First lady Michelle Obama has responded to conservative criticism over her Academy Awards appearance, saying it was "absolutely not surprising" that her participation in the ceremony set off a national conversation.
On February 24, Obama made a surprise appearance via satellite at the 85th Academy Awards where she helped announce the Best Picture Oscar winner. Academy officials invited the first lady to take part in the presentation.
Following the first lady's appearance, right-wing media falsely suggested that her participation was unprecedented, ignoring that former presidents and former first lady Laura Bush had previously participated in the ceremony. Right-wing media also smeared Obama, calling her appearance "obscene" and claiming she made the ceremony about her.
Obama responded to that criticism on Thursday, saying it was "absolutely not surprising." From the Associated Press:
Michelle Obama says it was "absolutely not surprising" to her that her satellite appearance at the Academy Awards ceremony provoked a national conversation about whether it was appropriate, after some conservative critics accused her of selfishly crashing the event in an attempt to upstage it.
She attributed the chatter to a culture shift that has spawned legions of bloggers, tweeters and others who talk about anything and everything all the time.
"Shoot, my bangs set off a national conversation. My shoes can set off a national conversation. That's just sort of where we are. We've got a lot of talking going on," the first lady said only somewhat jokingly Thursday before an appearance in Chicago, her hometown. "It's like everybody's kitchen-table conversation is now accessible to everybody else so there's a national conversation about anything."
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."
Right-wing media are falsely suggesting that First Lady Michelle Obama's Academy Awards appearance is unprecedented, ignoring that former presidents and former First Lady Laura Bush have previously participated in the ceremony.
On Sunday, Obama made a surprise appearance via satellite at the 85th Academy Awards where she helped announce the Best Picture Oscar winner. According to a spokesman for Obama, the Academy contacted the first lady about being part of the ceremony.
Washington Post political blogger Jennifer Rubin, however, accused Obama of "feel[ing] entitled" to "intrude" on the ceremony, arguing that Obama's "celebrity appearance" made her seem "small and grasping":
It is not enough that President Obama pops up at every sporting event in the nation. Now the first lady feels entitled, with military personnel as props, to intrude on other forms of entertaining (this time for the benefit of the Hollywood glitterati who so lavishly paid for her husband's election). I'm sure the left will holler that once again conservatives are being grouchy and have it in for the Obamas. Seriously, if they really had their president's interests at heart, they'd steer away from encouraging these celebrity appearances. It makes both the president and the first lady seem small and grasping. In this case, it was just downright weird.
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes likewise wrote on his Twitter feed that Obama "probably felt like she was entitled to upstage" the Oscars and accused the first lady of making the ceremony about her. Breitbart.com called her appearance "obscene, and rather frightening in what it suggests about how low we have fallen as a nation."
In fact, former presidents and former First Lady Laura Bush have participated in Academy Awards ceremonies. In 2002, Bush appeared at the Oscars in a taped appearance. From the Chicago Tribune:
The documentary history montage was put together by director Penelope Spheeris, whose remarkable "Decline of Western Civilization" rock documentaries likely have never been even close to nominated.
And the show's marvelous "What do the movies mean to you?" opening segment was done by director Errol Morris, whose groundbreaking work, from "Thin Blue Line" through "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control," has also been criminally neglected.
It was bracing to see people from Laura Bush to Jerry Brown to Mikhail Gorbachev interviewed, and mind-bending to hear film titles such as Russ Meyer's "Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill" and William Castle's "The Tingler" mentioned on usually sacrosanct Oscar airspace.
During President Obama's January 16 speech on steps he supports to stem gun violence, conservative media figures responded with vitriol on Twitter and on the radio. A sampling:
Rush Limbaugh: Speech Is "The Children As Human Shields Show"
Fox News Radio Host Todd Starnes: "Freedom Ends. Tyranny Begins."
From the January 14 edition of American Family Radio's AFA Today:
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Following the announcement that Pastor Louie Giglio would no longer be performing the benediction at President Obama's second inauguration, Fox News reporter Todd Starnes rushed to blame "heterophobic bigots" for allegedly forcing the pastor to withdraw from the event.
On January 10, Georgia Pastor Louie Giglio announced that he had decided to withdraw from performing the benediction at President Obama's second inauguration. His decision came in the wake of criticism over a January 9 Think Progress report detailing a "vehemently anti-gay" sermon Giglio gave in the mid-1990s, during which he railed against the "homosexual lifestyle" and claimed that gay people could become straight through the power of Christianity.
The announcement sparked outrage from Fox News reporter Todd Starnes, who took to Twitter to condemn "anti-Christian bigots" for objecting to Giglio's anti-gay comments:
Starnes then published a Fox News Radio article suggesting that Giglio had been "forced out" of the inauguration by the Obama administration:
To support his baseless accusation - which plainly contradicts Giglio's own statement about his withdrawal - Starnes relied on comments from two of the country's most notorious anti-gay hate group leaders: Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins and American Family Association (AFA) spokesman Bryan Fischer:
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Fox News that he was shocked at the attacks from homosexual activists.
"What's becoming ever so clear to those who thought homosexual activists could be appeased is that their ultimate goal is to sanitize the public space of anyone who holds to a biblical view of morality," Perkins said. "It pulls back the curtain and shows us the true agenda here. It's not about tolerance. It's about forced acceptance."
Bryan Fischer, who hosts a popular national show on American Family Radio, said Giglio was banished in a "naked display of bigotry."
"It's clear from the statement from the inaugural committee that Giglio was bounced from the program. It clearly wasn't his idea," Fischer told Fox News. "The banishment of Giglio is a naked display of bigotry and hatred directed at the last safe target in America for angry intolerance: Americans who believe what the Scriptures teach about human sexuality. Truth about homosexuality has now become hate speech, and speaking the truth about homosexuality has now become a hate crime."
Fischer said the bottom line is that "bullies and bigots have won a major victory."
Neither Perkins - who has made a career of trying to link homosexuality to pedophilia - or Fischer - who has repeatedly blamed gays for the Holocaust - is a credible source when it comes to lecturing the administration about "bigotry."
But this is apparently what qualifies as journalism at Fox News: float a baseless accusation of anti-Christian bigotry, quote a few anti-gay hate group leaders who agree with your theory, and hit "publish."
As right-wing media figures compared President Obama to Hitler and Stalin over his attempt to strengthen gun laws, Fox News figures stoked fears that his policies would lead to civil war and violence.
After reports that Vice President Joe Biden included possible executive action as part of an effort to stop gun violence like the tragic killings at Sandy Hook elementary,conservatives compared the president to Hitler and Stalin and invoked Nazi Germany to oppose his policies.At the same time, Fox News figures attacked Obama using violent rhetoric that warned of civil war, revolution, and insurrection if his policies on guns, spending and entitlement reform are implemented.
On his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly claimed that Obama could choose "to be a good president or whether he just wants to have blood in the streets," arguing that the president should cut spending on programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
From the January 8 edition of KFTK's Allman in the Morning:
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In the wake of President Obama's re-election, right-wing media outlets and figures compared the president to a dictator, called for a revolution, and baselessly suggested impeachment.
From the August 7 edition of WSAU's Feedback:
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Fox News figures, in defending Chick-fil-A from criticism over its aggressive opposition to marriage equality, are covering up the restaurant's anti-gay record, which includes millions in corporate donations to groups that spread misinformation about LGBT individuals and marriages.
Chick-fil-A has drawn criticism since its president, Dan Cathy, came out strongly against marriage equality, saying, among other things, that "we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' "
In response to that criticism, which he referred to as "vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry," Fox News host Mike Huckabee declared August 1 to be "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" and asked his audience to eat at Chick-fil-A today in order to "affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse."
Fox News figures were quick to take up the charge. Fox host Eric Bolling supported the effort by asking Twitter followers to send him pictures of themselves eating at Chick-fil-A. On the July 31 edition of The Five, Bolling aired a few of the pictures, which he said showed that support for Chick-fil-A has "nothing to do with the gay rights discussion."
Fox News has spent years complaining that roughly half of all Americans "don't pay taxes" and calling for tax hikes on working Americans. Now Fox is decrying the insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act as a tax hike on the middle class -- even though it will affect only a small amount of people.
Right-wing media figures are fearmongering over the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) newly announced decision to shut down several Border Patrol stations. In fact, the CBP's decision is a strategic one, aimed at focusing efforts on high-priority areas closer to the border.
Within the next six months, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will close nine Border Patrol stations to move forty-one agents closer to the southern and northern borders, media outlets are reporting, citing CBP spokesman Bill Brooks. Brooks said that some of stations that will be closed are hundreds of miles from a border and that the decision is part of a strategy to use resources wisely and "increasingly concentrate our resources on the border."
In a statement to Fox News, Brooks likewise said, "These deactivations are consistent with the strategic goal of securing America's borders, and our objective of increasing and sustaining the certainty of arrest of those trying to enter our country illegally." He continued:
By redeploying and reallocating resources at or near the border, CBP will maximize the effectiveness of its enforcement mandate and align our investments with our mission.
Nevertheless, right-wing media seized on the announcement to fearmonger about border security. The Drudge Report posted the following headline:
Drudge's headline linked to a FoxNews.com article, which has the same headline. However, FoxNews.com's article clearly explains that the CBP is closing the stations to "reassign agents to high-priority areas closer to the border."
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes, in a post to his Twitter feed, wrote: "Obama is shutting down 9 border patrol stations ... and the invasion continues." (Following the June 25 Supreme Court ruling striking down several parts of Arizona's immigration law, Starnes similarly warned of "Mexican Invaders.")
Starnes also wrote: "Obama wants to close 9 border stations ... Maybe he's turning them into voting stations instead?"
Right-wing media have reacted to the Supreme Court's ruling upholding President Obama's health care law by claiming it is "a dark day for freedom" and "the end of America as we know it." But the decision allows the health care law to implement reforms that will protect and extend affordable insurance coverage to millions of Americans.
Right-wing media figures are heaping harsh criticism on Chief Justice John Roberts for his opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act as constitutional. These critics ignore Roberts' record as Chief Justice, which is very conservative. But even this conservative justice recognized that the Constitution gives Congress the power to address the nation's health care crisis with the Affordable Care Act.
Breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro blasted the Chief Justice:
I knew that Roberts was a bad pick because he didn't have a proven track record of adherence to the Constitution. He was picked by President Bush because Bush knew he didn't have a track record - and he knew that Roberts would sail through the confirmation process without a hitch.
That should have been an indicator that Roberts was a rotten pick. Nobody doubted Robert Bork's originalist credentials. Nobody doubted Clarence Thomas'. Nobody doubts Judge Janice Rogers Brown's. But nobody had any reason to buy into Roberts as an originalist. Yet they did.
Dan Gainor, Media Research Center's vice president for Business and Culture called the decision to nominate Roberts "awful."
Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes applied the "L word" to Roberts.
This attempt to paint Chief Justice Roberts as a closet liberal is absurd. Experts have called the Supreme Court under Roberts the "most conservative in modern history." As the leader of a five justice conservative majority, Roberts has played a leading role in decisions like Citizens United (empowering corporations and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited money in political campaigns); Wal-Mart (preventing women alleging sex discrimination from joining together to seek justice); Concepcion (allowing corporations to manipulate fine print in contracts to keep ripped off consumers from joining together in court); and Ledbetter (preventing a woman who was paid less than men from going to court).
Also, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce enjoyed a perfect year with the Roberts Court this term, winning every case in which the Court ruled on the position the Chamber took, according to a study by the Constitutional Accountability Center. (The Chamber took no position on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, but merely argued that if the mandate were struck down, the entire Act should be invalidated). According to the study, the Chamber has not won every case in a term since at least 1994.
Rather than calling John Roberts names or trying to make the absurd case that he is a closet liberal, the right should simply acknowledge that their crusade to kill the Affordable Care Act failed because they lost the vote of the deeply conservative, Republican-appointed Chief Justice who heads one of the most conservative and pro-corporate courts in history.