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]
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.