As President Obama approaches his final year in office, there's mounting frustration among Republicans and members of the conservative media that the elusive "truth" still hasn't been told about Obama, and that the mainstream media continues to hide scandalous revelations from public view.
Using the allegation as a shield to protect himself from claims he may have fabricated parts of his own biography, Ben Carson took the lead last week when he admonished the press for allegedly giving Obama a pass. "This was the same media that time and again declared it off-limits to dig into then-candidate Barack Obama's background," claimed Carson in a recent fundraising pitch.
Again, Obama's entering his eighth year in office, but somehow he hasn't been vetted? Somehow all kinds of embarrassing and scandalous parts of his background remain under wraps? It's hard to believe. And as Media Matters detailed, not many journalists are buying the claim that Carson's being held to a unique standard.
"The suggestion that others have not gone through this [scrutiny] ignores history," noted Washington Post reporter Ed O'Keefe.
The not-vetted complaint works side-by-side with the revived 'liberal media bias' allegation that's been at the center of the Republican campaign season in recent weeks. Together, the two claims represent the Mantle and Maris of conservative whining. The conspiratorial bookends are often used to try to explain away Obama's two electoral landslide victories. Conservatives seem to think that if only the truth were revealed, "Then the scales will fall from the voters' eyes and they'll boot him from the office he never deserved to occupy in the first place," wrote Paul Waldman at American Prospect.
The vetting claim reflects life inside the Fox News-generated bubble. It reflects a conservative movement that's increasingly allergic to bouts of reality and common sense. It goes to a core belief that they've been right all along about Obama and his dastardly ways, it's just that the press won't inform the public.
But here's the thing: conservative commentators, and especially conservative bloggers, are ignoring the fact that Obama was vetted -- by them. For more than two presidential election cycles.
And it was priceless.
All of those claims, and much more, were forwarded by right-wing media outlets (including Fox News) that have been thrashing around in cesspools over the years, all in the name of vetting the elusive Obama. (The late blogger and satirist Al Weisel, known as Jon Swift, masterfully detailed the attempted vetting.)
Some of the lowlights from conservative bloggers' 2008 crusade that I previously highlighted when they started complaining in 2012 that the president hadn't been properly investigated:
Then in 2012, the same frantic, clueless sleuths vowed to redouble their efforts. Under the headline, "Re-Vetting Wars: Obama's Girlfriends Speak," American Thinker editor Thomas Lifson noted "One of the foremost concerns of the Obama re-election effort is the promised re-vetting of Obama, playing off the widespread perception that the media utterly failed to investigate the reality beneath the highly manufactured identity peddled in 2008."
At Breitbart.com, founder Andrew Breitbart vowed to pull back the dark curtain on Obama's troubling past; to do what the supposed lapdog press refused to do in 2008.
Breitbart's first supposed smoking gun centered around the revelation that in 1998, then-state senator Obama attended a Chicago play about activist Saul Alinsky and then took part in a panel discussion afterwards.
Shocking stuff, indeed.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that the White House released the president's long-form birth certificate in 2011 to debunk all the birther nonsense, right-wing columnist Jerome Corsi delved deeper down the black hole, publishing a series of reports trying to prove Obama's birth certificate was a forgery. He also promoted the claim that Obama "hid" his gay life and that, of course, he's secretly a Muslim.
In 2012, conservative filmmaker Joel Gilbert unveiled his documentary film, Dreams From My Real Father, which claimed Obama is the son of communist writer Frank Marshall Davis. The loopy DVD movie was touted by Fox News' Monica Crowley, among others.
So c'mon, conservative commentators, don't sell yourselves short. You did vet Obama, and it was genius. I can't wait to see what their vetting of Hillary Clinton looks like.
Conservative media are baselessly fearmongering that the upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris will create a United Nations "court" with the power to punish the U.S. for its "climate debt" and implement a massive redistribution of wealth from the U.S. and other wealthy nations to developing countries. These media figures are referring to a proposal by Bolivia to establish an "International Tribunal of Climate Justice" to deal with countries that fail to comply with an international climate change agreement, but the Tribunal is reportedly "a non-starter with almost every other country going to the Paris talks," and experts believe there are more feasible methods along the lines of nuclear non-proliferation treaties for ensuring countries meet their climate-related commitments.
Conservative media figures are attacking Fox News and Megyn Kelly to defend Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, claiming the network and Kelly were "out to get" Trump in Fox News' first Republican primary debate.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter charged that "Latino culture" accepts "child rape" in order to claim Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is "still right about Mexican rapists."
Coulter has taken credit for Trump's offensive rhetoric about immigrants, suggesting his campaign announcement remarks that the U.S. is being treated "as a dumping ground" for Mexican immigrants who are "rapists" and "murderers" were inspired by her racist book Adios, America.
On August 5, Coulter took to the fringe conspiracy blog World Net Daily to write that Trump is "still right about Mexican rapists":
There's a cultural acceptance of child rape in Latino culture that doesn't exist in even the most dysfunctional American ghettos. When it comes to child rape, the whole family gets involved. (They are family-oriented!)
Far from "I am woman, hear me roar," these are cultures where women help the men rape kids.
When the crime is this bizarre, it's not "anecdotal." "Child rape perpetrated by more than one family member" isn't your run-of-the-mill crime. It's rather like discovering dozens of cannibalism cases in specific neighborhoods.
How many fourth-generation American father-son child-rape duos do we have? How many American brother-sister teams are conspiring in child rape and murder? How many mothers are helping their boyfriends and husbands get away with raping their own children?
And how many 12-year-old American girls are giving birth - to the delight of their parents?
In some immigrant enclaves, the police have simply given up on pursuing statutory rape cases with Hispanic victims. They say that after being notified by hospital administrators that a 12-year-old has given birth and the father is in his 30s, they'll show up at the girl's house - and be greeted by her parents calling the pregnancy a "blessing."
This happens all the time, they say.
And yet, in the entire American media, there have been more stories about a rape by Duke lacrosse players that didn't happen than about the slew of child rapes by Hispanics that did because Democrats want the votes and businesses want the cheap labor. No wonder they hate Trump.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign launch speech viciously denigrated Mexican immigrants and strongly split conservative media figures on his candidacy. While some argue Trump is a "rodeo clown," others think he is "saying things that need to be said." Several conservatives disagree with Trump's rhetoric but claim he's raising important issues.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent distorted recent comments President Obama made on the race issue in America to defend the use of the N-word including its racist use by former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman.
In a June 24 column for conspiracy website WND, Nugent addressed President Obama's reference to the word "nigger" on Marc Moran's WTF podcast. Obama said, "Racism, we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say 'nigger' in public."
Apparently misinterpreting the point Obama was making about racism, Nugent praised Obama, writing that he "is not afraid of speaking honestly without fear of politically correct word nazi's going berserk."
Nugent went on to heap praise on the word, without mentioning its long and vile association with racism. Citing himself as someone who "continue[s] to use the word nigger at one time or another," Nugent listed several well-known people, including Fuhrman, whom he said were not bound by "political correctness" in their use of the word:
Along with President Obama and my hero Richard Pryor, we join Howard Stern, Johnny Cochran, Mark Furman [sic], O.J. Simpson, Kid Rock, James Brown, the mighty Funkbrothers, Al not so Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Malcom X, Kanye West, Fifty Cent and pretty much every black rapper and hip hopper on earth, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, a few thousand NBA, NFL, MLB sports stars, legions of famous and not so famous musicians, actors, politicians, media personalities and assorted celebrities of every color, creed, ethnicity and walk of life, along with a few million others around the world who have used and continue to use the word nigger at one time or another.The dishonest referencing of the word by its first letter is the epitome of political correctness gone mad.
Fuhrman, who is now a Fox News contributor, was an LAPD homicide detective on the O.J. Simpson murder case. During Simpson's trial, the defense produced tapes of Fuhrman using the N-word more than 40 times over a 10-year period. According to the tapes, in his capacity with the LAPD, Fuhrman said things to African-Americans like, "You do what you're told, understand, nigger?" He was also recorded bragging that he liked lining up "niggers against the wall and shooting them."
In his WND column, Nugent lavishly praised the word. He wrote, "The word nigger has historically been used in a powerfully positive way when describing the proud heritage and history of deeply respected, even revered 'blackness,'" and noted that he considered it "the greatest compliment" when someone uses the word to describe his music.
Nugent added, "The word is used constantly across America in a friendly, even tribal greeting and salutation with no hint whatsoever of negativity nor hostility," and compared its use to the "'MF' word" -- a reference to "mother fucker" that he never spelled out, although his column did spell out the word "nigger" five times.
Nugent also wrote, "As blacks blow away blacks in record numbers in Chicago and other urban hellzones each weekend, does anyone have the audacity to believe that words play any role in this insane widespread criminality?" adding, "What sort of goofball could possibly believe that certain words are OK for one group of people but forbidden by others?"
On Facebook, Nugent promoted his WND column in a post that said, "When I play my Motown guitar, I niggerup."
Nugent, who has a lengthy history of racially-charged rhetoric, is correct that he has used the N-word before. In a 1990 interview with Detroit Free Press Magazine, Nugent defended the apartheid system in South Africa and said, "I use the word nigger a lot because I hang around with a lot of niggers, and they use the word nigger, and I tend to use words that communicate ... I don't mean to offend."
In a 1995 interview with Bob Mack of Grand Royal magazine, Nugent claimed "real America" was full of "working hard, playing hard, white motherfucking shit kickers, who are independent and get up in the morning," before saying of James Brown and several other African-American musicians, "Those are niggers, those are fucking spirited, genuine African-Americans."
During an interview for the release a 2002 album, Nugent reportedly said, "So when ever someone tries to claim that I'm a racist because I use the word 'nigger,' the word 'nigger' is a badge of honour where I come from."
Beyond his use of racial slurs, Nugent has called Obama a "subhuman mongrel" and has claimed that African-Americans should be racially profiled the same way members of a community might profile a breed of dog that was biting children. He also said that African-Americans could "solve the black problem" if they were more honest and law-abiding, and that the African-American community has a "mindless tendency to violence" and an inability to "read or speak clearly."
This post has been updated to include additional information.
Right-wing media outlets are attacking a new rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designed to increase diversity in American neighborhoods, calling it an attempt by President Obama to dictate where people live. But the program merely provides grant money to encourage communities to provide affordable housing and greater access to community resources.
Conservative columnist Morgan Brittany thinks the recent unrest in Baltimore may be a "set-up" and that President Obama might "have to institute martial law to preserve order, form a national police force and postpone the 2016 elections" if the police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death are acquitted.
In her new column for conspiracy website WND, Brittany announces that "something is not right" and speculates, "I don't think the chaos in Baltimore 'just happened'; I think it was planned and is the next step in the breakdown of our society."
Brittany laments that Obama "was supposed to be the one to unite all Americans and heal the divide, but instead, he did everything he could to turn the heat up and make sure the divide became wider." According to Brittany, the president has "inserted himself into every controversy that had a racial component" and "always took the side of the African-American." Following news of Gray's death, Brittany argues, "The leaders of chaos rushed to take advantage of that situation and all hell broke loose."
After suggesting that charges filed against police officers allegedly involved in Gray's death are an "overreach," Brittany pondered whether Obama would react to potential acquittals by imposing martial law, an idea she grants is "maybe" crazy:
So she and all of the people involved in making that decision have possibly created an even bigger problem. If indeed after all of the evidence and testimony is given in this case and the officers are acquitted, what then? I predict at that point the lid will blow off, and we will have another Rodney King situation.
From now until the verdict in this trial, the agitators will continue to travel and communicate city to city, town to town, stirring up unrest and hate, keeping people on edge waiting to see the result of this cliff-hanger. If the verdict is not what they want, perhaps Obama will have to institute martial law to preserve order, form a national police force and postpone the 2016 elections.
Crazy? Maybe, but we are on the edge in this country. Attacks are coming from all sides, from inside and outside of our borders, and we are becoming overwhelmed. What happens when Baltimore spreads across the country and our television screens show four or five cities burning at once? Who will we turn to at that point? "One Nation under God" - we need Him now more than ever.
Last year, Brittany speculated in a column that the Obama administration may have been orchestrating Ebola and other crises in order to declare martial law and seize people's guns.
Brittany's column shares today's WND opinion page with a column from newly-announced presidential candidate Ben Carson, which warns of the dangers of an EMP attack. The day he announced his candidacy, Carson published a WND piece pitching readers on what he will "accomplish as president."
From the May 5 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:
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Right-wing media have baselessly speculated for months that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was injured in a physical altercation, and now, a Las Vegas man claims to have invented the false rumor to see whether it might become fodder for the conservative media bubble.
In the months that followed, right-wing media ran wild with speculation that Reid was lying about his injuries -- on the March 27 edition of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh claimed Reid was "behaving like somebody who may have been beaten up." Breitbart.com published an "investigation" into Reid's story, going so far as to obtain "a copyrighted digital image" of the model floor plan of Reid's home is based on, and claiming it had "uncovered facts that appear to discredit Reid's version of the home exercise," such as the distance between his shower door and his bathroom cabinets. John Hinderaker, who runs the conservative Powerline blog, helped spearhead the conjecture. Only four days after Reid's injuries were reported, Hinderaker noted that "[s]ome are speculating that he had a run-in with Las Vegas underworld characters," though admitting there "is zero evidence for that." On March 28, Hinderaker asked: "Was the Senate Majority Leader in the pocket of the Mafia? That seems like a question worth exploring."
With the right-wing rumor mill churning, a Las Vegas man has come forward saying he duped the conservative talking heads with phony rumors about Reid. Lawrence Pfeifer told the Las Vegas Sun on April 26 that he "started a false rumor that the injuries suffered by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid several months ago were the result of an attack by Reid's brother ... after becoming appalled that right-wing political blogger John Hinderaker published a rumor that Reid's injuries stemmed from an assault by a Mafia enforcer." Using the name Easton Elliott in his dealings with Hinderaker, "he pitched his fake story about the Reid brothers' supposed fight to Hinderaker, author of the Power Line blog, to test whether the blogger would publish it."
Pfeifer's false story first appeared in an April 3 Powerline post which relayed the account of Easton Elliott. Hinderaker reported that Elliot had seen Reid's brother, Larry Reid at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on New Year's Eve, bloodied and "visibly intoxicated":
Some time between 10:00 and 11:30 p.m., a man entered the meeting. His appearance was striking: there was blood on his clothing, beginning around his midsection. His left hand was swollen. He appeared to be somewhat intoxicated and was visibly agitated. He introduced himself as "Larry."
In a group discussion that was heard by a number of people, Larry said that he had just had a fight with a family member. Larry said he had been at a family get-together, and he didn't remember much about the fight because he had blacked out. When he came to, he was rolling on the ground, fighting with a family member, and his clothes were bloody. Now, he said, he was frightened that the Secret Service would come after him.
Easton Elliott didn't think much more about Larry until, several weeks later, he saw a newspaper story about Larry Reid, Harry Reid's brother, being arrested for DUI and assaulting a highway patrolman. The story was accompanied by a photograph, and Elliott immediately recognized Larry Reid as the "Larry" who had attended the AA meeting on New Year's Eve.
Pfeifer told the Las Vegas Sun that he had included details that "should have been seen as red flags, including that AA allows intoxicated individuals to attend meetings on New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve."
But the tall tale spread quickly through right-wing media. Limbaugh read parts of the Powerline post on his show, saying "Hinderaker can't vouch for it. Neither can I. But if what he says about the AA meeting is accurate, then the inferences seem reasonable ... So, bottom line, somebody attacked Harry Reid on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day." Glenn Beck talked about Elliott's allegations on his radio show, saying that if the details could be verified, "this one I could believe." World Net Daily reported the allegations in a post titled "Was Harry Reid really pummeled by a relative?," while The Gateway Pundit called Reid's brother "the main suspect in his brutal beating." Hinderaker even pushed the rumor when he guest-hosted The Laura Ingraham Show, saying "any normal person who just looks at the photographs that have been released of his face ... the first thing you would say is, that guy got beaten up."
Hinderaker attempted to explain running with the fake rumor in an April 26 post, saying that he never attempted to verify Pfeifer's rumor about Reid and that his "constant theme has been to call for an investigation of what appear to be obviously suspicious circumstances."
Right-wing media attacked President Obama's Easter prayer breakfast speech, claiming he "smeared" Christianity by referring to "less-than-loving" statements from Christians.
Taking their cues from the Drudge Report, right-wing media are echoing a London Telegraph columnist's false claim that scientific agencies intentionally adjusted years of weather station data to show a global warming trend that isn't really there, which the author dubbed the "biggest science scandal ever." But far from being a scandal, historical temperature records are routinely subject to peer-reviewed adjustments to account for changes to measuring instruments, the time of day measurements are taken, and other factors -- and they do not negate a global warming trend.
Conservative media haven't had the best luck in recent years when choosing which fringe protests or figures to elevate into the national conversation, often mistakenly tying themselves to extremism and bizarre conspiracy theories. In 2013, Fox News, Glenn Beck, Drudge, and other conservatives helped promote a rally of truckers planning to clog the Beltway to protest the government. The protest -- which eventually fizzled -- turned out to have been organized in part by someone who thinks President Obama and Osama bin Laden are literally the same person.
This year, conservatives threw their weight behind a Nevada rancher fighting against the federal government over grazing fees, only to be burned when he was videotaped giving his thoughts on "the Negro." 2014 also featured an unhinged conspiracy about President Obama trying (and apparently failing) to spark a domestic Ebola outbreak and a staggering amount of outlandish comments from Fox News contributor Allen West.
Media Matters looks back at the year on the fringe.
From the November 10 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent weighed in on the Texas governor's race in his column for conspiracy website WND, attacking the "America-hating" campaign of Democratic candidate Wendy Davis.
In his October 29 column, Nugent wrote, "Thank God there are still way more Texans that stand in defiance of the lying, scamming, America-hating, Texas-hating scammers and scoundrels that infest and steer the Wendy Davis campaign of deception."
In February, Nugent set off a lengthy controversy when he appeared at a campaign event with Republican candidate Greg Abbott and called him his "blood brother." Abbott was criticized for appearing with Nugent after the NRA figure had recently called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel" and because of Nugent's history of demeaning attacks on women.