I have to hand it to the Daily Caller: They provide great stenography. If you're a right-winger and you want your claims credulously repeated, they're the ones to talk to -- especially if you want your partisan leanings disguised.
In the latest example, Tucker Carlson's vanity project devoted nearly 1,300 words to a hit piece attacking Loretta King, a career lawyer at the Department of Justice. The article is based on quotes from five conservatives who Daily Caller reporter Caroline May says are "wondering whether her guide is the law or racial politics." Incredibly, May carefully hides the right-wing backgrounds of all of those critics.
While May interviewed three right-wing King critics for the piece and quoted from statements by two other right-wing critics, she gives no indication that she attempted to find any King defenders. Instead, she provides comments from DOJ spokespersons that deal with specific issues with which King was involved, and reports that "King declined to comment to the DC" (it's not particularly surprising that a mid-level DOJ staffer refused to comment on the record for a right-wing publication's hit piece).
It's also worth pointing out that the Caller piece opens with a glaring error on a basic fact. The article is titled "Critics contend Assistant Attorney General Loretta King motivated more by racial politics than the law." May reports in the article's first sentence that King is "a little-known assistant attorney general." But King isn't an assistant attorney general; she's one of several deputy assistant attorneys general who report to Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights. She served for a time as acting assistant attorney general back in 2009, but that tenure ended in October of that year when Perez was sworn in.
It's telling that the Caller feels the need to fib about King's position in order to justify their article. I'd say this effort is embarrassing, but we're talking about the Daily Caller here.
In a Washington Times piece, Kerry Picket criticized the Department of Justice for saying that its Civil Rights Division is "committed to ending bullying and harassment in schools" and for highlighting its "authority to enforce federal laws that protect students from discrimination and harassment at school because of their race, national origin, disability, religion, and sex, including harassment based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes."
Echoing The Washington Times piece, a National Review Online blog post also attacked the Justice Department's initiative on bullying.
What's wrong with the department's anti-bullying initiative? If harassment rises to the level of a civil rights violation, shouldn't the Department of Justice step in to do something about it?
Not according to Picket. Picket writes that there is a "catch" to what the Department of Justice is doing. It is only targeting some types of bullying, and not dealing with the scenario in which an "overweight straight white male who is verbally and/or physically harassed because of his size."
But here's the thing. If a person is harassed "because of his size," and his size alone, the Justice Department does not have the power to step in. And it's irrelevant whether the victim is straight, gay, or bisexual or white, Asian, black, or Native American. In this context, the Department of Justice enforces civil rights laws, and there is no current civil rights law dealing with discrimination on the basis of weight. On the other hand, if the white male were being bullied because of his race or gender, there may be a role for the Justice Department.
Perhaps law professor David Bernstein at the libertarian Volokh Conspiracy blog put it best: Picket's piece "seems like a cheap rhetorical trick-trying to insinuate that the administration has something against 'straight white males' when the administration is simply staying within the limits of its legal authority."
J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky have a problem. For some time now, these right-wing operatives and former Justice Department lawyers have been beating the drum over the Obama Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panthers pseudoscandal. With that manufactured controversy continuing to fall apart, they are now desperately lashing out at perceived enemies in a frantic attempt to salvage it.
According to them, the decision by senior career lawyers at DOJ to drop charges against some of the defendants in the case demonstrates racially biased corruption. These claims never stood up to scrutiny, and now, according to Adams' DOJ sources, the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility is preparing to issue a report that will find that the attorneys who overruled Adams and his trial team did not act improperly.
Adams and von Spakovsky are responding by declaring that "the fix is in" and that the report is a "whitewash" (yes, they both use the exact same language). They are also attacking OPR and its head as "partisan." The irony is thick.
Imagine for a moment that a major newspaper published a front-page story pointing out ties between a Democratic member of Congress and the terror group Hamas. Imagine if the paper reported that the member of Congress had told attendees at a pro-Hamas rally to "pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women." Imagine if the paper reported that a judge had thrown him out of a Hamas murder trial as an "obvious collaborator."
Imagine that rather than deny any of those allegations or renounce his past support for a terrorist organization, that Democratic member of Congress told the paper that Hamas was a "legitimate force."
How do you think Fox News would respond?
They'd be doing wall to wall coverage, wouldn't they? There would be theme music and a logo -- "Terrorist In The House?" with that question mark if he was lucky. He'd be denounced by the network's daytime hosts, and Fox's crack terrorism "experts" would be called upon to question how he could remain in Congress.
And Heaven help him if he were to venture onto the network to defend himself; he'd be subject to withering criticism and probably have "Terrorist Sympathizer" added to his captions.
The reason I bring this up is that the New York Times published a front-page story today on Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) unrepentant support for the IRA. And I'm not seeing any of the above hoopla on Fox.
The story finally came up during King's interview on America's Newsroom. Watch how Martha MacCallum handles the issue:
Notice how she doesn't even start the interview with the incredible disclosure that the chairman of the Homeland Security committee has supported a terrorist organization. When she gets around to it, she asks an open-ended question, then sits silently as he completely ducks the question, choosing to talk not about his support for the IRA but instead about how much he has been praised for his work on the Northern Ireland peace process.
That's about it. Apparently satisfied with King's non-answer, MacCallum moves on to other topics.
And that's how Fox News handles the revelation that a GOP congressman supported a foreign terror group.
According to Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA sent a letter to the Wall Street Journal objecting to a highly misleading editorial published in January. The Journal has evidently declined to publish the letter.
In a January 27 editorial titled "Land of Milk and Regulation" the Journal falsely claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency planned to regulate milk spills under the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) program -- which requires certain facilities to have an oil spill prevention plan -- because milk contains "a percentage of animal fat, which is a non-petroleum oil." However, as International Dairy Foods Association official Clay Detlefsen has said, the editorial contained "some inaccuracies."
Indeed, in January 2009 the EPA proposed a to exempt milk containers from the SPCC regulation. In the meantime, the EPA has delayed the compliance date for milk storage containers to ensure that such facilities would not be subject to the oil spill regulation. The EPA informed the National Milk Producers Federation that it would delay compliance in a June 2010 letter and officially announced the action in October.
Somehow, the Journal editorial neglected to mention any of these facts. According to a Factiva search, the newspaper has not reported or commented on the issue since.
The EPA website states that the final rule exempting milk from the SPCC requirements is forthcoming.
Last week Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) cited the Journal editorial during a Congressional hearing to bolster Republicans' claims of "overreach by the EPA." In response, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said that her agency had sent a "letter to the editor" explaining that the claim is "not accurate" -- which she said the Journal "has yet to find the time or space to publish." From the hearing (transcript via Nexis):
On Tuesday, Fox & Friends ran a segment about a new portable DNA analyzer soon to begin testing by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The facts are these: The analyzer is entering preliminary testing, and it will be used in situations where DNA analyses are legal and authorized, such as establishing familial relationships in refugee cases. A document that details USCIS policies clearly explains that all such tests are completely voluntary. The TSA will not be involved in the testing the device, and has no intention to explore DNA testing.
None of that stopped Fox & Friends from pushing the completely concocted falsehood that the TSA will test passengers' DNA at airport security checkpoints. Co-host Steve Doocy teased the segment by saying, "And if you thought you thought pat-downs were bad, just wait. Now the TSA wants your DNA." In the segment, co-host Gretchen Carlson said the government claimed it would "build a database of terrorists and ... profile." On-screen graphics during the segment were particularly egregious, containing phrases such as, "New TSA Device Will Check Genes," "TSA Will Check Passengers' DNA Results," and "DNA Swap At Airports; 'Genetic Patdown' Device To Be Introduced."
Another misleading story about the same device appeared in the February 26 edition of the News Corp. iPad newspaper The Daily. Where the Fox & Friends segment was brazenly false, The Daily article simply fearmongered that the DNA analyzers could be abused. The text of the article did not mention the TSA -- although the URL does -- but the article led by discussing airport scanners: "Airport scanners already get under your clothes, but federal officials aren't stopping there: They want to get inside your genes, too." The implication of the headline presentation is, let's just say, explicitly clear:
A Fox & Friends segment reported that the Transportation Security Administration will begin testing airline passengers' DNA at airports. In reality, the Department of Homeland Security is planning to test a portable DNA screener for use in certain immigration cases; the TSA is not testing the device and says it has no plans to test DNA.
According to a Washington Examiner editorial getting some play on Fox Nation, the Obama administration has declared a "war against cars" -- a war funded by Obama's budget 2012 request for the Department of Transportation.
The editorial notes that Obama would increase DOT spending for 2012 and then suggests that the administration is funding "enormously expensive high-speed rail, unprofitable low-speed Amtrak, and other forms of government-subsidized mass transit" at the expense of building "roads and bridges."
In fact, the 2012 budget significantly increases funding for the Federal Highway Administration -- which takes up the majority of the DOT's budget -- to rebuild roads and bridges. In addition, highway infrastructure is the principal recipient of a $50 billion "up-front" economic boost for DOT in 2012, which the agency says "will be targeted towards projects that will quickly create American jobs here at home while improving our transportation infrastructure for the next generation."
In other words, Obama's Transportation budget makes life better for cars and drivers. At the same time, it promotes additional transportation options like public transit and high-speed rail. To most of us, having more transportation options allows us to go places we wouldn't otherwise be able to reach, but according to the Washington Examiner, Obama's proposals somehow "reduce Americans' mobility":
[Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood has become an outspoken proponent of what rabid environmentalists misleadingly call "livability." That's a rhetorical device used by Democratic officials and political activists, as well as liberals in the mainstream media, to justify using government funding to force people now living in the suburbs to move back into densely packed central cities where they would have to depend upon mass transit rather than privately owned vehicles. While that might not seem like such a big difference, it is, because cars enable people to go where they choose when they choose. With mass transit, government decides for you where and when you go.
Policies that reduce Americans' mobility also dramatically shrink their access to new job opportunities, which is crucial to wealth production in a dynamic economy. Mobility equals freedom, but under the Obama administration's latest transportation proposal, taxpayers will pay more for less of both.
The Washington Examiner claims, "With mass transit, government decides for you where and when you go." I suppose in their ideal world, we're either walking or we're driving. If you don't have a car, you may not be able to get very far, but at least you're free from the tyranny of bus timetables.
Media Matters' Simon Maloy details below how the Fox Cycle -- in which right-wing attacks go mainstream with the help of the network before being inevitably debunked -- bore fruit this morning as Republican members of Congress questioned Attorney General Eric Holder about the Fox-pushed New Black Panthers Party phony scandal.
But that same congressional hearing also saw the birth of a new transmission belt for conservative attacks. I'll call this one the Adams Cycle, after its propagator J. Christian Adams, the GOP operative and former DOJ attorney who started the New Black Panthers Party fabrication.
The Adams Cycle goes as follows:
1. Sources at DOJ -- almost definitely conservative attorneys hired under the Bush administration's politicization of that department -- leak information or documents to Adams.
2. Adams attacks DOJ with bogus story based on leaked information.
3. Republican representative raises bogus story during House hearing, crediting Adams.
4. DOJ shoots down story.
The Fox Cycle may -- but does not necessarily have to -- kick in between steps 2 and 3 of the Adams Cycle.
Here's today's example.
From the February 21 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
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This morning, we laid out how the conspiracy theory Andrew Breitbart has laid out with regard to the settlement of the Pigford black farmer discrimination appears to require the complicity of the Senate Republican caucus, the Bush administration, and Hillary Clinton, among others. Over the next few days, we will dissect the faulty logic and lack of basic research Breitbart employs in putting his conspiracy together.
This post examines Breitbart's theory that after his misleading video catapulted Shirley Sherrod's name into the headlines, Senate Democrats pulled funding for the Pigford II settlement from a supplemental appropriations bill because they were worried that because Sherrod was a prominent Pigford claimant, her story would draw attention to the lawsuit and lead to the exposure of the Pigford "fraud."
This theory makes no sense, for a variety of reasons. The Pigford funding was removed after Republicans voted en masse against passing a bill with that funding; it was removed not alone but as part of a package of $22 billion that the House had added to a previous version of the bill; Senate Democrats publicly slammed Republicans for voting against that funding; and Senate Democrats vowed to attach the funding to other bills.
Andrew Breitbart claims that working for Media Matters for America means that we "by default disagree with everything" he says. This isn't necessarily true, but it's clear to us that no matter where you work, you should take everything Breitbart says with an entire lick of salt; he tweaks, twists and flat-out tramples the truth too often to maintain a semblance of reliability.
In an interview at the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC), Breitbart told Media Matters for America's Joe Strupp that MSNBC blamed him (Breitbart) for Congress' failure to appropriate settlement funds for black farmers because Breitbart published his phony Shirley Sherrod scandal that same week. He said:
BREITBART: MSNBC twice that week blamed me for the black farmers not getting their settlement because it was supposed to be passed that week. They thought I was setting up a trap...MSNBC blamed me for that.
Breitbart was repeating a claim he published in a BigGovernment.com blog post on December 6, 2010:
Nation editor Chris Hayes was filling in for Rachel Maddow and reported that I was responsible for black farmers not getting their settlement money.
"Conservative con artist, 1; black farmers, 0," liberal Journolist Hayes said snarkily.
Breitbart's characterization is simply false. As the video Breitbart linked to makes clear, Hayes actually said the exact opposite:
HAYES: It doesn't appear that last week's fake [Sherrod] scandal was what caused the Senate to strip restitution for victims of actual, real-life, documented discrimination from the appropriations bill.
Breitbart's truth-twisting was accentuated by a repeated misquote, In his blog post above, he quotes Hayes saying "Conservative con artist, 1; black farmers, 0."
In fact, Hayes said in that segment: "It's just that as the dust clears from last week's collective frenzy, take a look at the score: conservative con artists, 1, victims of real-world racial discrimination, 0."
He repeats the imprecision later in his interview with Media Matters (and removes the "con artist" language while he's at it), saying: "MSNBC thought it was a compelling argument last week when they accused me in a segment that said 'conservative activist, 1; black farmers, 0.'"
But Hayes wasn't, as Breitbart alleges, claiming that Breitbart had defeated the black farmers and kept them from receiving Pigford funds. He was comparing two different stories -- the failure to pass Pigford funds and Breitbart's invitation to appear at a Republican National Committee event -- to point out that despite Breitbart's Sherrod smear, he was still being rewarded at the same time victims of discrimination were being punished.
The fact that Breitbart misquotes Hayes about whether he used the phrase "black farmers" or "victims of real-world racial discrimination" isn't a big deal in itself, but it's part of a larger pattern of lazy mistakes and general disregard for accuracy.
This disregard for the truth (and an accompanying persecution complex) couldn't be more apparent in his complete mischaracterization of MSNBC's reporting. When these little mistakes pepper so much of Breitbart's work, it makes you wonder what other corners he's cut.
We've documented that Andrew Breitbart's admitted months-long obsession with the settlement of the Pigford black farmer discrimination is intimately wrapped up with his quest for vindication over his smear of Shirley Sherrod.
In that quest for vindication Breitbart has dreamed up an intricate conspiracy theory that involves Sherrod, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former Vice President Al Gore, Paul Friedman (the federal judge overseeing the Pigford case), and the plaintiffs' lawyers who filed the Pigford case. The apparent goal of the conspiracy, in Breitbart's mind, was to give reparations to African Americans, give Sherrod $13.3 million, "screw over" all "real" African American farmers other than Sherrod, and ultimately elect Obama as president.
In a nutshell, Breitbart says that the Pigford settlement is not about helping black farmers who were the subject of discrimination, but was about giving reparations. It was a vehicle for Democrats to win black votes in 2000 and beyond: Obama agreed to support legislation helping Pigford claimants because all of a sudden he needed to get a leg up in his successful run for the 2008 Democratic nomination.
In Breitbart's world, Sherrod, who has been awarded more money than any other Pigford claimant to date, was fired from her job because the deceptively-edited video Breitbart posted that falsely portrayed Sherrod as racist threatened to shine a spotlight on Sherrod and therefore on the Pigford fraud supported by Obama.
Even at first glance, not much about Breitbart's theory makes sense. For instance, Obama first co-sponsored a Pigford bill in February 2007, well before any primaries had taken place. Furthermore, why would firing Sherrod make it less likely that the media would focus on her?
In addition, in order for his theory that Pigford was about reparations and getting Obama elected to work, others would also have to be involved, or else be dupes. Other conspirators include Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, President Bush's Agriculture Department, President Bush's Department of Justice, and the following Republicans in Congress: Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), the rest of the Republican caucus in the Senate in 2010, and Reps. Steve Chabot (OH) and James Sensenbrenner (WI). Others who may be involved include the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office.
That's one crazy conspiracy.
From the February 12 coverage of CPAC 2011:
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From the February 11 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
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