Media coverage of the debt ceiling frequently claims that raising the limit without simultaneous spending cuts would give President Obama a "blank check," repeating a pattern of promoting this false narrative -- or failing to correct it -- that occurred during the unprecedented brinkmanship of 2011. The phrase implies that the debt ceiling governs additional spending desired by the White House, when in fact it is a restriction on the executive branch's ability to borrow money to pay for spending measures already enacted by Congress.
PBS' Frontline recently aired a documentary titled "Climate of Doubt," examining how conservative groups, frequently funded by the fossil fuel industry, have pushed Republicans to reject the scientific consensus on manmade global warming. Here, Media Matters looks back at how Fox News has contributed to that "Climate of Doubt," often teaming up with industry to misrepresent science and attack all efforts to address this threat.
Conservative media have claimed that the Obama administration is waging a "war" on "cheap," "clean" coal that will cause blackouts and massive layoffs. In fact, the Obama administration has simply implemented long overdue and legally required clean air regulations to protect public health without hurting electric reliability or employment, and much of the transition away from coal is due to the rise of cheaper, cleaner natural gas.
On July 29 The Heritage Foundation published a post on its blog, The Foundry, that called for the filibuster of Oklahoma Judge Robert Bacharach's bipartisan-supported nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. However, as the post noted, the unwritten Senate procedure that is the "Thurmond Rule" typically blocks a sitting president's judicial nominations at some point prior to a presidential election only if they are "cronies and ideologues." As a consensus pick, Judge Bacharach is clearly neither.
The Thurmond Rule is named after the late segregationist Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and generally refers to the long-standing practice of the opposition party in the Senate blocking most judicial nominees after a certain date in the run-up to a presidential election. A successful filibuster tonight of Judge Bacharach's consensus bipartisan-supported nomination could well be an unprecedented and extreme extension of the practice at a time when judicial vacancies have become a crisis.
This so-called rule is nothing more than an unwritten and unrequired historical practice that has been used by both parties. But CQ Today reported on July 27 (via Nexis), "[n]o appeals court nominee who received bipartisan support in committee has ever been successfully filibustered on the floor." This inapplicability of the Thurmond Rule to consensus nominees has support in an analysis of the rule's application in a much-cited 2008 Congressional Research Service report that noted:
[T]he Senate is more likely to move forward late in presidential election years with what they view as "consensus" nominees. Some Senators have suggested that a nominee could be considered as a consensus choice if he or she has the support of both home state Senators.
While there may be disagreement as to which nominees are "consensus" nominees, the support of both home-state Senators (particularly if the Senators are of the opposition party) is an important indicator of the President's willingness to work with individual Senators when making nominations. [Congressional Research Service, 8/13/12]
Because the Foundry post appeared to recognize this point by stating the Thurmond Rule applies to "cronies and ideologues," it is peculiar that the post simultaneously called for Senate Republicans not to "hold their manhood cheap" and instead filibuster Judge Bacharach. The judge was not only rated to be unanimously "well-qualified" by the American Bar Association due to his "stellar professional qualifications," but also has the support of both of his conservative home-state Senators, Republicans James Inhofe and Tom Coburn. Considering Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have already committed to voting to end the filibuster and his nomination "sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee last month," criticism of the judge as a crony or an ideologue is unfounded. Senator Coburn has already gone on the record with his home-state paper as claiming application of the Thurmond Rule to Judge Bacharach would be "stupid" and:
"I believe that Judge Bacharach will uphold the highest standards and reflect the best in our American judicial tradition by coming to the bench as a well-regarded member of the community," Coburn said. "At a time when our country seems as divided as ever, it is important that citizens respect members of the judiciary and are confident they will faithfully and impartially apply the law." [NewsOK, 6/8/12]
In a blog promoted by conservative media, The Heritage Foundation's Lachlan Markay criticized a report finding that a federal solar tax credit can more than pay for itself. Heritage claimed the study "assumes that solar companies that enjoy the tax breaks in question will survive." Pointing to failed solar-panel makers like Solyndra, Heritage said "a number of the recipients of the solar tax credit may not be around to produce the returns projected " in the study. But in fact, the report analyzed a tax credit for consumers of solar panels, not tax credits for manufacturers.
The report, conducted by the U.S. Partnership on Renewable Energy Finance (a coalition of financiers who support renewable energy) found that the Investment Tax Credit for solar photovoltaic installations can deliver a return on investment over a 30-year period under an increasingly popular investment arrangement in which developers lease solar power systems to businesses and homeowners, who then make taxable payments over several years for the system or pay for the electricity generated. These and other taxes directly related to the installation and operation of the solar systems would more than offset the initial cost to the federal government over the study period, according to the analysis.
The report shows that renewable energy can be a fiscally sound investment for the government -- contrary to claims made by some in the conservative media who attack any and all efforts to encourage renewable energy use. Tax credits for renewable energy have been supported by Republicans in the past. The tax credit in question was initially signed into law by George W. Bush.
Following relentless attacks on the solar industry in the wake of Solyndra's bankruptcy, wind power has become the latest target of the right-wing campaign against renewable energy. But contrary to the myths propagated by the conservative media, wind power is safe, increasingly affordable, and has the potential to significantly reduce pollution and U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.
As many faith leaders have recognized, climate change presents a massive ethical challenge since those least responsible for global warming are among the most vulnerable to its consequences, including water scarcity, climate-sensitive diseases, and sea level rise. Yet in response to the recent international climate talks, conservative media outlets are mocking developing countries for seeking adaptation assistance, saying they just want to "cash in" on "climate gold."
A recent Fox Nation post claimed that the "ENTIRE Solar Industry" is on the "Brink of Collapse." But the solar industry is growing faster than any other energy sector, and experts say solar is becoming increasingly cost competitive.
Last December, we detailed how Accuracy in Media intern Allie Duzett falsely attacked Obama administration official Kevin Jennings as a "pedophile," which resulted in AIM having to delete the post and issue a retraction. One would think that exposing her employer to possible legal action would have ended Duzett's writing career at AIM.
Duzett resurfaced at AIM this week with a pair of blog posts. There appears to be nothing legally actionable in either of them, though in one she calls The New York Times "highly biased" and ludicrously suggests that Fox News isn't.
During her exile from AIM, Duzett has kept herself busy: According to her LinkedIn profile, she is working for the conservative Heritage Foundation as an "Information Systems Assistant," where she "solve[s] over 100 technical problems in a routine month" and "blog[s] on the Foundry about United States domestic policy." (We could find only four posts by her on Heritage's Foundry blog.)
So that's two organizations that perhaps need to explain their relationship with someone who forwarded such an egregiously false claim – one of whom has already been burned once by her.