Today on Fox News' America Live, Megyn Kelly offered repeated tension-filled teases for an interview with a "former DOJ official" who she promised would explain how the White House "had to know" about the controversial tactics used in the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious and would provide "his take on what Mr. [Attorney General Eric] Holder likely knew and when he knew it." But Kelly's big get wasn't someone with any actual knowledge of the operation or its aftermath, but rather Andrew C. McCarthy, the resident anti-Obama conspiracy theorist at the right-wing National Review.
McCarthy's credentials to make broad claims about what the White House and senior DOJ officials would be limited even if his credibility was not; he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York, not at DOJ headquarters in Washington, DC, and left public service in 2003.
But McCarthy's credibility certainly is in question. While McCarthy first gained fame for prosecuting the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, in recent years he has become known for his viciously anti-Muslim rhetoric and adoption of conspiracy theories.
Obama's radicalism, beginning with his Alinski/ACORN/community organizer period, is a bottom-up socialism. This, I'd suggest, is why he fits comfortably with Ayers, who (especially now) is more Maoist than Stalinist. What Obama is about is infiltrating (and training others to infiltrate) bourgeois institutions in order to change them from within -- in essence, using the system to supplant the system. A key requirement of this stealthy approach (very consistent with talking vaporously about "change" but never getting more specific than absolutely necessary) is electability.
McCarthy has also:
The Washington Free Beacon is claiming that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) voted for "massive new regulations on the coal industry" that will raise electric bills in her state by "as much as 23 percent." But this figure overstates even a questionable analysis that looked at several EPA rules, not just the mercury and air toxics rule that Sen. McCaskill voted on.
Free Beacon claimed that "the cost of compliance" with the first national standards limiting the emissions of mercury and several air toxics from power plants "could raise consumer electricity bills by as much as 23 percent" in Sen. McCaskill's state of Misssouri, linking to an op-ed that cites a report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization that works with corporations and state politicians to promote legislation. The ALEC report claims that electric rates in Missouri will rise 11.1 to 23 percent due to several proposed and finalized EPA rules, not just the mercury rule. It is completely opaque in its methodology, but cites two sources that it says partially formed the basis of its utility rate claims. The first source it cites is an estimate from electric utilities themselves; ALEC cites a document from coal giant American Electric Power, which does not contain any information on Missouri's electric rates.
The second source is a 2011 report prepared for a coal industry group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, by NERA Consulting. The ACCCE report studied the combined effects of the aforementioned mercury rule (which at the time of the report was proposed but not finalized), the finalized Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the proposed coal ash rule and the proposed cooling water intake rule. According to the report, together these rules would increase the average retail electric price by 6.5%, and would increase electric prices in West Missouri by 8% and East Missouri by 11.1%. An expert from Andover Technology, a consulting company for the air pollution control industry, wrote that the ACCCE report "makes several assumptions that are inconsistent with actual practice" and "lead to overestimation of the cost of regulations." The chief economist at the Natural Resources Defense Council agreed.
And while Free Beacon called the mercury regulation "harsh," most power plants are already meeting the rule, which will bring the oldest, dirtiest plants into line. And it's not as if the rule is a surprise. The executives of major energy companies have noted that "for over a decade, companies have recognized that the industry would need to install controls to comply with the [Clean Air] act's air toxicity requirements, and the technology exists to cost effectively control such emissions."
From the June 21 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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In his latest column, WND editor Joseph Farah takes the right-wing media's misreading of President Obama's declaration of executive privilege with regard to some documents concerning the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious sought by congressional Republicans to its "logical" conclusion: President Obama has declared himself, "quite possibly, an accessory to murder." From the piece:
Now understand what this means. Obama cannot claim executive privilege for any member of his administration. He can only do so for himself and his inner circle of advisers, and should never do so unless it's a matter of national security.
What Obama did, in apparent desperation, was to expose his own personal complicity in this scandal, making him, quite possibly, an accessory to murder.
Can you imagine how big this scandal is and how far it reaches for the administration to take such a gamble?
Farah's point appears to be that by claiming executive privilege for these documents, Obama has acknowledged personal involvement in the authorization of Fast and Furious, and thus, since guns trafficked to Mexico through that program were used to kill people, he could be an "accessory" to those murders.
This doesn't make any sense.
First of all, the documents in question don't deal with the authorization of Operation Fast and Furious, but rather the administration's response to congressional inquiries in response to that operation. Even if Obama was directly involved in that response, it would in no way indicate his "personal complicity in" the operation.
But the administration has not claimed executive privilege on the basis of the president's personal involvement. Which brings us to another problem with Farah's column: his statement that "Obama cannot claim executive privilege for any member of his administration" is simply not true.
As Ohio State University law professor Peter Shane wrote at CNN.com this morning, the Obama administration has claimed deliberative privilege with regard to the documents in question, which "aims to protect documents generated anywhere in the executive branch that embody only the executive's internal deliberations, not final policy decisions."
Rush Limbaugh continued to amplify the politicized Republican investigation into the Fast and Furious scandal and the contempt hearings against Attorney General Eric Holder by trying to downplay the 2007 scandal over the firings of several Bush-appointed U.S. attorneys and minimize the role then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales played.
He claimed the reason congressional Democrats "were after" Gonzales "and other Hispanics the Bush administration sought to elevate" at the time was because "Hispanics do not get elevated in a Republican Party. It just doesn't happen." He added: "Democrats say they can't allow that to be seen."
Limbaugh went on to muddy the waters even further by saying that "they ganged up on Gonzales and he had to go, and it was over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. And don't forget Clinton had canned all 93 within the first week or two of his inauguration in 1993."
Limbaugh effectively downplayed the U.S. attorney firings to trump up Holder's supposed failings in the Fast and Furious case. Limbaugh claimed that "Holder has done far more -- he's ... done more egregious things here than Gonzales did." He then repeated the conservative myth that the Obama Department of Justice failed to prosecute the New Black Panthers.
In fact, there was much more to the story than just the "firing of eight U.S. attorneys."
On Fox News this morning, senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano claimed that President Obama's assertion of executive privilege in response to a congressional subpoena of Justice Department documents related to the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious is only valid if he was "personally involved in making decisions" regarding that case. But President Bush previously invoked executive privilege in response to a subpoena of internal DOJ documents.
NAPOLITANO: Executive privilege protects communications with the president, the human being of the president, not with people that work for him and the Justice Department. ... If the attorney general sat down and discussed it with the president, he probably doesn't want the Congress and the public to know that, because we know of the awful events that occurred as a result of the Fast and Furious escapade. But we also know that executive privilege only pertains to military, diplomatic, and sensitive national security matters. Now, was fighting the drug gangs at the border a sensitive national security matter? And, if so, was the President of the United States of America personally involved in making decisions as to how to conduct that fight? If that's the case, this has reached a different level and we now know why the attorney general has ferociously defended these documents.
In December 2001, President Bush invoked executive privilege in response to a subpoena from congressional investigators seeking deliberative DOJ communications related to both the FBI's use of organized crime informants and President Clinton's fundraising efforts. The New York Times reported:
President Bush invoked executive privilege today for the first time in his administration to block a Congressional committee trying to review documents about a decades-long scandal involving F.B.I. misuse of mob informants in Boston. His order also denied the committee access to internal Justice Department deliberations about President Bill Clinton's fund-raising tactics.
A United Press International report on Bush's decision says that the executive privilege claim applied to "17 sets of documents related to the FBI investigations and informants" as well as "a set of documents related to the decision not to pursue an independent counsel to investigate Clinton-era campaign finance violations."
From the June 18 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News misrepresented a quote by President Obama to accuse him of hypocrisy over an investigation of possible national security leaks.
The Fox & Friends co-hosts claimed that Obama had called for a special counsel to investigate the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame when he said that "a special counsel will ensure the public's confidence in the investigation and prosecution and help to restore its faith in our government." In fact, the quote came in the context of the Jack Abramoff investigation, and the Bush administration rebuffed calls for a special counsel in that case.
Indeed, Obama was not even a U.S. senator at the time a special counsel was appointed to investigate the Plame leak.
Fox also relied on false comparisons between the Plame case and the current leak investigation to push for a special counsel.
Obama Did Not Call For A Special Counsel To Investigate The Plame Case When He Was A Senator
After Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was asking two U.S. attorneys to conduct a special investigation into the possibility of leaks of classified information, right-wing media have repeatedly pushed for an investigation by a special counsel who does not report to the Justice Department, pointing to the investigation into the Bush administration's leak of Plame's identity to the media.
Fox & Friends' latest strategy was to falsely claim that Obama, as a senator, had called for a special counsel to investigate the Plame case. In fact, Obama did not call for a special counsel to investigate the Plame leak as a senator. Indeed, Fitzgerald was appointed in December 2003, close to a year before Obama was even elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.
From the June 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Right-wing media outlets have been in full freak-out mode this week, fabricating a myth that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been using drones to spy on Midwestern ranchers. In fact, the EPA has been utilizing manned flyovers -- not drones -- to investigate potential polluters since the Bush administration, in an effort to save money and enforce clean water regulations efficiently.
For the past ten years, the EPA has conducted intermittent flyovers "to verify compliance with environmental laws on watersheds," as Reuters reported:
"EPA uses over-flights, state records and other publicly available sources of information to identify discharges of pollution," said a statement issued by the EPA's Kansas City regional office. "In no case has EPA taken an enforcement action solely on the basis of these over-flights."
EPA has for 10 years used flyovers to verify compliance with environmental laws on watersheds as a "cost-effective" tool to minimize inspection costs, according to the statement.
This article originally said that the EPA was using drones to monitor feedlots, but a representative from Senator Johanns office has alerted us that in actuality manned aircraft have been used to monitor the feedlots. We apologize for the error.
Nevertheless, right-wing commentators began falsely throwing the word "drone" into their reports about the EPA's enforcement mechanisms. For example, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly:
KELLY: You know, you gotta picture yourself, right, as one of these Midwestern farmers, because what's been in the news lately? The fact that President Obama's killed more terrorists with drones than any other president. That President Obama has a so-called "kill list." And that on that kill list, sometimes civilian casualties go as well, because if you're near an al-Qaeda terrorist, they assume if you're of an adult male age in a certain community, you also are a terrorist.
Even an American terrorist, an American al-Qaeda, was killed by a drone. So now you're in the Midwest, and you know you're not a terrorist, but nonetheless, you gotta get a little squeamish when you see a drone going overhead.
Conservative media outlets are credulously reporting House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's claim that wiretap applications signed by senior Justice Department officials "prove" they "approved" of dangerous gunwalking tactics in the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious, contradicting prior DOJ statements. In doing so, they ignore that the DOJ has repeatedly stated that senior officials do not necessarily review wiretap applications themselves, but rather largely rely on summaries of those applications produced by line attorneys.
"Documents prove senior Justice officials approved Fast and Furious, Issa says," reads the headline of Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle's latest foray into reporting on the ATF's fatally flawed gunwalking operation.
Leaning heavily on Issa's just-released letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Boyle reports that Issa has obtained wiretap applications for that operation that were signed by senior DOJ officials. Boyle notes that Issa claims those documents "show that immense details about questionable investigative tactics were available" to those officials via those applications, supposedly disproving numerous DOJ statements that senior officials there were not privy to the details of gunwalking.
But there's one question that this sort of credulous recitation of Issa's claims does not address: Did those officials actually review the wiretap applications that Issa says contained that information? According to prior DOJ statements dating back to at least last year, the answer is no.
This is not the first time Issa has claimed that wiretap applications supposedly proved knowledge of gunwalking techniques on the part of senior DOJ officials. In February, his committee made similar allegations, claiming in a staff report that "Congressional investigators have learned about the information contained in one Wiretap Authorization and Wiretap Affidavit from Fast and Furious that Jason Weinstein signed. The Wiretap Affidavit presented Weinstein with the details of at least two instances in which ATF agents had witnessed illegal straw purchasing and the subsequent transfer of the purchased weapons to other individuals."
But Politico reported at the time that "Weinstein told investigators that it was his 'general practice' not to read the underlying affidavits in such cases but to rely on a so-called cover memo prepared by another Justice Department office." This was consistent with Politico's report last November in response to similar claims that the wiretap applications could have bearing on what senior DOJ officials knew of Fast and Furious:
The Justice official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said wiretap applications are reviewed by another DOJ office which writes a detailed cover memo that is usually the focus of review by Breuer's staff.
"What gets pulled out for their review is therough the lens of those two questions: necessity and probably cause," the official said.
In a letter that the committee's ranking member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), released in response to Issa's letter today, he reiterated these points in even greater detail.
Mitt Romney's remarks at Solyndra were full of falsehoods that went unchecked by many major media outlets. The media also largely failed to point out that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney invested in several companies that subsequently went bankrupt or defaulted on state loans.
Fox News' flagship news program Special Report today debunked one of the many conspiracy theories that Eric Bolling has trafficked in. Bolling made the bogus suggestion that the Obama administration's Labor Department is understating the weekly first-time unemployment insurance claimants that it reports because those numbers have been consistently revised upwards in subsequent months.
In a clip played on Special Report, Bolling said of the unemployment figures: "Forty-seven for forty-seven at the plate would be a pretty darned good batting average. It's uncanny how they're all revised in the direction that would be favorable to the administration."
That's a bizarre conspiracy theory. If the Obama administration was cooking the books on unemployment numbers, wouldn't those numbers look better than they do?
And Special Report made it clear that Bolling's conspiracy theory was totally baseless. Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen showed a clip of Bush administration Labor Secretary Elaine Chao noting that the initial numbers are based on only "60 to 80 percent" of the required data. Chao added: "[A]gain I'm not surprised that it is being adjusted upward, because they are getting more information."
Rosen also observed that during the first term of the Bush administration, the DOL had revised initial jobless claims upwards in 40 out of 47 weeks.
In strikingly one-sided reports, Fox News assailed an anticipated regulation protecting streams from mountaintop coal mining waste. Among other misleading claims, Fox accused the Obama administration of punishing a contractor who said the rule would kill jobs, when in fact, extensive evidence indicates the contract was halted simply because the firm did shoddy work.
In a statement regarding an Obama administration policy that ensures women have access to insurance coverage for birth control while accommodating employers who object to providing birth control, Father Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest and Fox News contributor, stated:
Any national media outlet that fails to report the obvious raping of our First Amendment rights by this Health and Human Service mandate, is trumpeting either woeful incompetence or shameless bias.
Morris' comment was reported by the Media Research Center, which complained about media coverage of a lawsuit filed by various organizations against the contraception coverage policy.
As a reminder, President Obama's contraception coverage policy has the support of a wide variety of Catholic institutions as well as a majority of American Catholics.