The American Spectator

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  • Right-Wing “Porn Star” Attack On Former Miss Universe Falls Apart

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Conservative media figures are responding to former Miss Universe Alicia Machado’s statements that Donald Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and publicly humiliated her for gaining weight by accusing her of being a “porn star.” It is unclear why Trump’s behavior would be mitigated by Machado later performing in adult films, but those claims nonetheless appear to be false.

    During the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed to Trump’s record of mistreating women, specifically highlighting his attacks Machado. Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant from 1996 to 2015, doubled down the morning after the debate on the September 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, saying Machado had “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.” Trump supporters have sought to explain away Trump’s actions by seeking to undermine Machado’s character.

    In a September 27 article headlined, “Porn Star Campaigns For Hillary Clinton,” the Daily Caller falsely reported that “Snippets of an adult film starring Machado are available on multiple free porn websites.” While the headline remains the same, that language has been removed from the article, which now states that she “is in a sextape” that was released in 2005.

    The article features the correction, “The star of Apprentass 4 was Angel Dark, not Alicia Machado.” While the correction is nonspecific, it appears that the Caller based the entire premise of their claim that Machado is a “porn star” on the incorrect belief that she was featured in that film. According to The Daily Beast, which reported on conservatives’ smear effort against Machado, “there does not appear to be any evidence suggesting the existence of professionally made pornography starring Machado.”

    While the article no longer cites an example of her appearing in an adult film, it still baselessly claims that Machado made an “appearance in porn” and has a “background in pornography.”

    The apparently unsubstantiated claim that Machado appeared in adult films rocketed through Trump’s supporters in the right-wing media. Rush Limbaugh opened his September 28 radio show by describing Machado as the “porn star Miss Piggy.” Fox News’ Sean Hannity claimed on his radio show “that she may have starred in an adult film, and available apparently on multiple free porn websites according to the Daily Caller.” He also said that Machado is “in all these porn videos” during an interview with Eric Trump. And CNN’s Jeffrey Lord repeatedly described Machado as a “porn star” in an American Spectator article headlined “Hillary’s Bad Judgement: Exploits Porn Star Surrogate.”

    This effort to shame Machado into silence would be despicable even if it were true. But it appears that the entire smear campaign is also completely false.

  • These Are The Right-Wing Media Figures Spinning Trump's Bogus Legal Argument Against Trump U. Judge

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Some conservative media figures are still backing up presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s absurd argument that a federal judge overseeing the lawsuit against Trump University supposedly has a conflict of interest due to being “Mexican” or because he is a member of a Latino Bar Association group, saying Trump’s claim is not “a stretch,” is not “unreasonable,” and that the judge “is all too willing to associate himself with his ethnicity.” However, long-standing legal precedent has repeatedly ruled out a judge’s race or ethnicity as valid grounds for recusal.

  • 9 Right-Wing Media Myths About The Hobby Lobby Case, Debunked

    ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    The Supreme Court will soon decide Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, a case that could let owners of for-profit, secular corporations ignore the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and provide health insurance that does not cover preventive benefits like contraception. Right-wing media continue to advance multiple myths to support the owners of Hobby Lobby, despite the fact that these arguments have been repeatedly debunked by legal experts, religious scholars, and medical professionals.

  • That Didn't Take Long: Right-Wing Media Revive Perjury Smears Against Perez Labor Nomination

    Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

    Right-wing media are again alleging that President Obama's potential Department of Labor nominee, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez, may have committed perjury in connection with the right-wing's New Black Panther Party voter intimidation non-scandal. But the internal Department of Justice (DOJ) report that they are citing to support these claims actually (once again) debunks these accusations.

    The right-wing claim that political appointees within the Department of Justice (DOJ) improperly directed the outcome of the New Black Panther Party fiasco has already been repeatedly disproven, most notably by DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and now by DOJ's Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The discredited accusation, initiated by right-wing activist J. Christian Adams, was revived in 2012 by his discredited associate, Hans Von Spakovsky, after a federal judge awarded attorney's fees to a conservative advocacy group that had obtained emails relating to this case through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Von Spakovsky immediately analyzed the opinion, saying of statements from the judge relating to Perez's 2010 testimony on the New Black Panther Party case to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:

    But what is most disturbing about this court order is that it strongly suggests that Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez essentially lied in sworn testimony... A less diplomatic judge might have said that Perez testified falsely in his hearing testimony before the Commission on Civil Rights. In other words, he may have committed perjury if he knew his statements were false when uttered.

    Now that Perez's Labor nomination is being floated and following the release of the Inspector General's review of the Justice Department's Voting Section (which is overseen by Perez), National Review Online columnist John Fund revived Von Spakovsky's accusation, calling the 2010 testimony "clear dishonesty." Describing Perez as "loathsome," the American Spectator likewise informs its readers (again) Perez "may have committed perjury[.]" 

  • What The Media Need To Know About CPAC 2013

    ››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN & HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) bills itself as an event convened to "crystallize the best of the conservative thought in America" that will showcase "all of the leading conservative organizations and speakers." Media covering CPAC 2013 should know that the conference's speakers, from the most prominent to the lesser-known, have a history of launching smears, pushing conspiracy theories, and hyping myths about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.

  • WSJ Misrepresents Exchange Progress and Conservative Obstruction

    Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

    In a July 30 editorial opposing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Wall Street Journal opined that planning for the new health insurance marketplaces called Exchanges belongs on a "fiasco list." However, the editorial misrepresented the pace of exchange planning, downplayed the catalyst of Republican "civil disobedience" in implementation slow-downs, and obscured the role that right-wing media and advocates have in this intransigence.

    States That Have Attempted Exchange Implementation Are Actually "Well Underway"

    Many of the nation's leading health policy organizations are closely monitoring implementation of health care reform and exchange progress is one of their metrics. The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) is one such example, and the WSJ editorial cited them for the proposition that "by and large the states aren't" building exchanges. However, the editorial did not mention NASHP's most recent report on exchange implementation that instead notes in the opening paragraph that "many states are well underway in planning for and establishing their exchanges." Rather, without indicating the source, the WSJ used NASHP's "State Refor(u)m" project that is a user-generated "online network." That is, the metrics that the WSJ cited for the alleged "fiasco" of exchange implementation is a measurement of documents voluntarily uploaded to a wiki. State Refor(u)m does not claim to be a comprehensive progress measurement, but rather a clearinghouse reliant on user submissions.

    Thus, the editorial's listing of "liberal leader" states who score low on this "milestone" measure of State Refor(u)m does not support its thesis. These "milestones" are not an accurate barometer of the difficulties in exchange planning - or even of completion of these actual metrics -  but rather of the success of this network at attracting policy documents. Indeed, several of the states that the WSJ specifically lists as laggards - Massachusetts, California, Oregon, West Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Vermont, New York  - actually have fully established exchanges, the first two of which were established by Governors Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, respectively.

  • Right Wing Tries To Move Goal Posts By Redefining Justice Roberts As Not Conservative

    ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

    After Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion upholding health care reform, the right-wing media have attacked his conservative credentials. Despite experts' statements that the opinion might have cleared the way for more rulings restricting federal power and progressive legislation, media conservatives are using this as a pretext to demand even more conservative judicial nominees. There is evidence their pressure is having an effect.

  • Right-Wing Media Defend Herman Cain With Race-Baiting

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    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."