A Media Matters analysis of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal found that The Post dedicated extensive coverage to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's boast that the House Select Committee on Benghazi was part of a partisan strategy that damaged Hillary Clinton's presidential chances. The Post featured 17 online or print articles or blog posts that mentioned or covered McCarthy's comments. The Times mentioned or covered the comments in five online or print articles or blog posts, and The Journal neglected to offer any print coverage, but had five online articles and blog posts that mentioned or offered coverage.
The president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) lashed out at The Washington Post for exposing his organization's oil industry funding, baselessly describing a Post article about the group's anti-environmental agenda as "[l]ies, innuendos and false claims."
The Post recently helped pull back the curtain on the NBCC's fossil fuel-friendly agenda. In a September 28 article, The Post reported that the NBCC has been fighting an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to reduce ground-level ozone pollution, the primary component of smog, and also noted that the NBCC is heavily funded by ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel interests. The NBCC has been fighting air pollution standards and climate change action for decades.
NBCC president Harry Alford decried the Washington Post article in a column on his organization's website, titled "Environmental Extremists seem to be going cuckoo." Without identifying any specific errors in the Post article, Alford wrote that that it contained "[l]ies, innuendos and false claims" and "misinformation about the National Black Chamber of Commerce." He also described the Post article as "incomplete reporting, replete with racial innuendos," but failed to elaborate.
From Alford's post on the NBCC website:
Just this week, the super liberals put out misinformation about the National Black Chamber of Commerce via the Washington Post newspaper. Lies, innuendos and false claims. The reporting was less than professional and we attempted to explain the misrepresentations to their Ombudsman. To our surprise, the Post doesn't have an Ombudsman to whom readers can go to correct inaccuracies. They even claim one of the "gotcha" men stalking me with a camera is a "writer". Just a few years ago he was in security at the Detroit Westin Hotel. Give me a break! The others they quoted also have hidden agendas.
The misinformation articles, the lies and stalking us around the country are flattering. But we didn't become the number one Black business association in the world by being timid. There are a lot of "broke face" governors, senators, congresspersons and corporate CEO's who have learned this the hard way. We got a big laugh from the incomplete reporting, replete with racial innuendos. As my late mentor, Arthur A. Fletcher, once told me, "When you get on the front page of the Post you are in Tall Cotton and that ain't bad. The fact is they are fearing your movement and your side is apparently winning."
The truth always wins eventually.
Numerous media outlets have covered GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush's new fossil fuel-friendly energy plan without mentioning his extensive ties to the industry. Both Bush's campaign and his super PAC have received significant donations from oil and gas interests, Bush met secretly with coal industry executives in June, and he recently appointed fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt to oversee his campaign policy agenda.
On June 26, 2000, presidential candidate George W. Bush shared his view of immigrants and Latino-Americans in a speech before the 71st National Conference of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). "Latinos come to the U.S. to seek the same dreams that have inspired millions of others: they want a better life for their children," Bush said, calling immigration "not a problem to be solved," but "the sign of a successful nation."
With campaign strategist Karl Rove "acting as his guide," Bush went on to champion "compassionate conservatism" throughout his first presidential campaign, with an unprecedented -- for the GOP -- Hispanic outreach effort as its centerpiece. To this day, no Republican candidate has come close to winning as much of the Hispanic vote as Bush did in 2000 -- (34 percent) and 2004 (44 percent).
Ten years on, George's brother Jeb has tried to strike a similarly compassionate tone on immigration in his own quest for the White House. In April, 2014 -- more than a year before he declared his candidacy -- Jeb Bush told Fox News' Shannon Bream that many immigrants who enter the United States illegally often do so as "an act of love" for their families.
In the span of a few election cycles, "compassionate conservatism" on immigration has evolved from a winning Republican campaign strategy to a major liability for GOP presidential candidates. That shift is due in large part to the growing influence of conservative media in the debate over immigration.
Though George W. Bush won two terms as a "compassionate conservative," he never succeeded in passing immigration reform in Congress. That failure was due in part to the mobilization of right-wing media, which coalesced in the wake of his 2004 re-election. "You could say that talk radio killed President Bush's attempts at immigration reform," Frank Sharry of America's Voice told The Washington Post in 2013. "They started to lurch to the right, they wanted to give Bush a bloody nose, the conservative media mobilized."
Conservative media's opposition to immigration reform, led by talk radio, has only intensified since the defeat of the Senate immigration bill Bush supported in 2007: Rush Limbaugh recently claimed that the "colonization" or "invasion" of "illegal aliens" creates a "destructive" subculture in the U.S.; Laura Ingraham said that Congress's "Hispanic Caucus" should be renamed the "Open Borders Caucus" and claimed that migrant children were spreading diseases to "public school kids across the country;" and Texas radio host Michael Berry claimed that killings by "illegal aliens" are "not a rare occurrence."
At the same time, right-wing radio hosts have worked tirelessly to pull Republican politicians to the right on immigration, often by inciting anti-Hispanic sentiment among listeners. Rush Limbaugh has told the GOP to ignore the "non-factor" Hispanic vote. Laura Ingraham told her listeners that former Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner needed to move closer to the views of the extreme right on immigration, like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Chuck Grassley.
Perhaps the most extreme example of right-wing talk radio's hostility toward immigration came in August of 2015. Iowa Caucus GOP kingmaker and radio host Jan Mickelson, who has hosted several 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls on his show, proposed on-air that the state of Iowa enslave undocumented immigrants, saying, "Put up a sign that says at the end of 60 days, if you are not here with our permission, can't prove your legal status, you become property of the state. And then we start to extort or exploit or indenture your labor." Mickelson has previously said that he assumes that someone is not "here legally" if they have a Hispanic-sounding name and a history of involvement with the police.
Fox News has also become a major driver of right-wing fearmongering on immigration. The network's personalities regularly disparage immigrants as criminals and murderers and use derogatory and racist terms like "illegals" and "anchor babies" to describe undocumented immigrants. They also attack Hispanic civil rights groups and indiscriminately show stock video footage of immigrants crossing the border during on-air discussions about immigration. Fox News personalities have peddled the harmful and false stereotype that Hispanics immigrants are all criminals. As Sean Hannity once told his millions of radio listeners: "You want to talk about crime? Well what do you think -- who's coming from Latin America and Mexico? Are they rich, successful Mexicans, Nicaraguans, El Salvador residents? No! Why would they leave if they're so successful?"
Unsurprisingly, Fox's immigration coverage has been heavily influenced by the views of extreme anti-immigrant groups like FAIR, NumbersUSA, and Center for Immigration Studies - groups that Bush's former commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, named as part of the right-wing coalition that derailed immigration reform in 2007.
Conservative media's disparaging treatment of Latinos and immigration is especially problematic given the lack of positive depictions of Latinos in mainstream media. According to a study by Columbia University, news "stories about Latinos constitute less than 1% of news media coverage, and the majority of these stories feature Latinos as lawbreakers."
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and Latino Decisions found that media stereotypes in news media about Latinos fuel negative and "hostile" attitudes, making it even harder to have reasonable or compassionate conversations about immigration reform. It's no surprise, then, that talk radio and Fox News audiences also exhibit "significantly more anti-immigrant and anti-Latino affect relative to other media consumer groups."
Conservative media's harmful coverage of immigration isn't purely motivated by animus towards Latinos; it's also a product of a media economy that incentivizes media outlets to make their coverage as sensational as possible, even if that means scaring audiences with unrealistic depictions of Latino criminality. Political media often thrives by making policy disputes as high-stakes as possible. In the case of immigration, that means emphasizing the "threat" posed by immigrants to the predominantly white, older Americans who consume conservative media. As Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has pointed out, "it's a financially driven enterprise and market share matters":
"While it's conservative in its orientation, it's a financially driven enterprise and market share matters. And playing to the prejudice of their audiences or reinforcing them - as opposed to engaging in enlightened and intellectual debate - is pretty widespread." The best example, he said, is immigration reform: "Here's an area we have to deal with, we've got to come to an accommodation. But the opposition, especially of talk radio, makes that almost impossible. Who in the conservative media is arguing for some kind of comprehensive immigration reform? Almost nobody."
"Today's conservative media now shapes the agenda of the party, pushing it to the far right," writes Jackie Colmes, author of a Harvard study which examined conservative media's impact on conservative politicians. According to Colmes, the GOP's rhetoric and policy positions on immigration have largely followed conservative media's lead, despite the party's own advice about developing better relationships with Hispanics.
The shrinking divide between conservative media and GOP policy on immigration helps explain why presidential candidate Donald Trump has soared in Republican voter polls by telling wildly false and exaggerated horror stories about Mexican immigrants. Trump is essentially mirroring the fear-based, fact-free approach to immigration popularized by conservative media outlets like Fox News. "[Roger] Ailes knows that Fox made Trump, politically, and that the two are made for each other," wrote Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky. And as former Reagan administration official Bruce Bartlett told Mother Jones, "Trump is sort of the most obvious example in which Fox is exercising outside influence on the Republican electoral process. I think without Fox, he would not be running, let alone a serious candidate." Various Fox News personalities have applauded Trump's immigrant smears -- echoing years of the network's own anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Largely because of the influence of anti-immigration, right-wing media, GOP politicians are losing the space they once had to call for a more compassionate tone on immigration and towards Latinos. It's a symptom of a political landscape that's blurred the divide between profit-driven conservative infotainment -- which often plays up racist and xenophobic stereotypes about Latinos -- and mainstream Republican politics.
The Washington Post is helping pull back the curtain on the National Black Chamber of Commerce's (NBCC) oil industry-funded campaign against environmental safeguards.
In a September 28 article, The Post explained that the NBCC is engaged in a "subtle effort ... to reduce support for [environmental] regulations among blacks, Latinos and even the elderly -- groups not usually regarded as natural allies for corporations fighting air-pollution laws." The Post noted that the NBCC has been heavily funded by Exxon Mobil, and that the list of sponsors for NBCC's 2015 national conference "included a number of major fossil-fuel interests, including Koch Industries, owned by oil magnates and conservative activists Charles and David Koch," adding: "Such donations make up as much as 80 percent of the group's revenue in some years, tax records show, and the NBCC has channeled its money into causes that favor fossil-fuel interests."
While the Post article focused on NBCC's work to undermine Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to reduce harmful ozone pollution, the NBCC has also produced a discredited study about the EPA's climate change plan, which establishes the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. NBCC President Harry Alford has used the NBCC study to attack the EPA climate plan in congressional testimony and a series of deceptive op-eds.
From The Washington Post:
Since early summer, Alford has delivered the same pitch in multiple cities, blasting a plan to impose limits on ozone, a pollutant that contributes to urban smog and aggravates breathing disorders, particularly among the elderly and very young.
Alford's message -- that the proposed regulations would hurt the economy and stifle job growth -- is nearly identical to the one being broadcast widely by the rules' opponents from business and industry. The National Association of Manufacturers has poured millions of dollars into a television ad campaign criticizing the proposal, which the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to adopt in final form Wednesday.
But while the TV ads command the most attention, a more subtle effort is underway to reduce support for the regulations among blacks, Latinos and even the elderly -- groups not usually regarded as natural allies for corporations fighting air-pollution laws.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce, which acknowledges receiving strong financial backing from Exxon Mobil and other fossil-fuel interests, has specifically tailored its message to African American audiences, drawing anger from environmental and public health groups that say urban blacks would be among the biggest beneficiaries of tighter regulations.
"The dirtiest utility plants pollute and hurt black communities," said Evlondo Cooper, a researcher for the Checks and Balances Project, a watchdog group that investigates the use of corporate money in anti-clean-energy campaigns. Cooper, whose nonprofit organization has staged videotaped confrontations with Alford at two of his recent speaking events, said groups such as the NBCC have helped foster perceptions of a sharp divide among African Americans over whether stronger air-quality laws are needed.
"He doesn't speak for black people," Cooper said, referring to Alford, "and nothing about his support for the fossil-fuel lobby or his attacks on clean energy has been helpful to our community."
In his frequent essays and blog postings, Alford has referred to the EPA as "wicked' and a "monster" that is "out of control." He flatly dismisses the notion of environmental justice -- the idea that minorities suffer unfairly from pollution -- as a "farce."
"Many naive blacks have bought the lie -- hook, line and sinker," he says.
Alford's organization declines to give detailed information about the NBCC's membership or sources of income, although records filed by the group show more than $800,000 in contributions over the past decade from Exxon Mobil. At the group's 2015 national conference in August, a list of sponsors given to attendees included a number of major fossil-fuel interests, including Koch Industries, owned by oil magnates and conservative activists Charles and David Koch.
Such donations make up as much as 80 percent of the group's revenue in some years, tax records show, and the NBCC has channeled its money into causes that favor fossil-fuel interests. For example, the NBCC, gave $50,000 last year to a Florida organization that sought to impose additional costs and restrictions on homeowners who want to install solar panels on their roofs.
[Alford's] stances have angered not only environmental groups but also other African American business organizations, which say Alford's views represent at best a small fraction of black business owners and entrepreneurs. Ron Busby, president of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce, a rival group, said internal surveys have consistently shown high levels of support among his group's members for strong environmental regulations.
"As a child I had asthma, and I remember my parents saying it was a black disease, because that's what we thought, growing up," Busby said. "Anyone who's saying it's not affecting our community isn't speaking on behalf of black people."
Image at top via Flickr user House GOP using a Creative Commons License.
The runaway coverage of Hillary Clinton's emails has become so expansive that it's often hard for news consumers to get their hands around how vast the ocean of media attention is. It's difficult to quantify how numbing the endless questions have become, and how painfully repetitive the bouts of analysis now are.
Lately though, we're starting to get some concrete data points. For instance, thanks to the broadcast evening news analysis of Andrew Tyndall we know that ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News this year have together spent just as much time covering the email controversy as they have spent covering Clinton's entire presidential campaign.
Additionally, Media Matters detailed how, since March, Washington Post political blogger Chris Cillizza has penned more than 50 posts mentioning Hillary Clinton's emails, nearly all of them featuring dire warnings about the supposedly "massive political problem" facing the Democrat.
It turns out Cillizza isn't alone at the Post. According to a search of the Nexis database, the Post has published at least 70 articles, columns, and blog posts this month that mention Clinton and discuss her emails at least three times.
70, just this month.
In other words, the Post has roughly averaged more than two Clinton email missives every day in September. The newspaper's total word count for Clinton email coverage, in news and opinion, this month? According to Nexis word counts, approximately 60,000 words, which is about the equivalent of a 200-page hardcover book.
Just for the month of September.
Right now, the Post's relentless, breathless news and opinion coverage feels like Iran Contra-meets-Watergate, even though there's no indication any laws were broken in the Clinton saga. The ironic part is that in late August, Post columnist David Ignatius spelled out why the media fury surrounding the email story was "overstated." Most of the Post newsroom apparently ignored him for the month of September.
And keep in mind, this tsunami-type coverage comes six months after the email story first emerged.
Obviously this much saturation coverage produces almost comedic redundancies. Take for instance how the Post's news and opinion pages handled the apology Clinton offered up regarding her use of private emails:
Gee, think Post readers get the idea?
Like lots of news organizations, it seems the Post has decided to gorge itself on email coverage and use it as a permanent backdrop for the Clinton campaign. For Republicans, that's a winning model. For voters in search of 2016 insights, not so much.
The Washington Post's David Weigel called out the media for taking Hillary Clinton's comments about her email use on NBC's Meet the Press out of context to portray her as dismissive, criticizing "[t]he media's willingness to believe the worst about Clinton."
Chuck Todd interviewed democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the September 27 edition of NBC's Meet the Press. Todd later positively characterized her tone during the interview while appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe, saying "I spent about 30 minutes with her. Pretty much half of it was on e-mails, which she could have easily been annoyed about, and it was clear she was not."
In a September 28 post for The Washington Post's The Fix, David Weigel criticized the media's subsequent coverage of the interview, noting that several news outlets had misleadingly framed Clinton's mention of a conspiracy theory during the interview as her "dismiss[ing]" her use of a private email server. Pointing out that her reference to a conspiracy theory was actually "calling back to something Todd said at the start of the interview," Weigel noted that the mischaracterization of her comment was part of a "long political history" of the "media's willingness to believe the worst about Clinton":
If you did something productive with your Sunday -- if you went to church, took a nature hike, composted leaves from the back yard, concocted an alibi for the cops -- you may have seen only the headlines about Hillary Rodham Clinton's "Meet the Press" interview. According to those headlines, she dismissed the unkillable scandal over her use of a private e-mail server as a "conspiracy theory." A sample:
Politico: "Hillary Clinton: 'Another conspiracy theory' "
The Guardian: "Hillary Clinton dismisses 'conspiracy theory' amid email server controversy"
Townhall: "Hillary Laughs Again, Dismisses Email Scandal as a 'Conspiracy Theory' "
These headlines are true, insofar as how Clinton used the phrase "conspiracy theory" as she answered one of Chuck Todd's questions. "She is now blaming a 'conspiracy theory' for her sinking poll numbers," grumbled a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. The "conspiracy theory" quote was even quickly tweeted by the opposition research wizards at America Rising.
What hasn't been mentioned: Clinton was actually calling back to something Todd said at the start of the interview. "I know there's always conspiracy theories out there," he said knowingly, referring to rumors that Clinton had sat down with him only after some subjects were barred from discussion. He then made absolutely clear: "There are no limitations to this interview."
Clinton agreed -- "as far as I know, that's true" -- and plowed through seven e-mail questions. Todd wound up the eighth question by asking whether the Democratic presidential front-runner could "respond to an alternative explanation that has sort of been circulating." Only then did Clinton laugh: "Another conspiracy theory?"
None of this will matter when it comes to the way Clinton is covered, and I already have designated a section of my inbox for the complaints that I am carrying her water here. (Why don't I work for Media Matters? Indeed!) And that's the point. The media's willingness to believe the worst about Clinton, and the long political history it can draw from, has been the single toughest external problem for her campaign.
Chris Cillizza has written more than 50 posts mentioning Hillary Clinton's emails since March on his Washington Post politics blog The Fix, nearly all of them issuing dire warnings about the supposedly "massive political problem."
The New York Times first wrote about Clinton's email during her tenure at the State Department on March 2, when they falsely reported she had violated federal requirements by using a private email account. Since then, mainstream media outlets have attempted to find some scandal in the email story, often pushing various falsehoods and being forced to issue corrections after the fact. To date, there has been no evidence of any lawbreaking.
Cillizza has been a major contributor to this effort, repeatedly claiming the email story "just keeps getting worse" and that it's "not going away," while claiming Clinton has an "honesty problem" and should "start panicking."
Just this week, Cillizza wrote a post headlined "Just when you thought the e-mail story couldn't get worse for Hillary Clinton ..." The post misleadingly tried to repackage old email stories as new developments in the "scandal."
Searching Nexis for pieces written at The Fix with Cillizza's byline, Media Matters found over 100 blog posts that mentioned Hillary Clinton in the headline or first paragraphs since March 2. Roughly half of those posts also mentioned Clinton's "email," "e-mail," or "server" at least once. Only a handful of the headlines suggest any good news for the Democratic frontrunner for president.
Media Matters presents 50 headlines representative of Cillizza's coverage on Clinton's emails:
Fox Business host Stuart Varney praised a misleading campaign video ad produced by a super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina without mentioning that the ad contains deceptively-edited audio and video aimed at smearing Planned Parenthood and defending Fiorina's previous lies about the organization.
The Washington Post sensationalized previously and extensively reported information by hyping it as "new information" in order to erroneously portray an inconsistency between the timeline laid out by Hillary Clinton and the State Department regarding the process of her emails being turned over to the department. Responding a question from the Post, the State Department stated that they first inquired about Clinton's email during the summer of 2014 after her personal email use was brought to their attention. But the State Department's response to the paper is not new or different from the department's past statements on the issue, nor is it inconsistent with Clinton's account.
U.S. Catholic contributor Stephen Schneck denounced a recent Washington Post column by George Will, which attacked Pope Francis' move to act on climate change, as "shocking" and "shameful."
On September 18, Will wrote in The Post that Pope Francis' views on climate change and capitalism are "demonstrably false and deeply reactionary," and "woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies."
In response, Schneck -- director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America -- stated in a September 21 blog post for U.S. Catholic that Will's remarks were "profoundly appalling." Schneck wrote that "anti-Catholic bigotry has crept from online comment sections to rear its ugliness prominently in cable TV commentary and newspaper op-eds," and that "[a]ll Catholics should be disturbed" by Will's op-ed for its "ad hominem, sarcastic, and demeaning ridicule of His Holiness, Pope Francis."
Schneck also expressed surprise that Will's attack would be published in The Washington Post, "one of America's most respected newspapers."
From the U.S. Catholic post:
Over the past summer, ahead of Pope Francis' visit to the United States this week, discriminatory, anti-Catholic bigotry has crept from online comment sections to rear its ugliness prominently in cable TV commentary and newspaper op-eds.
It's Will's treatment of things Catholic that is more concerning. What is profoundly appalling is the vitriolic temper of Will's remarks about the pope. His tone and language are shocking, coming as they do not from a scurrilous, fly-by-night website but from the op-ed page of one of America's most respected newspapers. All Catholics should be disturbed. Most shameful is the columnist's ad hominem, sarcastic, and demeaning ridicule of His Holiness, Pope Francis.
The moral teachings that His Holiness reaffirmed in this summer's encyclical, Laudato Si' -- teachings preached as well by Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II -- have been at the heart of Catholic analysis of our responsibilities in modern life since Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891. Crudely, Will smears these traditional teachings as "Francis's fact-free flamboyance." Lampooning Pope Francis for "trailing clouds of sanctimony," Will dismisses papal teachings as "demonstrably false and deeply reactionary" and as "woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies." He parades around with the hoary banner of Galileo and against Catholic "medieval stasis." He demands that "Americans cannot simultaneously honor" Pope Francis "and celebrate their nation's premises."
The historian Arthur Schlesinger once called anti-Catholicism "the deepest bias in the history of the American people." I've never actually agreed with that argument. Racism, anti-Semitism, and a peculiar American misogyny are equally deep and certainly more virulent. But, on the left and on the right, anti-Catholicism has always had a kind of pass in otherwise polite corners of American public life where other overt discriminatory language is disparaged.
You are certainly free to disagree with Pope Francis, Mr. Will. You are certainly free to disagree with Catholic teachings and to contest them in any forum. But surely you would agree that the American public square should long ago have forsworn the ridicule of others' religious teachings and the person of their religious leaders.
The Washington Post's PostPartisan opinion blog took issue with Hillary Clinton's assertion, during an interview on CBS' Face The Nation, that her email use while secretary of state was "fully above board." The Post's piece said that Clinton's argument does not "make her choice to maintain her own e-mail server a good one. Nor does her repeated claim that she is being fully transparent now." But that contention overlooks the fact that the Department of Justice has categorically stated that Clinton was within her rights to "delete personal emails without agency supervision," and "appropriately could have done so even if she were working on a government server."
Conservative Washington Post columnist George Will attacked Pope Francis in his most-recent column, writing that the pope's call to action on climate change and his criticisms of capitalism are "demonstrably false and deeply reactionary."
Right-wing media have a long history of criticizing Pope Francis for espousing so-called "liberal" values. Fox's Andrew Napolitano recently called the pope a "Marxist" for blaming the unfolding European refugee crisis on global poverty. In July, Rush Limbaugh referred to Pope Francis as "a clown" when the pope criticized the dangers of what he called "unfettered capitalism." Fox News has also aggressively attacked the pope for addressing climate change, suggesting that the pope was aligning himself with "extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution." During a June 18 appearance on Fox's Special Report, George Will claimed that the pope's liberal worldview is the result of his relationship with a Latin American, "anti-capitalist" strand of Catholicism.
In a September 18 op-ed for The Washington Post, Will attacked what he called Pope Francis' "fact-free flamboyance," falsely alleging that the pope's embrace of environmental science and dedication to alleviating global poverty reduced the church's relevance to modern society and would "devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak":
Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert's indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak -- if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.
Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: "People occasionally forgive, but nature never does." The Vatican's majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London's air (see Page 1 of Dickens's "Bleak House") and other matters.
And the Earth is becoming "an immense pile of filth"? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet another U.N. Climate Change Conference -- the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes. In his June encyclical and elsewhere, Francis lectures about our responsibilities, but neglects the duty to be as intelligent as one can be.This man who says "the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions" proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled, from imperiled plankton to air conditioning being among humanity's "harmful habits." The church that thought it was settled science that Galileo was heretical should be attentive to all evidence.
Francis deplores "compulsive consumerism," a sin to which the 1.3 billion persons without even electricity can only aspire. He leaves the Vatican to jet around praising subsistence farming, a romance best enjoyed from 30,000 feet above the realities that such farmers yearn to escape.
Secular people with anti-Catholic agendas drain his prestige, a dwindling asset, into promotion of policies inimical to the most vulnerable people and unrelated to what once was the papacy's very different salvific mission.
He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation's premises.
From the September 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are being called out by the media for making false and misleading claims during CNN's Republican presidential debate about side deals, inspection criteria, and sanctions relief in the Iran nuclear deal.