Conservative media outlets including The Weekly Standard, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, Breitbart.com, and the Drudge Report have claimed that Michelle Obama broke the rules by joining audience applause at one point during the debate. Fox Radio's Todd Starnes went so far as to call Michelle Obama unbecoming. These attacks come despite the fact that Mitt Romney repeatedly violated the debate rules.
Prior to the debate, the campaigns agreed to a rule stating that "the candidates may not ask each other direct questions during any of the four debates."
Nevertheless, Romney repeatedly asked Obama questions during the debate on a variety of subjects including oil drilling, the investments in Obama's pension, and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
All of which leads to the possibility that the conservative media is less concerned with the debate rules than they are with changing the subject from the substance of the debate.
CNN's Candy Crowley is debunking a claim pushed by the right-wing media that she walked back a fact check of Mitt Romney's remarks about the attack in Libya during the second presidential debate.
During the debate, Romney expressed disbelief that President Obama referred to the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi as an "act of terror" the day after the attack occurred. Crowley noted that the president did in fact use those words, and she has consistently made that same point since the debate.
Here's the exchange at the debate:
ROMNEY: I -- I think interesting the president just said something which -- which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
OBAMA: That's what I said.
ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.
It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?
OBAMA: Please proceed governor.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror...
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
CROWLEY: He -- he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
ROMNEY: This -- the administration -- the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.
CROWLEY: It did.
Crowley was correct. The day after the attack, Obama addressed the nation from the White House Rose Garden and said:
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
Right-wing bloggers are falsely claiming that Joe Biden is "lying" about having played football at the University of Delaware. Contrary to their claims, several newspapers have interviewed people who knew Biden while he played freshman football at Delaware.
More than 20 years of reporting debunks this claim. For instance, a 1987 Washington Post article retrieved from the Nexis database quoted Biden's father, Joe Biden Sr., saying that he made his son leave the team because of poor grades after his freshman season. A 1987 Los Angeles Times article reported that Biden's college roommate said the same thing (via Nexis):
"He probably never studied as hard as other people did," recalled Biden's roommate at the University of Delaware, Donald Brunner, now a senior vice president with J. P. Morgan. Brunner and Biden both played football as freshmen, but Biden then quit the team, Brunner said, under pressure from his father, who thought that he was devoting too much time to sports and not enough to books.
In 2008, The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, published an article about Biden's high school and college football days. One of Biden's teammates at Delaware, Jack Istnick, recounted a story from practice (article available for purchase here):
Every now and then, the freshman players would help the varsity practice.
One day, Biden and Jack Istnick were shagging punts for the varsity so it could work on its kick-coverage teams. This was done at full speed with full contact. The ball was kicked to Biden, who got "absolutely leveled," Istnick said, "mainly because I didn't block anyone."
"The [freshman] coach, Scottie Duncan, looked at me and looked at Joe lying on the ground and said to me, 'Don't you like him?' "
The Breitbart post uses an ellipsis-laden quote from a September 8 speech Biden made at Ohio University as evidence that he lied specifically about having played in a football game there in 1963:
"I came ... I was a football player ... I came here in 1963 ... and we beat you Bobcats, 29-12," Biden said.
However, a CBS News video of Biden's appearance, used by NRO, shows that Biden did not actually claim to have played in the game.
Right-wing media have attacked early voting, claiming it leads to fraud, pushes uninformed voters to cast ballots too early, and is unconstitutional and untraditional. In fact, early voting increases the integrity of the voting process, and the vast majority of early votes are cast in the final two weeks before the election by decided voters. Early voting dates back to the founding of the country.
From the October 11 edition of CNN Newsroom:
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One problem with embracing conspiracy theories is that once they start to unravel there's little chance of salvaging them. Yet that's when true believers, like Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson, usually hold on tighter to the wild schemes.
Pressed about obvious holes in the "liberal media bias" allegation that appeared in the wake of the first presidential debate when President Obama was showered with negative coverage by the mainstream press, Carlson insists the relentless lumps Obama took did nothing to undercut the endless conservative cries about media unfairness.
That just doesn't add up. Then again, Carlson recently made the odd claim that journalists were biased because they weren't interested in the Daily Caller's overhyped and underwhelming "exclusive" story on a five-year-old Obama speech that had already been widely reported on. (Being bored while reading The Daily Caller is a form of journalistic prejudice?)
As for Obama's debate coverage, the New York Times' David Carr pointed out that the media's universally negative response to the Democrat's performance took some of the air out of the "liberal media bias" tires.
Carr's point was that if ever there were a time in this campaign for the so-called palace guard, liberal media protectors of Obama to swoop in and defend their wounded candidate, it would've been in the wake of the first debate. Instead the press collectively clobbered Obama. So where's the proof of left-wing bias that Fox News effortlessly feeds off of?
Carlson emailed Carr this response [emphasis added]:
The lesson is that the press doesn't control poll results. It's possible to get elected even if the media are rooting for your opponent, as both Reagan and George W. Bush proved.
It's also true that reporters get bored with the existing storyline, which until last week was that Romney had already lost. So they welcome a chance to talk about something else.
But none of this proves there's no bias. I don't think any fair person who has watched carefully could claim Romney and Obama have been held to the same standard by the press. They haven't.
Wait, what? The liberal press doesn't control the polls? Didn't we just witness an entire right-wing movement boldly declare that the media do control polls and that's why Romney had been trailing Obama, because the media and pollsters colluded to keep the Republican down? Because there is rampant "media polling bias"?
Indeed we did.
The Daily Caller and the Drudge Report are hyping the fact that Barack Obama attended vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz's wedding to Julius Genachowski (now the head of the FCC) in 1991 as evidence of a conflict of interest.
The campaign to intimidate ABC reporter Martha Raddatz, who will moderate the October 11 vice presidential debate, is being led by a news organization that has received considerable financial backing from a wealthy donor who has spent millions of dollars trying to defeat President Obama.
Raddatz has come under fire from the right-wing media machine since the conservative Daily Caller reported that Obama attended her wedding in 1991 as a guest of the groom, Julius Genachowski, a Harvard Law School classmate of the president. Raddatz and Genachowski divorced in 1997.
After the Daily Caller reported on Obama's attendance at the wedding, the conservative media echo chamber pounced, touting the Daily Caller piece and working the refs by insinuating that Obama's attendance at a wedding more than 20 years ago would give Vice President Joe Biden an unfair advantage during the VP debate.
But one of the key financial backers of the Daily Caller has also been deeply engaged in raising money to elect a Republican to the White House.
From the October 7 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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On conservative pundit Frank Gaffney's radio show yesterday, Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle falsified congressional testimony by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz concerning Operation Fast and Furious. Boyle incorrectly claimed that Horowitz testified that it was "unfathomable" that Attorney General Eric Holder was unaware of controversial tactics employed during the failed gun trafficking sting.
In actuality, when Horowitz was asked, "Did you find any evidence that Attorney General Holder approved of the gun walking tactics that are under investigation -- that have been under investigation by this committee?" during a September 20 House Oversight Committee hearing, he responded, "We found no evidence that the attorney general was aware in 2010, before Senator Grassley's letter, of Operation Fast and Furious and the tactics associated with it." [C-SPAN via Nexis, 9/20/12]
But in an interview, Boyle distorted this testimony. He indicated that Horowitz stated before Congress that Holder was aware of the tactics used in Fast and Furious. From Boyle's interview:
BOYLE: So the point is, is that at this point in time it's very hard to believe that Holder didn't know. And the IG [Inspector General] has actually said that before Congress. He has actually -- I can't remember the exact quote off the top of my head -- but he said something like that, "It's unfathomable that the Attorney General was unaware of this when everybody who works for him was." So basically what has happened here is there is there is a culture of plausible deniability that has been created around Holder. [emphasis added]
An independent report issued by the Office of the Inspector General on September 19 reached the opposite conclusion, stating, "We found no evidence that Attorney General Holder was informed about Operation Fast and Furious, or learned about the tactics employed by ATF in the investigation, prior to January 31, 2011."
Right-wing media are reviving the "death panels" lie in reaction to Mitt Romney's criticism of a health-care advisory board during the first presidential debate. In fact, that board, established under the 2010 health care reform law, is forbidden from rationing health care, and Romney's own health care reform in Massachusetts includes a similar unelected board.
Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson put aside his past reverence of Newt Gingrich to lash out at Gingrich's criticism over the Caller's so-called "bombshell video" showing then-Sen. Barack Obama talking about race issues in front of African-American clergy members in 2007. Carlson and others hyping the five-year-old video claimed it was evidence of "divisive class warfare and racially-charged rhetoric."
During an appearance on Fox News' America Live, while attempting to defend his decision to release the video, Carlson was made aware of Gingrich's criticism. Carlson responded: "Who cares what Newt Gingrich said?"
Gingrich yesterday discounted the video, agreeing that Obama's record as president has a "far greater impact" on the election. Gingrich said: "I don't think this particular speech is definitive."
Other conservatives have also questioned the video's importance, saying the 2007 speech holds little significance in the current presidential race.
Carlson's dismissive response is in contrast with his past comments praising Gingrich. In 2009, he referred to Gingrich as "the soul" of the GOP and "the intellectual center of the Republican Party -- the smartest, most energetic guy." More recently, Carlson praised Gingrich for the "great job" he did calling Obama the "food stamp president."
Media figures are dismissing video from a 2007 Obama speech despite Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson hyping the video as damning evidence of racially-charged rhetoric. Even some conservatives agree that the video has little significance in the presidential race.
It's rather amazing that Barack Obama has been on the national political stage for more than eight years and the far-right media, committed to hating the president with a peculiar passion, still haven't figured out the race angle. Or specifically, they haven't figured out which race-baiting angle they prefer to play against him.
The jarring dichotomy played out yesterday. That morning, conservative George Will argued in his Washington Post column that Obama's race would shield him from a re-election defeat because Americans will vote for him because he's black.
Then in the late afternoon and evening a media kerfuffle broke out after the habitually untrustworthy Drudge Report hyped a five-year-old video of Obama speaking at Hampton University. The unmistakable message from the overly excited members of GOP Noise machine on Tuesday was that the video "could dramatically impact" the election because it would showcase Obama as an angry man beset by racial grievances (it doesn't). The clear inference being that Americans won't vote for him because he's revealing his true black nature.
Here's how MSNBC's Rachel Maddow decoded the right-wing attack last night: "People didn't actually know [Obama] was this black, and if they had known he was this black they never would've elected him."
So which is it? Will voters excuse Obama's faults and give him a second term based on his race? Or will voters penalize Obama on Election Day based on his race?
The utter confusion and contradictory allegations shouldn't be surprising given that Obama's harshest opponents have been grappling for years, unsuccessfully, with the issue of race and how best to try to deploy it for political gain. They've alternately declared Obama a "racist" and have wallowed in the worst kind of ugly race baiting, while pre-emptively condemning any critics who dare call them out.
The us-versus-them cauldron of bigotry was purposefully reignited last night with the non-news of an Obama speech given in 2007 to an audience of African-American clergy. It was a speech that was open to the press at the time and was widely reported on, including on Fox News.
Fox News' Brian Kilmeade is not the person one would expect to knock down a disingenuous attack on President Obama. Indeed, Kilmeade is as enthusiastic a GOP shill as anyone else on his network and isn't exactly known for his piercing insight. And yet this morning he provided a concise and effective rebuttal to the Daily Caller's Drudge-hyped video of President Obama using "racially charged rhetoric" in a 2007 speech: whatever Obama said, noted Kilmeade, he hasn't "governed in a racist way."