Ben Stein

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  • Marco Rubio's Poor Shaming Comments Come Straight From Fox News' Talking Points

    Rubio On Policies To Alleviate Child Poverty: "Ultimately, There's No Law I Can Pass To Make People Better Parents"


    Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) blamed poverty on bad parents and a lack of strong family values during a CNN Republican presidential townhall, parroting Fox News' talking points and long history of poor-shaming.

  • Six Years Of Right-Wing Media Attacks On Obama's State Of The Union Addresses

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Right-wing media personalities have incessantly attacked President Obama's six previous State of the Union addresses -- from calling the speeches "boring" to questioning his decision to invite a wounded veteran to the event -- and have even frequently waged the attacks before the addresses even occurred. Ahead of Obama's January 12 State of the Union address, Media Matters looks back at conservative media's long history of attacking annual addresses.

    2010: Get Ready For A "Big Propaganda Speech."

    Before President Obama made his first official State of the Union address on January 27, 2010, right-wing media pundits called the speech "stupid" "propaganda." Fox host Sean Hannity repeatedly referred to the upcoming speech as "propaganda," and former Fox host Glenn Beck told his viewers "you don't even have to watch this stupid speech tonight. I'll watch it for you so you don't have to." Beck added, "I want to hang myself over watching this." Fox Business' John Stossel asked Obama to use the address to apologize for being "arrogant." After his speech, media personalities criticized Obama, and claimed he didn't show enough humility. Stossel said Obama "certainly didn't sound humbled," and only a few minutes into the address, National Review's John Hood criticized Obama's "cadence and rhythm" for coming "across as flippant and arrogant." The talking point wasn't anything new -- frequent Fox guest Ben Stein had predicted that "we'll see Obama with his fake modesty and his fake humility" before the speech took place. Once again, Glenn Beck joined the chorus: "the arrogance from the moment this guy walked in, the arrogance -- there's no humility there."

    2011: Obama Will "Lie For An Hour And Fifteen Minutes."

    President Obama made his second State of the Union address on January 25, 2011, and the media predicted it would focus on theatrics instead of substance. Rush Limbaugh directed his listeners to watch a Golf Channel show he appeared in instead of the address, predicting that Obama would "lie for an hour and fifteen minutes." On Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned whether Obama would be sincere, suggesting that the president was merely trying "to make sure he gets re-elected." After the speech, Limbaugh continued to attack Obama's sincerity, saying Obama "just doesn't believe" the "pro-America rah-rah" featured in the speech and suggesting that the speech was plagiarized. Fox & Friends' recap of the debate called the speech "boring."

    2012: Obama's Speech Helped "Kick Off His Class Warfare Campaign" That "Declared War On Success."

    Continuing their tradition of attacking Obama prior to the address, Fox News hosts criticized the focus on economic security and income equality. On Fox & Friends Kilmeade said that Obama would "bring up the class warfare stuff," while co-host Steve Doocy forcasted that it would "ignite the whole class warfare thing." Co-host of Fox's The Five , Andrea Tantaros predicted the address would be a "very divisive, very evil speech" that is "designed to get people in the audience who are sitting home on their duffs ... angry at their neighbors who are actually going out, who are working hard."

    After the address, right-wing media largely continued their "class warfare" narrative. Fox's Doocy doubled down against Obama's focus on income inequality, saying that his comments regarding billionaires paying the same percentage of taxes as their secretaries were intended "to kick off his class warfare campaign." Fox Business' Dave Ramsey even claimed Obama "declared war on success in the name of this class warfare politics."

    2013: Obama Gave A "Castro-Like Speech ... Albeit In English."

    After President Obama's February 12, 2013 State of the Union Speech, right-wing radio host Mark Levin accused Obama of "lying to the American people" in a "Castro-like speech." Levin criticized the economy under Obama claiming he keeps "proposing more programs, more trusts, more partnerships, more agencies, more spending." A Fox Nation headline echoed Levin's comments: "Obama Pleads For Billions In New Deficit Spending." That same post, however, linked to a article that reported the full transcript of Obama's comments, explaining that his proposals would be "fully paid for" and that "nothing [he's] proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime."

    2014: "Does It Matter What The President Says" In His State Of The Union Address?

    Before the January 28, 2014 State of the Union, Fox News once again downplayed the address, asking, "Does it matter what the president says?" After the address, Rush Limbaugh was critical of Obama's guest, wounded Army Ranger Cory Remsburg's presence. Limbaugh claimed that Obama invited a wounded veteran to the address to say "look what George Bush is responsible for." Right-wing media also pounced on Obama's comments that climate change demands urgent action and that the debate over it is "settled." Their evidence against the claim? Cold weather and snow across the country.

    2015: "I Hope He Fails."

    In the most memorable vitriol from President Obama's January 20, 2015 State of the Union, Rush Limbaugh told his audience he had already written his response before the address: "I hope he fails." Limbaugh then bragged that "that has been my State of the Union response every year. I hope he fails. It is what it is. You can't get more clear cut than that." On his January 21 show, Limbaugh rehashed his reasoning behind boycotting the speech saying that he would have been "insulted as a conservative" and "lied to" and that the address would have been the "next Santa Claus list."

    Note: this analysis did not include Obama's 2009 Address to Joint Session of Congress.

  • The 15 Most Ridiculous Things Conservative Media Said About Climate Change In 2015


    From Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change, to the establishment of the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, to a landmark international climate agreement, 2015 has been full of major landmarks in national and global efforts to address global warming. Yet you wouldn't know it if you inhabited the parallel universe of the conservative media, where media figures went to ridiculous and outrageous lengths to dismiss or deny climate science, attack the pope, scientists, and anyone else concerned with climate change, and defend polluting fossil fuel companies. Here are the 15 most ridiculous things conservative media said about climate change in 2015.

  • Conservative Media's Nonsensical Solution To Terror Attacks: More Concealed Guns

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Right-wing media figures are pushing the false claim that if the victims of the terror attacks in Paris carried guns, then they could have stopped the attackers and prevented the onslaught. Experts, however, have explained that civilians with guns have not historically stopped mass attacks and that increasing gun availability actually increases violence.

  • Fox Guest Ben Stein Uses Paris Attack To Falsely Claim There Is More Gun Violence Where Gun Laws Are Stricter

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News guest Ben Stein claimed that if the terror attack at a Paris concert hall would have happened in the United States "there would have been someone in the audience who would have shot those two guys up on the stage before they had gotten off two rounds," before falsely claiming that where gun laws are stricter there is more gun violence. 

    Stein's claim is contradicted by the fact that the United States has far looser gun laws compared to France and also a gun homicide rate that is 14 times higher.  The conservative media myth that stronger gun safety laws are linked to more violence has been debunked, and indeed, the evidence shows that states with stronger gun laws have fewer gun deaths. 

    Stein's contention that a civilian with a gun could have stopped the heavily armed terrorists is also baseless; according to an analysis of 62 mass public shootings in the United States over a 30 year period, not a single one was stopped by an armed civilian. 


    NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): Alright, David Cameron just gave a barn burner of a speech -- I caught only the tail end of it -- in London at a very swanky affair. Talking about how the western world must respond to terror, not tentatively, not halfheartedly, but fully and with great passion and with great resolve. This occurs of course after the terror attacks in Paris, but Paris is one of those cities where they have some of the world's toughest gun control laws. In fact, only hobbyists are only allowed to even own such guns and many policemen don't even, are not even allowed to carry weapons, much as it is in much of Canada. So it's the gun ownership issue that people want to bring to the fore here. Ben Stein says it might be falling on deaf ears here because this country, again, is very tough when it comes to guns. But Ben Stein, violence still happens doesn't it?

    BEN STEIN: Well we hate violence. We hate racism. We hate terrorism. But gun control has nothing to do with this. I mean, it's amazing. Just yesterday I saw the idiot of idiots Bernie Sanders saying that the terrorism has something to do with climate change. One doesn't have anything to do with the other, and neither does it have to do with gun control. Terrorists can get guns. Terrorists can get guns one way or another. People who want to do mass murders can get guns. I keep thinking what would have happened if this had been a concert in north Idaho, where my wife and I live during the summer. There would have been someone in the audience who would have shot those two guys up on the stage before they had gotten off two rounds. This is crazy that gun control has anything to do with this issue. 

    CAVUTO: Do you ever wonder though, I mean we have seen some of the more horrific acts of violence. Certainly Norway comes to mind, other countries that have similarly very strict laws. That countries like France, for example, if you have ill intentions, there are ways around those, and a way to make sure that you're the only one with the weapons, right? 

    STEIN: And the same is true everywhere. That's the problem. There's an old, old saying, old, old saying -- when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. It is a very amazing thing that in towns, these western rural towns, southern rural towns, where there is not much gun control, where people carry guns in their cars and on their belts, there's not much gun violence. There are not many gun homicides, whereas in places where guns are strictly controlled there's a lot of gun violence.