Conservative media are praising actor Vince Vaughn for repeating a debunked right-wing talking point that falsely claims most mass shootings occur in "gun-free zones."
Vaughn is receiving widespread attention for an interview he gave to British GQ in which he advocated the carrying of guns in public and in schools, declared that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to defend against an "abusive government," and claimed that mass shootings have "only happened in places that don't allow guns."
According to Vaughn:
All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They've only happened in places that don't allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds.
Vaughn's claim, which suggests that possibly none but at most two mass shootings since 1950 have happened in a place where guns were allowed, is a variation on a claim about public mass shootings over the last half-century that was first made by discredited gun researcher John Lott.
Right-wing media are using the Paris terrorist attack to falsely claim Hillary Clinton has encouraged empathizing with terrorists like the ones who carried out the attack. But conservatives' attacks on Clinton are badly distorting remarks she made during a December speech in which she emphasized the value of understanding one's enemy, and she has repeatedly stated her opposition to negotiating with violent ideological groups.
Conservative media issued catastrophic predictions and myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, despite ample evidence that the health care law is working. Media Matters looks back at six claims about Obamacare that didn't pan out for the right-wing media this year.
Right-wing media greeted news of the release of the only U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan with claims that his freedom was timed to distract from the controversy plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Conservative media outlets jumped at the chance to revive the long-debunked myth of a "death panel" provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by exploiting the serious investigation into problems within the Veterans Affairs (VA) administration.
Radio host and Fox personality Sean Hannity hosted TruthRevolt.com founder David Horowitz to engage in an unimpeded rant that described President Obama as a "menace to American security" and accused Democrats and the "American left" of pushing the nation toward a modern day Holocaust. Hannity's promotion of the extreme figure may have completed his transition from conservative mouth piece to right-wing fringe promoter.
On the April 22 edition of his radio show, Hannity discussed the alleged growth of anti-Semitism around the world, comparing the phenomenon with Obama's purported support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hannity asked his guests, Horowitz and writer Joel Rosenberg, whether anti-Semitism in recent news stories had the potential of turning into a "modern day Holocaust." Horowitz replied (emphasis added):
HOROWITZ: I think that's exactly accurate. There's normal anti-Semitism which has been going on for thousands of years. And this Kansas City shooter, I mean he's a Klu Klux Klaner, he's a Democrat -- lifelong Democrat, Klu Klux Klan racist and anti-Semite. But he's obviously been encouraged. The irony of course is that he killed three Christians. Um, obviously encouraged by the American left. Max Blumenthal, who is the misbegotten son of Sidney Blumenthal who worked for the Clintons in the Clinton White House, has written a book filled with Jew hatred about Israel, which this guy read and cited as one of his inspirations. I actually pointed this out in a book I wrote about ten years ago. The alliance between the American left and the Islamo - I don't call them Islamo-Fascists anymore, they're Nazis. They preach the same doctrine that the Nazis did, they were allied with the Nazis during the second World War. The destruction of Israel, which is welcomed by you know, like I say normal anti-Semites. But after the Second World War, there was a certain intolerance towards these types of attitudes thanks to the American left which goes right into the White House. Obama is also responsible for this - attacking Israel.
After Rosenberg disagreed with Horowitz' claim of the growth of anti-Semitism in the American left, Horowitz retorted, "On the campuses across this country the American left is calling for the destruction of Israel. How can you say there's no anti-Semitism? The American left is the fountainhead of anti-Semitism now," concluding that it is only a matter of time before the left commits violence against Jews.
Ben Shapiro's new ebook How To Debate Leftists And Destroy Them: 10 Rules For Winning The Argument comes complete with eleven rules about how (and three more about when) conservatives should act like mean, nasty bullies, in order to help them defeat liberals, who have a tendency to make conservatives look like mean, nasty bullies.
Shapiro, the founder of TruthRevolt.com and editor-at-large for Breitbart.com, would rather be known as a debating champ than as the guy who fabricated a terror group to smear Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. He begins the book by claiming the real reason conservatives lost the 2012 election was that President Obama was "considered the more empathetic of the two candidates. Why? Because Romney was perceived as so darn mean." His solution is not for conservatives to follow Obama's lead and appear more empathetic in the future; his solution is to double down on looking mean. But how?
First, Shapiro offers a list of three rules for when to debate a leftist, including 1) you have to ("your grade depends on it, or your waiter threatens to spit in your food"); 2) you found the only leftist in the world ready to have a reasoned debate ("Then you ride off on your separate unicorns"), or 3) You have an audience, allowing you to publicly humiliate your opponent:
Third, you should debate a leftist if there is an audience. The goal of the debate will not be to win over the leftist, or to convince him or her, or to be friends with him or her. That person already disagrees with you, and they're not going to be convinced by your words of wisdom and your sparkling rhetorical flourishes. The goal will be to destroy the leftist in as public a way as is humanly possible. [emphasis added]
To be clear, one of Shapiro's primary rules for debating people with liberal values is to shame them in front of others, because President Obama won 2012 by looking too darn nice.
Next, Shapiro offers his list of "ten rules" for how to debate your leftist opponent, which includes eleven rules, because copy-editing your book before publication is not a rule.
Rule #1: "Walk Toward the Fire." According to Shapiro, conservatives must learn to "embrace the fight" and know that they will be attacked, because this is war. His advice is simple: "You have to take the punch, you have to brush it off. You have to be willing to take the punch."
Rule #2: "Hit First. Don't take the punch first." Rule number two is: ignore rule number one, if their punch is coming first. Hit first, then brush it off. Just like Gandhi always said.
Rule #3: "Frame Your Opponent." Your leftist opponent will, according to Shapiro, call you a racist and a sexist, so in response call them a "liar and a hater." This third rule is described as "the vital first step. It is the only first step." That's why it comes third.
Rule #3: "Frame the debate." This is the second Rule #3, but who's counting?
Rule #4: "Spot Inconsistencies in the Left's Arguments." See: Both Rule #3s.
Rule #5: "Force Leftists to Answer Questions. This is really just a corollary of Rule #4." According to Shapiro, forcing the left to answer questions is like "trying to pin pudding to the wall - messy and near-impossible." If Ben Shapiro can teach us how to pin pudding to a wall even some of the time, liberals have no hope.
Rule #6: "Do Not Get Distracted." Just one page after the pudding analogy, Shapiro tells us that "Arguing with the left is like attempting to nail jello to the wall. It's slippery and messy and a waste of resources." If only he hadn't gotten distracted.
Rule #7: "You Don't Have To Defend People on Your Side." Here, Shapiro comes out in defense of not always defending your allies when you don't agree with them on everything, or when they get something wrong. Shapiro's friends were no doubt grateful for this rule back when he reported on the imaginary group "Friends of Hamas" in order to smear Chuck Hagel.
Rule #8: "If You Don't Know Something, Admit It." Unfortunately, Shapiro doesn't seem to have taken his own advice here: he still refuses to admit he has zero evidence "Friends of Hamas" ever existed.
Rule #9: "Let The Other Side Have Meaningless Victories." This "parlor trick" involves making it look like you're giving the other side space, while forcing them to define their terms. Terms like 'bullying' (the premise of Shapiro's book) and 'the number ten' are not listed as examples.
Rule #10: "Body Language Matters." According to Shapiro, McCain lost one of his 2008 debates because he was "angry-looking," and "Whomever looks angriest in debate loses. Immediately."
So to recap, the only way conservatives can win debates is to not look angry, while publicly shaming their opponent, punching first, and calling their opponents liars and haters. And remember: all of this is equivalent to futilely pinning some kind of gelatinous dessert to a wall.
Conservatives should be soaring to victory any day now.
UPDATE: Sometime after the publication of this post, Shapiro's ebook title was changed to "11 Rules For Winning The Argument."
Right-wing activist Ben Shapiro is defending the launch of his new media site TruthRevolt against charges of hypocrisy and unconservative tactics by arguing conservatives need to follow the "tremendously successful" example of Media Matters. Shapiro added that Media Matters has "been able to so impact the debate that you see -- you know, talk show hosts are scared."
TruthRevolt officially launched this week with the intended mission to "unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases." TruthRevolt, which is positioning itself as the "anti-Media Matters," is led by editor in chief Shapiro and David Horowitz, who both have a history of accuracy problems and anti-progressive smears.
The group is the latest to position itself as the conservative answer to Media Matters. In 2009, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said that one thing conservatives needed in order to regain power was "communications organizations that can, again, match Media Matters."
Shapiro's organization hasn't found complete acceptance within the conservative movement. Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley recently criticized the group, calling its push for a boycott of advertisers on MSNBC host Al Sharpton's program "shameful." He explained that Shapiro is emulating "Media Matters, which is a liberal organization that flags conservative P.C. violations and feeds them to the perpetually outraged liberal media. These tactics are completely antithetical to the promotion of an attractive conservative brand."
Shapiro encountered more resistance during an appearance on the October 9 edition of WMAL's Mornings on the Mall with hosts Larry O'Connor and Brian Wilson. O'Connor, who said Shapiro is a "good friend," began the interview by wondering, "You and I, we both share a loathing of the odious tactics of the left like Media Matters and Center for American Progress, trying to intimidate advertisers to get them off of shows like The Rush Limbaugh Show or, or Fox News. Why are you using those tactics?"
Conservatives have launched TruthRevolt, a website which aims to "unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases." The history of two main TruthRevolt figures, Ben Shapiro and David Horowitz, suggests the site won't prioritize accuracy or refrain from smears.