Today, CNSNews.com's Fred Lucas brings a fresh angle to the attacks on Obama education official Kevin Jennings: Apparently, he was "recruited" by the administration. Cue up the Drudge siren.
But wait, there's more! According to Lucas, the Obama administration recruited Jennings in spite of the following "well-documented" matters:
Jennings became a lightning rod of controversy last year because he was the co-founder and president for a decade of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which promoted homosexual clubs in high schools.
Moreover, Jennings has been scrutinized for how he handled a 1988 incident by advising a 15-year-old to use a condom in a sexual affair with an older adult man, rather than reporting the possible case of statutory rape to authorities.
I am going to assume that when Lucas says that GLSEN "promoted homosexual clubs in high schools," he's referring to their work creating Gay-Straight Alliances, which are "student clubs that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression." But that doesn't sound as scary.
Homophobic fearmongering aside, Lucas' handling of Jennings' counsel with a student is extremely mendacious. It is not "well-documented" that Jennings had "advis[ed] a 15-year-old" and thus failed to report a "possible case of statutory rape." Indeed, the sole sourcing Lucas provides to support his false claim that the student Jennings advised was 15 is that ten years ago, while recounting events that occurred twelve years before that, Jennings said in passing that the student was a "High school sophomore, 15 years old."
That's apparently the CNSNews.com definition of "well-documented." The idea that Jennings may have misremembered or misspoken is not considered; it was said once, and it makes him look bad, therefore it is gospel.
For CNSNews.com's edification, between that passing reference in a speech and the present, GLSEN's lawyer stated in a 2004 letter that the "conversation" Jennings had was with "a sixteen-year-old student" and that there "is no factual basis whatsoever for" the "claim that Mr. Jennings engaged in unethical practices, or that he was aware of any sexual victimization of any student, or that he declined to report any sexual victimization at any time." Moreover, Jennings' telling of the story in his 1994 book, One Teacher in Ten, strongly suggests that the student was 16 or 17 at the time Jennings counseled him.
It gets better. Lucas' falsehood that the student in question was 15 comes in the third paragraph of his article. He somehow manages to drop this into paragraph 16:
In October, a person came forward alleging he was Brewster and told news organizations that he was 16 at the time of his conversation with Jennings, which would have been the age of consent.
"alleging he was Brewster." Isn't that precious?
Here's what actually happened.
In late September and early October, right-wing media jumped on Jennings' 2000 speech in which he said the student he had spoken to was 15 to accuse Jennings of covering up "statutory rape," ignoring both his account in his book and the lawyer's letter.
On October 1, FoxNews.com's Maxim Lott contacted the former student via Facebook, seeking to confirm his network's already-reported falsehood that the student had been 15 when he spoke to Jennings. The next day, the former student responded to Lott, stating that he "was 16 when Kevin gave me the advice he gave me," adding that "[i]t has actually been quite distressing to have heard otherwise on your broadcasts."
The same day, Media Matters published a statement from the former student as well as a scanned image of his current drivers' license, conclusively proving that he was 16 at the time of the incident in question.
That's what Lucas is referring to when he says that "a person came forward alleging he was Brewster and told news organizations that he was 16." I guess that sort of evidence pales in the face of Jennings' "well-documented" passing recollection of events from more than a decade before.
The sniping came in the wake of Howard Kurtz's Monday piece about how some (anonymous) Fox News staffers have doubts about Glenn Beck's on-air shtick and are concerned that it might undermine the cabler's credibility. And oh yeah, how they watch Beck practice crying during his afternoon rehearsals.
Kurtz clearly captured an internal Fox News rift. And here's how the network responded:
A Fox News spokesperson tells Mediaite: "Howie's use of anonymous sources is stunning from a paper with the reputation of the Washington Post's. Glenn Beck has the 100% support of Fox News management."
Do Fox News flaks even know how journalism works? Not likely. And this blame-the-messenger sniping clearly captures that embarrassing fact, because Kurtz's use of anonymous sources in his piece was not "stunning." In fact, it was the opposite of stunning, it was completely appropriate and routine. In other words, it was Journalism 101
But apparently at Fox News, they're incapable of recognizing the very craft they're supposed to practice.
Time-honored guidelines, moral traditions, social taboos - all have just about evaporated, not even considered much anymore. Scandals and revelations and shattered images are so commonplace, in virtually every area of life, that we forget them almost as soon as they occur. Marriage itself, as a compact between a man and a woman, is under incessant attack, and over half of adult women in America aren't married now anyway!
The biggest teachers' unions are promoting the tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, right down into grade school, where our kids shouldn't even be thinking about anything like that. Why? Because union officials who think like President Obama's "safe-school czar," Kevin Jennings, are determined that all the old taboos against sexual aberrance must be erased, and that our children must grow up without any reservations about anything sexual -- possibly including pedophilia.
From a March 16 Big Government post:
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs wore a purple bracelet on his weekend TV appearances to show support for a 9 year-old girl who has cancer. But a deep thinker at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government didn't know the facts and thought it was to show solidarity for SEIU, or to send a "signal" to the union, and wrote up a painfully dumb, conspiratorial post about it.
Best part? Big Government refuses to update its post and tell its readers the embarrassing truth about the purple bracelet, which of course, simply confirms that Big Government is so dumb it hurts.
Behold "conservative journalism."
UPDATED: If nothing else, the comments posted at Big Government are priceless as outside critics, clued into the truth, note just how badly the site botched this story.
WOW. What an EPIC FAIL of a post. How sad and pathetic.
An ounce of research as opposed to partisan knee-jerk-conspiracy-theory-over-reaction found here would show just how foolish the author and essentially every commenter here (not including myself) is. Disgraceful.
From The Fox Nation, assessed on March 15:
From The Fox Nation, accessed on March 15:
Fox Nation directs readers to CatholicVoteAction.org's petition to demand members of Congress "Stand With Stupak and demand that healthcare reform maintain the status quo: No federal funding for abortion. Call these pro-life Democrats. Tell them Stupak is standing up for the little guy."
Today, in a post titled "Media Reality Check: A Year of Spin for Liberal ObamaCare," Newsbusters' Rich Noyes details what he calls liberals' "huge advantage" throughout the health care reform process thanks to journalists purportedly "stack[ing] the deck in favor of a big government takeover of health care." Predictably, it's a train wreck.
Here's his lead-off of "the worst spin":
On March 1, 2009, previewing Obama's first White House meeting on health care, ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson championed the liberal side. "We spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in this country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we're the only one that doesn't have universal coverage. That's a national shame," Johnson announced on World News.
You may notice something missing -- namely, any explanation whatsoever for how this is inaccurate or "spin." Both points Johnson makes are accurate: Americans do spend twice as much per person on health care compared to other industrialized countries and we are the only industrialized country without universal coverage. I guess Noyes disagrees that this is a "shame?" Uh, OK. What would have been a less liberal bias-y way to frame these facts? "We spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in this country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we're the only one that doesn't have universal coverage. That's a source of great national pride."
Noyes also takes issue with this comment from Keith Olbermann:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was the most extreme, equating ObamaCare foes to suicide bombers: "When Hamas does it or Hezbollah does it, it is called terrorism. Why should Republican lawmakers and the AstroTurf groups organizing on behalf of the health care industry be viewed any differently -- especially now that far too many Tea Party protesters are comparing President Obama and health care reform to Hitler and the Holocaust?"
I'm not going to defend Olbermann's comment, but if Noyes wants to list comparisons of political opponents to suicide bombers in his roundup of "worst spin," he should be sure to include Rush Limbaugh (at least three times,) Erick Erickson, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson, The Washington Times, Breitbart's Big Journalism, and Investors Business Daily.
Noyes challenges Chris Cuomo and Matt Lauer for asking if Republican opposition to health care reform was politically-motivated:
As opposition to ObamaCare began to take hold, journalists led a counterattack. On the July 22 Good Morning America, ABC's Chris Cuomo indignantly asked California Govenor [sic] Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Do you believe that the Republicans are playing politics here, at the risk of people's health care?...Is this getting to be a little bit of a reckless situation?" On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer accused Senator Jim DeMint: "Are you rallying conservatives to the cause of health care reform? Or are you rallying conservatives to the cause of breaking a President?"
Gee, I wonder where Lauer could have gotten that idea? The interview in question was less than a week after DeMint told the group Conservatives for Patients Rights, "If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."
Clearly, Noyes is including this example to suggest the media have unfairly portrayed conservatives' surely principled opposition to reform as politically motivated. However, since the exchange in question, conservatives have constantly moved the goal posts for reform, criticized Democrats for using procedures they previously employed, and attacked President Obama's embrace of GOP health care ideas as a "gimmick."
I'll spare you the tedium of going through all of Noyes' examples, because it isn't the main point I want to make. More importantly, what Noyes includes in his "worst spin" isn't nearly as important as what he leaves out. Noyes turns a blind eye to the year-long campaign of blatant lies, distortions, and misinformation emanating from conservative opponents of health care reform -- lies that were often forwarded by the "liberal" media.
I'm aware Newsbusters doesn't search for conservative misinformation in the same way Media Matters doesn't focus on correcting liberal misinformation, but, for comparison's sake, below are some examples that don't exactly fit in with Noyes' view that reform efforts were given a "huge advantage" thanks to the "liberal" media.
Last August, media outlets repeatedly forwarded the insane suggestion (started by Betsy McCaughey and popularized by Sarah Palin via her Facebook policy paper,) that voluntary end-of-life counseling included in the reform bill amounted to "death panels" that would "pull the plug on grandma." Think about that for a second. Now look back to Noyes listing in his examples of "worst spin" Time's Mark Halperin saying it is "immoral" that America is the only industrialized democracy not to insure every person.
One of these things is not like the other.
One of the main complaints about political coverage that both sides can agree on is the media's obsessive focus on horse race and process instead of focusing on policy details. This has been just as true for the health care debate, with embarrassing results.
In a display of cynical, self-serving dishonesty that deserves to be put in a time capsule if only for its audacity, conservative media figures have attempted to redefine a word in order to attack Democrats for their supposed "hypocrisy." I'm getting tired of typing this, but just for old time's sake: Reconciliation is not the nuclear option. And conservatives weren't so upset about the use of reconciliation when they used it repeatedly.
Reform and deficits
Tapping into populist rage over government spending, conservatives have engaged in a concerted effort to portray this reform bill as massive government spending that will increase deficits. Or, as John McCain stated with no pushback from Fox News' Major Garrett: "2.5 trillion in debt on future generations." In fact, as we've noted repeatedly, the CBO has estimated that the reform bill will reduce the deficit over the next decade and beyond.
And just for safe keeping, here are some other examples of the media stacking the deck for "Obamacare": Inventing the "Death Book for Veterans," repeatedly mocking the uninsured, repeatedly misinforming about reform "raising premiums," repeatedly misinforming about federal funding for abortion, adopting the term "ObamaCare," asking if Obama's health care plan is "scarier than cancer," falsely claiming benefits don't kick in for several years, adopting the GOP's "ram it through" characterization of the health care vote, directing viewers to contact Congress to oppose reform, and telling people they are going to jail if they don't purchase insurance.
And that's just a partial list -- we've got a couple hundred other examples, if you care to sort through the archives.
But hey, that liberal Tim Johnson thinks it is a "shame" that our country pays more money for less coverage than other industrial nations. Bias!
If this is what a "huge advantage" for liberal reform efforts looks like, I'd hate to see a disadvantage.
At least 80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his March 15 sponsors, in the order they appeared (scroll down for Beck's March 12 sponsors):
Here are his March 12 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From Fox News' Twitter account: