Reviving a smear that even Fox News has repudiated, Fox News contributor and Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York reported as fact that a student counseled by Education Department official Kevin Jennings in 1988 regarding the student's "encounter with an older man" was 15 at the time, adding that "some defenders now say the boy was 16." In fact, Media Matters for America has definitively proven that the student was 16 at the time -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts -- producing a statement from the student and his driver's license, evidence that CNN subsequently reported on and confirmed.
In recent days, Fox News hosts, contributors and guests have used President Obama's promotion of the United States bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago as an excuse to attack him, while Michelle Malkin and Matt Drudge have baselessly linked the murder of a teenager in Chicago to the Olympic bid. Attacks on Obama's efforts include Sean Hannity saying that "it sounds" like Obama "is more concerned about bringing the Olympics to Chicago than winning the war in Afghanistan," Brent Bozell claiming Obama's trip to Copenhagen to promote the Chicago bid "is evidence that this man just cannot stay away from the klieg lights," and Bret Baier invoking the "carbon footprint" of Obama's trip to Copenhagen to smear the president.
With Glenn Beck and various other lunatics complaining about President Obama's speech to schoolchildren about the importance of education, despite the fact that previous Republican presidents also spoke to schoolchildren, some reporters knew just what to do.
That's right: it's time for a round of news reports suggesting that the complaints from conservatives like Beck are just like complaints from Democrats when George H. W. Bush spoke to school children.
Here's Byron York in the Washington Examiner:
The controversy over President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush's speech -- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.
The more things change...
Posted: Thursday, September 03, 2009 10:42 AM by Mark Murray
From NBC's Mark Murray
... the more they stay the same, we guess.
As it turns out, a controversy over a president giving an education speech to students isn't new.
One, George H.W. Bush gave a speech to students back in 1991. And two, Democrats criticized him for it.
I'm not really in the mood to mince words today, so I'll just say that this is absolutely idiotic. Anyone who thinks that criticizing the president for spending taxpayer money on a speech to schoolchildren is equivalent to criticizing the president for "indoctrinating" schoolchildren and comparing him to Mao and Hitler should give serious thought to resigning so someone who is competent can have their job.
On July 16, Betsy McCaughey falsely claimed that the House health care reform bill would "absolutely require" end-of-life counseling for seniors "that will tell them how to end their life sooner." Since then, numerous media figures have echoed McCaughey's claim -- even after the falsehood was debunked and McCaughey herself backtracked.
On Fox News' Special Report, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York falsely claimed that a provision in a House health reform bill "says that there will be consultation between a caregiver and a patient to discuss things like hospice care and other issues -- other end-of-life issues," which he claimed raised the question of "whether there's any coercive element to this." But the provision York cited is not mandatory.
From the July 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Brian Kilmeade and Bret Baier falsely suggested that only Republicans had called the ABC health care special with President Obama an "infomercial." In fact, numerous Fox News personalities, including Kilmeade, and the network's Fox Nation website, echoed Republicans and called the ABC special an "infomercial."
Terry Krepel, a senior web editor at Media Matters and founder and editor of ConWebWatch, has a great piece up at Huffington Post about how the Washington Examiner is driven by its right-wing tilt.
Here's just a taste:
In early February, Washington Examiner editor Stephen G. Smith gushed over his new chief political correspondent, Byron York, calling him "a prototype of the modern journalist, equally at home in print, on television and on the Web."
One word not uttered by Smith, however, was "conservative" -- as in the political orientation of York's former employer, the National Review. Indeed, York has regularly peddled conservative misinformation from his National Review perch.
York is one of the latest manifestations of the rightward skew of the Examiner, a free tabloid daily created four years ago when conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz took over a chain of suburban papers and refashioned them after the publication he owns in San Francisco -- an interesting move since Anschutz himself hasn't talked to the media in decades.
The Examiner has had a conservative skew from its inception, as exemplified by its early hiring of Bill Sammon, a former Washington Times staffer who penned several books laudatory of George W. Bush and his presidency even while serving as a White House correspondent. Sammon moved last year to Fox News, but he left no ideological vacuum behind.
Ostensible "news" positions at the Examiner have become increasingly stocked with opinion-minded right-wingers -- for instance, Matthew Sheffield, executive editor of the conservative blog NewsBusters, is managing editor of the Examiner's website, and Chris Stirewalt, who has been lauded for his "outspoken conservative perspective," is political editor.
Be sure to check out the entire piece.
During a May 29 campaign appearance, Sen. John McCain falsely stated that U.S. troops in Iraq "have [been] drawn down to pre-surge levels." As the Associated Press reported, "[T]here are 17 brigades in Iraq" right now, as opposed to the 15 brigades in place before the increase. In 2003, then-Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean was criticized in the media for his response to a question about the number of active-duty soldiers, with Tim Russert and others questioning his fitness to be commander in chief. In light of McCain's troop-surge falsehood and numerous national security gaffes, will the media similarly question his suitability to be commander in chief?
In a column about Rudy Giuliani's speech following his "resounding defeat in the Florida primary," National Review White House correspondent Byron York wrote: "[I]t is hard not to think of Fabrizio Quattrocchi, the courageous Genoan who, taken hostage by Islamic terrorists in Iraq in 2004 cried out, 'Now I will show you how an Italian dies!' just before he was shot."
In another example of a media figure asserting that primary or caucus voters who chose a candidate other than Sen. Hillary Clinton were thus rejecting her, National Review's Byron York asserted that in South Carolina, "72 percent of white men voted against" Clinton. York did not point to any evidence that the white men who voted for someone other than Clinton did so because they were "vot[ing] against her."
Reporting on Rush Limbaugh's explanation of his "phony soldiers" comments, Byron York wrote that "[a]s part of that explanation" Limbaugh "played a tape of the original September 26 program [and] cut some extraneous material out -- 'for space and relevance reasons, not to hide anything,' he told me." In fact, Limbaugh said that he was airing "the entire transcript, in context, that led to this so-called controversy" and gave no indication that he cropped the audio or the transcript.