The conservative media's witch hunts against President Obama's nominees and appointees has recently focused on Justice Department lawyers who previously represented terror suspects, as well as judicial nominees Goodwin Liu and Robert Chatigny, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) nominee Robert Harding. The cases against all of these targets are falling apart.
On March 3, The Washington Times published an editorial misrepresenting Liu's record in order to call him a "radical." Sean Hannity also joined in the dishonest attack on Liu -- a law professor at Berkley and a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since then, conservatives including Liu's colleague at Berkley, John Yoo, and the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick have vouched for Liu. Bolick wrote: "Having reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court." And according to the Los Angeles Times, Yoo -- the Bush administration lawyer who authored the infamous torture memos -- said of Liu's nomination: "[H]e's not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice." Liu has also reportedly received the support of James Guthrie, education policy studies director at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
So much for the idea that Liu is a radical leftist.
Today, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson claimed that "some are concerned" that Chatigny -- a federal trial judge who Obama has nominated for elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit -- "may be biased in favor of sex offenders." Carlson's allegation was based on Chatigny's actions during the appeals of a death penalty case involving convicted serial killer and rapist Michael Ross. Chatigny strongly expressed concern that Ross' lawyer was not sufficiently investigating evidence regarding Ross' mental competency. Later, an ethics complaint was brought against Chatigny. But here's the important thing that Carlson left out: a panel of judges cleared him of charges and declared his actions "reasonable." And this wasn't a whitewash by a bunch of leftists; the panel included Michael Mukasey, who went on to become President Bush's attorney general. According to media reports, several legal experts have also defended Chatigny's actions in the case.
So much for the idea that Chatigny is "biased in favor of sex offenders."
The attack on Harding -- a retired Army general -- is unlikely to fare much better. As we've pointed out, in a March 8 article, WorldNetDaily wrote that Harding has "controversial" views on the need for diversity in the intelligence community. WND claimed that Harding "long has pushed for 'ethnic diversity' as a determining factor in hiring new teams for U.S. military and intelligence agencies." The article quoted November 2003 written testimony Harding gave to a Senate subcommittee stressing the need for diversity hiring in the intelligence community. But Harding's views are neither controversial nor unique. Indeed, President Bush's Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell said during a conference, "It is now our policy across this [intelligence] community that we do not screen out first generation Americans. The very people that we need in this community to speak the languages, understand the cultures, are the ones who have come to America from the distant shores." He later said, "[O]ur focus is to get a more diverse culture," and that "[w]e have got to have more diversity." Other intelligence officials have made similar statements.
So much for the idea that Harding has controversial views on diversity.
Which brings us to the ridiculous attacks on DOJ lawyers who once represented detainees: Fox News, Investor's Business Daily, and Washington Post columnists Bill Kristol and Marc Thiessen have all participated in the attacks. Several of the attackers have suggested that -- in the word of Fox contributor Monica Crowley -- the DOJ lawyers are "terrorist sympathizers." These attacks have not led to any firings, but they have resulted in condemnation from the media and from several prominent conservative lawyers as well as Mukasey. Indeed, even former independent counsel Ken Starr has slammed these attacks and compared the DOJ lawyers to John Adams and Atticus Finch.
When the attacks on the Obama administration officials lead Ken Starr to compare the targets of the attacks to Atticus Finch, it's time for the witch hunters to pack it in and go home.
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 10 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
In a March 10 FoxNews.com article about the White House "fighting back against fishing aficionados who say President Obama is planning to impose regulations that will give their hobby the hook," reporter Joshua Rhett Miller writes that "neither document [from the Interagency Ocean Policy Task] contains language pertaining to a potential ban on recreational fishing, as some reports had previously asserted":
Obama established the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force in June to address increasing pollution and habitat destruction within the nation's oceans, coastal regions and Great Lakes. Led by Nancy Sutley, the task force released an interim report in September that outlined nine priority objectives of the plan, including the coastal and marine spatial planning.
Three months later, in its interim framework, the task force defined that planning as an "effective process to better manage a range of social, economic, and cultural uses," including commercial and recreational fishing, mining, tourism and traditional hunting, among others.
But neither document contains language pertaining to a potential ban on recreational fishing, as some reports had previously asserted.
Fishing enthusiasts became alarmed when a story posted on ESPNOutdoors.com and widely circulated by bloggers alluded to the potential of a ban on recreational fishing. The Web site has since posted a clarification stating that columnist Robert Montgomery's opinion piece was improperly labeled.
Despite that clarification, recreational fishermen are reeling, fearing their rods are at risk.
While FoxNews.com writes that "some reports" and "bloggers alluded to the potential of a ban on recreational fishing," FoxNews.com doesn't acknowledge that Fox News itself has been spreading the myth. Since yesterday, Fox Nation, Fox Business Network and the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck have pushed the bogus claim. As of 6:27pm E.T. today, Fox Nation is still promoting the absurd story online:
From TurboTax's Twitter account:
UPDATE: Despite the above tweet, an advertisement for TurboTax ran during the March 10 edition of Beck's Fox News show.
In a press release issued today, the Texas Education Agency criticized Fox & Friends for broadcasting a segment this morning with "highly inaccurate information about the State Board of Education's efforts to adopt the new social studies curriculum standards."
The following is the agency's press release:
The Fox Network in recent days has repeatedly broadcast highly inaccurate information about the State Board of Education's efforts to adopt the new social studies curriculum standards.
Here are the facts. The direct quotes come from the March 10 broadcast of Fox & Friends.
Fox: "Texas board of education begins hearings today on proposed changes to textbooks..."
The truth: The State Board of Education today is expected to take a preliminary vote on updated social studies curriculum standards. The standards detail what teachers are to teach in each class. New social studies textbooks are not scheduled to be selected until 2011.
Fox: "So one of the proposed changes is to start history class in the year 1877."
The truth: Texas has and always will teach U.S. History from the beginning until present day. U.S. History through Reconstruction is taught in the eighth grade and those standards can be found in the middle school standards, which are called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Here is a link to the middle school standards: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/social/MS_TEKS_amended.pdf. U.S. History since 1877 is taught in 11th grade.
Fox: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have been removed from the textbooks.
The truth: The standards, not textbook, are before the board this week. Lincoln is required to be included in the first and eighth grade history classes, as well as in the U.S. government class. Washington is required to be taught in kindergarten, first grade, fifth grade and eighth grade. Here is a link to a document detailing those historical figures, including Lincoln and Washington, who are required to be taught as part of the standards: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/social/AlphabetizedList_including.pdf. There is another list of individuals who are suggested for inclusion and it can be found here: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/social/AlphabetizedList_such_as.pdf. Additional modifications are still possible to both lists as the board debates the standards during its March and May meeting.
Fox: Independence Day and Veteran's Day are being deleted from the textbooks.
The truth: Again, the new history textbooks have not been written yet but they will be based on the curriculum standards adopted by the board. The standards currently under consideration cover Independence Day in kindergarten, second and fifth grades. Veteran's Day is included in kindergarten, first, second and fifth grades.
Fox: References to Christmas have been deleted.
The truth: A TEKS review committee briefly recommended removing Christmas from a list that mentioned one major holiday for each of the world's religions. The committee recommended leaving Easter in the document. The State Board immediately rejected this idea and a reference to Christmas was restored in the standards months ago and can be found in sixth grade in standard 19(b).
Fox: Textbooks adopted in Texas will be used classrooms across the country.
The truth: Each state has its own textbook selection process. Publishers may offer other states the Texas edition of a book but they are not required to select it.
*Update: The headline of this post has been changed to include the Texas Education Agency, rather than the Texas Board of Education.
Following the lead of an ESPNOutdoors.com opinion writer, conservatives have in recent days advanced the outlandish charge that Obama "wants to ban sport fishing." The ESPNOutdoors.com writer provided no evidence for his claim that a federal strategy "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing," and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force's interim report on coastal and marine planning has proposed nothing of the sort.
Today, ESPNOutdoors.com Executive Editor Steve Bowman acknowledged that "we made several errors in the editing and presentation of this installment. Though our series has included numerous news stories on the topic, this was not one of those -- it was an opinion piece, and should clearly have been labeled as commentary." Bowman added that "this particular column was not properly balanced and failed to represent contrary points of view." From Bowman's piece:
ESPNOutdoors.com inadvertently contributed to a flare-up Tuesday when we posted the latest piece in a series of stories on President Barack Obama's newly created Ocean Policy Task Force, a column written by Robert Montgomery, a conservation writer for BASS since 1985. Regrettably, we made several errors in the editing and presentation of this installment. Though our series has included numerous news stories on the topic, this was not one of those -- it was an opinion piece, and should clearly have been labeled as commentary.
And while our series overall has examined several sides of this topic, this particular column was not properly balanced and failed to represent contrary points of view. We have reached out to people on every side of the issue and reported their points of view -- if they chose to respond -- throughout the series, but failed to do so in this specific column.
This series started in October and has included several updates on how the creation of that task force and its actions could impact recreational anglers. ESPNOutdoors.com should have made it clear to all readers that this was part of a larger series, and -- even though this was Montgomery's opinion, and those of the sources quoted in the column -- we should have taken more care to fairly represent opposing arguments.
We do feel it is our duty to cover issues surrounding outdoor sports to the best of our abilities, and given the nature of this task force and the potential impact on all fisherman, this was an appropriate topic to address for our audience. We take seriously the tenets of journalism that require we take an unbiased approach, and when we make mistakes in the presentation of a story or a column, it is our responsibility to admit them.
Any confusion on that part rests entirely on my shoulders as the executive editor of this site.
We have appended the original column to note that it was in fact a commentary, and we will institute more rigorous editing safeguards in order to prevent such issues in the future.
National Review's Rich Lowry asserts something "most liberals haven't said and can't admit to the public or to themselves":
They care about health care so much that they are willing to resort to any maneuver to pass it. Many liberals have portrayed it as practically an everyday occurrence that far-reaching, historic social legislation lacking 60 votes in the Senate is passed through the reconciliation process. This is nonsense. Why not say that an end this important justifies almost any means, and Republicans, in the same position, would probably do the same thing? This would have the ring of truth about it. But such a concession would add another political burden to a bill with plenty of them already. Better to pretend that nothing extraordinary is going on.
Of course, health care reform has already passed the Senate, having got the 60 votes in needed in order to do so. Reconciliation isn't being used to pass "far-reaching, historic social legislation," it is being used to pass comparably small changes to that legislation.
You almost have to be impressed by someone who is willing to be so completely misleading in order to criticize criticize other people for (supposedly) not telling the truth. Almost.
Newsbusters' Scott Whitlock has outdone himself, criticizing MSNBC's David Shuster for a "softball" interview with an 11 year old who is lobbying for health care reform after losing his mother to pulmonary hypertension.
Whitlock is miffed that Shuster "failed to mention that Owens' entire family have been members of the liberal Washington Community Action Network." And he thinks he has caught MSNBC in a double-standard:
In contrast, on November 19, 2009, O'Donnell interrogated Jackie Seal, a conservative, Michigan teen who was waiting in line to see Sarah Palin at a book signing. The MSNBC host challenged this particular young person on her political beliefs: "Did you know that Sarah Palin supported the bailout?" O'Donnell berated, "Does that change your view?"
Now, certainly, Owens has lost his mother and no one would grill an 11-year-old who suffered such a tragedy. But, the network's reporters clearly have different standards for different young people.
Whitlock didn't mention that Seals was 17 years old, not 11 -- probably because he knows even Newsbusters readers would laugh at him if he wrote that 11 year olds and 17 year olds should be treated exactly the same. Just take a look at how absurd that last complaint would look if Whitlock was transparent about the age difference: "But, the network's reporters clearly have different standards for 11 year olds and 17 year olds." Yeah, that would be a devastating critique. There's a simple word for Whitlock's failure to reveal Seal's actual age: Dishonest.
Whitlock also didn't mention that the reason why O'Donnell asked Seal whether she knew Palin supported the bailout is that Seal was wearing a T-shirt critical of the bailout, while standing in line to see Sarah Palin. The question didn't come out of the blue, and it wasn't hostile -- it was straightforward and perfectly legitimate. Asking someone if additional information causes them to change their view isn't "berating," it's a simple question. In an accompanying video, Newsbusters claims O'Donnell "sounds angry." That's a subjective assessment, but one that seems ludicrous to me; I would invite you to watch the video of O'Donnell and decide for yourself.
So, basically, Whitlock is angry that an MSNBC reporter asked a 17 year old a straightforward question, and miffed that a different MSNBC reporter "tosses softballs" to an 11 year old. But give him some credit: he's realistic enough to know that if he spells that out, he'll get laughed at, so he pretends the 17 year old and the 11 year old are of similar ages.
Republicans look at options on Eric Massa scandal
After a week of lying low and watching House Democrats struggle with the Eric Massa sex scandal and resignation, GOP leaders are now weighing their options on how best to exploit the controversy.
What Politico fails to point out in its article is that, as a practical matter, GOP leaders don't really have any "options," other than whining to the news media about the Massa story and hope journalists keep it alive. Republicans don't have any options because GOP leaders don't have any power and can't initiate any kind of Congressional inquiry. But Politico pretends Republicans are surveying their many "options."
This piece strikes me as the latest example of how the Beltway press, and Politico in particular, continues to treat the GOP as the party in power; how the press snaps to attention whenever GOP leaders announce their fanciful plans.
Journalists routinely do so in a way they never did when Democrats were the in minority during the Bush years. Back then, Dem leaders were the definition of irrelevant. But today, the press acts like Republicans run the government.
Thanks to the last two election cycles, they don't. You'd think that the press would have noticed by now.
Fox News and the Philadelphia Inquirer have repeatedly allowed former Sen.-turned pundit Rick Santorum to discuss health care without disclosing* that he serves on the board of directors for Universal Health Services, a Fortune 500 health care company headed by Republican and public option opponent Alan B. Miller.
In April 2007, UHS appointed Santorum to its board of directors. UHS describes itself as one of the "the nation's largest and most respected healthcare management companies, operating through its subsidiaries, acute care hospitals, behavioral health facilities and ambulatory centers." In announcing the move, CEO Alan Miller said that Santorum "has a long record of accomplishment and leadership and will provide valuable advice to the board."
Miller is an active donor and participant in GOP causes. He is listed on the board of directors for the Republican Jewish Coalition, and in the past two years has contributed $2,300 to John McCain's presidential campaign, $1,000 to the McCain-Palin victory fund, and a total of $2,000 to the Republican National Committee.
Modern Healthcare reported in May 2007 that Miller "donated more than $5,300 to Santorum's campaigns between 1999 and 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Universal Health Services Employees' Good Government Fund donated $1,000 to Santorum's campaign during the 2000 election cycle, according to the center's Web site." In October 2006, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that Miller hosted "a crab-legs-and-white-wine fundraiser" for Santorum with President George H.W. Bush at Miller's Gladwyne mansion.
Miller regularly argues against the public option in the media, with appearances on CNN, Fox Business, Hannity (10/22/09) and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, among others. Miller recently appeared on the February 3 edition of Fox Business Network's Cavuto, where he was introduced by Neil Cavuto as hoping a "delay in health care will derail health care reform." Miller remarked that he believed health care reform "is dead," adding, I think we have to thank the voters of Massachusetts. I would like to see some improvements made. I think we have a great system. I would have hated to see it thrown out or a public option, which would become a government program. I was very much opposed to that happening."
Since January 1, Fox News contributor and "political analyst" Santorum has appeared on Fox News at least 13 times to discuss health care reform**. On February 9, Santorum called Democratic health care reform "a government takeover of the health care system" which "does not try to improve the current system." Santorum continued:
SANTORUM: Republicans and most Americans think that the current system is a good system that needs to be repaired and improved upon. That's not the basis of the bill that's before the House and the Senate right now.
Santorum is also a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he regularly writes about health care reform. Santorum's most recent column called the Senate health care bill "deeply flawed" and advocated starting "anew with a clean slate." In 2008, Santorum wrote that Obama supports "one-size-fits-all health-care policies that have been a disaster for patients and medical industries in Canada. Good-bye, American capitalism; hello, European-style socialism." Like Fox News, the Inquirer does not disclose that Santorum works for a major health care company.
* A search of "Santorum AND Universal Health Services OR UHS" in Nexis under transcripts for Fox News in the past 3 years returned no results. A review of Santorum's 2010 appearances on America's Newsroom, Fox & Friends, and America's News HQ -- which are listed below and not archived in Nexis -- returned no instances of disclosure.
** On the Record (January 6, January 26, January 29, February 9, February 24, March 3, March 8), Hannity (January 5, January 18), America's Newsroom (February 23, March 8), Fox & Friends (February 27), America's News HQ (February 21).