Right-wing pundits frequently use former President Ronald Reagan's name to apply a stamp of approval on anything or anyone they deem symbolic of the ideal conservative -- even when Reagan's actual record on issues ranging from taxes to the deficit deviated far from the ideological standards of today's conservative movement.
Republican darling du jour Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) is the latest to receive the Reagan badge. Ahead of his delivery of the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Karl Rove said Monday that "in Rubio, the Republicans have got probably one of their best communicators since Ronald Reagan." On MSNBC's Morning Joe, The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis called Rubio "Reaganesque." And in November 2012, pundit Cal Thomas published a column on Townhall.com titled, "Marco Rubio: A Hispanic Reagan?"
Rubio is just the latest in a long line of Republican politicians to receive the ubiquitous accolade:
Mitt Romney: Fox News figures repeatedly linked former presidential candidate Romney to the Gipper during both opinion and news shows in the months leading up to the 2012 election. Bill O'Reilly said that Romney "is going to mirror the ghost of Ronald Reagan," while political correspondent Carl Cameron said Romney, on his bus tour, spent a lot of time "sort of echoing Ronald Reagan."
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI): Fox News figures from K.T. MacFarland to Megyn Kelly compared Ryan to Reagan as part of their cheerleading for Ryan after he was chosen as Romney's vice presidential candidate.
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ): Fox Nation highlighted a column by the director of the American Enterprise Institute with the headline, "Christie's Starting to Look Like Reagan."
Sarah Palin: A post on Breitbart's BigJournalism.com said that Palin "carries the torch of liberty and American exceptionalism in the palm of her lovely hand" before calling her the "surviving embodiment of the spirit of 1776 and the Reagan reformation."
Gov. Scott Walker (WI): On Sean Hannity's Fox show, conservative radio host Mike Gallagher called Walker "the Ronald Reagan of our time."
Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA): Karl Rove, on Hannity's show, called Virginia governor Bob McDonnell "a Reaganite conservative."
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA): In February 2008, Rush Limbaugh called Jindal "the next Ronald Reagan."
Right-wing media figures have splashed the "Reagan" label about so freely that they're in danger of rendering the compliment meaningless.
Team Breitbart is out with yet another post attacking President Obama over his connection to late Harvard law professor Derrick Bell, this time claiming that Bell "promulgat[ed] ... antisemitic conspiracy theories," which might have led Obama to embrace Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and call him a "friend."
Let's be honest about Bell's promulgation of antisemitic conspiracy theories and let's be honest about what it might have to do with Obama's embrace of the Islamist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who the President described as, a "friend and colleague. We find ourselves in frequent agreement upon a wide range of issues."
The suggestion that Obama's comments about Erdogan reveal latent anti-Semitism is outrageous. Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States that has supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In September 2011, the United States and Turkey reached an agreement that allows for the U.S. to install a "sophisticated American radar system" in Turkey as part of the NATO missile defense shield designed to protect "Europe against a potential Iranian missile attack."
And if that's not enough, Obama isn't the first president to call Erdogan a friend.
Mr. Prime Minister, welcome back to the Oval Office. As usual, we had a very constructive conversation. Turkey is a strategic partner and strong ally of America. I value our friendship at the state level, at the personal level.
Perhaps Team Breitbart should start digging around for Bush's connections to Derrick Bell.
A Fox Nation headline shouts: "RUSSIA HIRES EXXON MOBIL TO GET OIL OBAMA DOESN'T WANT." The headline accompanies a Breitbart.com post of the same title by AWR Hawkins about ExxonMobil's deal to develop Russian oil resources in the Arctic. The post is only a few paragraphs long but it gets an impressive number of things wrong. Let's take them one at a time. Hawkins begins by stating:
Here's the picture--Alaska contains a wealth of oil both on land, in ANWR, and off shore in its outer continental shelf. But President Obama and the Democrat party are staunchly opposed to allowing us to avail ourselves of it.
In fact, President Obama is expanding offshore drilling in the Arctic. You don't have to take it from me -- the VP of Shell Alaska has described the Obama administration as having responded "favorably" to its drilling plans. Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office questions whether regulators will be able to provide "sufficient oversight" of Arctic drilling operations given the "environmental and logistical risks associated with the remoteness and environment of the region." Hawkins continues:
And via the Keystone Pipeline, Canada could supply nearly 1,000,000 barrels of oil a day that we're not getting from Alaska, but Obama and the Democrats have stopped that too. As a result, the price we're paying per-gallon for gasoline is steadily climbing, and other countries are choosing to go where we won't for oil. Thus the oil Canada was going to sell us via Keystone will now go to China....
No serious energy analyst would agree that the administration's decision to delay Keystone XL is why gasoline prices have risen. And once the pipeline was up and running at full capacity in a decade or so, the impact on gasoline prices would be a matter of pennies, if anything. As for U.S. oil production, due to the scale of the global market, "we probably couldn't produce enough to affect the world price of oil," in the words of Ken Green from the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Hawkins claims that the U.S. will be missing out on Canadian oil in the absence of the Keystone XL pipeline, but as FactCheck.org has noted, "There's nothing to prevent more Canadian oil from coming into the U.S. right now" since "existing cross-border pipelines already have much more capacity than they are using" and will have excess capacity until at least 2020. An analysis conducted by the oil consulting firm EnSys for the Department of Energy found that U.S. oil imports are "insensitive" to "whether or not KXL is built and projected that in 2030, the amount of oil we import from Canada would be the same with or without the pipeline. Hawkins again:
At the January 7 ABC/Yahoo News Republican presidential debate, moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney if he shared Rick Santorum's belief "that states have the right to ban contraception." Romney mildly rebuked Stephanopoulos for the "unusual topic that you're raising," and said no, he does not share that belief.
From that one question a bizarrely intricate conspiracy has erupted and enraptured the conservative media. Seizing upon the Obama administration's January 20 announcement that health insurers (including church-affiliated organizations) would have to provide plans that cover contraception, allegations have sprung up that Stephanopoulos' question was "coordinated" with the White House as some sort of trap for the Republican candidates to fall into.
And we're not talking about the fringe here. Dick Morris, in a moment of perfect irony, accused Stephanopoulos of being a "paid Democratic hitman." Morris accusation and the broader conspiracy were picked up by Fox News, a former Bush administration official, and CNN contributor Erick Erickson. Now the Breitbart hive is getting in on the action:
Last week, the Virginia Legislature moved closer to passing a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound. Media reports and experts noted that because the mandate would apply to very early pregnancies as well, a traditional ultrasound would not always be adequate to obtain the detailed images specified by the law; instead, as CBS News reported:
One issue that has come under the microscope with relation to the ultrasound bill is its requirement that some women undergo a transvaginal ultrasound probe, which is considered more physically invasive than other procedures.
While the bill does not explicitly mandate the use of transvaginal ultrasounds, many women would inevitably be required to undergo them; in the early stages of pregnancy, that procedure is often the only form of ultrasound that can detect a fetus' heartbeat.
As Slate's Dahlia Lithwick reported, a proposed amendment to the bill that would have required the patient to consent to penetration with an ultrasound wand failed. Lithwick concluded:
Since a proposed amendment to the bill -- a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound -- failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.
Right-wing media have responded by defending the Virginia bill. On the February 17 edition of her radio show, CNN contributor Dana Loesch defended the procedure as being no different than consensual sex, saying:
LOESCH: That's the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it's rape and so on and so forth. And, in fact, this big battle that I've totally won with Keith Olbermann by the way, like, not only won once but twice and three times is -- there were individuals saying, "Well, what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that -- the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?" What?
Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a transvaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.
Here's the thing. People know how anatomy and physiology work, yes? We know, again, how offspring is created? Right? We do.
(h/t Little Green Footballs)
With signs that the Republican nominating process may take much longer, and become much more contentious, than once thought, fault lines are beginning to appear within the conservative media, which has traditionally been very disciplined in their messaging.
What's confusing though, is watching conservative bloggers, who traditionally bash the press for being unfair to Republicans, suddenly claiming the press is being too nice (too fair?) to certain GOP hopefuls.
Last week, Andrew Breitbart's editorial panel at Big Journalism, claiming to have spotted a long-term press conspiracy, lashed out at the mainstream media for giving Mitt Romney a free ride prior to his possible nomination:
John McCain's Romney oppo file makes its way to the Internet. Will the media now begin to talk about some of the troubling things in Romney's record, or will they "Obama him" and allow a candidate to skate through the primary with little vetting -- except what the candidates can push through before they're jumped on and called "mean?" The media doesn't want to vet Romney now; they're holding their fire in the event he becomes the nominee, after which they will unload.
This week, conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, who has been forceful in her support of Romney, lashed out at the mainstream media for giving Newt Gingrich a free ride while supposedly "grilling" Romney with "enthusiasm":
The key question for tonight's debate is whether the NBC moderators will serve up more hanging curveballs over the plate for Newt Gingrich to bash out of the park or whether they will actually scrutinize him with the same enthusiasm they have shown in grilling Mitt Romney.
There's something surreal in watching conservatives complain the press is being too nice to a Republican candidate during primary season.
In at least three instances, Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism website has used an image connected to a Nazi-era German magazine noted for anti-Semitic cartoons and pro-Hitler leanings.
That image has since been removed from the post. Big Journalism, which is edited by CNN contributor Dana Loesch, also used the cartoon in a January 8 blog post credited to Warner Todd Huston, and in a July 2 post:
The cartoon appears to have originated in a 1942 edition of the German magazine Kladderadatsch.
From a blog post at Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism:
In a curious nod to James O'Keefe-style guerrilla filmmaking, Steve Kroft of CBS's 60 Minutes turned up at Capitol Hill press conferences yesterday with surprise questions for both House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Kroft quizzed both about their stock transactions in their respective roles as Speaker.
Kroft's technique caught both off-guard, and suggests that the mainstream media is beginning to learn some tactics from the blogosphere. Kudos.
Really? Asking tough questions of politicians is "O'Keefe-like"? It's not like 60 Minutes hasn't been doing this sort of thing for, oh, the last 40-plus years.
Also, it was hardly a "surprise" that Kroft would ask questions of Pelosi and Boehner since he was doing so at press conferences.
There is one key difference between Kroft and O'Keefe, however: Kroft wasn't trying to deceive anyone about who he is, nor was he surreptitiously taping his subjects in the hope they would say something embarrassing that he could then deceptively edit with the goal of creating a viral YouTube video.
Big Journalism's contention that "the mainstream media is beginning to learn some tactics from the blogosphere" is laughable. It's O'Keefe who borrowed such tactics from the likes of 60 Minutes -- and did such an incompetent, dishonest job of it that 60 Minutes probably doesn't want them back.
Following a post by Slate's Dave Weigel in which Weigel pointed out that CNN contributor Dana Loesch's criticism of liberal journalists' coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests is hypocritical given her coverage of the tea parties, Loesch complained that the media has "been mostly hostile to the [tea party] movement." Loesch went on to claim, "The media did not 'aid' the tea party; the tea party grew in spite of it."
But Loesch is ignoring the fact that the tea party had a dedicated cable news network in Fox News devoted to aggressively promoting and providing uniformly positive coverage of the events and protests. Fox even branded 2009 tea party protests as "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties":
In fact, the Tea Party Express highlighted Fox's positive coverage numerous times, even using Fox's friendly coverage to raise money and later admitting that "there would not have been a tea party without Fox." And not only did the Tea Party Express praise Fox's tea party coverage, but it also cited the "great television news coverage" from CNN -- now Loesch's cable news home -- as well.
Tea party darling and CNN contributor Dana Loesch has decided to engage in some audacious revisionism in order to defend conservatives from criticism over the booing of a gay soldier at a Republican presidential debate.
Loesch's re-imagining concerned the Fox News-Google debate during which a question given by Stephen Hill, a gay soldier serving in Iraq, elicited audible booing from the audience. Media figures and even some Republican presidential candidates have condemned the booing.
At a fundraiser yesterday, President Obama also condemned the booing while criticizing aspects of the modern-day Republican Party:
Some of you here may be folks who actually used to be Republicans but are puzzled by what's happened to that party, are puzzled by what's happening to that party. I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately? You've got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change, it's true. You've got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don't have health care and booing a service member in Iraq because they're gay.
Loesch responded on Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism, claiming that President Obama had deliberately lied about the booing.
As evidence that Obama was lying, Loesch linked to a previous blog post she had written, claiming that she had "thoroughly debunked" the booing story.
But her previous blog actually confirms the fact that the soldier was booed at the debate.
After Fox News aired a doctored version of Teamsters president James Hoffa's Labor Day speech, the right-wing media pointed to the clearly edited video to accuse Hoffa of encouraging violence against conservatives. In fact, unaltered video -- video aired by Fox hours after the clearly edited version had been heavily promoted throughout the conservative media -- shows that Hoffa was encouraging the crowd to vote against Republicans in the 2012 election.
This morning Andrew Breitbart, Dana Loesch and Mike Flynn dropped by Media Matters asking for a copy of our IRS 990 form.
Right-wing bloggers misled by dishonest Fox News video editing are attacking Teamsters President James Hoffa for supposedly urging violence against Tea Party activists during a Labor Day speech. Conservatives are also attacking President Obama, who appeared at the event, for "sanctioning violence against fellow Americans" by failing to denounce Hoffa. But fuller context included in other Fox segments makes clear that Hoffa wasn't calling for violence but was actually urging the crowd to vote out Republican members of Congress.
During the segment that the bloggers have latched onto, Fox edited out the bolded portion of Hoffa's comments:
HOFFA: Everybody here's got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let's take these son of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong! Thank you very much!
In an initial report on Hoffa's speech at 1 p.m. on Fox News, Ed Henry reported that Hoffa said that "we'll remember in November who's with the working people" and "said of the Tea Party and of Republicans, 'let's take these sons of bitches out.'"
Henry made clear during that segment that Hoffa's comments were references to voting out Republican members of Congress, not to violence. And roughly 20 minutes later, he explained on Twitter that the "full quote" of the "take these son of a bitches out" comment is "Everybody here's got to vote. If we go back & keep the eye on the prize, let's take these sons of bitches out":
But in a second segment that ran at roughly the same time as Henry's tweet, Fox News dishonestly edited the speech in the manner seen above. Andrew Breitbart's Big sites, Real Clear Politics, The Daily Caller, the Media Research Center, and the Drudge Report have all highlighted that footage, using it to condemn "the violence emanating from union thug bosses" and demand that Obama "denounce" the comments.
Today at Big Journalism, contributor AWR Hawkins has a strange complaint: The "mainstream media" is refusing to report that former Bears coach and Levitra pitchman Mike Ditka "heaped praise on Sarah Palin."
According to Hawkins, the Ditka-praise blackout in the mainstream media stretches back years, dating back to when Ditka stumped for the Palin/McCain ticket in 2008 and bravely pointed out that he was an American:
When he stumped for Palin/McCain in 2008, Ditka said Palin "epitomizes all the good qualities of this country." He also called on audience members to put party affiliation and anything else that divided them aside long enough "put Country First" for a change. (Ditka lead by example by unashamedly admitting he was a Republican and a conservative, and most importantly, he said, "I am an American.")
Of course, I don't recall hearing Chris Matthews, Matt Lauer, or anyone in the MSM mention Ditka's kind words for the Governor in 2010 (nor do I remember them making fun of him for being a Republican). And since that was back in the days when Keith Olbermann still had a show, you'd at least think Ditka would have made the "Worst Person in the World" list.
In his post, Hawkins seeks to explain the MSM's refusal to cover Ditka's kind words for Palin. No, not that a former football coach saying nice things about a former half-term governor and unsuccessful vice-presidential candidate doesn't rank too high on the list of newsworthy events this week, but that media figures "fear" Ditka:
Come to think of it, I don't recall hearing them talk about Ditka's kind words for Palin on the campaign trail in 2008 either. (I've got a feeling Matthews, Lauer, and Olbermann would rather pick fights with people who don't fight back, and they all know Ditka isn't the type to just shut up and take it. That's why they fear him and that's why we love him.)
That's also why we love Palin.
I'm not sure what kind of ideal media world Big Journalism contributors envision, but apparently it would involve media outlets running Breaking News reports covering Mike Ditka calling Sarah Palin a "great lady, mother and wife."
Since the right-wing media never misses a chance to wail about "liberal bias" or pretend that the media are somehow in cahoots with the Obama administration, it's no surprise that the Drudge Report and Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism both jumped on Michelle Obama's statement during a CNN interview that "we have help from the media" to invent more supposed bias.
Obama was actually thanking the media for respecting her children's privacy, not admitting to media bias, but shockingly, Drudge and Big Journalism didn't bother mentioning that.
In a link first posted on June 24, Drudge claimed:
Big Journalism posted a similar link:
The first lady is claiming she and the president get "help from the media!" State-run media! Liberal bias! Sound the alarm!
Drudge and Breitbart are probably hoping their readers don't actually click on their links,* however, because the RealClearPolitics.com video to which they link shows that Obama is thanking the media for respecting the privacy of her children, not for helping her husband.
Watch the video for yourself. It's crystal clear: