Conservative media figures are taking a partial quote from President Obama out of context in order to attack him as reacting callously to the deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel.
In an appearance taped today for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, President Obama was asked if communication between government personnel had failed to provide "the optimal response" to the Benghazi attacks. Obama replied in part: "If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal. We're going to fix it. All of it. And what happens, during the course of a presidency, is that the government is a big operation and any given time something screws up. And you make sure that you find out what's broken and you fix it."
Conservative media figures like Matt Drudge, Monica Crowley, Hugh Hewitt, Mary Katherine Ham,John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, Erick Erickson and outlets like Fox Nation all used early reports of Obama's comments to attack him, with several falsely suggesting that Obama had said the deaths of American personnel in Benghazi, and not the communications effort, was "not optimal."
When you live inside a bubble, denial comes easy. And for conservatives in the media searching for an explanation for why President Obama seems increasingly well positioned to win re-election, denial comes way too easy.
After four years of relentlessly condemning Obama as an historic failure and all around bad person, conservatives are desperately trying to explain the disconnect between their dire Obama denunciations and the on-the-ground political reality about Obama's polling surge. They need a scapegoat, and pollsters have been cast in the role.
Just as left-leaning community organizers at ACORN were selected as unlikely scapegoats for John McCain's loss in 2008, pollsters today have been tapped by the far right as conniving conspirators in cahoots with Democrats to seal another election for Obama.
Recall that four years ago little-known ACORN was allegedly trying to flood ballot boxes with fraudulent votes. The rhetoric was so persistent that a 2009 poll found a majority of Republicans believed ACORN "stole" the election for Obama, who defeated McCain by more than nine million votes.
This year, instead of producing too many votes, pollsters are allegedly doing the opposite - making sure fewer people cast a ballot on Election Day. Teaming up with the media, pollsters are suppressing the vote by concocting phony results; by skewing the data. That drumbeat of results is supposedly designed to "depress Republican enthusiasm," which in turn hands victories to the Democrats.
"The intended effect is to suppress Republican turnout through media polling bias," said Romney's pollster John McLaughlin this week. And who was way ahead of McLaughlin and the Romney campaign in pushing the polling conspiracy claim? Rush Limbaugh, of course.
From September 10 [emphasis added]:
The polls are just being used as another tool of voter suppression. The polls are an attempt to not reflect public opinion, but to shape it. Yours. They want to depress the heck out of you, and they want to suppress your vote.
It's hard to imagine a campaign conspiracy more unbelievable than 2008's ACORN fantasy, where underfunded activists somehow "stole" the election from the mighty Republican campaign machine. But today's Alice-in-Wonderland polling plot seems to surpass it in terms of being nonsensical. (i.e. Why would professional pollsters cook the books for Obama and then run the risk of ruining their reputation for accuracy?)
Right-wing media figures have been hyping the economic plan that GOP presidential contender Tim Pawlenty presented in a June 7 speech. But economic experts, including prominent conservative economists, have called Pawlenty's plan unrealistic, "a joke," and "patently ridiculous."
As we noted this morning, conservative blogger and radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt is bemoaning the fact that Republican candidates for president are participating in debates hosted by "traditional media" outlets, such as CNN because the questions, Hewitt is certain, are bound to be unfair. (Hewitt seems to know beforehand which questions will, and will not, be asked.)
The critique is a curious one because in 2007 when progressives launched a successful campaign to stop Democratic candidates from legitimizing Fox News by allowing Rupert Murdoch's channel to sponsor Democrats debates, the right-wing media went bonkers condemning the move as cowardice.
Cue Roger Ailes:
The candidates that can't face Fox, can't face Al Qaeda. And that's what's coming.
Of course, Democrats had ample reason to shun Fox News. Namely, it's not a legitimate news organization. Today however, neither Hewitt nor anyone else can make a coherent argument that that's the case for CNN. And it's not just CNN. Hewitt complains about all "mainstream media" debate questioners during the campaign season. (Instead, he prefers "GOP-organized debates with GOP-selected questioners.")
Oh, and did I mention the right-media went bonkers when Fox News was snubbed during the last White House campaign cycle? The snub represented "a kind of breakdown in the democratic process." It was akin to Stalinist intimidation. And poor Bill O'Reilly could barely see straight, as he wildly denounced Democrats as Nazi's for refusing Fox News' debate invitations.
Conservative media figures have claimed that the National Labor Relations Board is seeking to ban companies from moving to states with lax labor laws by filing a complaint against Boeing's decision to move the production facility for its new 787 Dreamliner to South Carolina. In fact, the NLRB's general counsel has alleged that Boeing moved its 787 production line in retaliation for strikes by Boeing workers at its Seattle-area plant, which, if proven true, constitutes a clear violation of federal labor laws.
From the February 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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The Daily Caller's Amanda Carey details the "Rise of conservative displeasure over Politico/NBC debate," quoting several conservative activists who worry (or pretend to worry) that Republican presidential candidates won't be treated fairly in a debate hosted by Politico and NBC.
Carey quotes conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt: "Can we be honest? They are all liberals. All of them. Not one of the questioners that could or would be proposed by Politico or NBC would be remotely in touch with the cares, concerns, and passions of the GOP's primary electorate." And Grover Norquist: "All the debates should be open to the media, but they should be held for the purpose of letting Republicans explain to Republicans why they should vote for them in the primary. … Instead, we'll get nitpicking from left-of-center journalists asking questions that will impress their fellow journalists." And Mark Levin: "There's no question that Politico and NBC are leftist and I'm not excited about their participation."
As usual, Media Research Center Brent Bozell out-shrilled them all: "When, oh when will Republicans learn? Every four years the presidential debate season takes place. Republicans dutifully line up for debates moderated by liberal 'moderators' except there's nothing moderate about these moderators who mercilessly attack them."
If this really takes place "every four years," there should be plenty of examples. And yet neither Carey nor anyone she quoted offered a single example of inappropriate questioning during debates moderated by Politico or NBC journalists. Certainly no "merciless attacks."
In fact, Carey never got around to mentioning that both Politico and NBC participated in GOP presidential debates during the 2008 campaign. This being the Daily Caller, it is of course possible that neither Carey nor her editors are aware of this basic fact, and that neither thought to check. And this being the Daily Caller, it's also possible Carey never mentioned those debates because they completely undermine the inane premise that Politico and NBC would attack Republican candidates during a debate.
Consider the May 3, 2007 Republican presidential debate moderated by Chris Matthews and Politico's John Harris and Jim VandeHei. Matthews kicked things off by asking Rudy Giuliani "Mayor Giuliani, how do we get back to Ronald Reagan's morning in America?" Then he moved on to John McCain: "Let me go to Senator McCain. We're in the house of Ronald Reagan. Every cab driver in America knew what Ronald Reagan stood for: defeat communism abroad; reduce big government at home. Can you, Senator McCain, restore that kind of unity of purpose?" That, apparently, is what Brent Bozell considers a merciless attack: Asking Republicans if they'll be like Reagan.
Later in the debate, Matthews invited the Republican candidates to "mention a tax you'd like to cut, in addition to the Bush tax cuts, keeping them in effect." He never asked how they'd pay for those tax cuts -- though during a Democratic debate a week earlier, NBC's Brian Williams demanded to know how the Democratic candidates would pay for their health care proposals (while never actually asking them to explain the proposals.)
That wasn't the only double-standard apparent in those two debates. During the Democratic debate, Brian Williams asked Barack Obama a loaded question about his personal finances -- a question that managed to smear the other Democrats on stage as well. A week later, Matthews, VandeHei and Harris failed to ask the Republicans a single question about their business dealings, personal finances, or ties to controversial figures. Those types of questions were reserved for Democrats only -- and this in spite of the fact that Giuliani's close relationship with the breathtakingly crooked Bernie Kerik was very much in the news.
The last time NBC and Politico participated in presidential debates, they lobbed softballs to the Republicans and held Democrats to a higher standard of fiscal responsibility. That's just a fact. It's what happened. And so, in whining about NBC and Politico participating in a 2011 Republican debate, the Daily Caller, Brent Bozell, and several other conservative media critics don't mention a single thing about those 2007 debates. Because conservative media criticism isn't about reality, it's about blind hatred of the media -- and about working the refs.
From the November 5 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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On his syndicated radio show last night, conservative talker Hugh Hewitt asked listeners to forgo marches between now and November, imploring them instead to donate that money to "candidates who support the right things." Hewitt said: "I know some of you are planning on going to marches between now and then. I sure wouldn't spend a dollar on going to a march. I really wouldn't. That's money. That's real, cash money that could be given to a candidate." Hewitt listed various Republican candidates to give money to including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, "a great governor," and Jane Norton of Colorado, whom he has especially endorsed.
But the most important conservative rally all year is Glenn Beck's upcoming "historic" Restoring Honor Rally on August 28 -- well, at least from Beck's perspective. For the past few months, we've been treated to the relentless refrain that this march -- this "turning point" in American history, rather -- "will be remembered as the moment America turned the corner." This is not just a "rally," you see; this is going to be "an iconic event" that will "reclaim the civil rights movement." Keep the rally "in your prayers," he has even asked.
Right-wing media have claimed that the United States showed "hostility" and "lack of support" for Israel by joining a United Nations resolution condemning "acts" that led to deaths and injuries in Israel's raid on a Palestinian aid flotilla. But the U.S. reportedly negotiated to "pare down the language" of the resolution and has "avoided any hint of criticism of the Israeli action in its public statements."
From the April 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Yesterday, ACORN videographer James O'Keefe was arrested for an alleged plot to interfere with* Sen. Mary Landrieu's phone. Andrew Breitbart, whose website BigGovernment.com published O'Keefe's ACORN videos, stated that he pays O'Keefe a "fair salary" so that "when he puts a story out there, it's on the Breitbart sites, the Big sites, that he can tell people what transpired." Breitbart also said that O'Keefe "was not involved in anything that was related to Big Government, or Breitbart.com" when he was arrested.
From an interview by Hugh Hewitt:
HH: I love that, by the way. That is exactly what public figures should do when they are implicated, even by a complete falsehood in something like this. They should do what you're doing, which is get out there and say nope, not me, not now, not ever, never. Last question, in terms of his relationship with you not connected to this event, are you still, is he in your employ in any way?
AB: When the story came to us, what I wanted to do was to make sure that the ACORN story got as much widespread dissemination as humanly possible. The videos that he independently produced went on YouTube. And so Huffington Post, every single site put it out there, including my sites. What he does for the site exclusively is he tells his life rights, basically. So when he puts a story out there, it's on the Brietbart sites, the Big sites, that he can tell people what transpired. So...
HH: Do you pay him for that?
HH: And are you free to tell me how much you pay him?
AB: I'll...perhaps at another date, but he's paid a fair salary.
HH: Is he...so he is an employee?
AB: I'm not sure that's technically the thing, but yes, he's paid for his life rights. And he's, you know, he's still...we reserve the right to say yes or no to any of the stories that he puts up on our site as we do to any other contributor who comes to the site.
HH: Will it be a mischaracterization to say he was working for you when he went about this?
AB: Well, I mean, no. He was not involved in anything that was related to Big Government, or Breitbart.com.
From the June 9 edition of the Hugh Hewitt Show:
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From his June 9 blog post, titled "GM: The MSNBC-Endorsed Car Maker":
GM has launched a new ad campaign to try and rebrand the company. No need. MSNBC has ridden to the rescue and is proud to declare Government Motors its new favorite cause. The hard-left cable network had adopted GM, so let the word go forth that if you want to support President Obama, his cheering section at MSNBC has made it clear that means buying GM product.
MSNBC's hapless Ed Schultz accused me of "hating" President Obama on his Tuesday's show because I have announced that I will not buy a GM or a Chrysler car. (Since 2001 I have purchased two GMs --a Saab and a Trailblazer.) My reasoning is explained in this WashingtonExaminer.com column and this Townhall.com column. Briefly put: The socialization of GM severely disadvantages Ford, Toyota and other auto workers while undermining basic, bedrock principles of free enterprise, and I will not endorse the deal with my dollars and don't think any other car buyer should either. In Ed's rather fevered world this means I "hate" President Obama. In fact I supported the first GM/Chrysler bailout and would have been happy to see the feds support the two companies with loan guarantees or other assistance that would not have resulted in government ownership of the company.
But I won't support a government-owned car company that tilts the competitive field against every other car maker, and the feds now own and control GM, and the new Government Motors has a $65 to $75 billion dollar advantage over the shareholders, bondholders and workers at every other car company in the country. The left doesn't care because President Obama decreed this state of affairs it so it must be good, but it is inimical to the American way of doing business, building widespread prosperity, the middle class and great cars, and to ideals of freedom and liberty. A government-owned car company is a car company that can dictate who wins and loses and who gets the good deals. That's the danger of Government Motors
Schultz's shouted tirade is par for the course for a left long used to screaming at its opponents, and his attribution to me of "hatred" for the new president is simple projection of Schultz's feelings towards the old president on to me. We had a good laugh on my show at Ed's expense, and at his desperate attempt to find a new ratings hook now that George W. Bush is beginning to fade from the mind of a public that is beginning to chuckle at the number of jobs President Obama "saved or created" this week, even as unemployment continues to rise after the near-trillion dollar stimulus that wasn't. The Dems are running everything in D.C., and not well, so the MSNBC play-book is down to one page: Attack center-right commentators.
What the left doesn't understand is that Team Obama would rather they drop the whole GM takeover issue. There's a reason the White House isn't talking up the nationalization of GM and would rather talk about anything else: They know the public hates this, including large majorities of independents and significant numbers of Democrats. The advisors around Obama also know that the cumulative effects of the trillions spent the president's friends are adding up to one enormous bill the staggering total of which will give even liberals pause when the subject of a "government option" for health care comes up this month and next. President Obama wants the feds to take over health care just as it has GM, but even the enraptured MSM is beginning to ask the inconvenient questions, such as "If you can't run Medicare how do you propose to expand it hugely and contain costs?" The unfolding misadventure with GM is simply an introduction to how government-run operations function. The Post Office and the DMV are exhibits one and two on that list, but more than any other Obama initiative, the takeover of GM promises to illustrate what the new Democratic Party stands for: A pay-off of friends and a kiss-off to everyone else.
If you are fine with that, but a GM instead of a Ford or now a Saturn or a Toyota. GM is now the brand endorsed by MSNBC and Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann and the rest of the crew over there. The folks at Government Motors must love this rebranding-assist. Let's wait for the ads starring Ed, Keith, Chris and Rachel pitching Obamacars.
See also: Socialist cars?
On his radio show, Hugh Hewitt did not challenge Gov. Sarah Palin's claim that the "extreme position" on abortion Sen. Barack Obama took in the Illinois state Senate included "not even supporting a measure that would during a -- after a botched abortion and that baby's born alive -- allowing medical care to cease and allowing that baby to die." But Obama and other opponents said that the legislation to which Palin referred posed a threat to abortion rights and was unnecessary because Illinois law already prohibited the conduct being addressed by the bill.