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From the 07.21.2014 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show

Conservative media are pushing the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration deliberately created the humanitarian immigration crisis on the Southern border for political reasons. The rhetoric echoes claims from Republican politicians, most notably Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who said he didn’t want “to be conspiratorial,” but the administration may be “in on this somehow.”

Child migrants have surged across the border in recent months to flee violence in Central America. President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to respond to the crisis, as the mass migration has overwhelmed existing detention facilities and border resources.

The president has publicly discouraged the migration, stating in an ABC News interview on June 27: “That is our direct message to the families in Central America: Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.” PolitiFact called the claim that Obama planned the border crisis “pants on fire” false, writing: “Many of the factors behind the surge of children lie outside the control of the administration. No expert we reached gave any credence to the idea that the administration planned this crisis on the border.”

Gov. Perry has responded to the humanitarian crisis by suggesting the Obama administration is secretly coordinating the effort. In a June 17 Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Perry said: “We’re doing our part to make sure we can keep our citizens as safe as we can. But the federal government is just absolutely failing. We either have an incredibly inept administration or they’re in on this somehow or another. I hate to be conspiratorial, but how do you move that many people from Central America across Mexico and into the United States without there being a fairly coordinated effort?” 

The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate subsequently appeared on ABC on July 6 and said Obama may have an “ulterior motive” on the crisis.

Other Republican politicians have also suggested President Obama is deliberately creating the border crisis. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told conspiracy website WND, “If you don’t see them bring reinforcements down there to seal the border, that means that, yes, it’s a Cloward-Piven maneuver to flood the country until we get to the point where we are an open-borders country that welcomes everybody, legal and illegal” (“Cloward-Piven” is a reference to a right-wing conspiracy theory that believes progressives are attempting to overwhelm capitalism, leading to its collapse). Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) similarly claimed it’s “an open secret Obama is trying to flood Texas with illegals to make it into a blue state.” Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) told Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs on June 10 (via Nexis), “Everything that Barack Obama’s doing is intentional, deliberate … This is deliberate, Lou, and all Barack Obama’s asking for is more money to do more of the same.”

Despite evidence to the contrary, many members of the right-wing media have followed their Republican partners in accusing Obama of having “planned” and “orchestrated” the crisis for political gain. Here are ten examples:

Rush Limbaugh Speculates “This Whole Thing Was Planned In Advance By Somebody.” Speaking on the June 24 edition of his radio program, Limbaugh said: “Somebody needs to go to the Oval Office. I don’t know who. I wouldn’t want to be the guy, but somebody better make tracks to the Oval Office right now and tell Obama that this whole thing was planned in advance by somebody. Don’t wait for the newspapers on this — and they’re not gonna trust me when they hear about it.” Limbaugh’s website headlined his remarks, “Obama Regime Planned the Influx of Illegal Alien Children at the Border.” 

Newt Gingrich: There’s A “Deliberate Policy Of Maximizing The Number Of Illegal Immigrants.” The CNN host wrote on his website on June 27 that the crisis “is a direct result of deliberate Obama administration policy that encourages illegal immigration” and “appears to be a deliberate policy of maximizing the number of illegal immigrants allowed to stay in the United States.” Gingrich added: “If you have any doubt consider that the Obama administration is deliberately encouraging this surge in illegal immigration, consider that instead of focusing on controlling the border and stopping people from entering illegally, we now have our government using our tax money to hire ‘escort services for unaccompanied alien children.’”

Sarah Palin: “Opening Our Borders To A Flood Of Illegal Immigrants Is Deliberate.” The Fox News contributor called for Obama’s impeachment in a July 8 Breitbart.com post, citing Obama’s allegedly “purposeful” actions with regard to the immigration influx:

Without borders, there is no nation. Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America. It’s the only promise he has kept. Discrediting the price paid for America’s exceptionalism over our history, he’s given false hope and taxpayer’s change to millions of foreign nationals who want to sneak into our country illegally. Because of Obama’s purposeful dereliction of duty an untold number of illegal immigrants will kick off their shoes and come on in, competing against Americans for our jobs and limited public services. There is no end in sight as our president prioritizes parties over doing the job he was hired by voters to do. Securing our borders is obviously fundamental here; it goes without saying that it is his job

Lou Dobbs: “All Of This Is Orchestrated By This Administration.” Dobbs stated on the June 26 edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight: “All of this is orchestrated by this administration. Anybody who doesn’t understand that hasn’t got the common sense that, you know, God gave a goat … The fact is that this administration is working in concert with the Central American governments.”

Monica Crowley"He Created This Crisis, He Orchestrated It, And He’s Perpetuating It." The Fox News contributor added on the July 10 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co. that Obama “wanted the chaos” to pressure Republicans on immigration reform and to turn red states blue.

Jeanine Pirro: “One Conclusion: Barack Obama Is Intentionally Using The Immigration Crisis As An Excuse To Change The Demographics And Ultimately The Electorate.” Pirro added on the July 12 edition of her Fox News program Justice with Judge Jeanine that Obama is using a “Trojan horse” of children to advance his political party, his agenda and his legacy.”

Peggy Noonan Suggests Obama “Let The Crisis On The Border Build To Put Heat On Republicans.”Noonan accused the president of trickery for political gain in her July 11 Wall Street  Journal column.

Allen West: “A Planned Event By The Obama Administration.” The Fox News contributor and former Florida congressman wrote on his website on July 3, “it seem [sic] harder to believe it was not a planned event by the Obama administration. That’s not that conspiracy theory - it’s trend analysis.” West wrote on July 14: “I believe the whole immigrant surge is purposeful” and asked if it’s to turn red states blue.

Dinesh D’Souza: Obama Wanted Border Chaos To Put “Republicans On The Defensive.” The conservative filmmaker and campaign finance felon claimed on Fox News on July 15 that Obama wants the crisis to “put the Republicans on the defensive and say, listen, either you give me amnesty or I’m just going to let these people start coming across the border and there’s nothing you can do about it.” 

Bryan Fischer: “This Is All Deliberate On The Part Of President Obama.” American Family Association’s Fischer added on the July 14 edition of his program that it was part of his “anti-American agenda” to transform the country.

h/t: Eric Hananoki at MMFA

Radio host Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday suggested that women who needed birth control but couldn’t not get it because it was banned by their religious employers could solve their problems if they stopped having sex.

On his radio show, the conservative talker continued his response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal government could not force Hobby Lobby to cover contraception for its female employees by asking why birth control was so important “to the human condition” in the first place.

“Eye exams, dental exams, dental work are not mandated by Obamacare,” he opined. “But contraception is! Birth control pills are!”

“Which is worse? To go blind from lack of regular eye exams or to get pregnant?” Limbaugh continued. “And again, pregnancy is something that you have to do — to cause. It doesn’t just happen to you while you are walking down the street, except in the case of sexual abuse. But in the normal, everyday flow of events, pregnancy requires action that has consequences.”

He argued that the federal government was treating pregnancy like an “imposition that women need to be protected from.”

“And yet, they wouldn’t have the problem if they didn’t do a certain thing,” Limbaugh quipped.

In fact, millions of women use birth control for medical reasons other than preventing pregnancy.

A Guttmacher Institute study found in 2011 that only 42 percent of women used the pill only for birth control, and 1.5 million women relied on it “exclusively for noncontraceptive purposes.”

Listen to the audio below from The Rush Limbaugh Show, broadcast July 2, 2014.

(h/t: Media Matters)

h/t: David Edwards at The Raw Story

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Two years after Sandra Fluke rose to national prominence when Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut,” she is again at the center of right-wing attacks—and this time it seems as if her Democratic opponent for state Senate is playing along.

On Tuesday, Fluke, 33, a women’s rights activist and self-described social justice attorney, came in second place in the open primary for a state Senate seat in California’s 26th District behind Democrat Ben Allen. As the top two vote-getters, Fluke and Allen will advance to the November 4 general election.

In testimony before Washington Democrats in 2012, Fluke criticized the health insurance policies of Georgetown University, a Jesuit school. “I’m an American woman who uses contraceptives,” she said.

The only logical question in response to Fluke’s hearing, Rush Limbaugh apparently reasoned, was “It makes her a slut, right?”

The radio giant, evidently confused about how contraceptives work, dug in deeper: “It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

Limbaugh eventually apologized after an outcry from the left and the right, including from President Obama. As a result of the incident, Fluke became a national women’s rights icon, speaking at the Democratic National Convention and campaigning for the president.

Fluke told The Daily Beast that she had “absolutely not” wanted to run for office before but that she changed her mind “because I felt like this was the next step that gave me the most effective path to continue to improve our society and our community.” She added that “folks all over Los Angeles and many around the country were asking me to step forward and to run, and to be a different kind of voice in our government.”

From the moment the word was out that Fluke was considering a run for office, she was the subject of right-wing side-eye.

“I just hope voters look to that and [think], ‘She’s in the public spotlight, she’s under attack, what does her leadership look like in response? Does she stoop to that kind of level?’”

In January, a Breitbart report on her possible run to replace Rep. Henry Waxman called her “the birth-control activist who helped Democrats launch their ‘Republican war on women’ theme in the 2012 elections,” as if she had asked to be attacked by Limbaugh.

“Sandra Fluke Aborts Congressional Bid,” read another headline on Breitbart after Fluke opted to run instead for the state Senate. “Her decision to abort her congressional campaign at a very early stage may have avoided much of the national political controversy that a later decision to terminate the effort would have likely triggered,” the subtle piece read.

Allen, Fluke’s Democratic opponent, granted an interview to Breitbart, despite the tone of its coverage of Fluke.

Asked about Allen’s interview, Fluke told The Daily Beast, “I was a little disappointed in that.”

Overall, Fluke said the negative stories “occasionally” bother her, but they haven’t surprised her. “Throughout the last two years, it’s been a fairly steady stream of personal and unfair attacks from some particular media outlets [and] commenters online, as well,” she said.

The attacks, Fluke said, are a sign “that I’m accomplishing something—I’m pushing back on something—when I’m getting that kind of response back…I certainly expect [the attacks] to continue, and I’m sure they will.”

Asked whether being on the receiving end of such criticism could benefit her, Fluke said: “I think that what the attacks from the right demonstrate is what kind of response I have to them, and voters have seen this again and again…I just hope voters look to that and [think], ‘She’s in the public spotlight, she’s under attack, what does her leadership look like in response? Does she stoop to that kind of level? Does she engage in unethical attacks in response? Or does she conduct herself in a way that would make us proud to have her represent us?’”

Although Fluke has name recognition and has been endorsed by public figures such as Gloria Steinem, the bearded and bespectacled Allen, who is an attorney, an education and law policy professor at UCLA, and a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education, has a fundraising advantage.

You can thank Rush Limbaugh and Dana Loesch’s hateful mouths for allowing Sandra Fluke to rise to stardom, which is a good thing for America. So happy that Fluke’s advancing in November. 

h/t: Catalina Camia at USAToday.com

With the outsized vitriol Barack Obama’s presidency has inspired among conservatives, it’s seemed inevitable that the right would try to find some reason to impeach him. For more than five years, fringe activists, conservative media, and various Republican politicians have invoked the specter of impeachment over any number of manufactured scandals and supposed outrages. In a new book out today, National Review writer and former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy tries to kickstart the movement in earnest, laying out the “political case” for impeaching the president.

Writing in the New Republic in 2010liberal journalist Jonathan Chait predicted that if Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and Obama won a second term, “the House will vote to impeach him before he leaves office.” He continued, “Wait, you say. What will they impeach him over? You can always find something.” Indeed, for much of Obama’s presidency, the prospect of impeachment has been a hammer in search of a nail. 

While fringe activists have been agitating for impeachment for years, more mainstream conservatives have been considerably more reluctant.

In Faithless Execution: Building The Political Case For Obama’s Impeachment, McCarthy tries to bridge the gap and build support for impeachment as a serious idea. The crux of McCarthy’s argument is that despite what he sees as the rock-solid legal justification for impeaching Obama, Republicans cannot move forward with the effort without first convincing the public that removing the president from office is the right course of action. To do so without public backing would “look like partisan hackery. It would be worse than futile.”

Slate’s David Weigel explained in a piece last month about Republicans’ recent push to impeach Obama “without looking crazy” that many of the supposed impeachable offenses highlighted in McCarthy’s book have already “faded under the klieg lights of big media.” (Though Weigel points out that McCarthy “puts some of the blame for that on Republicans” and their timidity over the issue of impeachment.)

While he’s ostensibly trying to jumpstart popular support for removing Obama from office, McCarthy’s book seems unlikely to win any new converts — it’s just more preaching to people already in the conservative media bubble (the first reference to frequent right-wing boogeyman Saul Alinsky comes in the third paragraph and the first invocation of “ACORN” follows shortly thereafter).

Half of Faithless Execution is comprised of McCarthy’s draft Articles of Impeachment. The supposed outrages in the book are a mix of ongoing focuses of conservative ire — “The Benghazi Fraud,” and “The Obamacare Fraud,” for example — and long-forgotten Scandals of the Month like the “racially discriminatory” Justice Department’s treatment of the New Black Panther Party. If all of these pseudo-scandals that conservatives flogged relentlessly weren’t enough to keep Obama from winning a second term, it’s hard to envision the public deciding they constitute justification for impeachment thanks to a reinvigorated push from Republicans.  

Faithless Execution is already getting a boost from Fox News. This morning, after Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano pushed the idea of impeaching Obama over the release of Bowe Bergdhal, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy plugged McCarthy’s book. Napolitano added, “it’s a very, very valid argument that people are going to start talking about.”

Nonetheless, McCarthy concedes in the book, “As things currently stand, the public does not support impeachment — no surprise, given that no substantial argument for impeachment has been attempted.”

Whether or not McCarthy sees any of the other arguments as “substantial,” the prospect of impeaching Obama has been a regular source of discussion for conservatives since shortly after the president took office. McCarthy’s isn’t even the first book to try to lay out the argument in serious fashion — last year WND writer Aaron Klein and co-author Brenda Elliott released Impeachable Offenses: The Case for Removing Barack Obama from Office.

Media Matters looks back at some — but far from all — of conservatives’ incessant calls for impeachment below.

Wasting No Time: Conservatives Were Calling For Impeachment Months Into Obama’s First Term

Less than fifty days after Obama took office, conservative radio host Michael Savage told his audience that the American public was “sitting like a bunch of schmucks, watching a dictatorship emerge in front of their eyes.” According to Savage, Obama was already “out of control” and concluded, “I think it is time to start talking about impeachment.” Conservative media figures have continued talking about impeachment for the intervening five years.

In the fall of 2009, conspiracy website WND — which had already begun hawking “IMPEACH OBAMA!” bumper stickers — asked in a headline whether it was “Time To Whisper The Word ‘Impeachment’?” Conservative activist Floyd Brown and his wife Mary Beth posited in the column that impeachment was a “political act,” and should be considered due to the fact that “Barack Hussein Obama [is] a very dangerous man, and a threat to your personal liberty.” According to the Browns, the ramp up in discussion of impeachment was perhaps “best” explained by radio host and Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce, who eloquently argued, ”Ultimately, it comes down to … the fact that he seems to have, it seems to me, some malevolence toward this country, which is unabated.”

Concurrent with the column, Floyd Brown — who produced the infamous Willie Horton ad in 1988 and takes credit for jumpstarting the Clinton impeachment movement — launched an online petition at “ImpeachObamaCampaign.com.” The site remains active today and is populated with articles bearing headlines like “Obama’s Forged Birth Certificate Brings Call For Revolution.”

The impeachment talk quickly made the jump from fringe activists and websites to mainstream conservative outlets like Fox News and prominent Republican politicians. In 2010, the Obama administration reportedly offered former Democratic Representative Joe Sestak a spot on a presidential panel as incentive to stay out of that year’s U.S. Senate primary in Pennsylvania. Though legal experts asserted that no laws had been broken and historians noted that similar offers were commonplace, conservative media figures loudly and repeatedly started banging the impeachment drum.

Leading the charge was then-Fox News contributor Dick Morris, who suggested that the Sestak situation amounted to “grounds for impeachment.” Soon, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh all also pointed to the Sestak offer as a potential impeachable offense.

While Morris built a career out of saying improbable, outrageous and inaccurate things that should be viewed skeptically, his impeachment talk was nonetheless adopted by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who cited Morris’ claims during appearances on Fox News. (Five months later, the Republicans would win the House and Issa would take over as chairman of the House Oversight Committee.)

Though the Sestak non-scandal fizzled, the impeachment talk didn’t go away. In 2011, Fox Business devoted ten minutes of airtime to hashing out former Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R-CO) twelve reasons to impeach Obama — including immigration reform, the failed Fast and Furious gunrunning operation, and the administration’s support of failed solar company Solyndra, all of which are included in McCarthy’s book.

Obama’s Re-Election Just Means There’s More Time To Impeach Him

After Republican scandal-mongering was unsuccessful in making Obama a one-term president, impeachment talk continued unabated after his re-election. Fox News contributor Todd Starnes wasted no time in getting the ball rolling, telling his Twitter followers the night of the election, “the first order of business should be a full investigation of Benghazi — followed by impeachment proceedings.” He would soon have company.

Roughly a month after Obama’s second term inauguration, Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano wascalling for impeachment over the implementation of the sequester spending cuts. 

Following the Boston Marathon bombings a few months later, Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner penned a column arguing that Obama was “unwilling” to keep Americans safe by refusing “to acknowledge that we are in a war with radical Islam.” Kuhner added, “It’s time he is held responsible for his gross negligence. It’s time that he be impeached. Justice demands no less.” (Kuhner had previously written columns calling for Obama to be impeached over military invention in Libya and raised the idea of impeachment during the fight over health care reform.)

Kuhner wasn’t the only media figure that used the Boston bombings as a springboard for impeachment talk. Glenn Beck told viewers to “demand impeachment” over his bizarre and offensive conspiracy theory trying to link an innocent Saudi man to the bombings. 

WND columnist and right-wing activist Larry Klayman started calling for Obama’s impeachment and conviction well before the 2012 election, but has spent the last year trying to get Obama ousted from office while starting a ”second American Revolution.” Bypassing impeachment, Klayman in October infamously called on the president to “get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.”

Fellow WND columnist Alan Keyes, who holds the historical footnote of being the Republican candidate Obama trounced in his 2004 Illinois Senate run, has spent much of 2014 trying to throw fuel on the impeachment fire. Keyes has devoted numerous columns to directing readers to sign a petition at “pledgetoimpeach.com" to "stop Obama’s dictatorship.” The “Pledge to Impeach” site includes its own draft Articles of Impeachment, featuring claims like, “Mr. Obama has attained the office of president in a verifiably fraudulent and criminal manner, and upon a false identity and false pretenses.”

Obama Should Be Impeached, But He’s Black So He’s Unfairly Safe

While several activists are pushing for impeachment, some prominent conservative media figures say that while Obama may deserve to be impeached, he’s protected from being removed from office due to the fact that he’s the first black president.

McCarthy touches on concerns that pro-impeachment conservatives will be labeled racists in Faithless Execution:

Right now, conviction in the Senate is a pipedream, and therefore one cannot reasonably expect the House to file articles of impeachment. The process of impeachment will always be an ordeal, regardless of how necessary it is. Americans may be convincible regarding the need to oust a lawless president, but they will never be happy about it. Nor should they be. Even the president’s most zealous detractors should prefer that he mend his outlaw ways and finish his term than that the country be put through an impeachment process that would be painful in the best of times. And these are not the best of times: today, the pain would be exacerbated by the vulgar propensity of the left and the media to demagogue concern for the nation’s well-being as racism. Consequently, impeachment entails substantial political risk for the protagonists, even if they are clearly right to seek it. [Faithless Execution, pg 46, emphasis added]

During an appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show in April of this year, TruthRevolt.org founder and conservative activist David Horowitz said that “because Obama is black and because he’s a leftist he’s completely protected by the press.” He added that the president is “a menace to American security, and the sooner — and of course you can’t impeach him because you can’t impeach the first black president.”

Conservative bomb-thrower Ann Coulter has also pointed to Obama’s race as protecting him from impeachment. Discussing health care reform during an appearance on Hannity’s Fox News program in February, Coulter remarked, “there is now a caveat to the constitution — you can’t impeach a president if he is our first black president.” 

Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly cited Obama’s race as a reason he is safe from impeachment. Speaking on his radio show in May 2013, Limbaugh told listeners, “the people of this country — if it came to this — are simply not going to tolerate the first black president being removed from office.” A week later, Limbaugh returned to the subject, saying the “racial component” would save Obama from impeachment.

Earlier this year, Limbaugh concluded that even if there was a “slam dunk legal case for it, you’re never going to succeed impeaching a president unless there’s the political will for it.” Limbaugh cited the need for Obama’s approval ratings to drop precipitously in order for impeachment to be on the table, adding, “even then I’m not so sure that the people of this country would ever support removing the first black president.”

He concluded, “It’s just — it’s never going to happen.”

h/t: Ben Dimiero at MMFA

@mediamattersforamerica

Rush Limbaugh’s transphobia gets a big pushback as a caller to his radio show condemns Limbaugh’s usage of such terms. 

From the 05.29.2014 edition of Premiere Radio Network’s The Rush Limbaugh Show

The Obama outrage engines are revving up at Fox News and across the conservative media landscape as conservatives shift, temporarily at least, from Obamacare and Benghazi and set their sights on the unfolding scandal involving backlog waiting lists at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. The serious allegations that dozens of veterans died while awaiting treatment from Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, and that VA managers there created a secret waiting list to hide how long men and women had to wait to see a doctor, sparked a resignation and Congressional hearings.

The Fox condemnations have been especially loud, and sweeping. And yes, they’ve been mostly directed at the president.

"If only Barack Obama’s team treated our veterans as well as they treat the mega-donors to the Democrat [sic] party," lamented Laura Ingraham on Fox & Friends. For days, a parade of Fox talkers have condemned Obama for the story. One even accused the administration of “criminally negligent homicide.”

The heated right-wing response stands in stark contrast to the muted coverage Fox News provided for the last major controversy involving failed medical care for returning soldiers. In February 2007, the Washington Post, following up on original reporting done by Salonexposed shockingly poor conditions inside the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Those revelations also sparked resignations and Congressional hearings.

But back then, of course, George W. Bush was president and back then Fox News wasn’t as interested in the story. (It took Bill O’Reilly six weeks following the publication of the first Post expose to conclude that the Bush administration had badly bungled veterans care at Walter Reed.) And Fox worried journalists were paying too much attention to the scandal.

Numbers highlight the striking disparity in coverage.

Over a six-week period during early 2007, as the Walter Reed story continued to generate headlines, Fox aired a total of 28 reports and discussions on the topic, according to a search of programs archived by Nexis. By contrast, in just the last seven days Fox has aired more than 30 segments on the VA story. (According to TVEyes.com, “VA” was mentioned more than 250 times on Fox between May 14-20; 100 more mentions than on CNN and MSNBC.)

In 2007, key talkers such as Sean Hannity and Charles Krauthammer were all amazingly silent on Fox, for weeks at a time, about the wounded veterans scandal. During that time, Hannity failed on camera to condemn the deplorable Army hospital environment, or hold the administration accountable. The same lack of interest was shared by Krauthammer: Not once did he discuss Walter Reed on the air during his more than one dozen primetime Fox News appearances in the months of February and March in 2007.

Today? With a Democrat in the White House, both men are in high dudgeon mode over the unfolding VA story:

Krauthammer

"At some point, you’ve gotta ask, ‘Where has he been, and where is the competence, the elementary competence, he promised when he ran in 2008?’"

And Hannity:

Meanwhile, in 2007 Think Progress noted that on March 2, as the veterans scandal escalated, and one day after the secretary of the Army resigned, the story was of little interest at Fox. That day, Fox mentioned “Anna Nicole Smith,” who had generated tabloid headlines when she died three weeks earlier, 121 times. But “Walter Reed” was referenced just ten times on March 2, 2007. By contrast, MSNBC and CNN mentioned the veterans hospital 84 and 53 times on that day, respectively.  

While Fox shied away from the Walter Reed story seven years, it simultaneously wondered if the rest of the news media were paying too much attention to the scandal. During a March 10, 2007 discussion on Fox News Watch, host E.D. Hill noted, “The media first brought the scandal to light. But now, are they also in danger of overdoing it?” She later pressed a guest: “Is all of this just slightly overdone?”

Note that the disturbing Walter Reed story has been unraveling for years. Steve Robinson, director of Veterans Affairs at Veterans for America, had told Salon, “What we are talking about is a systemic problem where soldiers are left unattended in the barracks. They are sharing medications. They are drinking like alcoholics,” and waiting for treatment.

Indeed, Salon’s Mark Benjamin spent years prior to 2007 diligently detailing the troubling and widespread shortcomings for Americans veterans who returned to Walter Reed from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fox’s look-away coverage from Walter Reed mirrored how the conservative press ignored the growing veterans scandal for years. “If the right-wing media had broadcast the story, hidden in plain sight,” Steve Young wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the right’s water-carriers could have helped avert years of misery for many of our veterans.”

More from Young, a U.S. veteran, in March 2007:

But you heard nary a peep of indignation from O’Reilly against the Republican Congress, which, for the last six years, not only stood by and allowed Walter Reed to happen but actually conspired in the abomination.

The one constant in the VA and Walter Reed coverage from Fox has been that in both instances, pundits erroneously suggested the deep flaws in veterans care represented the failings of “government-run" health care. That knee-jerk partisan response was widespread within the conservative media in 2007.

From Rush Limbaugh:

If you want government-run health care, if you want to see what it’s going to be like, take a look at the mess that supposedly exists at Walter Reed and some of these other hospitals. It’s classic.

What’s “classic” is how Fox and friends determine their level of outrage about failed veteran care based on who occupies the White House.

h/t: Eric Boehlert at MMFA

h/t: Caitlin MacNeal at TPM LiveWire

Rush Limbaugh: Pope Francis trying to convince UN to impose Marxism, socialism on world (via Raw Story )

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on Friday attacked Pope Francis as a “Marxist” for urging governments to redistribute wealth to the poor. “The pope, ladies and gentleman, is back, saying — demanding — a legitimate redistribution of wealth…



 

As the latest wave of Benghazi Fever grips the willing Republican Party, and as the far-right media apparatus stokes the fervor, it’s impossible to ignore the similarities between the all-scandal strategy that’s being adopted by critics of Barack Obama, and the  same all-scandal wedge that was used, unsuccessfully, against Bill Clinton, the previous two-term Democratic president.

The Benghazi blueprint matches up right down to the fact that there’s no there there, in terms of a criminal White House cover up.  It “doesn’t add up to much of a scandal,” wrote Michael Hirsh at Politico this week, reviewing the facts of Benghazi to date. “But it’s already too late for the truth. Benghazi has taken on a cultural life of its own on the right.” He added, “Benghazi has become to the 2010s what Vince Foster” was in the 1990s.

Foster was the then-deputy White House counsel who committed suicide in Northern Virginia’s Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993, not far from Washington, D.C. His suicide, which sparked controversy when the so-called Clinton Crazies accused the president and his wife of being part of a plot to murder their friend (he knew too much!), quickly become shorthand for the type of despicable claims that were so casually lobbed in the 1990s.

Looking ahead to Hillary Clinton’s possible 2016 presidential run, Hirsh wrote that the “Benghazi-Industrial Complex is going to be as toxic as anything Hillary has faced since … Vince Foster.”

The analogy is a strong and a factual one. But in trying to understand what’s happening today with the ceaseless, two-year Benghazi propaganda campaign, a blitz that’s utterly lacking in factual support, it’s important to understand how the media game has changed between the Vince Foster era and today. Specifically, it’s important to understand what’s different and more dangerous about the elaborate and irresponsible gotcha games that Republicans now play in concert with the right-wing media. (Hint: The games today get way more coverage.)

Here’s what’s key: Twenty years ago the far-right Foster tale was told mostly from the fringes. Word was spread via emerging online bulletin boards, snail mail pamphlets, faxed newslettersself-published exposes, and VCR tapes, like The Clinton Chronicles, which portrayed the president as a one-man crime syndicate involved in drug-running, prostitution, murder, adultery, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, just to name a few.

At the top of the Foster-feeding pyramid stood the New York Post, Rush Limbaugh’s radio show (“Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton”), and Robert Bartley’s team of writers at the Wall Street Journal editorial page, who spent eight years lost in a dense, Clinton-thick fog.

Notice the hole in that `90s media menu? Television. Specifically, 24-hour television.

Now, fast-forward to the never-ending Benghazi feast of outrage. Today, that far-right tale is amplified via every single conservative media outlet in existence, and is powered by the most-watched 24-hour cable news channel in America. A news channel that long ago threw away any semblance of accountability.

So yes, Fox News is what’s changed between 1994 and 2014, and Fox News is what has elevated Benghazi from a fringe-type “scandal” into the pressing issue adopted by the Republican Party today. (“Benghazi” has been mentioned approximately 1,000 times on Fox since May 1, according to TVeyes.com)

Remember, Rupert Murdoch’s all-news channel didn’t debut in America until October 1996 when it launched with just 17 million subscribers. (Today it boasts 90 millions subs.) And for the first few years it generally delivered a conservative slant on the news. It didn’t function as a hothouse of fabrications the way it does today.

Now, Fox acts as a crucial bridge between the radical and the everyday. Fox gives a voice and a national platform to the same type of deranged, hard-core haters who hounded the new, young Democratic president in the early 1990s. Fox embraces and helps legitimize the kind of conspiratorial talk that flourished back then but mostly on the sidelines. The Murdoch channel has moved derangement into the mainstream of Republican politics.

By making the Foster comparison, I’m not downplaying how Republicans and the president’s dedicated detractors irresponsibly flogged the Foster story for years. It stood as one of the most rancid examples of the politics of personal destruction that defined the Clinton era. (The Foster family begged, to no avail, for an end to the use of “outrageous innuendo and speculation for political ends.”)

But given how vast the right-wing noise machine apparatus has expanded since the 1990s, I’m suggesting that if that same type of event unfolded under the current Democratic president and if Fox News decided to hype the story, regardless of facts, for ten, twenty, or thirty months, the scandal wouldn’t be treated as a fleeting affair. In other words, if Vince Foster truly were the ’90s equivalent of Benghazi, it would have received mountains of more media attention, from all corners.

Fact: During Clinton’s eight years in office, the New York Times published less than 30 news articles and columns that mentioned Foster at least three times, according to Nexis. By comparison, since the terror attack in Libya 20 months ago, the Times has published more than 250 hundred articles and columns that mentioned “Benghazi” three or more times.

That’s what happens when you add the mighty medium of television into the all-scandal mix. That kind of drumbeat of televised phony outrage forces and/or encourage Republican politicians to respond, as well as the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, how do we know Fox would’ve gone all in on the dark Foster story? Because in the mid-`90s Fox chief Roger Ailes, then programming CNBC, told Don Imus that Foster’s death could have been a murder. At the time, Ailes didn’t have the influence or the independence to unleash NBC-owned financial news channel on a reckless Vince Foster witch-hunt. But he certainly would have if he’d been running today’s hyper-partisan, hyper-irresponsible version of Fox News.

Also, even years after the ugly Foster smear campaign faded, Fox talkers like Sean Hannity push the lies:

After suggesting Vince Foster was murdered, Hannity praised caller who accused Clinton of multiple rapes

Discussing Foster, Hannity asked: “Did a close friend of Hillary Clinton commit suicide, or was it a massive coverup?”

Hannity asserted that “Whitewater and the death of Vince Foster” are “chapters remaining open” for Sen. Clinton

In 2007, Fox News host Sean Hannity hosted a special episode on the “mysterious death” of Foster, hinting that the Clintons might have pulled off “a massive cover-up.”

So yes, I’m pretty sure today’s Fox News would have eagerly endorsed the sordid Foster affair, relentlessly demanding that “unanswered questions” be addressed and that sweeping investigations be launched. That in turn, would have forced Republicans into action, which would have sparked endless mainstream news coverage.

That’s what happens when televised propaganda is added to the media scandal mix; the megaphone’s much bigger, much louder, and in many ways much more dangerous.

H/T: Eric Boehlert at MMFA

Rush Limbaugh adopted and promoted the conspiracy theory that Clippers owner Donald Sterling was set up by people looking to purchase his franchise.

On the April 29 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh latched on to a caller’s theory that the recordings of Donald Sterling’s racist remarks had been a set-up in order to take the team from him. After entertaining the theory, Limbaugh fully adopted it, later speculating that whoever “set this up” got rid of the team’s anthem singer:

RUSH: Whoever set this up is really good. They covered every base. They’ve got the media wrapped around their little finger. I mean when you get rid of the anthem singer, I used to be in charge of anthem singers at the Kansas City Royals. When you can get rid of anthem singer, you’ve got power.

Later in the show, Limbaugh expanded his conspiracy theory to speculate that the real reason Sterling told his mistress not to appear in photographs with Magic Johnson was not because Johnson is black, but because he suspected Johnson of trying to take the team and trying to lower the price by exposing Sterling’s comments.

The day before Sterling’s suspension by the NBA, Limbaugh claimed that he was “only in trouble for not giving enough money to Obama.”

Typical Rush. 

h/t: Alexandrea Boghun at MMFA

Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative filmmaker and author charged this January with violating federal campaign finance laws, allegedly said that while he might eventually admit his guilt, he would initially plead innocent because it would give “him a window of opportunity to get his story out there.” Conservative media have been happy to lend him a hand in doing so.

In January, federal prosecutors announced that D’Souza was being charged with filtering excessive campaign donations through straw donors to Republican Wendy Long, a friend of his who lost her 2012 campaign to unseat Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. D’Souza pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to The New York TimesD’Souza’s lawyer is claiming that the conservative pundit is being “targeted…because of his consistently caustic and highly publicized criticism” of President Obama. (The prosecution has called these claims “entirely without merit.”) The Times alsoreports that prosecutors claim to have a recording made by the husband of a woman D’Souza was “involved with romantically” who was “one of the alleged straw donors.” According to the woman, D’Souza said that if he were eventually charged, he might plead not guilty to help “get his story out there”:

Prosecutors also said they had obtained a copy of a recording made surreptitiously last October by the husband of a woman Mr. D’Souza was involved with romantically around the time of the donations, when Mr. D’Souza was separated from his wife. In making the recording, the husband was not acting at the government’s direction, prosecutors said. The woman, Denise Joseph, was one of the alleged straw donors.

Ms. Joseph was recorded as saying that Mr. D’Souza had told her that if he were charged he might plead guilty, but would initially plead not guilty because that “gives him a window of opportunity to get his story out there,” the government said. Ms. Joseph had no comment, her lawyer said.

Conservative media have been crucial in helping D’Souza “get his story out there” — his allies on Fox News, talk radio, and right-wing online outlets have loudly and repeatedly claimed that D’Souza is a victim of persecution because of his political beliefs.

The day after the indictment was announced, Matt Drudge tweeted that the charges against D’Souza and a former Republican Virginia Governor were evidence of Attorney General Eric Holder “unleashing the dogs” on “Obama critics.” Rush Limbaugh saw the case as proof the Justice Department was “trying to criminalize as many Republicans and conservatives as they can.” ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham announced on her radio show, ”we are criminalizing political dissent in the United States of America. Welcome to the Brave New World of retribution justice.”

Conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones, in an alarmed video posted on Youtube with the title “Emergency: Obama Launches Purge,” called the situation “like Nazi Germany.”

Fox News, which has repeatedly hosted D’Souza since the indictment, reacted to the news by claiming ”the left are rediscovering their inner Stalin.” During an interview the week after the charges were announced, Hannity labeled D’Souza “the latest victim to be targeted by the Obama White House.” Fox Nation linked to Drudge’s conspiratorial tweet and a handful of other articles on conservative websites, asking their readers to “Sound Off” on whether there is a “COORDINATED, VAST LEFT-WING CONSPIRACY.”

This conservative media narrative about the case has now become central to D’Souza’s defense. Per the Times, the trial is “about a month away.” 

h/t: Ben Dimiero at MMFA

thepoliticalfreakshow:

It’s been a very bad week for talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, and a very rewarding week for the millions of Americans who have protested his extreme hate speech for decades. Two years ago, newer groups like BoycottRush/FlushRush/StopRush began a massive national boycott movement that is exposing Limbaugh and crushing his career. Here are four new recent developments:

1. Politico published an article revealing that Tea Party organizations (some created by the Koch brothers) have contributed millions to Rush Limbaugh. What does this mean? For Rush it means they helped sustain him while thousands of sponsors pulled their ads. It means this may lead to an investigation to see if the funding was done legally. According to the FCC, if you receive money from an organization that pays you to promote their propaganda, without telling your audience, it may be considered ‘payola’ - and it may be illegal.

Politico:


"The Heritage Foundation at the end of January ended its five-year sponsorship of El Rushbo’s show, for which it had paid more than $2 million in some years and more than $9.5 million overall. In 2012, FreedomWorks paid at least $1.4 million to make him an endorser, though it’s not clear that the sponsorship is ongoing."

2. Forbes Senior Political Contributor and regular on Forbes On Fox, Rick Ungar, believes Rush Limbaugh has become a joke. He also shows, via FrontPageMag.com data, that Limbaugh has outlived his audience. Ungar, also known as Forbes ‘token lefty’ implies Rush is now in the, toss out the old - bring in the new, demographic category. The median age of his dwindling audience (as well as the aforementioned sponsor boycott) no longer appeal to advertisers.

Rick Ungar:


"At long last, it appears that Rush Limbaugh has run out of steam. I have to acknowledge that I have sensed Rush getting by on fumes for some time now (yes, I tune into his show from time to time to enjoy his broadcasting skills if not his message). However, it was only recently that the world of Limbaugh crossed that thin red line from partially serious to total self-parody and audience deception—a line crossed from which there is often no return."


FrontPageMag.com:


"Network television doesn’t just fail to count older viewers; it tries to drive them away. A show with an older viewership is dead air. Advertisers have been pushed by ad agencies into an obsession with associating their product with a youthful brand. The demo rating, 18-49, is the only rating that matters. Viewers younger than that can still pay off. Just ask the CW. Older viewers however are unwanted."


3. Speaking of advertisers, Rush Limbaugh can’t seem to hold on to them, without doling out heavy discounts and/or free ad space. After his notorious on-air verbal attack of then unknown, Sandra Fluke, the national protests was set into motion. Hardworking FlushRush volunteers now monitor The Rush Limbaugh Show nationwide. They document the sponsor ads they hear on his show, into the StopRush Database, along with contact and ad details. The sponsor data is then posted back into the FlushRush private Facebook group, and onto the BoycottRush Facebook page for public use. There have been hundreds of articles written about Rush Limbaugh and the boycotts against him, that have appeared in at least a dozen political online news groups, including Liberals Unite and Daily Kos, and have been viewed by millions. The result? Limbaugh and the radio stations that carry him have lost millions in ad revenue. Very few took the Limbaugh boycott seriously two years ago. It reminds me of the Gandhi quote:

Mahatma Gandhi:


"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

4. And lastly; Ed Schultz interviewed Holland Cook this week. Cook believes Limbaugh’s business is over, for good, due to the various organized boycotts mentioned above. Each does their own part. The protests have been supported by many big and small Liberal organizations, websites, Facebook pages/groups, and Twitter.

Holland Cooke: (via Daily Kos)


"Hundreds of blue-chip national advertisers basically have not only wandered away from Rush Limbaugh and some of the other righties, they’ve abandoned the format entirely. They are afraid to be heard on a news talk station because this man’s use of his free speech triggered the opposing viewpoint exercising THEIR right to free speech. The boycotters are speaking and using the marketplace to say, ‘ENOUGH!’"

Here is an audio clip of the Ed Schultz/Holland Cook interview: youtube

So now, we’re not only hearing from consumers, we are hearing from industry experts on the left and right, many of whom know the business better than anyone and would not risk their reputations on merely gossip. Yes, yes, the public has had enough. Limbaugh’s self-proclaimed ‘Dittoheads’/fans demanded that Limbaugh’s right to free speech also gives him the right to spew misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, and racism on public radio. He’s been getting away with it for over 25 years. After the Sandra Fluke attack, the general public soon realized that neither his radio affiliates, nor the FCC, planned to do anything about his hate speech, so American consumers decided to use their own version of free speech via petitions, boycotts, and their consumer dollars, to bring Limbaugh down by way of his sponsors. It’s reported 3,100 companies have pulled their ads from Limbaugh, and the protestors and boycotters have never been closer to pulling Limbaugh off the air. When he has moved on, this country will be all the better, and the public will prove once again, it can be done. We can eliminate hate speech from the media, if takes one host at a time.

You see, you can toss  Americans some Limbaugh, Fox News, Bush/Cheney, Koch brothers, even some Supreme Court corruption, but when push comes to shove, Americans will stand up, show up, take charge, and demand a return to democracy and common decency. Salute to all the many boycotters and volunteers.

To learn more about the Rush Limbaugh boycott/protests, visit:

BoycottRush Facebook Group
Limbaugh Sponsor/Clear Channel/Cumulus Petition
Join The Fight To Flush Rush Facebook Group
The StopRush Extensive Sponsor Database