Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski falsely reported that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence must pay more than $200,000 to ammunition dealers that supplied a gunman who attacked moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. The misleading article was published after a court dismissed a lawsuit against the companies.
In fact, the plaintiffs in the case - parents of one of the victims - were ordered to pay the ammunition companies' legal fees because of a special carve-out in Colorado law for the gun industry.
On July 20, 2012, a man wearing body armor and carrying an arsenal of firearms and tear gas fatally shot 12 people and wounded 58 others during a midnight screening at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. The Brady Center subsequently filed a lawsuit against companies that had supplied the gunman, on behalf of Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the shooting.
The lawsuit alleged that Lucky Gunner and several other companies had negligently supplied the gunman with thousands of rounds of ammunition, body armor, a high-capacity drum magazine that could hold 100 rounds of ammunition, and canisters of tear gas.
In April, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit and Lucky Gunner and other defendants moved to collect attorney's fees from the plaintiffs. On June 17, a judge granted that request, ordering the Phillipses to pay $203,000. The decision is currently under appeal.
On June 29, Beacon staff writer Gutowski reported on this development, but botched his analysis to claim that the Brady Center, rather than the Phillipses, was ordered to compensate companies that supplied the Aurora gunman.
In an article headlined, "Federal Judge Orders Brady Center to Pay Ammo Dealer's Legal Fees After Dismissing Lawsuit," Gutowski wrote, "A federal judge has ordered that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence pay the legal fees of an online ammunition dealer it sued for the Aurora movie theater shooting." The actual order, which is cited in the article, contradicts this claim by describing at length how the plaintiffs, who are listed at the top of the order as Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, must pay fees to companies that enabled their daughter's killer.
Chris Christie "reduces me to a 14-year-old girl at a Beatles concert." MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, December 20, 2010.
"Chris Christie is someone who is magical in the way politicians can be magical." Mark Halperin appearing on Meet The Press, November 10 2013.
It's hard to miss the aura of a letdown that surrounds the news coverage of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's long-awaited announcement of his presidential candidacy. Set to address supporters today at his alma mater of Livingston High School in New Jersey, Christie enters a very crowded Republican field of White House hopefuls and does so with some extraordinary baggage, which explains the Hail Mary flavor of the coverage, which comes with almost a tinge of sadness, or what-could-have-been regret.
Detailing his "long-shot presidential bid," Politico noted it now revolves around a "bank-shot strategy, a narrowly tailored approach that leaves Christie with little room for error." The Associated Press headlined its article, "As He Launches 2016 Bid, Christie Embraces Underdog Role."
Starting with the Bridgegate revelations in January 2014, Christie has been riding a year-and-a-half worth of bad news that has translated into his lowest approval ratings ever in New Jersey. Christie hasn't just drifted off course. His political standing has completely collapsed to the point where it's not clear whether he will even qualify to be among the 10 candidates on the stage of the first Fox News-sponsored debate.
Yet of all the announced Republican candidates -- and those still queuing up this summer -- Christie without question enjoyed the most unique and encouraging relationship with the Beltway press corps. For years there was an almost tribal affection for Christie and his bullying personality among the Acela media class. (aka The "liberal" media.)
It was a strange, cozy relationship that's worth recalling on the eve of his candidacy. Rarely has the political pundit class bet so heavily on a particular politician. And rarely has a bet paid off as poorly as the media's wager on Christie.
Fox News contributor and First Baptist Dallas Rev. Robert Jeffress told his congregation that the recent marriage equality ruling was "the greatest, most historic, landmark blunder in the history of the United States Supreme Court."
Jeffress made his remarks during his June 28 Sunday prayer service, as reported by Dallas' KTVT and the Dallas Observer. Several conservative pundits have had unhinged reactions to the June 26 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which found that states must recognize same-sex marriages.
Los Angeles Times Supreme Court reporter David G. Savage wrote in January 2009 that when it comes to determining the worst Supreme Court decisions, "Historians and court scholars agree on a pair of 19th century opinions":
Historians and court scholars agree on a pair of 19th century opinions: Dred Scott v. Sandford, the 1857 ruling that upheld slavery even in the free states, and Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, which condoned segregation as "separate but equal."
The World War II decision Korematsu v. United States (1944) is usually cited as well. There the court upheld the detention of more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans.
Jeffress also compared the Supreme Court's marriage decision to Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews. He told the Christian Post in a June 26 interview: "I think today's decision is just one more step in the marginalization of conservative Christians. I made this argument and have been ridiculed for doing so, but I think it is very legitimate. The Nazis did not take the Jews to the crematoriums immediately ... The German people would not have put up with that. Instead, the Nazis begin to marginalize the Jewish people, make them objects of contempt and ridicule. Once they changed the public opinion about the Jewish people, then they engaged the [Holocaust]."
Fox News employs Jeffress as a contributor despite his long and controversial history of bigotry against LGBT individuals and members of certain religions.
During the 2012 campaign, Jeffress created controversy when he denounced Mitt Romney's Mormon faith as a "cult." Then-Romney challenger Rick Perry was forced to distance himself from Jeffress, who had introduced Perry at an event.
He's said that "religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism ... lead people to an eternity of separation from God in Hell." He's called Islam an "evil, evil, religion," referred to Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as "false religions," and said Catholicism is a "counterfeit religion" that rose from a "cult-like, pagan religion." Jeffress said of Judaism: "Judaism, you can't be saved being a Jew, you know who said that by the way, the three greatest Jews in the New Testament, Peter, Paul, and Jesus Christ, they all said Judaism won't do it, it's faith in Jesus Christ."
Video of Jeffress' June 28 remarks is below:
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly lashed out at President Obama for the June 26 illumination of the White House in rainbow colors following the Supreme Court's historic ruling in favor of marriage equality.
On the June 29 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly asked of the display, "what about all the Americans who believe that a redefinition of marriage is not the job of the Supreme Court?" He later said that President Obama "did an in your face to traditional Americans" by putting a display there.
A tease earlier in the show asked whether the illumination was a "White House insult?"
Television and radio host Sean Hannity defended GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who faced widespread backlash by media outlets following comments made during a speech where he called Mexican immigrants "rapists" and "murderers." Hannity agreed with Trump arguing that immigrants wouldn't leave their home countries if they were successful.
On June 16, Trump announced that he was running for the Republican nomination for president. During his speech, Trump railed against Mexican immigration, claiming that the "U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems," and referred to people coming across the southern border as "rapists" and criminals:
When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
Trump faced widespread outrage following his incendiary remarks. In a June 25 press release, Univision announced their intention to cut ties with Trump and drop Trump's Miss Universe pageant, in response to his "insulting remarks" about Latino immigrants. And in a June 29 statement released by NBC, the company expressed its intentions to no longer air Trump's Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants and to exclude him from participating in NBC's reality-show The Apprentice, because of his "derogatory statements" regarding immigrants.
But on the June 29 edition of his radio show, Sean Hannity defended Trump's incendiary rhetoric. After highlighting NBC's announcement that they will be cutting ties with Trump, Hannity asserted that Trump was correct, immigrants coming to the U.S. are criminals, and argued that they would not be leaving their country if they were successful (emphasis added):
HANNITY: We've got a problem in this country. If he [Trump] can make that statement and CNN refers to it as "racially-tinged," because [inaudible...] could play this on TV. Floor to ceiling drugs confiscated by people crossing our southern border. You want to talk about crime? Well what do you think -- who's coming from Latin America and Mexico? Are they rich, successful Mexicans, Nicaraguans, El Salvador residents? No! Why would they leave if they're so successful? It's people who have not had opportunity in Mexico and so they will raise all this money and give it to these human traffickers, human traffickers take full advantage of them, take every penny they've got and then maybe get them across the border in a perilous journey which some people don't make it. Now if we really care about our fellow human beings, we owe it to them not to put that -- sort of like a sign up that says "Take a risk you can try and come across because we're gonna make it easy for you" and it turns out not to be so easy. But if we had a fence, if we wanted to secure the border, it wouldn't be a problem. So when Trump says, "are they sending their best, their brightest?" In other words, if you have a pool of people, if we opened up America's borders, and who would apply to come to America? We probably would have our choice of doctors, and lawyers, and computer programmers, everybody wants to come to America. You know that's a great thing, we're not building a fence to keep people in, we're building a fence to prevent people from coming in because the world would flood here, which they've been doing.
Media outlets have repeatedly turned to an extreme anti-gay hate group to comment on the Supreme Court's recent marriage equality decision, needlessly exposing audiences to misinformation while failing to hold the group accountable for its track record of dishonesty.
Following the Supreme Court's June 26 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges -- which found that bans on same-sex marriage violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution - several media outlets invited representatives from the Family Research Council (FRC) to offer their reactions to the decision.
FRC has been labeled an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because it propagates "known falsehoods" about the LGBT community, including linking homosexuality to pedophilia and accusing gay people of trying to "recruit" children. The group has a long track record of making wildly inaccurate policy predictions about the consequences of basic protections for LGBT people.
Spokespersons from FRC were also invited to react to the decision on national television. ABC's This Week invited FRC's Ken Blackwell - who previously blamed same-sex marriage for a mass murder - to discuss the court's decision. On Fox News' The Kelly File, Megyn Kelly offered a platform FRC president and frequent guest Tony Perkins, who has called pedophilia a "homosexual problem." As usual, none of these outlets identified FRC as a hate group or informed their audiences about the organization's history of misinformation.
And during the June 29 edition of CNN's New Day, host Chris Cuomo invited FRC's Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies, to discuss the decision in Obergefell. Sprigg, whoseprofessional experience before FRC includes serving as a Baptist minister and 10 years as a "professional actor," has previously suggested he'd prefer to "export homosexuals from the United States." But despite his extremism and lack of expertise, Sprigg was given a platform to fearmonger about the consequences of country-wide marriage equality:
Conservative media used the Supreme Court decision affirming that marriage is a fundamental right of all Americans to argue that the Constitution also requires states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states. But the Supreme Court has never held that carrying a gun in public is a fundamental right.
Conservative media and the National Rifle Association (NRA) quickly seized on the decision to draw a parallel with concealed carry reciprocity, a top federal legislative priority of the NRA. Reciprocity legislation, also known as federally mandated concealed carry, would force states to recognize permits to carry concealed guns issued by other states, regardless of what the issuing state's standards are for issuing permits.
Reciprocity legislation has been introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, but conservative media and the NRA view Obergefell as an opportunity to argue that the Constitution extends at least some right to reciprocal permit recognition regardless of whether Congress acts. The problem with that argument, however, is that the 2008 landmark Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller limited the scope of the Second Amendment right to gun possession to people's homes.
Despite this, on the June 26 broadcast of the NRA's news show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards made the argument that the marriage ruling "might present an additional argument to make at the legal level for extending reciprocity nationwide," remarking, "Since we're talking about licenses, a lot of gun owners are wondering, ok, does this, could this have an impact on the debate for instance over right-to-carry reciprocity?"
Fox News contributor Karl Rove denied a negative story appearing in a new book from presidential candidate and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), but Cruz has now produced an email from Rove that appears to back his version of events. This is just the latest exchange in an ongoing fight between Rove and the conservative movement.
In his new book A Time For Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America, Cruz wrote that Rove tried to bury a donation President George H.W. Bush made to Cruz for his 2009 Texas attorney general campaign.
Cruz explained that Rove was "in the process of helping raise money for the George W. Bush presidential library in Dallas" while "Texas donors were giving the Bushes tens of millions, including major donors who were supporting the Dallas state rep who wanted to run for attorney general." According to Cruz, those donors started "berating" Rove.
Rove denied the allegation, writing, "When Mr. Cruz and I talked in 2009, I was not raising money for the Bush Library," adding, "nor were any library donors 'berating' me."
Cruz's presidential campaign responded by releasing the details of the email exchange he had with Rove. In the email, Rove allegedly said, "[T]he distress you mention is not mine or 43 -- it is the people raising money for the library who are also [then-Texas Rep. Dan] Branch fans and will not understand why one part of the Bush family is for not-the-guy while they are raising money big bucks for library."
In the release, Cruz describes Rove's response to the story as "a straight-out falsehood" and an example of "why people are so cynical about politics, because too many people are willing to lie."
Rove's chief of staff told The Texas Tribune that Rove doesn't have a record or any recollection of the email.
Conservative radio host Mark Levin linked to the release on his Facebook page with the comment, "Ted Cruz sets the record straight with sleazy Karl Rove."
This is not Rove's first fight with the conservative movement.
In 2013, when Rove announced plans for "the Conservative Victory Project," an attempt to protect incumbent Republicans from Tea Party challengers, many in the movement condemned him.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said the group was "repulsive" and guilty of "fratricide." Levin described Rove as a "propagandist" who is "despised" by the conservative grassroots. Donald Trump called Rove "a total loser" and said "money given to him might as well be thrown down the drain." In a recent Fox appearance, Rove said Republicans should ignore Trump, who is "not a serious candidate" for president.
Michelle Malkin declared "war" against "Rove and his big government band of elites."
A year later, Media Research Center's Brent Bozell said Rove "has never cared about conservatism and has spent his entire career opposing any Republican who might be successful in promoting or implementing a conservative agenda." He also urged conservatives to "make sure Karl Rove no longer has any influence on their party."
After Rove bemoaned the nomination of Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell in Delaware in 2010 (she would go on to lose the general election), conservatives pounced. Malkin described him as an "effete sore loser," Fox contributor Erick Erickson said he was "in full-on meltdown," while Rush Limbaugh said, "I've never heard Karl so animated against a Democrat as he was against Christine O'Donnell."
In 2010, Rove said that Sarah Palin appearing on a reality show would not help her in convincing voters that she was a viable presidential candidate. Palin said his comments were "quite negative and unnecessary," and Rove responded by saying he was "sorry if she took offense" but "I hope she's got a thicker skin than that." He later went on to do a negative impersonation of Palin during an interview with New York magazine:
When I bring up his statements about Palin during our interview, Rove says only that he wished he'd made his comments on Fox News instead--before going into a withering impersonation of Palin, recalling a scene from her TV show in which she's fishing.
"Did you see that?" he says, adopting a high, sniveling Palin accent: " 'Holy crap! That fish hit my thigh! It hurts!' "
"How does that make us comfortable seeing her in the Oval Office?" he asks, disgusted. "You know--'Holy crap, Putin said something ugly!' "
Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes wrote that "Record-breaking floods have inundated Washington, D.C. just days after the Supreme Court decided they knew better than God" and wondered, "Anybody got an ark?"
Starnes, the host of Fox News & Commentary, has issued dire warnings to his followers after the June 26 Supreme Court marriage equality decision.
After the decision, Starnes tweeted: "If you thought the cultural purge over the Confederate flag was breathtaking -- wait until you see what LGBT activists do with Christians." He wrote on Facebook: "Friends, it is imperative that you prepare yourselves, your families and your congregations for the coming persecution ... These are troubling days - and we must be willing to defend religious liberty." (In reality, such religious liberty concerns are bunk.)
His assessment veered toward end times territory in a June 28 Facebook post where he wrote: "Record-breaking floods have inundated Washington, D.C. just days after the Supreme Court decided they knew better than God. I seem to remember another time in history when there was a record-breaking flood." He added: "God painted the sky with rainbow colors after that flood. This go-around - Obama painted the White House with rainbow colors. Anybody got an ark?"
Starnes' remarks are so ridiculous that it sometimes seems like a parody of an intolerant conservative pundit. Indeed, The Daily Beast's Asawin Suebsaeng wrote of "the Worst Man on Cable News": "Todd Starnes did not respond to The Daily Beast's request for comment regarding whether he actually believes the shit he says, or if he is just forever trolling."
The Washington Post is allowing George Will to engage in an "out-and-out conflict of interest" by promoting the work of a conservative advocacy group that's connected to him through financial grants.
Will wrote a June 25 Post piece attacking Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court's recent decision on the Affordable Care Act. For support, Will cited a lawyer for the Institute for Justice (IJ), who claimed that the United States is becoming "a country in which all the branches of government work in tandem to achieve policy outcomes, instead of checking one another to protect individual rights. Besides violating the separation of powers, this approach raises serious issues about whether litigants before the courts are receiving the process that is due to them under the Constitution."
Will and the Post did not disclose that the Institute for Justice is funded by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, where Will is a member of the board of directors. The foundation notes on its website that it "substantially supports IJ." The Bradley Foundation directly gave IJ over $500,000 from 2011-2013 (the most recent year available), according to its annual reports. It awarded IJ's president, William H. "Chip" Mellor, a 2012 "Bradley Prize" along with a stipend of $250,000. The foundation states that board members are responsible for grant-making decisions.
The lack of disclosure is perplexing given that the Post previously noted Will's financial connections to IJ. A Nexis search for "Institute for Justice" and "Bradley Foundation" in the Post did not return any results except for an August 21, 2009, correction about Will's ties ("he is a board member of the Bradley Foundation, which has contributed funding to the Institute for Justice").
Washington Post writer Erik Wemple has criticized his colleague's "out-and-out conflict of interest" in previously promoting Bradley Foundation recipients, explaining:
Here, Will touted an outlet funded generously by a group he helps to lead. And thanks to the columnist's kind words, WILL [Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty] may have an easier time finding funders outside of the Bradley Foundation. All very cozy, synergistic and, as media critics might say, an out-and-out conflict of interest -- an offense of which Will has been accused before.
Will defended himself regarding his lack of disclosure last year, claiming, in part, that "I see no reason -- no service to readers -- to disclose my several degrees of separation from the program: My tenuous connection has no bearing on what I think about what they do. There comes a point when disclosure of this and that becomes clutter, leaving readers to wonder what the disclosed information has to do with anything."
Media ethicists and journalism veterans have criticized Will for the practice, calling it a breach of journalistic ethics. As Media Matters has documented, Will has a long history of ethical misfires despite being long employed by a leading national newspaper.