Author Page | Page 7 | Media Matters for America

Todd Gregory

Author ››› Todd Gregory
  • Attacks On "Julia": The Right Still Diverting Attention From Conservative Policies' Effect On Women

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    The Obama campaign introduced a slideshow on its website this week called "The Life of Julia." The idea is simple enough -- it compares the effect that President Obama's policies have on the life of a hypothetical woman named Julia with the effect Mitt Romney's policies would have on her life.

    The right-wing media immediately rained scorn on "Julia," first with mockery on Twitter, and then in a host of blog posts and columns that labeled the slideshow "creepy" and accused the Obama campaign of glorifying a cradle-to-grave welfare state that takes a "paternalistic" view of women.

    First of all, it's not clear to me how using a hypothetical to illustrate the differing effects of two candidates' policies is "creepy," but hey, if you're losing an argument about whose policies hurt women, you have to come up with something, I suppose.

    Second, there is nothing "paternalistic" about pointing out that cutting social programs would be detrimental to women. The attacks on this slideshow are a distraction from that fact.

    The themes in the slideshow mostly fall into two categories:

    • The House GOP's budget, which Romney has endorsed, makes drastic cuts to education and social programs. These cuts have tangible effects on all Americans -- including women.
    • Romney has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have a direct effect on women.

    Richly imagined complaints from the conservative media about an online slideshow don't change any of that.

  • Uh-Oh, Wisconsin: The Motto You Adopted In 1851 "Has Long Ties To Marxism"

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    The Obama campaign has introduced its slogan for the 2012 campaign: "Forward."

    This prompted an urgent warning from the right-wing media: The word "forward" is totally socialist!

    • National Review's The Corner: "I knew that sounded awfully familiar. From Wikipedia: Vorwärts ("Forward") was the central organ of the Social Democratic Party of Germany published daily in Berlin from 1891 to 1933."
    • Daily Mail: "Mao, Lenin and a century of Marxist radicals: The controversial origins of Obama's new campaign slogan 'Forward'"

    This is unspeakably stupid. The word "forward" is not socialist. It is an English word that has aspirational connotations. The Obama campaign's decision to use it is not veiled evidence that he bears allegiance to Karl Marx.

    Allow me to offer some proof that the word "forward" is something other than a coded message of love for the radical left.

  • Latest Attempt To Deny Obama Credit For Bin Laden Raid Falls Flat

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Conservative media figures are suggesting that a recently released memo from Leon Panetta shows that President Obama doesn't deserve credit for ordering the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. In fact, the memo fits the previously reported timeline of the decision to raid the compound and confirms Obama's role in making that decision.

    Last August, The New Yorker reported the details of Obama's decision to order Vice Adm. Bill McRaven, who is in charge of the Joint Special Operations Command, to carry out the raid:

    Late on Thursday afternoon [April 28, 2011], Panetta and the rest of the national-security team met with the President. For the next few nights, there would be virtually no moonlight over Abbottabad -- the ideal condition for a raid. After that, it would be another month until the lunar cycle was in its darkest phase. Several analysts from the National Counterterrorism Center were invited to critique the C.I.A.'s analysis; their confidence in the intelligence ranged between forty and sixty per cent. The center's director, Michael Leiter, said that it would be preferable to wait for stronger confirmation of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad. Yet, as Ben Rhodes, a deputy national-security adviser, put it to me recently, the longer things dragged on, the greater the risk of a leak, "which would have upended the thing." Obama adjourned the meeting just after 7 P.M. and said that he would sleep on it.

    The next morning [April 29, 2011], the President met in the Map Room with Tom Donilon, his national-security adviser, Denis McDonough, a deputy adviser, and Brennan. Obama had decided to go with a DEVGRU [SEAL team] assault, with McRaven choosing the night. It was too late for a Friday attack, and on Saturday there was excessive cloud cover. On Saturday afternoon, McRaven and Obama spoke on the phone, and McRaven said that the raid would occur on Sunday night. "Godspeed to you and your forces," Obama told him. "Please pass on to them my personal thanks for their service and the message that I personally will be following this mission very closely." [emphasis added]

    For a recent cover article, Time magazine released a memo written by then-CIA director Panetta on the morning of April 29, 2011. Time transcribed the handwritten note:

    MEMO FOR THE RECORD Apr. 29, 2011, 10:35 a.m.

    Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault. The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven's hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am. [emphasis added]

    So, the memo confirms that Obama met with national security adviser Tom Donilon and others on the morning of April 29. Donilon then called Panetta on the phone and told him that Obama had decided to go forward with the raid, and that McRaven was in charge of operational decision-making, as one would expect with any major military operation.

    The right-wing media are twisting this final detail -- that McRaven was in control of the operational decisions -- into a suggestion that there was no "gutsy call" by Obama to go forward with the raid.

  • Latest Breitbart "Exclusive": An Old Book Cover And Further Smearing Of Derrick Bell

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    The Breitbart team has a new entry in its flailing campaign to redefine former Harvard law professor Derrick Bell and critical race theory -- along with President Obama -- as radical. This time around, Breitbart editor-in-chief Joel Pollak offers up the previously known fact that Bell wrote a blurb for Obama's memoir, Dreams From My Father, that was published in the book's first edition.

    The "exclusive" part of Pollak's post appears to be a letter that Obama sent to Bell requesting the blurb. Pollak says the letter comes from the New York University archives, which hold Bell's papers. The portion of the letter that Pollak quotes is unremarkable:

    As for me, I'm keeping busy in Chicago. I'm currently working at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland here in Chicago, a small firm specializing in employment discrimination and voting rights/civil rights cases. I'm also teaching a seminar on race and the law at the University of Chicago law school -- your casebook has been an invaluable reference guide for that.

    The main reason I'm writing to you, though, has to do with a book that I've been writing, on again, off again, for the past two years. Originally, the book (called Dreams of My Father) was going to be a series of essays on issues of race and class, but as it has evolved it's become a memoir of my family and my experiences as an organizer in Chicago...

    Your name came to mind as somebody whose insight I've always appreciated, so I've enclosed an advanced reader's edition of the book. If you have time to read it and think it's worth of a plug, I'd be thrilled...

    Pollak goes on to link to a website showing a copy of Dreams From My Father that includes the blurb from Bell.

    All of this does nothing to change the fact that Bell is a mainstream figure. It is also not evidence, as the Breitbart team has been insisting, that the media have failed to "vet" Obama and his administration.

    Nevertheless, Pollak concludes:

    Clearly, Obama's link to Bell was more than just a "hug," but part of a sustained effort to align himself with the radical left--and to be seen by others as a legitimate radical--in the early stages of his public life.

    As a reminder of how wrong Pollak is about this, watch CNN's Soledad O'Brien explain the details to him back on March 8:

  • Obama Lowered "The Status Of The Office"? Bush Appeared On Deal Or No Deal

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Fox News has responded to President Obama's appearance on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon by suggesting that Obama is somehow denigrating the office of the presidency. For instance, today on Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said that it's "nutso" for Obama to go on "these comedy shows" because it "lowers the status of the office."

    On the April 23 edition of the show, Fox News host Dana Perino -- a press secretary for President George W. Bush -- said that Bush had "a very different outlook on these comedy shows. He liked them, he respected them, but he never went on during his presidency":

    Carlson said that it's "hard to believe that in 2012, we have presidents and candidates considering to go on these comedy shows, and even host, like, Saturday Night Live."

    As a refresher, Obama's appearance on Late Night isn't exactly a watershed. A recent Politico article documented several notable moments in the history of presidential late-night TV, and Time offers a list of the top 10 presidential pop culture moments.

    Even Perino's former boss didn't shy away from less-than-serious TV appearances. Bush appeared via satellite on the April 28, 2008, episode of the NBC game show Deal Or No Deal:

  • Fox Nation's Self-Debunking Attack On The Chevy Volt

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Fox Nation has a post up suggesting there is something "FISHY" about record sales of the Chevy Volt:

    The post excerpts the first four paragraphs of an article from TheStreet about concerns that the Volt's sales numbers may have been skewed by fleet purchases by GE.

    But it doesn't look like the folks at Fox Nation actually read the linked article -- the entire point of the story is that those concerns were off-base and that fleet purchases were only 5 percent of the Volt's sales:

    As high gas prices dominate the headlines and pain at the pump multiplies, General Motors' Chevy Volt is finding more consumers willing to buy into the plug-in electric hybrid vehicle concept.

    In fact, initial concerns that the record sales number posted by the Chevy Volt in March was driven by a big fleet purchase from GE were premature and didn't reflect just how quickly the Volt's fortunes shifted in March.

    It's fair to say the Volt ran right over those cautious assumptions. Between the high gas prices and headlines about a Volt battery fire earlier this year possibly receding from the consumer landscape, the sales picture improved.

    The Volt -- a month after GM temporarily shuttered production of the car -- reached sales of 2,289 in March, 50% higher than December 2011, which previously was the vehicle's best month since launch. More importantly, only 160 of the purchases were by fleet buyers, while 2,129 Volts were purchased by retail car buyers. The fleet buying was only 5% of Volt sales.

    I suppose the motive here is drawing clicks from the Volt-hating Fox crowd, which has been told that the Volt is worthy of conservative scorn, for some reason.

    Back to the drawing board, Fox Nation.

  • Drudge Promotes Racially Inflammatory Smear Of Obama's Father

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    The Daily Mail has published a misleading smear of President Obama's father, which is being promoted by the Drudge Report:

    The April 17 story from the Daily Mail is headlined "Revealed: The official fears US and Britain shared about over President Obama's 'anti-American' and 'anti-white' father":

    The top of the story references birther conspiracy theories about President Obama, and it claims that Obama's father was "categorised with others as 'anti-American and anti-white' when he moved to the United States in 1959."

    The Mail cites documents to support this assertion, but the article admits that the documents don't actually mention Obama's father: "Mr Obama Snr, who died in 1982, is not singled out for concern in any of the documents."

  • Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before: New O'Keefe Video Is Misleading

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    James O'Keefe has released another video showing his associates visiting polling places in Washington, D.C., and asking for ballots in the name of prominent political and media figures. Once again, the only thing it proves is something that is widely known: The District of Columbia doesn't have a restrictive voter ID law.

    Nor does the video change the fact that, leaving aside silly stunts, widespread voter fraud is extremely rare, and there are still legitimate concerns that voter ID laws disenfranchise eligible voters.

    The title of the newest YouTube video is " 'Ben Jealous', 'Bill Maher', and 'David Brock' Offered Ballot in Nation's Capitol [sic]":

    Actually, you'll have to take O'Keefe's word for that. (I wouldn't recommend it.) In the four-and-a-half-minute video, it's not clear if any ballots are shown at all.

    The major stars of O'Keefe's previous videos -- confusing edits, unintelligible audio, and questionably accurate subtitles -- all are back in this edition.

  • UPDATED: Colleagues Condemn National Review Writer For "Appalling" Race-Talk "Screed"

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Commentators across the ideological spectrum are denouncing National Review writer John Derbyshire for an essay he wrote recommending that parents tell their children to be wary of black people. This includes Derbyshire's colleagues at National Review, one of whom has called for Derbyshire to be fired.

    Derbyshire's essay was published April 5 on the website Taki's Magazine. The New York Observer soon took note of the fact that Derbyshire's recommendations include warnings to "[a]void concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally" and to "[s]tay out of heavily black neighborhoods." The recommendations also include these assertions about black people's intelligence:

    The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. "Life is an IQ test."

    Liberal sites like Gawker and Think Progress published posts criticizing Derbyshire, and The Atlantic Wire compiled an extensive list of Derbyshire's previous racially inflammatory writings. (Last year, Derbyshire said that he was "on the same page" as Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who allegedly killed 69 people in a rampage inspired by Islamophobia and other bigotry.)

    Writers for the conservative Washington Free Beacon expressed disapproval as well.

    Derbyshire's essay has also drawn fire from other National Review writers. For instance, senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru tweeted that he doesn't want to be associated with "someone who publishes" what Derbyshire wrote: