Right-wing media are scrambling to politicize Hurricane Sandy, attacking media outlets for reporting that Obama has returned to the White House to monitor the response to the storm, which could affect 60 million Americans.
Right-wing media, led by the Drudge Report, are pushing a conspiracy theory that the Labor Department will use Hurricane Sandy to delay releasing October jobs data until after the election. This scaremongering is a continuation of the right-wing conspiracy theory that the government is manipulating economic data to help re-elect President Obama.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to release October jobs data, including the official unemployment rate, on Friday -- days before the presidential election. But Labor Department officials have reportedly said that it will be difficult for economists to access the employment data, which can only be accessed on site, as long as the federal government is shut down due to the storm.
An October 29 Wall Street Journal blog post quoted a spokesman for the Bureau of Labor Statistics saying that the bureau would assess the situation after the storm passes and notify the public if it needed to change its release schedule.
In a subsequent statement released on Monday, the Labor Department said, "The employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are working hard to ensure the timely release of employment data on Friday, November 2. It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual regarding the October Employment Situation Report."
And, as reported by The Hill, there is no mystery surrounding a possible delay: it's a simple fact that BLS analysts cannot access the data as long as the federal government is shut down.
Right-wing media outlets are echoing and defending Mitt Romney's false claim that Chrysler is sending a Jeep production line from the United States to China. In fact, as numerous media outlets have pointed out, Jeep is not sending any U.S. jobs to China; rather, the U.S. is opening a new production line in China for the Chinese domestic market.
At a rally in Ohio on October 26, Romney said that he "saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep -- now owned by the Italians -- is thinking of moving all production to China." The Detroit News reported that Romney "was apparently responding to reports Thursday on right-leaning blogs that misinterpreted a recent Bloomberg News story earlier this week that said Chrysler, owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, is thinking of building Jeeps in China for sale in the Chinese market."
Indeed, the Washington Examiner claimed the previous day that Jeep "is considering giving up on the United States and shifting production to China." The Examiner's Paul Bedard also wrote that Jeep is "shifting production of all Jeeps to China, which has a strong desire for Jeeps." The Drudge Report also hyped the Examiner post.
On his October 27 Fox Business show, host Neil Cavuto echoed Romney's claim, saying (via Nexis) that Jeep is "apparently shifting gears and its production plan, moving a lot of manufacturing out of Michigan and right into China."
On October 29, NewsBusters smeared MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, likening her to Saddam Hussein's propaganda minister "Baghdad Bob" after she said that Romney was wrong. NewsBusters claimed "it's still unclear" how Romney was wrong when he said Jeep is thinking of moving its production to China:
Chrysler is majority-owned by Fiat and hence it is within Fiat's power to move Jeep production wherever it wants. Since the company "may eventually" make all its Jeeps in China, as Bloomberg reported, citing a company executive as its source, one can only conclude that Romney's lying about this, as far as Maddow is concerned, stems from him not actually reading a story about it as he claimed, but getting his information elsewhere.
Also on October 29, the Drudge Report linked to a Romney ad on the auto rescue with the headline: "Romney hits auto bailout as Chrysler moves Jeep production to China." But this ad has been criticized for its inaccuracy. A Boston Globe post titled "Mitt Romney ad suggests US auto jobs headed to China" said that while the ad "does not state explicitly" that jobs are moving to China, "it connects Jeep's manufacturing in China to Romney's fighting for American jobs." The Hill said that Romney's ad "references a report that Chrysler is outsourcing its U.S. Jeep production," despite Chrysler's statements to the contrary. And National Journal wrote that Romney "is running a new TV ad that implies Chrysler is planning to move U.S. auto jobs to China, though that is not the case."
These claims and NewsBusters' defense of Romney are completely wrong. The Bloomberg article that NewsBusters references to prove Romney is right also includes this line that the right-wing media watchdog organization left out (emphasis added):
Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. [Fiat and Chrysler executive] Manley referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.
Several conservative media outlets -- including Fox & Friends, Fox Nation, and The Drudge Report -- humiliated themselves by hyping Romney surrogate and fundraiser Donald Trump's latest absurd publicity stunt. In a YouTube video, Trump offered $5 million to charity in exchange for President Obama's college and passport records.
Before the release of the video, Trump had claimed on Fox & Friends that he would reveal "something very, very big concerning the president of the United States." He later claimed "This is not a media event or about Donald J. Trump -- this is about the United States of America."
Trump has previously suggested that Mitt Romney release his past tax returns in exchange for Obama's college records. In the press release accompanying today's stunt, Trump did not make any reference to Romney's still-unreleased records.
In February, Trump recorded robocalls for Romney, then endorsed his candidacy. That was followed by a Romney fundraiser that offered dinner with Trump as a prize to donors. Just a few days ago, Trump was one of the designated "special guests" at a "Romney Victory Fall Retreat." Trump's executive vice president and special counsel Michael Cohen told Business Insider that Trump has given "millions" to SuperPACs supporting Romney's candidacy.
Despite Trump's long history of indulging in conspiracy theories, hyping nonsense and trafficking in classic hucksterism, conservative media dutifully promoted Trump's latest attempt at getting his name back in the news.
Conservative media figures are taking a partial quote from President Obama out of context in order to attack him as reacting callously to the deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel.
In an appearance taped today for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, President Obama was asked if communication between government personnel had failed to provide "the optimal response" to the Benghazi attacks. Obama replied in part: "If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal. We're going to fix it. All of it. And what happens, during the course of a presidency, is that the government is a big operation and any given time something screws up. And you make sure that you find out what's broken and you fix it."
Conservative media figures like Matt Drudge, Monica Crowley, Hugh Hewitt, Mary Katherine Ham,John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, Erick Erickson and outlets like Fox Nation all used early reports of Obama's comments to attack him, with several falsely suggesting that Obama had said the deaths of American personnel in Benghazi, and not the communications effort, was "not optimal."
Conservative media outlets including The Weekly Standard, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, Breitbart.com, and the Drudge Report have claimed that Michelle Obama broke the rules by joining audience applause at one point during the debate. Fox Radio's Todd Starnes went so far as to call Michelle Obama unbecoming. These attacks come despite the fact that Mitt Romney repeatedly violated the debate rules.
Prior to the debate, the campaigns agreed to a rule stating that "the candidates may not ask each other direct questions during any of the four debates."
Nevertheless, Romney repeatedly asked Obama questions during the debate on a variety of subjects including oil drilling, the investments in Obama's pension, and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
All of which leads to the possibility that the conservative media is less concerned with the debate rules than they are with changing the subject from the substance of the debate.
The Daily Caller and the Drudge Report are hyping the fact that Barack Obama attended vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz's wedding to Julius Genachowski (now the head of the FCC) in 1991 as evidence of a conflict of interest.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney threw his right-wing media cheerleaders under the bus when he stated that his comments about 47 percent of Americans were "completely wrong." Prior to this statement, the right-wing media had embraced Romney's comments and even encouraged them to be used on the campaign trail.
The Drudge Report, Human Events and the Weekly Standard are taking Vice President Joe Biden out of context, falsely suggesting that he said Obama and Biden want to raise taxes on average Americans by a trillion dollars. In fact, Biden was merely restating the administration's years-old policy of wanting to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire.
Media figures are dismissing video from a 2007 Obama speech despite Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson hyping the video as damning evidence of racially-charged rhetoric. Even some conservatives agree that the video has little significance in the presidential race.
It's rather amazing that Barack Obama has been on the national political stage for more than eight years and the far-right media, committed to hating the president with a peculiar passion, still haven't figured out the race angle. Or specifically, they haven't figured out which race-baiting angle they prefer to play against him.
The jarring dichotomy played out yesterday. That morning, conservative George Will argued in his Washington Post column that Obama's race would shield him from a re-election defeat because Americans will vote for him because he's black.
Then in the late afternoon and evening a media kerfuffle broke out after the habitually untrustworthy Drudge Report hyped a five-year-old video of Obama speaking at Hampton University. The unmistakable message from the overly excited members of GOP Noise machine on Tuesday was that the video "could dramatically impact" the election because it would showcase Obama as an angry man beset by racial grievances (it doesn't). The clear inference being that Americans won't vote for him because he's revealing his true black nature.
Here's how MSNBC's Rachel Maddow decoded the right-wing attack last night: "People didn't actually know [Obama] was this black, and if they had known he was this black they never would've elected him."
So which is it? Will voters excuse Obama's faults and give him a second term based on his race? Or will voters penalize Obama on Election Day based on his race?
The utter confusion and contradictory allegations shouldn't be surprising given that Obama's harshest opponents have been grappling for years, unsuccessfully, with the issue of race and how best to try to deploy it for political gain. They've alternately declared Obama a "racist" and have wallowed in the worst kind of ugly race baiting, while pre-emptively condemning any critics who dare call them out.
The us-versus-them cauldron of bigotry was purposefully reignited last night with the non-news of an Obama speech given in 2007 to an audience of African-American clergy. It was a speech that was open to the press at the time and was widely reported on, including on Fox News.
From the October 3 edition of CNN's Early Start:
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Right-wing media attacked NBC News and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell for not airing a 1998 tape of President Obama on Wednesday before the network could authenticate it, accusing NBC of a "double standard" and of being a subsidiary of the Obama administration.
In fact, in seeking to verify the full context of what Obama said 14 years ago, comments first publicized by the Drudge Report and subsequently distorted by right-wing media, NBC News was doing exactly what is required of news organizations: checking the facts.
On September 18, the Drudge Report linked to an edited video of then-Sen. Obama saying, "I actually believe in redistribution." Right-wing media then jumped on the video to attack Obama as a socialist, while Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney used it to deflect from his comments that the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income tax "are victims" and claimed "they will vote for [President Obama] no matter what."
The next day, discussing the Drudge tape on her MSNBC show, Mitchell stated:
MITCHELL: Let's explain this redistribution issue because we have not authenticated this 14-year-old tape from Loyola college when Barack Obama was a state senator. So because we have not independently, at NBC News and MSNBC, authenticated it, we're not airing it.
But the basic issue is, they're accusing President Obama, as John Sununu said to me yesterday, of class warfare.
In an email to Politico, an NBC News spokesperson added:
"In any instance like this -- regardless of the source or topic -- NBC News Standards will issue guidance instructing broadcasts to not air content unless or until we can determine that it is authentic, unedited, and not taken out of context."
Mitchell and NBC were immediately attacked.
Fox News falsely suggested that President Obama met with a pirate yesterday even though he doesn't have time to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In fact, Netanyahu has said that Obama has met with him more than "any other leader in the world." And the picture Fox showed to suggest that Obama was meeting with a pirate was actually taken in May 2009 for use during that year's White House Correspondents' Dinner.
On Wednesday, which was Talk Like a Pirate Day, the staff that runs Obama's campaign Twitter feed sent out a tweet featuring a photo of Obama sitting down with a pirate. This morning, the photo was at the top of the Drudge Report, with the headline "But No Time For Netanyahu...":
Fox & Friends fell for Drudge's misleading framing. This morning, the show displayed the picture and featured the caption: "TOO BUSY FOR ISRAEL: President finds time for pirate, Letterman." Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy characterized the picture as "a quick look at what President Obama has been up to." Doocy added: "Here he is, sitting down with a pirate, making sure he didn't forget to mark International Talk Like A Pirate Day."
But the photo was taken May 8, 2009, and can be seen on the White House's flickr account.
NBC News has obtained an extended version of a 1998 video in which President Obama discusses government's role in creating a society where everyone has a fair chance at success. In the longer version, Obama speaks positively about competition and the marketplace -- which further dismantles the right-wing media's suggestion that the video is evidence that Obama is a socialist.
On September 18, the Drudge Report linked to a YouTube video of Obama speaking at an October 1998 conference at Loyola University in Chicago. Drudge used the headline "I actually believe in redistribution" under a picture of Obama, which right-wing bloggers seized on to label Obama "America's Socialist in Chief."
Even that is a cropped version of what Obama said. The end of his sentence was, "at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."
But the extended video obtained by NBC News completely debunks the idea that Obama was in any way expressing opposition to capitalism. His next sentence is, "How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities."
A review of the original YouTube clip makes it clear that Obama was actually talking about the role of government in providing services, but also criticizing ineffective forms of government. For instance, Obama says in the audio, "[W]e do have to be innovative in thinking, what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live?"
He was talking broadly about pooling resources to make sure that everybody has a fair shot at success.
Click here for a full transcript of what Obama said in the original YouTube video.