Mark Hemingway | Media Matters for America

Mark Hemingway

Tags ››› Mark Hemingway
  • “The Empire strikes back”: Right-wing media defend Alex Jones after Infowars is banned from several major platforms


    After Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and iTunes all removed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Infowars pages from their platforms, several right-wing media figures leapt to the extremist’s defense. Jones’ defenders responded by criticizing and threatening “the entire rotten tech machine” and invoking a wide range of comparisons to support him, including Star Wars, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, reality TV star Kylie Jenner, and the Holocaust.

  • Reported Facebook fact-checking partner The Weekly Standard pushes Sarah Palin’s death panel lie

    Facebook fact-checker PolitiFact had designated the death panel myth 2009’s “lie of the year”

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    The Weekly Standard published a column pushing the debunked lie that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes “death panels” just days after a report surfaced that Facebook plans to enlist the conservative outlet as a fact-checker to fight fake news.

    On October 7, Quartz reported that Facebook was in talks with The Weekly Standard to become a fact-checker, helping to oversee pieces shared on the social media platform that have been flagged as possible fake news. If a deal is finalized, The Weekly Standard would join fact-checkers such as Snopes and PolitiFact, which joined when Facebook announced the initiative last December.

    For its upcoming October 23 magazine issue, The Weekly Standard published a piece by frequent contributor Wesley J. Smith of the right-wing Discovery Institute headlined “Death Panels: Sarah Palin Was Right.” The headline refers to a lie fabricated in 2009 by serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey and amplified by former Republoican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) system set up by the ACA would determine whether seniors and people with disabilities were worthy of care. The false claim was so notorious that PolitiFact, which is a partner on Facebook’s fake news initiative, deemed it its 2009 “Lie of the Year.” The Standard column claims without proof that the IPAB “could, one day, be weaponized to implement invidious medical discrimination mandates—e.g., health-care rationing.” The column also cites a 2012 New York Times op-ed from Steve Rattner, a former adviser to former President Barack Obama, as evidence that the IPAB could demand medical rationing. But in the actual op-ed, Rattner simply discussed forms of health care rationing he would prefer and laments that the ACA “regrettably includes severe restrictions” on rationing.

    This is not the first time the Standard and its writers have pushed misinformation. In February, the outlet appeared to fall victim to smears from fake news purveyors when it falsely accused a former National Security Council staffer of being a political Obama appointee. The Standard promoted the lie that stripped insurance customers of their right to privacy and mischaracterized comments made by proponents of health care reform. Its editor-in-chief, Stephen Hayes, wrote a book falsely claiming that Al Qaeda collaborated with Saddam Hussein, and its founder, William Kristol, was a major booster of the Iraq War and claimed that “we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq.” Kristol also played a major role in Palin’s selection as the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee. The magazine has also previously attacked PolitiFact's credibility; one of its writers attacked Facebook over its fact-checking program, labeling the fact-checkers as “a panel of censors” and complaining that they “cannot be trusted to be fair to conservatives.”

    Facebook’s attempt to bring in conservatives to help fight fake news is not objectionable in and of itself; indeed, researchers and experts have called on conservatives to help fight fake news, and the social media giant could certainly use help. But it is imperative that those partners be good-faith actors that do not push misinformation themselves. That The Weekly Standard would publish such a misleading column about something as thoroughly discredited as death panels is not an encouraging sign that it will help improve the accuracy of information shared on Facebook.

  • Conservatives Launch Bogus Attack On Obama Over FDA's Phase Out Of Certain Inhalers

    Blog ››› ››› ANDY NEWBOLD

    The conservative media today attacked the Obama administration by attempting to link them to the Food and Drug Administration's decision to phase out "over-the-counter asthma inhalers containing chloroflouorocarbons (CFCs)." The Weekly Standard published a piece by Mark Hemingway headlined "Obama Administration Set to Ban Asthma Inhalers Over Environmental Concerns," which claimed that the "Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer."

    But it turns out that the FDA was simply following through with plans put in place when George W. Bush was president.

    Hemingway reported:

    Remember how Obama recently waived new ozone regulations at the EPA because they were too costly? Well, it seems that the Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer

    Hemingway went on to cite an Associated Press article that explains some details of the inhaler ban, but Hemingway must not have read the AP article too closely. That's because the AP reported that "[t]he FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008" when Bush was president, not Obama. From the AP article:

    The FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008 and currently only Armstrong Pharmaceutical's Primatene mist is available in the U.S. Other manufacturers have switched to an environmentally-friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane. Both types of inhalers offer quick-relief to symptoms like shortness of breath and chest tightness, but the environmentally-friendly inhalers are only available via prescription.

  • Conservative Media Edit Out Government's Role In Texas Economy

    ››› ››› DAVID SHERE

    Conservative pundits have attributed economic growth and job creation in Texas to the success of conservative policies like low taxes and small government. But government has played a significant role in Texas' recent economic record: Federal spending helped balance the state budget, and strict regulation helped shield it from the housing bubble.

  • NYC Investigation Provides More Evidence That Allegation Of Union Snow-Removal "Slowdown" Was Bogus

    ››› ››› SEAN EASTER

    After a blizzard struck New York City last year, right-wing media were quick to smear unions, using a bogus allegation that a planned union slowdown delayed cleanup efforts. Even then, New York City officials took responsibility for the slow response. Now, a report by the New York City Department Of Investigation says that the source of the slowdown claim "contributed no actual evidence about a possible slowdown."

  • Beck pushes Soros/scanners conspiracy -- after his own website debunked it

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Glenn Beck feverishly promoted a conspiracy theory throughout his Fox News show tonight that involved George Soros owning stock in a company that makes full-body scanners. Beck said that Soros had sold off the stock "two days ago" because "someone in the media" -- presumably Glenn Beck -- was on to his plan to quietly profit off the scanners.

    You're probably used to Beck's theories falling apart in short order, and in comical fashion. This time, though, it comes with a special twist.

    The Blaze, the "news, information and opinion site" that Beck created to "find out the truth and tell the truth," had debunked this one before Beck's show even started.

  • "Naked" stupidity: Conservative media strain to blame Soros for full-body scans

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    We have reached the logical endpoint of the conservative media's all-out campaign to vilify George Soros: When something in the news makes people mad, run Google searches on the object of the public's anger, plus "George Soros."

    Washington Examiner writer Mark Hemingway handled the googling duties for the story about the outcry over full-body scanners at airports. In a blog post headlined "George Soros also profiting off controversial TSA scanners," Hemingway purported to show that Soros owns stock in OSI Systems, the parent company of Rapiscan, which makes the scanners.

    Glenn Beck couldn't resist this. Today on his radio show, Beck warned his listeners that "there's something wrong with the scanner story." He went on: "First of all, George Soros has 11,000 shares in the scanner company. What a surprise. But there's something deeply wrong with the scanner story and what's happening at our airports. You're being set up."

    Fox Nation loved it, too, linking to Hemingway's post with the headline "Soros Profiting Off Naked Airport Screeners":

    Hemingway's "bad thing + Soros" search revealed shocking information -- some website you've probably never heard of says that Soros owns stock in OSI Systems. Hemingway wrote:

    As for the company's other political connections, it also appears that none other than George Soros, the billionaire funder of the country's liberal political infrastructure, owns 11,300 shares of OSI Systems Inc., the company that owns Rapiscan. Not surprisingly, OSI's stock has appreciated considerably over the course of the year. Soros certainly is a savvy investor.

    The link there points to, an investment information site owned by a limited liability company of the same name in Plano, Texas. Here's the smoking gun:

    Assuming that GuruFocus is correct, Soros owns 11,300 shares of OSI Systems.

    And according to that same site, Soros' holdings amount to a whopping 0.06 percent of the company's outstanding shares.

    Yes, six one-hundredths of one percent.

  • Limbaugh falsely claimed Democrats are "talking about eliminating 401(k)s"


    Rush Limbaugh claimed that Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have a "proposal" to eliminate 401(k)s in favor of a retirement plan administered by the government. In fact, they have not made such a proposal. Rather, the idea of guaranteed retirement accounts -- which was distorted by Limbaugh -- was mentioned by a panelist from the Economic Policy Institute during a hearing held by Harkin and Sanders on retirement security issues.