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.
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 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.
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.)
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 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 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.
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 (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.
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.
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":
::looks up 'cackle' in the dictionary:: ::sees Hillary's face::-- Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) October 14, 2015
(Hillary's laugh grates like a record scratch.)-- Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) October 14, 2015
The cackle. Drink!-- Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) October 14, 2015
Cue the cackle. #DemDebate-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) October 14, 2015
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."
Multiple conservative media outlets used a misleading report to attack public unions, claiming that unions hurt upward mobility and drive economic inequality -- a theory Media Matters has already thoroughly debunked.
With the U.S. Senate considering a Republican-backed resolution of disapproval over the historic nuclear agreement with Iran, Media Matters debunks the myths that have pervaded the media debate on the deal.
Right-wing media slammed ESPN for suspending baseball analyst Curt Schilling over his tweet comparing Muslims to Nazis, calling Schilling's suspension "outrageous" and a "disgrace."
Conservative media reacted with outrage to President Obama's speech defending his administration's landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, claiming the president had taken "a blame America approach," calling it "unpresidential," and demanding impeachment, despite the fact that experts have lauded the deal as "necessary and wise."
Right-wing media are mocking Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley for stating that a severe drought linked to climate change created a "humanitarian crisis" in Syria leading to the rise of the jihadist organization known as ISIL (or ISIS). But O'Malley's remarks are backed up by studies and reports affirming the link between human-caused global warming, the Syrian civil war, and the emergence of ISIL.
Right-wing media outlets are pushing Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy's deceptive claim that Hillary Clinton inaccurately told CNN in an interview that she had never been subpoenaed about the private email system she used as secretary of state. In fact, Clinton refuted a suggestion that she deleted personal emails unrelated to her work while she was under subpoena.
Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski falsely reported that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence must pay more than $200,000 to ammunition dealers that supplied a gunman who attacked moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. The misleading article was published after a court dismissed a lawsuit against the companies.
In fact, the plaintiffs in the case - parents of one of the victims - were ordered to pay the ammunition companies' legal fees because of a special carve-out in Colorado law for the gun industry.
On July 20, 2012, a man wearing body armor and carrying an arsenal of firearms and tear gas fatally shot 12 people and wounded 58 others during a midnight screening at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. The Brady Center subsequently filed a lawsuit against companies that had supplied the gunman, on behalf of Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the shooting.
The lawsuit alleged that Lucky Gunner and several other companies had negligently supplied the gunman with thousands of rounds of ammunition, body armor, a high-capacity drum magazine that could hold 100 rounds of ammunition, and canisters of tear gas.
In April, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit and Lucky Gunner and other defendants moved to collect attorney's fees from the plaintiffs. On June 17, a judge granted that request, ordering the Phillipses to pay $203,000. The decision is currently under appeal.
On June 29, Beacon staff writer Gutowski reported on this development, but botched his analysis to claim that the Brady Center, rather than the Phillipses, was ordered to compensate companies that supplied the Aurora gunman.
In an article headlined, "Federal Judge Orders Brady Center to Pay Ammo Dealer's Legal Fees After Dismissing Lawsuit," Gutowski wrote, "A federal judge has ordered that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence pay the legal fees of an online ammunition dealer it sued for the Aurora movie theater shooting." The actual order, which is cited in the article, contradicts this claim by describing at length how the plaintiffs, who are listed at the top of the order as Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, must pay fees to companies that enabled their daughter's killer.