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Todd Gregory

Author ››› Todd Gregory
  • Conservative Blogs Falsely Accuse Biden Of Lying About Playing College Football


    Right-wing bloggers are falsely claiming that Joe Biden is "lying" about having played football at the University of Delaware. Contrary to their claims, several newspapers have interviewed people who knew Biden while he played freshman football at Delaware.

    Gateway Pundit, National Review Online, and the Daily Caller picked up a post from Breitbart and claimed that it was evidence that Biden didn't play football at Delaware and is "lying" about it.

    More than 20 years of reporting debunks this claim. For instance, a 1987 Washington Post article retrieved from the Nexis database quoted Biden's father, Joe Biden Sr., saying that he made his son leave the team because of poor grades after his freshman season. A 1987 Los Angeles Times article reported that Biden's college roommate said the same thing (via Nexis):

    "He probably never studied as hard as other people did," recalled Biden's roommate at the University of Delaware, Donald Brunner, now a senior vice president with J. P. Morgan. Brunner and Biden both played football as freshmen, but Biden then quit the team, Brunner said, under pressure from his father, who thought that he was devoting too much time to sports and not enough to books.

    In 2008, The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, published an article about Biden's high school and college football days. One of Biden's teammates at Delaware, Jack Istnick, recounted a story from practice (article available for purchase here):

    Every now and then, the freshman players would help the varsity practice.

    One day, Biden and Jack Istnick were shagging punts for the varsity so it could work on its kick-coverage teams. This was done at full speed with full contact. The ball was kicked to Biden, who got "absolutely leveled," Istnick said, "mainly because I didn't block anyone."

    "The [freshman] coach, Scottie Duncan, looked at me and looked at Joe lying on the ground and said to me, 'Don't you like him?' "

    The Breitbart post uses an ellipsis-laden quote from a September 8 speech Biden made at Ohio University as evidence that he lied specifically about having played in a football game there in 1963:

    "I came ... I was a football player ... I came here in 1963 ... and we beat you Bobcats, 29-12," Biden said.  

    However, a CBS News video of Biden's appearance, used by NRO, shows that Biden did not actually claim to have played in the game.

  • Fox Botches Report On Decision To Uphold Early Voting In Ohio

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Ohio Voting in 2004Just minutes after the Supreme Court ruled to allow early voting in Ohio the weekend before Election Day, Fox News host Jon Scott falsely claimed that the Obama campaign sought to stop military families from early voting in the state. Scott further botched the state's early voting history when he claimed that Democrats sought to limit early voting when in fact, it was Republicans.

    The real story is that Ohio expanded early voting in 2008 and 2010 in response to long wait times for thousands of voters during the 2004 election. But last year, the Republican-controlled legislature eliminated in-person voting during the three days before the election for everyone but military families and overseas voters.

    In response, the Obama campaign and other Democrats filed a lawsuit seeking to restore early voting for all Ohioans. Today, the Supreme Court let stand a ruling that sided with the Obama campaign.

    Scott's rendition of these events conflicts with reality and ignores the role Republicans played to limit early voting:

    SCOTT: Ohio's voting laws are going to be changing, it would appear. There was an early voting program voted in by the state of Ohio for military members and their families. They were to be allowed to vote early. The Democrats and the Obama campaign asked that that be blocked. They, for whatever reason, did not want military families and military members voting extra early. A couple of lower courts blocked the law -- again, at the request of the Obama campaign and state Democratic officials. Now it's gone to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is going along with that block. According to our Shannon Bream, who covers the Supreme Court for us, we believe that is what is going to result from all of this is that everybody in Ohio is going to be allowed extra-early voting. No special privileges for military members and their families.

  • Will The Media Help Romney Surrogate Catapult Bogus Libya Hearings Into Big News?

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Media outlets are giving credence to upcoming "hearings" into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, led in part by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a key Romney surrogate, even as Congress is not in session.

    Chaffetz, a Republican congressman from Utah on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has scheduled an October 10 hearing into the security situation in Benghazi prior to the attack, hearings that coincide with investigations into the attacks that are already underway. At least one prominent Democrat has said that the hearings are about politics.

    Fox News took the lead in hyping Chaffetz's investigation with a Tuesday interview on Fox & Friends -- which is at least his 54th appearance on the network. Although Fox has previously identified Chaffetz as a Romney surrogate, it did not do so today.

    During the interview, Chaffetz indicated that he would use the hearing to push the Fox News line that the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attack has constituted a "cover-up." But this allegation falls apart in the face of the facts. The FBI began investigating in the first days after the attack, and the State Department is setting up an independent panel to review the incident. Obama administration officials have made multiple media appearances to discuss the attack and testified before Congress on the subject as well.

    Much of the right-wing media narrative about the Benghazi attack is rooted in falsehoods, including the claim that there was "no security" at the Benghazi consulate; in fact, there were multiple teams of armed guards at the consulate.

    Similarly, conservative media figures have falsely claimed that the consulate attack was somehow an unprecedented event, that it was the "first successful terror attack since 9/11" and that there had been "no storming" of U.S. embassies under other presidents. In reality, there have been multiple terrorist attacks since 9-11 -- including several on U.S. soil. -- and there have been at least 15 attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates since 1979

    A major component of the right-wing media narrative is the allegation that the Obama administration denied that the attack could be terrorism and blamed the violence on an anti-Muslim film.

    The facts tell a much different story. As the Obama administration launched an investigation into the attacks, it said it was avoiding speculation and never dismissed the possibility of terrorism. The Obama administration ultimately called the attacks terrorism, and the office of the Director of National Intelligence has stated that the intelligence community did revise its appraisal of the attack to reflect new information. Meanwhile, there is clear reporting that indicates that the protests across the Middle East were indeed set off by the anti-Muslim film.

    Nevertheless, major media have signaled that they will follow Fox's lead and cover this dog and pony show as serious news, rather than the work of a campaign surrogate.

  • Conservative Media Attack Obama Campaign, Media For Pointing Out Romney Debate Falsehoods

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Joe Scarborough and Fox & Friends lashed out at the Obama campaign and other media outlets this morning for accurately pointing out that Mitt Romney relied on falsehoods during the first presidential debate.

    Both Fox and MSNBC's Morning Joe showed clips of Obama campaign surrogates on Sunday morning news shows pointing out that during the debate, Romney had abandoned positions he had previously advocated and misrepresented the details of his own plans. Scarborough and Fox labeled this "desperate" and "sleazy Chicago politics."

    But the facts are on the side of Romney's critics. For instance, although Romney denied that his plan would cut taxes by $5 trillion, the plan does indeed call for reductions in rates that would amount to $480 billion a year for 10 years. Despite repeated opportunities, Romney has refused to spell out which loopholes would be closed to offset those cuts.

    Similarly, Romney said during the debate that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered under his health care plan. But Talking Points Memo reported that Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom acknowledged after the debate that that those people would most likely not be insured under Romney's plan, but would have to rely on states passing their own regulations in order to obtain coverage.

    On Morning Joe, Scarborough described coverage in The New York Times' Sunday Review section as "desperate," and applied the same label to comments by Obama senior strategist David Axelrod.

  • Fox News Sunday Is Fuzzy On Amb. Rice's Libya Statements

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Two Fox News Sunday panelists suggested that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, did not properly emphasize the fact that there is an ongoing investigation into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, in the interview that they were referring to, and throughout her appearances on the Sunday talk shows, Rice repeatedly noted that the investigation was ongoing and that its results would ultimately reveal what happened.

    This suggestion feeds into the right-wing conspiracy theory that the Obama administration has been purposefully deceptive in its public statements about the investigation.

    Today on Fox News Sunday, Christian Science Monitor reporter Liz Marlantes questioned why Rice, during a September 16 appearance on Fox News Sunday, didn't simply say, "We're investigating, we don't really know very much yet." Later, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham similarly asked why Rice didn't say, "We have an ongoing investigation, and I'm really not going to say anything more. We're going to learn more."

    But in her September 16 appearance, Rice stressed the fact that it was important not to jump to conclusions before the investigation was completed, but shared the administration's "best current assessment" (emphasis added):

    RICE: Well, first of all, Chris, we are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation. The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control.

    But we don't see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don't want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it's important for the American people to know our best current assessment.

    In her appearances throughout September 16, Rice repeatedly emphasized that the investigation was ongoing and would provide the definitive answer to what happened. Her statements mirrored those of other administration officials.

  • Extended 1998 Video Discredits Right-Wing Media's Portrayal Of Obama As A Socialist

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    NBC News has obtained an extended version of a 1998 video in which President Obama discusses government's role in creating a society where everyone has a fair chance at success. In the longer version, Obama speaks positively about competition and the marketplace -- which further dismantles the right-wing media's suggestion that the video is evidence that Obama is a socialist.

    On September 18, the Drudge Report linked to a YouTube video of Obama speaking at an October 1998 conference at Loyola University in Chicago. Drudge used the headline "I actually believe in redistribution" under a picture of Obama, which right-wing bloggers seized on to label Obama "America's Socialist in Chief."

    Even that is a cropped version of what Obama said. The end of his sentence was, "at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."

    But the extended video obtained by NBC News completely debunks the idea that Obama was in any way expressing opposition to capitalism. His next sentence is, "How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities."

    A review of the original YouTube clip makes it clear that Obama was actually talking about the role of government in providing services, but also criticizing ineffective forms of government. For instance, Obama says in the audio, "[W]e do have to be innovative in thinking, what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live?"

    He was talking broadly about pooling resources to make sure that everybody has a fair shot at success.

    Click here for a full transcript of what Obama said in the original YouTube video.

  • Drudge Hypes 1998 Obama Audio Using Cropped Quote

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    The Drudge Report cropped comments President Obama made in 1998 about government's role in creating a society where everybody has a shot and used those cropped comments to portray Obama as a socialist. 

    Drudge linked to a YouTube video supposedly taken from an October 1998 conference at Loyola University with a picture of Obama and the headline, "I actually believe in redistribution." The quote was picked up by Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft who used the video to call Obama "America's Socialist In Chief."

    But the quote leaves off the end of Obama's sentence: "at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."

    Obama was actually talking about the role of government in providing services, but also criticizing ineffective forms of government. For instance, Obama says in the audio, "[W]e do have to be innovative in thinking, what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live?"

    He was talking broadly about pooling resources to make sure that everybody has a fair shot.

  • Fox's Bolling Advances Obama-Muslim Myth

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Fox News host Eric Bolling continued his network's pattern of falsely suggesting President Obama is a Muslim by claiming that Obama answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second. He later purported to clarify his remarks, saying he meant Obama should be more concerned with free speech than with appeasing Muslims.

    But this clarification does nothing to address the misinformation embedded in his statement: the false suggestion that Obama is a Muslim, rather than a Christian.

    Bolling and his co-hosts on The Five were discussing Nakoula Besseley Nakoula, the man purported to be behind the anti-Muslim film that reportedly sparked the recent demonstrations in the Middle East. Nakoula recently left his home with his face covered by a scarf to be questioned by federal authorities about whether he had violated the terms of his parole.

    Referring to the image of Nakoula's covered face as he was escorted from his house, Bolling said he felt that "America changed in that moment" and that "what is being called a flimsy ploy to bring this guy in for questioning proves that the Obama administration, through all this appeasement and apologizing, answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second."

    Co-host Bob Beckel scolded Bolling for making an outrageous statement, but Fox News has consistently fed the myth that Obama is a Muslim and cast doubt on his Christianity. Notably, Fox promoted the smear that Obama attended a "madrassa," a Muslim school, when he was a boy.

    Bolling himself has advanced smears of Muslims, having said that "the people who flew planes into the building are going to be represented 500 feet away" at Park51, which he has called a "victory mosque." Bolling has also pushed conspiracy theories about Obama's birth certificate and made racially inflammatory statements about him.

    In the last segment on The Five, Bolling made his clarification.