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  • Conservative Media Keep Relying On Shoddy Research From This Anti-Immigrant Group To Push Xenophobic Agenda

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Fox News and numerous other conservative media outlets uncritically presented the misleading conclusions of a May 2016 report by the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which claimed that immigrant-headed households consume more welfare than households headed by native-born people. Right-wing media have ignored criticism from experts pointing out the report’s methodological flaws and exaggerations in order to present immigrants as a fiscal burden.

    Right-wing outlets including Breitbart, Newsmax, and The Daily Caller hyped the May 9 CIS report claiming that immigrant-headed households receive more welfare than households headed by native-borns. On May 12, Fox correspondent Eric Shawn presented the study’s claims uncritically during the “Truth Serum” segment of Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor. Host Bill O’Reilly introduced the segment by announcing the story was about “tax money going to support illegal aliens”:

    Experts have already leveled criticism at the report. Immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh wrote that “The CIS headline result … lacks any kind of reasonable statistical controls” and that “CIS’ buried results undermine their own headline findings.” The American Immigration Council called the report “fundamentally flawed” and criticized its methodology as “creative accounting”:

    The biggest shortcoming of both reports is that they count the public benefits utilized by U.S.-born children as costs incurred by the “immigrant-headed households” of which they are a part—at least until those children turn 18, that is, at which point they are counted as “natives.”

    The problem with this kind of creative accounting is that all children are “costly” when they are young because they consume educational and health services without contributing any tax revenue. However, that situation reverses when they are working-age adults who, in a sense, “pay back” in taxes what they consumed as children. So it is disingenuous to count them as a “cost of immigration” one minute, and then as native-born taxpayers the next minute.

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), CIS has ties to hate groups in the nativist lobby and “has never found any aspect of immigration that it liked, and it has frequently manipulated data to achieve the results it seeks.” CIS has repeatedly been criticized for publishing shoddy research work that includes the “misinterpretation and manipulation of data” and methodologies that are “deeply flawed.”

    These criticisms of the new report received no mention on right-wing media reports on the study. Previous equally flawed CIS studies have been similarly promoted by conservative media, indicating a pattern: CIS publishes a study with anti-immigrant conclusions, and right-wing media ignore facts to report it uncritically, despite expert criticisms pointing to methodological flaws, nuances, or controls that undermine the study’s conclusion. This cycle joins other dishonest strategies from the immigrant smearing playbook that have been repeatedly employed by right-wing media.

  • Conservatives Have Been Praising Merrick Garland For Years

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    On March 16, President Obama announced his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court. Garland has faced misleading and false attacks, as well as a concerted push for continued obstruction of any Supreme Court nominee chosen by Obama. However, some of the same conservative officials and pundits have previously lavished Garland with praise arguing that he would be a "consensus nominee" representing "the best scenario" for bipartisan support.

  • Conservative Media Run With Misleading Report That Bill Clinton Slammed Obama

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Right-wing media repeatedly cited a misleading Tennessee newspaper report that took former President Bill Clinton out of context to claim that he criticized President Obama during a campaign speech for not doing enough to effect change in the country. In fact, full video of Clinton's remarks reveals that he repeatedly praised Obama's accomplishments and explicitly criticized those who claim that Obama didn't accomplish enough.

  • Conservative Media Use Trey Gowdy Interview To Push Debunked Benghazi "Stand Down" Claim

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Conservative media are seizing on comments made by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi in order to repeat debunked claims that American military forces were ordered to "stand down" and not help rescue those attacked on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, numerous congressional investigations found that no such order was given to American military forces.

  • NASA Scientist Warned Deniers Would Distort His Antarctic Ice Study -- That's Exactly What They Did

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    A new NASA study found that there has been a net increase in land ice in Antarctica in recent years, despite a decline in some parts of the continent. The study's lead author astutely predicted that climate science deniers would distort the study, even though it does nothing to contradict the scientific consensus on climate change or the fact that sea levels will continue to rise.

  • Right-Wing Media Praise "Populist" Trump Tax Plan That's Anything But

    Critics Detail How It Overwhelmingly Benefits The Wealthy And Corporations

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump unveiled a tax reform plan that he claimed will "cost [him] a fortune" and that right-wing media touted as "populist." In fact, like many of his Republican rivals, Trump has offered a tax plan that amounts to a victory for the rich.

  • Michael Reagan Attacks Donald Trump While Taking His Advertising Money

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Conservative pundit Michael Reagan has been bashing Donald Trump's presidential campaign while flooding his readers with sponsored emails for Trump donations and merchandise.

    Reagan, the son of President Reagan and actress Jane Wyman, is a conservative political commentator and businessman who is frequently interviewed about all things Reagan. Since Trump's presidential announcement, and ahead of the Republican debate at the Reagan Library, he has been making the rounds criticizing the Republican candidate and minimizing the purported similarities between Trump and his father.

    Reagan told Politico in a recent interview that unlike Trump, "Ronald Reagan would never take 11 million people or three million people or a million people and throw them out of the United States of America." Reagan told CNN that Trump is the candidate least like his father because "Trump will 'throw people off the bus' rather than building coalitions that can help the GOP win national elections." Reagan said on Newsmax TV in August that Trump is "using my father on one side, and on the other side trashing everything my father, in fact, believed in."

    Michael Reagan's newsletter, Reagan Reports, has inundated email subscribers with sponsored messages touting Trump campaign solicitations and merchandise.

    Reagan has sent readers an "Urgent Message from Donald J. Trump" to give the billionaire's campaign "a contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250." Reagan sent the emails on August 1, 6, and 11. An accompanying note for the August 11 email said the Trump campaign email was "a special message from our sponsor, Donald Trump. Sponsorships like this allow us to continue our work to educate the American people on the important issues affecting our country. We appreciate your support."

    Reagan has also embedded Trump campaign advertising images and text links, such as this one on August 4. The links on the advertisements take readers to a Newsmax.com advertising page which features a solicitation for campaign contributions.

    Reagan Reports also sent sponsored emails promoting Trump merchandise. On August 15, Reagan sent an email for readers to get their "very own 'Make America Great Again' cap (a $25 value) FREE with this offer, just pay shipping & handling." Reagan repeatedly sent emails offering readers the chance to get "Get Your FREE Copy of Donald Trump's 'Time to Get Tough'!" through Newsmax.

    Michael Reagan's email list, which claims to have 565,000 subscribers, is managed by Newsmax, a conservative website that makes tens of millions of dollars through "a smorgasbord of political, health, and financial information, self-help books, and even vitamin supplements constantly pushed through the website and e-mail lists." The Washington Post reported on August 11 that Newsmax has been partnering with email lists owners "to help raise money for Trump  -- all while allowing them to keep 30 percent of what's contributed to the candidate." Other conservatives such as the Daily CallerDick MorrisPJ Media, and Herman Cain have also sent sponsored emails for Trump's campaign.

    Reagan's conflicting promotions of Trump is just another example of how conservative media dupe their followers for cash. 

  • This Critic Of Hillary Clinton's Climate Change Plan Should Actually Read It

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Hillary ClintonAuthor and New York Sun co-founder Ira Stoll attacked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's new climate change plan for focusing on installing solar panels instead of setting emissions limits or investing in battery storage technology. Stoll apparently didn't realize that those policies are included in Clinton's plan, too. 

    In a July 27 Sun op-ed, which was also published on conservative news sites NewsMax and Reason.com, Stoll lectured Clinton that her goal of installing more than half a billion solar panels by the end of her first presidential term isn't a "serious" climate change strategy. According to Stoll, if Clinton "really wants to fight climate change," she should abandon her solar panel goal and instead pursue other policies, such as "fund[ing] research and development for battery storage" or "set[ting] emissions goals and let[ting] utilities or states decide the cheapest and best ways to meet them" (emphasis added):

    If Mrs. Clinton really wants to fight climate change or cut carbon emissions, there are plenty of ways to go about it. She could fund research and development for battery storage. She could set emissions goals and let utilities or states decide the cheapest and best ways to meet them. She could allow more hydrofracturing that replaces coal-fired plants with cleaner oil and natural gas. But counting solar panels? Come on, Mrs. Clinton. Get serious.

    But Clinton's proposal actually includes both of those things.

    In a briefing fact sheet that she released as part of her climate change plan, Clinton announced that her "Clean Energy Challenge" would include funding "clean energy [research and development], including in storage technology" (emphasis added):

    As part of the Clean Energy Challenge, Clinton will ensure that every part of the federal government is working in concert to help Americans build a clean energy future. This includes:

    [...]

    Innovation: Increase public investment in clean energy R&D, including in storage technology, designed materials, advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and sequestration. Expand successful innovation initiatives, like ARPA-e, and cut those that fail to deliver results.

    And Clinton also confirmed that she would make it a "top priority" to defend and implement the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which sets the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. As the EPA has explained, the Clean Power Plan involves "EPA setting a goal and the states deciding how they will meet it. Each state will choose the best set of cost-effective strategies for its situation."

    Stoll's only other climate policy suggestion -- that Clinton "allow more hydrofracturing" -- ignores evidence that methane leaks may eliminate any of the potential climate benefits of extracting natural gas via hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. And Stoll's claim that oil-fired power plants are "cleaner" than coal-fired plants is an exercise in exceedingly low expectations, since the carbon-intensity of oil-fired plants is only marginally better.

    There's also one other reason Clinton shouldn't take Stoll's advice on how to best address climate change: He doesn't accept that it is a particularly serious problem. According to Stoll, "Secretary Clinton assumes that man-made climate change is a risk serious enough to try to mitigate and that America should try to mitigate it by reducing its carbon emissions. These are big 'ifs,' but ones I will grant for argument's sake."

    If only he would also grant Clinton all of the proposals that are included in her climate change platform.

    Image at top by Paul Morse and taken from Flickr using a Creative Commons License.

  • Conservative Media Are Falling For Another Ed Klein Conspiracy Theory

    Discredited Journalist Ed Klein Returns To Citing Anonymous Sources To Accuse Obama Of Sabotaging The Clintons

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Discredited journalist Ed Klein is pushing a dubious conspiracy theory that White House adviser Valerie Jarrett leaked the Hillary Clinton email story to the media, an anonymously sourced allegation that's giving Klein renewed attention in the pages and on the airwaves of the right-wing press.

    Earlier this month, a flawed New York Times report sensationalized the fact that as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton used a personal email address to conduct State Department business.

    Klein is now positing that Jarrett "leaked" the story to the press, as he writes in a March 16 column in the New York Post. Klein cites anonymous "members of Bill Clinton's camp" and a nameless "source close to the White House" to come to the conclusion that the Obama administration is deliberately trying to "sabotage" the possible presidential ambitions of Obama's former secretary of state.

    His conspiracy theory was given a platform across the full spectrum of conservative media, which called it "explosive" and "reveal[ing]." Fox News featured several segments on Klein's theory and even hosted him on the set of Fox & Friends earlier this month to hype his "bombshell claim."

    Conservative media continue to afford Klein credibility despite a resume riddled with lies and discredited writing.

    A few of his greatest hits:

    • Klein Concocted A Bogus Claim That Bill Clinton Sexually Assaulted Hillary Clinton. In Ed Klein's 2005 book The Truth About Hillary, he alleged that Chelsea Clinton was conceived during a vacation in Bermuda where Bill Clinton raped his wife. According to the footnotes, this claim was predicated on an interview with a single anonymous source who supposedly "was with the Clintons in Bermuda" (Klein would later walk back this smear).
    • Klein Published Impossible, False Allegation That Obama Abandoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu In Order To Have Dinner With His Family. According to a June 2012 report by ThinkProgress, Klein published a false report alleging that Obama left a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister in order to have dinner with his family. Pointing to a 2010 article Klein published in The Huffington Post, they note that a simple phone call would have disproved Klein's assertion:

    In a 2010 entry in The Huffington Post, Klein detailed President Obama's "humiliation" of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu, claiming that sources told him of Obama leaving during a meeting with Netenyahu to have dinner with Michelle and their two daughters. One phone call would have revealed that to be impossible, since Michelle, Sasha and Malia were all in New York City at the time."

    • Klein Repeatedly Leans On Sexist Rhetoric To Attack Hillary Clinton, Including Claims About Her Weight And Health. During a June 4, 2012 appearance on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, Klein promoted his anti-Obama book, The Amateur, and offered his thoughts on a possible 2016 run for the White House by Hillary Clinton. Klein lobbed personal attacks about Clinton's health, telling listeners that she is "not looking good these days. She's looking overweight, and she's looking very tired." 

    Klein's latest claims come fresh off the heels of his 2014 book, Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the ObamasBlood Feud was roundly ridiculed for its sourcing problems and unlikely anecdotes, even by Fox figures like Megyn Kelly and Brian Kilmeade.

    Nevertheless, Klein's conspiracy theories have been amplified by the network and its other hosts, as well as other players in conservative media.

  • Right-Wing Media Falsely Drag Steyer Into Oregon Gov. Scandal

    ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Conservative media outlets are broadly attacking clean energy and the environmental movement by falsely alleging that prominent environmental philanthropist Tom Steyer has "deep ties" to the recent scandal involving Cylvia Hayes, the fiancée of former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber who failed to publicly disclose that she was being paid by a clean energy group while also advising Kitzhaber on clean energy issues. In reality, there is no evidence that Steyer funded Hayes, or that Steyer has any other connection to the scandal.

  • Climate Denial Food Chain: Conservative Media Run With Baseless Climate Science Conspiracy Theory

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    Taking their cues from the Drudge Report, right-wing media are echoing a London Telegraph columnist's false claim that scientific agencies intentionally adjusted years of weather station data to show a global warming trend that isn't really there, which the author dubbed the "biggest science scandal ever." But far from being a scandal, historical temperature records are routinely subject to peer-reviewed adjustments to account for changes to measuring instruments, the time of day measurements are taken, and other factors -- and they do not negate a global warming trend.