Fox News' Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com, and other right-wing media figures have targeted White House official Buffy Wicks in their ongoing witch hunt against President Obama's administration officials. Beck and BigGovernment.com have repeatedly attacked Wicks, and he and BigGovernment.com's Mike Flynn have made the baseless charge that Wicks was engaged in preventing prosecutions of those involved in the alleged beating of a tea party protester.
Beck, BigGovernment's Flynn baselessly suggested Wicks prevented prosecutions
Holding up picture of Wicks, Beck said Obama administration “gets its point across” through “propaganda” or attacks by SEIU “thugs.” From the November 3 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: [Y]ou know what? There are two ways this administration gets its point across, and I'm going to show both of them to you through this individual, Buffy Wicks. They either trick you through propaganda or they do it this way.
BECK: SEIU. SEIU. The thugs attacking a man at a Missouri town hall meeting. How are these two stories connected, and how is Buffy Wicks coming into play on this? We go to Mike Flynn. He is the editor-in-chief of BigGovernment.com. [11/03/09]
Beck and Flynn repeatedly attempted to tie Wicks to the lack of prosecutions for the alleged attack on tea party protestor in St. Louis. Discussing Wicks, Beck said to Flynn: “She's also, coincidentally -- in Missouri, she was also the campaign manager there, right? Campaign manager for Barack Obama.” Flynn responded, in part: “Now, part of that effort, what they did -- there was a very famous, it got some national attention -- is they created an Obama truth squad. And what they did is that Buffy Wicks organized at the Obama campaign headquarters a press conference of law enforcement officials, prosecuting attorneys, district attorneys, at the campaign headquarters who issued a warning that they would prosecute rival campaigns for any -- what they saw as misleading statements from their campaigns.”
Later, Beck and Flynn each suggested that Wicks has or may have some connection to the lack of prosecution of those involved in the Missouri incident:
FLYNN: I mean, the incident happened August 6th. Charges were filed. [Protester Kenneth] Gladney went to the hospital. Immediately, the Democrats brought in a high-powered attorney to defend the SEIU thugs who were charged with assault, and it's just kind of disappeared.
And what's interesting is that it disappeared within the jurisdictions of those individuals who are part of Buffy Wicks' truth squad.
BECK: I don't think that's true. Is that true? I don't think that's true that she was a part of the -- that they were a part of -- they were the same people of the truth squad, but I'm not sure. I'd have to check --
FLYNN: No, not the individuals, the individuals right now who are not pursuing the charges.
BECK: OK. We'll have to look into that. Here's my point -- and I want to follow this up tomorrow -- why haven't charges been filed? It has been 90 days. Why haven't they been filed? It's my understanding that it's now being kicked to the county, which the county usually only handles misdemeanors. This sounds like felony assault.
BECK: I'd like to know what game is being played through strings being pulled through the purple people. Also, the administration -- is Buffy Wicks involved? How is she involved? This is all propaganda to send a message, and they're getting off scot-free. I'm wondering how exactly. Mike, keep digging into it, and we'll talk to you again.
FLYNN: We will. All right. Thanks. [11/03/09]
Conservative commentator Vadum echoed Beck's, Flynn's attacks. Writing for conservative David Horowitz's Newsreal.com blog, the Capital Research Center's Matthew Vadum highlighted Flynn's assertion that the alleged assault case has “disappeared within the jurisdictions of those individuals who are part of Buffy Wicks' truth squad.” [Newsreal.com, 11/04/09]
None of them cite actual evidence of Wicks' involvement. Beck, Flynn, and Vadum cited no evidence that Wicks had any involvement in the alleged attack or in the decisions made by Missouri law enforcement officials about whether to bring any people to trial based on the incident.
Right-wing media continue to flog claims that SEIU “thugs” beat up tea party protester, White House was involved
Breitbart claimed White House literally “directed” town hall violence. In a Washington Times op-ed, Breitbart cited the incident in St. Louis and distorted a reported quote from a White House official in claiming that “union thugs were directed by the White House to go to” the meetings “and 'punch back twice as hard.' ” In fact, White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina reportedly used that phrase while speaking to Senate Democrats -- not to any union groups -- and there is no indication it was anything other than a metaphorical explanation of how the White House plans to respond to attacks against Senate Democrats.
Beck said SEIU “delivers beatdowns to opponents,” asks, "[W]ho would have thought union members might be thugs?" On August 10, Beck said: “While the SEIU dons their health care '09 T-shirts and delivers beatdowns to opponents, the tensions keep getting worse and the president really is not saying much helpful. You know what I mean? How about throwing us a bone here, Mr. President? How about a little, 'Hey, you know what? You guys should knock it off'?” Later, Beck said: “Who's the mob here? Kenneth Gladley [sic], he is a 38-year-old conservative. He'd probably say, I don't know. SEIU, you know, the people -- when I was handing out ” don't tread on me" flags and I was attacked by a member of the SEIU?"
Beck subsequently added:
BECK: First of all, who would have thought that union members might be thugs? Not me.
You know, I am so sick and tired of the media and everybody else equating union thugs, like these guys, with regular American citizens who have gathered -- most of them -- for the first time in their lives to be heard. This isn't a bunch of college kids and hippies and union members being paid to protest. These are regular people who see how things are being run in this government, things like, oh, I don't know, Chicago politics, and they're terrified at the prospects of government-run health care. [8/10/09]
Beck, Breitbart's BigHollywood, BigGovernment websites on a witch hunt for Wicks
Beck, Breitbart's website attacked Wicks for participating in NEA conference call. As of November 5, Breitbart's BigHollywood.com has posted 21 different entries attacking Wicks. Breitbart's BigGovernment.com has posted 13 entries attacking Wicks, some of which are cross-posts from BigHollywood.com. On each occasion, the entries brought up Wicks' participation in an August 5 National Endowment for the Arts conference call. Beck has also previously attacked Wicks, saying, “Valerie Jarrett is the one that Buffy [Wicks, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement] was working for. Buffy, the propaganda slayer.” According to a Nexis search, Beck has attacked Wicks on at least four occasions.
Beck compared NEA conference call to Goebbels. On November 3, Beck said of the NEA conference call: “Advocating through art is known as propaganda. You should look up the name Goebbels.” [11/03/09]
No evidence of illegality in NEA conference call. As Media Matters for America has documented, advancing Beck's and Breitbart's aggressive promotion of the NEA conference call, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson and conservative columnist Ben Shapiro alleged that the NEA broke laws against lobbying and electioneering during the secretly taped call. In fact, the transcript of the conference call released by Breitbart's website contains no evidence of illegal electioneering or lobbying by government officials.
Baseless attacks against Wicks part of pattern
Right-wing media have repeatedly attacked the targets of their witch hunts with false and baseless charges. In addition to the baseless claims that Wicks is preventing prosecutions of people involved in the alleged assault in Missouri and that the NEA conference call contains evidence of illegality, right-wing media advanced other falsehoods, including:
- Education Department official Kevin Jennings “cover[ed] up statutory rape”
- State Department official Harold Koh “advocates the use of Sharia law in America”
- White House official Cass Sunstein advocated for forced organ donation, and that he argued that “you should not be able to remove rats from your home”
- former White House official Van Jones is a “convicted felon”
- Obama science and technology adviser John Holdren called for forced abortion and forced sterilization.
Right-wing media figures have also made baseless charges against Obama judicial nominees David Hamilton and Edward Chen and have smeared White House communications director Anita Dunn for stating that Mao Zedong was one of her “favorite political philosophers,” and “manufacturing czar” Ron Bloom for stating in February 2008 that he agreed "with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.