Hope springs eternal. Despite more than a year of fruitless digging, the right-wing media can't let go of their hope that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan will be disqualified from hearing cases about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
Recently, conservative media have been hyping letters from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) as well as 49 other congressional Republicans seeking documents to determine if Kagan was involved with health care litigation during her time as solicitor general (the position she held immediately before being appointed to the Supreme Court).
Conservative media don't bother hiding the reasons for hoping that Kagan must be recused. As Judicial Watch head Tom Fitton wrote on BigGovernment.com, "The U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately settle the issue regarding whether or not Obama's socialist healthcare overhaul will be the law of the land. Everyone knows it. And if Elena Kagan is forced to recuse herself from hearing the case that will be one fewer dependably liberal vote on the Supreme Court for Obamacare."
In addition to Fitton's post on BigGovernment.com, HotAir.com's Ed Morrissey breathlessly hyped the 49 House members' letter, asking, "Did Elena Kagan mislead the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearing when answering questions about her level of involvement in ObamaCare?" The Washington Times also hyped the same letter, as did Newsmax. And National Review Online blogger Carrie Severino and Glenn Beck's website TheBlaze.com hyped both the 49 House members' letter and Smith's letter.
But CNS News may take the cake for the most overwrought reaction. CNS reported that Smith had begun an "investigation" into whether Kagan had been involved in health care litigation as solicitor general. It subsequently had to append an "editor's note" to the article explaining that the House Judiciary Committee "requested a correction of the story" because Smith had not launched a "formal investigation" but had merely made a "request for addition information."
CNS's overreaction to Smith's letter to the Justice Department epitomizes the right-wing's campaign to have Kagan recuse herself from health care litigation. The right-wing media keeps demanding further inquiry into the issue of whether Kagan should recuse herself. The additional information shows that there is no reason for Kagan to recuse herself. But the right-wing media claims that all it needs is a little more information, and it will become clear that Kagan did recuse herself.
Below the fold is a brief recap of the right-wing media's recusal campaign so far.
Scientists at the National Solar Observatory and the Air Force Research Laboratory say three lines of evidence suggest that the sun may soon enter an extended calm period instead of following its normal 11-year cycle of high and low sunspot activity.
The authors of the studies reportedly "said there was not yet enough data to firm up a climate connection to solar activity" and that they don't know how long the calm period would last. Nevertheless, Fox used the research to proclaim that "We Might Be Headed for a Mini Ice Age":
Other media outlets jumped on the research as well. In a post at at the Telegraph, James Delingpole wrote: "It's official: a new Ice Age is on its way," claiming that the recent findings "make global cooling a much more plausible prospect in the next few decades than global warming."
And under the headline "Earth May Be Headed for Big Chill From Little Ice Age," Newsmax declared: "The Earth could be heading straight for a little ice age -- and not a global warming phase as dictated by Al Gore and others -- posits the U.S. National Solar Observatory (NSO) and the U.S. Air force Research Laboratory."
In fact, solar physicist Frank Hill, who was involved in the research, explained via email that those warning of a mini ice age are making a "huge leap" from current scientific understanding of the variables involved:
Right-wing media have attacked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for using federal workers' pension funds to ensure that the government meets its obligations for the short-term while lawmakers and the White House try to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling. In fact, Geithner's actions are in line with those of the Treasury Department under former Presidents Bush and Clinton, the government is legally required to reimburse the program once the debt limit is increased, and economic disaster could have occurred had Geithner not taken these measures.
Perhaps the reason most successful comics are liberals is because the right-wing media have repeatedly proven that they can't take -- or properly make -- a joke. They proved this point in the aftermath of President Obama's remarks on border security in El Paso, TX, yesterday, when he joked at Republicans' expense, stating that "they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they're going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That's politics."
Unable to take the joke, right-wing media attacked Obama over the comment.
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade discussed Obama's comment during the May 11 broadcast of the show. After airing a clip of the president's moat remarks, he stated, "I guess you're allowed" to mock Republicans. Co-host Steve Doocy responded to this by interjecting, "He's campaigning." Kilmeade went on to criticize Obama's steps toward immigration reform. On-screen text during the segment read, "Obama's Partisan Attack."
Right-wing media seized on the leak of an undated, "early working draft" of a proposed transportation authorization bill to suggest that President Obama plans to tax automobile drivers based on how many miles they drive and that the government will use it to spy on their driving habits. But the Obama administration has not embraced such a proposal, and, in any event, such an idea is hardly new or controversial, as House Republicans have passed similar bills.
The close relationship between Donald Trump has reached the next level: Newsmax is using Trump to sell its magazine.
The other day, Newsmax sent out an email that links to an offer to "Join Donald Trump in New Hampshire" for a "Special Online Event": the webcast of a May 11 speech by Trump to a business expo in New Hampshire. Newsmax asserts, "Uncensored and uninterrupted, we're bringing this hard-hitting media goliath directly to you. Expect to hear BIG things from Donald Trump in this speech." Then the hard sell begins:
Tickets to the in-person event are completely sold out!
But you can have a seat right at your office or home!
And, no worries if you can't make the live event, you will have special VIP access to rebroadcasts of the Trump speech.
There's no telling what Trump will say.
But you can be among the first to find out with exclusive access to our live feed at the special price of just $2.95!
But that's not all! It wouldn't be Newsmax if it weren't trying to capitalize on the conservative talking heads it hangs out with -- Dick Morris, Sarah Palin -- to sell the various publications and financial products it offers, and so it is with Trump. For that very same $2.95, Newsmax will send you "two great bonuses" (emphasis in original):
Bonus #1: We'll send you Newsmax magazine's special report "Sean Hannity: A Great American." Sean says it's one of the best and most in-depth reports ever written about him.
Bonus #2: We'll send you three more FREE issues of Newsmax magazine.
Newsmax magazine brings you exclusive stories the major media won't report, in addition to our in-depth cover stories and hard-hitting investigative reports.
Even Donald Trump says it's one of his favorite publications!
Therein lies the usual opt-out caveat: One must unsubscribe from the magazine before the free offer ends in order to avoid being billed $39.95 for a full year's subscription.
Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy has said that "Trump realizes the great potential of Newsmax and has been using it very adroitly. We're well aware he's using it, happy he's using it." Now, Newsmax is using Trump in return.
We've recently documented the close relationship between Donald Trump and the right-wing website Newsmax, which has been promoting Trump's potential presidential candidacy. Now, U.S. News & World Report's Paul Bedard has spoken with Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, and Ruddy has confirmed that "Trump realizes the great potential of Newsmax and has been using it very adroitly" and that Newsmax is "happy" he's doing so.
Ruddy also responded to our description of Newsmax as an "early and enthusiastic promoter of Trump's presidential ambitions." Bedard wrote: "Ruddy has no problem with that description. 'Media Matters is right,' he says."
From Bedard's post on the Washington Whispers blog:
So is there a Trump-Newsmax conspiracy? "Yes," cheers Ruddy. "Trump realizes the great potential of Newsmax and has been using it very adroitly. We're well aware he's using it, happy he's using it" says Ruddy from the Newsmax HQ in Florida.
"He's been really responsive to our news team here," says Ruddy, who calls Trump a "friend."
Recently, the potential 2012 GOP primary candidate dropped by Newsmax's West Palm Beach HQ and even chose it as the place to reveal his American birth certificate, part of his effort to call into question President Obama's birthplace. Ruddy doesn't back the birther movement and says he told Trump that he believes Obama was born in Hawaii.
Media Matters last week put a spotlight on the news site's coverage of Trump, calling it an "early and enthusiastic promoter of Trump's presidential ambitions."
Ruddy has no problem with that description. "Media Matters is right," he says.
We've documented how Newsmax's Ronald Kessler has been one of the chief promoters of Donald Trump's presidential aspirations. Kessler's flattering treatment of Trump and his family appears to be part of a mutually beneficial relationship between the two -- Kessler has detailed a weekend spent at Trump's Palm Beach estate. But Kessler has had a problem nailing down exactly what step Trump will take next and where he got it.
A Newsmax column by Kessler, with the timestamp of 9:51 a.m. on April 13, asserted that Trump "plans to say" on the May 15 season finale of his show The Celebrity Apprentice that "he will be holding a press conference in the next few days. At that press conference in the Trump Tower in New York, Trump will be announcing his candidacy for the presidency."
That column disappeared a few hours later. Then, a column with a 7:45 p.m. timestamp appeared, slightly altering Kessler's claim to read that "Trump will be announcing whether he will run for the presidency." This version changed the date of the Celebrity Apprentice finale to May 22 and altered the headline to pronounce the claim an "exclusive":
Even though that column remained live as of this writing, a new Kessler column appeared, with the timestamp of 9:24 a.m. on April 14. This version deleted "Exclusive" from the headline and more extensively edited Kessler's claim about the Trump Tower press conference: "Although Trump refuses to confirm what he will announce, sources close to the real estate titan tell me that at that press conference Trump will be announcing his candidacy for the presidency."
The sourcing is new; Kessler had previously asserted it without stating where it came from.
Kessler's claim that Trump would announce something on The Celebrity Apprentice finale remained constant throughout all three versions, but statements from Trump and his camp -- as opposed to the anonymous sources Kessler is citing -- have been less than definitive. Mediaite reported that Trump said on a radio show that he's not actually allowed to announce such a thing on The Celebrity Apprentice, and he doesn't know from where rumors to the contrary came. Meanwhile, Trump aide Michael Cohen told Bloomberg that Trump "may" announce something.
To recap: It took Kessler three tries to nail down his claim, and there are still questions about what Trump will do. It looks like there's no love lost; Trump is still tight enough with Newsmax to invoke its meaningless opt-in poll promoting his presidential prospects in an interview with Time magazine (which Newsmax is promoting in turn under the headline "Trump: Newsmax Poll Proves I'm Legit for 2012").
Donald Trump has more than Fox News to thank for creating buzz around his testing the waters for a presidential campaign (and associated spreading of discredited birther conspiracy theories about President Obama). Right-wing website Newsmax was an early and enthusiastic promoter of Trump's presidential ambitions, and a Newsmax reporter helped pave the way for Trump to speak at a major conservative get-together.
Newsmax has been giving a platform Trump since at least 2006, when its chief Washington correspondent, Ronald Kessler, wrote a column noting that Trump "has plenty of thoughts about what he would do if he were president." Newsmax's current round of pushing the idea of Trump as president, though, began last November, when it paid for a poll asking how various people would fare against Obama in "a head-to-head race for the presidency." According to a Newsmax article on the poll, among business figures, Trump "would get nearly half the vote, 47 percent." Additionally, Trump "polled strongly among Republicans and conservatives, and got 50 percent of the vote among independents." The article also stated, however, that Warren Buffett and Bill Gates polled better than Trump.
In a December column on the Newsmax-operated financial news website Moneynews, Bill Spetrino touted Trump's prospects: "I can tell you that dealing with the Chinese and Russians wouldn't be one-sided if Trump was in charge. He won't hire power-hungry academics without real-world knowledge but instead will hire experienced businessmen and women with practical knowledge."
Newsmax's Kessler followed up on January 3 with a column stating that Trump "is telling friends he has decided he will definitely run for president as a Republican." A few weeks later, Kessler wrote about how he and his wife "spent the Martin Luther King holiday weekend with him at Mar-a-Lago, [Trump's] home and club on Palm Beach," where it became "clear" that "when it comes to a successful run at the presidency, don't underestimate him":
Right-wing media reacted to news that Democrat-backed JoAnne Kloppenburg emerged from Wisconsin's Supreme Court election with a small lead by predictably bringing up baseless allegations of voter fraud. The right-wing media regularly uses voter fraud to respond to elections where a Democrat wins or is winning, especially following a close race.
While some people may chafe at the Washington Post's tendency to provide a forum for bigots, uncritically pass along right-wing smears, and publish an opinion section that passes Richard Cohen off as a liberal, it's worth noting that the paper is getting some positive reviews. Here's Newsmax chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler:
Besides cutting costs, as outlined in my story Washington Post Has Become a Model for the Media, [publisher Katharine] Weymouth has turned the paper into a fair and balanced publication under Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli. Conservatives have taken notice. Readers now get a report they can trust. That has to be helping to improve circulation.
Given Kessler's praise of the Post as "fair and balanced," you may wonder about his standards for fairness and balance. Well, as it happens, we know what his model is: Fox News.
Looks like the Washington Post's absurd pandering to the likes of Andrew Breitbart is paying off. Must be a proud day in the Post newsroom, to have a right-winger like Ron Kessler praise the Post the same way he praises Fox News.
It's actually kind of impressive how quickly Michael Reagan accelerates from zero to crazy in his latest anti-Obama diatribe.
Under the remarkably unremarkable headline "Obama's So-So Presidential Speech," Reagan begins with a series of run-of-the-mill complaints: The president's Libya speech left viewers "in a state of confusion" and seemed ambiguous about the president's "ultimate goal in Libya." And, of course, there's a boilerplate passage on President Obama's insufficient belief in American "exceptionalism." Then, out of the blue, Reagan suggests America will not "survive intact" the remaining two years of Obama's term:
As I have said previously, Gadhafi must go. But to make that happen in a way that will benefit America, President Obama needs to have a coherent plan, and he must be able to communicate the "big picture" to the American people.
One is forced to wonder if this nation can survive intact for the final two years of his term in office.
In Latin, the word is "oremus" — it means "Let us pray."
Wow. From "so-so presidential speech" to dire warnings of the end of America in fewer than 600 words. Like I said: Michael Reagan needs a vacation. Or at least a nap.
In honor of the one year anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Media Matters presents a timeline of one of the most disgraceful and pernicious myths about the law--death panels.
For at least the third time in the past year, right-wing website Newsmax has provided positive coverage to a Florida politician whose campaign or political committee has received money from Newsmax or its CEO, Christopher Ruddy. This financial support has not been disclosed in campaign endorsements or other articles about these politicians at Newsmax.
At first glance, it might seem problematic that this Newsmax piece about gun regulations makes flat assertions about gun sales without referencing any data or citing any sources. But when you consider that the author of the post, John Lott, has been caught using fraudulent data, lying about it, and using a fake internet persona to tout his bogus work, the lack of specificity may actually be a positive: At least Lott didn't fake a study to support his assertions. Unfortunately, that appears to be the result of laziness rather than a newfound commitment to the truth.
Lott asserts "Virtually no criminal guns are obtained from gun shows." He offers no data or expert opinion to support this contention. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, on the other hand, has concluded:
The access to anonymous sales and large numbers of secondhand firearms makes gun shows attractive to criminals. ... The access to anonymous sales and large numbers of secondhand firearms makes gun shows attractive to criminals. ... Firearms that were illegally diverted at or through gun shows were recovered in subsequent crimes, including homicide and robbery, in more than a third of the gun show investigations.
So, on the one hand, we have the unsupported assertion of a person who has previously been caught using fraudulent data about guns ... and on the other, we have a report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.
Next, Lott asserts: "Background checks do not stop criminals from getting guns." Again, Lott just expects readers to trust him. Now, just because Lott has previously used bogus data and lied about it doesn't mean he isn't telling the truth this time. Still, it's probably a good idea to check in with the FBI on this one. According to the FBI, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has denied more than 800,000 sales -- more than 600,000 of which involved convicted criminals. Another 100,000 were either fugitives from justice or the subjects of restraining orders for domestic violence. So, John Lott, who has been caught using bogus data, says background checks don't stop criminals from getting guns. The Federal Bureau of Investigation says that has happened 600,000 times. Who to believe?
More Lott: "With all the delays found in background checks, this imposes a real cost on law-abiding citizens who need guns quickly for protection and a one, two or three day delay can take the prevent a sale from even taking place at a gun show." Again, Lott offers no data or citations. Contrary to his suggestion that background checks routinely involve onerous delays, the FBI says that more than 90 percent of NICS background checks are completed immediately -- while the seller is still on the phone. That's why they're called "Instant criminal background checks."
UPDATE 3/31/2011: from the author of the report titled, "Enforcement of the Brady Act, 2008: Federal and State Investigations and Prosecutions of Firearms Applicants Denied by a NICS check in 2008.", which Lott cites to justify the NICS inaccuracy claim.
You [Media Matters] asked me if it was accurate for an article to state that "Over 99.9 percent of purchases initially flagged as being illegal under the [Brady] law were 'false positives' - law-abiding citizens incorrectly identified as banned individuals." That statement cannot be supported by statistics on Brady Act background checks that have been collected since 1999.
A person whose firearm transfer application is denied by a background check pursuant to the Brady Act may appeal the denial. Statistics on appeals of denials have been collected since 1999 in a series of publications entitled Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, and are summarized in Trends for Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 1999-2008. During that ten year period, nearly 1.5 million firearm transfer applications were denied and nearly 237,000 of those denials were appealed. Over 86,000 appeals resulted in a reversal of the denial, which would calculate to about 6% of the 1.5 million denials. Some of the reversals may have occurred because a person was mistakenly identified as being prohibited; however, no data is available on the reasons for reversals. The URL for Trends for Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 1999-2008 is http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/231187.pdf.