President Obama gave a speech last night at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Awards Gala, and the Associated Press write-up of the event led with Obama saying his jobs package "would put more money in the pockets of Latino workers and business owners and increase opportunities for Hispanics." It carried the headline "Obama pushes jobs plan as help for Hispanics."
From the story as it appeared on the AP website:
That headline apparently wasn't exciting enough -- or sufficiently disparaging of Obama -- for the Media Research Center's "news" website, CNSNews.com. Its version of the AP article carries the headline "Obama Renews Call for Amnesty for Illegal Aliens," with the original headline relegated to a subhead:
Conservative media have attacked Alan Krueger, President Obama's nominee to head the President's Council of Economic Advisers, for purportedly advocating a "value added tax." But the 2-year-old blog post they cite stated that he did so "only as a suggestion for serious discussion," adding that he was "not sure it is the best way to go."
You might remember Penny Starr as the CNSNews.com reporter who tried to manufacture outrage over a gay-themed art exhibition at the Smithsonian last year. Now, she's upset by something she found on the Internet:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering advice to parents and teens about sex education, including assurances that teens may "experiment" with homosexuality as part of "exploring their own sexuality," and that masturbation should be of concern only "if a child seems preoccupied with it to the exclusion of other activities."
The information, located on a "Questions and Answers About Sex" link on the "Quick Guide to Healthy Living" portion of the HHS Web site, also describes children and infants as "sexual beings."
Under the question "When Do Kids Start Becoming Curious About Sex?" the answer notes that infants have curiosity about their bodies.
"Children are human beings and therefore sexual beings," the Q&A Web page says. "It's hard for parents to acknowledge this, just as it's hard for kids to think of their parents as sexually active. But even infants have curiosity about their own bodies, which is healthy and normal."
This sort of thing, of course, is catnip for the right-wing media, which have used Starr's article as a way to attack the Obama administration. The headline at Fox Nation blamed "Obama's HHS" for publishing this information; a LifeNews headline stated that "Obama Admin Pushes Sex on Kids." Even the version of Starr's article posted at NewsBusters -- like CNS, a division of the conservative Media Research Center -- carried the headline "Obama's HHS: 'Children Are Sexual Beings.'" The Blaze and Weasel Zippers are among the other right-wing websites that picked up on the story.
Media conservatives attempted to discredit President Obama's speech on immigration before it even happened, launching a nonsensical attack on the location of Obama's speech -- El Paso, Texas -- to push the myth of immigrant violence. In fact, the location underscores how preposterous that myth is.
Criticizing Obama for holding the speech in El Paso, CNSNews wrote:
El Paso is across the border from Juarez, Mexico, a city where 3,111 civilians were murdered last year--more than in all of Afghanistan.
El Paso is one of nine Border Patrol sectors along the almost 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border, running from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Ocean. Located directly across from the Mexican city of Juarez, it has been among the more dangerous border areas in recent years.
Fox Nation trumpeted the CNS piece, calling El Paso the "wrong town" for an immigration speech:
But what about the crime rate in El Paso, where the speech was actually held? It turns out that El Paso is one of the safest large cities in the nation. In fact, CQ Press rated El Paso the city with the lowest crime rate in the United States with a population of over 500,000 residents in 2010.
Indeed, El Paso actually illustrates the success of federal agents and local law enforcement in keeping violence from spilling over to the United States.
The federal money Planned Parenthood receives does not go for abortion -- by law, it cannot -- but that doesn't keep the right-wing media from falsely suggesting that it does. CNSNews.com editor in chief Terry Jeffrey, meanwhile, has been taking this dishonesty to new levels.
Jeffrey wrote in an April 8 CNS article that Planned Parenthood performed 332,278 abortions in 2009 and received $326.88 million in federal funding, then added:
Although the money from federal programs that went to Planned Parenthood in 2009 theoretically paid for things other than the 332,278 abortions the organization performed that year, the fact remains that Planned Parenthood -- an abortion provider -- received subsidies from federal programs that equaled about $932 per abortion it performed.
First, that federal money to Planned Parenthood does not pay for abortions is more than "theoretical" -- it's a documented fact. Second, it is utterly dishonest for Jeffrey to divide that federal money by the number of abortions performed because, again, not a cent of that money goes toward abortion.
Jeffrey doubled down on his dishonesty by repeating it in an article the next day.
Remember, this isn't some random right-wing blogger doing this -- it's the editor of a well-funded right-wing website (CNS is a division of the Media Research Center). Shouldn't the head of a news organization be more concerned with telling the truth than how to fudge it in order to push false partisan talking points?
Right-wing media have repeated the discredited claim that former Justice Department official Jamie Gorelick created a "wall" that blocked sharing of information between intelligence and law enforcement officials and used it to smear her as being "tied to 9-11." In fact, Gorelick did not create the "wall"; it existed before her Justice Department tenure.
Right-wing media are shocked by a recent interview in which Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) says he supports single-payer health care and are claiming Conyers's statement "confirms" that the health care bill is "a Trojan horse for an eventual government takeover of health care." But Conyers' support for single-payer health care is not new, and his statement does not change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is still not a "government takeover" of health care.
A CNSNews.com article today screams: "Expert Warns of Health Risks Associated With New Light Bulb Technology." The report forwards claims made by "lighting expert" Howard Brandston, who testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources yesterday in favor of a bill that would repeal light bulb efficiency standards set by Congress and President Bush in 2007. Brandston asserts that "this 2007 light bulb standard brings a deadly poison into every residence in our nation."
To begin with, Brandston is a lighting designer, not a health professional or a scientist. So the headline saying "Expert Warns of Health Risks" is a tad misleading. The article reports:
In his testimony, Branston claimed that parts of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act serve as a "de-facto ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs" and that compact florescent light bulbs, or CFLs -- the most popular alternative to incandescent bulbs (ordinary light bulbs) -- pose a risk to public health and safety.
"The compact fluorescent lamp contains mercury," said Branston. "One gram of mercury will pollute a two acre pond. This 2007 light bulb standard brings a deadly poison into every residence in our nation.
"Why don't we know that when you throw one of those CFLs in the trash the mercury changes to methyl mercury, which is a deadly poison -- which if it gets into our water supply will be a danger?"
One thing to keep in mind is that these efficiency standards do not require that anyone purchase CFLs. As we've noted, the legislation enacted in 2007 has spurred manufacturers to develop numerous alternatives to the century old technology used by the incandescent lamp.
But here are the facts on mercury in CFLs that media outlets should keep in mind:
Last week, Townhall columnist Chuck Norris compared teachers unions to the mafia. Now he's expanding his attacks on public education, complaining about "scientific paradigms" and calling public schools "indoctrination camps":
On Dec. 27, 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote about his vision for the University of Virginia (chartered in 1819): "This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."
But what should happen 200 years later when our public schools and universities avoid the testing of truths? Or suppress alternative opinions because they are unpopular or politically incorrect? Or no longer tolerate opinions now considered errors or obsolete by the elite? What happens when socio-political agendas or scientific paradigms dominate academic views to the exclusion of a minority's even being mentioned?
What happens when the political and public educational pendulum swings from concern for the tyranny of sectarianism in Jefferson's day to secularism in ours? What happens when U.S. public schools become progressive indoctrination camps?
Terry Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of Media Research Center subsidiary CNSNews, takes the right's war on public school teachers a few steps further:
What Wisconsin ought to be debating is whether these public school teachers should keep their jobs at all.
Then every state ought to follow Wisconsin in the same debate.
It is time to drive public schools out of business by driving them into an open marketplace where they must directly compete with schools not run by the government or staffed by members of parasitic public employees' unions.
In addition to being less expensive and better than public schools at teaching math and reading, Catholic schools -- like any private schools -- can also teach students that there is a God, that the Ten Commandments are true and must be followed, that the Founding Fathers believed in both and that, ultimately, American freedom depends on fidelity to our Judeo-Christian heritage even more than it depends on proficiency in reading and math.
That's what at least some conservatives want to get out of their attacks on unions: The complete elimination of public schools. And Jeffrey is adamant that private schools not be regulated by states in any way: "the state shall not regulate the private schools, period." That means no oversight to make sure private schools are successfully educating children. Or to make sure they're providing safe conditions and sanitary facilities. Nothing. What could possibly go wrong?
This gotcha headline has made the rounds on the right-wing blogosphere and Drudge today, as conservatives point to it as proof that Wisconsin teachers are not only causing union trouble in that state, but they're awful at their jobs:
Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can't Read Proficiently--Despite Highest Per Pupil Spending in Midwest
From the far-right CNSnews.com [emphasis added]:
In the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009--the latest year available--only 32 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned a "proficient" rating while another 2 percent earned an "advanced" rating. The other 66 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned ratings below "proficient," including 44 percent who earned a rating of "basic" and 22 percent who earned a rating of "below basic."
Right. And here's where the hit piece promptly falls apart:
Nationwide, only 30 percent of public school eighth graders earned a rating of "proficient" or better in reading, and the average reading score on the NAEP test was 262 out of 500.
That's right, the reading proficiency rate for Wisconsin eighth graders is slightly higher than the national average. But other than that the article is hugely embarrassing to teachers in that state. Or something.
UPDATED: More CNSnews.com brilliance:
Only 39 Percent of Wisconsin Public-School Eighth Graders Proficient in Math, Says Department of Education
The national average for eighth grade math students? It's 25 percent.
In a CNSNews.com column, NewsBusters' Brent Bozell complains that Entertainment Weekly, Glee's Chris Colfer, Hollywood press awards (Colfer just won a Golden Globe for playing a bullied gay teen on Glee), and the entertainment industry in general are "evangelists for a revolution of sexual immorality." Bozell also criticized Colfer for his acceptance speech, in which he dedicated his award to kids who face bullying because of who they are:
If anyone doubts that our entertainment industry and our entertainment media are evangelists for a revolution of sexual immorality (or in their lingo, "progress"), he needs only to read the latest cover story in Entertainment Weekly magazine, a "special report" on gay teen characters on TV, and "How a bold new class of young gay characters on shows like 'Glee' is changing hearts, minds, and Hollywood."
Gay "Glee" actor Chris Colfer and his boyfriend on the show, Darren Criss, lovingly put their heads together on the cover. Colfer just won a Golden Globe for his part, which is another way the Hollywood press rewards propagandizing the youth of America. In his acceptance speech, he lamented anyone who would say a discouraging word about teen homosexuality, somehow putting all of those words in mouths of bullies: "Screw that, kids!"
As you might suspect, Entertainment Weekly didn't plan to debate gay teen propaganda, but to encourage it, energetically. Not a single soul had anything critical to say. Not even a question. If this magazine weren't so earnestly in the tank, the story could come with a disclaimer: "This issue is an advertisement bought and paid for by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
They are not celebrating diversity. They are intimidating dissidents.
In their Gay Teen Timeline, we hear the gay actors proclaiming the lack of opposition. "We never received a negative word," says the gay actor on ABC's 1994 bomb "My So-Called Life." The gay teen on ABC's "Ugly Betty" insisted "99 percent of the public response was positive." Translation: get in line.
Bozell has a history of anti-gay rhetoric. He previously argued Hollywood demonstrated "liberal bias" by failing to portray gays as "morally wrong." He's also warned that the gay lifestyle and agenda "endorses the right of gays to marry and teach children, and that's in utter opposition to mainstream America." Bozell's Media Research Council is also boycotting the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), becuase GOProud, a group for conservative gays and their allies, is participating.
The conservative Media Research Center-owned website CNSNews.com has a habit of springing loaded questions on members of Congress. For example, it asked Obama administration official John Holdren to explain something he wrote in a book published nearly 40 years ago.
Apparently feeling confident (and sufficiently homophobic), CNS decided to target Rep. Barney Frank with a question about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell – specifically, whether he thought gay and straight soldiers should shower together. This was based on a statement calling for a ban on separate showers from the Pentagon's report on the impact of repealing DADT that CNS had previously singled out.
Frank saw this coming from a mile away. As CNS reporter Nicholas Ballasy slowly got out the words "shower with homosexuals," Frank let out an exaggerated gasp and responded, "What do you think happens in gyms all over America?" After calling it a "silly issue," Frank added, "What do you think goes wrong with people showering with homosexuals? Do you think it's the spray makes it catching? ... We don't get ourselves dry-cleaned."
Frank then turned the tables on his interviewer by quizzing Ballasy: "I know you're looking for some way to kind of discredit the policy. Do you think that gyms should have separate showers for gay and straight people? I'm asking you the question because that's the logic of what you're telling me. You seem to think that there's something extraordinary about gay men showering together. Do you think gyms should have separate showers for gay people and straight people?" Ballasy wouldn't answer, insisting that he was "just quoting the recommendation." Frank responded: "Don't be disingenuous. You're quoting those you think may cause us some problems. You're entitled to do that, but you shouldn't hide behind your views." Frank again asked the question of Ballasy, who again wouldn't answer, trying to change the subject: "So that's the question you would pose to people who have an issue with that part of the report, the recommendation?" Frank made his point one more time, and that's where the CNS ends the video.
The CNS article on Ballasy's gotcha interview ignores how Frank saw through his tactics, instead playing up the irrelevant point that Frank opposes opposite-sex soliders showering together. But give credit to CNS for posting the video of Frank using its reporter's gotcha tactics against him -- and thus providing other politicians with a how-to manual for the next time CNS pops up out of nowhere to fire a loaded question.
The third time's a charm for CNSNews.com reporter and nascent museum critic Penny Starr.
In March, Starr complained that a Smithsonian exhibit asking "What Does It Mean to Be Human?" lacked "references to God, creationism, or pre-natal existence." In June, Starr was annoyed that a Library of Congress exhibit on Bob Hope "focuses more on politics than it does on the legacy of a movie star who used his talents to support the U.S. military around the world," seemingly ignoring that the exhibit focused on "performers, politics and pop culture."
Those didn't get much attention. But now, one of her gems of museum criticism has finally hit the jackpot. In a November 29 article, she writes:
The federally funded National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show's catalog as "homoerotic."
The exhibit, "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," opened on Oct. 30 and will run throughout the Christmas Season, closing on Feb. 13.
Bingo! Something about "homoerotic" and "ant-covered Jesus," combined with a mention of the Christmas season, seems to have struck the right nerve among right-wingers. Drudge linked to it, and the Breitbart empire has weighed in. And it seems more than a little convenient that top congressional Republicans have told Starr they want the exhibit shut down, quickly followed by Starr's boss, the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell, demanding not just that the exhibit be killed but also that Congress investigate this "direct assault on Christianity."
As Starr acknowledged in her article, the exhibit -- like every Smithsonian exhibit -- is not paid for by taxpayer funds. But Bozell doesn't care because, as he wrote in one of his letters to congressional leaders, "[i]t is housed in a federal institution funded by the American people."
It seems like many on the right can't stop gushing about Carl Paladino's recent remarks about homosexuality -- except, actually, Carl Paladino. Even after New York's Republican gubernatorial candidate Paladino issued an apology yesterday for his remarks to Orthodox Jewish leaders on Sunday, anti-gay conservatives keep praising his speech, which included a call to protect children from being "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option" as heterosexual marriage.
Adding their voices to the many conservative pundits who have already applauded Paladino's comments, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah and CNSNews.com Editor-in-Chief Terence Jeffrey are now jumping on the bandwagon. In a post early this morning, Farah said that Paladino's comments were "perfectly reasonable" and said it's "undeniably true" that there's "an ugly, revolting side to the 'gay rights' movement." From the post:
Paladino doesn't want kids "brainwashed," he said. Most people don't realize that is exactly what happens in many or most public schools when it comes to homosexuality. Kids are taught values that would be anathema to their parents if they only knew what was happening. That's what Paladino was saying. He said there is an ugly, revolting side to the "gay rights" movement. That is undeniably true. When candidates boast about taking their kids to "gay pride parades," you have to wonder about their sanity. These are spectacles that could never be aired in their entirety on television because of obscenity laws.
Farah also falsely claimed that "the overwhelming number of Americans reject same-sex marriage." In fact, two recent polls -- one in September from the Associated Press, and one in August from CNN --show that a majority of Americans support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
Jeffrey spewed similar vitriol in a post today, writing that "no prominent politician who questions the wholesomeness of same-sex sex can escape a vicious beating by the liberal elite" and that these beatings are "designed to uproot the laws and norms of our society from the immutable natural law that is the true foundation of our freedom."
He also furthered the idea that gays want to "brainwash" children by falsely suggesting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit "ruled that parents cannot opt their kindergarteners out of Massachusetts public-schools classes that teach 5-year-olds that same-sex marriage is a good thing." Actually, the ruling simply stated that parents can't micromanage schools' curricula. The court never said parents don't have a right to move their children to another school, or a private school, or to homeschool them.
Paladino, in the meantime, issued a letter yesterday acknowledging that he made "mistakes" in his comments to the Jewish leaders. "I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the gay and lesbian community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong," he wrote.
Too bad we'll never see Jeffrey and Farah apologizing for their own comments.