Another year, another concerted effort by conservative leaders to play catch-up with liberals and to finally launch effective media and messaging tools online. They can keep trying, but until conservatives change their behavior, their goals will remain elusive and their established trend of failure will continue indefinitely.
The news this week came in the form of a Politico article announcing the launch an outpost called Center for American Freedom, which will house a conservative news outlet called the Washington Free Beacon. Its founders are touting the launch as an effort to match the impressive gains progressives have made at places like Center for American Progress, the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo. The founders are also candid about how their side has been getting lapped by progressives for years in this arena.
The reason remains simple: Partisan conservatives have routinely shown they have neither an interest in genuine journalism, nor the skills to practice it. Conversely, progressives over the last decade have put in the hard work, held themselves to professional standards of conduct, and have reaped the rewards. So it's no surprise that year after year conservatives moan that progressives have built a new media infrastructure and are outclassing them, especially online.
Since President Obama took office, right-wing media have argued that his foreign policy is making the United States less safe and is bent on attacking Israel. Those attacks have continued in 2011, even as the Obama administration has overseen the death of Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki, repeatedly supported Israel, and been praised by Israeli leaders.
The December 12 print edition of The Weekly Standard features a cover story by Steven Hayward titled "Climategate (Part II): A sequel as ugly as the original," which discusses the recent release of more hacked emails from the climate research center at the University of East Anglia in the UK.
Hayward acknowledges from the outset that he did not do "an extended review" of the emails -- and this is evident in his analysis -- but he still asserts that "longtime critics of the climate cabal are going to be vindicated." Hayward claims the emails constitute more than "a 'smoking gun' of scientific bias" and reveal "the rank politicization of climate science."
Throughout the 3,500-word story, Hayward quotes from 10 of the email exchanges, but not one of them actually supports his thesis that mainstream climate science is driven by politics. Let's take them one at a time:
1. Hayward Cites Email About Page Limits To Claim That "Politics Drives The Process." A 2004 email from Jonathan Overpeck advises a colleague to "decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what's included and what is left out." Hayward claims that this email "reinforce[s] the impression that politics drives the process". But a closer look at the full email reveals that Overpeck is simply asking Villalba to condense a document into "0.5 pages of HIGHLY focused and relevant stuff" in order to meet page limits.
2. "Political Spin" Email Actually Showed How Critiques Among Scientists Improved IPCC Report. Hayward cites an email from then-Met Office scientist Peter Thorne to Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in February 2005 criticizing an early draft of the IPCC report for putting a "political spin" on the science. As we've shown, Thorne's concerns were incorporated into the final version of the chapter released two years later, showing the self-policing nature of the field. Indeed, Hayward later concedes that "the final chapter was amended along lines Thorne recommended," while maintaining that the scientists dismissed "several other objections and contrary observations."
3. & 4. Hayward Quotes Emails Of Scientists Criticizing Activists' Exaggerations Of The Evidence. Hayward quotes emails from two scientists in 2000 and 2007 expressing frustration with environmental advocates misusing science to further their political agenda. Hayward goes on to ask if leading climate scientists ever "publicly" call out exaggerations and distortions of the science. Turns out, they do that all the time.
The right-wing media have launched another round of attacks on President Obama for supposedly being anti-Israel. However, Obama has regularly supported Israel, and according to a recent poll, the majority of Israeli Jews support him.
In this week's print edition of the Weekly Standard, Adam White writes that delays in the Keystone XL pipeline and the Cape Wind offshore wind project are examples of a "worrisome trend" -- that a "convoluted" regulatory process is "killing energy development" in America.
The Weekly Standard identifies White as "a lawyer in Washington, D.C.", without disclosing the fact that his law firm -- Boyden Gray & Associates -- represents Exelon, FirstEnergy, and possibly other energy companies that stand to benefit from dismantling federal regulations. According to his website, White works on "energy regulation" and "environmental regulation" at the firm.
The pipeline's economic benefit to the United States is impressive: The Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline would increase our gross domestic product by more than $200 billion between 2010 and 2035, and support close to 85,000 U.S. jobs in 2020.
The Canadian Energy Research Institute is sponsored by oil companies such as Imperial Oil Limited, which is represented on CERI's Board of Directors and would directly benefit from the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline.
CERI's claim that the pipeline could support 85,000 U.S. jobs is far higher than even TransCanada's figures. TransCanada estimated that Keystone XL would create 13,000 direct construction jobs, stressing that those are temporary jobs. And even that is a stretch according to the State Department's analysis, which puts that number closer to 5,000.
Furthermore, a Cornell University report points out that the pipeline's jobs impact "could be completely outweighed by the project's potential to destroy jobs through rising fuel costs, spill damage and clean up operations, air pollution and increased GHG emissions."
Right-wing media have expressed outrage over President Obama hugging Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the G-20 summit, claiming that Obama is "hugging enemies [and] abandoning allies." In fact, Turkey is an ally of the United States via its membership in NATO; moreover, this is just the latest example of the right-wing media's obsession with how Obama greets leaders.
Right-wing media have hyped a study published by conservative groups American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation that claims "public-school teachers are not underpaid in wages by private-sector standards, and they may even be overpaid." But many other studies have shown that public school teachers are paid relatively less than comparable workers, that their wages have been declining for decades, that U.S. teachers are paid less than their counterparts in most other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and that low teacher pay hurts recruitment and retention.
During an interview with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, CNBC's Maria Bartiromo whitewashed Boeing's alleged discrimination against union workers and suggested that the National Labor Relations Board should not intervene when companies violate the law to intimidate union workers. Right-wing media have repeatedly distorted the facts about NLRB's complaint against Boeing, including wrongly asserting that the NLRB brought suit against Boeing "because the jobs are non-union."
CLAIM: The Weekly Standard wrote that in the final days of the Bush administration, "OMB [Office of Management and Budget] 'remanded' the application back to DOE for further review and modification. As when the Supreme Court remands a case to lower courts for reconsideration, this step is usually tantamount to killing the application."
FACTS: The Department of Energy's loan guarantee credit committee, not the OMB, remanded the application, saying that that although the Solyndra project "appears to have merit," the committee needed more information. The loan programs staff -- still under the Bush administration -- subsequently developed a schedule to complete Solyndra's due diligence that would approve the conditional commitment in early March 2009 and close it by April 2009. Even FoxNews.com reported that "the Bush officials were still weighing the decision on a loan right up until the handover to the Obama administration." In March the credit committee, staffed with the same career officials that previously remanded the application, recommended approval.
The conservative media today attacked the Obama administration by attempting to link them to the Food and Drug Administration's decision to phase out "over-the-counter asthma inhalers containing chloroflouorocarbons (CFCs)." The Weekly Standard published a piece by Mark Hemingway headlined "Obama Administration Set to Ban Asthma Inhalers Over Environmental Concerns," which claimed that the "Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer."
But it turns out that the FDA was simply following through with plans put in place when George W. Bush was president.
Remember how Obama recently waived new ozone regulations at the EPA because they were too costly? Well, it seems that the Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer
Hemingway went on to cite an Associated Press article that explains some details of the inhaler ban, but Hemingway must not have read the AP article too closely. That's because the AP reported that "[t]he FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008" when Bush was president, not Obama. From the AP article:
The FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008 and currently only Armstrong Pharmaceutical's Primatene mist is available in the U.S. Other manufacturers have switched to an environmentally-friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane. Both types of inhalers offer quick-relief to symptoms like shortness of breath and chest tightness, but the environmentally-friendly inhalers are only available via prescription.
In the rush to cover the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that received a loan guarantee from the federal government, many news media outlets have misrepresented or omitted key facts.
Conservative pundits have attributed economic growth and job creation in Texas to the success of conservative policies like low taxes and small government. But government has played a significant role in Texas' recent economic record: Federal spending helped balance the state budget, and strict regulation helped shield it from the housing bubble.
Recently, Fox News' Steve Doocy has repeatedly recycled the right-wing attack that the stimulus cost taxpayers between $200,000 and $278,000 per job. In fact, PolitiFact Texas rated this claim "False," and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman called the math upon which this calculation is based "bogus."
The right-wing media are promoting a claim made by a Weekly Standard writer that the stimulus has "cost $278,000 per job." However, simply dividing the amount of money spent by the number of jobs created is, according to an Associated Press fact check, "highly misleading," and economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has called this math "bogus."
Discredited right-wing activist Lila Rose is promoting yet another video hoax, falsely claiming to have caught Planned Parenthood officials lying about the organization's work providing patients with access to cancer screenings, including mammograms. But the comments Rose highlights in no way contradict the undisputed fact that Planned Parenthood provides patients with access to these services.