Right-wing media are trying to downplay a confrontation over gun sale background checks between a woman who lost her mother in the Newtown, CT, shooting and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) by promoting a report from an Ayotte donor whose wife is the former chair of the New Hampshire GOP.
Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung, asked Ayotte during an April 30 town hall meeting in Warren, New Hampshire, "why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't more important" than Ayotte's claim that conducting background checks would be burdensome for gun store owners. According to NBC News, the meeting "drew more than 100 people who came to condemn or support Ayotte's vote."
Reacting to news reports of the confrontation between Lafferty and Ayotte, Shawn Millerick, editor of the conservative New Hampshire Journal, complained of "liberal media bias" and wrote that reports of Ayotte being confronted over her failure to support expanded background checks were exaggerated by the national media. Millerick also posted photographs of cars with out-of-state license plates that he says belonged to the individuals who opposed Ayotte's background check vote.
Breitbart.com, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, RedState and NewsBusters are all promoting Millerick's report as evidence that the media was dishonest in its coverage of Ayotte's town hall meeting while also characterizing Millerick's online newspaper as a "local" media source and not mentioning its partisan slant. According to Breitbart.com's John Nolte, Millerick's report "expose[d] the leftist national media for the liars they are." The Daily Caller's Alex Pappas framed the issue as a discrepancy between "local" and "national" media:
Kermit Gosnell, currently on trial for murder, appears to be a monster. There are no adjectives strong enough to describe the horrors that a grand jury says took place at the Women's Medical Society.
In recent weeks, anti-choice media figures have been agitating for more coverage of the Gosnell trial in the mainstream press, hoping to inject into public discourse the idea that all clinics performing abortions are the monstrous dens depicted in stark detail in the grand jury report.
I agree - the Gosnell trial does deserve more coverage. Not as a stain on abortion providers but as an indictment of the outcome if the anti-choice movement achieves its goals. Far from the practices of well-established medical facilities, the Women's Medical Society was the modern-day back alley, like those in the pre-Roe era where desperate women were butchered.
The Women's Medical Society's "real business," the grand jury report explicitly states, "was not health; it was profit. There were two primary parts to the operation. By day it was a prescription mill; by night an abortion mill."
To achieve his ends, "Gosnell's approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low - and break the law. That was his competitive edge."
Conservatives are making the argument that "the reason the media and pro-abortion politicians are ignoring Gosnell's trial is because Gosnell was an abortionist. Seven of his victims were killed after they had been aborted, and one died after she had aborted. Why would people who believe in legalized abortion want to shed negative light on bad things that happen during legalized abortions?"
But these were crimes, not "bad things that happened" within legal structures. What the grand jury established is that Gosnell preyed on poor women, performing illegal abortions in unsanitary conditions. Those on the right have spent ample pixels reciting all the abhorrent practice, but have failed to note the critical component - that the actions they cite are illegal.
Pennsylvania, like other states, permits legal abortion within a regulatory framework. Physicians must, for example, provide counseling about the nature of the procedure. Minors must have parental or judicial consent. All women must wait 24 hours after first visiting the facility, in order to fully consider their decision. But Gosnell's compliance with such requirements was casual at best. At the Women's Medical Society, the only question that really mattered was whether you had the cash. Too young? No problem. Didn't want to wait? Gosnell provided same-day service.
As the anti-choice movement seeks to close the last remaining clinics in North Dakota, Mississippi, Kansas, and Arkansas, the ultimate result of its action will be to drive women into the hands of more Kermit Gosnells.
The fact the right refuses to face is that, as the grand jury explicitly stated, "the real key to the business model, though, was this: Gosnell catered to the women who couldn't get abortions elsewhere."
Those who will be taken advantage of are not the wealthy who can afford to travel to an alternative state where they can receive care, but the low-income who feel trapped by their circumstance. Remove legal and safe options, and women like the victims the right purports to be speaking for will turn to the Kermit Gosnells of the world. And it's the policies of the anti-choice movement that will drive them there.
A new Media Matters study documents how TV news outlets -- with the exception of MSNBC -- all but ignored climate change during the 2012 election season, even covering Joe Biden's smile in the vice presidential debate more often. This blackout fit perfectly into the right's climate change playbook.
When we saw events that illustrated the impacts of climate change in the lead-up to the election, the right tried to get the media to look the other way. As wildfires raged this summer, experts said that journalists should be explaining how climate change worsens the risk of wildfires in the West. But once the media finally began to make those connections, the conservative Media Research Center lashed out at them.
When Arctic sea ice loss broke records this summer, conservative media sought to distract their mainstream counterparts by pointing to Antarctic sea ice. Nevermind that the Associated Press had explained that Antarctic sea ice gains did not undermine global warming and were in fact anticipated -- MRC claimed that AP's report was not to be trusted because it "predictably cited scientists." In the end, the record Arctic sea ice loss received little attention from TV media.
And when Hurricane Sandy hit a week before the election, the right attacked the media for even raising global warming. Fox's media criticism show, Fox News Watch, called the media "liberal" for noting the scientific connections between Sandy's destruction and climate change:
JON SCOTT: It didn't take long, though, for liberal media to trot out climate change as the reason behind this storm?
RICHARD GRENELL, FMR. ROMNEY SPOKESMAN: Yes, and that is silly, right.
While TV media's election coverage of climate change ramped up after Sandy, the coverage still totaled less than an hour on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox.
Right-wing media outlets are reporting that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an advocate of gun violence prevention, denied the National Guard entry into Brooklyn to aid victims in the wake of Hurricane Sandy because members of the National Guard carry firearms. In fact, during the press conference the critics are citing, Bloomberg said he opposed having the Guard patrol the streets because he believed the New York Police Department was sufficiently equipped to protect the public and that the Guard would be better used in locations with smaller police forces.
During an October 31 press conference, Bloomberg was asked to respond to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's request for additional National Guard resources to deter criminal activity. Bloomberg responded that "The National Guard has been helpful, but the NYPD is the only people we want on the street with guns," adding that "[w]e don't need it" and that the troops would be better used for that purpose in "locations upstate and into surrounding states where they don't have a police department the size of New York."
REPORTER: Mr. Mayor, Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz has a question, additional National Guard in Brooklyn, do you agree?
BLOOMBERG: No, we appreciate the help. The National Guard has been helpful, but the NYPD is the only people we want on the street with guns. We don't need it. There has been one or two minor outbreakings, disgraceful as they may be, looting reported in the paper, but the vast bulk of people are doing the right thing. And in Brooklyn people are safe the same way they are in the rest of the city. We have the resources, the NYPD is 100 percent confident that we can protect the public, we've been doing this for an awful long time. You just have to take a look at the crime rate to understand how good a job this is. And the National Guard has plenty of responsibilities. There are plenty of locations upstate and into surrounding states where they don't have a police department the size of New York, and they can use help from the state, and that's where they should be.
Right-wing media outlets are echoing and defending Mitt Romney's false claim that Chrysler is sending a Jeep production line from the United States to China. In fact, as numerous media outlets have pointed out, Jeep is not sending any U.S. jobs to China; rather, the U.S. is opening a new production line in China for the Chinese domestic market.
At a rally in Ohio on October 26, Romney said that he "saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep -- now owned by the Italians -- is thinking of moving all production to China." The Detroit News reported that Romney "was apparently responding to reports Thursday on right-leaning blogs that misinterpreted a recent Bloomberg News story earlier this week that said Chrysler, owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, is thinking of building Jeeps in China for sale in the Chinese market."
Indeed, the Washington Examiner claimed the previous day that Jeep "is considering giving up on the United States and shifting production to China." The Examiner's Paul Bedard also wrote that Jeep is "shifting production of all Jeeps to China, which has a strong desire for Jeeps." The Drudge Report also hyped the Examiner post.
On his October 27 Fox Business show, host Neil Cavuto echoed Romney's claim, saying (via Nexis) that Jeep is "apparently shifting gears and its production plan, moving a lot of manufacturing out of Michigan and right into China."
On October 29, NewsBusters smeared MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, likening her to Saddam Hussein's propaganda minister "Baghdad Bob" after she said that Romney was wrong. NewsBusters claimed "it's still unclear" how Romney was wrong when he said Jeep is thinking of moving its production to China:
Chrysler is majority-owned by Fiat and hence it is within Fiat's power to move Jeep production wherever it wants. Since the company "may eventually" make all its Jeeps in China, as Bloomberg reported, citing a company executive as its source, one can only conclude that Romney's lying about this, as far as Maddow is concerned, stems from him not actually reading a story about it as he claimed, but getting his information elsewhere.
Also on October 29, the Drudge Report linked to a Romney ad on the auto rescue with the headline: "Romney hits auto bailout as Chrysler moves Jeep production to China." But this ad has been criticized for its inaccuracy. A Boston Globe post titled "Mitt Romney ad suggests US auto jobs headed to China" said that while the ad "does not state explicitly" that jobs are moving to China, "it connects Jeep's manufacturing in China to Romney's fighting for American jobs." The Hill said that Romney's ad "references a report that Chrysler is outsourcing its U.S. Jeep production," despite Chrysler's statements to the contrary. And National Journal wrote that Romney "is running a new TV ad that implies Chrysler is planning to move U.S. auto jobs to China, though that is not the case."
These claims and NewsBusters' defense of Romney are completely wrong. The Bloomberg article that NewsBusters references to prove Romney is right also includes this line that the right-wing media watchdog organization left out (emphasis added):
Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. [Fiat and Chrysler executive] Manley referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.
Fox Nation is linking to a recent Associated Press story, using the headline "AP: Global Warming Means More Arctic Ice." In fact, Arctic sea ice cover fell to the lowest yearly minimum extent ever recorded just last month. The AP article explained that Antarctic sea ice growth is consistent with climate scientists' projections for a warming planet, and noted that these gains are slight compared to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice.
Earlier this week, AP's Seth Borenstein reported on Antarctic sea ice gains, noting that a recent growth record came just days after the lowest minimum extent of Arctic sea ice ever observed. Borenstein explained that scientists say "[s]hifts in wind patterns and the giant ozone hole over the Antarctic this time of year -- both related to human activity -- are probably behind the increase in ice." The website NewsBusters, engaging in what passes for media criticism for conservatives, complained that AP "predictably cited scientists" to explain climate science. NewsBusters alluded to a climate denier-cum-birther, who writes under the pseudonym Steven Goddard, and Christopher Horner, a lawyer who has misrepresented climate science as a fellow at the partially industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, to bolster its argument.
NewsBusters declared that since this sea ice growth is somewhat counterintuitive it is "unbelievable." However, Antarctic sea ice gains as a consequence of climate change are not a new idea. Recent research is in line with past predictions and "conventional wisdom." And while Antarctic sea ice has increased, land ice has declined.
While conservative media have used Antarctic sea ice to try to cast doubt on climate change, NASA's chief scientist told AP that "the change [in the Antarctic] is nowhere near as substantial as what we see in the Arctic." This year's Arctic sea ice minimum was lower than any recorded in the satellite observation era "by a wide margin":
Right-wing media attacked NBC News and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell for not airing a 1998 tape of President Obama on Wednesday before the network could authenticate it, accusing NBC of a "double standard" and of being a subsidiary of the Obama administration.
In fact, in seeking to verify the full context of what Obama said 14 years ago, comments first publicized by the Drudge Report and subsequently distorted by right-wing media, NBC News was doing exactly what is required of news organizations: checking the facts.
On September 18, the Drudge Report linked to an edited video of then-Sen. Obama saying, "I actually believe in redistribution." Right-wing media then jumped on the video to attack Obama as a socialist, while Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney used it to deflect from his comments that the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income tax "are victims" and claimed "they will vote for [President Obama] no matter what."
The next day, discussing the Drudge tape on her MSNBC show, Mitchell stated:
MITCHELL: Let's explain this redistribution issue because we have not authenticated this 14-year-old tape from Loyola college when Barack Obama was a state senator. So because we have not independently, at NBC News and MSNBC, authenticated it, we're not airing it.
But the basic issue is, they're accusing President Obama, as John Sununu said to me yesterday, of class warfare.
In an email to Politico, an NBC News spokesperson added:
"In any instance like this -- regardless of the source or topic -- NBC News Standards will issue guidance instructing broadcasts to not air content unless or until we can determine that it is authentic, unedited, and not taken out of context."
Mitchell and NBC were immediately attacked.
In her syndicated column, Michelle Malkin depicted newly finalized fuel economy standards as dangerous to consumers. But in fact, standards have been reformed to remove incentives for smaller, potentially less safe cars, and technological improvements have made many smaller cars just as safe as larger vehicles.
In March, Fox News walked back its false attacks on the Chevy Volt after being called out by former GM Vice Chairman and political conservative Bob Lutz. But with Volt sales up, Fox is resuming its campaign against Chevy's plug-in hybrid, promoting a falsehood that Fox News itself labeled a "myth."
Fox Nation is promoting a Newsbusters article that calls the Chevy Volt the "epitome of this [auto] bailout nightmare mess" and claims "The Press is at every turn covering up - rather than covering - the serial failures of President Obama's signature vehicle."
I'll let Fox News' Steve Doocy debunk this one. From Fox & Friends back in March:
DOOCY: Lee, I'm glad you brought up that, the myth -- that so many people think that Barack Obama, you know, came to office and shoved this down GM's throat. It had been in development for almost two years, as you detailed.
The article also contains several other false attacks:
Demonstrating how easy it is for reckless media outlets to foster confusion about climate change, Fox News again misrepresented a scientific paper last night, claiming it provides "more evidence for global cooling." Over the past several years, Fox has repeatedly pushed the claim that "the Earth is actually cooling."
From last night's edition of Special Report:
Here's what Special Report anchor Bret Baier neglected to mention:
Prior to Fox News' report, the right-wing website Newsbusters published a post on the study and asked if "America's global warming-obsessed media will pay any attention to this new information." Newsbusters laughably declared that the study "thoroughly debunks global warming."
An Associated Press article about President Obama speaking at a June 14 fundraiser in New York omitted key context to portray Obama as having said that the celebrities in attendance are the "ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes." In fact, Obama said that the attendees and "the American people" are the "tie-breaker" and the "ultimate arbiter" of the country's direction.
Right-wing blogs and Fox News ran wild with the AP's distortion of Obama's comments.
From the AP article:
President Barack Obama soaked in the support, and the campaign cash, of Manhattan's elite entertainers Thursday as his re-election team sought to fill its fundraising coffers.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama made a rare joint fundraising appearance when they visited the home of actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. The intimate dinner banked about $2 million, with 50 people paying $40,000 each.
The dinner was the Obama campaign's latest attempt to bank on celebrities for fundraising help in countering the growing donor enthusiasm from Republicans supporting Mitt Romney's presidential bid.
Speaking in a dimly lighted, art-filled room, Obama told supporters they would play a critical role in an election that would determine a vision for the nation's future.
"You're the tie-breaker," he said. "You're the ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes."
Among the celebrities on hand to hear Obama's remarks were Oscar winner Meryl Streep, fashion designer Michael Kors and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who moderated a private question-and-answer session between the president and the guests. Broderick, who was starring in a Broadway musical, was absent. [emphasis added]
From the White House website's transcript of the event:
In some ways, this election is more important than 2008 -- because in 2008, as much as I disagreed with Mr. McCain, he believed in climate change. He believed in campaign finance reform. He believed in immigration reform. And now what we have is a Republican nominee and a Republican Party that has moved fundamentally away from what used to be a bipartisan consensus about how you build an economy; that has said our entire agenda is based on cutting taxes even more for people who don't need them and weren't asking for them; slashing our commitment to things like education or science or infrastructure or a basic social safety net for seniors and the disabled and the infirm; that wants to gut regulations for polluters or those who are taking advantage of consumers.
So they've got a very specific theory about how you grow the economy. It's not very different from the one that actually got us into this mess in the first place. And what we're going to have to do is to present very clearly to the American people that choice. Because ultimately you guys and the American people, you're the tie-breaker. You're the ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes in. Do we go in a direction where we're all in this together and we share in prosperity, or do we believe that everybody is on their own and we'll see how it plays out? [emphasis added]
Some in the conservative media are comparing voter ID laws to a supposed photo ID requirement for First Lady Michelle Obama's upcoming book signing to accuse the Obama administration of hypocrisy. However, such a comparison is invalid, because while people have a constitutional right to vote, they do not have a constitutional right to meet with the first lady.
On May 30, the blog Obama Foodorama reported that Michelle Obama will appear at a Washington, D.C. Barnes & Noble on June 12 to sign copies of her new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. Obama Foodorama further reported that those wishing to attend the event will have to purchase a copy of the first lady's book and "submit their social security number and show an official photo ID (driver's license, passport) to a Secret Service agent" in advance of the signing.
Conservative media have seized on Obama Foodorama's report to attack the Obama administration, accusing them of having a hypocritical position on photo ID requirements.
A June 6 NewsBusters post by John Bates, headlined "First Lady Requires Photo ID for Her Book Signings; Voter ID Law-hating Media Fail to Note Obama Hypocrisy," declared:
The Obama administration has done its best to oppose states from instituting new, stricter voter ID laws, complaining that many minority voters lack photo identification. But those same folks it wants voting in November are apparently not welcome anywhere near the First Lady's book signings. Something tells me that the same media outlets comparing voter ID laws to the Jim Crow Laws, however, won't see any hint of hypocrisy here, if they even report the story at all.
Fox Nation linked to the NewsBusters post with the headline "Michelle Obama Photo ID Rule."
Readers are advised that the original article included a doctored picture of Obama and others that turned out to have anti-Semitic imagery that I didn't notice when I incorporated it into the piece. Those familiar with my work know that's not something I would intentionally do. I apologize to anyone with better eyes than I have that noticed the imagery and was in any way offended.
The replacement image is one of the top Google Images results for the phrase "obama laughing," as is the original anti-Semitic illustration.
The Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog is using an anti-Semitic image depicting Jewish control and influence over the U.S. government to illustrate one of its posts. The entry, written by NewsBusters associate editor Noel Sheppard, is accompanied by the following Photoshopped image:
Conservative media are once again hyping the amount of oil in the U.S. by including oil shale, ignoring that oil companies have found no profitable way to develop that resource.
The most recent flood of misinformation came after testimony by the Government Accountability Office's Anu Mittal about "oil shale," a sedimentary rock that when heated at high temperatures can produce liquid fuels (except gasoline) with a larger carbon footprint than conventional liquid fuels. While some conservative outlets claimed it was major news, the testimony -- which was based on an October 2010 GAO report -- contained no positive developments for oil shale, which has long been known to exist in large amounts in the U.S. but is not commercially viable. Earlier this year, energy expert Robert Rapier wrote, "It is not at all clear that even at $100 oil the shale in the Green River formation will be commercialized to produce oil." Even an editor at the right-wing blog The American Thinker acknowledged that "any large scale operations" for oil shale development would be "prohibitively expensive at this time." And just recently, Chevron gave up its oil shale lease in Colorado.
Mittal noted in her testimony that no technology to develop oil shale "has been shown to be economically or environmentally viable at a commercial scale." But Fox News' nightly news show and CNSNews.com, a project of the conservative Media Research Center, failed to mention that oil shale is not currently commercially viable. Breitbart.com and Investor's Business Daily incorrectly suggested that oil shale is not being developed because of Obama administration policies, rather than economic considerations. And Powerline suggested that oil shale is in fact viable because of the "advance of extraction technology," seemingly confusing oil shale with tight oil from shale rock, which can be extracted via horizontal drilling and hydrofracking.
It's interesting to see that the same people who dismiss the enormous potential of solar and wind power and attack investment in renewable energy are hyping the potential of oil shale. A December 2011 Congressional Research Service report, which classified oil shale as a "sub-economic" resource, stated that "despite government programs in the 1970s and early 1980s to stimulate development of the resource, production of oil shale is not yet commercially viable."
Rush Limbaugh has been roundly condemned after he attacked Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, smearing her as a "slut" and a "prostitute" after she testified before Congress recently about the problems caused when women lack access to contraception.
Yet Limbaugh's misogynistic comments have been defended in the right-wing media.
Fox Nation: "Limbaugh Takes Blowtorch To Fluke 'Slut' Controversy." On March 1, Fox Nation posted video and transcript of Limbaugh's comments with the headline: "Limbaugh Takes Blowtorch To Fluke 'Slut' Controversy." From Fox Nation:
[Fox Nation, 3/1/12]
CNN's Erickson: " Of Course Rush Was Being Insulting ... But He Was Using Insult And Sarcasm To Highlight The Absurdity Of Sandra Fluke And The Left's Position." In a March 2 RedState post, CNN contributor Erick Erickson responded to Carly Fiorina, vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, after she criticized Limbaugh's comments as "insulting." Erickson wrote:
Well of course Rush Limbaugh was being insulting. It is not something I would do, but he was using insult and sarcasm to highlight the absurdity of Sandra Fluke and the left's position, which in a nut shell is they think you, me, and every other American should pay for them to have sex. And while I understand people being offended, I am offended by many of these same people thinking I should be subsidizing what has, for years, been considered a consensual act. [RedState, 3/2/12, emphasis added]