As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in the next big reproductive rights case, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, some of right-wing media's favorite talking points about women and sex have made their way into amicus briefs filed with the Court.
On March 25, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Hobby Lobby, a case that could allow secular, for-profit corporate employers to impose their religious beliefs about birth control on employees by blocking their right to obtain contraceptives on company insurance plans. A ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby would not only significantly impact the religious freedoms of employees who have no moral objection to preventive health services like birth control, it would have a sweeping effect on years of corporate law precedent. But that hasn't stopped conservative, religious, and anti-reproductive rights groups from filing amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in favor of Hobby Lobby's position, parroting arguments often heard in right-wing media.
In a recent article in Slate, legal expert Emily Bazelon detailed how many of these amicus briefs, filed largely by religious conservatives, voiced arguments from a bygone era when it comes to reproductive rights. Bazelon wrote, "If it sounds like I'm describing a 1960s enraged sermon about the pill, I guess that's the point[.] I could be":
Meet the Press host David Gregory invited conservative activist Ralph Reed to comment on the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) event just held outside Washington, D.C., but never mentioned Reed's comparison of President Obama to segregationist George Wallace during his CPAC speech.
On March 7, Reed said during his speech at CPAC:
REED: And in Louisiana right now, this administration is trying to block the right of minority children to receive state aid to attend either a religious or a charter school where they are safe and where they can learn. Fifty years ago, George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door and said that African-American students couldn't come in. Today, the Obama administration stands in that same schoolhouse door and refuses to let those children leave. It was wrong then, it is wrong now, and we say to President Obama, let those children go.
As Mother Jones reported, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made a similar comparison at CPAC. Wallace was famous for being pro-segregation as Alabama governor and in 1968 ran as a presidential candidate for a third party whose platform opposed civil rights. A Wallace staffer explained that "race and being opposed to the civil rights movement and all it meant was the very heart and soul of the Wallace campaign." And Wallace's 1998 Washington Post obituary stated that he "vilified blacks" in his campaign.
But in the approximately seven minutes Reed was on a Meet the Press panel that discussed CPAC and Republican politics, neither Gregory nor anyone else mentioned Reed's smear of Obama. Watch:
Today, Glenn Beck's news website TheBlaze.com released a video compilation of clips from several public talks Soros had given, under the hyperventilating title: "OPEN SOCIETY: SOROS EXPLAINS THE ANTI-CAPITALIST, PRO-MARXIST TACTICS HE USES TO FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORM COUNTRIES." On his Fox News program, Beck promoted the video -- which he said was put together by "the journalists at the Blaze" -- and aired a clip showing, in Beck's view, that Soros wants to bring about a one-world government "the Marxist way."
Here's what Soros said in the clip about anticipating Britain's withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism:
SOROS: I precipitated the event which occurred I think the next day or within two days. So, in a way, it works as in the Marxist way. Marxist theory is that you can accelerate the course of history by anticipating it correctly. And I think he's -- in that particular instance -- he is right. It really works that way.
The operative phrase here is "in that particular instance." Soros is clearly not commenting on any other component of Karl Marx's philosophy. But Beck seems to think that just quoting someone approvingly equals an endorsement of that person's entire world view.
That would be a ridiculous standard to hold people to even if Beck applied it consistently. Lucky for Beck's friends, it doesn't apply to them.
Apparently Glenn Beck isn't the only Fox News figure that thinks God speaks through them. According to a report by The New Republic's Bradford Plumer on Ralph Reed's return to prominence after being linked to con man Jack Abramoff, Reed told a gathering in Washington, D.C. that Fox News' Sean Hannity convinced him to come back to the political fray. Considering Hannity's long history of GOP boosterism, this is not particularly notable. What is notable how Reed claims Hannity accomplished this:
"Broken" was once the perfect word to describe Reed's career. In 2006, his campaign for Georgia's lieutenant governorship imploded after investigators revealed his work with con man Jack Abramoff. Reed, the choirboy-faced moralist, had been secretly lobbying on behalf of an Indian casino, and the press was quick to write his political obituary. But after Barack Obama swept into the White House on the strength of a high-tech political organizing juggernaut, friends implored Reed--the former executive director of the Christian Coalition and one of the key architects of the GOP congressional takeover in 1994--to get back in the game. As Reed tells his audience at the Mayflower, a phone call from Sean Hannity persuaded him. "I wanted to know that this was not me," Reed says, "that this was not any ambition of mine. I wanted to know that this was the Lord." Reed breaks into a sly grin as he recounts Hannity's response: "Ralph, God is speaking through this phone line right now, and he's using me to deliver the message."
Apparently, after Reed returned to politics, he chose to help Hannity's Fox News colleague (and self-proclaimed fellow vessel for God) Glenn Beck assist with the founding of the Black Robe Regiment. Beck has since invited his "friend" Reed onto his radio show to thank him for his role in the 8-28 rally.
Reed was actually not the only Abramoff-linked figure involved with Beck's 8-28 rally. Black Robe Regiment member and repeated Beck guest Rabbi Daniel Lapin is the man whom Abramoff reportedly "credits" with "introducing him to" Tom DeLay.
To recap: God is supposedly speaking through Fox News hosts, and he's telling them to help rehabilitate the political prospects of people linked to convicted felon Jack Abramoff.
From the September 21 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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Discussing Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally today on CSPAN, Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition said, "This is not a tea party event. It is not a political event."
Whether officially a tea party event or no, tea party infrastructure has been heavily involved in the rally's promotion, logistics, and attendance. According to an August 27 ABC News article, "FreedomWorks, which organized last year's Tea Party extravaganza in Washington, D.C. and is planning another rally on Sept. 12, is helping Beck's team with promotion and logistics." Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler is quoted in the article, saying, "I can't find anywhere that people aren't coming from to go to this event. Our members are coming from all over the country."
As explained on a page of the Tea Party Patriots website, "Tea Party Patriots will be coordinating the volunteer marshalls for the 8/28 Restoring Honor event at the Lincoln Memorial." An August 24 Politico article reported that Beck requested that the tea party group assist with planning the rally:
At the request of Beck's team, which lacked the organizational infrastructure or logistical know-how to pull off Saturday's march, Tea Party Patriots agreed to help promote the march among its 500,000 e-mail subscribers and to provide 400 volunteers to staff it, a requirement before the National Park Service would issue a permit.
Conservative media figures including Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ralph Reed, and Mark Steyn have advanced the GOP talking point that health care cooperatives are, in Hannity's words, "basically the same thing" as the public option "with a new packaging." But mischaracterizing cooperatives as identical to the public option ignores numerous economists who have argued that cooperatives will be less effective than a public option.
On The Big Story, Ralph Reed repeated the false claim that Sen. Barack Obama "has said that he will embrace [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad," a claim President Bush made recently on Fox News Sunday, which was not challenged by Chris Wallace. John Gibson did not rebut Reed's assertion.