Media outlets largely focused on criticizing Vice President Joe Biden's demeanor during the October 11 vice presidential debate, ignoring the substantive arguments being addressed in the discussion. Meanwhile, fact-checkers were busy pointing out the inaccuracies in Congressman Paul Ryan's claims.
Mitt Romney's attack on President Obama following the deadly assaults on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Libya and Egypt yesterday drew no shortage of scrutiny from journalists who pointed out (correctly) that Romney got wrong the basic chronology of the incidents, and questioned the propriety of Romney's comments overall. This in turn has led to a backlash from conservatives who are faulting the media's response to Romney, arguing that we are in a presidential campaign and Romney should be allowed to "criticize" the president on foreign policy.
No argument here. The challenger should absolutely critique the policies of the incumbent. But that's not what Romney did. The core of Romney's response was a personal attack on the president for "sympathizing" with the people who killed U.S. diplomatic personnel, and the conservatives lashing out at the media are trying to mask that personal attack as foreign policy "criticism."
For example, the Wall Street Journal editorializes today that "the parsons of the press corps are offended by the debate. They're upset that Mitt Romney had the gall to criticize the State Department for a statement that the White House itself disavowed." National Review editor Rich Lowry writes in Politico:
When a U.S. Embassy gets stormed by protesters overseas, it's usually a matter of public concern. It might occasion headlines and commentary. Even debate between presidential candidates.
Unless one of the candidates is President Barack Obama and the other is Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Then, everything changes.
In the immediate aftermath of the deadly attacks on U.S. diplomatic installations in Egypt and Libya, the political debate fastened on the propriety of Romney criticizing the administration for its initial response. You know -- important stuff.
Forget the dead body of our ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who had been instrumental in aiding the rebellion. Forget the desecration of the embassy's flag in Cairo. Forget the question of what we're going to do to find the perpetrators or respond to two governments unable or unwilling to fulfill their most basic international responsibilities.
The reports from earlier this week about how Obama would use foreign policy as cudgel against Romney had barely faded when the media pack turned around and declared politics must stop at the water's edge, thank you very much.
The old complaint about Romney was that he didn't talk about foreign policy. The newly minted complaint about Romney was that he did talk about foreign policy. He gets it coming and going, and everywhere in between.
Lowry concludes: "If this isn't the time to talk about this record, when is the right time? For the press, politics doesn't stop at the water's edge. It stops wherever is most convenient for Obama's reelection campaign." One thing you'll notice about Lowry's op-ed is that, for all its exhortations of the importance of critiquing Obama's record, he doesn't actually quote anything from Romney's statement on the embassy attacks.
Members of the right-wing media have promoted the claim that President Obama has "gutted" Medicare in order to fund health care reform, while GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is attempting to preserve the program. In fact, though Obama and Ryan have advocated similar spending reductions, the Affordable Care Act would not affect Medicare benefits, while Ryan's plan is projected to harm current and future seniors' care.
Right-wing media figures are heaping praise on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan, with one Fox host calling Ryan "Mr. Budget." In fact, Ryan's budget plan would harm many Americans: It increases taxes on the poor while cutting them for the wealthy, drastically cuts Medicaid and other needed safety net programs, and would cost millions of jobs by reducing federal spending during a still-weak economy.
On America's Newsroom, Fox News promoted a Republican congressman's claim that a halt to government regulations will lower the unemployment rate, and then misled viewers over regulations' negligent effect on business and unemployment. In the last six years, regulations were responsible for less than 1 percent of all job loss, and small business owners have cited demand, not regulation, as their biggest obstacle to job creation.
Fox News contributor and National Review editor Rich Lowry claimed that because of the current economic situation, "it makes even less sense to pile new regulations on top of business to make the job of hiring people even more difficult than it is." Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers added that "regulation of small businesses is a problem" and agreed that government regulations "have been too much." Host Bill Hemmer then asked: "Why doesn't the White House do something about [regulation]? Unemployment's above 8 percent."
In reality, government regulations have a negligible impact on the unemployment rate. In 2011, government regulation was the impetus behind only 0.4 percent of all jobs lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For 2012 thus far, regulation is responsible for merely 0.28 percent of total new unemployment. Business demand for goods and services is responsible the vast majority of layoffs, as BLS shows:
From 2007-2009, during the economic recession, the BLS found that government regulation accounted for around 4,300 layoffs -- 0.3 percent of all those who lost their jobs. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) noted that these numbers are especially significant when compared with the number of jobs lost during the recession due to regulatory failures:
The 4,300 figure itself deserves further context. It does not take into account any offsetting job creation that the regulations may have spurred, such as jobs created from the increased demand for the products from companies in compliance with the regulations. More broadly, the 4,300 figure pales in comparison to any accounting of the jobs lost in this period due to the regulatory failures that contributed to the economy's financial crisis.
That extended mass layoffs resulting from government regulations/intervention are a small sliver of all such layoffs is not an anomaly of tough economic times (when more layoffs naturally reflect the lack of demand). In 2007, a year of modest job growth, just 0.3% of extended mass layoffs were attributed to government regulation/intervention.
Small business owners agree. In a 2011 survey of about 1,200 small business owners, more than 80 percent cited economic factors and lack of demand as the primary obstacles facing their business.
From the May 5 edition of Fox News Watch:
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|NRO contributor Robert Weissberg (left)|
at American Renaissance conference
with "pro-White" radio host James Edwards
and editor Jared Taylor.
In a post last night at NRO, Rich Lowry announced that Weissberg "will no longer be posting" at National Review due to his appearance at the American Renaissance conference:
Unbeknowst to us, occasional Phi Beta Cons contributor Robert Weissberg (whose book was published a few years ago by Transaction) participated in an American Renaissance conference where he delivered a noxious talk about the future of white nationalism. He will no longer be posting here. Thanks to those who brought it to our attention.
National Review, which recently severed its relationship with writer John Derbyshire for a column in which he advised parents to teach their children to be wary of blacks, has another contributor who may draw similar scrutiny.
In March, National Review Online contributor Robert Weissberg spoke at the annual conference of the magazine American Renaissance, described as a "white supremacist journal" by the Anti-Defamation League. Reportedly proposing "A Politically Viable Alternative to White Nationalism," Weissberg described to the audience of 150 an "enclave" solution in which zoning laws and other methods could be used to create "Whitopias" in America.
Weissberg, an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois, is a regular contributor to National Review Online, having written 10 posts for its Phi Beta Con blog on education, the most recent coming within the last week.
During his speech at the conference, Weissberg discussed how to keep "Whitopias" white and the positives of "maintaining whiteness," according to the American Renaissance website:
Prof. Weissberg argued that an "80 percent solution" would be one that enforced the "First-World" standards of excellence and hard work that attract and reward whites. He pointed out that there are still many "Whitopias" in America and that there are many ways to keep them white, such as zoning that requires large houses, and a cultural ambiance or classical music and refined demeanor that repels undesirables. This approach to maintaining whiteness has the advantage that people can make a living catering to whites in their enclaves.
Prof. Weissberg went on to argue that liberals are beyond reason when it comes to race, that explaining the facts of IQ or the necessity of racial consciousness for whites "is like trying to explain to an eight-year-old why sex is more fun than chocolate ice cream."
Other speakers at the conference include James Edwards, known for his "pro-white" radio show, Political Cesspool, and the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the white nationalist American Third Position party, Mervin Miller and Virginia Abernathy.
Last Thursday, longtime National Review writer Derbyshire published a piece for Taki's Magazine that urged parents to teach their children to, among other things, not "attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks." The piece was swiftly condemned across the ideological spectrum; on Saturday night National Review Editor Rich Lowry announced that Derbyshire could no longer write for National Review. Lowry did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Weissberg's standing with National Review Tuesday morning.
Weissberg spoke with Media Matters Monday evening about his views and American Renaissance involvement, first noted at LittleGreenFootballs.com.
Asked why he would appear at an event sponsored by American Renaissance, Weissberg defended the group.
"It really is, it's not a white supremacist, as far as I'm concerned. There are probably people in the organization who are white supremacists, okay. There are probably people in the Democratic party and the Republican party who are also, okay," he said. "But I would not tar an organization by singling out a few members who have odd extreme political views and then labeling the organization as endorsing those views. The problem, if I may digress here a little bit, I am a member of several organizations, sort of conservative, ranging from AR, which is, to much more respectable things and the thing about AR is that they cannot control who shows up. You walk in the door, or you pay your whatever it is, $75 convention fee, and you are part of the crowd, that's it."
An emerging myth being pushed by the right contends that federal spending to rescue GM and Chrysler was unnecessary, and that the companies instead should have gone through a "traditional" bankruptcy. In fact, economists at the time explained that frozen credit markets made private financing for a "traditional" bankruptcy impossible.
Last week, teenage mother Sarah McKinley used a shotgun to shoot and kill a home intruder in defense of her infant son. The case made national news after the media obtained the audio of her call to 911, in which she asked the operator for permission to fire.
It didn't take long for the National Rifle Association supporters in the right-wing media to deploy her harrowing experience as a cudgel against their political foes. Here'sNational Review editor Rich Lowry in his latest column:
Instances of self-defense are the anecdotes that gun controllers never want to hear. The NRA keeps a running list of them on its website: attempted armed robberies, home invasions, and other attacks rebuffed every month by the would-be victims. Surely, Sarah McKinley's assailants thought the young, slender, widowed mother was an easy mark. Her shotgun meant they were wrong. Who would have it any other way? Otherwise, the intruder has the knife and she has nothing except a cellphone and the wan hope that someone armed with a gun makes it to her in time.
Lowry's question is revealing, largely because he doesn't bother to attempt to name any of the "gun controllers" who wouldn't want McKinley to be able to defend herself.
Major gun violence prevention groups are upfront about their support for law-abiding citizens to be able to keep firearms for their own protection. Here's what the website of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says:
We believe that law-abiding citizens should be able to buy and keep firearms. And we believe there are sensible gun laws that we can and should insist upon when it comes to gun ownership.
And here's Mayors Against Illegal Guns:
We support the Second Amendment and the rights of citizens to own guns. We recognize that the vast majority of gun dealers and gun owners carefully follow the law. And we know that a policy that is appropriate for a small town in one region of the country is not necessarily appropriate for a big city in another region of the country.
The NRA's "running list" of self-defense anecdotes to which Lowry refers exists simply to push the myth that "gun controllers" don't want law-abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves.
From the December 10 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch:
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From the December 6 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the November 28 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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The right-wing media have attacked President Obama for commenting at a conference that "we've been a little bit lazy" about attracting foreign investment in America, claiming that he is "attacking Americans." However, several independent analysts have said that this line of attack takes Obama's comments out of context and that the president "wasn't calling Americans lazy."
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.
From the October 1 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch:
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