State Media

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  • 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."

  • How National Media Helped Steve Deace Push Cruz To Victory In Iowa

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    Since Iowa based radio host Steve Deace endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in August, national media outlets have continued to rely on him as an election analyst, often without disclosure of his endorsement. Television outlets like CNN and MSNBC as well as major newspapers including the Washington Post allowed him to promote Cruz's brand and attack his opponents while providing analysis ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

    In endorsing Cruz in August Deace claimed that the senator was exactly "what we have been waiting for," signaling to Deace's supporters that Deace's own brand of anti-gay views and extreme rhetoric best matched Cruz's platform. However, Deace's support for Cruz was clear long before his endorsement. In March, The Des Moines Register reported that "Deace has served as an informal, unpaid consultant" to Cruz. After his endorsement, Deace advised Cruz and appeared in promotional videos for Cruz's campaign.

    Yet interviews with Deace in mainstream media would overlook his attacks on the LGBT community such as his use of phrases like "rainbow jihad" to describe their advocates, Deace's support of the deceptively edited Planned Parenthood videos, or his likening of ESPN to Nazis. Media gave Deace a pass and solely focused on his position in Iowa as a "conservative hitmaker - and hitman," and a "gatekeeper."

    Beyond ignoring his rhetoric, media allowed Deace to promote Cruz for months, often without disclosure of his support of Cruz. While Deace was providing analysis on the Iowa race to national media audiences he was busy consistently promoting Cruz on his radio show and across conservative blogs and outlets including The Washington Times and Conservative Review. By April 2015 it was clear that Deace was backing Cruz; however the media failed to disclose Deace's ties to the candidate during interviews with him.

    The Washington Post quoted Deace as he attacked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in an April 24 article on the senator's immigration plan which Deace said was "one of the worst squanderings of political capital I've ever witnessed." The Post again quoted Deace as he attacked Donald Trump on August 13 as the host dismissed Trump's pull with evangelical voters, saying, "Everyone was paying attention, especially those who are fed up with the Republican Party, but he didn't sell them."

    Though they disclosed his endorsement of Cruz, the Los Angeles Times allowed Deace to attack Carly Fiorina on September 25 by quoting Deace saying "You don't have to dig very far if you're a conservative to see some things that are troubling ... She needs to show these are not campaign conservative conversions."

    USA Today disclosed Deace's endorsement but still gave Deace a post-debate analysis column that provided him free reign to attack Cruz's opponents while claiming the senator was a top performer in each analysis. After the August debate in Cleveland, Deace wrote, this time without disclosure of his Cruz endorsement, that "Jeb is Dead," "Rand Paul is on life support," and Carly Fiorina was just the "flavor of the month." In the most recent debate which many felt Cruz lost, Deace stated that "nobody really laid a glove on him."

    Outlets like CNN and MSNBC also provided Deace with a television platform that allowed him to attack Cruz's opponents. In a January 26 interview, Deace was assisted in his effort when he was asked if it was "fair to pull something Trump said 17 years ago" for use in an attack ad. Deace wasted no time going after Cruz's opponent, saying Trump's comments on abortion were fair game today.

    Deace has also managed to appeal to multiple audiences in different ways. For example, Deace has restrained his extreme views in order to deliver his message of support for the senator to a wider audience, such as refering to Secretary Clinton as "Killary" in his blogs and on his radio show, but reverting to "Hillary" when on national TV. Deace's code switching -- suppressing his far-right views for the camera and changing his language -- allows him to continue to be palatable for national broadcasts while providing conservative red meat to his Iowa audience.

    Cruz's victory in Iowa may mean that Deace could play a larger role as surrogate for the candidate. Media outlets should note his long history of extreme rhetoric and should be wary of presenting Deace as an election analyst.

  • Las Vegas Review-Journal Pushes Job Choice Myth To Dismiss Gender Pay Gap

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    The Las Vegas Review-Journal's editorial board dismissed the gender pay gap as an "injustice that doesn't actually exist," asserting that pay inequality between women and men is due to women's job choices. In reality, studies repeatedly show that gender pay inequality plagues women regardless of job choice, "at all education levels, after work experience is taken into account," and "gets worse as women's careers progress."

  • Extremist Radio Hosts Rally For Ted Cruz On The Eve Of The Iowa Caucuses

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    In one of the last rallies before the Iowa caucuses, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) allowed right-wing radio hosts, Glenn Beck, Michael Berry,and Steve Deace, to introduce him, despite their records of espousing extreme rhetoric.

    Cruz's rally featured seven speakers including anti-gay activists like CEO of The Family Leader Bob Vander Plaats and Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson as well as Iowa's Rep. Steve King (R). However, it was the presence of radio hosts Glenn Beck, Michael Berry, and Steve Deace which best illustrated the divisive nature of Cruz's platform.

    Beck, once of Fox News fame and now a television and radio host on The Blaze, previously caused controversy due to his claim that President Obama is a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." The host has been criticized in the past for his use of Nazi imagery, his history of violent rhetoric and for making outlandish claims like blaming President Obama for the November terrorist attack in Paris. Beck announced his endorsement of Cruz in January, making Cruz the first candidate he has officially endorsed in his broadcast career.

    Iowa based radio host Steve Deace began supporting Cruz early in this election cycle and endorsed Cruz in August, saying he has a "commitment to our principals." Since his endorsement Deace has written at least 24 articles trumpeting Cruz, advised the candidate before debates, and appeared in a lengthy campaign ad for Cruz.

    Deace's brand of extremism centers around a plethora of anti-gay ideas. Deace coined the phrase "rainbow jihad" to describe advocates for LGBT rights -- a phrase which Cruz paraphrased claiming "the jihad ... going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman." Deace's extreme views have led him to write about a hypothetical conversation with Jesus in which he claims to show Obama is not a Christian and an article which suggested divorce could make children gay. Deace has recently pushed the conspiracy theory that Obama may not leave the White House when his term is up in January 2017.

    Rounding out Cruz's radio host speakers was Michael Berry, a supporter of Cruz's senate bid and "friend for over ten years." Much of Berry's show revolves around stoking the flames of racial tension. The host often undermines the intentions behind the Black Lives Matter movement, claiming "black lives matter, just not to black people" and that white people don't kill people the way black people do. Comedian Chuck Knipp, a frequent guest of Berry's, performs in blackface as "Shirley Q. Liquor" to mock racial stereotypes of black people.

    Most egregious is Berry's weekly segment dedicated to mocking victims of gun violence in Chicago. Every Monday the host reads the "butcher bill," reciting the names of those shot while mocking their names and the circumstances in which they were wounded or killed. Berry has claimed that the segment is sponsored by Black Lives Matter.

  • NH Union Leader Promotes Chris Christie's "Cruel" Social Security Plan

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    An editorial in New Hampshire's Union Leader praised Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie's (R-NJ) proposal to reform Social Security but avoided mentioning specific components of the plan, which critics have called "particularly cruel and regressive."

    The January 17 editorial applauded Christie's eagerness to talk about his "detailed plan to save Social Security and Medicare" during a presidential debate while other candidates avoided making specific recommendations. The editorial did not mention any of the specific components of Christie's plan:

    It's easy to talk tough on taxes, especially in a Republican primary.

    It's much harder to tackle the long-term unfunded liabilities in the nation's entitlement programs that threaten to swamp an already unbalanced federal budget.

    During last week's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, Chris Christie made sure voters knew how he plans to tackle this vital fiscal challenge.

    Debate moderator Maria Bartiromo asked Marco Rubio, "One of the biggest fiscal challenges is our entitlement programs, particularly Social Security and Medicare. What policies will you put forward to make sure these programs are more financially secure?"

    Rubio ducked, ignoring entitlements completely in order to attack Ted Cruz's plan for a value added tax. He and Cruz then went back and forth on the issue.

    Christie jumped in to actually answer Bartiromo's question. Rubio tried to get back in, but Christie told him, "You already had your chance, Marco, and you blew it."

    Vox's Matthew Yglesias called the details of Christie's reform plan "particularly cruel and regressive," and noted that the plan would "especially inflict pain on the poor." Yglesias explained that because Christie's plan would raise the age at which a person can collect Social Security to 69 years old over time, the plan would effectively cut total benefits for the poor because low income people have shorter life expectancy than higher earners.

    Experts have explained that Christie's plan, which also reduces Social Security payments to certain future recipients making over $80,000 per year and ends them entirely for those making $200,000 in other income, will produce little savings for the program. Urban Institute senior fellow Karen Smith told The New York Times, "[Christie's] proposal reduces program revenue and does not reduce benefits enough soon enough to make Social Security solvent." National Women's Law Center vice president for economic security Joan Entmacher added, "you can't get much savings out of means-testing Social Security unless you go after the middle class."

    The Union Leader's praise of Christie's willingness to discuss his Social Security plan while overlooking the plan's specific components has become a trend since the paper's endorsement of Christie for president in November 2015. The editorial board previously echoed Christie's campaign slogan praising his ability to "[tell] it like it is," leapt to promote his inflated counter-terrorism credentials and praised his economic record, all while newspapers from his home state were critical of his leadership during his tenure as governor.

  • Cruz Surrogate Steve Deace Hypes Conspiracy Theory That Obama Will Not Give Up Presidency After His Term

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    Iowa radio host and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) surrogate Steve Deace has been warning his radio audience that President Obama may try to hold on to the presidency after his term ends. Deace claims the president has abused the Constitution so much that Obama staying after his term's completion is "really not that farfetched."

    In March 2015, Deace dismissed the idea that Obama would hold on to power after his presidential term was complete. In a question posed to him, which he responded to on his blog, Deace was asked if there was any validity to the idea of a third Obama term and Deace responded that even Obama wouldn't "dare defy" Hillary Clinton "twice."

    But now it seems Deace's confidence in Obama's ability to restrain himself from subverting the Constitution in order to stay in the White House is waning. During the January 6 episode of his radio show, Deace asked Conservative Review's Daniel Horowitz what he thought the GOP would do if Obama decides not to leave after this term. Deace reiterated that the question was "not meant to be silly" and that he was "serious when he asked" about the possibility.

    DEACE: I am going to ask you a question Daniel, and it's not meant to be silly. You know me well enough, I am serious when I ask this and I don't think the hypothetical I am asking about is all that farfetched. We have an administration in the White House that sells guns to jihadists, gives guns to Mexican drug lords, that sics the long coercive arm of the federal government on nuns. I mean really, I don't think what I am about to propose is all that crazy considering what's already on the record. So here it goes.

    Suppose Hillary Clinton loses in November and Barack Obama simply says, "I'm not leaving. I am not leaving the White House." What would the Republicans do?

    HOROWITZ: So it would start out like this, we would demand that in the budget bill that Republicans defund the Executive Office of the President. And Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would come out there and say, "We can't shut down the government." That's what would happen. For now here is the deal, Obama can't announce that now, because there is one thing stopping him, Hillary Clinton.

    DEACE: Sure

    HOROWITZ: The Democrats won't stand for that, but were she to lose? There is no limit.

    DEACE: Just for a second play this out for a minute. You and I are old enough to remember when Democrats said they didn't care that a president committed perjury to a federal grand jury. They don't care that a president literally just makes up immigration law, that a president just takes the first amendment through an absolute paper shredder. They don't care that he releases billions of dollars to help fuel the Iranian regime and to help them perpetuate a nuclear arsenal. They don't care. You got Joy Behar on TV yesterday saying she would vote for a rapist as long as they were a liberal. This is the other side's mindset. So we know they aren't going to give a rip if Obama just says, "You know man, it's like that whole two term limit thing doesn't exist in the Constitution. I'm staying."

    Deace doubled down the next day on his radio show, this time asking his audience to consider the ramifications of Obama refusing to leave after this term:

    DEACE: Suppose Hillary Clinton loses in November and Barack Obama decides in response to that, "You know what, there is really not much of the Constitution left that I could just not wantonly disregard. So I am just going to take the last final step here and make it official, I am not leaving either. I am not vacating the office." I think I could make the case that is really not that farfetched given all the other stuff we have seen.

    While Deace's hypothetical is ridiculous, it is troubling coming from such an influential conservative voice. Deace, who was called one of the "most powerful Republicans you've never heard of" by Bloomberg, is promoting the idea that Obama will take at least one more term by force, in violation of the 22nd amendment.

    Deace's self-described fear of political tyranny mirrors the messaging of Sen. Ted Cruz, whom the host endorsed in August and whose Leadership Team Deace is on. Since then he has been working overtime to ensure Cruz's message is heard in Iowa ahead of the caucuses. Deace has appeared in a lengthy campaign ad in support of Cruz, helped the candidate prep for debates, and was introduced as "part of the campaign" while opening a Cruz office in Iowa.

    Deace has a history of playing up conspiracy theories such as his promotion of birtherisim and his use of an anti-Semitic propaganda video he claimed showed Syrian refugees were trying to exploit and overtake European culture.

  • Former Obama Birther Steve Deace Rushes To Defend Ted Cruz's Presidential Eligibility

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    Iowa radio host Steve Deace defended Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) eligibility to be president after some of Cruz's 2016 presidential opponents questioned the constitutionality of a Cruz presidency because of his Canadian birth. While Deace dismissed those questioning Cruz, the radio host played an active role in promoting similar "birther" conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama.

    During a January 6 interview with Senator Cruz, Deace sought to dismiss GOP rivals' doubts that Cruz is eligible to be president because he was born to an American citizen living in Canada. "It's like there is no factual amount of evidence that can be presented to the contrary when people get this issue stuck in their craw," said Deace. While Deace is quick to agree with legal experts that Cruz is eligible to hold office, he denied overwhelming evidence that President Obama was eligible to be president after his election.

    In 2009 Deace provided a platform for some of the most notorious birther conspiracy theorists to promote their unfounded ideas surrounding Obama's presidential eligibility. As the Iowa Independent reported, Deace dedicated significant time to the birther issue as well as hosting several conspiracy theorists including Drew Zahn of leading birther website WND (formerly WorldNetDaily) and Orly Taitz, who filed several lawsuits against President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in an effort to stop Obama's presidency:

    Conspiracy theorists claiming President Barack Obama is not a United States citizen were granted an hour of drive-time radio Friday to lay out the "evidence" by Christian radio host Steve Deace.

    Deace discussed the issue with Drew Zahn, editor of the conspiracy theory Web site World Net Daily, who said that while his cohorts have been "ridiculed and mocked" for continuing to follow the story, it simply won't go away.

    "We're catching heat from almost every direction," Zahn said.

    Zahn and Deace started off blasting the "mainstream media" for not fully investigating an issue that deals with whether "we're going to follow the Constitution at its most basic level."

    The pair then attempted to debunk any evidence produced that may contradict their theory -- including a certificate of live birth and newspapers accounts at the time -- ultimately concluding all materials could be easily obtained fraudulently or easily fabricated.

    [...]

    Deace discussed the issue once before in January, when he interviewed the birther movement's most high profile advocate, Orly Taitz, a woman news site Politico describes as "the Russian-born attorney/dentist who has become a kind of ringleader for the movement." Among other things, Taitz has become famous of late for encouraging soldiers to disobey orders from a president who is "ineligible to serve as commander-in-chief of U.S Armed Forces."

    Deace also contributed to the conspiracy by writing commentary on WND ranting against Obama, who he referred to as Barry Soetoro -- a name referring to Obama's stepfather's surname, which he used temporarily while living in Indonesia. Birther theory supporters falsely claim Obama used the Soetoro name on a Columbia University student ID, proving his foreign citizenship. Deace also defended WND by sharing its birther articles as mainstream media outlets like CNN denounced their conspiracy theories.

    In 2012, Deace continued his affiliation with birtherism by referring to Obama as a "Kenyan" and "foreigner":

    For the past four years we've called Obama every name in the book - Marxist, socialist, Kenyan, Muslim, heretic, divider-in-chief, infanticidist, traitor, amateur and foreigner (just to name to few) - and even though some of those are actually true, the really inconvenient truth is that if the election were held today Obama would most assuredly be re-elected.

    Deace also appeared on MSNBC's The Ed Show in May of 2012 to discuss the birther movement in Iowa. During the interview Deace never denied his support of the conspiracy theories, but sought to change the subject while speaking to the more mainstream outlet -- a well-known tactic of the radio host -- while pushing the idea that birtherism is just a "clash of world views" (emphasis added):

    ED SCHULTZ (HOST): Steve, this is not a world view. These are facts. Steve, respectfully, these are facts. There are facts that back up that President Obama is an American citizen, he loves the country, he was born -- he has got all the documentation. Why is this an issue? Krystal, you can see just from his answers that this is where they [Republicans] are.

    [...]

    SCHULTZ: I mean when you have a state party talking about putting it on the platform, how much more radical can you get? I mean they do not want to accept this president.

    [...]

    SCHULTZ: Why aren`t the Democrats asking for Mitt Romney`s birth certificate? I mean, his dad was born in Mexico. I mean, how do we know?

    CHRIS KOFINIS (DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST): You know why, because --

    DEACE: Here`s what I think --

    SCHULTZ: Go ahead, Steve.

    DEACE: I think if unemployment -- I think if unemployment was at five percent, I think if the president had lived up to his campaign promises on turning the economy around, we probably wouldn`t be talking about this issue right now. But when you`ve got to run on the economic record, you`ve got to change the subject to stuff like this.

    SCHULTZ: Well, not really. He`s got 26 months of private sector job growth. He`s saved the automobile industry, and he's added 4 million jobs. I mean, the guy is not superman. He is just president of the United States, and those are three facts right there that are --

    DEACE: Ed, there must be a lot of stupid people. There must be a lot of stupid people, then, Ed, in your own NBC news poll. Because if you look at the cross-tabs on the economy in your own poll that came out yesterday, it doesn`t appear that they see things the same way you do --

    SCHULTZ: That`s a messaging issue, there's no doubt -

    DEACE: At best he has a 50/50 chance --

    SCHULTZ: That`s -- he has added four million jobs. He has saved millions of jobs because of the turnaround of the automobile industry, and 26 months of private sector job growth. Those are three facts right now, whether it`s polled or not --

    (CROSSTALK)

    SCHULTZ: Your party in Iowa wants to put birtherism on the platform instead of talk about creating jobs. I`m out of time.

    BALL: We`re not the ones that --

    DEACE: What cracks me up is its considered radical that someone shows the same identification --

    Deace's defense of Cruz against some of the same criticisms he used against Obama comes as no surprise as the radio host has been working overtime to push the Texas senator to victory in Iowa. His personal investment in Cruz, which includes creating a campaign ad, prepping him for debates, and promoting him on social media, has prevented him from acknowledging the hypocrisy of his birther stance.

  • Union Leader Echoes Chris Christie's Overstated Anti-Terror Boasts

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    The New Hampshire Union Leader editorial board has consistently pointed to Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) as the candidate best suited to protect the country from threats, stressing his work on terrorism cases as a former US attorney. However, experts disagree with the paper, noting Christie's record and experience do not amount to significant anti-terror bona fides.

    In its November 28 endorsement of Christie, the Union Leader suggested he was the candidate that "is right for these dangerous times" as he has "prosecuted terrorists and dealt admirably with major disasters." When critics claimed Christie was overselling his experience, the Union Leader fired back in a December 22 editorial, defending Christie's boasts that "we prosecuted two of the biggest terrorism cases in the world":

    Critics of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are upset that he's sharing his experiences prosecuting terrorists with New Hampshire voters.

    We're not sure whether they're mad that Christie won convictions of suspected terrorists, or that he thinks New Hampshire voters might find this relevant. Perhaps both.

    Christie served as the U.S. attorney for New Jersey from 2002 to 2008. He formed a terrorism unit to work with the FBI to root out Islamic extremists before they could attack, including a plot to strike Fort Dix and an attempt to sell a shoulder-fired missile to an undercover FBI agent. These were bad people who wanted to do bad things. Christie put them in jail before they could.

    In addition, a January 5 column by editorial page editor Grant Bosse again cited Christie's "focus on anti-terrorism cases" as a unique trait that sets him apart from the GOP field. The editorial board and its surrogates have largely been parroting the candidate who has similarly relied on his prosecuting record as qualifying national defense experience during recent debates.

    However, fact checkers have disagreed with Christie's description of his record that the Union Leader has parroted, noting that he "arguably made more of a name for himself" as U.S. attorney "for prosecuting corrupt politicians (his office successfully prosecuted more than 130 public officials) than terrorists." The Daily Beast reported that while his record against corruption is more robust, his "antiterror resume is rather short":

    As for actual terrorism cases, there are only two: Hemant Lakhani in 2005, a 71-year-old (now-deceased) British citizen who had been recorded saying he "was willing to broker the sale of shoulder-fired missiles to shoot down American passenger jets" and the "Fort Dix Six" in 2007, when five Islamic men and their gun dealer were arrested for allegedly plotting to kill U.S. soldiers "at various installations, including the Fort Dix Army a base in New Jersey."

    In both cases, FBI informants played central roles in nailing the suspects, leading some critics to suggest the charges were the results of entrapment.

    The Lakhani case was the subject of a 2009 This American Life installment, which painted the portrait of Lakhani as a hapless charlatan who had stumbled into the FBI's trap despite possessing no ability to broker missiles of any kind. The Fort Dix case was torn apart and dissected by The Intercept in 2015, where reporters Murtaza Hussain and Razan Ghalayini made the case that the FBI worked overtime to convince the accused men to agree to commit terrorist attacks that Christie and his office then "thwarted."

    Jonathan Hafetz, former litigation director at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, told NJ.com that the Governor's promotion of his anti-terrorism record shows he is "clearly trying to rebrand himself in making a run for the White House."

    Christie also came under fire for the timeline of his record after saying in the September Republican debate that he "was appointed U.S. Attorney by President Bush on Sept. 10, 2001." Politifact found that statement to be "mostly false." While Christie may have received word of a pending nomination prior to 9/11, he wasn't nominated until months after the attacks and wasn't sworn in as US attorney until January of 2002.

    Christie's national security policy proposals introduced during his run for president have included a call to re-authorize less restrictive rules on the bulk collection of phone records -- which the administration already has access to -- and the blocking of Syrian refugees including "orphans under age five" in order to stop terror threats against the United States, which experts agree would be harmful to US foreign policy and its goal to stop the influence of ISIS.

    The Union Leader's mimicking of Christie's tough but dubious anti-terror talk continues the paper's blind defense of the governor, even as those from his home state denounce his record of failed economic policies and scandal.