Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is being harshly criticized for repeatedly using the same line that President Obama "knows exactly what he is doing" during ABC News' February 6 Republican presidential debate. A CNN commentator noted that line is "gospel, when you listen to conservative talk radio," and echoes a talking point former Fox News host Glenn Beck frequently used.
Four times during the debate, Rubio said that contrary to the claims of those who portray him as incompetent, Obama "knows exactly what he is doing," explaining at one point: "He knows exactly what he's doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world. That's why he passed Obamacare, and the stimulus, and Dodd-Frank, and the deal with Iran, it is a systematic effort to change America." After one iteration, Gov. Chris Christie called Rubio out for using a "memorized 25-second speech" tailored by political advisers.
Following the debate, CNN commentators savaged Rubio's performance, calling it "damaging," "somewhat bizarre," and "hard to watch." But Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord pointed out that Rubio's comments were "gospel, if you listen to conservative talk radio" because "there are plenty of people out there in the base who really do think he wants to change the country in a direction they don't want to see it go."
Indeed, as Media Matters Executive Vice President Angelo Carusone pointed out, Rubio's comments echo Glenn Beck's oft-repeated claim that President Obama was engaged in the "fundamental transformation of America," deliberately trying to damage the country so he could "chang[e] America into something other than it always has been."
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd claimed that while "sexism does swirl around" Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, her "campaign cries sexism too often." Dowd has a long history of sexist attacks on Clinton, including writing three weeks ago that the former secretary of state ran "as a man" in 2008 but "is now running as a woman."
Dowd wrote in her February 6 column (emphasis added):
Hillary is like a veteran actor who doesn't audition well. Bill could tell her not to shout her way through rallies, that it doesn't convey passion but just seems forced, adding to her authenticity problem. Her allies think mentioning her shouting is sexist, and sexism does swirl around Hillary, but her campaign cries sexism too often. In 2008, Barack Obama used race sparingly.
Clinton faced rampant sexism from the press during her 2008 campaign, a pattern that re-emerged during the first week of February when a series of pundits attacked her "shrieking" tone of voice during a speech.
Fox News attempted to negatively spin a January jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by complaining about a lack of manufacturing jobs being created. Unfortunately for Fox, the report actually revealed robust job creation in manufacturing, which put total employment in that industry at a seven-year high.
On February 5, the BLS released its monthly "Employment Situation" summary for January 2016. The data showed that the economy created 151,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell marginally to 4.9 percent -- its lowest point since February 2008. Economists and experts generally agreed that the report was "very encouraging."
On the February 5 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto and Fox Business host Gerri Willis complained that the report did not show enough evidence of job creation in well-paid industries like manufacturing (emphasis added):
GERRI WILLIS: A jobless rate of 4.9 percent, that is an eight-year low, looks so good. Lucious, right? Maybe not ... The number of jobs created in the month, you're showing it right now: 151,000. A disappointment compared to what we expected: 200,000.
Now, good news on the wages front, up over the last 12 months 2.5 percent. You can see that there, $25.39 an hour. So that seems to be good news. Dig further though, Neil, what do we see? Here's what we see, the jobs created are disappointing. 58,000 retail jobs, we're talking about clerks, cashiers, people who walk through the Walmart, those are the kinds of jobs created. And also, restaurant and bars, so waitresses, waiters, bartenders, 47,000 jobs created.
We know from experience that these aren't the kind of jobs that can really fuel family growth, fuel family wealth. This isn't what the middle class needs right now, and that's what's so disappointing about this jobs report, today. We're not seeing the kinds of big-time manufacturing jobs being created in this economy, and that's what Americans really need.
Unfortunately for Fox News, the jobs report Cavuto and Willis discussed actually showed robust job creation in manufacturing (+29,000). MarketWatch columnist Rex Nutting noted that those 29,000 new workers pushed total manufacturing employment to 12.4 million, a seven-year high (emphasis added):
Apparently, no one told American manufacturers that their business is collapsing, because they kept on hiring more workers in January.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that manufacturing companies added 29,000 workers in January to reach a seven-year high of 12.4 million. After a soft patch in the middle of last year, it was the fourth month in a row that manufacturing payrolls had increased.
Not only were factories hiring, they were working their employees longer shifts. Average weekly hours rose a tick to 40.7 hours in January, which is significant because the manufacturing workweek is considered to be one of the best leading indicators for the health of the economy as a whole. Despite the strong dollar, the drop in export orders and the decrease in capital spending, average hours in manufacturing have been roughly unchanged since April.
A Washington Examiner column attempted to negatively spin the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) jobs report for January 2016 by misleadingly claiming that the American economy shed 665,000 jobs last month. The column failed to account for seasonal adjustments in the data series.
On February 5, the BLS released its monthly "Employment Situation" summary for January 2016. The data showed that the economy created 151,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent -- its lowest level since February 2008. According to a Bloomberg survey of economists, the monthly job creation total came in below expectations but economist Kathy Bostjancic still called the report "very encouraging."
This generally positive sentiment was lost on Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard, whose search for negative spin on the jobs report resulted in him pushing the misleading claim that BLS data actually shows "there were 665,000 jobs lost in January":
New Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there were 665,000 jobs lost in January, a blunt finding that confuses the heralded report that 151,000 jobs were created in January in non-farm payrolls.
New York Times correspondent Josh Barro blasted Bedard's faulty conclusion on Twitter, noting that the Examiner columnist made the amateur mistake of looking at seasonally unadjusted payroll figures, which fail to account for temporary holiday jobs that disappear between December and January every year:
Here's the dumbest thing you will read on the jobs report all day: https://t.co/35qX2syALc-- Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 5, 2016
This dude looked at the seasonally *unadjusted* numbers. Of course they were lower; employment is always lower in January than December.-- Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 5, 2016
Retailers hire people for the holiday season and then lay them off, every year. That's a main reason we do seasonal adjustment.-- Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 5, 2016
With baseline economic indicators consistently improving throughout the Obama administration, right-wing media outlets are becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to cast the monthly jobs report in a negative light. Fox News and Fox Business misleadingly complained for three consecutive months about job creation figures that far exceeded economists' expectations.
The Fox News PR machine has capitalized on Megyn Kelly's charade as a debate moderator, parlaying it into high-profile interviews on late night talk shows and morning news shows, and a new book she has in the works promises another round of media attention later this year. These interviews provide the media with an opportunity to question her about the misinformation she promotes on her own show, when she's out of the national spotlight, but few are taking advantage.
Kelly's supposed persona as a breath of fresh air and an unbiased journalist on Fox News -- bolstered by her position moderating the network's presidential debates -- has led to a series of laudatory profiles that have often willfully ignored her troubled past pushing conservative misinformation and bigotry.
Kelly has been called a "take-no-prisoners newswoman" who "isn't afraid to throw hardballs at Republicans" and "the brightest star at Fox News." That pretense was reinforced by the journalists and pundits across the political spectrum who stepped up to defend Kelly after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attacked her, kicking off a feud with the network and then declining to participate in its January 28 presidential debate.
Late night talk shows and morning news shows have not been immune to Kelly's hardball-throwing façade.
On the February 5 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, host George Stephanopoulos gave Kelly a platform to gratuitously boost her credibility as a political journalist and respond to Donald Trump's attacks without asking about any of her controversial remarks.
Kelly has also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and has an upcoming high-profile scheduled appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert's post-Super Bowl episode, as well as a new book deal. In his interview, Fallon told Kelly that he didn't "really know your work as much until I saw you for the first Republican debate -- you were fantastic in that ... People that don't know you have to be like, 'Oh who is this person? She's phenomenal.'"
Megyn Kelly's so-called "phenomenal" reputation in the media lacks important context, found in the full spectrum of her time at Fox, including her problematic history on subjects including race and gender.
In the first two weeks of 2016, Kelly spent over 1 hour and 22 minutes promoting Michael Bay's myth-filled Benghazi movie "13 Hours" as "the gripping new film that may pose a threat to Hillary Clinton's hopes for the White House." She's used her prime-time Fox show to push falsehoods about Planned Parenthood, most recently asking whether a "political hit job" was at play in the grand jury indictment of two members of the group that released deceptively edited smear videos to attack the organization.
She regularly hosts Tony Perkins, the leader of an anti-LGBT hate group, and has shown a penchant for inflammatory rhetoric on race, ranging from blaming a 14-year-old black teenager who was the victim of a police officer's use of excessive force to calling Black Lives Matter protesters "beyond the bounds of decency."
When positive press praises Kelly's "occasionally, yet highly entertaining, bucking of the conservative party line," they downplay the fact that her show "is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows." Even the writer of Vanity Fair's glowing cover story, after making those observations, eventually noted that Kelly's "talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own. She, after all, is considered by many to be the reasonable one at Fox."
On February 3, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) released a new study documenting the severe impact of Texas' decision to bar Planned Parenthood from accessing state family-planning funds. Using pharmaceutical claims data and state program records, TxPEP analyzed "rates of contraceptive-method provision, method continuation through the program, and childbirth covered by Medicaid before and after the Planned Parenthood exclusion." The results reflected "adverse changes in the provision of contraception" for Texas women, and a subsequent "increase in the rate of childbirth covered by Medicaid."
Writing for Vox, Sarah Kliff highlighted these findings, arguing that they directly refute a consistent conservative media myth that women's health clinics could easily replace Planned Parenthood in many communities. Kliff wrote that although "some have argued women would just seek care elsewhere, this new research shows the opposite: When Planned Parenthood becomes less accessible, women just get less care." In an interview with Vox, TxPEP researcher Amanda Stevenson said the study "contradicts the claim that other providers will simply take up the slack and that they'll meet the demand currently being met by Planned Parenthood providers."
Texas has long been at the forefront of the battle to defund Planned Parenthood.
In 2013, the state successfully cut the network of clinics out of its public family planning program for low-income women.
Now researchers at the University of Texas have figured out what happened next: Fewer women filled birth control prescriptions -- and more low-income women had babies.
The new study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the first to look at what happens to women when a state specifically excludes Planned Parenthood from public programs. While some have argued that women would just seek care elsewhere, this new research shows the opposite: When Planned Parenthood becomes less accessible, women just get less care.
Congressional Republicans have, so far, failed to defund Planned Parenthood on a national level -- despite multiple attempts to do so.
This new Texas study is important because it demonstrates that there is a risk that comes with cutting Planned Parenthood out of public programs: Women won't get the care that they used to, and births can increase as a result.
"This directly contradicts the claim that other providers will simply take up the slack and that they'll meet the demand currently being met by Planned Parenthood providers," Stevenson says. "We can say, after this study, that isn't the case in Texas."
Bob Cusack, editor in chief of The Hill, responded to the February 4 Democratic presidential debate by tweeting, "When Hillary Clinton raises her voice, she loses." Cusack's comment is the latest in a series of pundit critiques of Clinton's voice. As The Huffington Post has noted, such criticisms are "clearly sexist" because "shouting ... is not usually a liability for male candidates."
When Hillary Clinton raises her voice, she loses.-- Bob Cusack (@BobCusack) February 5, 2016
Fox News co-hosts Eric Bolling and Kimberly Guilfoyle questioned whether hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. actually exist, despite numerous reports showing that attacks on Muslims in America have been on the rise for years.
During the February 4 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-hosts Juan Williams, Eric Bolling, and Kimberly Guildoyle discussed President Barack Obama's recent speech at a U.S. mosque. Co-host Juan Williams pointed out that Obama's visit to the mosque comes as hate crimes against Muslims in America have increased, to which Bolling asked whether there were many hate crimes against Muslims "because I haven't heard of any." Guilfoyle echoed Bolling, demanding Williams produce evidence:
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): Yes, I think that Christians are being driven out of the Middle East in droves, being raped and tortured, murdered. Religious Christian sites and churches not being allowed to be rebuilt. What is the president doing to stand for them? Instead every time he gives one of these speeches we hear a little excerpt from the book of Obama of how Christians should be living their life and that Muslims is a religion of peace. Show me the evidence.
JUAN WILLIAMS (CO-HOST): The challenge at the moment has to do with the spike in attacks, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States. And don't forget you've had Donald Trump say we should ban --
ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): Are there a lot of a hate crimes against Muslims in the United States, because I haven't heard of any?
GUILFOYLE: Where are the numbers for that?
The Washington Post reported on February 3, that, "Hate crimes against Muslims are five times more common today than they were before 9/11. And they've been edging steadily upward over the past few years." A previous report on December 4, 2015, also found that "American Muslims ... feel growing anti-Muslim sentiment after the recent Islamic State attacks in Paris and this week's San Bernardino shootings."
The Southern Poverty Law Center noted that the FBI's hate crime statistics found that "reported hate crimes [are] down nationally, except for Muslims," adding that hate crimes against Muslim Americans "rose about 14 percent over the prior year." The Huffington Post recently launched a project to track anti-Islamic acts in the U.S., declaring that "Islamophobia is real. And it's not going anywhere":
After last year's terror attacks in Paris and mass shooting in San Bernardino, California -- and amidst a surge in anti-Muslim rhetoric from U.S. politicians -- reports about Muslims in America facing violence, harassment, intimidation and bigotry have become omnipresent. Many Muslims say Islamophobia is worse now than it's ever been -- even worse than it was after 9/11.
A comprehensive list of discriminatory acts against American Muslims might be impossible, but The Huffington Post will document this deplorable wave of hate for all of 2016 using news reports and firsthand accounts. The breadth and severity of Islamophobia in America can no longer go unnoticed. Enough is enough.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) responded to the revelation that classified information was sent to former Secretary of State Colin Powell's personal email account by highlighting how the right-wing-media-driven obsession over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal email account appears to be a partisan exercise designed to "target the Democratic candidate for President."
According to a February 4 report from NBC News, the State Department inspector general has "determined that classified information was sent to the personal email accounts of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the senior staff of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."
As with classified information reportedly forwarded to Clinton's private email server while she was secretary of state, none of the material was reportedly marked classified at the time, but instead has been retroactively determined to have contained classified information.
While media outlets have fixated on the retroactive classification of emails sent to Clinton as uniquely damaging, the new revelations suggest that those emails are in fact part of what NBC News has termed "a longstanding pattern of senior officials at the State Department and other government agencies trying to talk around classified information over email, sometimes unsuccessfully."
Powell has questioned the significance of the material sent to his private email account, telling NBC News the contents were "fairly minor" and asking it to be publicly released "so that a normal, air-breathing mammal would look at them and say, 'What's the issue?'" The Clinton campaign has also called for the release of a set of Clinton's emails currently being withheld from the public by the State Department, calling the decision to withhold their release "over-classification run amok."
Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, responded to the State Department inspector general's comments about Powell and Rice's email use in a February 4 statement, amid reports that committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is seeking to launch an investigation that would likely probe Clinton's email use, possibly against the wishes of Republican House leadership.
According to Cummings, the revelations about personal email used by Powell and top Rice aides gives credence to Cummings' concern that "Republicans are spending millions of taxpayer dollars singling out Secretary Clinton because she is running for President -- often leaking inaccurate information -- while at the same time disregarding the actions of Republican Secretaries of State."
"Based on this new revelation, it is clear that the Republican investigations are nothing more than a transparent political attempt to use taxpayer funds to target the Democratic candidate for President," Cummings continued in his statement.
Cummings' statement was issued as conservative media continue to push baseless claims about Clinton's private email server, which often fall apart under scrutiny.
Since the January 29 announcement by the State Department that 22 emails from Clinton's private email server would be withheld from public release because they had been retroactively classified, conservative media have touted anonymously sourced claims that the emails include "Holy Grail items of American espionage such as the true names of Central Intelligence Agency intelligence officers serving overseas under cover."
NBC News debunked this claim in a February 4 article, explaining that several of the emails in question forwarded to Clinton reportedly contained "references to undercover CIA officers ... [b]ut contrary to some published reports, three officials said there was no email on Clinton's server that directly revealed the identity of an undercover intelligence operative." A former senior CIA official told NBC News that "any suggestion that this email contained confirmation about the person or his cover, or any inappropriate information, is flat wrong."
In addition, conservative media have also baselessly claimed that the emails being withheld contain the nonexistent "stand down order" Clinton is said to have issued during the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and that there was a premeditated conspiracy to share classified information over email.