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.
Fox News' Carl Cameron falsely claimed that Democrats are pushing for revenue increases without spending cuts in a report on the debt ceiling negotiations. In fact, President Obama and Democrats have offered billions in cuts to social insurance programs.
In a segment on ongoing negotiations to raise the debt ceiling and avoid automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, Cameron described the proposals by claiming, "Republicans want spending cuts and no more tax hikes, and Democrats want pretty much the opposite." From the January 31 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier:
In fact, Obama offered spending cuts throughout the fiscal cliff negotiations and has already cut spending. Obama offered over $400 billion in spending cuts to social insurance programs in addition to the $1.5 trillion in spending cuts included in the 2011 Budget Control Act. They also found that the spending in the act will decrease discretionary spending to "its lowest level" as a share of GDP "going back to 1962."
In a Fox News report about campaign events Mitt Romney is holding in key battleground states, chief correspondent Carl Cameron noted recent polling in Ohio and described the Romney campaign's "final sprint," set to begin in that state. Yet not once did Cameron make note of the backlash Romney is facing for running campaign ads in Ohio that falsely claim Chrysler is sending a Jeep production line from the United States to China.
During his report, Cameron pointed out how polls show Romney trailing in Ohio but that the Romney campaign "would argue that the ground game will put them over the top and that they're ready to win this."
But Cameron neglected to mention that Romney has drawn heavy criticism for running ads in Ohio that falsely claim Jeep is sending U.S. jobs to China.
At an Ohio rally on October 26, Romney said that he "saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep -- now owned by the Italians -- is thinking of moving all production to China." The Detroit News reported that Romney was apparently responding to reports "on right-leaning blogs that misinterpreted a recent Bloomberg News story earlier this week that said Chrysler, owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, is thinking of building Jeeps in China for sale in the Chinese market."
The following day, Romney's campaign began running a television ad in Ohio repeating the same claim -- that Chrysler is going to move Jeep production to China. The ad left "the misleading impression that the move would come at the expense of jobs here," The New York Times explained.
Chrysler, Jeep's parent company, quickly denied claims that it was considering moving Jeep production from the United States to China. The Toledo Blade reported:
Chrysler is strongly denying a report the company was considering moving all of its Jeep production to China.
The company has not been shy about wanting to build Jeeps in China, but Chrysler says it won't quit building them in the United States.
"Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China," Gualberto Ranieri, the company's senior vice president for corporate communications, wrote Thursday in a blog posted on Chrysler's Web site.
"It is simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world's largest auto market."
Mr. Ranieri said in his blog that some people misinterpreted the Bloomberg story.
"Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America ... . It is a leap that would be difficult even for circus acrobats."
The Detroit News likewise called Romney's claim "false" and CBS News described the claim as "inaccurate"; PolitiFact rated Romney's claim "pants on fire" false, and The Washington Post's resident fact checker, Glenn Kessler, gave the ad "four Pinocchios," writing:
The series of statements in the ad individually may be technically correct, but the overall message of the ad is clearly misleading -- especially since it appears to have been designed to piggyback off of Romney's gross misstatement that Chrysler was moving Ohio factory jobs to China.
Nonetheless, Romney doubled down on the Jeep attack on Tuesday with a radio ad in Toledo, Ohio, the site of a Jeep plant. As The Washington Post's Greg Sargent explained, the radio ad "suggests that the auto bailout did not save the industry for Ohio, and saved it for China instead," and "then strongly implies that the Jeep/China news constitutes a breaking of the auto bailout's promise to Ohio auto workers -- that it proves the auto bailout is not helping them, that it has let them down."
Media outlets praised Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's speech on foreign policy, calling it "tremendous" and "a fabulous speech that exuded leadership." But the speech relied on numerous falsehoods, including many that have already been debunked.
Fox News reporter Carl Cameron helped Mitt Romney dishonestly attack President Obama's foreign policy by parroting the Romney campaign's discredited charge that Obama has been "leading from behind."
In a May New Yorker article examining President Obama's foreign policy record, Ryan Lizza quoted an unnamed Obama adviser who described the U.S. role during the successful campaign to oust former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi as "leading from behind." Right-wing media figures have long claimed that quotation illustrated weakness in Obama's foreign policy. Previewing Romney's foreign policy speech, Cameron furthered the myth:
But Lizza has explained that conservatives are misrepresenting the phrase "leading from behind."
In September, he said that the phrase was not intended to show weakness, but that it actually referred to the Obama administration's successful effort to lead "a coalition in the U.N. to get military authorization to topple Gadhafi." He continued, explaining:
So the quote actually is the opposite of what you are saying. It actually refers to the strategy that Obama used in the U.N. to get all of the nations to support the U.S.' use of force resolution, because after the Bush years it was really hard for the U.S. to go to the U.N. and get support for the use of force because Bush was really, really unpopular.
Right-wing media heaped praise on Ann Romney for her Republican National Convention speech, declaring it to be "the single most effective political speech" given by "a political wife" and claiming that "people say" she's "like your best friend's mom." This is a sharp contrast to the right-wing media's vicious smears of Michelle Obama, having attacked her appearance and claimed that she displays "uppity-ism."
From the August 28 edition of Fox News' America's Election Headquarters:
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Fox News figures have routinely invoked Ronald Reagan while discussing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan. Most recently, Fox compared Ryan to the former president by splicing together their quotes and saying that Ryan and Reagan are physically and ideologically similar.
From Fox News' August 10 news coverage:
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Fox News' Carl Cameron is helping the Romney campaign cover up the GOP candidate's hypocrisy on welfare reform.
Mitt Romney's campaign released today a new advertisement attacking President Obama for "quietly announcing a plan to gut welfare reform," referring to a Department of Health and Human Services rule change that grants states more flexibility in granting waivers to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) program's work requirements. A number of media outlets have pointed out a fatal flaw in Romney's attack: that in 2005, then-Massachusetts governor Romney joined several other Republican governors in endorsing similar TANF waivers. But for Carl Cameron, the facts undermining the ad took a back seat to repeating -- indeed, embellishing -- the Romney campaign message.
Reporting on the ad this morning on America's Newsroom, Cameron called the ad a "renewed attack" on Obama as "an extreme liberal," and said the Romney campaign views the TANF rule change as "just big-government liberalism putting more and more government dependency into the economic bloodstream."
Cameron's language echoed the Romney campaign's press release on the ad, which describes the president as a "devoted believer in old-school, big-government liberalism" who wants "a culture of dependency."
Last week in Virginia, President Obama made a fairly basic point about succeeding in business: you benefit not just from your own initiative, but also from the successes and contributions of others, including government. Since then, Fox News has led the way in tearing two sentences of Obama's argument out of context and distorting them to claim that the president said small business owners deserve no credit for their own success. Now the Romney campaign has picked up Fox News' distortion of Obama's comments, and Fox News is reporting on Romney's use of the false attack they helped create.
Yesterday morning's Fox & Friends aired a deceptively edited clip of Obama's remarks, which host Gretchen Carlson called "startling."
From the July 13 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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From the June 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Labor Department statistics say that government employment has decreased by 608,000 since February 2009. Nevertheless, Fox News and Politico both uncritically reported Mitt Romney's false claim that "[w]e have 145,000 more government workers under this president."
From the May 22 edition of Fox News' The Fox Report:
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