On Saturday night, Mike Huckabee opened his Fox News program by addressing the media firestorm he caused last week when he said on Steve Malzberg's radio program that President Obama grew up "in Kenya" with his Kenyan father and grandfather, which supposedly led Obama to have a "very different" view of the British than "the average American."
Huckabee also discussed his comments criticizing Natalie Portman for glamorizing out of wedlock births.
Here's the video of the segment, followed by a list of reasons why Huckabee's defense was dishonest and disingenuous:
First of all, while Huckabee purported to address the controversies surrounding both comments, he neglected to actually play his original remarks for his audience, choosing instead to just describe the incidents. He apparently did so in order to afford himself the opportunity to misrepresent both exchanges.
Let's start with his Obama grew up "in Kenya" comments.
Earlier this week, Fox News announced that they were suspending the contributor contracts of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum for 60 days while they both mull their presidential runs. Since then, many commentators, including conservatives like Dan Foster at NRO, have questioned why Fox chose to suspend Gingrich and Santorum but not fellow Fox employees/potential presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.
Responding to the apparent double standard in an interview with the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Fox News VP Dianne Brandi said that unlike Gingrich and Santorum, Palin "hasn't done anything herself to show us she has any intention of running right now." Fox's websites and on-air personalities apparently disagree with this point, since they are eager to hype any possible indication that Palin may be running.
For example, last November, Palin told ABC News that she thinks she could beat Obama in 2012 and was "looking at the lay of the land" to decide if she was going to run for President. Both Fox Nation and FoxNews.com promoted Palin's statement that she could beat Obama on their front page.
America's Newsroom host Martha MacCallum described the interview on-air as a "bombshell," said that Palin "certainly sounds like she's planning on running," and noted that it was "not too early for folks to be declaring." In January, MacCallum and her co-host Bill Hemmer agreed on Fox News Radio that Palin "will run" for president.
During a November 2010 appearance on Brian Kilmeade's Fox News Radio show, Bret Baier, the anchor of Fox's flagship news program, Special Report, said that "I think she's running. I think you think she's running. You know, I think that you could actually paint a scenario where she is very successful in places like Iowa and South Carolina. And those being early states, you wonder how far towards the nomination she could go, or if she could capture it." (Speaking of her odds of winning the nomination were she to run, Special Report featured her in its 12 for '12 series about potential GOP candidates and gave her 5-1 odds of winning the nomination.)
More recently, when Palin hired a new Chief of Staff last month, Fox Nation hyped the story as a "Strong Indication of 2012 Presidential Run."
In January, after Palin released her video response to the Arizona shooting controversy, Fox News contributor Juan Williams said that Brit Hume told him her response "looked like somebody who's now thinking of running for president."
The network frequently discusses whether or not Palin is running, both in interviews with her and in countless stories about her.
If Fox is going to try to benefit from hyping everything Palin does as an indication she is running for president, isn't it unethical to then pretend that she has not "done anything herself to show us she has any intention of running right now" when it would cause the network to have to suspend her contract? (Answer: yes.)
And that's to say nothing of fellow putative candidate Mike Huckabee, who shows up in segments like this one on Fox & Friends last weekend, where they discussed his potential run over chyrons stating that he is a "Great Communicator," asking if he is the "Man For The Job," and telling viewers that he has "Had Success In Early Ballot States."
The presidential birth certificate super-sleuths at WorldNetDaily thrive on scaring their audience about a series of incredibly unlikely things that just may happen (if you don't prevent it by buying stuff from WND).
This morning, they write up the bizarre anti-Muslim rallies that took place at the White House yesterday. While most outlets saw fit to frame the story around the disgusting incident in which some bigoted protesters started yelling and throwing crosses at the feet of a praying Muslim man, WND didn't mention it.
Instead, they extensively quote "controversial" "Burn a Quran Day" preacher Terry Jones issuing a "warning" about Shariah law. But that's possibly the least absurd thing about the article.
Here is the headline and accompanying image for the piece:
I'm going to go out on a limb and say: "No, that will not happen."
On Monday, Mike Huckabee twice claimed that President Obama grew up "in Kenya." Huckabee has used this falsehood to buttress a theory about Obama's supposed antipathy towards the British resulting from the Mau Mau rebellion.
On The O'Reilly Factor last night, Huckabee again defended his remarks, saying that "if I'd read from my own text, page 183 of my book, I clearly said he grew up in Indonesia. It was a verbal gaffe. I immediately apologized. But that's not enough for the left-wing media."
One big problem: that's not true.
On page 183 of his book, Huckabee references the Churchill bust and the Mau Mau rebellion, but does not say that Obama grew up in Indonesia. In fact, neither that page (nor the rest of the chapter) references Obama's childhood in Indonesia. And based on a search of the Kindle version of his book, Huckabee makes no mention of Indonesia (or Indonesian, Jakarta, and Menteng).
As Media Matters first reported earlier today, during an appearance on The Steve Malzberg Show yesterday, Fox News host and potential presidential candidate Mike Huckabee wrongly claimed that President Obama grew up "in Kenya." The bizarre and completely wrong assertion (which Huckabee repeated twice) came during a discussion of President Obama's supposed secrecy about his birth certificate:
MALZBERG: Don't you think it's fair also to ask him, I know your stance on this. How come we don't have a health record, we don't have a college record, we don't have a birth cer - why Mr. Obama did you spend millions of dollars in courts all over this country to defend against having to present a birth certificate. It's one thing to say, I've -- you've seen it, goodbye. But why go to court and send lawyers to defend against having to show it? Don't you think we deserve to know more about this man?
HUCKABEE: I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American. When he gave the bust back to the Brits --
MALZBERG: Of Winston Churchill.
HUCKABEE: The bust of Winston Churchill, a great insult to the British. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.
It's going to be tough for Huckabee and his team to find a defense for such an egregious falsehood, and based on the fact that a Huckabee adviser "did not have an immediate explanation for Huckabee's comments" when they were contacted by the AP, they clearly haven't settled on one yet.
Whether or not Huckabee and his team eventually go with the "I misspoke!" defense, this will inevitably be trotted out by some to shield Huckabee.
So let's be clear: Mike Huckabee did not "misspeak" when he said Obama grew up "in Kenya."
Glenn Beck never misses an opportunity for self-aggrandizement, and when he apologized last week for slandering the largest religious denomination of American Jews, Beck used the occasion to boast of his own "honor" and "integrity," and said: "I lead with my mistakes, because I think it's important as a human being to demonstrate to other human beings that we can be stronger if we correct our mistakes and flaws and move on."
But it turns out that Beck's apology came only after Salem Communications -- a company that owns major stations that broadcast Beck's show -- asked him to address the controversy.
In a statement obtained by Media Matters, Jeff Reisman, a manager of the Salem station that carries Beck in Chicago, acknowledged that Salem Communications "requested that Glenn Beck respond directly regarding his recent comments":
Thanks for your e-mail. WIND's parent company requested that Glenn Beck respond directly regarding his recent comments. As I am sure you already heard, Mr. Beck issued a public apology this morning and clearly stated that he made a mistake and referred to himself as ignorant and having made one of the worst analogies of all time. Furthermore, he referenced Abraham Foxman and stated that Abe was absolutely correct. If you have not heard the audio, I can send it to you.
I appreciate your e-mail and concern.
On February 22, Beck likened Reform Judaism to "radicalized Islam," in that they are supposedly both "more about politics" than faith and religion. Two days later, Beck apologized at length for his comments, saying that his comparison was one of the "worst analogies of all time" and conceding that his remarks were "ignorant." Beck also claimed that he immediately knew his comments about Reform Judaism were a "nightmare." As Media Matters previously pointed out, this raises the question of why he then waited two days to apologize for them.
Beck also used his apology to boast of his own journalistic integrity, claiming that it surpasses that of the New York Times:
BECK: I do this, because I have always told you to do your own homework, and in this case, I didn't do enough homework. I also tell you that you, you have to guard your word, you have to guard your honor and your integrity, because people have to be able to believe you. The only way people will believe you is if when you get it wrong, you do apologize, and you, and you point it out, and not like the New York Times or anybody else, bury it on page two. I lead with my mistakes, because I think it's important as a human being to demonstrate to other human beings that we can be stronger if we correct our mistakes and flaws and move on.
Beck's self-professed strict adherence to a code of "honor" and "integrity" notwithstanding, his apology came only after he was condemned by two national Jewish groups and had lost yet another sponsor, which suggests it was more likely an attempt at damage control.
Salem owns stations that broadcast Beck's show in both Chicago and Los Angeles, and Beck has extra incentive to keep them happy right now. Beck's show is currently not syndicated in New York City. Though five stations have confirmed that they will not carry Beck, two holdouts remain. Both are owned by Salem.
If you've tuned into the news today, you've likely witnessed our intrepid media excitedly reporting on the latest hugely important celebrity gossip. During a call to his friend Alex Jones' radio show yesterday, Charlie Sheen uncorked yet another bizarre rant, leading CBS to place his sitcom Two and a Half Men on hiatus.
While I understand that things like Sheen's rant are catnip for the media, outlets have been mainstreaming fringe conspiracy theorist Jones in their rush to report on Sheen's latest outburst.
For example, here's Jones' appearance on NBC's Today this morning. If you weren't aware that he believes, for example, that the plastic lining of juice boxes are part of a government plot to make people gay, nothing about this segment would lead you to think he is anything other than a "nationally syndicated" radio host who apparently has exciting interviews with unhinged celebrities:
Just a reminder as outlets scurry to talk with Jones about the Sheen interview: You should really let your audience know that Jones is absolutely nuts. Like other conspiracy theorists (such as Glenn Beck), Jones thrives on selling supposedly exclusive access to information that most people are too blind to see.
I'm willing to grant the fact that when you put together a daily three hour morning show like Fox & Friends, mistakes are bound to happen (labeling Elie Wiesel a "Holocaust Winner," for example).
However, incidents like this really test the limits of what can be considered an honest mistake.
As protests and legislative gridlock continue in Wisconsin regarding Gov. Scott Walker's (R) proposal to strip public employee unions of collective bargaining rights, Gallup released a poll yesterday showing that 61% of people would oppose a similar proposal in their state. If you thought Fox would either ignore the poll or claim it is inaccurate, you underestimate the network's capacity for blatant dishonesty in service of pushing GOP propaganda.
This morning, responding to Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman saying that mainstream Republican governors "are not siding with Governor Walker," host Brian Kilmeade responded that "Gallup, a relatively mainstream poll, has a differing view." Kilmeade then completely inverted the poll results, claiming that 61 percent supported ending collective bargaining for public employee unions.
At the end of the show, Kilmeade offered a brief correction, saying that he "had it reversed" when discussing the poll.
Now, it's possible that Kilmeade's butchering of the poll results can be chalked up to his inability to read a poll or misspeaking.
However, it wasn't just Kilmeade who "had it reversed." Fox News had a graphic ready to go that repeated Kilmeade's distortion, suggesting that this misrepresentation was premeditated by the network:
For centuries, religious hucksters have made hay (read: money) by convincing people that they have specific insight into when the world will end. (Hint: it's always just around the corner.)
Last week on his Fox News program, Glenn Beck hosted one such person. Author Joel Richardson was invited on the program to add some context to the events in the Middle East. During his appearance, Richardson mostly sat idly by while Beck tied Islam to the Antichrist, and Beck never pressed him on his actual beliefs on the end times.
Had Beck done so, his viewers may have heard Richardson discuss how Satan is using Islam as the "primary vehicle" to fulfill Biblical prophecy - an idea fleshed out in Richardson's book, Islamic Antichrist, to which Beck gave free publicity - or been treated to Richardson's explanation of how a "prophetess" foretold of Richardson's end times wisdom.
Via Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch, it seems Beck will continue to use his Fox show as a platform for people who view current events through the prism of end times prophecy. This Thursday, according to a press release from Concerned Women for America, Beck will host author Tim LaHaye.
For years, LaHaye has suggested that we are quickly approaching Biblical Armageddon. He's even made a career out of it - writing the enormously popular and lucrative Left Behind series of novels and several "nonfiction" books based on this premise.
Beck has previously hosted LaHaye to discuss end times on his CNN program.
Beck opened the March 30, 2007 edition of his CNN program, by asking if the apocalypse is "almost upon us":
BECK (voice-over): Is the apocalypse almost upon us?
REV. PAT ROBERTSON, "700 CLUB": The Bible does indicate such a time will happen in the end of time, and could this be it? It might be.
BECK: Are the cataclysmic events of 9/11, Katrina, tsunami, famine and the threat of global pandemic signs we`re living in the end times?
One world government, one world economy, one world vision. Are we creeping even closer to the Book of Revelations' countdown to doomsday? And does an age-old prophecy foretell a Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel as well as a nuclear showdown? Apocalypse now? [CNN Headline News, 3/30/07, accessed via Nexis]
Introducing LaHaye and fellow guest Joel Roseberg that night, Beck said that "this is a show that I've wanted to do for a while, but quite honestly, what stops me from doing it is people think I'm nuts."
Based on how much he has been dabbling in end times theorizing lately, I guess he's no longer worried about that.
Last week, a poll from Public Policy Polling found that 51 percent of GOP primary voters think Obama wasn't born in America.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who has previously criticized media and polling outlets for covering birthers, downplayed the poll results and suggested that the attention paid to birthers is part of an effort to "marginalize Republican opposition in 2012 by painting them as nuts."
During an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox contributor Karl Rove endorsed this theory and said that "this is the White House stategy. They love this."
But Fox is trying to have it both ways.
While network personalities blame the birther "obsession" on "the media" and the White House, Fox News and its affiliated websites regularly dabble in birtherism.
For example, if you head over to Fox Nation right now, you will see the following story on their front page:
Fox Nation excerpts and links to a story from fringe conspiracy/birther website WorldNetDaily. The WND article promotes that site's ongoing "Where's the Birth Certificate?" billboard campaign and celebrates the recent poll numbers from PPP.
Who knew that the White House was in charge of posting stories to Fox's websites?