Sean Hannity ignored new reports that Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (CA) directed the Treasury Department's inspector general (IG) to "narrowly focus" its audit of the IRS' assessment of tax-exempt status requests to focus on tea party organizations, falsely claiming that "new claims by progressive groups that they were targeted by the IRS are in fact, false."
On the June 26 edition of his Fox News show, host Sean Hannity attempted to resuscitate the dying right-wing media narrative that the improper IRS targeting of groups was directed by the White House in an effort to punish opponents, by citing an IG audit of the IRS which found that some conservative groups received improper scrutiny when seeking tax-exempt status. Hannity dismissed reports that progressive groups had received similar scrutiny and the IG's investigation had been directed by House Republicans, citing the IG report in an attempt -- as he put it -- to "correct the record" saying: "If you've been paying attention to this scandal you know that the inspector general report outlined very clearly the distinct ideological imbalance."
Hannity concluded by asking: "If progressives were unfairly targeted, why didn't anyone say so earlier?"
A June 25 Hill article answered Hannity's question. The Hill reported that a spokesman for the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, said they were asked by Issa "to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations":
The inspector general's audit found that groups seeking tax-exempt status with "Tea Party" and "patriots" in their name did receive extra attention from the IRS, with some facing years of delay and inappropriate questions from the agency.
But top congressional Democrats have wielded new information from the IRS this week that liberal groups were also flagged for extra attention on the sorts of "be on the lookout" lists (BOLOs) that also tripped up conservative groups.
The spokesman for the Treasury inspector general noted their audit acknowledged there were other watch lists. But the spokesman added: "We did not review the use, disposition, purpose or content of the other BOLOs. That was outside the scope of our audit."
Prior to this report, Issa had leaked incomplete transcripts that were used by right-wing media to suggest that the IRS' use of improper criteria for determining which groups requesting tax-exempt status required additional scrutiny was directed by officials in Washington D.C., and potentially by White House officials. Other transcripts released later debunked this claim.
Furthermore, as a June 26 Associated Press article reported, progressive groups have claimed that they received scrutiny from the IRS, resulting in long delays in their being granted tax-exempt status. James Salt, a spokesman for the progressive Catholics United went so far as to claim the IRS asked the organization nonsensical, "weird" questions. A June 25 Wall Street Journal article similarly reported delays in tax-exempt status assessment for progressive groups: "Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah, said her "progressive" group has been waiting almost two years for IRS action on an application for tax exemption from one of its entities."
Prior to this revelation, a manager of the Cincinnati IRS office responsible for the assessment of tax-exempt status requests, and self-described "conservative Republican" John Shafer told congressional investigators that neither he nor his office "never discussed any political, personal aspirations whatsoever."
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, during the June 25 Hannity segment Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin went on to accuse the White House of orchestrating the IRS' targeting, saying: "All roads lead to Washington D.C. and all fingers, at some point, will lead straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
Right-wing media have urged Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to abandon comprehensive immigration reform efforts in their continued effort to thwart the Senate's attempt to overhaul the nation's immigration system.
After President Obama named former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as his new national security advisor, right-wing media figures called the appointment a "slap in the face," a "middle finger," and an "eff you" to Americans.
Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin joined the chorus of right-wing voices fearmongering about health care officials, known as "navigators," which have been used by previous administrations to inform consumers about health care options.
In her syndicated column, Malkin attacked the health care navigators, people employed by the government to assist Americans in understanding their options under the health care reform law. Malkin claimed the navigators would be "yet another Obama threat to Americans' privacy," saying Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has a "sordid snooping history" and concluding "you can't trust sleazy Sebelius to navigate anything with her broken ethical compass." Malkin's column was highlighted by Fox Nation:
But the health care navigator program existed before President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Sara Rosenbaum, writing at the George Washington University's HealthReformGPS blog, pointed out that the program is modeled after the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, which has been used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to inform Medicare beneficiaries about programs like prescription drug benefits and Medicaid Advantage programs. Health care expert Timothy Jost questioned the controversy over the program, writing:
The Affordable Care Act's navigator program was modeled after the successful State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) which has offered assistance to Medicare beneficiaries trying to figure out the complexities of Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan offerings. The original concept of the ACA navigator program was that exchanges would give grants to community and small business organizations to educate and provide unbiased information to individuals and small employers to help them navigate the new health insurance marketplace and enroll in health insurance plans. Navigators will be particularly helpful to millions of uninsured Americans who will be purchasing health insurance on their own for the first time and who will be eligible either for Medicaid or for premium assistance tax credits. Many of these consumers will be unfamiliar with health insurance or not literate in English.
In addition, according to proposed regulations and contrary to Malkin's privacy claims, the navigators will undergo training in order to guarantee personal information is kept confidential:
The Exchange regulations, at 45 CFR § 155.260(a), establish privacy and security standards for Exchanges, and § 155.260(b) provides that Exchanges must require Navigators and other non-Exchange entities to abide by the same or more stringent privacy and security standards as a condition of contract or agreement with such entities. Consistent with these requirements, we propose that the training for Navigators and non-Navigator assistance personnel must include training designed to ensure that they safeguard consumers' sensitive personal information including but not limited to health information, income and tax information, and Social Security number.
Malkin is not the first right-wing media figure to fearmonger about health care navigators. Rush Limbaugh claimed that navigators will register voters as Democrats and "smear Republicans," adding "it doesn't say that, I just know what this is." Fox News host Megyn Kelly claimed the program could "allow these jobs of the navigators to be filled by organizations with political agendas, including unions and community action groups."
Fox News personalities have seized on the brutal killing of a soldier in London to rail against immigration, claiming that immigration policies are partly to blame for the attacks. Conservative media figures similarly used the Boston bombing to condemn immigration and undermine immigration reform.
Right-wing media figures are attacking President Obama over his decision to lift a moratorium on a Guantánamo Bay detainee transfer to Yemen -- a decision that has earned the praise of a former top Navy judge and is an important step toward closing the detention facility, which experts agree is necessary.
On May 23, Obama announced that he is lifting his ban on the transfer of detainees from the Guantánamo Bay detention center to Yemen. That ban was put in place following the failed Christmas Day 2009 bombing attempt on a U.S. airliner. The convicted bomber involved in the attempt trained in Yemen.
Right-wing media figures seized on the news to attack Obama. Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin warned that transfers are "a surefire recipe for more Benghazis, more U.S.S. Coles and more innocent lives at risk":
Gird your loins, America. President Obama intends to empty out Guantanamo Bay and send scores of suspected Muslim terror operatives back to their jihadist-coddling native countries. Goaded by anti-war activists and soft-on-terror attorneys (including those from Attorney General Eric Holder's former private law firm), Obama announced Thursday that he'll lift a ban on sending up to 90 Yemeni detainees home and will initiate other stalled transfers out of the compound.
This radical appeasement of Obama's left flank is a surefire recipe for more Benghazis, more U.S.S. Coles and more innocent lives at risk.
On the May 24 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham touted Malkin's "terrific piece" and criticized Obama's lifting of the ban as nothing more than an "attempt to look like you're serious."
As Reuters reported, repatriating prisoners to Yemen is one of multiple steps Obama announced to move toward closing Guantánamo -- something experts agree must be done.
Fox News figures scapegoated Islam and promoted Islamophobia following an attack in London reportedly perpetrated by radical extremists which has been denounced by Muslim organizations in Britain.
From the May 22 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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At least six Fox News contributors have reportedly signed on to an open letter opposing the comprehensive immigration reform legislation currently being debated in the Senate. Fox News, which has admitted it is the "voice of opposition" on certain issues, has long ignored and even fostered such unethical behavior from its personalities.
According to Yahoo! News, conservative radio hosts, along with tea party and other conservative groups, have signed a letter opposing the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, a proposal from a bipartisan group of senators to reform immigration law. Among the "National Conservative Leaders" who have reportedly signed the letter are six current Fox News contributors:
However, their affiliation with Fox News was not mentioned in the letter.
Radio hosts Mark Levin and Lars Larson, who also signed the letter, are regular Fox News guests as well. Daily Beast editor and CNN contributor David Frum also signed the letter.
The letter expresses "serious concerns" with the bill and urges Senators to vote against it:
We oppose this bill and urge you to vote against it when it comes to the Senate floor. No matter how well intentioned, the Schumer-Rubio bill suffers from fundamental design flaws that make it unsalvageable. Many of us support various parts of the legislation, but the overall package is so unsatisfactory that the Senate would do better to start over from scratch.
Reforming our immigration system is an important priority. But S.744 is such a defective measure that it would do more harm than good. We urge you to vote against it and against any cloture vote to bring up the bill. Only then can a constructive, measured debate take place on how to improve America's immigration policy.
The letter also repeats some common myths about immigration, including the debunked notion that granting undocumented immigrants legal status "[h]urts American job-seekers, especially those with less education." The letter also compares the Senate immigration bill to the health care law, calling it "bloated and unwieldy."
Fox News has been criticized for unethical behavior in the past and for operating like a political organization. In fact, Crowley crossed the ethical line during the 2012 presidential election when she spoke at an anti-Obama rally sponsored by the Koch-funded conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity.
Fox News has long styled itself as an anti-immigrant network even as it purports to reach out to Latino viewers. Rush Limbaugh, for example, stated in January that it's "up to me and Fox News" to defeat immigration reform. As Yahoo! News noted however, Limbaugh was "notably absent" from the list of signatories.
Late Friday, after the Heritage Foundation reportedly considered seeking the counsel of an outside PR firm to deal with damage to their brand, researcher Jason Richwine, who coauthored the deeply flawed immigration report pushed by the right-wing think tank, resigned his position.
His error seemingly had nothing to do with the poor quality of that document, exemplified by the bipartisan, panideological critiques of the study, as his coauthor Robert Rector is seemingly still employed at Heritage.
Richwine's offense seems to have taken place in 2009 when he offered up a doctoral dissertation arguing, as The Washington Post's Dylan Matthews wrote, that due to the "deep-set differentials in intelligence between races," Richwine wrote that Hispanic immigrants may never "reach IQ parity with whites." His interest in the linkage between race and IQ was not unknown. Richwine also spoke about that linkage on a 2008 panel at the American Enterprise Institute promoting Mark Krikorian's book The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal. It was on this panel Richwine proclaimed "Race is different in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ."
The year of his dissertation defense his work was cited in a New York Times "Idea of the Day" column focusing on Robert Putnam's controversial finding that "ethnic diversity isn't an unqualified good."
There is no plausible way Heritage was unaware of Richwine's beliefs when they hired him, as he has made no attempts to obscure them. Heritage distanced itself from the dissertation after it came to public light, but it's completely unimaginable for a recent Ph.D to be hired by a major think tank without inquiry into such a crucial facet of their past research. These views are flawed -- they are misguided -- they are not grounded in research -- but they were not a secret.
And why should they be? The Bell Curve author and AEI scholar Charles Murray has made a successful career at conservative think tanks evangelizing the flawed notion that differences in IQ among racial groups should drive public policy decisions, ignoring the underlying reasons for the disparity and dismissing research demonstrating IQ and outcome are not linked.
Murray stood up for his ideological protégé following the latter's resignation, tweeting "Thank God I was working for Chris DeMuth and AEI, not Jim DeMint and Heritage, when The Bell Curve was published. Integrity. Loyalty. Balls."
The paleoconservative mindset is no longer as central to the conservative movement as it once was. Yet Pat Buchanan's removal from his permanent post on the couch in the MSNBC greenroom has not excised these ideas from the conservative movement.
Richwine's resignation allows him to become a scapegoat for an ideology that is still perfectly acceptable inside the conservative movement and the right-wing media. If Richwine's focus on the IQs of Hispanic populations is unacceptable, then so is Charles Murray's focus on the African American community. So are those of the godfather of the entire anti-immigrant movement John Tanton, who "wrote a paper titled The Case for Passive Eugenics."
Rush Limbaugh defended Richwine's racial tests on his program, proclaiming: "So, now it's trash the messenger time." He went on to say "You're not suppose to bring that kind of stuff up. You're not supposed to talk about it. It's not politically correct, even if it's true. You're not supposed to bring it up."
Michelle Malkin attacked those who dare point to the fundamentally racist nature of Richwine's dissertation. writing at Townhall.com: "The smug dismissal of Richwine's credentials and scholarship is to be expected by liberal hacks and clown operatives."
Richwine resigned after doing the job he was hired to do and for views his employer must have known him to hold. He was the most junior member of the group of conservative researchers who have spent their careers producing questionable studies about race. And because he was the lowest in the hierarchy he was the easiest to cast aside.
Charles Murray is right. This move lacked integrity, for that would require a widespread condemnation of the flawed racial theories peddled in the conservative movement and the "respected" think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute that allow them to flourish. I doubt that is forthcoming, making Heritage's decision to accept Jason Richwine's resignation an act of craven political cowardice.
Fox News and other conservatives are busy attacking Attorney General Eric Holder for assuring the public that law enforcement will not tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination in the wake of the Boston Marathon terror attack. But their latest feigned outrage ignores that hate crimes against Muslims are a very real concern.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly covered the story on the April 30 edition of America Live, hosting Fox contributor Michelle Malkin, who mocked the "phantom threats of hate crime epidemics that have never happened." (This was the second straight day Kelly had devoted a segment to expressing outrage about Holder's common sense comments.)
Other conservatives lashed out at Holder for his vow to defend religious minorities in America.
Fox's weird attempt to push back against Holder's pledge fit nicely into Fox's frequently anti-Muslim programming. It also highlighted how little interest Fox has in the larger issue of anti-Muslim violence.
I noted last week how Fox News remains largely blind to acts of right-wing extremist terror and political violence because that storyline doesn't fit into the cable channel's preferred narrative about Muslim terrorists, or Fox's eagerness to assign collective blame onto the Muslim-American community.
And when it comes to Muslim houses of worship, Fox's main concern in recent years has been to demonize those trying to build new Islamic centers in the U.S., and also how to bug them. That lack of attention and concern may explain the network's outraged response to Holder's comments. There is clearly cause for concern, though.
Conservative media focused their Earth Day coverage on the crime and trial of environmental activist Ira Einhorn -- convicted of murdering his girlfriend -- while pushing the unsubstantiated smear that he founded the holiday. Sensationalizing Einhorn's murder conviction distracted from the holiday's purpose and the true founder of Earth Day -- former Wisconsin governor and United States senator Gaylord Nelson (D), a passionate environmental advocate who was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award for his work.
Celebrated on April 22, 1970, the original Earth Day marked the beginning of the environmental movement and, as CBS noted, came "at a time when pollution was rampant and regulation was not commonplace." The popular support Earth Day helped engender led to the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
The conservative smear machine used Earth Day 2013 to push articles claiming the holiday was established by Einhorn, an environmental activist who later became known as the "Unicorn Killer," after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Holly Maddux.
The Daily Caller headlined its Earth Day recognition piece, "Earth Day co-founder killed, 'composted' his ex-girlfriend." Buried in the Caller's last paragraph of the article was Earth Day's purpose and that "most activists credit Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson" as the holiday's progenitor. Michelle Malkin referred to Einhorn as an "Earth Day co-founder" in a column she re-published from 2001, labeling him "[a] grisly Earth Day reminder." And Limbaugh weighed in as well, acknowledging Earth Day by saying, "Ira Einhorn, co-founder, Earth Day, convicted murderer" was being "celebrated today by environmental wackos because this is Earth Day."
Right-wing media have a long history of leveling charges of anti-white bias at President Obama's nominees and appointees of color, smears that have now formed the basis of Republican attacks on Labor Secretary nominee Thomas E. Perez.
Fox News is now acknowledging that Tesla Motors is a "success story," but only a year ago the network declared the company "failed." This distortion played into its attempts to boost then-presidential nominee Mitt Romney's claim that President Barack Obama only "pick[s] the losers."
Discussing the Obama administration's investments in green technology, Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett recently stated that Tesla is a "success story," and Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs acknowledged on Monday night that it is one of the "winners." Tesla recently announced that it made a profit in the first quarter of 2013 after exceeding sales goals for its electric sedan, and the company plans on paying back its Department of Energy loan guarantee five years early.
But an oft-aired Fox News graphic previously listed Tesla as "failed," a claim that Romney later echoed. In fact, several of the companies that Fox News declared "failed" are still successfully operating (circled in green), and contributing to technological advances that could help us transition to a clean energy economy, as can be seen in this interactive graphic created with ThingLink:
The companies circled in yellow did not actually receive any funds from the loan guarantee programs, instead receiving either grants, tax credits, or no federal funds at all. Nevada Geothermal Power's project, at far left and not circled in the graphic above, is still operating and part of the 87 percent of loan guarantee funds under the 1705 program awarded to projects that experts say pose almost no risk to the taxpayer. By lumping all of these programs together from the more than 1,460 companies that have received such awards, Fox News was able to paint a distorted picture of the Obama administration's energy policies.
From the April 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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