Led by Fox News, right-wing media have attacked Attorney General Eric Holder over his announcement that the Justice Department has begun civil and criminal investigations into the Gulf oil spill. Their attacks echo previous criticism from Fox and right-wing media figures over SEC charges and congressional hearings into Goldman Sachs and hearings into a Toyota vehicle recall.
Washington Examiner's Charlie Spierling today takes issue with our statements that Elena Kagan "is not and was not a radical or socialist; her thesis explored historical questions about socialism." He does so by cherry-picking two paragraphs from the thesis that do not indicate she was a socialist or radical. In one, she writes that her brother's "involvement in radical causes led me to explore the history of American radicalism in the hope of clarifying my own political ideas"; in the other she discusses how sectionalist has often led to the failure of American radicalism.
But that's not the stupidest part of Spierling's post. No, the stupidest part is where he attempts to draw a parallel between Kagan's thesis and that of Virginia governor Bob McDonnell:
As blogger Soren Dayton writes, "I guess that all the Dems who attacked the McDonnell thesis are now saying Kagan's is irrelevant."
Kagan and McDonnell both wrote theses. Other than that, the cases are simply not comparable.
Byron York promoted claims made against Elena Kagan in a 1999 report issued by a House Resources Committee task force composed of two discredited Republican members. However, the task force was criticized by Democrats for "failing to meet even minimum standards of objectivity," and even Ed Whelan has said the allegations are "highly speculative."
In his May 3 Washington Examiner column, Mark Hemingway writes as one of "seven reasons not to vote for Democrats," based on statements taken from "Democratic talking points":
4. "Two million people or more have jobs today who wouldn't have without the bold action taken by this president and Democrats in Congress."
According to Pew, 62 percent of Americans say the $862 billion stimulus bill isn't working. A recent National Association for Business Economics survey shows a majority of business economists think it didn't create jobs. And Democrats want to tout their employment record by saying, "It could have been worse"?
Read that again. Hemingway is trying to refute a factual claim -- a fact confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office and Moody's Economy.com -- by citing opinion polls.
Hemingway seems to think that what people perceive about something trumps reality, no matter what reality actually is. In this case, reality is pretty easy to determine; Hemingway has chosen to pretend that reality doesn't exist.
The fact that Hemingway cites only a couple of opinion polls claiming the stimulus "isn't working" suggests that he can't find any actual facts making that claim. And admitting that Obama's stimulus is working would run afoul of the Examiner's right-wing tilt.
Conservative media have claimed that Arizona's new immigration law only allows law enforcement to question a person's immigration status if they are suspected of an unrelated offense. But in a statement given to Media Matters for America, a research analyst for the Arizona House Republican majority disputes these claims.
From the April 28 edition of MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show:
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After President Obama released a video message highlighting 2010 efforts to turn out the vote among minorities, right-wing media responded with inflammatory rhetoric, including claims that Obama is playing the "race card." Those media figures have ignored that Republicans have issued similar appeals to minority voters.
New York Post columnist Rich Lowry and The Washington Examiner defended the controversial new Arizona immigration law by suggesting the state was forced to act because the Obama administration was not enforcing immigration policies; specifically, citing frozen funding for a virtual border fence. However, the administration reportedly stopped funding the virtual fence because it was over-budget, behind schedule, and a "complete failure," and the administration has redirected money to "other tested, commercially available security technology along the Southwest border."
Remember when Kanye West said George W. Bush "doesn't care about black people"? Of course you do; it was kind of a big deal. Such a big deal that when then-Senator Barack Obama appeared on ABC's This Week a few days later, he was asked about it. There was an avalanche of media coverage, including predictable outrage from conservative publications. A New York Post headline blared "WHERE DOES KANYE WEST GET OFF," while National Review sneered "'Racism!' They Charged - When don't they?" Jonah Goldberg blasted West's "self-indulgent diatribe" and insisted "He should be ashamed." Goldberg went so far as to argue that even if West was right, he should have kept his mouth shut: "Assume for the sake of argument that West's rant was accurate. Was this really the time to say so?"
Conservatives were certainly not alone in rebuking West; many liberals did so as well. To pick just one example, Richard Cohen -- the ostensibly liberal Washington Post columnist who supports torture and opposes affirmative action -- leapt to Bush's defense.
In short: suggesting the president might be a racist was widely seen as a Big Deal -- and widely condemned.
So I was startled to see how casually ABC's The Note quoted Rush Limbaugh calling Barack Obama a racist this morning:
Rush Limbaugh, not a fan of the efforts to restart the campaign engines: "This is the regime at its racist best," he said, per Politics Daily's Lynn Sweet. "He is asking young people, African-Americans, Latino and women to reconnect, to fight who? Who is this fight against?"
Now, Rush Limbaugh isn't a rap star like Kanye West -- but he is one of the most influential leaders of the conservative movement and the Republican party. And The Note quoted him calling the president a racist as casually as it would have had quoted him saying "I find the president's fiscal policies lamentable."
Maybe journalists have become dulled to statements like Limbaugh's because of the frequency with which they come. Conservatives have been calling Obama, and those around him, racist since he took office. Longer, actually. Today's Washington Examiner reinforces those allegations with a headline taking up much of the front page: "Obama disses white guys."
Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for the first Richard Cohen column defending President Obama from charges of racism.
Washington Examiner contributor Jed Babbin claimed that the administration is "reassigning some of [the CIA's] most valuable assets to study global warming." In fact, the CIA has said the climate data sharing program "draws on imagery and other information that is collected in any event."
Conservative media have falsely claimed that a motion filed by disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich indicating that Blagojevich and President Obama spoke on December 1, 2008, contradicts Obama's statements about his contacts with Blagojevich. Media have also falsely claimed that the motion states that Obama and Blagojevich discussed who Blagojevich would appoint to fill Obama's Senate seat.
Fox News' Dana Perino and Byron York of The Washington Examiner channeled Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) criticism of Democrats for reportedly planning to pursue immigration reform legislation before a climate change bill. But last month, Graham himself reportedly called for President Obama to "step it up" on immigration reform efforts.
Right-wing media are falsely claiming that, in recent interviews and speeches, former President Bill Clinton compared the tea party movement to the domestic terrorists who carried out the Oklahoma City bombing. In fact, Clinton did no such thing; rather, he stressed the importance of citizens' ability to criticize the government, and in drawing "parallels" to the rhetoric leading to the bombing and the rhetoric today, he specifically limited his criticism to those currently advocating or encouraging violence.
With the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing on April 16 for Goodwin Liu, who was nominated by President Obama to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Media Matters revisits some common myths and falsehoods pushed by right-wing media to attack Liu.
Conservative media have attacked financial reform legislation under consideration in Congress by stating that it establishes a "permanent bailout" or "bailouts forever" -- echoing language recommended by Republican strategist Frank Luntz to derail the bill. But far from encouraging "bailouts" for failing financial firms, the bill would establish the government's authority to liquidate them.