The Washington Free Beacon

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  • Gun Industry And Conservative Media Team Up To Falsely Attack Clinton For​ Challenging Legal Immunity For Negligent Gun Dealers

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conservative media and Politico are citing new polling that purports to show voters oppose Democratic presidential front-runner​ Hillary Clinton’s call to repeal a federal immunity law which largely shields negligent gun sellers from legal liability when they sell guns to people they know or should know are dangerous. The poll question -- which was commissioned by the gun industry’s trade group and conducted by a Republican polling firm -- is dishonest because it misrepresents Clinton’s position on the law, suggesting that it was designed as a push poll rather than an accurate snapshot of public opinion.

  • Media Push Right-Wing Myths After California's $15 Minimum Wage Announcement

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    On March 28, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) announced a legislative compromise to raise the California minimum wage gradually from $10 per hour in 2016 to $15 per hour by 2022. Right-wing media have attacked the historic wage increase, claiming it will kill jobs and that it "goes against every law of capitalism." Meanwhile, mainstream media have promoted misinformation about the minimum wage peddled by restaurant industry front groups.

  • The Free Beacon's Hollow Attack On Judge Garland's Bipartisan Credentials

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Washington Free Beacon attacked Judge Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court because he volunteered for Democratic presidential candidates more than 20 years ago. However, Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2005, served on campaign organizations for both Bush and his father. Roberts also "assisted those working on behalf of George W. Bush" during litigation over the 2000 recount in Florida.

  • Right-Wing Media Distort Hillary Clinton's Comments About Libya Intervention

    Conservative Media Follow RNC Lead In Smearing Clinton For Accurately Stating No Americans Died In Military Campaign To Oust Gadhafi

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ, TYLER CHERRY & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media figures are distorting a comment made by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a MSNBC town hall, where Clinton said "we didn't lose a single person" during the 2011 U.S. military intervention in Libya. Conservative commentators parroted the GOP in berating Clinton for allegedly "forgetting" about the four Americans who were killed during the 2012 Benghazi attacks, when in reality Clinton was referring only to the military intervention in Libya, which ended nearly a year before the Benghazi attacks.

  • Washington Free Beacon Smears Potential SCOTUS Nominee For Fulfilling Constitutional Duty As Public Defender

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    The Washington Free Beacon smeared potential Supreme Court nominee Jane Kelly for previously representing criminal defendants during her tenure as a public defender. The Beacon's implication that Kelly is guilty-by-representation leaves out crucial details about the cases, and as experts have pointed out, undermines the American system of justice and the constitutional right to legal counsel.

  • Breitbart News Targets Wrong Michael Goldfarb For Criticizing Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    UPDATE: Breitbart News has corrected its piece. The headline now states, "CORRECTED -- Michael Goldfarb: Trump is the Politics of 'Fear, Paranoia, Nativism.'" An attached note reads: "CORRECTION: Our morning lead was a link to a story on the BBC Magazine by Michael Goldfarb. This is not the Founder of the Washington Free Beacon, but a different individual. Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Marlow accept responsibility for this mistake and apologize to Michael and the staff of the Free Beacon."

    ORIGINAL: Breitbart News ran a piece claiming that the founder of the conservative Free Beacon attacked Donald Trump as embodying "the politics of 'fear, paranoia, nativism.'" But Breitbart News, which has been criticized for being "the most pro-Trump news outlet on the right," wrote about the wrong person. 

    A January 24 Breitbart News piece carried the headline, "'Free Beacon' Founder: Trump Is The Politics of 'Fear, Paranoia, Nativism'" and linked to a January 24 BBC News Magazine piece by Michael Goldfarb. During the morning of January 25, Breitbart News made the article its top story: 

    But the founder of the Free Beacon is a different Michael Goldfarb. The Free Beacon's Goldfarb is a Republican who worked as an aide to Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) presidential campaign and for the conservative Weekly Standard

    The writer of the BBC article is public radio veteran Michael Goldfarb. Breitbart News could have easily ascertained the true identity of the writer by simply reading the article's author identification. The BBC article wrote that Goldfarb is "the author of Emancipation: How Liberating Europe's Jews from the Ghetto led to Revolution and Renaissance" and linked to his professional website. An August 2008 NPR feature noted that there are two different Michael Goldfarbs and that they are often confused for one another.

    Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti tweeted that "this story is false. We are waiting for retraction. Thanks." Free Beacon staff writer Lachlan Markay tweeted, "Anyone who's ever met @thegoldfarb is chuckling at the notion that his byline would ever appear at the BBC." 

    Breitbart News is a notoriously unreliable news site. In 2014, it attacked President Obama's nomination for attorney general by going after the wrong Loretta Lynch. In 2013, it alleged then-Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel received funding from a group called Friends of Hamas -- which never actually existed. 

  • Right-Wing Media Echo Conservative Group's Lie That New Email Contradicts Administration's Benghazi Testimony

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Right-wing media are repeating the false claim that a Defense Department email sent to Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff showing U.S. military forces were ready to "move to Benghazi" the night of the September 11, 2012 attacks contradicts former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's testimony about the attacks. In fact, the congressional testimony that conservatives claim the email contradicts shows that military forces were deployed that night.

  • Conservative Benghazi Reporting Is A Dumpster Fire

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    We need to talk about how bad the Benghazi lies have gotten.

    Media Matters researchers have spent literally hundreds of hours over the last three years painstakingly debunking the various falsehoods and conspiracy theories regarding the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. We have written hundreds of blog posts and research documents, produced massive statistical studies on Benghazi coverage, tarnished the reputation of 60 Minutes, and written an e-book on The Benghazi Hoax that conservatives have perpetrated. We have scrutinized materials on the subject including but not limited to transcripts of the numerous public congressional hearings on the subject, the many reports released by Democratic, Republican, and nonpartisan committees, several books, and uncountable articles about the attacks and their aftermath.

    We try to take the conservative media outlets we write about seriously. This has become even more difficult than usual in recent days. Conservative journalists seem increasingly willing to grasp for any potential speck of information about the Benghazi attacks that could be seen as damaging to progressives. We've reached a point where it literally takes us 30 seconds to debunk their bullshit by simply taking the claims that they say are damning and checking them against the sources they are citing.

    Their need to cater to the conservative obsession with Benghazi is destroying their claim that they can engage in legitimate reporting. The quality of the lies has dropped precipitously -- it's almost like they aren't trying anymore. The predictable effort to use the deaths of four Americans for political ends has become a farce.

    Yesterday afternoon, the right-wing legal organization Judicial Watch produced a Defense Department email from the night of the attacks that they claimed was new information indicating that the Obama administration could have helped the Americans under fire in Benghazi, but deliberately decided not to, and then lied about it. Let's pause and consider just how cartoonishly despicable that behavior would have been, if it had happened -- and thus how skeptical any reporter should treat that claim.

    Of course, that didn't happen.

    Instead, several conservative journalists, from Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo to Daily Caller's Mark Tapscott to TheBlaze's Oliver Darcy to TownHall.com's Katie Pavlich, all effectively rewrote the Judicial Watch press release without any apparent skepticism or indication of independent thought. (In a revealing case of crowdsourced editing, Pavlich subsequently had it pointed out to her on Twitter that the email was not, in fact, news, and has crossed out her initial claims that this proved a contradiction. This would be to her credit if it hadn't been so incredibly easy to get the story right.)

    By this morning, Fox News was describing the email as yet another Benghazi "smoking gun."

    This is a pathetic failure of basic reporting, and everyone involved should be embarrassed. As noted above, Benghazi has an incredibly long paper trail. But the conservative journalists covering the story either couldn't be bothered to consult that record or they are deliberately lying to their audiences to get clicks.

    The email in question was sent to State Department leaders at 7:19 pm on the night of the attack by then-Department of Defense chief of staff Jeremy Bash, and stated that Defense had "identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak." According to Judicial Watch, this "seems to directly contradict" then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's 2013 congressional testimony that "time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response."

    I cannot emphasize enough how easy it was to determine that this was not, in fact, a contradiction. I literally spent about thirty seconds thinking "huh, that sounds unlikely," then ran the Panetta quote through Nexis and read the transcript of Panetta's testimony. Later in the same opening statement, he details the various forces that were deployed but either didn't arrive in time or did arrive but couldn't stop the attacks -- the forces that had been "spinning up" at the time of the email. If conservative outlets don't have Nexis, a Google search for "Leon Panetta 2013 Benghazi hearing" produces both transcript and video of the event.

    Again, I didn't use some sort of fancy-pants research tricks, I just looked up the quote that Judicial Watch was saying was contradicted by the email and checked myself to see if it actually was. 

    Others who have been paying the bare minimum of attention to the Benghazi story quickly pointed out the email was consistent with the findings the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee released in May of 2013 and confirmed the Defense Department's timeline of events. Again, these are public documents that can be Googled. It is not that hard to find them.

    The conservatives who reported on this could have done so. They didn't bother. Either they don't know anything about a topic that has been a major focus of political and media attention for the last several years and aren't interested enough in verifying facts to try, or they were lying in order to feed the ravenous Benghazi conspiracy beast.

    The reporters mentioned above all work for outlets that have sought to distinguish themselves as legitimate ones that do real reporting. Even the liberal Mother Jones magazine has described the Washington Free Beacon as a "genuine muckraking success" and noted that its publisher has stressed the importance of reporting "facts." After declaring to a conservative audience that the movement needed to build its own New York Times (and getting booed), Tucker Carlson started the Daily Caller. TheBlaze's Glenn Beck launched a movement around the idea that conservatives needed to be able to "do your own research" rather than listening to the established media. TownHall.com (originally a creation of the Heritage Foundation but now owned by right-wing radio giant Salem Communications) seems to have the fewest pretensions to journalistic convention; yet as of posting time they were the only outlet to attempt to correct their original bogus reporting.

    Fox News is going to do what Fox News does: lie to its audience to bolster conservatives and make money.

    If conservative reporters want to be more than Rush Limbaugh shouting at his fans, its adherents must actually do the work of journalism. Benghazi Derangement Syndrome remains a blight on those efforts, and there's no sign that they're willing to adjust their standards to match reality.

    That's a shame for them if they want to be taken seriously. Then again, it keeps us from having to work too hard. 

  • Right-Wing Media Take Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairman's Testimony On ISIS Out Of Context To Claim He Is Contradicting President Obama

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Right-wing media are claiming congressional testimony from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford contradicts President Obama's recent statement that ISIS was "contained." In fact, Dunford and Obama made the same point, with Obama specifically referring to the geographic containment of ISIS in parts of Syria and Iraq, and Dunford noting ISIS has been "tactically" contained "in areas."

  • Fox News Runs With Out-Of-Date Story About Top Secret Clinton Emails That Reportedly Don't Exist

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Fox News reported on a supposedly "bombshell" document signed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that acknowledged the possibility of facing criminal penalties for mishandling classified information, while ignoring the revelation earlier the same day that two emails she had received, which the intelligence community had previously deemed top secret, did not contain such information.

  • Conservative Media Falsely Claim Cheryl Mills Edited State Department's Independent Benghazi Review

    ››› ››› LIS POWER

    The Washington Free Beacon and Fox News accused Hillary Clinton's former State Department chief-of-staff, Cheryl Mills, of editing the independent Accountability Review Board's (ARB) report to discredit its finding that no evidence exists to prove that the Obama administration -- including then-Secretary of State Clinton -- or the intelligence community withheld necessary information or acted with political motivations to cover up the September, 2012 Benghazi attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities. Sworn testimony by officials and independent reports have established the ARB's impartiality and the fact that Mills was not given editing power over the board's final report.

  • Rep. Elijah Cummings Debunks Right-Wing Media's Claim That Clinton Sent "Classified Information" About CIA Source Over Private Email

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, cited information from the CIA to debunk the claim that Hillary Clinton compromised national security by revealing the name of a CIA source in an email sent from her private account. The claim originated from the Republicans serving on the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi and was amplified by right-wing media, but now the CIA has informed the Select Committee that the e-mail did not contain any classified information, according to a letter released by Cummings.

  • Media Return To Deriding Hillary Clinton's Laugh

    "The Cackle," "A Record Scratch," And Other Tired Attacks From The Debate

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Clinton and Sanders at the October 13 debate

    Multiple media figures derided Hillary Clinton's laugh during the first Democratic presidential debate, calling it a "cackle" and "a record scratch." During the 2008 presidential race, Clinton's laughter was repeatedly attacked, despite criticism that such attacks were rooted in sexism.

    During the October 13 CNN debate in Las Vegas, Clinton laughed after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders defended her from repeated questions about her use of private email by criticizing the media for fixating on the issue and saying, "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!" Clinton and Sanders shook hands as the crowd applauded.

    The moment has been described by several outlets as a highlight of the night.  

    But several media figures initially focused on Clinton's laugh. BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski tweeted, "oh god the Clinton laugh is out," while the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote, "THE CLINTON LAUGH," and Fox's Sean Hannity tweeted "Omg that laugh."

    Several conservative media figures took it further, calling it a "cackle":

    Attacking Clinton's laughter was a common theme during the Democratic primary before the 2008 election. In September 2007, after Clinton appeared on several Sunday political talk shows and laughed in response to some questions, media figures spent weeks debating and mocking her laughter. Fox News led the charge, with Bill O'Reilly even discussing Clinton's laughter with a "body language expert" who deemed it "evil," and Sean Hannity calling the laugh "frightening."

    The mainstream press picked up on the attacks on Clinton's laugh, with New York Times political reporter Patrick Healy writing an article with the headline "Laughing Matters in Clinton Campaign," in which he described Clinton's "hearty belly laugh" as "The Cackle," calling it "heavily caffeinated" and suggesting it may have been "programmed."

    Then-Politico reporter Ben Smith also described Clinton's laugh as her "signature cackle," while Politico correspondent Mike Allen and editor-in-chief John F. Harris wrote that Clinton's laugh "sounded like it was programmed by computer."

    And New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who has a long history of nasty attacks on Clinton, claimed Clinton's laugh was allowing her to look less like a "hellish housewife" and a "nag" and more like a "wag":

    As Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, once told me: "She's never going to get out of our faces. ... She's like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won't stop nagging you about it until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn president, just leave me alone."

    That's why Hillary is laughing a lot now, big belly laughs, in response to tough questions or comments, to soften her image as she confidently knocks her male opponents out of the way. From nag to wag.

    The list goes on: MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, then-MSNBC host David Shuster, then-MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, radio host Mike Rosen, Dick Morris, the Drudge Report, The Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi, Time magazine's Joe Klein, the New York Times' Frank Rich, CNN's Jeanne Moos, and others all debated or derided Clinton's laughter during Clinton's first run for president.

    Politico's Allen said on MSNBC during all of this that "'cackle' is a very sexist term," and disputed MSNBC's Chris Matthews' use of it in reference to Clinton. Other outlets agreed; Jezebel called out Matthews for his "cackle" criticism and other derisive remarks, asking, "can we agree that no matter what your political allegiances, this is not the way you speak of a woman -- whether she is a senator or not?" Rachel Sklar, writing in the Huffington Post, said at the time "I keep finding sexist Hillary Clinton bashing everywhere I turn," noting that criticisms of the candidate's laughter "turn completely on the fact that she's a woman. 'The Cackle?' So would never be applied to a man. We all know it."

    Unfortunately, the criticism hasn't stopped in the intervening seven years. The Washington Free Beacon has a "Hillary Laugh Button" permanently on its site. The National Journal published in June 2014, many months prior to Clinton declaring her second bid for president, a "Comprehensive Supercut of Hillary Clinton Laughing Awkwardly With Reporters." And conservative tweet-aggregator Twitchy in August mocked "scary as hell" pens which featured "Clinton's cackling head."