During the November 14 CBS Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton explained that she doesn't "think we are at war with all Muslims," but rather that "we're at war with jihadists." She noted that President George W. Bush expressed a similar sentiment following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Right-wing media figures immediately condemned Clinton for not using the phrase "radical Islam," accusing Clinton of "giving Islam a pass" and likening her comments to the claim that "Hitler wasn't an anti-Semite."
After President Obama condemned the attacks in Paris, France, calling the attacks "terror" and an "attack on all humanity," right-wing media personalities immediately attacked Obama, in particular for not criticizing Islam.
Conservative media are outraged by President Obama's decision to restore the name of Alaska's Mount McKinley to Denali, the name used by Alaska Natives, lamenting the move and calling it an "executive power grab."
Conservative media reacted with outrage to President Obama's speech defending his administration's landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, claiming the president had taken "a blame America approach," calling it "unpresidential," and demanding impeachment, despite the fact that experts have lauded the deal as "necessary and wise."
Breitbart.com inaccurately attributed a fake quote from a facetious tweet to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes in an attempt to smear the Obama administration for negotiating with Iran.
Rhodes sat down with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg on June 29 at the Aspen Ideas Festival to discuss the U.S.' nuclear talks with Iran. When asked whether President Obama believes negotiations will lead to a change in Iran's behavior, Rhodes responded affirmatively and added, "We believe that an agreement is necessary and has to be good enough to be worth doing even if Iran doesn't change. If 10 or 15 years from now Iran is the same as it is today, in terms of its government, the deal has to be good enough that it can exist on those merits."
Brookings Institute senior fellow Mike Doran ridiculed Rhodes' response in a June 30 tweet, summarizing it as an effort to "turn the Iranian frog into a handsome prince":
Ben Rhodes: "We believe that the kiss of the nuke deal will turn the Iranian frog into a handsome prince" | https://t.co/F7SkdslCJw-- Mike Doran (@Doranimated) June 30, 2015
In a rush to attack Rhodes and Obama, Breitbart.com reported the mocking tweet as an actual quote from the interview, apparently neglecting to watch the discussion between Rhodes and Goldberg. Breitbart.com editor Joel Pollak claimed in a July 1 post that the phrase came from Rhodes' "own words," accusing him of telling "fairy tales to the American public" (emphasis added):
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes-who lacks any prior qualifications for the post-has explained to the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg at the Aspen Ideas Festivalon Monday that the administration believes that a bad Iran deal is worth doing because political reform inside the Iranian regime is more likely with the deal than without. Or, to use Rhodes's own words: "We believe that the kiss of the nuke deal will turn the Iranian frog into a handsome prince."
A "fairy tale" analogy is appropriate indeed.
Goldberg called out Breitbart for "totally manufacturing quotes" on Twitter, and later Doran explained how he was merely "ridicul[ing]" Rhodes and it "did not occur to me that anybody would think he actually used those words":
@jvmadden I ridiculed him. It did not occur to me that anybody would think he actually used those words.-- Mike Doran (@Doranimated) July 7, 2015
Last year, Breitbart.com's Pollak similarly attacked the wrong Loretta Lynch in an attempt to smear the attorney general nominee, misidentifying a California based attorney for the president's pick for AG.
As of this posting, Breitbart.com has yet to correct their inaccurate report.
Right-wing media figures are criticizing 2016 hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for his comments blaming the rise of ISIS on Republican foreign policy positions, lashing out at Paul as an "Obama Republican" and accusing him of "rewriting history."
Members of the conservative media are attempting to scandalize President Obama's Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch by suggesting she was involved in the Whitewater investigations of the 1990s. However, the Loretta Lynch that played a bit role in Whitewater -- an investigation into fraudulent real estate deals that did not include any wrongdoing by the Clintons -- is a different person than Obama's attorney general nominee.
According to a November 8 Breitbart.com article by Warner Todd Huston, "few are talking about" the fact nominee Lynch "was part of Bill Clinton's Whitewater probe defense team in 1992." Huston pointed to a March 1992 New York Times article that "reported that Lynch was one of the Clintons' Whitewater defense attorneys as well as a 'campaign aide.'" And in a November 9 article Huston's colleague, Breitbart.com Senior Editor-at Large Joel Pollak wrote, "The connection to Whitewater ought to provide additional fodder for Republicans during Lynch's confirmation hearings":
The connection to Whitewater ought to provide additional fodder for Republicans during Lynch's confirmation hearings. It is odd that Obama chose someone so close to the Clintons--or perhaps not, given the prominent role played by Clinton insider John Podesta in the second term of the Obama White House. Lynch has been rewarded throughout her career for her political loyalty--not an unusual path up the career ladder for federal prosecutors, but certainly one that will allow the GOP, as well as Obama, to raise the political stakes.
The Loretta Lynch referred to in the New York Times article is a California based attorney who has worked on several prominent political campaigns, not Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch. Obama's nominee is shown on the right, while the Loretta Lynch Breitbart refers to is on the left:
As the nation mourns the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, conservative media figures have attempted to appropriate his legacy and attribute to the beloved former president their conservative ideas and positions. This effort runs counter to Kennedy's stated positions, speeches, and other historical facts surrounding his presidency.
On July 28, 2009, the demise of Glenn Beck's career as a Fox News host began when he announced on Fox & Friends that President Obama was a "racist" and that, despite being raised by a white mother and his white grandparents, the new president had a "deep-seated hatred for white people." The advertising boycott sparked by that shockingly hateful statement soon robbed Beck of most of his commercial supporters. In 2011, Fox News, unable to turn his ratings into revenue, let Beck go.
In 2009, Beck appeared to be an outlier within the right-wing media, using the type of incendiary, race-baiting language that even many Obama-hating pundits considered to be out of bounds. But fast-forward to 2013, and specifically fast-forward to the right-wing media reaction to the conclusion of the George Zimmerman trial, as well as Obama's reaction to it, and it seems clear that Beck's comments have been mainstreamed within the conservative movement.
Obama hates whites? He's a racist? He's trying to start a race war? Today, more and more conservative voices in the media chorus seem entirely comfortable making those reckless allegations.
And somewhere the authors of the Republican National Committee's "autopsy" report must be shaking their heads.
You'll recall that the in-depth, and at times startlingly frank, analysis of the GOP's poor showing in 2012 repeatedly stressed that for the party to compete in national elections in coming years, it must become more inclusive. And specifically, the Republican Party had to find a way to appeal to minority voters, including blacks. Plagued by what the Republican authors said was a voter perception of the GOP as being a party of rigid, out of touch ideologues, the party had to embrace new kinds of voters.
"We know we have problems; we've identified them, and we're implementing the solutions to fix them," RNC chairman Reince Priebus said at the time of the 97-page report's release in March. He warned that "focus groups described our party as narrow minded, out of touch and "stuff old men." The party pledged to spend $10 million on outreach to minority groups.
Four months later though, and nearly every corner of the right-wing media landscape is broadcasting the same, hateful message that Beck first enunciated four years ago: America's first black president is a racist who despises whites. It's hard to see how the GOP Noise Machine's angry, divisive memo is going to do anything but drive even more minority voters away from the party.
As President Obama addressed reactions surrounding the acquittal of George Zimmerman, right-wing media took to Twitter and attacked the president's remarks:
Right-wing media figures argued that Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights at a congressional hearing by declaring her innocence before invoking those rights. By contrast, legal experts say Lerner's statement did not negate her constitutional protections.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) bills itself as an event convened to "crystallize the best of the conservative thought in America" that will showcase "all of the leading conservative organizations and speakers." Media covering CPAC 2013 should know that the conference's speakers, from the most prominent to the lesser-known, have a history of launching smears, pushing conspiracy theories, and hyping myths about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.
Drudge, Fox Nation and Breitbart distorted comments made by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to claim she "trashed the uninsured" by calling them "free riders." Pelosi's comments were not directed toward all uninsured Americans, but were specifically referring to health care consumers who remain uninsured until they have a health care need, overburdening the market and increasing health care costs. This is a claim almost identical to policy recommendations made by Mitt Romney in a 2009 op-ed.
In a recent interview with San Francisco's KQED radio, Pelosi pointed out that Thursday's Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act in its entirety meant "goodbye to the free riders." In the comments that followed, Pelosi made it clear that she was referring to people who "just decide you're not going to apply for health insurance" and then when "[y]ou get sick or in an accident, your health care costs are a burden to everybody else."
Breitbart's Joel Pollak acknowledged that Pelosi defended the penalty as " necessary because some (many?) of the uninsured actively choose not to buy health insurance, even though they can afford it." But these were the very people Pelosi was talking about when she discussed free riders - not everybody without insurance. That fact is obscured by the Breitbart headline, which was highlighted by Drudge and Fox Nation.
The difference between Pelosi's comments and Pollak's suggested interpretation is significant. Pelosi was not referring to people who currently have no ability to access or afford health care coverage, but to those who have the resources to purchase insurance but choose not to, making their eventual care a liability for themselves and to taxpayers. Because the low-income premium subsidies in the Affordable Care Act make health insurance affordable for millions more people, and the group previously labeled "free riders" will largely consist of those who refuse to pay for health care instead of being simply uninsured due to a lack of affordability.
Right-wing media have reacted to the Supreme Court's ruling upholding President Obama's health care law by claiming it is "a dark day for freedom" and "the end of America as we know it." But the decision allows the health care law to implement reforms that will protect and extend affordable insurance coverage to millions of Americans.
Add Breitbart.com editor-in-chief Joel Pollak to the list of right-wing media dismissing voter identification law concerns despite evidence showing that such laws have kept many eligible voters, including the elderly and racial minorities, from voting.
Pollak writes that "voting rights are not threatened in the least by voter ID laws," adding that "[f]raud, not voter ID, is the only danger."
But evidence paints a clear picture: voter ID laws have kept otherwise eligible voters from having their vote counted. For instance, a May 2008 Los Angeles Times article reported that elderly nuns and college students "were turned away from polls" after Indiana's voter ID law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Additionally a report on voter ID laws from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice found that voter identification and other laws "could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012." Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel for the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, found that the laws are more likely to impact minority voters, writing:
Looking at voter ID laws alone, we know that although 11 percent of Americans lack government-issued photo ID, 25 percent of African-Americans, 16 percent of Hispanics, and 18 percent of elderly voters do not have this form of ID. States have also passed restrictions on early voting and community voter registration drives. Communities of color are more than twice as likely to register to vote with these groups, and they use early voting days at a much higher rate than the general population.
Furthermore, despite Pollak's suggestion that voter fraud is a widespread issue, a Supreme Court plurality found in 2008 that actual instances of voter fraud are few and "scattered." The Brennan Center has found that allegations of voter fraud "simply do not pan out" and distract from "real [election] problems that need real solutions." Even voter ID law proponent and right-wing commentator Hans von Spakovsky has acknowledged that there's no "massive fraud in American elections."