Despite their purported opposition to "liberal judicial activism" and supposed support for judicial restraint, right-wing media have responded to the passage of health care reform legislation by urging it be overturned by the courts. Media Matters has previously noted that despite the conservative myth that judicial activism is solely a "liberal" practice, at least two studies have found that the most "conservative" Supreme Court justices have been the biggest judicial activists.
Right-wing media figures have run with The Weekly Standard's John McCormack's completely baseless accusation that President Obama is buying Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-UT) vote on health care reform by appointing his brother, Scott Matheson, to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. McCormack provided no evidence to support the allegation -- which both Rep. Matheson and the White House have called "absurd" -- and even those pushing the charge acknowledge that Scott Matheson is "plenty qualified for the job."
Right-wing blogs have attacked White House economic adviser Larry Summers' statement that heavy snowfall in February may distort the unemployment data for the month. In fact, economists reportedly say that snow can cause a temporary decline in employment and distort job statistics.
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey mischaracterized a recent hurricane study in Nature Geoscience in order to claim the study shows that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2007 report was not "reliable" and should be "dismiss[ed]."
Conservative media are pushing the falsehood that "the nuclear option" refers to the budget reconciliation process in order to accuse Democrats of hypocrisy for previously criticizing the nuclear option and now considering using reconciliation to pass health care reform. But Democratic criticism of a 2005 Republican proposal to change filibuster rules is in no way inconsistent with passing health care reform through reconciliation -- a process that has repeatedly been used to pass legislation, including major health care reform.
The Fox Nation and Hot Air.com have seized on a Wall Street Journal article that described how a Marine in Afghanistan consulted a member of the judge advocate general (JAG) corps about the legality of an air strike in order to falsely suggest President Obama initiated a policy where troops in battle would have to call "lawyers for permission to kill terrorists." In fact, news reports indicate that the practice was already in place during the Bush administration.
Conservative media are highlighting Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mouthing "not true" during the State of the Union address after President Obama said the court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC would "open the floodgates" for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend in U.S. elections to accuse Obama of "attacking" the First Amendment or not telling the truth. But, in fact, four of the Supreme Court's justices agreed in their opinion that the decision "would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans" to make certain election-related expenditures.
Right-wing media outlets have continued to attack Democratic Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley for her recent comments about terrorism in Afghanistan, often by distorting her remarks on the subject. But the context of Coakley's comments make clear that she was referring to Al Qaeda's presence in Afghanistan -- echoing numerous military experts' statements regarding Al Qaeda's diminished presence in Afghanistan.
Responding to Sen. Harry Reid's recently reported controversial comments about President Obama, numerous conservative media figures have accused Democrats of having a "double standard" regarding racially insensitive remarks made by Republicans, specifically citing the outrage over former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's past comments in support of Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist presidential campaign. But others -- including NPR's Cokie Roberts, Rev. Al Sharpton, and NAACP's Hilary Shelton -- have argued that the two comments are not comparable, because Reid was praising an African-American's advancement, whereas Lott was expressing support for a segregationist.
Apparently, the anti-gay natives are restless over at Hot Air - Ed Morrissey today claims that he has gotten "a lot of email asking why I haven't written about" the right-wing's trumped-up witch hunt against Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, and explains: "To be honest, the story is so shocking that I haven't quite grasped how to approach it." Rather than leave it at that, Morrissey goes on to demonstrate that he lacks even the shakiest grasp of the claims that the right has been making about Jennings.
Morrissey claims that throughout Jennings' 13-year tenure as head of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the organization "offered sex education seminars to young teenagers within the framework of public education" that included explicit sexual discussion. What the rest of Morrissey's ilk have been alleging is that at one GLSEN conference in 2000, such a discussion happened during a workshop.
Morrissey claims that "Margot Abels, who got fired by GLSEN after the content of the seminars became known, says Jennings and others at GLSEN knew the content of their curriculum and approved it." A couple of problems:
1) Even Jennings' most fervent opponents have acknowledged that Abels worked for the Massachusetts Department of Education, not GLSEN. Jennings didn't fire her, though he did criticize the content of her seminar when he became aware of it.
2) While the right has claimed that Abels said that Jennings "knew" in advance about the content of her seminar, the statements they have pointed to only show that she said her immediate superiors at the Department of Education were aware, not that Jennings or GLSEN were.
Morrissey then purports to provide the explicit "handout material GLSEN provided for these classes." But the image that he shows is from the booklet conservative activists have claimed was passed out to students at a separate GLSEN conference - in 2005.
Oh, and in reality, a community health group -- not GLSEN itself -- reportedly said that it had mistakenly "left about 10 copies" of the booklet on an informational table it rented at the conference; the group reportedly apologized for doing so; GLSEN stated that if it had known the booklets had been at the conference, it would have demanded they be removed; and the local school superintendent reportedly said he believed no students had actually taken the book.
But other than that, Morrissey's "approach" to Jennings is worth the wait.
UPDATE: Newsbusters' John Stephenson is offering up Morrissey's post to those "unfamiliar" with Jennings "outrageous background." Boy, will they be surprised when they find that even the rest of the right-wing nuthouse isn't on board with Morrissey's take.
Better conservative media critics, please.
Right-wing blogs have seized on yet another heavily edited undercover video to attack a progressive organization, this time Planned Parenthood. However, the activists behind the video criticized Planned Parenthood employees for referring to a 10-week-old fetus as a "fetus" and for saying that abortion at that stage of pregnancy is safer than giving birth -- both of which are accurate statements.
Following an attack that conservatives previewed prior to the elections, Fox News and other right-wing media have seized on gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey to baselessly declare, in Dick Morris' words, that the results were a "deathblow to Obamacare" and have argued that the election should send a message to moderate Democrats. But exit polls do not support these claims, showing that in both states, the voters who cited health care as a top concern sided with the Democrat in the race.
Right-wing bloggers have recently attacked Newt Gingrich for endorsing Republican Dede Scozzafava over Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the special election to fill Army Secretary John McHugh's (R-NY) vacated congressional seat. On her blog, Michelle Malkin said "no thanks" to the possibility of a Gingrich 2012 presidential run, noting that he is the "most prominent GOP endorser of [the] radical leftist NY-23 congressional candidate," while at RedState.com, Erick Erickson reportedly wrote -- before removing the post -- that Gingrich "stands athwart history and pees on the legacy of 1994."
Here's MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, interviewing Time's Karen Tumulty moments ago:
Karen, let me ask you one other thing. There was an event with doctors at the White House at the Rose Garden yesterday. And I have to pursue this more, in more depth, but do you know anything about this photo opportunity when they were told to bring their white lab coats, and those who forgot and came in, in business attire were handed lab coats by White House staff members so they would look like doctors for the photo op?
After Tumulty noted that this is "not such a huge deal" because the people were in fact doctors and do in fact "support the basic bill," Mitchell haltingly replied:
Well, again, it is an interest group, Doctors for America, but it was certainly, uh, assisted by White House staff. It just seems like a lot of choreography for a White House which claims to be doing things authentically. [Smirking, shaking head] It just, you know.
It just, you know.
Well, no, I don't.
Here's a free tip: When you're unable to articulate what's wrong with an action more eloquently than saying "It just, you know" while scrunching up your nose and shaking your head, its probably because there's nothing wrong with it.
Look: These were actual doctors. If they were not doctors, and the White House dressed them up to look like they were, that would be problematic.
But that isn't what happened. They were doctors. There was nothing misleading about asking them to wear lab coats so people would know they were doctors rather than, say, insurance company executives.
(By the way: handing someone a lab coat is not "a lot of choreography." It takes about two seconds.)
Now, why did Mitchell feel she had to ask Tumulty about this? Why does she think she has to "pursue this more, in depth"? How much "depth" is there to pursue?
Mitchell can't articulate a reason why it matters, but the right-wing is up in arms, so she thinks she has to "pursue" the Great Doctors Wearing Lab Coats Scandal of Ought-Nine in more depth.
UPDATE: According to Tommy Christopher at Mediaite, the controversy is not only dumb -- it isn't true. Under the header "Why Was The NY Post Alone in Reporting 'White Coat-gate? Because It's Not True," Christopher writes:
The picture bothered me, because I didn't recognize the staffer who was handing out the white coats.
I checked on it, and a White House source told me that the White house did not provide the extra lab coats. Doctors for America paid for and brought the extras. OOPS!
I wonder if Mitchell's in-depth pursuit of this crucial story has turned up that little detail yet.
Conservative media figures have celebrated the International Olympic Committee's elimination of Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics and used the event to bash President Obama, who flew to Copenhagen to lobby IOC members on behalf of Chicago's bid. For instance, Glenn Beck called the news that Chicago's bid had failed "so sweet," Rush Limbaugh declared himself "happy" and "gleeful" with the results, and Matt Drudge proclaimed: "World rejects Obama."