Thanks to CBS News' warmed-over and underwhelming reporting, the political world is talking about the 2012 Benghazi attacks again and the litany of "lingering questions" that were answered long ago. And that of course means the emergence of cranks and hucksters who'll try to edge their way into the shrinking Benghazi spotlight and make a few headlines for themselves. Enter Joseph diGenova, attorney for a number of Benghazi "whistleblowers" and established purveyor of fabrications, who appeared on Washington, DC's WMAL on October 28 to claim that "we have reason to believe" that during the response to the Benghazi attack "people were relieved of their duty because they insisted that there be a military response."
This idea that the Obama administration, acting on political considerations, deliberately withheld military assistance from the people under attack in Benghazi is at the core of the conservative obsession with Benghazi, even though there isn't any evidence to substantiate the claim.
DiGenova's specific allegation that people were relieved of duty for trying to order a military response suffers from the reality that a military response was ordered. Here's how Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz put it in their book on the Benghazi attacks, Under Fire: "Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered that appropriate forces respond. A task order flowed from the Pentagon to NAVSTA Rota, Spain: 'Lean forward and get there as fast as you can.'" As far as the chain of command goes, Leon Panetta was pretty high up (and he was acting on orders from President Obama), so it's not clear who would have been relieved for implementing the orders of the Secretary of Defense.
Right-wing media are dishonestly blaming the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the fact that Chad Henderson, a low-income college student, will "pay $175 per month under Obamacare, about 18% of his yearly income," ignoring the fact that Henderson would have been eligible for subsidized health care if his state had not rejected the healthcare reform law's Medicaid expansion.
On October 3, several media outlets highlighted Henderson as an early ACA enrollment success story. Henderson, a 21-year-old student at Chattanooga State University, told Washington Post's Wonkblog that he had been without health insurance for 14 years but successfully signed up for coverage through one of the law's new online exchanges. Henderson will pay $175 per month in premiums, which he said fits his budget. Right-wing blogs later hyped the cost of Henderson's insurance plan to claim it's unaffordable.
The Blaze reported that "Henderson, who reportedly earns $11,500 annually, will pay $175 per month under Obamacare, about 18% of his yearly income" and quoted the Cato Institute's Michael F. Cannon to claim that "it appears that Obamacare quadrupled Chad's premiums," citing an eHealthInsurance.com quote for a plan he could have purchased. Michelle Malkin's blog also highlighted Cannon's claim. A Washington Examiner article headlined "$175 premium for a young, healthy student? Thanks, Obamacare!" responded: "Ouch! Wasn't Obamacare supposed to lower premiums?" and on October 3, the Drudge Report promoted the Examiner story:
These reports failed to mention that Henderson would have been able to receive subsidized coverage under the health care reform law's Medicaid expansion if his state had not chosen to opt out after the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that states didn't have to expand their Medicaid coverage. From Wonkblog's story about Henderson:
Henderson is a part-time worker at a day-care center. He did not qualify for tax credits to purchase health coverage because his income is below the poverty line. Since Georgia is not expanding the Medicaid program, that meant Henderson was essentially responsible for his entire premium.
Right-wing media have seized on a report noting that American children in Los Angeles County with undocumented parents are receiving millions in benefits to revive the spurious smear that undocumented immigrants come to this country only to receive welfare. However, these outlets are missing the facts surrounding the data, including that studies show immigration reform could raise these children's standard of living.
In a September 16 article, the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles reported that according to a new analysis by county officials, an "estimated 100,000 children of 60,000 undocumented parents receive aid in Los Angeles County." The article added that the projected cost to the county would equal $650 million in 2013.
County supervisor Michael D. Antonovich was quoted as saying that the total cost to taxpayers could exceed $1.6 billion per year after factoring in health care and public safety costs, adding, "These costs do not even include the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually for education."
Right-wing media outlets, including the Daily Caller, The Blaze, and Breitbart.com, highlighted the report, with the Power Line blog using it to accuse undocumented immigrants of putting a "burden" on "the nation's welfare system, along with driving down wages for working Americans." American Thinker commented: "To open borders crowd: Please make your donations here to cover the cost of allowing destitute, jobless, skilless, poorly educated people to cross the border. We can't bill the Mexican government so you're the next best target."
Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham read the news on her radio show and used it to call for the end of birthright citizenship -- which, under the 14th Amendment, makes anyone born in this country an American citizen. She also argued that the news should end all talk of immigration reform.
But these reports leave out key facts. In 2012, according to Antonovich's office, the total cost of food stamp benefits and Cal WORKs -- a welfare program that gives cash aid and services to eligible needy California families -- to Los Angeles County was a little over $3 billion. Families headed by an undocumented parent received about $636.5 million or a little more than 20 percent of the total.
From the September 11 edition of The Blaze's The Glenn Beck Program:
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Continuing the right-wing effort to depict equality for gay and lesbian couples as a threat to liberty, Glenn Beck's conservative website TheBlaze.com promoted the claim that marriage equality will lead to a spate of "hate speech" laws targeted at anti-gay speakers.
In a July 23 post, The Blaze warned that "pastors and Christians, alike" could find their First Amendment freedoms imperiled in an America with marriage equality, a claim advanced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):
Some pro-gay marriage advocates in the U.S., the senator believes, want the nation to end up with the same ramifications on the books -- and in a paradigm in which individuals can be punished or denigrated for refusing to substantiate or for speaking out against same-sex unions.
Some might scoff at these insinuations, dismissing them as over-the-top, but Cruz is not necessarily manufacturing a paradigm. Consider the widely publicized case in Sweden back in 2005 surrounding Aake Green, a Pentecostal pastor.
Green's plight corroborates the worries that Cruz has surrounding America's current trajectory. In 2003, the preacher likened homosexuality to cancer during one of his sermons. As a result, he was brought up on charges over these claims -- statements that, in America, would currently be protected by the First Amendment.
Other incidents have unfolded, too, as the delicate balance between free speech and cutting down on hate speech has been sought.
Now, some might argue that Green's words were too harsh, but one wonders if even simpler, kinder words that stand opposed to homosexuality would be met with similar sentiment in his country.
While it's certainly permissible to disagree with Cruz's assessment, the basis on which he argues is not entirely unfounded.
Last week in Salt Lake City, Glenn Beck hosted a three-day extravaganza featuring a spectacle-laden stage show, a history museum, speeches and presentations from prominent conservative figures, and a large exhibit hall. Below are scenes from Glenn Beck's latest get-together. First featured are scenes from the exhibit area maintained by the Beck-linked charity Mercury One. Following that are scenes from the main event, "Man in the Moon."
The Blaze Radio was broadcasting:
Lines for a meet and greet with Beck:
The official Man in the Moon store:
Beck's books were also on sale:
Other merchandise available at the event and scenes from Man In The Moon after the jump.
Glenn Beck launched a sordid smear campaign against Teresa Heinz Kerry, the hospitalized wife of Secretary of State John Kerry, accusing her and the State Department of orchestrating her medical scare to divert public attention away from reports about the whereabouts of her husband during Egypt's most recent transition of power. In a pair of cheap shots on his radio program and web show, Beck speculated that Heinz Kerry is lying and drew an institutional connection between what he baselessly suggests is Heinz Kerry's fake injury and the 2012 concussion suffered by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which Beck referred to at the time as a "scam."
On July 3, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was deposed by the country's military leaders amidst popular protests. That same day, CBS reported that one of its producers had spotted Secretary Kerry aboard a yacht in the Nantucket Boat Basin. The State Department denied the allegations, and noted that Kerry was "working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt."
Four days later on July 7, 74-year-old Heinz Kerry, Kerry's wife, was hospitalized with symptoms of a seizure that left her in critical condition. Doctors upgraded her condition to "fair" on Monday morning.
On his radio show, Beck compared Heinz Kerry's hospitalization to that of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a blood clot, which he suggested was orchestrated to distract the press from the Benghazi attacks. Beck called the State Department's denial of Kerry's whereabouts a "huge scandal" and wondered if Heinz Kerry's injury -- which took place four days after Morsi's ouster -- was also orchestrated as a distraction, asking "You expect me to believe that Mrs. Ketchup is in critical condition? I mean, no offense, maybe she is." Beck then compared Heinz Kerry's medical scare to Clinton's in 2012, wondering of Clinton's treatment, "Was that just a scam?"
Beck repeated his accusation on his web show, saying of Clinton's hospitalization and treatment, "I didn't believe that. That was to get out of Benghazi." He equated this with Heinz Kerry, adding:
BECK: I mean, I wish Teresa Heinz Kerry the best. But I find it fascinating that she is in critical condition this weekend after the State Department was caught in a lie. The same day the State Department is caught in a massive, massive lie, the same the press is no longer asking anybody about that, because Teresa Heinz is now in the hospital. So, you can't ask any tough questions. This government has zero credibility.
Beck has a history of capitalizing on his media presence to lob attacks against powerful women during their most vulnerable moments. In December, when Clinton first sustained a concussion, Beck ridiculed her and asked whether Clinton's injury was a "scam," claiming, "She shouldn't be President of the United States if she's going into the hospital for some sort of heart condition or brain condition or whatever she was in the hospital for."
Other right-wing media figures joined in mocking Clinton's injury. Several pundits on Fox News Channel accused Clinton of faking her injury in order to avoid testifying before Congress about the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck ran to the defense of celebrity chef Paula Deen's right to use racial slurs without fear of being fired from her lucrative deals with the Food Network, QVC, and others. Deen came under fire after she admitted to using the racial slur on several occasions. Beck claimed her critics were engaging in "McCarthyism" and described Deen's words as "violations of political correctness, nothing more."
Deen is being sued by Lisa T. Jackson, a manager at Deen's restaurants in Georgia, over allegations of sexual and racial harassment. A deposition from the proceedings revealed that Deen repeatedly used racial slurs and other offensive language. From The Daily Beast:
In her testimony, Deen admits to using the N-word, reveals her ambivalence towards people watching pornography at a place of work, and--the arguably racist, definitely bizarre bit that's made headlines Wednesday--details the Southern plantation wedding of her dreams, in which black waiters serve guests slave-style.
In the aftermath of the deposition's release to the public, Deen issued a recorded apology. The Food Network announced that her contract will not be renewed, and QVC -- the home shopping network -- is reviewing their business relationship with Deen.
On his June 24 web show, Beck used the backlash against Deen as a platform to rant about what he believes is the active destruction of Constitutional principles, arguing that attacks on Deen over the content of her speech are symptomatic of the nation's decline. Remarkably, Beck invoked the name of African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to defend Deen's use of racial slurs and attack the use of public boycotts -- a tactic King and others utilized to great effect during the civil rights movement.
Media outlets have pounced on a quote from one member of a science advisory panel to once again claim a White House "war on coal," but they are missing crucial context about President Barack Obama's expected plan, which sets aside money for the development of so-called "clean coal" technology in addition to proposing necessary regulations on the pollution that coal-fired power plants currently emit.
Tuesday, The New York Times published a quote from Harvard University professor Daniel P. Schrag, a member of the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, in anticipation of the Obama administration's announcement of measures to reduce carbon emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change:
"Everybody is waiting for action," he said. "The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed."
The Washington Post singled out the remarks in a post titled "Obama science adviser calls for 'war on coal." However, Schrag is not Obama's primary science adviser -- he is simply one of 18 advisors in a group that includes current and former executives from Microsoft, Google and tech conglomerate Honeywell, Inc. Additionally, as the Post noted, "he is not closely involved in setting regulatory policy for the White House."
Right-wing outlets immediately began publicizing the remarks, suggesting they are a sign of President Obama's true motives, with The Washington Free Beacon claiming the quote shows that the president's plan "is explicitly aimed at attacking the coal industry." Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin followed up by asking "Is Obama waging a 'war on coal?' and responding that "[t]o a large extent, the answer is yes."
However, Schrag's remark is not representative of President Obama's record as The Columbia Journalism Review and others have previously pointed out. Schrag responded to an email inquiry from Media Matters that he believes "there is nothing wrong with coal if technology is used to remove CO2 emissions and other harmful pollutants" (emphasis added):
The quote was slightly out of context. I was asked about the question of a war on coal, and I explain that shutting down conventional coal plants is a critical step in moving towards a low-carbon economy. But the phrase "war on coal" is really inappropriate and I shouldn't have used it - simply because it is not the coal that is the problem, but the emissions from coal, and what they do to our health, the health of our children, and of course the climate. So there is nothing wrong with coal if technology is used to remove CO2 emissions and other harmful pollutants. But conventional coal, that is harming our children and changing the climate system should have no place in our society.
Glenn Beck announced on his website The Blaze that he will be attending a June 19 rally in Washington, D.C. to oppose the Senate's immigration reform bill and to "stand against amnesty." In a segment titled "Why is Glenn going to DC?" Beck claimed that the bill would pit "amnesty over security," culminating weeks of inflammatory rhetoric directed at the bill and its supporters:
Right-wing media are trying to downplay a confrontation over gun sale background checks between a woman who lost her mother in the Newtown, CT, shooting and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) by promoting a report from an Ayotte donor whose wife is the former chair of the New Hampshire GOP.
Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung, asked Ayotte during an April 30 town hall meeting in Warren, New Hampshire, "why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't more important" than Ayotte's claim that conducting background checks would be burdensome for gun store owners. According to NBC News, the meeting "drew more than 100 people who came to condemn or support Ayotte's vote."
Reacting to news reports of the confrontation between Lafferty and Ayotte, Shawn Millerick, editor of the conservative New Hampshire Journal, complained of "liberal media bias" and wrote that reports of Ayotte being confronted over her failure to support expanded background checks were exaggerated by the national media. Millerick also posted photographs of cars with out-of-state license plates that he says belonged to the individuals who opposed Ayotte's background check vote.
Breitbart.com, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, RedState and NewsBusters are all promoting Millerick's report as evidence that the media was dishonest in its coverage of Ayotte's town hall meeting while also characterizing Millerick's online newspaper as a "local" media source and not mentioning its partisan slant. According to Breitbart.com's John Nolte, Millerick's report "expose[d] the leftist national media for the liars they are." The Daily Caller's Alex Pappas framed the issue as a discrepancy between "local" and "national" media:
From the May 2 edition of The Blaze's The Glenn Beck Program:
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Glenn Beck can't keep his conspiracies straight.
It took the conservative host less than 90 seconds during his May 1 television show to produce one of the most glaring media contradictions in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Not surprisingly, Beck didn't seem to notice the obvious inconsistency. That's what happens when you chase hollow and reckless conspiracy theories for a living.
The mix-up occurred during one of Beck's signature, rambling monologues about what really happened in Boston and who's really to blame. (Hint: Saudi Arabia.) But Beck managed to tie together two competing conspiracy theories that draw opposite conclusions about the Saudi government's involvement.
Recall that after the April 15 attack, Beck engaged in a wild conspiracy, insisting that a Saudi national student who had been injured in the blast and who was questioned by authorities was "absolutely involved" in the Patriot's Day attack. (Law enforcement officials have repeatedly claimed he was not.) Beck called the student a "dirt bag," a "bad, bad, bad man," and "possibly the ringleader" of the bombing that killed three people and injured more than one hundred.
The White House was "trying to make this a lone wolf crime so the Saudi government will be spared embarrassment, and the U.S. will be spared explaining how a terror cell was active when we have Al-Qaeda on the run," Beck told radio listeners on April 18.
"You want to know why we have terror over and over in our streets?" he asked on April 22. "Saudi Arabia. It is time someone on network television says it." The host even called for President Obama to be impeached for what the host considered to be a sprawling government cover-up surrounding the student, Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda.
On May 1, Beck returned to the claim insisting, "We know Saudi Arabia is involved."
Then, less than 90 seconds after implicating Saudi Arabia, Beck latched onto yesterday's conspiracy-of-the-day claim, courtesy of Britain's Daily Mail. It reported Saudi officials had delivered a "very specific" written warning to the Department of Homeland Security in 2012 about Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Saudi officials were allegedly so concerned about Tsarnaev's radical ties that his visa request to visit Saudi Arabia had been denied. Beck's site, The Blaze, also pushed the story, as did scores right-wing blogs.
The Department of Homeland Security, the White House, and Saudi Arabia's U.S. Ambassador have all since categorically denied the Daily Mail's claim. The newspaper has produced no evidence to back up its anonymous source's dubious allegation.
That didn't matter to Beck. Because the unproven claim made the Obama administration look bad, and because it made it look like government officials had missed obvious warning signs about Tsarnaev, Beck embraced the Saudi story as truth. But that left him in the very awkward position of insisting Saudi Arabia was "involved" in the bombing (and not in a good way), while simultaneously reporting Saudi Arabia tried to warn the U.S. about the bomber.
In Beck's telling, Saudi Arabia officials were both the good guys and the bad guys in Boston. Only he would try to paper over a boulder-sized inconsistency like that in the span of 90 seconds.
Question: Was it keen programming like this that convinced executives at Cablevision to add Beck's Internet channel to Cablevision's New York City metropolitan cable system?
Glenn Beck's The Blaze continues to push the debunked claim that a Saudi Arabian national who was briefly placed on the federal No-Fly List following the Boston Marathon bombing was wrongly removed from that list and, at one time, was a suspect.
And now it wants Congress to help.
For weeks, Beck and The Blaze have fixated on the 20-year-old Saudi man, Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, claiming that he was once considered a suspect in the bombing and had been up for deportation. Other news outlets have debunked these claims.
But just this week, a producer at the conservative outlet sent an email (since obtained by Media Matters) to staff members at congressional offices of both houses and parties asking whether members of Congress would "be willing to raise" the Blaze's claims with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano or FBI Director Robert Mueller.
The email (below) from Blaze producer Virginia Grace states:
From: Grace, Virginia
Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 4:40 PM
To: Grace, Virginia
Subject: Revised: Request from TheBlaze
Over the past two weeks TheBlaze has been reporting on the Saudi National, AbdulRahman ali Al-Harbi, who was briefly detained as a potential suspect after the Boston bombing. Shortly after a search of his apartment in Revere, Massachusetts an event file was issued by the NTC designating him as a terrorist under the Immigration Nationality Act 212 (a)(3)(B)(ii)(II) and making reference to involvement in the bombing. Twenty four hours later the file was amended to remove the terrorist designation and a short time after that removed from the system altogether. To date Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has refused to comment on the terrorist designation, first even denying Mr. Al-Harbi had ever been a person of interest before finally admitting to Congress on Tuesday that he had, in fact, been placed on the Watch List for a short time. TheBlaze believes the public has a right to know why Al-Harbi went from terrorist to nobody in the span of 48 hours. What evidence led to the designation in the first place and what transpired to reverse it a short time later.
Would you be willing to raise those issues with Ms. Napolitano or Mr. Robert Muller at the FBI and report your findings to the American public?
Please let us know.
Sincerely, The Blaze
Several journalism veterans say this email is unusual for a media outlet, both as an effort to spark political action and as an attempt to get members of Congress to do their reporting.
"My general view is that legitimate, neutral news organizations should report and let members of Congress decide on their own whether they want to get involved," said Andy Alexander, former Washington Post ombudsman.
Hours after it was debunked, Glenn Beck continued to beat the drum of a conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is deporting a Saudi national who was behind the tragic bombings at the Boston marathon.
The conspiracy theory arose when Steve Emerson, a guest on Fox News' Hannity, accused the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of preparing to deport a Saudi national "person of interest" in the bombings at the Boston marathon. Right-wing blogs like Glenn Beck's The Blaze, Breitbart.com, WND, and Infowars quickly latched on to the story, alleging President Obama wishes to cover up Saudi Arabian and Al Qaeda ties to the attack.
The myth pretends that a Saudi national who was hospitalized after sustaining injuries in the bombing -- initially reported to be a "person of interest," though he never was -- is the same man DHS is allegedly in the process of deporting for visa violations.
DHS soundly discredited the conspiracy theory this afternoon, explaining to CNN's Jake Tapper that the rumors are confusing two very different men.
Still, hours later, Beck continued to run with the debunked conspiracy on his television program, claiming his "sources" knew better (emphasis added):
We at the Blaze know that this Saudi national is a bad, bad, bad man ... This administration is playing an extraordinarily dangerous game. They have very little regard for what it takes to be a citizen. Before the sequester cuts happened, they opened the prison and let illegals out. Who does that? Remember also, the Saudi national that was -- is about to get on a plane -- involved in blowing the legs off of American citizens, being held in protective custody or being protected, at least, by our administration. He will be put in protective custody and the plans are to deport him.
Beck's claims, of course, are far from true.