During a recent interview on Al Jazeera, NASA administrator Charles Bolden discussed President Obama's efforts to improve Muslim outreach and said that Obama "wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering." Bolden said that this wasn't "a diplomatic anything. What it is is that [Obama is] trying to expand our outreach, so that we can get more people to contribute to the things that we do." Bolden then discussed examples of other countries' valuable contributions to the International Space Station and added: "So it is a matter of trying to reach out to get the best of all worlds, if you will. And there is much to be gained from drawing the contributions that are possible from Muslim nations."
Of course, since an Obama official made completely noncontroversial comments about reaching out to the Muslim world in order to gain contributions to the fields of science and technology, the right-wing media freaked out.
In a June 24 editorial, the Washington Examiner used a federal judge's grant of an injunction halting President Obama's deep-water drilling moratorium to predictably, hyperbolically and falsely attack the president.
The editorial board stated that they found it "disturbing" that "Obama is forging ahead with the very policy" that Judge Martin Feldman "just ruled unconstitutional," using that claim to support their conclusion that for Obama and his "cronies," "the will of the people and the letter of the laws is at most an obstacle on the road to 'change we can believe in'." They even went so far as to suggest that Obama's presidency is somehow against the intent of founding father Alexander Hamilton. From the editorial:
Even more disturbing is Obama's response to [federal Judge Martin] Feldman, which was to promise both an appeal in court and issuance of a new drilling moratorium from Interior. In other words, Obama is forging ahead with the very policy the judge just ruled unconstitutional. And the chief executive is challenging the thousands of Gulf Coast oil industry employees to try and stop him in the appeals court.
Years ago, Alexander Hamilton told the New York convention considering adoption of the Constitution that "here, sir, the people govern." We wonder what he would say today after witnessing Obama in action.
Harsh criticism to be sure. The only problem is, it's not true. Obama can't possibly be "forging ahead with the very policy that the judge just ruled unconstitutional," because Judge Feldman didn't find the moratorium unconstitutional.
Media are criticizing President Obama's address on the Gulf oil spill as lacking specifics. MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski described such criticism as "drivel" and argued that they would criticize his speech no matter what he says; indeed after past speeches and press conferences, the media attacked him for being too professorial, lecturing, boring, or arrogant.
Right-wing media have falsely suggested that in an interview with Politico, President Obama equated the disasters of 9-11 and the Gulf oil spill. In fact, Obama said the oil spill is likely to shape future environmental and energy policy, similar to how U.S. foreign policy was shaped by the 9-11 attacks.
Back in January, as he was promoting his asinine "documentary" trying to link progressives to the worst atrocities of the 20th century, Glenn Beck said that "progressive historians" are "on a mission to make sure Nazis are right" and defend Stalin and Mao. Of course, that isn't at all the case, but conservative media outlets seem to think they have found some evidence to prove that progressives are doing their best to defend Stalin's memory. As usual, they are being extremely misleading.
Led by Fox News, right-wing media have attacked Attorney General Eric Holder over his announcement that the Justice Department has begun civil and criminal investigations into the Gulf oil spill. Their attacks echo previous criticism from Fox and right-wing media figures over SEC charges and congressional hearings into Goldman Sachs and hearings into a Toyota vehicle recall.
Washington Examiner's Charlie Spierling today takes issue with our statements that Elena Kagan "is not and was not a radical or socialist; her thesis explored historical questions about socialism." He does so by cherry-picking two paragraphs from the thesis that do not indicate she was a socialist or radical. In one, she writes that her brother's "involvement in radical causes led me to explore the history of American radicalism in the hope of clarifying my own political ideas"; in the other she discusses how sectionalist has often led to the failure of American radicalism.
But that's not the stupidest part of Spierling's post. No, the stupidest part is where he attempts to draw a parallel between Kagan's thesis and that of Virginia governor Bob McDonnell:
As blogger Soren Dayton writes, "I guess that all the Dems who attacked the McDonnell thesis are now saying Kagan's is irrelevant."
Kagan and McDonnell both wrote theses. Other than that, the cases are simply not comparable.
Byron York promoted claims made against Elena Kagan in a 1999 report issued by a House Resources Committee task force composed of two discredited Republican members. However, the task force was criticized by Democrats for "failing to meet even minimum standards of objectivity," and even Ed Whelan has said the allegations are "highly speculative."
In his May 3 Washington Examiner column, Mark Hemingway writes as one of "seven reasons not to vote for Democrats," based on statements taken from "Democratic talking points":
4. "Two million people or more have jobs today who wouldn't have without the bold action taken by this president and Democrats in Congress."
According to Pew, 62 percent of Americans say the $862 billion stimulus bill isn't working. A recent National Association for Business Economics survey shows a majority of business economists think it didn't create jobs. And Democrats want to tout their employment record by saying, "It could have been worse"?
Read that again. Hemingway is trying to refute a factual claim -- a fact confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office and Moody's Economy.com -- by citing opinion polls.
Hemingway seems to think that what people perceive about something trumps reality, no matter what reality actually is. In this case, reality is pretty easy to determine; Hemingway has chosen to pretend that reality doesn't exist.
The fact that Hemingway cites only a couple of opinion polls claiming the stimulus "isn't working" suggests that he can't find any actual facts making that claim. And admitting that Obama's stimulus is working would run afoul of the Examiner's right-wing tilt.
Conservative media have claimed that Arizona's new immigration law only allows law enforcement to question a person's immigration status if they are suspected of an unrelated offense. But in a statement given to Media Matters for America, a research analyst for the Arizona House Republican majority disputes these claims.
From the April 28 edition of MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show:
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After President Obama released a video message highlighting 2010 efforts to turn out the vote among minorities, right-wing media responded with inflammatory rhetoric, including claims that Obama is playing the "race card." Those media figures have ignored that Republicans have issued similar appeals to minority voters.
New York Post columnist Rich Lowry and The Washington Examiner defended the controversial new Arizona immigration law by suggesting the state was forced to act because the Obama administration was not enforcing immigration policies; specifically, citing frozen funding for a virtual border fence. However, the administration reportedly stopped funding the virtual fence because it was over-budget, behind schedule, and a "complete failure," and the administration has redirected money to "other tested, commercially available security technology along the Southwest border."
Remember when Kanye West said George W. Bush "doesn't care about black people"? Of course you do; it was kind of a big deal. Such a big deal that when then-Senator Barack Obama appeared on ABC's This Week a few days later, he was asked about it. There was an avalanche of media coverage, including predictable outrage from conservative publications. A New York Post headline blared "WHERE DOES KANYE WEST GET OFF," while National Review sneered "'Racism!' They Charged - When don't they?" Jonah Goldberg blasted West's "self-indulgent diatribe" and insisted "He should be ashamed." Goldberg went so far as to argue that even if West was right, he should have kept his mouth shut: "Assume for the sake of argument that West's rant was accurate. Was this really the time to say so?"
Conservatives were certainly not alone in rebuking West; many liberals did so as well. To pick just one example, Richard Cohen -- the ostensibly liberal Washington Post columnist who supports torture and opposes affirmative action -- leapt to Bush's defense.
In short: suggesting the president might be a racist was widely seen as a Big Deal -- and widely condemned.
So I was startled to see how casually ABC's The Note quoted Rush Limbaugh calling Barack Obama a racist this morning:
Rush Limbaugh, not a fan of the efforts to restart the campaign engines: "This is the regime at its racist best," he said, per Politics Daily's Lynn Sweet. "He is asking young people, African-Americans, Latino and women to reconnect, to fight who? Who is this fight against?"
Now, Rush Limbaugh isn't a rap star like Kanye West -- but he is one of the most influential leaders of the conservative movement and the Republican party. And The Note quoted him calling the president a racist as casually as it would have had quoted him saying "I find the president's fiscal policies lamentable."
Maybe journalists have become dulled to statements like Limbaugh's because of the frequency with which they come. Conservatives have been calling Obama, and those around him, racist since he took office. Longer, actually. Today's Washington Examiner reinforces those allegations with a headline taking up much of the front page: "Obama disses white guys."
Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for the first Richard Cohen column defending President Obama from charges of racism.
Washington Examiner contributor Jed Babbin claimed that the administration is "reassigning some of [the CIA's] most valuable assets to study global warming." In fact, the CIA has said the climate data sharing program "draws on imagery and other information that is collected in any event."