Right-wing media expressed outrage over the Obama campaign's use of flag imagery in a campaign poster. But this is not unique to the Obama campaign: a modified American flag was used as a banner for Abraham Lincoln's 1860 presidential campaign.
As part of their ongoing effort to smear Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, Fox News and others in the right-wing media are claiming that in a recent ad, Warren said she wanted the United States to be "like China" and that she may have "call[ed] for America to go communist." In fact, Warren said that the U.S. should increase its infrastructure spending in order to compete with countries like China, echoing a similar observation from former Fox employee Newt Gingrich.
In her ad, Warren said:
WARREN: We've got bridges and roads in need of repair, and thousands of people in need of work. Why aren't we rebuilding America? Our competitors are putting people to work, building the future. China invests 9 percent of its GDP in infrastructure. America, we're at just 2.4 percent. We can do better. We can build a foundation for a strong new economy and get people in Massachusetts to work right now.
Similarly, during a January 2009 Republican presidential debate, Gingrich called for "an infrastructure investment program that would actually get us back on track," saying that "you cannot compete with China in the long run if you have an inferior infrastructure":
GINGRICH: But -- but -- but let's stick with infrastructure then, because I think it's a very big, very important topic. You cannot compete with China in the long run if you have an inferior infrastructure. You've got to move to a twenty first century model. That means you've got to be -- you've got to be technologically smart and you have to make investments. ...
I would have an energy program designed to get us free from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, two-thirds of the government revenue from that would go to debt reduction and to paying off the debt.
One-third would go to infrastructure, which would give you the ability to have an infrastructure investment program that would actually get us back on track and you look at places like the highways you're describing, the bridges the governor just described. If you don't have some systematic investment program, then you are not going to be able, I think, to compete with China and India.
Indeed, studies show that the U.S. infrastructure is deteriorating and needs significant investment, and that infrastructure spending provides extremely efficient economic stimulus.
Despite the unremarkable character of the argument Warren made, Fox News and other right-wing media outlets rushed to question whether she had "call[ed] for America to go communist," declare that she had "Praise[d] Communist China," and accuse her of having a "collectivist dream for America."
Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other conservative outlets are falsely claiming that President Obama, while discussing his own economic policies, said "we tried our plan -- and it worked." This quote has been taken out of context and distorted. Obama was referring to economic policies during the Clinton administration that taxed high income earners at a higher rate than they are currently charged. When Obama said "it worked," he was referring to low unemployment and strong economic growth when these rates were higher. Obama has advocated a return to Clinton-era tax rates for high income earners.
Slate's Dave Weigel, who described conservatives' editing of Obama's comments as "insanely misleading," points to Obama's full quote:
OBAMA: I'm running because I believe you can't reduce the deficit -- which is a serious problem, we've got to deal with it -- but we can't reduce it without asking folks like me who have been incredibly blessed to give up the tax cuts that we've been getting for a decade. (Applause.) I'll cut out government spending that's not working, that we can't afford, but I'm also going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, back when our economy created 23 million new jobs -- (applause) -- the biggest budget surplus in history and everybody did well.
Just like we've tried their plan, we tried our plan -- and it worked. That's the difference. (Applause.) That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term.
In order to argue that Obama is out of touch on economic issues -- a message that is nearly identical to the one pushed by Romney's campaign -- conservative media figures have spent the week removing all of the context from Obama's comments and juxtaposing them with the current high unemployment rate.
Vice President Joe Biden did not make a reference to Rev. Jeremiah Wright in his speech today at the NAACP's annual convention, despite breathless speculation from conservative media that he did. A spokesperson from the Obama campaign told Salon's Joan Walsh and The Washington Post's Greg Sargent that Biden "was referencing a different Reverend Wright ...an old friend from Delaware."
In his speech, Biden spoke about "the men and women who educated me when we'd sit over in Reverend Wright's church" about desegregation, presumably during his early political career in Delaware -- and not Illinois, where Jeremiah Wright is based.
Right-wing media are touting a Washington Post Fact Checker article alleging that the Obama campaign "failed to make its case" in a new ad claiming that Romney "shipped jobs" overseas. But a different Post article pointing to data from the Securities and Exchange Commission has affirmed that Bain Capital, with Romney as head, "owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas."
Right-wing media have misrepresented President Obama's remarks to falsely accuse him of hypocrisy on immigration policy.
On June 15, Obama announced a change in the Department of Homeland Security's immigration policy that will allow certain young immigrants to remain in the country.
Right-wing media have since pointed to three Obama remarks to claim the president himself believes the immigration policy change is illegitimate. In fact, each of Obama's statements is consistent with the new policy.
In all of the statements the right-wing media highlighted, Obama stated that while he can't unilaterally change the law, his administration can use its prosecutorial discretion to focus on criminals rather than law-abiding immigrants, and that is just what the DHS policy change does.
Right Wing Media Misrepresent Remarks Obama Made At Univision Town Hall Meeting
Right-wing media, such as MichelleMalkin.com, The Blaze and the Daily Caller, seized on remarks made by Obama during a March 28, 2011, Univision town hall meeting. Each of these websites highlighted Obama's comment that he could not "suspend deportations through executive order." The Blaze concluded that Obama was acknowledging that the immigration policy change "would be a rank violation of the separation of powers."
Obama's comments during the Univision event were actually perfectly consistent with the DHS policy change. On Friday, Obama did not announce an executive order on immigration; rather DHS said it will use its discretion to allow certain young immigrants to remain in the country on a "case by case basis."
And at the Univision event, Obama said that the administration is using and will continue to use its discretion to focus on deporting immigrants "who've engaged in criminal activity" rather than non-criminals. Obama also highlighted the fact that while deportations of criminal immigrants are up under his administration, "deportation of non-criminals are down."
This is consistent with the DHS policy, which states that criminals are not eligible to remain in the country while certain young non-criminals will be allowed to stay.
Conservative media are seizing on a report by The Daily Caller to baselessly suggest that Van Jones' connection to a California solar company helped the company secure a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy. But Jones is an unpaid advisor to Solar Mosaic and was not even aware of -- let alone involved in -- the grant application process, according to the company's President.
This latest faux-controversy started when The Daily Caller reported that former Obama administration green jobs czar Van Jones serves as an advisor to Solar Mosaic, and that the company "employed Rebuild the Dream, Jones' firm, to do its public relations work." But Billy Parish, the president of Solar Mosaic, told Media Matters that Jones is "one of over a dozen unpaid advisors to the company," and that he "was not involved in the grant application in any way and didn't even know about it." And Natalie Foster, CEO of Rebuild the Dream, told Media Matters that reports that the organization was "employed" by Solar Mosaic are "not accurate at all." Foster said that while Rebuild the Dream supports companies like Solar Mosaic, "there is no formal, monetized relationship."
And contrary to The Daily Caller's suggestion that Solar Mosaic was singled out for an especially generous grant because of its connection to Jones, many of the projects supported by the same program received more funding. Solar Mosaic was one of nine companies awarded grants by DOE's SunShot Incubator Program in its latest round of funding -- the seventh round since the program began in 2007. The Daily Caller noted that of the nine recent recipients, "Solar Mosaic received the most money," without mentioning that almost half of the 47 projects supported by the Incubator program have been awarded more than $2 million -- including 16 companies selected by the Bush administration.
Conservative media are twisting comments made by an EPA administrator -- and circulated by Senator Inhofe (R-OK) -- to suggest that the Obama administration is trying to shut down the coal industry. But the official was referring to a rule that applies only to new coal plants, and which industry leaders have said "won't have much of an impact" on business.
In a speech at Yale University in March, Region 1 administrator Curt Spalding discussed the EPA's efforts to implement necessary environmental safeguards with minimal economic consequences. Referring to greenhouse gas performance standards for new power plants, Spalding said:
You can't imagine how tough that was. Because you got to remember, if you go to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all those places, you have coal communities that depend on coal. And to say we just think those communities should just go away, we can't do that. But she had to do what the law and policy suggested. And it's painful. It's painful every step of the way.
The conservative media seized on these comments as proof of the Obama administration's "plan to destroy the coal industry in America."
The Daily Caller -- once again serving as Senator Inhofe's press office -- reported that Inhofe would take to the Senate floor to "highlight a little-known speech by an EPA regional administrator who admitted on video that the Obama administration's air regulations will kill the coal industry. Likewise, Fox Business' Lou Dobbs reported that Spalding was "caught on tape admitting the Obama administration's air regulations will kill the coal industry."
Fox Nation took that one step further, claiming that Spalding revealed that "the whole point of President Obama EPA's air regulations was to kill coal." And the Blaze reported that according to Spalding, the EPA aims to "drive an entire industry into the ground for no apparent reason."
In fact, Spalding said no such thing. And to suggest that the new greenhouse gas rule would "kill" the coal industry is absurd, as it applies only to new power plants. In announcing the rule, the EPA clearly stated that it "only concerns new generating units that will be built in the future, and does not apply to existing units already operating or units that will start construction over the next 12 months."
And since few companies plan to build new coal plants anyway given the low cost of natural gas, The Economist predicts that the new rules "will only formalise a shift that had already been under way, with little immediate economic impact." American Electric Power, one of the largest U.S. utilities, told the National Journal: "We don't have any plans to build new coal plants. So the rules won't have much of an impact." Duke Energy echoed this point, saying that the new rule "means nothing to us."
Conservative websites are claiming a new release of documents show that the "White House" gave "classified information" to filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal for their upcoming film about the Osama bin Laden raid. However, even the group that released those documents, Judicial Watch, does not claim that the "White House" gave Bigelow and Boal "classified information."
Right-wing media have seized on comments made this week by Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah, suggesting that Fattah "admit[ted]" that Democrats are expecting voters to back them in the fall in exchange for "handouts" and "protect[ing] their government-aid gravy train." These attacks are yet another example of conservative media attempting to gin up outrage over programs designed to help struggling Americans.
During a discussion on the April 24 edition of MSNBC's PoliticsNation about House Majority Leader John Boehner's recent comment that Democrats have a one-in-three chance of reclaiming the majority, Fattah said in part that "people who are unemployed, they're not going to be voting for the party who wants to cut their benefits, cut access to food stamps, cut job training." From PoliticsNation:
FATTAH: President Obama is right, we need to continue to invest. That's why our GDP is up, and that's why we've got 35 months of private sector job growth. We are headed in the right direction. Unemployment continues to drop, and those people who are unemployed, they're not going to be voting for the party who wants to cut their benefits, cut access to food stamps, cut job training. The idea that Republicans are trying to help those who are unemployed is nonsense. And I think on this Election Day, those who have a job can credit the administration for stabilizing our economy, and those who don't know that this administration is trying to put them to work.
The Washington Examiner picked up Fattah's comments in an April 25 blog post, claiming that Fattah said that "unemployment could actually encourage people to vote for President Obama in order to secure welfare benefits such as food stamps." The Fox Nation later republished the Examiner post under the headline, "Democrat: Unemployed Will Vote for Obama to Keep Their Welfare":
The conservative blog Gateway Pundit highlighted Fattah's comments and claimed that it's "all about the handouts," while The Blaze claimed that Fattah "openly admit[ted] that some voters are supporting President Obama because he's the most likely to protect their government-aid gravy train." And an April 26 Big Government post added:
In other words, Fattah believes Americans who've been conditioned to live on Democrat handouts will certainly continue to vote for the Democrats. The last thing they'd do is vote for those rascally Republicans who want to rein in spending and encourage people to strive, once more, for some semblance of personal responsibility.
Conservative media have repeatedly accused the Obama administration of "bribing" voters, and this latest round of echoes that theme. But the programs mentioned by Fattah -- the food stamp program, known as the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and jobs training programs -- are hardly a "gravy train" that discourages unemployed Americans from "striving" for "some semblance of personal responsibility.
From the April 4 edition of CNN's Starting Point:
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Right-wing media are attacking President Obama over comments he recently made in which he pointed out that if the Supreme Court decides to strike down the Affordable Care Act, it will be an "unprecedented" and "extraordinary" step. In fact, the Supreme Court has not struck down a central provision of a landmark federal statute since the 1930s.
Right-wing media criticized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for declining to deport six undocumented students who were arrested while participating in a non-violent protest against the immigration policies of controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. However, ICE has limited resources and determined that the students did not fall under its enforcement priorities, which focus on "national security, public safety, and border security."
The controversy surrounding the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has played out, in some ways, contrary to the usual left-versus-right, shouting-match dynamic to which we've all grown accustomed. Calls for increased scrutiny of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law (often cited as the reason Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, has thus far escaped charges) have come from both liberals and conservatives. That Zimmerman should be arrested and charged is a position shared by Al Sharpton and Rich Lowry.
But there is still that segment of the online right that is using the Martin controversy to stoke racial animus.
On March 19, Glenn Beck's news website, The Blaze, posted an article speculating that Martin, who was on suspension from school at the time of his death due to excessive tardiness, might have actually been suspended for any number of criminal acts, including arson, sexual battery, and murder -- an unsubtle implication that Martin had it coming. As Mother Jones' Adam Serwer pointed out, the article's original URL referred to Martin as the "aggressor."
Serwer also noted that The Blaze published a companion piece detailing the little-known New Black Liberation Militia's threat to take Zimmerman into custody. And last night, the Daily Caller's Matthew Boyle filed a story from Sanford, Florida on how "members of the New Black Panther Party ripped President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for not responding forcefully enough to the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager."
Glenn Beck's website, The Blaze, would like you to know that Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, might have been an arsonist. Or a kidnapper. Or even a murderer.
In an article attacking MSNBC's Al Sharpton for "exploiting" the "racial controversy" surrounding Martin's death, The Blaze editor Mytheos Holt writes that "we're also learning more about Trayvon Martin. According to reporters he had been suspended from school." Martin's English teacher said that he had been suspended for "tardiness," but Holt says he has "doubts" and listed every single offense that could have resulted in Martin being suspended from school for 10 days -- to include arson, kidnapping, and murder:
Or possibly even of the following, each of which carries a minimum suspension of ten days:
• Aggravated assault
• Aggravated battery against a non-staff member
• Armed robbery
• Assault/Threat against M-DCPS employees or persons conducting official business
• Battery or Aggravated battery against M-DCPS employees or persons conducting official business*
• Making a false report/threat against the school*
• Sexual battery
• Possession, use, sale, or distribution of firearms, explosives, destructive devices, and other weapons.
But whatever the reason, it's a case that you'll probably be hearing more about in the future.
This is a not-too-subtle implication that Martin might have had it coming. After all, he could have been a kidnapping arsonist. Or a murdering armed robber.