On the morning of October 14, after two weeks of the GOP's government shutdown had cratered the party's standing in the polls and with the debt ceiling looming, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson sent his daily email to subscribers. "Keep Fighting" was the message from the conservative media mogul, whose strategies are frequently adopted by his party's right wing.
Erickson's daily briefing urged readers to press Senate leaders not to accept a deal that didn't defund or delay Obamacare. He also demanded House leaders pass a debt limit increase while holding firm on refusing to pass a bill to fund the government unless it is tied to defunding health care reform. And crucially, he wrote that he had just donated to two conservative PACs "at the forefront of the fight" and to primary opponents of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and urged his readers to do the same.
The conservative wing of the party has been dictating its strategy since at least mid-August, when vocal minorities in both houses implored congressional leadership not to defund the health care law as the price for passing short-term government funding legislation. To outside observers, it seems clear that the strategy has been an abysmal failure. And yet, prominent right-wing media figures not only want to double down on that strategy, but punish members of the party who seem the least bit hesitant to pursue it.
How to explain these wildly disparate assessments? A large faction of the right-wing media -- Erickson, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity Breitbart News, and a host of others -- has become trapped in the political embodiment of a variant of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy.
Under that logical fallacy, adherents shift definitions and appeal to purity when confronted with evidence that disproves their beliefs rather than accepting reality. In this case, the right-wing media has become convinced that a central pillar of modern conservatism is that it cannot lose. Any evidence suggesting that a conservative strategy has failed is thus rejected on the grounds that either the strategy didn't really lose, or its implementers weren't true conservatives and thus betrayed the plan by failing to promote it with quite enough fervor. That mindset has locked the right-wing media and through it many activists and lawmakers into a seemingly endless pattern of crisis politics with potentially devastating consequences for the country.
From the October 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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From the October 11 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Dr. Keith Ablow -- the discredited psychiatrist who is a leading member of Fox News' "Medical A-Team" -- cited President Obama's childhood to claim that his "victim mentality" accounts for his tough stance against Republicans over the government shutdown and will lead to "dissolving the will of countless Americans" to provide for themselves.
In an October 10 FoxNews.com column, Ablow claimed that Obama's actions as president can be understood if seen through the prism of his "victim mentality." He criticized Obama's rhetoric calling the GOP's actions forcing a government shutdown as taking "hostages," claiming that this shows Obama believes "America victimized him and countless millions of others" and considers anyone who opposes him as "not just his adversary, but abusive, predatory and even threatening.":
It is exceedingly difficult to come to terms with a person who sees you as his oppressor, his kidnapper, and someone terrorizing him who might well destroy him. You aren't likely to consider whether your assailant and jailer and would-be killer has a few good ideas, after all.
A victim mentality would explain why the president immediately allies with anyone else he thinks might be a victim, too. Seeing Barack Obama as someone who has a victim mentality would explain a lot. That mentality relies on believing one has been harmed, that one was not responsible for the injuries that occurred, that one could not have prevented what happened and that the person's suffering makes that person morally right and deserving of sympathy.
Ablow then described all the ways Obama has purportedly not gotten over being victimized as a child, asserting that "the president's victim mentality could have already gone global":
As a young boy, Obama was, indeed, helpless.
He was helpless to stop his father from abandoning him.
He was helpless to stop his mother from leaving him with his grandparents.
He was helpless to stop his white grandmother and caretaker from communicating to him her fears of black people.
I'm not sure the president ever got over it.
The president's victim mentality could contribute to dissolving the will of countless Americans who might otherwise see themselves as capable of summoning internal resolve and creativity to surge out of poverty.
Fox News' timeline of the ongoing government shutdown cherry-picked dates to omit congressional Republicans' conception and furtherance of the shutdown over their demand to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare).
A Wall Street Journal article promoted false Republican claims which disputed the devastating effects failure to raise the debt ceiling on October 17 would have on the U.S. economy, despite recent Journal reporting which admitted default could have "cataclysmic" consequences.
In an October 9 article headlined "Obama's Default Scenario Derided," the Journal noted that according to President Obama, "if Congress doesn't raise the country's debt ceiling soon, an economic crisis with skyrocketing interest rates and a crashing stock market could follow," as the U.S. would default on its pre-existing debts -- an understanding of the manufactured impending fiscal crisis which is supported by economists and the Treasury Department.
But rather than confirm this factual assertion, the Journal instead provided a platform for Republicans who baselessly "say they don't believe" default will lead to devastating negative effects and have even "questioned what the word 'default' really means." The Journal hyped Republican claims that the White House could choose to prioritize which payments to make once the deadline hits, and claimed these misleading remarks had credence because the U.S. has never defaulted before, making the potential crisis "unchartered waters."
In reality, the Treasury Department does not have the legal authority to prioritize payments if the debt ceiling is not raised, and economists agree that congressional failure to raise the debt limit could be catastrophic, setting in motion a financial crisis in the United States and around the globe.
The "debt ceiling" was officially breached on May 17 of this year. Since that date, the Treasury has implemented "extraordinary measures" to avoid defaulting on American sovereign debt obligations by shifting funds from various accounts. The New York Times reported that these measures will be exhausted by October 17:
Economists of all political persuasions have warned that a failure to raise the debt ceiling by the Treasury's deadline of Oct. 17 could be catastrophic. The world economy's faith in the safety of Treasury debt would be shaken for years. Interest rates could shoot up, and stock prices worldwide would most likely plummet.
The Journal itself has previously reported the devastating consequences the prospect of default is already having on the worldwide economy. On October 8, the Journal reported that short-term U.S. debt prices had fallen "amid rising investor concern about the prospect of a government-debt default, sending the yield on one-month U.S. Treasury bills to its highest level since the financial crisis." The same day, the Journal reported that China had warned the U.S. of default's "global ramifications," and that banks in the United Kingdom have begun "stockpiling cash" and preparing for "cataclysmic" consequences.
Domestically, money for government employees, the military, Social Security, Medicare, food safety inspections, and more could cease or be delayed, and CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik reported that "if a default happens, there's one analyst who says that the S&P 500 could drop 45 percent."
Furthermore, the claim that the administration could choose to prioritize some payments over others in order to avoid default is false. Tony Fratto, a former Treasury Department assistant secretary and senior George W. Bush White House staffer called payment prioritization "fanciful," and Treasury Department Inspector General Eric M. Thorson reported to Congress that the Treasury had no means or capacity to prioritize certain payments over others. Slate economics blogger Matt Yglesias explained that Treasury has "no more legal authority to prioritize payments than they do to borrow extra money."
Following news that the government shutdown will bar the Pentagon from providing death benefits to the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, Fox News is ignoring the role the network and the Republican Party played in causing the painful closure.
The federal government has been shut down since October 1 after House Republicans refused to vote on the Senate funding bill unless President Obama agreed to significant changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). To mitigate public outcry over withheld federal paychecks, cancelled food inspections and cancer treatment, and closed national parks, Republicans have attempted a piecemeal approach of proposing narrow bills to keep specific government programs funded, while President Obama and Democrats have demanded that the full government be reopened.
Fox News' Sean Hannity has been leading the charge for a government shutdown for the better part of 2013, repeatedly pushing congressional Republicans to hold the government hostage unless demands to alter the ACA are met.
Hannity, it turns out, was in good company. According to a new report in The New York Times, the tea party caucus in Congress and conservative activists have been planning the shut down over Obamacare since 2012. Financed by the likes of Freedomworks and the billionaire Koch brothers, the Times exposed how the congressmen practiced defending their shutdown by arguing they desired to fund the entire government, just not the ACA.
On October 8, one week into the government shut down, news surfaced that the Pentagon is unable to pay death benefits to families of soldiers killed at war in Afghanistan over the weekend because of the shutdown.
Fox reacted to this news by blaming President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). On The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, reporter Jennifer Griffin decried this "horrible impact" of the shutdown and argued that "the president should be asked about this."
Carlson and Griffin brainstormed Republican-backed strategies -- e.g., the pair discussed the feasibility of a piecemeal CR bill funding payments to veterans' families -- but they ignored any solution that includes the GOP passing a single CR funding the entire government.
From the October 8 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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From the October 7 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the October 7 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ:
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Fox & Friends Saturday criticized President Obama for offering to personally pay for a "museum of Muslim culture" during the government shutdown, a claim that originated from a satire website.
On October 5, the co-hosts of Fox & Friends Saturday discussed the closure of the World War II Memorial, which resulted from the Republican-led shutdown. During the discussion, co-host Anna Kooiman claimed that while the memorial is closed, "President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the museum of Muslim culture."
KOOIMAN: The Republican National Committee is offering to pay for it to keep it open so that the veterans from Honor Flight are going to be able to go and see this because who did it honor? It honored them. It really doesn't seem fair, especially -- and we're going to talk a little bit later in the show too about some things that are continuing to be funded. And President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the museum of Muslim culture out of his own pocket, yet it's the Republican National Committee who's paying for this.
Unfortunately for Kooiman, the claim that Obama offered to pay out of pocket for a "museum of Muslim culture" originated from the satirical website the National Report. As the fact-checking site Snopes.com points out, a now-removed disclaimer on the National Report noted: "National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news."
From the October 4 edition of the Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox & Friends smeared President Obama with the false claim that he sent more security guards to keep veterans away from Washington, D.C.'s World War II memorial than were sent to the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya when it was attacked in September 2012.
When the federal government began a shutdown on October 1 after Republicans repeatedly demanded concessions to weaken or stop the Affordable Care Act in exchange for keeping the government open, national parks and monuments were closed as there were no longer funds to keep them staffed. Veterans participating in the Honor Flight program were eventually allowed to visit the World War II memorial.
On October 3, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy used the confusion over the status of the memorial to continue the network's inexhaustible obsession with Benghazi, saying, "as it turns out, it looks as if more personnel were sent in to the World War II memorial to keep people out than the State Department actually sent to Benghazi by two. They sent five people to Benghazi, the White House sent seven people to make sure that nobody got in to the war memorial."
An ABC News reporter was present at the memorial for several hours and didn't spot seven security guards keeping veterans away, but did observe the barricade being pushed aside without incident allowing the veterans to see the monument. One security guard was even spotted helping an elderly vet walk up a steep decline.
The National Park Service has also stated that it will not keep the veterans from visiting the memorial, calling their visits a First Amendment issue that supersedes the shutdown.
"The Honor Flights are being granted access to the WWII memorial to conduct First Amendment activities in accordance with National Park Service regulations applicable to the National Mall and Memorial Parks," the NPS said in a statement.
Politico reported on October 1, after a different group of veterans visited the memorial, that a National Park Service spokeswoman said "there [was] no risk of anyone getting arrested" at the time.
After repeatedly begging Congressional Republicans to continue the federal government shutdown, Sean Hannity is ratcheting up his expectations. He encouraged conservatives to leave the government inoperable for up to two months if that's what it takes for Democrats to acquiesce to GOP demands -- advice that would carry devastating effects for the American people.
October 1 marked the first day of a federal government shut down, as House Republicans refuse to fund the government unless Democrats and President Obama agree to significant changes to the three-year-old Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare").
Fox host Sean Hannity has spent the last year begging Republicans to hold America hostage and shut down the government over Obamacare. Now that he's gotten his wish, Hannity is ordering conservatives to keep the government closed, even if it takes "a month or two months." As he told Republican Sen. Rand Paul (KY) on Hannity about the shutdown:
HANNITY: I think the worst outcome, though, for the Republicans in the House at this point -- as they have been reasonable and the president totally unreasonable, Reid unreasonable -- is to cave. I don't think they should give in at all. And if that means that they're going to sit this out for a month or two months, or however long the president wants to be arrogant and not talk to anybody, then just sit it out.
The effects of a protracted government shutdown would be catastrophic.
After only two or three weeks, veterans' disability claims and pension payments to approximately 3.6 million veterans likely won't be paid.
Funding for the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC), which gives grants to states for low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and infants, will run dry after one week of a shutdown. WIC, which serves 53 percent of all babies born in the U.S. has contingency funds are available, but they will be exhausted by the end of the month.
Food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will run out of money to operate by the end of October if the shutdown is ongoing.
Importantly, this damage would pile on top of the chaos the shutdown immediately caused. After House Republicans forced the government to close, over 800,000 federal workers were furloughed and may not receive pay. National parks and landmarks closed. Many home loans no longer processed and economic growth will slow. The Center for Disease Control will cease some disease-prevention programs and most of the Food and Drug Administration's food-safety operations will end.
Unsurprisingly, Hannity is unconcerned by this impact, as it "doesn't impact [him] mentally."
From the October 1 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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