The Prius is now the world's third best-selling car line, but before it became a clear success story, it was the target of attacks from conservative media similar to those now being leveled against electric vehicles.
In 2000, the year the Prius was released in the U.S., Diane Katz and Henry Payne wrote at the Wall Street Journal that hybrid cars are not "what the public wants." The next year, the Cato Institute's Patrick Michaels declared the Prius would "never" deliver a profit for Toyota and hyped how "demand has been weak" for hybrids. That these conservative pundits have clearly been proven wrong with time is a lesson for today's pundits who suggest that current electric car sales mean that electric cars will never be successful. As Bloomberg reporter Jamie Butters noted in a video report, "a lot of people will criticize the sales of the Chevy Volt by GM or the Nissan Leaf, but when you really look back they're selling at significantly higher opening volumes than the Prius when it came out 15 years ago."
Even after Prius sales had significantly ramped up, conservative media were still downplaying the market for hybrids in the U.S. In 2004, a Fox News guest declared that "Americans don't want hybrids":
As automakers are starting to bring electric vehicle (EV) technology into the mainstream, conservative media outlets have repeatedly misled consumers about electric cars by trying to paint them as environmentally harmful and unsafe, among other false claims.
From the January 17 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the December 8 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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In March 2010, right-wing blogger Mike Vanderboegh made headlines across the country after he urged his followers to respond to health care reform by breaking the windows of Democratic offices and then took credit after it actually happened.
Eighteen months later, Fox News has repeatedly featured the former militia and Minuteman leader as an "authority" on the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious.
In January, Vanderboegh was among the first to break the story that ATF agents had knowingly allowed gun trafficking suspects to take weapons across the border into Mexico. According to Republican congressional investigators, the operation was intended to allow law enforcement to identify other members of the trafficking network that for years has directed assault weapons into the hands of Mexican cartels, with the goal of bringing those cartels down.
But according to Vanderboegh, the failed operation was actually part of a secret plot against the Second Amendment directed from the highest levels of government (a theory Fox News itself has at times promoted). He has also pushed bizarre theories linking the program to Hillary Clinton not running for President and to the so-called "Cloward-Piven strategy."
Vanderboegh has been featured in two packaged reports by Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse, the most recent of which aired on September 27; the blogger was also cited by the correspondent in a FoxNews.com article earlier this month. Fox has identified Vanderboegh as an "online journalist" and an "authority on the Fast and Furious investigation," leaving his extremist past, use of violent rhetoric, and propensity for conspiracy theories unmentioned.
Vanderboegh's extremism is no secret; he was the subject of an 1100-word, front-page Washington Post profile after he responded to the passage of health care reform by writing a blog post headlined: "To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their windows. Break them NOW." In the post, he urged his readers that "if you wish to send a message that [then-Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and her party cannot fail to hear, break their windows." As the Post reported in their profile of the former militiaman, "In the days that followed, glass windows and doors were shattered at local Democratic Party offices and the district offices of House Democrats from Arizona to Kansas to New York."
The Post found Vanderboegh "unapologetic," reporting that he told them "he believes throwing bricks through windows sends a warning to Democratic lawmakers that the health-care reform legislation they passed Sunday has caused so much unrest that it could result in a civil war." Asked about an incident in which a brick was hurled into the glass doors of a Democratic office in Rochester, NY, Vanderboegh said, "I guess that guy's one of ours. ... Glad to know people read my blog."
After the Post profile, Vanderboegh drew fire from the left, right, and center. MSNBC's Ed Schultz described him a "whacko," while colleague Rachel Maddow pointed to how Vanderboegh's "efforts to inspire violent action around the country [are] apparently derived from his belief that he leads millions of people who think the same things he does." Jonah Goldberg called him an "idiot" and a "buffoon" whose behavior "is simply wrong, reprehensible, and childish." The Daily Beast's John Avlon wrote that the "parallels, intentional or not, to the Nazis' heinous 1938 kristallnacht ... are hard to ignore."
In a Newsweek article titled "Roger's Reality Show," Howard Kurtz wrote that Fox executives acknowledge that the news channel "took a hard right turn." This admission confirms what has long been clear: that Fox's news division has been slanted.
Fox "straight news" anchor Bret Baier and Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse attacked the Department of Justice's inspector general for releasing audio tapes related to the ATF's failed Fast and Furious program. At no point did Baier or La Jeunesse note that the inspector general's office says the tapes were released in order to comply with the constitutional rights of the targets of a criminal investigation.
Fox News' supposedly "straight news" reporters recently asserted that federal investments in clean energy are wasteful and that the costs of green jobs outweigh the benefits. These claims are contradicted by several studies showing clean energy investments create more jobs than several other types of investments.
From the August 24 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox News host Dave Briggs claimed that a new immigration policy, which will postpone deportation proceedings of certain undocumented workers in order to prioritize convicted criminals, is "perhaps blanket amnesty." Fox News has a long history of labeling immigration policies "amnesty," a term that has been shown to produce a more negative reaction than describing a policy as "a path to citizenship."
From the June 22 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Continuing its pattern of hyping ridiculous conspiracy theories to attack the Obama administration, Fox News baselessly suggested that the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious was deliberately designed to go badly in order to justify stricter U.S. gun laws. In fact, even a report prepared for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) refutes this theory.
Less than week after fearmongering that if states stop participating in Secured Communities -- a federal deportation program begun under the Bush administration that may result in serial killers being on the loose -- Fox News was back at it, attacking states for not participating in the program.
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse claimed that states opting out of the Secure Communities program is "mutiny" and is "undermining" current federal policy "and the rule of law" at the behest of "the Latino lobby." La Jeunesse's report then got really muddled. While showing a graphic, he falsely asserted that immigrants identified by the Secured Communities program either "had existing criminal convictions" or were "typically arrested for misdemeanors."
LA JEUNESSE: Secured Communities -- the program is a cornerstone of the president's immigration policy, which says, for illegals here, you work hard, you keep your nose clean, you get to stay. You break the law, you go home. But now the Latino lobby is pushing back. And this mutiny by states like Illinois, New York, Massachusetts are undermining that policy and the rule of law.
Now under the program, a criminal's fingerprints are run, not just with the FBI, but also DHS. DHS ran about 8 million fingerprints. Some 500,000 of those were immigrants, mostly illegals. About 200,000 were scheduled to be deported. About three-quarters had existing criminal convictions from murder to shoplifting. The rest arrested for misdemeanors like driving without a license. Now it is this group, the final group that some are -- some states that is -- are refusing to turn over to the feds even though supporters say even non-felons can be dangerous.
In fact, as La Jeunesse himself acknowledged later in the report, 70 percent of undocumented immigrants processed through the Secure Communities program had been convicted of a crime -- whether a misdemeanor or a felony, meaning that 30 percent were not convicted of any crime.
In news reports on a House Republican proposal that would require the Obama administration to open new areas to offshore drilling, Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse claimed that "97 percent of America's offshore oil remains off-limits." In fact, the areas already open to drilling contain the "vast majority" of estimated offshore oil resources, according to the Energy Information Administration.
In the wake of the earthquake in Japan and the resulting threat of nuclear disaster in that country, right-wing media have attacked renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, arguing that it's a waste of time to pursue these sources as possible alternatives to fossil fuels and nuclear power. However, studies show that the use of wind and solar energy is increasing at a record pace, and continuing investment in wind and solar will yield significant economic benefits.