Attending the "Online Tax Revolt" Tea Party today at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC for Media Matters, I saw several posters and signs that echoed the falsehoods, smears and extreme rhetoric launched against the Obama administration and Democratic Congress by many in the conservative media. Here is a selection of them:
While criticizing congressional Democrats for touting March's improved employment figures, Fox News' Mike Huckabee claimed that "there are fewer private sector jobs because of their policies, their regulations." But the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that private employers added 123,000 jobs in March, which is the biggest gain in nearly three years.
Glenn Beck has repeatedly used violent rhetoric in referring to the passage of health care reform. After the House passed the Senate's version of reform legislation, Beck stated that while the "battle was lost, the war is not over," and after President Obama signed the bill, he suggested that Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi supported "pick[ing] up a gun" to advance "revolution."
Fox & Friends perpetuated the false claim advanced on right-wing blogs that President Obama was incorrect in stating during a Fox News interview that Hawaii suffered an earthquake in 2006 -- a disaster Fox News itself reported on at the time. In a 2007 memo, a Fox News executive reportedly warned staff that "seeing an item on a website does not mean it is right. Nor does it mean it is ready for air on FNC."
Newt Gingrich and Joe Scarborough have recently criticized a proposed legislative procedure to finalize health care reform as "radical" and "incredible," despite having supported the use of the same legislative process while they were members of Congress. The rule in question is an accepted part of House procedure, and in the years after Gingrich became speaker of the House and Scarborough was elected, Congress "set new records" for its use.
Media conservatives have falsely characterized a legislative proposal reportedly being considered to finalize health care reform in the House as unprecedented, undemocratic, and unconstitutional. But the rule in question is an accepted part of House procedure, and Congress repeatedly used the rule under GOP leadership, according to a former GOP staff director of the House Rules Committee.
On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity became the latest Fox News personality to defend Glenn Beck's statement that President Obama is "a racist," joining News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch and Fox News president Roger Ailes. Discussing Beck's comments, Hannity stated, "When the president hangs out with Jeremiah Wright for 20 years, I'm -- can one conclude that there are issues with the president?"
Numerous Fox News personalities have accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) of sympathizing with terrorists, citing reports that nine DOJ attorneys had previously represented or advocated for terrorism suspects in their private practices. Monica Crowley and Steve Doocy accused the lawyers of being "terrorist sympathizers" and being "sympathetic" to terrorists, respectively, and Michelle Malkin asked whether the DOJ has "jihadis' best interests at heart."
Glenn Beck advanced the conservative myth that no jobs have been created under the stimulus and baselessly claimed that its "intent to restore the economy ... [is] not working either." In fact, independent analyses of the stimulus, including those conducted by Moody's Economy.com and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, have estimated that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) increased employment by as many as 2.4 million jobs by the end of 2009 and added to real GDP growth in the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2009.
Several media figures have asserted that annual income of more than $250,000 is -- in the words of Rush Limbaugh -- "not wealthy" in order to attack President Obama's 2011 budget proposal to allow the Bush tax cuts on families earning more than $250,000 per year to expire as scheduled. According to 2006 Census data, households that earn more than $250,000 per year make up approximately two percent of all U.S. households.