Death panels redux: Mark Levin suggests "Medicare-for-all" will lead to senior citizens being murdered
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On the January 23 edition of his radio show, Mark Levin railed against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for her decision to revoke an invitation to President Donald Trump to give the customary State of the Union address so long as the government remains shut down. Levin denounced Pelosi’s decision, calling her a “fascist” multiple times and accusing her of “destroying” a “long-held tradition” because she doesn’t want Trump to give the speech with “pomp and circumstance.” But Levin hasn’t always been so committed to the integrity of the State of the Union address. In fact, when Barack Obama was president in 2014, the radio host urged Republicans to boycott the address “so half of the House floor” would be empty while Obama spoke:
From the January 23 edition of Westwood One's The Mark Levin Show:
MARK LEVIN: [Nancy Pelosi] is literally destroying certain long-held traditions in this country. Her decision today to revoke an invitation to the president to speak before a joint House and Senate Congress -- it is the first time in American history an invitation of that sort has been withdrawn.
She does not want the president of the United States to be able to deliver the State of the Union address from the Capitol with all the pomp and circumstance. And I find it troubling that some of these conservatives and pseudo-conservatives say, “It’s no big deal, he’s destroying -- the president -- another tradition.” He’s not destroying anything, Nancy Pelosi is. They are denying a duly elected president -- who most of you voted for -- the right that every president who’s wanted to do so, to speak before a joint session of Congress to the American people.
Nancy Pelosi has hijacked the federal government; that’s why part of it is closed. She has unilaterally decided that our borders will be open, and now she has undermined this tradition of a president speaking before both houses of Congress.
Nancy Pelosi is the closest thing we have in government to a fascist, to a radical authoritarian. They like to throw that label around when it comes to the president of the United States. The president of the United States has done nothing of that sort. Nancy Pelosi repeatedly conducts herself like a fascist. And now we have a problem -- the speaker of the House is an American fascist.
From the January 16, 2014, edition of Westwood One's The Mark Levin Show:
MARK LEVIN: Here’s what should happen at the State of the Union speech -- since these men and women will not use the Constitution to defend this nation, since they will not use the Constitution to confront a lawless president -- worse yet, since they’re funding his activities with these omnibus bills filled with all kinds of crap.
What the Republicans should do is boycott the State of the Union. They should boycott the State of the Union so half of the House floor, because that’s where they meet, is empty. And they should get together and present their own case on the state of the union and explain in an articulate and concise way what the state of the union is and how the president threatens this republic. They need to do something bold that will get the attention of some of our fellow citizens and which the media, which will attack it, but cannot ignore it.
h/t Nick Acosta
Anti-abortion figures and right-wing media continued to push misinformation about reproductive health in 2018 and tried to insert abortion into nearly every major news story -- no matter how tenuous the connection. The past year also included ample efforts by anti-choice groups to influence federal policy under President Donald Trump, as well as several anti-abortion acts of harassment and violence. Here are some lowlights of anti-abortion extremism this year:
As the Trump presidency entered its second year, right-wing and anti-abortion media attempted to deflect from the administration’s various crises by drawing ridiculous comparisons to reproductive rights or blaming abortion.
Parkland shooting and the gun-control debate
At 330,000 aborted babies a year Planned Parenthood, how many classrooms full of children have you killed in senseless violence? https://t.co/JHx0WSHXCF
— Steven Ertelt (@StevenErtelt) February 21, 2018
Family separation policy
Democrats brought mothers & babies into Horowitz hearing to demonstrate against separating moms from their babies. But the most brutal & final separation of mom & baby is ABORTION!
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) June 19, 2018
Confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court
Christine Blasey Ford: The Abortion Pimp's Tale? https://t.co/LmILFHx4sR
— Operation Rescue (@operationrescue) September 24, 2018
Harassment, extremism, and violence are not new tactics to the anti-abortion movement. But 2018 featured some particularly notable instances when anti-abortion groups and right-wing media engaged in perpetuating harmful misinformation, conspiracy theories, and extreme narratives about abortion, or fueled anti-abortion harassment:
Fake health clinics (also known as anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers) engage in deception and manipulation in their advertising and interactions with clients with the goal of stopping that person from accessing an abortion. This year, fake health clinics were front and center at the Supreme Court in a case called National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. The Supreme Court decided in favor of the NIFLA, stopping the implementation of a California law designed to deter some of the manipulative practices of these fake health clinics. Right-wing media celebrated the decision as a “win” for free speech:
The NIFLA case was not primarily about abortion. It was about free speech. That we have four Supreme Court justices who care more about the manufactured right to an abortion than preeminent rights is disgraceful.
— Alexandra DeSanctis (@xan_desanctis) June 26, 2018
Anti-abortion groups continued to promote misinformation on reproductive rights and to use claims that they were being censored by social media companies and news outlets as a tactic to rally support and raise money:
Last year, Media Matters documented how Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was filled with appointees promoting anti-choice “alternative science” about contraception and abortion. While some of those people have moved to other areas of the administration or just moved on, Trump’s HHS has continued to employ and promote the work of anti-abortion movement darlings in 2018:
Every year, the National Abortion Federation releases a report documenting the previous years’ incidents of anti-abortion harassment and violence against providers, patients, and clinics. This year’s report found that “trespassing more than tripled, death threats/threats of harm nearly doubled, and incidents of obstruction rose from 580 in 2016 to more than 1,700 in 2017. We also continued to see an increase in targeted hate mail/harassing phone calls, and clinic invasions, and had the first attempted bombing in many years.” The harassment of abortion providers, clinics, and supporters continued in 2018:
Update (12/18/18): This piece has been updated with an additional example.
Following reports of the December 8 death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala who died after being taken into Border Patrol custody, high-level White House officials and prominent right-wing media personalities exploited her death to advocate for President Donald Trump’s desired border wall while accusing her father of causing the tragedy.
On December 13, The Washington Post reported that Caal Maquin “died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert.” She did not receive medical treatment until an hour and a half after it was requested. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) claimed that Caal Maquin “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days” before her death -- but this was quickly disputed by her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cruz. According to a statement from his lawyers, Caal Cruz “made sure she was fed and had sufficient water." The family wants an investigation into Caal Maquin's death.
The Post first resported Caal Maquin’s death several days after it happened. But once the story broke on December 13, right-wing media personalities and major Trump administration officials immediately began exploiting her death or claiming that her father had caused it:
Fox News host Sean Hannity: “A wall can prevent these types of heart-breaking stories.”
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller during a Fox appearance: “If you want to stop the horrors on the northward trek, ... then, for the love of God, fund the border wall.”
MSNBC contributor and talk radio host Hugh Hewitt: Caal Maquin’s death "is about the most complete argument for building a long, strong" border wall.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a Fox appearance: "This family chose to cross illegally."
Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz: "That should be the message, don't make this journey, it will kill you."
CNN political commentator and BlazeTV host Ben Ferguson: “This is child abuse in its worst form. … This is sick.”
Fox News guest and Border Patrol Council Vice President Art Del Cueto: “No one’s pointing the finger at this father, they’re all pointing the finger at the Border Patrol agents, and that’s just disgusting.”
One America News host Graham Ledger: Caal Maquin was a “seven-year-old illegal” whose parents should be “investigated for probable child abuse.”
One America News host Liz Wheeler: Caal Maquin’s father “forced her to undergo the dangerous journey to the U.S. border and didn’t feed her or give her water for days and days on end.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “Now they’re, ‘Oh, it’s Trump’s fault that a seven-year-old girl died after her father dragged her across a desert for seven days.’ That’s Trump’s fault?”
Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro: "The person responsible for all of this is the father who didn't feed the child."
Video by Leanne Naramore
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Following the Trump administration’s implementation of a policy requiring the separation of immigrant children from their parents as they cross the border, some self-described “pro-life” organizations and media figures have failed to denounce this policy. Others, though, have seemingly attempted to distract from the outrage about the policy by making outlandish and inaccurate comparisons to abortion.
Since Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel, right-wing media have worked overtime to delegitimize the investigation
Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel on May 17. Since then, right-wing media have repeatedly called the investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election (and a few related issues) a coup against Donald Trump. Watch:
Levin has since deleted his Twitter and Facebook posts linking to the fake news story
On October 12, right-wing radio host Mark Levin shared on Facebook and Twitter a fake news article about the Las Vegas shooting from a website designed to mimic a legitimate CNN page. The fake news article claimed the security guard at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas who was shot by the gunman had been arrested for “being an accomplice and second shooter in the Las Vegas massacre.” Levin later deleted the tweet, along with his Facebook post, which posited, “The security guard was in on it?” Levin has over 1.3 million Facebook followers and almost 1 million Twitter followers.
The story Levin circulated was from “cnn-internationaledition.com” -- which is not affiliated with CNN -- and was headlined “Breaking News – Police Arrest Mandalay Security Guard Jesus Compos As Second Shooter In Las Vegas Massacre.” The fake news article alleged that “Compos” -- a misspelling of the security guard’s name, Jesus Campos -- was “involved in the initial shooting as a second gunman from the other broken window in [gunman Stephen] Paddock’s 32nd-floor room,” and that FBI agents “became suspicions (sic) by the extreme amount of gunpowder residue found on Campos’ hands and inconsistencies in his timeline of events.”
Yeah, no. This is a fake site designed to look like CNN. pic.twitter.com/mqBc3DNdXU
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) October 12, 2017
There appear to be no author pages on this fake CNN site; bylines link back to the story page. The site’s contact page features no actual contact information, but rather a message submission form that collects names and email addresses. The site appears to be monetized, with ads provided by Content.ad, a serial offender in financing purveyors of fake news.
For his part, Levin is no stranger to fake news and misleading, unsubstantiated claims; he was likely one of President Donald Trump’s initial sources for his lie that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower to spy on him. Beyond that, Levin has diagnosed Obama with narcissistic personality disorder, denied climate change is caused by human activity, and, as recently as June, thanked Trump for “taking on the media” because “it’s a-damn-bout time somebody did.”
The Las Vegas massacre has inspired a litany of outlandish conspiracy theories, among them allegations that the shooting was staged by “Bolshevik” revolutionaries and that the gunman was linked to antifa and/or ISIS. This fake CNN article will also fuel speculation around one of the more common conspiracy theories, that the gunman had at least one accomplice who could have been a second shooter.
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On March 4, President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama of ordering his phones in Trump Tower to be wiretapped during the 2016 election. Trump’s claim echoed points made by Mark Levin, a right-wing talk radio host with a history of anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ statements, climate denial, and racism. He also attacked Obama throughout his presidency, comparing him to dictators, accusing him of racism and anti-Semitism, and saying he had “planted the seeds of World War III.”
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Right-wing media figures have for years advocated in favor of denying undocumented immigrant students access to public education,and now an Associated Press investigation reports that it may be happening "in at least 35 districts in 14 states." These policies may be not only unconstitutional -- according to a Supreme Court ruling that specifically bans public school districts from denying enrollment to children based on their immigration status -- but also illegal under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
On April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court “is weighing the fate” of President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration which “could shield roughly 4 million people from deportation” and grant them legal right to work. Right-wing media have spent years misinforming about the legality, and economic impact of the executive actions. Here are the facts.
As President Obama reportedly prepares to announce Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, media should be prepared to hear from several right-wing groups dedicated to opposing the nominee, no matter who it is. These advocacy groups and right-wing media outlets have a history of pushing misleading information and alarmist rhetoric to launch smear campaigns against Obama's highly qualified Supreme Court nominees, using tactics including, but not limited to, spreading offensive rumors about a nominee's personal life, deploying bogus legal arguments or conspiracy theories, and launching wild distortions of every aspect of a nominee's legal career.