This meme has been a favorite among the right-wing blogs in recent weeks, who have been feasting off misleading MSM reports: 60,000 angry AARP members have quite the org because of its support of Obama health care reform.
Here though, is some much-needed context, courtesy of a recent report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution [emphasis added]:
The national AARP, which has 40 million members, advocates on behalf of older Americans, supports changes in health care although it has not endorsed a specific plan. But the organization's stance has put it in a precarious position with some members.
Between July 1 and mid-August, AARP nationally lost about 60,000 members. But during that same period, spokesman Drew Nannis said, it brought in 1.8 million new members.
So in a massive org of 40,000,000 people, approximately .1% of the membership has reportedly quit because of AARP's health care position and we're supposed to consider that to be newsworthy? More importantly, the 60,000 members who have stormed off have been replaced many, many times over.
Just keep that in mind next time you see a reference to how AARP membership is taking a hit in the health care debate.
Is there any accusation that could be made about President Obama that Beltway reporters wouldn't be willing to credulously report? Is there anything that would make them frame their reporting of those accusations around the premise that the charges are ridiculous? Today, Time's Mark Halperin suggests there is not.
Under the headline "Student Speech Courts Controversy," Halperin writes: "Critics accuse the president of imposing a political agenda on children during next week's address." That is how he has decided to frame the conservative movement's bizarre, unhinged attack on the President of the United States for his terrifying plan to… tell the nation's students that it's important to stay in school and work hard. It's a "Controversy"! The president has "critics"! Are their criticisms legitimate? Who knows! There's a link to an AP article on the "controversy" if you actually want some of those dreadful details.
It's worth noting that in claiming their criticisms hinge on fears that Obama is planning to "impos[e] a political agenda on children," Halperin is significantly soft-peddling the lunatic whack-a-doo tin-foil conspiracy nut nature of conservatives' complaints. They aren't saying Obama will teach kids about the importance of universal health care or stopping global warming – they're accusing the president of engaging in Maoist indoctrination in an attempt to create his own Hitler Youth.
There is something wrong with these people. As long as Beltway reporters like Halperin keep treating their complaints as valid, they will maintain a hold on our discourse that prevents serious discussion of actual issues. And no, reporting that "critics" say that Obama is planning to indoctrinate students but the Obama administration denies it does not suffice. Resorting to "he said/she said" journalism when one side's claims are blatantly ridiculous is just pathetic.
The host probably sees his promotion this week as something of a career coup. But honestly, Don Imus could probably launch a lower power FM radio station that has a radius of five miles and land a bigger audience than the one Fox Business currently attracts.
We highlighted this recently, but with the Imus announcement this week it's worth circling around again for another laugh at Fox's expense.
Fact: Nobody watches the Fox Business Network. Okay, not nobody in the literal sense. But nobody in the sense that it's audience is so small it almost defies logic, let along statistics, or cable viewing tradition. Because according to the most recent Nielsen numbers, Fox Business Network averages 21,000 viewers between 5 a.m and 9 p.m.
You read that correctly: 21,000 viewers, in a nation of nearly 300 million people. Honestly, Don Imus could join the morning team on a top 40 station in Portland, ME., next week and have a bigger audience than the Fox Business Network.
The Next Right's Jon Henke -- who called for a conservative boycott of WorldNetDaily and conservative groups who support it through advertising and renting its mailing list -- has tried to get a response out of the Republican National Committee, one of the groups that has rented WND's mailing list, "to inquire about it and encourage them to stop."
It's not going well. The first response was: "Pls note that we have already weighed in on the birther issue -- weeks ago. Thanks." To that was appended a New York Times article containing another response to the birther issue. Henke nnotes:
So, the sum total of the RNC's response was (a) Obama is "a U.S. citizen", but (b) we want to ignore this Birther story, (c) we're not saying whether or not we're working with the Birthers, and (d) we're just going to completely ignore the actual question you asked.
Henke then sent more questions, to which the RNC has yet to respond. Henke concludes:
In the 1960's, Goldwater and a few Republicans had the integrity and guts to denounce the irresponsible fringe in the fevered swamps of the Right. Today, as far as I can tell, the Republican National Committee works with them.
From Joe Scarborough's Twitter page:
From Ann Coulter's September 2 syndicated column:
([Liberal Lie #]11) Obama has dropped his demand for the ironically titled "public option" (i.e., government-run health care), which taxpayers will not have an "option" to pay for or not.
Liberals never, ever drop a heinous idea; they just change the name. "Abortion" becomes "choice," "communist" becomes "progressive," "communist dictatorship" becomes "people's democratic republic" and "Nikita Khrushchev" becomes "Barack Obama."
It doesn't matter if liberals start calling national health care a "chocolate chip puppy" or "ice cream sunset" -- if the government is subsidizing it, then the government calls the shots. And the moment the government gets its hands on the controls, it will be establishing death panels, forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions and illegal aliens, rationing care and then demanding yet more government control when partial government control creates a mess.
Which happens to be exactly what liberals are doing right now.
Politico's Micahel Calderone reports:
An MSNBC spokesperson issued a statement ot [sic] POLITICO: "An editorial decision was made to remove the column from msnbc.com. Pat is a contributor to MSNBC, his syndicated column does not speak for the network or represent the views of MSNBC"
Here are Glenn Beck's September 3 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From Erik Rush's September 3 WorldNetDaily column:
Football legend and actor O.J. Simpson was a truly beloved American icon. The quintessential American success story, he projected an amicable, wholesome, larger-than-life figure. His triumphs were even more noteworthy because he was a black man who had risen to fame and fortune during the Civil Rights Movement era.
In 1995, Simpson was put on trial for the murders of Nicole Brown (his second ex-wife) and a male friend. As a result, authorities and the press were able to delve into his affairs as no one had previously done. Only then did Americans learn that he was a beast and a brute, an obsessively controlling, chronic wife beater, emotional abuser and philanderer. In short, he was a pathological narcissist for whom whimsy, pleasure and image were paramount. Worse, his behavior had been validated and reinforced by the fact that he had been catered to by those around him, personally and professionally, for decades. After beating the murder rap, Simpson continued to manipulate and bully those around him. Twelve years later, his capricious conduct earned him a lengthy prison sentence for numerous firearms charges, robbery, burglary, assault and kidnapping.
Many Americans, and even a few trained in behavioral science, have identified President Obama as a deeply pathological narcissist. He has also managed to masterfully control his environment. While his detractors contend that his façade has been maintained by a complicit press, this may only be partially true. According to experts, the profoundly narcissistic frequently astonish casual observers when the extent of control they have been able to maintain over their environment (primarily, people close to them) is finally revealed ... Given the determination with which our president has hidden certain other personal information, it is probable that there are a few aspects thereof that he perceives might damage him politically, if not personally or even legally.
Rush has also likened Obama to a "cellblock rapist" and called Attorney General Eric Holder "another floatie in the septic tank that is the Obama administration."
(h/t Right Wing Watch)
NOTE: I wrote this before reading this. My point still stands though, Beck's increased attacks on Jones are clearly motivated by Jones' association with ColorOfChange.org which ended in 2007.
The story goes something like this: Van Jones helped found ColorOfChange.org which, "exists to strengthen Black America's political voice," particularly online. Fox News' Glenn Beck said President Obama has "a deep-seated hatred for white people" before going on to say that "this guy is, I believe, a racist." ColorOfChange.org kicks off a campaign calling on advertisers to drop their sponsorship of Beck's show. To date, at least 57 companies have ceased advertising on Beck's Fox News program. Beck refuses to apologize and goes after Jones calling him, among other things, one of the President's "radical advisors" who is "fighting a revolution." In vintage Beck, the Fox News conspiracy-theorist-in-chief bizarrely asked: "Will progressive pigs fly right out of Van Jones' butt and pedal bicycles to" replace coal power? Heck, even CNN's Howard Kurtz noted that Beck had "trashed" Jones while "neglect[ing] to mention" that Jones had co-founded the group which is currently leading the boycott of his Fox News show.
I don't view Beck as the second coming like many in his audience seem to, so I was of course immediately suspicious of his claims about Jones. After a little time on Google I found this YouTube video of Jones and a few others addressing the "Green Collar Economy" at the Center for American Progress back in November.
Watch the video for yourself -- Jones starts just after the 14 minute mark.
I'm sure you'll agree that Beck's rantings are more likely motivated by the loss of so many major sponsors (along with a dash of his own special blend of paranoia and crazy) than by the dark, supposedly "radical" portrait of Jones that Beck's been painting.