In their campaign to manufacture false attacks on health care reform, the right-wing media has seized on a new, obscure, and absurd argument: that, in oral arguments debating the merit of a legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (PPAC) individual mandate provision, Neal Katyal, the acting solicitor general of the United States, recommended that individuals who do not want to be subject to the mandate could choose to "make less money." Cue the right wing freakout.
The usual right-wing blogs led the charge, with Doug Powers writing: "Don't like the individual mandate in Obamacare and can't get a waiver? No problem -- just be poor." Perpetual misinformer Jim Hoft claimed: "Obama's solicitor general, Neal Kumar Katyal, told a federal appeals court that Americans who didn't like the individual mandate could always avoid it by choosing to earn less money," and concluded, "So there you have it. This is the Obama administration philosophy. Don't work so hard. Make less money and let other people pick up the tab. That should do wonders for the economy." A Red State blogger wrote (emphasis in the original): "That's Katyal advice to all of us that don't like the mandate or consider it unconstitutional...make less money."
Not to be outdone, the morning crew at Fox & Friends predictably ran with the story. After listening to the audio, co-host Steve Doocy referenced the upcoming legal challenge in Florida and asked "is that the best they can do? If you don't like it, make less money?" while co-host Brian Kilmeade called Katyal's supposed argument, "anti-American." Gretchen Carlson asked: "Do you think this guy misspoke or is telling the truth?" Watch:
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.
As Media Matters has previously reported, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed a cloture petition on President Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the ninth Circuit. Despite bipartisan support for Liu by prominent conservative politicians, the right-wing media have continuously attacked the nominee, and in some cases called for a filibuster of the nomination.
The right-wing media is hyping a study that attempted to measure the state-by-state unemployment effects of the stimulus, to claim that the bill actually destroyed jobs. But economists, including Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, have raised questions of "cherry picking" and dismissed the study's findings.
Yesterday, noted conspiracist, Islamophobe, and Fox Business regular Pam Geller forwarded an explosive allegation: that the military had "overruled" President Obama's order to abort the Osama bin Laden kill mission. As we detailed, Geller is so committed to trying to make Obama look bad that she was willing to casually accuse the military of essentially committing sedition. (Geller later updated with a second story that contradicted the details of the first.)
Her source for the allegation and the update was an anonymous writer named "Ulsterman," who regularly posts articles at "NewsFlavor" and other sites with user-submitted content. Ulsterman can be found tackling tough issues like whether Julia Roberts has gotten a "boob job" or if "a few more pizzas really account for the considerable increase in her breast size." Of more interest, however, are Ulsterman's series of "interviews" with a "long time D.C. insider" making fantastical allegations about the goings-on in the Obama administration.
Ulsterman's interviews with the "White House Insider" don't pass the smell test.
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.
Conservative media have gone to great lengths to portray Planned Parenthood as an organization of "child killers" bent on eliminating entire minority populations. These unhinged claims have led to sexist attacks on women and women's health services.
Following the president's deficit speech Wednesday, CNN's Erick Erickson quickly grasped at straws to revive one of the right-wing media's go-to falsehoods about healthcare: death panels.
From Erickson's RedState.com post, "Barack Obama Fully Embraces Death Panels":
While everyone else was focused on Barack Obama bashing Paul Ryan, I noticed that he took full ownership of death panels yesterday. Naturally, Obama did not call them death panels. He called them "an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers." But his description hits dead on with what his death panels will do.
According to Barack Obama yesterday, the death panels "will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services seniors need."
We already know what they'll recommend as "the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending". Barack Obama's own advisers have told us. They will prioritize giving health care to healthier people and let sicker people die. At end of life, they will deny people life sustaining treatment because, after all, they're going to die anyway. Note his phrasing: "protecting access to the services seniors need." Dying people, according to Obama's advisers, need hospice not hope. They certainly do not need expensive treatments that may buy them time to see the birth of a new grandchild or other reasons.
You may not like the use of the phrase "death panel," but make no mistake about it -- at the end of your life, in Barack Obama's America, his death panel will throw you under the bus in a way much closer to reality than metaphor.
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.
Discredited right-wing activist Lila Rose is promoting yet another video hoax, falsely claiming to have caught Planned Parenthood officials lying about the organization's work providing patients with access to cancer screenings, including mammograms. But the comments Rose highlights in no way contradict the undisputed fact that Planned Parenthood provides patients with access to these services.
CNN's Erick Erickson on Libya:
Using the same rationale George W. Bush used to go into Iraq, Barack Obama has now gone into Libya.
Erick Erickson, just four sentences later:
Whether you think he lied, was misled, or was right, George W. Bush did make a case to Congress and the American people prior to going into Iraq that Iraq was training Al Qaeda and, given its weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda, was an imminent threat to the United States.
Maybe I just missed it, but I don't remember Barack Obama claiming that Libya's weapons of mass destruction constitute an imminent threat to the U.S. I haven't seen any members of his administration warning of a "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud." The administration and its allies haven't been suggesting that Libya was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks.
So, no, Barack Obama isn't "using the same rationale George W. Bush used to go into Iraq." Erick Erickson is just lying. And he's doing it incompetently -- he can't even make it three paragraphs without accidentally debunking his own nonsense.
I wonder how long someone who claimed in March of 2003 that President Bush had manufactured the Iraq war in order to win re-election would have remained employed as a CNN contributor?
While you think about that, check out current CNN contributor Erick Erickson's "working theory on Obama in Libya":
There is not in any way, shape, or form any rational explanation for the United States engaged in Libya to do nothing except for one I can think of — Barack Obama's re-election.
Suddenly Obama can look Presidential again — all through manufacturing the need for American involvement where there was no need. Barack Obama wants to be re-elected. The best playbook for his re-election is that of Bill Clinton. But Clinton had a government shutdown and Kosovo. In the absence of either, Barack Obama must manufacture them.
And he has.
Hey, it's just a theory.
During the March 21st broadcast of his radio show, Erickson elaborated: "Is Barack Obama trying to get in good with defense contractors before the 2012 election?"
Here's another Erickson theory about Libya, also from the his March 21 radio show:
ERICKSON: By the way, it's the women's fault. … It's, apparently, the women in the Obama administration who have decided we needed to go to war in Libya. … This is typical. This is so typ-- i'm mean, I'm going to bring my inner sexist out I'm afraid tonight, some of you are going to be very upset with me. But this is like women drivers. We're going to war in Libya, we have no plan, we have no map, even if we have a map of war, um, it wasn't going to get read, they were going to pull over and ask the French apparently for help, or at least make the guy pull over and ask the French for help. This is crazy.
ERICKSON: This is just silly. I mean, back-seat driving by the women, and they're gonna get Barack Obama lost. What is it with Barack Obama caving to the women? I mean, now we know who rules his personal life. I guess Michelle is firmly in charge as well, if Barack Obama is going to cave that easy to three women in his administration over what to do with Libya.
And even more:
ERICKSON: It took the women to get him involved, and the women apparently went in without a clear plan. No shopping list.
Remember: CNN hired this third-rate Limbaugh-wannabe to be a contributor, and used him as an analyst for its State of the Union coverage.
The right-wing media is grasping for coherence in its attempts to portray military action in Libya as "Obama's Iraq."
As labor supporters in Wisconsin have protested Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union legislation, right-wing media have smeared the protesters with numerous insults, including labeling them "slobs," "rabid," and "frothing."
CNN drew criticism last Friday for an article headlined "Are whites racially oppressed?" In addition to legitimizing "pro-White" commentators James Edwards and Peter Brimelow, the article quoted the president of a Texas group called "Former Majority Association for Equality" that exists solely to provide college scholarships to white men. FMAE president Colby Bohannan told CNN, "There was no one for white males until we came around."
As it turns out, that wasn't the first attention CNN gave Bohannan and the Former Majority Association for Equality. On Tuesday, March 1, CNN posted an interview with Bohannan on its web page, then devoted two segments to it during that day's edition of CNN Newsroom. During that coverage, CNN contributor Erick Erickson endorsed the FMAE's white-men-only scholarships:
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think, Erick? Isn't this just another in a multitude of specific scholarships for lots of different kinds of people?
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, absolutely. It is. If we're going to get rid of scholarships for African-Americans and get rid of scholarships for Hispanics and get rid of scholarships for Asians and get rid of scholarships for women, then let's get rid of the scholarships. But if we're not going to get rid of those, then let's keep this one.
Erickson then suggested that women, Hispanics, and Asians have not been historically disadvantaged in America:
ROMANS: But Erick, don't you think
this is a little bit different. Because we have a history that's tortured and painful in this country that makes, even today when you start talking about a white-male only scholarship it makes people kind of cringe. Because there was a time when white men frankly ruled this country and had all of the access, and the reason why we have all of these --
ERICKSON: Absolutely. But they don't anymore. You can justify that, for example, a scholarship for African-Americans, given the history of this country. But can you for Asians or Hispanics or for women? Now we've reached the point in Texas, at least, where the white men are no longer the majority in Texas.
In addition to Erickson's endorsement of the white-men-only scholarship, CNN's Newsroom coverage of the topic was noticeably unbalanced. CNN twice played video clips of Bohannan, but did not air or quote any comments by opposing advocates or experts. Five times during the broadcast, CNN anchor Christine Romans read reader comments left on CNN's web page in support of the scholarship; she only read an opposing comment once. Romans repeatedly characterized CNN readers' response to the whites-only scholarships as overwhelmingly positive without noting that there is absolutely no reason to think that comments left on a blog are a representative sample of anything. Romans even claimed "The vast majority of the comments we got on the blog support the scholarship, and these are people of all different ages and races," suggesting that support for whites-only scholarship is strong among all demographics. But she had no way of knowing that the blog comments (which aren't a representative sample of anything anyway) really were from "people of all different ages and races."
Though CNN didn't quote or refer to any experts or advocates who disagree with Bohannan, an ABC News article last week quoted a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board noting that Bohannan's central premise is flawed:
"Our largest state-funded financial aid program is the Texas Grants program, and in 2009 we served about 63,000 students," said Dominic Chavez at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which promotes greater access to higher education in the state.
"I am not sure I accept the premise that these programs are targeting students of color," Chavez said. "These programs are targeted to poor Texans. There is no consideration of race [or] ethnicity for the allocation of these awards."
The board's goal is to increase enrollment of every single ethnic group in higher education by 5.7 percent -- that includes whites as well as blacks, Asians and Hispanics, said Chavez, who pointed out that college enrollment rates are down among males across all ethnic groups.