Right-wing media have repeatedly used dishonest and misleading charts from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to decry spending on nutrition assistance and other programs for needy Americans.
Fox News, Fox Nation, and The Weekly Standard have, over the course of many months, taken charts from Sessions' staff depicting spending on food stamps (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) and other spending on low-income Americans in grossly misleading ways with out-of-context numbers. On June 12, Fox & Friends First cited Sessions when airing a graphic showing spending on SNAP being more than five times greater than spending on veterans job training and education programs:
Similar charts appeared on Fox Nation and The Weekly Standard. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projection that is cited on the graph does not list any spending on veterans job training and education, so that number cannot be verified. But the White House projects that spending on this program will increase over the next five years, after it already grew dramatically after 2009 -- while spending on SNAP is projected to decrease over the same five-year period.
But it is ridiculous to compare a veterans education program -- which is limited to only military veterans and thus a very small segment of the population -- to SNAP, which is an income security program (indeed, it is listed as such in the CBO document) and is open to every American that meets eligibility requirements. And many veterans and their families are eligible for SNAP and active-duty service members and their families use the benefits. But if one was to look at income security spending for veterans, CBO projections show that more is actually spent on veterans -- a total of $801 billion on income security for veterans over 10 years, and a much larger amount than the veterans program highlighted by Sessions and the right-wing media.
During the segment, Fox Business' Diane Macedo noted that "the USDA also provides bonuses totaling about $50 million per year to states that meet high enrollment targets." These awards, which Sessions brought up on Fox News in June 2012, date back to the Bush administration, and have their origin in the 2002 farm bill.
Conservative media are distorting a New York Times article that explained scientists' research on how the ocean has absorbed much of recent global warming to deny manmade climate change. A prime example is the conservative website The Daily Caller, whose article is easily refuted by one of its own sources, a scientist who stated that "people should be exactly as concerned as before about what climate change is doing."
Here's The Daily Caller claiming that scientists have "lowered their warming estimates," (it actually means estimates of climate sensitivity, or the amount that the surface temperatures would warm in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide):
Researchers from the UK recently reported that global temperatures will only rise between 0.9 degrees Celsius and 2.0 degrees Celsius. Before that, Norwegian researchers found that the earth may warm only 1.9 degrees Celsius.
"The most extreme projections are looking less likely than before," Dr. Alexander Otto of the University of Oxford told BBC News.
In fact, Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute compiled a partial list of studies that have lowered their warming estimates:
"Richard Lindzen gives a range of 0.6 to 1.0 C (Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, 2011); Andreas Schmittner, 1.4 to 2.8 C (Science, 2011); James Annan, using two techniques, 1.2 to 3.6 C and 1.3 to 4.2 C (Climatic Change, 2011); J.H. van Hateren, 1.5 to 2.5 C (Climate Dynamics, 2012); Michael Ring, 1.5 to 2.0 C (Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, 2012); and Julia Hargreaves, including cooling from dust, 0.2 to 4.0 C and 0.8 to 3.6 C (Geophysical Research Letters, 2012)."
Here's the scientist that The Daily Caller cites, Dr. Otto of the University of Oxford, saying to the BBC that "We would all like climate sensitivity to be lower but it isn't":
The IPCC said that climate sensitivity was in the range of 2.0-4.5C.
This latest research, including the decade of stalled temperature rises, produces a range of 0.9-5.0C.
"It is a bigger range of uncertainty," said Dr Otto.
"But it still includes the old range. We would all like climate sensitivity to be lower but it isn't."
The Equal Pay Act was signed into law on June 10, 1963, by President Kennedy to prohibit wage discrimination based on sex. Fifty years later, as the issue of gender income inequality continues to affect America, conservative media figures have consistently tried to downplay and minimize these concerns.
Fox News falsely suggested that 56 percent of car companies that received loans through the same government program as electric automakers Tesla and Fisker have failed. In fact, most of the automakers are up and running -- 56 percent of those that asked for loans have gone under, indicating that the Department of Energy exercised due diligence in reviewing applicants.
This week, Fox & Friends Sunday claimed that "56% Of Carmakers Who Got Federal Help Fizzled," citing a Daily Caller story on the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. Co-host Tucker Carlson, who also serves as editor-in-chief at the Daily Caller, later opined "If I run a venture capital firm ... and in four years, 56 percent of the companies I invest your money in go bankrupt ... I would be in deep trouble." He concluded, "the government should not be in the venture capital business. They're not good at it."
However, Fox News reversed the success of the program: 56 percent of the identifiable car companies that applied for loan guarantees have ceased operations, but most of the car companies that received these loan guarantees are up and running. Venture capitalists, on the other hand, expect a successful investment strategy to yield a 70 percent failure rate.
Right-wing media outlets are hyping a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) -- a Southern Poverty Law Center-labeled nativist organization -- which claims that the Senate's immigration bill would double the number of guest workers admitted into the country each year. The study, however, is just the latest in a series of flawed, debunked studies that CIS has released.
The outlets - including the Daily Caller, Newsmax, The Washington Times, Breitbart.com, and Drudge Report -- have all highlighted the study which claims that in the first year of the Senate's proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill, "nearly 1.6 million more temporary workers than currently allowed" will be admitted to the United States. The study also claims that the bill would double the number of temporary workers admitted each year compared to current levels.
What these outlets fail to mention is that, like many of CIS' previous studies -- and others they have latched on to in order to undermine immigration reform -- this study is flawed and its conclusions are bogus.
Philip Wolgin, senior policy analyst for immigration at the Center for American Progress, emphasized the top five reasons the CIS study "misses the mark," including its lack of methodology, double-counting temporary and permanent immigrants, misrepresenting who will actually compete with American workers, and the miscounting of visa categories. Wolgin explained that CIS makes significant statistical errors, including what he calls the "absurd" idea that 950,000 people would apply for and be granted the V Visa in the first year after the immigration reform bill's passage.
The V visa is a temporary visa that allows the family members of legal permanent residents to remain in the country legally until they are granted permanent residency as well. As the Center for American Progress explained, even though 75 percent of spouses and children of permanent residents are exempted from per-country quotas, some families still face up to 19 years apart due to backlogs in the immigration system.
Wolgin also pointed out that among the three visa categories that make up 83 percent of the increases in the CIS study, CIS over-counted by more than 255,000 people.
The Daily Caller is promoting a flawed report that attributes the gender pay gap to women's preference for less lucrative jobs. In reality, women earn significantly less than men in the same occupation and the claim that personal choice is responsible for the gender wage gap has been thoroughly debunked.
Salary tracking website PayScale released a report Thursday pushing back on the idea of a gender pay gap.
The report found that although women earn an average 81 cents on the dollar to when compared to men, it's because women choose lower paying jobs.
"Unequal pay for equal work? Not really," wrote Katie Bardaro, lead economist at PayScale.
The site found that the salary difference between men and women with the same types of jobs was negligible. The reason for the wage gap is that females tend to gravitate toward jobs that are societally beneficial, where as [sic] men choose more lucrative careers, according to the report.
Contrary to PayScale's findings, a 2012 American Association of University Women report found that women were paid 82% of what men were paid just one year out of college, and that lifetime gender wage disparities cannot be explained by personal choice:
Critics charge that pay differences between men and women are simply a matter of personal choices. AAUW addressed this argument in our 2012 report, Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation. Our analysis found that just one year after college graduation, women were paid just 82 percent of what their male counterparts were paid.
An earlier report, Behind the Pay Gap (AAUW, 2007), found that 10 years after graduation, the pay gap widened, and women were paid only 69 percent of what men were paid. In part, these pay gaps do reflect men's and women's choices, especially the choice of college major and the type of job pursued after graduation. For example, women are more likely than men to go into teaching, and this contributes to the pay gap because teachers tend to be paid less than other college graduates. This portion of the pay gap is considered to be explained, regardless of whether teachers' wages are considered fair.
Yet not all of the gap can be "explained away." After accounting for college major, occupation, economic sector, hours worked, months unemployed since graduation, GPA, type of undergraduate institution, institution selectivity, age, geographical region, and marital status, Graduating to a Pay Gap found that a 7 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained.
Similarly, Behind the Pay Gap found a 12 percent unexplained difference in earnings among full-time workers 10 years after college graduation. Other researchers have also found that the gender pay gap is not fully accounted for by women's and men's choices.
The myth that the gender pay gap is the product of women's career choices has also been disproven by various studies, which show that women's median earnings are lower than men's in most occupations, even those dominated by women. According to an April 2012 fact sheet from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, "Women's median earnings are lower than men's in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women."
Even a 2009 report published by the Bush Labor Department found "the adjusted gender wage gap ... is between 4.8 and 7.1 percent" when controlling for variables including occupation, career interruption, and industry sector.
The gender pay gap is particularly important in light of Pew Research's May 29 study, which found that mothers are the primary or sole breadwinner in 40 percent of all American households with children. In addition to promoting the wellbeing of American families dependent on a mother's income, closing the gender wage gap will grow the economy. According to economist Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, closing the gender pay gap would grow the U.S. economy by at least three to four percentage points.
Daily Caller contributor Mickey Kaus theorized that recent incidents of sexual assaults in the military may be a diversion tactic aimed at steering attention away from the White House.
Sexual assaults in the military are a growing problem. A Pentagon report released this month determined up to 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted in 2012, up from an estimated 19,000 the year prior. The report found that 62 percent of victims who reported being assaulted faced retaliation as a result. Recently, three different military officials, each tasked with overseeing sexual assault prevention programs, were investigated or charged with committing an act of sexual assault or harassment.
Kaus's dismissal of the sexual assault crisis is in keeping with the Daily Caller's standards for publishing sexist content.
The Daily Caller's "Guns and Gear" section used an image of Nazi soldiers on parade to accompany the republication of a National Rifle Association press release that attacked proponents of stronger gun laws.
Appended to the top of the press release was an image of Nazi soldiers performing the goose step in front of Hitler and his generals during an October 1939 parade in Warsaw, Poland:
The NRA press release identified three Democratic members of the New Jersey Legislature, Loretta Weinberg, Sandra Cunningham and Linda Greenstein, who were reportedly "complaining" that proposals to strengthen gun laws in New Jersey do not go far enough. The NRA further claims that one of the legislators was caught on tape saying, "We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate." As the New Jersey Star-Ledger notes, it is actually not clear which legislator named by the NRA, if any, made the comment or what words were said before "confiscate":
As a committee hearing on new gun-control legislation began winding down Thursday, three state senators started chatting amongst themselves.
What they didn't realize was the microphone was still on.
A recording of the exchange -- which appears to be between Democrats Loretta Weinberg, Sandra Cunningham and Linda Greenstein -- ended up on YouTube, and gun supporters said today they were upset by the remarks.
The recording opens with what sounds like a senator or staff member saying, "We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate" -- although it is not clear who is speaking or if this is what she is saying.
PolitickerNJ.com also reported on the recording, noting that the "confiscate" comments were made by "an unknown voice." Reached for comment, Weinberg stated, "All I know is it's not my voice and I don't know who said it or in what context."
The Daily Caller gave a platform to Robert Zimmerman Jr. to criticize the NAACP for getting involved in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin -- whom Zimmerman's brother, George, is accused of killing -- despite his sending racially insensitive tweets to the NAACP earlier this year.
In a May 7 Daily Caller op-ed, Zimmerman Jr. asserted that the NAACP "thrives off racially divisive controversies." He also claimed that the NAACP failed to step up when George Zimmerman asked for help when assisting Sherman Ware, an African American man who had been beaten in Sanford, Florida, but the organization pounced on the murder of Martin by "spewing fabrications laced with racial innuendo":
In the wake of the NAACP's strange attempt to exploit the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I thought back to my discussion with [NAACP president Ben] Jealous about racial equality and my brother's rebuffed effort to enlist the NAACP to help Sherman Ware. Maybe Jealous' insistence that there will never be racial equality has something to do with the fact that his organization thrives off racially divisive controversies. After all, the NAACP had helped Ware, but only after his case had garnered significant media attention. Perhaps the NAACP can learn a few things from George. He acted when the NAACP wouldn't.
The Daily Caller failed to note Zimmerman's string of racially charged tweets made March 24 and directed at the NAACP, director Michael Moore, the NRA, and Breitbart.com. In one tweet, he attempted to draw comparisons between Martin and Georgia teen De'Marquise Elkins, who is charged with killing an infant. These tweets included one, since deleted, that included side-by-side photos showing Martin and Elkins with their middle fingers flipped up toward the camera with the following: "A picture speaks a thousand words... Any questions?"
He later tweeted reported quotes from Elkins and Martin:
Republican congressmen are giving credibility to Alex Jones and his conservative fringe website Infowars.com, which popularized a conspiracy theory that DHS is stockpiling ammunition for nefarious purposes. The conspiracy theory has now inspired legislation known as the AMMO Act of 2013, which seeks to limit the ammunition purchasing power of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), even though the underlying theory was based on flawed math and a mischaracterization of the facts.
Right-wing media are trying to downplay a confrontation over gun sale background checks between a woman who lost her mother in the Newtown, CT, shooting and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) by promoting a report from an Ayotte donor whose wife is the former chair of the New Hampshire GOP.
Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung, asked Ayotte during an April 30 town hall meeting in Warren, New Hampshire, "why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't more important" than Ayotte's claim that conducting background checks would be burdensome for gun store owners. According to NBC News, the meeting "drew more than 100 people who came to condemn or support Ayotte's vote."
Reacting to news reports of the confrontation between Lafferty and Ayotte, Shawn Millerick, editor of the conservative New Hampshire Journal, complained of "liberal media bias" and wrote that reports of Ayotte being confronted over her failure to support expanded background checks were exaggerated by the national media. Millerick also posted photographs of cars with out-of-state license plates that he says belonged to the individuals who opposed Ayotte's background check vote.
Breitbart.com, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, RedState and NewsBusters are all promoting Millerick's report as evidence that the media was dishonest in its coverage of Ayotte's town hall meeting while also characterizing Millerick's online newspaper as a "local" media source and not mentioning its partisan slant. According to Breitbart.com's John Nolte, Millerick's report "expose[d] the leftist national media for the liars they are." The Daily Caller's Alex Pappas framed the issue as a discrepancy between "local" and "national" media:
The Daily Caller discounted the experiences of some victims of gun violence who have promoted stronger gun laws by claiming they suffer from "hoplophobia," a fake psychological disorder defined by the gun rights movement as "the morbid fear of guns."
This baseless attack found in the featured article of Daily Caller's "Guns and Gear" section is the latest salvo from a conservative media that have launched vicious attacks on survivors of gun violence who support reforms to current gun laws.
The Daily Caller article purported to examine "hoplophobia" as an actual psychological condition, asking, "Is America required to accept psychological acting out as a legitimate form of legislative discourse?" However this "disorder" is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association and instead is a term coined by the late National Rifle Association board member and famed shooting instructor Jeff Cooper.
In the May 1 article, the authors singled out Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and prominent gun violence prevention campaigner Sarah Brady as allegedly suffering from psychological problems due to their direct experience with gun violence. The article further claimed that the promotion of gun violence prevention is "perilous" to the public:
At least three of the most virulent anti-gun-rights crusaders in the nation suffered extreme gun trauma before entering the fray: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (discovered Harvey Milk's body), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (husband shot dead on commuter train) and Sarah Brady (husband disabled in assassination attempt on President Reagan). Are there others? Have they received counseling for the gun trauma they experienced? And to what extent, if any, does hoplophobic displacement influence and skew what otherwise seems like politics as usual? The biggest question here would be: Is America required to accept psychological acting out as a legitimate form of legislative discourse?
The debate over the precise nature of the condition is likely to continue for a long period of time. This is normal in the psychiatric and mental-health field. The more pressing concern, it seems to us, is the scope of the condition, the numbers of people who may be afflicted, and the extent to which they sublimate their fear by pressing politicians to act in denying the rights of their fellow citizens. That, it seems to us, is intolerable -- the idea that a festering and untreated psychological condition may have more influence over the acts of Congress than does intelligent consideration of life-or-death issues.
In seeking to quell their own turmoil, those so afflicted project their own fears and rage onto others. This is a fairly normal method for handling overwhelming fear and anger, but in doing so, politically active hoplophobes infringe on the rights of healthy law-abiding citizens and the stability of our society. This makes hoplophobia not only unique among all phobias, it makes it perilous. [emphasis in original]
The right wing media's promotion of a widely-debunked Alex Jones conspiracy theory about the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) ammunition acquisitions prompted House Republicans to hold a hearing to investigate. The theory, which assigns some sinister motivation behind the recent ammo purchases, first gained traction on the websites of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones before finding its way to Fox News and Fox Business and finally to the halls of Congress.
On April 25, Republican Reps. Jim Jordan (OH) and Jason Chaffetz (UT) held a joint hearing "to examine the procurement of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General." The hearing followed right wing media reports speculating about the reasons for the acquisitions.
The conspiracy theory picked up steam in March 2012 after a series of reports were posted to Alex Jones' InfoWars.com, including one that claimed "it's not outlandish" to conclude that the government, "is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest." An opinion piece at The Daily Caller cited the reports to suggest that the Obama administration is planning to kill thousands of American citizens. The DHS purchases were brought up on Fox News, prompting Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade to ask, "why they need all those bullets." And while covering the story, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs wondered why the government was "arming up" while trying to "disarm American citizens."
Forbes contributor Ralph Benko wrote that "It's Time For A National Conversation," and called for Congressional action:
If Obama doesn't show any leadership on this matter it's an opportunity for Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, to summon Secretary Napolitano over for a little national conversation. Madame Secretary? Buying 1.6 billion rounds of ammo and deploying armored personnel carriers runs contrary, in every way, to what "homeland security" really means.
Reps. Jordan and Chaffetz answered that call.
As Media Matters has previously noted, the claim that DHS is stockpiling ammunition for some ominous purpose is simply wrong. In reality, the Associated Press reported that while DHS did buy 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, the government bought the bullets in bulk to save money on ammunition used in training and in the field. As the AP noted, "More than 90 federal agencies and 70,000 agents and officers used the department's training center last year." On a separate occasion, Media Matters reported that DHS responded that ammunition purchases are lower than in previous years and that while the law allows DHS to set purchase contracts of billions of rounds in order to reduce prices and save money, the government hasn't actually purchased nearly that many rounds.
Alex Jones, who has called President Obama the "global head of Al Qaeda," and claimed that the terrorist attacks in Boston, New York City, and Oklahoma City were carried out or sponsored by the government, has gained influence with the right wing media. Recently, Drudge Report's Matt Drudge promised that 2013 would be "year of Alex Jones."
UPDATE: The hearing on Alex Jones' conspiracy theory inspired new legislation that's now before Congress. On April 26, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced bills in both chambers of Congress in order to limit federal agencies from stockpiling ammunition. From Inhofe's statement (emphasis added):
"President Obama has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans' access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights," said Inhofe. "One way the Obama Administration is able to do this is by limiting what's available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition. As the public learned in a House committee hearing this week, the Department of Homeland Security has two years worth of ammo on hand and allots nearly 1,000 more rounds of ammunition for DHS officers than is used on average by our Army officers. The AMMO Act of 2013 will enforce transparency and accountability of federal agencies' ammunition supply while also protecting law-abiding citizens access to these resources."
Conservative media focused their Earth Day coverage on the crime and trial of environmental activist Ira Einhorn -- convicted of murdering his girlfriend -- while pushing the unsubstantiated smear that he founded the holiday. Sensationalizing Einhorn's murder conviction distracted from the holiday's purpose and the true founder of Earth Day -- former Wisconsin governor and United States senator Gaylord Nelson (D), a passionate environmental advocate who was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award for his work.
Celebrated on April 22, 1970, the original Earth Day marked the beginning of the environmental movement and, as CBS noted, came "at a time when pollution was rampant and regulation was not commonplace." The popular support Earth Day helped engender led to the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
The conservative smear machine used Earth Day 2013 to push articles claiming the holiday was established by Einhorn, an environmental activist who later became known as the "Unicorn Killer," after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Holly Maddux.
The Daily Caller headlined its Earth Day recognition piece, "Earth Day co-founder killed, 'composted' his ex-girlfriend." Buried in the Caller's last paragraph of the article was Earth Day's purpose and that "most activists credit Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson" as the holiday's progenitor. Michelle Malkin referred to Einhorn as an "Earth Day co-founder" in a column she re-published from 2001, labeling him "[a] grisly Earth Day reminder." And Limbaugh weighed in as well, acknowledging Earth Day by saying, "Ira Einhorn, co-founder, Earth Day, convicted murderer" was being "celebrated today by environmental wackos because this is Earth Day."
After years of denigrating LGBT people and mocking marriage equality, Fox Nation is suddenly expressing concern that new gun control legislation might discriminate against same-sex couples.
In an April 12 Daily Caller article, Mike Piccione criticized new gun control legislation that would prohibit the transfer of firearms between unwed partners without a background check, arguing that the measure "sharply limits rights of gay gun owners":
Gay couples living in states that do not recognize their marriage will now be unable to transfer firearm ownership to their partners without undergoing a background check, should federal gun legislation recently proposed by Democratic Sen. Harry Reid become law.
According to the "Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013," which was introduced in the Senate this week, only couples in a government-sanctioned relationships will be allowed to privately transfer ownership of their firearms without first having to pass the federal background check.
Gay gun owners who want to transfer a gun to a partner, however, must first physically turn their guns in to an entity holding a federal firearms license so that a background check can be performed on the partner. The checks are conducted by the FBI's National Instant Background Check System.
Fox Nation promoted the article, asking "Does Democrats' Gun Bill Discriminate Against Gays?":
While it appears to be true that, under the proposed legislation, same-sex couples would not be allowed to transfer gun ownership between spouses without a background check, it's hard to take Fox Nation's concern about LGBT equality seriously.
Fox Nation has a history of demonizing LGBT equality, including attacking President Obama for calling on the U.N. to protect victims of LGBT violence. It previously criticized an immigration judge for halting the deportation of a gay man who is married to an American citizen, and when Obama announced his support for marriage equality last May, Fox Nation warned, "OBAMA FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES WAR ON MARRIAGE."
The Daily Caller's sudden support for LGBT equality seems no more sincere. The publication typically concerns itself with LGBT issues only when they can be used as an excuse to advocate for anti-gay causes and politicians. Earlier this month, the Daily Caller's Jim Treacher suggested that marriage equality might lead to fathers marrying their sons for tax purposes.