When he announced hearings this week into the troubled launch and implementation of President Obama's health care reform, Rep. David Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, demanded to know why "after spending over $600 million" the online health care exchange portal, healthcare.gov, doesn't work properly.
In light of the site's systemic failures, that bulging nine-figure price tag ($634 million, to be exact) has produced endless guffaws within the conservative media, where the figure has been adopted as evidence of a policy debacle.
"Who pays $634 million and has three years and screws it up that bad?" asked Fox News' Sean Hannity on October 18. Added Rush Limbaugh: "That website, by the way, the original projected cost: $93 million. The end cost: $643 million. I kid you not."
Wow, $550 million in cost overruns for healthcare.gov since 2010 when the health care reform law was passed?
The life of the $600 million figure appears to be the latest example of how misinformation is fermented within the right-wing media and then adopted as quasi-policy by the Republican Party. After all, Rep. Camp is holding a hearing specifically to determine why the government's $600 million health care website doesn't work, even though the site didn't cost $600 million.
From the October 18 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Andrea Tantaros argued that if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling, the resulting default is nothing to be afraid of because, according to Tantaros, the country needs "to feel a little bit of pain."
Congress is currently facing a fast-approaching deadline to increase the nation's borrowing authority and approve funding to run the government beyond September 30. Failure to raise the nation's debt ceiling would cause the U.S. government to default on its legal obligations by the middle of October.
Thus far, House Republicans have indicated they are unwilling to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats acquiesce to a slew of demands, including, as The New York Times explained, "a one-year delay of the [Affordable Care Act], a tax overhaul and a broad rollback of environmental regulations."
Fox News has spent this week downplaying the urgency of the upcoming deadline. But two Fox hosts have now taken it further, arguing that failure to raise the debt ceiling wouldn't be so bad and endorsing the resulting default.
On the September 26 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity and The Five co-hosts Bob Beckel and Andrea Tantaros discussed whether Republicans would ultimately agree to raise the debt ceiling. When Beckel argued that the Republicans' gambit was too risky because it "puts the full faith and credit of the United States currency in jeopardy," Tantaros disagreed:
TANTAROS: We hear this every time, that a default would be terrible. And it would be. But what's the alternative? To keep spending? That would be terrible as well ... There's part of me, Sean, that does want us to feel a little bit of pain.
Hannity shrugged off Beckel's concern that a US default could "wreck the monetary system of the world":
HANNITY: You know what Bob, I think you overstate -- It sounds a little bit like sequestration. Predictions of doom and gloom, and none of it ever happened. The world isn't collapsing ... I'm really not that afraid of it. It may be naivety.
It would be catastrophic for the United States to follow the Fox hosts' logic and default on our debt. If the debt ceiling is not lifted by October 17, the United States government will be unable to finance the payment of its pre-existing expenses through the continued sale of Treasury bonds. Economists across the board agree this would send the global markets into chaos and send interest rates skyrocketing. Domestically, money for government employees, the military, Social Security, Medicare, food safety inspections, and much, much more could cease or be delayed.
From the August 30 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News personalities criticized speeches given by civil rights leaders at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, attacking the speakers for not addressing issues they deemed more important and complaining about "grievance-mongering."
The release of a month-old video showing three black students beating a white classmate on a bus in Florida has resulted in a mass outbreak of misplaced self-righteousness from the conservative media. This is their "ah-ha moment" - evidence that racism is a two-way street and that black civil rights leaders are the real bigots.
"Where is the civil rights movement?" They ask. "Where are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?" Contrasting civil rights leaders' actions following the killing of Trayvon Martin, the right argues that their silence in this case proves duplicitousness.
This chorus of ignorance only substantiates the right's inability to confront issues of race in an honest manner, preferring to attack those working for equality with false charges of hypocrisy.
The attack that occurred on the Florida bus was both tragic and horrific, but it is only comparable to Trayvon Martin's killing if you view the world through a one-dimensional racial lens.
The national outcry after the death of Trayvon Martin was not instantaneous. It emerged over the course of the forty-six day period after the killing when George Zimmerman had yet to be charged with a crime. In contrast, the three attackers on the Florida school bus were all arrested and indicted soon after the incident.
In the month since the attack, no one has excused the actions of the attackers, no one has suggested the victim deserved a beating, no one has rooted through social media accounts in an attempt to blame the victim, and no one suggested that he had it coming because of his choice of clothing. Conservatives engaged in all of these actions during the 46 days between the killing of Trayvon Martin and the arrest of George Zimmerman.
From the August 7 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Andrea Tantaros Show:
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As Congress considers legislation promoting energy efficiency, Media Matters examines the facts behind such efforts. Contrary to persistent myths in the media, increasing energy efficiency of appliances and buildings is a cost-effective way to benefit the environment and economy, and has historically enjoyed bipartisan support.
From the July 29 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Andrea Tantaros Show:
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From the July 24 edition nof Fox News' The Five:
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House Republicans reportedly plan to remove food stamp funding from the federal farm bill, a move that stands to further jeopardize the survival of the critical anti-poverty program. This move comes after years of right-wing media figures demonizing food stamp recipients as lazy or dependent, with Rush Limbaugh going so far as to propose dumpster diving as an alternative.
Here's a look back at some of the most egregious right-wing attacks on food stamps:
Right-wing media have adopted Betsy McCaughey's unfounded conspiracy theory that immigration reform, like health care reform, is a secret plot to create a permanent one-party system, reminiscent of Marxist Russian premier Vladimir Lenin. Like her health care fearmongering, McCaughey has no evidence to support her charges.
Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York, has a long history of pushing conspiracy theories about health care reform, including that the bill's outreach provisions are designed to create a "beholden" Democratic majority. In an interview with The Daily Caller's Ginni Thomas, McCaughey revived the same baseless attacks on the Senate immigration proposal, claiming that "you can count on" third party outreach groups to register immigrants as Democrats. Later in the interview, McCaughey claimed President Obama was using the bill to "elevat[e] community organizations to a fifth branch of government without any of the rules that limit what the other branches can do." McCaughey went on to claim the tactics were similar to those used by Lenin.
McCaughey's baseless conspiracy theory was picked up by Andrea Tantaros, co-host of Fox News' The Five, who cited McCaughey to call the bill a "Christmas tree of carve-outs for lobbyists," claiming, "she says that it funnels money to groups like La Raza, community organizing groups, takes the authority away from the DHS and lets them handle the amnesty process":
Of course, the text of the bill limits the scope of activities for which organizations can use federal funding.
Fox News host Andrea Tantaros claimed that Susan Rice was appointed National Security Advisor only because she is a woman and could be used as a "human shield" by President Obama, continuing her pattern of launching sexist attacks against progressive and other women with whom she disagrees.
President Obama's decision to appoint Susan Rice as his national security advisor set off a day's worth of high-voltage caterwauling at Fox News on Wednesday. Still angry about Rice's uncontroversial role in using the intelligence community's talking points during interviews in the wake of the terrorist attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya last year, Fox talkers guests were apoplectic about the appointment.
One of the most demeaning, gender-based reactions from the Fox community came from Andrea Tantaros and Sean Hannity, both of whom suggested the president selected Rice to the prestigious national security position as a way to inoculate himself. That he specifically selected a woman in order to protect himself politically.
So no, the sexist attacks weren't even camouflaged yesterday. And yes, it came in the wake of the recent Fox decision to host a panel discussion about women's earning power and only invite male guests, many of whom launched sexist volleys against working mothers. And yes, it came in the wake of Fox's decision this week to dramatically downplay the importance of Congressional hearings on the topic of sexual assault in the military.
That mindset ran through much of the Rice denunciations. On his radio show, Hannity claimed Obama made the Rice choice "with the hopes that Republicans will now be beating up - in the public eye - a woman."
And on Fox's The Five, Tantaros stressed that Rice only got the job because she was a woman being used by the president [emphasis added]:
This administration uses women as human shields. And the last time he nominated her, or her name was floated he didn't officially nominate her, he came out and he said, 'You want to go after somebody, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, come after me. She had nothing to do with Benghazi.'
I think they nominate her to set up a trap for Republicans to go after women. They're nominating Samantha Power. Hillary Clinton was Obama's human shield on Benghazi.
First, a human shield -- the act of using civilians to fend off a military or law enforcement attack -- is a tactic often used by cowards who are possibly also criminals. The claim Obama implements "human shields" conjures up deadly, violent imagery and is wildly inappropriate when discussing the President of the United States and one of his most senior advisers.
Secondly, that's an odious double shot of gender politics from Hannity and Tantaros, suggesting Obama isn't man enough to fend for himself so he has to hide behind women. At the same time it denigrates an extraordinary achiever like Rice by assigning her the subservient role of puppet and political pawn.
And in this case, the central claim makes no sense.