Conservative media are defending the "right" of fossil fuel companies to knowingly deceive the public about climate change, after a group of climate scientists and members of Congress called for an investigation of such companies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Contrary to claims by conservative media that these advocates are seeking to "shut down free speech," RICO would only apply to those who purposefully misled the public about climate change, with some Congressmen pointing to recent reports that ExxonMobil funded climate science denial for decades after discovering that fossil fuels drive climate change.
Conservative media are distorting an answer given by Hillary Clinton during a debate in the 2008 Democratic primary to falsely claim that Clinton generally opposed the federal regulation of firearms during the 2008 race, but in a reversal now, favors such federal laws. In fact, in the 2008 debate answer cited by conservative media, Clinton was talking about one specific policy -- whether states should require or not require the registration of handguns -- and her current support for federal laws to improve background checks on gun sales and ban assault weapons are consistent with her campaign positions in 2008. Clinton's recent call to repeal the federal law that grants civil immunity to the gun industry is also consistent with her vote against the law as a U.S. Senator in 2005.
National Rifle Association (NRA) web series host Colion Noir cited the "theatrics" and the loud sound guns make as the reason people want to restrict firearms after a high-profile shooting occurs. Noir made the comment during an appearance on a conservative news show where he also defended his recent, controversial advice to the parents of two murdered Virginia journalists.
Noir, who has been helping the NRA's efforts to attract a younger audience to its media platforms, made headlines recently for warning the parents of Virginia journalists Alison Park and Adam Ward to not "become so emotional" in response to their childrens' fatal shooting that they misdirect their "grief-inspired advocacy." Parker's father, who has said he will make it his "mission in life" to pass stronger gun laws, called Noir's claim "insulting and disingenuous."
Noir discussed the Virginia shooting and his comments during a September 2 appearance with conservative radio host Dana Loesch on her show, Dana, which appears on Glenn Beck's network The Blaze.
After Loesch brought up an Indiana stabbing that occurred the same day of the August 26 shooting, Noir said, "What the gun suffers from, unfortunately, is its inherent theatrics. With a gun, it's loud, it explodes, it's very theatrical in nature. So it's easy to prop it up on a screen when somebody gets shot with a gun and say, 'Oh my god these things are so dangerous.' With a knife it's quiet, it's very swift, it's unknown, and so there is really not much to show."
According to Noir, unlike knives, guns are treated as "the most dangerous thing in the world":
LOESCH: The same day that this Virginia story came out, Colin [sic], there was a story in Indianapolis where a guy car jacked a lady, stabbed her, ran over six people, it's almost -- it doesn't matter the tool, I mean you can't legislate away free will and evil.
NOIR: Yeah, absolutely. What the gun suffers from, unfortunately, is its inherent theatrics. With a gun, it's loud, it explodes, it's very theatrical in nature. So it's easy to prop it up on a screen when somebody gets shot with a gun and say, "Oh my god these things are so dangerous." With a knife it's quiet, it's very swift, it's unknown, and so there is really not much to show. But when you have a gun it's like, "Oh my god here it is," -- look you see it, you hear it -- "Oh my god it's the most dangerous thing in the world." That's when the more irrational aspects of our mentality start to kick in and we're like "Oh we just got to get rid of the gun, we just got to get rid of the gun." Not realizing, no, the real actor is the person who is utilizing a gun. Because the same way that gun can kill is the same way it can defend.
There are a few obvious reasons guns are more dangerous than knives. Guns are used in 68 percent of murders while knives are used in only 12.2 percent. This is because guns are more effective at killing people. One-third of people who are shot die, compared to 7.7 percent of stabbing victims who do. Guns are also ubiquitous in episodes of mass violence. Of 279 mass killings documented by USA Today since 2006, 211 were committed with firearms, compared to 33 where a knife was used.
Right-wing media slammed ESPN for suspending baseball analyst Curt Schilling over his tweet comparing Muslims to Nazis, calling Schilling's suspension "outrageous" and a "disgrace."
Right-wing media are seizing on deceptively edited videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood profits from the illegal sale of fetal tissue to justify comparing the organization to Nazis, invoking the deadly human experimentation of notorious Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele. In reality, the full, unedited versions of the videos debunk the allegations. Many groups, including Planned Parenthood, donate fetal tissue to support medical research such as the development of treatments for diseases, and such donations are legal with consent from the donor. It's also legal for providers to accept payment "for reasonable expenses" with "informed consent," but Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donations -- Legal reimbursement helps offset the costs associated with donations.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign launch speech viciously denigrated Mexican immigrants and strongly split conservative media figures on his candidacy. While some argue Trump is a "rodeo clown," others think he is "saying things that need to be said." Several conservatives disagree with Trump's rhetoric but claim he's raising important issues.
Right-wing media responded in disbelief and outrage to the Supreme Court's decision holding that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
Conservative media figures are floating conspiracy theories to explain Chief Justice John Roberts' decision in favor of the Obama administration, reaffirming the Affordable Care Act in the King vs. Burwell case.
Writing for the 6-3 Supreme Court majority, Roberts' opinion preserves the nationwide tax credits in the health care law that assist poor and middle-class people in the purchase of health insurance.
On his June 25 show, Rush Limbaugh promoted the theory that Roberts -- who in the past has more typically sided with the conservative justices -- had been influenced by outside businesses in order to come to his decision affirming the law.
Limbaugh highlighted a link on the Drudge Report to CNBC, which explained that health care stocks had increased after the decision was announced. He told his listeners to "follow the money," claiming the stock increases were evidence that some in the Republican Party are more responsive to "money people" and "donors" over voters.
While Limbaugh said "I'm not accusing anybody of anything," he also argued that "when you follow the money, a lot of questions that seem unanswerable become clear." He accused Chief Justice Roberts of rewriting and interpreting the Affordable Care Act "outside the bounds of law" in order to come to his desired conclusion.
Limbaugh said "there's a clear benefit to certain people" resulting from the Supreme Court decision. Rhetorically asking himself if "moneyed interests" could influence a Supreme Court justice, Limbaugh said, "I don't know" but added that it was "obvious the law was not used in rendering this decision."
Limbaugh also characterized the court's decision as "maybe even an economic opinion," but not a legal one.
Meanwhile, writing at Glenn Beck's news website, The Blaze, occasional FoxNews.com opinion columnist (and conspiracy theorist) Wayne Allyn Root promoted another conspiracy about the decision. Root asked, "Has Supreme Court Justice John Roberts been blackmailed or intimidated?"
Root went on to ask, "Is it impossible to believe that Obama and his socialist cabal that learned from Saul Alinsky that 'the ends justify the means' would hold something over a Supreme Court justice's head?"
Root noted, "It's time to assume the worst of this government ... All it takes to destroy America and pass Obama's agenda is to control a few key powerful positions in Washington, D.C."
He then laid out the scenario of how the purported blackmail would go down: "They threaten to expose something terrible like an affair, or corruption, or malfeasance, or immorality that would shock the nation, ruin their career, destroy their legacy, cost their marriage, destroy their relationship with their children and leave them unemployable by any respectable law firm or lobbyist."
Root concluded, "Republicans are being blackmailed, intimidated, extorted and bribed. That explains Justice Roberts and the Supremes ruling against the American People again," darkly adding, "The Obama Crime Family is in charge."
Conservative media are praising actor Vince Vaughn for repeating a debunked right-wing talking point that falsely claims most mass shootings occur in "gun-free zones."
Vaughn is receiving widespread attention for an interview he gave to British GQ in which he advocated the carrying of guns in public and in schools, declared that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to defend against an "abusive government," and claimed that mass shootings have "only happened in places that don't allow guns."
According to Vaughn:
All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They've only happened in places that don't allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds.
Vaughn's claim, which suggests that possibly none but at most two mass shootings since 1950 have happened in a place where guns were allowed, is a variation on a claim about public mass shootings over the last half-century that was first made by discredited gun researcher John Lott.
A local reporter's five-year investigation into rape kit backlogs in Ohio helped inspire state-level reforms and identify hundreds of serial rapists, evidencing how good reporting can bring about positive change to states' handling of sexual assault -- a stark contrast to conservative media's dismissal of sexual assault that may actually discourage victims from coming forward.
Reporter Rachel Dissell discovered a decades-long backlog of untested rape kits while researching sexual assaults for Cleveland's The Plain Dealer. As she told NPR's Fresh Air, the Cleveland police possessed at least 4,000 untested kits, which contain DNA evidence that could be used to identify and prosecute perpetrators. While many factors contribute to why the kits were left untested, Dissell explained that often times the perceived credibility of the victim played a role: "A lot of the victims whose cases didn't go forward and whose kits weren't tested were minorities. They were drug addicts. They had mental health issues -- all kinds of things like that that just really made them the most vulnerable and the least likely to be believed."
Dissell and The Plain Dealer's reporting helped inspire a groundbreaking Ohio law mandating that old and new rape kits be tested, leading to the reopening of nearly 2,000 rape investigations and the identification of over 200 serial rapists or potential serial rapists.
The positive impact of such reporting shines a light on conservative media's comparatively dangerous coverage of sexual assault, which actively reinforces the stigma surrounding sexual assault victims.
Conservative media have repeatedly attempted to discredit research showing that one-in-five women experiences a completed or attempted sexually assault at college, mocking those who do come forward and dismissing efforts to address the crime as proof of a "war" on men.
Glenn Beck's TheBlazeTV argued that the sexual assault epidemic is "completely untrue" by acting out sexual positions and labelling each skit "RAPE!", while George Will asserted that victim has become a "coveted status." Pundits from Rush Limbaugh to The Weekly Standard's Harvey Mansfield have blamed women for the epidemic, while other conservative talking heads stoke fears about a supposed increase in false reports of sexual assault. Others have explicitly blamed victims for their sexual assault, describing sexual assault survivors as "bad girls...who like to be naughty" and lecturing women about the burden of personal responsibility, saying, "It is the truth that if you are the victim of violent crime or the victim of an attempted violent crime, it is not the patriarchy that puts the burden on you to defend yourself, it is not rigid gender roles, it is -- it's a fact of life."
Such disparaging coverage not only stigmatizes victims, it can actually discourage victims from reporting the crimes and their attackers in the first place. And sexual assault is already a vastly underreported crime -- estimates show that sexual assault goes unreported nearly 70 percent of the time.
In her interview with Fresh Air, Dissell described how discrediting sexual assault victims helps their rapists go unpunished: "They knew if they chose the most vulnerable women - the least likely to be believed - that they would never get caught. And I just don't know how that happened. How did we let them outsmart us for all that time?"
Conservative media figures responded to riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray -- an unarmed man who died of severe, unexplained spinal cord injuries while in police custody -- by recommending that participants in the riots be shot, and blaming the outbreak of violence on Democratic leadership, President Obama, public schools, welfare, and single-parent families.
Right-wing media has a long history of serving as Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) biggest cheerleaders, dating back to Cruz's 2012 Senate victory which he credited to Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck, showcasing the influence of conservative media in shaping election outcomes.
Following Cruz's announced bid for the 2016 GOP nomination for president, Media Matters looks back at some of right-wing media's most effusive praise of Cruz.
After Cruz announced his candidacy, Hannity featured the senator in an hour-long special on the March 23 of edition his Fox News show. Hannity highlighted Cruz's campaign announcement speech, and allowed Cruz to promote his platform.
Hannity has fantasized about a Cruz campaign for years before the official campaign launch. During Cruz's February 26 speech at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Hannity jumped on the main stage to proclaim that with Cruz, "we can fundamentally transform America" in 2016.
After Cruz announced the launch of his campaign, Rush Limbaugh praised Cruz, suggesting that he "might be the smartest man in Congress."
In July 2014, Rush predicted that if Ted Cruz continued his rise in "dominant influence," he would lead a nascent Republican "revival" that is "just awaiting leadership."
In September 2013, Limbaugh lashed out at Fox News' Brit Hume for alleging that Cruz was influenced by Limbaugh and other conservative media in his repeated efforts to defund Obama's health care law. Limbaugh defended Cruz, asserting that "Ted Cruz isn't afraid of anybody," and went on to praise the Republican senator, saying "Ted Cruz is fighting for freedom in the greatest tradition of American freedom fighters." Limbaugh added that in his efforts to defund the health care law, "Ted Cruz is attempting to  marshal the support of the American people ... in the greatest traditions of the American founding and the existence of the country."
Beck praised Ted Cruz after the launch of his campaign, championing Cruz's "long, long, impressive resume," saying "you can't pigeonhole him as stupid," adding "I can't wait to see him in a debate."
On his radio show in December 2013, Beck likened Cruz to Ronald Reagan saying, he "may be our Ronald Reagan because that guy does not take prisoners. That guy is a thousand times smarter than 99 percent of the politicians I have ever met."
After Cruz announced his candidacy, Laura Ingraham applauded him for "stand[ing] firm for the constitution," and claimed Cruz will be tough competition for Republicans because he represents "more of a traditionalist point of view" and a more "Reagan-esque" form of conservatism.
Levin railed against Fox News for "trashing" Ted Cruz after the senator launched his campaign, likening Cruz to Reagan, and asserting that like Cruz, Reagan would have been "trashed all over" Fox News.
In August 2013, Levin declared Cruz "one of the bright lights of the Republican Party" for "exciting the base" after he "demonstrated that he can beat the establishment as he did" during his 2012 Senate campaign. Levin defended Cruz from a "vicious, vile, poisonous attack by the establishment including Bush staffers."
In June 2014, Hugh Hewitt proclaimed that Cruz "may be the smartest senator," telling Joe Scarborough on his radio program, "he's just not gonna back down and we need some of that in our party." Hewitt went on to compare Cruz to Reagan, saying he has "the same demeanor" as Reagan, "the same kind of charisma, easy affability and smart, smart, smart."
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:
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's latest claims come fresh off the heels of his 2014 book, Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas. Blood Feud was roundly ridiculed for its sourcing problems and unlikely anecdotes, even by Fox figures like Megyn Kelly and Brian Kilmeade.
Conservative commentator Dana Loesch's new book Hands Off My Gun: Defeating the Plot to Disarm America includes spurious quotes from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers, despite the fact that it purports to teach readers about "the history of the Second Amendment."
Loesch, who hosts a radio show on The Blaze, is currently on a media tour promoting her book and has made appearances on Fox News programs The Kelly File, Fox & Friends, Hannity and America's Newsroom.
In her book, Loesch also attempts to demonstrate that the Founding Father's view of the Second Amendment matches her own, but in doing so she misquotes, and often takes out of context, the Founder's true words.
In a section titled, "In Their Own Words," Loesch writes, "Just to make sure everyone reading this book is well armed -- pun intended -- with the facts about the Founders and their intentions, the Buckeye Firearms Association compiled a list of quotes attributed to various Founders that demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt what our Constitution's drafters intended when they drafted and approved the Second Amendment."
Loesch added, "Do the new-century equivalent of sticking them onto your fridge: Post them to Facebook or Twitter."
However, many of the quotes listed are not accurate.
"A free people ought to be armed." - George Washington
"A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies."
The version appearing in Loesch's book crops language from Washington's quote that made it clear he was talking about the creation of a national defense strategy. According to the full text of Washington's first State of the Union address, he was discussing what it meant to "be prepared for war" and "[t]he proper establishment of the troops."
Conservative media figures have criticized President Obama for sending the U.S. military to help address the public health crisis posed by Ebola in Africa, ignoring experts who explain the critical need for assistance to contain the outbreak and the military's unique capability to support in those efforts.