New Hampshire Union Leader

Tags ››› New Hampshire Union Leader
  • Union Leader Editorial: Transgender Equality Is A “Creepy Obsession On The Left”

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    An editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader attacked the Justice Department’s lawsuit against North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, claiming that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has generated a “false civil rights crisis” and that transgender equality is a “creepy obsession.”

    On May 9, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a Department of Justice lawsuit against North Carolina due to the state’s anti-LGBT bathroom bill. The law, commonly known as HB2, targets the transgender community by banning people from using public restrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. The lawsuit asks the court to declare HB 2 as discriminatory under the Civil Rights Act and a violation of Violence Against Women Act. As a former DOJ official explained, the Fourth Circuit, the EEOC, and the DOJ are all in agreement that transgender people are protected against discrimination.

    The New Hampshire Union Leader assailed the Justice Department’s lawsuit as “ridiculous” in a May 11 editorial, echoing a larger right wing media attack on the DOJ for the suit. The editorial, titled “Obama's transagenda: Uncle Sam creeping into bathrooms,” labeled transgender equality as a “creepy obsession on the left,” and blasted Attorney General Lynch for “generating a false civil rights crisis:”

    Telling men to use the men’s room and women to use the women’s room is now a violation of civil rights, according to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

    The Justice Department has filed a ridiculous lawsuit against North Carolina for its law overturning a Charlotte ordinance that told private businesses how to manage their bathrooms.

    Normally, laws are challenged in court by people who can show they were harmed. Lynch has decided her own political preferences are all the standing she needs.

    The eradication of any legal distinction between the sexes, even in terms of basic biological functions, is a creepy obsession on the left. Lynch’s attempt to abuse the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Act in pursuit of this bit of social engineering undermines those landmark laws.

    In Candia, the school board recently caved to the Obama administration’s push to redefine X and Y chromosomes as nothing more than a matter of choice. Dana Buckley addresses this on behalf of outraged parents today in an op-ed piece.

    We would prefer federal, state and local governments to stay out of the bathroom business. Schools and businesses are perfectly capable of accommodating the very few people who see themselves as other than their biological sex. By generating a false civil rights crisis, Lynch proves the Obama administration is out of touch with reality.

  • Union Leader Parrots Koch-Funded Group To Attack Gov. Hassan

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    An editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader parroted the state director of a Koch-funded group in attacking Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s plan to use budget surplus funds to fill the state’s rainy day fund and address New Hampshire’s opioid crisis.  

    The April 27 editorial claimed Hassan is rushing to spend the state’s surplus funds “as fast as possible” and that she “seems to think spending large amounts of money will solve all of New Hampshire’s problems.”

    Maggie Hassan is running out of time to spend New Hampshire’s money.

    The lame duck governor is desperate to spend the surplus created by a budget she vetoed before the Legislature adjourns in two months. After all, when they come back to write the next state budget, she won’t be governor anymore.

    As business tax revenues come in faster than anticipated, Hassan is trying to take credit for the surplus, and spend it as fast as possible.

    [...]

    Maggie Hassan seems to think simply spending large amounts of money will solve all of New Hampshire’s problems.

    No wonder she wants to be a U.S. senator.

    A day before publishing the editorial, the paper reported that Hassan was seeking to deposit enough of the surplus revenue into the state’s rainy day fund to fill the savings account to its legal limit. Only after contributing to the savings fund did Hassan propose to spend “additional resources to address the opioid epidemic, fully fund education adequacy grants, additional money for Police Standards and Training Council, and to overhaul the business profits tax to make it easier for startups to attract capital.”

    The April 26 article detailing Hassan’s savings plan also quoted Americans for Prosperity (AFP) state director Greg Moore, whose group is largely funded by the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.

    Moore’s critique of Hassan’s proposals sounded similar to what the Union Leader’s editorial board wrote the next day:

    “There are some things you can count on in life — death, taxes and Gov. Hassan trying to spend more taxpayer money, even before these funds have made it in the door” said Greg Moore, AFP-NH state director. “Now is exactly the time to show fiscal restraint and very carefully target any additional spending, not toss out a wish list of spending that she could not get included in the budget last year.”

    Moore often places op-eds in the Union Leader and has been quoted by the paper over 100 times in the last five years, according to a Nexis search. Since the paper has given such a strong voice to AFP – including previously publishing a reworked version of an AFP press release as news -- its parroting of Moore’s talking points comes as little surprise.

    Furthermore, the editorial board at the Union Leader has its own Koch connection. Opinion editor Grant Bosse worked for the Koch-funded Josiah Bartlett Center for over four years prior to joining the paper.

  • Right-Wing Media Distort Hillary Clinton's Comments About Libya Intervention

    Conservative Media Follow RNC Lead In Smearing Clinton For Accurately Stating No Americans Died In Military Campaign To Oust Gadhafi

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ, TYLER CHERRY & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media figures are distorting a comment made by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a MSNBC town hall, where Clinton said "we didn't lose a single person" during the 2011 U.S. military intervention in Libya. Conservative commentators parroted the GOP in berating Clinton for allegedly "forgetting" about the four Americans who were killed during the 2012 Benghazi attacks, when in reality Clinton was referring only to the military intervention in Libya, which ended nearly a year before the Benghazi attacks.

  • Union Leader Fails To Note Own Reporting In Bungled Attack On Shaheen

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    A New Hampshire Union Leader editorial attempted to attack Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for her effort to secure extra funding to help states deal with drug addition by saying she was trying "to score points" by "providing ammunition for Democrats to accuse [Sen. Kelly] Ayotte [(R-NH)] of not responding forcefully enough." However, the editorial failed to note that Ayotte co-sponsored and voted for Shaheen's amendment, a fact that was reported in the Union Leader itself.

    The March 13 editorial claimed that "the politics are obvious" in the Democrats' failed amendment attempt to add extra funding to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) -- a bill which provides federal grants to states to combat heroin addiction and pain killer abuse. Suggesting only Shaheen supported the extra funding, the Union Leader claimed the amendment was an attempt by Shaheen to provide "ammunition for Democrats to accuse Ayotte of not responding forcefully enough."

    Democrats tried to score points by spending more of your money.

    In Washington, the U.S. Senate passed a bill reforming federal drug treatment programs. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte details the legislation more fully in an opinion column today.

    Again, Democrats attempted to outbid Republicans on the issue. New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen decided to attack the bill, even while voting for it, complaining that it lacked sufficient funding. But Congress dedicated $400 million to opioid treatment programs in December, which Shaheen called at the time "a big win" that would "help states like New Hampshire stem the tide of the heroin epidemic." The latest bill changed how that money would be spent.

    The politics are obvious. Hassan is sure to take fire for her disastrous drug czar, and Shaheen is providing ammunition for Democrats to accuse Ayotte of not responding forcefully enough. It's a shame such petty partisanship should mar bipartisan progress.

    While the Union Leader was quick to accuse Shaheen of trying to score political points, they failed to note that Ayotte co-sponsored and voted for Shaheen's amendment, something the Union Leader reported itself nearly two weeks ago. Ayotte also issued a press release supporting the amendment on March 2 saying she "remained committed to pursuing all options available to secure this funding."

    I cosponsored and voted to advance Senator Shaheen's amendment to provide emergency funding to address the opioid abuse epidemic, which is desperately needed in New Hampshire. While her measure unfortunately was not adopted, I remain committed to pursuing all options available to secure this funding. I also renew my call for the Department of Health and Human Services to expedite the release of funds that Congress has already appropriated so that New Hampshire and other states can quickly utilize federal dollars and grants to support local efforts to combat opioid abuse. Passing CARA will represent an important step forward in addressing the opioid abuse crisis and I urge the Senate to pass this legislation without delay.

  • Union Leader On Christie Endorsement: "Boy, Were We Wrong"

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    McQuaid Union Leader

    Editors at the New Hampshire Union Leader, the state's largest newspaper, apologized for their endorsement of former presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) following Christie's decision to endorse Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

    Since the Union Leader's original November 28 endorsement, which described Christie as "a solid, pro-life conservative" who "has the range and type of experience the nation desperately needs," the newspaper has published numerous editorials that praise and defend Christie and others that attack his opponents. But on February 29, following Christie's endorsement of GOP front-runner Donald Trump on February 26, the paper's publisher John M. McQuaid finally admitted to readers, "Boy, were we wrong" about endorsing Christie:

    We endorsed Chris Christie in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. Despite his baggage, we thought that as a Republican governor in a Democratic-leading state he had the skills and experience the presidency needs (and hasn't had of late). We also thought he had the best chance to take on and face down Donald Trump.

    Watching Christie kiss the Donald's ring this weekend -- and make excuses for the man Christie himself had said was unfit for the presidency -- demonstrated how wrong we were. Rather than standing up to the bully, Christie bent his knee. In doing so, he rejected the very principles of his campaign that attracted our support.

    Voters here apparently knew better than we. Most rejected Christie but divided their votes among several others, leaving Trump to claim victory. And now, despite specifically telling us that he would never endorse him, Christie is backing Trump.

    After its initial endorsement, the Union-Leader hyped many of Christie's harmful policy stances. For example, the editorial board justified the governor's flawed social security plan that would ultimately hurt low-income Americans and regurgitated Christie's overstated claims about his anti-terrorism record.

    Editors also failed to heed warnings about Christie coming from members of the New Jersey press. The Star-Ledger, New Jersey's largest newspaper, retracted the 2012 endorsement it gave Christie for governor after the Bridgegate scandal came to light. The paper told readers the endorsement was "regrettable" and offered a warning to others considering Christie:

    Yes, we knew Christie was a bully. But we didn't know his crew was crazy enough to put people's lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn't know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn't know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

    Even before this scandal train got rolling, this endorsement was a close call and a split vote among the editorial board. We regard Christie as the most overrated politician in the country, at least until now, a man who is better at talking than governing. We criticized him for trashing the working poor, for his tea party approach to the environment, for his opposition to gay marriage and a livable minimum wage. And so on.

    [...]

    Now, the governor is in a free fall in the polls, and liberals everywhere are rejoicing. And yes, it is delicious to see a bully like him lose the swagger.

    But be careful. Because if you turn your focus to the presidential race in 2016, you might wind up facing the same dilemma we did in the fall.

    After the Union Leader announced its endorsement, Star-Ledger editor Tom Moran contacted the paper's editorial board, which he concluded knew "almost nothing about [Christie's] record as governor." In speaking to Moran, Union Leader editorial page editor Grant Bosse admitted the New Hampshire paper did not take an extensive look into Christie's background and confirmed Moran's worst fears about the presidential race: "It's all about performance, not substance."

  • Union Leader Echoes Chris Christie's Overstated Anti-Terror Boasts

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    The New Hampshire Union Leader editorial board has consistently pointed to Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) as the candidate best suited to protect the country from threats, stressing his work on terrorism cases as a former US attorney. However, experts disagree with the paper, noting Christie's record and experience do not amount to significant anti-terror bona fides.

    In its November 28 endorsement of Christie, the Union Leader suggested he was the candidate that "is right for these dangerous times" as he has "prosecuted terrorists and dealt admirably with major disasters." When critics claimed Christie was overselling his experience, the Union Leader fired back in a December 22 editorial, defending Christie's boasts that "we prosecuted two of the biggest terrorism cases in the world":

    Critics of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are upset that he's sharing his experiences prosecuting terrorists with New Hampshire voters.

    We're not sure whether they're mad that Christie won convictions of suspected terrorists, or that he thinks New Hampshire voters might find this relevant. Perhaps both.

    Christie served as the U.S. attorney for New Jersey from 2002 to 2008. He formed a terrorism unit to work with the FBI to root out Islamic extremists before they could attack, including a plot to strike Fort Dix and an attempt to sell a shoulder-fired missile to an undercover FBI agent. These were bad people who wanted to do bad things. Christie put them in jail before they could.

    In addition, a January 5 column by editorial page editor Grant Bosse again cited Christie's "focus on anti-terrorism cases" as a unique trait that sets him apart from the GOP field. The editorial board and its surrogates have largely been parroting the candidate who has similarly relied on his prosecuting record as qualifying national defense experience during recent debates.

    However, fact checkers have disagreed with Christie's description of his record that the Union Leader has parroted, noting that he "arguably made more of a name for himself" as U.S. attorney "for prosecuting corrupt politicians (his office successfully prosecuted more than 130 public officials) than terrorists." The Daily Beast reported that while his record against corruption is more robust, his "antiterror resume is rather short":

    As for actual terrorism cases, there are only two: Hemant Lakhani in 2005, a 71-year-old (now-deceased) British citizen who had been recorded saying he "was willing to broker the sale of shoulder-fired missiles to shoot down American passenger jets" and the "Fort Dix Six" in 2007, when five Islamic men and their gun dealer were arrested for allegedly plotting to kill U.S. soldiers "at various installations, including the Fort Dix Army a base in New Jersey."

    In both cases, FBI informants played central roles in nailing the suspects, leading some critics to suggest the charges were the results of entrapment.

    The Lakhani case was the subject of a 2009 This American Life installment, which painted the portrait of Lakhani as a hapless charlatan who had stumbled into the FBI's trap despite possessing no ability to broker missiles of any kind. The Fort Dix case was torn apart and dissected by The Intercept in 2015, where reporters Murtaza Hussain and Razan Ghalayini made the case that the FBI worked overtime to convince the accused men to agree to commit terrorist attacks that Christie and his office then "thwarted."

    Jonathan Hafetz, former litigation director at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, told NJ.com that the Governor's promotion of his anti-terrorism record shows he is "clearly trying to rebrand himself in making a run for the White House."

    Christie also came under fire for the timeline of his record after saying in the September Republican debate that he "was appointed U.S. Attorney by President Bush on Sept. 10, 2001." Politifact found that statement to be "mostly false." While Christie may have received word of a pending nomination prior to 9/11, he wasn't nominated until months after the attacks and wasn't sworn in as US attorney until January of 2002.

    Christie's national security policy proposals introduced during his run for president have included a call to re-authorize less restrictive rules on the bulk collection of phone records -- which the administration already has access to -- and the blocking of Syrian refugees including "orphans under age five" in order to stop terror threats against the United States, which experts agree would be harmful to US foreign policy and its goal to stop the influence of ISIS.

    The Union Leader's mimicking of Christie's tough but dubious anti-terror talk continues the paper's blind defense of the governor, even as those from his home state denounce his record of failed economic policies and scandal.

  • NH Union Leader Defends Chris Christie's "Particularly Cruel And Regressive" Social Security Plan

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    A New Hampshire Union Leader editorial defended Gov. Chris Christie's (R-NJ) Social Security proposal, claiming he would "save" the program, after the New Jersey Governor's plan was attacked by Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump. However, experts agree Christie's plan would make the program less solvent and hurt low income Americans.

    The Union Leader, which endorsed Christie in November, claimed in a December 10 editorial that Trump was using "liberal scare tactics" when he criticized Christie's plan to raise the retirement age. The paper went on to praise Christie for being the "first candidate in either party to put forward a detailed plan to address entitlements." The Union Leader continued:

    But Christie's plan to save Social Security and Medicare wouldn't touch the retirement age for current retirees. Trump would know this, if he actually bothered to check his facts before speaking.

    [...]

    [Christie] would gradually raise the retirement age for younger workers, and means-test benefits for those making more than $200,000 per year in retirement income.

    Several GOP candidates have backed responsible entitlement reform plans. Trump parrots liberal scare tactics, consistent with his long-held support for big government.

    Trump would pander to seniors, do nothing, and watch Social Security go as bankrupt as one of his casinos.

    Trumps criticism aside, experts agree that Christie's plan is both misguided and politically toxic. As Karen Smith, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, told The New York Times, "[Christie's] proposal reduces program revenue and does not reduce benefits enough soon enough to make Social Security solvent." Comparing Christie's plan to Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders' plan -- which the Urban Institute says would extend solvency -- Christie's will result in Social Security becoming insolvent sooner than if no changes were made. 

    Christie's plan relies heavily on the populist message of reducing benefits paid to wealthy Americans. As Vox's Matthew Yglesias points out, this popular selling point has been trumpeted by media while reporting on the proposal, despite, as he explains, Christie's plan actually being "terrible for the poor." Citing life expectancy data, Yglesias writes that, because rich Americans live longer than poor Americans, Christie's plan "is a particularly cruel and regressive form of cut."

    As far as Christie's proposed plan to cut off Social Security benefits to those making over $200,000 a year, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) noted that "while the rich have a large share of the income, they don't have a large share of Social Security benefits." CEPR concluded that Christie's proposal would only save about 1.1 percent of benefits currently being paid out.

  • What New Jersey Press Can Teach The NH Union Leader About Endorsing Chris Christie

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    New Hampshire's largest and most influential newspaper, the Union Leader, endorsed Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) ahead of NH's upcoming primary, giving the governor's presidential campaign a needed boost. In supporting Christie the Union Leader dismissed scandals such as the George Washington Bridge lane closures -- also referred to as "Bridgegate" -- as a "nothing-burger," and ignored the warnings of major New Jersey newspapers who see Christie as unfit to lead their state, let alone the country.

    The Union Leader's endorsement applauded Christie's ability to win two terms as governor in "liberal New Jersey," praised his public union opposition, and claimed the governor handled Hurricane Sandy aftermath "admirably." A follow-up piece by editorial page editor Grant Bosse addressed criticism of the endorsement by positively comparing negative reactions to Christie to criticisms of former President George W. Bush. Bosse chalked up negative views of the governor to "Christie Derangement Syndrome," which he said, "should serve Christie well."

    Bosse also addressed Bridgegate, which the Union Leader's endorsement ignored. While the U.S. attorney for New Jersey has not ruled out Christie's participation in the George Washington Bridge lane closures -- identified as retaliation against a New Jersey mayor who refused to endorse the governor's re-election campaign -- Bosse dismissed the governor's knowledge of the closures, calling the situation a "nothing-burger":

    No political scandal has been more overblown than Bridgegate. A pair of Christie's team supposedly arranged a traffic jam as payback for a mayor not endorsing Christie's re-election. There's no evidence that Christie knew anything about it, and he fired anyone who did. Christie Derangement Syndrome has convinced otherwise normal people that this nothing-burger disqualifies Christie from the presidency.

    While the Union Leader fawned over Christie in its endorsements, major newspapers in New Jersey have long warned of the negative impact Christie has had on the state, with one major newspaper going so far as to retract its endorsement after Christie's re-election.

    After the Bridgegate scandal came to light, the editorial board of New Jersey's largest newspaper, the Star-Ledger, retracted their endorsement of Christie following his re-election in 2013. Writing on behalf of the Star-Ledger's editorial board, Tom Moran said the paper "blew [it]" by endorsing Christie. Moran continued:

    Yes, we knew Christie was a bully. But we didn't know his crew was crazy enough to put people's lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn't know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn't know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

    Even before this scandal train got rolling, this endorsement was a close call and a split vote among the editorial board. We regard Christie as the most overrated politician in the country, at least until now, a man who is better at talking than governing. We criticized him for trashing the working poor, for his tea party approach to the environment, for his opposition to gay marriage and a livable minimum wage. And so on.

    While the extent of Christie's involvement in Bridgegate is still unclear, PolitiFact has reviewed three investigations into the matter and rated the governor's denial of involvement as "half-true," saying it "leaves out important context." PolitiFact wrote that the only investigation to fully clear the governor of wrongdoing was commissioned by his administration, thereby undermining the investigation's objectivity, while investigations by the state legislature and U.S Attorney's Office could not definitively clear the governor based on the potential for new evidence stemming from the criminal prosecution of Christie's aides.

    Both the Union Leader's endorsement and Bosse's follow-up also ignored Christie's economic woes -- yet another area that has garnered New Jersey media criticism. In a September 29 editorial, the Asbury Park Press' editorial board called Christie an "absentee governor" who should follow Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) lead and "either abandon his bid for the presidency or step down as governor," citing public pension mismanagement which has caused New Jersey to be "ranked No. 1 in the nation in public debt."

    Regarding Christie's management of Hurricane Sandy recovery effort, which Bosse called "admirable," the Asbury Park Press in October pointed out that, according to a Monmouth University poll, "more than 60 percent of families remain at least somewhat dissatisfied with recovery efforts; 33 percent said they were 'very' dissatisfied" and that "Christie is clearly trying to manufacture an image of competency in his recovery leadership that he hasn't earned." The Star-Ledger echoed this sentiment by criticizing the governor's record on recovery:

    [Christie] didn't send his top Sandy staffers to Legislative hearings until well after his re-election, and his staff fired the lead contractor on the largest rebuilding program without a word to the public. It was only thanks to housing advocates that we found out that its decisions were riddled with errors.

    To be sure, the delays aren't all the fault of the state. But nor does Christie have "a pretty good batting average" on Sandy recovery, as he recently claimed. "A few thousand" still have to rebuild, he said, out of 365,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

    Yet that big number likely includes hundreds of thousands who had only minor damage, and little interaction with the state. The people in the largest rebuilding program were generally the hardest hit and actually needed help putting their lives back together. The vast majority of them are still stuck in limbo, and some have simply dropped out.

    Christie said the reason he ran for re-election was to help the state recover from Hurricane Sandy. The storm now stars in his latest 2016 presidential campaign ad. But we don't need a leader who's lived through a storm. We need one who is a straight-shooter with its victims.

    While the Union Leader fully bought into Christie's campaign slogan of "telling it like it is" -- even using it in their endorsement -- it is clear that the governor's rhetoric has left the New Jersey press less than impressed. Morris County's Daily Record called the slogan and record on which Christie is campaigning "nonsense" (emphasis added):

    "Telling it like it is" -- That's Christie's campaign slogan, and it's pure nonsense. Think we'll hear the truth about New Jersey's lousy economy, its high foreclosure rates, or its continually downgraded credit rating? Of course not. Think we'll get a fair appraisal of the state's miserable performance in assisting Hurricane Sandy victims? Nope. We won't hear a single negative thing from Christie about any of his failures because he'll instead claim great success and blame problems on others.

    In that, of course, Christie will be just be playing the same game as everyone else. Running for office is advertising, and candidates aren't going to play up their own weaknesses. But what makes Christie's brand of disingenuousness stand out is that he works so hard at placing himself upon a pedestal claiming to be different than all the rest while bullying naysayers. That relentless hypocrisy is one of his worst traits.

    Christie wants the public to interpret his bluntness as honesty. But don't be fooled. His strength is that he'll manage to get noticed in a crowded GOP field, in large part because he'll make some outrageous statements along the way. But he won't be telling it like it is. He just wants you to think that.

    After the Union Leader's endorsement, the Star-Ledger's Tom Moran reached out to Bosse. Bosse told Moran that Bridgegate had "nothing to do with the governor," but admitted that the Union Leader editorial board had not looked into Christie's handling of pensions and dismissing Christie's role in the state's sagging economy. Moran gathered that the Union Leader "knows nothing about [Christie's] record as governor" and concluded that "this editorial confirms my worse fears about this presidential race. It's all about performance, not substance."

  • New Hampshire's Union Leader Asks Questions About Benghazi That Have Already Been Answered In Misleading Editorial

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    A New Hampshire Union Leader editorial raised several questions that were answered long ago about the September 11, 2012 attacks on American diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in an effort to attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prior to her October 22 hearing before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The newspaper has a history of right-wing bias in its reporting and on its opinion page, and has often pushed Benghazi myths but never corrected its errors when facts proved those myths false.

    The October 22 editorial claimed that the "Obama Administration has been lying about the attack since it happened" and suggested several questions members of the select committee should ask Clinton during her testimony:

    Why did Clinton ignore Stevens' requests for more security? Why did Clinton push the White House to blame a fringe YouTube video for the attack, rather than radical Islamic terrorists? Why has Clinton been stonewalling attempts to get to the truth for the past three years?

    The problem with the Union Leader editorial board's questions -- and for that matter, its longtime position on Benghazi -- is that these questions have already been asked and answered.

    As the Washington Post and other media outlets reported, Clinton told Congress during previous testimony that the concerns over security at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi had not been brought to her attention prior to the attack, which the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board report confirmed in its finding that the security situation had "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department." Even so, Clinton admitted responsibility for the attacks, calling the violence and its consequences "painful, absolutely painful" for her.

    As a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review of Benghazi found, several pieces of intelligence were revealed after the attacks, including some that "suggest[ed] the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video..."

    In addition, as The New York Times reported, the people who carried out the attacks "told bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the video," and the suspected ringleader, Abu Khattala, "told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him."

    The Union Herald seems to have decided to ignore these and other facts in the public record when they penned this editorial. Ten separate congressional committees have conducted Benghazi investigations, amounting to 32 hearings, approximately 54 hours of publically-available testimony, 2,780 questions asked of 204 witnesses, and 11 reports spanning 784 pages on the attacks.

    This latest editorial continues the newspaper's tradition of repeating debunked reports to push its right-wing agenda on Benghazi.

  • The NH Union Leader Just Hired A Disciple Of The Koch Brothers To Run Its Editorial Page

    ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    The New Hampshire Union Leader has hired Grant Bosse, a former researcher at a think tank funded by the Koch brothers, to be the new editor of the paper's editorial page. In his previous role as a columnist for New Hampshire's Concord Monitor, Bosse defended the Koch brothers and once wrote that progressives who believe the billionaire industrialists are trying to control the Republican Party subscribe to a "conspiracy theory."

  • Fox News' History Of Defending Jeb Bush's Controversial Statements

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News has consistently helped Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush run defense for many of his controversial remarks, including his assertions that he would have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that Americans "need to work longer hours" to boost the economy, and that the federal government spends "too much" on women's health.

  • The Conservative Agenda Driving New Hampshire Media's Political Kingmakers

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI & DANIEL ANGSTER

    As national media begin to focus their political coverage on campaigning by Republican presidential candidates in the lead-up to the New Hampshire primary, it's incumbent upon journalists to disclose the history of misinformation and conservative bias of the state's top newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, as well as the ties between the Koch brothers and oft-quoted state political expert Charles Arlinghaus. 

    A June 30 report by Politico highlighted how the crowded field of GOP contenders are viewing next January's first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire as "do or die" and already jostling for position. The piece said, "Never before have so many White House hopefuls bet so much on a single primary," and included quotes from Charles Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Institute, and Drew Cline, editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. But Politico failed to mention Arlinghaus' ties to the Koch brothers and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), or the Union Leader's long history of publishing conservative misinformation.

    As other New Hampshire newspapers have been closing their state house bureaus because of budget cuts, the Union Leader's voice in statewide politics has gained prominence. Fox News is co-hosting a debate in August with the paper and presidential candidates are lining up to be interviewed by the Union Leader's publisher via live streaming. With so much access to candidates, and hardly any competition, the Union Leader's outsized influence could push candidates further to the right.

    Publisher Joe McQuaid enjoys a prominent role as a must-visit member of the media for presidential primary candidates. In addition to his publishing duties, McQuaid has written sensationalist editorials for the paper, including one that called for a travel ban during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa -- a move most experts agreed would only exacerbate the spread of the virus. As the Daily Beast pointed out in the run-up to the 2012 election, McQuaid "is one of the more influential voices in American politics." McQuaid himself "figures that the Union Leader 'may be able to sway a few percentage points in close elections,'" much of that due to the editorial stance of the paper, which is written by only two people: McQuaid and editor Cline, who also runs the editorial page.

    Although the 2012 Union Leader-endorsed candidate, Newt Gingrich, failed to win the primary, Gingrich's polling numbers spiked following the endorsement. However, as Politico explained, because of the way the Union Leader operates, the endorsement the paper gives is more than just a "one-time front-page feature," because the paper "tends to interweave its endorsement with its news coverage, bolstering its pick and attacking the other candidates ... most likely in addition to the opinion columns that tend to run in the paper echoing the official choice."

    The two-man editorial board of McQuaid and Cline often echoes national conservative media talking points. The board has fabricated a need for harmful voter ID laws, attacked successful Head Start programs -- which help provide a pre-K education for New Hampshire's children - and even downplayed the impact of sequestration's steep budget cuts.   

    The Union Leader's editorial board has been attacking President Obama and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since 2010 and published  a massive amount of misinformation on the law. The board warned of spiking insurance premium prices that never came to pass, criticized cost-saving measures in the law, and said initial glitches in the rollout of the online exchanges meant the entire law was a failure. The board also attacked Medicaid expansion and promoted a misguided voucher program to privatize the program. 

    On foreign policy issues, the Union Leader has demonstrated reckless bias by calling opponents of the release of the Senate report on CIA torture "wusses," and pushed a false narrative that blamed Hillary Clinton for the kidnapping of hundreds of African girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. 

    Outside of its opinion pages, the Union Leader has also at times blatantly misinformed its readers. In 2013, the paper published a lightly-edited press release authored by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) -- the Koch brothers-funded conservative advocacy group -- attacking the ACA. The article gave free publicity to AFP while helping to fulfill its larger mission, which, according to The Washington Post, is to "spread as much confusion and dishonesty about the [health care] law as possible."

    The conservative slant to the Union Leader's news section is also apparent in what the paper chooses not to cover. A 2012 Media Matters study found that it failed to report on the "environmental, health, and economic benefits" of new government regulations in stories that emphasized how they would hurt the economy.

    The Union Leader also publishes a regular op-ed by Charles Arlinghaus, the president of the Josiah Bartlett Institute, a think tank with strong connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council's conservative model-legislation mill (ALEC). In 2012, Arlinghaus and ALEC representatives co-hosted an event to denounce the Affordable Care Act.

    The Josiah Bartlett Institute is part of the Koch brothers-funded State Policy Network -- state-based think tanks that incubate and legitimize conservative policy ideas that often benefit corporate sponsors. A representative for the Center for Media and Democracy told the Nashua Telegraph that Koch donations associated with Arlinghaus and the institute show that Arlinghaus is "working on a national conservative agenda, not a local, New Hampshire-based agenda."

  • STUDY: Media Largely Ignored Climate Change in Coverage Of Winter Snowstorms

    ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    Most of the largest newspapers in the Northeast corridor did not publish a single piece covering this winter's major snowstorms in the context of global warming, despite strong scientific evidence that climate change creates the conditions for heavier snowstorms. The major broadcast networks and cable news channels also provided scant mention of climate change in their discussions of the snowstorms, with the notable exception of MSNBC, which provided extensive coverage of the topic. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Fox News, the Boston Herald and the Providence Journal featured content that used the snowstorms to deny climate science.

  • Union Leader Suggests Those Who Released CIA Torture Report Are "Wusses," Cites Jack Bauer From 24

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    The New Hampshire Union Leader referenced the fictional character, Jack Bauer of the television show 24, to call those in favor of releasing the Senate report on CIA torture practices "wusses" and claim opposition to the agency's brutal techniques amounted to "whining."

    The December 10, editorial defended the CIA's "enhanced interrogation program" by referencing Jack Bauer as evidence that real life is more complex than the "liberal politicians" behind the report make it seem (emphasis added):

    Regarding the politically motivated and highly questionable U.S. Senate report on the CIA released this week, we wonder:

    What would Jack Bauer make of these wusses?

    Bauer, of course, is the fictional character from the TV series "24.'' He regularly and single-handedly saved America by beating the daylights and the information out of the bad guys with little regard for civil niceties.

    We know, real life isn't like television make-believe. But that is precisely the point here. The liberal politicians behind this report are either terribly naive or terribly cynical or both.

    [...]

    Now it is easy to sit in judgment on those who had to find out, fast, who was out to destroy America and stop them. And this business that some brutal tactics make us the moral equivalent of our murderous enemies is garbage.

    Sorry to disappoint the Senate Democrats who wrote and released this one-sided, misleading report, but we think most Americans are going to pay little attention to their whining. We certainly hope so.

    The details of the Senate report shows that prisoners were subjected to a litany of harsh interrogation techniques including forced rectal feeding, being forced to stand on broken legs, waterboarding (simulated drowning), and sleep deprivation. In addition, the report found that no useful information was garnered from the use of these techniques.

    The Union Leader also suggested those in support of the report should not fault the CIA because the agency was charged with "protect[ing] us from further attacks" with few restrictions after 9/11. However the CIA's tactics exceeded limits to interrogation techniques which were laid out by the Department of Justice. As Politico reported, the report detailed instances in which the CIA violated Justice Department legal opinions concerning how the agency should interrogate subjects while ignoring necessary safeguards like training requirements for interrogators.

    Notable conservative Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a victim of torture during his five year captivity in a notoriously harsh North Vietnamese prison camp, also denounced the CIA's actions. During his Senate floor statement on the release of the report, Senator McCain explained that the use of torture is strategically ineffective and runs counter to the values of the United States:

    I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering. Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored.

  • Union Leader Defends Oil Speculators And Ignores Presidential Action As Gas Prices Fall

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    After blaming President Obama when gas prices were high, the New Hampshire Union Leader is now misleadingly crediting "oil companies and speculators" now that gas prices have dropped. However, analysts credit Obama's policies in part for the price decrease, a fact unmentioned by the Union Leader.

    The December 8 editorial went after U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen - who has previously asked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to "crack down speculation in commodities markets" - claiming the senator should apologize for previously blaming speculators and oil companies for rising gas prices, because speculators have recently played a role in falling prices. The editorial continued:

    Bloomberg Businessweek reported that oil speculators played a role in the falling prices. "Since June, then, speculators have dumped the equivalent of 500 million barrels of oil onto the futures market," the magazine reported. That did not cause the price crash, which was mostly the result of increased supply. But speculators added to the downward pressure.

    "Mostly they've been blamed for making prices go higher," the Bloomberg Businessweek report noted. "This time, though, the opposite is true."

    Shaheen has spent years demonizing oil companies and speculators and trying to get Congress to investigate speculators and regulate them more heavily. But she only brings them up when prices are rising. That tells Granite Staters two things: 1) Shaheen has no idea how markets work; and 2) she is not above falsely accusing others of acting in bad faith if it will help her get elected.

    But a previous Bloomberg Businessweek article explained that several of the previous surges in the price of gas during Obama's presidency were in fact due to "speculators - specifically noncommercial users" which is "jargon for investors who are buying up futures contracts not because they intend to use the oil, but because they think it's a good investment ... these are money managers betting that prices will go up."