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Brian Powell

Author ››› Brian Powell
  • The Bizarre Writings Of A Conservative Radio Host Embraced By Sen. McConnnell To Help With Fundraising

    Right-Wing Radio Host Demands Wives Sleep With Husbands Regardless Of Their Mood

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    One of right-wing media's leading voices on what should or should not define the institution of marriage has said that same-sex marriage will lead to legalized incest and polygamy, and has argued instead for a definition of matrimony that requires women to consent to sex with their husbands as often as possible, regardless of their "mood." Now the media figure -- talk-radio host Dennis Prager -- is being embraced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

    Prager, a conservative talk show host, author, and contributor to National Review Online, will host a fundraiser on March 19 for McConnell, who is in the midst of a competitive reelection campaign against Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell, who voted against closing the gender wage gap in 2012, is losing female voters by a large margin. Given Prager's history of inflammatory rhetoric on gender equality issues, McConnell's decision to attend a Prager-led fundraiser is an interesting demonstration of the weight of the conservative talker's influence in right-wing circles.

    Indeed, Prager has been a leading voice in the conservative fight against marriage equality, and his views are often extreme. He has said that marriage equality will lead to the legalization of polygamy and incest and that tolerance of the LGBT community will lead to "fascism in America." He compared the 2013 Supreme Court marriage equality ruling on Proposition 8 to the Egyptian military coup of the country's elected government.

  • Fox Turns To Discredited Source To Push Clinton Smears

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Fox News relied on a longtime Republican donor with a spotty ethical record to claim that a federal conspiracy case relating to a Washington businessman with a remote connection to advisers of Hillary Clinton should "raise red flags" for a potential presidential run in 2016. The network identified the donor as a "former U.S. attorney" and failed to mention the source's long history of purveying partisan fabrications, including against the Clintons. 

    Jeffrey Thompson, a Washington, D.C. businessman, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pump more than $2 million in illegal donations into the campaigns of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and several federal campaigns over a six-year period. Thompson alleged that he secretly spent more than $600,000 on canvassers and campaign materials related to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Prosecutors have said that Clinton was not aware of Thompson's activity. 

    A spokesman for Moore has said she was unaware that he was running his campaign off the books.  

    On the March 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Doug McKelway reported on the story, noting that "a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia says it raises red flags for a presumptive presidential candidate." McKelway then played a clip of Joseph diGenova, who said, "The fact that Hillary Clinton's campaign approached Thompson knew [sic] that they knew that he was a source of large sums of money, knew that he could be counted on like most of the Democrats that he was supporting, he could be counted on to give large sums of money. And it is inconceivable to me that the details of that will not come out."

    Fox's identification of diGenova as a "former U.S. attorney" is wholly inadequate. First and foremost, diGenova has historically maintained a tenuous relationship with the truth. Most recently, right-wing media ran with diGenova's false claims that the Obama administration deliberately withheld military assistance during the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, (diGenova represents a number of Benghazi "whistleblowers"). DiGenova was also involved in false attacks against the Clinton family as far back as 1998, when then-Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz reported that diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing, were responsible for a retracted Dallas Morning News article about Monica Lewinsky.

    Fox also failed to mention that their latest Clinton critic is a longtime Republican and a GOP donor. DiGenova and his wife both identify as Republicans and served as advisers to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2008. DiGenova has donated at least $18,000 to GOP candidates and causes.

    By identifying diGenova simply by his former profession, Fox leaves the impression that he's being cited for his expertise in the law.

  • How The Right Helped Sen. Graham Blame Ukraine On Benghazi

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    The right-wing's Benghazi scandal-mongering entered the realm of self-parody after Fox News let Sen. Lindsey Graham blame the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the Obama administration's handling of the 2012 attacks in Libya -- the latest attempt in a series of conservative alchemy experiments trying to turn tragedy into political gold.

    On March 4, Sen. Graham (R-SC) tweeted that the crisis in Ukraine "started with Benghazi," blaming the Obama administration's response to the attacks for 'inviting' aggression from Russia.

    Graham made the same accusation on March 3 during Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren. At Van Susteren's prompting, Graham claimed that the Russian aggression in Ukraine "in many ways started with Benghazi, when our consulate was overrun and our first ambassador was killed in thirty-something years in the line of duty ... You're sending absolutely the wrong signal to our foes."

    VAN SUSTEREN: I can't tell whether you ripped the president more on foreign policy or the Washington Post Editorial Board when they described it fantasy. But you said that the president has a weak and indecisive policy that invites aggression.

    GRAHAM: Right. This is a symptom of greater problem. It really, in many ways, started with Benghazi, when our consulate was overrun and our first ambassador was killed in thirty-something years in the line of duty. Three other brave Americans died and not one person has been held accountable. You're sending absolutely the wrong signal to our foes around the country.

    The bizarre claim was swiftly ridiculed, but it didn't even seem to register with the Fox host. That's hardly surprising -- right-wing attempts to smear political opponents with Benghazi attacks have been disconnected from reality for some time. 

  • For Russia With Love: Right-Wing Media Mad For Vlad

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    As Russian president Vladimir Putin flexes his military muscles by invading Ukraine in violation of multiple international treaties, right-wing pundits are fawning over the "macho" leader's strength while complaining that President Obama wears "mom jeans" and is weak on foreign policy.

    In the wake of Russia's apparent invasion of the Crimean Peninsula -- an area within the sovereign territory of Ukraine -- right-wing media have renewed their crush on the Russian leader, praising his strength and equestrian skills after TIME's Michael Crowley tweeted a photo of Obama on a bicycle and Putin on a horse, saying the juxtaposition "does kind of capture the moment."

    Fox Nation made the photo its "Pic of the Day" and published a "highlight reel of Putin doing macho things" like "performing karate," riding a horse and a motorcycle (though disappointingly not at the same time), and tranquilizing a tiger

    Fox host Bill O'Reilly discussed the photo on his primetime show March 3rd, saying the photo depicted the "contrasting styles" of Putin and Obama. "Putin sees himself as a macho man who's going to do pretty much what he wants," O'Reilly said. "The president sees himself as a renaissance man who wants to accommodate." 

    On the March 3 edition of Fox News' Hannity, contributor Sarah Palin questioned the "potency" of President Obama saying, "People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates."

    Other Fox pundits have followed the same theme. Foreign policy expert KT McFarland tweeted, "Putin seizes countries, Obama threatens maybe to kick Russia out of the G-8 club. Bet Putin's sorry now! Winners write history, not whiners". Frequent Fox guest Rudy Giuliani lavished Putin with praise, saying that in contrast with Obama, Putin is "what you call a leader."

    Of course, no one praising Putin's leadership mentions his penchant for repressing dissent and stymieing the freedoms of his people. But at least he can fend off a wild animal without his shirt on.

  • Stay Classy: Right-Wing Media Attack Will Ferrell For Encouraging You To Get Health Insurance

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Will Ferrell was the target of conservative ire this week after tweeting a picture encouraging uninsured Americans to get health care coverage.

    On February 24, Ferrell's "Funny Or Die" humor website tweeted a photo of the comedian holding a sign with the words #GetCovered, a hashtag affiliated with the Department of Health and Human Service's efforts to encourage young people to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's new health care exchanges.

    Cue the wrath of right-wing media figures.

    Frequent Fox guest and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted, "Ferrell for #Obamacare ... almost as funny as getting an ins. policy cancellation notice in the mail." Later, she added

  • Sen. Corker's UAW Smears Go Unchallenged In Fox Interview

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Fox News gave Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) an uncritical platform to continue pushing anti-labor falsehoods about a recent attempt to unionize a Volkswagen (VW) plant in Chattanooga, TN.

    On February 14, the VW plant in Chattanooga voted against joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) union by a vote of 712-626. Prior to the vote, Corker and third party anti-labor groups like Grover Norquist's Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) waged an anti-UAW publicity campaign that threatened workers with claims that unionizing would hurt jobs and the economy of Tennessee. Days after stating that he believed it was not "appropriate" to make public statements about the unionizing effort, Corker issued one anyhow, telling workers that if they rejected the union, VW would reward the plant with a new product line:

    I've had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga.

    But VW AG rebuffed statement, saying "There is no connection between our Chattanooga employees' decision about whether to be represented by a union and the decision about where to build a new product for the U.S. market."

    On the February 19 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer interviewed Corker, who repeated the claim that the vote to unionize was tied to decisions about new product lines for the plant. Remarkably, Hemmer failed to push Corker on this point or even note that VW directly rejected his accusations.

  • Fox Flips Blame From AOL Exec To Obamacare In One Segment

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    ScreencapTwo unsubstantiated claims from AOL CEO Tim Armstrong about his company's cuts to retirement plans elicited two very different reactions from one Fox News segment.

    Last week, AOL's chief executive officer Tim Armstrong announced that the company was paring down retirement benefits because of the high costs of two employees' "distressed babies" and the increased costs of health care resulting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). Armstrong later apologized for the statement about the two employees and the company restored the cuts to 401(k) plans.

    Discussing the story on Fox's America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum performed a rhetorical dance that led an ostensibly critical segment of Armstrong's comments into a fact-free attack on the ACA and a defense of corporate scapegoating.

    MacCallum prefaced the segment by noting that, insofar as Armstrong was blaming any babies for cuts to employees' retirement, she felt that the comments were "unfortunate." But then she spring-boarded into her main focus: AOL wouldn't have to do these things if there wasn't a war on business spearheaded by Obamacare. According to MacCallum, AOL's decision to cut 401(k)s "does reflect a reality, an underlying reality, that a lot of companies are facing -- finding ways to make ends meet," yet she never clarified whether AOL is one of the companies facing such an undefined "underlying reality."

    She offered an aggressive defense to Fox contributor Leslie Marshall's point that when companies struggle, their executives often do not. "It's always the big, bad company," MacCallum said. "Big, bad corporate America ... is it right to not acknowledge that these companies are under pressures that they were not under before?"

  • Fox News Objects To Obama Calling Climate Change A Fact

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    On the February 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report, guest host Chris Wallace set up a segment on proposed carbon emission regulations by protesting that "President Obama has declared climate change a fact," despite "objections from many dissenters."

    Correspondent Doug McKelway followed up with a report that continued to cast doubt on the existence of climate change and featured a professional climate misinformer, Climate Depot's Marc Morano, whose financial ties to the fossil fuel industry went undisclosed.

    Of course, it wasn't just Obama who declared "climate change a fact" -- scientists did. In fact, a full 97 percent of climate experts "agree humans are causing global warming."


    State Of The Union Is Warming, Despite Right-Wing Snow-Trolling

    The Worst Climate Change Misinformer In America Is On CNN

  • Fox Freaks Out Over CVS Ending Sales Of Tobacco

    Fox Host: "Is It OK Legally ... To Restrict Tobacco Availability In A Private Store Like This?"

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Fox News responded to the announcement that CVS would no longer sell cigarettes by criticizing the pharmacy chain and leveling attacks at President Obama after he expressed support for the company's decision.

    On February 5, CVS Caremark announced that it would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its pharmacy stores by the beginning of October. The move was met with praise from health organizations like the American Cancer Society and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy dedicated to public health. President Obama also weighed in on the decision with a statement of support, saying it was a "profoundly positive" move and will help advance efforts "to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs."

    As if on cue, Fox News responded to Obama's praise by manufacturing a controversy over the CVS decision.

    On Fox's The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson approached the CVS decision with suspicion and a remarkably uninformed premise, asking, "Is it OK legally ... to restrict tobacco availability in a private store like this?" She questioned her guests as to whether they would continue shopping at CVS and observed that, "For people who smoke, you know, they have a right to buy cigarettes. It's not illegal."

  • STUDY: Media Leave Viewers In The Dark About Trans-Pacific Partnership


    Congress is debating whether to give the president the authority to fast-track a massive free trade agreement -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- between the U.S., Canada, and 10 nations from the Asia-Pacific region. The nations involved in the talks account for nearly 40 percent of the world's GDP and 26 percent of the world's trade, but weekday evening television news broadcasts have largely ignored the topic.