Right-wing media have repeatedly exploited the November 13 ISIS-led terror attacks in Paris to stoke fears about Syrian refugees posing a terror threat in the U.S., falsely claiming that the United States lacks a rigorous refugee vetting system, that most Syrian refugees are adult males "of fighting age," and that, like the attacks in Paris, the Boston Marathon bombing and Ft. Hood shooting were perpetrated by refugees.
From the November 16 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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In the aftermath of the Charleston, SC shooting, iHeartMedia is planning a concert to "kick off A+E Networks' campaign to confront issues of race, and promote unity and progress on racial equity." However, a large part of iHeartMedia's brand is built on its syndication of several right-wing radio hosts -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Michael Berry -- who consistently take racially inflammatory positions on their shows and denigrate civil rights advocacy.
The Atlantic pushed back against remarks from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other Republican candidates at Fox Business' presidential debate that the United States should bring back the gold standard, noting "economists agree that the gold standard is a bad idea."
Right-wing media personalities like Glenn Beck and Alex Jones, who have profited greatly from advertisers selling gold and silver, have pushed for a return to the gold standard for years against the opposition of nearly all economists and monetary policy experts. At Fox Business' Republican presidential debate on November 10, Ted Cruz and other GOP presidential candidates once again advocated for reinstituting the gold standard. The New Republic called Cruz's gold standard proposal "particularly reckless," and ThinkProgress noted Cruz's support for a gold-based money supply would leave the "entire economy exposed to catastrophe" after the senator proposed a return to the gold standard during the October 28 presidential debate on CNBC.
On November 11, The Atlantic addressed many of these critiques, pointing out the volatility a gold standard would create and how the economic consensus is decidedly against returning to this outdated form of monetary policy. The article also noted Cruz's support for gold may be influenced by the millions of dollars gold standard supporter Robert Mercer has donated to super PACs supporting his presidential campaign (emphasis added):
During Tuesday night's Republican debate a familiar topic resurfaced to the dismay of most economists: the case for the gold standard.
Senator Ted Cruz criticized the Fed's ability to manipulate monetary policy (a common refrain among gold-standard advocates) saying, "Instead of adjusting monetary policy according to whims and getting it wrong over and over again and causing booms and busts, what the Fed should be doing is ... keeping our money tied to a stable level of gold
These conversations may be less an attempt to actually convince rivals, lawmakers, or voters that the gold standard is sound fiscal policy, and more about displaying commitment to conservative ideals, wooing big donors, and demonstrating a substantial disdain for current monetary policies.
In general, economists agree that the gold standard is a bad idea. Pegging the dollar to the metal is, in theory, supposed to offer long-term rate stability. But in practice, that hasn't usually worked out. In the short term, linking dollars to gold quantities can produce a currency that's pretty volatile.
The conversations about gold in recent years are perhaps less about the belief that it's actually smart policy and more about condemning and rejecting the power of the government, through the Federal Reserve, to control the printing of money and the setting of interest rates. For some conservatives these powers stand in direct opposition to their preference for small government and their conception of free-market capitalism. Some also see the ability to print money, which can devalue existing dollars, as a form of taxation, another violation of Republican beliefs.
The gold-standard advocates are not only politicians. They include a small but vocal (and rich) minority of Wall Streeters and hedge funders still angry about the Fed's low-interest rate (read: low yields) put in place during the 2008 crisis and lasting until today. This minority is an influential one, especially when it comes to political campaigns, because of its ability to drum up large sums of money. For example, the hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer, who favors the gold standard, donated millions to four super PACs affiliated with Cruz's campaign.
Pegging money to gold ounces offers no such protection, and in fact could be quite dangerous. While the commodity has long been considered valuable, it isn't immune to declines. The price has fluctuated significantly over the years, and hit a five-year low in July. As Matthew O'Brien noted in a 2012 article in The Atlantic, the ability to print money under a gold standard relies on how much gold can be found at any given time. That could create an economic disaster that has little to do with actual economic trends. With an economy that's just starting to show some signs of life after the recession, that's a problem the country certainly doesn't need.
From the November 5 edition of CNN's CNN Tonight with Don Lemon:
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From the November 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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After the CNBC Republican presidential debate generated controversy, conservative media have suggested upcoming debates should be moderated by right-wing pundits. Their suggestions have included serial misinformers and inflammatory commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, and Erick Erickson. Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz also proposed "a debate moderated by Sean Hannity and Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh."
Here is a look at what right-wing figures like Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Beck, and Erickson would bring to the debate stage.
Rush Limbaugh has a long history of offensive and controversial remarks during his decades-long radio career. He came under heavy fire and lost advertisers and affiliates following his nasty attacks on Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke in 2012.
Limbaugh Regularly Engages In Misogynistic Smears And Attacks On Women. Limbaugh once compared a young Chelsea Clinton to a dog, claimed feminism "was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream," and said Hillary Clinton is in possession of a "testicle lockbox." He repeatedly attacked Sandra Fluke, calling her "a slut" and "a prostitute." [Media Matters, 3/5/12, 3/5/12, 3/15/12]
Limbaugh's Long History Of Making Outrageous, Offensive Comparisons And Invoking Rape When Discussing Politics. Limbaugh has compared welfare recipients to wild animals who rely on humans for food, health care reform to Nazi policies, and President Obama to various dictators. In 2013, Limbaugh compared changing Senate filibuster rules to "allow[ing] women to be raped." [Media Matters, 11/23/13]
Limbaugh Has Made Offensive And Controversial Remarks Targeting Immigrants. Limbaugh has described undocumented immigrants as an "invasive species," and repeatedly mocked, denigrated, and insulted them as disease-ridden, criminal, and unintelligent. [Media Matters, 3/10/12]
Limbaugh Uses His Program To Mock Those Suffering From Natural Disasters And Illnesses. Limbaugh once accused actor Michael J. Fox of "exaggerating" the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease in a commercial for a Senate candidate, and expressed amusement that a deadly earthquake hit an environmentally conscious country. [Media Matters, 3/11/12]
Limbaugh Launches Racial Attacks Against Minorities And President Obama. Limbaugh has a long history of discriminatory attacks on minorities, which escalated during President Obama's presidency. During a 2013 discussion of George Zimmerman's trial, Limbaugh claimed he could now use the word "nigga" because a trial witness used the word. [Media Matters, 3/7/12, 7/16/13]
Limbaugh Frequently Engages In Attacks Against LGBT People And Issues. [Media Matters, 3/9/12]
For more on Rush Limbaugh, go here.
Sean Hannity has used his radio and Fox News programs to push false information and smears against progressives.
Hannity Fed The Birther Conspiracy Movement And Questioned President Obama's Religion. Hannity called on President Obama to produce his birth certificate, claimed he "grew up in Kenya," and asserted that he "went to a Muslim school." [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity Launched A Vicious Anti-Gay Smear Campaign Against Former Obama Administration Official Kevin Jennings. [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity's History Of Race-Baiting. Hannity repeatedly pushed the bogus connection between President Obama and the New Black Panther Party, and wondered if the "Obamas have a race problem of their own." [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity Has Frequently Pushed Falsehoods About The Environment. Hannity has claimed global warming "doesn't exist," and said the "true agenda" behind climate change science is to punish the United States and redistribute wealth. [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity Has A History Of Fearmongering About Muslims. Hannity has fearmongered about Sharia law, and defended attacks on Islam. [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
For more on Sean Hannity, go here.
Radio host Mark Levin uses toxic rhetoric to rail against progressives and those he sees as insufficiently conservative.
Levin's Long History Of Pushing Conservative Lies And Hateful Rhetoric. Levin has compared marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and drug use; compared supporters of the health care law to Nazi "brown shirts"; and likened immigration reform to the "destruction" and "unraveling" of society. [Media Matters, 3/6/14]
Levin: President Obama Is A "Low-Life" And A "Racist" For Using "The N-Word" After Charleston Shooting. [Media Matters, 6/23/15]
Levin Accused Obama Of Being Anti-Semitic. [Media Matters, 3/18/15]
For more on Mark Levin, go here.
TheBlaze host Glenn Beck is best-known for his fringe rhetoric and outlandish conspiracy theories that helped lead to his parting from Fox News in 2011.
Media Matters' Comprehensive Guide To Glenn Beck's Tenure With Fox News. Beck's tenure at Fox News included violent rhetoric; conspiratorial musings; and rhetoric steeped in steeped in anti-Semitic stereotypes. [Media Matters, 6/29/11]
Beck Smeared President Obama As A Racist With "Deep-Seated Hatred For White People." [Media Matters, 7/30/09]
The 8 Most Ridiculous Attacks On Public Education In Glenn Beck's Book Conform: Exposing The Truth About Common Core And Public Education. [Media Matters, 5/13/14]
Glenn Beck Has History Of Using The Holocaust To Advance His Political Agenda. Beck has repeatedly invoked Nazis, Hitler, and the Holocaust to attack his political opponents. [Media Matters, 8/22/11]
For more on Glenn Beck, go here.
Erick Erickson is a conservative blogger, radio host, and Fox News contributor. He's used his media platforms to push ugly rhetoric about women, LGBT people, and progressives.
Erickson's Fringe Rhetoric: Supreme Court Justice A "Goat Fucking Child Molester," When Are We Going To Beat Legislators To "A Bloody Pulp?" [Media Matters, 8/4/15]
Erickson Has A History Of Sexism, Including Claiming That Males Should Be "Dominant," "Feminazis" Are "Ugly," And Michelle Obama Is A "Marxist Harpy Wife." [Media Matters,8/4/15]
Erickson Has Been Called Out By Colleagues For "Being Disrespectful To Women." [Media Matters, 8/4/15]
For more on Erick Erickson, go here.
When newly-elected Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was picked by Mitt Romney to be his running mate in 2012, right-wing media were ecstatic. Cheered by Ryan's sterling conservative credentials, far right commentators celebrated that one of their own has been added to the ticket.
Rush Limbaugh: "I don't remember a vice presidential pick that has so energized a campaign as this choice of Paul Ryan."
Glenn Beck: "Mitt Romney has picked a solid, smart conservative for his vice-presidential running mate."
Laura Ingraham: "More than anything today, we need a man with courage and clear-thinking. Ryan has both."
Mark Levin: "Paul Ryan is an excellent VP choice."
Fast forward just three years and those same commentators are now raising doubts about Ryan, when not outright trashing him in public. Ryan's sudden sin? Not being sufficiently conservative; not passing the purity test.
Limbaugh: "This whole Ryan thing hasn't made any sense to me from the first moment I heard about it."
Beck: "The 'fix' the republic needs is Paul Ryan? The man who never met a bailout he didn't like? A man who asked to be made king? 100% support and you can't vote him out? Your solution is MORE POWER FOR THE SPEAKER?!?!?!?"
Levin: "NOT SO FAST! Paul Ryan an amnesty advocate"
Ingraham: "From misrepresenting the outrageous Fast Track &TPP to amnesty & foreign workers, list of demands, Ryan's possibly the worst Spkr choice."
Ryan's amazing free-fall from grace seems to be part of a larger race to the radical right, not only among powerful forces with the Republican Party, which now seem to be fundamentally opposed to governing and legislating, but also within key portions of the right-wing media. There seems to be a mini-stampede underway towards an extremist destination rarely seen in mainstream American politics. And for parts of the conservative media that means now demonizing former heroes like Paul Ryan.
"Conservative talk show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, have already denounced him as a dangerous moderate," according to Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times. "Tea party organizations are already raising money from supporters with appeals to stop any more Ryanesque budget deals."
One of the many layers of irony here is that in 2012, the right-wing media defended Ryan from Democratic claims that he was too far to the right and outside of the mainstream. Today, many conservative commentators are attacking Ryan for not being far enough to the right.
Yet "Ryan hasn't undergone any sort of David Brockian-type worldview change that would warrant labeling him an apostate," wrote conservative Matt Lewis at The Daily Beast. He added that while "Ryan's voting record has its blemishes," Ryan would "certainly be the most conservative Speaker of the House in modern history."
He still believes in privatizing social security and Medicare. He still believes that social programs are a "hammock." He still believes that the Social Security survivor benefits that he and his family received throughout his adolescence cause dependency on other people and their families.
A portion of the conservative press, of course, has never been in love with an establishment-type players like Jeb Bush, so his lack of support this year hasn't been surprising. But Paul Ryan? He's "the Republican party's intellectual leader" as The Weekly Standard once touted. The conservative press could barely contain its universal glee when Ryan got the VP nod just three years ago. 'He's one of us,' seemed to be the collective cheer.
Today, the insults pile high:
-"He is the wrong man at the wrong time." [American Thinker]
-"Paul Ryan represents one of the absolute worst outcomes for conservatives. " [Conservative Review]
-"Despite his portrayal by the media as being conservative, most actual conservatives in the House know that Ryan isn't a conservative." [Breitbart]
Breitbart, in particular, has become a clearinghouse of often-inaccurate analysis regarding Ryan, such as claiming the Republican's bid for the speakership had recently collapsed. Breitbart even warned readers that Media Matters "has Paul Ryan's back," as proof the Republican cannot be trusted.
In a sign of how fractured and radical the conservative movement has become, it appears fewer and fewer media players have Ryan's back. Even though they cheered him as a savior in 2012.
A recent report from the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget shows that the federal budget deficit in the past fiscal year declined to its lowest point since 2007 and is now below the 40-year average of budget deficits as a percentage of GDP, debunking years of Fox News misinformation and fearmongering about ballooning federal budget deficits under the Obama administration.
From the September 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Sean Hannity defended Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from attacks by former Fox News colleague Glenn Beck, declaring that he is "glad Donald Trump is in this race."
Beck last week questioned why Hannity and other conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Michael Savage were "supporting" Trump. He has previously labeled Trump "the biggest flaming [ass] that you could possibly imagine" and the "most arrogant man I have ever seen."
Hannity responded in an August 16 letter posted on his website, concluding that while he is "personally undecided" about who to support, he is "glad Donald Trump is in this race. I like his straightforward outsider's view of politics. His personality and background are impressive and refreshing. I like anybody who is not politically correct."
Hannity continued of Trump: "I hope his outspokenness and his courage rubs off on his fellow Republicans, who have all become stale, timid, weak, and generally (especially in DC) useless. Many Republicans can learn a thing or two from Trump."
The Fox News host added that "I have given many of the candidates a FULL hour on my TV show, as well. My plan is to continue to offer all the candidates more airtime throughout the entire process."
Media Matters found that from May through July, Hannity's program devoted nearly ten hours to airing interviews with Republican presidential candidates. During the same time period, Trump was given more airtime on Fox News than any other presidential candidate. Hannity hosted Trump for a two-part interview last week on Fox.
From the June 24 edition of CNN's CNN Tonight:
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Jeb Bush, who is expected to announce a run for president next week, has received withering criticism from prominent conservative radio hosts Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Laura Ingraham. The conservative talkers have attacked Bush as "not a Republican," an "egomaniac," and someone who must "be fought" in the Republican primary.
A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck's talk radio shows are more distrusted than trusted among three generations surveyed by Pew.
Pew surveyed millennials, Generation Xers, and baby boomers on political news sources and how each generation trusted them. The study published on June 1 found that "Four sources are distrusted more than trusted by all three: The Glenn Beck Program, The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Sean Hannity Show, and BuzzFeed." From Pew Research Center:
A local reporter's five-year investigation into rape kit backlogs in Ohio helped inspire state-level reforms and identify hundreds of serial rapists, evidencing how good reporting can bring about positive change to states' handling of sexual assault -- a stark contrast to conservative media's dismissal of sexual assault that may actually discourage victims from coming forward.
Reporter Rachel Dissell discovered a decades-long backlog of untested rape kits while researching sexual assaults for Cleveland's The Plain Dealer. As she told NPR's Fresh Air, the Cleveland police possessed at least 4,000 untested kits, which contain DNA evidence that could be used to identify and prosecute perpetrators. While many factors contribute to why the kits were left untested, Dissell explained that often times the perceived credibility of the victim played a role: "A lot of the victims whose cases didn't go forward and whose kits weren't tested were minorities. They were drug addicts. They had mental health issues -- all kinds of things like that that just really made them the most vulnerable and the least likely to be believed."
Dissell and The Plain Dealer's reporting helped inspire a groundbreaking Ohio law mandating that old and new rape kits be tested, leading to the reopening of nearly 2,000 rape investigations and the identification of over 200 serial rapists or potential serial rapists.
The positive impact of such reporting shines a light on conservative media's comparatively dangerous coverage of sexual assault, which actively reinforces the stigma surrounding sexual assault victims.
Conservative media have repeatedly attempted to discredit research showing that one-in-five women experiences a completed or attempted sexually assault at college, mocking those who do come forward and dismissing efforts to address the crime as proof of a "war" on men.
Glenn Beck's TheBlazeTV argued that the sexual assault epidemic is "completely untrue" by acting out sexual positions and labelling each skit "RAPE!", while George Will asserted that victim has become a "coveted status." Pundits from Rush Limbaugh to The Weekly Standard's Harvey Mansfield have blamed women for the epidemic, while other conservative talking heads stoke fears about a supposed increase in false reports of sexual assault. Others have explicitly blamed victims for their sexual assault, describing sexual assault survivors as "bad girls...who like to be naughty" and lecturing women about the burden of personal responsibility, saying, "It is the truth that if you are the victim of violent crime or the victim of an attempted violent crime, it is not the patriarchy that puts the burden on you to defend yourself, it is not rigid gender roles, it is -- it's a fact of life."
Such disparaging coverage not only stigmatizes victims, it can actually discourage victims from reporting the crimes and their attackers in the first place. And sexual assault is already a vastly underreported crime -- estimates show that sexual assault goes unreported nearly 70 percent of the time.
In her interview with Fresh Air, Dissell described how discrediting sexual assault victims helps their rapists go unpunished: "They knew if they chose the most vulnerable women - the least likely to be believed - that they would never get caught. And I just don't know how that happened. How did we let them outsmart us for all that time?"