There's a brewing conservative media war over whether to impeach President Obama.
Largely relegated to the fringe for years, the prospect of impeachment has been invigorated thanks to conservative media figures like Fox News contributors Sarah Palin and Allen West, who have spent recent weeks loudly demanding Obama's removal from office. But not everyone in conservative media is on board, with several prominent figures arguing that impeachment is ill-fated, politically toxic, and could severely damage Republicans' chances in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections.
Last week, Fox News polled on the question, finding that while a strong majority of Americans (61 percent) oppose impeachment, 56 percent of Republicans are in favor of it.
Over the weekend, impeachment got another boost thanks to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the incoming House Majority Whip, appearing on Fox News Sunday and refusing "to take impeaching President Barack Obama off the table if Obama takes executive action to limit deportations." On Saturday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) announced on Breitbart News Saturday that if the president uses more executive actions on illegal immigration, "we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives."
In June, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) introduced a plan to sue the president over the delayed implementation of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. While Boehner has repeatedly dismissed impeachment talk, reporters like the New Republic's Brian Beutler have speculated that the lawsuit was designed to "serve as a relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment."
If Boehner's lawsuit was designed to cool impeachment fever, it's not working. Several conservative media figures have lashed out over his "political stunt" and continue to bang the impeachment drum. As November approaches, the fight over impeachment among conservative media is getting increasingly acrimonious with each side convinced the other is hurting the country.
Media Matters looks at where various conservative commentators currently stand on impeachment.
After years of conservative media figures agitating for congressional Republicans to impeach President Obama, today House Speaker John Boehner announced plans to sue the president for not "faithfully executing the laws of this country."
Discussing the suit -- which would be filed on behalf of the House of Representatives -- Boehner claimed that it was "not about impeachment." But in a piece for The New Republic, Brian Beutler argues that conservatives' push to stir up outrage over Obama has led Republicans to seek a "relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment":
Having created a clamor within the GOP conference, and the conservative base, over Obama's use of executive power, Republicans now must satisfy the consequent appetite to do something about it. Suing Obama is meant to do that. The goal is to be head-turning enough to simultaneously address coalition management obligations--calm restive conservatives, keep the base energized--and serve as a relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment.
The risk is that it'll whet rather than diminish the right's appetite for impeachment. But Boehner doesn't have much choice. You can't gin up this much outrage over Obama's actions, and then do nothing to stop him, when the Constitution provides you so many tools to do just that.
Much of the building pressure for impeachment has come not only from congressional Republicans, but from conservative media figures, whose calls for impeachment have been a steady drumbeat since Obama took office.
Several conservative media figures are floating the idea of impeaching President Obama over the recent release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
Numerous right-wing activists, media figures, and politicians have been trying to drum up a reason to impeach Obama ever since he took office more than five years ago. National Review writer and former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy released a new book today on subject, endeavoring to explain the "political case" for impeaching the president. In making his case, McCarthy rehashes a wide number of well-worn supposed scandals from the Obama administration. Fittingly, McCarthy has also been at the forefront of the latest calls for impeachment, arriving right as his book hits the shelves.
In comments on June 2 to the Daily Mail's website, the Mail Online, McCarthy reportedly called the exchange of Taliban figures for Bergdahl a "high crime and misdemeanor," because, he claimed, the administration did not sufficiently notify Congress of the planned transfer. The Mail article was quickly highlighted on the Drudge Report.
Appearing on Fox & Friends the next morning, Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said Obama "may very well have committed a federal crime by giving material assistance to a terrorist organization." Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy responded by plugging McCarthy's book and pointing to his comments to the Mail Online about impeachment. Napolitano added that it was a "very, very valid argument that people are going to start talking about."
Later in the day, Fox News' Outnumbered host Sandra Smith asked "does this become an impeachable offense" and highlighted Napolitano's claim that "this breaks federal law."
Fox News contributor Allen West posted on his website, "the U.S. House of Representatives should file articles of impeachment against Barack Hussein Obama." He continued, "I submit that Barack Hussein Obama's unilateral negotiations with terrorists and the ensuing release of their key leadership without consult -- mandated by law -- with the U.S. Congress represents high crimes and misdemeanors, an impeachable offense."
From the March 31 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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From the July 7 edition of MSNBC's Up With Chris Hayes:
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Conservative media figures have been attacking President Obama's economic record by citing the fact that approximately 88 million Americans are not considered part of the labor force. In fact, only a small fraction of those "not in the labor force" actually want to work, and economists say the long-term decline in labor force participation is due to changing demographics -- a trend that is likely to continue over the next decade.
In a post on Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and National Review Online's Andrew McCarthy defended their debunked claims that President Obama has given Interpol broad powers to investigate U.S. citizens without being limited by the Constitution. In fact, according to the head of Interpol -- whose factual statements Gingrich and McCarthy don't refute -- the organization does not have traditional police powers; additionally, Interpol was already granted immunity from lawsuits by President Reagan.
From the November 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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In its Glenn Beck-driven witch hunt for "czars" in the Obama administration, Fox News has turned its attention to attacking Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools director Kevin Jennings, with Sean Hannity and Fox & Friends asking whether Jennings should be "fired" and whether he is "the guy for the job." In pressing for Jennings to be fired and misconstruing Jennings' past comments, Fox News continues its pattern of using gross distortions to attack President Obama's advisers.
Repeating a pattern of invoking ACORN to attack progressives, conservative media figures have brought up the organization in their discussions of President Obama's July 22 prime-time press conference, in which he took a question regarding the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Media conservatives, including film blogger Govindini Murty, Rush Limbaugh, L. Brent Bozell III, and Andrew C. McCarthy, have all spoken out to defend the reportedly dubious portrayals of historical events in the ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11. In doing so, these conservatives have used strikingly similar themes, praising the miniseries' "honesty" or "accuracy" and its "nonpartisan" nature.
Numerous conservative media figures have lashed out at The New York Times and its executive editor, Bill Keller, over an article describing a secret Bush administration program designed to monitor international financial transactions, arguing that the publication of the article was a treasonous act and suggesting that the newspaper is "sid[ing] with al Qaeda" and "aiding and abetting the terrorist movement."
In a New York Post book review, Andrew C. McCarthy falsely suggested that the Clinton administration was responsible for the Supreme Court's ruling that the requirement that law enforcement officials give suspects Miranda warnings for confessions to be admissible in court is embedded in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.