Right-wing media attacked President Obama's Easter prayer breakfast speech, claiming he "smeared" Christianity by referring to "less-than-loving" statements from Christians.
Right-wing media have falsely suggested that the civil rights protections in Indiana's "religious freedom" bill force business owners to endorse messages that they share serious ideological disagreements with. But a recently-decided discrimination case in Colorado debunked this argument, differentiating between discrimination on the basis of ideology and discrimination on the basis of membership in a protected class.
On April 2, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed an anti-discrimination amendment to his state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) after facing widespread criticism due to the law's potential to authorize anti-LGBT discrimination. To address that danger, the amended law explicitly prohibits individuals and business owners from invoking RFRA to deny services on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Right-wing media were quick to criticize Pence, arguing that the amendment "gutted" the state's RFRA and claiming that the revision would "force" the devout to violate their religious beliefs by holding them accountable to generally applicable civil rights protections. A number of conservative media outlets like The Wall Street Journal took this argument further, falsely claiming that forcing religious business owners to abide by anti-discrimination laws would also "compel" them to serve customers with "politically unacceptable thoughts":
For that matter, should a Native American printer be legally compelled to make posters with an Indian mascot that he finds offensive, or an environmentalist contractor to work a shift at a coal-fired power plant? Fining or otherwise coercing any small number of private citizens -- who aren't doing anyone real harm but entertain politically unacceptable thoughts -- is thuggish stuff.
But a recent "religious discrimination" case from Colorado illustrates how this hypothetical betrays a fundamental inability to understand that the RFRA debate was over discrimination against gay people, not gay "thoughts."
Conservative media are grossly distorting a recent study on aerosols' climate impact as a "death blow to global warming hysteria." But the study's author himself stated in response that his research does not contradict the scientific consensus on global warming.
A recent study provided new estimates for the rate at which aerosols -- tiny particles of matter suspended in the atmosphere -- deflect the sun's rays, measuring what is known as aerosol "radiative forcing." The study from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, which analyzed data from 1850 to 1950, found that the level of radiative forcing from aerosols is "less negative" than commonly believed, suggesting that aerosols do not cool the atmosphere as much as previously thought.
According to right-wing media, the study represents a "death blow to global warming hysteria." The reasoning behind the claim, which originated in a Cato Institute blog post, is that climate models rely on aerosols to offset much of the projected greenhouse gas effect from carbon dioxide. So if aerosols offset less warming than commonly believed, Cato claims "the amount of greenhouse gas-induced warming must also be less" and "we should expect less warming from future greenhouse gas emissions than climate models are projecting." The Cato blog post was picked up by the Daily Caller, American Thinker, Alex Jones' Infowars, Investors' Business Daily, and Rush Limbaugh. Daily Caller even claimed that the recent study directly disputes the scientific findings of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, writing: "Basically, the IPCC says aerosols deflect a lot of warming -- the opposite of the Max Planck study's finding."
But the study does nothing to dispute the scientific consensus on global warming, according to the study's author himself. In response to media outlets using his study to make inference's about the climate's sensitivity to carbon dioxide, climate scientist Bjorn Stevens published a statement on the Max Planck Institute's website, debunking the notion that human-induced climate change is "called into question" by his study. He also wrote that his estimates of aerosol radiative forcing are "within the range" of the IPCC's previous findings (which he actually co-authored), and that "I continue to believe that warming of Earth's surface temperatures from rising concentrations of greenhouse gases carries risks that society must take seriously." From Stevens' statement:
Fox News host and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson acknowledged he instructs his employees that "you can't go after Fox ... because I work there." Carlson added that the rule is a "conflict" and "Is that unfair? Yes, it is. But that's what it is."
Carlson's policy surfaced after blogger Mickey Kaus quit the Caller when a piece critical of Fox News was yanked from the website. Kaus said Carlson told him he took down the post because "We can't trash Fox on the site. I work there."
Carlson acknowledged his rule prohibiting criticism of Fox News during a Real Clear Politics interview posted on April 2:
CARLSON: I have two rules. One is you can't criticize the families of the people who work here. And the other rule is you can't go after Fox. Only for one reason. Not because they're conservative or we agree them; because they're doing the Lord's work. Nothing like that. It's because I work there. I'm an anchor on Fox. And so I had a couple of my employees say, "Well, isn't that a conflict?" To which I said, "yes, it's a conflict. For sure." It's a conflict that I am the owner of The Daily Caller -- my business partner and I own it. And I'm an employee of Fox. That's a conflicted situation, but I don't know what to do about it.
Carlson added: "You don't criticize your employer. I mean that's just kind of 101 ... Is that unfair? Yes, it is. But that's what it is." Prior to being hired by Fox in 2009, Carlson was one of Fox's fiercest critics, calling the network "a mean, sick group of people" and The O'Reilly Factor a "shit" show hosted by "a thin-skinned blowhard."
In a 2010 interview, Carlson claimed that his then-new site was "not going to suck up to people," stating: "Our goal is not to get Republicans elected. Our goal is to explain what your government is doing. We're not going to suck up to people in power, the way so many have. There's been an enormous amount of throne-sniffing ... It's disgusting."
Though The Daily Caller won't allow criticism of Fox, there are a lot of things they'll still permit. This includes employing blatant sexists and producing sexist content; heckling the president during a Rose Garden address; publishing anti-science "reporting" denying the existence of depression; selling out readers to a firm they previously said is headed by a fraudster; and failing to adequately correct errors, among many other issues.
Washington Examiner correspondent Eddie Scarry tweeted in response to Carlson's admission that Glenn Beck's The Blaze enacted a similar policy against criticizing Fox News. Scarry, who worked for the conservative website from 2011-2014, wrote: "100% true: I was told at TheBlaze not to write about Fox News. But no editor there would have admitted that in public." He added that the rule "was because they didn't want to upset Fox, which has heavy clout with cable providers. Blaze really wants to be on Comcast."
UPDATE: Mickey Kaus tweeted the following in response to Tucker's admission (h/t Erik Wemple):
Tucker admirably honest about his No-Trash Fox rule. Except he didn't tell me about it when he signed me up (or ever) http://t.co/XeHxghMUtP-- Mickey Kaus (@kausmickey) April 2, 2015
Kaus expanded in a post on his website, writing that "The Rule is not sustainable. We're about to enter a media driven Republican presidential primary in which Fox is accused, not without basis, of favoring Jeb Bush" and "that means everything Daily Caller writes about Fox is suspect (of being BS) since they are presumably leaving out any bad parts, even if true" (emphasis in original).
Right-wing media have been mocking a recent resolution to address the disproportionate impacts that women will face from climate change, laughing at the possibility that "climate change will turn women into prostitutes." But the grim reality is that climate change will affect women in ways that should not be laughed at or ignored.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced legislation on March 25 to "recogniz[e] the disparate impact of climate change on women and the efforts of women globally to address climate change." When an identical resolution was introduced in 2013, PolicyMic reported that it would oblige Congress to "acknowledge the disparate effects that climate change will have on women, build gender into a framework for combating climate-related issues, and take steps to reverse this disparity."
Right-wing media coverage of this bill, on the other hand, has been exclusively focused on sex -- by ridiculing the notion that climate change could force women into prostitution.
Conservative news sites published scandalizing headlines such as Breitbart's "Congresswoman Claims Climate Change Will Turn Women Into Prostitutes," WorldNetDaily's "Lefty Lawmaker Warns: Climate Change Makes Women Prostitutes," Powerline's "Will Global Warming Cause Prostitution?" and Daily Caller's "Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): Global Warming Will Turn Women Into Prostitutes For Food." A blog post on the American Spectator wrote that climate change "is going to be great for dudes, who apparently don't have to worry about any negative effects of the transactional sex they engage in as a result of the warming climate." An editorial at Tennessee's Kingsport Times-News quoted the movie Forrest Gump to attack the proposal, writing: "Forrest Gump said that 'stupid is as stupid does.' Witness Rep. Barbara Lee, Democrat of California ... [who says] that global warming will force women into prostitution." Fox News' late night show Red Eye devoted several minutes to mocking the idea that climate change harms women more than men. And Rush Limbaugh asked on the March 27 edition of his show, "which came first, prostitution or climate?"
They are all are referring to a single line in the bill's text: "[F]ood insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health."
The harmful impacts of climate change on women, which Rep. Lee's resolution hopes to address, are no laughing matter. A United Nations analysis detailed how women are often more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change than men, particularly in developing countries, and that it is therefore "important to identify gender-sensitive strategies to respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change." U.N. Climate Chief Christiana Figueres noted further in a CNN.com op-ed that "women often bear the brunt in places where the impacts of climate change are already being felt":
From the March 25 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
Loading the player reg...
The Daily Caller's founder and Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson dismissed questions about a controversial email revealing that his brother called New York City Major Bill de Blasio's female spokesperson a "self-righteous bitch" with "dick-fright" in response to her request for a correction in an article. Carlson responded that the comments were meant in the "nicest way."
On March 25, BuzzFeed reported that a spokesperson for de Blasio, Amy Spitalnick, contacted the Daily Caller to request a correction on a story regarding comments made by de Blasio on public transportation funding. After an exchange of emails with senior editor Christopher Bedford, who called her whiny and annoying, Spitalnick contacted Tucker Carlson to complain about Bedford's "appalling" and dismissive response. Carlson replied Spitalnick that agreed that her tone was "whiny and annoying," which he said was meant "in the spirit of helpful correction rather than criticism."
Carlson's brother, Buckley Carlson and "political strategist" for the site, replied to Tucker's response in an email that accidentally copied Spitalnick. The email contained several sexist comments: describing her as a whiny "little self-righteous bitch," with "extreme dick-fright," and called her "LabiaFace":
From: Buckley Carlson
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 3:18 PM
To: Tucker Carlson; Spitalnick, Amy (OMB)
Subject: Re: Correction Needed
Great response. Whiny little self-righteous bitch. "Appalling?"
And with such an ironic name, too...Spitalnick? Ironic because you just know she has extreme dick-fright; no chance has this girl ever had a pearl necklace. Spoogeneck? I don't think so. More like LabiaFace.
The full exchange is available at BuzzFeed.
The Daily Caller and its staff have a long and troubling history of sexist content. Tucker Carlson has downplayed sexual harassment and statutory rape of men as "whiny." And reporter Patrick Howley has a history of pushing misogynistic rhetoric and once claimed that looking "looking at a woman's chest will legally be a 'hate' crime instead of a love crime."
Conservative media are alleging that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is attempting to "punish" governors who do not acknowledge climate change by "holding disaster funds hostage." In reality, FEMA is simply updating its requirements for state disaster mitigation plans to ensure that they include consideration of climate change impacts, which is essential to reduce risk from hazards that states will face as the climate continues to change.
Conservative media figures railed against a New York high school at which a student recited the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic for National Foreign Language Week, connecting the language with terrorism and demanding the Pledge be said in English.
A Daily Caller article made a sweeping generalization to claim that global warming did not harm the South Pacific Islands when a deadly cyclone recently struck. But scientists quoted within the article itself explained definitively that climate change-induced sea level rise actually did worsen the cyclone's devastating impacts.
Cyclone Pam tore through the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu last weekend, killing 24 people and displacing tens of thousands of others. In response, President Baldwin Lonsdale of Vanuatu made an impassioned appeal to world leaders to act on global warming, stating that "climate change is contributing" to the nation's intense cyclones.
The conservative news site Daily Caller was quick to find fault with Lonsdale's remarks. In a March 18 article headlined: "Report: Global Warming Did Not Devastate South Pacific Islands," writer Michael Bastasch claimed that "scientists are hesitant to blame rising carbon dioxide levels for wreaking havoc on Vanuatu."
What some of the scientists had to say, however, actually agreed with the idea that climate change increased the storm's impacts -- specifically, that global warming-driven sea level rise made the effects of the cyclone far worse.
In fact, Bastasch himself ultimately noted in the article that the scientists unwilling to directly attribute Cyclone Pam to global warming were (emphasis added): "instead pointing out that sea level rises caused by global warming, not the cycles themselves, are causing more damage."
Global warming-driven sea level rise is indeed a primary factor for cyclone damage -- particularly in low-lying islands such as Vanuatu -- as it contributes to bouts of sudden extreme flooding known as storm surges. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that storm surges from hurricanes pose "the greatest threat to life and property" in coastal areas. During Cyclone Pam, the Vanuatu islands reportedly experienced storm surges as high as eight meters -- over 26 feet. Vice News reported that a 2014 NOAA study "found that changes in both ocean and atmospheric temperatures had combined to substantially increase the potential intensity of storms in the area where Pam hit."
A new viral video that highlights ways guns have been involved in tragedies is drawing heavy criticism from conservative media and from a National Rifle Association affiliate group that wants a criminal investigation into its creation, based on the group's mistaken belief that real guns were illegally used in the video.
On March 17, gun safety group States United to Prevent Gun Violence (SUPGV) released a video debunking the notion that gun ownership makes a person safer. (Research has demonstrated that owning a gun increases the risk of death or injury.)
SUPGV conducted a "hidden camera social experiment" to record the reactions of potential gun buyers at a fake gun store they had set up in Manhattan. When prospective purchasers inquired about a firearm, the clerk informed the customer of tragedies -- including mass shootings and unintentional shootings involving children -- that involved the use of that particular model of firearm. Hidden cameras recorded prospective gun buyers' shocked reactions:
The video is paired with a website, GunsWithHistory.com, that has more information on how gun ownership increases the risk of homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings.
Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson reportedly won't allow criticism of his employer Fox News on his website. But prior to being hired as a contributor, he was one the network's biggest critics, calling Fox News "a mean, sick group of people" and The O'Reilly Factor a "shit" show hosted by "a thin-skinned blowhard."
Blogger Mickey Kaus quit his job at the Caller after Carlson removed a column criticizing Fox News for purportedly "not being the opposition on immigration and amnesty." (The conservative network has repeatedly attacked Obama's immigration reform plans, pushed falsehoods about immigration reform, and used anti-immigrant rhetoric.)
Kaus told Politico that Carlson told him he took down the post because "We can't trash Fox on the site. I work there." Kaus added that "he told Carlson he needed to be able to write about Fox" and "Carlson told him it was a hard-and-fast rule, and non-negotiable."
The blogger noted to Politico that Fox News has major influence on conservatives, stating: "It's a larger problem on the right: Everybody is scared of Fox ... Fox is their route to a high-profile public image and in some cases stardom. Just to be on a Fox show is a big deal."
Carlson is an example of how landing on the Fox News payroll stifles conservative criticism of the network. The former CNN, MSNBC, and PBS anchor hosts the weekend edition of Fox & Friends. But prior to joining Fox as a contributor in 2009, he was one of Fox's fiercest critics.
Conservative media fabricated perjury charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, demanding to see a copy of a separation form they argued she violated through her use of her personal email. Those same media figures did not demand to see the same form from Colin Powell -- whom State Department officials say did not sign the same form.
Conservative media have been quick to rush to the defense of climate science denier Willie Soon, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has recently come under fire for accepting over $1.2 million from the fossil fuel industry without disclosing this conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. Among the most impassioned defenses of Soon was an article penned by a writer at the Daily Caller with connections to some of the organizations that funded Soon's research.
Documents obtained by Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center detail the extensive and problematic relationship between the fossil fuel industry and Soon, one of the contrarian scientists often cited by prominent climate science deniers like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). The documents reveal that Soon described many of his scientific papers, which largely focus on the claim that the sun is primarily responsible for recent global warming, as "deliverables" produced in exchange for money from fossil fuel interests. The revelations, which were recently covered by several media outlets, reveal a potentially serious breach of scientific ethics in at least eight of the papers Soon has published since 2008, and the Smithsonian Institution has directed the organization's Inspector General to investigate Soon's ethical conduct.
Several right-wing media outlets are already aggressively defending Soon. Shortly after the initial reports, the Daily Caller published an article criticizing the "attack campaign" against Soon by "firm believers in global warming." The article's author, PG Veer, dismissed the criticisms of Soon, claiming that opponents "are looking for conflicts of interest" rather than challenging Soon on "the facts."
Yet Veer himself is a former fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, which was created from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation -- one of the organizations that provided money for Soon's research. Veer currently works for the Franklin Center, which has received significant funding from Donors Trust, another organization that bankrolled Soon.
Breitbart has also carried Soon's water, defending him in at least five different articles so far. Columnist James Delingpole defended Soon for "telling the truth" about climate change, writing that the latest news is a "continuation of a vendetta which has been waged for years against an honest, decent, hardworking -- and incredibly brave -- scientist who refuses to toe the official (and increasingly discredited) line on man-made global warming."
While discussing Oregon's recent political scandal, conservative media are reviving their favorite renewable energy bogeyman - the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra -- to push the false narrative that the clean energy industry is an economic failure that is widely infected with "crony capitalism." Contrary to these claims, Solyndra was never a scandal, and renewable energy sources are increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels -- despite historically receiving far less in government subsidies.
When former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber announced he would resign due to the controversy surrounding undisclosed consulting fees his fiancée received while advising him on energy policies, conservative media were quick to compare the controversy to the government loan guarantee and bankruptcy of solar firm Solyndra. As Politico recently explained, the conservative strategy is to use the Kitzhaber scandal as "ammunition" against Democrats and environmentalists who they claim "have propped up failed clean-energy projects" and provided government aid that "ends up financially benefiting only the politically connected companies lobbying for it." Bloomberg News similarly stated that whether or not it is accurate, "[t]he argument being made is that clean energy lobbying is a way for Democrats to get rich."
That's exactly what we've seen in the conservative media. The Washington Times claimed the Oregon scandal once again brings to light "the failures of taxpayer-funded green energy companies such as Solyndra that had political ties to party bigwigs." The National Review Online linked the situation in Oregon to Solyndra and what it claimed were other "green-energy scandals that piled up during [the Obama administration's] first term." The Daily Caller alleged that in the case of both the Kitzhaber scandal and Solyndra, "government supported green energy programs based on political connections." And Fox News also highlighted Solyndra while discussing the Oregon controversy -- twice.
But the simple truth is that the Solyndra episode was never a scandal, a fact that has been proven time and time again. The solar energy firm, which received a federal loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, filed for bankruptcy as a result of plummeting prices for solar panels, as detailed by Greenwire, among others. Conservative media responded by pushing baseless claims that Solyndra used unethical influence in the Obama administration to receive its loan, but an extensive investigation by House Republicans turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.
In addition to pushing the cronyism charge, conservative media have also used the Oregon scandal as an opportunity to broadly claim that renewable energy is not economically viable in the marketplace. For example, National Review Online purported that these sources of energy can't "survive in the marketplace without giant subsidies or special tax favors." During an interview on WSJ Live, Competitive Enterprise Institute's Myron Ebell similarly claimed that "wind and solar and ethanol really cannot survive without handouts from government."
But the reality is that wind and solar power have become increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels -- and are actually cheaper than coal and natural gas in some markets -- despite having received far less in government subsidies over the years.