Right-wing media are offering GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney advice for the upcoming presidential debate. They suggest Romney should push economic myths to attack Obama's record, "smack the president," and get under Obama's skin.
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.
Fox News is obscuring the negative impact of Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare plan on seniors by accusing President Obama and the Democrats of "stoking fears" about the plan. In fact, Ryan's plan would adversely affect current and future seniors, forcing them, among other things, to pay more for prescription drugs, and it would create a voucher system that would drive up health care costs.
Right-wing media have claimed that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is "the ideological heir" to Ronald Reagan, while ignoring a big part of what makes this statement true: Reagan and Ryan both supported policies that vastly increased the federal deficit.
Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt claimed Ryan was the "ideological heir to Reagan's movement." Fox News contributor KT MacFarland said: "With a Romney-Ryan ticket, it's like Reagan again." And Fox host Andrea Tantaros claimed Ryan "sounds very Reaganesque."
But none of them mentioned one of the most important similarities between Ryan and Reagan: the fact that, while they talked about reining in deficits, they both supported policies that vastly increased the deficit.
According to the Office of Management and Budget's historical data, during his presidency, Reagan saw federal spending increase by 22 percent. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the federal deficit nearly doubled under Reagan, going from about $790 billion to $1.55 trillion.
Reagan also signed debt ceiling increases 18 times during his presidency.
Similarly, Ryan's most recent budget would explode the deficit over the next decade.
Last week, two new reports -- released by the Brennan Center of Justice at the NYU School of Law and the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication, respectively -- further undermined the conservative media's discredited claims that voter ID laws do not have a discriminatory impact on persons of color and are not intended to be discriminatory on the basis of race. These reports are timely because as restrictive voting rules in conservative-leaning states increasingly materialize, civil rights advocates are noting that these state laws look very much like poll taxes- voter suppression tactics long prohibited. In response, the right-wing media has recycled multiple messages to disavow the impermissible racial discrimination of these laws.
Right-wing media try many different smokescreens in addition to just denying the racial effect of voter ID laws and redistricting altogether. For example, they have disputed the veracity of data to the contrary, argued that these tactics are not in fact barriers, and raised the specter of voter fraud, which experts have demonstrated is practically non-existent. However, it is still the first defense -- that these efforts have no racial effect -- which feeds most effectively into the right wing's preferred "colorblind" narrative.
This right-wing media denial of the racial effect usually has two components in an attempt to whitewash voter suppression, claiming that whatever effect these laws have on communities of color is wholly incidental. That is, there may be a discriminatory impact, but there is no discriminatory intent. Although the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal may have been the most recent mainstream purveyor of this message -- condemning any criticism of the recent wave of conservative-backed voter ID laws as "racial politics" -- they are far from alone in the right-wing media.
From the July 13 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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After erstwhile team player Chief Justice John Roberts led the Supreme Court in upholding the Affordable Care Act, Fox News has spent the day trying to convince themselves, if not the rest of us, that this is excellent news for Republicans and Mitt Romney -- to the point of arguing that President Obama's "cynical" political team would have preferred the law be struck down entirely so the whole issue would just "go away."
A little while ago, Megyn Kelly sat down to talk with Chris Stirewalt, Fox News digital politics editor, about the electoral implications of the Supreme Court ruling. Stirewalt argued -- in all seriousness -- that President Obama's re-election team in Chicago were pulling for a full repeal.
STIREWALT: I can sum it up this way: at the White House, it's a good day. The president's probably very happy that he was vindicated by the Supreme Court. But out in Chicago, at the president's campaign headquarters, this can not have been the happiest news. I'm sure, from a cynical political perspective, they much rather would have had this issue go away and the Supreme Court take it down so the president could go rally the troops. Instead, it's Romney's troops who are rallied.
This is a real stretch, and here's Nate Silver of the New York Times explaining why:
It is not as though, if the law had been struck down, Republicans would have stopped talking about the folly of the legislation. Members of the public, in mostly opposing the law, had not been objecting to its technical details, some of which they actually supported when quizzed about the specific aspects of the health care overhaul.
Instead, it was to the impression that it represented an overreach on behalf of Mr. Obama -- at a time when there is profound skepticism about the direction of government and the efficacy of its policy -- that left him vulnerable.
When the dust settles, it seems implausible that Mr. Obama would be have been better off politically had his signature reform been nullified by the court. Then Mr. Obama's perceived overreach would have had the stench of being unconstitutional.
Stirewalt's analysis is, thus far, the absurd apex of Fox News' health care coverage today. It was preceded by a parade of GOP officials chest-thumping about how they're so angry and energized now, fond reminiscence of the heady days of 2010 when shaky-cam videos of barely coherent tea partiers screaming at Democrats were all the rage, and endless repetitions of the word "tax" (in accordance with Republican messaging).
From the May 11 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Right-wing media have been on the attack against President Obama since he responded to a question about the Supreme Court's consideration of the Affordable Care Act by pointing out that conservatives criticize "unelected" judges who engage in "judicial activism" to "overturn a duly constituted and passed law." As we pointed out yesterday, Obama is correct: conservatives have for years railed against "unelected" judges who rule in ways they dislike.
Today, Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt found a new angle from which to approach the issue. In an interview with Megyn Kelly, the host of Fox "straight news" program America Live, Stirewalt criticized Obama for pointing out that conservative commentators criticize "unelected" judges, saying: "Now, no offense to Charles Krauthammer and no offense to any of the circuit judges in the country, but they're not the president of the United States." In fact, former President George W. Bush criticized "unelected" judges who made rulings he thought were incorrect.
And here are remarks Bush gave to the Federalist Society's 25th annual gala, in 2007:
For the judiciary, resisting this temptation is particularly important, because it's the only branch that is unelected and whose officers serve for life. Unfortunately, some judges give in to temptation and make law instead of interpreting. Such judicial lawlessness is a threat to our democracy -- and it needs to stop.
And in 2008, Bush commented that the "concept of a 'living Constitution' gives unelected judges wide latitude in creating new laws and policies without accountability to the people."
From the December 6 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the September 28 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Led by journalists at Fox News, media figures have mocked the Obama administration for using the phrase "federal family" to refer to federal agencies involved in Hurricane Irene relief efforts, suggesting that the administration invented the phrase as a "euphemism" for "federal government." However, "federal family" is not a new phrase; it dates back to at least George H.W. Bush's administration and was regularly used by members of George W. Bush's administration when discussing disaster relief.
The last week has been a busy one on the net neutrality front, with a cadre of Democratic senators calling on Congress to preserve funding for net neutrality regulations, and the FCC announcing that those regulations, after many months of delay, will be entered into the federal register, thus opening the door for telecom companies to file appeals (Verizon has been chomping at the legal bit ever since their initial appeal was denied).
It's not surprising, then, that Republican officials are showing up on Fox News to get the anti-net neutrality message out. Last Thursday, Republican FCC commissioner Robert McDowell appeared on FoxNews.com's Power Play to discuss net neutrality, and got a big assist from host Chris Stirewalt in spreading misinformation about net neutrality rules.
Early on in the kid-gloved interview, Stirewalt described net neutrality as "the shorthand term for having federal regulations of the internet, FCC regulations of the internet." This is imprecise and, as we'll see in a minute, part of a broader falsehood. Net neutrality rules are not "federal regulations of the internet." They are regulations on internet service providers that prevent them from controlling user access to lawful content and discriminating against content providers.
From the May 16 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox repeatedly pushed for a government shutdown if all Republican demands regarding the budget were not met. But after a budget deal was struck between the White House and congressional leaders to avert a shutdown, Fox immediately shifted its talking points to praise House Speaker John Boehner and congressional Republicans for negotiating a deal.