Mike Huckabee's Fox News program uses a mirror placed next to the program's studio audience in order to make it appear as if far more people are in attendance.
Social conservatives will descend on Washington, D.C., next month for the Values Voters Summit (VVS), an annual convocation put on by an assemblage of anti-LGBT groups that will prominently feature high-profile right-wing media figures.
Sponsored by organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA) - both Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)-designated hate groups - VVS got its start in 2006. As in the past, this year's gathering promises to feature leading opponents of equality for women and LGBT people. Several confirmed speakers will be familiar faces to consumers of right-wing media:
Among the right-wing media personalities slated to speak at the conference:
Three Fox News personalities currently sit on the advisory board of Secure America Now, a conservative advocacy group that has called for a select committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Fox News has heavily promoted calls to form a select committee on Benghazi alongside nonstop misinformation about the attacks.
John Bolton, Pat Caddell and Mike Huckabee are all listed as members of the group's advisory board. Bolton and Caddell are Fox News contributors, while Huckabee hosts his own show on the network on weekends.
Secure America Now's president, Allan Roth, said the group would market a new web video "far and wide and continue our campaign to get the Congress to appoint a Select Committee" to investigate the attack. Roth appeared on Fox host Sean Hannity's radio show on September 11 to promote the video and told him, "I just want to thank you for being one of the rare members of the news media who has dedicated time and the effort to keep the Benghazi story alive."
Hannity, of course, has relentlessly pushed myths and falsehoods about the attack.
Fox News has repeatedly promoted efforts to force the House to convene a select committee,even though the issue would be highly unlikely to survive a floor vote due to opposition from Democrats and some Republicans.
Former Rep. Allen West (R), a Fox contributor, appeared at a press conference outside the Capitol on Wednesday organized by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to push for the formation of a select committee, and also advocated for a military strike on Libya in retaliation for the Benghazi attack.
Fox Sports fired football analyst Craig James after one appearance on the network, citing homophobic comments James made as a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Texas. Fox Sports' handling of James' remarks differs markedly from how its corporate sibling, Fox News, deals with anti-LGBT commentary from its employees.
During his unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party's Senate nomination in 2012, James called homosexuality "a choice" and stated that gays "are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions." A Fox Sports spokesman explained the network's decision to sever its ties with James, telling The Dallas Morning News, "We just asked ourselves how Craig's statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn't say those things here."
James' comments got him fired from Fox Sports, but they would have been wholly unremarkable if he was at Fox News, where rabidly anti-LGBT talking heads are regularly given a platform to spout their bigoted views with impunity.
A self-styled "bitter" culture warrior, one of Starnes' trademark specialties is delivering hateful commentary about LGBT people. Besides offering standard right-wing boilerplate language about how marriage equality will inevitably lead to bestiality, Starnes has also called the gay-inclusive, post-Don't Ask Don't Tell military a sign of "the end of days," mocked transgender women as "big burly men in dresses," and defended anti-LGBT discrimination by businesses. After NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, Starnes tweeted, "The NBA is turning into GLEE."
Starnes has no use for LGBT allies, either. After President Barack Obama condemned Russia's draconian crackdown on gays, Starnes promoted a conspiracy theory that he has long been obsessed with - that perhaps Obama is secretly gay.
While The O'Reilly Factor host received widespread attention following his concession that the LGBT movement has the stronger marriage equality argument, O'Reilly continues to deliver a steady stream of anti-LGBT remarks. In 2012, he warned that pro-LGBT shows like "Glee" would encourage youthful "experimentation" with homosexuality and transgender identities. He has depicted gay rights supporters as protectors of child molesters, called students "fascist[s]" for protesting an anti-gay cleric, advised parents to shame boys who like the color pink, and denounced a new California law protecting transgender students as "anarchy and madness" and "the biggest con in the world."
Rush Limbaugh announced today that he's writing a book. It's children's book, to be precise, that will chronicle the adventures of -- stay with me here -- Rush Revere, a "fearless middle-school history teacher" who "travels back in time and experiences American history as it happens, in adventures with exceptional Americans." Our chronotripping hero's first adventure will be to "the deck of the Mayflower," where, I assume, he'll discover that an early draft of the Mayflower Compact inveighed against the tyranny of feminazis.
Limbaugh's book is noteworthy in that it looks like the concept is a rip-off of Mike Huckabee's Learn Our History series of children's cartoons. Rush's book will tell the story of a middle school teacher who "travels back in time and experiences American history as it happens." Learn Our History follows the adventures of "a group of time-traveling history students who go back in time to see US history in the making."
Limbaugh's book and Huckabee's cartoons are the most high-profile entries to date in the conservative effort to "reclaim" American history from the liberals and revisionist academics who have (allegedly) corrupted it. It's a movement that deifies the Founding Fathers and projects every aspect of the country's history through the lenses of right-wing dogma and "American exceptionalism." Huckabee's series of cartoons are cheaply produced and bend and omit facts where needed to be as jingoistic and conservative-friendly as possible.
An early episode of Learn Our History backhandedly credits George W. Bush for hunting down Osama bin Laden. And, as you might expect, Huckabee's cartoons are blatantly propagandistic -- there's an entire episode on the "Reagan Revolution" that features a kid-friendly endorsement of Reaganonmics and the brilliance of tax cuts.
That's less "history" than it is "political indoctrination." And given that Limbaugh has already borrowed Huckabee's concept, it's a good bet his take on history will be just as warped.
Nearly four months after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) changed its membership policy to allow openly gay scouts, WND continued its hysterical reaction to the policy change, publishing a column denouncing the organization's leaders for leading the BSA into "the darkness of sin."
In a September 4 column that drew heavily on the words of Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich, Jeff Rayno suggested that acceptance of LGBT rights is making American culture "an ever-wider sewer." But for homophobic bigots, all is not lost, Rayno wrote:
The years it would take to correct the damage caused by one vote taken by the BSA this year would be monumental. Deep in the struggle, our young men would be growing up unattended, while parents fight a losing battle to save what was once the Boy Scouts of America. Countless amounts of money would be wasted battling in courts that are growing more and more liberal every day. What is truly needed is a new organization built on solid principles with bylaws that are stronger than those of the BSA which would allow godly families to begin a new chapter.
On Sept. 6 and 7, 2013, a group temporarily named "On My Honor" will meet in Nashville, Tenn., to form such a group. Using the American Heritage Girls as a template for their organization, a new name, logo and branding will take place, as well as the development of new programs that will teach practical life skills with an emphasis on leadership and character. It will be clearly understood by all members that the context for sexual relations is between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.
Perhaps this is the beginning of the Weyrich vision. We can change the program of society, but unlike the modern world, the remote control doesn't work. We have to get off the seat and make an effort. It's an investment of time, energy and patience. We will be scolded by those who love the darkness of sin, but the net result will be future culture warriors, our sons, who live in a light brighter than any neon screen. They walk in the truth - the only reality that matters.
On Fox & Friends this morning, Fox News host and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called for substantial government funding to cure diseases, explaining that since the private sector can't make a profit doing that, the government needs to step in.
It's interesting that a commentator on Fox News is pointing to the critical role of the federal government on medical research. But Huckabee's comments are also a great rationale for government spending on a host of other progressive priorities.
During his Fox News appearance, Huckabee explained that "our health care system is based on treatment" because "there is money to be made in treating a disease" and "if you cure it, there is no money to be made." He concluded that we need a Manhattan Project for health, focusing on finding cures for heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes, since treating those diseases puts a heavy burden on the economy. And according to Huckabee, "that has to be largely government funded 'cause the government is the only entity that doesn't have to have a return on investment. You put it in the hands of the private sector like a lot of people suggest, sounds good, doesn't make sense because there is no money long-term if you cure the disease."
Huckabee's logic that the public sector should step in to solve problems that are unprofitable for the private sector to deal with makes sense, but it also applies far beyond the field of medical research.
It's not profitable for the private sector to provide health insurance to the elderly - because seniors need far more health care than the average person, insurance policies would need to be extremely expensive to be profitable. But there's a public interest in ensuring that seniors have access to quality health care, so Medicare was created to provide government-funded health insurance.
It's not profitable for the private sector to provide health insurance to the poor because they can't afford to pay for it, but because there's a public interest in ensuring that people have access to health care regardless of their ability to pay, Medicaid was created to provide government-funded health insurance.
It's not profitable for the private sector to fund next-generation clean energy technology, but there's a public interest in building a new U.S. industry to provide sources of energy that have less impact on the environment, so the government provides loans and grants to companies that are working on those technologies to make that work feasible.
There's a public interest in clean water and bridges and police and safe food and educated children and a host of other areas where the government has stepped in because it's not profitable for the private sector to deal with the problem. Fox's recognition of this obvious principle is welcome, if unlikely to last for long.
Fox News compared the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prediction of job losses due to sequestration to recent job growth reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), falsely suggesting that the across-the-board cuts have had no negative effects on job creation.
On the August 23 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto was joined by Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee to address the impacts of across-the-board budget cuts commonly known as sequestration. In response to recent comments made by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the damaging effects of sequestration on the economy, Cavuto claimed, "I think he just made that up."
Cavuto then attempted to bolster his claim with a misleading graphic, which suggested that continued job growth since the onset of sequestration proves that the budget cuts had no real economic effect.
In fact, the best CBO estimates of the effects of sequestration through the 2013 calendar year predicted slower economic growth and fewer jobs created. Cavuto's graphic correctly listed the number of new jobs created during the first six months of sequestration but incorrectly compared that with the CBO's estimate that 750,000 fewer full-time jobs would be created under sequestration. The two jobs figures are entirely unrelated. According to the CBO report cited by Cavuto (emphasis added):
In the absence of sequestration, CBO estimates, GDP growth would be about 0.6 percentage points faster during this calendar year, and the equivalent of about 750,000 more full-time jobs would be created or retained by the fourth quarter.
Contrary to what Cavuto claimed, the CBO did not predict that the economy would experience a net loss in jobs, rather that sequestration would result in fewer jobs being created. An accurate presentation of the data would make it clear that while jobs growth has been present, absent budget cuts it would be much greater.
While the discussion between Cavuto and Huckabee attempted to downplay the effects of sequestration, cuts are being continuously rolled out, affecting a number of crucial government programs. Unless policy is changed through new legislation, such across-the-board budget cuts will be scheduled every year for the next decade, further weakening ecnomic growth.
Fox News host Mike Huckabee and his guest, Capitol Resource Institute's Karen England, peddled the discredited myth that California students would be changing their identities on a whim to sneak into opposite sex restrooms and locker rooms in light of a new state law allowing transgender students access to facilities and sports teams that match their gender identities.
On the August 18 edition of Huckabee, England and Huckabee skirted a serious discussion of the bullying and discrimination encountered by transgender youth. Instead, Huckabee granted England a platform to spout ignorant ideas about how the law would affect students:
ENGLAND: This is very extreme, very radical, that they are going to let boys wake up one day, decide that they're girls, and let them have access to our restrooms and our locker rooms in all of our public schools in California. This is for kindergarteners as well as high schoolers.
Fox News host Mike Huckabee will be the keynote speaker at the Inaugural National Leadership Convention for On My Honor's Youth Adventure Program, an anti-gay program formed in response to the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) new membership policy permitting openly gay scouts.
In an August 15 Facebook post, On My Honor announced that Huckabee would be the headline speaker at the organization's first national convention, to be held in Nashville in September:
The new Youth Adventure Program being developed as an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America has just announced that former Governor and FOX News Contributor Mike Huckabee will be the keynote speaker at the first Inaugural National Leadership Convention to be held in Nashville, Tennessee on September 6-7, 2013.
The convention theme will be "Honoring the Legacy... Raising the Standard."
Given that the new program emerged as a protest of BSA's new membership policy, On My Honor is an inherently anti-gay enterprise. A look at its leaders' backgrounds indicates just how vehemently they oppose LGBT people.
From the July 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the June 18 edition of Cumulus Media Network's The Mike Huckabee Show:
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Right-wing media are trying to damage President Obama's nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) by baselessly claiming he was involved in the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious.
The failed gun trafficking sting Operation Fast and Furious ended with the indictment of 34 defendants on January 25, 2011. The investigative tactics, which involved the misguided attempt by Arizona ATF agents to track weapons to high-level targets rather than interdicting the traffickers when the opportunity presented itself, concluded some months earlier. The tactics used in Fast and Furious triggered months of controversy and the resignation of then-Acting Director Kenneth Melson. On August 30, 2011, the ATF announced that B. Todd Jones had been appointed acting director.
Conservative media have nonetheless attempted to use a June 11 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing concerning the nomination of Jones for permanent appointment as a springboard to suggest that he was involved in Fast and Furious, which concluded months before he joined ATF.
Mike Huckabee claimed on June 9 edition of his Fox News program that Jones "allegedly helped cover up the [Fast and Furious] scandal" while misidentifying him as "the former number two boss at ATF." Again misidentifying Jones as "a supervisor at ATF" -- he actually continues to work as a U.S. attorney while serving as acting ATF director -- Huckabee added, "Should we be concerned that here's a guy who knew about Fast and Furious, according to many sources including [ATF whistleblower Vince Cefalu] helped cover it up, now he's going to lead the agency?"
During the segment Fox used a chyron that asked, "What did Obama's pick for ATF Dir. know about 'Fast & Furious'?"
Conservative commentators have also posited that Jones was involved in Fast and Furious because he attended a meeting, in his capacity as chair of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys (AGAC), that concerned ATF plans to crack down on the trafficking of guns into Mexico. But there is no evidence the tactics used in Fast and Furious were discussed at that meeting.
From the June 3 edition of Cumulus Media Networks' The Mike Huckabee Show:
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Fox News figures are dismissing the voices of the families who suffered in a mass shooting in Newtown, CT by claiming they're being used and exploited by Democrats, discounting the efforts they have made to encourage Congress to pass stronger gun laws.
On April 11, the Senate overcame a Republican-led filibuster that tried to block the beginning of debate on stronger gun laws with a 68-31 vote. The impetus for the new gun proposals was driven by the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 victims dead, most of them young children. President Obama had been urging Congress to act to strengthen guns laws in response to the shooting for some time.
According to several Fox News figures, Obama has been using the families of the Newtown shooting victims as props for a political agenda.
On April 11, Fox News host Sean Hannity called the effort to strengthen gun laws "naked exploitation of dead children and grieving families," while his guest Ann Coulter said that Democrats are "play[ing] with these victims." The previous night, Hannity stated that the president "is once again using families of tragedy as props for his agenda." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on his April 11 radio show that Obama is "using the Newtown families to push for background checks." Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry similarly said on April 9 that "for the second straight day, the White House used the victims of the Newtown tragedy to make their case." On his April 9 radio show, Fox News host Mike Huckabee suggested that taking some of the relatives of the Newtown shooting victims to Washington, DC on Air Force One to make their case for stronger gun laws was "an exploitation of those parents."
Such an attitude does a disservice to the many Newtown families that want tougher gun laws in the wake of their tragedies. Several of the families appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes on April 7 to discuss what kind of gun violence prevention measures they would like to see signed into law, saying that universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines were important. After the vote that broke the GOP's threatened filibuster, more than 30 families of Newtown victims released a statement criticizing those who tried block an up-or-down vote on new gun legislation, saying that "[t]he senators who have vowed to filibuster this bill should be ashamed of their attempt to silence efforts to prevent the next American tragedy."