Radio host and Fox personality Sean Hannity hosted TruthRevolt.com founder David Horowitz to engage in an unimpeded rant that described President Obama as a "menace to American security" and accused Democrats and the "American left" of pushing the nation toward a modern day Holocaust. Hannity's promotion of the extreme figure may have completed his transition from conservative mouth piece to right-wing fringe promoter.
On the April 22 edition of his radio show, Hannity discussed the alleged growth of anti-Semitism around the world, comparing the phenomenon with Obama's purported support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hannity asked his guests, Horowitz and writer Joel Rosenberg, whether anti-Semitism in recent news stories had the potential of turning into a "modern day Holocaust." Horowitz replied (emphasis added):
HOROWITZ: I think that's exactly accurate. There's normal anti-Semitism which has been going on for thousands of years. And this Kansas City shooter, I mean he's a Klu Klux Klaner, he's a Democrat -- lifelong Democrat, Klu Klux Klan racist and anti-Semite. But he's obviously been encouraged. The irony of course is that he killed three Christians. Um, obviously encouraged by the American left. Max Blumenthal, who is the misbegotten son of Sidney Blumenthal who worked for the Clintons in the Clinton White House, has written a book filled with Jew hatred about Israel, which this guy read and cited as one of his inspirations. I actually pointed this out in a book I wrote about ten years ago. The alliance between the American left and the Islamo - I don't call them Islamo-Fascists anymore, they're Nazis. They preach the same doctrine that the Nazis did, they were allied with the Nazis during the second World War. The destruction of Israel, which is welcomed by you know, like I say normal anti-Semites. But after the Second World War, there was a certain intolerance towards these types of attitudes thanks to the American left which goes right into the White House. Obama is also responsible for this - attacking Israel.
After Rosenberg disagreed with Horowitz' claim of the growth of anti-Semitism in the American left, Horowitz retorted, "On the campuses across this country the American left is calling for the destruction of Israel. How can you say there's no anti-Semitism? The American left is the fountainhead of anti-Semitism now," concluding that it is only a matter of time before the left commits violence against Jews.
Fox News gave Republican senate candidate Rep. Tom Cotton (AK) the royal treatment, giving airtime to his latest campaign ad and inviting him on for a softball interview with host Eric Bolling, who failed to challenge Cotton on his faulty assertions that the Affordable Care Act is "failing" for the people of Arkansas.
Filling in for Neil Cavuto, Fox's Bolling took the reins of Fox's 4 p.m. show Your World and invited Cotton on the program for the second time this month. The Fox host aired the entirety of the senate candidate's latest campaign ad, then proceeded to ask a series of open-ended questions, many loaded with an anti-Democratic premise.
"I read somewhere where Senator Pryor said that he would vote for Obamacare if he had to do it all over again," Bolling said. "You want to comment on that?" Bolling then allowed Cotton the opportunity to attack the health care law as a "failure" without noting for Cotton or viewers that Obamacare is working for the people of Arkansas.
Right-wing media are continuing to misinform about Schuette v. BAMN, the latest Supreme Court rejection of well-established civil rights law.
On April 22, in a splintered decision, the conservative justices of the Supreme Court effectively overturned decades of civil rights precedent and gutted a core component of equal protection law by reinterpreting the political process doctrine of the Fourteenth Amendment. This doctrine, based on Supreme Court cases from the civil rights era, prohibits restructurings of political systems to the specific detriment of a disfavored minority. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that the state of Michigan's 2006 ban on affirmative action violated this case law by removing this policy decision from the normal political system and writing it into the state constitution.
Contrary to right-wing media's framing of the case, Schuette was never about the propriety of affirmative action, although Michigan's ban has led to decreased minority enrollment and heightened racial tensions on campus. And as Justice Anthony Kennedy's controlling opinion in Schuette reaffirmed, race-conscious admissions policies in higher education remain constitutional. Still, Roger Clegg at National Review Online nevertheless called the case and its deleterious ramifications for the diversity of all future classrooms and students of color in particular "a big loss for racial preferences in the Supreme Court" and "a resounding win for the good guys."
Fox News' senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano took it even further, saying that "the elites who run university systems think they know better than the voters do." When host Eric Shawn asked Napolitano about the precipitous drop in minority enrollment on Michigan campuses since the ban went into effect, Napolitano brushed him off, stating the Schuette decision "lets the voters go either way." He went on to claim that race-conscious admissions were antithetical to "that thing the Civil War was supposed to have resolved":
The oil-industry funded front group for Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, has a Buzzfeed list featuring animated gifs of the "Top 10 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day: For Conservatives." Media Matters has gathered all the ways that anti-conservation "conservatives" have truly decided to celebrate Earth Day this year:
Fox News celebrated Earth Day by hosting Fox Business' John Stossel who is "cheering for fossil fuels" that were responsible for dozens of disasters last year. Forbes contributor and oil and gas industry consultant David Blackmon caught on to the trend, writing an op-ed glorifying the fossil fuel industry titled "Be Thankful On Earth Day For Oil & Gas."
Earth Day happens to lie on the same day as Vladimir Lenin's birthday, so it must be a communist plot, according to conservative blogger Erick Erickson. Erickson filled in for Rush Limbaugh on his radio show on Earth Day by ranting about the connections between environmentalism and communism.
The United States (and globe) has been warming since the first Earth Day -- but that didn't prevent snow-trollers from emerging once again to cast doubt on global warming. On April 22, climate "skeptic" favorite Ryan Maue tweeted at conservative blogger Erick Erickson: "Remind folks on Earth Day... to not put away their snow shovels until July 4th." Erickson later fulfilled Maue's request as a guest host for on The Rush Limbaugh Show.
Jim Treacher, a reporter for the conservative news site Daily Caller, joked that he would celebrate Earth Day by burning "dangerous tires before they can pollute the planet," mocking NASA's Twitter campaign asking the public to take a "#GlobalSelfie" for Earth Day.
Fox News frequent Marc Morano hyped a piece by Roy Spencer that equated climate science to a "religion" -- one of the most prominent ways conservatives erode trust in scientists according to a study by the Yale Project on Climate Communications. Spencer wrote, in honor of Earth Day:
As in other religions, most Earth worshipers are more or less hypocritical. Spend a day being "good", spend the rest of the year failing.
I mostly find Earth Day just plain annoying for the rank hypocrisy on display. A state-sponsored religious day of worship, along with all of the 1st Amendment-violating regulations to codify it.
On April 21, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that President Obama plans to use his constitutionally-granted pardon power for certain eligible nonviolent drug offenders serving excessive sentences, a systemic approach to clemency that was most recently used by former Republican President Gerald Ford. In response, Fox immediately turned to right-wing media guests to push the false idea that this proposal is unconstitutional and unprecedented.
Before President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, defendants convicted of selling or using crack received sentences nearly 100 times more severe than those convicted of selling or possessing cocaine -- despite the fact that the drugs are essentially the same thing. Those convicted and punished under the disparate sentencing guidelines were disproportionately black. The Obama administration's decision to use the pardoning power to commute unduly harsh sentences would, according to Attorney General Holder, apply to those offenders who were sentenced under the "old regime."
This proposal would not overturn their convictions, but would shorten their now-outdated sentences.
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs reported on the clemency proposal by asserting the attorney general's explanation for the need to ameliorate systematic discrimination was one of Holder's "fictions" and was "ludicrous" because the Civil War already eliminated slavery. Dobbs also hosted right-wing media figures to accuse the president of "gutting the Constitution and separation of powers doctrine at the same time." Fox News' Special Report pushed a similar narrative, with correspondent Mike Emanuel uncritically repeating a former Bush II official's claim that "this is yet another example of Obama going around lawmakers" before misleadingly claiming "Orrin Hatch said Congress, not the president, has the authority to make sentencing policy. Hatch called on Mr. Obama to work with Congress, rather than, once again, going it alone."
Fox News' Megyn Kelly also took exception to the Obama administration's proposal, hosting NRO contributor Andrew McCarthy on The Kelly File to rail against the announcement. Kelly, upset that "convicted -- convicted" drug offenders might finally have their sentences commuted, characterized the proposal as executive overreach on the part of the Obama administration. McCarthy agreed with Kelly and claimed that Obama's use of the pardon power was a "massive abuse" and tantamount to "rewriting the federal narcotics laws which he personally thinks are too severe."
A report from Feeding America on food insecurity and food costs in the United States sheds new light on the real targets of the conservative media's crusade against food stamps.
Conservative media often rush to baselessly condemn those receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, as lazy or taking advantage of the system, but the truth is that these programs help feed millions of Americans who would otherwise go hungry.
In 2013, Fox News shamelessly promoted "blissfully jobless California surfer" Jason Greenslate as the "new face of food stamps," and in April the network again attacked the program by portraying a couple living in a yacht and fraudulently collecting benefits as representative of the norm.
But these attacks are out of touch with the reality that almost 41% of recipients live in a household with earnings, and according to the USDA program fraud is below one cent on the dollar.
Feeding America's report on the county and congressional district level food insecurity and county food costs in the United States paints a startlingly different picture of the food insecure than the one the right-wing media typically pushes. Feeding America found that more than 49 million* people in the United States are food-insecure, meaning that they have "limited or uncertain access to adequate food," and that 16 million of those people are children. On average, about 71% of the food-insecure throughout the country fall below 185% of the poverty line, making them eligible to receive SNAP benefits.
In September 2013, Politico reported that Fox distributed copies of its misleading food stamp special to members of Congress during the August recess, and Fox's portrayal of Greenslate was prominently featured in GOP talking points. When Congress reconvened, conservatives in the House voted to cut $39 billion from the program. According to NBC News, food insecurity has been exacerbated by the cuts to program and have left many Americans unable to feed their families:
"The recession has subsided for most Americans but it still hasn't subsided for low-income Americans. Their situation just has not improved," he said, adding that it was "probably worse now" because a temporary funding boost in 2009 to the key government food aid program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) was allowed to lapse by Congress last year.
"It seems like we are stacking the deck against" low-income people, said Everett, who was recently named to the congressional National Commission on Hunger. "We're missing rungs at the bottom of the (economic) ladder to be able to help people to get to the top."
*Number has been updated for accuracy
Conservatives are cheering S.E. Cupp's false claim that the gun safety coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) has "crumbled" with its member mayors fleeing in droves.
Last week former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he plans to spend $50 million on gun safety efforts, in part through the new group Everytown for Gun Safety, an umbrella organization that merges MAIG and the grassroots organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety in America.
During an appearance on ABC's This Week, Cupp, a host for both CNN and Glenn Beck's network The Blaze, claimed that "Mayors Against Illegal Guns has crumbled because he duped mayors into thinking they were actually going to fight illegal guns. And when they all found out actually they were going after law abiding gun owners, they said that's not what I want to be a part of. His efforts are duplicitous and they're measurably failing." Cupp's remarks were subsequently trumpeted across the right-wing media.
In fact, MAIG currently counts as members "a bipartisan group of more than 1,000 current and former mayors from nearly every state." While some mayors have left the group over the years -- at times while seeking the Republican nomination for higher office -- MAIG's overall membership has dramatically increased in recent years, from 15 mayors at its founding to 450 members in 2009 to roughly 850 in January 2013 to its current level.
Likewise, Cupp's claim that the gun safety effort is "failing" ignores reality. While federal legislation received a majority vote in the Senate but was blocked by a filibuster last year, gun safety efforts resulted in major executive actions; legislative packages passed in New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, California, and Delaware, among others; and the appointment of the first permanent director of the ATF since 2006. Championing gun safety in a swing state and with the support of Bloomberg's Independence USA PAC, Terry McAuliffe and Mark Herring were elected governor and attorney general of Virginia.
With Republicans in control of the state legislature and governor's office, Tennessee has become an easy target for out-of-state dark money groups looking to push corporate interests through state legislatures. The Koch brothers, through their political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), have been at the forefront of the Tennessee takeover, pushing tax cuts, measures to block public transportation, and anti-Medicaid legislation among others. While some of Tennessee's newspapers have been quick to connect the questionable legislation with AFP, local television coverage rarely mentions the outside influence.
AFP is considered an example of a "dark money" organization -- a politically-focused group whose donors are not disclosed and whose actions reflect partisan positions. David Koch is co-founder of AFP and the Koch Family Foundation is known to have contributed generously to AFP based on records published by the foundation. In Tennessee, the state AFP chapter creates advertising campaigns and holds events that provide a platform for AFP staff to drum up support for their legislation.
Tracking the Koch brothers' outsized influence has recently been a popular endeavor among national news sources, so the billionaires' leap into Tennessee sounded the alarm across national media outlets. Local and state media have been slower to point out AFP's influence in state politics. While Koch pressure in Tennessee is nothing new, the state chapter of AFP opened last year, making this year the first legislative session with active local AFP participation. As the editorial board at the Tennessean explained, AFP's push to influence state politics has profound implications:
The billionaire Kochs do not live in Tennessee and never have. That is not important, as they, through their group Americans For Prosperity (AFP), and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), also not Tennessee-based, are increasingly deciding what laws the General Assembly should impose on the people of our state.
The force of the Kochs came down last week when the Tennessee Senate voted to stop Nashville's Amp project. StopAmp.org Inc. publicly thanked AFP for its help. Regardless of what you think of the pricey and controversial bus rapid-transit project, such out-of-state interference is troubling, because it supersedes local knowledge and authority on either side of the issue.
But an analysis of 22 local television news affiliates from January 1 to April 21 of this year -- the span of the state's most recent legislative session so far -- shows only four mentions of AFP's connection to pending legislation in the state. Despite the lack of coverage, AFP was busy pushing multiple pieces of legislation in recent months, including a reduction of state income tax, bills to slow the possibility of Medicaid expansion, and opposing Common Core education standards. While the top four newspapers covered the relevant issues and legislation being influenced by AFP in the same time frame, the disclosure of AFP's involvement varied. The Tennessean and the Knoxville News-Sentinel included AFP's involvement in their reports, mentioning the group's connections 14 and nine times respectively. The Chattanooga Times Free Press, with three mentions, and Memphis' Commercial Appeal with two mentions, made little effort to note AFP's activity. While disclosing legislative influences is crucial across all forms of media, it is especially vital for local television to disclose outside influence like AFP's as local television remains the country's top source for news.
Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson is trading on his medical reputation to ride a wave of media hype, but upon closer examination, many of his views are contradictory or emulate the uninformed chatter of a right-wing radio shock jock.
Carson rose to prominence in the conservative media last year for a speech attacking the Affordable Care Act at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama. After that, he was hired by Fox News, became a regular on the conservative speaking circuit, joined Newt Gingrich's dubious political action committee, and launched an online magazine in coordination with the Washington Times (where he also writes an opinion column).
The New York Post reached new lows publishing "an open letter to Chelsea Clinton's fetus" -- rather than simply reporting on Clinton's recently announced pregnancy or offering the couple well-wishes, the Post took the opportunity to attack the new baby and soon-to-be grandparents Bill and Hillary Clinton under the guise of "news."
The April 22 letter told the baby that "what makes you so special" is "you're going to live your whole life in make-believe." The Post labeled the child a "campaign asset" and "stage prop" for "Lady Pantsuit" and non-"maternal" Hillary Clinton:
Welcome to advanced gestation! Since you're new around here, I thought you'd like to know a little bit about what makes you so special. The reason is, you're going to live your whole life in make-believe!
In two years or so, when most babies are just learning to crawl, you will be hitting the road! Grandma Hillary is going to need you to smile and coo whenever there are Sunshine Men around. So play nice and don't projectile vomit. Grandma is not what grown-ups call "maternal," and was busy turning $1000 into $100,000 in the magical cow trading market when your mommy was a baby, so she will have to make believe she is really "helping out" with you. No crying if she gets the diaper on the wrong end!
The best part of your make-believe Clinton-Mezvinsky life is that people will pretend you're good at things and give you gifts like high-paying consultancy gigs when you just got out of college, jobs reporting for NBC News when you have as much camera-awareness as a smoked flounder, and the leadership of the free world because you "deserve it."