Recently, the right-wing media have engaged in relentless attacks on President Obama and his administration and progressive organizations. Those attacks have repeatedly turned out to be based on demonstrably false claims -- such as the claim that Education Department official Kevin Jennings "cover[ed] up statutory rape."
The Fox Nation and The Washington Examiner linked Department of Education official Kevin Jennings to the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) based on a 1997 speech in which Jennings praised gay rights activist Harry Hay, who had spoken in support of the organization. But like many obituaries written about Hay upon his death in 2002, Jennings was touting Hay as a gay civil rights pioneer for his role in helping start "the first ongoing gay rights groups in America" in 1948, and Jennings' comments had nothing to do with NAMBLA.
With Glenn Beck and various other lunatics complaining about President Obama's speech to schoolchildren about the importance of education, despite the fact that previous Republican presidents also spoke to schoolchildren, some reporters knew just what to do.
That's right: it's time for a round of news reports suggesting that the complaints from conservatives like Beck are just like complaints from Democrats when George H. W. Bush spoke to school children.
Here's Byron York in the Washington Examiner:
The controversy over President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush's speech -- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.
The more things change...
Posted: Thursday, September 03, 2009 10:42 AM by Mark Murray
From NBC's Mark Murray
... the more they stay the same, we guess.
As it turns out, a controversy over a president giving an education speech to students isn't new.
One, George H.W. Bush gave a speech to students back in 1991. And two, Democrats criticized him for it.
I'm not really in the mood to mince words today, so I'll just say that this is absolutely idiotic. Anyone who thinks that criticizing the president for spending taxpayer money on a speech to schoolchildren is equivalent to criticizing the president for "indoctrinating" schoolchildren and comparing him to Mao and Hitler should give serious thought to resigning so someone who is competent can have their job.
Following Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that a federal prosecutor will be conducting "a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated" during interrogations of detainees suspected of terrorism, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) asserted that the investigation would be a "declaration of war against the CIA, and against common sense." Several conservative media figures have similarly advanced the claim that by looking into interrogation abuses, the Obama administration or the Justice Department has "declared war" on the CIA.
Several media figures and outlets have provided Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich a forum to discuss his opposition to the inclusion of a public option and increased insurance regulations in health care reform legislation. But those media have not noted that that his Center for Health Transformation -- a for-profit entity that Gingrich founded and reportedly profits from -- receives annual membership fees from several major health insurance companies, which have a financial interest in preventing the implementation of those policies.
The print edition of the August 12 Washington Examiner contained a version of a Heritage Foundation chart purporting to offer a selected state-by-state breakdown of how an "independent analysis by the nonpartisan Lewin Group" showed that health-care reform "could shift 88 million Americans out of existing employer-based plans" and into the proposed public plan.
But the Examiner failed to note that the "nonpartisan" Lewin Group is owned by the insurance company UnitedHealth Group, which has a stake in not wanting people to switch from private insurance. Nor did the Examiner mention that, by contrast, the Congressional Budget Office found that only 2 million people would switch from employer coverage to the public plan.
Heritage didn't mention any of that either, of course -- but then, it commissioned the Lewin Group report.
From Barone's July 12 Washington Examiner column titled, "Who's afraid of global warming?":
I am open to arguments on this issue, but as I have written several times it seems to me that many global warming alarmists are motivated by something that is more like religion than science. It makes sense to try to mitigate negative effects of any change in climate or weather, as we are quite capable of doing, technologically and economically. Though not always politically, as seen by our decades-long failure to protect our one major city under sea level, New Orleans, from the effects of a catastrophic storm, in the ways that the Dutch have protected their country in which most people live below sea level. But imposing huge costs on our private sector economy on the basis of computer models of something as complex as climate, and which have not done a good job of predicting the present or recent past, seems the height of folly.
I think it makes more sense to monitor and mitigate--keep our eyes open for problems that may occur and take intelligent action to prevent negative effects.
As for global warming, why assume that every affect will be negative? I grew up in Michigan and would have been grateful for some global warming as I waited in the dark for the school bus. As [Ian] Plimer explains in the opening chapter of Heaven and Earth, climate has been much warmer and much cooler at various times in the past. Human beings have adapted--and it's been a lot easier to adapt to warming than cooling.
From a June 25 Examiner.com article:
Earlier this week on his radio show, Michael Savage vowed to post pictures and other 'pertinent information' about the staff of watchdog group Media Matters for America. In a statement during his radio show today he appeared to back off, saying only that an unidentified person was researching publicly available information such as the group's tax filings. Non-profit organizations must file IRS form 990 and are available for public inspection.
Apparently his call for right wing talkers and fellow travelers to rise up against this media watchdog was met with a resounding silence. His attempt to push back and silence his critics appears to be a failure. It is difficult for Savage to push back against reporting that includes recordings of his own words.
The Washington Examiner, a beltway publication with a conservative disposition well documented by Media Matters' Terry Krepel, is in hot water today for correcting a story about the saga of Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) that initially noted Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) too had an affair.
The story initially read (emphasis added):
Rep. Roy Blunt, the former House Majority Leader who is now a GOP candidate for governor (sic) in Missouri, is no stranger to scandal, having gone through an affair, a public divorce and remarriage under the scrutiny of the press.
The story now reads:
Rep. Roy Blunt, the former House Majority Leader who is now a GOP candidate for governor in Missouri, is no stranger to scandal, having gone through a public divorce and remarriage under the scrutiny of the press.
So, why was the story changed when it is demonstrably true that Blunt did have an affair with a tobacco lobbyist who would go on to become his current wife?
Confronted by the progressive blogosphere and folks on Twitter, Charlie Spiering, The Examiner's online community manager, posted the following on his Twitter profile:
A "correction"? For something that's true? We've seen a lot here at Media Matters but this takes the wedding cake.
By the way, it's nice to know the Examiner apparently has a policy of not letting its readers know when a story has been corrected. You'd think they would at least put something at the end of the article noting what the error was and that it's been fixed. But, I guess since there was no error this is to be expected?
From a June 24 Examiner.com article:
Right wing talker Michael Savage vowed yesterday during his broadcast that he will retaliate against media watchdog Media Matters for America by posting pictures and "pertinent information" about the organization's staff on his website. He made the comment almost in passing during one of his infamous rants, but did not explain what he expected his followers known as the "Savage Nation" to do with the information.
Against this backdrop the threat to post pictures and personal information about media watchdogs as a response to criticism can legitimately be perceived as a threat. Michael Savage may be famous for brash talk and incendiary language, but recent history must be taken into account as his "Savage Nation" may take the talker's inflammatory posting as marching orders to take action against his enemies.
From the June 23 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Numerous media figures have pointed to a sentence from a 2001 speech by Sonia Sotomayor to characterize her or her comments as being "racist" while ignoring the point of Sotomayor's speech, which undercuts their criticisms.
Some media figures have postulated that if a white male or a conservative had made the equivalent of Sonia Sotomayor's "wise Latina" remark, they would be branded a racist, "run out of town," "properly banished from polite society," or "railroaded off the [judicial] bench."
Numerous media figures have cited anonymous smears of Sonia Sotomayor's intellect and temperament reported by The New Republic's Jeffrey Rosen, though Rosen has admitted he had neither read enough of her opinions nor spoken to enough of her supporters to form a fair assessment of her.
Numerous conservative media figures have misrepresented remarks Judge Sonia Sotomayor made during a speech at Berkeley in 2001 to smear her as a racist and a bigot.