Listen to conservatives talk about President Obama these days and you'll hear them say he's an incompetent boob who isn't that bright, does nothing but play golf, and is utterly lost without his teleprompter.
That is, of course, when he's not flawlessly planning and executing impossibly intricate schemes to further his sinister political aspirations.
To that end, Andrew Breitbart's Big Government asks this morning if Jon Huntsman -- the moderate Republican who stepped down as Obama's ambassador to China to run for the 2012 GOP nomination -- is in cahoots with the president as part of a conspiracy to split the Republican vote and ensure Obama's reelection.
Read, and be amazed:
Independents who buy this line thus may look to spend their vote on a more moderate and palatable candidate. Jon Huntsman would be their man.
And if he is to win votes in any number, I would bet that this would come at the expense of the Republican nominee -- especially if the nominee is not Mitt Romney. Versus Romney, Huntsman would likely struggle to pull Independent votes away. But pit him against a Perry or a Bachmann and Huntsman will stand in clear contrast, and likely be attractive to a percentage of voters.
Besides the incongruence between Huntsman and the Republican party as it is currently constituted, why do I have such a hunch? First, consider that President Obama appointed Huntsman in the first place. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that there is a quid pro quo between the two men? Despite what you may think of Barack Obama, to rise from state Senator to President requires a political shrewdness greater perhaps even than Barack Obama's own ego.
In isolation, none of Huntsman's actions indicate a grand bargain with Barack Obama. But when taken as a whole, it becomes abundantly clear that an afterthought to Republicans could in fact spell defeat in November 2012. While I hope such a theory is wrong, however remote the possibility of this premeditated effort against Republicans, such a threat must be taken seriously, lest we end up with four more years of Barack Obama.
There is no evidence to back up this "theory," save for the author's assertion that Huntsman has never "publicly attack[ed] Barack Obama's policies in any meaningful way." And that might be compelling if Huntsman weren't telling Granite Staters that Obama "fundamentally failed us on the most important issue of our time, which is job creation and the economy."
Also, I'm not sure I quite understand the contours of the "grand bargain" -- Obama gave Huntsman a high-profile job which Huntsman would then have to quit to start a presidential campaign? Doesn't sound like much of a bargain. Then again, Obama has been known to convince people to secretly ghostwrite his own memoirs and guard the truth about his birth in Kenya and/or Indonesia, so I guess anything is possible.
From the August 15 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money:
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Assigning a Rush Limbaugh fan and biographer to profile right-wing activist James O'Keefe wasn't exactly a daring choice by editors at The New York Times Magazine. The fact that the resulting puff piece is a predictably soft retread of O'Keefe's often-told tale should surprise no one.
What is odd is that the Times would publish such comically inaccurate characterizations of O'Keefe's adventures in undercover video stings; stings that have proven time and again he's incapable of telling the truth.
Those are the facts. They are not in dispute. But in the loving hands of Times writer Zev Chafets, O'Keefe is portrayed as an enterprising, muckraking journalist. And in the loving hands of Zev Chafets, O'Keefe is portrayed exactly the way O'Keefe wants to be portrayed.
I realize that's Chafets' niche at the Times, to bring his partisan, conservative perspective when writing profiles of partisan conservative media figures, and to do his best to paper over anything unflattering about the subject at hand. That's what he did with his New York Times Magazine cover story on Limbaugh in 2008. (The super-soft profile helped Chafets land a Ditto-ography book deal.)
And I understand why Chafets likes the very easy gig. It makes little sense, though, why the Times would be interested in publishing this kind of predictable feature about O'Keefe. Regardless of the motivation, what about the facts? What about O'Keefe's ACORN and NPR stings for instance, and the controversy that soon engulfed him over allegations he had edited his clips in order to concocts sinister stories? How does the Times deal with those issues?
A couple of days ago, ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross was reportedly roughly handled by members of Rep. Michele Bachmann's security team as he tried to ask the Republican presidential candidate about reports that she suffers from migraine headaches.
The behavior of Bachmann's staff has drawn criticism from several quarters, including (not surprisingly) ABC. ABC News senior vice president Jeffrey Schneider told the Washington Post: "It's unfortunate when physicality is involved. [Ross] was just doing his job."
Bachmann, however, does have the support Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism. Blogger Warner Todd Huston wrote today that "what happened to Ross is fairly mild and all his fault," and then responded to Schneider's quote with perhaps the most ridiculously inexplicable Nazi reference the internet has ever seen:
If you listen to the silly hyperbole from the far left blogrags, the media is being treated like the Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square by Bachmann's campaign staff. Another lefty site says that Bachmann is indulging in "open conflict" with the press. Neither characterization is even close to the truth.
Jeffrey Schneider, a senior vice president for ABC news, denounced the incident saying, "He was certainly shoved around and pushed. It's unfortunate when physicality is involved. He was just doing his job."
I remember members of an army sometime in the mid 1940s saying that they were innocent because they were just doing their jobs, too.
Hah! Brian Ross is a Nazi war criminal! What?
Even better, Huston's absurd Godwinning is sandwiched between four separate condemnations of "hyperbole" from the media and progressives:
In a fit of wild hyperbole, Ross called his treatment by Bachmann similar to the treatment he's received "mostly by Mafia people"...
If you listen to the silly hyperbole from the far left blogrags...
With all this hyperbole and gnashing of teeth by the left...
In 2011 a reporter was simply blocked from getting to a candidate but not thrown to the ground. Result = outrage and hyperbole.
So Breitbart's Big Journalism wants us to get past all the overheated and outrageous rhetoric and focus on how ABC's Brian Ross is worse than Hitler. Perhaps then we can move on to the pressing matter of the crippling lack of self-awareness on right-wing blogs.
It took a St. Louis County jury less than 50 minutes to return a not guilty verdict in the assault trial featuring Kenneth Gladney and two union members who were charged with attacking him outside a town hall event during the tumultuous summer of 2009.
The altercation itself was regrettable and was over almost before it began: the type of heated scuffle that happens countless times everyday in this crowded country, and everyday people move on with their lives.
But because this particular clash was captured on tape, and because Tea Party members went bonkers hyping it, and because right-wing media carnival barkers like Dana Loesch and Andrew Breitbart operate with no moral compass, the Gladney story blew up overnight and became a (demented) cause celebre among hardcore conservatives who hatched a weird fantasy about run-away union violence in America, not withstanding what was captured on the Gladney tape.
It's difficult to capture just how madly the right-wing media overreacted to this story, doing its best to blow it up into a seismic, Rodney King-type of event. Fox News aired at least 20 segments mentioning Gladney, according to Nexis. Glenn Beck obsessed over the story. Breitbart penned a "I Am Kenneth Gladney" column in solidarity for the Washington Times. And CNN's Lou Dobbs played dumb on a massive scale while hosting Gladney.
In the end, all the right-wing press had to show for their efforts were not-guilty verdicts stemming from misdemeanor charges.
Andrew Breitbart has once again ducked responsibility for a story published on one of his own websites.
In March 2011, Jason Bradley, wrote a blog post on Big Peace titled "Terror Babies': A Growing National Security Threat." In his story Bradley promoted a conspiracy theory called "ludicrous" by one expert that pregnant terrorists are coming to America to have babies.
In an interview that aired on today's edition of Univision's Al Punto, host Jorge Ramos challenged Breitbart on the post, asking Breitbart whether he shared Bradley's position. In response, Breitbart said, "I didn't even read that article" and "I've never read that, I've never heard that and I'd have to see the context of that to give you an opinion. I would never call people that are born in this country who are from Mexico terror babies."
JORGE RAMOS (HOST): In one of your websites, in "Big Peace," there was an article written by Jason Bradley titled "Terror Babies: A Growing National Security Threat." Do you share Mr. Bradley's point of view?
ANDREW BREITBART: I didn't even read that article but I can tell you this, I created the Huffington Post in the United States of America which is a left of center blog. I created my blogs which are mostly right of center and I believe in open debate in our society. That's why I believe so strongly in the first amendment, so I don't know the specifics of that article, had I known going into this interview, I would've read it and we could have talked about the specifics.
RAMOS: Well the specifics is that Mr. Bradley's view is that children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants are terror babies.
BREITBART: I've never read that, I've never heard that and I'd have to see the context of that to give you an opinion. I would never call people that are born in this country who are from Mexico terror babies.
The full masthead of Big Peace says, "Andrew Breitbart Presents Big Peace." This isn't a website he's just loosely affiliated with, but one which is directly tied to him.
The masthead of his website notwithstanding, this isn't the first time Breitbart has claimed ignorance when challenged about things related to his website.
For nearly a year, we've been pointing out that one of the blatant lies Andrew Breitbart has told to defend his smear of Shirley Sherrod is the claim that the NAACP audience she was speaking to "applauded" her supposed "racism." Last week, Breitbart appears to have accidentally admitted to lying about that response on multiple occasions.
In a profile last week of Breitbart, The New York Times helped the blogger-provocateur lie by uncritically reporting his false defense, writing that "Mr. Breitbart said... the crowd applauded when Ms. Sherrod said she did not help" a white man save his failing farm.
After I pointed out that one could easily watch the original Sherrod smear clip and determine that no such applauding occurred, the Times issued a correction indicating that the audience "did not applaud, although Mr. Breitbart stated that they did." Eric Boehlert and Brad Friedman subsequently pointed to another possible error in the Times article, which the paper's public editor is currently reviewing (Friedman has also noted that the text of the article itself has been edited to hide Breitbart's lie).
So according to Breitbart, his explanation of what happened is accurate because when he says "applaud," he doesn't mean that the audience was "clapping." He's just using "applaud" to refer to the "nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement" he mentioned in his original Sherrod post (which, as we'll explain below do not show racism on the part of Sherrod or her audience).
This explanation fails the laugh test (as a failed Hollywood type, Breitbart really should know that when you're referring to the actions of an audience, "applauded" means engaged in clapping), but the line of logic leads us somewhere interesting: presumably, anyone who said that Sherrod's audience had been "clapping" would be incorrect, right?
I'm sure you can see where this is going. Yes, Breitbart has used the terms "applauding" and "clapping" interchangeably in describing the audience's reaction -- and has even clapped his hands while saying the word "applauding."
It's not like we don't try to warn people.
Media Matters has been fundamentally clear and consistent about this point: Do not trust Andrew Breitbart. Period. Yet journalists keep making that same mistake over and over. The latest was the New York Times, and now the paper's collecting the lumps to show for it.
Last week the daily published a rather puffy profile of the right-wing writer. As Media Matters quickly noted, the Times article include a key error; an error that came about when the newspaper trusted that Breitbart was telling the truth about his Shirley Sherrod debacle
Breitbart was not.
Late last week the Times corrected its Breitbart-fed Sherrod error. But there's an important point that blogger Brad Friedman highlighted last night. In publishing its correction, and specifically how an NAACP audience responded to a tale Sherrod told, the Times amendment conceded that Breitbart misled the paper. But if you now read the body of the story that's been changed to reflect the correction, the Times seems to go out of its way to suggest Breitbart had not misled the newspaper.
How can both scenarios be accurate?
See for yourself. From the original article [emphasis added]:
Defending himself, Mr. Breitbart said that the video came to him already edited, and that the crowd applauded when Ms. Sherrod said she did not help the man.
From the correction:
In a short video clip of the speech, which Mr. Breitbart released as evidence that Ms. Sherrod acknowledged not helping a white farmer, some audience members nodded and murmured in apparent approval; they did not applaud, although Mr. Breitbart stated that they did.
From the updated text in the article:
Mr. Breitbart said that the video came to him already edited, and that some audience members nodded and murmured in apparent approval when Ms. Sherrod said she did not help the man.
Wait a minute. Either Breitbart lied and told the newspaper that the NAACP audience "applauded" upon hearing Sherrod's tale, as the Times first claimed, or Breitbart said the NAACP audience "nodded and murmured in approval."
Which one was it? And why, if in its correction the Times admits it was the former, does the body of the story now suggest it was the latter?
In a July 2 Twitter post, Andrew Breitbart wrote:
Breitbart previously said of Code Pink "ladies":"[I]t's no longer fun to watch them and they're not even good looking anymore. It used to be that they were like, kinda slutty lefties...they're getting long in the tooth."
The Saturday crew of Fox & Friends hosted Andrew Breitbart to ask him, "Does the mainstream media have a bias against conservative women?"
Aside from co-host Molly Line's laughable premise for the segment that the media called failed Republican senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell "a witch" - after O'Donnell stated herself that she "dabbled into witchcraft" and then made a political ad declaring, "I am not a witch" - Andrew Breitbart has no credibility to comment on gender-based attacks or really anything for that matter.
During his speech at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference, Breitbart said of "the Code Pink ladies," "it's no longer fun to watch them and they're not even good looking anymore. It used to be that they were like, kinda slutty lefties." Amid laughter from the conservative audience, he continued, "[T]hey're getting long in the tooth." In discussing President Obama throwing out the opening pitch of a baseball game, Breitbart declared the president "pitched like an Indonesian teenage girl." He refers to women as "chick[s]" and, when attacking Salon.com's Joan Walsh, he makes frequent mention of her physical appearance.
Of course, it's not as though Fox News itself is innocent of gender-based attacks or exploiting women. After all, the network is famous for gratuitously airing video of scantily clad women and of its hosts and guests engaging in sexist commentary, not to mention the fact that News Corp--the network's parent company--fosters a culture that has led to numerous sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits. But, apparently, that's beside the point.
From the July 1 Fox News special What's Great About America with John Stossel:
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The Times made two key factual errors in its recent profile of Andrew Breitbart. And yes, both errors mirrored phony spin that Breitbart has been pushing.
As Media Matters noted earlier this week, the newspaper erred when it reported that as part of his Shirley Sherrod smear campaign last summer, Breitbart claimed that in the videotape he posted of her addressing an NAACP audience, members "applauded" when Sherrod told a story of not helping a white farmer. (In the full telling, she ended up aiding the man.)
The Times now concedes that point:
Some audience members nodded and murmured in apparent approval; they did not applaud, although Mr. Breitbart stated that they did.
Unfortunately, the Times remains mum regarding the error the paper made in the same story when it reported ACORN workers caught on undercover tapes made by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles were guilty of "offering advice on how to evade taxes."
That's simply not true. In fact, if you read through the transcripts for the ACORN videos, workers again and again stressed just the opposite; that O'Keefe and Giles had to pay their taxes, even if their income was earned from prostitution.
But at the time of the right-wing media's ACORN smear produciton in 2009, the talking point about workers counseling visitors on how to "evade taxes" was cemented in the press. So much so that two years later the Times is still getting the story wrong.
Lila Rose is back, accusing Planned Parenthood of lying about the effects a recent Indiana law would have on health-care access, without actually demonstrating anything of the sort.
Instead, Rose has demonstrated that Planned Parenthood's concerns - that women on Medicaid who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive health care would lose that access under the Indiana law denying funds to Planned Parenthood - were accurate.
The video features Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood, discussing Indiana's controversial law to withhold Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood during a June CNN interview. Richards explained that she has received letters from women saying, "I can't believe that the state legislature, or the U.S. Congress is going to tell me I can't get - where I've been going to Planned Parenthood for years for my preventive care, for my birth control - and they are telling me now that I can't go to the health provider that I trust for my health."
Immediately after airing those comments, Rose played what she says is a recorded phone call to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Terre Haute, Indiana, where a woman who claimed to be a Medicaid recipient tried to schedule a preventive health-care examination. A voice, identified as belonging to a Planned Parenthood clinic worker, responded:
Right now we can't see new Medicaid people, just with the new law that's going on right now.
She then directed the caller to contact a primary care physician.
To recap: Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards warned that women would not be able to go to Planned Parenthood for preventive care if they lost their funding. Rose claimed that she has "caught on tape" a Planned Parenthood worker in Indiana saying that because of the "new law," a Medicaid recipient cannot get preventive care at Planned Parenthood. She then presented this as evidence that Planned Parenthood has been lying.
This type of deception is par for the course with anti-abortion hoaxster Lila Rose. Of course, the usual cast of right-wing media characters are once again promoting Lila Rose's false smears of Planned Parenthood.
Yesterday, Media Matters highlighted how a New York Times profile of Andrew Breitbart contained a key factual error with regards to the Shirley Sherrod controversy from last summer; an error that echoed the dishonest spin Breitbart has been pushing for almost a year now.
Well, it looks like the Times also erred in the same story when it suggested that as part of the Breitbart-sponsored ACORN sting in 2009, undercover videos captured ACORN workers "offering advice on how to evade taxes and conceal child prostitution." And yes, like the Sherrod mistake, this one also directly mirrors the spin Breitbart has used on the ACORN story.
When the story broke in 2009, everyone was sure the tapes showed ACORN workers offering up advice on how to evade taxes. Except that that's not what the tapes showed. It's just like how, in 2009, everyone was sure James O'Keefe entered the ACORN offices dressed as a pimp.
Except that that's not what the tapes showed.
Writes blogger Brad Friedman, who was at the forefront of the truth-telling campaign to unmask the ACORN pimp hoax [emphasis added]:
The Breitbart/O'Keefe videos showed no ACORN workers "offering advice on how to evade taxes." In fact, they showed just the opposite. For that matter, they didn't show ACORN workers offering advice on how to "conceal child prostitution" either, though they did reveal the pair playing on the sympathies of the workers, who believed they were trying to help save both Giles and the young girls from the imaginary, if dangerously abusive, pimp.
It's the same key point Friedman made in early 2010, after pouring over the ACORN tape transcripts:
In fact, in every ACORN office seen in the Breitbart/O'Keefe vidoes
as understood only by reviewing the text transcripts, since the videos are so purposely misleading on this point
ACORN employees advised that [Hannah] Giles must pay taxes, even if the income was gained through illegal prostitution. No ACORN employee ever advised the pair to "avoid paying taxes" as so many who fell for the hoax have described.
But Media Matters immediately corrected that mistake. Will the New York Times now do the same?
In today's New York Times profile, Jeremy Peters writes of Andrew Breitbart's smear of Shirley Sherrod (emphasis added):
The most notorious video he put up -- one that almost ruined his career -- was a two-minute clip of Ms. Sherrod, a black Agriculture Department official, telling an N.A.A.C.P. gathering that she did not help a white man as much as she could have with his failing farm. The headline said "NAACP Awards Racism."
But when the N.A.A.C.P. released a longer version of the video, it showed clearly that Ms. Sherrod's story was about overcoming racial prejudice, and that she did indeed go to great lengths to help the farmer. Defending himself, Mr. Breitbart said that the video came to him already edited, and that the crowd applauded when Ms. Sherrod said she did not help the man.
Critics seized on it as evidence that Mr. Breitbart selectively chooses content that reflects poorly on political opponents. But the episode only seemed to help bolster his status as a rising star on the political right.
Let's ignore how pathetic it is that part of Breitbart's defense is that he didn't care enough about the facts to find the full context of that video clip before he posted it on his website. Instead, let's focus on the way that the Times' Peters allows Breitbart to lie about the content of that clip.
Whether "the crowd applauded when Ms. Sherrod said she did not help the man" is not an opinion; it is an assertion of fact that can easily verified. One can go to Breitbart's website, find that clip, and listen for the alleged applause that Breitbart is citing to defend himself. It doesn't take long to do this bare minimum of fact-checking; the out-of-context clip is only 2 minutes 36 seconds long. Go ahead and watch it. I'll wait.
Did you hear the applause? Of course not: It doesn't exist. But rather than actually attempting to verify Breitbart's claims, Peters simply reports them. Which is a smart thing to do when you're profiling a known liar.