National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent is the newest weekly columnist for the discredited birther conspiracy website WorldNetDaily. Asked how this will affect his relationship with The Washington Times, Nugent side-stepped the question, telling Media Matters, "I am so busy going places I never pay attention to leaving."
After contributing 184 opinion pieces to the Times since May 2010, according to a Nexis search, he has not authored a piece for the paper since January 1 -- a rare but not unheard-of lapse for the verbose rocker.
An un-bylined February 6 WorldNetDaily article states that Nugent is "an exclusive WND columnist," and features praise from CEO Joseph Farah:
Exuding a love of liberty, guns and America that elicits either delight or dismay - depending on your perspective - the outspoken rock showman, humanitarian and TV host Ted Nugent debuts today as an exclusive WND columnist.
Nugent's column, entitled "The Ted Offensive," will appear on the news site each Thursday.
"Ted Nugent rocks," said Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND. "And I don't mean just as a music star. He rocks as an outspoken entertainer who is so politically incorrect. We're honored that he would choose WND to sound off about what's on his mind every week."
In his first column for WND, Nugent lashed out against Obama, Biden, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for supporting an assault weapons ban, calling them "socialists and Marxists" who "don't care about mass murder" but instead want "their boots on our necks." He accuses Obama of using "Rule 10 and 12" of Saul Alinsky's "12 Rules For Radicals" to promote the ban.
WND regularly publishes a wide array of conspiracy theories, particularly ones related to President Obama's birth certificate. The WND "Superstore" sells an array of birther paraphernalia, including Jerome Corsi's WND-published tome "Where's the Birth Certificate?" and his follow-up e-book, "Where's the REAL Birth Certificate?"
"We knew all along that the brilliant minds at WND deserved me," said Nugent when reached by email to discuss how he had landed the WND gig, "but now that our sacred hunting season is winding down, I decided the time was right to unleash the ultimate self-evident truth logic beast upon an unsuspecting public. America needs me now more than ever."
After the White House released a picture of President Obama skeet shooting at Camp David, conservative bloggers were quick to claim that the photo had been altered or created with Adobe Photoshop or a similar graphics editing program. This follows a long, bizarre tradition of conservative media labeling a wide range of pictures and documents related to the president as fraudulent.
In the past few years, conservatives have accused President Obama and his staff of Photoshopping the short and long-form versions of the president's birth certificate, two separate photos of the president with his family, two Situation Room photos from the day of the bin Laden raid, a photo of Obama throwing a football, and now a photo of the president shooting skeet.
During an interview last month with The New Republic, President Obama was asked if he has ever fired a gun. After the president told the magazine that he goes skeet shooting with guests at Camp David, conservatives -- as well as reporters from more mainstream outlets -- sought proof. In order to quiet the skeptics, on Saturday the White House released a photo of the president shooting clay targets at Camp David in 2012:
Linking to the picture on Twitter, White House senior adviser David Plouffe joked, "let the photoshop conspiracies begin!" While Plouffe was mocking the penchant of some conservatives to turn everything related to President Obama into a conspiracy, some conservative outlets quickly proved his point by doing just that (New York Magazine has produced a comprehensive roundup of the skeet shooting conspiracies).
In an article posted Sunday at conservative website American Thinker -- an outlet frequently touted and cited by Rush Limbaugh -- titled "Seven Reasons Why it's a Photoshop," blogger Michael Harlin concluded, "if he's shooting skeet, then I'm Daffy Duck." (While the headline calls it a Photoshop, Harlin seems to waver on whether the picture was manipulated or merely "staged like everything else in President Obama's life.")
To give you some idea of the level of analysis in the piece, among Harlin's evidence that something is off about the Obama picture is his observation that unlike Obama, "most shooters wear baseball style caps" to help "block unwanted sun in your eyes."
Obama is wearing sunglasses (or tinted protective eyewear) in the photo.
It's easy to point and laugh at analyses like these, but conservatives' obsession with these Photoshop conspiracies shows the type of paranoid nonsense that has passed for journalism at many prominent conservative outlets during the Obama era.
In this report we examine right-wing claims that the president's allies have altered:
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has issued a press release expressing concern over the "inappropriate invocations of Hitler, Nazis, and general Holocaust imagery" in debates about gun violence after the Sandy Hook shooting.
In a related blog post, the ADL wrote: "These comparisons, made by political pundits on national news programs as well by others outside politics, are not only misplaced and offensive, relying on factually incorrect premises and exaggerations, but also deflect attention away from an important national discussion."
Some of their examples of this type of imagery include:
The group spotlighted conservative media figures arguing that the Holocaust could have been averted if Jewish people in Germany had better access to firearms, and explained that "Gun control did not cause the Holocaust; Nazism and anti-Semitism did."
In addition to the instances highlighted by the ADL, Media Matters has documented additional instances of conservative media making references to Nazis and other totalitarians in the midst of discussions about gun violence.
With Sen. John Kerry's confirmation hearing as secretary of state scheduled for January 24, media reports will likely invoke the coordinated 2004 campaign to "Swift Boat" Kerry. While the smears from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) have long-since fallen apart under scrutiny, Jerome Corsi, one of the masterminds behind the campaign, is revisiting his old attacks.
A look at Corsi's "reporting" during the 2008 campaign and Obama's presidency confirms what quickly became clear during his efforts to hamstring Kerry's presidential run: he has utterly no credibility and his alleged reporting should not be taken seriously by media outlets.
Prior to the 2004 election, with the backing of major Republican donors, Vietnam veteran John O'Neill co-founded SBVT in an attempt to derail Kerry's presidential bid by casting doubt on his military service. The group launched a series of dishonest ads in August of that year, accompanied by Unfit for Command, a book co-authored by O'Neill and Corsi. In its review of Unfit for Command in October 2004, The New York Times explained that while the book was filled with "discredited," "faulty" and "totally unconvincing" claims, if Kerry's presidential bid were to fail, the tome would "go down as a chief reason."
When the book was released, co-author Corsi was practically unknown in political circles. He was a regular poster at conservative message board Free Republic and worked at a financial marketing group. After Media Matters highlighted a series of offensive comments he had made at Free Republic -- including calling Muslims "ragheads" and "boy buggers" and labeling Hillary Clinton a "fat hog" -- Unfit for Command co-author John O'Neill repeatedly tried to distance himself from Corsi to tamp down the controversy. While O'Neill tried to claim Corsi merely helped edit Unfit for Command, Corsi was listed as co-author on the book jacket and promotional materials for the book touted his involvement in co-writing it.
Shortly before the 2004 election, Corsi was hired by conservative publication WorldNetDaily, which has served as his main outlet. During the 2008 campaign and Obama's presidency, Corsi has used his WND platform to promote a staggering number of outlandish conspiracies about the president, including that Obama has a fake birth certificate and stolen Social Security number; that Obama is both secretly gay and secretly Muslim; and that Obama and his family have lied about the true identity of his father, who may be either communist writer Frank Marshall Davis or "some Indonesian."
In this report:
- "Where's The Birth Certificate?": Corsi Is Leading Birther Conspiracy Theorist
- "Where's The Real Birth Certificate?": Corsi Led Charge To Declare Obama's Long-Form Fake
- "I've Always Thought The Father Was Indonesian": Corsi's Quest To Find Obama's "Real" Father
- Corsi: Obama Is Possibly Gay, Definitely A Muslim
- A Superhighway To The Education Camps
WorldNetDaily founder and birther conspiracy theorist Joseph Farah will not be among the speakers at a right-wing Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast according to the event's organizer, who criticized his work and said he had been incorrectly listed as a featured guest. It's surprising that Farah is considered too toxic to speak at the event -- which his publication had promoted -- considering the history of its organizer and other reported attendees.
Rev. Merrie Turner, the conservative pastor who is hosting the event and says she has done so since 1993, told Media Matters, "It is against my beliefs to be openly targeting someone like the president of our country, we have enough enemies outside the country."
Turner said Farah's name had been wrongly listed among the speakers headlining the January 21 event and would be removed: "It was incorrectly picked up by our staff, I am going to be correcting that." Farah's website had also reported that he was a "distinguished guest" who was "scheduled to appear at the breakfast to lead prayers for the nation."
Farah is the founder and CEO of WorldNetDaily, the conservative website that has been the driving force behind conspiracies about President Obama's birth certificate and a wide range of other outlandish and incendiary theories.
Prayer breakfast materials still list Rep. Michelle Bachmann and televangelist Pat Robertson as "Special Guests & Speakers" for the event. But Farah's name has been removed since Media Matters contacted the organization. His name still appears in a press release announcing the event, and a flyer linked to on the prayer breakfast site also features Farah's name and picture.
Asked if she was aware of Farah's past anti-Obama work, Turner said, "I was not, honestly."
"He was not invited to be involved. He had permission to write an article about it and it's gone much further than that. That was the initial intent, I never met him before and I didn't know anything about his efforts," Rev. Turner added.
Farah and Bachmann's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Asked if she will seek to keep Farah from being among the official speakers, Turner said, "Absolutely, this is not going to by any means be an event for anything being said negative about the president, that will not be allowed."
Despite Turner's suggestion that Farah didn't fit the theme of the event due to his history of anti-Obama commentary, both Turner and other scheduled speakers have their own history of outrageous remarks.
Washington Times columnist and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent claimed that gun owners will be the next Rosa Parks if President Obama issues an executive order confiscating guns.
While Vice President Joe Biden has suggested that the White House could take executive action on guns, no one in the administration has said that such action would involve gun confiscation. The administration has reportedly previously considered executive action to ensure that more records of mental illness were included in the FBI's background check system.
During an interview with conspiracy clearinghouse WorldNetDaily, Nugent predicted that if an "actual confiscatory directive" came from Obama, then "heroes of the law enforcement will defy this order." Nonetheless, he worried that there were "enough soulless sheep within our government who would act on such an illegal order" and predicted peaceful resistance from "law-abiding gun owners," who would "be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus":
"If it comes to the actual implementation of an actual confiscatory directive from our president, then I do believe that the heroes of the law enforcement will defy this order. I do believe that there are enough soulless sheep within our government who would act on such an illegal order but I believe the powers that be at the local, state, and regional law enforcement would halt such an illegal, anti-American order," said Nugent.
Nugent continued, "You are talking to a guy who talks to more gun owners in more heated and concerned conversations than anyone who lives. These are top notch heroes of law enforcement and military who understand this experiment in self-government and we will not let it [gun confiscation] happen, we will do it peaceful.
"But there will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus, case closed."
Fox Nation highlighted a WND article that claimed a leaked Military Police training manual on civil disturbances shows that President Obama has a plan for disarming Americans during a civil emergency. But the manual is actually from 2006, and only provides guidelines for preventing firearms from falling into the hands of rioters and looters during an emergency.
A January 7 Fox Nation post highlighted an article from WorldNetDaily that accused Obama of having a "blueprint for disarming Americans." The article linked to a leaked document outlining guidelines for Military Police on how to deal with civil disobedience. WND claimed, "Given the imminent introduction of Senator Dianne Feinstein's draconian gun control legislation, which would instantly criminalize millions of gun owners in the United States if passed, concerns that the Obama administration could launch a massive gun confiscation effort have never been greater."
But the guidelines WND linked to were published in 2006, during George W. Bush's administration. The document outlines a course at the United States Army Military Police School. According to the Army, the purpose of the course is "to describe the nature and causes of disaffection and social unrest; define the potential for social unrest in the United States; identify the types of confrontations; define crowd behavioral and psychological influences; identify patterns of disorder."
In an outlandish column for WorldNetDaily, Bradlee Dean suggests that the mass shooting last week in Newtown, Connecticut, was staged in order to aid the passage of the UN Arms Trade Treaty and gun control legislation, comparing the administration's purported actions to that of the Nazis setting the Reichstag Fire.
Though WorldNetDaily often publishes conspiratorial stories like Dean's column -- the site was the driving force behind the birther movement -- it's still regularly validated by more mainstream conservatives. Last month, the site announced that they had hired former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum as a columnist.
Dean, an "ordained preacher, heavy metal drummer, [and] talk-show host of Sons of Liberty Radio," suggests in his December 21 column that the "timing is impeccable" for both the theater shooting in Aurora and the shooting in Newtown because they happened while the UN was deliberating over the Arms Trade Treaty:
The Sandy Hook shooting occurred just days after Sen. Rand Paul sent out an alert that the U.N. was set to pass the final version of the Small Arms Treaty, supported by Obama the day after election.
Part of the treaty bans the trade, sale and ownership of all semi-automatic weapons ... like the one Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children and 6 adults.
The "Batman shooting" in Aurora, Colo., also happened to coincide with the same time as negotiations of the U.N. Small Arms Treaty.
The timing is impeccable.
Aside from its conspiratorial nature, Dean's column is also plainly inaccurate. Contrary to his suggestion that the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty would ban "the trade, sale, and ownership of all semi-automatic weapons" like the one used by Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, it does nothing of the sort. The Arms Trade Treaty is an effort to regulate the international arms trade and overtly affirms the "sovereign right" of countries to regulate the domestic ownership of firearms "pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system."
As we have previously explained, the Department of State has stated that it will oppose any treaty that contains "restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution."
Dean also provides links to several "reports" alleging inconsistencies in eyewitness accounts of several recent mass shootings in our country. He concludes that "[e]yewitnesses in all of these massacres said there were more shooters than the media maintain, indicating the shootings were coordinated and planned."
Among the sources for these "reports" are Alex Jones' InfoWars website, a forum posting at a separate Alex Jones affiliated site, and a site called "Conscious Life News." Reliable sources, all. (For a sample of the type of conspiracy-mongering Jones' websites have been engaged in this week, a few days ago they published an article proposing that the presence of the phrase "Sandy Hook" on a map in the latest Batman movie is "bizarre evidence" that the shooting "may have been staged.")
Taking National Rifle Association conspiracy theories to the next level, WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah is suggesting that President Obama might be spurring gun sales so that he can later confiscate those weapons after the occurrence of "civil strife" or "armed rebellion." According to Farah, Obama will do this because his "real goal -- the objective he has in common with all true leftists and socialists -- is to create chaos."
I have always believed Obama's real goal - the objective he has in common with all true leftists and socialists - is to create chaos. As a former leftist, I understand the paradigm. It's classic Cloward-Pivens [sic] strategy. Obama seeks "to heighten the contradictions of capitalism," as they say. He does a lot of crazy things to further that objective - to prove, if you will, that America is incapable of self-government, that smart people like him and Michelle are needed to guide our every move.
Maybe he wants to create civil strife. Maybe he wants to foment armed rebellion. Maybe he realizes that would provide him cover to take sweeping and repressive actions that effectively subvert the Constitution.
In Farah's disillusioned reality, Obama is planning to end private firearm ownership while acting as the driving force behind gun sales. As Farah puts it, "There's a lot of irony here to digest."
Conservative conspiracy theorists have been obsessed with exposing what they see as a series of nefarious secrets hidden in President Obama's past. The idea that Obama has been hiding something has driven years of birth certificate conspiracies, and, most recently, Donald Trump making a very public fool of himself yesterday with his announcement that he was holding a charity donation ransom in exchange for Obama's college transcripts.
One of the more bizarre forms conservatives' sleuthing has taken is their ongoing quest to find Obama's "real" father. According to conservatives, alleged inconsistencies in Obama's biography prove that the elder Barack Obama is not the president's true father (they concede that Obama's mother was in fact Stanley Ann Dunham). Depending on whom you ask, Obama's "real" father could be Malcolm X, "some Indonesian," Frank Marshall Davis, or an unidentified "American black."
While all of these claims are outlandish and discrediting, their originators have nonetheless wielded outsized influence in the right-wing media and conservative movement at large.
"Another Doctored Image Deepens Obama Mystery," is today's top headline at WorldNetDaily, online home for the birther remnant. According to inexplicable Harvard graduate Jerome Corsi, the president's mother, Ann Dunham, was Photoshopped into this image from President Obama's Facebook page to mask the true presence of scary black person du-jour Frank Marshall Davis.
The "evidence" is, as you'd imagine, hilarious. "The black hand under Obama's right armpit doesn't match Ann Dunham's right arm... The hand appears to be a remnant from a black male before it was airbrushed." Black, shadowed, same difference, right? "Ann Dunham looks to be about 25 years old, too young for this 1973 photo. Maya, who was born Aug 15, 1970, looks to be about 3 years old. Ann should look 30 years old." Were Ann Dunham still alive, she might be inclined to take this as a compliment.
But we haven't reached the kicker yet. Let's stipulate, just for a moment, that the shadowed hand really does belong to a black person and was mistakenly left in by the oafish airbrusher; how do we know that hand belongs to Frank Marshall Davis, and not some other less frightening black person?
ADVANCED PHOTO ANALYSIS, THAT'S HOW!
The Drudge Report has reignited the bogus claim that President Obama's Social Security number is illegitimate.
On Wednesday, WND columnist and noted conspiracy theorist Jack Cashill reported on a court filing challenging the legitimacy of Obama's Social Security number. Today, Drudge linked to Cashill's column with the headline "Obama's Social Security Number challenged...":
Cashill's column seized on the point that the first three digits of Obama's Social Security number are exclusive to individuals who register in Connecticut. But the Social Security Administration explained that "the Area Number [the first three digits of an SSN] does not necessarily represent the State of residence of the applicant":
Prior to 1972, cards were issued in local Social Security offices around the country and the Area Number represented the State in which the card was issued. This did not necessarily have to be the State where the applicant lived, since a person could apply for their card in any Social Security office. Since 1972, when SSA began assigning SSNs and issuing cards centrally from Baltimore, the area number assigned has been based on the ZIP code in the mailing address provided on the application for the original Social Security card. The applicant's mailing address does not have to be the same as their place of residence. Thus, the Area Number does not necessarily represent the State of residence of the applicant, either prior to 1972 or since.
As the urban legends website Snopes noted, the ZIP code for the Honolulu area, 96814, is very similar to the ZIP code of Danbury, Connecticut, 06814:
Why Barack Obama's Social Security card application might have included a Connecticut mailing address is something of a curiosity, as he had no known connection to that state at the time, but by itself that quirk is no indicator of fraud. The most likely explanation for the discrepancy is a simple clerical or typographical error: the ZIP code in the area of Honolulu where Barack Obama lived is 96814, while the ZIP code for Danbury, Connecticut, is 06814. Since '0' and '9' are similarly shaped numbers and are adjacent on typewriter keyboards, it's not uncommon for handwritten examples to be mistaken for each other, or for one to be mistyped as the other (thereby potentially resulting in a Hawaiian resident's application mistakenly being routed as if it had originated from Connecticut).
The Drudge Report has joined Rush Limbaugh in hyping this inflammatory lie about Obama. During the May 7 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh asked in response to a caller who cast doubt on Obama's birth certificate: "What are your thoughts on the fact that Obama's Social Security number is from Connecticut, and he's never been there?"
In his latest column, WND editor Joseph Farah takes the right-wing media's misreading of President Obama's declaration of executive privilege with regard to some documents concerning the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious sought by congressional Republicans to its "logical" conclusion: President Obama has declared himself, "quite possibly, an accessory to murder." From the piece:
Now understand what this means. Obama cannot claim executive privilege for any member of his administration. He can only do so for himself and his inner circle of advisers, and should never do so unless it's a matter of national security.
What Obama did, in apparent desperation, was to expose his own personal complicity in this scandal, making him, quite possibly, an accessory to murder.
Can you imagine how big this scandal is and how far it reaches for the administration to take such a gamble?
Farah's point appears to be that by claiming executive privilege for these documents, Obama has acknowledged personal involvement in the authorization of Fast and Furious, and thus, since guns trafficked to Mexico through that program were used to kill people, he could be an "accessory" to those murders.
This doesn't make any sense.
First of all, the documents in question don't deal with the authorization of Operation Fast and Furious, but rather the administration's response to congressional inquiries in response to that operation. Even if Obama was directly involved in that response, it would in no way indicate his "personal complicity in" the operation.
But the administration has not claimed executive privilege on the basis of the president's personal involvement. Which brings us to another problem with Farah's column: his statement that "Obama cannot claim executive privilege for any member of his administration" is simply not true.
As Ohio State University law professor Peter Shane wrote at CNN.com this morning, the Obama administration has claimed deliberative privilege with regard to the documents in question, which "aims to protect documents generated anywhere in the executive branch that embody only the executive's internal deliberations, not final policy decisions."
Declaring that he "has had enough" of "national news programs" that mislead American voters, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said he will now aim to tell viewers "every time I see craziness in the national media during the campaign." However, the examples of "craziness" O'Reilly cited, including the myth that "Obama was not born in America," have all been promoted on Fox News -- something he did not mention.
Sometimes you just have to marvel at the almost-transcendent inanity of the conservative blogosphere. For a few years now, some conservative media figures -- led by conservative bloggers like Jack Cashill -- have been obsessed with proving that Bill Ayers is the true author of President Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father.
If you were under the impression that this conspiracy theory couldn't sink any lower than Cashill's column in February highlighting how Obama and Ayers both use words like "skillet" and "ice cream" in their writing, you were mistaken.
This week, seeking to add more "evidence" to this theory, some conservative blogs are running with the claim that Google has joined in on the conspiracy and is now listing Ayers as the author of Dreams on Google Books.
That might be somewhat interesting if it actually happened. But it didn't.