A Wall Street Journal editorial argued that the Obama administration should "kill" the proposed EPA rule limiting power plant emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants by misrepresenting a reliability analysis and making an apples-to-oranges cost/benefit comparison.
After incessant coverage of the failed solar panel maker Solyndra, major TV and print news outlets are now ignoring a report concluding that "the focus on Solyndra is not proportional to its impact." The Bloomberg Government analysis of the Department of Energy's 1705 loan guarantee program found that 87 percent of the portfolio is low-risk and that even if all 10 of the higher risk projects defaulted, we'd still have nearly half a billion dollars left in the fund set aside by Congress to cover losses.
Alison Williams - who previously served as a DOE analyst under both the Bush and Obama administrations - authored the report, which is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the loan guarantee program that assisted Solyndra. According to a Nexis search, not a single major newspaper or television news outlet has reported on the analysis, which was covered by The Hill and the Huffington Post.
The main takeaway from the report is that 87 percent of the value of all the 1705 loan guarantees (18 of the 28 projects) went to power generation projects, as opposed to manufacturing projects like Solyndra's factory. The DOE required generation projects to secure a buyer before receiving a loan guarantee -- ensuring stable revenue and significantly reducing the risk of the investment. In fact, Shayle Kann, a solar power market expert at GTM Research, has said that these projects have almost no risk of default.
Last week, AT&T and the Federal Communications Commission had a bit of a falling out.
It all started when FCC chairman Julius Genachowski informed AT&T that the commission would recommend a judicial review of the wireless giant's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, citing concerns over anti-competitive effects and job losses. AT&T responded by withdrawing their merger request from the FCC in order to focus their attention on the Justice Department, which had already sued to block the deal. The FCC allowed the request to be withdrawn, but also released their own staff report on the proposed merger which detailed their concerns and the various "material questions of fact" left unanswered by the two telecom companies. AT&T fired back at the report, calling it biased and an "advocacy piece."
In short, AT&T -- known for getting its way around Washington -- has hit a regulatory wall. And this is unacceptable to L. Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal, who writes today (subscription required) that the FCC's actions are gross examples of "overregulation" and a lack of "regulatory humility."
We've long chronicled the right-wing media's problem with undertaking basic research before trying to smear progressives. Nonetheless, this one was a doozy.
Last week, we debunked the claim from three conservative bloggers that President Obama repeatedly met with a Department of Justice official "keenly aware" of the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious at "the height" of the operation. In fact, no evidence has been presented showing that the official was aware at the time of the controversial details of the program, and in any case, the meetings in question were actually White House visits to attend major events related to a visit by the Mexican President and the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
As we pointed out, hundreds to thousands of people attended these supposed meetings, making it extremely unlikely that the DOJ official was using them to secretly brief the President. And as we noted, this information was easily available through the same White House Visitors Office records that the right-wing bloggers were using to drum up their conspiracy.
Yesterday, the Daily Caller attempted to identify just where those bloggers went wrong:
But on the dates in question, the logs specifically referred to formal arrivals and receptions related to a State Dinner for Mexican president Felipe Calderón. It's unclear whether the three writers noticed this feature of the visitor logs, since the spreadsheets' columns related to the purpose for the visits is hidden from view and only become visible when readers scroll a considerable distance to one side.
That's how pathetic even the Caller acknowledges the right-wing blogosphere must be: they are either too incompetent to "scroll a considerable distance to one side" in order to confirm their conspiracies before they run with them or they're simply uninterested in the truth.
For their part, the Caller was also apparently unable to pull off the scrolling trick on their own. Instead, after reading the claims of right-wing bloggers, they contacted the White House directly, who pointed them to our post. It remains to be seen whether the Caller has learned not to take such sources seriously in the future.
In a hard-hitting* interview with Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard opened by asking:
Well, I'm sure you saw EPA chief Lisa Jackson was named Energy Policy Maker of the Year by Politico last night. And I quote, "The EPA chief has been a forceful advocate on environmental issues and has held the line against intense Republican attacks on her agency." Is this kind of like Time picking Hitler or Khomeini as Man of the Year - whoever had the most impact whether for good or ill?
Later, Sheppard alleged that Jackson is "trying to set policy without oversight by the legislature" based on the "anthropogenic global warming myth."
In fact, it was the Supreme Court that ruled that the EPA is required to regulate greenhouse gases under the bipartisan Clean Air Act unless it "it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change" or "provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do." Following extensive review of peer-reviewed scientific literature, which overwhelmingly concludes that global warming is caused by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases, the EPA found that greenhouse gases classify as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
"RED ALERT: Deputy A.G. behind 'Fast and Furious' met with President Obama four times during the height of the operation" read the headline to a post in Doug Ross's DirectorBlue blog on Monday. The post then proceeds to weave a narrative suggesting President Obama was repeatedly meeting with a Department of Justice official "keenly aware" of the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious at "the height" of the operation.
Sipsy Steet Irregulars conspiracist Mike Vanderbough, quickly picked up Ross' post, asking "Well, well, well. What do you know about this, Mr. President?" Surely the intrepid journalists at Daily Caller cannot be far behind.
As underwhelming as it is to establish that a series of "meetings" happened without a bit of information about what was discussed, Ross doesn't even get the facts straight on that. A closer look -- scrolling right -- at the White House Visitor Records data Ross is citing strongly suggests he's established nothing more than Grindler's attendance at speeches and events at the White House where between one hundred and several thousand other people were present. Looks like it's to time to cancel the draft impeachment articles.
Ross' big find is that Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler is listed in the White House visitor log records that were recently released as having visited Obama -- "POTUS" -- four times. Grindler received a briefing on the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious and although the documents related to the briefing did not mention the controversial "gun walking" tactics and the Department of Justice has said the briefing did not include "the operational tactics that have since raised concerns" it was enough for Ross to posit that Grindler "was keenly aware of all aspects of Fast and Furious." Ross:
Item 3: Newly released White House Visitor Logs list Grindler as having visited the White House 40 times, but only four times with the President himself. All four meetings with the President occurred over a two-week period, between 7 May 2010 and 19 May 2010.
According to The Los Angeles Times, these dates just so happened to represent the run-up to "the height of [Operation] Fast and Furious":
Ross concludes: "So my question is this: What did President Obama know -- and when did he know it?"
Looking at the complete visitor log entries the whole thing falls apart instantly. The four meetings appear to actually be three visits to attend heavily-reported public or diplomatic events where many, many other people were present.
The Daily Caller's headline: "Holder blames Americans for gun-running"
The Daily Caller's lede:
Attorney General Eric Holder scolded The Daily Caller's reporting on the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal shortly after government officials and reporters heard him admonish Americans for funding gun-runners.
What Holder actually said, as reported by the Daily Caller:
Holder appeared Tuesday at a White House event to showcase a new media campaign that is intended to stigmatize the selling and buying of knock-off videos and counterfeit fashion products.
Holder recorded one critical radio ad, which is titled "You can help." The clip was played to the audience in the White House auditorium.
"This is Attorney General Eric Holder. We are working hard to protect our communities by reducing gang violence and organized crime and there is an important and simple way that you can help. Some street gangs and organized crime groups are selling counterfeit products, such as fake watches, DVDs and purses, as an easy way to make money. And they use that money to fund other crimes, like trafficking in drugs and guns."
"When you buy knock-offs on the street or online, although it may not be obvious, you could be supporting gangs, putting money in their pockets and helping them to engage in other illegal activities that put our communities at risk," said Holder in the radio ad.
So an alternate, accurate headline would have been: "Holder asks Americans to help prevent gun-running." But that doesn't make the attorney general look bad. And it doesn't conform to the Daily Caller's editorial policy of manufacturing controversies over Eric Holder and Fast and Furious.
The Daily Caller's attempt to pass out pitchforks to GOP members of Congress and send them after Attorney General Eric Holder has now been called out by the target himself.
TPM's Ryan J. Reilly reports:
Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday told a reporter with the conservative news website The Daily Caller that the news organization was ginning up calls for him to resign over ATF's botched Operation Fast and Furious.
The reporter approached Holder after an event at the White House on the federal government's efforts to combat counterfeit goods.
"You guys need to... you guys need to stop this," TPM heard Holder tell the reporter. "There's not an organic* thing happening, you guys are behind this."
Holder was referencing Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle's month-long quest to find relatively low-ranking Republican members of Congress interested in taking a free shot at the Obama administration by calling for Holder's resignation. The putative rationale for these calls is the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious; new evidence has been revealed indicating that Holder know about the controversial tactics used in that operation.
You may remember Boyle from his public humiliation over a ludicrously false September report that the Environmental Protection Agency wants to hire "230,000 new bureaucrats -- at a cost of $21 billion -- to attempt to implement" new climate change regulations." Boyle's colleagues were reportedly embarrassed by the decision by DC executive editor David Martosko -- who has a long record in conservative political advocacy but none in journalism -- to stand behind Boyle's reporting.
At most publications, a misstep of this magnitude would have consequences. But at the Caller, it's more of a feature than a bug. And so Boyle has apparently spent much of the last month calling around to Republican politicians and asking them whether they think Holder should resign. That's creating a story, not reporting one.
For the press, it was too good to be true -- and it was. The news media was eating up anything it could find about Solyndra when Bloomberg ran a September 28 report headlined "Solyndra Plant Had Whistling Robots, Spa Showers" focused on the amenities of Solyndra's facility including "robots that whistled Disney tunes." Fifteen paragraphs in, Bloomberg eventually explained:
Robots that resembled "a big freezer with wheels" maneuvered around the factory transporting panels from one machine to another, said George Garma, 49, a former Solyndra equipment maintenance technician from Fremont. The Disney tunes alerted workers to the robots' presence.
Or, as Politifact recently reported, the "robots" were "automated guided vehicles" designed to transport materials -- a common technology used since the 1950's -- and the "whistling" was preloaded music played to alert workers that the vehicles were nearby for safety reasons. The automated vehicles were not lavish expenses, but standard technology that reduced labor costs. Music is used instead of beeping, which "can drive workers nuts -- and sometimes they tune it out, presenting a safety hazard," according to Politifact.
But Greenwire and CNN's American Morning didn't see fit to explain any of that. Neither, of course, did Fox News in its coverage of the "singing robots" on Your World, On The Record, and Special Report. Andrew Napolitano declared on his Fox Business show that Solyndra executives "entertain themselves with robots whistling Disney tunes in the hallways." I could be entertained by this for hours:
Employing a litany of misleading claims, a Wall Street Journal editorial attacked the EPA for standards proposed in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to increase the fuel economy of cars and light trucks.
From the November 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the November 17 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Indiana's Journal Gazette published a flawed op-ed by Evan Bayh that repeats industry talking points in an effort to paint an inaccurate, negative picture of EPA's long-overdue rule to limit air toxics emissions from coal plants. The Journal Gazette fails to disclose that Bayh has ties to companies that stand to benefit from dismantling the rules and was hired by the Chamber of Commerce to "carry" its anti-regulatory message around the country.
Reporting on emails selectively released by House Republicans, numerous media outlets falsely claimed the documents show Obama donor George Kaiser -- whose family foundation invested in Solyndra -- discussing Solyndra's federal loan with the White House, with Fox going even further to claim "quid pro quo." In fact, the emails occurred after Solyndra had already received the loan guarantee and do not indicate that Kaiser discussed the loan with the White House.
Captain Bob Kolenda, director of the Kansas City Regional Terrorism Early Warning Group (KCTEW), confirmed in an interview with Media Matters that an analyst with his group warned more than a year ago of the potentially dangerous consequences of former Alabama militia leader Mike Vanderboegh's novel Absolved.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced the arrests of four Georgia men who were allegedly inspired by the book to plot terror attacks against federal employees and civilians. Kolenda, a 34-year veteran of the Overland Park Police Department, responded to the arrests by saying his group's analyst "hit the nail on the head" in highlighting Vanderboegh's novel.
Terrorism Early Warning Groups, also known as fusion centers, bring together local, state, and federal law enforcement as well as public and private organizations to share information and detect and deter terrorist threats. KCTEW has eight full-time employees, received funding from federal grants, and is supported by the Overland Park and Kansas City police departments.
Fox News has repeatedly featured Vanderboegh as an expert on the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious in recent months, mainstreaming a former militia leader who once urged his readers to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices. Fox has yet to address their prior promotion of Vanderboegh in their reports on the alleged Georgia terror plot
In Vanderboegh's novel, which was self-published online, underground militia fighters declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. In the introduction to Absolved, Vanderboegh calls the book "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF" and "a combination field manual, technical manual and call to arms for my beloved gunnies of the armed citizenry." According to the Justice Department, one of the alleged domestic terrorists repeatedly cited the novel as the inspiration for their plot.
In October 2010, an analyst for KCTEW produced a report warning that Vanderboegh's novel could inspire terrorist threats. The report detailed the book's plot, particularly its protagonists' "attacks on government facilities," highlighted Vanderboegh's history of extremism, and stated (emphasis added):
The stories told by Vanderboegh show that many in the U.S. harbor a belief that the U.S. government is planning, or will plan, a confiscation of firearms from law-abiding citizens. The degree to which he glorifies the killing of law enforcement personnel involved in fictional gun raids also shows the extent many will go to spread their ideology. Vanderboegh's and other works of literature have the possibility to inspire those with extremist beliefs to carry out similar attacks depicted in the writings.
Both the report and Kolenda stressed that possession of Vanderboegh's novel and membership in his extremist Three Percenters organization does not in and of itself indicate a propensity towards domestic terrorism. Nonetheless, Kolenda pointed out that the analyst produced the report because it was "his opinion that it could lead people to do things" of that nature.
Kolenda said that the report had been distributed to local law enforcement so that if they came across the book during their investigations, they would be informed as to its contents and author.