The Supreme Court will soon decide Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, a case that could let owners of for-profit, secular corporations ignore the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and provide health insurance that does not cover preventive benefits like contraception. Right-wing media continue to advance multiple myths to support the owners of Hobby Lobby, despite the fact that these arguments have been repeatedly debunked by legal experts, religious scholars, and medical professionals.
Right-wing media are again alleging that President Obama's potential Department of Labor nominee, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez, may have committed perjury in connection with the right-wing's New Black Panther Party voter intimidation non-scandal. But the internal Department of Justice (DOJ) report that they are citing to support these claims actually (once again) debunks these accusations.
The right-wing claim that political appointees within the Department of Justice (DOJ) improperly directed the outcome of the New Black Panther Party fiasco has already been repeatedly disproven, most notably by DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and now by DOJ's Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The discredited accusation, initiated by right-wing activist J. Christian Adams, was revived in 2012 by his discredited associate, Hans Von Spakovsky, after a federal judge awarded attorney's fees to a conservative advocacy group that had obtained emails relating to this case through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Von Spakovsky immediately analyzed the opinion, saying of statements from the judge relating to Perez's 2010 testimony on the New Black Panther Party case to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:
But what is most disturbing about this court order is that it strongly suggests that Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez essentially lied in sworn testimony... A less diplomatic judge might have said that Perez testified falsely in his hearing testimony before the Commission on Civil Rights. In other words, he may have committed perjury if he knew his statements were false when uttered.
Now that Perez's Labor nomination is being floated and following the release of the Inspector General's review of the Justice Department's Voting Section (which is overseen by Perez), National Review Online columnist John Fund revived Von Spakovsky's accusation, calling the 2010 testimony "clear dishonesty." Describing Perez as "loathsome," the American Spectator likewise informs its readers (again) Perez "may have committed perjury[.]"
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) bills itself as an event convened to "crystallize the best of the conservative thought in America" that will showcase "all of the leading conservative organizations and speakers." Media covering CPAC 2013 should know that the conference's speakers, from the most prominent to the lesser-known, have a history of launching smears, pushing conspiracy theories, and hyping myths about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.
In a July 30 editorial opposing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Wall Street Journal opined that planning for the new health insurance marketplaces called Exchanges belongs on a "fiasco list." However, the editorial misrepresented the pace of exchange planning, downplayed the catalyst of Republican "civil disobedience" in implementation slow-downs, and obscured the role that right-wing media and advocates have in this intransigence.
States That Have Attempted Exchange Implementation Are Actually "Well Underway"
Many of the nation's leading health policy organizations are closely monitoring implementation of health care reform and exchange progress is one of their metrics. The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) is one such example, and the WSJ editorial cited them for the proposition that "by and large the states aren't" building exchanges. However, the editorial did not mention NASHP's most recent report on exchange implementation that instead notes in the opening paragraph that "many states are well underway in planning for and establishing their exchanges." Rather, without indicating the source, the WSJ used NASHP's "State Refor(u)m" project that is a user-generated "online network." That is, the metrics that the WSJ cited for the alleged "fiasco" of exchange implementation is a measurement of documents voluntarily uploaded to a wiki. State Refor(u)m does not claim to be a comprehensive progress measurement, but rather a clearinghouse reliant on user submissions.
Thus, the editorial's listing of "liberal leader" states who score low on this "milestone" measure of State Refor(u)m does not support its thesis. These "milestones" are not an accurate barometer of the difficulties in exchange planning - or even of completion of these actual metrics - but rather of the success of this network at attracting policy documents. Indeed, several of the states that the WSJ specifically lists as laggards - Massachusetts, California, Oregon, West Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Vermont, New York - actually have fully established exchanges, the first two of which were established by Governors Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, respectively.
After Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion upholding health care reform, the right-wing media have attacked his conservative credentials. Despite experts' statements that the opinion might have cleared the way for more rulings restricting federal power and progressive legislation, media conservatives are using this as a pretext to demand even more conservative judicial nominees. There is evidence their pressure is having an effect.
Right-wing media have attacked the Obama administration's policy change allowing some young undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States as "amnesty." In fact, the policy change is not amnesty, a term shown to produce negative reactions, but deferred action that only lasts for up to two years, subject to renewal.
Responding to a report that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain allegedly engaged in "sexually suggestive behavior" in the 1990s, right-wing media figures have turned to race-baiting, arguing that Cain is being targeted because he is a "black conservative" and that he is the victim of a "high-tech lynching."
In a post that has since been removed* from the American Spectator website, Patrick Howley, an assistant editor at the conservative publication, admitted to infiltrating a group of D.C. protesters this weekend. According to The Washington Post, in the since-deleted post, Howley "openly claims to have instigated the events" that caused a closure of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.
The Washington Post reported:
Patrick Howley, an assistant editor at the American Spectator, says that he joined the group under the pretense that he was a demonstrator. "As far as anyone knew I was part of this cause -- a cause that I had infiltrated the day before in order to mock and undermine in the pages of The American Spectator," Howley wrote. (The language in the story has since been changed without explanation.)
A group called the October 11 movement had organized the march in order to protest the U.S. government's use of unmanned drones overseas, joined by a few members of the D.C. branch of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as the Post reported Saturday. Howley writes that a small number of protesters--himself included--had tried to move past the security guards at the main entrance of the museum. He says that one protester next to him got into a shoving match with a security guard in an antechamber before they hit the second set of doors that led to the museum itself. The guard pepper-sprayed the protester, spraying Howley as well.
But, according to his account, Howley was determined to escalate the protest further. "I wasn't giving up before I had my story," he writes, describing how he continued to rush past security into the museum itself. "I strained to glance behind me at the dozens of protesters I was sure were backing me up, and then I got hit again, this time with a cold realization: I was the only one who had made it through the doors....So I was surprised to find myself a fugitive Saturday afternoon, stumbling around aircraft displays with just enough vision to keep tabs on my uniformed pursuers. 'The museum is now closed!'"
Howley, in fact, chides the protesters for not taking his lead and rushing into the museum after being pepper-sprayed. "In the absence of ideological uniformity, these protesters have no political power. Their only chance, as I saw it, was to push the envelope and go bold. But, if today's demonstration was any indicator, they don't have what it takes to even do that."
UPDATE: Since this was post was published, the American Spectator piece has been returned to the website.
From a July 27 post at The American Spectator:
First, for the definition issue.
Random House Webster's College Dictionary defines lynching as: "to put to death, esp. hanging by mob action and without legal authority."
I have read the Court's decision. Three people are not a "mob." A mob is defined as a "large crowd." So there was no "mob action" because there was no mob. Second, the Supreme Court specifically said the Sheriff and his deputy and a local policeman acted "under color of law." Which means they had legal authority.
So to say that Bobby Hall was lynched is, factually, according to the Supreme Court and, if you prefer, Webster's, not true. No mob. Therefore no "mob action." And the three had "legal authority." So my new friend Radley "Boo" Balko over at Reason pounced...and got it wrong instantly.
Media Matters for America has exclusively obtained emails from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) chief actuary Richard Foster to the American Spectator's editor-in-chief, in which Foster criticizes the American Spectator's Washington Prowler column for "reporting factually incorrect information," and demands a correction.
On April 27, the American Spectator's Prowler column accused the Department of Health and Human Services of intentionally hiding a report by the CMS actuaries to keep it from influencing the health care vote, citing unnamed "career HHS sources." Media Matters debunked this claim at the time, noting that Foster had written a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell expressing his inability to score the health care legislation in the requested period of time.
That same day, Foster also addressed this falsehood in an email to American Spectator editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. in which Foster wrote:
In the wake of the Democrats' passage of historic health care reform legislation, the right-wing media have compared the law to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which threatened to expand slavery and was "a prelude to the Civil War." Previously, the right-wing media have compared the legislation to the Black Plague, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bloody Sunday, and the Stamp Act.
Several right-wing blogs have baselessly fearmongered over an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) purchase request for 60 shotguns for its Criminal Investigation Division (CI), stating that "we should have seen this coming" and that that it indicated that President Obama "thinks they're gonna have to start shooting at us to squeeze what we have left out of us." But IRS CI employs 2,700 special agents who are required to "carry and use a firearm," and as the purchase request itself indicates, the IRS has previously purchased shotguns, as the type was selected "based on compatibility with IRS existing shotgun inventory."
The Fox Nation is currently highlighting a November 6 Red State post titled "Another Czar Bites the Dust" that claims that "Internet Czar" (actually, special assistant to the president for science, technology, and innovation policy) Susan Crawford was the latest "body tossed under the insatiable Obama bus."
So according to the active imaginations of right-wing bloggers, the announcement that Crawford will leave the White House (sometime in January) is their latest victory in the Fox-led witch hunt against supposed "czars." The only problem with that theory is that there isn't any evidence that it's true, and there is significant evidence that it's not.
The Washington Post first reported Crawford's planned departure in an October 27 piece that undermines the right-wing media's narrative of a "czar" forced to resign amidst growing public outcry. According to the Post, "Crawford will leave her position in January to return to the University of Michigan Law School where she is a tenured professor, according to the Obama administration." The Post reported that Crawford "has been on temporary leave from the university to serve in the White House" but that her "sabbatical, which began two months after she received tenure at the University of Michigan, will end in January." The Post quoted an Obama spokesperson saying:
Susan has done an outstanding job coordinating technology policy at the National Economic Council where her expertise on issues from intellectual property to the Internet has been invaluable. ... We understand that she needs to return to her responsibilities in Ann Arbor, but we will miss having her wise counsel in the White House.
So what evidence do right-wing media have that the Post report is wrong or that the Obama administration is lying about why Crawford is leaving? Well, the Red State post that Fox Nation highlights cites two sources: a November 2 "Washington Prowler" column in The American Spectator and a November 5 post on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog, which in turn cites only the Spectator column. And here's what the Spectator claims:
Crawford resigned, citing the need to return to her tenured position at the University of Michigan law school, but White House sources say that when Crawford signed on to the administration, she told them the university had given her a two-year waiver before requiring a return. "There may have been miscommunication there, but we thought it was two years," says the White House source. Similar waivers -- usually two or three years -- were given to a number of academics who joined the Bush Administration in various positions back in 2001.
Crawford's exit comes at a time when some Obama Administration aides, after seeing the fallout from the resignation of Van Jones and the spotlight placed on leftists inside the administration, like Anita Dunn, wonder if it is too late to pull back many of the more radical aides now placed in a number of different cabinet level departments, including the Department of Justice, and the Energy and Education departments, and federal agencies. "They haven't done us any good on any level," says the White House aide. "And now they are just a bunch of targets on our back that we can't shake."
So that's it. A right-wing gossip column claims to have somehow obtained a statement from an anonymous "White House source" saying something that appears to contradict what the White House is telling actual journalists.
As any regular reader of the Spectator knows, however, highly improbable anonymous quotes are a staple of the Washington Prowler column. For example, "Allahpundit," a conservative writer for Michelle Malkin's Hot Air blog, has made the following observations about the reliability of the Prowler's reporting:
There's another apparent problem with Fox Nation's latest tale. The Washington Post first reported Crawford's planned departure the evening of Tuesday, October 27. But Glenn Beck -- who had criticized Crawford a couple times in the past, and who was on the air that entire week -- never declared victory. He never even mentioned on Fox News that she planned to step down. In fact, a Nexis search reveals no examples of anyone on Fox News discussing Crawford's departure.
If this really was the great right-wing victory Fox Nation now wants us to believe it was, wouldn't Fox News hosts have mentioned it two weeks ago?
After falsely accusing Department of Education official Kevin Jennings of violating the law for failing to report the "statutory rape" or "child molestation" of a "15-year-old boy" in 1988, several conservative media figures have backtracked from that thoroughly debunked allegation, acknowledging that the student was, in fact, 16 years old and of legal age at the time. These media figures have since altered their attacks on Jennings to argue that the student's actual age is irrelevant, asserting instead -- in the words of The Washington Times -- that a 16-year-old student's involvement with an older man still should have "raised alarm," and advancing the baseless claim that -- as The American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord stated -- Jennings "thought" the student was 15 at the time of their conversation.
Conservative media have baselessly suggested that people who reportedly claim to have received unsolicited email from White House adviser David Axelrod may have been added to a White House "enemies list" after emails they sent that were critical of the Obama administration were purportedly forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. These media figures have failed to provide any credible evidence in support of this conspiracy theory.