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  • Boston Radio Host And Trump Agree Obama “Has More Anger” Toward Trump Than ISIS

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    During an interview with Boston radio host Howie Carr, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump agreed with the host that President Obama has “more anger” toward Trump than he does toward ISIS. Carr and Trump spent much of the interview pushing false information about gun control measures and about presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s policy positions in wake of the June 12 terror attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando.

    Carr, an avid Donald Trump supporter who has boasted about golfing with the presumptive nominee and has appeared at the candidate’s rallies, spent much of the June 13 interview asking Trump about his response to the previous day’s attack. Trump agreed with Carr that President Obama “has more anger” toward Trump than ISIS, and he repeated the cryptic language he used earlier in the day when he said Obama’s response proves there is “something going on that is very strange,” a phrase some press believe insinuates that Obama supports terrorism and that The Washington Post reported “is characteristic of politicians who seek to exploit the psychology of suspicion and cynicism to win votes.” From the Howie Carr Show:

    HOWIE CARR (HOST): Why do you think the president of the United States gets more angry at you than he does at ISIS?

    DONALD TRUMP: Well it’s true, he has more anger toward me than he does for ISIS. And a number of people have said that. And I don’t know, there’s something going on. Very strange situation. All of the killing, all of the death, and now its ISIS related, it’s been related that it’s ISIS motivated and related, and he gives the press conference likes it’s a day in the park, like let’s all fall asleep together. I don’t get it, you don’t get it, I don’t think anybody gets it but him maybe. Maybe, I don’t know, I don’t know what he’s doing. But, certainly I don’t know if you saw his press conference today, it’s like the world is a bowl of cherries. He doesn’t have a lot of anger at what happened to these wonderful people.

    CARR (HOST): He just wants to talk about gun control. It’s the same old playbook.

    Carr asked Trump what he meant when he said “there is something going on” and how he responds to critics who suggest the candidate was insinuating Obama was complicit in the Orlando attacks. Trump responded, “I am going to let people figure that out for themselves, Howie, because to be honest with you there certainly doesn’t seem to be a lot of anger or passion” coming from Obama.

    The interview moved to the issue of gun control, with Trump scoffing at the idea that increased gun control could have prevented the attack and speculating that if more patrons in the nightclub had had guns, it would have been “a much different deal.” Trump went on to push  the myth that more gun ownership is the answer to stopping mass shootings, saying, “It sounded like there were no guns. They had a security guard, other than that, there were no guns in the room.” Trump did not directly address reports that the security guard was armed and exchanged fire with the shooter.

    Carr supported Trump’s claims that gun control wouldn’t help and mischaracterized gun control legislation as confiscation of all firearms. “If you can’t round up 11 million illegal aliens, how are you going to round up 300 million guns?” Carr asked. Trump responded by saying “Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the 2nd Amendment … and ... take all guns away from law-abiding citizens” -- a claim that Politifact has rated “false.”

    Trump also balked at the idea that the shooter was a “lone wolf” and suggested that there are “thousands, I would be willing to bet, that are just like him or worse.”

    Carr said he was “glad” that in Trump’s speech about the attack, he said the president has the “right to ban any group from the United States,” referring to Trump’s infamous pledge to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. Trump again reiterated his claim, saying the president has “an absolute right” to ban any group he perceives as a threat.

    You can listen to the entire interview between Trump and Howie Carr below:

    May Selcraig and Sarah Zieve contributed research to this post.

    Photo Credit: Newsmax via Facebook

  • Tampa Bay Times: Trump Speech “Resorted To Bombastic Demagoguery” While Clinton’s Offered “Somber Steadiness”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    An editorial in the Tampa Bay Times praised presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s response to the June 12 terror attack in which a gunman entered an Orlando gay nightclub and murdered 49 people, saying “the contrast” to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s response “could not be starker nor the stakes higher for the nation’s future.”  

    Following Trump’s speech, media quickly criticized his response, calling it “horrifying,” “the scariest political speech,” and “outright fascism.” On the same day, media also criticized Trump for insinuating that Obama sympathizes with terrorists and for revoking the press credentials of The Washington Post following what Trump called “incredibly inaccurate coverage.”

    The Tampa Bay Times’ June 13 editorial took issue with Trump’s speech, stressing the need for a “sophisticated approach” to addressing the complex issue of terrorism both foreign and domestic. The paper said Trump’s “rambling” response was littered with oversimplifications of the issues and included false accusations against Clinton and President Obama. By comparison, the editorial called Clinton’s statement more “responsible” and said that it offered a more detailed policy response. From the Tampa Bay Times:

    Even as the names of those killed in the Orlando massacre continued to be released Monday, the political debate resumed over how to fight terrorism and hatred. Hillary Clinton provided somber steadiness and a thoughtful way forward. Donald Trump resorted to bombastic demagoguery, profiling and reckless political attacks. The contrast could not be starker nor the stakes higher for the nation's future.

    [...]

    Fighting terrorism and hatred, keeping this nation safe and preserving our constitutional freedoms requires a sophisticated approach at home and abroad. Yet Trump has suggested President Barack Obama resign and declared Monday the nation is "led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind.'' It's hard to imagine any other presidential candidate making such a sinister insinuation about an incumbent after such a national tragedy.

    In a rambling speech Monday afternoon, Trump repeated he would unilaterally ban immigration from multiple nations to stop terrorism. He insisted Muslims in this country know who the terrorists are and should stop protecting them, and he rejected accepting any Syrian refugees regardless of their backgrounds. He mocked any new gun control initiatives, falsely alleged that Clinton wants to repeal the Second Amendment and vowed not to succumb to political correctness. Such a defiant tone and simplistic approach is not comforting to an anxious nation or a world where cultivating alliances and nurturing relationships with law-abiding members of all religions has never been more important.

    In tone and substance, Clinton provided a more detailed, responsible vision. She methodically delivered a three-pronged strategy focused on strengthening alliances to fight terrorism abroad, tightening gun controls at home and calling on Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to work with the United States to counter the radical rhetoric of Islamic extremists. These are the sorts of policy questions that should be the focus of the presidential campaign, rather than the name-calling and bigotry embraced by Trump.

  • NRA Tries To Use LGBT People For Political Gain Weeks After Attacking Transgender Equality

    New Ad Appealing To LGBT Community Follows Ugly Attack On Caitlyn Jenner And Transgender Community At The NRA’s Annual Meeting

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    An NRA-affiliated group is reportedly releasing an ad that baselessly warns proposed regulations on ammunition purchases in California would disarm LGBT people just weeks after the NRA mocked societal acceptance of transgender people as “twisted” and “perverted.”

    On June 6, Time reported on growing NRA opposition to a California ballot initiative called “Safety for All” that proposes “a package of commonsense gun reforms requiring instant background checks for purchases of ammunition, strengthening background checks for gun purchases, prohibiting possession of large detachable military-style magazines, and requiring the immediate surrender of firearms for people convicted of serious and violent crimes.” The effort is being led by California’s lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom.

    In opposition to the initiative, NRA-affiliated group Coalition for Civil Liberties (CCL) is releasing a series of ads suggesting that the initiative could pose a danger to women and LGBT people by limiting their ability to defend themselves with a gun. CCL is a “project” of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, the NRA’s California affiliate group.

    But the ads come just weeks after a top NRA official cited growing acceptance of transgender people as an example of how American values have become “twisted” and “perverted” in a speech before 80,000 NRA members.

    As Time explained, the CCL’s ads will feature a woman and a transgender actor who draw a gun when confronted by an attacker, but are unable to fire the weapon because it is unloaded:

    The organization is releasing its first television ad in the state Monday targeted at suburban women, featuring a woman walking through a darkened parking structure when she is approached by an assailant. When the woman attempts to fire a handgun in her possession for self-defense, the hammer drops on an empty chamber because the weapon isn’t loaded. It concludes with the ominous slogan, “Take Away Our Rights, Take Away Our Life.”

    A second, nearly identical commercial will be released Wednesday, except the character in the spot will [be] transgender, and that ad will be targeted to areas with large concentrations of LGBT Californians.

    During a June 6 appearance on the NRA’s radio show, Richard Grenell, the GOP operative who is leading CCL efforts, claimed that Newsom “is really beginning to take away basic rights for vulnerable populations, and so what we decided to do was to make a commercial which shows the very real possibility of what could happen to someone if Gavin Newsom had his way.”

    Nothing in the ballot initiative would prevent legally eligible people from buying ammunition for their firearms, and none of the proposals would create special rules for the purchase of ammo by women or LGBT people.

    Furthermore, the CCL effort comes just weeks after the NRA’s top lobbyist mocked the notion of transgender people being accepted by society.

    During a May 20 speech before 80,000 NRA members at the NRA’s annual meeting, NRA Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox attacked acceptance of Olympic athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, calling her “Bruce” and “he.” Following Cox’s speech, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said the Obama administration was “in the toilet” because of efforts by the administration to prevent schools from discriminating against transgender students.

    Just moments into his speech, Cox lamented that “the America we know is becoming unrecognizable. Everything we believe in, everything we’ve always known to be good, and right, and true has been twisted, perverted and repackaged to our kids as wrong, backwards and abnormal.”

    Citing examples of America’s supposed downfall, Cox went on to claim, “Who are our kids supposed to respect and admire? The media tells them Bruce Jenner is a national hero for transforming his body, while our wounded warriors, whose bodies were transformed by IEDs and rocket-propelled grenades, can’t even get basic healthcare from the VA.”

     

     

    In a speech following Cox’s, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre railed against the Obama administration’s recent guidance explaining that public schools must allow transgender students to use facilities, like bathrooms and locker rooms, that correspond to their gender identity.

    LaPierre claimed the Obama administration has not done enough to combat gang violence “in places like Chicago and Detroit” to argue that “a Clinton White House would be a dangerous extension of the Obama White House. And where has this White House put its full weight? In the toilet. In bathrooms in North Carolina, in school districts all over our country.”

     

     

    LaPierre and Cox’s speeches immediately preceded the NRA’s endorsement of Donald Trump, who has said he supports allowing states to pass discriminatory bathroom bills that broadly ban transgender people from using facilities that correspond to their gender identity.

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Highlights “Sinister” Effect Of Super PAC Ads On Voter Turnout

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board stressed the negative impact super PAC ads have on voter turnout as outside money targeting the presidential and Senate races begins coming into play across the country. Research highlighted by the Post-Gazette showed that the negative ads run by super PACs can discourage voter turnout, a result the board called “sinister and profoundly anti-democratic.”

    The May 30 editorial cited research from the Ohio Media Project -- “a consortium of radio and television stations and the largest newspapers in the state” --  which found that negative campaign ads like the ones often funded by super PACs “are designed to suppress voter turnout as much as they are to persuade voters to support one candidate over another.”

    The Post-Gazette underscored that while super PAC spending occurs in support of both Democratic and Republican candidates, the 2012 presidential election saw “$424.4 million [spent] supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and $145 million supporting Democratic President Barack Obama.” The editorial named the billionaire Koch brothers -- who have committed at least $30 million for ads aimed at influencing Senate races in the 2016 --  as a major supporters of super PACs behind negative ads. From the Post-Gazette:

    Researchers found that only about 1 percent of voters, primarily independents, are moved from one camp to another because of negative ads, but in swing states, like Ohio, sometimes elections are decided by 1 percent or less. But the researchers also found that, “especially with moderate voters, you get a demobilization effect, where they just kind of turn off, ‘This is a nasty campaign, I just want to stay home.’ ”

    That is truly sinister and profoundly anti-democratic.

    Equally disturbing as the attack ads and their intent is the answer to this question. Who is paying for this garbage? In the 2012 presidential election, independent spending — by groups not connected with either political party — came to $424.4 million supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and $145 million supporting Democratic President Barack Obama.

    The sources of that money, often called “dark money,” are being kept secret, and that is wrong.

    [...]

    The super PAC Americans for Prosperity is a good example. Look up its 2012 expenditures in opensecrets.org and the only line that comes up is: $33,542,051 spent against President Obama’s re-election.

    The Center for Responsive Politics identified AFP’s biggest contributor as Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is controlled by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch. But the FEC did not require this disclosure.

  • WI Radio Host Talked #NeverTrump With Bill Kristol, Then Immediately Ignored Sen. Ron Johnson’s Trump Support

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER & SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes, who loudly denounced Donald Trump’s campaign during the state’s primary and who has committed himself to the “Never Trump” cause, did not bring up the presumptive Republican nominee when interviewing Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who has pledged his support to Trump. Just minutes before hosting Johnson, Sykes interviewed Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, and discussed drafting a third party candidate.

    Sykes gained notoriety for his resistance to Trump ahead of the Wisconsin primary. Unaware of the host’s resistance to him, Trump sparred with Sykes on his show a week before the primary in an interview that Politico called a “#NeverTrump radio buzzsaw.”

    Sykes introduced Kristol on the May 16 edition of his radio show as being “more 'Never Trump' than me if that’s possible.” The two discussed the possibility of drafting a third party nominee with the hope of stopping a Trump presidency. Sykes also brought up a Breitbart.com article that labled Kristol a “renegade Jew” for seeking to derail Trump’s campaign.

    Later in the show, Sykes hosted Sen. Johnson, whose Senate seat is viewed as vulnerable, especially with Trump as his party’s presumptive nominee. Over the weekend, Johnson said he was "sympathetic to someone like Mr. Trump" and tried to make it clear he was not endorsing Trump, but rather pledging support to the GOP nominee.

    Despite Johnson’s recent comments, Sykes never asked Johnson about his support of Trump as the presumptive nominee -- nor did he mention Trump’s name during the interview.

    As the Associated Press reported on April 4, GOP strategists have advised vulnerable senators to “keep it local” in their interviews and comments going into the election season, a strategy that was seemingly deployed by Johnson during his interview with Sykes. Johnson and Sykes talked about Johnson’s “Right To Try” legislation, which deals with terminally ill patients using experimental drugs, and his Democratic opponent Russ Feingold's criticism of Johnson for linking his Senate race to 9/11.

     

  • Inside The Fossil Fuel Industry's Media Strategy To Drill And Mine On Public Lands

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    A handful of fossil fuel industry front groups are engineering media campaigns aimed at persuading the public that the federal government should relinquish control of public lands to western states, claiming it would benefit the states economically. But evidence actually suggests that these land transfers would harm state economies, and the industry front groups are hiding their true motivation: opening up more public lands to oil drilling and coal mining while sidestepping federal environmental laws.

  • Trump Supporter Howie Carr: Those Killed "In Brussels Yesterday Were Permanently Cured Of Their 'Islamophobia'"

    Carr: "I Don't Know If We Need To Use A Nuclear Bomb, But We Could Carpet-Bomb" Raqqa.

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    Boston Herald columnist and talk radio host Howie Carr supported xenophobic and aggressive rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates following the March 22 terrorist attacks in Brussels. Carr agreed with Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) call to "carpet-bomb" Raqqa, Syria, and defended Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the United States, saying that "30 civilized human beings in Brussels yesterday were permanently cured of their 'Islamophobia.'"

    In his March 23 column in the Boston Herald, Carr wrote (emphisis added):

    Donald Trump is still right about stopping Muslim immigration "until we can figure out what is going on."

    Anybody in Brussels care to argue the point?

    It's not xenophobia to talk about a timeout for as long as necessary, and it's certainly not racism -- Islam is a religion, not a race. And by the way, any president has every right to halt the influx of these unvetted hordes, should he decide that the unwanted arrival of any group is "detrimental."

    [...]

    Muslims make up 1 percent of the American population, but since 9/11 have committed 50 percent of the terrorist attacks in the United States. Which means a Muslim is 5,000 times more likely to be a terrorist than anybody else. That stat comes from National Review, hardly a Donald Trump fanzine.

    [...]

    Bottom line: More than 30 civilized human beings in Brussels yesterday were permanently cured of their "Islamophobia." And the chattering classes still wonder why Donald Trump keeps winning primaries.

    On the day of the attack, Carr used his radio show to call for increased military action in Syria, particularly in the de facto ISIS capital of Raqqa. In response to a caller who suggested dropping a nuclear weapon on the city, Carr said, "I don't know if we need to use a nuclear bomb, but we could carpet-bomb" it, repeating a suggestion Cruz has made.

    Military leadership have dismissed the idea of carpet-bombing Raqqa, saying that "indiscriminate bombing, where we don't care if we're killing innocents or combatants, is just inconsistent with our values." ISIS members are surrounded by innocent civilians, and past Russian bombing of Raqqa has resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians. Military analysts also believe such attacks could be used to recruit new ISIS members.

    In his Herald editorial supporting a ban on Muslim immigrants, Carr -- who has long supported Trump -- relies on false narratives that stoke fear of Muslims. The editorial attributes the assertion that Muslims have carried out "50 percent of the terrorist attacks in the United States" to a National Review article, which does not cite any data to back its claim. But terrorism experts' analysis of attacks within the U.S. since 9/11 paint a different picture.

    According to the nonpartisan New America Foundation, there have been twice as many "far right wing" attacks than "violent jihadist" attacks in the United States since 9/11. And while the death tolls from each group are similar, The New York Times reported that "New America and most other research groups exclude" "mass killings in which no ideological motive is evident, such as those at a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school in 2012" in their analysis.

    Furthermore, while the risk of jihadist terrorism often gets more media attention, researchers Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer explained to the Times that law enforcement recognizes right-wing extremism as a larger threat.

    If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff's departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed "Al Qaeda-inspired" violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University.

    "Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists," said Dr. Kurzman, whose study is to be published by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum.

    Kathryn Karmazyn contributed research to this post.

  • Boston's Howie Carr Is Trump's New England Mouthpiece

    Carr Has Been Preaching The GOP Front-Runner's Divisive Message For Years

    ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    Boston Herald columnist and syndicated radio host Howie Carr took easily to supporting Donald Trump after spending years promoting similar anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric. Since Trump's rise, Carr has mocked his opponents, promoted Trump on his radio show, and appeared on stage to introduce the candidate.

  • Union Leader Fails To Note Own Reporting In Bungled Attack On Shaheen

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    A New Hampshire Union Leader editorial attempted to attack Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for her effort to secure extra funding to help states deal with drug addition by saying she was trying "to score points" by "providing ammunition for Democrats to accuse [Sen. Kelly] Ayotte [(R-NH)] of not responding forcefully enough." However, the editorial failed to note that Ayotte co-sponsored and voted for Shaheen's amendment, a fact that was reported in the Union Leader itself.

    The March 13 editorial claimed that "the politics are obvious" in the Democrats' failed amendment attempt to add extra funding to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) -- a bill which provides federal grants to states to combat heroin addiction and pain killer abuse. Suggesting only Shaheen supported the extra funding, the Union Leader claimed the amendment was an attempt by Shaheen to provide "ammunition for Democrats to accuse Ayotte of not responding forcefully enough."

    Democrats tried to score points by spending more of your money.

    In Washington, the U.S. Senate passed a bill reforming federal drug treatment programs. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte details the legislation more fully in an opinion column today.

    Again, Democrats attempted to outbid Republicans on the issue. New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen decided to attack the bill, even while voting for it, complaining that it lacked sufficient funding. But Congress dedicated $400 million to opioid treatment programs in December, which Shaheen called at the time "a big win" that would "help states like New Hampshire stem the tide of the heroin epidemic." The latest bill changed how that money would be spent.

    The politics are obvious. Hassan is sure to take fire for her disastrous drug czar, and Shaheen is providing ammunition for Democrats to accuse Ayotte of not responding forcefully enough. It's a shame such petty partisanship should mar bipartisan progress.

    While the Union Leader was quick to accuse Shaheen of trying to score political points, they failed to note that Ayotte co-sponsored and voted for Shaheen's amendment, something the Union Leader reported itself nearly two weeks ago. Ayotte also issued a press release supporting the amendment on March 2 saying she "remained committed to pursuing all options available to secure this funding."

    I cosponsored and voted to advance Senator Shaheen's amendment to provide emergency funding to address the opioid abuse epidemic, which is desperately needed in New Hampshire. While her measure unfortunately was not adopted, I remain committed to pursuing all options available to secure this funding. I also renew my call for the Department of Health and Human Services to expedite the release of funds that Congress has already appropriated so that New Hampshire and other states can quickly utilize federal dollars and grants to support local efforts to combat opioid abuse. Passing CARA will represent an important step forward in addressing the opioid abuse crisis and I urge the Senate to pass this legislation without delay.

  • Las Vegas Review-Journal Revises History To Blame Joe Biden For Republicans' Supreme Court Obstructionism

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    An editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal claimed Vice President Joe Biden is to blame for "bringing the [Supreme Court] nomination process to this partisan point" because of his role in opposing Ronald Reagan's 1987 nomination of the controversial judge Robert Bork. The paper neglected to mention any of the Republicans who also voted against Bork's nomination.

    The March 10 editorial highlighted a piece by Commentary editor Jonathan Tobin claiming that Biden and other Democrats' opposition to Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court was an example of the then-senator flip-flopping on partisan grounds to block a qualified candidate. They went on to claim that Bork's rejection caused today's partisanship over Supreme Court nominations:

    As Mr. Tobin points out, it was Mr. Biden who was arguably most responsible for bringing the nomination process to this partisan point in the first place -- and not because of his 1992 diatribe, but rather due to his efforts to squelch the nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, turning the name "Bork" into a verb in the process.

    Judge Bork was nominated in July 1987 by President Ronald Reagan to replace the retiring Lewis Powell. Before the nomination, Biden had repeatedly said that, barring any qualification or ethics issues, he would have no problem confirming a conservative to the court, regardless of any criticism he received from liberal groups. But when those same groups protested the nomination of the conservative Mr. Bork, Sen. Biden -- then the head of the Judiciary Committee in a Senate that had just swung to the Democrats -- flip-flopped, joining Ted Kennedy and other Democrats in an unjustified smear campaign of Bork that blocked his nomination, ruined his name and, as Mr. Tobin contends, broke the court.

    The Review-Journal presented a false comparison by claiming Biden's opposition to Bork's nomination equates to current Republican opposition to any potential nominee presented by President Obama.

    The Senate followed constitutional procedure in considering Bork's nomination. Because of Bork's record of opposing civil rights laws surrounding race and gender, both Democrats and Republicans voted to block his appointment to the court. In fact, as MSNBC's Steve Benen pointed out, even Sen. Strom Thurmond "urged the Reagan White House to nominate someone less 'controversial,'" and Reagan's subsequent choice, Anthony Kennedy, was confirmed overwhelmingly:

    When [Bork's] nomination reached the Senate floor, 58 senators, including six Republicans, voted to reject him. (After the vote, Strom Thurmond, of all people, urged the Reagan White House to nominate someone less "controversial.") The Republican president soon after nominated Anthony Kennedy, who was confirmed by the Democratic-led Senate, 97 to 0.

    [...]

    A little tidbit: more Republicans voted against Bork's nomination in 1987 than voted for Justice Elena Kagan's nomination in 2010. (Six Republicans opposed Bork; five Republicans supported Kagan.) It's the sort of thing that adds some context to the trajectory of GOP politics.

    The current Republican vow to refuse even to consider any Obama nominee is very different than Biden and the Democrats' opposition of Bork's nomination in 1987, which received confirmation hearings and a subsequent vote. As Michael Gerhardt, a professor of constitutional law at the University of North Carolina, wrote for SCOTUSblog, Republicans' obstruction of any Obama Supreme Court nominee has no historical precedent, and the president's power to nominate a justice "does not cease to have effect at certain times, even during presidential elections":

    There is, in short, no historical support for the claim that the Senate has a tradition of shutting down the Supreme Court appointment process in presidential election years. The tradition is the opposite, for the Senate to consider Supreme Court nominations, no matter the timing, and actually to confirm nominees when they are moderate and well qualified.

    The Constitution is not a suicide pact. It does not relieve our leaders of their powers and does not cease to have effect at certain times, even during presidential elections. President Abraham Lincoln made five Supreme Court nominations during the Civil War, Wilson made two during World War I, and Roosevelt made three during World War II. Hoover made three during the Great Depression.

  • Richmond Times-Dispatch Ignores Facts To Dismiss Money's Impact On Elections

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    A Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial dismissed money's impact on U.S. elections by taking a campaign finance reform advocate out of context while ignoring the overwhelming instances where money has played a crucial role in the election process.

    The March 9 editorial claimed that the theory that "money buys elections ... has never been the case" and that "the facts continue to shatter the myth," citing the presidential campaigns of former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Scott Walker, well-funded candidates who dropped out of the race. The editorial continued:

    The hard reality has led even some of the nation's most persistent campaign-finance scolds, such as Rick Hasen -- author of "Plutocrats United" -- to concede that "In spite of the rhetoric of some campaign reformers, money doesn't buy elections." Others still insist that it does, or will, someday -- just you wait. Big-donor money hasn't bought the 2016 election, says The New York Times -- "yet."

    [...]

    But while unions, nonprofits, and businesses can talk themselves hoarse, they can't cast ballots. Only the voters can do that -- and they often vote in ways that resoundingly reject the efforts of so-called big money. Just ask Jeb Bush about that.

    First, the editorial selectively quotes UCLA professor Rick Hasen, whose piece in The Washington Post explains that while "money doesn't buy elections," it "increases the odds of electoral victory and of getting one's way on policies, tax breaks and government contracts." His article continued:

    And the presidential race is the place we are least likely to see money's effects. Looking to Congress and the states, though, we can see that the era of big money unleashed by the Supreme Court is hurtling us toward a plutocracy in which the people with the greatest economic power can wield great political power through campaign donations and lobbying.

    Hasen's argument was backed up by a recent release by U.S. PIRG, which found that "87.5% of higher fundraising candidates won their congressional [primary] race and now head to the general election."

    Even the New York Times piece the Times-Dispatch's editorial dismisses is grounded in reality. In the 2012 election, a majority of the money spent in the election by both parties and super PACs spiked in October, the month before the general election. The Times piece argues -- again in a section left out of the Dispatch's editorial -- that major donors "like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson will come off the sidelines" in the general election.

    There are real impacts to more money in politics. When elected members of the judiciary know their rulings could be used against them during an election, they are less likely to rule in favor of defendants and more likely to hand down longer sentences. And as the Brennan Center for Justice explained in a blog post, even though there is a scientific consensus around man-made climate change, those who are less likely to believe the scientific consensus are more likely to receive money from "dirty energy sources."

  • Steve Deace: Christie Looked Like "A Whore Who Just Realized The John Skipped Out On The Bill"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    As Twitter lit up over Gov. Chris Christie's (R-NJ) facial reactions during a Donald Trump Super Tuesday speech -- with some saying the Trump supporter looked like he was "questioning all of his life choices" -- Iowa radio host Steve Deace took the criticism to the next level. Deace, a surrogate for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), tweeted that Christie "had the look of a whore who just realized the John skipped out on the bill."

    Deace has previously caused controversy on social media when he tweeted that presidential candidate Carly Fiorina had gone "full vagina" by bringing up her gender during the December 15 GOP presidential debate. Deace later apologized for the comment, but he also attempted to downplay the controversy by bringing up the widely debunked Planned Parenthood sting videos.

    The highly controversial host was named part of Cruz's Iowa leadership team, and according to Politico, "he and his wife mortgaged their assets and resources to help Cruz win Iowa."

  • Union Leader On Christie Endorsement: "Boy, Were We Wrong"

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    McQuaid Union Leader

    Editors at the New Hampshire Union Leader, the state's largest newspaper, apologized for their endorsement of former presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) following Christie's decision to endorse Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

    Since the Union Leader's original November 28 endorsement, which described Christie as "a solid, pro-life conservative" who "has the range and type of experience the nation desperately needs," the newspaper has published numerous editorials that praise and defend Christie and others that attack his opponents. But on February 29, following Christie's endorsement of GOP front-runner Donald Trump on February 26, the paper's publisher John M. McQuaid finally admitted to readers, "Boy, were we wrong" about endorsing Christie:

    We endorsed Chris Christie in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. Despite his baggage, we thought that as a Republican governor in a Democratic-leading state he had the skills and experience the presidency needs (and hasn't had of late). We also thought he had the best chance to take on and face down Donald Trump.

    Watching Christie kiss the Donald's ring this weekend -- and make excuses for the man Christie himself had said was unfit for the presidency -- demonstrated how wrong we were. Rather than standing up to the bully, Christie bent his knee. In doing so, he rejected the very principles of his campaign that attracted our support.

    Voters here apparently knew better than we. Most rejected Christie but divided their votes among several others, leaving Trump to claim victory. And now, despite specifically telling us that he would never endorse him, Christie is backing Trump.

    After its initial endorsement, the Union-Leader hyped many of Christie's harmful policy stances. For example, the editorial board justified the governor's flawed social security plan that would ultimately hurt low-income Americans and regurgitated Christie's overstated claims about his anti-terrorism record.

    Editors also failed to heed warnings about Christie coming from members of the New Jersey press. The Star-Ledger, New Jersey's largest newspaper, retracted the 2012 endorsement it gave Christie for governor after the Bridgegate scandal came to light. The paper told readers the endorsement was "regrettable" and offered a warning to others considering Christie:

    Yes, we knew Christie was a bully. But we didn't know his crew was crazy enough to put people's lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn't know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn't know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

    Even before this scandal train got rolling, this endorsement was a close call and a split vote among the editorial board. We regard Christie as the most overrated politician in the country, at least until now, a man who is better at talking than governing. We criticized him for trashing the working poor, for his tea party approach to the environment, for his opposition to gay marriage and a livable minimum wage. And so on.

    [...]

    Now, the governor is in a free fall in the polls, and liberals everywhere are rejoicing. And yes, it is delicious to see a bully like him lose the swagger.

    But be careful. Because if you turn your focus to the presidential race in 2016, you might wind up facing the same dilemma we did in the fall.

    After the Union Leader announced its endorsement, Star-Ledger editor Tom Moran contacted the paper's editorial board, which he concluded knew "almost nothing about [Christie's] record as governor." In speaking to Moran, Union Leader editorial page editor Grant Bosse admitted the New Hampshire paper did not take an extensive look into Christie's background and confirmed Moran's worst fears about the presidential race: "It's all about performance, not substance."

  • Iowa Newspaper Editorial Boards Call Out Sen. Grassley's Supreme Court "Obstructionism"

    ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI & JARED HOLT

    On February 23, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) joined other GOP leaders in declaring his intention to refuse consideration of any person President Barack Obama nominates to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia's February 13 death. Iowa newspaper editorial boards have criticized Grassley and other Senate Republicans' obstructionism, writing that it's "wrong," it's "shameful," and it "disrespects the Constitution."