CNN is adopting flawed right-wing media logic that seeks to downplay the numbers of school shootings in the last 18 months.
Following an incident at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon where a 15-year-old student armed with an AR-15 assault weapon and a handgun killed a fellow student before taking his own life, gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety circulated a graphic that identified the locations of 74 school shootings since the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School:
How Everytown reached the 74 school shooting figure is no mystery. On its website, the gun safety group clearly explains its methodology: "Incidents were classified as school shootings when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds, as documented in publicly reported news accounts. This includes assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings."
The right-wing media has sought to debunk this statistic in order to downplay the prevalence of school shootings. Criticism of Everytown's graphic began on June 10 with a lengthy series of tweets from conservative journalist Charles C. Johnson that purported to debunk many of the 74 shootings as "fake shooting[s]."
Shootings that Johnson believed had been mischaracterized as school shootings included incidents where, in his own words, "A gunman ran onto campus, was chased by police, shot student accidentally," "Honors student shoots self in front of class," and, "Northwest High School principal shot by her ex-husband on campus":
Another fake shooting listed by everytown. A gunman ran onto campus, was chased by police, shot student accidentally. http://t.co/Q5M4iS3hhF-- Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) June 10, 2014
Another fake school shooting listed by everytown. Honors student shoots self in front of class. http://t.co/8BHLTASxyT-- Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) June 10, 2014
Another fake school shooting listed by Everytown. Northwest High School principal shot by her ex-husband on campus. http://t.co/RwwVbPmbL5-- Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) June 10, 2014
According to Johnson, "It's not a school shooting when someone goes and shoots a specific person on campus. It's a shooting that happens to take place at school."
The Daily Caller attempted to attack a New York Times reporter for his work covering the attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, but ended up citing a fake news report.
Conservatives have dishonestly attacked Times Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick's recent investigation into Benghazi, which debunked several right-wing myths about the attack. Amid that effort, Charles C. Johnson reported for the Caller that he had uncovered embarrassing information about the writer. Johnson reported that while a student at Princeton -- 25 years ago -- Kirkpatrick posed nude for Playgirl magazine.
That isn't true.
As Slate's Dave Weigel reports, the Caller cited a spoof issue of Princeton's student newspaper that satirically claimed that Kirkpatrick had posed nude for the magazine. The same issue also claimed that Elvis Presley had been sighted on campus and that a professor had the powers of a "mind-control master."
There was no "Daily Princetonian" article alleging a Kirkpatrick sideline in porn. The story appeared in a spoof issue, The Princeton Daily News. Two former student reporters for the paper confirmed that the paper would occasionally run a parody section, and that the Kirkpatrick "Playgirl" story was a riff on the well-known nudity arrest of a few months earlier.
After the false story was brought to the Caller's attention, they retracted their report. But instead of acknowledging that they had promoted a hoax, the article's correction claims only that the Princeton article "appears to have been fabricated" and could not be independently confirmed.
Right-wing media figures have rushed to defend President Ronald Reagan's record on apartheid and South Africa in the wake of Nelson Mandela's death.
Reagan's record came under increased attention following the death of the former South African president and anti-apartheid activist. In an interview with Salon, Whitman College historian David Schmitz discussed Reagan's policy toward South Africa, which included opposition to Mandela's party, the African National Congress, labelling Mandela and the ANC as "terrorists," and vetoing sanctions against the pro-apartheid government that ruled South Africa at the time:
What about U.S. policy toward the opposition groups like the ANC and Nelson Mandela?
They called the ANC terrorists. It was just continuing this notion that the ANC members are the extremists and the South African government has these moderates, and you're going to end up with one extreme against the other if you don't work with the government. Clearly, it never worked. This was a flawed policy.
Would you argue that Reagan's foreign policy extended the life of the regime in South Africa?
Yes. It gave it life. It gave it hope that the United States would continue to stick with it. It gave it continued flow of aid as well as ideological support. It delayed the changes that were going to come. Then you had the big crackdowns in '86 and '87. So there was harm in the lengthening. There was harm in the violence that continued.
Despite his history, right-wing media figures defended Reagan's history after Mandela's death. CNN host Newt Gingrich claimed that Mandela's death was "being used inappropriately" by critics of Reagan:
The Breitbart.com crew's promise to provide proper "vetting" of President Obama hasn't been going very well. But as mockable as their campaign has been so far, it is now becoming even more hilarious. Today, Breitbart.com features a post by Charles C. Johnson headlined "Obama's War On Catholic Church Began At His First Job." What evidence does the post provide that Obama is anti-Catholic? In 1985, he worked for "Catholic leftists" and was paid by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the former Catholic archbishop of Chicago.
You read that correctly. Johnson's thesis is that Obama is anti-Catholic. And part of his evidence is that a Catholic archbishop paid him:
Obama's first job in Chicago began in 1985 with Jerry Kellman, a Saul Alinksy-trained community organizer who continues to work with the radical Catholic left in the Windy City.
He was paid by these radical Catholic leftists, who in turn had received their money from their parishioners or the larger Catholic church. Obama's travel documents and expenses were signed and approved by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin,a controversial figure in the Catholic church who supported nearly every left-wing movement within it.
Is this a delayed April Fool's joke?
Well, it turns out that, in the mind of the Breitbart.com's Johnson, "Bernardin's work undermined many Catholic teachings." Bernardin was a bishop for about 30 years, and at one time served as the president the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference. So this seems a bit unlikely.
But let's not be too hasty. Maybe Johnson has some evidence of Bernardin's undermining the Catholic Church.