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Todd Gregory

Author ››› Todd Gregory
  • Right-Wing Media Can't Get Their "Bain" Straight On New OMB Director

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    The Washington Examiner blog Beltway Confidential put up a post yesterday reporting that President Obama's acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients, worked at Bain & Company in the late 1980s. The Examiner suggested that this could "undercut attacks on Republican Mitt Romney's career as a venture capitalist, because Zients and Romney are both alumni of Bain & Company."

    This is a distortion. The criticism of Romney has focused on his work at Bain Capital, not his time at Bain & Company.

    To be clear: Bain & Company is an entirely separate entity from Bain Capital. Bain & Company is a business consulting firm that was founded in 1973. Bain Capital is a private investment firm that was founded in 1984.

    Bain & Company's website states:

    Bain Capital was formed as a separate entity by former Bain consultants to further leverage Bain's results creation capability. Bain Capital is a venture capital company; it is not a sister company nor a division of Bain.

    Romney's fellow Republican presidential candidates have been critical of his work at Bain Capital -- not at Bain & Company. From a blog post by ABC's George Stephanopoulos:

    Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry calls his rival Mitt Romney's work at Bain Capital a potentially "fatal flaw" which could imperil Republican chances to win back the White House in November.

    Perry, who is trailing badly in the polls, spent the week attacking Romney as a "vulture capitalist," whose work at Bain allowed him to reap huge profits by dismantling companies and laying off workers.

    Others in the right-wing media are blurring the distinction between the two Bain entities.

  • O'Reilly Attacks ABC News With An Outright Falsehood

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    After ABC News aired a 2008 clip of Bill O'Reilly saying that Michelle Obama "looks like an angry woman," O'Reilly mounted a nonsensical defense that actually did more to confirm ABC's point than refute it.

    Tonight on his Fox News show, O'Reilly read mail on the subject from a viewer:

    O'REILLY: Marcus Franklin, Decatur, Georgia. "Bill, just because you complimented the first lady several times doesn't erase the September 2008 quote."

    You gotta put down the Kool-Aid, there, Marcus, and listen up. ABC News portrayed me as critical to Mrs. Obama now. That was false. Three and a half years ago, many Americans had questions about the woman because we didn't know her. I did my job -- I asked those questions.

    No, that's not what ABC News did.

  • O'Reilly's Defense Of His "Angry Woman" Comment About Michelle Obama Falls Flat

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    On January 11, ABC's World News did a report on Michelle Obama's denial of accusations that she is an "angry black woman." As an example, ABC used a clip of Bill O'Reilly saying in 2008 that "there is some validity" to the statement that Michelle Obama "looks like an angry woman."

    On the January 12 edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly reacted indignantly: "For ABC News to paint me as critical of her is flat-out dishonest."

    O'Reilly's defense of his comment focused mainly on the fact that the clip of him was from 2008, and that since then, he has been "generally favorable" to Michelle Obama:

    O'REILLY: Well, that sounds kind of bad, does it not? But here's the context. That interview was done about three and a half years ago -- three and a half years ago, when the country was still getting to know Mrs. Obama, who did have some problems in the beginning. You'll remember the "proud of her country" remark. My interview back then was with Rebecca Johnson, who wrote a profile on Michelle Obama for Vogue magazine.

    [...]

    O'REILLY: As usual, I did my job. I asked the tough questions about Mrs. Obama because there was a perception -- and everybody knows it -- that she was not happy-go-lucky. In fact, she told CBS News she's tired of being labeled an angry black woman. That's what she said. On the Factor, Ms. Johnson was given plenty of time to set the record straight as she saw it. That's why we had her on.

    Subsequently, since the Obamas have occupied the White House, I have been generally favorable to Michelle Obama.

    O'Reilly then showed a series of clips of him saying nice things about the first lady.

    Here's the problem: This defense doesn't make any sense. As O'Reilly said himself, "the country was still getting to know Mrs. Obama" in 2008. During that getting-to-know-you period, O'Reilly did indeed say that Michelle Obama "looks like an angry woman." In doing so, he obviously helped create a perception in his viewers' minds that she is "an angry woman."

    O'Reilly may have said otherwise since then, but he can't honestly claim that he had no role in creating the "angry woman" image of Michelle Obama.

  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz Did Not Blame The Tea Party For Giffords Shooting

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    In a post on its Beltway Confidential blog today, The Washington Examiner falsely claimed that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz "blame[d] Tea Party for Tucson shooting":

    Right-wing blogs have begun to spread the Examiner's false characterization of her comments.

    Wasserman Schultz made the remarks in question at a breakfast in New Hampshire this morning, where she was asked about civility in politics. While she mentioned the Tea Party in the context of civility, it's simply not true that she "blame[d]" the Tea Party for last January's shooting in Tucson, Arizona, which killed six people and wounded 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

    Here is the question to Wasserman Schultz and the beginning of her response (full transcript below the jump):

    AUDIENCE MEMBER: The American people are losing faith in Congress. [inaudible] because of the lack of civility. What do you think can be done to bring that faith back and then we can start thinking that they're doing their job instead of just fighting with each other?

    WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, as someone who spent 19 years as a member of a legislative body, I really agree with you, that we need to make sure that we tone things down, particularly in light of the Tucson tragedy from a year ago where my very good friend, Gabby Giffords, who is doing really well by the way, and I know everybody is so thrilled, as I am, to hear that, making tremendous progress.

    But the discourse in America, the discourse in Congress in particular, to answer your question, very specifically, has really changed.

    And I'll tell you, I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it take a very precipitous turn towards edginess and a lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement.

    After the 2010 elections, when you had the Tea Party elect a whole lot of their supporters to the United States House of Representatives and you had town hall meetings that they tried to take over and you saw some of their conduct at those town hall meetings, you know, in the time that I've been in my state legislature and in Congress, I've never seen a time that was more divisive or where discourse was less civil.

    It shouldn't be surprising that Wasserman Schultz would think of her friend Giffords in response to such a question -- there was a national debate about incendiary rhetoric afterward.

    Wasserman Schultz said that "we need to make sure that we tone things down, particularly in light of the Tucson tragedy," and then, after saying, "to answer your question," went on to say that the Tea Party is responsible in part for a decrease in civility. That is in no way the same as saying that the Tea Party is to blame for the shootings.

    UPDATE: On the January 11 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume said: "It's been widely reported that she is blaming the tea party for the Gabby Giffords shooting. When you hear what she says in full context, I don't think it's fair. I don't think that's what she was doing."

  • "We're All On Board If Mitt's It": Fox Growing More Open About Its GOP Advocacy

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Fox personalities are deep in the grip of Republican primary fever, and they're involving themselves in the process in more eyebrow-raising ways every day. During coverage of the New Hampshire vote on Tuesday night, Fox host Eric Bolling told a member of Mitt Romney's campaign that it's his "job" to "make sure" that Romney "stays as far right as possible."

    Bolling also told Jennifer Horn, the co-chair of Romney's National Grassroots Leadership Committee, that "we're all on board if Mitt's it."

    Here's the exchange between Horn and Bolling on his Fox Business show Follow the Money:

    BOLLING: All right, Jennifer Horn, thank you so much. Listen, we're all on board if Mitt's it. But until then, we just have to make sure he stays as far right as possible. That's my job. Jennifer Horn, thank you so much.

    HORN: That's all of our jobs. Thank you, Eric.

    Similarly, Sean Hannity used an interview with Rick Perry to let him know exactly where the line is on attacks against Romney. (Perry has accused Romney of engaging in "vulture capitalism" when he worked at Bain Capital.)

    Hannity offered examples of which kinds of criticism are acceptable and what is off-limits:

  • Fox's Flagship "Straight News" Program Still Giving Credence To Birther Conspiracy Theory

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Special Report is Fox News' premier "straight news" show. It airs in the evening news hour, at 6 p.m. Eastern, and it's anchored by Bret Baier. From what he's said publicly, it's clear that Baier expects the show to be taken seriously.

    On Friday night, Baier managed to do an entire segment on a court ruling in the birthers' never-ending legal campaign without actually mentioning that President Obama is, in fact, a citizen of the United States.

    Baier's tease for the segment seemed to be almost purposely misleading:

    BAIER: If you think the controversy over President Obama's birth certificate has ended, think again. That's next in the Grapevine.

    In the segment itself, Baier mentioned that the White House released Obama's long-form birth certificate last year, but then, incredibly, he contrasted that fact with the birthers' arguments: "However, [Orly] Taitz, along with many others in the so-called birther movement, is still not satisfied. Some in that movement call it a fake. Others say the real issue is that he's not a natural-born citizen."

    Watch:

  • Right-Wing Blogs Attack Michelle Obama Over Appearance On Nickelodeon's iCarly

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Michelle Obama is making a guest appearance on the January 16 edition of iCarly, which Entertainment Weekly describes as a "hit Nickelodeon sitcom." Entertainment Weekly reported that in the episode, "Mrs. Obama surprises Carly and Co. to commend them for supporting military families (as part of the First Lady's Joining Forces initiative)."

    Because this involved Michelle Obama doing something -- anything -- right-wing blogs took this as an opportunity to attack her.

    In a clip of Obama's appearance posted by Entertainment Weekly, one of the characters on the show refers to the first lady as "your excellency." Another character corrects the first, saying, "You don't call her 'your excellency.' " Obama responds, "No, no. I kind of like it." Laughter is heard after she delivers this line.

    In a post on his Gateway Pundit blog, Jim Hoft wrote, "Michelle Obama makes an appearance on Nickelodeon this month where she jokes that she 'kind of likes' being called 'Your Excellency.' Yeah, we know." He illustrated his post with an image depicting Obama as Marie Antoinette -- with a large, muscular arm (other right-wing bloggers have used the same image):

  • Fox's Paranoid Anti-Obama Agenda Wrecks Its Civil-Liberties Coverage

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Civil-liberties advocates have expressed serious concerns about the defense-funding bill that is working its way through Congress, which at one point contained a provision that would have authorized the indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism. Another provision in the bill would mandate that the detention of non-citizen terrorism suspects be handled by the military.

    Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano discussed this story on his December 2 show. His segment was a case study in Fox's journalistic malpractice and how Fox pushes its viewers toward extremism.

    Napolitano presents himself as a staunch defender of our liberties, so much so that he is not only willing to call vast swaths of the federal government unconstitutional, but part of the Constitution itself, as well. Napolitano is possessed of such a powerful anti-government paranoia that he believes the government is lying about 9-11.

    Given this attitude, it makes sense that Napolitano's guest for the segment wasn't a legitimate civil-liberties advocate or a constitutional lawyer. Rather, it was Richard Mack, a member of the board of directors for Oath Keepers.

    According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Oath Keepers are an organization that encourages "members of the military and law enforcement to pledge not to follow certain hypothetical 'orders' from the federal government" if they believe these orders don't comport with the Constitution. The New York Times described the Oath Keepers as "a new player in a resurgent militia movement," and the group was part of the "Friends for Liberty," a coalition that included the far-right John Birch Society and an anti-vaccination activist group.

    Mack used the segment to suggest that local officials shouldn't obey orders from the federal government: "I hope every American is watching your show today and especially every sheriff and local official and governor that realize now that we cannot depend on our politicians in Washington D.C., and our leaders in Washington D.C., to do a simple thing and that is keep their oath and follow and defend the United States Constitution."

    Not only did Napolitano host Mack to discuss a subject that deserves a much more serious examination than a leader of the anti-government fringe could possibly provide, but the actual news content of the segment was amazingly misleading.

  • Trump: I'll Moderate GOP Debate AND Endorse A Candidate

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    The New York Times reported today that the right-wing magazine Newsmax will have Donald Trump moderate a Republican presidential debate later this month.

    Tonight on Fox News' Special Report, anchor Bret Baier aired a portion of a phone interview he conducted with Trump about the debate. Trump told Baier, "Sometime after that debate, I'll probably endorse somebody."

    What is going on here?

    What guarantee does anyone have that Trump hasn't made up his mind already? What's to stop him from manipulating the debate to aid his favored candidate?

    Given Trump's shameful promotion of the birther myth during his flirtation with a presidential run, and his tenuous relationship with facts, there's no reason to believe that he'll behave responsibly now.

  • Charles Krauthammer: Meet Ehud Barak

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    At a November 30 fundraiser, President Obama reportedly told attendees, "I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration. And that's not just our opinion. That is the opinion of the Israeli government."

    Special Report anchor Bret Baier read the quote to members of his show's All-Star Panel last night, and asked Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, "Charles, is that the opinion of the Israeli government?"

    Krauthammer was decisive in his response: "It is not, and I'm sure Obama knows it. If he doesn't, he's delusional. And this is really chutzpah. This president has done more to delegitimize and undermine Israel's position in the world than any other president."

    Krauthammer is apparently party to information that no one else in the world possesses: the fact that the Israeli defense minister is not actually part of the Israeli government.

    In August, the current Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak -- who is also a former prime minister of Israel -- said that "as the minister of defense," he "can hardly remember a better period of ... American support" for Israel than "right now."

    If Krauthammer missed this statement from the defense minister, perhaps he should watch more Fox News. Barak shared his opinion with Krauthammer's colleague Greta Van Susteren: