In her December 8 Washington Examiner column, Barbara Hollingsworth writes of the tea party movement:
The growing grass-roots movement will indeed destroy the political careers of many politicians who fail to heed the warning it delivered Sept. 12, when 1.7 million angry voters (according to a crowd estimate by Zac Moilanen of Indiana University) descended on Washington to say they were totally fed up with bailouts and stimulus packages, and want the country to return to its constitutional, limited-government roots.
But as Media Matters has detailed, Moilanen's estimate is somewhat less than authoritative. Moilanen, an undergrad studying East Asian Languages and Cultures at Indiana, cited such not-quite-unimpeachable sources as a Free Republic post and a message board to arrive at his crowd estimate.
On the Right, it seems, a good falsehood never dies -- even after it's been repeatedly proven wrong, and especially when a deep-pocketed billionaire's money is financing it.
In a Washington Examiner column, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) claimed that President Obama and Congress "don't seem to realize that adopting bad policies kills jobs" and that "[w]e now have proof that the Obama administration's job-killing policies are hurting America." But to support his assertions, Gingrich made false and misleading claims about the Obama administration's and Congress' policies and failed to mention that the steep rise in unemployment began well before Obama even took office.
On his radio show, Glenn Beck claimed that "in the cap-and-trade legislation that is being proposed, the president has new emergency powers" that would allow him to "take over industries" if greenhouse gas levels reach a certain level, echoing other conservative media outlets that have claimed that the legislation requires the president to declare a "climate emergency" and "act like strong man Hugo Chavez." But the legislation explicitly directs the president to respond within existing statutory authority and to present to Congress any recommendations for legislative action.
Members of the conservative media, including Fox News, are attacking President Obama for not attending the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. But when Obama has traveled abroad in the past -- including a trip in which Obama commemorated D-Day -- Fox News and figures at other media outlets have criticized him for supposedly going on an "apology tour."
Echoing GOP claims, The Washington Examiner stated: "Even if we take at face value the White House claim that it created or saved [650,000] jobs with approximately $150 billion of the economic stimulus money, a little simple math shows the taxpayers aren't getting any bargains here: $150 billion divided by 650,000 jobs equals $230,000 per job saved or created." However, as the Associated Press noted, this "math is satisfyingly simple but highly misleading," because it does not capture the full impact of the stimulus.
Since President Obama declared the H1N1 pandemic a national emergency on October 24, conservative media figures have accused the Obama administration of attempting to, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, "create panic and chaos" in order to "sell health care." These charges ignore the prevalence of the disease, which, along with the consequent need to "enable U.S. health care facilities to implement emergency operations plans," were factors Obama specifically cited when he declared the national emergency.
Following the Nobel Committee's announcement that it would award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, conservative media figures have launched numerous attacks on Obama and the award, asserting, for instance, that Obama won the prize "for trashing America," in Sean Hannity's words, or that the prize is an "affirmative action Nobel," as Pat Buchanan and RedState's Erick Erickson asserted. In the latest attempt to discredit Obama's Nobel Prize, conservatives have claimed that his acceptance of the award violates the emolument clause of the Constitution, despite the fact that previous sitting officials have accepted foreign awards in the past.
On October 14, The Washington Examiner ran the false headline, "Michelle: $373 million in stimulus money for better vending machine food." However, Michelle Obama, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Examiner article itself contradict the headline; HHS will award $373 million to communities through a competitive grant process for "comprehensive" programs -- one component of which could include healthier vending machine food -- that would "reduce obesity."
Reviving a smear that even Fox News has repudiated, Fox News contributor and Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York reported as fact that a student counseled by Education Department official Kevin Jennings in 1988 regarding the student's "encounter with an older man" was 15 at the time, adding that "some defenders now say the boy was 16." In fact, Media Matters for America has definitively proven that the student was 16 at the time -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts -- producing a statement from the student and his driver's license, evidence that CNN subsequently reported on and confirmed.
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.