In The Wall Street Journal, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) disavowed the offensive narrative pushed by conservative media which labels needy Americans as "takers" versus more economically-prosperous "makers." However, Ryan's proposed anti-poverty policies still rely on the right-wing media myth that blames poverty on poor individuals' personal life choices.
New York Post columnist Arthur Herman called the reported increase in military sexual assaults a "bogus epidemic" because the survey on sexual assaults included all "unwanted sexual contact." But experts have found that any sexual harassment can degrade military readiness and the survey results are consistent with widely used survey methodology.
The Department of Defense released its "Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military" which determined that up to 26,000 service members may have been the victim of some form of sexual assault. In a March 31 column published by The New York Post, columnist Herman claimed the report highlighted a "bogus epidemic." After acknowledging that sexual assault and rape are serious crimes, Herman attacked the parameters of the report, saying "no real solution to any problem can be built around flawed data":
Yet that's precisely what's really going on here -- starting with that report. First off, it's far from comprehensive or authoritative. It's based entirely on a voluntary survey -- and it's wildly anti-scientific to extrapolate from a self-selected group. And only 22,792 service members opted to respond -- roughly 2.2 percent of a military that's 1 million strong.
Even more amazing, the survey never actually asked about sexual assault. Its questions centered on "unwanted sexual contact" -- which can include any number of behaviors, including trying to slap someone on the buttocks, which may be vulgar or inappropriate but hardly rape.
But the survey didn't measure rape, it measured sexual assault, a term that is given a broad definition by the military. For example, the Army Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program answers the question "What is sexual assault" by including, among other things, "unwanted and inappropriate sexual conduct or fondling":
As right-wing media figures compared President Obama to Hitler and Stalin over his attempt to strengthen gun laws, Fox News figures stoked fears that his policies would lead to civil war and violence.
After reports that Vice President Joe Biden included possible executive action as part of an effort to stop gun violence like the tragic killings at Sandy Hook elementary,conservatives compared the president to Hitler and Stalin and invoked Nazi Germany to oppose his policies.At the same time, Fox News figures attacked Obama using violent rhetoric that warned of civil war, revolution, and insurrection if his policies on guns, spending and entitlement reform are implemented.
On his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly claimed that Obama could choose "to be a good president or whether he just wants to have blood in the streets," arguing that the president should cut spending on programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
Fox News is again using its own bogus narrative to stoke fears of a civil war in the U.S. between "makers" and "takers," after repeatedly pushing the argument that people who receive government benefits are "takers" and pitting them against "makers."
In a January 3 op-ed, Fox News columnist Arthur Herman wrote that riots in Argentina foreshadowed "a coming civil war between makers and takers" in the U.S. Herman revived former presidential candidate Mitt Romney's infamous 47 percent remarks to argue that that the government is creating a dependency nation of people "unable to fend for themselves -- and increasingly resentful of those who can." He added:
When the economy tanks and the government checks have to shrink, their only alternative is to take to the streets. That's what happening in Argentina, and in Greece; and that's where the growth of government is taking us here, as this current budget deal increases handouts -- and more and more Americans are finding that an unemployment or Social Security disability check is their only life line.
But the concept of society being divided into "makers" and "takers" is a manufactured distinction, one that Fox has pushed aggressively.
Mitt Romney's remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who he said are "dependent upon government" echoed right-wing "makers vs. takers" rhetoric -- an argument that has been repeatedly promoted on Fox News.
In an August 22 New York Post op-ed dedicated to stripping President Obama of credit for the recent events in Libya, historian and author Arthur Herman inserted the following line:
In short, our president largely sat on the sidelines as Britain and France used our jets to get what they wanted -- and now, European opinion, starting with the Financial Times, is urging Obama to put American boots on the ground as part of any NATO peace-keeping force.
How ironic: An American president who prides himself on his anti-colonialism -- even returning a bust of Winston Churchill to Britain because of how Churchill treated Kenya 60 years ago -- has facilitated the biggest neo-colonialist power grab in decades.
Of course, Obama did no such thing. Although stated as fact by Herman, the idea that Obama returned Churchill's bust as revenge for Britain's involvement in the Kenyan Mau Mau revolution of the 1950s is actually the product of a bizarre year-old conspiracy theory spun by former Fox News host Glenn Beck. As a February 14, 2009, article in the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph made clear, the bust was on loan to the White House and was scheduled to be returned: