Stansberry & Associates, an investment research firm catering to right-wing audiences' fears of President Barack Obama, has been fined $1.5 million for engaging in "deliberate fraud" and profiting from "false statements." Despite its shoddy history, numerous conservative outlets and personalities including Newt Gingrich, Fox Business, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Alex Jones, WND, and The Washington Times, have helped legitimize the firm and its wild investment schemes. The firm has also enlisted the help of former Fox News contributor Dick Morris, who has frequently promoted the firm in sponsored video pitches.
Stansberry & Associates was founded in 1999 by Porter Stansberry and claims to have "been predicting the most promising emerging trends and the most influential economic forces affecting the market - with uncanny accuracy - for the past 13 years." Stansberry advertises its services to right-wing audiences with attacks on President Obama and warnings about a forthcoming apocalyptic type collapse of the American government and financial system. Stansberry emails carry subject lines like, "A Survival Secret That Could Save Your Life."
In 2007, Stansberry and his firm -- then called Pirate Investor LLC -- were ordered by a district court to pay $1.5 million in restitution and civil penalties as a result of a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint. As reported by the Baltimore Sun, Stansberry was accused of "disseminating false stock information and defrauding public investors through a financial newsletter ... They claimed investors could double their money if they paid $1,000 for a stock tip involving Bethesda energy company USEC Inc. In total, 1,217 people purchased the report, although 215 of them got their money back after complaining."
A judge in 2007 ruled that Stansberry's activity "undoubtedly involved deliberate fraud" and "making statements that he knew to be false." An appeals court later found that "it would take an act of willful blindness to ignore the fact that Appellants profited from the false statements." Stansberry's defense of his actions can be found here, and a group of publishers, including The New York Times ("The Right to Be Wrong"), defended Stansberry's case on First Amendment grounds.
The Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General announced on September 12, 2011, that Stansberry & Associates "agreed to pay a $55,000 civil monetary penalty to the Social Security Administration" to settle an allegation it violated the Social Security Act. The firm settled the case by paying the fine while not admitting a violation. SSA's complaint alleged that Stansberry advertised it services by claiming to have information from "insiders" on how to increase your Social Security check, and "the SSA OIG believed that the characterization of Stansberry's SSA contacts as 'insiders' falsely implied that the information was not available to the public. The claimed 'insider' information was, in fact, available to anyone upon request."
As Republicans made history yesterday by filibustering a secretary of defense nominee for the first time in U.S. history, Fox News contributor Scott Brown expressed support for the Republican's obstructionist strategy of denying Chuck Hagel's confirmation vote. Insisting there was no reason to "ram" Hagel's nomination through, and claiming Republicans were acting "thoroughly" and "thoughtfully," the former Republican senator told Neil Cavuto's viewers GOP senators leading the filibuster effort "have some very real concerns" and were acting appropriately in blocking a vote.
Sean Hannity agreed, boasting last night that blocking Hagel's confirmation represented a "major win" for the Republican Party.
Of course, Fox News employee Bill Kristol helped launch the entire anti-Hagel effort back in December and his group has aired anti-Hagel ads. This week on Fox News' Special Report, Kristol urged Republicans to stick together and delay the confirmation vote. Meanwhile, Fox contributor Erick Erickson took to the Internet yesterday, beseeching conservatives to contact their senators and implore them to filibuster Hagel's nomination.
So yeah, Fox News seems fine with the obstructionist effort underway in the Senate.
And yes, here's the part where we detail how Fox News projected a very different message when a Republican president's cabinet nominee once encountered far more mild opposition from Democrats. Under that scenario, Fox talkers thundered about the "petty" and "mean spirited" nature of Democrats and led viewers through a series of how-dare-they segments.
The glaring hypocrisy makes the current, hollow cries against Hagel even more difficult to take seriously.
The truth is, Democrats have never tried to obstruct an up-or-down vote on a secretary of defense pick before. And since the Senate tradition for the last hundred years has been to allow newly elected presidents to pick the cabinet of his choice, there is no recent instance to contrast with the Hagel nomination brawl, or the media behavior that surrounded it.
The closest comparison, and it isn't even that close, came when President Bush nominated Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State during his second term. Some Democrats objected, noting that Rice had helped plan, and publicly market, the controversial Iraq invasion; an invasion built around the false premise that Saddam Hussein was hoarding weapons of mass destruction.
Unlike Hagel (a critic of the Iraq War), Rice was easily confirmed by the Senate committee overseeing her selection, and was then given a full vote in the senate, which approved her 85-13. Democrats made no effort to place a "hold" or to filibuster her confirmation. As Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told Fox's Chris Wallace at the time of the Rice nomination, "The president is entitled to his Cabinet." Feinstein added that she didn't want Rice "diminished in the eyes of the world," via the confirmation process.
But the mere fact that a handful of Democrats opposed Rice and pressed her closely about the Iraq War during the confirmation process prompted several rounds of angry complaints from Fox News. The same Fox News that now touts the Hagel filibuster as a "major win."
Right-wing pundits frequently use former President Ronald Reagan's name to apply a stamp of approval on anything or anyone they deem symbolic of the ideal conservative -- even when Reagan's actual record on issues ranging from taxes to the deficit deviated far from the ideological standards of today's conservative movement.
Republican darling du jour Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) is the latest to receive the Reagan badge. Ahead of his delivery of the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Karl Rove said Monday that "in Rubio, the Republicans have got probably one of their best communicators since Ronald Reagan." On MSNBC's Morning Joe, The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis called Rubio "Reaganesque." And in November 2012, pundit Cal Thomas published a column on Townhall.com titled, "Marco Rubio: A Hispanic Reagan?"
Rubio is just the latest in a long line of Republican politicians to receive the ubiquitous accolade:
Mitt Romney: Fox News figures repeatedly linked former presidential candidate Romney to the Gipper during both opinion and news shows in the months leading up to the 2012 election. Bill O'Reilly said that Romney "is going to mirror the ghost of Ronald Reagan," while political correspondent Carl Cameron said Romney, on his bus tour, spent a lot of time "sort of echoing Ronald Reagan."
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI): Fox News figures from K.T. MacFarland to Megyn Kelly compared Ryan to Reagan as part of their cheerleading for Ryan after he was chosen as Romney's vice presidential candidate.
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ): Fox Nation highlighted a column by the director of the American Enterprise Institute with the headline, "Christie's Starting to Look Like Reagan."
Sarah Palin: A post on Breitbart's BigJournalism.com said that Palin "carries the torch of liberty and American exceptionalism in the palm of her lovely hand" before calling her the "surviving embodiment of the spirit of 1776 and the Reagan reformation."
Gov. Scott Walker (WI): On Sean Hannity's Fox show, conservative radio host Mike Gallagher called Walker "the Ronald Reagan of our time."
Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA): Karl Rove, on Hannity's show, called Virginia governor Bob McDonnell "a Reaganite conservative."
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA): In February 2008, Rush Limbaugh called Jindal "the next Ronald Reagan."
Right-wing media figures have splashed the "Reagan" label about so freely that they're in danger of rendering the compliment meaningless.
From the January 6 edition of NBC's Meet The Press:
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Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson put aside his past reverence of Newt Gingrich to lash out at Gingrich's criticism over the Caller's so-called "bombshell video" showing then-Sen. Barack Obama talking about race issues in front of African-American clergy members in 2007. Carlson and others hyping the five-year-old video claimed it was evidence of "divisive class warfare and racially-charged rhetoric."
During an appearance on Fox News' America Live, while attempting to defend his decision to release the video, Carlson was made aware of Gingrich's criticism. Carlson responded: "Who cares what Newt Gingrich said?"
Gingrich yesterday discounted the video, agreeing that Obama's record as president has a "far greater impact" on the election. Gingrich said: "I don't think this particular speech is definitive."
Other conservatives have also questioned the video's importance, saying the 2007 speech holds little significance in the current presidential race.
Carlson's dismissive response is in contrast with his past comments praising Gingrich. In 2009, he referred to Gingrich as "the soul" of the GOP and "the intellectual center of the Republican Party -- the smartest, most energetic guy." More recently, Carlson praised Gingrich for the "great job" he did calling Obama the "food stamp president."
Today on NBC's Meet The Press, Newt Gingrich became the latest conservative to revive the oft-debunked falsehood that President Barack Obama voted as a state legislator to allow doctors to "kill babies." Neither Meet The Press host David Gregory nor the other members of the panel pushed back on this offensive smear.
Gingrich criticized Republican leaders for calling for Rep. Todd Akin to drop out of the Missouri Senate race for comments he made about "legitimate rape" and abortion. In defending Akin, Gingrich claimed that Obama holds the truly extreme position because he voted to allow doctors to "kill babies":
NEWT GINGRICH: The President of the United States voted three times to protect the right of doctors to kill babies who came out of an abortion still alive.
Gregory did not push back on this claim even though it has been widely debunked. The Associated Press noted in a fact check of a previous attempt by Gingrich to push this claim that Illinois law already required that doctors to provide medical attention if a live birth resulted from a botched abortion on a viable fetus:
As an Illinois state senator, Obama voted against legislation promoted by anti-abortion activists that would have conferred protection to fetuses showing any signs of life after an abortion, even if doctors did not believe the fetus was viable. Obama pointed to an existing Illinois law requiring doctors to protect fetuses they believed were likely to survive after an abortion, and said he was concerned the proposed new law was so broad it could interfere with routine abortions.
Fox News continues to attack the Obama administration over welfare reform by claiming that the waiver provision it recently proposed is "illegal" and beyond the scope of President Obama's executive power. In fact, as the Department of Health and Human Services makes clear, there is nothing illegal in the decision; moreover, past presidents have used such authority.
With the competitive race for the Republican nomination effectively over, the runners-up are expressing their hurt feelings with how they were treated by the press. Traditionally, those barbs have been directed at the so-called liberal media for the way reporters and pundits covered conservatives. This year though, the GOP complaints are raining down on Fox News, with both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich taking shots at their former employer for what the candidates consider to be the channel's unfair and unbalanced primary coverage.
Fox News is biased! So claimed Gingrich this week:
During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight.
And so claimed Santorum last month:
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum accused Fox News of "shilling" for GOP front-runner Mitt Romney during a contentious interview Tuesday on the "Kilmeade and Friends" radio show.
"He's had a 10-to-1 money advantage," Santorum said of Romney. "He's had all the organizational advantages. He has Fox News shilling for him every day, no offense Brian, but I see it. And yet, he can't seal the deal because he just doesn't have the goods to be able to motivate the Republican base to win this election."
Like a classroom filled with favorites used to being the center of the teacher's interest, the GOP candidates this season, flattered nonstop for years on Fox, suddenly found themselves competing for the channel's attention and fighting for kingmaker Roger Ailes' affection. Was it inevitable that the incestuous primary process played out on Fox would produce hurt feelings and bruised ego? Yes. Was the spectacle yet another reminder that Fox News has transformed itself into a purely political entity? It was.
From the January 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has canceled the climate change chapter in his upcoming book of environmental essays after Rush Limbaugh and other commentators targeted its author, atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe.
At a recent campaign event, Gingrich told a woman he had cut the climate change section after she expressed concerns about it, citing what she heard from "Rush." "That's not going to be in the book. We didn't know that they were doing that and we told them to kill it," Gingrich says in the video provided by National Journal. The woman replies, "That sounds like a good idea because I thought, why would you want to have somebody like that in there."
By "somebody like that," she was referring to a scientist who, like the vast majority of climatologists, will tell you that human activities are driving climate change. Gingrich's comments came as a surprise to Hayhoe, who said on Twitter that she spent "100+ unpaid hrs" on the project. According to emails reported by the Los Angeles Times, Hayhoe was asked in 2007 to write "a good opening chapter that lays out the facts on global climate change," including "a sense of what needs to happen." She said via email that her chapter did not include specific policy prescriptions. Gingrich's collaborator Terry Maple told the Times that the book will probably be released in 2013.
Hayhoe, an Evangelical Christian who often speaks about climate change to faith-based communities, has noted in the past that "there is a very intelligent, well-planned effort to deliberately try to muddy the waters on this issue." This month, she became the target of that very cohort of activists and commentators.
Responding to a relentless wave of Iowa attacks ads produced by a Mitt Romney-friendly Super PAC, an angry Newt Gingrich last week challenged Romney to debate the "dishonest" commercials. Over the holiday weekend, Gingrich said of the ads, "I feel Romney-boated."
As the Associated press noted:
Gingrich's nautical attack was a reference to a 2004 TV ad campaign by a group called the "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth" that bloodied Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
Gingrich's turn of phrase was telling. Why? Because this was Newt Gingrich, a leader of the modern-day conservative movement, presidential candidate, and proud Republican partisan adopting language that acknowledged the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are synonymous with unsubstantiated campaign attack ads. With his "Romney-boated" comment, the former Republican Speaker of the House reinforced what progressives have been saying for years.
But wait, everyone knows the Swifties peddled slanderous lies about John Kerry, right? Everyone acknowledges their ad campaign represented a new low point in American politics, right?
For years, prominent right-wing bloggers have clung to the parallel universe belief that the Swifties were honorable men and that none of their wild Vietnam War claims about Kerry were ever debunked. Within the right-wing media, the Swift Boat Veterans are fondly remembered as heroes who "courageously told the untold truths."
Previously, from Michelle Malkin:
A reminder to conservatives: "Swift-Boating" does not equal smearing. Swift-Boating means exposing hard truths about corrupt Democrats.
Most of what the Vets said in their ads has never been disputed, let alone discredited.
From Patterico's Pontifications:
The canard that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was a "smear campaign" is so well accepted by Big Media that ABC NEWS feels comfortable in portraying the Swifties' ad campaign as "slanderous" and "smear ads."
On and on the denial goes as far-right bloggers cling to their Swift Boat fantasy. But now, with the likes of Newt Gingrich using the Swift Boat handle as bipartisan shorthand for claims of duplicitous campaign lies, that fantasy is being put to bed.
From the November 20 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From the November 7 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona, a prominent anti-immigration advocate who recently formed an exploratory committee to consider a run for Congress, is a frequent guest on Fox News, and has used his platform to promote and fundraise for his potential congressional bid. Babeu is just the latest in a long line of Republican candidates that Fox News has enthusiastically promoted.
From the August 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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