Appearing on Fox News's media watchdog program over the weekend, National Review editor Rich Lowry complained the women who have accused Republican Herman Cain with sexual harassment haven't been treated with the same "pall of suspicion and disdain that surrounded Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers."
Lowry's complaint though, is comically inaccurate. Last week Rupert Murdoch's American media properties (New York Post, Fox News and Fox Business) devoted all sort of times and energy to viciously smearing Cain's accusers. Or, to put it more politely, casting a "pall of suspicion and disdain" on them.
In Murdoch's Post, columnist Andrew Peyser took misogyny to whole new heights (depths?) by trashing Cain accuser Sharon Bialek as a "shameless" gold digging "tart."
Meanwhile, Murdoch's cable channel has been ankle-deep in Cain accuser sludge. Fox News Sean Hannity declared the public, detailed sexual assault allegations against Cain represented a "smear campaign," while Hannity guest Dick Morris chortled that he was looking forward to Bialek's "spread in Playboy." Hopping over to Fox Business, Morris attacked her as a "gold digger." Fox contributor Andrea Tantaros belittled Bialek a "scam artist," while demanding Cain accusers accept responsibility for inviting sexual harassment at the hands of the candidate.
And online, Fox dumped all over Bialek, accusing her of having "a Chicago smell." (Stay classy, Roger Ailes.)
As Media Matters' Solange Uwimana noted:
Indeed, those who tuned into Fox News the past two weeks were treated to just that: insults about the accusers, mockery, and dismissal of the alleged victims' claims. Sexual harassment "can have a devastating impact" on victims, but Fox News chose to make a joke of it. The network even devolved into blaming the victim, with Sean Hannity blasting one Cain accuser for "staying in the car" with him after the alleged harassment.
If Lowry's anxious to see Cain's accusers hit with a pall of suspicion and disdain, he should sample more Murdoch media. They're smearing the women in plain sight.
Yesterday David Asman kicked off his Fox Business show, America's Nightly Scoreboard, by claiming that Solyndra "received a very generous set of tax breaks" from the Internal Revenue Service. Asman emphasized that this was "a tax break applied for Solyndra and only for Solyndra" and suggested that "political influence" may have played a role in the IRS decision.
But the tax credit didn't apply to Solyndra at all -- it applied to a manufacturing facility that was considering installing a Solyndra solar panel system. And this ruling is hardly unprecedented: it is one of many private letter rulings issued by the IRS to clarify which technologies qualify for energy tax credits.
In a blog post for National Review Online, Robert Spencer defended himself against charges by the Anti-Defamation League that his organization engages in anti-Muslim activism by saying that it is reasonable to lump the ADL in with other supposed "jihadist apologists."
Spencer's colleague David Horowitz similarly attacked the ADL, saying that ADL president Abe Foxman is "a notorious panderer to left-wing causes" and that the "American Left has joined in what I have elsewhere referred to as an 'unholy alliance,' making itself a valuable ally of the Muslim Brotherhood."
This attack on the ADL can be traced back to a National Review article Spencer and Horowitz wrote claiming that they espouse "a rational fear of Islamism" based on "the misogyny, bigotry, and terrorism promoted by many (but not all) Islamic institutions and religious texts." In doing so, they labeled the Southern Poverty Law Center as "jihadist apologists" and also attacked the Center for American Progress and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Center for American Progress policy analyst Matt Duss responded in a letter to the editor published by National Review by pointing out that, while Spencer and Horowitz attacked other groups in their article, they had not attacked the ADL even though it released a backgrounder earlier this year "declaring that Spencer's group, Stop Islamization of America, 'promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam.' " Duss asked, "Should the Anti-Defamation League also be lumped with the 'jihadist apologists'?"
That led Spencer and Horowitz to do what they had avoided doing in their article: lump ADL in with other groups who are either part of the conspiracy to Islamize America or are unwitting dupes of the conspiracy.
Do you know who Saul Alinsky is? If not, don't fret. There's an entire cottage industry of conservative writers working feverishly to reintroduce the storied community organizer to the world and document how he successfully overcame almost 40 years of being dead to pull the strings within the Obama White House.
Alinsky, often credited as the grandfather of modern community organizing, believed that the poor and dispossessed were ill-served by the political system and that, when united and agitated, could be their own best vehicle for enacting positive change at the community level. He made no effort to hide the radicalism of his prescriptions for achieving meaningful change, and both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their youth were students of his methods.
As such, "Alinsky" has become shorthand for conservatives who believe against all evidence that Obama is a secretly a radical whose moderate façade is meant to disguise an ulterior agenda inspired by a dangerous lunatic who believed in helping poor people. Foremost among the All-Alinsky All Stars are the writers of National Review, who in the past three years have described just about everything President Obama has done as an "Alinskyite" ploy.
In at least 40 instances since the beginning of 2011, conservative media outlets wrongly told consumers that the light bulb efficiency standards scheduled to take effect in 2012 will require them to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
Prominent media conservatives such as Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh have been pressuring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) not to accept a $4 trillion debt deal that would stave off economic catastrophe by allowing Congress to raise the debt ceiling and prevent the government from defaulting on its obligations. On July 9, these conservatives met success, as Boehner abandoned negotiations aimed at a $4 trillion debt deal.
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, recently revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant. Right-wing media responded with virulent anti-immigrant attacks, with Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail writing: "kick the lying, illegal alien Jose Antonio Vargas out."
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for the Washington Post, "outed" himself today as an undocumented immigrant in a self-authored New York Times Magazine piece detailing his experience as a young Filipino immigrant working hard to achieve the American dream. It wasn't until Vargas attempted to obtain a learner's permit at his local California DMV that he learned the citizenship documentation he had been provided by his naturalized grandparents was fake.
I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.
I've tried. Over the past 14 years, I've graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I've created a good life. I've lived the American dream.
But I am still an undocumented immigrant.
Predictably, it took almost no time for the right-wing slander machine to gear up its attacks on Vargas and his family.
First up, National Review's Daniel Foster accused Vargas of "fraudulent tax fraud," in a piece posted today:
Vargas entered the country illegally after his grandfather paid a coyote $4,500 to smuggle him in. The grandfather then obtained a fake passport and green card for Vargas, which they used to acquire a valid Social Security card. But that card, which subjected Vargas' right to work to the approval of the then-INS, was illegally doctored, allowing Vargas to secure job after job for more than a decade by showing nothing more than a photocopy of a fake document.
The first part of Vargas' story -- a kid living and loving America for years before his shocking discovery that he has been made complicit in a crime -- does indeed elicit sympathy. It's stories like these that make me open, at least in principle, to something like a narrowly-tailored version of the "DREAM" Act. But the second part of his story, in which a fear- and shame-driven Vargas, with the aid of his family, perpetuated and compounded those crimes (Vargas eventually got around to what you might redundantly call fraudulent tax fraud, repeatedly reporting himself as a citizen rather than a "permanent resident", when in fact he was neither), elicits from me nothing like the outpouring of support Vargas is already enjoying on the Left.
Right-wing media have seized on a line from a Peggy Noonan column -- "he made it worse" -- and have begun repeating the false message that President Obama's policies have worsened the economy. In reality, there is broad agreement among economists that the stimulus boosted growth and employment, and most of the deficit is attributable to Bush policies and the recession.
In the lead-up to Earth Day, members of the right-wing media have ridiculed conservation efforts and downplayed the concerns of environmentalists. This is nothing new for conservative media figures who have, in the past, used the Earth Day to attack conservationists by urging audiences to cut down trees and increase their energy consumption.
In a National Review article, convicted fraudster Conrad Black falsely claims that Fox News is honest about how its political views sway its news coverage. In order to prove his point, Black attacks other mainstream news outlets for their unfair coverage of former President Richard Nixon and his unconstitutional policy of wiretapping his political opponents without warrants.
Black, a businessman who has been convicted of a $600,000 fraud as well as obstruction of justice (other convictions against Black were thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court) and is awaiting sentencing, argues that the mainstream media pretend that they are unbiased when in fact they favor progressives. By contrast, Fox News "makes no bones about its conservative penchant."
In fact, while Fox News admits that its opinion shows have a point of view, it strongly maintains that its supposedly "straight news" programs are objective, all evidence to the contrary aside. Furthermore, Bill O'Reilly, the only Fox personality that Black mentions in his piece, has repeatedly claimed that most of Fox News is "fair" and is not "out to hurt" President Obama (again, all evidence to the contrary).
But that's not all that's wrong with Black's piece.
In its forthcoming issue, National Review ridicules unnamed offenders who have purportedly distorted science to blame manmade climate change for both drought and flooding in Australia:
Weather extremes used to be taken for granted Down Under, but in recent years, each new drought has been attributed to (can you guess?) global warming. Unless greenhouse gases were sharply reduced, it was predicted, Australia would never again have enough water. Now the lucky country is experiencing violent, destructive floods, and the Australian intelligentsia has fingered the exact same versatile phenomenon as the culprit. Is there anything global warming can't do? We half expect Charlie Sheen and the NFL lockout to be linked to it. [National Review, 4/4/11, via Nexis]
National Review does a good job here of showing how much easier it is to create confusion than to inform on the issue of climate change. By mocking the notion that global warming could intensify both drought and flooding, National Review perpetuates misunderstanding of climate science and the false perception that scientists are clueless and/or dishonest.
It's simply not true that the climate science community has recently changed its tune from warning about drought in Australia to warning about flooding. Back in 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected "[i]ncreased frequency of high-intensity rainfall, which is likely to increase flood damage" for Australia and New Zealand as well as "[r]egional reductions in rainfall in south-west and inland Australia and eastern New Zealand."
It should also be noted that National Review does not identify a climate scientist or scientific body, but rather criticizes a vague "Australian intelligentsia" for blaming climate change for both drought and recent floods. This may be because climate scientists are actually quite careful not to blame anthropogenic global warming for individual weather events since natural variation is a larger factor on shorter time scales than longer-term timescales. At the same time, as Australian science blogger John Cook explains, "it's equally false to say global warming has no effect on weather":
National Review's Mark Krikorian thinks it's just awful that women might play a role in making public decisions:
Look, I'm a sensitive New Age guy — I cook, I do laundry, I choke up at movies (well, Gladiator, anyway). But does anyone think our enemies abroad are as enlightened as we are about feminism? Steyn is right that the specific lesson they're learning is that nukes are the best insurance against invasion — but a broader one is that our commander-in-chief is an effete vacillator who is pushed around by his female subordinates. Prof. Althouse notes, "A feminist milestone: Our male President has been pulled into war by 3 women," and Senator Graham scored points with "I Thank God for Strong Women in the Obama Administration," but we're going to pay for this.
I don't know how much influence Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power had over the Obama administration's Libya policy, and neither does Mark Krikorian. What is clear is that Mark Krikorian thinks it is terrible that they are perceived as having been influential, and that it is terrible precisely because they are women. And no, I'm not over-interpreting Krikorian's comments -- he explicitly says this:
Before you send me any burning bras, the problem is not with women leaders — the enemies of the Virgin Queen and the Iron Lady can attest to that. The problem is not even with the president having strong female subordinates. Rather, Obama's pusillanimity has been hugely magnified by the contrast with the women directing his foreign policy and the fact that they nagged him to attack Libya until he gave in. Maybe it's unfair and there shouldn't be any difference from having a male secretary of state do the same thing, but there is.
Krikorian pretends that he doesn't (necessarily) think the influence of a female secretary of state should be viewed differently from the influence of a male secretary of state -- he's just describing the world as it is. But Krikorian's word choice gives him away: The three women, Krikorian writes, "nagged" Obama until he gave in.
Let's be clear about this: Mark Krikorian isn't describing sexism, he's demonstrating it.
I can't imagine the thought process that led National Review to post this garbage on its website's home page:
Believe it or not, the actual column is worse: At one point, David Kahan refers to President Obama simply as "Hussein" and suggests that if Obama loses re-election, he'll "call out every union thug and goon in these United States to occupy the Capitol, shred the drapery, steal the silver, and molest the servants." And he calls First Lady Michelle Obama fat:
My first thought was that we should offer Barry the vacant throne of his native Hawaiian Islands. Sure, he'd have to put on three or four hundred pounds to fit the royal robes of King Kamehameha, but even Barry might blanch at the thought of adding King Kam's full moniker to his roster of names: Kalani Pai'ea Wohi o Kaleikini Keali'ikui Kamehameha o 'Iolani i Kaiwikapu kaui Ka Liholiho Kunuiakea, the Second. Still, Michelle would have a real shot of slipping into Queen Kapiolani's muumuu collection and making it her own, especially after a few more meals of short ribs in Vail, the calorie count of which is only slightly offset by her incessant finger-wagging at the rest of us.
Remember, National Review is supposedly a bastion of respectable, intellectual conservative thought.
Previously: So They're Just Calling Michelle Obama Fat Now
Conservative media have promoted efforts to repeal provisions of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, claiming that the law banned incandescent light bulbs and that Americans will no longer have choice over their light bulb purchases. In fact, the bill simply restricts the sale of inefficient bulbs and has lead companies to develop numerous alternatives, including energy-efficient incandescents.