Mona Charen | Media Matters for America

Mona Charen

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  • INFOGRAPHIC: The Conservative Civil War Over Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative pundits are bickering over Donald Trump's campaign, especially after National Review's "Against Trump" issue and the backlash it engendered. On one side are pundits who want to stop Trump's candidacy in its tracks. On the other are conservatives who are lauding Trump's candidacy, even if they have not officially endorsed him. Media Matters breaks down exactly who is on which side (click for the full-sized image):

    Civil War over Donald Trump

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko, Research by Eric Hananoki
  • The Extremism Of National Review's Trump Critics

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    The influential conservatives who penned essays for National Review urging voters not to cast their ballots for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump have their own histories of extremism. They have called President Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seeded hatred for white people" and compared him to a "skinny, ghetto crackhead"; termed Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat fucking child molester"; reportedly "helped push" Sarah Palin onto the 2008 GOP presidential ticket; and offered inflammatory Islamophobic comments.

  • National Review Online Now Totally Confused In Its All-Out Push For Strict Voter ID

    Blog ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    In its most recent effort to defend discriminatory and unnecessary strict voter ID laws, National Review Online has resorted in the past week to recycling debunked myths about this type of voter suppression, most recently linking voter ID to noncitizen voting, which is an unrelated issue.

    With the midterm elections coming up, right-wing media are aggressively lying about voter ID laws and voter fraud, and NRO is no exception. NRO has previously praised Texas' strict voter ID law -- which has been found to be racially discriminatory in both intent and effect -- called for the remaining protections available under the Voting Rights Act to be repealed or limited, and dismissed concerns over Wisconsin's voter ID law, which has the potential to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters when it goes into effect.

    In just the past week, NRO writers have doubled down on nearly all of these poorly supported right-wing positions. National Review editor Rich Lowry defended Texas's strict voter ID law -- which a federal judge determined to be an "unconstitutional poll tax" -- by arguing that the disenfranchisement these laws cause is justified by the potential for in-person voter impersonation, even though that kind of fraud is virtually non-existent. Lowry also incorrectly claimed that strict voter ID laws require the same level of identification needed to buy a gun. NRO contributor Hans von Spakovsky wrote in The Wall Street Journal that "moves to shore up election integrity have been resisted by progressives" who are challenging the legality of voter ID laws "without evidence that such efforts suppress minority turnout" -- despite the fact that a recent report found a decrease in voter of color turnout in two states was attributable to strict voter ID. For good measure, von Spakovsky, a discredited proponent of restrictive election rules, also conflated other forms of voter fraud with in-person impersonation, the only type of fraud voter ID prevents.

    The dissembling continued with another NRO contributor, Mona Charen, offering more of the same in a post titled "The Voter-ID Myth Crashes." Charen seized on a contested study of the rate of noncitizen voting to claim that "[b]eing asked to show a photo ID can diminish several kinds of fraud, including impersonation, duplicate registrations in different jurisdictions, and voting by ineligible people including felons and noncitizens," but buried the fact that "[v]oter-ID laws will not prevent noncitizens from voting." 

  • NRO Rejects Evidence, Law, and Statistics On Racially Biased Policing To Slam DOJ's Investigation Of Ferguson Police

    Blog ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    National Review Online columnist Mona Charen criticized the Department of Justice's efforts to address potential civil rights violations by the Ferguson Police Department, calling previous investigations in other jurisdictions "heavy on the implied racism" despite statistical evidence of racially biased and unconstitutional policing tactics.

    On September 4, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the DOJ would investigate the Ferguson Police Department, an overwhelmingly white force with a history of serious misconduct, after one of its officers shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. These types of investigations are not unusual for police departments under suspicion for systemic abuse of authority and civil rights violations, but right-wing media have still accused Holder of playing "the race card" and have called the DOJ's involvement "inherently political" and "absolute garbage."

    In a September 9 column, Charen followed the attacks on Holder and questioned the objectivity of the DOJ's investigation. She suggested that it "will be premised on the racist-white-cop-shoots-black-man narrative" because Holder acknowledged he understood the mistrust between the police and the Ferguson community both as the attorney general of the United States and as a black man who has been unfairly racially profiled in the past.

    Charen went on to characterize Holder's involvement in Brown's case as another example of the DOJ's "extremely aggressive pattern vis-à-vis local police," and used as her example a recent investigation of the Newark Police Department that showed officers unjustifiably stopped and arrested a disproportionate number of residents of color. As far as Charen is concerned, the number of stops in Newark "might be too low," however, and the statistics "do not come close to proving police wrongdoing":

    The Department of Justice recently concluded an investigation into the Newark, N.J., police department, which it found to have repeatedly violated the civil rights of Newark's black residents. The evidence? Justice found that while blacks account for 54 percent of Newark's population, they represent 85 percent of pedestrian stops and 79 percent of arrests.

    Police misconduct must always be taken seriously and vigilantly corrected, but these numbers do not come close to proving police wrongdoing, far less denial of Newarkers' civil rights. To know whether 85 percent of pedestrian stops is a reasonable number or not, you need to know how many pedestrians of various races are committing crimes. If 90 percent of pedestrian criminals are black, then 85 percent might be too low. In any case, the relevant measure is the percentage of criminals, not, as the Justice Department explained, whether "officers ... disproportionately stopped black people relative to their representation in Newark's population."


    Announcing the DOJ's report, Holder went heavy on the implied racism. "We're taking decisive action to address potential discrimination and end unconstitutional conduct by those who are sworn to serve their fellow citizens," he declaimed. It's possible that Newark police are engaged in wrongdoing, but the DOJ's use of statistics certainly didn't prove it. If the attorney general believes that black and Hispanic officers are stopping and arresting black people out of racial animus, he failed to say so, and if not, he's in effect arguing that all of the misconduct is attributable to the roughly one-third of the force that is white.

  • NRO's Charen: It's "Child Abuse" To Support LGBT Youth

    Blog ››› ››› LUKE BRINKER

    National Review Online columnist Mona Charen lamented the marginalization of anti-LGBT bigotry, writing that acceptance of LGBT people is largely due to "fashion" and decrying the affirmation of LGBT youth as "child abuse."

    In her January 14 syndicated column, Charen responded to a recent op-ed in The New York Times urging medical providers to ensure that transgender patients have access to fertility treatment. To Charen, the op-ed marked merely the latest indicator of society's "obsession with sexuality as identity" and its "undermining of the best interests of children in favor of the self-expression of adults." The decline of homophobic and transphobic bigotry is evidence to Charen that "[w]e have elevated sexual appetites ... to an exalted status" (emphasis added):

    There are limitless identities that students could be encouraged to cultivate as they mature. A handful that leap immediately to mind: American, humorist, musician, athlete, debater, nature-lover. Instead, our universities fall all over themselves to encourage unusual sexual identities, from homosexuality and lesbianism to transgender, bisexual, transsexual, and other. It's all done in the name of "inclusion" and non-discrimination, but, let's face it, there's an element of fashion in it.Non-traditional sexual behavior is "in." There are academic courses on offer at major universities concerning "queer theory," pornography, and "lesbian gardening." (Truly.) How can any serious academic treat pornography as a fit subject for college study? It's more than a devaluation of the life of the mind; it's an assault on human dignity.

    We have elevated sexual appetites -- especially unusual sexual tastes -- to an exalted status, worthy of study, defining our natures and experiences, and outranking other traits in importance. In many states, there are moves to outlaw psychotherapy that purports to change a person's sexual orientation. Without excusing or approving abusive efforts to brainwash gay people straight -- and there are some hair-raising stories out there of people subjected to "aversion therapy" and so forth -- it is interesting that we are being asked to deny people the opportunity to change in only one direction. No one is suggesting that if a straight person wants to become gay and consults a therapist who wishes to help him make that transition, that he should be prevented from doing so.

    Perhaps gay activists aren't campaigning for "ex-straight" therapy because their own experiences bear out the absurdity of the idea that one's sexual orientation can be changed. But to Charen, simply acknowledging this fact brings "sexual appetites" to an "exalted status."

    Charen proceeded to criticize measures adopted to affirm transgender youth, mischaracterizing a California law that allows transgender students access to facilities that match their gender identities and condemning hormone therapy for transgender youth as "child abuse":

    This is child abuse. Children pass through phases. Nothing permanent should to be done to any child that is not medically necessary. Suppose a child decided that he wanted to be an amputee or a one-eyed pirate? We've lost all common sense in the face of this mania for sexual mutability.

    Charen's framing of the California law dovetails with that of other right-wing critics of the law, who have peddled baseless fears about inappropriate bathroom behavior that will result from letting each student "choose" which bathroom he or she wishes to use. In reality, school districts are implementing the law on a case-by-case basis to ensure that students using it really are transgender. Moreover, school districts that have implemented similar policies have reported no instances of inappropriate behavior.

  • Limbaugh's Misogynistic Attacks Defended By Right-Wing Media


    Rush Limbaugh has been roundly condemned after he attacked Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, smearing her as a "slut" and a "prostitute" after she testified before Congress recently about the problems caused when women lack access to contraception.

    Yet Limbaugh's misogynistic comments have been defended in the right-wing media.

    Right-Wing Media Figures Defend Limbaugh's Misogynistic Comments

    Fox Nation: "Limbaugh Takes Blowtorch To Fluke 'Slut' Controversy." On March 1, Fox Nation posted video and transcript of Limbaugh's comments with the headline: "Limbaugh Takes Blowtorch To Fluke 'Slut' Controversy." From Fox Nation:


    [Fox Nation, 3/1/12]

    CNN's Erickson: " Of Course Rush Was Being Insulting ... But He Was Using Insult And Sarcasm To Highlight The Absurdity Of Sandra Fluke And The Left's Position." In a March 2 RedState post, CNN contributor Erick Erickson responded to Carly Fiorina, vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, after she criticized Limbaugh's comments as "insulting." Erickson wrote:

    Well of course Rush Limbaugh was being insulting. It is not something I would do, but he was using insult and sarcasm to highlight the absurdity of Sandra Fluke and the left's position, which in a nut shell is they think you, me, and every other American should pay for them to have sex. And while I understand people being offended, I am offended by many of these same people thinking I should be subsidizing what has, for years, been considered a consensual act. [RedState, 3/2/12, emphasis added]

  • Bizarro World: GE Pays No Taxes; Charen Responds By Complaining Corporate Tax Rate Is Too High

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    When the New York Times reported that General Electric paid no federal taxes -- and in fact claimed a $3 million tax benefit -- on $14.2 billion in worldwide profits, $5.1 billion of which came from operations in the U.S., I figured some conservatives would defend GE's ability to avoid paying taxes on billions of dollars in profits. But I must confess some surprise at one response to the story: Mona Charen's argument that GE's tax-free billions somehow demonstrate that corporate taxes in the U.S. are too high.

    a responsible company will seek to minimize costs and maximize profits. That's how companies are able to provide jobs. The corporate rate in the U.S. is 35 percent, among the highest in the industrialized world. Even "spread the wealth around" Barack Obama has recommended reducing it so that some of those dollars (and jobs) currently hiding out abroad can be repatriated.

    It takes an impressive amount of audacity to use a column about GE paying no federal income taxes as an opportunity to complain that the corporate tax rate is too high. A more honest column would have noted that the effective corporate tax rate in America is much lower -- after all, Charen was writing about a company that paid no taxes on more than $5 billion in US profits.

    Even when Charen grudgingly concedes that there may be reason to be dismayed at GE's ability to avoid taxes, she doesn't seem to think there's any problem, in and of itself, with GE not paying taxes:

    The Times is clearly scandalized -- and perhaps it should be. After all, at least some of the tax breaks GE has been able to take advantage of were the result of aggressive lobbying.

    This is like complaining that burglars pried open a window, rather than that they stole everything in the house.

  • As conservatives turn on Palin, will she keep blaming the "lamestream media"?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    So it turns out the "lamestream media" includes arch-conservative media outlets such as The Weekly Standard and

    Who knew?

    But it's true because as we all know Palin takes aim at the "lamestream media" whenever scribes criticize her (or whenever they don't too; it's her eternal victimhood shtick), and she whines endlessly about how she's mistreated by the press. So I guess according to Palin's definition, Weekly Standard writer Matt LaBash and GOP columnist Mona Charen are all part of the "lamestream media's" liberal conspiracy to get Palin since both recently unloaded on the Fox News contributor with unflattering columns that left little doubt the conservative writers not only don't think Palin is qualified to be president, but they view her as something of a national joke.

    From Charen, who closely questioned Palin's judgment [emphasis added]:

    After the 2008 campaign revealed her weaknesses on substance, Palin was advised by those who admire her natural gifts to bone up on policy and devote herself to governing Alaska successfully. Instead, she quit her job as governor after two and a half years, published a book (another is due next week), and seemed to chase money and empty celebrity.


    The endorsement of Christine O'Donnell was irresponsible and damaging, losing a seat that would certainly have been a Republican pickup absent Palin's intrusion into the race.

    From LaBash, who ridicules Palin's new cable TV venture:

    As Palin intones in the show's opening, "A-LASK-ahhhh—I love this state like I love my family." Except that she didn't give her family up after governing it for two-and-a-half years, so that she could get a Fox News contract, and make 100 grand per speech, and write two books in a year, and drag her entire family onto a tacky reality show.


    But that's what going rogue is all about. Letting it fly. Following your gut. Which has made Sarah Palin wealthy, and intensely discussed, and now has secured her a spot in the Reality TV Star pantheon. And good for Palin if she's happy following her gut.

    Though there's no compelling reason to suggest the rest of us should tag along behind.

    Hopefully Palin will take to Facebook to explain how conservative pundits are now part of the problem.

  • Mona Charen: Health care is "Obama's tar baby"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Here's National Review columnist Mona Charen in a column dated today:

    Obamacare is deeply unpopular. But the president (unlike the country, we must hope) is stuck with it. The measure that was supposed to be the Democrats' bid for greatness has become Obama's tar baby. He must defend it or risk discrediting his presidency. And yet his resistance to repeal will hurt his bid for reelection.

    The term "tar baby" has been described by Politico and the Washington Post as "racially charged." The New York Times, in reporting an apology by John McCain for using the term, noted it is "considered by some to be a racial epithet." A separate New York Times article noting its use by then-White House press secretary Tony Snow reported that the term "has been used as a derogatory term for a black."

  • Conservatives cherry-pick 1930s unemployment figures in continued assault on New Deal

    ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Columnists Mona Charen and George Will continued a trend among conservative media of responding to comparisons between the current economic situation and that of the 1930s and between Barack Obama and FDR by attacking the New Deal. In separate columns, both Charen and Will cherry-picked unemployment figures to assert that the New Deal did not reduce unemployment. But historians and progressive economists have noted that unemployment fell every year of the New Deal except during the 1937-38 recession; further, Nobel-laureate Paul Krugman has said it was a reversal of New Deal policies, not a continuance of them, that contributed to rising unemployment in 1937 and 1938.

  • Media figures falsely accuse Democrats of attempting to direct millions of dollars to ACORN

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Media figures have recently accused Democrats of attempting to direct millions of dollars in government money to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in the financial bailout bill. The accusation is false. Neither the draft proposal nor the version of the bill that was voted down in the House contained any language mentioning ACORN. Those making the false claim were misrepresenting a provision -- since removed -- that would have directed 20 percent of any profits realized on troubled assets purchased under the plan into the Housing Trust Fund* and the Capital Magnet Fund.