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.
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, right-wing media figures claimed Chief Justice Roberts' decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act shows that he's liberal. But Roberts' recognizing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act doesn't change his record as presiding over the most conservative and corporate-friendly court in recent history.
Right-wing media have responded to the Supreme Court's decision upholding the health care mandate -- the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance or pay a fee -- by claiming that President Obama has instituted the "biggest tax increase in the history of the world" and a "massive, regressive tax on all Americans." In fact, the fee will only be applied to a small percentage of people who choose not to purchase health insurance.
Today, the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as constitutional. Right-wing media figures immediately began venting on Twitter. Here is an hour's worth of the worst right-wing ranting about the Supreme Court decision after it was announced:
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes reacted to the June 25 Supreme Court ruling striking down several parts of Arizona's immigration law by warning about "Mexican invaders" and questioning whether Arizona should consider secession.
Starnes added to those comments during the June 26 edition of his "Fox News and Commentary" radio segment. In the form of an open letter to Mitt Romney, Starnes asked the Republican presidential candidate why he wasn't "down on the border ... vowing to defend American soil from the Mexican invaders":
STARNES: Justice Scalia says Arizona is under siege -- lives are in jeopardy.
Now is not the time for wishy washy statements about giving states more latitude.
Now is the time for tough talk, sir.
Why weren't you down on the border with a bullhorn in hand, Sheriff Joe and Governor Brewer by your side, vowing to defend American soil from the Mexican invaders?
During a radio interview today on WSAU, Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes defended Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro for his heckling of President Obama last week. Starnes justified Munro's behavior by comparing Obama's statement on the immigration policy change to appearing in front of reporters and "declaring martial law effective immediately."
"What if the president had gotten up there and said, 'I'm declaring martial law effective immediately,'" Starnes asked. "Would decorum still be in place for something like that?"
When asked if he was equating Obama's policy and martial law, Starnes replied: "Absolutely. Absolutely."
From the June 19 edition of WSAU's Wisconsin Morning News:
STARNES: I mean, there's question over the legality of what he did. And of course, you know, it's funny because people raised Cain because that reporter dared ask a question. They accused him of breaching protocol. Well, some people say the president breached the Constitution by what he did.
And let me ask you a question. You know, that's raised a lot of controversy over this reporter who interrupted the president. But here's my -- just a hypothetical here. What if the president had gotten up there and said, "I'm declaring martial law effective immediately." Would decorum still be in place for something like that?
TOM KING (CO-HOST): Are you equating the two?
STARNES: Absolutely. Absolutely.
KING: The announcement he made with declaring martial law, you're equating the two?
STARNES: Absolutely. The president has just -- the president has just welcomed 800,000 people, illegals, into this country. And without any -- without any consideration for Congress. This president -- so my president is this. At point does the mainstream media -- at what point are they allowed to breach the decorum?
Fox News' Sean Hannity hosted Munro last night and claimed "the mainstream Obama-mania media has jumped all over Munro for daring to question the president." Though Munro has defenders in Starnes and Hannity, several high profile Fox Newsers have criticized his behavior. Appearing on today's edition of Fox News Radio, Bret Baier agreed that Munro's behavior was out of line. And yesterday, White House reporter Ed Henry also said on Fox News Radio that it "was a big mistake."
On Saturday, Brooklyn hosted its 15th Annual Brooklyn Pride Night Parade. Fox News Radio reporter and anti-gay mouthpiece Todd Starnes was in attendance and reacted pretty much exactly how anyone familiar with Starnes would expect – by using Twitter to mock the parade's attendees:
Starnes also took to his Facebook page to complain about the event, writing:
Starnes' comments – which sound a lot like the kind of thing you'd hear from a homophobic teenager – weren't the only anti-gay remarks he made over the weekend.
From the May 10 edition of FoxNews.com's FoxNews.com Live:
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President Obama today made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to speak with U.S. troops and meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a "Strategic Partnership Agreement." The right-wing media have responded by claiming that the visit constitutes an example of Obama "spiking the football" and "celebrating" the death of Osama bin Laden.
On Monday, Fox News' resident anti-gay mouthpiece Todd Starnes posted an article about a proposed city ordinance in Hutchinson, Kansas which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Rather than focus on the specifics of the ordinance, or Kansas' history of supporting anti-LGBT discrimination, Starnes chose to depict the measure as an assault on churches:
On Thursday, FoxNews.com published an article parroting right-wing criticisms of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over an allegedly "homoerotic" website it created to promote safe-sex practices among gay men. According to FoxNews.com:
The National Institutes of Health has spent millions of dollars over the past decade to fund the construction of an HIV-prevention website that, among other sexually explicit features, includes a graphic image of homosexual sex and a Space Invaders-style interactive game that uses a penis-shaped blaster to shoot down gay epithets.
[T]he site used unorthodox methods to get subjects' attention and keep them interested. The site includes pornographic images of homosexual sex as well as naked and scantily clad men. It includes several risqué interactive features, like the Space Invaders-style arcade game.
Fox's reporting is based on complaints raised by the anti-gay hate group Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), which started complaining about the "gay porn" website earlier this week. The article quotes TVC president Andrea Lafferty, who condemned the funding of "cockamamie grants" during tough economic times.
The FoxNews.com article prioritizes focusing on the "homoerotic" aspects of the website – and that lens seems to have trickled down to the rest of the network. Fox Nation quickly picked up the story:
Fox's obsession with gay pornography, of course, wildly misrepresents the purpose of NIH's "Sexpulse" website. The website is part of a broader effort to determine the effectiveness of internet-based interventions into public health problems. Far from being a "homoerotic" porn website, Sexpulse is geared towards encouraging safe-sex practices by using programming targeted at sexually active gay men. As the Star Tribune reported in 2008:
At first glance, Sexpulse looks like a sexually explicit gaming website, with provocative pictures of nude men, cartoons and cheeky icons. But it's not a game. Far from it.
The website, in development at the University of Minnesota, is the newest strategy to slow a second wave of the HIV/AIDS epidemic rising among young gay and bisexual men.
A lot of health education websites are "Debbie Downers," said Michael Allen, chief executive officer of Allen Interactions. The company is working with Rosser and other experts at the university to build the site. "They [other websites] are constantly trying to scare you or tell you how bad things are," Allen said.
Sexpulse is different. It's fun, funny and designed to change behavior both through education and boosting self-esteem, Allen said -- the model he uses for all kinds of e-learning.
"If we don't change people's behavior, we are not doing anything that matters," he said.
Sexpulse sports 14 compartments with titles such as Hit the Gym, addressing body image, and Sex Calculator, which helps the user understand what leads him to do something risky. There is a practice chat room with tools for teaching how to set expectations.
This isn't the first time that Fox has ginned up one of TVC's anti-gay meltdowns about NIH funding. Last July, the same FoxNews.com reporter, Judson Berger, peddled TVC's outrage over an NIH-backed study that allegedly focused on the penis sizes of gay men. TVC's criticism of the study was eventually determined to be both inaccurate and misleading, but that doesn't appear to have deterred Fox from relying on the group for its anti-gay horror stories.
From the April 17 edition of WXKS' The Jeff Katz Show:
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Fox News' Todd Starnes has never shied away from aligning himself with some of the more extreme and fringe elements of right-wing politics. He's flirted with "birtherism," made inflammatory comments about Muslims and African-Americans, and accused the Obama administration of launching a war against Christianity.
Over the past few months, it appears that Starnes has taken up a new cause – using his position as a Fox News Radio reporter to give a voice to some of the country's worst anti-gay hate groups
Last December, Starnes appeared on the American Family Association's (AFA) "Today's Issues" radio show to promote his Fox News website, ToddStarnes.com. He was joined by Tony Perkins, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-gay "hate group" Family Research Council (FRC). During the segment, Starnes claimed that his website would act as a hub of "culture war stories" that would depict hate groups like FRC and AFA in a positive light:
STARNES: This is sort of a place in the Fox family, the Fox News family, that folks can go and find those culture war stories that we cover.... These are stories that resonate with patriotic, God-fearing, God-loving Americans. And I think when people see the stories in one spot, they really understand what's at stake and how thankful we are that there are organizations like the Family Research Council and American Family Radio that cover these issues. [emphasis added]
Perkins was thrilled, to say the least. He said he was "encouraged" by Starnes' reporting, praising him for "giving voice" to social conservatives who believe that Christianity is under attack:
PERKINS: That's the kind of stuff we like to see. And, this is what I think happens when these issues are talked about. Because in isolation, people think 'oh well, we're all by ourselves" and so they usually back down... But when people realize 'hey, this is a connected effort,' and 'we're not alone,' and people are standing up, it has an encouraging effect to it. And that's why I appreciate the work that you're doing, Todd. I know you're just reporting, but what you're doing is you're giving voice to a lot of Americans out there who are deeply concerned about the direction of this country and in particular this attack on Christianity. And I for one am encouraged by that. [emphasis added]
Starnes was serious about his pledge to mainstream and promote FRC. Since his AFA radio appearance, Starnes has frequently included comments from FRC spokespersons – including Perkins, Peter Sprigg, and Ken Klukowski – in his reporting.
After its years-long misinformation campaign against health care reform, Fox News is now down to attacking the Obama reelection campaign for selling what Fox deems as "vulgar" T-shirts to celebrate the law. The campaign recently released a line of T-shirts bearing the slogan, "Health reform still a BFD," which plays off Vice President Joe Biden's famous open mike moment during the health care law signing ceremony in March 2010.
But Fox is not amused.
Todd Starnes sees a divided America. The culture war-happy Fox News reporter writes in the introduction to his new book, Dispatches From Bitter America, that he is one of the many "bitter" Americans, and self-describes as a "gun-toting, chicken-eating son of a Baptist." The "antithesis" of his kind, he writes, are people "who've been educated in Ivy League schools, who listen to high-brow music, and who dine on arugula and fermented soy." A bit perplexingly, Starnes also describes these Ivy League arugula-eaters as believing that "mankind created the heavens and the earth."
Starnes borrowed the "bitter" descriptor from President Obama, who in April 2008 told a group of donors in San Francisco that people in small-town Pennsylvania and the Midwest see the steady degradation of their communities and sometimes "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." The comment caused a political controversy at the time but has persisted in the conservative talk radio environment like so much strontium-90. For Starnes it was so monumental a happening that, four years later, he's written an entire book around it.
The book, as an indictment of the Obama administration or as a piece of journalism, is utterly useless. It shifts uneasily between earnestness and parody (both intentional and unintentional). Frequently it's just ugly and offensive. Starnes describes "Islamophobia" as "the word [liberals] use to describe bitter Americans who have a fear of getting blown up," unwittingly proving those liberals to be justified in its use. He devotes a short chapter to empathizing with Tyler Clementi, the college student who committed suicide after his roommate secretly videotaped his sexual encounter with another man. The first line of the very next chapter refers to a transgender homecoming queen as a "mary." None of this is particularly surprising, given Starnes' history of bigoted commentary.