As the State Department nears a decision on whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the media is exaggerating its economic benefits and downplaying environmental risks to advocate for the project. Here, Media Matters takes on five of the prevailing media myths about Keystone XL.
As congressional leaders debate a framework for comprehensive immigration reform that will likely grant undocumented immigrants legal status, conservative media are engaged in promoting myths and falsehoods about what reform means for the country.
Right-wing media figures opposed to the Pentagon permitting women to serve in combat roles attacked the decision by pointing to sex-segregated sports teams. But military research has shown that women are capable of serving in combat, and the decision has the support of major political and military figures.
Charles Krauthammer accused President Obama of "reactionary liberalism" in his inaugural address for supporting Medicare, which Krauthammer described as "increasingly obsolete." But Krauthammer has attacked Obama and Democrats in the past for what he falsely described as efforts to cut or destroy the program.
In a column posted at the Washington Post and FoxNews.com, Krauthammer claimed Obama's inaugural address "was a paean to big government" that attempted to "defend unyieldingly the 20th-century welfare state" and "expand it unrelentingly for the 21st." As evidence, Krauthammer pointed to Obama's pledge to safeguard Medicare:
The first part of that agenda -- clinging zealously to the increasingly obsolete structures of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- is the very definition of reactionary liberalism. Social Security was created when life expectancy was 62. Medicare was created when modern medical technology was in its infancy. Today's radically different demographics and technology have rendered these programs, as structured, unsustainable. Everyone knows that, unless reformed, they will swallow up the rest of the budget.
But Krauthammer previously attacked President Obama and Democrats for what he falsely claimed were cuts to Medicare in the Affordable Care Act, and defended Rep. Paul Ryan's controversial budget from claims that it did the same.
Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.
Several Fox News personalities smeared President Obama as an appeaser for using the phrase "peace in our time" during his second inaugural address. But President Reagan used the same words in a speech.
During his second inaugural address, Obama committed to "defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law." He added that the United States will support democracy across the globe and be "a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice." Obama explained that we must do this "not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice."
Fox contributors Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, and John Bolton seized on Obama's use of the words "peace in our time," claiming that Obama's use of the term recalled former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who used a similar phrase in 1938 when he announced that he had made a deal with Adolf Hitler to allow Nazi Germany to take over part of Czechoslovakia without firing a shot.
But Obama is not the only president to use the words "peace in our time." In a 1983 speech at a presentation ceremony for the Peace Corps Awards, Reagan said:
I am very pleased to honor these six fine Americans who have volunteered their time, skills, and experience to the cause of peace.
Seldom are we able to point to one person's work and pronounce it not only good and worthwhile but also a step toward building peace in our time. And today, we enjoy that good fortune and we can measure it sixfold. We're honoring six Americans who have dedicated themselves to the cause of peace -- Americans who have traveled voluntarily to unfamiliar lands to help citizens of developing nations. [emphasis added]
In 1985, the leading rabbi of the American conservative Jewish movement also used the phrase "peace in our time" while discussing potential arms talks between Reagan and Soviet premiere Mikhail Gorbachev.
This history leaves us with the question: Do Goldberg, Krauthammer, and Bolton think Reagan was an appeaser?
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to testify before Congress about the September 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Media Matters reviews the falsehoods conservative media have pushed regarding Clinton and her response to the attack.
The right-wing media are claiming that the "liberal agenda" President Obama outlined in his second inaugural address is out of the mainstream, even though polling has shown that the majority of Americans agree with Obama's stances on marriage equality, sustainable energy, and other issues.
Fox News host Jenna Lee touted the fact that a proposal by Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer was being considered by House Republicans. Fox has a long history of attempting to influence GOP policies and campaigns.
During the January 18 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Jenna Lee reported on a House Republican plan to increase the debt ceiling through May 1 in order to get the Senate to pass a budget. Lee noted the plan's similarity to a recommendation by Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer in an op-ed published by The Washington Post and Fox News, concluding "That was the idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer, maybe it was in the works already."
As right-wing media figures compared President Obama to Hitler and Stalin over his attempt to strengthen gun laws, Fox News figures stoked fears that his policies would lead to civil war and violence.
After reports that Vice President Joe Biden included possible executive action as part of an effort to stop gun violence like the tragic killings at Sandy Hook elementary,conservatives compared the president to Hitler and Stalin and invoked Nazi Germany to oppose his policies.At the same time, Fox News figures attacked Obama using violent rhetoric that warned of civil war, revolution, and insurrection if his policies on guns, spending and entitlement reform are implemented.
On his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly claimed that Obama could choose "to be a good president or whether he just wants to have blood in the streets," arguing that the president should cut spending on programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
From the January 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends First:
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From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Conservative media figures have long insisted that top marginal income tax rates effectively target small businesses. This "zombie lie" has sprung up throughout President Obama's first term as an argument against Democratic proposals to renew the Bush-era rates only for middle- and low-income Americans. Despite continual efforts by experts to debunk this claim, media figures continue to repeat these lies in the 2012 edition of the fight over high-income tax rates.
Nearly all of Fox News' evening news shows ridiculed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having to postpone her testimony on the Benghazi attack because of a concussion she suffered after fainting due to dehydration. Their mockery was an attempt to downplay the concussion and suggest Clinton was faking injury to avoid giving testimony, a notion the State Department has called "wild speculation based on no information."
The Washington Post reported on December 15 that Clinton sustained a concussion after she fainted due to dehydration while at home a week prior. After the incident, the State Department explained that Clinton would have to postpone her testimony about the attack on Benghazi due to the concussion.
Following the State Department's announcement, Fox News contributor John Bolton, appearing on On The Record, suggested Clinton was faking "diplomatic illness" to avoid testifying about Benghazi. The State Department's Victoria Nuland lashed out at Bolton for his remarks, labeling them "wild speculation based on no information."
Now Fox News' evening shows have decided to join Bolton in accusing Clinton of faking her condition and make it seem she is trying to avoid giving her testimony. Co-host of Fox News' The Five, Kimberly Guilfoyle, accused Clinton of running "a duck and cover" after suffering the concussion. Co-host Greg Gutfeld went on to ask, "How can she get a concussion when she has been ducking everything [related to Benghazi]?"
In The Washington Post, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer admitted that right-to-work laws lead to lower wages for workers -- conflicting with the narrative promoted by Fox News that such laws increase wages.
In his column, Krauthammer claimed that recently passed right-to-work laws in Michigan were "inevitable" and that "the entire Rust Belt will eventually follow because the heyday of the sovereign private-sector union is gone." Krauthammer wrote that such laws could possibly bring down unemployment, but he also admitted that President Obama's statement that right-to-work laws give workers "the right to work for less money" was correct:
Principle and hypocrisy aside, however, the president's statement has some validity. Let's be honest: Right-to-work laws do weaken unions. And de-unionization can lead to lower wages.
Obama calls this a race to the bottom. No, it's a race to a new equilibrium that tries to maintain employment levels, albeit at the price of some modest wage decline. It is a choice not to be despised.
I have great admiration for the dignity and protections trade unionism has brought to American workers. I have no great desire to see the private-sector unions defenestrated.