The Summer Of Nonsense: 2014 Features Glut Of Shady Anti-Clinton Books

Three recent or upcoming books highlight the way an anti-Clinton cottage industry is trying to manipulate media vulnerabilities to smear Hillary and Bill Clinton. This summer will see the publication of Daniel Halper's Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine, Edward Klein's Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas, and Ronald Kessler's The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of Presidents. Rush Limbaugh discussed all three books one after the other on July 22, commenting, "Do we really want to hand the country over to these people?" While these books are catnip for Limbaugh and Fox News, all three should give credible media outlets reason to pause before amplifying their anecdotes. Daniel Halper Weekly Standard online editor Daniel Halper is currently making the media rounds to promote Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine, which was published July 22 and seeks to "expose" the inner workings of the Clintons' "political machine" and their "unquenchable thirst for wealth and power." He has already appeared for interviews on his publisher's corporate cousin Fox News (on The Kelly File and Fox & Friends) to promote the book, which has been deemed the "'must buy' book of the summer" by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt and recommended by Karl Rove as the "next summer read." Halper's book characterizes the Clintons as "dueling CEOs" whose primary goal is to make the Clinton "brand" profitable and politically powerful. He largely focuses on the well-trod period starting with Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign up to the present, with flashbacks to earlier periods in the Clintons' lives. Clinton, Inc.'s extended business metaphor barely holds together what is essentially a series of unrelated anecdotes and tired conservative tropes (as one critic points out, a right-wing author describing the Clintons as "calculating" does not make for a "groundbreaking revelation"). Many of his questionable anecdotes are provided anonymously -- "out of fear of retribution or attack from ruthless Clinton aides," according to Halper. For example, Halper promotes a confusing, poorly-sourced, anonymous account to accuse former President Clinton of attempted rape. Halper claims he received exclusive access to never-before-seen documents about the Clintons collected by unnamed "investigators, attorneys, and other Lewinsky advisors" in the 1990s. Halper says that one of "the more promising and detailed nuggets" collected by the Lewinsky team is an allegation that Bill Clinton attempted to assault an unnamed woman near San Francisco in the 1970s. But the allegation does not come from the woman herself, who Halper says never pressed charges. It's based on claims from a "friend" of the woman, who is also unnamed. Halper's third-hand account doesn't explain when or how the unnamed friend became aware of the allegation, whether they had ever relayed the story to anyone other than a Lewinsky representative decades after the alleged crime, or why the Lewinsky team didn't follow up on the story. Nor does he indicate that he made any effort whatsoever to follow up on the claim himself -- even to determine whether the woman exists. In another instance, Halper seeks to make the case that something happened to Hillary Clinton other than what her doctors told the public in December 2012 -- that she took a fall as the result of severe dehydration from a stomach bug, suffered a concussion, and was hospitalized for a blood clot in the brain, causing her to delay testifying to Congress about the Benghazi terrorist attacks. First, Halper baselessly posits that Clinton may have hit her head after falling down drunk. Invoking a "rumor" from "bloggers and websites" that Clinton drinks heavily, Halper points to "one well-known Clinton hater" for the claim the injury was the result of drinking -- citing no names. He then offers a contrary interpretation, writing that Clinton may have had a stroke but covered it up. He attributes this, variously, to "a number of reporters," "some on the right," "others," "reporters," and "one veteran reporter" -- not one of them named. Amid this discussion he concedes that "the revelation" may be untrue after all.

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 11:17 am

On The Hottest June On Record, Most Media Missed This Key Context

The globe recently experienced the hottest June on record, fitting in with the trend of global warming. Yet several top media outlets reported on the announcement without mentioning climate change at all. 2014 has been a record-breaking year for global temperatures. On July 21, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association announced that the average global temperature for the month of June was the hottest experienced for 134 years of records. This finding follows the hottest May on record, the hottest March to June period on record, and the third hottest first half of the year on record. The average ocean surface temperatures for the month of June were the warmest on record for any month of the year. NOAA's climate monitoring chief Derek Arndt explained succinctly to the Associated Press -- the only top U.S. print source* that reported on the findings in the context of global warming -- stating that the planet is in the "steroid era of the climate system." Climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck added: "This is what global warming looks like." But if you consume mainstream media, you likely missed this context. CBS, NBC, MSNBC, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal,** and The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang all covered the announcement without mentioning its key context: global warming, driven by human activities, is making hotter temperatures the norm. The July 21 edition of ABC's World News With Diane Sawyer was the only broadcast network program to report on the record in the context of global warming, introducing it as "a new statistic for arguments about climate change," and going on to discuss extreme weather events currently happening across the United States:

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 11:15 am

Fox & Friends Seems Concerned That Emergency Services Respond To 911 Calls From Non-Citizens

Fox News' morning program questioned a Texas official about providing emergency services to undocumented migrants, asking whether 911 calls from immigrants must be answered "even though for the most part, when you get there, you realize they're not even American citizens." On July 23, Fox & Friends centered a discussion on how undocumented immigrants in Brooks County, Texas are "bombarding" the police department with 911 calls. Host Brian Kilmeade set up an interview with the Texas county's chief deputy by claiming that "illegal immigrants are learning the hard way there's a deadly cost to crossing the border." Kilmeade suggested Brooks County emergency response services might be strained because, "not only are they understaffed and lacking resources, now they've got to deal with illegal immigrants who have no business being here." As an example, the program aired two emergency calls from Spanish speakers each identified on-screen as "Immigrant." In the first, a distressed male requests emergency assistance for his cousin, whom the man described as "turning blue." Another call featured a man and woman explaining to the 911 operator that they have not had access to water in three days. Kilmeade asked the deputy, "So those calls, you have to respond to, even though for the most part, when you get there you realize, they're not even American citizens?"

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 10:09 am

National Review Online Editor Endorses "Ex-Gay" Therapy

National Review Online editor-at-large Kathryn Jean Lopez praised an organization that practices discredited "ex-gay" therapy techniques, urging gay men and lesbians to choose the path of "conversion and renewal." In a July 22 review for NRO, Lopez lauded Desire of the Everlasting Hills, a documentary about three Roman Catholics who left gay relationships to pursue lives of celibacy. As Lopez noted, the documentary was a project of Courage, a Catholic organization that aims to help people with "homosexual desires" to lead "chaste lives." Hailing the documentary as a potential "game changer," Lopez wrote that Desire of the Everlasting Hills could help viewers "make sense" of our "fallen world" and point audiences in the direction of "alternative conversions" (emphasis added): Desire of the Everlasting Hills is like nothing you've ever seen before. In no small part, it's about conversion and renewal, and knowing oneself and what one truly wants, for life and eternity. To watch it is to know that you cannot caricature it. It's about living and learning; it reveals the truth of our lives, as discovered by three individuals who today are overflowing with a grace-filled, transparent joy -- a joy deepened by redemptive suffering. All three leave regrets about the past to God's mercy and entrust their future to His Providence, always acknowledging that the Way of the Cross is a rough road, but believing it to be the one with eternal rewards. [...] I wish you could have felt the peace and seen the joy at the premiere of Desire of the Everlasting Hills. At the annual Courage conference, it drew a crowd that knows and sees some of the most heartbreaking crosses of life; many people there would have a lot to teach us about courage. For anyone who feels in a fog, Desire of the Everlasting Hills is a light. To watch it is to see that people who have attractions different than yours are not all that different from you. They are people living in a fallen world -- our universal condition. We can work to make sense of it together. [...] Watch Desire of the Everlasting Hills and know that you are not alone; watch and never let anyone feel alone. Our politics can make things seem intractable, but our lives with one another can be a balm; and this movie can be a catalyst for hope and for alternative conversations filled with honesty and compassion and love for life, living as we were made. The journey to the Everlasting Hills is one for us to take together, joined by a shared desire for the good and the beautiful -- for God. Desire of the Everlasting Hills will inspire you to give to another the true look of love we crave.

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 9:48 am

Fox Host Megyn Kelly Flubs Ukraine Flight Limits To Bash Obama Over Israel

Fox News host Megyn Kelly misinformed her audience by claiming that that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not issued a travel ban over Ukraine, in order to bash President Obama over Israel. In fact, the FAA has banned commercial travel over Ukraine since April.Megyn Kelly Falsely Claims FAA Has Not Limited Flights Over Ukraine FAA Bans Flights To Israel For 48 Hours Over Safety Concerns Stemming From Israel-Hamas Fighting. On July 22, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice prohibiting U.S. airlines from flying to or from Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport for 24 hours after a Hamas-launched rocket landed near the airport. On July 23, the FAA extended the ban for another 24 hours. [Federal Aviation Administration, 7/22/14] Megyn Kelly: This Ban Exists Despite Lack Of Ban Over Ukraine, Where Airliner Was Shot Down. Fox News host Megyn Kelly claimed that the Obama administration's move represented a victory for Hamas and a boycott of Israel. She fraudulently illustrated her point by drawing a contrast with what she falsely called the administration's failure to issue a similar flight ban over Ukraine when a recent Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down: KELLY: The ban was extended despite the fact that there is no similar ban in place on flights over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen -- not even one over Ukraine, where a commercial airliner was just shot down. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 7/23/14] Fact: FAA Has Banned Flights Over Ukraine Since April Wash. Post: FAA Has Banned Flights In Other Dangerous Areas, Including Where Airliner Was Shot Down Over Ukraine. The Washington Post reported that the FAA has issued flight bans and other flight advisories for many dangerous countries in the world, including over Ukraine after a Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down: The FAA had already prohibited flight operations over Crimea beginning in April. After Flight 17 was shot down July 17 in a separatist-controlled area of Ukraine, the FAA expanded the prohibited area to encompass the eastern part of the country. [The Washington Post, 7/22/14]

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 9:28 am

NRA Floats Idea Of Kids Needing To Show Gun Proficiency "To Advance To The Next Grade"

A new commentary video from the National Rifle Association suggests we can live up to the Founding Fathers' ideals by creating "gun-required zones," and making gun training for children "necessary to advance to the next grade." In a July 21 NRA News video titled "Everyone Gets A Gun," NRA News commentator Billy Johnson said, "We don't have a U.S. gun policy. We have a U.S. anti-gun policy" that is based on "the assumption that we need to protect people from guns" and "that guns are bad or dangerous." Instead Johnson wondered what gun policies the United States would have "if we designed gun policy from the assumption that people need guns -- that guns make people's lives better." Johnson then made the following recommendations that would "encourage" and might "reward" people "to keep and bear arms at all times." Johnson wondered, "What if instead of gun free-zones we had gun-required zones?" He imagined a compulsory education system that would require children to become proficient with firearms, just like "reading and writing," even "if they didn't want to learn" in order to advance in school: "Gun policy driven by our need for guns would insist that we introduce young people to guns early and that we'd give them the skills to use firearms safely. Just like we teach them reading and writing, necessary skills. We would teach shooting and firearm competency. It wouldn't matter if a child's parents weren't good at it. We'd find them a mentor. It wouldn't matter if they didn't want to learn. We would make it necessary to advance to the next grade." Like "education, healthcare, food, [and] retirement," Johnson suggested that gun ownership be subject to a government subsidies, either through "government ranges where you could shoot for free or a yearly allotment of free ammunition." According to Johnson, "Gun policy, driven by our need for guns would protect equal access to guns, just like we protect equal access to voting, and due process, and free speech." While acknowledging that his ideas may be seen as "ridiculous," -- even by "Second Amendment advocates" -- he argued his proposal "does justice to [the Founding Fathers] intentions."

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 8:24 am

O'Reilly: Extending Affordable Health Insurance To 40 Million Americans Is "Harmful" Income Redistribution

From the July 23 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:Previously: O'Reilly Says Half Of U.S. Supports Income Redistribution, And "We're Setting The Table For Violence In This Country" How Many Times Can Bill O'Reilly Say "Income Redistribution" In 45 Seconds?

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 7:44 am

WSJ Buys Into Right-Wing Rhetoric And Decides "Affordable Care Act" Really Means No Tax Credits For Working Americans

The Wall Street Journal portrayed the D.C. Circuit's radical decision nullifying tax credits for consumers on the federal exchanges of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a check on President Obama's "penchant for treating laws as unlimited grants of power," all while ignoring the fact that multiple federal courts -- including the Supreme Court itself -- have upheld or acknowledged the very same tax breaks that the Journal now condemns as "illegitimate." On July 22, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its split decision in Halbig v. Burwell, one of many lawsuits applauded by conservatives that have challenged the ACA since President Obama signed it into law in 2010. Three of these lawsuits are based on the same legal arguments of Halbig, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Halbig-like challenge and upheld the validity of the tax credits on the same day Halbig was decided. The plaintiffs in these cases, relying on a legal theory that has long been a favorite of right-wing media, argued that, somehow, a law drafted to make insurance affordable for all Americans actually denies crucial tax credits for the 5 million consumers who purchased insurance through the federal exchange because their home states refused to set up their own health insurance sites. Celebrating the majority decision in Halbig by calling the case a "remedial civics lesson" for the Obama administration, the Journal misleadingly claimed that the "plain statutory language of ObamaCare repeatedly stipulates" that the tax credits are only available for state exchanges. The editorial board largely ignored the contradictory ruling from the Fourth Circuit and the vast majority of experts knowledgeable with the law and the basics of statutory construction that took no issue with the administration's commonsense execution of the ACA's tax credits: The courts usually defer to executive interpretation when statutes are ambiguous, but Mr. Obama's lawyers argued that the law unambiguously means the opposite of the words its drafters used. Judge Thomas Griffith knocked this argument away by noting in his ruling that, "After all, the federal government is not a 'State,'" and therefore "a federal Exchange is not an 'Exchange established by the State.'" The White House also argued that the court should ignore the law's literal words because Congress intended all along to subsidize everybody, calling the contrary conclusion an "absurd result." Yet this is merely ex post facto regret for the recklessness and improvisation of the way ObamaCare became law, when no trick was too dirty after Democrats lost their 60-vote Senate supermajority. Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass the bill to find out what's in it. Now we know.

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 5:57 am

Glenn Beck & Co. Encourage People To Boycott Common Core Tests At Live Movie Event

In his continued crusade against the Common Core education standards, Glenn Beck encouraged people across the country to boycott tests associated with Common Core, later declaring, "The day we're all willing to peacefully go to jail like Martin Luther King, we will win." In a live broadcast to nearly 700 theaters nationwide, Beck and his fellow anti-Common Core "warriors" joined forces Tuesday night to "make Common Core history" (emphasis original) in a two-hour live movie titled We Will Not Conform. Those "warriors" included conservative commentator and notorious Common Core misinformer Michelle Malkin, hosts Dana Loesch and Pat Gray from Beck's The Blaze, "self-proclaimed historian" David Barton, Townhall columnist Terrence Moore, Jay Spencer of Liberty University (a sponsor of the event), and representatives from state-based groups waging war on Common Core. The participants also included Matt Kibbe and Ellen Wheeler from FreedomWorks, a group which "started out as the Koch-funded Citizens for a Sound Economy" and came under scrutiny last year "due to bizarre internal feuding and questions about its finances." Former FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey told Media Matters at the time that "the group wasted money by paying Glenn Beck $1 million ... to fundraise for the organization." This live event is just the latest salvo in Beck's campaign against the state-based education standards, which were originally adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. Beck and co-author Kyle Olson released a book in May called Conform, which, in addition to baselessly attacking teachers and public schools for 222 pages, argued that Common Core helps progressives remove parents from their children's lives. The day before the event, Beck compared Common Core to slavery.

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 3:56 am

Fox's Erickson Agrees That "The Homosexual Movement Is ... Destroying America"

Fox News contributor Erick Erickson endorsed a congressional candidate's assertion that "the homosexual movement" is "destroying America."  On July 22, Georgia Republican Jody Hice won the Republican primary to succeed Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) in the state's 10th congressional district. In the wake of Hice's victory, BuzzFeed's Andrew Kacynski highlighted 11 examples of Hice's history of inflammatory commentary on LGBT issues. Erickson, who has endorsed Hice, responded to Kaczynski's post by tweeting that "most every conservatives [sic]" would agree with items "1, 5, 9, and maybe 10": The passages Erickson endorsed included Hice's claim that "the homosexual movement is ... destroying America by aggressively seeking to destroy traditional families, religion, and marriages for the purpose of removing all societal moral boundaries": The item Erickson thought most conservatives would "maybe" agree with concerned Hice's suggestion that gay people can change their sexual orientation:

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 3:20 am

Fox & Friends : Michael Sam Will Be Just As Distracting As Michael Vick

Fox News compared openly gay NFL player Michael Sam to convicted dog fighter Michael Vick, suggesting that Sam's sexual orientation would be equally as distracting as Vick's criminal conviction. On July 21, NBC sports analyst Tony Dungy and former NFL coach said that if he were still coaching, he wouldn't have drafted Sam because the media attention on Sam's sexual orientation would "be a distraction" to the team.  Fox & Friends defended Dungy's comments on July 23, comparing the attention given to Sam's sexual orientation to the coverage of former NFL player Michael Vick, who was convicted of participating in an illegal dog fighting ring in 2007: DOOCY: On the Twitterverse, they're saying he's a hyprocite. When you look, for instance, at Michael Vick. He completely rehabbed himself, right, via Tony Dungy. HASSELBECK: You know, 32 teams had seven chances to say yes or no to Michael Sam, right? And all but one time in those seven rounds of the draft, teams said no. They said exactly the same thing that Tony Dungy said when asked by Tampa Bay. KILMEADE: And Michael Sam said I'm a fan of Tony Dungy and I'm glad the Rams don't feel like he did. But Steve, to your point, Michael Vick coming out of prison, he was a distraction in the locker room because that's a major story every time you walk in.  DOOCY: Absolutely. [emphasis added]

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 2:41 am

Fox News Pushes "Mistress" Gossip With Anti-Clinton Author Interviews

Fox News is using anonymously-sourced claims from anti-Clinton authors to inject the rumor that Bill Clinton has a mistress into the media, claims which the network has apparently made no effort to confirm. Weekly Standard online editor Daniel Halper pushed the rumor in his new book, Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine based solely on anonymous sources, who he claimed told him the former president was engaging in "reckless" behavior with a mistress. On July 21, The New York Post gossip section Page Six reported that conservative author Ronald Kessler will make similar claims in his forthcoming The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of The Presidents, apparently also based on anonymous sources. While the rest of the media has largely ignored the anonymously-sourced gossip, Fox has been using interviews with Halper to promote these claims. Fox apparently has not attempted to confirm the gossip before promoting it on the network's airwaves. Fox host Megyn Kelly asked Halper about Kessler's report -- which she noted was "unconfirmed" -- during a July 21 interview promoting Halper's book: KELLY: On the mistress front there was a report from Breitbart -- it's actually from a new Ron Kessler book -- saying that Bill Clinton allegedly had some affair partner who they call the energizer bunny with whom he is still seeing, unconfirmed. You know, these ladies, whatever. Did you interview any of these? HALPER: I interviewed some. And I can tell you aides told me that they had to advise Bill Clinton in the 2008 election not to bring his mistress on the campaign trail. So he is still engaging in reckless behavior. As Media Matters has noted, Kelly's reputation allows her to provide a "veneer of legitimacy" that other Fox hosts cannot offer. Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck also asked Halper during a July 22 interview how the "talk that there is still a mistress in play here" could affect a potential Hillary Clinton presidential run: HASSELBECK: There has been some talk that there is still a mistress in play here. If that were to be the case, how would that affect Hillary's run in 2016?  HALPER: I'm sure it is and I'm sure there are more stories and more scandals to emerge. I try to cover as many -- you know, you have to make -- when you cover the Clintons, you have to make hard choices about which scandals and which mistresses to cover. So I have made mine in the book. 

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 1:44 am

On The Bill Press Show , Media Matters ' Jeremy Holden Explains Growing Climate Coverage And The Persistence Of False Balance

From the July 23 edition of TawkrTV's The Bill Press Show:Previously:  PBS NewsHour Airs Four Times More Climate Coverage Than ABC World News Sunday Shows Cover Climate Change As Much In First Half Of 2014 As In Last Four Years Combined Senator Bernie Sanders: Increased Climate Coverage "A Step In The Right Direction" Rush Takes Credit For Finding That U.S. Leads Globe In Climate Denial

Posted by on 23 July 2014 | 1:24 am

Fox's Ralph Peters: John Kerry's Trip To Middle East To Forge Cease-Fire Is An Attempt To "Rescue Hamas"

From the July 22 edition of Hannity:Related: John Kerry Returns to Middle East to Push for Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Previously: Days After MH17 Crash, Fox's Peters Praises Putin's Leadership Qualities Fox's Ralph Peters: Obama "Despises The Men Who Served Honorably" In U.S. Military Fox News Guest Ben Shapiro: Obama Administration Is "Borderline A Jew-Hating Administration"

Posted by on 22 July 2014 | 10:18 am

Fusion's Jorge Ramos Tells O'Reilly That Putting National Guard On The Border Is "Absurd" And "Useless"

From the July 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:Previously: Bill O'Reilly Advocates For A Berlin Wall-Style Border Fence Bill O'Reilly's Immigration Solution: "Militarize That Border" Fox's Brit Hume Deflates Fox News Claims That Increased National Guard Presence Would Resolve Border Security Issues

Posted by on 22 July 2014 | 7:46 am