Three former aides to Richard Nixon are defending the disgraced president surrounding the 40th anniversary of his resignation over the Watergate scandal. The aides-turned-pundits are using their media platforms to claim Nixon shouldn't have been impeached, Watergate was the product of "the malice and collusion of liberal elites," and that the former president was "a patriot" who "we desperately miss on the scene today."
The Watergate scandal involved vast criminality that eventually reached the top echelon of government. The New York Times noted: "Entangled in that skein were dozens of men implicated in the scandal, many of whom were top aides to the President. As it steadily unwound, the American people watched a parade of witnesses expose the details of a political crime whose proportions were nearly unfathomable: wiretapping, money laundering, destruction of documents, payment of hush money, character assassination, disinformation and deception -- all perpetrated by people at the highest levels of Government. More than 30 people pleaded guilty or were convicted of crimes like perjury, burglary, wiretapping and obstruction of justice."
In recent years, conservatives have been claiming that numerous supposed Obama administration scandals are equal to or worse than Watergate.
Three former Nixon aides, Pat Buchanan, Roger Stone, and Monica Crowley, have been attempting to rehabilitate Nixon through the media. The aides are discredited, though perhaps appropriate, messengers on behalf of the former president given their post-Nixon histories.
There's a brewing conservative media war over whether to impeach President Obama.
Largely relegated to the fringe for years, the prospect of impeachment has been invigorated thanks to conservative media figures like Fox News contributors Sarah Palin and Allen West, who have spent recent weeks loudly demanding Obama's removal from office. But not everyone in conservative media is on board, with several prominent figures arguing that impeachment is ill-fated, politically toxic, and could severely damage Republicans' chances in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections.
Last week, Fox News polled on the question, finding that while a strong majority of Americans (61 percent) oppose impeachment, 56 percent of Republicans are in favor of it.
Over the weekend, impeachment got another boost thanks to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the incoming House Majority Whip, appearing on Fox News Sunday and refusing "to take impeaching President Barack Obama off the table if Obama takes executive action to limit deportations." On Saturday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) announced on Breitbart News Saturday that if the president uses more executive actions on illegal immigration, "we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives."
In June, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) introduced a plan to sue the president over the delayed implementation of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. While Boehner has repeatedly dismissed impeachment talk, reporters like the New Republic's Brian Beutler have speculated that the lawsuit was designed to "serve as a relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment."
If Boehner's lawsuit was designed to cool impeachment fever, it's not working. Several conservative media figures have lashed out over his "political stunt" and continue to bang the impeachment drum. As November approaches, the fight over impeachment among conservative media is getting increasingly acrimonious with each side convinced the other is hurting the country.
Media Matters looks at where various conservative commentators currently stand on impeachment.
Mere weeks after right-wing media loudly defended racist Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy with erroneous allegations of a "federal land grab" of his property, the same conservative outlets are now advocating for a border fence that would require an immense seizure of private lands.
In the first half of 2014, thousands of children fled across the U.S.-Mexico border to escape rising violence plaguing their home countries in Central America. Anti-immigrant figures in the right-wing media have responded by stoking nativist insecurities, erroneously suggesting the children pose public health and safety concerns and that they will be allowed to stay in the United States indefinitely.
Many of these figures have also returned to calls for a fence to be constructed on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Conservative radio host and ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham made the completion of a border fence part of her personal plan to address holes in the nation's immigration policy in a manifesto titled, "The Government Vs. The People: Rebuilding Trust In The Midst Of The Illegal Alien Tsunami".
On Fox News July 9, America's Newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum floated the idea of prioritizing appropriations to construct a border fence over money for humanitarian care and administrative personnel to facilitate customs hearings. On July 8, Fox guest Pat Buchanan said in an appearance on Hannity, "Why cannot the government say 'Look, let's get together, we do need a secure fence, a double- or triple-link fence, all along the border of the United States with Mexico'?"
About a week earlier, contributor Charles Krauthammer advocated for a border fence, saying, "If fences don't work, why is there one around the White House?"
Calls for a fence often lack context or details -- and in MacCallum's case, drastically misinform on the cost of such an endeavor. In particular, conservative media tend to ignore the fact that, in order to complete a border fence, the federal government will have to seize, through eminent domain, the private property of American landowners from Texas to California.
Conservative pundit Pat Buchanan has written a new book which attempts to whitewash the divisive racial tactics used during President Nixon's presidential campaigns, strategies that Buchanan himself helped devise.
In his syndicated column previewing the book, The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority, Buchanan recites the history of racism within the Democratic Party, then proceeds to present President Richard Nixon as a champion of racial equity. Buchanan claims, "Nixon won the South not because he agreed with them on civil rights--he never did--but because he shared the patriotic values of the South and its antipathy to liberal hypocrisy."
For years, right-wing media have tried to rewrite the history of the civil rights era to reflect less terribly on the conservative movement. Conservatives have sought to downplay Rev. Martin Luther King's progressive worldview and minimize the roles of Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in the passage of civil rights legislation, while ignoring the conservative movement's efforts to block those laws.
In his latest paean to Vladimir Putin, Pat Buchanan lauded the Russian president for "planting Russia's flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity" with his policies against reproductive choice and LGBT rights - evidence, Buchanan suggested, that God is on Putin's side in his showdown with the West.
In his April 4 syndicated column, Buchanan heralded Putin as the global leader of a backlash against "a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West":
In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God's side. The West is Gomorrah.
He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West.
The West's capitulation to a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide -- the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values.
But the war to be waged with the West is not with rockets. It is a cultural, social, moral war where Russia's role, in Putin's words, is to "prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state."
In 2013, the Kremlin imposed a ban on homosexual propaganda, a ban on abortion advertising, a ban on abortions after 12 weeks and a ban on sacrilegious insults to religious believers.
In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now?
Fox News falsely claimed that a plan in place since 1998 to govern control of Internet domain names means President Obama is giving away the Internet.
Pat Buchanan praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his defense of "traditional values," citing his opposition to such "evil" developments as marriage equality to position Putin as the global leader of the fight "against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite."
In his December 17 syndicated column, Buchanan pondered whether Putin is a fellow "paleoconservative" before checking off a list of Putin's culturally conservative stances, which seemed to suggest a clear answer to Buchanan (emphasis added):
Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?
In the culture war for mankind's future, is he one of us?
While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president's state of the nation address.
With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, "In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered."
"They're now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil."
Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.
And same-sex marriage is indeed an "abstract" idea unrooted in the history or tradition of the West. Where did it come from?
Peoples all over the world, claims Putin, are supporting Russia's "defense of traditional values" against a "so-called tolerance" that is "genderless and infertile."
Suggesting that with its increased acceptance of LGBT equality "Barack Obama's America" has taken the place of the Soviet Union as "the focus of evil in the modern world," Buchanan argued that Putin's Russia is a better example to the international community. He applauded a recent India Supreme Court ruling reinstating that country's ban on gay sex, seeing it as a sign that Putin's vision may yet prevail (emphasis added):
President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire "the focus of evil in the modern world." President Putin is implying that Barack Obama's America may deserve the title in the 21st century.
While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind.
Same-sex marriage is supported by America's young, but most states still resist it, with black pastors visible in the vanguard of the counterrevolution. In France, a million people took to the streets of Paris to denounce the Socialists' imposition of homosexual marriage.
Only 15 nations out of more than 190 have recognized it.
In India, the world's largest democracy, the Supreme Court has struck down a lower court ruling that made same-sex marriage a right. And the parliament in this socially conservative nation of more than a billion people is unlikely soon to reverse the high court.
In the four dozen nations that are predominantly Muslim, which make up a fourth of the U.N. General Assembly and a fifth of mankind, same-sex marriage is not even on the table. And Pope Francis has reaffirmed Catholic doctrine on the issue for over a billion Catholics.
It's true, as Buchanan notes, that Pope Francis hasn't changed Roman Catholic doctrine against same-sex marriage. Still, Buchanan's apparent praise for the pope is odd, given that just one month ago he denounced the pontiff for saying he wouldn't "judge" gay people.
Buchanan's warm words for Putin echo a column he wrote in August shortly after Putin signed laws banning so-called "gay 'propaganda'" and prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by parents from pro-equality countries. At the time, Buchanan commended Putin's efforts to "re-establish" his nation's "moral compass." Now, as Putin further hardens his anti-gay stance, Buchanan has promoted Putin to the role of cultural conservatism's savior.
Right-wing media figures have rushed to defend President Ronald Reagan's record on apartheid and South Africa in the wake of Nelson Mandela's death.
Reagan's record came under increased attention following the death of the former South African president and anti-apartheid activist. In an interview with Salon, Whitman College historian David Schmitz discussed Reagan's policy toward South Africa, which included opposition to Mandela's party, the African National Congress, labelling Mandela and the ANC as "terrorists," and vetoing sanctions against the pro-apartheid government that ruled South Africa at the time:
What about U.S. policy toward the opposition groups like the ANC and Nelson Mandela?
They called the ANC terrorists. It was just continuing this notion that the ANC members are the extremists and the South African government has these moderates, and you're going to end up with one extreme against the other if you don't work with the government. Clearly, it never worked. This was a flawed policy.
Would you argue that Reagan's foreign policy extended the life of the regime in South Africa?
Yes. It gave it life. It gave it hope that the United States would continue to stick with it. It gave it continued flow of aid as well as ideological support. It delayed the changes that were going to come. Then you had the big crackdowns in '86 and '87. So there was harm in the lengthening. There was harm in the violence that continued.
Despite his history, right-wing media figures defended Reagan's history after Mandela's death. CNN host Newt Gingrich claimed that Mandela's death was "being used inappropriately" by critics of Reagan:
Pat Buchanan made clear that he isn't a fan of Pope Francis, condemning the pontiff for his overtures to the LGBT community and women.
In his November 15 syndicated column, Buchanan - who popularized the notion of a "cultural war" with an inflammatory speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention - accused the pope of "non-belligerence, if not neutrality, in the culture war for the soul of the west." Buchanan excoriated the pope "sowing seeds of confusion" for Catholics with his statements that he wouldn't "judge" gay people and that the church had grown too "obsessed" with social issues. Comparing the women's and LGBT movements to the mass slaughter of Mao's Cultural Revolution, Buchanan wrote (emphasis added):
"Pope Francis doesn't want cultural warriors; he doesn't want ideologues," said Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash.:
Yet here is further confirmation His Holiness seeks to move the Catholic Church to a stance of non-belligerence, if not neutrality, in the culture war for the soul of the West.
There is a small problem with neutrality. As Trotsky observed, "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." For the church to absent itself from the culture war is to not to end that war, but to lose it.
The cultural revolution preached by Marxist Antonio Gramsci is continuing its "long march" through the institutions of the West and succeeding where the violent revolutions of Lenin and Mao failed. It is effecting a transvaluation of all values. And it is not interested in a truce with the church of Pope Francis, but a triumph over that church which it reviles as the great enemy in its struggle.
Indeed, after decades of culture war waged against Christianity, the Vatican might consider the state of the Faith.
"Who am I to judge," Pope Francis says of homosexuals.
Well, he is pope. And even the lowliest parish priest has to deliver moral judgments in a confessional.
The shift in tone ushered in by Pope Francis is merely the latest cultural development to provoke Buchanan's ire. In August, he fondly reminisced about the days of school segregation. Homosexuality, he believes, is "unnatural and immoral," while marriage equality is an "Orwellian absurdity." With LGBT people beginning to win basic legal protections and social recognition, Buchanan pines for the days when that was unthinkable - before society believed "[t]hat all races, religions and ethnic groups are equal," before , as Buchanan puts it, there were too many Jews on the Supreme Court. His model for a better, more "moral" society? Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Despite admitting that Republicans played a major role in forcing the government shutdown, the right-wing media have adopted GOP messaging portraying President Obama and Democrats as unwilling to resolve the crisis.
Fox News has continually injected race into its coverage of the murder of Oklahoma college student Christopher Lane, despite law enforcement's insistence that the crime, allegedly committed by three teens -- two black, one white -- has no evidence of a racial motive.
Fox News and right-wing talking heads like Rush Limbaugh have not hesitated to inject harmful and unnecessary racial overtones into their coverage of an Australian teen shot and killed at random in Oklahoma. Fox and Rush are feeding into a well-worn script of biased media coverage of violent crimes that academic research has shown favors white people and disparages black people with seriously ill effects on racial comity and equal justice in America.
On August 16, three teens -- one white, two black -- shot and killed Christopher Lane, an Australian attending school in Oklahoma, while he was out for a jog.
Conservative media figures pounced on the story with a racial lens. On his radio show, Limbaugh called the murder, "Trayvon Martin in reverse, only worse," and speculated that the teenagers "got bored and said, 'Let's go shoot a white guy!'"
Over at Fox News, guest Pat Buchanan appeared on the set of On the Record With Greta Van Susteren to predict that the shooting was "racial" while running through a list of dubious statistics on interracial crime that he used to claim that "racial hate crimes [are] 40 times more prevalent in the black community than the white community, and nobody talks about it."
On the morning side, Fox & Friends wondered why civil rights activists Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson hadn't responded to the murder, while Fox News' White House correspondent Ed Henry asked Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest if the White House had any reaction to Lane's murder "apparently by three African-American young men."
Unfortunately, Fox News' coverage of this tragedy fits a long pattern of racially-biased media coverage of crime stories -- a pattern that has demonstrably harmful effects. Professor of media & public affairs at George Washington University Robert Entman highlighted a few of the subtle media trends recorded in various studies. They include:
1. Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to appear as lawbreakers in the news - particularly when the news is focusing on violent crime. [...]
2. [W]hites are overrepresented as victims of violence and as law-enforcers, while blacks are underrepresented in these sympathetic roles.
3. [B]lacks in criminal roles tend to outnumber blacks in socially positive roles in newscasts and daily newspapers. [...]
4. [D]epictions of black suspects...tend to be more symbolically threatening than those of whites accused of similar crimes...In the ubiquitous "perp walks," blacks were twice as likely as whites to be shown under some form of physical restraint by police - although all were accused of scary and generally violent crimes.
7. [B]lack victims are less likely to be covered than white victims in newspaper coverage of crime.
Pat Buchanan found the silver linings in segregation, claiming that segregated schools were "the transmission belts of patriotism and traditional values rooted in biblical truths" and noting that segregated schools today would be deemed unconstitutional, despite having "graduated hardworking, law-abiding and productive citizens."
From Buchanan's August 23 syndicated column:
If we go back to the end of World War II, 90 percent of black families consisted of a mother and father and children raised and disciplined by their parents. The churches to which these families went on Sundays were stronger. Black schools may have been largely segregated, but they were also the transmission belts of patriotism and traditional values rooted in biblical truths and a Christian faith.
Though such schools graduated hardworking, law-abiding and productive citizens, today they would be closed as unconstitutional.
Indeed, all of those character- and conscience-forming institutions of yesterday are in an advanced state of decline today.
Pat Buchanan continued his long history of racially controversial statements by using the murder of an Australian student in Oklahoma to engage in a discussion of interracial violence that appeared to serve no purpose other than to perpetuate stereotypes of African Americans.
Last week, an Australian baseball player jogging in an Oklahoma neighborhood was shot and killed "by three 'bored' teenagers who decided to kill someone for fun."
On the August 21 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, guest Pat Buchanan speculated that the shooting was "racial" (even though one of the alleged perpetrators is white). He blamed hip-hop, rap, and cable television for engendering a culture of violence among young African-Americans before claiming that "racial hate crimes" are "40 times more prevalent in the black community than the white community, and nobody talks about it." He argued that African-Americans are disproportionately violent and pointed out that "interracial rape is almost exclusively black-on-white," comments that echo century-old stereotypes of African-American men as innately brutish predators.
Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan added his voice to the chorus of right-wing defenders of Russia's crackdown on gays and their supporters, writing that international criticism of Russia shows people can no longer distinguish between "good and evil."
In his August 13 syndicated column, Buchanan took America's "moral and cultural elites" to task for their opposition to Russian laws banning the positive depiction of homosexuality and the adoption of Russian children by any foreign couples from countries with marriage equality. Buchanan pined for the days when society ostracized gays, while lauding Russian President Vladimir Putin for seeking to restore a "moral compass" to Russia by implementing its anti-gay policies:
Our moral and cultural elites have put Putin on notice: Get in step with us on homosexual rights -- or we may just boycott your Sochi games.
What this reveals is the distance America has traveled, morally and culturally, in a few short years, and our amnesia about who we Americans once were, and what it is we once believed.
Putin is trying to re-establish the Orthodox Church as the moral compass of the nation it had been for 1,000 years before Russia fell captive to the atheistic and pagan ideology of Marxism.
"The adoption of Christianity," declared Putin, "became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland, made it an inseparable part of the Christian civilization and helped turn it into one of the largest world powers."
Anyone ever heard anything like that from the Post, the Times or Barack Hussein Obama?
Buchanan is fond of mourning "who we Americans once were." He's made a career of predicting the imminent collapse of American civilization as a result of Latino immigration, cozied up to white supremacists, and traced the decline of a once-great America to the historical moment when Americans started to affirm "[t]hat women and men are equal ... and that all races, religions, and ethnic groups are equal." It's no surprise, then, that he finds a kindred spirit in the retrograde Putin.