National Review's John Fund has joined the effort to revive the deteriorating Internal Revenue Service "scandal," in which conservative groups seeking non-profit status were supposedly targeted by the agency, by speculating wildly over issues for which no wrongdoing has been established.
National Review and The Wall Street Journal have tried to breathe new life into the IRS scandal, which has received less attention from the press following reports that progressive groups were also targeted for additional scrutiny. That effort has involved accusing, with scant evidence, the IRS and the Federal Election Commission of inappropriately colluding against conservative non-profits.
National Review's Fund has added his voice to that endeavor, citing previous NR reporting to claim that the IRS was attempting to "influence an FEC commissioner's vote on the legality of actions by a conservative nonprofit group."
As we noted on August 2 regarding the original NR story:
According to the conservative magazine, in 2009 a FEC official emailed Lerner inquiring after the tax exempt status of a group called American Future Fund, which was under investigation by the commission following a complaint by Minnesota Democrats over the group's alleged political activities. National Review refers to the group's tax status as "confidential taxpayer information" of the sort that the IRS is prohibited from sharing, though it's not immediately clear that this information is indeed "confidential." The IRS maintains a public list of organizations that have been granted tax exempt status, and tax-exempt groups are required by law to make public their "exemption applications, determination letters, and annual returns." The IRS issued a statement saying the email exchange indicates "that neither person wanted the IRS to provide the FEC with anything other than publicly available information," and Lerner's attorney told the Washington Post that "anyone in the world could get that information."
National Review even quoted the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee's statement saying the "American public is entitled to know whether the IRS is inappropriately sharing their confidential tax information with other agencies." So they don't know whether this happened; they're investigating to see whether it happened.
Fund places his speculation at the center of the allegation that the Obama administration may be engaged in "a slow-motion cover-up," because while the Obama administration has suggested there's "nothing to see here," "the IRS scandal is growing, not shrinking." For Fund, this leads to the conclusion that the investigations "will have to expand."
As Congress considers legislation promoting energy efficiency, Media Matters examines the facts behind such efforts. Contrary to persistent myths in the media, increasing energy efficiency of appliances and buildings is a cost-effective way to benefit the environment and economy, and has historically enjoyed bipartisan support.
Fox News is using a planned Hillary Clinton miniseries and documentary to revive decades-old lies about the former Senator and secretary of state, reanimating phony 1990s "scandals" including Whitewater, Travelgate, and Filegate. Every so-called scandal Fox is pushing has been thoroughly discredited by numerous independent investigations.
Fresh off of unsuccessful scare-mongering about the dangers of marriage equality, right-wing media are turning the clock back even further and attacking a highly qualified judicial nominee to the important D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals because of her academic writings on established sex equality law.
Started by Ed Whelan of the National Review Online and continued by anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins, a whisper campaign against veteran litigator and law professor Cornelia T.L. Pillard, President Obama's pick for the D.C. Circuit, has been spreading through right-wing media.
Whereas Whelan at least attempted to engage the legal arguments of a 2007 law review article in which Pillard explored how decades-old sex equality law is relevant to reproductive rights, other right-wing media are making even wilder and more inaccurate claims to smear the nominee as extreme when she is in fact solidly in the mainstream.
Perkins of the notorious Family Research Council, for example, made numerous errors in his attack on Pillard that, along with Whelan's rhetoric, is circulating on anti-choice websites and right-wing blogs.
Falsely ascribing a quote of conservative former Chief Justice William Rehnquist to Pillard in which he wrote for the Supreme Court that family leave policies not equally provided to both sexes are a "self-fulfilling cycle of discrimination," Perkins inaccurately described it as Pillard's condemnation of "celebrating motherhood." Where Pillard has observed that the anti-choice personhood movement could be exposed as unconstitutional by increasing awareness of the equal protection ramifications for pregnant women, Perkins fabricated the charge that Pillard "criticizes" the ultrasound. Resorting to spreading the ridiculous myth that Pillard would "declare" abstinence-only education "unconstitutional," Perkins managed to debunk such a silly charge in his very next sentence by quoting her accurate observation that a sex education class that stereotypes and disadvantages women could theoretically be "vulnerable to an equal protection challenge" under established precedent.
Finally, Perkins selectively quoted Pillard to characterize as "militant feminism" her argument that for women to have equal rights in the workplace, they need to be valued for more than their ability to bear children. From the actual full quote in Pillard's 2007 article:
A society in which women lack control to plan when they have children is one in which women must remain second-class citizens. We already know, and the Court recognized in Hibbs, that many employers assume that to be a mother is to be a primary caregiver with correspondingly less job commitment than a man, who is presumed to be an unencumbered "ideal worker." If impaired access to contraceptives hinders women's ability to exercise choice about when and whether to have children, it also reinforces broader patterns of discrimination against women as a class of presumptive breeders rather than reliable breadwinners and citizens.
In the four years since the minimum wage was last raised, right-wing media have forwarded a number of myths to prevent any possible increase in the future, which often directly contradict economic evidence.
Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg perpetuated the right-wing smear that the White House "didn't respond" to the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, an accusation that ignores multiple military leaders and congressional testimony.
On the July 23 edition of Fox's Happening Now, National Review Online editor and Fox contributor Jonah Goldberg discussed remarks that General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command during the September 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, had made days earlier at the 2013 Aspen Security Forum. When Ham was asked whether he initially believed terrorists were behind the Benghazi attacks, he had replied that he "started to gain [that] understanding within the hours after the initiation of the attack."
Co-host Patti Ann Browne asked Goldberg about Ham's statement, wondering "Why is it that this is being considered political when people try to complain about the spin being put out by the White House that it had to do with this video?" Goldberg replied, in part, by denying that the administration even responded to the attacks:
GOLDBERG: We basically know what the truth is. Is that the White House, or the administration, was ill prepared for an attack. We were attacked. It was a terrorist attack because spontaneous protesters don't bring RPGs and coordinate fire. And so it was a terrorist attack. The White House didn't respond to it. American -- brave Americans died and afterwards, the White House in the midst of a presidential campaign, particularly because Hillary Clinton wants to run in 2016, concocted essentially what they thought was a face-saving cover story about what happened -- partly out of politics, partly out of error. And the problem is most people now know this and what Carter Ham has just said basically confirms this. The problem is that you're never going to get the White House to admit it at this point.
Goldberg's accusation blatantly ignores military leaders' congressional testimony, which detailed the White House's response to the attacks. On February 7, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that upon learning of the unfolding attack in Benghazi, President Obama "at that point directed both myself and General Dempsey to do everything we needed to do to try to protect lives there." Following Obama's directive, Panetta ordered nearby anti-terrorism teams in Spain to deploy to Libya. A six-man security team from Tripoli also deployed to Benghazi. Unfortunately, the units from Spain arrived after attacks on the consulate had ceased.
Other forces present in Tripoli during the Benghazi attack were ordered by General Ham to stay in Tripoli to protect the U.S. embassy and care for Benghazi survivors at the airport. Additionally, as Ham made clear in the very remarks Goldberg referenced, he rerouted a drone from eastern Libya to Benghazi once commanders learned of the fighting.
What's more, despite Goldberg's insinuation otherwise, the day after the Benghazi attacks President Obama addressed the nation from the Rose Garden about the "acts of terror" that had taken place in Libya. He remarked, "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is down for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."
From the National Review Online's "Cartoon of the Day" by Investor's Business Daily's Michael Ramirez:
The National Review Online published a string of blog posts featuring sexist, hypocritical, and flawed attacks on Georgetown law professor and Supreme Court litigator Cornelia T.L. Pillard, President Obama's nominee to the critical U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Right-wing media have repeatedly attempted to rally GOP filibusters against the president's nominees to three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit, the appellate court considered the second-most important in the nation and currently skewed to the right. NRO recently joined the attack with the first personal smear, prefaced with the "damning assessment" that an unnamed source claims Pillard is "[liberal Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen] Reinhardt in a skirt but less moderate."
Obama has nominated three highly-qualified picks to fill these seats and offset the conservative imbalance of the D.C. Circuit's complement of active and senior judges. One of these choices is Pillard, graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, veteran of the Clinton administration, and former employee of both the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She also is an accomplished Supreme Court litigator in sex equality law (also referred to as gender equality law) and a contributor to the successful arguments in United States v. Virginia, which opened the doors of the Virginia Military Institute to women by firmly establishing the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies heightened scrutiny to sex discrimination.
In short, a liberal president nominated an extremely accomplished liberal to the D.C. Circuit.
NRO has responded with four posts that criticize a 2007 law review article Pillard wrote that argues reproductive rights, such as the constitutional right to an abortion, should be encompassed under equal protection grounds as well. Not only is this a decades-old concept at the root of sex equality doctrine, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made no secret of her support for this idea, even arguing for it in her successful 1993 Senate confirmation hearing.
Notably, the author of the pieces, Ed Whelan, chose an opening for criticizing Pillard that appears to go against his previous defense of then-nominee Justice Samuel Alito. In 2005, Whelan argued that Alito's past anti-choice writings on reproductive rights should not be used as a barometer for how he would rule on abortion as a justice. From the NRO:
[A Washington Post] article notes that one critic (a longtime abortion activist, as it happens) "said Alito applied his sentiments about abortion rights in 1991, when he ruled [in the Third Circuit decision in Casey] that a married woman must inform her husband before having an abortion." Obscured in this assertion is the fact that Alito was not imposing his own will but was instead opining that the spousal-notice provision that Pennsylvania (with strong Democrat support) had enacted was constitutional. And what support is there for the assertion that Alito "applied his sentiments"? None whatsoever. On the contrary, the fact that Alito as a judge has ruled against pro-life interests in several cases demonstrates that he does not indulge any pro-life policy preferences that he may (or may not) have.
The Post's article is simply not responsible journalism, and it does not even make any serious effort to be.
It should be noted that Alito's anti-choice writings that Whelan defended were legal memoranda penned as a Justice Department lawyer and judicial opinions. By contrast, when it comes to Pillard, Whelan is attacking her based on a law review article invoking the well-established constitutional doctrine of sex equality.
Media reporting on the verdict that George Zimmerman is not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin suggested a misleading distinction between the defense attorneys' supposed use of "conventional" self-defense principles and Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law (also known as "Shoot First" or "Kill at Will"), ignoring the fact that the sole justifiable homicide law in Florida incorporates "Stand Your Ground."
Media are misleadingly hyping Republican anti-choice rhetoric to promote the idea that legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy is "reasonable." In fact, many severe health complications for the mother and fetus are only discovered during or after the 20th week of pregnancy, and research has found that financial hardship forces many women to delay the procedure.
It's not likely that many observers would compare the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling on Proposition 8 with the military coup that toppled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi last week, but National Review Online's Dennis Prager insists they're basically the same.
In a July 9 NRO column, Prager likened the overthrow of Egypt's elected government to the Supreme Court's refusal to affirm popularly ratified anti-gay discrimination:
As much as I loathe the Muslim Brotherhood and the whole Islamist enterprise, it is difficult to imagine any other response among Islamists than this: Our votes don't count.
They were voted into office; many Egyptians and the army didn't like the results, so the vote was overthrown.
With some important differences -- and not all of them to the credit of the United States -- the Supreme Court of the United States, colluding judges, and the Democratic party of California did the same thing to the voters of California.
The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol and The National Review's Rich Lowry are calling on House Republicans to obstruct comprehensive immigration reform efforts by not passing any immigration reform bills out of the chamber.
In a July 8 op-ed titled "Kill the Bill" cross posted on The Weekly Standard and The National Review's websites, Kristol and Lowry argued that House Republicans should not pass any immigration reform legislation. Doing so would obstruct immigration reform efforts by preventing Senate and House representatives from meeting to reconcile the differences between the Senate's bill and any bill that may pass the House:
House Republicans may wish to pass incremental changes to the system to show that they have their own solutions, even though such legislation is very unlikely to be taken up by the Senate. Or they might not even bother, since Senate Democrats say such legislation would be dead on arrival. In any case, House Republicans should make sure not to allow a conference with the Senate bill. House Republicans can't find any true common ground with that legislation. Passing any version of the Gang of Eight's bill would be worse public policy than passing nothing. House Republicans can do the country a service by putting a stake through its heart.
Others in right-wing media have proposed a similar strategy of obstruction. On the June 25 edition of her radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham and guest Kristol endorsed obstruction, arguing that the House and the Senate reconciling their immigration reform bills would result in a problematic law and should therefore be avoided. In addition, during the June 13 edition of Fox News' Hannity, guest Ann Coulter warned that "if the House passes anything concerning immigration" and conference with representatives from the Senate, the resultant bill "will come out an amnesty bill." She claimed that if a reconciled bill passed, "the country is over."
Right-wing media have long encouraged Republicans to engage in obstruction, including on the appointment of President Obama's second-term nominees and stricter gun violence prevention laws.
Dennis Prager is not happy about The New Yorker's latest cover.
The syndicated columnist and radio talk show host took to National Review Online on July 2 to blast The New Yorker for featuring "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie snuggling on a couch, watching a TV that shows the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court. The New Yorker released its cover following the Court's decisions to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismiss California's Proposition 8 case.
According to Prager, the cover indicates that "the Left has an agenda to deprive children of their innocence":
But for the Left, Bert and Ernie (and whatever else the Left can get its ideological hands on) are transformed into vehicles for a left-wing cause. And no cause animates the Left these days more than the social advancement of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered (LGBTs).
One consequence has been the robbing of children's innocence by prematurely sexualizing them. Rendering Bert and Ernie as gay is only the most recent example.
Right-wing media are offering multiple false reassurances to those outraged at the Supreme Court's attack on voting rights in Shelby County v. Holder, while failing to report on the progress of one possible fix.
In the aftermath of Shelby County, which held that Congress' extensive 2006 findings of ongoing voter suppression did not justify the Voting Rights Act's formula for determining which jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination must "preclear" their election changes, right-wing media are incorrectly claiming that this decision will not have an adverse effect on voting rights.
Repeating the lie that the preclearance requirement in Section 5 of the VRA - gutted when the Supreme Court invalidated the formula within Section 4 that determines which jurisdictions are subject to it - was insignificant, right wing-media continue to argue that only a "small part" of this historic civil rights law was struck down.
In their day-after analysis of Shelby County, the editors of the National Review Online proclaimed the preclearance process to be "worthless," adding "[t]he decision brings an end to the automatic and perpetual punishment of states that are guilty of crimes in decades past. It does nothing else."
On the June 26 edition of America Live, Fox News host Megyn Kelly dismissed the idea that "racism was given the stamp of approval officially by the Supreme Court yesterday." Her guest, NRO contributing editor Andrew McCarthy, repeated the right-wing myth that voter suppression that engages in systematic racial discrimination "has long ago passed to the dustbin of history" and progressives who cannot recognize its demise are demagogues and "race hucksters." From America Live:
Right-wing media marked the Supreme Court's devastating Shelby County v. Holder decision by ignoring, trivializing, and downright misrepresenting its dire consequences for one of the most effective civil rights laws of all time, as well as for millions of American voters.
Tossing aside history, legal precedent, and congressional intent, the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 in Shelby County, a sharply split 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts. In a twisted reading of this crown jewel of civil rights law, the conservative majority invalidated the provision within the VRA that prevents states and local jurisdictions from enacting racially discriminatory election practices, reasoning that this vital protection against voter suppression is instead an impermissible restriction on the highly dubious "equal sovereignty" of southern states.
Rather than acknowledge the documented voter suppression that the VRA has effectively and consistently kept at bay from the voting rights struggles of the civil rights era through the 2012 elections, right-wing media are echoing the Supreme Court's blow to the VRA, misrepresenting Shelby County as something other than an attack on the American right to vote.
Fox News host Jon Scott, in a Happening Now segment leading off Fox's coverage of the decision, chose to trivialize and confuse the radical decision as "the president took another shot you might say, a bit of a smackdown" by the Supreme Court. The consequences stretch much further than that.
Contrary to this horserace description, the VRA has never been a political manifestation of the executive. The VRA is rather Congress' chosen bipartisan method to effectuate the right to vote in the Fifteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, repeatedly updated and reauthorized because of incessant and ongoing voter suppression, and upheld as constitutional four separate times by the Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, later in the day, Fox News senior legal analyst Andrew Napolitano continued in the vein of his colleague by astonishingly asserting "nobody is seriously claiming today...that there is systematic efforts on the part of the government in the south to keep people of color from voting."
Instead, right-wing media figures like Rush Limbaugh chose to tout the decision as a victory against people who allegedly discriminate against whites, such as the "civil rights community" that wants "perpetual discrimination."