During President Obama's January 16 speech on steps he supports to stem gun violence, conservative media figures responded with vitriol on Twitter and on the radio. A sampling:
Rush Limbaugh: Speech Is "The Children As Human Shields Show"
Fox News Radio Host Todd Starnes: "Freedom Ends. Tyranny Begins."
Conservative media figures attacked debate questioner Katherine Fenton as a "feminazi" and "tool" for asking the candidates about their views on pay inequity.
Fenton asked, "In what new ways do you intend to rectify inequalities in the workplace? Specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn."
Today, the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as constitutional. Right-wing media figures immediately began venting on Twitter. Here is an hour's worth of the worst right-wing ranting about the Supreme Court decision after it was announced:
The New York Post reported this morning that a public elementary school in New York City will require its students to learn Arabic. The story describes the school is "a so-called 'choice' school and no kids, even those living nearby, are forced to attend it," and even quotes a student and parents that are very supportive of the program. Nonetheless, right-wing media figures are already responding to this reporting with their usual anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry.
Right-wing blogger and anti-Muslim hate group leader (and Fox News regular) Pamela Geller described the Arabic language program as "Islamic supremacism on the march in the public square," and suggested that it would be a "public school madrassah."
Right-wing author Matthew Vadum responded to the news that Arabic would be taught at a public school by making a reference to explosives:
And right-wing blogger Andrea Ryan of Gateway Pundit had this to say:
Now, they want our children be able to read the Quran, listen to the draconian precepts of sharia, and watch Al Jazeera inveigh against Christianity, democracy, equality, and freedom in its native Arabic language. When Communism aimed its missiles and armies at our nation President Reagan didn't fold and force our children to learn Russian.
Leave it to the Liberals to try to completely destroy all that is good about our culture and turn it into something distorted, ugly, and dangerous.
Far from being "dangerous," learning Arabic is actually important for our national security. In remarks to a January 2006 summit of U.S. university presidents, George W. Bush introduced a language initiative to teach students -- starting in Kindergarten -- languages important to national security, such as Arabic:
[O]ne of the reasons why the Secretary of Defense is here. He wants his young soldiers who are the front lines of finding these killers to be able to speak their language and be able to listen to the people in the communities in which they live. That makes sense, doesn't it, to have a language-proficient military -- to have people that go into the far reaches of this world and be able to communicate in the villages and towns and rural areas and urban centers, to protect the American people.
We need intelligence officers who, when somebody says something in Arabic or Farsi or Urdu knows what they're talking about. That's what we need. We need diplomats -- when we send them out to help us convince governments that we've got to join together and fight these terrorists who want to destroy life and promote an ideology that is so backwards it's hard to believe. These diplomats need to speak that language.
So our short-term strategy is to stay on the offense, and we've got to give our troops, our intelligence officers, our diplomats all the tools necessary to succeed. That's what people in this country expect of our government. They expect us to be wise about how we use our resources, and a good use of resources is to promote this language initiative in K through 12, in our universities. And a good use of resources is to encourage foreign language speakers from important regions of the world to come here and teach us how to speak their language.
You're going to hear a lot about the specifics of the program. What I'm trying to suggest to you that this program is a part of a strategic goal, and that is to protect this country in the short-term and protect it in the long-term by spreading freedom.
From the December 5 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money:
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What is a news network to do when an author compares poor Americans to criminals and says it's "un-American" to help them vote? If that network is Fox -- the home of class warfare against the poor -- the decision is to give that author a spot on TV the next day.
The day after publishing an article titled, "Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American," which contained such abhorrent statements as "[r]egistering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals" and repeatedly called the poor "nonproductive segments of the population," right-wing author Matthew Vadum appeared on Eric Bolling's Fox Business show to rail against President Obama's voter outreach plan.
Yesterday, we detailed how Fox & Friends promoted a claim that "ACORN" -- which no longer exists -- is still receiving federal money, only to back down after being contacted by a federal spokesman who pointed out that the figure Fox & Friends cited was the amount that was unspent and reclaimed from a 2005 grant. The spokesman's claim is backed up by a Government Accountability Office report issued last month.
Fox & Friends appears to have taken its information from a post by Matthew Vadum at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website. You might remember Vadum as the guy from the right-wing Capital Research Center with a habit of making wild, factually dubious claims. He's currently promoting his new WorldNetDaily-published book, with the less-than-subtle title Subversion Inc.: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing And Ripping Off American Taxpayers.
If you go to Vadum's personal website, you'll find a copy of his Big Government post. But before you see that, you will see a giant photo of Vadum taken from an appearance from Fox Business. That's taken from his appearance on the June 17 edition of Follow the Money, one of six apperances Vadum has made on that show since early June, according to a Nexis search.
Note that in the picture, Vadum is holding a copy of a GAO report on federal funding of ACORN. During the segment, he attacked the report for not hating ACORN as much as he does, dismissing it as "like teenage interns were researching on Google for a few hours" and accusing it of not detailing as many ACORN-related voter fraud convictions as he found (never mind that doing so was outside of the report's scope). In a dramatic flourish, Vadum declared that "you can just throw it away if you want" as he tossed the report behind him, pages fluttering.
Perhaps Vadum shouldn't have tossed that GAO report away -- it's the very same report that disproves his claim.
Since the Navy announced that it is naming a cargo ship after civil rights leader and labor activist Cesar Chavez, the conservative fever swamp has piped up and cried foul. In a post headlined "USS Cesar Chavez? Why Not the USS Saul Alinsky?" blogger Matthew Vadum called Chavez a "far-left leader" and a "disciple of communist sympathizer Saul Alinsky." Vadum went on to connect Chavez to ACORN founder Wade Rathke.
Worse, Glenn Beck compared the naming of a ship for Chavez to naming one for Josef Stalin:
This plays on the ancient smear that all labor activists and union leaders are communists. In fact, according to a 1995 report from the Los Angeles Times, a review of Chavez's 1,400-page FBI file showed that "no evidence of Communist or subversive influence was ever developed."
This is a transparent attempt to latch onto a non-existent press hook in order to smear labor unions and a civil rights hero. As such, we'll limit ourselves to three facts that indicate what a waste of time this is:
In a post on his Twitter feed, Capital Research Center senior editor Matthew Vadum wrote:
The link Vadum included went to a post by Ben Stein on The American Spectator blog, in which Stein argued that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act amounted to "a major constitutional coup":
I am all for gay men and women to have every right that I have. But isn't it a dangerous usurpation for the president to now take over the roles of the courts in their ultimate duty -- ruling on the constitutionality of laws? Isn't this about as dangerous an act as a president has ever done? Or am I missing something? Again, I love gay people and want them to be total equals of everyone else. But isn't there a major constitutional coup going on here?
The Department of Justice recently announced that it will no longer defend Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act following a review, in conjuction with the White House, that found that its definition of marriage as a "legal union between one man and one woman" is unconstitutional. But that does not mean, as Vadum suggested, that the administration will stop enforcing the law. Indeed, the Justice Department has stressed that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law until Congress repeals Section Three or a court renders the section unconstitutional.
Moreover, in his letter to congressional leadership, Holder cited the basis upon which the executive branch chose not to defend this part of the legislation. Holder said that while "plausible" arguments could be made on behalf of the law, there were really no "reasonable" arguments available to defend it and the Justice Department has previously declined to defend laws in such a circumstance:
As you know, the Department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense, a practice that accords the respect appropriately due to a coequal branch of government. However, the Department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because the Department does not consider every plausible argument to be a "reasonable" one. "[D]ifferent cases can raise very different issues with respect to statutes of doubtful constitutional validity," and thus there are "a variety of factors that bear on whether the Department will defend the constitutionality of a statute." Letter to Hon. Orrin G. Hatch from Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fois at 7 (Mar. 22, 1996). This is the rare case where the proper course is to forgo the defense of this statute. Moreover, the Department has declined to defend a statute "in cases in which it is manifest that the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional," as is the case here. Seth P. Waxman, Defending Congress, 79 N.C. L.Rev. 1073, 1083 (2001).
In the wake of Weekly Standard editor and Fox News contributor Bill Kristol calling out Glenn Beck for his "hysteria" over Egypt, prominent conservatives have been choosing sides.
Beck has responded by lashing out at critics -- including telling people that call him "crazy" because of his New World Order theory to "go to hell" -- and wrongly insisting that articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have proven him right.
This weekend was not a particularly good one for Team Beck - as we noted, Bill O'Reilly and several Fox News guests directly contradicted Beck's Egypt theories on Friday night.
During his regular "At Your Beck and Call" segment, O'Reilly challenged Beck, going so far as to say "I don't see it," and adding that "there's no evidence that says I'm not right."
But while prominent conservatives distanced themselves from Beck's incoherence, Beck found solid support from a couple attendees at CPAC.
WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi, whose love for conspiracy theories leads him to say things like Obama "has stolen the identity of a natural born citizen" and is "using someone else's Social Security number," said that he and WND have "supported Glenn Beck" and that "Glenn Beck is right on it." Corsi referenced a piece by fellow WND writer Aaron Klein, in which Klein wrote that he was "compelled to join Glenn Beck's side":
From the February 12 coverage of CPAC 2011:
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Earlier today I gently poked fun at Matthew Vadum for saying we should be scared of Hugo Chavez's secret espionage squads despite acknowledging that he has "no proof" that they exist. In doing so, I called him a "clown," which might not have been the most politic thing to do, but I thought the circumstances merited it.
Vadum has since taken to Twitter to demonstrate that he is not, in fact, a "clown," but rather a very serious person whose views and opinions should be taken very seriously.
He has failed.
BigJournalism contributor and all-around clown Matthew Vadum is very upset with Media Matters for posting a clip of Glenn Beck speculating on the presence of special Venezuelan sabotage teams in the United States helping to "nudge" the country towards "collapse." According to Vadum, we're not taking the threat seriously enough, and we treat national security as "one big joke."
And just how serious is the threat? So serious that Vadum himself is scared to death, even though he has no evidence it's actually happening:
While I have no proof Chavez has agents in the U.S., the notion isn't as farfetched as Media Matters would suggest. Beck didn't just conjure up the idea out of thin air.
The unintentional hilarity continues later in Vadum's entry:
Chavez already runs what political scientists call a "public diplomacy" campaign in the U.S. to help bolster American support for his regime.
The propaganda effort consists of funneling discounted home heating oil to former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy's (D-Mass.) nonprofit group, Citizens Energy Corp. The nonprofit then distributes the oil to poor people, and useful idiot Kennedy gets to pose as a humanitarian.
The CITGO program is not terrorism - technically - but it is a soft attempt at domestic subversion.
And supposedly we're the ones treating national security as a joke.
According to right-wing journalist Matthew Vadum, it's my fault -- along with my Media Matters colleagues, President Obama, and House Democrats -- that people are apparently vandalizing congressional offices over health care reform.
Yesterday, Vadum predicted "possibly violent civil unrest" as a result of health care reform -- and said we should "Blame Obama and the Ds" for such violence, rather than the people behaving violently. Later, Vadum wrote that "America is dying" and "Fascist House Democrats are preparing to euthanize America."
Today, the Associated Press and Arizona Daily Star have reported vandalism at Democratic congressional offices, including a brick thrown through a window in Rep. Louise Slaughter's Niagara Falls office on Friday and a front door "smashed out" at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Tucson office last night -- in addition to a brick thrown through the glass doors of a county Democratic party headquarters in Rochester over the weekend.
In response to those acts of violence, Vadum wrote "You & MMFA are just as to blame as Obama is."
Me?!? I've never even been to Tucson.
Then Vadum finally got around to noting "This does not excuse the violent behavior," which is good of him, though he quickly added: "but let's not forget that Dem behavior set the stage for this."
I'm still waiting for Vadum to announce whether President Obama and I are more or less to blame for the bricks thrown through the windows than the people who threw the bricks. I've never seen a conservative so desperate to blame everyone except the criminal for the crime -- Vadum says he doesn't excuse the violent behavior, but he has not yet said that the people who have actually behaved violently are in any way responsible for their actions, or that they should stop.
And that's a problem. Vadum can say he doesn't "excuse the violent behavior," but he's busy rationalizing it, and suggesting that the people who commit the violence are not to blame -- that their actions are the understandable, even inevitable, consequences of health care reform. If there's a way to interpret that other than that Vadum is siding with those who commit acts of violence -- and, thus, encouraging violent actions -- I'd love to hear it. Not that Vadum is alone: As Ben Dimiero has pointed out, conservative blogger Connecticut Yankee "is openly calling for the torture and execution of Members of Congress."
Vadum's recent rantings:
Matthew Vadum, a self-described "Chronicler of the Left" who writes for, among others, Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com, warns of "violent civil unrest" as a result of "Fascist health care":
UPDATE: More from Vadum:
In case you're wondering what got him so mad at Ezra Klein, it was this tweet: "So Paul Ryan says European systems unsustainable? And yet, if we had their spending, our deficit problem would disappear entirely."