No amount of fact-checking by the media, consumer groups and the public affect Hannity’s assault on the US public interest
In a galling display of disregard for the public interest, Sean Hannity has been broadcasting provably false information on radio and TV about the Affordable Care Act. Salon’s “Inside the Fox News lie machine: I fact-checked Sean Hannity on Obamacare” uncovered how he distorted the stories of three couples to imply that they were worse off under Obamacare’s new rules. In fact, the couples are now able to get more coverage for less money, but Hannity did not retract his report.
By last night, Hannity’s lies were corrected on the Rachel Maddow Show, in theWashington Post, Politico, Huffington Post, CNN (VIDEO), The Ed Show (VIDEO), and many other outlets. Hannity refuses to address any of the coverage calling him out for deceit.
But now Consumer Reportshas also chimed in, correcting statements made by Hannity, The Hill and bloggers on Breitbart.com as “not true.” Consumer Reports advised shoppers the best time to enroll in Obamacare was a few weeks off, while expected delays and glitches at HealthCare.gov are ironed out. Hannity took this out-of-context, squealing “Consumer Reports, Ann, they’re telling people, ‘stay away from the website!’” in a segment to Ann Coulter, when just the opposite was true. Consumer Reports has unequivocally endorsed the exchange as the best place to purchase health care.
Hannity’s misinformation forced the nation’s leading consumer reporting experts to release a statement correcting the record so Americans can get accurate advice for purchasing healthcare policies. How is this connected to the Tea Party “scorch everything” campaign we just witnessed? Read on …
Continuing The Anti-Obamacare Shutdown Madness
During recent weeks, Hannity’s guests Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Rand Paul have expounded on the ways Obamacare was going to kill jobs, trying to justify a shutdown that cost our economy an estimated $24 billion and 120,000 jobs. These same Republican leaders could have offered any number of jobs bills that would sail through both houses in a heartbeat if they really cared about boosting employment – the stalled transportation bill is one of the more immediate examples
But they could also have modified Obamacare to ensure employers wouldn’t excise staff, if they so desired. The very idea that the ACA will cost jobs is an admission that it doesn’t go far enough to ensure employers don’t penalize workers in offering health coverage.
But just hours after the shutdown failed to do anything and was overwhelmingly blamed on Republicans, Hannity threw his own guests under the bus, saying it was time for the House leadership to be replaced!
Rush Limbaugh sure knows how to get folks to talk about him, but he’s hit a new bottom on his website with a venomous smear of “mommies” who are ”too educated” and have become bored by their children.
Limbaugh surmises “…if all you’re going to do with that education is be a mommy, you are headed for white wine”…“they go out and start drinking white wine, and then they become lushes”. Rush then reverts to ‘slut’ talk, explaining how these ladies get promiscuous with random men:
“And the guys in the bars who are drinking less are waiting for the white wine-drinking women to cruise by them on the way home from the grocery store…[t]hey head them off at the pass and end up at the Motel 6 or whatever is nearby.”
Limbaugh was commenting on a Wall Street Journal article about alcohol abuse by women, but his interpretation took off into the absurd, claiming to have mined “the meat of the story” by “stripping away all of the extraneous BS”. He sprinkled in stats but ended up with wildly different conclusions than author Gabrielle Glaser if you bother to read her mediocre source article.
In short, Rush said this proves educated women hate the “tedium” of child rearing and somehow connects this to them being loose and adulterous.
This deliberate attack on women is only the latest in Rush’s ploy to generate buzz via outrage, going right back for more after the first “Slutgate” incident in March of 2012. Limbaugh drew criticism by characterizing activist Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” for testifying on behalf of medically necessary contraception. But it also generated headlines which he sees as positive.
Limbaugh lays his blueprint out clearly in interviews, embracing wide public hatred, as long as the publicity enables him to charge “confiscatory ad rates”. Over the decades, Limbaugh’s dominance of talk radio has helped narrow choice on the dial, as syndicators Clear Channel and Cumulus have gobbled up the strongest signals in the biggest markets.
But the anti-Limbaugh movement that coalesced since the original Slutgate scandal may have affected Limbaugh’s bottom line. For over a year, the social media group Flush Rush has been relentlessly contacting sponsors to read them misogynist and racist quotes by Limbaugh, claiming success as thousands of advertisers drop out. Just this week, they are reporting that Cumulus’ losses are mounting as Rush’s ads are increasingly being replaced by filler in key markets.
Limbaugh struck back though, hiring top crisis management consultant Brian Glicklich who had previously helped Paris Hilton repair her image. Right away, Limbaugh increased his online presence to counter the growing anti-Rush sentiment in social media. He finally began to use Twitter, “buying” Twitter followers by offering free Apple iPads.
Next, he opened a Facebook page for female supporters called “Rush Babes for America” which sports sexist “mudflap” silhouette designs. After gloating that the Rush Babes page accumulated more “likes” than NOW, the National Organization for Woman, reports surfaced proving that most of the Rush Babe “likes” were coming from fake, overseas accounts.
Still, there are many legitimate females who frequent the page. Limbaugh keeps it active by demeaning women in brief posts that prompt discussion. The formula is simple – be outrageous and people talk. Rush’s female fans agree some moms are too educated, for example saying they should “keep their legs shut” or “Motherhood has always driven women to drink — it’s a tough job”.
But the saddest I saw was a Rush “babe” who promised she’d do better to avoid Rush’s criticism: “Yes, being a mom of 2 little ones – I look forward to that glass of (any colored) wine when they are both tucked peacefully into bed! I’ll make sure to avoid stereotyping myself and avoid the grocery store!”
Do we have to accept that hate speech on public radio is a part of living in America?
Limbaugh is cagey, using his website to post this latest anti-woman rant because online “free speech” is different than radio airwaves which are supposed to have some component of “serving the public interest”.
The recent appointment of a new FCC commissioner has brought fresh questions to debates over the limits of political free speech over public airwaves.
One FCC complaint filed in Milwaukee proved that radio stations showed imbalance in favor of embattled governor Scott Walker by denying his critics any appreciable air time to refute claims. Lawyers for the station tried to defend this by citing a free speech exemption granted to “bonafide news” programs, arguing that talk radio hosts like Limbaugh meet this definition.
With that, a petition sprung up, claiming the FCC should rule that broadcasters like Rush Limbaugh are not actually credible “news” hosts and should be denied the “news” exemption for equal time requirements. Limbaugh himself claims to be an “entertainer”, putting him at odds with this legal argument.
When a gun rights advocate brings up the Second Amendment, I ask them why they wouldn’t defend the First, Fourth and Sixth Amendment from either Bush or Obama. If they are willing to fight for the Bill of Rights, why do gun-lovers not just allow, but fight for stripping our right to a jury trial, to privacy or protest?
Worse yet, if firearms are the answers to stopping government tyranny, why are gun owners first to grant this government the authority to unilaterally label US citizens as terrorists and wipe them off the map?
Codified by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, the 2011 NDAA makes firearm ownership yet another “red flag” for the government’s new legal authority to track, eavesdrop and ultimately, assassinate citizens, including minors, on their sole extra-judicial say-so, with total opacity. Isn’t this what the Second Amendment intended to prevent?
The “Well-Regulated Militia”
When the founders mandated we arm ourselves to stand against tyrannical rule, citizen soldiers using muskets, bayonets and cannons trained to resist phalanxes of government soldiers or statehouse coups like a glorified neighborhood watch.
We can agree “non-standing” militias were designed to provide security without federal control or tax dollars, but we must see a lopsided imbalance has evolved. Current laws allow citizens limited access to long arms as a comical check to the government’s stockpiles of atomic missiles, aircraft carriers, tank brigades, iron curtains, remote controlled flying machines – or digital ears and eyes in every home.
By the age of mortars, bazookas and howitzers, any glint of citizen parity with War Department firepower was lost, but after they developed the Apache copter, Stinger/Hellfire missiles and Predator drones, the concept was relegated to an exercise in fantasy. The very idea of thinking about a ‘security check’ on a government is made more ludicrous by the advantage government has in secrecy, encompassing anything from their new crowd control ray to classified bio-weapons programs, nano, genetic, or as-yet-unknown technologies.
The best bulwarks therefore are brains – the academic and independent labs that outpace DoD research, the freedom of the press that exposes their antics, the public shunning and shame.
The individual gun owner today might be able to defend themselves against a single rogue FBI agent on their lawn, but cannot hope to beat back the local SWAT team, let alone the US military, were they to turn on us. The Supreme Court admitted this in 2008, when Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority acknowledged the changes in technology indeed made the “security” clause of the Second Amendment moot. Nevertheless, Scalia used the opportunity to invent an arbitrary carve-out preserving the right to own hand guns, furthering confusion and endless debate.
The power of the people today lay in our political and aggregate strength, intelligence and economic power. The hacker community has more capability than some governments, demonstrating routinely how they can assume control of sites and networks, but often do so with a self-proclaimed morality responsible to the peeps, using their power to pick virtual locks with a conscious.
We have not been able to curb government corruption because the federal government hydra has grown over 470,000 times it’s size since the Second Amendment was ratified. But the venue for achieving balance has shifted anyway, from a potential homeland battlefield to the intellectual space – money, votes, airtime, buzz, boycotts, protests.
We The People are what keeps the country functioning, so our smarts and numbers will mean more to public policy than the founders’ writ. With respect to best intents, that horse hath left the barn already…
As often seen overseas, governments invest heavily in “heart and minds”, promising our votes and political support control outcomes. A major plank in this is gun ownership, a perennial wedge issue splitting us into rural and urban camps, but in practical political terms, a long settled debate.
The issue did not get ink in 2012 or 2008, a win for the status quo. Democrat John Kerry posed for a photo while game hunting, conceding the issue in 2004. Obama’s “skeet” photos are the latest round in the optics game that ensure the toothless Second Amendment is not in the crosshairs.
Ronald Reagan knew when he first started automating data analysis in the 1980 presidential campaign that potential voters like feeling they are in control. Owning a gun feeds this fantasy, a deadly weapon in hand gives a rush of penis-compensating awesomeness, but also purports to soothe our insecurity that Willie Horton, freshly paroled by liberals is lurking in the bushes with his beady black eye on our white women. This was key to Scalia’s unusual carve-out.
Reagan knew well how to play the cowboy, portraying many a formulaic wild west hero in a spate of Hollywood flicks. This tapped into our tradition of rugged frontier individualism on the surface, but more subliminally reminds us of a “white is right” and “might is right” history. The USA was built on gun violence and racism as we exploited brown people the world over to spur “growth”.
Guns harken back to our Manifest Destiny, now called American exceptionalism, right in the home, helping us puff out our chests as we ignore the stark reality that we are a much more likely to see a family member shot than use a gun in a “citizen intervention” case. These rare self-defense anecdotes are great for sales, allowing purchasers to imagine themselves in the super-suave hero role as they support an industry that made $1.7 trillion dollars in the last year.
But the reality is that the gun remains close at hand as families go through good and bad times – it’s there when depression hits and leads to a predictable 19,000 firearm suicides per year. It’s there when arguments or fender benders escalate violently, for all of our worst moments.
It’s there when spouses are caught cheating, or teenage hormones rage, or when small children explore the house. Just two years ago, a childhood friend of mine going through a separation took his life when he heard he was also losing his job. The gun was there before a friend could be.
So despite our best intentions for self-defense in the home, the increased access to the personal firearm has proven itself to be a remedy whose side effects are worse than the cure. Looking at the stats year after year , we are willingly hurting the many as we seek a benefit for the few.
If we cling to our Second Amendment liberty , the right to bear arms, the Constitution demands we train and prepare to revolt when our leaders fail to abide by the law, as part of a well-regulated militia . In a sense, it’s happening – i t is the truly the people keeping unchecked power from eating itself and everything else, but it’s getting increasingly difficult.
President Obama recently blustered that he could not change Washington from the inside, on one level an apparent cry for help, on the other, a warning reminiscent of Eisenhower’s 1961 call for “vigilance” of the military-industrial cancer consuming Washington. So who or what drives Obama, Bush and Congress to strip our rights away?
Concerning “tyranny”, the government has already violated the Constitution, many times over. When the founders crafted rules for impeachment, they expected it to be used frequently. But because of all-too-effective PR, government has made us servile, unable to question a War on Terror at odds with our Constitution and driving massive debt.
Reagan saw to it that pro-war propaganda was in place long before he ordered acts of aggression overseas. He even used taxpayer money to seed this, ordering restrictions lifted on political talk radio and manipulating national literature distribution to ensure hawkish ideas thrive on our bookshelves.
But since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, Bush era propaganda such as multicolored alerts froze all the so-called red state patriots into total “terrorized” compliance.
The typical NRA member and the demographic living in “shotguns and pickups” zipcodes were so afraid of Muslim extremists, they welcomed unprecedented surveillance, rendition, and enhanced interrogation. They continue to defend and argue for these policies, even as they roundly disapprove of Congress and absolutely despise the current occupant of the White House. Ironic is too weak a word.
This has been the biggest abuse of power in our lifetime, the new idea that terrorist acts constitute endless ‘war’ which suspends our civil liberties, treaties and normal checks and balances. Themselves well-armed, the typical red state voter was so pussifed by the specter of Osama bin Laden he swallowed whole the major changes to our civil liberties on the fast-track, without realizing how it affects their rights.
The Patriot Act, torture, detainment, the Iraq War, the drone program, the warrantless surveillance were all high crimes and misdemeanors sold to gun-toting Republicans as necessary to guard against an unseen enemy, these Islamic terrorists in sleeper cells. The 9/11 response of “shock and awe” stated actual intention to intimidate suicide bombers, a laughably tragic failure of logic. Why a suicidal maniac would fear their enemy, I’m sure I don’t know.
Thanks to Fox News and the Limbaugh/Hannity talk radio lot, Republicans are still pro-actively arguing for our rights to be withheld by the government. The same government they say is too big, is too incompetent, is too liberal. After 9/11, we traded liberty for security, directly contradicting the clearest language in the Constitution, without a peep. We declared War Powers without a true war, we allowed spying on ourselves and we invaded sovereign nations without cause. Democrats bought in, lending the necessary votes.
Obama continues further, through the Trespass Act which strips our First Amendment right to petition elected officials with grievances, now a felony punishable by 10 years in federal prison. The Tea Party, who used to love picketing and protesting stood by deaf and dumb as this passed both houses unanimously, quickly and quietly. The left did little more than report on it.
But worse by far, the NDAA stripped our Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial by a jury of our peers, to face our accuser, to have an attorney and the protection of due process enshrined in over 800 years of democratic tradition. Our new law says a single bureaucrat can be your judge, jury and executioner whether you are armed on an overseas battlefield, or walking down the street in your American home town. Suspicion alone is now all that is needed to indefinitely capture or kill any US citizen, to deprive them of rights stated plainly in the Constitution in extra-ultra-unmistakeably clear language.
The Obama administration is apparently hanging this on Bush’s “enemy combatant” designation, which applies during wartime (eleven years and counting) and quite newly, to any part of the USA homeland, now considered a “battlefield” from sea to shining sea.
Obama also denies our 4th Amendment protection of privacy, collecting all emails, texts and call data to create long-term profiles of every single citizen. Multiple NSA defectors have confirmed they created capability to map our personal and digital histories, aided by automation to sift through all communications, presumably to aid law enforcement “if necessary”. This is all being done in secret, at great expense, under the program Stellar Wind.
The GOP’s Lost Potential for Big Wins
If you’d told the GOP candidates they could run against Obama on multiple proven violations of the US Constitution, you’d think they’d be all over it. But curiously, Republicans across the board shrink on what should be slam-dunk issues that grab US voters by their red-blooded heartstrings. Why? Republicans are even more power-mad than Obama, hoping to get back in power to take the reins of Nixonian spying, executive assassination, indefinite detention, corporate glad-handing and absolute suppression of dissent.
Republicans love to share images of Obama shredding the Constitution or buggering Lady Liberty, but claim it’s Obamacare that is unconstitutional, the same policy that originated with them when first suggested by the Heritage Foundation. Full circle and head-up-ass…
Listeners were treated to media manipulation this week as Sean Hannity became a paid mouthpiece for the fracking industry. Last week, the Journal News described how Hannity took to the airwaves to say NY Governor Andrew Cuomo held off on controversial fracking permits to appease his “left wing” base.
In reality, Cuomo ordered state health reviews after an outpouring of 80,000 comments last year as the public rose in protest, finding taxpayer funded studies had baldly omitted the downsides of the practice. And a new Siena poll published just yesterday shows public opposition to fracking is on the rise.
We would find out just days later that Mr. Hannity’s latest advocacy for fracking also happens to coincide with a paid ad campaign in favor of the fracking industry, reading live ads for the film Frack Nation.
This is (again) an ethical conflict of interest, blurring show content with paid issue ads. In July 2011, we reported how Hannity and his mentor Rush Limbaugh were accused by the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Politico and The Economist for apparent violation of Section 317 of the 1934 Communications Act, entitled ”Announcement That Matter Is Paid For”. Muddying the lines between advertising and program content is frowned upon – unless you are, like Hannity, paid to “crystallize public opinion”.
Till now, Hannity has largely avoided the fracking debate, mentioning the destructive drilling process only fleetingly in a repetitive list of other “drill baby drill” initiatives. His specific criticism of Cuomo on this issue seems quite oddly timed.
But it gets worse. As part of a purchased spot heard Wednesday, Hannity described the Frack Nation documentary as “crowdfunded” through Kickstarter, even though no grassroots movie promotion campaign has ever reached a radio audience of 10+ million in primetime drive with live reads by the #1 top rated host in the time slot.
So this is a whopping lie, endorsed by Hannity as he reads from a script, failing to mention the rights to the movie have been secured by right wing billionaire Mark Cuban, whose cable station will feature the film. The market value of Hannity’s air time was not disclosed, and the Kickstarter solicitation never mentioned any funds going to advertising or promotion. So where did the money come from? How does Kickstarter feel about being mentioned in this deceptive ad copy?
Hannity’s shilling for moneyed interests is no surprise, but the fracking debate is serious – most people are unaware of the future costs our children will bear to inspect and repair millions of abandoned fracking wells decades from now. After wells are depleted, they sit there forever as up potential causeways for water contamination as erosion or land shift compromise concrete casings.
According to internal documents, the industry is already hiding that 6% of wells leak right from the outset. They prefer to discuss job creation, but don’t explain who will be paying the salaries of the ‘neverending’ repair crews.
Hannity has no compunctions about environmental karma, and is sure his children’s inheritance will provide for a lot of pristine bottled water. But his shivering cowardice in discussing the science behind fracking on the air is a theft of taxpayer resources, sabotaging public airwaves for payola talk radio that clearly does not serve the public interest. Read the rest of this entry →
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