Following the announcement that the Security and Exchange Commission is investigating the investment firm Goldman Sachs for fraud, an April 19 FoxNews.com article reported that the "White House...strongly denied any involvement in the timing of the high-profile fraud case against Goldman Sachs," after Republicans and their media acolytes suggested the charges were timed to help pass financial reform. Fox News reported that "Republicans also accused the administration of biting the hand that fed it, since Goldman Sachs was President Obama's top Wall Street contributor during the 2008 campaign, with employees donating nearly $1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics," and went on to quote Rep. John Boehner as asking "just whose side is President Obama on?" Pause for reaction. First of all, the SEC is a non-partisan body that is operating independent of the White House. Secondly, the accusation that the President is "biting the hand that fed it" makes absolutely no sense. Wouldn't the real scandal be if Obama interfered with a SEC investigation because the subject of the investigation was a large campaign contributor of his?
After the Security and Exchange Commission accused Goldman Sachs of fraud, numerous right-wing media figures have accused the Obama administration of attempting "to destroy Goldman Sachs" in order to "shift public opinion" in favor of financial reform. Simultaneously, conservative media have also falsely claimed that the financial reform legislation creates a "permanent bailout fund," which is "the payoff" Wall Street "has been waiting for."
As my colleague Kate Conway noted on these pages yesterday, the Washington Times proved yesterday that they will miss no opportunity to attack President Obama, no matter how much of a stretch that attack may be. Today, The Drudge Report has proved the same. Drudge is currently hyping the completely false suggestion that President Obama skipped Polish President Lech Kaczynskis' funeral in favor of playing golf.
Of course, Obama was unable to attend the funeral due to the fact that a cloud of volcanic ash has wrecked havoc on air travel in Europe, a fact which Drudge is clearly aware of if he read his own site. Indeed, his suggestion that Obama "goes golfing instead of attending Kaczynskis' funeral" is directly below this:
Apparently, putting two and two together isn't Drudge's strong suit.
Right-wing media figures and outlets have revived their obsession with President Obama's supposed "bowing" by highlighting a photo of Obama greeting Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Nuclear Security Summit. Conservative media have previously attacked Obama's greetings of Saudi King Abdullah, Japanese Emperor Akihito, and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.
In advance of the April 15 tax deadline, the conservative media have complained that, according to a Tax Policy Center report, 47 percent of households pay no federal income taxes. These complaints come despite the fact that the vast majority of these households pay other taxes.
The Drudge Report is currently blaring the headline, "Obama Man: Raise Taxes, Start European-style VAT," in his signature red, scare font.
However, as per usual with Drudge, the article to which he links--a two-paragraph Reuters blurb on comments White House aide Paul Vockler made at a recent event-- isn't nearly as direct. Reuters reported that "Volcker, answering a question from the audience at a New York Historical Society event, said the value-added tax 'was not as toxic an idea' as it has been in the past." According to Reuters, he expressed an identical sentiment about "a carbon or other energy-related tax." The Reuters article also noted that though "both were still unpopular ideas, Volkler said getting entitlement costs and the U.S. budget deficit under control may require such moves. 'If at the end of the day we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes,' he said." Notice the caveat: If the only way to get the deficit "under control" is to raise taxes, then we should raise taxes. Drudge sees the article and bam! An Obama adviser declared it is time to "raise taxes" and "start [a] European-style VAT."
But, given Drudge's history of false headlines, we shouldn't be surprised.
The Drudge Report isn't exactly known for its accurate headlines, so it's no surprise that yet another inaccurate one has popped up. In touting a New York Times story on President Obama's plan to narrow the conditions under which the U.S. would use nuclear weapons, Drudge made a completely false claim in its big red headline: "No Nukes: Even In Self-Defense!"
In fact, according to the Times article Drudge linked to, Obama would permit the use of nuclear weapons against nuclear states, against non-nuclear states that are not in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and against a possible biological attack if the development of such weapons sufficiently threatened the U.S.
Even Allahpundit at Hot Air shot Drudge's headline down.
The actual facts, unfortunately, are likely to get trumped by the mindset that because something is in big red type, it must be true -- which seems to be the kind of audience Drudge is catering to.
From The Drudge Report on March 29:
The Drudge Report is the latest to push the completely baseless smear that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) "sold" his health care vote for "airport grants," a claim Stupak has strongly denied. In fact, there is no evidence for this charge; indeed, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded grants in 47 states -- including one in Minority Leader John Boehner's district -- as part of a decades-old airport improvement program.
Fox & Friends perpetuated the false claim advanced on right-wing blogs that President Obama was incorrect in stating during a Fox News interview that Hawaii suffered an earthquake in 2006 -- a disaster Fox News itself reported on at the time. In a 2007 memo, a Fox News executive reportedly warned staff that "seeing an item on a website does not mean it is right. Nor does it mean it is ready for air on FNC."
From the Drudge Report accessed March 15, 2010:
From the AP article linked to by Drudge:
Ahead of visit, Obama reconsiders Indonesia military
The United States is looking to break a taboo and train an elite Indonesian force linked to past abuses, as President Barack Obama courts the world's largest Muslim-majority nation with a visit.
With its moderate form of Islam and democratization since the 1990s, Indonesia is increasingly seen in Washington as an ideal partner. Obama spent part of his childhood in Jakarta, giving him a propitious personal connection.
Ahead of Obama's trip next week, top officers from Kopassus -- a military unit that focuses on counter-insurgency and intelligence -- visited Washington to discuss a resumption of training, people with knowledge of the talks said.
The United States cut off support for Kopassus under the so-called Leahy Amendment in 1997, which prohibited training to foreign military units involved in human rights abuses.
Right-wing media figures have run with The Weekly Standard's John McCormack's completely baseless accusation that President Obama is buying Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-UT) vote on health care reform by appointing his brother, Scott Matheson, to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. McCormack provided no evidence to support the allegation -- which both Rep. Matheson and the White House have called "absurd" -- and even those pushing the charge acknowledge that Scott Matheson is "plenty qualified for the job."
Another Andrew Breitbart-hyped video from the Naked Emperor News website is bouncing around the right-wing echo chamber. As usual, it doesn't live up to the hype -- on the campaign trail before the 2008 election, Barack Obama didn't promise that he would pass health care reform only with a supermajority of support -- but that isn't stopping conservatives from using it to attack President Obama.
Last week, Media Matters documented how a Naked Emperor video, hyped by Breitbart, pushed by the Drudge Report, and echoed by Glenn Beck, advanced the falsehood that "the nuclear option" refers to the budget reconciliation process. Right-wingers used the falsehood to accuse Democrats -- who had complained in 2005 when Republicans considered changing Senate filibuster rules in what the GOP at the time called the "nuclear option" -- of hypocrisy for considering using reconciliation to pass health care reform. But there wasn't any inconsistency in Dems' wanting to use a process that has been employed repeatedly to pass legislation, including major health care reforms, after having criticized Republican plans to change the Senate rules.
This time, right-wingers are claiming the new video shows Obama promising that he won't pass health care reform without a supermajority. Here's Glenn Beck from his radio show today:
BECK: New audio for you from Barack Obama saying that we cannot, cannot pass it with a simple majority vote. Health care has to be supermajority, has to be done that way. You can't just slip it by the American people, which they are now saying they're going to do. Yet another broken promise from Barack Obama.
The video itself shows several clips of Obama on the campaign trail in 2006 and 2007 discussing how he expected to pass health care reform. For example, in a September 2007 speech, Obama says of health care reform, "This is an area where we're going to have to have a 60 percent majority in the Senate and the House in order to actually get a bill to my desk. We're going to have to have a majority to get a bill to my desk that is not just a 50-plus-1 majority." In another clip, Obama discusses how he wanted to campaign in a way that brought more than a "50-plus-1" majority because "you can't govern" after such a victory and predicts that "you can't deliver on health care. We're not going to pass universal health care with a 50-plus-1 strategy." In a 2006 speech, Obama says, "If we want to transform the government, though, that requires a sizable majority."
What he's saying in these clips is that he expected it would be more difficult to govern (such as passing health care reform legislation) without broad support. Whether health care reform has such broad support may depend on how you interpret various polls and how you expect Congress to vote on upcoming bills. But what Obama is not saying in those clips is that he promises not to pass health care reform without a supermajority.
Of course, this hasn't prevented right-wingers from claiming that he made such a promise. Blogger Jim Hoft posted the video at his Gateway Pundit site and wrote: "But, of course, like everything else Obama promised, this statement came with an expiration date. Today Obama will announce that democrats will force their unpopular nationalized health care bill through Congress using a simple majority to ram it through."
Similarly, Breitbart.tv, the Drudge Report, the Fox Nation, and the Jawa Report all posted the video and claimed that Obama said, in Breitbart's words, "Democrats Should Not Pass Healthcare With a 50-Plus-1 Strategy." Did Obama say Dems "should" pass health care reform only with more than that 50-plus-1? That's not what the video shows him saying.
Somehow, I doubt they'll come to realize that the Naked Emperor video, er, has no clothes.