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Posts tagged "Todd Starnes"



Fixed Noise commentator Todd Starnes embarrasses this country yet again by slandering President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for the events in Ferguson, Missouri:

thepoliticalfreakshow, mediamattersforamerica, liberalpropagandagroup

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

thepoliticalfreakshow:

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Tony Perkins fancies himself to be a GOP presidential candidate kingmaker, so it will be interesting to see if any not entirely crazy Republicans will join the above careening clown car crowded with the cavalcade of crackpots who failed in 2012, some of whom (Paul, Perry, Santorum) are expected to make a 2016 run. Ted Cruz won last year’s Values Voters Summit presidential straw poll with 42% of the vote, the largest margin ever seen in that poll’s history and light years ahead of runners-up Frothy Mix and Ben Carson, who barely landed in the double digits.

Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes attacked an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees, accusing the Obama administration of being “hell-bent on forcing Christians to assimilate to the militant LGBT agenda.”

On July 21, President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating LGBT employees. The order amends existing non-discrimination executive orders to include sexual orientation and gender identity. As BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner reported, the order “contains no additional religious exemptions … beyond those already contained in existing executive orders.”

Fox’s Starnes attacked the executive order in a July 21 post on FoxNews.com, accusing the Obama administration of endangering religious liberty and “bullying religious groups that hold viewpoints it deems inappropriate”:

The executive order would prevent Christian and other religious organizations with federal contracts from requiring workers to adhere to the tenets of their religious beliefs. And that includes religious Christian colleges and universities that provide financial aid to students.

[…]

"If religious organizations cannot require that their employees conduct themselves in ways consistent with the teachings of their faith - then, essentially, those organizations are unable to operate in accordance with their faith," Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, told me.

[…]

"The mask is coming off of the homosexual movement’s agenda. They really do not believe in religious liberty. They want forced affirmation of homosexual and transgender conduct to trump every other consideration in the workplace - including religious liberty."

[…]

The Obama administration seems hell-bent on forcing Christians to assimilate to the militant LGBT agenda. Resistance is futile.

Starnes’ commentary is typical of the Fox News personality, who’s made a career acting as the network’s mouthpiece for some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT hate groups. The Family Research Council’s (FRC) Sprigg, for example, has called for the exporting of gay people out of the U.S. and endorsed the criminalization of homosexuality. Pastor Robert Jeffress, another critic cited in Starnes’ post, is notorious for his extreme comments about LGBT people and Muslims.

Starnes’ fear-mongering about the executive order’s lack of religious exemptions grossly mischaracterizes the scope of the directive, which merely extends existing non-discrimination protections to include LGBT employees of federal contractors. As the New York Times editorial board recently explained:

This is not a question of religious freedom. It is a question of whether to allow religion to be used as an excuse to discriminate in employment against a particular group of people… [T]he presidential order … would extend those rules to companies that receive federal contracts in states without those kinds of anti-bias laws, protecting millions more people.

Mr. Obama’s resolve is being tested. There is no good reason to give religious employers a special privilege to inflict undeserved pain by, for example, refusing to hire someone to work on a government-backed project just because she happens to be a lesbian, or firing a capable employee who marries someone of the same sex.

h/t: Carlos Maza at MMFA

mediamattersforamerica 

Todd Starnes showed a shocking lack of taste (even for him) when he reacted to the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner with snarky attacks on President Obama. Kudos to Fox’s Greta Van Susteren for calling him out on it.

While most people probably took the news of the airline crash with sorrow and concern, Starnes thought of smearing Obama. Here’s a grab from Starnes’ twitter feed during the hour that the news broke of the crash.

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An hour later, Starnes thought of this:

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But in case you think I only criticize Greta Van Susteren, here’s a big shout out to her for having the gumption to stand up to her own colleague. On In a blog post called, "NOTE TO FNC’s TODD STARNES: THIS IS VERY BAD TASTE, 295 PEOPLE DIED," Van Susteren wrote, “This is not the time to be snarky or have some pathetic attempt at humor. Let me repeat… 295 people died.”

Good for her!

H/T Media Matters




NOTE: I don’t agree with Greta Van Susteren very often; however, in this instance, she is correct to slam her fellow colleague Todd Starnes. 

h/t: Ellen at NewsHounds.us

A Texas charity has abandoned a plan to help house child migrants after conservative media outlets used misleading images to suggest displaced children would be living there in luxury conditions. In fact, the same charity operates other no-frills facilities and had planned to convert a hotel in a similar style.

Conservative media have promoted multiple conspiracy theories connected to the humanitarian migration crisis, including the accusation that President Obama “planned” the recent surge of child migrants across the border for political reasons, that migrant children are infecting Americans with rare diseases, and that Obama is allowing violent gang members to cross the border.

The charity, BCFS Health and Human Services, received a federal contract to house the children at the current site of the Palm Aire Hotel and Suites in Weslaco, Texas. Inan interviewwith local TV station KRGV, BCFS officials said the facility would undergo a renovation to create a dormitory-style atmosphere at the facility.

The plans for the new facility had calledfor 600beds for children between the ages of 12 and 17. BCFS would have taken the children from Border Patrol custody and housed them for an average of 15 days. The group also operatesa facility in Harlingen, Texas, and atemporary facilityat Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Ina press releaseon July 16, BCFS announced that it had withdrawn its plans to develop the Weslaco facility due to “negative backlash caused by information misreported to the public.”

Conservative media have mostly ignored BCFS’ statement that the facility was going to be renovated and have used marketing images of the Palm Aire Hotel to leave the impression that the children would be housed in luxury conditions.

On the July 16 edition of Fox News’The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson described the facility as “living the American dream on the taxpayer’s dime” and highlighted the fact that the resort currently has a pool.

Correspondent William La Jeunesse used his fingers to signify air quotes to describe the “emergency” of the migration situation and suggested the plans for the hotel are a “symbol of bad federal planning.”

In a story headlined "Feds to house illegal immigrants at multimillion-dollar hotel," Fox News reporter Todd Starnes wrote on FoxNews.com that “the Obama administration could soon be housing hundreds of illegal immigrant children at a multimillion-dollar hotel complex in Texas, just a few miles from the Mexican border” and highlighted that “the 7-acre site features three swimming pools, lighted tennis courts, concierge service and a Jacuzzi.” (The text of thearticlehas since been updated and substantially revised.)

Ina tweetpromoting his story, Starnes wrote, “Feds to house illegals at hotel - with poolside cabanas and concierge service,” but at the bottom of his original story on FoxNews.com, he admitted that “the illegals should not expect concierge service at the poolside cabanas. BCFS tells me it will more than likely fill in the swimming pools with dirt.”

The conservativeGateway Punditblogsaid, “The beautiful Palm Aire resort and hotel has an indoor Olympic sized pool and an outdoor pool. Free Wi-Fi and cable TV are included in the simply decorated guest rooms.” The post used images of the hotel’s pools and tennis courts as it described the planned facility as a “resort hotel for illegal alien children.”

The post noted that the $50 million contract for the hotel’s renovation “is not part of the $3.7 billion emergency funding for the illegal alien invasion requested by the Obama administration as the bill hasn’t yet passed but it is a good indication of where the money will go.”

Gateway Pundit’s post was featured at the top of the Drudge Report, which has been pushing anti-immigrant stories for several days now.

Meanwhile, BCFS told KRGV that the interior of the new facility would look similar to the “dorm room” style of its existing facilities.

Google Mapsimagesof the hotel in 2011 show a much more mundane exterior than the luxury facility described by Fox and others.



H/T: Oliver Willis at MMFA

H/T: Miranda Blue at RWW

h/t: http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/persecution-complex-religious-right-s-deceptive-rallying-cry

An anti-gay pundit who used his recent appearance before a House subcommittee to champion “ex-gay” therapy is a repeated Fox News guest who has used his position at the right-wing Liberty Counsel to wage ridiculous attacks on progressives and LGBT equality.

On June 10, Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver testified before a congressional hearing on religious liberty called by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ). During his testimony, Staver condemned laws in California and New Jersey banning the thoroughly discredited practice of “conversion therapy” for gay people. Staver asserted that laws banning the practice constituted “religious discrimination,” accusing “homosexual activists” of trying to squelch the truth about how gay people “can successfully reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions.”

In an exchange with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) during that same hearing, Staver grasped at straws as he attempted to defend anti-gay business discrimination:

That performance was par for the anti-gay course for Staver and his organization. Liberty Counsel - an affiliate of the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University - is a “nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization” that specializes in baseless claims about supposed threats to religious liberty, routinely championing even the most fringe anti-gay causes under the guise of protecting religious freedom.

To Staver, at stake in the battle against LGBT equality is nothing less than the survival of Western civilization. In 2011, he declared that “[w]e are facing the survival of Western values, Western civilization. … One of the most significant threats to our freedom is in the area of sexual anarchy with the agenda of the homosexual movement, the so-called LGBT movement.”

For Staver and Liberty Counsel, defending freedom has entailed taking up the mantle of Scott Lively, the far-right pastor who collaborated closely with drafters of a 2009 Uganda bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality and who claims credit for Russia’s draconian anti-gay “propaganda” law. Last August, Staver assailed a Ugandan LGBT group’s human rights lawsuit against Lively, casting Lively as a “peaceful" man being victimized  by "a George Soros-backed organization."

Back in the U.S., Staver has crusaded against LGBT education in decidedly hyperbolic terms. In October 2013, Staver issued a press release lambasting LGBT History Month for robbing “the innocence of our children” and promoting a “sexualized agenda.” Teaching students that LGBT people exist, Staver wrote, is nothing less than “sexual assault.”

Liberty Counsel’s latest hobbyhorse has been what it depicts as the increasingly hostile climate facing Christians in the U.S. armed forces. In November, the organization posted a video listing a litany of examples of alleged violations of religious liberty in the military; each example was easily debunked

That kind of rabid rhetoric hasn’t stopped Staver from enjoying a friendly relationship with Fox News, where he has 
peddled anti-LGBT bigotry with impunity.

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In a December 2011 appearance on Fox, Staver has mocked a transgender woman as “a man … wearing lipstick” and egged on the fight for Texas textbook standards that touted “Judeo-Christian values” and curtailed referenced to minority faiths. Serial anti-LGBT misinformer and Fox commentator Todd Starnes has also relied on Staver to push groundless, conspiracy-minded attacks on LGBT non-discrimination protections.

Staver has a particularly cozy relationship with Fox host Mike Huckabee. During Huckabee’s unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, Staver served on the former Arkansas governor’s Faith and Family Values Coalition. Their ties didn’t cease with Huckabee’s campaign; the pair traveled to Israel together in 2009, and Staver has appeared on Huckabee’s Fox program and radio show. During an April 2013 appearance on Huckabee’s radio program, Staver attacked California’s “ex-gay” therapy ban as “dangerous”; Huckabee parroted Staver’s talking points and suggested that the ban put youth “at risk” of falling under the sway of “a pro-homosexual counselor.”

While Liberty Counsel and its partner university enjoy considerable stature on the Religious Right, there’s little doubt that Staver’s public profile has been boosted considerably by the reliably friendly treatment he receives from conservative outlets like Fox. That platform has helped Staver to advocate demeaning, damaging anti-LGBT bigotry and pseudoscience - first on the airwaves, and now in the halls of Congress.

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA

mediamattersforamerica

On May 29, Duck Dynasty star turned GOP darling Phil Robertson gave a keynote speech at the Republican Leadership Conference (RLC). His speech, which focused on religion and encouraged Republicans to “get godly,” is the latest milestone in the controversial reality TV star’s meteoric and unexpected rise in national conservative politics.

Robertson’s presence at the RLC perplexed Fox News’ Juan Williams, who questioned why the GOP had embraced a figure who gained national notoriety after making a number of homophobic and racist statements in an interview with GQ. During a May 31 appearance on Fox’s Cashin’ In, Williams asked what Robertson’s rise in conservative politics said about the GOP:

BOLLING: I don’t know, I don’t know Juan, what about it? I think he’s big business, and I think it’s probably good for the GOP. No?

WILLIAMS: No, are you kidding me? What does it say, Eric, that GOP makes a hero out of a guy that says black were happy with slavery and segregation, and gays are to be damned. Is he the chief of outreach for the GOP, or is he the chief of internal self-satisfaction?

But Williams’ own network is at least partly responsible for the GOP’s fawning relationship with Robertson, having worked for months to whitewash his offensive comments and prop up the reality star as a beacon of American Christianity.

Fox’s fascination with the Duck Dynasty family predates Robertson’s GQ interview. But when A&E announced in December that they had placed Robertson on a hiatus over his comments, the network went into damage control mode; Fox’s Sean Hannity described the comments as “old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values,” while Fox reported Todd Starnes claimed Robertson was just reflecting “the teachings of the Bible.” Even Megyn Kelly came to Robertson’s defense, calling him a “Christian guy” and criticizing LGBT activists for trying to “shut down the debate.”

After A&E reinstated Robertson, Fox News snatched the first ’exclusive’ interview with the Robertson family as part of the network’s “All American New Year.” Since then, Fox has continued to whitewash Robertson’s rhetoric by repeatedly depicting him and the Robertson family as besieged Christian heroes.

Fox’s attempt to turn Robertson into a kind of religious martyr is part of the network’s broader effort to depict blatant homophobia as a part of mainstream Christianity. From Robertson to Brendan Eich to the Benham brothers, Fox News has seized on opportunities to depict opponents of LGBT equality as victims of a culture war in which Christians are persecuted because of their views on homosexuality. By whitewashing Robertson’s comments, Fox News has been able to depict his critics as “anti-straight,” anti-Christian bigots, paving the way for his faux-victimization story to evolve into a full on conservative rallying cry.  

Following his speech at the RLC, Robertson appeared on Hannity where he admitted he was “surprised to be chosen to speak at the event. ‘I’m not a political person,’ he said. ‘I guess the GOP may be more desperate than I thought to call somebody like me.’” It was an uncomfortable message on a network that can’t seem to find an anti-gay figure too extreme to champion. 

h/t: Michelle Leung at MMFA

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

‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch Phil Robertson is like John the Baptist, son tells conservative group (via Raw Story )

The son of “Duck Commander” Phil Robertson compared his father to John the Baptist at the Family Research Council’s “Watchmen on the Wall 2014″ event earlier this week. “My dad has the heart and mindset of a prophet and is most compared…



 

Fox News is witnessing the nasty byproducts of its endless campaign to depict extreme, virulent homophobia as a normal part of mainstream Christianity.

It’s long been standard practice at Fox News to conflate anti-gay bigotry with Christianity. Last December, for instance, the network rushed to defend Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson after he compared homosexuality with bestiality and equated gay people with “drunks” and “terrorists,” with Megyn Kelly referring to Robertson as “[t]his Christian guy,” Sean Hannity describing his comments as “old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values,” and Fox News commentator Todd Starnes defending Robertson as upholding “the teachings of the Bible.”

Meanwhile, Fox has repeatedly touted business owners who refuse service to gay couples, taking up their mantle in regular “Fight for Faith” segments. The network has championed some of the country’s most extreme anti-gay hate groups as mainstream Christian organizations. When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to attend he city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade over its ban on LGBT groups, Fox News attacked him as a “religious bigot.” And the network regularly describes even basic legal protections for LGBT people as anti-Christian. 

Now, a new anti-gay controversy has once again provided fodder for Fox to depict extreme anti-gay bigotry as grounded in mainstream Christianity. Earlier this month, HGTV cancelled a forthcoming reality show slated to be hosted by brothers Jason and David Benham. The cancellation came after Right Wing Watch unearthed the brothers’ history of extreme anti-gay and Islamophobic activism, including condemning homosexuality as “demonic" and "destructive.”

Anchor Megyn Kelly responded to HGTV’s move by asserting on the May 8 edition of The Kelly File that while “gay rights are more and more protected in this country,” the same didn’t hold for “Christian beliefs and Christian rights.” 

During the May 16 edition of Kelly’s show, guest host Martha MacCallum invited right-wing radio commentator Dana Loesch and Democratic strategist Jessica Ehrlich to discuss the controversy engulfing the Benham brothers. Perfectly encapsulating the right’s bogus homophobia-as-Christianity narrative, Loesch dubbed Ehrlich an “anti-Christian bigot” for deigning to criticize the brothers’ extreme anti-gay views:

LOESCH: I just don’t understand the anti-Christian bigotry. I mean, I think the world is big enough for us all, don’t you think?

EHRLICH: It is absolutely — what you just said encapsulates my argument completely.

LOESCH: How so?

EHRLICH: There is no anti-Christian bigotry here. They have cloaked their political views in a religious -

(CROSSTALK)

EHRLICH: These are not Christian views… Those are not the views of all Christians, and for you to say that is outrageous.

[…]

LOESCH: So, how does that make them anti-Christian, using your logic, Jessica, using your logic, if they are anti homosexual because they believe in a biblically based -

EHRLICH: Because not all Christians believe -

(CROSSTALK)

LOESCH: You’ll learn more if you keep your mouth shut. Now, Jessica, how is that that they are anti-homosexual but you are not anti-Christian? [emphasis added]

In her rush to accuse Ehrlich of being an anti-Christian bigot, Loesch didn’t bother dwelling on the vehement anti-gay activism of the Benham brothers. David Benham asserted in 2012 that “homosexuality and its agenda” were “attacking the nation,” has compared the fight against LGBT equality to the struggle against Nazi Germany, and has highlighted Leviticus’ prescription of the death penalty for gay sex.  As Ehrlich noted, those aren’t the views of all Christians. A poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute in February found majority support for marriage equality among white mainline Protestants (62 percent), white Catholics (58 percent), and Latino Catholics (56 percent). And even though substantial majorities of evangelicals oppose same-sex marriage, they’re hardy unanimous, with 59 percent of black Protestants and 69 percent of white evangelicals expressing their opposition.

Loesch’s unhinged defense of the Benham brothers is an unsettling illustration of the danger that comes with Fox News’s campaign to depict homophobia as nothing more than mainstream Christianity. It ends up excusing even the most extreme forms of anti-gay bigotry while painting a misleading picture of what most American Christians actually believe.

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA

mediamattersforamerica

Todd Starnes, Fox News’ resident culture warrior, wants to reclaim God for an America of gay pride paraders, hipsters, twerkers, and vegetarians. That, at least, is what he sets out to do in his latest tome, God Less America: Real Stories from the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.

It’s a book that’s been generously promoted on the Fox News commentator’s network. Starnes’ publicity tour has taken him to such programs as Fox & Friends, HannityThe Kelly File, Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, and the radio show of Fox contributor Laura Ingraham.

During his publicity tour for God Less America, Starnes has homed in on a consistent message: religious, specifically Christian, values are under attack, largely thanks to an all-out assault allegedly led by the Obama administration, aided and abetted by LGBT activists and advocates for secularists and adherents to minority faiths. Obama, Starnes asserts, is at the forefront of a conspiracy “to eradicate the Christian faith” from the public square.

But Starnes’ book isn’t really about the state of Christianity in the age of Obama. It’s primarily about Starnes himself, and the cultural resentments that define his worldview. Portraying himself as a down-home Southerner who loves sweet tea (a fact he reminds readers of no fewer than nine times), Duck Dynasty, guns, and his hardline Southern Baptist faith, beneath Starnes’ folksy veneer is a far more venomous culture warrior.

What Starnes repeatedly - if unwittingly - reveals is that he isn’t so much afraid of the impending loss of religious liberty as he is fearful that his exclusionary vision of America no longer holds the sway it once did.

Cultural Chauvinism and Muslim-Baiting

What particularly rouses Starnes’ ire about the state of contemporary America is that it’s led by, as he pointedly notes, “Barack Hussein Obama.” Starnes laments throughout the book that Obama’s America is no longer the one in which in grew up - a country he depicts as more wholesome and unapologetically Christian, when women knew their place and gay people weren’t being as obnoxious with all that equal rights stuff:

I grew up in a much simpler time - when blackberry was a pie and dirty dancing meant somebody forgot to clean out the barn for the square dance. It was a time when father still knew best - when the girls were girls and the men were men. I grew up in a time when a rainbow was a sign of God’s promise, not gay rights.

To Starnes, Obama perfectly symbolizes the fading of that America. For one thing, Starnes not-so-subtly hints that the president has an affinity for Islam - referring to Obama as someone who “professes” to be a Christian, twice assailing him for calling the Muslim call to prayer “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset,” and suggesting that Obama hasn’t secured the release on American pastor detained in Iran because the pastor had left the Islamic faith.

Starnes also lambastes the president for stating that we’re “not just a Christian nation,” but also a nation of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and secularists. A less paranoid observer might view Obama’s remark as an affirmation of the country’s religious diversity, but Starnes can’t help seeing anti-Christian bias. (Starnes writes that it’s “puzzling” that any “follower of Christ” would make such a statement.”) Likewise, restrictions on proselytization in the military aren’t, say, a sensible response to the harassment of non-Christian believers, but part of a “Christian cleansing” executed by the Obama administration. And just as he did in an appearance on Fox’s Hannity to promote the book, Starnes compares officials enforcing the First Amendment’s establishment clause to Adolf Hitler. “Hitler was not a big fan of the Baby Jesus,” Starnes writes in a chapter titled “Nazis, Communists, and the USA.” “Neither were the Communists. And apparently some American employees and schoolteachers share an equal disdain for the little Lord Jesus.” Starnes is just saying.

Anti-LGBT Bigotry

But the bulk of God Less America is devoted to propping up the defining feature of Starnes’ worldview - his acute persecution complex when it comes to LGBT equality. The longest chapter in the book is bluntly titled “Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights,” but several others focus on LGBT topics like Chick-fil-A, Duck Dynasty, and the Kinky Boots performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. All are meant to reinforce the right-wing myth that any progress towards LGBT equality must come at the expense of liberty for Christians. We’re not far from a day, Starnes predicts, when pastors will be “brought up on charges of hate speech against homosexuals.”

Starnes has made his name on Fox News as the network’s mouthpiece for the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT organizations, including hate groups like the American Family Association (AFA) and the Family Research Council (FRC). His close relationship with those groups is evident in his writing: he cites FRC ten times in the book. The FRC even hosted a launch party for the book at its offices, featuring Starnes and Fox correspondent Shannon Bream:

Starnes also cites the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a group working internationally to criminalize homosexuality, another ten times. These groups are relied on to offer commentary on a number of overblown or outright fabricated horror stories Starnes offers about the movement for LGBT equality. 

When he’s not using scare tactics to warn about basic protections for the LGBT community, Starnes’ discussions of LGBT people are marked by stereotypes as stale as the Southern country boy trope with which he hits readers over the head.  Gay men are Dolce & Gabanna-obsessed, body hair-grooming, sissies who can’t appreciate manly men’s men like Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, who notoriously compared homosexuality with bestiality and equated gay people with “drunks” and “terrorists.” According to Starnes, GQ,  the magazine in which Robertson made his infamous remarks, is the kind of publication typically read by “men who prefer body waxing and manicures,” not the Robertsons’ down-home homophobia.

Like Phil, Starnes thinks that the gays could be putting us on a slippery slope to bestiality, writing an entire chapter that envisions a Supreme Court ruling legalizing bestiality by 2025.

Starnes’ transphobia is just as rabid as his homophobia. When discussing transgender people, he misgenders them and suggests - despite all evidence - that transgender people pose public safety dangers if they’re allowed to restrooms that match their gender identities. Such ugly, bigoted remarks make clear that when Starnes complains about how this is no longer the America he grew up in, what he’s really upset about is that it’s an America where long-oppressed groups are beginning to assert their basic rights.

All Grievance, Little Godliness

In his conclusion, Starnes gloomily predicts that “[t]hey” could soon “throw us in jail.” On what grounds? And who are they? It isn’t quite clear. Starnes’ mission is to awaken readers to the danger President Obama and the liberal elite pose to their cherished religious freedoms. All he has to offer, however, are apoplectic condemnations of LGBT equality, religious diversity, and Brooklynites who wear skinny jeans and eat tempeh and take their tea unsweetened. Yet Starnes and his ideological brethren have continued to thrive in Obama’s America - not despite, but because of, a president and a set of ideas they hysterically denounce as grave threats to the American way of life.

Instead of demonstrating how an America that embraces more of its citizens threatens conservatives’ liberties, all Starnes has done instead is illuminate the baseless fear and paranoia that motivate the right wing’s professional culture warriors.

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA