Del Rio. According to WWE, Colter's rhetoric is intended to "to build the Mexican American character Del Rio into a hero given WWE's large Latino base."
WWE explains that in order "to create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines."
From the February 21 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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From the February 20 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Right-wing media are downplaying the economic consequences of across-the-board spending cuts. In fact, economists agree that those cuts - known as the sequester - would lead to thousands of jobs lost and decreased economic growth.
Sunday's "Forward On Climate" rally drew an estimated 35,000 people to Washington, DC to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, making it the largest climate rally in U.S. history, according to organizers. Every major news outlet covered it, putting a national spotlight on the environmental risks associated with the project. But Fox News used the rally as an opportunity to mock the protesters and cast doubt on the science of climate change.
On his Fox News show, Neil Cavuto suggested that it was "bad optics" to "protest global warming in the middle of this Arctic blast." Fox Business' Charles Payne claimed that the protesters "probably have done very little research" and are relying on "anecdotal" evidence of climate change:
But by pointing to cold weather in Washington, Fox News was actually the one using an anecdote to dispute the long-term warming trend.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto claimed that spending cuts that lead to austerity "will never happen," even as data show that continued cuts remain a drag on economic recovery. In fact, economists contend that if it weren't for government cuts, the unemployment rate would be lower.
Discussing the economy with Fox News contributor Dennis Kucinich on Friday, Cavuto argued for cutting spending to halt what he called the country's spending problem and lower the deficit. When Kucinich cautioned against sanctioning new austerity, Cavuto replied: "You have no reason to worry, my friend; that will never happen." He added: "We will never cut our way into austerity. We won't cut our way out into a paper bag."
Cavuto went on to dismiss the fact that the automatic spending cuts scheduled for March 1 would have further impact on slowing growth.
In reality, cuts in government spending in the last quarter of 2012 led the economy to shrink for the first time in more than three years. CNN Money reported that a "large cut in federal spending, primarily on defense, was one of the biggest drags on growth."According to the Wall Street Journal, "government spending, which has been a drag on growth for more than two years, declined for the ninth time in 10 quarters."
The New York Times quoted Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as saying that the drop in spending "is the tip of the iceberg on fiscal austerity from Washington." Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, told the Times that "we're being more austere than we need to be." He added: "The economy isn't growing that fast and you don't want to be taking away stimulus now."
Since the recession ended, the public sector has shed over 700,000 jobs. In a 2012 report, the Economic Policy Institute found that "if it weren't for state and local austerity, the labor market would have 2.3 million more jobs today; half of these jobs would be in the private sector." EPI added: "If all of these 2.3 million jobs had been filled, it is likely that the unemployment rate would now be between 6.7 percent and 7.5 percent." The unemployment rate currently stands at 7.9 percent. Even as the private sector has steadily added jobs, government cuts have held the economy back:
Moreover, experts argue that the across-the-board government spending cuts scheduled for March 1, commonly referred to as the "sequester," could halve U.S. economic growth and lead to one million lost jobs.
As Republicans made history yesterday by filibustering a secretary of defense nominee for the first time in U.S. history, Fox News contributor Scott Brown expressed support for the Republican's obstructionist strategy of denying Chuck Hagel's confirmation vote. Insisting there was no reason to "ram" Hagel's nomination through, and claiming Republicans were acting "thoroughly" and "thoughtfully," the former Republican senator told Neil Cavuto's viewers GOP senators leading the filibuster effort "have some very real concerns" and were acting appropriately in blocking a vote.
Sean Hannity agreed, boasting last night that blocking Hagel's confirmation represented a "major win" for the Republican Party.
Of course, Fox News employee Bill Kristol helped launch the entire anti-Hagel effort back in December and his group has aired anti-Hagel ads. This week on Fox News' Special Report, Kristol urged Republicans to stick together and delay the confirmation vote. Meanwhile, Fox contributor Erick Erickson took to the Internet yesterday, beseeching conservatives to contact their senators and implore them to filibuster Hagel's nomination.
So yeah, Fox News seems fine with the obstructionist effort underway in the Senate.
And yes, here's the part where we detail how Fox News projected a very different message when a Republican president's cabinet nominee once encountered far more mild opposition from Democrats. Under that scenario, Fox talkers thundered about the "petty" and "mean spirited" nature of Democrats and led viewers through a series of how-dare-they segments.
The glaring hypocrisy makes the current, hollow cries against Hagel even more difficult to take seriously.
The truth is, Democrats have never tried to obstruct an up-or-down vote on a secretary of defense pick before. And since the Senate tradition for the last hundred years has been to allow newly elected presidents to pick the cabinet of his choice, there is no recent instance to contrast with the Hagel nomination brawl, or the media behavior that surrounded it.
The closest comparison, and it isn't even that close, came when President Bush nominated Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State during his second term. Some Democrats objected, noting that Rice had helped plan, and publicly market, the controversial Iraq invasion; an invasion built around the false premise that Saddam Hussein was hoarding weapons of mass destruction.
Unlike Hagel (a critic of the Iraq War), Rice was easily confirmed by the Senate committee overseeing her selection, and was then given a full vote in the senate, which approved her 85-13. Democrats made no effort to place a "hold" or to filibuster her confirmation. As Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told Fox's Chris Wallace at the time of the Rice nomination, "The president is entitled to his Cabinet." Feinstein added that she didn't want Rice "diminished in the eyes of the world," via the confirmation process.
But the mere fact that a handful of Democrats opposed Rice and pressed her closely about the Iraq War during the confirmation process prompted several rounds of angry complaints from Fox News. The same Fox News that now touts the Hagel filibuster as a "major win."
From the January 18 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Media coverage of the debt ceiling frequently claims that raising the limit without simultaneous spending cuts would give President Obama a "blank check," repeating a pattern of promoting this false narrative -- or failing to correct it -- that occurred during the unprecedented brinkmanship of 2011. The phrase implies that the debt ceiling governs additional spending desired by the White House, when in fact it is a restriction on the executive branch's ability to borrow money to pay for spending measures already enacted by Congress.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto and Fox guest Stephen Moore agreed that President Obama is wrong to suggest that federal spending growth is driven by health care costs, when in fact Obama is right. Health care spending is the only category of federal spending projected to grow substantially over the next two decades, and government health insurance is actually more efficient than private sector insurance. And the president's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains provisions that aims to contain and reduce national health care costs.
Following the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, media figures have lamented that spending cuts were not included in the deal. However, experts believe that spending cuts made in 2011 should be included in assessing the latest deal, which shows budget cuts factor heavily into deficit reduction efforts.
Fox and right-wing media figures defended Republican House Speaker John Boehner's decision to cancel a vote on an aid package for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Following sharp bipartisan criticism over that decision, Boehner agreed to a vote this week.
Fox News' Neil Cavuto claimed that the recent deal to avoid ending tax cuts for all Americans adds "4 trillion in new spending." But the $4 trillion estimate is not new spending; rather, it's lost revenue in comparison to what would have been collected if all the Bush tax cuts expired.
Discussing the January 1 tax deal on Your World, Cavuto claimed that the deal expands government spending "to the tune of $4 trillion over the next ten years."
An on-screen graphic also claimed the deal would add $4 trillion in spending over ten years:
But the $4 trillion estimate, which was published by the Congressional Budget Office, is lost revenue in comparison to what would have been collected if all the Bush tax cuts expired. Politico reported that the CBO's estimates "attribute most of the cost to lost revenues or payments on refundable tax credits." The Hill also pointed out that nearly all of the deficit increase would be due to an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts:
The Senate deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" will add roughly $4 trillion to the deficit when compared to current law, according to new numbers from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The extension of lower tax rates for the bulk of the nation's taxpayers and the addition of a patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax would add roughly $3.6 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, the CBO said. Other individual, business and energy tax extenders would add another $76 billion. The extension of unemployment benefits would cost roughly $30 billion, and the so-called "doc fix" would tally another $25 billion through fiscal 2022.
In addition, according to Politico, "CBO begins its analysis from its March current law baseline that assumes all of Bush-era tax cuts would expire at New Year's Day, and therefore gives no deficit-reduction credit for the fact that the deal begins to raise rates for the wealthiest Americans." Politico continued:
Yet since last spring the CBO itself has warned that if nothing were done, the so-called "fiscal cliff" combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts could throw the country back into recession. In the same way, critics would argue that the deficit estimates now don't give enough credit to the improved economic growth that could result from the tax cuts.
Fox News' Neil Cavuto defended Republican House Speaker John Boehner from criticism after Boehner reportedly told Democratic Senator Harry Reid, "Go f*** yourself."
Politico reported that in the midst of negotiations to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases that were scheduled for January 1, Boehner verbally attacked Reid:
House Speaker John Boehner couldn't hold back when he spotted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the White House lobby last Friday.
It was only a few days before the nation would go over the fiscal cliff, no bipartisan agreement was in sight, and Reid had just publicly accused Boehner of running a "dictatorship" in the House and caring more about holding onto his gavel than striking a deal.
"Go f*** yourself," Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present.
Reid, a bit startled, replied: "What are you talking about?"
Boehner repeated: "Go f*** yourself."
On Your World, Cavuto claimed that criticism of Boehner was "not fair" and said the remark was "entirely justified" because Boehner "risked his job" by agreeing to raise taxes "without so much as a token gesture in spending cuts in return from Harry Reid." He concluded:
CAVUTO: It is a wonder Boehner didn't curse more. It is even more of a wonder why the media didn't wish he did. That's not fair, that's not right, that is wrong. Would it ever kill us to get the other side of the story? Would we ever try?
In response to a compromise on tax policy, conservative media are again comparing the United States to Greece. According to right-wing logic, the deal brings America even closer to the violence and discord in Greece, Italy, Ireland, France, and just about every European country whose citizens have protested austerity measures.
Of course, conservative media figures have spent at least three years ringing this same alarm. Economic experts have spent just as much time dismissing this panicked comparison, but to little avail. This Media Matters video, drawing on three years of television coverage of deficits and spending, shows the prevalence and longevity of the Greece talking point: