Conservative media's false claim that Bill Clinton banned guns on military bases is back in the news after being repeated by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Following the mass shooting at Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard facility in 2013, conservative media sought to pin blame on President Clinton by seizing on a March 1993 Army regulation that they claimed banned the carrying of guns on military bases. In fact, the 1993 regulation came from a 1992 directive issued under George H.W. Bush that became "effective immediately" in February of that year. (The Bush directive actually allows guns to be carried on military bases under a substantial number of circumstances and military experts have said more permissive gun carrying rules are a bad idea.)
Although this falsehood led to the National Rifle Association's news show issuing a rare correction, it's been given new life after being repeated by Trump and subsequently trumpeted by the right-wing media echo chamber.
In a July 7 interview with Ammoland.com, Trump was asked (emphasis original), "Would you have a problem allowing our military bases to set their own polices with regard to personal weapons and do away with the 'Gun Free Zones' death trap?"
In his response, Trump said, "President Clinton never should have passed a ban on soldiers being able to protect themselves on bases" (emphasis and brackets original):
"[gun free zones] No, not optional. As Commander-in-Chief, I would mandate that soldiers remain armed and on alert at our military bases.
President Clinton never should have passed a ban on soldiers being able to protect themselves on bases. America's Armed Forces will be armed.
They will be able to defend themselves against terrorists. Our brave soldiers should not be at risk because of policy created by civilian leadership. Political correctness has no place in this debate."
Trump's false claim about Clinton was then repeated in conservative media. The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard reported,"Pistol-packing GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump ripped a policy implemented by former President Bill Clinton making military bases 'gun free zones,' declaring that as president bases would no longer be defenseless against terror attacks."
The NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom, praised Trump's vow that he would change military base policies in a July 14 post that excised Trump's false claim about Clinton.
This is not the first time that Trump has campaigned on falsehoods invented by conservative media. During a July CNN appearance, Trump falsely claimed that there are 34 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, a vastly overstated and false figure that had previously circulated in conservative media.
Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard told former Hewlett-Packard CEO and possible Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina that he "never met a presidential candidate with pink nail polish on" during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
In response, Fiorina told Bedard, "There's always a first."
In an April 16 column about the event, Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, who was also in attendance, noted that Bedard's comment "set off murmurs of sexism on my side of the table." Capehart followed up by interviewing Fiorina about the exchange, and reportedly asked how she would deal with "situations where people focus as much on her appearance as on her policies." Fiorina told him, "I've been dealing with it all my life."
Media Matters has repeatedly documented sexist media attacks on female politicians, ranging from Bill O'Reilly arguing in 2014 "there's got to be some downside to having a woman president" toNewsweek's demeaning coverage of former Governor Sarah Palin following the 2008 presidential campaign.
The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard writes today that the Republican National Committee is looking to "scrap the old model of having reporters and news personalities ask the questions at candidate forums" for the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. Apparently the RNC is weighing the idea of replacing those debate moderators with "heavyweight" conservative radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin. Given that this is all based on anonymous sourcing and that this is coming from Paul Bedard, who will print pretty much anything, I encourage you to please accept this grain of salt. However, the prospect of Hannity or Limbaugh in the debate moderator's chair has already received favorable reactions from the highest levels of the RNC, to include chairman Reince Priebus, who called it "a very good idea."
It's possible that Priebus et. al. are just humoring the supporters of this idea, but if they are in fact considering a debate format moderated by talk-radio blowhards, that's a pretty clear sign that the much-ballyhooed Republican "rebranding" document that the committee put out earlier this year is, for all intents and purposes, defunct. And it was the talk-radio blowhards who killed it.
The RNC's 2012 postmortem, wryly titled the "Growth & Opportunity Project," attempted to take stock of what went wrong in the Republican effort to evict Barack Obama from the White House, and why it was that so much of the party had convinced themselves that Mitt Romney was headed toward a landslide victory. The diagnosis? Epistemic closure:
The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.
Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need a Party whose brand of conservatism invites and inspires new people to visit us. We need to remain America's conservative alternative to big-government, redistribution-to-extremes liberalism, while building a route into our Party that a non-traditional Republican will want to travel. Our standard should not be universal purity; it should be a more welcoming conservatism.
"Our standard should not be universal purity." If that's not the standard anymore, then inviting Rush Limbaugh to moderate a GOP debate would be a funny way of showing it. The man has built his empire and influence by evangelizing pure conservatism and blasting everyone to the left of Antonin Scalia as a despicable liberal. Sean Hannity doesn't attract or persuade new Republican voters; he preaches to the converted and makes a handsome living by ginning them up to spittle-ejecting levels of outrage.
The Washington Examiner is promoting a press release from a man predicting "global cooling" who even a climate "skeptic" has called a "scam artist."
The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard writes that the "war between former Vice President Al Gore and his critics over global warming is about to hit the boiling point" with a "new claim" from John Casey that "global cooling" is coming. Who is John Casey? The Examiner says that Media Matters called Casey a scam artist "[b]ecause his predictions go against the mainstream." In fact, in 2010 Media Matters quoted blogger Tom Nelson -- who calls climate change a "hoax" -- warning that he thinks Casey is "a scam artist" trying to trick the "skeptic community" into bankrolling him.
Casey created the "Space and Science Research Corporation" (SSRC), which boasts that "it has a dedicated list of 'Supporting Researchers' who have committed their name and assistance to the mission of the SSRC." Four of these seven researchers are also listed as experts on Casey's other website, the "International Earthquake and Volcano Prediction Center," perhaps because they make no claim of expertise in climate change, instead stating that they study earthquakes and volcanoes.
Casey also has no background in climate science, possessing only an undergraduate degree in physics and math and a master's in management. Since we pointed that out in 2010, Casey has pumped up his biography, adding that he is "one of America's most successful climate change researchers and climate prediction experts," even though he does not appear to have ever published a single peer-reviewed paper on the subject.
Instead he wrote a self-published book on climate change "put together" with the help of an astrologer-cum-thoroughbred horse-racing advocate who claims to be the illegitimate daughter of Ernest Hemingway. He claims his book, Cold Sun, is "internationally acclaimed," citing one of his own volcano-specialist "Supporting Researchers" and an anonymous Amazon.com review. In it, Casey predicts that there will be "catastrophic shortages in the world's food supplies" from "global cooling," and that the first indicators of this will "be felt at any time and certainly by December 2012" (2012 was actually one of the 10 warmest years on record globally and the warmest year on record in the U.S.). Despite his claims of international prominence, neither Skeptical Science nor DeSmogBlog -- which maintain extensive records on the industry of faux-experts sowing doubt on climate change -- have ever written a single word about him.
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.
Are the youth of America abandoning President Obama? Some conservative commentators are pushing that narrative, citing a "new poll" from the voter outreach group Generation Opportunity showing that just 31 percent of young voters approve of Obama's handling of the economy. That "new poll," however, is actually almost a year old, and Generation Opportunity -- which has ties to the GOP -- has spent the better part of that year promoting its results to anyone who will listen.
Yesterday morning, the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard wrote about Generation Opportunity's "new poll" and how it shows that "only 31 percent approve of Obama's handling of youth unemployment, a number that threatens to rob him of the voter group that pushed him to victory." Bedard quoted Generation Opportunity president Paul Conway saying that his group's poll demonstrates "the hardcore reality is that young voters are now very dissatisfied with the direction of the country." Bedard's column was hyped by Rush Limbaugh, who said it shows that Obama "is in the tank. They are having to go back to old pages in the playbook from years ago to try to revive this presidency."
Bedard said the poll had been "provided" to him by Generation Opportunity and reproduced some of its results:
Some 56 percent believe the leadership is wrong in Washington, 69 percent say political leaders do not reflect their interests, 54 percent say the country is on the wrong track and three quarters want federal spending cut.
Consider: a whopping 77 percent say that they are delaying life changes due to economic woes. Of those:
-- 44 percent are delaying buying a home.
-- 28 percent are delaying saving for retirement.
-- 23 percent are delaying starting a family.
-- 18 percent will wait to get married.
Those results are identical to the numbers included in Generation Opportunity's June 2011 press release promoting a "new poll conducted by the polling company Inc./WomanTrend:"
77% either have or will delay a major life change or purchase due to economic factors (44% delay buying a home, 28% delay saving for retirement, 27% delay paying off student loans or other debt. 27% delay going back to school/getting more education or training; 26% delay changing jobs/cities. 23% delay starting a family; 18% say delay getting married)
76% would like to see federal spending reduced
69% said the federal government, not others, should make sacrifices right now
69% say the current leadership in Washington fails to serve the younger generation
Just 31% of 18 - 29 year olds approve of the President's handling of youth unemployment
That poll, according to the press release, was conducted April 16-22, 2011. The polling company, inc./WomanTrend is run by Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who recently joined Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign as a senior advisor.
How many missed meals does it take to be poor?
It's a question at the root of the latest campaign to redefine what it means to be poor in America.
Citing U.S. Department of Agriculture data that he claims shows "just 1 percent of households have someone who is forced to miss a meal" during an average day, Washington Examiner blogger Paul Bedard took up the conservative cause of dismissing poverty by pointing to all the cool things poor people own, like VCRs:
Forget the image of Appalachia or rundown ghettos: A collection of federal household consumption surveys collected by pollster Scott Rasmussen finds that 74 percent of the poor own a car or truck, 70 percent have a VCR, 64 percent have a DVD, 63 percent have cable or satellite, 53 percent have a video game system, 50 percent have a computer, 30 percent have two or more cars and 23 percent use TiVo.
A similar campaign to downplay the scourge of poverty in 2011 was voiced perfectly by Fox's Stuart Varney, who argued:
The image we have of poor people as starving and living in squalor really is not accurate. Many of them have things, what they lack is the richness of spirit.
In fact, what they actually lack is the richness of money to pay for things like food and shelter.
Which brings us back to the question -- how many missed meals does it take before one is poor enough to rate?