Conservative media are again using a European financial crisis to stoke fears about the U.S. economy.
According to many right-wing media figures, the Cypriot government's plan to tax private bank accounts to avert a fiscal disaster provides a dire warning for the U.S. Many have speculated or outright claimed that the same could happen here unless the so-called "debt crisis" is averted
Of course, fears of heavy taxation on private bank accounts occurring in the U.S. are largely unfounded, with many experts noting the comparison between the two countries is ill-conceived. But the facts rarely matter for right-wing media when it comes to exploiting a European crisis.
From the March 22 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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From the March 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein writes that he received death threats and hate mail at his unlisted home address after Fox News launched a smear campaign against him. After Sunstein's nomination and confirmation in 2009, then-Fox host Glenn Beck attacked him and his work for years, invoking mass murderers, totalitarianism and conspiracy theories in conjunction with his name.
Sunstein served as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the first Obama administration from September 2009 to August 2012.
As Mother Jones notes, Sunstein writes in his upcoming book, Simpler: The Future of Government, that Beck "developed what appeared to be a kind of an obsession with me." Sunstein compares Beck's attacks to the "Two Minutes Hate" from the classic novel 1984, where citizens were forced to watch films depicting enemies of the totalitarian party.
Sunstein also notes that he "began to receive a lot of hate mail, including death threats, at my unlisted home address. One of them stated, 'If I were you I would resign immediately. A well-paid individual, who is armed, knows where you live.'"
During their significant coverage of his stand against the Obama administration's drone policy, the media have failed to examine Republican Sen. Rand Paul's support for surveillance drones in border states. Now that Paul has come out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, media outlets have an opportunity to highlight this dichotomy -- especially in light of the fact that his immigration framework requires that drones be used to target immigrants.
In a February 11 Washington Times op-ed announcing his support for immigration reform, Paul wrote:
As a matter of both national security and immigration policy, though, it is absolutely essential that we both secure our border and modernize our visa system so we know who comes and who goes on travel, student and other temporary visas. It is vital all other reforms be conditioned on this goal being met.
Border security, including drones, satellite and physical barriers, vigilant deportation of criminals and increased patrols would begin immediately and would be assessed at the end of one year by an investigator general from the Government Accountability Office.
During an interview on Sean Hannity's radio show, Paul similarly stated that border enforcement should include "a combination of a lot of things," such as satellite imagery and drones. He then went on to dismiss his earlier stance against drones, adding that "for border security, you can use drones for surveillance. That's protecting our country." Hannity did not question Paul over the disconnect between these positions.
Similarly, media have largely ignored Paul's comments calling for drones to target immigrants, even though his stance is not new.
Fox News' Sean Hannity hosted former Republican New Hampshire Governor John Sununu to attack President Obama during his trip to Israel. But during the Bush administration, Hannity attacked progressives for criticizing the president while he was out of the country.
On his March 20 Fox show, Sean Hannity and Sununu criticized the president over his trip to Israel. Hannity claimed he was grateful for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's presence because "at least there was one adult in the room" and "one adult that understands the nature of -- the battle of -- the conflict between good and evil in our time." Hannity went on to claim that, while the leaders appeared friendly,"there's no way [Netanyahu] doesn't see through this president's b.s." Sununu added that Obama was "clumsy" in his handling of foreign policy and that Obama could not be trusted when it came to foreign policy. Hannity agreed, calling Obama "a demagogue, he lies with abandon and the media doesn't call him out on it. I don't trust him. I don't believe what he says, I think he's phony":
But in 2001, Hannity attacked then-Democratic Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota for criticizing President George W. Bush while Bush was overseas. In August 2001, Daschle said of Bush's foreign policy leadership: "Instead of asserting our leadership, we are abdicating it. Instead of shaping international agreements to serve our interests, we have removed ourselves from a position to shape them at all." On the August 14, 2001, edition of Hannity & Colmes (accessed via Nexis), Hannity played Daschle's comments and responded by saying "when a president goes overseas, criticism stops at the border. He gets support from both sides of the aisle":
HANNITY: So are the Democrats compromising the United States position with their own rhetoric, or are these attacks valid?
Flavia, you know, this is the same Tom Daschle -- you know, we usually -- when a president goes overseas, criticism stops at the border. He gets support from both sides of the aisle. But that wasn't the case with Tom Daschle. When the president went on a recent trip to Europe, he was en route there, he made these critical remarks. And as -- as I thought Trent Lott appropriately said, Daschle needs his training wheels because certainly, he's not in a position to handle the new power he's found.
Fox News and Fox Business are butchering civil rights precedent and the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in their continued campaign to suggest President Obama's nominee for Labor Secretary, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez, doesn't want to protect white people.
Following the pre-existing practice of smearing President Obama and his administration as hostile to whites and biased toward people of color, Fox has joined right-wing media in attacking Perez for his enforcement of long-standing civil rights law and advocacy for Hispanic immigrants. This right-wing campaign against Perez has focused on the Civil Rights Division (CRD), which under Perez's supervision has been very effective at using the VRA to protect historical victims of voter suppression.
Media figures have repeatedly forwarded the notion that the United States is currently facing a debt crisis. However, leaders of both parties agree there is no immediate crisis, and by focusing attention too heavily on deficit and debt reduction, the media distract from the more imminent problem of growth and jobs.
Throughout news coverage of recent budget negotiations, media figures have consistently framed discussions around the notion that the country faces a debt crisis, an assertion that is often presented uncritically and accepted as an indisputable fact. Since discussions are predicated on the assumption that a debt crisis exists, ensuing analysis of budget proposals is often solely focused on how far they go in reducing short term deficits and debt.
While media are convinced that a debt crisis exists, leaders of both parties have made explicit statements to the contrary. In a March 12 interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, President Obama claimed that "we don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt," a statement that was immediately criticized by conservative media. When asked if he agreed with Obama's statement regarding debt on the March 17 edition of ABC's This Week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) conceded that there is no immediate crisis. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) made a similar admission on CBS' Face the Nation, saying "we do not have a debt crisis right now."
Furthermore, the media's focus on a "debt crisis" has necessarily steered the debate about budgets toward how the parties will sufficiently address short term deficits. Economists, meanwhile, have repeatedly argued that undue focus on deficits and debt distracts from the more pressing need for economic growth and reduced unemployment.
The bipartisan admission that there is no immediate debt crisis provides media with an opportunity to reframe their budget negotiations coverage around economic growth.
Video by Alan Pyke.
In an attack on efforts to strengthen gun legislation, frequent Fox News guest Star Parker asked if background checks would prohibit women who have had abortions from purchasing firearms by invoking a long-debunked link between abortion and mental illness.
Appearing on the March 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Parker attacked proposals to impose universal background checks for firearm purchases. Parker asked if background checks, which would consider mental health, would apply to "people who have had abortions" because " according to the studies, [they] have a tendency to have mental challenges later on":
The claim that abortion is linked to mental health problems has long been debunked. The American Psychological Association formed a task force in 2008 "to examine the scientific research addressing mental health factors associated with abortion, including the psychological responses following abortion." The task force found "no credible evidence" of such a link:
From the March 19 edition of MSNBC's PoliticsNation:
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Fox News host Sean Hannity used prior comments from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) about her past gun ownership to claim that her proposed assault weapons ban would deny Americans the same gun rights that Feinstein herself bragged about enjoying. In fact, the .38 caliber revolver Feinstein previously carried after being attacked by terrorists in the 1970s would not be banned under her proposal.
Feinstein turned her revolver over to police in 1982, citing the shooting deaths of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk as the impetus. [The Washington Post, 7/31/82 via Nexis] Feinstein, who was president of the Board of Supervisors at the time, discovered Moscone and Milk after they had been shot by ex-supervisor Dan White, and later described the incident as "a devastating moment. For San Francisco, it was a day of infamy."
On the March 18 edition of his show, Hannity played a clip from a 1995 U.S. Senate hearing on terrorism where Feinstein described how she carried a gun in the 1970s and claimed she was "bragging" about her prior gun ownership:
HANNITY: Now the interesting part, with all this gun control talk. You, for example, in New York City, very few people have the right to carry a weapon. It's almost impossible to get a carry permit in New York City. So she's not affording her fellow Americans the same right that she was bragging about back then.
From the March 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the March 13 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Media are touting the claim from Rep. Paul Ryan's new budget plan that constructing the Keystone XL pipeline would create nearly 140,000 jobs, but that figure comes from exaggerating a heavily criticized, industry-funded analysis.
Reuters uncritically repeated the Ryan budget's assertion that constructing Keystone XL would create "20,000 direct jobs and 118,000 indirect jobs." Fox News host Sean Hannity later claimed the pipeline would create "nearly 140,000 jobs," while promoting the Ryan budget, which would likely raise taxes on the middle class:
But that number comes from inflating an analysis funded by TransCanada, the company trying to build the pipeline. That study, which has been called "dead wrong," "meaningless," and "flawed and poorly documented" by independent analysts, claimed that Keystone XL would create "118,000 person-years of employment." In other words, if one person holds a job for two years, that is counted as two "person-years of employment." And as a TransCanada spokesman eventually clarified to Huffington Post reporter Tom Zeller, the 118,000 figure already includes the 20,000 direct construction and manufacturing job-years that TransCanada claims will be created. Those numbers are also now outdated, as they included jobs associated with the southern portion of the pipeline, which is already under construction.
Independent analyses have found that the pipeline would create far fewer jobs. A 2011 report by Cornell University's Global Labor Institute found that the TransCanada estimate ignored the potential economic consequences of the pipeline -- which would carry tar sands oil from Canada to Gulf coast oil refineries primarily for export -- including the possibility of a spill. A State Department analysis found that the pipeline would create less than 4,000 construction jobs for the 1- to 2-year construction period, and only 35 permanent jobs. In total, that study found that Keystone XL would create 42,100 direct, indirect and induced average annual jobs during the 1- to 2-year construction period. As their exaggerated jobs claims have been exposed, conservative media have struggled to stay on the same page about how many jobs the pipeline would create:
The National Rifle Association will feature Fox News' Sean Hannity during the 7th Annual NRA Women's Leadership Forum Luncheon, despite his association with a group whose leadership has claimed that one of America's greatest mistakes was allowing women to vote.
Hannity is slated to be the keynote speaker at the NRA Women's Leadership Forum Luncheon, "a coalition of philanthropic women united ... for Second Amendment freedoms," to be held at the NRA's annual meeting on May 3. Hannity is also an advisory board member of the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, whose founder has come under fire for making radical statements against women.
In a testimonial on BOND's website, Hannity writes, "BOND has played an instrumental role in helping young men and women build lives which will help inspire the next generation. BOND continues to fight the good fight standing for the values of God, family, and country, and are deserving of our support."
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, the founder and president of BOND, was the subject of widespread criticism after engaging in an anti-women diatribe during a March 2012 sermon where he claimed "one of the greatest mistakes that America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote."