As congressional leaders debate a framework for comprehensive immigration reform that will likely grant undocumented immigrants legal status, conservative media are engaged in promoting myths and falsehoods about what reform means for the country.
CNN contributor Erick Erickson is reportedly leaving the network for Fox News. During his nearly three-year tenure at CNN, Erickson repeatedly made inflammatory statements, indulged in conspiracy theories, and false statements such as the smear that Democrats support mythical "death panels."
Right-wing media figures have responded to immigration reform by invoking the oft-repeated conservative argument that legalizing immigrants will enlarge the "welfare state." In fact, the announced immigration reform proposal would prevent newly legalized immigrants from receiving federal benefits for an extended period of time; moreover, immigrants in general are less likely to receive welfare benefits.
Conservative media figures, as well as other conservatives, criticized the National Rifle Association for releasing an ad that politicized the protection afforded to President Obama's daughters, calling the ad "over the line" and "beyond the pale." MSNBC's Joe Scarborough strongly criticized the ad and the NRA, saying, "this extremism is so frightening."
Fox News' Bob Beckel was shouted down by his Five co-host Greg Gutfeld for attempting to report that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States. This was the network's first mention of the record heat, which has been covered by every major news outlet except for Fox.
Reporting the news on The Five, Beckel started to say "For all the global warming deniers, 2012 was the hottest year on record," before Gutfeld interjected by shouting: "Lies."
Beckel's attempt to discuss the record heat announcement was the first time it earned a mention on Fox News, though all other major news outlets, including all the network news, PBS, CNN, and MSNBC, reported on the worrying milestone. His co-host's attempt to silence him is just the latest example by Fox figures to downplay climate change and its consequences.
CNN's Piers Morgan hosted noted radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to discuss his petition to deport Morgan because of his views on gun control. Jones is a 9/11 truther who has a history of inflammatory and baseless remarks.
On Monday's edition of Piers Morgan Tonight, Morgan asked Jones to explain his "Deport Piers Morgan" petition. Jones responded with a lengthy tirade that filled two segments. His comments included pushing the debunked myth that "more guns means less crime," claiming that "1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms," referring to antidepressants as "mass murder pills" that cause people to commit violence, and claiming that "megabanks" have "taken everybody's guns but the Swiss and the American people, and when they get our guns, they can have their world tyranny."
Jones is one of the country's leading conspiracy theorists. Here are just a few examples of conspiracy theories Jones has promoted:
Jones has also pushed numerous conspiracy theories about weather control, mass sterilization, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. In June 2012, Jones' Infowars.com promoted the myth that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was using drones to spy on Midwestern ranchers. Finally, the radio host has declared that Obama's birth certificate is a fraud.
Jones' lengthy history of pushing absurd conspiracy theories should disqualify him from being mainstreamed on media outlets such as CNN.
CNN guest and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore misrepresented House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's comments on taxes, falsely claiming that she said "we've got to tax the middle class." In fact, Pelosi said that while tax increases for upper-income Americans are "not off the table," she does not want to bring in more revenue "at the expense of the middle class."
CNN's Erin Burnett Outfront played a clip of Pelosi appearing Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation and saying that tax increases for upper-income earners are "not off the table" in future spending negotiations. Moore then claimed that "we've only had this tax increase on the rich for what, 72 hours, and already people like Nancy Pelosi are saying, well, we've got to tax the middle class."
However, the full context of Pelosi's remarks reveal that Pelosi, during her appearance on Face the Nation, clearly stated that she is not interested in raising taxes on the middle class:
BOB SCHIEFFER (host): People who are listening to you this morning are going to say she's talking about more taxes, she's talking about bringing in more, in one way or another, by increasing taxes.
PELOSI: One thing I'm not talking about is bringing in more at the expense of the middle class, at the expense of the middle class. That is not something -- and that was what we were fighting all along in this because, to the extent that you diminished the tax cut, the tax change at the high end, you would have to claw down into the middle class to get more revenue.
SCHIEFFER: Are you then saying to the upper classes, get ready, you're going to have to pay some more, this is not the end of it?
PELOSI: Well, I'm saying that's not off the table.
SCHIEFFER: That's not off the table?
PELOSI: That's not off the table. But not in terms of tax rates but in terms of other considerations.
SCHIEFFER: You're talking about deductions and other things.
PELOSI: And the rest.
SCHIEFFER: What would be some of the things that you think, on the upper-income people, what kind of deductions are you talking about?
PELOSI: As I said, I'm not going into particulars.
SCHIEFFER: You're not going into --
PELOSI: Put it all -- put it all on the table and see what is working.
She concluded that any further tax increases should "not ... reach down to the middle class."
The co-hosts of Fox News' The Five attempted to defend their mockery of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent concussion by dismissing their remarks as mere "skepticism."
On December 15, The Washington Post reported that Clinton sustained a concussion after she fainted due to dehydration. After the incident, the State Department explained that due to the concussion, Clinton would have to postpone her testimony on the attack in Benghazi, Libya.
On Friday, The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld asked why it was considered "offensive to question the odd timing of an illness," and insisted that he and his Fox colleagues were simply "exercising of our First Amendment right to ask questions." He accused journalists of "ginning up fake hatred, or outrage, towards skeptics," and claimed "skepticism" was on "life support."
Co-host Andrea Tantaros further accused Clinton of "a history" of "being a professional victim." Tantaros concluded that though some want her and others to apologize for their Clinton remarks, she does not think it's necessary.
However, the previous remarks from The Five co-hosts on Clinton's concussion were not merely skepticism, but outright mockery. They suggested Clinton faked her condition to avoid giving testimony on the Benghazi attack. On December 19, The Five co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle accused Clinton of a "duck and cover," and Gutfeld asked, "How could she get a concussion when she's been ducking everything [related to Benghazi]?"
These remarks were echoed by other Fox figures, who accused Clinton of having "Benghazi allergy" and faking a "diplomatic illness."
Conservative commentator and Fox guest Ann Coulter cited discredited gun researcher John Lott to falsely claim that concealed carry permits are the "one public policy" that reduces incidents of gun violence. In fact, experts say Lott's findings have little statistical support, and armed civilians have not successfully stopped mass public shootings.
On Hannity, Coulter claimed that if "you want to cut down on public shootings" and "if you care about children dying, if you care about innocent victims, you should be in favor of concealed carry." She cited research by Lott, claiming his study was the only "thorough examination of public multiple victim shootings" and proves concealed carry permits reduce shootings and casualties.
However, Lott is not a credible source for information on gun violence. He has been caught using fraudulent data in his concealed-carry studies, and his "more guns, less crime" hypothesis, which maintains that gun ownership helps reduce crime, has been characterized by a Stanford Law Review report as "without credible statistical support." Computer scientist Tim Lambert, discussing the Stanford Law Review report's findings, wrote that "if anything, concealed carry laws lead to more crime."
Indeed, a Mother Jones investigation could not identify a single mass public shooting in the past 30 years that was ended by an armed civilian, while economist Mark Duggan found that the rate of gun ownership "significantly positively" correlated with incidence of homicide.
Lott has also been caught modifying his research when his claims are called into dispute, and was the subject of an ethics inquiry after failing to produce evidence that he had actually conducted a 1997 survey. This has not stopped media figures from citing his claims, and he routinely makes media appearances to argue against the enactment of gun violence prevention measures.
Last month, Coulter responded to the mass shooting at a Newtown, CT, elementary school by calling for more concealed carry permits.
Fox News' Neil Cavuto defended Republican House Speaker John Boehner from criticism after Boehner reportedly told Democratic Senator Harry Reid, "Go f*** yourself."
Politico reported that in the midst of negotiations to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases that were scheduled for January 1, Boehner verbally attacked Reid:
House Speaker John Boehner couldn't hold back when he spotted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the White House lobby last Friday.
It was only a few days before the nation would go over the fiscal cliff, no bipartisan agreement was in sight, and Reid had just publicly accused Boehner of running a "dictatorship" in the House and caring more about holding onto his gavel than striking a deal.
"Go f*** yourself," Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present.
Reid, a bit startled, replied: "What are you talking about?"
Boehner repeated: "Go f*** yourself."
On Your World, Cavuto claimed that criticism of Boehner was "not fair" and said the remark was "entirely justified" because Boehner "risked his job" by agreeing to raise taxes "without so much as a token gesture in spending cuts in return from Harry Reid." He concluded:
CAVUTO: It is a wonder Boehner didn't curse more. It is even more of a wonder why the media didn't wish he did. That's not fair, that's not right, that is wrong. Would it ever kill us to get the other side of the story? Would we ever try?