Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Just How Nuts Is The Right-Wing Media?

While campaigning for Ralph Nader in the 2000 election, Jim Hightower said, “Ralph drives the right-wing crazy. That’s a fairly short drive for most of them.” Shorter than I realized.

To round up some of the most insane things heard by the right-wing media this year, let’s have a review. Media Matters for America listed the most obnoxious and ridiculous things the right have said in 2004, and also gave Bill “Pass The Vibrator, Please“ O’Reilly the Misinformer Of The Year award, and as this will be my last posting of the year, I thought it would be a nice thing to put up, until we all meet again in 2005. The following is from mediamatters.org:


Here are the Top Ten most outrageous statements we have heard this year from members of the media. From anti-Semitic comments and attacks on women, gays, and lesbians to reprehensible acceptance of the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture, these statements are acutely representative of the conservative hate speech we found in the news media:

* Rush Limbaugh on the Abu Ghraib photos: “I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?”

* Ann Coulter: “[Senator John] Kerry will improve the economy in the emergency services and body bag industry.”

* Tony Blankley called philanthropist George Soros “a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust.”

* Michael Savage: “When you hear 'human rights,' think gays. ... [T]hink only one thing: someone who wants to rape your son.”

* Oliver North: “Every terrorist out there is hoping John Kerry is the next president of the United States.”

* Pat Robertson on gays and lesbians: “[S]elf-absorbed hedonists ... that want to impose their particular sexuality on the rest of America.”

* Pat Buchanan: “[H]omosexuality is an affliction, like alcoholism.”

* Bill O'Reilly to Jewish caller: “[I]f you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel.”

* Bill Cunningham (Clear Channel radio host who appeared as a guest on The Sean Hannity Show): The election is over because “Elizabeth Edwards has now sung.”

* Jerry Falwell: “And we're going to invite PETA [to “wild game night“] as our special guest, P-E-T-A -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We want you to come, we're going to give you a top seat there, so you can sit there and suffer. This is one of my special groups, another one's the ACLU, another is the NOW -- the National Order of Witches [sic]. We've got -- I've got a lot of special groups.”


Since our launch in May 2004, Media Matters for America has monitored, analyzed, and corrected conservative misinformation in the news media 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our staff recently reviewed the misinformation we've identified and corrected during those eight months in order to choose our first annual “Misinformer of the Year.”

Of all the news anchors, columnists, pundits, and reporters whose work we've critiqued and corrected, one stands above all the rest. We're pleased to announce that with at least 75 (we stopped counting) lies, distortions, and mischaracterizations, television host, columnist, radio host, former Inside Edition anchor, man of the people, and Harvard University graduate Bill O'Reilly can now claim the title: 2004 Misinformer of the Year. We've compiled a list of some of his most egregious false and misleading claims of 2004 for your reading pleasure. We've left out comments that were merely offensive, but you can see where he ranks on our list of the Top Ten Most Outrageous Comments of 2004 here.

Without further ado:

1. O'Reilly falsely claimed Bush didn't oppose 9-11 Commission. O'Reilly defended President George W. Bush from a Kerry-Edwards '04 TV ad highlighting Bush's opposition to creation of the 9-11 Commission by denying that Bush had ever opposed the commission. In fact, Bush did oppose the creation of the 9-11 Commission. (10/21/04)

2. O'Reilly falsely claimed Iraq had ricin. O'Reilly responded to a caller to his radio show by defending the Iraq war: “They did have ricin up there in the north -- so why are you discounting that so much?“ In fact, the Duelfer report (the final report of the Iraqi Survey Group, led by Charles A. Duelfer, which conducted the search for weapons in Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion) indicates that Iraq did not have ricin. (10/19/04)

3. O'Reilly repeated discredited claims on Iraq-Al Qaeda link. O'Reilly interrupted a former Clinton administration official who tried to correct the record on O'Reilly's claim that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi constitutes a direct link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He also allowed a conservative guest to repeat without challenge other discredited claims about Iraq's supposed involvement in terrorism -- claims O'Reilly has himself cited in the past. (9/27/04)

4. O'Reilly fabricated “Paris Business Review” as source for success of French boycott. O'Reilly falsely claimed “they've lost billions of dollars in France according to ‘The Paris Business Review’” due to an American boycott he advocated of French imports. Media Matters for America found no evidence of a publication named “The Paris Business Review.” (4/27/04)

5. O'Reilly cited phony stats to argue that taxes on rich are excessive. O'Reilly tried to “blow off” the argument that wealthy Americans ought to pay more taxes by citing phony statistics about the tax burden the rich currently bear. (6/30/04)

6. O'Reilly confused on elementary economics. O'Reilly told a caller on his radio show, “We [the United States] have a trade deficit with everybody, because everybody wants our stuff, and we're not wild about snails” -- indicating that he doesn't know the definition of “trade deficit” and implying that the United States runs a trade surplus with France. In fact, in the first four months of 2004, the United States had a $3 billion trade deficit with France. (6/10/04)

7. O'Reilly doctored quotation to suggest Soros wished his own father dead. During his smear campaign against progressive financier, philanthropist, and political activist George Soros, O'Reilly doctored a 1995 quotation by Soros to make it seem as if Soros wished his own father dead. (6/1/04)

8. O'Reilly questioned if Kennedy would show up to Democratic convention ... as Kennedy spoke behind him. O'Reilly teased an upcoming segment of The O'Reilly Factor, broadcast live from the Democratic National Convention, by saying of convention speaker Senator Edward Kennedy: “When we come back, we'll let you listen to Ted Kennedy for a while, if he shows up.” In fact, Kennedy had already shown up and had been speaking for several minutes, as O'Reilly need only have turned around to see. (7/27/04)

9. O'Reilly disparaged Democrats with trifecta of voter falsehoods. In a discussion about what went wrong for Democrats in the November 2 election, O'Reilly claimed that Democrats “lost votes from four years ago“; that “18- to 24[-year-old]s didn't go” to the polls; and that “[c]ommitted Republicans didn't carry the day for the president; independents did.” All three claims are false. (11/4/04)

10. O'Reilly on the radio: Three lies, one broadcast. Lie No. 1: Bush tax cuts didn't create the budget deficit. Lie No. 2: “Socialistic” French, Germans, and Canadian governments tax at 80 percent. Lie No. 3: Canadian, British, and French media are “government-controlled,” but Italian media is free. (7/7/04)


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