Conservative media figures have criticized President Obama's focus on immigration reform, saying that the top priority should be the economy and jobs. In fact, immigration reform is an economic issue: studies show that it would boost economic output and lower unemployment.
Fox News and the Daily Caller claimed that Stand Your Ground self-defense laws in Florida "benefit" black Americans, ignoring the fact that fatal shootings with black victims were more likely to be found "justified" than those with white victims, and that black shooters who killed whites were the most likely to be found guilty.
Stand Your Ground laws (Also termed "Shoot First" or Kill At Will) allow individuals who believe their life or safety is in danger to use lethal force in self-defense without being required to retreat in certain situations. Such laws have been passed in more than 20 states, and attained notoriety due to their role in the Florida trial over the shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin. The laws have been found to increase the rate of homicide and have a racially disproportionate impact on black victims that has triggered an inquiry by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Attorney General Eric Holder questioned the laws while speaking at the NAACP national convention on July 16, suggesting that they encourage "violent situations to escalate in public" and have "victimized too many who are innocent."
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade attacked Holder for his comments on July 17, calling the remarks "divisive" and citing the Daily Caller to claim "when it comes to the Stand Your Ground rule ... the law has helped African Americans" in Florida. According to the Daily Caller, black individuals "benefit" from Florida's Stand Your Ground law at a "disproportionate rate" because those who used the defense were successful 55 percent of the time, while white individuals were only successful in 53 percent of cases (including pending cases).
But the data the Daily Caller cited, from The Tampa Bay Times, reveals that contrary to the claim that blacks largely "benefit" or have been "helped" by Florida's Stand Your Ground law, those who killed black people and cited Stand Your Ground got off at a higher rate than those who killed white people. Additionally, a comprehensive review of Stand Your Ground states found that black individuals citing the statute whose victims were white were less likely to go free than any other perpetrators.
For fatal cases that have reached a verdict in Florida, the attack was more likely to be considered justified if the victims were black (78 percent) than if the victims were white (56 percent), according to the Times database.
Research conducted by John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, has also suggested that blacks do not necessarily "benefit" from such laws. Roman found that in states with Stand Your Ground laws, "the killings of black people by whites were more likely to be considered justified than the killings of white people by blacks." Roman found that white people were 354 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than another white person across Stand Your Ground states. He found that white shooters with black victims were disproportionately more likely to be found justified in non-stand your ground states as well, but to a lesser extent.
Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation similarly showed that nationwide, 34 percent of cases involving a white shooter and a black victim were deemed justifiable, while "in similar situations, when the shooter was black and the victim was white, the homicide was ruled justifiable only 3.3% of the time."
The polling firm Gallup has agreed to pay $10.5 million to settle civil charges that the company had kept two sets of books in order to overbill federal agencies by millions of dollars. The Daily Caller and Fox News had previously floated a conspiracy theory suggesting that the lawsuit was related to supposed efforts by the Obama campaign to "subtly intimidate" the firm to compel them to produce polling results more favorable to Obama.
The Daily Caller had also helped to smear the whistleblower who first exposed Gallup's alleged practices, Michael Lindley, publishing a variety of unsubstantiated criticisms of Lindley from an unnamed "senior Gallup official." Under the terms of the settlement, Lindley, who says he was fired in July 2009 after warning his superiors that he would go to the Justice Department if the company did not stop illegally overbilling the federal government on their contracts with the U.S. Mint and the State Department, will receive $1.9 million.
In a September 6, 2012, story, headlined "Justice Dept. Gallup lawsuit came after Axelrod criticized pollsters," then-Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle wrote:
Internal emails between senior officials at The Gallup Organization, obtained by The Daily Caller, show senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod attempting to subtly intimidate the respected polling firm when its numbers were unfavorable to the president.
After Gallup declined to change its polling methodology, Obama's Department of Justice hit it with an unrelated lawsuit that appears damning on its face.
Boyle summarized on Twitter:
The alleged "intimidation" cited in the emails Boyle highlighted were complaints among Gallup executives that Obama strategist David Axelrod had sent a tweet criticizing Gallup's "methodological problems" in its polling of the presidential race. In June, Gallup acknowledged that their methodology had indeed been flawed, leading the firm to consistently overestimate Mitt Romney's support.
As even conservative bloggers noted, Boyle's conspiracy theory made little sense: a single tweet from an Obama aide did not suggest Gallup's polling was a priority, there was little upside to trying to intimidate the firm, and the timeline showed that the Justice Department had been involved with the case for years before the tweet was issued.
Nonetheless, Fox quickly adopted Boyle's conspiratorial frame. In a September 7 segment on his Fox Business program, Stuart Varney fabricated direct contacts between Axelrod and the Gallup employees to claim that the Gallup executives "had felt threatened." A few hours later on Fox News' America Live, guest anchor Shannon Bream said the Caller's story "suggests a conspiracy theory" between the filing of the DOJ lawsuit and Axelrod's "angry tweet." Both guests, attorney Brian Claypool and GOP pollster Chris Wilson, agreed that there was a connection between the two events; Wilson said it was indicative of "Chicago-style politics" on the part of President Obama and called it "frightening," while Claypool said the DOJ "needs to hire Houdini right now as a legal consultant" to "get them out of this mess."
In fact, the DOJ's own lawyers were sufficient to convince Gallup to pay more than $10 million rather than risk continued legal action.
The Daily Caller would "gladly run" future opinion pieces from contributor Jack Hunter despite revelations this week of his past neo-Confederate and pro-secessionist views, a spokesperson said.
Asked if Hunter -- who has written more than 50 opinion pieces for the website in the past -- would be welcomed to write for the site again in the future, Daily Caller spokeswoman Nicole Roeberg stated via email: "He is welcome to submit an opinion piece, just like anyone else. Each piece would be judged on its own merit. If it adheres to our standards, we would gladly run it."
She also stressed: "Any submission which violates Daily Caller standards won't be accepted. Though Hunter has written many good pieces for us in the past, comments like those being talked about this week would not have met our editorial standards and would have been rejected."
The conservative Washington Free Beacon reported this week that Hunter, a "close aide" to Sen. Rand Paul who also co-wrote the Kentucky Republican's 2011 book, "spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist. Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South, which 'advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.'"
The Free Beacon also quoted from Hunter's South Carolina radio commentaries, delivered under the pseudonym "The Southern Avenger," in which he expressed admiration for Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, indignation that white Americans are treated to a "racial double standard," and opposition to Spanish-speaking immigrants. Hunter reportedly "told the Free Beacon that he no longer holds many of these views," including his pro-Lincoln assassin views, but "declined to say that he no longer supports secession."
In an interview, Roeberg pointed out that Hunter had written just one piece for the Daily Caller since last August and that none of the previous articles were related to his controversial views. "He was an opinion writer, we have hundreds and hundreds of opinion writers, [and] he was never paid," she said. "All of his pieces were opinion pieces and we don't pay our opinion writers."
She later added: "None of his pieces that he ever wrote for us had anything to do with any of those views, they were all kind of just standard political issues that weren't super controversial. We never would have approved anything like that."
Roeberg said she did not know if Daily Caller editors knew about Hunter's past controversial views, adding that the news outlet had no other comment on the new revelations.
Hunter's Daily Caller archive includes more than 50 pieces written between August 2011 and May 2013, including numerous editions of a slickly-produced, Daily Caller-branded video commentary series, "The Deal with Jack Hunter."
His most recent Daily Caller piece, from May 6, was headlined, "Rand Paul shatters left-right paradigm, can help grow GOP." In his written and video commentaries, Hunter also promoted the candidacy of Sen. Paul's father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), whose 2012 presidential campaign he worked for as an "official campaign blogger."
In a February 2012 Daily Caller video, Hunter argued "that by firing Pat Buchanan, MSNBC, Media Matters and the Color of Change have undermined free speech." The Daily Caller noted that Hunter is "known by his radio moniker the 'Southern Avenger,'" and identified him as "a frequent guest on Fox Business" and the co-author of books by Sen. Paul and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
The latest revelations about Hunter's neo-Confederate past brought a rebuke from one of Daily Caller's most well-known columnists, Matt Lewis, who wrote a piece on July 9 describing Hunter's comments as a "damaging staffer admission" and his past views as "very bad baggage." Lewis wrote that Hunter's presence on Paul's staff reflects poorly on the senator's "credibility and honesty -- to Paul's fundamental character."
Lewis did not mention Hunter's previous Daily Caller work and did not respond to a request for an interview.
The persistent right-wing talking point that immigration reform would bring in anywhere from 11 million to as many as 30 million new Democratic voters has definitively been exposed as a myth.
The charge, pushed by Fox News, rests on the bogus allegation that because the Senate immigration reform bill includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, those new citizens would then be eligible to vote for Democrats.
As Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin wrote in a syndicated column arguing that "illegal alien amnesty violates our founding principles," "Unrepentant amnesty peddlers on both sides of the aisle admit their plan is all about votes and power." She continued:
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain continues his craven, futile chase for the Hispanic bloc. Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez is openly salivating at the prospect of millions of new illegal aliens -- future Democratic Party dependents of the Nanny State -- who could be eligible for Obamacare and a plethora of other government benefits despite clear prohibitions against them.
On Fox, contributor Monica Crowley echoed the argument, claiming that the Senate immigration reform bill "has nothing to do with immigration." She added: "The Democrats have played this brilliantly. This is about flooding the zone with new Democratic voters so they can get a permanent voting majority."
Right-wing media have invented several conspiracy theories to attack the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill, including claiming that the legislation provides free cars and cell phones for undocumented immigrants, and that it is a secret plot to create a permanent one-party system reminiscent of Marxist Russian premier Vladimir Lenin.
Right-wing media have adopted Betsy McCaughey's unfounded conspiracy theory that immigration reform, like health care reform, is a secret plot to create a permanent one-party system, reminiscent of Marxist Russian premier Vladimir Lenin. Like her health care fearmongering, McCaughey has no evidence to support her charges.
Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York, has a long history of pushing conspiracy theories about health care reform, including that the bill's outreach provisions are designed to create a "beholden" Democratic majority. In an interview with The Daily Caller's Ginni Thomas, McCaughey revived the same baseless attacks on the Senate immigration proposal, claiming that "you can count on" third party outreach groups to register immigrants as Democrats. Later in the interview, McCaughey claimed President Obama was using the bill to "elevat[e] community organizations to a fifth branch of government without any of the rules that limit what the other branches can do." McCaughey went on to claim the tactics were similar to those used by Lenin.
McCaughey's baseless conspiracy theory was picked up by Andrea Tantaros, co-host of Fox News' The Five, who cited McCaughey to call the bill a "Christmas tree of carve-outs for lobbyists," claiming, "she says that it funnels money to groups like La Raza, community organizing groups, takes the authority away from the DHS and lets them handle the amnesty process":
Of course, the text of the bill limits the scope of activities for which organizations can use federal funding.
Rush Limbaugh cited a flawed statistic several times during his radio show to claim that the future immigrant population will reach 46 million in two decades under the Senate's immigration reform bill, even though the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) scoring of the bill contradicts that statistic.
The 46 million immigrant statistic was reported by The Daily Caller's Neil Munro, who claimed that "current forecasts predict an inflow of roughly 11 million per decade, or 22 million by 2033." Munro goes on to explain that 22 million "plus the new 16 million [as reported in the CBO] and the eight million illegals [who are already here], add up to 46 million new or legalized people for the nation in 20 years."
During the June 19 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh jumped on board attributing this number to the CBO report, not Munro:
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.