Right-wing media outlets are feverishly spinning a remark by Vice President Joe Biden that the administration is considering executive action as well as other options for curbing gun violence in order to suggest that the Obama administration plans to gut the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Though Biden did not specify what executive action the administration is considering, the Justice Department has offered possible executive actions that could be taken, none of which involve restrictions on weapons that law-abiding Americans may purchase.
After meeting with gun violence prevention advocates on Wednesday, Biden -- who is leading a White House task force on gun violence prevention following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre -- said that the administration is "reaching out to all parties on whatever side of this debate you fall." He promised that "the president is going to act" and added: "There is executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet."
The right-wing media responded to Biden's comments by comparing President Obama to Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler and suggesting that Obama is planning to confiscate guns and gut the Second Amendment:
But these claims are baseless at best. Biden said the administration has not decided what executive action to take, but the Justice Department has reportedly considered executive action to ensure that more records of mental illness are included in the FBI's background check system, in addition to similar measures. The New York Times reported that the Justice Department "did not focus on new restrictions on the kinds of weapons that most law-abiding Americans may purchase."
Furthermore, there is ample precedent for presidents to take executive action for the purpose of gun violence prevention. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968 and simultaneously signed an executive order, which regulated arms imports into the United States. President George H.W. Bush used his authority under the Gun Control Act of 1968 to permanently ban the import of 43 types of weapons, including versions of the AK-47 and the Uzi. President Clinton also took executive action to ban more than 50 types of assault weapons in 1998
Matt Drudge is highlighting a report that President Obama might issue an executive order regarding guns with images of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
From the Drudge Report on January 9:
The argument that commonsense gun violence prevention measures will lead to a dictatorship are common in right-wing media, with conservative guests on Fox News and CNN making similar comparisons this week.
Right-wing media have inconsistently responded to House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) failed attempt to pass his proposed "Plan B" to resolve the so-called "fiscal cliff" standoff, including praising conservative Republicans who opposed the measure, expressing regret that the measure didn't pass, questioning the viability of Boehner's speakership, and blaming President Obama for the plan's failure, despite Obama's concessions to the GOP.
Fox News, The Weekly Standard, and Matt Drudge are hiding Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's support for provisions in a disaster relief bill in order to attack Murkowski's Democratic colleague, Sen. Mark Begich (AK).
The Senate is debating a $60.4 billion relief bill to provide funding for clean-up in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy this week. The Governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have all endorsed a bill this size, but Republicans have reportedly threatened to block the bill if the proposed spending is not offset by cuts.
Right-wing media seized on some of the bill's provisions to call the bill an example of pork barrel spending even though the White House and Senate appropriators have said the vast majority of the spending in the bill is directly related to recovery from Hurricane Sandy. In particular, these media outlets have focused on a portion of the bill -- amounting to less than 0.3 percent of the total funds in the bill -- that provides money for states affected by disasters involving fisheries in the Northeast, Mississippi, and Alaska.
After misleadingly attacking the bill as a "scam" on Monday, Fox News' Fox & Friends First host Patti Ann Browne called the bill "packed with pork" and Fox Business correspondent Diane Macedo singled out Begich as a supporter of the fisheries provision.
But in order to suggest that this was a money grab by a Democratic senator, these outlets had to ignore the fact that Murkowski supported the fisheries provision too. Murkowski strongly praised the fisheries provision in a press release about the relief bill:
Alaska's Chinook fisheries were declared a disaster exactly three months ago, but no funds have been appropriated to help communities and businesses impacted yet. This bill will go a long way in providing federal resources to Alaskans who suffered economically because of this year's low King Salmon run get back on their feet.
Furthermore, the money will go to several states for which the Commerce Department declared disasters due to low catch rates and other problems: Mississippi, Rhode Island, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Alaska. And in Alaska, the declaration came as the result of a request by Republican Governor Sean Parnell.
Matt Drudge, Fox News, and The New York Post misrepresented the content of a bill to provide federal aid for the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in order to claim the bill is a "scam" that is "filled with holiday goodies unrelated to storm damage." In fact, less than 0.3 percent of the spending identified is unrelated to Sandy, and that spending is largely allocated to separate disasters.
The Senate is scheduled to begin debate on Monday on a $60.4 billion bill that provides funding for the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy. Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his Democratic colleagues in New York and Connecticut, Governors Andrew Cuomo and Dannel Malloy, have endorsed a bill of this size, but some congressional Republicans have reportedly balked at the bill, saying it is too large or that its spending should be offset by spending cuts in other areas.
Drudge hyped a New York Post article claiming the bill is "filled with holiday goodies unrelated to storm damage." Fox News Fox & Friends aired a graphic titled "Sandy Scam," which listing six spending items:
Aside from money for fisheries, which represents about 0.2 percent of the spending in the bill, the White House has said that each of the items identified by Fox and the Post -- $42 million for U.S. military bases, including the base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, $5.2 million for the Justice Department, $4 million for the Kennedy Space Center, $3.5 million for Homeland Security, and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution in DC -- is directly related to Sandy. The fisheries money is slated to provide aid in wake of other disasters.
PolitiFact's "lie of the year," awarded today to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign for falsely claiming that Jeep planned to move U.S. production facilities to China, had its roots in conservative media. Throughout the 2012 campaign, many falsehoods used by Romney and the Republican Party were created by and popularized by the conservative press.
On October 25, the Washington Examiner claimed that Jeep "is considering giving up on the United States and shifting production to China," mischaracterizing an interview Jeep president Mike Manley gave to Bloomberg a few days earlier, in which Manley said Jeep would be expanding production to China. The story was soon picked up and promoted by the Drudge Report.
A day later, at an October 26 campaign rally in Ohio, Romney noted at a campaign rally that he "saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep -- now owned by the Italians -- is thinking of moving all production to China."
The false story soon became the basis of a Romney campaign ad that received heavy rotation in Ohio, which prompted a denial from Jeep's parent company Chrysler and fact-checks from several news outlets. Nonetheless, Fox News stridently defended the accuracy of Romney's ad -- Fox business contributor Stuart Varney called the ad "flat-out accurate," while chief national correspondent Jim Angle claimed "the head of Fiat-Chrysler confirmed exactly what the Romney ad said."
Matt Drudge is taking advantage of the criticism directed at filmmaker Quentin Tarantino for the use of a racial epithet in his films to inappropriately splatter that epithet across his webpage seven times, in an apparent attempt to shock readers with racially charged rhetoric. Drudge has a history of featuring racially inflammatory language and images on his website.
The offensive Drudge Report headline linked to a Hollywood Reporter review of Quentin Tarantino's upcoming movie "Django Unchained," which is set in the antebellum South. The reviewer, Todd McCarthy, acknowledged that the film makes heavy use of the offending word, explaining:"Quite naturally, given the historical setting, the N-word gets a heavy workout, by whites and blacks alike."
Tarantino has been criticized for using the word in previous films. Indeed, Drudge linked to a 1997 Variety article that featured film director Spike Lee, criticizing Tarantino for featuring the word in his film "Jackie Brown." At the time Lee accused Tarantino of being "infatuated with the word."
Drudge has a long history of using racially inflammatory language and imagery on his website. For example, on June 27, 2011, Drudge provided a series of links all of which involved crimes and violence allegedly committed by African Americans.
The Drudge Report hyped an Investor's Business Daily claim that President Obama has hired an average 101 new federal employees a day. But federal employment is not keeping pace with population growth and a significant number of those new jobs are necessary to handle the care of returning and wounded veterans.
A headline on the Drudge Report linked to an Investor's Business Daily article by Andrew Malcolm under the headline "Obama has hired 101 new federal employees A DAY since taking office..." The article claimed that during the Obama administration, "the federal government has daily hired on average 101 new employees. Every day. Seven days a week. All 202 weeks":
But both Drudge and Malcolm ignored that a significant portion of the increase in federal jobs are a result of defense spending, including an increase in hiring associated with caring for military personnel returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Examining claims about increased federal employment, PolitiFact found that "all told, national defense, assisting veterans, and protecting the national borders account for close to 90% of all federal civilian employee growth." PolitiFact quoted John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group that studies the federal workforce, as saying, "Just about all of the increases are at the Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and the Department of Justice."
Right-wing media, including Fox News and the Drudge Report, are attacking NBC's Bob Costas for daring to question America's "gun culture" in the wake of the tragic murder-suicide committed by a Kansas City Chiefs football player. The Drudge Report characterized Costas' comments as a "gun control rant" while Fox criticized him for "lecturing America on gun control" in the wake of the tragedy.
On December 1, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend at the house they shared before subsequently killing himself in front of his head coach and other members of the Chiefs organization. The following evening, during halftime of NBC's Sunday night football game, Costas endorsed part of a column by sportswriter Jason Whitlock who criticized the gun culture in America.
Costas said: " 'Our current gun culture," Whitlock wrote, 'ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.' " Costas later added: " 'But here,' wrote Jason Whitlock, 'is what I believe: If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.' "
Fox News' Fox & Friends repeatedly questioned whether it was "appropriate" for Costas to be "lecturing America on gun control."
In the wake of previous tragedies, conservative media figures have advocated against gun laws and even denied that gun violence is a serious problem in the United States. Now they've turned their focus to Costas who brought up the subject of America's gun culture in the wake of the latest high-profile example of gun violence.
The Daily Caller attempted to stoke anger about a Homeland Security Web page for new immigrants that provides information about government benefit programs, but buried at the end of its article the fact that the page was created in 2007. The Daily Caller also implied that immigrants abuse the U.S. social safety net, but there are strict eligibility requirements for social welfare programs, and most immigrant visa applicants must sign an affidavit stating they have adequate financial support.
Fox's Sean Hannity and Matt Drudge are giving credence to people who have reacted to President Obama's reelection by petitioning the president to allow states to secede from the United States, something his position does not have the power to do.
In 2011, Obama established a mechanism for people to create and sign petitions on the White House website, and if any petition receives 25,000 or more signatures within 30 days, White House officials will respond to the petition. In the days following Obama's reelection, people have filed secession petitions for more than 40 states, and the Texas secession has garnered more than 90,000 signatures.
Obama, however, does not have the power to grant secession. In the 1868 case of Texas v. White, the Supreme Court addressed whether Texas had legally seceded from the United States during the Civil War and held that the Constitution created an indestructible and perpetual union: "The Constitution, in all of its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States. When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation." Law professor Michael Dorf has concluded that a state may need a super-majority in Congress or even a constitutional amendment in order to secede.
Nevertheless, Fox News host Sean Hannity gave credence to the secession movement, something he has done before. On the November 13 edition of his show, Hannity interviewed Daniel Miller, president of the pro-secession Texas Nationalist Movement. Miller was previously the president of the "Republic of Texas," and in that capacity was included in an Anti-Defamation League "Rogue's Gallery" of extremists.
While Hannity suggested that secession might not be the best solution, he did not suggest at any point that secession was not a serious alternative for those who oppose Obama. Indeed, Hannity asked Miller to "explain constitutionally ... where you see the right to" secede.
Miller told Hannity that the petition would not accomplish anything by itself because Obama won't grant secession, but stated that there were processes that could achieve secession. The Texas Nationalist Movement website attacks Texas v. White as an illegitimate decision.
The Drudge Report and Fox Nation distorted the purpose of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to Australia and Asia in order to accuse her of going to a wine tasting in Australia to avoid questions about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, Clinton is attending talks with the defense and foreign ministers of Australia, a key U.S. ally.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Clinton has traveled to Australia to attend "annual defense talks aimed at deepening military and political cooperation" between Australia and the United States. According to the Congressional Research Service, "Australia was one of the first countries to commit troops to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq." The country also "plays a key role in promoting regional stability in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific and supports international efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan."
After visiting Australia, she will visit Asian countries including Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar. The trip will include a summit of Asian leaders in Phnom Penh.
Fox Nation and Drudge based their report on an article in the Rupert Murdoch owned Herald Sun. The article asserted that Clinton is visiting the Australian city of Adelaide on the trip and that while few details of Clinton's visit to Adelaide has been released, it is "believed that" Clinton "is likely to visit Penfolds' Magill Estate for either a wine tasting session or private function."
But even the Herald Sun article noted that Clinton was in Australia to attend talks with "Australian officials, including Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Foreign Minister Bob Carr."
The right-wing media falsely reported that Alabama-based utility companies were turned away in New Jersey for hurricane disaster relief because they use non-union labor. However, multiple Alabama utility companies mentioned in these media reports say the claims are "rumors" and simply "not true," and New Jersey utility companies have also denied that non-union working crews have been turned away.
Local Alabama news station WAFF was quoted in multiple right-wing news reports after it claimed that three utility crews from Alabama were not allowed to help with storm aid in New Jersey because they were non-union. Predictably, Fox News picked up the report almost immediately. During the November 2 edition of Fox & Friends, the hosts asserted that non-union crews were not allowed to help in New Jersey hurricane relief, and frequent guest Charles Payne added that this is "one of the more despicable aspects of what we are seeing":
Following this report, Drudge linked to other right-wing websites making similar claims under the headlines "Non-union crews turned away from NJ..." and "'No Red Tape'?":
Later on Fox, host Gretchen Carlson issued a minor update explaining that many of their viewers had in fact seen Alabama crews working in New Jersey.
WAFF, the source of the original reports, has since updated its post about these claims. It continues to report claims from an Alabama-based Decatur Utilities employee that his crew was presented with documents by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) that required union affiliation in order to provide disaster relief. However, WAFF clarifies that Decatur Utilities' general manager said crews "were not turned away but were made to believe that affiliating with the union was a requirement to work."
The Drudge Report and Fox News have attacked the federal government and President Obama over their response to Hurricane Sandy, with Drudge suggesting that Obama is responsible for hunger in New York City. In fact, the federal government shipped 1 million meals to New York, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies have provided other aid in the days following Sandy.
Right-wing media are ignoring anti-fraud protections the Obama campaign has in place to allege that the Obama campaign accepted donations from someone impersonating Osama bin Laden.
Matt Drudge is hyping an article by World Net Daily's Aaron Klein who claimed that "Using a Pakistani Internet Protocol and proxy server, a disposable credit card and a fake address, 'Osama bin Laden' has successfully donated twice to Barack Obama's presidential re-election campaign.' "
Drudge linked to Klein's story under the headline "REPORT: Obama camapign [sic] takes money from 'Osama bin Laden' ":
In fact, the campaign has explained that it has anti-fraud protections in place to stop fake or illegal donations and that just because a fraudulent donation "may initially appear to a donor to have been accepted," such a donation will soon be rejected.
In response to another attempt to show that the Obama campaign is accepting illegal donations, the campaign explained its address verification process to Election Law Blog:
"If a billing address is verified via AVS, then the credit card contribution is processed without delay. Some transactions caught by AVS may initially appear to a donor to have been accepted even though this is not the case. Obama for America employs a manual process to review any transaction flagged by AVS, also taking into account other fraud risk factors, and using fraud detection services provided by our credit card processor.
"As an example, the contribution discussed here http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/04/dubious-donations-illustrated-illegal-contributor-edition.php may have initially appeared to have gone through when the donor completed the transaction at 10:18 a.m. but it was rejected at 4:51 p.m. under our standard fraud detection procedures.
"So any claims that Obama for America has disabled AVS are inaccurate; any question about this would have been answered-if the question had been asked."