The Washington Times attempted to recycle misinformation about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's warning that GOP obstructionism of President Obama's nominees is unsustainable, but published an inaccurate argument that doesn't support its own rhetoric.
In a May 24 editorial, The Washington Times claimed Reid's announcement that he would revisit filibuster reform in July because of the unprecedented obstructionism of the president's executive and judicial nominees "disturbed the peace of the Senate" and was a "variant" of court-packing analogous to former President Franklin Roosevelt's famous threat to expand the number of seats on the pre-war Supreme Court. From the editorial:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't like the direction the federal judiciary is heading, so he has come up with a variant of court-packing to achieve his results. He took the Senate floor Wednesday to defend the use of the "nuclear option" to bypass Senate rules and force through President Obama's nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
That would be the same court whose three-member panel in late January ruled, unanimously, that Mr. Obama's faux "recess appointments" of Big Labor-approved nominees to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional. "You have a majority in that court that is wreaking havoc in the country," Mr. Reid complained, citing only the NLRB ruling. "For the first time in 230 years, they ruled the president can't make a recess appointment."
The three judges accused of havoc-wreaking merely made the point, obvious to English-speakers everywhere, that the president is obliged to wait for a recess before he can make a recess appointment.
Mr. Reid's rant disturbed the peace of the Senate amid debate over how quickly to proceed with the nomination of Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan to the 11-member D.C. appeals court, which currently has four vacancies. Mr. Reid's claim that the vacancies must be filled at once to restore ideological "balance" to the court is patently false, given that four of its seven judges are appointees of Republican presidents and three were appointed by Democrats. Four more liberal judges would likely guarantee a rubber stamp for Mr. Obama's agenda. Some "balance."
Mr. Reid is trying to follow the example of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who dreamed up the concept of outcome-based adjudication with his 1937 attempt to pack the U.S. Supreme Court.
Contrary to The Washington Times' description that Reid is trying to "bypass Senate rules," Reid is actually adopting a GOP proposal that was floated when Republicans were in the majority, which was to change Senate rules to allow filibusters to be broken by majority vote. Although a handful of longer-tenured Democratic Senators have been hesitant at such a move - the so-called "nuclear option" - the stark realization that GOP opposition to the president's agenda has extended to blanket opposition of his nominees is reportedly causing a change in position.
Right-wing media have given Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a platform to tie reports on increased sexual assaults in the military to the repeal of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, contradicting studies that have found no link between the two.
In May 2013, the Department of Defense released its "Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military" for fiscal year 2012 which found that 26,000 service members were victims of sexual assault that year, 14,000 of which were male and 12,000 female.
Supporters of DADT cited the report as evidence that the policy's repeal has forced an "embrace of homosexuality" in the military and led to a growing trend in same-sex sexual assault. During an interview with WND, Donnelly continued her campaign against the repeal of DADT by claiming the report proved that the "the military suffers a wave of gay sex assaults." In a Washington Times op-ed, Donnelly added that the increase in sexual assaults reported by men should call into question claims that the repeal of DADT has been successful:
If these estimates are used to justify more funding for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office programs, they also should call into question Pentagon claims that repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy implemented in 1993 has been a complete "success."
Washington Times columnist Jeffery Kuhner accused President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of abusing their power which to the death of four Americans in Benghazi.
In his May 10 column, Kuhner claimed that Obama was "engaged in the systematic abuse of power" in his handling of the September 11, 2012, terror attack in Benghazi. He also claimed that Clinton sent Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens "on a suicide mission," while Obama failed to send help to Libya, leading to the deaths of two others. From The Washington Times:
Media outlets are reporting that a new immigration report from the conservative Heritage Foundation found that passing the proposed Senate comprehensive immigration bill will cost $6.3 trillion. In fact, the Heritage report is not an analysis of the entire Senate's "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act," and does not take into account costs or savings of the proposal's broader reforms.
Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner called for President Obama's impeachment over the Boston Marathon bombings, accusing the president of being "unwilling" to keep Americans safe.
In his April 26 Washington Times column, Kuhner wrote that Obama "has been unable -- even unwilling -- to keep us safe" from terror attacks, including the bombings in Boston, because "[h]e refuses to acknowledge that we are in a war with radical Islam." Kuhner added: "It's time he is held responsible for his gross negligence. It's time that he be impeached. Justice demands no less."
Kuhner's call to impeach the president comes a week after Fox News host Brian Kilmeade blamed Obama's Middle East policy for the bombings.
From Kuhner's column:
Under Mr. Obama's watch, Islamic terrorists have targeted the United States repeatedly -- the underwear bomber, the Fort Hood shooting, the killing of an Army recruiter in Arkansas, the consulate in Benghazi and now Boston. The president has been unable -- even unwilling -- to keep us safe. The reason is simple: He refuses to acknowledge that we are in a war with radical Islam. The Boston bombings were not the acts of criminals. They were an act of war against Americans. The commander in chief has the duty to not only defend America, but to identity and denounce the enemy. In short, he must fight back.
The Boston massacre was a defining moment. It exposed Mr. Obama's narcissistic and reckless approach to combating terror. There can be no illusions any longer -- we are in a clash of civilizations between radical Islam and the West. Mr. Obama has denied this painful reality long enough. By burying his head in the ideological sands, he has made Americans pay a terrible price. It's time he is held responsible for his gross negligence. It's time that he be impeached. Justice demands no less.
Kuhner has repeatedly pushed for Obama's impeachment. In March 2011, Kuhner argued that Obama should be impeached over his handling of the military intervention in Libya, and in March 2010, Kuhner called for Obama to be impeached if he signed a health care reform bill passed via a legislative procedure known as a "self-executing rule."
Fueled by a report from the conservative Boston Herald, right wing media outlets such as Fox News, the New York Post, and the Washington Times, are demonizing government assistance programs by tying them to the heinous terror attacks committed at the Boston Marathon. Conservative blogs used sensationalized headlines and rhetoric to make their attacks, like RedState's "Does The US Welfare System Benefit Jihadists?" and Monica Crowley's "Nice Return on Our Investment, Huh?"
On April 24, 2013, the Boston Herald published a report that claimed, "Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism."
On the April 24 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer hyped the report and complained that "taxpayers were giving money to at least one of the bombing suspects."
In reality, the right-wing smear uses an absurd guilt-by-association non sequitur in an attempt to smear government spending programs. But where does this logic end? The Tsarnaev brothers presumably used taxpayer funded roads to physically reach the Boston Marathon finish line. Will right wing media next attack government spending on highway maintenance for literally paving the way for the Boston terror suspects to commit their crimes?
Conservatives are trying to take advantage of the horrific attacks to taint the public perception of yet another policy they dislike. Since the terrorist attack on April 15, the right wing media has exploited the tragedy in Boston to smear Islam, immigration reform, education, a member of Congress, the Obama administration's foreign policy, and even the constitutional rights of American citizens.
UPDATE: During his radio program, Rush Limbaugh also jumped on this bandwagon. Limbaugh claimed the Herald's report shows "another great example of your tax dollars at work."
LIMBAUGH: Now we hear that the entire Tsarnaev family was on welfare. How could he not be an Obama supporter?
So we have another great example of your tax dollars at work. Your tax money helped to pay for the explosives, as well as Tamerlan's at least two trips back to Dagestan, his late model Mercedes, his $900 shoes. No wonder this guy hated America.
The argument by conservative media that former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and other survivors of gun violence who supported a failed Senate compromise to expand background checks on firearms sales are "props" of the Obama administration is both hypocritically partisan and logically flawed.
Right-wing media are unable to acknowledge that President Obama's gun violence prevention agenda mirrors the priorities of gun violence survivors, who are not mere "props," to pass stronger gun laws. As Greg Sargent of The Washington Post notes, "the families want to stand with the President at events for a fairly obvious reason: Obama is fighting for the same things they want":
All of this aside, the "props" line is actually an insult to the families, posing as a defense of them. It implies that the families, in lobbying on these issues, are not thinking for themselves. In reality, the families want to stand with the President at events for a fairly obvious reason: Obama is fighting for the same things they want. Indeed, one of the family members, Mark Barden, who lost his son Daniel in the shooting, voluntarily stood with the president at the White House yesterday as Obama reacted to news of the Senate vote, and thanked Obama for his leadership. Needless to say, if Barden felt like he was being exploited or used as a prop, he wouldn't be thanking the president. [emphasis in original]
Logical flaws aside, those who would call Newtown families and other gun violence survivors "props" fail to acknowledge that presidents routinely evoke the experiences of victims in advocating for policies that would prevent future tragedies.
In 1991, former President Ronald Reagan evoked his own experience of being shot by a would-be assassin, as well as the experiences of others wounded in the 1981 attack in order to advocate for background checks on gun sales. In a New York Times op-ed Reagan wrote about his press secretary, Jim Brady, who was grievously wounded in the attack by a man who acquired a gun despite a lengthy history of serious mental illness. Brady would go on to lend his name to the legislation -- the Brady bill -- that mandated a background check for gun sales conducted by licensed dealers:
Conservatives in media gloated and launched political attacks in reaction to a coalition of largely Senate Republicans blocking a package of stronger gun laws, including compromise legislation on expanded background checks for gun sales -- a legislative proposal supported by roughly 90 percent of Americans.
Before, during, and after President Obama delivered a speech from the Rose Garden on April 17 vowing to continue the dialogue on gun laws, conservatives in media offered triumphal comments and launched vicious attacks on advocates for gun violence prevention, including family members of Newtown victims and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona.
As Politico noted, conservative bloggers "claimed victory ... saying that their ideology and principles were the keys to their success." The right-wing reaction, however, went beyond basic policy arguments:
In an op-ed for The Washington Times, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro opined that family members of Newtown victims -- many of whom advocated for the passage of stronger gun laws -- did not deserve to be heard because of his apparent belief that background checks infringe on the Second Amendment. Shapiro previously accused Obama of attempting to implement socialism in a piece for The New American, the magazine publication of the far-right John Birch Society. From Shapiro's April 18 op-ed:
I don't believe the families of the victims from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., deserve a vote.
It may sound harsh and uncaring, but even the greatest tragedies are not a valid reason to disregard the Supreme Court and the Constitution of the United States. If they were, our free speech and our rights against unreasonable search and seizure and against self-incrimination would have all been abolished long ago amid every crime wave in American history.
Five years ago, the Supreme Court settled the issue of the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller, making it clear that guns in "common use" were constitutionally protected. Nevertheless, President Obama recently flew several family members of Sandy Hook victims to Washington on Air Force One to pressure congressional legislators to enact new gun laws.
In a piece for The Atlantic on how conservative media "failed the rank and file" with their coverage in the run-up to Mitt Romney's resounding loss last November, Conor Friedersdorf observed that "a lot of cynical people have gotten rich broadcasting and publishing red meat for movement conservative consumption."
To wit, this week Cox Media Group has launched Rare, a new website which endorser Ted Nugent promises "will guarantee the red meat is delivered how real conservatives like it -- rare." Cox owns several daily newspapers including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, almost twenty TV stations, 87 radio stations, and boasted a 2012 revenue of nearly $2 billion. Rare will represent Cox's "first national news product."
Based on the recent history of Rare's Editor-in-Chief Brett Decker -- who served as editor for the toxic Washington Times editorial page during much of President Obama's first term -- and the largely aggregated content posted by the site so far, it's hard to escape the feeling that Rare will be just another megaphone in the conservative echo chamber, albeit one with slicker packaging.
Rare is the latest in an increasingly long line of conservatives sites promising to revolutionize online news, and it's already setting high expectations for itself. According to the lofty promises in promotional materials, Rare will be a "social content hub for modern conservatives" that represents a "real reinvention of the conservative news space" and one of the "few opportunities to actually redefine what news is today."
The results so far are not promising. In the few days since it has launched, Rare has been light on original content, largely aggregating a mix of straight news articles about the big events of the week; articles from established conservative sites like Weekly Standard and CNS News; snide dismissals of climate science; and celebrity gossip (sample headlines include "Amanda Bynes minute-long selfie"). Original content from Rare staff is largely limited to brief, sentence-long "Rare Take" comments on the stories they repost from other outlets.
Outside of those "Rare Takes," Rare is also publishing "Rare original content" op-eds from standard right-wing comentators and politicians. As of this writing, the top story on the site is a column from Ted Nugent, illustrated with a picture of the camo-clad NRA board member standing in front of an American flag with a rifle over his shoulder.
Aside from praise for Rare, the column is boilerplate Nugent, basically indistinguishable from any number of similar columns he has written for Washington Times and WND in recent years (liberals want to "erase the 2nd amendment," etc.).
This sort of reheated right-wing fare is a far cry from what Rare has promised. In a press release, Editor-in-Chief Decker positioned the outlet as a platform for the debate on how conservatism can "rebuild itself into a majority coalition."
In the months following the drubbing the GOP suffered in the 2012 presidential election, several conservatives have pondered the role messaging -- and in the words of David Frum, the "conservative entertainment complex" -- has played in the party's recent electoral woes.
Many of these complaints about the GOP's messaging problem apply directly to the editorial page of the Times during Decker's time as editor. (He resigned from the position in November.)
Right-wing media have a long history of leveling charges of anti-white bias at President Obama's nominees and appointees of color, smears that have now formed the basis of Republican attacks on Labor Secretary nominee Thomas E. Perez.
The National Rifle Association has released a new video that attempts to rebut a TV ad calling for stronger gun laws by pushing a false claim about that ad that originated in the right-wing media.
In March, several conservative media outlets including Fox News highlighted Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller's claim that ads released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) to promote expanding the background check system featured a man using unsafe gun handling. In particular, Miller and the right-wing media falsely claimed that the man's finger was on the trigger of the firearm.
The NRA used the same claims to undermine the ad in their own web video released April 15. According to the ad's narrator, "every gun owner watching probably noticed... the finger dangerously close to the trigger." The narrator suggests that this is not "responsible firearms handling."
National Rifle Association President David Keene is covering up allegations of racial discrimination in order to protect one of its corporate partners and attack the Obama administration.
In his March 27 Washington Times column, Keene claimed that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Bass Pro Shops because "the company won't hire convicted felons" to sell guns, "which the commission claims amounts to illegal racial discrimination." In fact, the EEOC sued Bass Pro Shops in 2011 and 2012 after receiving reports alleging racially discriminatory hiring practices, including an alleged directive from Bass Pro Shops owner John Morris to not hire minorities.
Keene also did not disclose that the NRA has a financial relationship with Bass Pro Shops, which includes a collaborative effort to open a 10,000-square foot firearms museum at Bass Pro Shops headquarters.
The initial lawsuit, filed in federal court on September 21, 2011, alleged that Bass Pro Shops was "engaging in a pattern or practice of unlawfully failing to hire Black and Hispanic applicants for positions in its retail stores nationwide" and was "unlawfully retaliating against a class of employees who opposed actions by [Bass Pro Shops]." The suit also alleged that Bass Pro Shops had "unlawfully destroyed records relevant to whether unlawful employment practices have been or are being committed."
The suit describes multiple instances of racial discrimination in its allegations against Bass Pro Shops that occurred in stores located in Louisiana, Texas and Indiana.
According to the EEOC's complaint, an assistant general manager at a Louisiana store told a human resources manager that "we don't hire n*****s" as explanation for why a qualified African-American candidate was not hired. The manager of a Houston area store was alleged to have told the human resources manager that "it was getting a little dark in here you need to hire some white people." Similar discriminatory hiring practices were alleged at an Indiana store where a supervisor was observed throwing away job applications submitted by individuals who he thought had a "n***** name":
Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney joined the right-wing media's crusade against Labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez by attempting to manufacture outrage over Perez hugging a respected Muslim leader in 2011.
In his March 26 Washington Times column, Gaffney said President Obama's nomination of Perez for Labor secretary "may be his most outrageous yet." In addition to rehashing right-wing smears, Gaffney attacked Perez for "his enthusiastic embrace of Islamists and their causes." As evidence, Gaffney highlighted a 2011 event in which Perez "leapt onto a stage at George Washington University in order to hug the leader of the largest Muslim Brotherhood front group in the United States: Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America."
But Magid is a respected Muslim leader who has worked to combat terrorism and curb extremism, and he has spoken out against domestic violence in the Muslim community.
In addition to serving as the president of ISNA and the executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Magid served on the Department of Justice's Countering Violent Extremism Working Group, a task force formed in 2010 by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to "work with state and local law enforcement as well as relevant community groups to develop and provide to me recommendations regarding how the Department can better support community-based efforts to combat violent extremism domestically -- focusing in particular on the issues of training, information sharing, and the adoption of community-oriented law enforcement approaches to this issue."
In January 2011, Magid co-hosted a forum on "Curbing Violent Extremism" in which panelists discussed "ways in which the American Muslim community can curb and prevent violent extremist tendancies [sic] from within its ranks." A 2005 Time magazine profile of Magid pointed out that he "is fighting his own war against radicals trying to hijack his religion. For Magid that has meant not only condemning terrorism but also working closely with the FBI in battling it. He regularly opens doors for agents trying to cultivate contacts in his Muslim community, and he alerts the bureau when suspicious persons approach his congregation."
Magid has also been an outspoken critic of domestic violence within the Muslim community. In October 2011, Magid worked with the Rhode Island Council of Muslim Advancement to sponsor a training for imams and chaplains "to discuss, in a private and confidential setting, effective strategies to respond to domestic violence situations within the Muslim community, and learn best practices to foster prevention." Magid has also endorsed Project Sakinah, an group that attempts to "achieve lasting change in the attitudes and behaviors of Muslims around the issue of violence within families." He also contributed an essay to the book Change From Within: Diverse Perspectives on Domestic Violence in Muslim Communities.
Right-wing media are attempting to rebut a TV ad calling for stronger gun laws by claiming that it depicts unsafe gun handling.
According Fox News, conservative bloggers, and the National Rifle Association's news program, an ad calling for expanding the background check system features a man with his finger on the trigger of a firearm that is not ready to be fired, an unsafe practice. In fact, footage from another ad featuring the same firearm clearly indicates that the right-wing media are wrong about where the gun's trigger is; the man's finger is actually nowhere near the trigger in either ad.
The claim originated with Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller, who claimed in a March 25 article that ads recently released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) are "irresponsible" because the man in the ad "violates all three gun safety rules taught by the National Rifle Association." Miller specifically claims that "the man has his finger on the trigger, as if ready to shoot," and comments, "To make an ad demonstrating actual gun responsibility, the man would put a straight forefinger above the trigger guard to make sure he doesn't accidentally touch the trigger."
Miller was referencing this moment from the ad "Responsible":
But another ad released by MAIG, "Family," which features the same man and firearm, shows the position of the trigger on that particular firearm to be much closer to the buttstock than where the man's index finger is in "Responsible":
Based on the trigger location clearly seen in "Family," the trigger of the firearm would sit approximately behind the base of the man's hand in "Responsible" making it impossible for his finger to be on the trigger or within the trigger guard.
Miller's claims have nonetheless been picked up by The Daily Caller, The Blaze, Hot Air, and a Townhall column authored by Fox contributor Katie Pavlich and have also been featured on Fox & Friends and the NRA's Cam & Company on the Sportsman Channel.
Right-wing media fabricated a conspiracy that "pro-Obama groups" will be able to steer health care reform insurance applicants to register to vote as Democrats, ignoring a 1993 law that requires programs offering public assistance to include questions about voter registration.
Right-wing media outlets like The Washington Examiner, the Daily Caller and The Washington Times reported that a draft application for health insurance through the health care reform law twice asked if an applicant wished to register to vote. They claimed that organizations who may register Americans for health insurance through health care reform may steer applicants "to register with the Democratic Party."
On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson similarly fearmongered over "the bigger concern" for health care reform insurance applicants that "pro-Obama groups...would steer them to register as Democrats":
In fact, such voter registration questions on the draft application are required under law. A portion of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, otherwise known as the "Motor Voter Act," requires that programs that offer public assistance benefits, like the Medicaid benefits and tax credits contained in the draft health care reform insurance application, must offer voter registration:
Section 7 of the Act requires states to offer voter registration opportunities at all offices that provide public assistance and all offices that provide state-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities. Each applicant for any of these services, renewal of services, or address changes must be provided with a voter registration form of a declination form as well as assistance in completing the form and forwarding the completed application to the appropriate state or local election official.