The Green New Deal has surged into the American political discourse over the last two months on a wave of activism and high-profile Democratic endorsements. According to its leading proponents at the activist group Sunrise Movement, the plan aims to “transform our economy and society at the scale needed to stop the climate crisis.” It seeks to decarbonize the economy, create millions of green jobs, and rectify racial and economic inequality, though a specific policy agenda has yet to be worked out. The Green New Deal, whose backers include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), has polled very favorably with registered voters -- even though most Americans have heard nothing about it. The Sunrise Movement intends to spend 2019 building momentum and support for the plan so that it becomes a top issue for the 2020 presidential election. From there, the goal is to enact sweeping climate legislation in 2021.
Despite the fact that this plan is not yet fully defined and has no chance of passing through Congress for at least two years, right-wing media have wasted no time in attacking it. Outlets from Fox News to Breitbart News to the Las Vegas Review-Journal have spread inaccurate claims about the Green New Deal to stoke fears that it would destroy the U.S. economy and political system. The Heartland Institute, a right-wing think tank known for its climate denial, is one of the most active opponents of the Green New Deal, and it is using right-wing media outlets to amplify its attacks.
Here are some of the bogus arguments being employed by right-wing groups and media outlets as they attempt to discredit the plan.
The Heartland Institute's main argument against the Green New Deal is that it's socialism in disguise. It recently launched a website, StoppingSocialism.com, that criticizes the Green New Deal as “energy socialism.” Justin Haskins, an executive editor and research fellow for Heartland and author of the book Socialism Is Evil, is the group's main spokesperson for its claim that the Green New Deal has a hidden socialist agenda. He has made two appearances on Fox News in January and written several op-eds for conservative outlets to push that line of attack.
On the January 8 episode of Fox's Tucker Carlson Tonight, Haskins called the Green New Deal “the most radical, dangerous policy proposal offered in modern history.” He claimed it would “do nothing to reduce global CO2 emissions,” concluding, “This is all about socialism, not saving polar bears.”
On the January 11 episode of Fox & Friends, Haskins again dismissed the idea that the Green New Deal has anything to do with climate change, saying, “This is actually not about green energy. … This is really about socialism. This is nothing more than a socialist Trojan horse.”
Haskins made the same argument in an op-ed that ran in The Detroit News on January 8 under the headline “Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Green New Deal’ is not about global warming.” In the following days, the right-wing websites Breitbart, Townhall, and the Heritage Foundation's The Daily Signal reprinted the piece. From the op-ed:
Many supporters of the Green New Deal know it will do absolutely nothing to reduce global temperature or prevent future temperature rise—the primary purpose of the proposal, according to Ocasio-Cortez. The real goal of the Green New Deal is to impose a series of radical, socialistic programs—policies that would dramatically increase the size and power of the federal government, cause immense harm to the U.S. economy, and run up the national debt by trillions of dollars.
In a December 31 op-ed published on the Fox News website, Haskins wrote that the Green New Deal would "move the United States closer than ever to socialism. If we don’t stop it, it will destroy our economy for a whole generation of Americans.” In a January 3 Washington Examiner op-ed, Haskins claimed, “This is one of the most dangerous and extreme proposals offered in modern U.S. history. It’s the sort of thing you’d see in the Soviet Union, not the United States.” In another Fox News opinion on January 12, Haskins referred to the Green New Deal as “socialized energy,” and falsely claimed that renewable energy sources are “expensive and unreliable.” And writing for Fox News again on January 19, Haskins claimed that the Green New Deal is not really new or visionary, but rather a “recycled version of a failed, three-year-old socialist proposal from Canada.”
Heartland’s attacks on the Green New Deal should come as no surprise -- the organization has a long history of promoting climate denialism, and it has received funding from both Koch-backed groups and fossil fuel companies. None of its fossil fuel funding was disclosed in any of Haskins’ recent Fox appearances or op-eds attacking the Green New Deal.
Other conservative outlets have followed Heartland’s example by scaremongering about socialism to attack the Green New Deal. For instance, the editorial board of the conservative Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is owned by Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, wrote on January 2:
Some conservatives have been criticized for arguing that fears of global warming are being intentionally exaggerated by those seeking to use the issue to advance collectivism and radical socialism. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” doesn’t even try to hide it.
A few more examples:
Several right-wing attacks on the Green New Deal have invoked the horrors of authoritarianism and warned that the plan would destroy the liberties that Americans currently enjoy.
Some right-wing commentators have minimized the seriousness of climate change or resorted to climate denial when attacking the Green New Deal.
Several of the opinion pieces that the Heartland Institute’s Haskins has written about the Green New Deal don't even mention climate change at all, including two he wrote for Fox News and one for the Washington Examiner.
The Green New Deal is the most ambitious climate-action plan ever to get mainstream attention, and it directly challenges the power structures of right-wing groups and their backers in the fossil fuel industry. Even though it's just a broad outline at this point with no prospects for being enacted anytime soon, it's making conservative commentators very nervous -- so much so that they can't stop chattering about it. The right-wing media’s general obsession with Ocasio-Cortez also feeds their compulsion to cover the Green New Deal.
Right-wing outlets appear to be giving the plan more attention than their mainstream media counterparts. A recent Public Citizen analysis found that Fox News made more mentions of the Green New Deal in November and December than other cable or broadcast networks -- even as half of the top 50 newspapers in the U.S. failed to mention the plan at all during the same time period. Fox's fixation has only intensified since the start of the new year.
As we head into the 2020 election cycle and see some Democratic presidential contenders embrace the ideas behind the Green New Deal, we can expect right-wing media attacks on it to continue -- and to become even more absurd and overblown.
After President Barack Obama commuted most of Chelsea Manning’s remaining prison sentence, right-wing media figures responded by attacking her gender identity, denouncing transition-related care, and hoping Manning would commit suicide.
Prominent right-wing media figures slammed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s performance during the first presidential debate, calling it “an unmitigated disaster” and arguing that he “didn’t stand up to the test” of being President of the United States.
The focus of the first day of the Democratic National Convention was how to “build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” but right-wing media breathlessly attacked the Democratic Party for failing to mention ISIS.
Right-wing media figures reacted to the Republican National Convention’s nomination of Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee by claiming that the GOP is “willingly commit[ing] suicide” and expressing anger over the official nominating process.
Media figures across the ideological spectrum criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s first joint event with his running mate Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), calling it “the most half-assed big-time political event I've ever seen,” “the worst VP introduction ever,” and “really, really unnerving.”
Media figures noted that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s decision to fire his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is “not normal” “at this stage in campaigns” and “speaks to the chaos that has been unfolding inside the campaign.”
Attacks On The Labor Secretary Come Amid Speculation That Perez Could Be Hillary Clinton’s Pick For Vice President
The National Review recycled debunked myths and smeared Labor Secretary Thomas Perez for standing up to big business and expanding overtime protections for workers as speculation mounts that he may be Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s pick for vice president.
National Review described Perez as “[t]he Obama administration’s most radical and relentless ideologue” in a June 2 column by correspondent Jim Geraghty, replete with right-wing media myths about the potential contender for vice president. Although the column admitted that Perez’s “liberal credentials are as impeccable as they come” it still lambasted the Labor Secretary for advocating for labor and expanding overtime protections for salaried workers. National Review quoted Iain Murray of the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) who claimed this expansion of worker protections for people making up to $47,476 is “probably the most fundamental attack on the free-enterprise system going on at present” (emphasis added):
Perez’s liberal credentials are as impeccable as they come. Mother Jones called him “one of the administration’s most stalwart progressives.” Conservative policy experts who have followed his work in the Justice and Labor Departments consider him perhaps the Obama administration’s most radical and relentless ideologue.
Iain Murray, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s vice president of strategy, calls Perez “possibly the most dangerous person in the administration right now.”
“His rewriting of U.S. labor law is probably the most fundamental attack on the free-enterprise system going on at present,” Murray says. “If he has his way, we won’t just revert to the 1930s. We’ll do things that even Franklin Roosevelt couldn’t do, like eliminate vast numbers of independent-contractor jobs and unionize those that remain.”
Murray sees Perez’s ideological vision as driven by an arrogant insistence that most workers are oblivious to their own exploitation by employers, and need the state to intervene to help them understand proper “work-life balance” or to make basic choices about work.
Right-wing media repeatedly assailed the new overtime rules released by the Department of Labor (DOL) on May 17, which will expand overtime pay protections to 4.2 million additional American workers previously exempt from compensation under outdated provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
But experts have found that these new protections are long overdue. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) found the new overtime rule “will rectify” the problem of wage protections guaranteed by the FLSA that have been “steadily erod[ing] since the late 1970s.” The overtime update is particularly important for women -- especially women of color and working mothers -- as the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) found “women are now the sole or co-breadwinner in half of American families with young children.”
Right-wing media smears against Tom Perez have been ongoing since his confirmation hearings for Labor Secretary began in 2013 and are frequently laced with racially charged language in addition to debunked misinformation. Then-Fox contributor Michelle Malkin has baselessly called Perez an "extremist race-baiter," and frequent Fox guest J. Christian Adams has falsely claimed that Perez's leadership of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division saw it "infested with racial animus." Republican lawmakers later regurgitated these falsehoods and claimed that the division under Perez's leadership was itself racist. Right-wing talk radio host Mark Levin also called Perez an “Ethno-Thug,” and the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal stooped to claiming the only reason to confirm Perez for Secretary of Labor was his “Spanish surname” -- a reductionist line of attack also used by The National Review, which remarked Perez’s “Dominican heritage means he checks the box as a Latino.”
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who has long advocated for a third party alternative to the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, announced his desire to recruit National Review writer David French as his chosen candidate. French’s coworkers and some core Never Trump figures supported the possible candidacy, while many other right-wing media figures called it “embarrassing” and “preposterous.”
Wash. Post: "David French Is Urged To Enter Presidential Race As Independent." On May 31 The Washington Post reported that Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, sought to recruit National Review writer David French as a third-party conservative presidential candidate. French has not stated whether or not he will run:
Tennessee attorney David French, who in recent years has become a prominent right-wing writer, is being urged by some conservative leaders to make a late entry into the 2016 presidential race as an independent candidate, according to two people close to him.
William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard magazine and a former Republican White House official, is at the fore of the draft effort. A group of well-known evangelical leaders and GOP operatives is also involved in the discussions, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss private conversations.
When reached by phone Tuesday, French’s wife, Nancy, declined to comment. David French did not respond to multiple calls and emails over the past weekend. [The Washington Post, 5/31/16]
National Review: "French Is Preposterous? This Year?" National Review blogger Mona Chen defended Bill Kristol's selection of French for a third party bid, calling for "an honest man in this contest." Chen asserted that since “the Democrats are about to nominate a woman who may be indicted” and the Republicans “a reality star who knows nothing of policy, but ... threatens to undermine" the GOP itself, French has a viable opportunity to enter the presidential race:
Twitter tittered with a combination of contempt and amusement yesterday when word leaked that it might be our own David French who is considering an independent run for president. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” — that great “herd of independent minds” — the same tone prevailed (except for Mark Halperin, who noted that much would depend upon whether French could get financial backing). Mika Brzezinski scoffed that Bill Kristol needed a vacation, and the assembled crew were unanimous that French lacks the stature to enter the race.
In any normal year, they would certainly have a point. But look around people. This is the year when the Democrats are about to nominate a woman who may be indicted. The Republicans are nominating a reality star who knows nothing of policy but excels at schoolyard taunts, and threatens to undermine the one party that, until recently, stood (broadly) for the Constitution. But David French is out of his league? French is a graduate of Harvard Law. While Trump was bedding married women and allegedly defrauding strivers who signed up for Trump University, French was earning a bronze star in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He’s a major in the US Army Reserve. He’s a bestselling author of, most recently, The Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore and countless brilliant articles. He is past president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and has worked for the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Center for Law and Justice. [National Review, 6/1/16]
National Review Editor Jim Geraghty: “If A David French Candidacy Gets All Of America To See The Alt-Right Clearly, He’s Done A National Service.”
If a David French candidacy gets all of America to see the Alt-Right clearly, he's done a national service. https://t.co/VqdXHuKfE8
— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) June 1, 2016
Talk Radio Host Charlie Sykes: “David French Is A Class Act, Would Be An Impressive Candidate.”
David French is a class act, would be an impressive candidate. https://t.co/J9yRWhZZkD
— Charles Sykes (@SykesCharlie) May 31, 2016
RedState's Leon H. Wolf: "French ... Will Easily Get My Vote." RedState.com writer Leon H. Wolf wrote that French “will easily get my vote over any of the options that are currently on the ballot.” Even though Wolf conceded that French has little realistic chance to win, he asserted that he will never “bow before the con man who bragged that I would support him even after he destroyed my party.”
I guess some are determined not to give French a shot on the basis that he can’t possibly win. Personally, I could not care less. A realistic chance of anyone who deserves the office winning left the building a long time ago.
I don’t have a duty or obligation of any kind to vote for a candidate who might win. The only duty I have – to myself or anyone else – is to vote for the candidate who is most deserving of my vote. Hell, by the time election day of 2008 rolled around, McCain had no chance, and we all voted for him, didn’t we?
If French really does run, he will easily get my vote over any of the options that are currently on the ballot, in addition to my help gathering signatures and whatever spare money I can afford. Not only will he deserve it, but I won’t submissively tuck my tail between my legs and bow before the con man who bragged that I would support him even after he destroyed my party. [RedState.com, 6/1/16]
Erick Erickson: “I’d Gladly Vote For David French Over Either Hillary Clinton Or Her Donor Donald Trump.”
I’d gladly vote for David French over either Hillary Clinton or her donor Donald Trump.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) May 31, 2016
Erickson: “I’d Be Happy To Participate In The #FrenchRevolution.”
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) May 31, 2016
Daily Caller's Matt Lewis: “I Will Vote For David French … But We Could Probably Hold Our Convention In A Phone Booth.”
I will vote for David French if he's on the ballot. But we could probably hold our convention in a phone booth.
— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) May 31, 2016
Ben Shapiro: “Voting For David French Over Hillary And Trump Would Be The Easiest Call Ever.”
Voting for David French over Hillary and Trump would be the easiest call ever.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 31, 2016
Hot Air: Bill Kristol Is "Now Pulling Fans Out Of The Stands To Play QB." Conservative blogger Allahpundit ridiculed Kristol's choice of French in a May 31 blog post on HotAir.com:
This was who he had in mind with that much-hyped tweet this weekend that had everyone wondering if Romney had reconsidered? An … NRO writer? Trump fans are forever deriding #NeverTrump as a “movement” consisting of, like, six guys at National Review and the Weekly Standard. And now here we are.
As it turns out, Kristol actually touted French as a potential independent candidate in a piece published in the Standard just a few days ago. No one put two and two together this weekend, though, presumably because, um, no one thought he could possibly be serious.
There’s a sense that, having exhausted everyone on the team’s depth chart, you’re now pulling fans out of the stands to play QB. I’m not sure either what the value is in picking a conservative challenger to Trump who’s even less well known than Gary Johnson is. [HotAir.com, 5/31/16]
Breitbart News: “It’s Likely This Will End Up In The Ash Heap Of Kristol’s History Of Inaccurate Positions.” Breitbart News dismissed Kristol’s selection of French, writing in a May 31 post that “it’s likely this will end up in the ash heap of Kristol’s history of inaccurate predictions”:
Kristol created a media firestorm after tweeting that an “impressive” third party candidate would run with a “real chance.” If David French is all Kristol can come up with, it’s likely this will end up in the ash heap of Kristol’s history of inaccurate predictions. [Breitbart News, 5/31/16]
Guy Benson: French Candidacy “Will Represent An Embarrassing Fizzle For A ‘Never Trump’ Movement That Once Seemed Potent. Or At Least Relevant.” Townhall political editor Guy Benson called French’s selection by Kristol an “embarrassing fizzle” for the Never Trump movement in a May 31 post:
And the grand reveal is...National Review writer David French? And it's not even confirmed? Don't get me wrong: French is a decorated Iraq war veteran, a strong writer, and a principled conservative whose stalwart commitment to religious liberty is admirable, even if one disagrees from time to time. … He's an impressive man. The impressiveness of his team -- if this presidential run ever actually comes to pass -- remains to be seen. But the notion that a relatively little-known writer could parachute into this race at such a late juncture and have a prayer of winning even a single state is, frankly, preposterous.
So with due respect to the potential candidate, and with strong sympathy for its most prominent backers, I must say that if the French report proves accurate, it will represent an embarrassing fizzle for a 'Never Trump' movement that once seemed potent. Or at least relevant. Instead, it will have roared in like a lion after Indiana, then trotted impotently and inexorably toward the political abyss ahead of California. [Townhall, 5/31/16]
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey: "I Like And Respect David, But This Can’t Be Right.”
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) May 31, 2016
Morrissey: A French Candidacy Is “Like Picking George Will To Pitch For Your Fantasy Baseball Team.”
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) May 31, 2016
NY Times Columnist Ross Douthat: “Both David French And Bill Kristol Will Be Mocked If French Is The #NeverTrump Candidate.”
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) May 31, 2016
Media figures are erroneously attributing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses to her wins in coin tosses held at several precincts to determine the apportionment of unassigned delegates. Media figures claiming that coin tosses could have flipped the outcome misunderstand the caucus process by wrongly conflating county-level delegates -- which the coin tosses assign -- and state delegate equivalents (SDEs). As The Des Moines Register explained, the coin flips "had an extremely small effect on the overall outcome."
Media criticized GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for claiming he never supported legalizing undocumented immigrants by pointing to his documented support of legalization in 2013.
Conservative media figures bombarded Twitter with accusations that President Obama committed "treason" and had capitulated to terrorists by reaching a deal with Iran to halt the country's nuclear armament.
Right-wing media are indignant that President Obama appeared in a BuzzFeed video taking a selfie and saying "YOLO" as part of a promotion for HealthCare.gov.
Conservative media outlets promoted an anonymously sourced claim published by U.S. News & World Report that an aide to Hillary Clinton circulated an attack on former Senator Jim Webb. Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill flatly denied the report, telling Media Matters it was "pure fabrication."
In a story discussing Webb's possible run for the presidency, U.S. News & World Report's David Catanese claimed that "Clinton loyalists are keeping an eye" on Webb as a potential rival for the Democratic nomination. As evidence, Catanese wrote that "the week before Thanksgiving, staffers of Philippe Reines, Clinton's longtime communications guru, pitched talk radio producers on the racy, sexually charged writings in Webb's novels, according to a source."
In a comment to Media Matters, Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill flatly denied the claim: "There is nothing true about this, it's pure fabrication, and if the reporter who wrote the story would have bothered to ask before printing it, we would have told him that."
Catanese doubled down on his claim in a follow-up report, writing that "of course, the Clinton team is denying Reines' underlings floated the material in the first place" and publishing Merrill's statement that the claim was "an unmitigated lie," before adding, "Our source, granted anonymity, stands by the account."
Several conservative media outlets ran with the anonymous U.S. News report, using it to attack Clinton's character.
The Drudge Report's headline linking to the report said "Team Clinton Already Dishing Oppo on Jim Webb."
New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin called the report evidence that Hillary Clinton was "trying to dirty up Jim Webb," and added, "Mud first, that's Hillary."
National Review's Jim Geraghty asked, "Why on earth would the Hillary team go after Jim Webb this early?" adding, "What is this, some form of mudslinging pregame stretching?"
At HotAir, conservative blogger Ed Morrisey said the story was evidence of "Clintonistas using a kitchen-sink strategy" which "sends a message to other Democrats who might dare to intrude on Coronation II: Hillary's Boogaloo."
American Conservative's James Carden said that "Clinton's team is seemingly alive to the danger a Webb candidacy poses" because of the report that "longtime Clinton henchman Philippe Reines had been pitching talk radio producers unflattering stories about Webb." Carden wrote that the incident "should raise additional questions about the former Secretary's powers of discernment, particularly when it comes to the character of some of her closest advisers."