Several media outlets ignored the opening of the country's largest advanced biofuel plant -- which produces a fuel with a far lesser climate impact than gasoline that can help reduce our dependence on oil -- even though they previously claimed that such a biofuel "does not exist."
The New York Times brazenly claimed in 2012 that cellulosic ethanol, a type of fuel made from agricultural waste such as corn stalks, "does not exist" -- and many other news outlets also adopted this misleading framing. Industry journal Platts published a blog titled: "Puzzling over the US mandate for a fuel that doesn't exist yet," later clarifying that the fuel simply did not exist "in the US at commercial volumes" at the time. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote that "Congress subsidized a product that didn't exist" and "is punishing oil companies for not buying the product that doesn't exist." FoxNews.com called the fuel "merely hypothetical." National Review Online contributing editor Deroy Murdock stated "EPA might as well mandate that Exxon hire leprechauns."
However, since a new facility started producing cellulosic ethanol on a commercial-scale on September 3, these outlets have remained silent.* Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels opened the biggest cellulosic ethanol facility in the country for production, which will "convert 570 million pounds of crop waste into 25 million gallons of ethanol each year." The Iowa facility is being heralded as "a major step in the shift from the fossil fuel age to a biofuels revolution."
Cellulosic ethanol and other "advanced biofuels" are included in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires oil companies to mix fuel made renewable sources into their product. This standard was part of a bill that passed during the Bush Administration with bipartisan support -- a fact that several right-wing news outlets failed to mention in their coverage.
A lifecycle analysis from Argonne National Laboratory estimated that the type of fuel produced at the new Poet-DSM facility emits up to 96 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional gasoline. The Poet-DSM facility is the first of three cellulosic ethanol plants scheduled to start production this year, which will together produce an estimated 17 million gallons per year. Jeremy Martin, an expert from the Union of Concerned Scientists, called the plant opening "an important milestone on the road to clean transportation." Martin added: "With efficient vehicles and clean fuels like cellulosic biofuel we can cut our projected oil use in half in 20 years."
*Based on a search of publicly available content from September 1 - September 7.
Photo at top of cellulosic biofuel crop from Flickr user KBS with a Creative Commons license.
Right-wing media seized on a poorly sourced new report from Judicial Watch that claims the Islamic State poses an imminent threat to the U.S. homeland from the U.S.-Mexico border. However, homeland security officials and law enforcement officers have repeatedly stated that there is no credible threat to the homeland from the Islamic State.
Media outlets are overlooking President Obama's consistent emphasis on eliminating the threat posed by the extremist group the Islamic State -- and the U.S. airstrikes against it -- to fixate on Obama's recent reference to shrinking the group's influence to a "manageable problem."
Conservative media are suggesting that the Obama administration is "working with foreigners to subvert the Constitution" by seeking a climate agreement with other nations without Senate approval, but legal experts agree that because it is not expected to be legally binding, the accord does not require Senate ratification.
Fox News medical contributor Keith Ablow wrote that there is something wrong in the minds of Ferguson residents who reacted to the shooting death of 18 year-old Michael Brown by a police officer with protests.
In an August 20 opinion piece posted on FoxNews.com, Ablow opined that the psyche of Ferguson needs to be investigated following the unrest that erupted after Brown's killing. Ablow suggested that the community's reactions were racially motivated; accusing the residents of presuming "the moral depravity of whites," which they would not have done if the teen was raped or killed by a black police officer:
The psychology of those who rioted and committed other lawless acts in Ferguson is as suspect at this moment as the psychology of Darren Wilson, because their psychology presumes the moral depravity of whites - at least those in authority.
If a black officer had shot and killed Michael Brown, chances are there would be no protests at all. Perhaps there would be a civil suit. Perhaps there would be criminal charges against the officer involved. But there would be no unrest.
When a woman is raped even if by a police officer, the community does not erupt in violence, with throngs of women breaking windows and threatening to storm the police command station.
Whether or not Officer Darren Wilson is guilty of anything, something is deeply wrong with the psyche of the community in Ferguson, Mo. And understanding and addressing that pathology should be the first order of business of community leaders - even as the work of investigating the Michael Brown shooting is unfolding.
Community leaders and residents in Ferguson have worked to keep demonstrations peaceful, and media reports indicate that many of the people arrested for violence in Ferguson have come from outside the community to confront police. Some Ferguson residents have also worked to protect local businesses from looters.
Ablow continues to use his Fox News platform to make inflammatory claims and attack the Obama administration, most recently coming under fire for his comments calling Michelle Obama too fat to be a credible voice on school nutrition.
John Dean, former aide and counsel to President Richard Nixon, denounced right-wing media for "rewriting" the history of Watergate in order to attack President Obama, calling comparisons of current events to the historic scandal "nonsense" and "absolutely silliness."
August marks the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation in the wake of Watergate, a vast scandal that The New York Times explained included, "wiretapping, money laundering, destruction of documents, payment of hush money, character assassination, disinformation and deception -- all perpetrated by people at the highest levels of Government."
Dean served as Nixon's White House counsel during Watergate and is promoting a new book on the subject. In an interview with Media Matters, he slammed Republican officials and right-wing commentators who have compared Watergate's historic criminality to various supposed Obama administration scandals, with some going so far as to call for the president's removal from office.
"It's absolutely silliness," Dean said. "The conservative media just doesn't seem to understand the impeachment clause. It is not designed to ... besmirch a president with, and that's all they're doing with it."
"They don't understand it, they don't have a clue what happened during Watergate, do not have a clue," he added. "They want to distort that history, rewriting it, ignore it and then use it. That's the conservative media."
Dean's book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It (Viking 2014), is based on hours of tapes from Nixon's years at the White House, many of which were never catalogued, he said. It attempts to set the record straight on the scandal and Nixon's involvement, arguing the president's actions had broader implications than previously understood.
Today, however, Dean noted that conservative media "know" an Obama impeachment "can't prevail in a trial," and that "even talking about it is nonsense and there's no high crime. For them it's a high crime to be a Democrat and serve as president."
Citing conservative media's attempts to compare Watergate to a never-ending litany of supposed "scandals," including the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and the IRS targeting investigation, Dean said, "I told my publisher that they should send a copy of my new book to every Republican in the House so they can understand what impeachable behavior looks like." Dean later declared: "It does not work at all, in fact they don't even raise to the level of scandal ... both Benghazi and IRS."
In The Wall Street Journal, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) disavowed the offensive narrative pushed by conservative media which labels needy Americans as "takers" versus more economically-prosperous "makers." However, Ryan's proposed anti-poverty policies still rely on the right-wing media myth that blames poverty on poor individuals' personal life choices.
A FoxNews.com article asserted that undocumented immigrants protesting outside the White House were given "a pass" from being arrested by immigration officials who prioritize apprehensions and deportations for more serious offenders. Immigration officials argue that targeting peaceful immigrants would divert limited federal resources from its focus on criminal offenders.
A July 28 FoxNews.com article criticized Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) policy on the prioritization of deportation after undocumented immigrants protested outside of the White House were not apprehended and deported. Despite being told by ICE officials that "the agency prioritizes deportation for felons," Fox dismissed the policy describing it as "a pass to other undocumented residents":
Illegal immigrant demonstrators were protesting outside the White House on Monday -- but don't expect America's immigration officers to intervene.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official indicated that even if the protesters end up getting arrested by D.C. police, they'd have to be serious criminals for ICE to get involved.
"Unless the individuals meet ICE's enforcement priorities, it's unlikely that the agency would get involved in the case," the official told FoxNews.com.
Under a policy that's been in effect for several years, ICE focuses deportation mostly on serious criminals and - in some cases -- those caught in the act of crossing the border. The agency prioritizes deportation for felons, repeat offenders, gang members and others with a serious criminal record. But the agency largely gives a pass to other undocumented residents.
Fox's desire for immigration officials detain peaceful White House protesters ignored the importance of ICE using its finite resources to prioritize the apprehension and removal of undocumented immigrants with criminal records. In a memo outlining the protocol on deportation detentions, ICE director John Morton explained that "these priorities ensure that ICE's finite enforcement resources are dedicated, to the greatest extent possible, to individuals whose removal promotes public safety, national security, border security, and the integrity of the immigration system."
A Texas charity has abandoned a plan to help house child migrants after conservative media outlets used misleading images to suggest displaced children would be living there in luxury conditions. In fact, the same charity operates other no-frills facilities and had planned to convert a hotel in a similar style.
Conservative media have promoted multiple conspiracy theories connected to the humanitarian migration crisis, including the accusation that President Obama "planned" the recent surge of child migrants across the border for political reasons, that migrant children are infecting Americans with rare diseases, and that Obama is allowing violent gang members to cross the border.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in June, sending the unemployment rate plummeting to its lowest level since September 2008. Economists and business reporters widely praised the report as evidence that the economy is gaining strength.
Here's how CNN.com was reporting the news at 9:35 a.m.:
Here's how MSNBC.com was reporting it:
And here's how FoxNews.com was handling the story:
Earlier today Fox Business host Charles Payne warned on Twitter that the jobs report might be "too good for the stock market." Soon after, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 17,000 for the first time in history.
This isn't the first time FoxNews.com has minimized positive jobs numbers.
Fox News personalities baselessly accused the Obama administration of engaging in a cover-up following reports that the IRS lost emails connected to the alleged targeting of organizations seeking tax-exempt status, ignoring the fact that government agencies regularly lose emails due to antiquated computer systems and policies.
There's a stark difference in the way Fox News and Fox News Latino covered reports of hundreds of migrant children crossing the U.S. border to flee violence in Central America.
Hundreds of migrant children crossing the U.S. border to flee violence in Central America are being held in a makeshift shelter in southern Arizona. The New York Times reported that federal officials predict at least 60,000 unaccompanied minors will attempt to cross into the U.S. by the end of this fiscal year.
In Nogales, Arizona, the Department of Homeland Security made available a warehouse to house thousands of children, but according to local media outlets, it has not been without problems. CBS Houston reported that some of the children have complained to the consul of Honduras that the food provided by the shelter is making them sick.
Fox News Latino reported on the "alarming conditions" in which the "undocumented immigrants" were being held, describing images of the shelters as "shocking" and "overcrowded," and quoting Arizona Governor Jan Brewer condemning the conditions as "dangerous and unconscionable":
Right-wing media's latest "Benghazi bombshell," scandalizing claims about the attackers' cell phone usage during the assault, follows a now-familiar pattern: recasting history to accuse the Obama administration of inappropriately referencing an anti-Islam YouTube video in connection with the Benghazi terror attacks.
Fox News' Howard Kurtz cherry-picked from a Politico article on President Obama to misleadingly portray him as having "checked out" of the presidency during his second term in order to "take advantage of the perks of office" like hanging out with celebrities and playing golf.
In a June 3 article for FoxNews.com, Kurtz criticized Obama's actions during his sixth year of presidency, claiming that he had "greatly diminished clout" and that he had "lowered his expectations" in order to "ramp up the partying." As proof, Kurtz pointed to excerpts from a recent Politico article on Obama's second term:
Barack Obama's presidency seems to be drifting in its sixth year, as he is all too aware.
Obama has downsized his ambitions, tempered his expectations and is trying to take advantage of the perks of office. He is inviting celebrities for private dinners and spending more time on the golf course.
Oh, and he's thinking more about his post-White House years.
These are among the takeaways in a major Politico piece that is largely sympathetic to the stymied president, even as it reports on his greatly diminished clout.
"The portrait emerges of a president shadowed by a deepening awareness that his time and power are finite, and that two-thirds of his presidency is already in the past tense," the piece says.
But the Politico article mainly focused on Obama's recent work on racial issues and political outreach. Kurtz downplayed the outreach angle, portraying it as "too little too late," and he completely ignored Obama's work on race.
Politico stated that Obama's coordination with Congress has "never been better":
For the first time, aides said, Obama is trying to respond to almost every letter from an individual lawmaker with a handwritten note. He is doing more public bill signings at the request of members, as he did May 23, when Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) got an Oval Office ceremony for two minor pieces of legislation establishing new congressional gold medals. Almost 40 lawmakers have received invites to travel on Air Force One this year, an increase from 28 at this time last year. He's directed staff to organize another round of cocktail hours with House and Senate Democrats at the White House.
Also this year, Obama began setting aside 45 minutes in his schedule every week to call a handful of Republican and Democratic lawmakers -- more than 70 so far -- to discuss issues, from ambitious initiatives like immigration to lower-profile bills such as patent reform. Obama had a dedicated "call time" early in his first term before it dropped off during the reelection campaign, although he has made calls outside this window, as well. The White House also has worked with lawmakers ahead of major announcements.
"The coordination between the White House and the Congress has never been better," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the No. 3 Senate leader who has served as the main point of contact with the White House.
Politico also pointed to Obama's recent work to discuss and push legislation around race through programs like My Brother's Keeper, accomplishments that were deemed too "polarizing" and "distracting" to work during previous terms:
The man who broke barriers as the first African-American president is tackling race -- a subject he once shooed aside as a polarizing distraction -- in a far more personal and public way than ever.
Obama was selective about when he waded into the issue during his first term, after the controversy ignited by his off-the-cuff comment on the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, an African-American who was suspected of burglary, by a white police officer.
Instead, Obama emphasized broad economic equality as the best way to deal with lingering racial injustice and disparities, a message that blurred the lines between black and white in the same way his candidacy aimed to do. That approach -- an electoral necessity in the view of Obama's brain trust -- disappointed African-Americans, who saw it as a lost opportunity for Obama to exert his voice.
Obama no longer feels so constrained, especially as he seeks ways besides legislation to have an impact.
Kurtz's analysis of Obama not only ignored his administration's recent political accomplishments such as the groundbreaking proposed EPA regulations to reduce carbon emissions, but also echoes the right-wing media's false narrative that Obama is lazy for playing golf or taking vacations.
The Environmental Protection Agency's forthcoming regulations on greenhouse gas emissions will provide legally required protection for the health and welfare of Americans at a cheap cost, while allowing states flexibility -- contrary to media fearmongering about the landmark standards.