Tea mis-info&Quick facts

Background checks will lead to a gun registry. “The Democrats’ proposed legislation would require universal background checks for private sales between law-abiding citizens, which according to DOJ would be effective only if accompanied by a national gun registry. ” [Sen. Ted Cruz, 4/9/2013] We’re celebrating the New Year by looking at the facts. From what happened in Benghazi to climate change to unemployment insurance to inequality in America, it’s time the facts had their day. America just can’t afford a media that takes lies seriously.

John Whitehouse Twitter: @existentialfish

Myths, Busted

David KirkpatrickConservatives and certain media outlets have spent over a year pushing myths about the 2012 attack on American facilities in Benghazi. A new NY Times report busts those myths: but is anyone on the right even listening? http://mm4a.org/1dS21TQ Related: Jill Abramson, executive editor of the Times, told us that Fox’s attack on a reporter who was on the scene of the Benghazi attack for the NY Times was “ridiculous”: http://mm4a.org/1etlACE

The Phone Hacking Trial

Rebekah BrooksThe phone hacking trial of several News Corp employees in Britain might not be getting constant media attention in the United States, but there have been several significant revelations. Oliver Willis lists 14 things we have learned since the trial began: http://mm4a.org/1dX0GLz

Unemployment Insurance Works

UnemploymentEconomists are clear: unemployment insurance works. Evidence shows that it empowers the long-term unemployed to keep looking for work. At a time when long-term unemployment is at a record high and many benefits that people use to survive have just been cut off, right-wing caricatures about the long-term unemployed have serious real world consequences. http://mm4a.org/1kchwh8

FEATURED VIDEO

Bill NyeWhen conservative climate lies are put up against actual science, science always wins. We put Bill Nye against a Fox host in the latest ‘Science v. Bull$#!%’ http://youtu.be/_DCnNCYr9gs

THEY DON’T GET IT

Women's Choice Fox News had two men attack the legality of the contraception mandate, and yes, they got it all wrong: http://mm4a.org/1cpiVXt

THE WORST OF 2013

Rush LimbaughAnother year, more inane conservative commentary about climate change. Here are the dumbest 13 things said about it in 2013: http://mm4a.org/1l1wNiG

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Paul Krugman Paul Krugman Calls Out The Right For Covering Up Basic Facts About Inequality

By 

Today’s GOP, In Two Numbers

Last week, President Obama laid out a sweeping agenda to combat income inequality, strengthen the middle class, and extend ladders of opportunity to those striving to enter it. He also challenged the GOP to put forward their own ideas instead of just rejecting whatever he proposes. We have yet to see any new ideas from the Republicans but their opposition to the president’s agenda of economic empowerment is still going strong.

Two numbers perfectly illustrate the almost cruel indifference shown by today’s GOP toward the concerns of the millions of Americans who are struggling to get by:

  • 4,831,590: That is the number of low-income Americans who will not receive health coverage through Medicaid simply because Republican governors and legislatures are refusing to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act. Because the expansion is almost entirely paid for by the federal government, states refusing to expand the program will forego billions in tax dollars, even as providers remain on the hook for uncompensated care provided to the uninsured. Texas will lose out on more than $9 BILLION, while Florida is leaving more than $5 BILLION on the table.

real_victims-53

  • 1,300,000: That is the number of unemployed Americans who will immediately lose their benefits come January if Republicans in Congress refuse to extend long-term unemployment benefits, which would be an unprecedented move during a period of persistently high unemployment.  The number who stand to lose their benefits would climb to 3.6 MILLION by the end of 2014. In addition to unnecessarily causing added misery for millions of struggling families, letting the extended benefits lapse would also deal a blow to the economy to the tune of 240,000 lost jobs as well as reduced growth. Over the weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tried to justify the GOP’s intransigence by making the bizarre argument that extended benefits are somehow harmful to the unemployed and do them a “disservice.”

BOTTOM LINE: If Republicans want to appeal to a broader group of Americans, they should stop putting politics ahead of people. The policies Republicans are pursuing will needlessly punish millions of Americans who can least afford it.

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In June, Media Matters released a report showing that business news channel CNBC had cast doubt on science in more than half of its 2013 climate change coverage. [1] As the first analysis of its kind, the report was a wake-up call: by regularly denying climate science, CNBC was falling short of its core mission of providing “fast, accurate, actionable, [and] unbiased” business news to its viewers.

Environmental groups mobilized in response to the findings, collecting 42,000 signatures urging CNBC to improve its climate reporting. [2]

Four months after first sounding the alarm, Media Matters conducted a follow-up study to see if CNBC had adjusted its coverage. [3] Remarkably, we found that climate denial at the network actually increased, rising from 51 percent to 55 percent of climate reporting. Worse, one-third of the segments that did accurately report the science occurred during a limited “special week of climate coverage” on Worldwide Exchange, which airs at 4 AM ET. [4]

Help us let CNBC viewers know that they aren’t getting all the facts.

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Benghazi Lies, Shot Down

Fox News wanted to spend the first anniversary of the attack on Benghazi the way they had spent the prior year: pushing a cacophany of lies and misinformation. But as Ari Rabin-Havt explains, Fox‘s guests actually knew what they were talking about this time and shot down the lies live on air. http://mm4a.org/17qBk7l Related: The complete explainer of every Benghazi lie, from fake concussions to fake emails and everything in between: http://mm4a.org/17VPz2Q

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Jon Stewart On Fox News And Syria

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By  ThinkProgress War Room

10 Crazy Things the Right Did This Week 6/2013

It’s been another week of the insane, inane, and outright offensive. Here’s your top ten:

  1. House Republicans pass plan to deport DREAMers. Just as the Senate is about to consider a bipartisan immigration reform plan, House Republicans, led by virulently anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA), passed a mean-spirited plan to deport DREAMers. Boos filled the chamber as the vote was gaveled.
  2. GOP Senator says we can’t pass immigration reform because of government spying programs. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) used the revelations regarding the NSA’s spying programs as his latest excuse for not passing immigration reform.
  3. Republican-appointed federal judge says blacks and Hispanics are “predisposed to crime.” Judge Edith Jones, a member of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, a circuit overseeing a large number of death penalty cases, made her outrageous comments about minorities during a speech earlier this year. The judge, who has a long history of troubling behavior, added that the death penalty is a public service because it’s the only way an inmate can “make peace with God.”
  4. Congressman loses it on the House floor. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) lost it during a rant on the House floor during which he accused the president of “dishonesty, incompetence, vengefulness and lack of moral compass [that] lead many to suggest that he is not fit to lead.”
  5. Senator suggests porn is to blame for military sexual assaults. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), most recently known for being the chief opponent of immigration reform, suggested that porn is responsible for the epidemic of sexual assault plaguing the military.
  6. Republican governor schedules costly special election to lower Democratic turnout during the general election. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is far head in the polls in his bid for re-election, yet he appears to have scheduled a special election to fill the seat of recently deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to keep Democratic turnout low the day he and Republican state legislators will be on the ballot. The election will cost $12 MILLION or more and is taking place less than a month before the November general election.
  7. Fox Business refuses to run an ad critical of Fox contributors. After a spate of male Fox contributors made disparaging and sexist comments about female breadwinners, the group UltraViolet sought to run an ad on Fox Business critical of their comments. The network refused to air it.
  8. Anti-Obamacare states pass up billions in funds meant to help the poor get health insurance. The red states that are refusing to expand Medicaid under Obamacare are set to lose out on $8 BILLION in funding, which will cause them to leave an additional 3.6 MILLION Americans uninsured simply out of spite.
  9. Wall Street Journal editorial board member says bike share is a “totalitarian” plot. Dorothy Rabinowitz assailed the newly unveiled bike share plan being rolled out in New York City. She complained that the city’s best neighborhoods were being “begrimed” by the bikes put in place by “totalitarian” Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She also described the “bike lobby” as an “all-powerful enterprise.”
  10. Congressional inquisitor-in-chief goes overboard on CNN. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been endlessly pursuing conspiracy theories and alleged Obama administration scandals for years, but he went more overboard than usual this week. During an appearance on CNN, Issa called White House Press Secretary Jay Carney “a paid liar.” Issa’s fellow Republicans reportedly told him to cool it following the incident.

BONUS: A Texas jury acquitted a man for the murder of a woman he hired as an escort, after his lawyers claimed he was authorized to use deadly force because she refused sex.

   http://youtu.be/CMjI2eyOg2Y

The media has recently waged a concerted campaign against disability benefits. Unfortunately, that campaign has been filled with myths and lies. We’ve put together the complete resource debunking all of this hogwash. This is one of those pieces you’re going to want to bookmark and return to: http://mm4a.org/11GzevK

Myths & Facts About Background Checks

This morning, the Senate took one of its most bipartisan major votes in years when senators voted 68-31 to begin debating a package of gun violence prevention measures. Despite being supported by more than 90 percent of all Americans and nearly as many gun-owning Americans, the National Rifle Association’s implacable opposition to common sense solutions has rendered expanded background checks controversial in Congress.

Here’s your ThinkProgress guide to the myths and facts around the policy at the center of the Senate gun violence prevention bill:

MYTH REALITY
Background checks are ineffective and restrictive.Checks “would significantly restrict the rights of law-abiding Americans while doing little or nothing to protect against further gun violence.” [Sen. Mike Lee,4/9/2013] Ninety percent of background checks can be completed in less than two minutes and the Manchin-Toomey proposal would expedite the process. Under the amendment, if a background check at a gun show does not result in a definitive response within 48 hours, the sale may proceed. After four years, the background check would be required to be conducted in 24 hours. Background checks have already contributed to violence reduction. In the 14 states and Washington D.C. that require background checks for private handgun sales (including Toomey’s home state of Pennsylvania): 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners, 17 percent fewer firearms are involved in aggravated assaults, and 48 percent less gun trafficking.
Criminals will avoid background checks. “My problem with background checks is, you’re never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks.” [Wayne LaPierre, 1/30/2013] From 1999 to 2009, 1.8 million people were blocked from purchasing guns after failing a background check because they had criminal records or suffered from mental illness. In fact, Seung Hui Cho, the shooter at Virginia Tech and Jared Loughner, who targeted Gabby Giffords, both obtained their guns legally and slipped through the cracksof the existing background check system. The Manchin-Toomey bill addresses this by encouraging states to provide their available records into the federal database and directing future grant money towards creating systems to send records into the database. The bill will also reduce federal funds to states that do not comply.

Federally licensed gun dealers have conducted background checks for more than 40 years without ever creating a national gun registry, which federal lawspecifically prohibits. Under this agreement, federal dealers would conduct screenings for private sellers and keep the record; the federal government would not. When a gun is recovered at a violent crime, law enforcement can use the records to track down the perpetrator. All information identifying the buyer generated by the background check would be destroyed by law enforcement within 24 hours. The Manchin-Toomey amendment explicitly bans the federal government from creating a registry in three different places and treats the misuse of records for the pursue of creating a registry as a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. From the legislative language:

And:

Background checks wouldn’t have prevented Newtown.“The reality is, when you look at the tragedy of Newtown, nothing that’s been proposed would have any effect on that at all.” [Sen. John Boozman,4/10/2013] As Toomey admitted during a press conference announcing the measure, background checks will not prevent every gun crime, but they can keep hundreds of thousands of people who shouldn’t have weapons from obtaining them. For instance, it’s estimated that 62 percent of private gun sellers on the Internet and 63 percent of private sellers at gun shows have agreed to sell a firearm to buyers who said they probably couldn’t pass a background check. More than 6.6 million gun sales were transferred in 2012 without a criminal background check and a survey of prisoners who committed crimes with handguns found nearly 80 percent of them acquired their firearm from a person who was not a licensed dealer.
Obama isn’t prosecuting people who fail background checks. “[T]he Obama Administration has failed to make this a priority — in 2010, out of more than 15,700 fugitives and felons who tried to illegally purchase a firearm, the Obama Justice Department prosecuted only 44.” [Sen. Ted Cruz,3/28/2013] Federal firearm prosecutions has remained steady, varying by no more than 5 percent each year, data from the Department of Justice reveals. Republicans and the NRA specifically cherry pick prosecutions for background checks to imply that the Obama administration has stopped enforcing existing law, though it has gone after gun-related crimes at the same rate as its predecessors.Law enforcement officials often see these cases as a poor use of resources because prosecutors must prove that “the person knew they were lying when they tried to purchase the firearm” in order to secure a conviction which “usually carries a maximum sentence of just six months.”
Obama isn’t enforcing the laws on the books. “It’s not about new gun laws; it’s about enforcing the ones we have.” [Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), 4/4/2013] The laws on the books are inadequate. Criminals and mentally ill individuals can buy guns at gun shows or online and many who go through a federally licensed dealer often slip through the cracks because states are not putting records into the NICS system. In fact, following the Newtown tragedy, the NRA successfully attached riders to the resolution funding the government through September that limited enforcement tools against crooked dealers and interfered with ATF gun trace reports. That’s why the Manchin-Toomey bill expands checks and improves the existing system.
Background checks are an invasion of privacy. “You just worry that you’re going to see searches of the databases and an expansion for purposes that were not intended when the information was collected.” [ACLU, 4/4/2013] Federally licensed gun dealers have successfully performed millions of background checks without violating personal privacy and Americans disclose personal information to the DMV or the IRS and their data is successfully walled off from nefarious uses.

Myths about Medicaid

Get The Facts On The DREAM Act

Find More Information About the Affordable Care Act | The White House

Get the Facts Straight on Health Reform | The White House

Myths and Facts About the Debt-Ceiling Compromise | The White House

Alternet reports the 12 Unbelievably Awful Things Fox News Did This Year

By Mark Howard, AlterNet

Fox was clearly operating at the top of its capacity to distort and deceive. READ MORE

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8 Huge Corporate Handouts in the Fiscal Cliff Bill

By Matt Stoller, Naked Capitalism

Here are the corporate subsidies in the fiscal cliff bill that you may not know about. READ MORE»

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12 Biggest Right-Wing Lies About America

By RJ Eskow, Blog for Our Future

These political fallacies are giving America a false vision of our economy and world. READ MORE»

Here are three big stories from ThinkProgress you might have missed:

1. Alyssa’s take on The Shootings at ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ in Colorado

2. A Guide To Consumer Brands Helping Bankroll Right-Wing Attack Ads

3. 20 Prominent Republicans Who Want Romney To Release More Tax Returns Right Now

Best,

Igor Volsky Deputy Editor, ThinkProgress

2012 … media matters for america

Myths And Facts About Natural Gas Natural gas can help the U.S. transition away from reliance on coal in the near-term if it is produced responsibly. But conservative media have dismissed the risks involved with the rapid spread of natural gas extraction to push for deregulation, attack the Obama administration, and ignore the need for a comprehensive energy policy to transition to renewable energy. Read More

Rove Touts His Super PAC’s Record While Fact-Checkers Disagree In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Fox News contributor Karl Rove touted the campaign ads issued by his Crossroads GPS super PAC, claiming they are “highlighting the shortcomings” of President Obama’s policies. But Rove groups have a history of issuing ads and statements that have been deemed dishonest or outright false by independent fact checkers. Read More

REPORT: Fox Obsesses Over Obama “Doing Fine” Comment While Whitewashing Romney Attack On Public Workers
Fox News discussed President Barack Obama’s recent comment that the “private sector is doing fine” almost four times as often as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s suggestion that we don’t need “more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.” Similarly, the network ran video of Obama’s comment nearly seven times more often than video of Romney’s attack on public workers. Read More

Right-Wing Bloggers Falsely Suggest Immigration Policy Change Is Lawless
The Obama administration has announced that it will allow some young undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States. In response, right-wing bloggers are falsely suggesting that this policy change is evidence that President Obama is “putting politics above national security and the rule of law” and “acting like a king.” In fact, the change is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion that is consistent with the current law and has decades of precedent. Read More

Immigration Policy Change Spurs Bogus Cries Of “Amnesty” From Conservative Media
Right-wing media have attacked the Obama administration’s policy change allowing some young undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States as “amnesty.” In fact, the policy change is not amnesty, a term shown to produce negative reactions, but deferred action that only lasts for up to two years, subject to renewal. Read More

More FOX misinformation

New York Daily News: Stalwart Defender Of NYPD’s Most Controversial Policies Despite serious legal questions surrounding the New York Police Department‘s stop-and-frisk policy and Muslim surveillance program, the editorial board of the New York Daily News has been an unquestioning defender of the NYPD. Read More

Bill O’Reilly Lobbies For Legislation That Would Weaken Women’s Rights  Fox NewsBill O’Reilly advocated for a bill that undermines women’s health and reproductive rights under the guise of preventing sex-selective abortions, threatening to shame the bill’s opponents as “in sync” with China’s one-child policy. However, the bill in question has been criticized by doctors, civil rights and women’s groups as unconstitutional, an invasion of the doctor-patient relationship, and ineffective in preventing sex-selective abortions. Read More

New Stimulus Report, Same Bogus Cost-Per-Job Analysis From Right-Wing Media Right-wing media are using a new report from the Congressional Budget Office to claim that the stimulus “may have cost as much as $4.1 million per job.” However, simply dividing the amount of money spent by the number of jobs created is, according to an Associated Press fact check, “highly misleading,” and economist Paul Krugman has called this math “bogus.” Conservative media regularly use similar calculations to attack jobs initiatives. Read More

Conservative Pundit Obscures Romney’s Jobs Record By Citing MA Unemployment Rate Conservative pundit Jim Geraghty is deflecting attention from Mitt Romney‘s weak job creation record as governor of Massachusetts, pointing to overall unemployment trends at the time. But that statistic, which one economist has argued is a “false indicator,” doesn’t change the fact that during Romney’s tenure, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of all states in job creation. Read More

NANCY Pelosi – democracticleader.gov

Fact Check

Media Matters for America
 Conservative Media Attempts To Disprove The Wage Inequality Between Men And Women Fall Flat As Democrats push for the Paycheck Fairness Act to address wage inequality between men and women, conservative media figures have claimed that there is no real wage inequality because men work more hours than women and thus earn more. But studies have shown that an earnings discrepancy between men and women persists, even when accounting for a variety of factors, including hours worked. Read MoreNo Matter How Right-Wing Media Spin It, Millions Would Feel “Sharp Effects” Of GOP Budget Right-wing media have responded to criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan’s GOP budget plan by trying to reframe the plan as not actually calling for spending “cuts,” but that it simply limits the rate of an increase in spending. But experts agree that Ryan’s plan would indeed reduce funding to programs that assist millions of low- and middle-income Americans; as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has noted, Ryan’s plan includes reductions in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding that alone would “necessitate ending assistance for millions of low-income families.” Read More“Not A Fit Person” To Lead: Rupert Murdoch’s Indifference To Unethical Behavior Infects Fox News A British government panel investigating the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal has released a report concluding that Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person” to lead a major company, citing his “willful blindness” to unethical behavior. At Fox News, which is a division of News Corp., this indifference has consistently manifested itself as an absence of journalistic ethics. Read MoreRight-Wing Media Mock WH Adviser For Accurately Portraying Obesity As A National Security Threat Right-wing media are attacking Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and senior policy adviser on healthy food initiatives, for calling rising obesity rates a national security threat. But military experts have noted that high obesity rates threaten military enrollment and readiness. Read MoreFox News Misrepresents EPA Climate Rule Fox News reporter Doug McKelway falsely reported that EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas rule requires coal plants to install carbon capture and storage technology and could shut down up to 25 percent of coal-fired power. In fact, the rule applies only to future coal plants, which few companies planned to build anyway due to competition from natural gas. Read MoreRight-Wing Media Attempt To Deflect Attention From Obama’s Pro-Marriage Equality Stand After President Obama’s historic announcement that he is in favor of marriage equality, many in the right-wing media are refusing to debate the substance of same-sex marriage. Instead, they are casting about for ways to attack Obama’s position on marriage that ignore the actual debate. Read MoreFox’s Bolling Is Oblivious To Positive Changes In Economy Under Obama Fox’s Eric Bolling said that “there isn’t one” economic metric that has improved since President Obama took office. In fact, the economy stopped shrinking and started growing since Obama’s inauguration, private-sector jobs and exports have increased, and employment turned from sharp declines to growth. Read MoreWhat Buffett Really Said About The Buffett Rule Right-wing media claimed that Warren Buffett “blast[ed]” the Buffett rule and that he “isn’t totally in favor” of it, citing a CNBC interview in which Buffett said the rule is a “small improvement” that “doesn’t cure all revenue problems.” But during that interview, Buffett said that he’s “fine” with the rule as introduced by Senate Democrats and that it “encompasses the principles that I believe in.” Read MoreBlack Helicopters Alert: Morris Warns Obama Is Pushing For “One World Government” Fox News contributor Dick Morris told Sean Hannity that “one world government” is “happening.” His evidence consists of false statements about a series of treaties, some of which enjoy bipartisan support, are important for U.S. national security, and protect children from exploitation. Read MoreBetsy McCaughey: “I Call [Obama] The Pond Scum President” Because Of Alternative Energy InvestmentRosen Uproar Is A Distraction From Policies That Hurt Women’s Economic Opportunities

CNN’s Dana Loesch Decries “War On Women” As Guest Attacks Michelle Obama: “Why Doesn’t She Wear Anything That Fits?”

Fox Cries “Class Warfare” To Defend Rich From Buffett Rule

Fox Spreads Romney’s Dubious Talking Point On Women’s Job Losses

Myths And Facts About Oil And Gasoline

UPDATED: National Review Drops Writer For Speaking At “White Supremacist” Conference

Experts Reject Study From Koch-Backed Center Claiming Health Care Law Will Increase Deficit

DISCONNECTED: Charting The Charlotte Observer‘s Failure To Cover The Fight For Internet Access In North

Facts Bust Media Narrative That Obama Favored Health Care Over Economy 4/19/2012

Myths And Facts About Oil And GasolineBoth mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.

.Kathleen Parker Wildly Distorts Charitable Giving Of Obama, Romney

Right-Wing Media Have Been Beating The Drums Of “Class Warfare” For Years

STUDY: The Press And The Pipeline

On WND, Frequent Fox Guest Geller Says Obama “Sounds Like … Kim Jong-Il Or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad”

Fox Promotes Dubious Claim That 900 Deceased People Voted In SCOn WND, Frequent Fox Guest Geller Says Obama “Sounds Like … Kim Jong-Il Or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad”

“We’re All On Board If Mitt’s It”: Fox Growing More Open About Its GOP Advocacy

Mark Levin Hoax Caller’s “Death Panel” Lie Sets Off Right-Wing Echo Chamber

On Fox, Gary Bauer Reverses Public’s Support For Gay Marriage 

Right-Wing Media Freak Out Over New Defense Strategy
Following the Obama administration’s announcement of an overhauled defense strategy that will guide cuts in defense spending, the right-wing media have claimed President Obama is “weakening national security” and marking a “new milestone” in “America’s strategic retreat.” But experts have said that the proposed plan is fiscally responsible while remaining “the world’s most dominant military.” Read More

Media Matters for America …Fox Attacks Obama Over Routinely Used Practice Of Executive Orders

Media Matters for America … Closes out 2011

MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA

News Flash! Fox News Climate Denial Dominates Cable News   http://climateshiftproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/FeldmanStudy.pdf

The Solyndra Witch Hunt

http://thinkprogress.org/green/2011/11/18/371778/criticism-of-solyndra-witch-hunt-increases/

The GOP’s Oath To The One Percent

By ThinkProgress War Room on Nov 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm

One Oath to Rule Them All

You’d think the oath that mattered most to our elected leaders would be this one:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

Republicans, however, seem to be in thrall to an entirely different oath:

I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

That is the oath to Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist that almost every single Republican member of Congress and every single Republican presidential contender (except Jon Huntsman) has taken.

Why does it matter?

Let’s take the example of the super committee. Here’s Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), one of the Democrats who served on the committee, explaining how Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist was the “13th member” of the super committee and how his so-called “taxpayer protection pledge” solidified the GOP’s continued unwillingness to make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share:

Kerry: “But unfortunately, this thing about the Bush tax cuts and the pledge to Grover Norquist keeps coming up. Grover Norquist has been the 13th member of this committee without being there. I can’t tell you how many times we hear about ‘the pledge, the pledge.’ Well all of us took a pledge to uphold the Constitution and to full and faithfully and well-execute our duties and I think that requires us to try and reach an agreement.”

And, as Grover Norquist proudly told 60 Minutes this past Sunday, no Republican has voted for an increase in individual income tax rates since 1990 — 21 years ago.

What It Means: An Oath Of, By, and For the 1 Percent

The GOP’s oath to Grover Norquist has serious practical consequences — consequences that are bad for our country. Here’s just a few examples of what Republicans oppose en masse as a result of the oath they apparently hold most dear:

  • Republicans oppose making the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share
  • Republicans oppose making huge corporations pay their fair share (or even any taxes at all in some cases)
  • Republicans oppose ending unfair tax loopholes that allow millionaires and billionaires to pay a lower tax rate than middle class Americans
  • Republicans oppose ending unfair handouts to hedge fund billionaires
  • Republicans oppose ending tens of billions of dollars in handouts to Big Oil
  • Republicans oppose ending unfair tax loopholes that pay companies to ship jobs overseas
  • Republicans oppose ending unfair tax loopholes for vacation homes and yachts
  • Republicans oppose ending unfair and ridiculous tax loopholes for things like wealthy horse breeders or corporate jets

And in these deficit-obsessed times, we know that unfair government handouts to millionaires, oil companies, and giant corporations have to be made up by cutting spending elsewhere in the budget. So refusing to make everyone pay their fair share means programs that benefit the other 99 Percent each and every day get cut deeper as a result of the taxpayer-funded handouts going to the top 1 Percent.

IN ONE SENTENCE: The only oath our elected leaders should take is to the Constitution, not one to a Republican lobbyist who embodies an unfair system rigged to benefit the top 1 Percent.

Evening Brief: Important Stories You May Have Missed

The economics of turkey.

The curious résumé of top Cain campaign aide Jamie Brazil.

Thanks, but no Thanksgiving.

“War” was among the most common words mentioned in last night’s GOP foreign policy debate.

Joe Romm notes the new round of leaked “Climategate” e-mails are two years old — oh, and they won’t stop global warming.

Dimi Reider points to an Israeli columnist’s screed against the government — just before a new law is expected to curb free expression by allowing intimidation of journalists.

Social conservatives hold a covert meeting in Iowa to figure out how to stop Romney.

Republican labor board member threatens to resign to stop new union election rules.

During the debate, Bachmann was misleading in her answer about the threat to Pakistan’s nuclear facilities.

***Happy Thanksgiving — The Progress Report will return on Monday.***

Other recent Progress Reports

Nov 22, 2011: MUST WATCH: Shocking Mitt Romney Footage

(Mitts)Truth in Advertising Here’s a new “ad” ThinkProgress released today: That’s right, you heard Mitt Romney say: “We should just raise everybody’s taxes!” “There’s nothing unique about the United States.” “Government knows better than a free people how to guide an economy.” “Fiscal responsibility is heartless and immoral.” “Let us just raise your taxes some [...]

Nov 21, 2011: GOP Derails Super Committee To Protect Millionaires & Billionaires

The fiscal super committee created by last summer’s deal to raise the debt ceiling was charged with crafting a $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package by Thanksgiving. However, moments ago, the committee’s co-chairs issued a statement officially conceding that “it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s [...]

Nov 18, 2011: Vander Plaats 101: Meet The Anti-Gay Zealot Hosting A 2012 Forum Tomorrow

Who is Bob Vander Plaats & Why Does It Matter? Earlier this year, we introduced you to the FAMiLY LEADER, the extreme anti-gay group in Iowa, and its leader, Bob Vander Plaats. Tomorrow, Vander Plaats is hosting a “Thanksgiving Family Forum” for presidential candidates. If history is any guide, this event promises to be a [...]

Nov 17, 2011: The 99% Day of Action in Photos

Fox Gives Platform To Serial Fearmonger And Conspiracy Theorist Joseph Farah
Sean Hannity hosted WorldNetDaily (WND) founder Joseph Farah on his Fox News show to discuss whether the allegations against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain are valid “from a journalistic perspective.” Yet Farah has a long history of outrageous statements, smears, and conspiracy theories. Read More

Daily Caller Practices Art Of Climate Distraction
In a Daily Caller post, climate change skeptic Anthony Watts used familiar tactics to downplay human-induced climate change: He focused on national rather than global temperature data; he looked at a short time period rather than the long-term trend; and he portrayed routine data adjustments as deceptive doctoring by government agencies.

Andrea Tantaros: Herman Cain’s Very Own Fox News Crisis Consultant
Since sexual harassment allegations against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain emerged, Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros has been one of Cain’s most vocal defenders. Tantaros has a background in crisis communications, and as recently as May 2011, she was vice president at Sloane & Co., which specializes in “crisis and litigation support.”

The Fake “War On Christmas” Campaign Begins
This week, the right-wing media began its annual fake “War on Christmas” campaign, freaking out about a bogus Obama “Christmas tree tax.” Here’s what to expect from right-wing media during the next six weeks.

A Wave Of Inaccurate Reporting Follows GOP’s Latest Solyndra Release
Reporting on emails selectively released by House Republicans, numerous media outlets falsely claimed the documents show Obama donor George Kaiser — whose family foundation invested in Solyndra – discussing Solyndra’s federal loan with the White House, with Fox going even further to claim “quid pro quo.” In fact, the emails occurred after Solyndra had already received the loan guarantee and do not indicate that Kaiser discussed the loan with the White House.

Carlson Needs To “Look At The Facts” On Taxes, Income Of The Wealthy
On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson worried that people will believe President Obama’smessage that the wealthy aren’t paying their “fair share” “unless they look at the facts.” But the facts show that taxes on the wealthy are at their lowest level — with one exception — since 1931, while the income of top earners is at a record high.

Can’t Handle The Truth: Limbaugh Insults Caller For Being Right On Economy
Rush Limbaugh referred to a caller as a “tool” and a “mind-numbed robot” after the caller accurately stated facts about President Obama’s jobs bill and the economic recovery. Limbaugh also drastically overstated the level of infrastructure spending in the original stimulus legislation.

Source:Media Matters for AmericaCarlson Needs To “Look At The Facts” On Taxes, Income Of The Wealthy

http://mediamatters.org/research/201111070006
On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson worried that people will believe President Obama’s message that the wealthy aren’t paying their “fair share” “unless they look at the facts.” But the facts show that taxes on the wealthy are at their lowest level — with one exception — since 1931, while the income of top earners is at a record high.
Carlson ClaimsPeople Need To “Look At The Facts” On Top Earners’ Share Of Taxes

Carlson Worries That People Will BelieveWealthy Aren’t Paying Their “Fair Share” “Unless They Look At The Facts.”On the November 7 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, the co-hostsdiscussed the relationship between House SpeakerJohn Boehner (R-OH) and Obama followingBoehner’s recent comments on income taxes on the wealthy. Co-host GretchenCarlson said that she thinks the Obama administration’s message that “[p]eopleneed to pay their fair share” is “sticking with people who maybe are notwatching the news cycle 24/7.” Carlson then said that “after a while, that[message] sticks in their mind unless they look at the facts.” From the broadcast:

STEVEDOOCY (co-host): Yesterday on one of the chat shows this week, the speaker saidthat their relationship has become frosty. And also the speaker himself wasquite specific, with the president saying, you know, this class warfare stuffyou’re pulling? That’s got to stop. Listen to this.

BOEHNER: Come on, the top 1 percent pay 38 percent of the income taxes inAmerica. How much more do you want them to pay? I’ll tell you, well, let’s takeall the money that the rich have, all of it. It won’t even put a dent in our current budget deficit much less ourdebt.

CARLSON:Keep in mind, back then, that was June 23, when they had that golf summit.Remember, we were in that debt discussion crisis, and so both parties werereally trying to come together to find a solution. So it was emblematic to seethat imagery of the two of them together, and we all know how that ended up.

But the other thing is, you know, John Boehnertalks about the fact that the top 1 percent already pays most of the taxes inthis country. But I got to tell you, guys, as I go around in communities, Ithink that the catchphrase that the Obama administration is putting out: fair share. People need to pay their fair share.I hear that, and I think to a certain extent,some of that language is sticking with people who maybe are not watching thenews cycle 24/7, and they hear, hey, peopleshould pay their fair share, and after a while, that sticks in their mindunless they look at the facts. [Fox News, Fox & Friends,11/7/11]

But Taxes OnTop Earners Are At Historic Lows …

Bloomberg Businessweek: “ExceptFor A Period From 1988 To 1992, The Top Tax Rate Has Never Been This Low Since1931.” A December 15, 2010, Bloomberg Businessweek articlestated that Congress’ pending renewal of the Bush tax cuts would create”an environment in which their tax rates on income and investments remainat historic lows.” From the article:

Abonanza of new and extended tax benefits could make it as easy as ever for therich to stay that way.

Underlegislation approved by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Dec. 15, and now movingon to the House, savvy wealthy Americans would be able to capitalize on anenvironment in which their tax rates on income and investments remain athistoric lows. Also, new rules would make it possible to pass on fortunes toheirs with less fuss and lower taxes than all but a brief period of the past 80years. It’s a far cry from the 70 percent bite the federal government took outof the largest incomes and estates as recently as 1980.

“Theclimate we’ll have after this legislation is extremely favorable for wealthyfamilies,” says Jeffrey Cooper, a professor at Quinnipiac UniversitySchool of Law and a former estate planner who has studied the history of U.S.tax law.

[...]

Thegood news for the rich starts with income tax rates, which for top incomegroups would remain 35 percent , a rate enacted by former President George W.Bush in 2003. Except for a period from 1988 to 1992, the top tax rate has neverbeen this low since 1931.

“Toprates are incredibly low from a historical perspective,” says IndianaUniversity law professor Ajay Mehrotra. The most surprising thing, he says, isthat rates have remained at this level even as the U.S. has been fighting twowars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Historically, income taxes on the wealthy havespiked during wartime: The first income tax was initiated during the Civil Warand then later repealed. The top rate on income hit 77 percent in 1918, duringWorld War I, and 94 percent from 1944 to 1945, during World War II. [BloombergBusinessweek, 12/15/10]

CBPP: “The Effective Federal IncomeTax Rate For The 400 Taxpayers With The Very Highest Incomes Has Declined ByNearly Half Over The Past Two Decades.” A February23, 2010, report by the Center on Budgetand Policy Priorities (CBPP) found:

Theeffective federal income tax rate for the 400 taxpayers with the very highestincomes has declined by nearly half over the past two decades, even as theirpre-tax incomes have grown five times larger, new IRS data show.

Thetop 400 households paid 16.6 percent of their income in federal individualincome taxes in 2007, down from 30 percent in 1995. This decline works out to atax cut of $46 million per filer in 2007, or a total of $18 billion in tax cutsfor these households per year.

Tomake it into the top 400, a household needed an adjusted gross income of atleast $35 million in 1992 (in 2007 dollars) and $139 million in 2007.

Thedecline in effective tax rates at the very top is due in large part to thecapital gains tax cuts enacted in 1997 and 2003. The top marginal tax rate oncapital gains is now 15 percent, less than half the top tax rate on wages andsalaries. The top 400 taxpayers derived two-thirds of their income from capitalgains and qualified dividends in 2007.

The report included the following chart,showing federal income tax rates for millionaire households as well as the top400 households:

[CBPP, 2/23/10]

CBPP: “Typical Middle-Class HouseholdsFace Higher Tax Rates Than Some High-Income Households.” A September 20post on the CBPP blog, Off the Charts, showed that households with an annual income ofover $1 million that earn over two-thirds oftheir income from investment paid a lower tax rate in 2011 than most middle-income families:

[CBPP, Offthe Charts, 9/20/11]

… WhileIncome Of Wealthiest Is At Record Highs

CEPR Report Shows Income Of Top 1 PercentIncreased 256 Percent From 1979-2006, While Lowest Quintile Saw Incomes Rise 11Percent. From a December 2010 report released by the Center for Economicand Policy Research (CEPR):

[CEPR, December 2010]

Vanity Fair: “Upper 1Percent” Take In “Nearly A Quarter Of The Nation’s Income” AsCompared To “12 Percent” 25 Years Ago. From a May 2011 VanityFair article by Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz:

It’sno use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. Theupper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’sincome every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percentcontrol 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-fiveyears ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. Oneresponse might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought goodfortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats.That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen theirincomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle haveactually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, thedecline has been precipitous — 12 percent in the last quarter-century alone.All the growth in recent decades — and more — has gone to those at the top.In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old,ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closestcounterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the oldcenters of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving inrecent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reducegaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow. [Vanity Fair, May 2011, emphasisadded]

Huffington Post: “For 2007… The Top One Percent Of Earners … Enjoyed A 6.8 Percent Growth” InIncome, “Versus The 3.7 Percent Average” In The U.S. In a March2010 article titled, “Number of U.S. Millionaires Soared In 2009: SpectremGroup,” The Huffington Post wrote:

Ofcourse, household incomes have been growing unevenly for years — even duringtimes of seeming prosperity. For 2007, the year for which the most recent datais available, the top one percent of earners — those with incomes of at least$398,000 per year — enjoyed a 6.8 percent growth (versus the 3.7 percentaverage), boosting their share of the country’s total income to 23.5 percent.[The Huffington Post, 3/9/10]

Fox Has AHistory Of Defending The Wealthiest, Claiming Taxes On Wealthy Are Too High

Doocy Called For Higher Taxes On TheMiddle Class: “The Progressive Income Tax Has Not Been So Fair.” During theAugust 3 broadcast of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts said that “almosthalf of this country pays no income tax,”and Doocy went on to say: “[S]o when the president of the United States sayseverybody’s got to chip in, is he talking about all those people who don’t paytaxes currently? … Going forward, if we’re going to make things fairer, arepeople who currently don’t pay taxes, will they have to pay something?” [FoxNews, Fox & Friends, 8/3/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Has Repeatedly Called Tax IncreasesOn The Wealthy “Class Warfare” But Have Approved Of Plans That Would RaiseTaxes On The Poor. Fox figures have repeatedly called any proposals toincrease taxes on the wealthy “class warfare,” but they have also hyped HermanCain’s 9-9-9 plan, which would raise taxes on poor and middle-income families.[Media Matters, 10/6/11]

Fox Hyped WSJ Claim That Number Of”Millionaires” Is Declining. During the August 18 broadcast of Fox &Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney hyped a Wall Street Journal editorialclaiming that the “number of millionaires” “was drastically cut between 2007and 2009.”
In Fact, WSJ Editorial Used Flawed”Narrower Measure” Of Worth, And Many Other Reports Showed The Opposite IsTrue. Experts told Media Matters that the Journal editorialused a “narrower measure of worth” to back itsclaim, and a large number of reports showed that as measured in total assets,the number of millionaires has been increasing over the past several years. [MediaMatters, 8/18/11]

Fox Attacked Warren Buffett Following Obama’s Proposal Of “Buffett Rule.”Fox figures jumped to attack billionaire investor Warren Buffett following his NewYork Times op-ed in which Buffett urged Congress to “immediately” raiserates on “income in excess of $1 million.” [Media Matters, 9/20/11]

Fox ClaimedIncome Made From Capital Gains Is Not Income. In several Septemberbroadcasts, Fox & Friends repeatedly claimedthat wealthy earners’ income faces a “double tax” because income earned fromworking is taxed, as is income earned through capital gains and dividendpayouts.
In Fact, Income Earned From Capital GainsTaxes Is Also Income. Income earned from capital gains and dividend payoutsis also income, although it is taxed at a lower rate than income earned byworking. [Media Matters, 9/21/11]

On Fox, MarkSteyn Called For Tax Break For Wealthy. On the October 20 edition of Fox& Friends, conservative commentator Mark Steyn claimed, “[T]he richest1 percent already pay enough taxes. What do the richest 1 percent do when youdon’t take their money? They hire people, they invest.”
In Fact, Income Of Top 1 Percent Is At RecordHighs, But Hiring Remains Slow. While income for the top 1 percent ofearners has reached historic highs in the past several years, hiring hasremained slow. [Media Matters, 10/20/11]

Contact:
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You can help support our work: donate to Media Matters for America.

The Right Wing’s Insurrectionist Mindset

http://mediamatters.org/research/201111040026
The federal government has alleged that four Georgia militia members who  are accused of plotting to kill federal employees modeled their plan on  right-wing blogger Mike Vanderboegh’s online novel Absolved,  which depicts underground  militia fighters who declare war on the federal government over gun  control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American  revolution. Vanderboegh is not alone in promoting such insurrectionism:  several right-wing media figures, including other gun rights  bloggers, have suggested the possibility of political violence or  revolution as a  means of responding to progressive policies.

Georgia Militia Members Accused Of Plot To Kill Government Officials Allegedly Cited Vanderboegh’s Novel

Los Angeles Times: “Georgia Terror Suspects Allegedly Inspired By Online Novel.” On November 3, Los Angeles Times reporter and blogger Richard Fausset reported:

Federal officials say that the four Georgia militia members who were arrested this week for allegedly plotting a violent terror attack were inspired by a novel their ringleader read on the Internet.

Now attention is turning to the author of that novel, Mike Vanderboegh, a blogger=- and former militia member from Pinson, Ala., who is no stranger to controversy.

The Associated Press reports that terror suspect Frederick Thomas, 73, was moved by Vanderboegh’s novel, “Absolved,” about a violent conflagration between militia members and the government.

In his introduction to the book, Vanderboegh describes it as a “useful dire warning,” a book that is “as much a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF as anyone. For that warning to be credible, I must also present what amounts to a combination field manual, technical manual and call to arms for my beloved gunnies of the armed citizenry. They need to know how powerful they could truly be if they were pushed into a corner.”

[....]

During protests over federal health care reform legislation, Vanderboegh suggested throwing bricks through the windows of Democratic Party headquarters. The AP notes that a number of such incidents occurred. [Los Angeles Times, 11/3/2011]

Gun Rights Bloggers Invoked Violence Against Politicians Over Gun Control And Health Care Reform

Bob Owens: “Go To Your Congressman’s Office… If You’re Willing To Do The Time For The Crime, Have A Swing At Him.” In a March 24, 2010 post on his blog, PJ Media (formerly Pajamas Media) contributor Bob Owens suggested that assaulting members of Congress was an acceptable form of protest:

No matter what you think of Obamacare and the craven ideologues that passed it, is totally unacceptable to threaten their relatives or friends and put them in danger.

Go to your Congressman’s office and scream at him in the most colorful language possible. Hang him in effigy at protests. If you’re willing to do the time for the crime, have a swing at him.

Better yet, throw a shoe… after all, the left values such behavior as a form of “vigorous dissent,” and will no doubt ask for any charges against you to be dropped.

Perhaps one day stronger action will be required if Progressives continue to trample on our liberties in their blind quest for power. But that time is not now. [Confederate Yankee, 4/24/2010]

Bob Owens: “I Pray For Peace. But I Prepare For War.” In a July 31, 2010, post, Owens wrote:

Our would-be ruling class has abandoned the principles that founded this nation. They are attempting to establish a state of affairs where the people serve the government and the government determines your success or failure. Corruption no longer matters. Sovereignty no longer matters. The rule of law no longer matters.

They have won in a bloodless coup.

Or so they would like you to think.

Whether they actually win or not depends upon how much you love your family and your nation and the principles that made this nation great. Our founders themselves believed in the right of revolt, and knew better than any of us that governments must be replaced from time to time. They were wise enough to provide us with a constitutional framework that will outlast any government, including this one. We can dispose of this government, and restore the Constitution that has served us and the rest of the world so well for so long.

We stand at the brink.

[...]

The question for you, my fellow Americans, is simple.

Will you fight, or will you surrender your liberties?

I pray for peace.

But I prepare for war. [Confederate Yankee, 7/31/10]

Bob Owens On Media Matters Employees: “I Hope They Do Feel Threatened.”  In an August 3, 2010, blog post titled “Closer to Midnight,” Owens suggested political allies conduct a “serious review of our capacity for violence” and wrote that he hoped Media Matters employees “feel threatened”:

Propagandists for the elitists at Media Matters seem troubled by A Nation on the Edge of Revolt [an Owens blog post]. They portray it as a threat when “Conservative media figures openly discuss armed revolution.”

I have not yet been swayed to the point of view that an armed conflict is inevitable, TN_NamVolunteer. But we are close enough that one would be wise to prepare for a possible conflict, just as one would prepare for any coming storm. [Confederate Yankee, 8/3/2010]

Kurt Hoffman Suggested It’s A “Good Thing” That Politicians Who Support Gun Control Perceive “A Personal Threat To Their Own Lives.” On November 3, 2011 writing on Examiner.com, gun rights blogger Kurt Hoffman suggested that politicians perceiving “a personal threat to their own lives” was a “good thing”:

I hope they do feel threatened. Attempts at peaceable protests have been met at turns by feigned ignorance, then mockery, then attacks on the character and motives of those would not sit quietly by. Perhaps it will take a serious review of our capacity for violence to get them to realize we shall not surrender our individual liberties to their lust for power.

The common theme here is that Feinstein, Waxman and others seem to have identified .50 caliber rifles as a personal threat to their own lives.This is a good thing.  Those who take it upon themselves to write the laws by which the rest of us must live should fear the wrath of the people they seek to govern.  For the nation to be truly free, those who seek to exceed the limits on their power imposed by the Constitution must be made to live in mortal terror of the consequences. [Examiner.com, 11/3/2011]

Right-Wing Media Figures Have Invoked Violence Against Public Employees And Liberals

Dick Morris: “Those Crazies In Montana Who Say, ‘We’re Going To Kill ATF Agents Because The U.N.’s Going To Take Over’ — Well, They’re Beginning To Have A Case.” In a March 2009 appearance, Fox News contributor Dick Morris expounded on a long conspiracy theory about a “super-national authority” that will oversee U.S. financial institutions, then asserted that President Obama’s policies are “internationalist” and that “those crazies in Montana who say, ‘We’re going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.’s going to take over’ — well, they’re beginning to have a case.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/31/09]

Glenn Beck: “You’d Pick Up A Gun? Have You Ever Thought Of That?” After saying that “violence is just the wrong way to go,” during a March 23 episode of the his television show, Beck asked his audience if they had ever considered picking up a gun, then warned that progressives have done so:

You’d pick up a gun? Have you ever thought of that?

These people [points to images of progressive figures] have. Because possibly, maybe the question should be asked, maybe they’re tired of evolution, and maybe they are waiting for revolution. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 3/23/10]

Beck: “You’re Going To Have To Shoot Them In The Head.” Discussing what he called a “civil war in the Democratic party” Beck claimed that “radicals have infected the party” and “have been brought in by politicians who don’t really care about anything.” Beck purported to illustrate his argument by airing comments made by former White House advisor Van Jones. After then discussing Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, Beck said:

Just because you in Washington and you who are so out of touch with life in the media, just because you don’t believe in anything doesn’t mean nobody else does. We do. You know why you’re confused by this show? It’s because I believe in something. You don’t.

Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.

I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don’t. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep’s clothing — change the pose. You will get the ends.

You’ve been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You’re going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.

They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them — they’re revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about. [Fox News, Glenn Beck,6/9/10]

Listen to Beck explain his comments

Glenn Beck Appeared To Point To A Picture Of Obama After Asking “Why Would You Get A Gun?” During a June 13, 2011 episode of his Fox News show, after Beck asked “why would you get a gun,” he appeared to point to a monitor where a picture of President Obama and Cass Sunstein appeared:

[Fox News, Glenn Beck, 6/13/11]

Listen to Beck explain the incident

Erick Erickson Suggested He Might Pull A “Shotgun” On Census Worker. During his radio show on April 1, 2010, CNN contributor and Redstate.com managing editor Erickson suggested he might “pull out my wife’s shotgun” in response to a census worker asking him questions:

What gives the Commerce Department the right to ask me how often I flush my toilet? Or about going to work? I’m not filling out this form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife’s shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They’re not going on my property. They can’t do that. They don’t have the legal right, and yet they’re trying. [WMAC, In the Morning with Erick Erickson, 4/1/2010]

Erick Erickson: “At What Point Do The People … March Down To Their State Legislator’s House, Pull Him Outside, And Beat Him To A Bloody Pulp?” On April 31, 2009, writing on RedState.com about a Washington county’s ban on certain kinds of dishwasher detergent, Erickson asked when people were approaching the point where they would “beat” state legislators to “a bloody pulp for being an idiot”:

At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot? [Redstate.com 4/31/2009]

Bob Owens: “Jackasses” Who Call Health Care A Right “Deserve To Be Drawn And Quartered.” From his’ Twitter account:

G. Gordon Liddy Advised People Resisting ATF Law Enforcement Actions To “Go For A Head Shot.”  On August 26, 1994, Liddy said on his radio show:

Well, if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests. [CBS Morning News, 4/26/95, via Nexis]

Right Wing Media Figures Warned Of Possibility Of “Secession,” “Revolution” and “Civil War”

Jim Quinn: “Our Country Was Built On Revolution, And It’s About Time We Took It Back.” On September 10, 2009, during a discussion on health care reform, right-wing radio host Jim Quinn said:

You have got to say no to this, and if they push this through, you need to riot in the streets. You need to riot in the streets.” [...]

Our country was built on revolution and it’s about time we took it back. These people are dangerous [...]

“It’s about time to put an end to this leftist control of this country, and if a revolution is what it takes, damn it, then that’s what it’s going to take, because liberty will not be denied.” [The War Room with Quinn and Rose, 9/10/09]

Chuck Norris: “Will History Need To Record A Second American Revolution?” In his March 9, 2009, column for WorldNetDaily, actor and National Rifle Association activist Chuck Norris wrote:

How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution? We the people have the authority according to America’s Declaration of Independence. [WorldNetDaily, 4/9/2009]

Pam Geller: Obama “Is Itching For A Civil War. And At The Rate He Is Going, He Is Going To Get One.” In a June 23, 2010 post about immigration reform titled, “Forecast: Blood on the Streets,” conservative blogger Pam Geller wrote:

If the king decrees that all illegals will be granted amnesty, I can assure you that America will not go quietly. [....]

It is increasingly clear that the most divisive President in history is itching for a civil war. And at the rate he is going, he is going to get one. [Atlas Shrugs 6/23/2010]

Rush Limbaugh: “Secession” Is “Not The Rantings Of Extreme Kookism Anymore,” “Some Might Say The Civil War Is Already On.”  On August 5, 2010, a caller to Limbaugh’s radio show expressed concern that the “elections even gonna solve the problems in this country” because we are “too far gone.” She said that states need to look at “secession” or “maybe another civil war. And, to tell you the truth, I’m ready for it because I’m so hopping mad. I’m mad every day.”  Limbaugh responded by calling her a “reasonable woman” and saying “she’s not alone, folks.” He added, “[S]ecession” is “not the rantings of extreme kookism anymore.” He later said: “[S]ome might say the civil war is already on — a nonviolent one.” [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/5/10]

Michael Savage: “We’re Going To Have A Revolution In This Country”; “These People Are Pushing The Wrong People Around.” While discussing multiculturalism on August 21, 2009, radio host Michael Savage predicted: “This is not going to go on in this country much longer. We’re going to have a revolution in this country if this keeps up. These people are pushing the wrong people around.” [Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation, 8/21/09]

Here are today’s news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or  ‘read more’ to read the entirety of each story.

Right-Wing Media Hype “Really Thin” Accusation That Rahm Emanuel Leaked Cain Story
The conservative media is divided on anonymous sources: Some right-wing media figures have been hyping a claim by an anonymous source that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is “likely involved with the sexual harassment” allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. At the same time, however, other conservative media figures have tried to cast doubt on the sexual harassment allegations against Cain by pointing out that they are based on anonymous sources. Read More

Right-Wing Media Hype Study Suggesting Public School Teachers Are Overpaid
Right-wing media have hyped a study published by conservative groups American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation that claims “public-school teachers are not underpaid in wages by private-sector standards, and they may even be overpaid.” But many other studies have shown that public school teachers are paid relatively less than comparable workers, that their wages have been declining for decades, that U.S. teachers are paid less than their counterparts in most other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and that low teacher pay hurts recruitment and retention. Read More

Fox Twists Facts To Claim Greece Will Get US “Bailout”
Fox News hyped a report that G-20 leaders want to increase the resources of the IMF to claim that “the taxpayer in the United States will end up bailing out [Greece].” However, while G-20 leaders have discussed strengthening the IMF, the White House has already said that the U.S. will not be giving additional money to the fund. This story follows Fox’s similarly misleading attacks in May, when President Obama visited Ireland ahead of a proposed EU bailout. Read More

Right-Wing Media Outraged That Obama Hugged Leader Of NATO Ally
Right-wing media have expressed outrage over President Obama hugging Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the G-20 summit, claiming that Obama is “hugging enemies [and] abandoning allies.” In fact, Turkey is an ally of the United States via its membership in NATO; moreover, this is just the latest example of the right-wing media’s obsession with how Obama greets leaders. Read More

The Right Wing’s Insurrectionist Mindset
The federal government has alleged that four Georgia militia members who  are accused of plotting to kill federal employees modeled their plan on  right-wing blogger Mike Vanderboegh’s online novel Absolved,  which depicts underground  militia fighters who declare war on the federal government over gun  control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American  revolution. Vanderboegh is not alone in promoting such insurrectionism:  several right-wing media figures, including other gun rights  bloggers, have suggested the possibility of political violence or  revolution as a  means of responding to progressive policies. Read More

Fox Twists Facts To Claim Greece Will Get US “Bailout”

http://mediamatters.org/research/201111040016

                        Fox News hyped a report that G-20 leaders want to increase the resources of the IMF to claim that “the taxpayer in the United States will end up bailing out [Greece].” However, while G-20 leaders have discussed strengthening the IMF, the White House has already said that the U.S. will not be giving additional money to the fund. This story follows Fox’s similarly misleading attacks in May, when President Obama visited Ireland ahead of a proposed EU bailout.

Fox Claims “More Of Your Tax Dollars Could Be Used” To “Prop Up” Greece

Bolling: “More Of Your Tax Dollars Could Be Used To Prop Up Failing European Countries Like Greece.” On the November 4 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, the co-hosts highlighted ongoing discussions at the G-20 summit about possible aid packages for Greece. Guest host Eric Bolling claimed that “more of your tax dollars could be used to prop up failing European countries like Greece,” and co-host Gretchen Carlson hyped “a plan that’s being considered by G-20 leaders right now to pump more money into the International Monetary Fund.” Later, Fox Business host Stuart Varney said: “The IMF is being looked at as the new vehicle to pump a ton of money into bankrupt Europe. … That’s why our money is involved over there.” From the broadcast:

BOLLING: Well, more of your tax dollars could be used to prop up failing European countries like Greece.

CARLSON: And a plan that’s being considered by G-20 leaders right now to pump more money into the International Monetary Fund in order to shore up confidence in European banks.

BOLLING: Stuart Varney is here. Stuart, how in the world are our taxpayer dollars going to end up in Greek bank accounts?

VARNEY: Well, we’re part of the IMF. We — the International Monetary Fund. We provide 17 percent of its budget. So when we hear this morning that the IMF is being looked at as the new vehicle to pump a ton of money into bankrupt Europe, that’s our money into the IMF into Europe. That is the plan. They haven’t formalized it yet, not agreed to it. But that is the plan — the latest of the bailout moves in Europe. That’s why our money is involved over there.

CARLSON: You know, for so long, we’ve been discussing the crisis in Greece, and thinking that the U.S., maybe it would affect the stock market and our 401k’s, but why — but nobody ever really believed that the taxpayer in the United States would end up bailing out that country. But now, is this an example of what’s going to happen? [Fox News, Fox& Friends, 11/4/11]

But White House Has Said U.S. Will “Not Be Providing Additional Funds” To The IMF

BBC: G-20 Leaders Agreed To “Increase The Resources Of The IMF … However, A White House Spokesman Said That The US Would Not Be Providing Additional Funds.” A November 3 BBC article stated that G-20 leaders did agree “to increase the firepower of the [IMF]” so that it “will be more able to support struggling Eurozone economies.” But the article also noted that “a White House spokesman said that the US would not be providing additional funds.” From the article:

The Group of 20 leaders have agreed to increase the firepower of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It means the Fund will be more able to support struggling eurozone economies.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that most talks had revolved around the eurozone crisis.

[...]

Agreement was reached among G20 leaders to increase the resources of the IMF, according to a draft communique seen by the Reuters news agency.

There are no details as to how much more money governments would give it.

“There is a broad view among G20 there does need to be additional financing,” said Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. “We will be working on it overnight and tomorrow.”

However, a White House spokesman said that the US would not be providing additional funds. [BBC, 11/3/11]

CBS’ O’Donnell: “The President Can Only Offer Words And Talk And Consultations, Not A Bailout.” In a report on the G-20 talks during the November 4 edition of CBS’ The Early Show, CBS News chief White House correspondent Norah O’Donnell said, “The president can only offer words and talk and consultations, not a bailout.” O’Donnell later added, “I think the point that the White House officials make is that they (European leaders) have got to do this sooner rather than later, to contain a contagion that could spread to the rest of the world.” [CBS, The Early Show, 11/4/11, via CBSNews.com]

CBS: “The United States … Maintained Its Position That The IMF Should Use Its Existing Resources And Leverage Them For Best Use.” A November 4 CBSNews.com article said that while G-20 leaders “were focusing on strengthening the IMF,” the U.S. “maintained its position that the IMF should use its existing resources.” From the article:

Leaders of the world’s biggest economies were focusing on strengthening the IMF as they scrambled for ways to help Europe contain its raging debt crisis without worsening their own money troubles. European and non-European countries disagree about how to better use the IMF — the institution that was set up as the lender of last resort for struggling governments after World War II — to help.

“There is a broad view amongst G-20 leaders that there does need to be additional IMF resourcing,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Thursday night. “Leaders recognize that it is an appropriate move … so people could be reassured.”

The United States, however, maintained its position that the IMF should use its existing resources and leverage them for best use, according to Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. The U.S. is the fund’s largest stakeholder. [CBSNews.com, 11/4/11]

Fox Made Similarly Misleading Claims About Ireland “Bailout” In May

Fox & Friends Claimed Obama Would Discuss “Bailout” For Ireland With Irish PM.During Obama’s May visit to Ireland, Fox & Friends co-hosts and guests claimed that Ireland was “broke” and “asking President Obama for help.” They repeatedly asked if “we [can] afford to help bail out other countries.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/23/11, via Media Matters]

  • In Fact, Irish PM Asked Obama For Support In Talks With EU — Not A U.S. “Bailout.” As British and American media reported at the time, talks between Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Obama centered around Obama’s possible support for the terms of an EU bailout; the two also talked about trade between the two countries. [Media Matters, 5/23/11]

Conservatives Respond To Cain Accusations By Dismissing Sexual Harassment As “Meaningless”
Following a report accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment in the 1990s, media conservatives are claiming that such allegations are often “meaningless” or used as “a political tool.” But studies show that victims often endure serious psychological and professional side effects as a result of the experience. Read More

Pat Buchanan’s Worst MSNBC Moments
MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan has a long history of bigoted commentary in his books, columns, speeches, memos, and media appearances. Here are a few of his worst moments on MSNBC.
Read More

Right-Wing’s Pelosi Smear Ignores Historic Credit Card Reform Passed Under Her Watch
Right-wing media figures are accusing Rep. Nancy Pelosi of a “conflict of interest” based on an investment in Visa when she was Speaker of the House. But as Pelosi herself noted, while she was Speaker she oversaw historic credit card reform that was opposed by the financial services industry and touted by consumer advocates. Read More

WSJ Ignores Evidence That GOP War On Voting Could Disenfranchise Millions

http://mediamatters.org/research/201111020005

The Wall Street Journalignored evidence that newly passed restrictions on voting rights could make it more difficult for millions of eligible voters to vote in 2012, while letting former Bush DOJ official Hans von Spakovsky claim there is “no evidence” those restrictions could suppress voting. The Brennan Center for Justice estimated that changes to voting laws could suppress up to five million votes during the 2012 elections.

Wall Street Journal Helps Hans Von Spakovsky Dismiss Concerns Of Voter Suppression

WSJ: Spakovsky “Said There’s No Evidence” GOP Voting Laws Could Suppress Voters. The Wall Street Journal reported:

More than 30 states have changed voter laws since 2008, including seven that added requirements that voters show photo identification at their polling places. Republicans say limits on early voting are needed to cut the administrative costs of elections, and new I.D. requirements are necessary to defend polling places from fraud.

Democrats say both types of rules are aimed at suppressing their vote. The Obama campaign was adept in 2008 at bringing first-time voters to the polls during early voting periods, and groups it’s now targeting–students, the elderly and the poor–are the most likely to not have a government-issued photo I.D.

Hans von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commission board member now with the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, said there’s no evidence the new voter laws would suppress Democratic voters. [The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/11]

Brennan Center For Justice: Restrictive Voting Laws Could Make It “Significantly Harder” For Millions To Cast Votes

Brennan Center For Justice Estimates “More Than Five Million Voters Could Be Affected By The New Laws.” The Brennan Center for Justice issued a report estimating that newly enacted restrictions on voting “could make it significantly harder for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.”  From the Brennan Center for Justice:

1.   3.2 million voters affected by new photo ID laws. New photo ID laws for voting will be in effect for the 2012 election in five states (Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin), which have a combined citizen voting age population of just under 29 million. 3.2 million (11 percent) of those potential voters do not have state-issued photo ID. Rhode Island voters are excluded from this count, because Rhode Island’s new law’s requirements are significantly less onerous than those in the other states.

2.   240,000 additional citizens and potential voters affected by new proof of citizenship laws. New proof of citizenship laws will be in effect in three states (Alabama, Kansas, Ten­nessee), two of which will also have new photo ID laws. Assuming conservatively that those without proof of citizenship overlap substantially with those without state-issued photo ID, we excluded those two states. The citizen voting age population in the remaining state (Ala­bama) is 3.43 million; 240,000 (7 percent) of those potential voters do not have documentary proof of citizenship.

3.   202,000 voters registered in 2008 through voter registration drives that have now been made extremely difficult or impossible under new laws. Two states (Florida and Texas) passed laws restricting voter registration drives, causing all or most of those drives to stop. In 2008, 2.13 million voters registered in Florida and, very conservatively, at least 8.24 percent or 176,000 of them did so through drives. At least 501,000 voters registered in Texas, and at least 5.13 percent or 26,000 of them did so via drives.

4.   60,000 voters registered in 2008 through Election Day voter registration where it has now been repealed. Maine abolished Election Day registration. In 2008, 60,000 Maine citi­zens registered and voted on Election Day.

5.   One to two million voters who voted in 2008 on days eliminated under new laws rolling back early voting. The early voting period was cut by half or more in three states (Florida, Georgia and Ohio). In 2008, nearly 8 million Americans voted early in these states. An esti­mated 1 to 2 million voted on days eliminated by these new laws.

6.   At least 100,000 disenfranchised citizens who might have regained voting rights by 2012. Two states (Florida and Iowa) made it substantially more difficult or impossible for people with past felony convictions to get their voting rights restored. Up to one million people in Florida could have benefited from the prior practice; based on the rates of restoration in Florida under the prior policy, 100,000 citizens likely would have gotten their rights restored by 2012. Other voting restrictions passed this year that are not included in this estimate. [Voting Law Changes In 2012, Brennan Center for Justice, October 2011; Brennan Center for Justice, 10/3/11]

Spakovsky Reportedly Shifted DOJ To Purging Voters

Click here to read about Hans von Spakovsky’s efforts at the Justice Department to purge voters

In Fact, Instances Of Voter Fraud Are Actually Very Rare

To see how rare documented cases of voter fraud are, click here

Wash. Post Article Repeatedly Misleads On Social Security

http://mediamatters.org/research/201110310014

A Washington Postarticle on Social Security repeated a plethora of myths and falsehoods that surround the program and used loaded language to describe Social Security’s finances. The article has been hailed and repeated in the right-wing media and criticized by progressives.

MYTH: Post Portrays Social Security As A “Drain On The Budget”

Wash. Post: “Social Security Adding Billions To U.S. Budget Woes.” The headline on the October 30 print edition of the Post article reads, “Social Security Adding Billions To U.S. Budget Woes.”

[The Washington Post, 10/30/11]

Wash. Post: Social Security Is A “Drain On The Budget”; The “Trust Fund Will Provide Little Relief.” From the article:

Social Security is hardly the biggest drain on the budget. But unless Congress acts, its finances will continue to deteriorate as the rising tide of baby boomers begins claiming benefits. The $2.6 trillion Social Security trust fund will provide little relief. The government has borrowed every cent and now must raise taxes, cut spending or borrow more heavily from outside investors to keep benefit checks flowing. [The Washington Post, 10/29/11]

Wash. Post: Escalating Federal Debt Has “Crippled The Government’s Ability To Repay The Trust Fund.” From the article:

And 10 years of escalating debt have crippled the government’s ability to repay the trust fund. [The Washington Post, 10/29/11]

REALITY: Trust Fund Is Invested In Treasury Securities, Which U.S. Government Has Never Defaulted On

CBPP: Repaying Trust “Will Be A Concern For The Treasury — But Not For Social Security, As Long As The Solvency Of The Federal Government Itself Is Not Called Into Question.” Paul Van de Water, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, wrote:

Money that the federal government borrows from the public or from Social Security is used to finance the ongoing operations of the government in the same way that money deposited in a bank is used to finance spending by consumers and business. In neither case does this represent a “raid” or misuse of the funds. The bank depositor will get his or her money back when needed, and so will the Social Security trust funds.

When Social Security needs to start cashing in its holdings of Treasury securities to meet its benefit obligations, the federal government will have to increase its borrowing from the public, or raise taxes, or spend less. That will be a concern for the Treasury — but not for Social Security, as long as the solvency of the federal government itself is not called into question. Social Security will be able to sell its bonds just as any private investor might do. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,10/5/10]

Century Foundation‘s Anrig: Trust Fund “Will Be Paid Back … By Taxes Collected In The Future — Just As The Government Has Paid Back Interest And Principal On All Securities It Has Ever Issued.” Greg Anrig of the Century Foundation wrote on its group blog, Taking Note:

Backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, the interest and principal on the Treasury securities in the trust fund will be paid back in full by taxes collected in the future — just as the government has paid back interest and principal on all securities that the government has ever been issued. No additional burden is placed on future taxpayers due to Social Security beyond the commitment that was already made through the reforms in 1983. [Greg Anrig, Taking Note, Century Foundation, 3/9/11]

CBPP: “Trust Funds Are Invested In Treasury Securities That Are Every Bit As Sound As The U.S. Government Securities Held By Investors Around The Globe.” From CBPP’s Van de Water:

[T]he Social Security trust funds are invested in Treasury securities that are every bit as sound as the U.S. government securities held by investors around the globe; investors regard those securities as being among the world’s very safest investments.

[...]

[T]he Treasury securities that the trust funds hold are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. The U.S. government has never defaulted on its obligations, and investors consider U.S. government securities to be one of the world’s safest investments. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 10/5/10, emphasis original]

MYTH: Post Repeats Misleading “Life Expectancy” Talking Point

Wash. Post: “Life Expectancy Was Significantly Lower” When Program Started. From the Post article:

Created during the Great Depression, Social Security grew in popularity as Congress repeatedly raised benefits through the 1950s and 1960s and then, in the 1970s, set initial benefits to rise automatically with wages and with inflation thereafter.

Those changes made the program vastly more expensive than the “old age and survivors” insurance originally envisioned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He wanted to protect workers and their families from financial hardship due to death, disability or aging. Retirement benefits were available at 65, at a time when life expectancy was significantly lower than today. [The Washington Post, 10/29/11]

REALITY: Life Expectancy At Age 65 Has Increased By Five Years, While Retirement Age Has Increased By Two Years

Wash. Post’s Ezra Klein: “Beneficiaries Are Getting Three More Years Of Social Security Now Than They Were Then.” From The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein:

Since Social Security’s inception, life expectancy at age 65 has risen about five years and the retirement age has increased by two years, so beneficiaries are getting three more years of Social Security now than they were then. Most people don’t know this, but most of the experts who deal with these programs do. [Wonkblog, The Washington Post, 5/10/10]

LA Times’ Hiltzik Debunks “Longevity” Talking Point: “Longevity Has Hardly Soared.” From Los Angeles Timescolumnist Michael Hiltzik:

If people are living longer than they used to, doesn’t that raise the cost of Social Security benefits? And won’t pushing off retirement for a few years fix that?

Not necessarily. For one thing, longevity has hardly soared. The average life expectancy of someone who has reached age 65 was about 78 in 1940 and about 83 in 2005. In other words, a gain in the average length of retirement of about five years over six decades. And that’s for the whole population. For black males, there has been a gain of just over 2 1/2 years, to an average of 80 for those reaching age 65 in 2005.

That’s not nothing, but it isn’t 20 years, as some people, like former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming (a member of the deficit commission), seem to think. Also, it has been addressed by changes in Social Security taxes going back as far as 1983. [Los Angeles Times, 7/20/10]

MYTH: PostMisleadingly Mixes Medicare, Social Security Costs

In Article On Social Security, Wash. Post Uses Medicare To Inflate Lifetime Cost Estimates. From the article:

As a result, the average retirees have gotten back far more in federal benefits than they paid into the system during their working life, according to research by Eugene Steuerle, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. That return is diminishing, in part because people today have paid more into the system than previous generations. But a two-earner, middle-income couple retiring this year can expect to get $913,000 in Social Security and Medicare benefits over their lifetimes, in return for $717,000 in payroll taxes. [The Washington Post, 10/29/11]

REALITY: Social Security And Medicare Pose Categorically Different Challenges To Policy Makers

EPI: Social Security Spending Is Stable While Medicare Spending Rises Over Time. From an Economic Policy Institute briefing paper by Harry C. Ballantyne, Lawrence Mishel, and Monique Morrissey:

In reality, health care cost inflation and insufficient tax revenues are by far our biggest long-term budget challenges.

[...]

[Economic Policy Institute, 8/6/10]

(Click here for more on how the mainstream press regularly gets Social Security wrong.)

Post Uses Loaded Language, Unsubstantiated Claims To Describe Social Security’s Finances

Wash. Post: Social Security Has “Passed A Treacherous Milestone.” From the article:

Last year, as a debate over the runaway national debt gathered steam in Washington, Social Security passed a treacherous milestone. It went “cash negative.” [The Washington Post,10/29/11]

Wash. Post: Social Security Is “Sucking Money” From The Treasury. From the article:

Now, Social Security is sucking money out of the Treasury. This year, it will add a projected $46 billion to the nation’s budget problems, according to projections by system trustees. Replacing cash lost to a one-year payroll tax holiday will require an additional $105 billion. [The Washington Post, 10/29/11]

Wash. Post: Changing Inflation Measure Is A “Modest Change.” From the article:

Just as the GOP has rejected any form of tax increase to contain the debt, however, Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have ruled out any reduction in government retirement benefits. Last week, Reid softened his stand, backing a Democratic proposal to the supercommittee that included the change in the Social Security inflation index. In return, however, Democrats demanded $1.3 trillion in new tax revenue — which Republicans instantly rejected, leaving the ideological divide as wide as ever.

Even that modest change to Social Security is drawing fire, however, from a powerful network of organizations representing the elderly, unionized workers and traditional liberals. For years, these groups have cast any proposal to trim the growth in retirement benefits as unnecessary — and as a mean-spirited attack on the elderly. [The Washington Post, 10/29/11]

Conservatives Use PostStory To Attack Social Security

Fox Echoes Wash. Post’s Biased Rhetoric, Uses It As A Launching Pad To Attack Social Security. From Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

BILL HEMMER (co-host): To the nation’s economy now. Social Security reaching a dangerous tipping point. The program that once paid its own way through payroll taxes is now sucking money out of the Treasury.

[...]

HEMMER: We were all told that Social Security was OK. It was Medicare and Medicaid that was the issue. What’s up? [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 10/31/11]

Gateway Pundit: “Social Security Is In The Red.” From a Gateway Pundit post by Jim Hoft that excerpted the Post article, titled “In 2005 Dems Blocked GOP Proposals to Fix Social Security…Today Social Security Is officially In The Red”:

In 2005 Congressional Democrats blockedRepublican proposals to save Social Security.

Then they wildly cheered their own obstructionism during the State of the Union Address the following year.

Today Social Security is in the red.

As Americans were focusing on Barack Obama’s record debt and unemployment the last two years, Social Security went cash negative this past year. [Gateway Pundit, 10/30/11, emphasis original]

Ace of Spades: Federal Government Has Been “Fudging The Numbers,” And “The Lies Are Falling Apart.” From an Ace of Spades HQ blog post that linked to the Post article:

Once again, the Feds express shock that Social Security went into the red so much sooner than they expected. They’ve been fudging the numbers for so long — since the very start of the program, actually — that no one really knew what the hell was going on. They still don’t, really. What you’re hearing are the best guesses of politicians and their economist pets who have every reason to lie. But as Walter Russell Meade observes, all the lies are falling apart. [Ace of Spades HQ, 10/31/11]

Progressive Experts Have Criticized Post Article

Dean Baker: Wash. Post Story “Would Have Been Excluded From Most Opinion Pages Because Of All The Inaccuracies It Contained.”From economist Dean Baker writing at Beat the Press, a blog of the Center for Economic Policy Research:

News outlets generally like to claim a separation between their editorial pages and their news pages. The Washington Post has long ignored this distinction in pursuing its agenda for cutting Social Security, however it took a big step further in tearing down this barrier with a lead front page story that would have been excluded from most opinion pages because of all the inaccuracies it contained. [Beat the Press, Center for Economic Policy Research, 10/29/11]

NY Times‘ Krugman: Article Invokes “A Favorite Point Used To Create Confusion By Those Who Want To Kill The Program.” From Nobel laureate Paul Krugman’s New York Times blog:

Dean Baker is angry at the Washington Post for spreading disinformation about Social Security. He’s right, of course — and it’s shocking that a well-known fallacy is the subject of a “news analysis” that purports to inform readers.

You see, the WaPo makes a big deal of the fact that Social Security is currently taking in less in payroll taxes than it’s paying out in benefits. Yet this means nothing, except as a favorite point used to create confusion by those who want to kill the program.

[...]

What you can’t do is insist that the trust fund is meaningless, because SS is just part of the budget, then claim that some crisis arises when receipts fall short of payments, because SS is a standalone program. Yet that’s exactly what the WaPo claims.

This is what you call negative journalistic value added. [Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal, The New York Times, 10/30/11]

Alliance For Retired Americans: “We Cannot Allow Politicians” Or The Media “To Use This Budget Climate As Political Cover For Misleading Attacks On A Great American Success Story.” Media Matters obtained a statement from Edward F. Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans:

We cannot allow politicians or those in the media who have never liked Social Security to use this budget climate as political cover for misleading attacks on a great American success story that has kept generations of seniors out of poverty.  Social Security has amassed a $2.6 trillion surplus to prepare for upcoming retirements, and the Treasury Department pays interest to the Social Security Trust Fund on what it borrows.

NCPSSM President Max Ritchman: Wash Post Story “So Riddled With Factual Inaccuracies And Biased Rhetorical Flourishes It Has No Business In The News Section Of” A Major Newspaper. From a letter to the editor submitted to The Washington Post by Max Ritchman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, obtained by Media Matters:

Dear Editor:

On behalf of millions of Americans who have worked for and earned their Social Security benefits, I take strong exception to Sunday’s front-page piece by Lori Montgomery titled “Social Security adding billions to U.S. budget woes.”  This story is so riddled with factual inaccuracies and biased rhetorical flourishes it has no business in the news section of a major, or that matter, any newspaper.

The entire premise of the piece is built on a foundation of falsehoods that have been perpetrated for decades by those who oppose Social Security with virtually no balance provided for the reader.  Bias reported as fact is the hallmark of this story. For example, Social Security’s short-term shortfall is not a “treacherous milestone,” but indeed a natural consequence of the programs’ funding mechanism.  Surpluses have been built up in Social Security since the last major reforms in 1983 precisely so funds would be available to pay benefits of the baby boom generation as they began retiring

[...]

I strongly urge the Washington Post to limit its editorializing to the appropriate editorial pages and stop disguising opinion as news reporting.

Contact:
The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post
1150 15th St. NW
Washington, DC 20071
http://twitter.com/washingtonpost

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