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]
In a hard-hitting* interview with Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard opened by asking:
Well, I'm sure you saw EPA chief Lisa Jackson was named Energy Policy Maker of the Year by Politico last night. And I quote, "The EPA chief has been a forceful advocate on environmental issues and has held the line against intense Republican attacks on her agency." Is this kind of like Time picking Hitler or Khomeini as Man of the Year - whoever had the most impact whether for good or ill?
Later, Sheppard alleged that Jackson is "trying to set policy without oversight by the legislature" based on the "anthropogenic global warming myth."
In fact, it was the Supreme Court that ruled that the EPA is required to regulate greenhouse gases under the bipartisan Clean Air Act unless it "it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change" or "provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do." Following extensive review of peer-reviewed scientific literature, which overwhelmingly concludes that global warming is caused by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases, the EPA found that greenhouse gases classify as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
Anonymous hackers recently released another batch of emails taken from a climate research group at the University of East Anglia in 2009, along with a document containing numbered excerpts of purportedly incriminating material. Many of these selections have been cropped in a way that completely distorts their meaning, but they were nonetheless repeated by conservative media outlets who believe climate change is a "hoax" and a "conspiracy."
The conservative media is divided on anonymous sources: Some right-wing media figures have been hyping a claim by an anonymous source that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is "likely involved with the sexual harassment" allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. At the same time, however, other conservative media figures have tried to cast doubt on the sexual harassment allegations against Cain by pointing out that they are based on anonymous sources.
Responding to a report that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain allegedly engaged in "sexually suggestive behavior" in the 1990s, right-wing media figures have turned to race-baiting, arguing that Cain is being targeted because he is a "black conservative" and that he is the victim of a "high-tech lynching."
Conservatives are busy spinning the results of a new Pew Research Center study that found among all the candidates running for president, Barack Obama has received, hands down, the least amount of positive coverage (and among the most negative) over the last five months.
The eye-opening conclusion, of course, runs counter to the generations-old mantra that the press has a liberal bias and that reporters and pundits have been on the side of Barack Obama since Inauguration Day.
According to the Pew results, that's just not the case. Not even close.
It's true that some observers (including Media Matters) have in the past questioned the usefulness of similar press coverage studies. But conservatives have cited past Pew reports as a way to portray the rest of the media as biased.
So what's the conservative response to Pew's latest finding? Partisans claim the Pew study is flawed, in part, because it monitored too many media outlets when taking the press' temperature on Obama. It's true that the study cast a very wide net, collecting data not just on the traditional media organizations and how they covered the candidates, but from thousands of sites on the Internet. And that may explain why Obama's coverage as measured by Pew was so downbeat: Because the right-wing blogosphere is built around a very simple formula of hating President Obama.
Wallowing in guttural disdain for the President of the United States, not to mention his wife, is what far-right media outlets do around the clock. That's their business model. So it's not surprising that when a study sets out to measure all of Obama's coverage, the right-wing media's relentlessly negative, and often hateful, attacks on him would help tip the scales in terms of tone.
In other words, it appears conservatives are furious that the Pew study may have accurately captured the insane amount of the scorn and contempt the far right heaps on Obama. Conservatives are indignant that their endless, fact-free hate-fest may have been truthfully measured.
Note to conservatives: Nonstop loathing has its consequences.
The Washington Post's Richard Cohen recently criticized GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry for wrongly stating that "there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data" to exaggerate global warming.
Responding to Cohen's piece, NewsBusters, a project of the Media Research Center, defended Perry's remarks, claiming that it has been "clearly proven" that scientists doctored the data:
As for the manipulation of data, 2009's ClimateGate as well as a myriad of recent findings concerning significant errors in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report have clearly proven this.
The only thing that has been "clearly proven" from the overblown "ClimateGate" controversy is that no amount of evidence will disabuse conservative media of the misconception that "ClimateGate" exposed scientists manipulating data to exaggerate global warming. This claim has simply become part of their retelling of history. But it is baseless.
You might remember Penny Starr as the CNSNews.com reporter who tried to manufacture outrage over a gay-themed art exhibition at the Smithsonian last year. Now, she's upset by something she found on the Internet:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering advice to parents and teens about sex education, including assurances that teens may "experiment" with homosexuality as part of "exploring their own sexuality," and that masturbation should be of concern only "if a child seems preoccupied with it to the exclusion of other activities."
The information, located on a "Questions and Answers About Sex" link on the "Quick Guide to Healthy Living" portion of the HHS Web site, also describes children and infants as "sexual beings."
Under the question "When Do Kids Start Becoming Curious About Sex?" the answer notes that infants have curiosity about their bodies.
"Children are human beings and therefore sexual beings," the Q&A Web page says. "It's hard for parents to acknowledge this, just as it's hard for kids to think of their parents as sexually active. But even infants have curiosity about their own bodies, which is healthy and normal."
This sort of thing, of course, is catnip for the right-wing media, which have used Starr's article as a way to attack the Obama administration. The headline at Fox Nation blamed "Obama's HHS" for publishing this information; a LifeNews headline stated that "Obama Admin Pushes Sex on Kids." Even the version of Starr's article posted at NewsBusters -- like CNS, a division of the conservative Media Research Center -- carried the headline "Obama's HHS: 'Children Are Sexual Beings.'" The Blaze and Weasel Zippers are among the other right-wing websites that picked up on the story.
NewsBusters' Scott Whitlock has claimed that ABC World News "hid the identity of a global warming activist" whose commentary was played during ABC's newscast on Monday:
The journalist featured a clip of Heidi Cullen, who ABC simply labeled as a "climatologist." She announced, "When you crank up the heat, when you globally warm the planet, you're going to see more extreme events."
Yet, Cullen is also the communications director for Climate Central, a group dedicated to "helping mainstream Americans understand how climate change connects to them, and arming our audiences with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their future."
Avila made no mention of her advocacy on this topic. Yet, on May 23, 2011, in another World News piece by Avila, the network did identify Cullen's connection. (She also touted climate change as host of a now-defunct show on the Weather Channel.)
But this is how ABC World News identified Heidi Cullen during the report as it was broadcast on DirecTV in Washington, D.C (note the upper left-hand corner of the screen image):
Watch the segment from Monday as it aired on New York's WABC:
UPDATE: NewsBusters subsequently corrected its blog post:
[08-17-11 Correction: ABC did have the words "Climate Central" in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Though, the network did not offer any explanation of the group's advocacy.]
Right-wing media figures are using Standard & Poor's decision to "downgrade" the U.S. credit rating to rehabilitate former President Bush's economic record. However, the economy inherited from Bush was hemorrhaging jobs and contracting at a rate not seen in more than 50 years.
After relentlessly pushing the false claim that the so-called "Climategate" controversy showed climate scientists deceitfully manipulating data, conservative media are celebrating a Rasmussen Reports poll finding that a majority of Americans believe "some scientists" have likely "falsified research data" to support "their own theories and beliefs about global warming."
On his radio show yesterday, Rush Limbaugh declared that "almost no temperature records were broken" during the recent heat wave and that media outlets who reported on "record-breaking" heat were telling "a bunch of lies" to "advance a political agenda of liberalism."
Limbaugh's remarks echo a Newsbusters post in which Noel Sheppard claims that "almost no temperature records were actually broken." He came to this conclusion by ignoring most of the temperature records. Nevertheless, Sheppard's claim was picked up not only by Limbaugh but also Fox Nation:
Citing the NOAA database, Sheppard claims "There were only 34 new all-time daily temperature records set during last week's 'record-breaking heat.' This is out of over 6000 records previously set for each day since such things have been reported."
Actually, it's not out of over 6000 records "set for each day," but out of over 6000 records set for all-time at each location. Sheppard is confusing all-time and daily records.