Right-wing media have repeatedly exploited the November 13 ISIS-led terror attacks in Paris to stoke fears about Syrian refugees posing a terror threat in the U.S., falsely claiming that the United States lacks a rigorous refugee vetting system, that most Syrian refugees are adult males "of fighting age," and that, like the attacks in Paris, the Boston Marathon bombing and Ft. Hood shooting were perpetrated by refugees.
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.
Right-wing media seized on the November 13 terror attacks in Paris to make at least five false or misleading claims about Syrian refugees, past statements from Hillary Clinton, President Obama's strategy against ISIS, the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and how guns in civilian hands could have supposedly changed the outcome of the attacks.
Right-wing media figures lashed out at President Obama after he delivered a speech condemning the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris at the G20 summit in Turkey, calling him "a petulant, hyper-partisan community organizer" and "an enabler of evil" among other things.
Right-wing media mocked Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for linking climate change to terrorism during the November 14 CBS Democratic presidential debate. Sanders explained that if climate change continues to go largely unaddressed, "you're going to see all kinds of international conflict." Right-wing media called Sanders "insane" and "someone who doesn't understand what the real subject is." However, major studies and reports from foreign policy and defense experts support Sanders' assessment that climate change was a significant factor contributing to the rise of ISIL (or ISIS).
During the November 14 CBS Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton explained that she doesn't "think we are at war with all Muslims," but rather that "we're at war with jihadists." She noted that President George W. Bush expressed a similar sentiment following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Right-wing media figures immediately condemned Clinton for not using the phrase "radical Islam," accusing Clinton of "giving Islam a pass" and likening her comments to the claim that "Hitler wasn't an anti-Semite."
As President Obama approaches his final year in office, there's mounting frustration among Republicans and members of the conservative media that the elusive "truth" still hasn't been told about Obama, and that the mainstream media continues to hide scandalous revelations from public view.
Using the allegation as a shield to protect himself from claims he may have fabricated parts of his own biography, Ben Carson took the lead last week when he admonished the press for allegedly giving Obama a pass. "This was the same media that time and again declared it off-limits to dig into then-candidate Barack Obama's background," claimed Carson in a recent fundraising pitch.
Again, Obama's entering his eighth year in office, but somehow he hasn't been vetted? Somehow all kinds of embarrassing and scandalous parts of his background remain under wraps? It's hard to believe. And as Media Matters detailed, not many journalists are buying the claim that Carson's being held to a unique standard.
"The suggestion that others have not gone through this [scrutiny] ignores history," noted Washington Post reporter Ed O'Keefe.
The not-vetted complaint works side-by-side with the revived 'liberal media bias' allegation that's been at the center of the Republican campaign season in recent weeks. Together, the two claims represent the Mantle and Maris of conservative whining. The conspiratorial bookends are often used to try to explain away Obama's two electoral landslide victories. Conservatives seem to think that if only the truth were revealed, "Then the scales will fall from the voters' eyes and they'll boot him from the office he never deserved to occupy in the first place," wrote Paul Waldman at American Prospect.
The vetting claim reflects life inside the Fox News-generated bubble. It reflects a conservative movement that's increasingly allergic to bouts of reality and common sense. It goes to a core belief that they've been right all along about Obama and his dastardly ways, it's just that the press won't inform the public.
But here's the thing: conservative commentators, and especially conservative bloggers, are ignoring the fact that Obama was vetted -- by them. For more than two presidential election cycles.
And it was priceless.
All of those claims, and much more, were forwarded by right-wing media outlets (including Fox News) that have been thrashing around in cesspools over the years, all in the name of vetting the elusive Obama. (The late blogger and satirist Al Weisel, known as Jon Swift, masterfully detailed the attempted vetting.)
Some of the lowlights from conservative bloggers' 2008 crusade that I previously highlighted when they started complaining in 2012 that the president hadn't been properly investigated:
Then in 2012, the same frantic, clueless sleuths vowed to redouble their efforts. Under the headline, "Re-Vetting Wars: Obama's Girlfriends Speak," American Thinker editor Thomas Lifson noted "One of the foremost concerns of the Obama re-election effort is the promised re-vetting of Obama, playing off the widespread perception that the media utterly failed to investigate the reality beneath the highly manufactured identity peddled in 2008."
At Breitbart.com, founder Andrew Breitbart vowed to pull back the dark curtain on Obama's troubling past; to do what the supposed lapdog press refused to do in 2008.
Breitbart's first supposed smoking gun centered around the revelation that in 1998, then-state senator Obama attended a Chicago play about activist Saul Alinsky and then took part in a panel discussion afterwards.
Shocking stuff, indeed.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that the White House released the president's long-form birth certificate in 2011 to debunk all the birther nonsense, right-wing columnist Jerome Corsi delved deeper down the black hole, publishing a series of reports trying to prove Obama's birth certificate was a forgery. He also promoted the claim that Obama "hid" his gay life and that, of course, he's secretly a Muslim.
In 2012, conservative filmmaker Joel Gilbert unveiled his documentary film, Dreams From My Real Father, which claimed Obama is the son of communist writer Frank Marshall Davis. The loopy DVD movie was touted by Fox News' Monica Crowley, among others.
So c'mon, conservative commentators, don't sell yourselves short. You did vet Obama, and it was genius. I can't wait to see what their vetting of Hillary Clinton looks like.
The New York Times recently reported that China had released new data showing that the country has burned significantly more coal in recent years than previously thought. Conservative media are alleging that China is "lying" and using this news to undermine the upcoming United Nations climate conference in Paris, where nations hope to reach an international climate change agreement. But experts say China's revised data, which has been known to policymakers for months, is a result of improved accounting -- not deception -- and has already been incorporated into the international negotiations.
Right-wing media attacked a CNN report that was "unable to independently confirm" incidents described in Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson's autobiography about his violent past -- including claims that he attempted "to kill somebody" -- calling the report "ruthless" for "dissecting" Carson's life, and using the report to attack President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
When newly-elected Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was picked by Mitt Romney to be his running mate in 2012, right-wing media were ecstatic. Cheered by Ryan's sterling conservative credentials, far right commentators celebrated that one of their own has been added to the ticket.
Rush Limbaugh: "I don't remember a vice presidential pick that has so energized a campaign as this choice of Paul Ryan."
Glenn Beck: "Mitt Romney has picked a solid, smart conservative for his vice-presidential running mate."
Laura Ingraham: "More than anything today, we need a man with courage and clear-thinking. Ryan has both."
Mark Levin: "Paul Ryan is an excellent VP choice."
Fast forward just three years and those same commentators are now raising doubts about Ryan, when not outright trashing him in public. Ryan's sudden sin? Not being sufficiently conservative; not passing the purity test.
Limbaugh: "This whole Ryan thing hasn't made any sense to me from the first moment I heard about it."
Beck: "The 'fix' the republic needs is Paul Ryan? The man who never met a bailout he didn't like? A man who asked to be made king? 100% support and you can't vote him out? Your solution is MORE POWER FOR THE SPEAKER?!?!?!?"
Levin: "NOT SO FAST! Paul Ryan an amnesty advocate"
Ingraham: "From misrepresenting the outrageous Fast Track &TPP to amnesty & foreign workers, list of demands, Ryan's possibly the worst Spkr choice."
Ryan's amazing free-fall from grace seems to be part of a larger race to the radical right, not only among powerful forces with the Republican Party, which now seem to be fundamentally opposed to governing and legislating, but also within key portions of the right-wing media. There seems to be a mini-stampede underway towards an extremist destination rarely seen in mainstream American politics. And for parts of the conservative media that means now demonizing former heroes like Paul Ryan.
"Conservative talk show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, have already denounced him as a dangerous moderate," according to Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times. "Tea party organizations are already raising money from supporters with appeals to stop any more Ryanesque budget deals."
One of the many layers of irony here is that in 2012, the right-wing media defended Ryan from Democratic claims that he was too far to the right and outside of the mainstream. Today, many conservative commentators are attacking Ryan for not being far enough to the right.
Yet "Ryan hasn't undergone any sort of David Brockian-type worldview change that would warrant labeling him an apostate," wrote conservative Matt Lewis at The Daily Beast. He added that while "Ryan's voting record has its blemishes," Ryan would "certainly be the most conservative Speaker of the House in modern history."
He still believes in privatizing social security and Medicare. He still believes that social programs are a "hammock." He still believes that the Social Security survivor benefits that he and his family received throughout his adolescence cause dependency on other people and their families.
A portion of the conservative press, of course, has never been in love with an establishment-type players like Jeb Bush, so his lack of support this year hasn't been surprising. But Paul Ryan? He's "the Republican party's intellectual leader" as The Weekly Standard once touted. The conservative press could barely contain its universal glee when Ryan got the VP nod just three years ago. 'He's one of us,' seemed to be the collective cheer.
Today, the insults pile high:
-"He is the wrong man at the wrong time." [American Thinker]
-"Paul Ryan represents one of the absolute worst outcomes for conservatives. " [Conservative Review]
-"Despite his portrayal by the media as being conservative, most actual conservatives in the House know that Ryan isn't a conservative." [Breitbart]
Breitbart, in particular, has become a clearinghouse of often-inaccurate analysis regarding Ryan, such as claiming the Republican's bid for the speakership had recently collapsed. Breitbart even warned readers that Media Matters "has Paul Ryan's back," as proof the Republican cannot be trusted.
In a sign of how fractured and radical the conservative movement has become, it appears fewer and fewer media players have Ryan's back. Even though they cheered him as a savior in 2012.
During the October 28 Republican presidential debate hosted by CNBC, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) contested moderator John Harwood's statement that Rubio's tax reform plan disproportionately favors the rich over the middle class. Conservative news outlets rushed to defend Rubio, despite the fact that Harwood was correct.
As CNBC prepares to host the third Republican presidential debate on October 28 -- which will focus on the economy and is being billed as "Your Money, Your Vote" -- moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood should be prepared to contest and correct several right-wing myths about the economic costs of immigration that are all but certain to come up.
Sean Hannity echoed a previously debunked statistic to claim that 38 percent of all murder convictions in some states are committed by undocumented immigrants. The claim appears to have originated on the conservative news site Breitbart.com, and has been debunked by PolitiFact for relying on a flawed study from the conservative Center for Security Policy.
Right-wing media frequently distort climate science in order to dispute the overwhelming consensus that human activities are responsible for climate change. But sometimes scientists fight back and stand up for their work. Here are nine times scientific researchers stood up to deniers who misrepresented their climate studies.
Conservative media are defending the "right" of fossil fuel companies to knowingly deceive the public about climate change, after a group of climate scientists and members of Congress called for an investigation of such companies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Contrary to claims by conservative media that these advocates are seeking to "shut down free speech," RICO would only apply to those who purposefully misled the public about climate change, with some Congressmen pointing to recent reports that ExxonMobil funded climate science denial for decades after discovering that fossil fuels drive climate change.