Several right-wing media outlets are selectively quoting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to claim that he believes you "check your personal freedoms at the door" in New York. In reality, Bloomberg explained that in certain commonsense circumstances, such as the prevention of drunk driving, it makes sense for the government to act to promote public health even when it curtails personal freedom.
During a March 24 interview on NBC's Meet The Press, during a discussion of New York City's health policies, moderator David Gregory asked Bloomberg "Where is it too far for government to go?" Bloomberg replied:
BLOOMBERG: I do not think we should ban most things. I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom, and that is, for example, if you're drinking, we shouldn't let you drive, because you'll kill somebody else. If you are carrying a gun, we shouldn't let you on an airplane. There's a lot of things that we do -- if there's asbestos in the classroom we should remove the kids from the classroom until you clean the air. But in terms of smoking, if you want to smoke, I think you have a right to do so and I would protect that. If you want to own a gun, I certainly think it's constitutionally protected. You certainly have a right to have a gun if you want. If you want to eat a lot and get fat, you have a right to do it. But our job as government is to inform the public.
Right-wing media are taking out of context Bloomberg's statement that "I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom" and ignoring the rest of his comment to smear him.
President Obama has nominated Thomas E. Perez as Secretary of Labor. Right-wing media used this announcement to push false attacks about Perez based on his service in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and other civil rights work and advocacy.
Right-wing media are furthering attacks on possible Labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez by demonizing an immigrants' rights organization he was involved with. But CASA is a respected Latino advocacy organization whose work helping immigrants has won a multitude of awards for outstanding community service.
The Associated Press reported on March 9 that President Obama is likely to nominate Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, to serve as the next Labor secretary. His possible nomination has set off a series of attacks from right-wing media, including Fox News, which has accused him of working with "hardcore Islamist groups" and tried to discredit him by invoking the manufactured scandal over the Justice Department's New Black Panthers intimidation case.
In a syndicated column peppered with slurs such as "illegal alien," Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin attacked Perez by smearing CASA, the organization where Perez served first as a volunteer then as board president in 2002, as a "notorious illegal-alien advocacy group:
During the Clinton years, Perez worked at the Justice Department to establish a "Worker Exploitation Task Force" to enhance working conditions for ... illegal-alien workers. While holding down his government position, Perez volunteered for Casa de Maryland. This notorious illegal-alien advocacy group is funded through a combination of taxpayer-subsidized grants (totaling $5 million in 2010 alone from Maryland and local governments) and radical-liberal philanthropy, including billionaire George Soros's Open Society Institute.
That's in addition to more than $1 million showered on the group by freshly departed Venezuelan thug Hugo Chávez's regime-owned oil company, Citgo.
Malkin went on to claim that CASA "opposes enforcement of deportation orders, has protested post-9/11 coordination of local, state, and national criminal databases, and produced a 'know your rights' propaganda pamphlet for illegal aliens that depicted federal immigration agents as armed bullies making babies cry."
Fox Nation highlighted a Washington Times column that called President Obama an "economic terrorist" and "a spending jihadist."
A March 5 Fox Nation post highlighted a Washington Times column that accused Obama of making "terroristic threats" over the government spending cuts known as sequestration. The column, written by Charles Hurt, described Obama as an "economic terrorist" and "a spending jihadist," and claimed that the president "is willing to wreck the economy and inflict dire pain on you all because he is gambling that by trimming the federal government, you will feel pain."
From Hurt's column, headlined "Barack Obama, the spending jihadist":
Mr. Obama's terroristic threats have been amply noted everywhere. Planes will fall from the skies, starvation in the streets, teachers will be sent home.
That's right, you, the American voter, have become Mr. Obama's voodoo doll, and he is jabbing you all over with sharp pins and placing demonic hexes on you right now as you read this. This is gonna hurt and you are going to feel it!
In four short years, Obama has gone from hopeful orator promising a bright new future to economic terrorist, a spending jihadist. He is willing to wreck the economy and inflict dire pain on you all because he is gambling that by trimming the federal government, you will feel pain. And if you feel that pain, you will blame Republicans.
Zeb Colter, an anti-immigrant character from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) that has recently drawn the ire of right-wing pundits like Glenn Beck, would be right at home in the conservative media. Many of Colter's bigoted and flawed arguments have been the right's stock-in-trade for years.
Beck targeted the Colter character on his radio show, arguing that Colter is "demonizing the Tea Party." Beck also accused the WWE of "mocking me for standing up for the Constitution." Beck's co-host Stu Burguiere complained: "It seems that the villain, the guy you're supposed to hate, is this stereotype of a conservative that I've never met."
Colter currently appears on WWE programming alongside wrestler Jack Swagger, spouting a lot of heated anti-immigrant rhetoric in the middle of a scripted feud with Mexican-born wrestler Alberto Del Rio. According to WWE, Colter's rhetoric is intended to "to build the Mexican American character Del Rio into a hero given WWE's large Latino base."
WWE explains that in order "to create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines."
Conservative media voices have insisted that an increase of the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $9 would harm the economy. However, a wealth of economic evidence disputes the claims that minimum wage hikes are job killers, that the minimum wage is already high, and that it only applies to jobs held by relatively young workers.
As the State Department nears a decision on whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the media is exaggerating its economic benefits and downplaying environmental risks to advocate for the project. Here, Media Matters takes on five of the prevailing media myths about Keystone XL.
The Washington Times misled its readers by claiming that African-American workers would see fewer jobs and lower pay if immigration reform were to pass. Despite the assertions made in the piece, immigrant labor does not steal jobs from American workers -- specifically African-American workers -- and often has a net positive impact on the economy by creating more jobs.
A February 12 article in The Washington Times cited two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who wrote to President Obama claiming that successful immigration reform would "likely mean fewer jobs and lower pay for black Americans" but failed to push back on their unfounded claims. From the article:
Two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote to President Obama on Tuesday telling him that if he succeeds in enacting an "effective amnesty" for illegal immigrants, it will likely mean fewer jobs and lower pay for black Americans.
Pointing to hearings the commission held in 2008, the two members -- Peter Kirsanow and Abigail Thernstrom -- said the economics of the situation are clear: Low-skilled blacks compete with low-skilled illegal immigrants, depressing wages.
In fact, overwhelming evidence shows that immigration's negative effect on African-American employment is an unfounded myth. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute called the idea that low-skilled immigrants take African-American jobs a "pernicious myth" and cited a 1997 report that found no evidence that African-Americans have fewer job opportunities because of immigration.
Another study by Robert Paral & Associates for the Immigration Policy Center found similar results. From the Immigration Policy Center:
One of the most contentious issues in the debate over immigration reform is whether or not the presence of immigrants in the U.S. labor force -- especially undocumented immigrants -- has a major adverse impact on the employment prospects of African Americans. The African American community has long been plagued by high unemployment rates, and a relatively large share of African Americans lack a college education. As a result, some commentators argue that undocumented immigrants, who tend to have low levels of formal education and to work in less skilled occupations, are "taking" large numbers of jobs that might otherwise be filled by African American workers.
If this is indeed the case, one would except to find high unemployment rates among African Americans in locales with large numbers of immigrants in the labor force -- especially immigrants who are relatively recent arrivals to the United States and willing to work for lower wages than most African Americans. However, data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that this is not the case. In fact, there is little apparent relationship between recent immigration and unemployment rates among African Americans, or any other native born racial/ethnic group, at the state or metropolitan level.
Gerald D. Jaynes, professor of Economics and African-American Studies at Yale University, who once believed that immigration played a role in the declining African-American workforce, launched a large-scale study that concluded that "declining black unemployment is due more to other factors and events that have been restructuring our nation's labor market during the past several decades," including the elimination of many factory jobs and other blue-collar employment.
Immigrants and other low-wage workers often fill different types of jobs which require different skills. However, when they do work in the same job type, immigrants and other workers often specialize in different aspects of the job, complementing each other rather than competing with one another.
Take the case in Georgia, where a harsh immigration law forced out many of the state's farm workers, which left approximately 11,000 open farm jobs. Despite the open jobs, however, so few people applied that Gov. Nathan Deal pushed farmers to hire 2,000 unemployed criminal probationers, many of whom walked off the job soon after starting.
Wages for native-born workers also, in general, tend to increase as a result of immigration. According to an Economic Policy Institute estimate, native born African-American males experienced an average wage increase of 0.4 percent from 1994 to 1997. Native-born men with less than a high-school education were the only group to see a decrease in wages by 0.2 percent.
In reality, immigration reform would be a huge benefit to the economy. It could add billions of dollars and millions of jobs to the economy, as well as potentially $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional tax revenues.
This false claim about immigrant labor hurting African-Americans isn't new. Breitbart.com's Seaton Motley used this myth to attack President Obama's deferred action plan. The anti-immigrant nativist organization, NumbersUSA, ran ads hyping this myth during the run up to last year's referendum on the Maryland DREAM Act in an attempt to cause the measure's failure. But this effort backfired -- instead, African-Americans voted overwhelmingly for the measure.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent is the newest weekly columnist for the discredited birther conspiracy website WorldNetDaily. Asked how this will affect his relationship with The Washington Times, Nugent side-stepped the question, telling Media Matters, "I am so busy going places I never pay attention to leaving."
After contributing 184 opinion pieces to the Times since May 2010, according to a Nexis search, he has not authored a piece for the paper since January 1 -- a rare but not unheard-of lapse for the verbose rocker.
An un-bylined February 6 WorldNetDaily article states that Nugent is "an exclusive WND columnist," and features praise from CEO Joseph Farah:
Exuding a love of liberty, guns and America that elicits either delight or dismay - depending on your perspective - the outspoken rock showman, humanitarian and TV host Ted Nugent debuts today as an exclusive WND columnist.
Nugent's column, entitled "The Ted Offensive," will appear on the news site each Thursday.
"Ted Nugent rocks," said Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND. "And I don't mean just as a music star. He rocks as an outspoken entertainer who is so politically incorrect. We're honored that he would choose WND to sound off about what's on his mind every week."
In his first column for WND, Nugent lashed out against Obama, Biden, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for supporting an assault weapons ban, calling them "socialists and Marxists" who "don't care about mass murder" but instead want "their boots on our necks." He accuses Obama of using "Rule 10 and 12" of Saul Alinsky's "12 Rules For Radicals" to promote the ban.
WND regularly publishes a wide array of conspiracy theories, particularly ones related to President Obama's birth certificate. The WND "Superstore" sells an array of birther paraphernalia, including Jerome Corsi's WND-published tome "Where's the Birth Certificate?" and his follow-up e-book, "Where's the REAL Birth Certificate?"
"We knew all along that the brilliant minds at WND deserved me," said Nugent when reached by email to discuss how he had landed the WND gig, "but now that our sacred hunting season is winding down, I decided the time was right to unleash the ultimate self-evident truth logic beast upon an unsuspecting public. America needs me now more than ever."
Based on flimsy evidence and leaps of logic, conservative media outlets are pretending that, in the words of Newsmax, "Reagan's Childhood Home to Become Parking Lot for Obama's Library." But the story doesn't pass the smell test.
The "childhood home" is an apartment Reagan lived in for less than a year as a young child, and its planned demolition is part of an expansion by the University of Chicago that has nothing to do with President Obama's presidential library. Obama hasn't chosen which state his presidential library will eventually be in, let alone where people will need to park for it. Further, Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney has declared the story "false."
While easily dismissed, the story serves as an illustrative example of the way the conservative echo chamber can twist facts and turn baseless speculation into their controversy du jour.
While polling has consistently shown that nearly all Americans support requiring a criminal background check on every gun sale, some conservatives in the media are writing in opposition to expanding background checks, a position also held by the National Rifle Association.
A January 23 Gallup poll indicates that 91 percent of Americans would vote for a law that required a criminal background check on every gun sale. Only eight percent of respondents would vote against such a law. As ThinkProgress notes, this polling indicates that opposition to strengthening background checks is less popular than human cloning, polygamy and the perennially unpopular Congress.
[ThinkProgress, accessed 1/30/13]
In recent columns, Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller, MSNBC host S.E. Cupp and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich all expressed opposition to expanding background checks, even as research demonstrates that a significant proportion of firearms are sold and purchased without a check.
In a New York Daily News column, Cupp quoted the faulty logic of NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, who said before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 30 that checks should not be strengthened "because criminals will never submit to them," before worrying about the "psychological" impact of background checks on gun purchasers.
Ultimately, Cupp compared criminal background checks -- the vast majority of which are completed in seconds -- to Arizona's infamous SB 1070 immigration law:
But even though we accept background checks as a necessary preemptive measure, there is a real psychological and cultural impact when law-abiding gun owners are routinely treated en masse like suspects.
If it sounds silly to worry about the hurt feelings of gun owners, let me point out that liberals are both familiar and comfortable with this argument. Arizona's so-called "papers please" law, which allowed law enforcement officials to determine an individual's immigration status during a lawful stop, barred the use of racial profiling as the sole basis for investigating immigration status. But that didn't stop liberal critics of SB 1070 from insisting it was offensive, prejudicial and unfairly treated minorities as if they were criminals.
Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.
National Rifle Association board member and Washington Times columnist Ted Nugent alluded to the start of the American Revolution in an interview with Guns.com during the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show, claiming that the Obama administration "is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George" and that "if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies."
NUGENT: I'm part of a very great experiment in self-government where we the people determine our own pursuit of happiness and our own individual freedom and liberty not to be confused with the Barack Obama gang who believes in we the sheeple and actually is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George that we escaped from in 1776. And if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies.
Nugent's mention of "Concord Bridge" is presumably a reference to the Battle of Concord, which was fought on the North Bridge. The battle, one of the early encounters of the Revolutionary War, forced the British to retreat.
Media coverage of the debt ceiling frequently claims that raising the limit without simultaneous spending cuts would give President Obama a "blank check," repeating a pattern of promoting this false narrative -- or failing to correct it -- that occurred during the unprecedented brinkmanship of 2011. The phrase implies that the debt ceiling governs additional spending desired by the White House, when in fact it is a restriction on the executive branch's ability to borrow money to pay for spending measures already enacted by Congress.
Conservative media launched vicious attacks against former Secretary of State Colin Powell in an effort to discredit his remarks and Republican credentials after Powell criticized Republicans for having a "dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party."