OBAMA SCARE: The Right’s Fright Offensive To Scare People Away From Affordable Health Care

Halloween is approaching and the hobgoblins of conservative minds are already spinning nightmarish tales of the horror of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Actually, they have been doing it for quite some time dating back to at least March of 2010 when Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller published an article headlined “IRS looking to hire thousands of armed tax agents to enforce health care laws.” Fox News re-posted the article on their community web site and Fib Factory, Fox Nation despite the fact that it was a complete fabrication and was debunked by the Annenberg Center’s FactCheck.org

Fox News
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This year the campaign to recast a program that makes health insurance accessible to millions of Americans as a plague of locusts has risen to fever pitch. The Republican Party and conservative media has pulled out all the stops in a strategy aimed at scaring people from signing up with the hope that low enrollment will collapse the system. President Obama had the same concerns last month when he said…

“What you’ve had is an unprecedented effort that you’ve seen ramp up in the past month or so that those who have opposed the idea of universal health care in the first place — and have fought this thing tooth and nail through Congress and through the courts — trying to scare and discourage people from getting a good deal.”

These are not the hackneyed GOP talking points about death panels, job killers and government bureaucrats coming between patients and doctors. These are far more fanciful efforts that stretch the limits of credulity and appear to have more in common with satire than actual news reporting. Yesterday Rush Limbaugh “ruminated” (sourced to Breitbart) that ObamaCare may just be a ruse to set up gun registries in the United States. This is what it has come to as ObamaCare has finally reached the consumer stage and conservatives are desperate to keep people from discovering its benefits. For instance…

1) Fox News Warns That If You Sign Up For ObamaCare Hackers Will Steal Your Life Savings
On an episode of “The Real Story” on Fox News, host Gretchen Carlson introduced an ominous new strain of fear mongering to demonize ObamaCare. She interviewed John McAfee, the anti-virus software developer who is presently a fugitive from a murder investigation in Belize. He asserted a wild accusation that visitors to Healthcare.gov are going to be victimized by hackers who will steal their identities and/or drain their bank accounts.

However, neither Carlson nor McAfee actually provide any evidence of such a threat. In fact, when directly asked about it. McAfee diverts from the question and lays out a completely different threat that has nothing whatsoever to do with the ObamaCare web site. He alleges that nefarious individuals could set up their own unaffiliated web sites in the hopes of luring naive people of whom they will seek to take advantage. Of course, that is a threat that exists every day for every web site, and has since the Internet began. But visiting Healthcare.gov does not expose anyone to these phony sites as implied by the fear mongers at Fox.

2) WorldNetDaily Reports “Obama ‘Crashing Health-Care Site On Purpose'”
This article asserts that the President is so afraid that insurance shoppers will learn that ObamaCare is really more expensive than the old system that he deliberately caused the website to crash to keep people from seeing the rates. No one is defending the botched launch of the insurance exchanges, however, the notion that the technical glitches were intentionally caused by Obama is delusional.

WND’s argument (supported by links to Rush Limbaugh) that rates will increase leaves out the subsidies and tax credits that are available for many applicants. With these adjustments, premiums for most people will be substantially lower. The administration would, therefore, be anxious for consumers to have access to that information and would not be putting obstacles in their path.

3) Rand Paul: Take ObamaCare Or Go To Jail
The Tea Party darling Rand Paul has made innumerable false statements about virtually every policy that has emanated from the White House. But none surpass the diversion from reality than when he said “They say take [ObamaCare] or we will put people in jail. People say we aren’t going to put anybody in jail. The heck they won’t. You will get fined first. If you don’t pay your fines, you will go to jail.”

That’s interesting coming from someone who has frequently complained that no one in Congress has read the Affordable Care Act. If he had read it himself he would have known that the law explicitly prohibits criminal consequences for non-payment of fines. It states “In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.” It rarely gets more clear than that, but the mission to frighten the public exceeds the motivation for truth on the part of GOP scare-meisters.

Notably, Bill O’Reilly insisted that no one on Fox News ever claimed that failure to enroll in ObamaCare would lead to a prison sentence, but he was hilariously embarrassed by the videos that proved otherwise, including on his own program.

4) Right-Wing Think Tank Mortified That ObamaCare Web Site Links To Voter Registration Form
This is a particularly curious horror story as it seeks to raise an alarm over something that ought to be regarded as a civic duty. Nevertheless, the conservative MacIver Institute (a Koch brothers funded operation) published an article that implied there was some sort of heinous objective on the part of the Obama administration for having included a link to a voter registration form on the ObamaCare website. This startling revelation is met with foreboding by MacIver and a flurry of right-wing media outlets that disseminated MacIver’s story including National Review, Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, Breitbart News, the Daily Caller, and of course, Fox News. All of their reports agreed that this was a clandestine attempt to register only Democratic voters despite the absence of any partisan framing. MacIver even asks specifically “[W]hat does registering to vote have to do with signing up for Obamacare?”

The core of the right’s trepidation is rooted in a more fundamental aversion to the act of voting itself. It is why they are continually erecting new barriers to voting, such as unreasonably stringent identification requirements, shortening or eliminating early voting periods, wholesale purges of voter rolls, and of course, brazenly discriminatory gerrymandering. Democrats, on the other hand, have sought to expand voter turnout with bills like the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (aka Motor Voter) that mandates that certain government agencies provide people with access to voter registration. In fact, it is that twenty year old law that requires the ObamaCare administrators to make voter registration available. MacIver, and their similarly mortified conservative comrades, are either unaware of this, or are deliberately feigning ignorance in order to rile up their conspiracy-prone base.

5) Weekly Standard Finds Imaginary Threat On ObamaCare Website
The ultra-conservative Weekly Standard dispatched their crack reporters to ferret out what they portrayed as an ominous security threat on the Healthcare.gov website. What they found were comments in the site’s source code that said that “You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system.” The Standard notes that these comments were not visible to users and were not part of the site’s terms and conditions. But that didn’t stop them from implying that users would be still be bound by it because “the language is nevertheless a part of the underlying code.” Not really. It’s only a part of some inoperative text that carries no more obligation than some discarded notes.

This is another situation where you have to wonder whether these people are embarrassingly stupid or brazenly dishonest. There is a reason that this language was not visible. It was deliberately removed with the use of HTML comment tags by the site’s programmers. It was undoubtedly edited out because it was not an accurate expression of the site’s privacy policy. It does not mean that users are agreeing to a secret clause permitting the government to spy on them as the Standard implied. If any of these “reporters” had a fourteen year old at home they could have learned what this is about. But that would have interfered with their goal which is to leave Americans with the false impression that some hidden danger lurks beneath the surface of ObamaCare.

6) Fox News Fears ACORN Is Back To Push ObamaCare
The Curvy Couch Potatoes over at Fox & Friends had a jolly old time resurrecting their fear of a community organizing enterprise that no longer exists. ACORN was wrongly hounded out of business by right-wing opponents after pseudo-journalist and convicted criminal, James O’Keefe, distributed some deceitfully edited and libelous videos. But that hasn’t stopped conservative media from exhuming the corpse whenever they are in need of a sensationalistic story, as demonstrated by Fox co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck who announced that “We’re getting information that ACORN operatives are trying to sign people up for the Affordable Care Act.”

While ACORN was never found to have engaged in any unlawful activity, there was a bill passed that prohibited them from receiving federal funds. However, there is nothing in the law that prevents organizations with former ACORN staff from getting federal grants. In fact, there isn’t even any current law that prevents ACORN from getting grants as the previous ban was not included in the latest Continuing Resolution. Fox is brazenly misrepresenting the facts in an attempt to reignite fears of the old ACORN bogeyman. And they upped the terror ante by further alleging that ACORN would use your personal medical and financial information against you politically. They never revealed how that would occur, or to what end, but that isn’t the point. Their only interest is in spreading fear, no matter how irrational and unsupported.

Conclusion:
The zealousness with which these right-wing propagandists pursue their disinformation campaign is evidence of their own fear that Americans will come to appreciate having access to affordable health care. Therefore, they see their mission as derailing the program before that eventuality unfolds. Their tactics get more extreme and absurd the closer the program gets to gaining acceptance. A particular target of their attack is young people whose participation is important for the program to succeed. Consequently, opponents have launched a well-funded campaign (thanks to the Koch brothers) to scare off young consumers. Generation Opportunity has already released the now notorious “Creepy Uncle Sam” videos that make false implications of government intrusion into medical care. Next they are embarking on a twenty city college tour to mislead students.

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PolitiFact has reviewed sixteen claims made by ObamaCare detractors and found all of them false. Twelve of those were designated “Pants On Fire” lies. If there is one question that begs to be asked, it is this: If ObamaCare is so terrible, then why do opponents have to lie so much about it?

ObamaCare Myths

OBAMA SCARE: Fox News Fears ACORN Is Back To Push ObamaCare

Fox News has been engaged in a massive disinformation campaign against the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) for going on three years now. After all that time, and having exhausted the considerable creative resources that came up with twelve “Pants on Fire” lies about the program, Fox’s desperation is showing.

Recently Fox News went apoplectic over a phony allegation that millions of Americans will be victimized by hackers if they try to enroll in a new health care plan. Then they fear mongered over the horror of Americans voting due to the Affordable Care Act website providing users with an opportunity to register. And now Fox is trembling at the thought of ACORN zombies helping people to get health care coverage.

Fox News Obama Scare

The Curvy Couch Potatoes over at Fox & Friends had a jolly old time resurrecting their fear of a community organizing enterprise that no longer exists. ACORN was hounded out of business by right-wing opponents after pseudo-journalist and convicted criminal, James O’Keefe, distributed some deceitfully edited and libelous videos. But that hasn’t stopped conservative media from exhuming the corpse whenever they are in need of a sensationalistic story as demonstrated by this morning’s broadcast:

Elisabeth Hasselbeck: We’re getting information that ACORN operatives are trying to sign people up for the Affordable Care Act.
Brian Kilmeade: Good luck. Let them try.
Hasselbeck: They’re banking on the American people forgetting what had happened in terms of voter fraud. So we need to ring the bell a little on this one.

As previously noted, there aren’t any ACORN operatives, and multiple investigations never found any evidence of wrongdoing by ACORN or their former staff. Despite their innocence, the Foxpods think that anyone affiliated with the former ACORN must retire to caves in Antarctica rather than resuming their vocation of helping the American people to navigate the complexities of government services. Fox just hates it when any organization aspires to help people for any reason. They continue…

Steve Doocy: Remember back in the old days, we used to show this video when we would show ACORN locations back in 2009. Famously they were caught in a sting operation by a journalist that showed they were showing people how to break the law. […] After the scandal, and they were exposed, ACORN was banned from getting taxpayer money. So if they’re getting some of this navigator money in that kind of serpentine way — still illegal.

That’s cute. Doocy called O’Keefe a “journalist.” As for his allegation of illegality, there is nothing in the law that prevents organizations with former ACORN staff from getting federal grants. In fact, there isn’t even any law that prevents ACORN from getting grants as the previous ban was not included in the latest Continuing Resolution. Doocy is brazenly misrepresenting the facts, just as Hasselbeck does when she implies that ACORN will be getting $67 million. Actually, that’s the total amount of the ACA navigator program for all grantees. But then Hasselbeck introduces a new irrational fear:

Hasselbeck: The American people have great cause to be concerned about their personal information, medical information, financial information, being handed over – not just in terms of the money the government is giving out, but your information that is being given to an organization that will most likely be used against you at some point, politically.

Yowsa! ACORN using this information against us would be bad enough, but the prospect of such use being “most likely” really ought to scare the bejeezus out of the Teabaggers who watch Fox. Hasselbeck never explains how this info can used to politically harm anyone, but then again, she never offers any proof of her allegations in the first place. It is simply an attempt to dangle a ominous sword over the heads of her dimwitted audience.

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To recap, Fox has so far announced that ObamaCare enrollees are subject to financial ruin due to hackers, political strife due to ACORN, and some unspecified horror due to access to voter registration forms. They never mention the fact that they will also be covered by an affordable health care plan that may preserve their medical well being and prevent an illness-rated bankruptcy. No wonder Fox News viewers are so clueless about this and pretty much every other issue.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Here’s How To Fear Monger About ACORN

After all these years, the right’s fixation on ACORN is still burning with the heat of a thousand white-hot suns – with an emphasis on the white.

Fox Nation

The chronic liars at Fox Nation posted an item that purported to quote Bertha Lewis, the former head of ACORN, as giving advice on “How To Put ‘Fear’ In The ‘White Man’.” However, Lewis did not say what the Fox Nationalists attributed to her. In fact, the text below the headline on Fox Nation proved the blatant misrepresentation by quoting Lewis in full. Her remarks to a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus were merely a call for the African-American community to support immigration reform.

Lewis: For the first time ever in history, African-Americans outvoted white Americans. Oooh. That’s the fear of the white man. That could change everything. That’s why [immigration] should matter to us.

Lewis was plainly stating her opinion that engaged minority voters are something that already brings fear to white politicians and strategists. She was not in any way advocating the use of fear to intimidate whites or any political opponent. Yet that is precisely the false inference that Fox put forth with the mutilated quote they posted.

To the contrary, Lewis was simply noting that Republicans are already running scared. That is unarguably true, as evidenced by the extreme steps Republicans have taken to suppress voting by minorities and to redistrict them out of existence. Lewis noted that in a few years America will be a majority-minority nation, and that frightens the GOP. Even Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said much the same thing in an election postmortem following their 2012 defeat:

Priebus: I didn’t need a report to tell me that we have to make up ground with minority groups […] By 2050, we’ll be a majority-minority country, and in both 2008 and 2012, President Obama won a combined 80 percent of the votes of all minority groups.

The GOP has an ongoing obsession with ACORN, an organization that was dedicated to advancing minority participation in the democratic process. It was that focus on equal rights that made ACORN a target of conservatives in the first place. And despite the fact that it doesn’t exist anymore, and that multiple investigations never found any evidence of wrongdoing, the right continues to be preoccupied with its ghost. So much so that they disseminate fake quotations in order to make them look scary and dangerous.

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This is a tactic that will only serve to further alienate the constituencies that will eventually dominate the electorate. Even while the GOP recognizes the need to reach out to minorities, their actions prove that they really aren’t the least bit interested in including them in the American family. They would rather continue insulting and excluding them. Nice work, GOP. Let’s see how that works out for you in 2014 and 2016 and beyond.

James O’Keefe Agrees To Pay $100,000 To Former ACORN Employee [Update w/O’Keefe Statement]

James O'KeefeHaving already been convicted of criminal activity in Louisiana, recidivist law-breaker James O’Keefe is now shelling out a hundred grand to one of his victims in the notorious ACORN affair.

ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera was surreptitiously videotaped (for which criminal charges are still pending) and falsely portrayed as offering assistance to O’Keefe’s phony endeavor to transport underage girls from El Salvador for the purpose of prostitution. Unbeknownst to O’Keefe, Vera had notified the police after his encounter with O’Keefe. But O’Keefe posted his fraudulent and heavily edited videotapes anyway with the help of Andrew Breitbart. It will be interesting to see how Breitbart News covers this breaking story – if they do so at all.

This is yet another vindication for ACORN, which has never been found to be guilty of any wrongdoing throughout the trumped up scandal that led to its demise. And it is further evidence that O’Keefe is a disreputable scumbag with no respect for journalism and no personal integrity. This civil litigation defeat is well-deserved and it ensures that the money O’Keefe swindles from his ignorant donors will be put to better use.

[Update] O’Keefe has posted a statement on his settlement agreement that typically denies responsibility and blames others. He calls the $100,000 “the cost of exposing the truth,” and insists that he “will not be deterred from investigating and exposing corruption.” Of course, that statement conflicts with the one he agreed to in court documents wherein he said that he “regrets any pain suffered by Mr. Vera or his family.” How can he be genuinely remorseful while saying that the “ridiculous lawsuit” consists of “meritless accusations?” What’s more, it is absurd to characterize a $100,000 payout as a nuisance suit. Two or three grand maybe, but a hundred large is real money that only the guilty fork over.

Clearly O’Keefe is an unprincipled and deceitful weasel whose word is worthless. And his equally disreputable cohorts at Breitbart and Fox have not even bothered to report the news of this settlement 24 hours later.

Fox Nation Revives ACORN Phobia While Mitt Romney Hires Corrupt Consultant

It’s been two years since ACORN closed up shop after being falsely accused of voter fraud. But right-wing obsessives refuse to abandon their neuroses once they latch onto them. Never mind the fact that ACORN was exonerated by numerous independent investigations and that the only criminal conviction to result from the harassment was that of James O’Keefe, who produced the dishonestly edited videos that slandered ACORN’s reputation.

Fox Nation, nevertheless, persists in fear mongering about the defunct organization as if it had zombie-like powers of reanimation. Yesterday they featured an article that sought to renew the dread that conservatives still harbor in their hearts for an enterprise that mainly helped people to participate in their democracy and guided them through complex federal mortgage assistance programs.

Fox Nation - ACORN

The article relied on a report from the conservative Judicial Watch, who alleged that a former ACORN director was the recipient of federal funds for an Illinois program that helps struggling homeowners make their mortgage payments. It refers to ACORN as “scandal-plagued” and a “corrupt leftist community group.” Of course, neither of those assertions are true and both Fox Nation and Judicial Watch know it.

The problem, as explained by Judicial Watch, is that a “sub-component” of the Illinois Housing Development Authority received a federal grant, and that a director of the program, Joe McGavin, had performed the same role at ACORN. Which simply means that he has experience with helping people with federal assistance and is, therefore, well qualified for his job. But to the Fox Nationalists it means that he is a “suspect candidate,” despite never having been associated with any impropriety.

Meahwhile, at Mitt Romney’s campaign, someone with an actual record of dirty dealings has been added to the team. According to Lee Fang at the Republic Report, Nathan Sproul is “a political consultant with a long history of destroying Democratic voter registration forms and manipulating ballot initiatives.” With a new company name, Lincoln Strategies, Sproul is on the Romney payroll presumably to engage in activities similar to these:

  • In Oregon and Nevada, Sproul and Associates was investigated for destroying Democratic voter registration forms. The Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign paid Sproul $7.4 million for campaign work. [CNN, 10/14/04; KGW News, 10/13/04; East Valley Tribune, 09/07/06]
  • In Nevada, people who registered as Democrats with Sproul and Associates found their names absent from the voter registration rolls. [Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/29/04]
  • During the 2006 midterm elections, Wal-Mart banned Lincoln Strategies for partisan voter registration efforts in Tennessee. The Republican National Committee had hired the firm. [Associated Press, 08/24/06]
  • In Arizona, Lincoln Strategies employed a variety of deceptive tactics — including systematically lying about the bill — to push a ballot initiative to eviscerate the state’s clean elections law. [Salon, 10/21/04]
  • Lincoln Strategies, then employed by the Republican Party, was behind efforts to place Ralph Nader on the ballot in states such as Arizona. [American Prospect, 06/25/04]

Fox News and their conservative comrades have been hyperventilating about voter fraud for months, although they have never been able to cite actual examples of it. But they continue to raise it as an issue in order to push legislation that has the purpose of disenfranchising legitimate voters who just happen to lean Democratic.

The controversy surrounding ACORN involved allegations of phony names on voter registration applications. However, it was ACORN who alerted officials to the presence of those improper forms and, in any event, they could not, and did not, result in any fraudulent voting. In fact, ACORN itself was the victim of that activity because they were paying registration gatherers per form and the gatherers were falsifying them in order to earn more money. It did not serve any purpose of ACORN to submit forms that did represent actual voters.

On the other hand, Sproul’s corruption had the effect of preventing Democrats from being able to exercise their right to vote by deceiving them into believing that they were registered. But when they got to the polls they discovered that their registrations were never submitted.

And the man responsible for that is now a consultant to Mitt Romney’s campaign. Where is the story on that by Fox News?

Anatomy Of A Fox News Manufactured Political Scandal

It was a blustery November morning. I was in my mother’s basement Tweeting waffle recipes to chums in my Marxist study group. My fingers were still sticky with maple syrup. Then she walked in. Or rather, she showed up in my Google news alerts. Her name was Winter, and it fit her like an Old Navy Fleece hoodie. Jana Winter. She said she was a reporter for Fox News. I should have known right then that she couldn’t be trusted. Everyone knows there aren’t any reporters at Fox News.

Fox News - ACORNWinter had been writing articles about how ACORN, the group of community organizers that ceased to exist more than a year ago, was secretly still operating and was behind the Occupy Wall Street protests. Her stories were obvious fabrications that posed absurd theories wherein the bankrupt ACORN could somehow afford to pay homeless people tens of thousands of dollars to attend rallies that were already populated by thousands of genuine protesters who attended for free.

Winter wrote three progressively more delusional articles on this subject in as many weeks. She was able to be so prolific because she never bothered to gather any actual evidence or testimony from anyone other than anonymous sources. The first article laid out the imaginary ACORN plot to subvert capitalism from beyond the grave. The second alleged that the resurrected ACORN, spooked by Winter’s first article, scrambled to destroy every remnant of its reincarnated existence. Once again, almost every assertion was absent an attribution. Winter is a master at coaxing incriminating confessions from ghosts.

But it’s the third article that reveals the depths of Winter’s deviousness. After laying the groundwork for a scandalous tale of corruption and clandestine schemes, Winter’s latest composition divulges the efforts of Darrell Issa, Congress’ self-appointed hall monitor, to bully the Department of Justice into launching an investigation of the gossip spread in Winter’s columns:

“In a letter dated Monday, Issa, R-Calif., called for U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch of the Eastern District of New York to launch a probe into allegations first reported by FoxNews.com.”

Notice the meticulous attention to journalistic precision in Winter’s description of Loretta Lynch as the Attorney General. That would be an interesting detail if it happened to be true. But even more interesting is the way she refers to “allegations first reported by FoxNews.com” without noting that she is talking about herself. It was her own reporting from which Issa derived his accusations of scandal. Several times in the article Winter cites “reports from FoxNews.com” and even noted that “Issa’s letter quotes from the initial FoxNews.com report.” Later Winter added that “Issa also referenced a second FoxNews.com report.” That second report was also Winter’s handiwork.

So what we have here is a circular wheel of affirmation wherein a Fox News “reporter” invents a phony scandal by writing thinly sourced articles that allege fraudulent activity by a defunct organization. Then a United States congressman cites those articles as evidence that an investigation should ensue. Then the same Fox News reporter writes an article about the congressman’s request for an investigation. I suppose that the next thing we’ll see is Issa citing the Fox News report on members of Congress demanding that the Justice Department investigate. And around it goes.

To be clear, there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing by the non-existent ACORN, the New York Communities for Change (NYCC), whom Winter and Issa are slandering, or the Occupy Wall Street movement. Winter’s articles contain dozens of citations from anonymous sources that are uncorroborated. Yet in the latest article she doesn’t even bother to attempt to interview anyone representing the other side of Issa’s baseless accusations (fair and balanced?).

To her credit, Winter notes the inherent problem with bias in the media on the part of influential news enterprises:

“A leading force in online journalism appears to be making a strong effort to be anything but fair and balanced.”

The only problem is that she is not referring to the bias in her own reporting. That quote was from an article she wrote last month criticizing Arianna Huffington for “injecting her endorsement of the demonstrations into her media outlets’ coverage of the events in lower Manhattan.” It’s another proud moment for Winter who has somehow managed to out Huffington as a liberal. Who knew?

Winter has a bright career ahead of her, so long as she stays at Fox News. She doesn’t know who the Attorney General is. She doesn’t know that the Huffington Post is not a neutral media outlet. She doesn’t know how to compose an article without relying solely on anonymous sources and right-wingers. She doesn’t know that it’s bad form to cite herself as a source for subsequent reporting without disclosure. Best of all, she is not the least bit embarrassed by exhibiting her ignorance in public. If she’s an attractive young blond then she is everything Fox News could hope for.

And therein lies the mystery. Why isn’t she already appearing as part of Bill O’Reilly’s harem? Why hasn’t she filled in for Gretchen Carlson on Fox & Friends? Does Megyn Kelly have some nasty dirt (or dirty pictures) on her? Who can say? As for me, I’ve got bigger fish to fry and can’t be distracted by every dame that Fox throws in my path. Winter’s a big girl and can take care of herself. She’s demonstrated her willingness and ability to peddle Fox’s snake oil with the best of them. And she is adept at feigning being shocked – SHOCKED – to find that there are ACORN shenanigans going on here.

Idiots At BigGovernment Post Video That Proves They Are Idiots

This never fails to brighten my day. Some right-wingers are so stupid they don’t even know they are refuting their own positions with some of the attempted slander they present.

Today Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment (notoriously stupid to begin with) posted an interview of an Occupy Wall Street protester. She was prodded about reports of malfeasance on the part of the Occupy movement or some of its participants. The purpose being to smear the protest movement with phony allegations and rumors. The result was an article with the headline: ACORN Front Group Pays Homeless People ‘$10 a Hour, $100 a Day’ to Protest at Occupy Wall Street.

The only problem is that the woman in the video did not say that the allegedly hired homeless persons were paid to be protesters. What she said was…

“I know some people, homeless people, are getting paid to come here and mess things up.”

So her actual charge is that they were provocateurs hired to disrupt the protest, not to support it. She seemed earnest and well-meaning, but somewhat ill-informed in that her comments appeared to conflate reports of paid instigators with unrelated reports of ACORN hiring protesters. The ACORN story itself was obvious propaganda which I debunked last week. The absurd assertions of Fox News and others painted a picture of a bankrupt and disbanded non-profit group shelling out a quarter of a million dollars for extras to populate the scene at Zucotti Park.

As further evidence of the confusion of the woman in the video, her story didn’t even make sense. Why would ACORN pay people to disrupt a protest that they presumably supported? Anyone who has watched the news the past few weeks would have readily recognized the flaws in her comments and reputable journalists would not have used them, at least not without attempting get a clarification. But that doesn’t stop the rocket scientists at BigGovernment who saw fit to post this interview anyway. Never mind that it fingered the Occupy movement’s opponents as saboteurs and dirty tricksters. What’s more, it revealed that Breitbart’s prior efforts to miscast the Occupiers as shills was a lie. If this woman is to be believed, it was Breitbart’s side that were the shills. And she very likely got her misinformation (the ACORN nonsense) from “news” reported by Breitbart.

Despite the frequency with which right-wingers make themselves look like fools, it still astonishes me when they do so. And they even manage to escalate the flamboyancy of their blockheadedness with each new incident. With all the turmoil and tribulation in the world these days, I suppose I should grateful for the little bit of cheer they bring to my life. There really is nothing I enjoy more than when my ideological opponents show up for a debate with big, red, rubber noses and clown shoes.

Fox News Raises ACORN From The Grave To Bash The #Occupy Movement

Another day, another Fox News attempt smear the Occupy Wall Street movement.

This article also appears on Alternet.org.

Fox News has been feverishly trying to dampen the viral growth of OWS ever since it sprouted in a park in Lower Manhattan about a month ago. Their overt hostility is in sharp contrast to the love affair they had with the early Tea Party. Now they are slandering decent and passionate protesters as communists, whining about class war, comparing them to hippies, accusing them of violence, and associating them with Nazis. All of these attacks have collapsed from the weight of their own dishonesty, and support continues to grow for the movement. But does that stop Fox News?

Of course not. Their determination to crush this populist uprising is fueled by a cabal of bitter elitists with deep pockets. Rupert Murdoch’s pals on Wall Street have no intention of sitting still while they are asked to be accountable for their chicanery. So yesterday Fox’s Megyn Kelly featured a story based on an article at FoxNews.com with a provocative headline: EXCLUSIVE: Ex-ACORN Operatives Behind the Scene of ‘Occupy’ Protests.

Fox News on ACORN

Run for the hills, Helga. A defunct organization of community organizers who helped low-income citizens to vote, find housing, get an education, and navigate the complexities of government agencies, has risen from the dead to take control of a leaderless rabble of park squatters demanding an end to financial and political corruption. It’s Armageddon!

The FoxNews.com article was based on is a collection of unattributed sources making unsubstantiated allegations about New York Communities for Change (NYCC), the group Fox says is the ACORN spinoff. Most of the claims are so far-fetched as to be beyond believability. For example, one source flatly claims as a matter of fact that “there is a still a national ACORN.” The Fox reporter never bothers to confirm the demonstrably false assertion, nor to challenge the source. And then there’s this…

“Sources said NYCC has hired about 100 former ACORN-affiliated staff members from other cities – paying some of them $100 a day – to attend and support Occupy Wall Street. Dozens of New York homeless people recruited from shelters are also being paid to support the protests, at the rate of $10 an hour, the sources said.”

Doing the math, that comes to $10,000 a day for the staffers and another $8,000 (approx) a day for the homeless recruits. The Wall Street Occupation has just entered its sixth week, but if we assume that these folks worked for just three of those weeks, that’s $270,000 (with weekends off).

Remember, ACORN is an organization that disbanded when their funding dried up as a result of the negative publicity generated by the thoroughly discredited smear campaign of video-dissembler James O’Keefe. Every investigation of ACORN subsequent to their dissolution failed to find any wrongdoing except on the part of O’Keefe, whose videos were deemed to have been deliberately and unethically deceptive.

Nevertheless, Fox is now reporting that the spawn of this bankrupt non-profit “raked in about $5,000″ via fundraising efforts by hired canvassers. And with that puny take they managed to pay over a quarter of a million dollars to 150 people. That sort of magical fiscal management hasn’t been seen since Jesus fed the multitudes with five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. And all of this was supposedly orchestrated in order to make a crowd of thousands look marginally bigger. This doesn’t even take into consideration any of NYCC’s other expenses like rent, utilities, office equipment, etc., despite a specific assertion in the article that the money raised was used “to buy supplies, pay staff and cover travel expenses.”

NYCC has issued a response to Fox News:

“Fox News is trying to discredit Occupy Wall Street. New York Communities for Change is a new organization that fights for low- and moderate-income families. We don’t pay protesters and any monies raised by NYCC’s canvass are used in support of our ongoing issue campaigns. Period.

“The reality is that Occupy Wall Street is an organic movement of the 99% outraged at the ability of the 1% to corrupt America’s political and financial systems for personal gain while middle class families lose their jobs, their homes, and see their economic future devastated. We call on Fox News to stop its unseemly attacks and to respect the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that our nation needs a more equitable distribution of wealth.”

The Fox News article’s author, Jana Winter, claims to have interviewed insiders with specific knowledge of private details. Winter cites her interview subjects twenty times in the article but only once puts a name to a comment. Her negligence to identify anyone even includes a spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers and a Fox News producer – two people who presumably are not averse to attribution.

The one identified source is Harrison Schultz, an Occupy Wall Street spokesman, whom Winter quotes as saying that “he knew nothing about NYCC’s involvement in the Occupy movement. ‘Haven’t seen them, couldn’t tell you,’ he said.” So the only on-the-record quote in the whole article was an unambiguous denial of any OWS coordination with NYCC. That’s what Fox News considers an “exclusive” expose of ACORN’s clandestine domination of the movement.

For the past few weeks Fox News and the broader right-wing media has relentlessly hammered at OWS. They have tried in vain to drive down support for the movement by associating it with a different villain on an almost daily basis. Bill O’Reilly and his guest, Glenn Beck, discussed how George Soros was funding the protesters and their newspaper, The Occupied Wall Street Journal. In fact, there is no verifiable tie to Soros and the newspaper was produced by notorious pranksters, The Yes Men, and funded by donations. Glenn Beck took pleasure in a report that former KKK leader David Duke had “endorsed” OWS. What Beck failed to mention is that Duke, a pathological self-promoter, had also endorsed the Tea Party. But Andrew Breitbart took the top dishonors by speculating that OWS might be affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Despite this barrage of hogwash, the Occupy movement continues to gain popularity. A CBS/New York Times poll shows that 43% of the country agree with the Occupiers. An Associated Press poll shows that 37% of Americans view the protesters favorably. That compares to only 28% who have a favorable view of the Tea Party. Even more significant is the support expressed for the movement’s economic justice agenda, particularly raising taxes on the wealthy. A Bloomberg poll shows overwhelming support by 68% of the American people, including a majority of both independents and Republicans. And poll after poll affirms those results.

Is it any wonder then that Fox News is so frantically flinging fistfuls of mud in the hopes that something will stick? And since the usual name-calling they employ (socialists, thugs, deviants) has failed to make a mark, they are pulling out oldies like ACORN. Even if the association with ACORN were true, what would be the harm? We know now that ACORN was fully exonerated, while their critics were repudiated. There is certainly no shame in being associated with an organization that fought for decades on behalf of the disenfranchised members of our society.

This is a desperation move on the part of Fox News that reveals the weakness of their position. If this is the best that Fox can come up with, expect the Occupy movement to continue gaining strength. But also expect Fox to escalate their attacks into even more bizarre territory. Before long they will find a way to associate the Occupiers with an underground civilization of Molemen seeking to overthrow the surface-dwellers. Occupy Overground!

Don’t Forget Andrew Breitbart’s Legacy Of Sleaze

With calls mounting for Anthony Weiner to resign, it would be prudent to take a look back at the public record of his accuser. It is Andrew Breitbart whose behavior is most repulsive and destructive. He is a liar and a hypocrite and causes far more harm than a horny congressman who never actually engaged in any sexual misconduct. If anyone should resign and skulk away in shame, it’s Breitbart.

[The following News Corpse article was originally published by Alternet]

Andrew BreitbartPublic apologies are often the source of captivating and prurient entertainment. There seems to be a genetic compulsion in the human DNA to observe our heroes, celebrities, and, of course, adversaries, fall from grace and beg forgiveness. This week we saw what may be Rep. Anthony Weiner’s curtain call but, like any good melodrama, he was upstaged by an ambitious and vainglorious rival, Andrew Breitbart.

After commandeering the podium at Weiner’s press conference, Breitbart declared “I’m here for some vindication.” He portrayed himself as a media-contrived victim of character assassination and challenged the reporters in the room substantiate their alleged assaults on his reputation.

“The media says ‘Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies.’ Give me one example of a provable lie. One. One. Journalists? One. Put your reputation on the line here.”

For some reason, no one in the room responded. It’s almost as if the press were clueless stenographers, unfamiliar with Breitbart’s past, and were incapable of providing a substantive rebuttal.

This is actually fairly typical of the modern press corps. Another example occurred when the New York Times asked Breitbart about the Weiner affair on Saturday and he attempted to strike a non-partisan tone saying that…

“I am as offended when John Ensign acts like an idiot, when Chris Lee acts like an idiot.”

Really? What the Times failed to note was that Breitbart’s BigGovernment blog did not publish a single story about the travails of either Ensign or Lee. Not one single story. How offended was he? Compare that to his obsession with Weiner that produced 17 separate stories and consumed every single headline (except for the plug for his lame book), and that was four full days after the story broke.


For those who are interested, including members of the press who were struck dumb at the press conference, here is a brief compilation of Breitbart’s reportorial resume, replete with dishonesty and deliberate disinformation. Feel free to offer these in response to Breitbart’s future challenges. We will await his profuse and heartfelt apologies.

1) ACORN: Breibart’s web site was the central agency for disseminating videos that were later shown to have been heavily edited in order to convey a fictional scenario that smeared a social service organization that had for years been assisting low income citizens with financial advice and voter registration. Every investigation of the affair exonerated ACORN and affirmed the deception of the videos. Breitbart’s henchman, James O’Keefe, is currently being sued by former ACORN employee, Juan Carlos Vera.

2) Shirley Sherrod: In this episode, Breitbart was responsible for slandering a USDA employee as a racist. Lately he has been defending himself by saying that he had included the “redemptive arc” of her story that revealed her innocence. But let’s not forget how he originally portrayed the situation:

“In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions. […] In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer.”

That is a pretty clear accusation of discriminatory behavior on the part of a federal employee. And it is also a lie. Sherrod did not discriminate against the farmer, as Breitbart later acknowledged, and the story she told was of an incident that occurred 20 years before she held a federal post. Nevertheless, Breitbart’s reaction at the time was another demonstration of his paranoid Narcissism as he whined, “As difficult as it probably was for her, it’s been difficult for me as well.” Poor guy. Sherrod is currently suing Breitbart.

3) Clinton Plotting a Tea Party Attack: Breitbart published a story with no evidence, about an alleged conspiracy that never came to pass:

“Big Government has learned that Clintonistas are plotting a ‘push/pull’ strategy. They plan to identify 7-8 national figures active in the tea party movement and engage in deep opposition research on them. If possible, they will identify one or two they can perhaps ‘turn’, either with money or threats, to create a mole in the movement. The others will be subjected to a full-on smear campaign.”

Also never coming to pass…a retraction. This story bubbled up through the media like much of Breitbart’s fiction, eventually getting coverage from Fox Nation.

4) Jason Mattera’s Punking of Grayson and Franken: Jason Mattera, who later became editor of Human Events, was employed to run a couple of “ambush” interviews that were posted on Breitbart’s web site. One interview targeted Rep. Alan Grayson and castigated him for his support of bill that funded a program to prevent child abuse. The other interview was directed at Sen Al Franken who was attacked for supporting student health and school safety. In both cases Mattera twisted the purpose of the legislation into something unrecognizable and patently false. Expect more of this because, as Breitbart says in his book, Righteous Indignation, “Ambush journalism is the most valuable kind of journalism.”

5) University of Missouri Labor Class: In another phony video sting, Breitbart published a video of the proceedings of a class on the history of labor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. As usual, the video was a deceitful mash-up that misrepresented the professors and students as supporting violent labor activity. The twist here is that it was Breitbart’s one-time friend Glenn Beck who published an accounting of the video deception and vindicated the professors. As a bonus intrigue, the party from whom Breitbart got the UM video is identified only as Insurgent Visuals. That, however, may be a ruse to disguise Breitbart’s long-time partner in crime, James O’Keefe.

6) Beck’s Back Alley Snitch: Speaking of Glenn Beck, in happier times when the two weren’t feuding, Breibart was the source for numerous Beck offensives. He provided Beck with scandalous material on Van Jones who, at the time, was a White House adviser on environmental initiatives. Beck lauded Breitbart, saying…

“You know where the great journalists of our time are? Andrew Breitbart. […] You were the only one, besides watchdogs, that were really aggressively working behind the scenes with us on Van Jones.”

The same thing occurred with Yosi Sergant, communications director for the National Endowment for the Arts. Breitbart went after him and provided the data to Beck, who said…

“This is again another Breitbart story, where the NEA communications director reached out and said, hey, listen, we have to be very careful with our language here.”

In both cases the information provided by Breitbart was vague and/or untrue, but both Jones and Sergant were jettisoned — just as Sherrod was — by a nervous White House for violations that were either false or greatly exaggerated.

7) Democrats Plotted to Blame Tea Party for Slaughter: Breitbart’s site featured an article that made the sensationalist claim that Democrats devised a plan to blame the Tea Party for the tragic shooting in Tucson, AZ. The allegation consisted of a single, unidentified source who merely offered his own opinion that the massacre could be pinned on Tea Partiers. There was no allegation of a conspiracy or even of any discussions of such a plan by anyone connected to the Democratic Party. But that didn’t stop Breitbart from posting the story with an irresponsibly provocative headline.

8) The Abbie Boudreau Affair: In one of the most bizarre adventures by the James O’Keefe gang, they set out to lure CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau into a floating love nest to embarrass her in some manner that was never really explained. While Breitbart did not act as the agent for this prank, he did provide a platform for O’Keefe to publish his defense after having been outed by an accomplice. O’Keefe managed to take a situation in which he appeared to be a revolting pervert and make it worse by saying about Boudreau…

“She would have had to consent before being filmed and she was not going to be faux ‘seduced’ unless she wanted to be.”

Considering the fact that he never sought the consent of his previous video victims, why should we accept his assertion that he was going to start seeking consent now? Even more troubling is his implication that his intended victim “wanted” it. O’Keefe is resorting to the disgusting defense that rapists offer about their victims. And Breitbart permitted this to be published on his site.

9) GEICO Gecko – Tea Party Crasher? Breitbart’s BigGovernment blog posted a mind-numbingly stupid article that accused Ricky Gervais, the actor/comedian and voice of the GEICO Gecko of disparaging the Tea Party in a profanity-laced voice-mail. The only problem is that Gervais had nothing to do with it. It was an actor (D.C. Douglas) who worked for GEICO a couple of years prior. But it wasn’t enough to smear Gervais with insinuations, Breitbart also posted a picture of the Gecko atop a table that was adorned with a poster of President Obama sporting a Hitler mustache. What that had to do with the story is anyone’s guess. It just appeared to be a gratuitous slap at the President while falsely slandering Gervais.

10) Racism: Breitbart is obsessed with the theme of racism. He is convinced that the charge is thrown around cavalierly, and mostly to insult Tea Partiers and himself. He embarked on a campaign to prove that congressman and civil rights hero, John Lewis, was lying when he said that he had been the victim of racial epithets when attending a congressional rally. He regards the Shirley Sherrod incident as an example of the racism demonstrated by the NAACP. But when discussing allegations of his own prejudice, Breitbart said this to radio host Adam Carolla:

“Can I prove that I’m not a racist toward Hispanics? Did you ever see Moscow on the Hudson? Remember Maria Conchita Alonso in that? The things I did to myself as a teenager prove that I’m not a racist.”

So Breitbart’s proof that he is not a racist is that he used to masturbate to pictures of a Latino actress. That defense would also work pretty well to prove that colonial plantation masters weren’t racist either because they routinely raped their slaves. Breitbart’s repulsive pride in his perverse view of racial open-mindedness tells us much about him. And he is certainly in no position to assess the veracity of people like John Lewis.

This should be a good starting point for the press in case they ever get the chance again to respond to Breitbart’s call for evidence of his dishonesty and low character. Here’s hoping that they are listening and that no one presumes to use the Weiner affair to rehabilitate Breitbart’s deservedly sleazy reputation. Just because Breitbart lucked into being correct (like a broken clock) doesn’t mean that his long-established pattern of deception should be dismissed. Just because Charles Manson didn’t kill Marilyn Monroe doesn’t mean that he’s innocent of every other crime attributed to him.

Breitbart deserves no accolades over this. His reputation cannot be rehabilitated after one lucky scoop sent to him by a Twitter stalker. And he still owes the many people he deliberately harmed an apology. Weiner, at least, was man enough to own up to his mistakes, eventually. Will Breitbart ever do the same? Not likely.

ACORN Pimp And Prostitute Going To Trial

O'Keefe and GilesJames O’Keefe And Hannah Giles are being tried for violations of California’s privacy laws. The plaintiff, ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera, contends that O’Keefe and Giles unlawfully recorded conversations with him that were later edited to misrepresent his remarks.

O’Keefe and Giles filed separate motions to dismiss the case and the court ruled against (pdf) both of them.

O’Keefe claimed that, the California law not withstanding, he had a First Amendment right to surreptitiously record and publish private conversations with anyone he felt like. The court disagreed saying that the law prohibiting recordings to which both parties have not agreed, and for which there was a reasonable expectation of privacy, did not have an exception for the media. The court cited precedent that said:

“…the state may not intrude into the proper sphere of the news media to dictate what they should publish and broadcast, but neither may the media play tyrant to the people by unlawfully spying on them in the name of newsgathering.”

Giles motion contended that she was not liable because O’Keefe was the one doing the recording. This laughable defense misunderstood the law to argue that only the person holding the recording device was liable. But it also demonstrated the shallowness of her loyalty as she quickly heaped all the blame on her partner to save her own skin.

Having ruled against both motions, the pair will go to trial for their offenses. If justice is served this won’t be the only time, and they won’t be the only ones. Ya hear that Andrew Breitbart?