Media figures have smeared President Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), by misrepresenting Hagel's support for sanctions against Iran and his support for Israel. The media have also cast doubt on the bipartisan support for Hagel's nomination.
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.
In response to President Obama's re-election, conservative media have declared that the president does not have a mandate to pursue his policies and said Republicans have a mandate to obstruct them. In Obama's first term, Republicans engaged in historic levels of obstruction against Obama's agenda.
Conservative media outlets pushed at least eleven misleading attacks on President Obama's energy policies that have become talking points used by Mitt Romney's campaign. The conservative media bubble has largely prevented voters from hearing the facts about clean energy programs, fossil fuel production and environmental regulation under the Obama administration.
Heading into the third and final presidential debate of the election season, conservatives in the media are bestowing upon Mitt Romney tidbits of advice about how to best Barack Obama on what is considered a strong suit for the president: foreign policy. The consensus seems to be that the key to victory is to embrace George W. Bush's foreign policy without actually doing so, while at the same time being exactly like Ronald Reagan.
For example, here's the Wall Street Journal editorial board explaining how Romney can be Bush without actually being Bush:
We don't expect Mr. Romney to offer an explicit defense of the Bush Doctrine, never mind that its core tenets -- keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of rogue regimes and promoting liberal democracy in places like Egypt -- are ones Mr. Obama rhetorically endorses. Nor do we anticipate that Mr. Romney will retreat from the protectionist rhetoric he's been peddling on China, though it would be nice to hear him recognize that the biggest "currency manipulator" in the world today is the U.S. Federal Reserve.
But Mr. Romney can help himself by offering a serious critique of Mr. Obama's foreign policy that doesn't descend to clichés (e.g., "I won't ever apologize for America"), and by laying out a vision that answers the needs of both the national interest and the self-interest of everyday Americans.
Mr. Romney should also give full credit where it's due, not least because some graciousness would be a refreshing contrast to Mr. Obama's abrasive partisanship in an area where Americans yearn for consensus. That means not only commending the President for the bin Laden raid, but also for the areas in which the Administration has adopted the policies of its predecessor: the reauthorization of the Patriot Act; the use of military tribunals; the intensification of drone strikes; the (admittedly reluctant) non-closure of Guantanamo. All that should cause some indigestion among Mr. Obama's friends at MSNBC.
Good to know that the Journal has joined the ranks of the sane in dismissing talk of Obama "apologizing for America" as toothless nonsense. It should be noted, however, that they have a fair bit of in-house policing to do on that front. The Journal goes on to explain the importance of being Reagan-y:
Ronald Reagan understood that before he could defeat the Soviet Union he had to show again the superiority of the American model of economic freedom. The U.S. military will inexorably and rapidly shrink without growth of 3% or more. This theme is right in Mr. Romney's wheelhouse.
The right-wing media are hyping a video of President Bill Clinton's speech that was heavily cropped by the Republican National Committee to claim he agreed with Mitt Romney that President Obama has not fixed the economy. But in the full video, Clinton makes clear that the economy has improved under President Obama but hasn't yet fully recovered, a claim nearly identical to one Obama himself has made several times.
At a campaign event for President Obama in Ohio, Clinton pointed out that, while the economy has not fully recovered, the policies implemented under Obama prevented the economy from sliding into a depression and have created millions of jobs over the last three years. Clinton described the economy as "plainly moving back" and concluded "why in the wide world would you dump a strategy that is working for one you already know will not work?"
But the right-wing media are using a heavily-cropped version of Clinton's speech taken from the GOP's YouTube channel to make it seem like Clinton was supporting Romney's attacks on Obama's record. The cropped version features President Clinton saying:
CLINTON: Governor Romney's argument is, "we're not fixed, so fire him and put me in." It is true, we're not fixed. When President Obama looked into the eyes of that man who said in the debate, "I had so much hope four years ago and I don't now," I thought he was going to cry. because he knows that it's not fixed.
Breitbart.com featured the video under the headline "Clinton: 'It is true' Obama hasn't fixed economy." The Weekly Standard's blog described the video by claiming " Bill Clinton said that Mitt Romney's argument 'is true, we're not fixed.' " The Daily Caller wrote:
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.
Fox News and conservative blogs are hyping a dishonest chart that shows employment decreasing while the numbers of people receiving government aid increasing since the end of 2008. However, an honest look at these figures would show that employment is on an upswing and enrollment in government aid programs has been increasing for decades.
The Weekly Standard and Fox Nation both put the chart, which is sourced to Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, on their websites. And Fox News aired the chart as well. The Standard said that the chart "details the alarming fact that enrollment in federal social welfare programs like Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Disability have far outpaced job growth over the last four years."
But this chart is incredibly dishonest. The chart uses December 2008 as its starting point, a date in the middle of a very deep recession. Employment began decreasing at the beginning of 2008 soon after the U.S. economy went into recession and was still decreasing in December 2008. But jobs have been increasing since in early 2010, resulting in the addition of more than 4 million jobs:
Furthermore, the increase in people receiving Social Security Disability benefits is not new. The number has been surging since the 1990s:
The Drudge Report, Human Events and the Weekly Standard are taking Vice President Joe Biden out of context, falsely suggesting that he said Obama and Biden want to raise taxes on average Americans by a trillion dollars. In fact, Biden was merely restating the administration's years-old policy of wanting to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire.
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN and vocal critic of the Obama administration, is often sought after by the media for his opinion on foreign policy issues, but his stake in the presidential election -- as a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney -- is rarely, if ever, disclosed by the outlets that publish him.
In addition to editorials in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and appearances on Fox News that left Bolton's ties to Romney undisclosed, a Media Matters review found editorials in five additional publications written or co-written by Bolton that left out that key information.
In total, Bolton wrote seven editorials that were critical of Obama's policies for The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Examiner, The Weekly Standard and the National Review after he became affiliated with the Romney campaign. None of those op-eds identified Bolton as a member of the Romney team. However, three of those outlets -- the Times, Monitor, and the Examiner -- have reported separately on Bolton's position in the campaign.
Conservative media have claimed that the Obama administration is waging a "war" on "cheap," "clean" coal that will cause blackouts and massive layoffs. In fact, the Obama administration has simply implemented long overdue and legally required clean air regulations to protect public health without hurting electric reliability or employment, and much of the transition away from coal is due to the rise of cheaper, cleaner natural gas.
Mitt Romney's nomination acceptance speech contained numerous falsehoods that originated in the right-wing media. Right-wing media have also echoed some of Romney's other dubious claims that were part of the speech.
Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate marks yet another surrender by the Republican nominee to the right-wing media. On the ropes after a brutal month and with his conservative media allies threatening to abandon him, Romney was left with no choice but to pick a favorite of that crowd, even though, as the Washington Post's Ezra Klein notes, that pick both drives his candidacy further to the right and represents an abandonment of his campaign strategy to date.
Why else would a candidate who had built his campaign around the idea that business experience trumped public sector experience choose someone who had spent his life in government? Why else would a candidate who had studiously avoided giving any policy details lash himself to someone so closely associated with complex proposals to slash the social safety net?
Over the past week the leading lights of the right-wing media have demanded that Romney prove his conservative principles by selecting Ryan as his running mate, with praise for the potential pick coming from the editors of The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, and National Review.
Fox News, the most powerful right-wing media outlet in the country, has spent years praising Ryan as a "star," a "genius," and a man of "courage." News Corp. was ground zero for the GOP's rollout of Ryan's budget, which their networks heavily touted. Last year Fox contributors called for Ryan to run for president in his own right. Fox News Sunday even made Paul Ryan a birthday cake for an appearance he made on the program.
Romney leapt at the opportunity to please those opinion leaders and their audiences.
It couldn't come at a better time for the Republican nominee, who seemed to have lost the trust of his base in recent days, as woeful polls and gaffe after gaffe unfolded. What could have been the final straw came when Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul dared to tout the health care plan Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts - probably his signature accomplishment in government. The response from the right-wing media was swift and brutal, with CNN contributor Erick Erickson suggesting that the comments could have cost Romney the election and Ann Coulter calling for a boycott on Romney contributions until the campaign fired Saul.
Expect such criticisms to die away now that Romney has picked their "rock star."
Right-wing media are amplifying attacks on President Obama over his recent dismissal of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez as a threat to the United States, while ignoring that experts are in agreement with Obama.
In an interview with a Miami television station on Wednesday, Obama said, "We're always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe." He added, "But overall, my sense is that what Mr. Chavez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us."
In response, Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), attacked Obama for downplaying the threat of Chávez and suggested that he is weak on national security.
Experts, however, have offered assessments that support Obama's remarks. In a statement to The Miami Herald, Riordan Roett, the director of Western Hemisphere Studies and the Latin American Studies Program at John Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies, dismissed the criticism as "just pure electoral politics."
Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, along with Jamie Fly, the Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, has written an article urging Congress to authorize military force against Iran's nuclear program.
Kristol and Fly dismissed diplomacy and sanctions as effective means of deterring Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, arguing instead that "[t]he real and credible threat of force is probably the last hope of persuading the Iranian regime to back down." They added: "So: Isn't it time for the president to ask Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iran's nuclear program?"
Kristol and Fly continued by arguing that if Obama doesn't ask for an Authorization for Use of Military Force, Congress should take action itself. "Instead of running away from it, administration officials could be putting the military option front and center and ensuring it is seen as viable," they wrote. "And if the administration flinches, Congress could consider passing such an authorization anyway."
From Kristol and Fly's article, headlined "No Iranian Nukes":
President Obama says a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. The real and credible threat of force is probably the last hope of persuading the Iranian regime to back down. So: Isn't it time for the president to ask Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iran's nuclear program?
Instead of running away from it, administration officials could be putting the military option front and center and ensuring it is seen as viable. And if the administration flinches, Congress could consider passing such an authorization anyway. While any commander in chief has the constitutional authority to take urgent action to protect Americans and their interests, such legislation would give weight to the president's commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It would strengthen the president's hand. It would show Tehran that America's policy of preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon is a credible one. Bipartisan support for such an authorization would remove the issue as much as possible from the turmoil of election year politics. And the authorization could also make clear that the United States would come to Israel's aid in the event that it decides it needs to take action.
We don't expect the Obama administration to request an Authorization for Use of Military Force. But Congress can act without such a request. By doing so, it would serve the nation's interest, and, indeed, the administration's, if the administration means what it says.
Surely it is time for a concentration of congressional opinion and force capable of lifting our efforts to the level of emergency. The Obama administration may be committed to leading from behind, but Congress can choose to lead from the front.