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  • Fox & Friends Follows Conservative Playbook To Spin GDP Report, Mislead On Obama’s Economic Record

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    On the April 29 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney joined co-hosts Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade, and Steve Doocy for a segment slamming President Obama’s record on the economy. The segment was a response to Obama’s recent interview with The New York Times, during which the president discussed how markedly the economy has improved since 2008 and what he hopes will be his economic legacy. The segment seemed to unwittingly mirror the right-wing playbook for downplaying positive economic gains during Democratic administrations by relying on false conservative talking points to dismiss economic growth and tout failed tax policies:

    Fox’s 3 Percent Growth Target Is Arbitrary And Ignores American History

    The segment opened with Kilmeade and Varney making the false claim that Obama is “the only U.S. president who could not deliver a single year of three percent growth.” It is not clear why Fox News is fixated on growing the economy at an average rate of three percent annually. Regardless, Kilmeade’s claim that Obama is “the only” president not to clear that bar is false.

    According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which only has consistent annual data from 1930 to the present, Republican president Herbert Hoover didn’t just fail to hit three percent growth, he failed to hit zero percent growth. The economy contracted at a rate of -8.5 percent in 1930, -6.4 percent in 1931, a staggering -12.9 percent in 1932, and -1.3 percent in 1933. The contraction in 1933 may have been greater, had Franklin Delano Roosevelt not replaced Hoover in the White House in March of that year, initiating substantial government stimulus projects known as the New Deal. Reliable GDP estimates prior to 1930 are difficult to find, but those data that are available show four consecutive Republican presidents overseeing economic growth of less than 2 percent from 1871 to 1885. Over the course of the next 45 years the economy swung wildly between boom and bust cycles, including several deep depressions, before the Great Depression and FDR’s subsequent creation of oversight mechanisms that work to maintain relative economic stability.

    Varney Consistently Misleads On The Economy

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney is supposed to be a serious voice for analysis and expertise at the network, but Varney is a serial minformer, who creates confusion on economic issues.

    In November 2014, Varney predicted that a Republican takeover of the Senate would usher in an era of “3 to 4 percent” growth, which he now complains hasn’t happened. The economy grew at a 2.4 percent pace in 2014, and continued to grow at a rate of 2.4 percent after the GOP took over complete control of Congress in 2015. Yesterday, when the Commerce Department figures were first released, Varney wondered if the economy growing at a slightly slower rate than experts had predicted was proof that we are “sliding toward recession” -- his comments came just moments after an actual economist was on CNBC debunking the idea.

    In the past week, Varney has attacked impoverished children for soaking up too many government benefits and watched idly as an economist easily debunked conservative demands for more tax cuts and deregulation to spur the economy. Since the start of the year Varney has been an unceasing source of misinformation on the minimum wage, has misled on the funding structures of public-sector unions, has lamented a proposal to pay people for the hours they work, and has attacked “ridiculous” anti-poverty programs that help struggling families and save taxpayers money.

    Fox News Follows The Conservative Misinformation Script To Perfection

    In an April 28 blog post, Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman explained how Republicans mislead the American public about the health of the economy by ignoring positive economic trends. The focus of Waldman’s comparison was the “objective reality” of progress and areas for improvement specified by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the “laughable fantasy” of “an absolute (economic) nightmare” outlined by Republican front-runner Donald Trump, but it could have just as easily been any of the personalities at Fox News. This April 29 Fox & Friends segment that mislead on GDP is one very good example.

    In Waldman’s piece, he hit Trump for pretending tax cuts are the solution to economic growth -- they are actually a proven failure. Varney often repeats this same tax cut talking point at Fox. When Earhardt asked on Fox & Friends “what is the reason for these bad numbers” on the economy, Varney slammed “massive regulation, constant government borrowing” and “overspending to raise the debt” -- exactly the talking points for which Waldman hit Trump the day before.

  • Conservative Media Lash Out At John Boehner For Calling Ted Cruz “Lucifer In The Flesh”

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & JULIE ALDERMAN

    Right-wing media condemned former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) for referring to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) as “Lucifer in the flesh” and the most "miserable son of a bitch” he has ever worked with.

    Former House Speaker John Boehner Calls Ted Cruz “Lucifer In The Flesh”

    NY TimesBoehner Described Ted Cruz As Lucifer In The Flesh, The Most "Miserable Son Of A Bitch” He Ever Worked With. The New York Times reported on April 28 that Boehner “described Senator Ted Cruz as ‘Lucifer in the flesh’ … and said that he would not vote for” Cruz if he became the Republican presidential nominee:

    Former House Speaker John A. Boehner described Senator Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh” during a forum at Stanford University on Wednesday and said that he would not vote for the Texas Republican if he is the party’s presidential nominee.

    [...]

    Mr. Boehner’s harshest assessment was saved for Mr. Cruz, who he has not forgiven for spearheading the 2013 government shutdown.

    “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends,” Mr. Boehner told David Kennedy, an emeritus history professor, at the event. “I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” [The New York Times4/28/16]

    Conservative Media Lash Out At Boehner, Call His Comments A “Witless Cheap Shot”

    National Review Editors: Boehner’s Comments Are “A Witless Cheap Shot” And “Petty Grudge-Holding. National Review’s editorial board wrote on April 28 that Boehner’s characterization of Cruz was a “witless cheap shot.” The editors said the comments were “petty grudge-holding” and speculated that these “knee-jerk responses … though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals”:

    We get it. John Boehner doesn’t like Ted Cruz. In a witless cheap shot, Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh” at an event at Stanford University. Boehner’s attitude is widespread among Republican insiders who are foolishly allowing personal ill will to cloud their reasoned judgment about who, among the candidates left in the GOP race, is the best representative of conservative principles and policies, and about who would be the best candidate in the upcoming general election.

    [...]

    [P]rominent conservatives who might not be counted among Cruz’s friends — Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush come to mind — have urged the party to rally around Cruz as the only reliable conservative left in the race.

    They’re right to do so, and not to give in to the petty grudge-holding of John Boehner. In 2013, when Cruz was engineering his ill-fated government shutdown, his Republican critics, including us, warned against interpreting tactical disagreements as evidence of disagreements about objectives. We encouraged conservatives not to indulge in knee-jerk responses that, though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals. That argument works in both directions. Whatever his personal feelings, Boehner agrees with Cruz on most questions of principle and policy, and it’s a shame he can’t act accordingly. [National Review4/28/16]

    Sean Hannity: “John Boehner, Shut Up … You Failed The Republican Party.” On the April 28 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity told Boehner to “shut up,” calling his performance as speaker “weak, timid, feckless, visionless.” Hannity asserted that Boehner “failed the Republican Party,” concluding, “We don’t need lectures from you”:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST):  All right, I’ve got to tell you something. I can't say this strongly enough. John Boehner, shut up. You know what? You gave us $4 trillion in debt. You were weak, timid, feckless, visionless. And I’ve got to be honest, you want to know why Cruz and Trump are doing so well? Look in the mirror, because you are afraid of your own shadow that you might get blamed for a government shutdown, so you wouldn't defund Obamacare, you wouldn’t use the power of the purse, you wouldn’t defund executive amnesty, which was -- which Republicans ran on in 2014. You failed the Republican Party. We don't need lectures from you against presidential candidates that are resonating with the American people, thank you very much. [Fox News, Hannity4/28/16]

    Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter: Boehner “Today Just Demonstrated His Utter Contempt For” The People On The Right. During the April 28 edition of NRA News’ Cam & Company, conservative Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter said Boehner’s remarks “proved” that he was “a giant waste of air.” Schlichter concluded, “The people on the right are angry … at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them”:

    CAM EDWARDS (HOST): How about that? “Lucifer in the flesh.” So, I saw that description today, and for whatever reason, Kurt, the phrase “Goldwater’s baby” came to mind --

    KURT SCHLICHTER: Its eyes! Its eyes! What did you do to its eyes!

    EDWARDS: I want somebody to use that as an insult this year, I just want to hear somebody call someone else “Goldwater’s baby.”

    SCHLICHTER: Oh my gosh. You know, with Boehner, sometimes it's like, you know, we all knew it, and then it happens. This guy literally says he would vote for Hillary Clinton before one of the nominees by the other Republicans. This was our speaker. We were all saying you know, this guy is a giant waste of air, and then he comes out and just completely proves it.

    [...]

    SCHLICHTER: The people on the right are angry. They’re angry at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them. And they always knew it, and there were people saying, "No, no, no, he really doesn’t feel that way." And well I said, “You know, I kind of think he does.” And now he’s kind of proved it. I think people are justifiably angry. They’re not going to -- to quote Roger Daltrey, "won't be fooled again!" [NRA News, Cam & Company4/28/16]

    Fox’s Laura Ingraham: “I Don’t Like That Comment By John Boehner. At All.” On the April 29 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group’s The Laura Ingraham Show, host Laura Ingraham decried Boehner’s comments as “not helpful.” Ingraham called Boehner and “establishment” Republicans “devils,” saying, “I have the idea it’s devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different”:

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): This John Boehner comment about Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh"? Not helpful. I said yesterday when I saw that this had been said that, I mean, John Boehner should just button it. It's not helpful. Now, you see, I have the idea it's devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different. I think that's very deceiving, as the devil is deceiving. Ted Cruz actually said he was going to run on some basic principles, and for the most part it seems like Ted Cruz actually, you know, tried to fulfill his Senate duties with those principles in mind. Now that's “Lucifer in the flesh”? What? It seems like the revolt against the establishment is making it pretty clear who people think the devils are. The devils are the people who say they’re going to oppose Obama only to fund his entire budget. The devils are the people who say they’re pro-life only to fund Planned Parenthood. The devils are the people who spend most of the good part of an entire year pushing Obama's Trade Promotion Authority. The devils are the people who say they’re going to get rid of Obamacare only to allow Obamacare to be funded. Those are the devils. The devils are the people who call the people the loud people, or make fun of them and say “it’s too hard,” like John Boehner did. So I don't like that comment by John Boehner. At All. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show4/29/16]

    Conservative Radio Host Hugh Hewitt: “Despicable Is My Term For [Boehner’s] Attack On [Cruz].

    [Twitter, 4/29/16]

    Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell: “Boehner Doesn’t Have The Guts To Apologize. He Is A World-Class Coward.”

    [Twitter, 4/29/16]

    The Blaze’s Dana Loesch: “John Boehner Gets Along With Every Beltway Elitist -- But Not The Average American. This Is Why He’s Out To Pasture.”

    [Twitter, 4/28/16]

     

  • Wayne Simmons, Right Wing Media’s Benghazi Expert, Pleads Guilty To Fraud

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Wayne Simmons

    Wayne Simmons, who presented himself as a national security expert and was a part of the conservative media push for a congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack, has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.

    In an April 29 press release the Department of Justice noted that Simmons “falsely claimed he spent 27 years working for the Central Intelligence Agency” and had pleaded guilty “to major fraud against the government, wire fraud, and a firearms offense.”

    The release further noted, “Simmons admitted he defrauded the government in 2008 when he obtained work as a team leader in the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain Systems program, and again in 2010 when he was deployed to Afghanistan as a senior intelligence advisor on the International Security Assistance Force’s Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team.”

    Dana J. Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said, “Simmons admitted he attempted to con his way into a position where he would have been called on to give real intelligence advice in a war zone. His fraud cost the government money, could have put American lives at risk, and was an insult to the real men and women of the intelligence community who provide tireless service to this country.”

    Simmons was a frequent guest on Fox News, appearing on the network dozens of times purporting to be a former CIA operative. In those appearances, Simmons regularly criticized Democrats on foreign policy and national security issues. In one instance, he said, “If the Democrats come into power in the United States and re-employ their vision of defense for this country, we will have 9-1-1s unabated.”

    Simmons was a member of Accuracy in Media’s (AIM) “Citizens' Commission” on Benghazi -- part of the conservative media’s ultimately successful push to get House Republicans to set up a panel to investigate the Benghazi attack. In that capacity, Simmons appeared on Fox and falsely claimed that the Obama administration had decided “to not rescue our former CIA operatives and our military” in Libya.

    When Simmons was first arrested for the fraud charges, AIM scrubbed references to his role from its website. Fox News acknowledged that he had appeared on the network as a “national security and terrorism expert,” but said he “was never employed by the channel and was never paid by Fox.”

  • Vox Explains How The House Panel Investigating Abortion Intimidates Scientists And Hurts Medical Research

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Vox’s Emily Crockett blasted the “Benghazi-style” House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which “rests on top of a giant powder keg of anti-abortion extremism,” for “recklessly intimidating scientists and researchers.” Crockett explained how the special committee, tasked with investigating fetal tissue donation by abortion providers, is targeting “anyone the committee can find who has a tangential connection to the issue” with subpoenas and putting them at risk of “violence from anti-abortion extremists.”

    Since July the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has released a series of deceptively edited videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood illicitly sells fetal tissue. Despite the fact that a growing number of states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have found no wrongdoing on the part of the women’s health organization, right-wing media and lawmakers have used the videos to target Planned Parenthood. Additionally, since the release of the videos, at least four Planned Parenthood clinics have been attacked in what law enforcement authorities consider possible acts of domestic terrorism, and an anti-choice activist has admitted that “over-heated rhetoric” and smears could be partially to blame for anti-choice violence.

    The April 29 Vox article noted how researchers using fetal tissue research to try to cure disease are "being terrorized” as a result of the House panel investigating CMP’s claims, and explained that “Being dragged into the limelight by Congress to talk about fetuses, or being forced to have their name entered into a public record because they work with fetuses, could be legitimately dangerous for scientists and researchers”:

    House Republicans have made a public enemy out of Planned Parenthood, of course, but they're not stopping there. They also have their eye on companies that handle fetal tissue, medical researchers, and even medical students — essentially, anyone the committee can find who has a tangential connection to the issue, except those who brought the spurious allegations about "selling baby parts" in the first place.

    Meanwhile, the scrutiny is interfering with the jobs of scientists and medical providers. At best, they live in fear of a subpoena; at worst, there's a target on their back for violence from anti-abortion extremists.

    Doctors who provide safe, legal abortion already live this nightmare every day. Public witch hunts like this House panel certainly aren't helping that. But they are helping to make sure that scientists and researchers will get to experience the same treatment.

    This panel shouldn't exist in the first place

    How did we get here? Last summer, a series of anti-abortion videos, produced by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its founder David Daleiden, came out claiming that "Planned Parenthood sells baby parts."

    Since then, it's become clear that the videos are blatant propaganda. That's not just my conclusion, but the conclusion that most credible media organizations couldn't ignore after learning the facts.

    […]

    Fetal tissue research is incredibly important. It brought us the vaccines against polio and chicken pox, and it could one day bring us the cure to Alzheimer's or diabetes.

    But because of the videos, this entire field is now under attack. Some states have started passing or proposing laws against fetal tissue research, including Indiana's bizarre new "bury your miscarriage" law that effectively bans tissue donation. And now the attack has moved to the federal level.

     […]

    It's bad enough to risk intimidating scientists and young researchers out of entering an important field. But it gets even worse. The House's "Panel on Infant Lives" also rests on top of a giant powder keg of anti-abortion extremism, which has already exploded once in 2015's shocking escalation of violence against abortion providers.

    Whole books have been written about the systematic terrorism that abortion providers, clinic staff, and volunteers are threatened with every day — from stalking and threats, to "Wanted" posters that feature doctors' photos and addresses, to vandalism and firebombs at clinics.

    It's bad enough that the videos and the endless political outrage around them undoubtedly caused more of this violence. But now, the people who use fetal tissue research to try to cure disease are also being terrorized.

    One university researcher spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity because the threats he's received have led his institution to post a guard outside his laboratory.

    Congressional investigations aren't supposed to work like trials. They're supposed to work like investigations.

    Being dragged into the limelight by Congress to talk about fetuses, or being forced to have their name entered into a public record because they work with fetuses, could be legitimately dangerous for scientists and researchers like these.

    […]

    It doesn't matter how many times CMP's claims have been proven wrong, or how often Daleiden's years-long history with other dubious smear campaigns gets pointed out. To some anti-abortion Republicans in Congress, these videos will always be indisputable evidence that Planned Parenthood was caught on tape doing something both immoral and illegal, and that these claims deserve serious investigation.

    It doesn't matter how much time or money all of this costs lawmakers or taxpayers. It doesn't matter that violent threats against abortion providers skyrocketed in 2015, and that a gunman ranting about "baby parts" shot up a Planned Parenthood in November in the deadliest-ever attack on a US abortion clinic.

    It doesn't matter how many investigations there have already been, and it never will. For the anti-abortion movement and their supporters in Congress, there will always be more investigating to do. There's always the chance that this time, they'll finally expose Planned Parenthood's evil deeds for all the world to see.

     

  • Wash. Post Debunks Right-Wing Myth That The Gender Wage Gap Results From Women's Choices

    New Research Shows The Gender Pay Gap Is Widening For College Graduates

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    The Washington Post highlighted new research demonstrating that pay disparities between men and women “start earlier in their careers than frequently assumed and have significantly widened” among college graduates in the past year. The research debunks a claim frequently promoted by right-wing media outlets that the obvious pay discrimination faced by millions of American women is the result of their personal and professional choices.

    In an April 28 post for The Washington Post's Wonkblog, reporter Danielle Paquette highlighted research from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and American Association of University Women (AAUW) demonstrating that pay disparities between men and women start as soon as students graduate from college, persist regardless of chosen career fields, and are actually worse for college graduates than for women with only a high school education. The research stands as yet more evidence against the misleading claim frequently pushed by conservative media outlets that the gender pay gap, if it exists at all, is actually the fault of women who pursue less lucrative professions and forgo career opportunities to have children and raise a family.

    From The Washington Post (emphasis added):

    Pay disparities between men and women start earlier in their careers than frequently assumed and have significantly widened for young workers in the past year, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute.

    Paychecks for young female college graduates are about 79 percent as large as those of their male peers, the think tank found -- a serious drop from 84 percent last year.

    The sudden change follows a more gradual shift. In 2000, women ages 21 to 24 with college degrees earned 92 percent of their male counterparts’ wages on average, which was unchanged from 1990.

    Regardless of their education, young women typically earn less money than young men in the United States. Female high-school graduates, ages 21 to 24, now earn an average of 92 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.

    [...]

    Some have argued that the wage gap, at any stage of a woman’s life, starts with her choices. Women are more likely than men to scale back at work when they start a family, for instance. (Employers are also more likely to reward fathers and penalize mothers.) But EPI's data shows that the gender wage gap cracks open right after college graduation, well before decisions like maternity leave can affect women’s earnings.

    [...]

    A 2015 AAUW report of workers one year out of college found considerable pay differences between men and women in the same career fields.

    Women who majored in business, for example, earned an average of $38,000, while men bagged just more than $45,000. In engineering, computer and information sciences fields, young female graduates earned between 77 and 88 percent of what their male colleagues made.

    Across all fields, after controlling for major, occupation and grade-point average, the report found women still earned 7 percent less than men.

  • Washington Post’s Waldman Explains How Donald Trump And Conservatives Spread Misinformation About The US Economy

    Paul Waldman: Between Republicans And Democrats’ Visions Of The Economy, "Only One Is Based In Reality"

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman described how GOP front-runner Donald Trump and conservatives are spreading misinformation about the economy to downplay economic success made during the Obama administration. Trump’s misinformation has been fueled and perpetuated by right-wing media outlets like Fox News.

    In an April 28 op-ed, Washington Post opinion blogger, Paul Waldman explained how Republicans are misleading about the health of the economy while dishonestly ignoring positive economic trends. Waldman specifically highlighted Donald Trump’s misinformation and how it drastically contrasted with reality:

    Here’s Donald Trump’s economic story:

    The economy is an absolute nightmare. Americans are living in such misery that they’re practically eating their own shoes in order to survive. If we cut taxes on the wealthy, reduce regulations on corporations, renegotiate trade agreements, and deport all illegal immigrants, then our economy will be spectacular and working people will experience American greatness again.

    [...]

    Trump’s story is the same one other Republicans tell, with the addition of the idea that “bad deals” on trade have had a crippling effect on the country. For the moment we’ll put aside the merits of Trump’s claim that imposing enormous tariffs on Chinese goods will cause all those jobs sewing clothing and assembling electronics to come pouring into the United States, but the political question around Trump’s story is whether people will believe his over-the-top description of both what’s happening now and the transformation he will be able to produce.

    […]

    Today, the objective reality is a lot closer to the way Democrats describe it, in large part because they aren’t offering an extreme version of their truth. If Obama and Clinton were more rhetorically similar to Donald Trump, they’d be saying that this is the greatest economy in the history of human civilization, everybody has a terrific job, and there’s so much prosperity that the only question any American has is whether to spend their money on everything they could ever want or just roll around in it like Scrooge McDuck.

    But they aren’t saying that. Instead, they’re attempting the tricky balancing act of emphasizing the progress Obama has made while acknowledging the long-term weaknesses in the economy. Both of those things are real. Since the bottom of the Great Recession early in Obama’s first term, the economy has added 14 million jobs, and unemployment is now at 5 percent. On the other hand, income growth has been concentrated at the top and Americans still feel uncertain about their economic futures.

    Donald Trump has chosen to pretend that the good things about the American economy don’t exist, and weave a laughable fantasy about what his policies will produce (“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created”).

    Trump’s misinformation echoes right-wing media, who often stoke fears and downplay positive changes in the U.S. economy.

  • Fox Figures Cheer Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech As “Presidential” 

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News figures praised Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s foreign policy address as “presidential” and “a significant step forward.”

    Donald Trump Delivers Major Foreign Policy Address

    Trump Claims His Foreign Policy Will Put "America First." According to an April 27 New York Times article, Trump gave a speech on his vision for foreign policy, criticizing President Obama and Hillary Clinton for what he described as “missteps that have disillusioned the nation’s allies and emboldened its rivals": 

    Donald J. Trump, exuding confidence after his resounding primary victories in the East, promised a foreign policy on Wednesday that he said would put “America first.” He castigated President Obama and Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state and a possible opponent in the general election, for what he described as a string of missteps that have disillusioned the nation’s allies and emboldened its rivals.
     
    Mr. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, pledged a major buildup of the military, the swift destruction of the Islamic State and the rejection of trade deals that he said tied the nation’s hands. But he also pointedly rejected the nation-building of the George W. Bush administration, reminding his audience that he had opposed the Iraq war.
     
    “America is going to be strong again; America is going to be great again; it’s going to be a friend again,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re going to finally have a coherent foreign policy, based on American interests and the shared interests of our allies.” [The New York Times4/27/16]

    Right Wing Media Figures Hail Trump’s Speech 

    Sean Hannity: “This Was A Pretty Amazing Speech Today, Obviously Presidential In Nature.” On the April 27 edition of Fox’s Sean Hannity’s radio show The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity praised Trump’s speech as “amazing” and “obviously presidential in nature” and said:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): This was a pretty amazing speech today, obviously presidential in nature, obviously depth and -- just the opposite of the way Trump has run his campaign up to this point, where he gave a scripted foreign policy speech that went into much detail at the Center for National Interests. He used lines like, "It’s time to shake off the rust of America's foreign policy, invite new voices, new visions into the fold is something that we have to do.”  The direction he outlines he said will also return us to a timeless principle and that “foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else.” It has to be first, it has to be. And then he went on to say that America first will be the major overriding theme of his administration. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show4/27/16]

     

    John Bolton: Trump’s Speech Was “A Significant Step Forward.” On the April 28 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Fox contributor John Bolton lauded Trump’s foreign policy speech as “a significant step forward.” Bolton claimed the address “brought Trump more into the mainstream” of GOP thinking and added that the purpose of the speech was to put Trump’s campaign “in a more presidential mode”:

    GREGG JARRETT (HOST): John Bolton is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a Fox News contributor. Ambassador, good to see you.  He advocated aggressiveness while advocating disengagement. Confusing?

    JOHN BOLTON: Well, I don’t think that’s exactly what he was saying. I think the points that he was trying to make, as I heard the speech, center on making American national interests the touchstone of what our foreign policy’s based on. And I think in far too many cases we have strayed from that into a kind of abstract philosophy about what's good for the whole world. The job of the president is to protect America. Others can look after themselves. So in that sense, I think by focusing on what’s important to us, he was able to go into a critique of Obama over the last seven years, and he basically repeated there what virtually every Republican member of the House and the Senate has said, namely, that under Obama our friends don’t respect us and our enemies don’t fear us. So I actually think the speech brought Trump more into the mainstream of Republican foreign policy, we can have a debate on it obviously on specifics, but I thought it was a significant step forward. [Fox News, Happening Now4/28/16]

    Laura Ingraham: Trump’s Foreign Policy Is “The Only Thing We Should Be Doing.” On the April 28 edition of Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham’s The Laura Ingraham Show, Ingraham compared Trump’s “sane” foreign policy speech with President Obama’s “muddled” international efforts and described the priorities Trump outlined as “the only thing we should be doing ”:

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): What's more in tune with the way your family talks about foreign policy? You hear your friends down the road, you know, conversation at work. What's more sane? Thinking you’re going to turn Middle Eastern countries into Western democracies or the idea of conserving our resources, rebuilding the homefront, and only getting involved in conflicts when it makes sense for the United States of America? To me, to me the latter is the only thing we should be doing. I love how people act like it's still 2004, or, frankly, 1996 and our economy, we have a budget, budget balanced, we have no heavy debt to really speak of. And people just act like it doesn't matter how much debt we have, it doesn't matter how much we owe the world, it doesn’t matter much in the way of bonds we have outstanding. None of that matters; we can keep just spending money like there’s no tomorrow. Hey, if the next generation has to have its social security cut, or draconian cuts in things that they paid into, then so be it. That’s just what we have to do. Then you have Obama that just has no coherent foreign policy at all except just to weaken us. So on the one hand you have the neoconservative foreign policy, which is basically you’ve never met a war you don't like. On the other hand you have Obama, which is completely muddled, and I guess it's foreign policy by drone. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show4/28/16]

    Harris Faulkner: “Clearly [Trump’s] Got Something Behind Him Now That’s Working.” On the April 28 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered, co-host Harris Faulkner praised Donald Trump for his “real, intimate understanding” of “where the Obama doctrine...has failed” and said Trump “was connected with the material” and “clearly he’s got something behind him now that’s working”:

    HARRIS FAULKNER (CO-HOST): Even as you were watching that speech yesterday, what Donald Trump did at first was lay out where the Obama doctrine, if you will, has failed. He had a real, intimate understanding of that, and I realize there was a prompter involved, but I never, you know, just from watching, because we covered it live here on Outnumbered, it happened during our hour. We have dissected enough of these types of speeches and news conferences by a lot of people to know when somebody is kind of faking the funk. I mean, he was connected with the material. Now, he's got a lot of advisers, we don't know who the lists are, but clearly he's got something behind him now that's working. [Fox News, Outnumbered4/28/16]

    Fox’s Gillian Turner: “This Was The Best Tone And Tenor We’ve Heard From Him.” On the April 28 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, Fox's Gillian Turner said Trump’s speech “was the best tone and tenor we’ve heard from him on the national defense, probably for the duration of the campaign so far” and said she “would have liked to have seen it six to eight months ago”:

    JON SCOTT (HOST): Gillian, I know that all of Washington, the foreign policy establishment, you might say, has been waiting for this speech. What do you think they heard? How is it being received?

    GILLIAN TURNER: A lot of anticipation surrounding it. The question was is this going to be Mr. Trump’s sort of come to Jesus moment with the establishment, and I believe that it was. This was the best tone and tenor we’ve heard from him on the national defense, probably for the duration of the campaign so far. I agree with the ambassador, I would have liked to have seen it six to eight months ago, would have made me feel a lot better about his prospects as commander in chief, but what I think he did today was he brought the substance to the heart of the Washington establishment. And I think that’s going to go a long way towards engendering some good will going forward as he tries to build his foreign policy team. [Fox News, Happening Now4/27/16]

    Fox’s Newt Gingrich: “He Said The Most Important Word Correctly: America. He Gets It.”

    [Twitter, 4/27/16]

    Fox’s Richard Grenell: “This Speech Shows Trump Is Growing As A Candidate. It Will Help Him A Lot.”

    [Twitter, 4/27/16]

  • Meet Troy Newman -- The Anti-Choice Extremist PBS Is Hosting To Talk About Guns

    Newman And His Associates Have A Long History Of Spouting Violent Rhetoric And Harassing Abortion Providers

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On May 10, PBS will air the documentary “The Armor of Light” and host an accompanying town hall encouraging audiences to examine “the relationship between guns and faith in America.” Notably, PBS’ town hall participants include Troy Newman, best known for harassing abortion providers and serving on Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s pro-life coalition.

    “The Armor of Light” is an anti-gun-violence documentary that “profiles the faith journeys of two Christians as they fight gun violence.” One of these Christians is the Rev.  Rob Schenck, an anti-choice minister trying to “preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America” to communities that largely favor gun ownership.

    Newman appears in a single scene of “The Armor of Light” as a contrast to Schenck’s pro-gun-safety views. In this scene, Newman parrots NRA talking points, such as leader Wayne LaPierre’s statement that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Despite this minor role in the film, PBS invited Newman to appear in a post-screening discussion.

    Membership in Cruz’s pro-life coalition is only Newman’s most recent credential. He has long served as the president of Operation Rescue -- an anti-choice group with a history of spouting violent rhetoric, and harassing abortion providers.

    For example, Operation Rescue vice president Cheryl Sullenger was sentenced to prison in 1987 for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic. Sullenger also communicated with Scott Roeder, the convicted assassin of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, providing him information about Tiller's schedule and location. A Rolling Stone profile of Operation Rescue described the organization’s strategy as a “smear campaign … to shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting.” The article said Operation Rescue members “rummage through employees’ garbage … tail them around town as they run errands … picket clinic staffers at restaurants while they’re inside having dinner and castigate them while they’re in line at Starbucks.” Newman’s explanation for this harassment was that he wanted providers and clinic employees to know that “they can’t live a normal life.”

    To further  this strategy, Newman has trained others and supported the development of spin-off groups that continue Operation Rescue’s work across the country. Newman previously served as a board member for the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the organization responsible for propagating a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood so fraudulent that CMP earned the title of Media Matters' 2015 Misinformer of the Year. CMP’s  deceptively edited videos purporting to show the illegal sale of fetal tissue have been repeatedly discredited, while numerous state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

    Newman claims that Operation Rescue has never endorsed violence yet in his book Their Blood Cries Out, Newman wrote that U.S. government had “abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty,” which would involve “executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes.” Similarly, when Paul Jennings Hill was executed for the murder of an abortion provider and a clinic escort, Newman argued that Hill should have been able to mount the defense that it was “necessary” to kill the providers in order to save "the lives of pre-born babies."

    Beyond his work with Operation Rescue, Newman also has a personal history of harassing providers -- a reputation that caused Australia to deport him out of concern that his “presence would be ‘a threat to good order’” and that he would “compromise the safety and wellbeing” of abortion providers and those seeking care.

    Harassment, violence, and threats against abortion providers and clinics have all been increasing. According to the National Abortion Federation, in 2015 there was a “dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder” against abortion providers. In September 2015, the FBI released an intelligence assessment that warned of an uptick in violence against abortion providers and clinics. This prediction was borne out tragically in November 2015 when Robert Dear killed three people and injured several more at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health care center.

    Given this alarming trend of anti-choice violence, PBS’ decision to invite Newman’s participation while also failing to disclose his long history of harassment is as puzzling as it is troubling.

  • Politico Report On Obama’s Smart Gun Plan Doesn’t Disclose Smart Gun Critic Received Gun Industry Money

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A Politico article on President Obama’s reported upcoming plan to “push” for smart gun technology quoted Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) executive director Jim Pasco attacking the technology without disclosing the FOP has received funding from the gun industry. Many of Pasco’s attacks on smart guns echoed the National Rifle Association and the gun industry.

    Politico’s article also credulously repeated the NRA’s misleading claim that it merely opposes laws that mandate the adoption of smart gun technology and not the development of smart gun technology in general.

    In an April 28 article, Politico reported President Obama “is opening a new front in the gun control debate, readying a big push for so-called smart gun technology -- an initiative that the gun lobby and law enforcement rank and file is already mobilizing against.” According to the report, “As early as Friday, Obama is set to formally release findings from the Defense, Justice and Homeland Security Departments on ways to spur the development of guns that can be fired only by their owner.”

    The article extensively quoted Pasco, who offered various attacks on smart gun technology, claiming that law enforcement officers would be used as “guinea pigs” to test the technology; that Obama’s move placed politics over officer safety; that police officers oppose the technology; and suggesting the technology could put officers in greater danger:

    “Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” said James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “We have some very, very serious questions.

    […]

    But at this point, the Obama administration already has frayed ties with rank-and-file cops, many of whom didn’t think the president took their side in his reactions to police violence and protests like those in Ferguson, Missouri. Pasco compared the push for smart guns to the decision to limit local departments’ access to surplus military equipment.

    “They sit down among themselves and decide what is best for law enforcement, but from a political standpoint, and then tell officers they’re doing it for their benefit,” Pasco said.

    Of the 330,000 officers in his union, Pasco said, “I have never heard a single member say what we need are guns that only we can fire,” noting that there might be moments in close combat when an officer would need to use a partner’s weapon or even the suspect’s.

    Politico did not disclose that FOP's charity has received money from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s trade group. According to a 2010 Washington Post investigation, NSSF gave FOP Foundation $100,000 in 2010. In 2015, NSSF announced a $25,000 contribution to FOP Foundation. NSSF senior vice president Larry Keane has attacked smart gun technology. In 2014 he published a factually inaccurate and unfounded column arguing that two Massachusetts political candidates lost their races because of support for the technology.

    The Politico article twice referenced FOP’s representation of “rank and file” police officers as explanation for FOP’s opposition to Obama’s reported proposal. But FOP has also been accused of representing corporate interests. The 2010 Washington Post profile -- which delved into Pasco’s other work as a lobbyist -- described him as “a product of the capital's revolving-door culture” with an “unusual” role as a lobbyist representing beer, cigarette, and entertainment companies that "raises questions about possible conflicts of interest," according to tax law specialists.

    According to the Post's reporting, under Pasco's leadership FOP has accepted donations from the gun industry lobby after taking positions favorable to that group, and the organization's positions have repeatedly aligned with the priorities of lobbying clients of Pasco and his wife.

    Washington Post pointed to several specific instances of apparent conflict:

    • In 2007, FOP "became pivotal to the" gun debate when it opposed the repeal of the Tiahrt amendment. The group backed other gun industry priorities in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, FOP's charity received $100,000 from NSSF.
    • In 1998, FOP opposed a bill giving the Food and Drug Administration the ability to regulate tobacco and raise the federal cigarette tax. In addition to leading FOP, Pasco at the time was a lobbyist for Philip Morris, which has paid his firm $600,000.
    • In 2005, while Pasco was receiving $200,000 from Sony to lobby on "Internet theft of intellectual property," FOP joined a legal brief backing the music industry in an intellectual-property case against a music-sharing website.

    The Politico article also repeated the NRA’s misleading claim about the gun organization’s position on smart guns, noting, “Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, are not against funding research for smart guns or putting them on shelves. But the NRA does oppose any law that would prohibit people from buying a gun that doesn’t have personalized technology.”

    The NRA’s attacks on smart gun technology go far beyond the group’s opposition to laws that mandate the adoption of the technology. While purporting to not oppose research into smart guns in a statement on its website, the NRA’s media arm routinely attacks the technology, often pushing either falsehoods about the reliability smart guns or by connecting the developing technology to conspiracy theories about the federal government.

  • Ezra Klein: “John Boehner Just Confirmed Everything Liberals Suspected About The Republican Party”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an April 28 piece for Vox, editor-in-chief Ezra Klein noted that former Republican House Speaker John Boehner recently validated the critique that the Republican Party is no longer a healthy political party devoted to governing.

    During a recent talk at Stanford University, Boehner harshly criticized Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh,” called the conservative House Freedom Caucus "knuckleheads" and "goofballs," and said Ronald Reagan “would be the most moderate Republican elected today.”

    Klein wrote that “Boehner is validating one of the most persistent and controversial critiques of the modern Republican Party” -- that they are the central problem in politics today. He concluded:

    Zoom out, and here is the condition of the modern Republican Party. Despite significant down-ballot strength, it has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and it looks likely to lose this one, too. The party has completely lost control of its own nominating process, and its choice now is to either elect Donald Trump, a candidate who isn't really a Republican and might be a historic disaster for the party, or risk a schism by trying to rip the nomination away from Trump amidst a contested convention. Meanwhile, John Boehner, the most powerful Republican elected official from 2008 to 2015, resigned in frustration last year and is now saying his party has been captured by idiots and zealots.

    Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have repeatedly warned the media and political observers that the core of Washington’s dysfunction “lies with the Republican Party." Mann and Ornstein issued their warning years ago, but many have been slow to adopt their conclusions.