In a letter he sent to Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy today, Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger lists a litany of abuses that have taken place during the course of the investigation of the 2012 attack.
Among these abuses, Hedger reports, is that the committee is requesting that the Defense Department track down callers to Sean Hannity’s radio show in order to call them as witnesses:
The Committee has requested to interview an individual identified as ‘John from Iowa’ who described himself as a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) camera operator on a talk radio show, where he described what he allegedly saw in the video feed from the night of the attack. The Department has expended significant resources to locate anyone who might match the description of this person, to no avail. The Committee staff then expanded this initial request to include all RPA pilots and RPA sensor operators who operated in the region that night.
After two years, $6.7 million in taxpayer dollars, and an 11-hour grilling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that was widely derided as a failed partisan hatchet job, the Select Committee is now relying on callers to right wing radio shows as witnesses.
It has to be said, this is not parody.
Long a target of frenzied right-wing smear campaigns, Hillary Clinton faced attacks during her tenure as secretary of state from activists and pundits who claimed she was trying destroy the U.S., impose Sharia law and shut down churches across America. And that doesn’t even include the Benghazi truthers who have tried to exploit the deadly 2012 terrorist attack on an American diplomatic compound in Libya by coming up with bizarre, easily debunked, conspiracy theories about Clinton’s handling of the incident.
Now that Clinton has officially announced her second presidential run, the right-wing media has kicked off its latest round of Clinton-bashing. Here are just five of the lowlights from the last five days of right-wing anti-Clinton hysteria.
5. Maybe She’s A Lesbian…
While Family Research Council President Tony Perkins argues that Clinton’s inclusion of two gay couples in her campaign launch video shows that she ultimately seeks “the complete demotion of the natural family,” the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios has a different explanation. Rios said on her radio show yesterday that “rumors swirl” about Clinton’s own sexual orientation, claiming that the former first lady and senator has a long history of “embracing homosexuality” and promoting “lesbianism.”
4. ‘Permanent Darkness’
Shortly after the news of Clinton’s impending announcement broke on Friday, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre kicked off his group’s annual summit — attended by several GOP presidential hopefuls — by rolling out a list of purported “scandals” that he blamed on Clinton, including the 1993 death of White House aide Vince Foster.
Rafael Cruz, Sen. Ted Cruz’s father and close adviser, delivered a similarly bleak message in a speech to a Georgia Tea Party group, asserting that “if we have someone like Hillary Clinton elected in 2016, you might as well kiss this country goodbye, this country’s gone.”
3. Chipotle? Scandal!
In another sign that Clinton will be criticized no matter what she does, one Fox News panel slighted her for visiting an Iowa Chipotle with her aide Huma Abedin, whom host Andrea Tantaros suggested was hungover. Tantaros even speculated that Clinton only ordered food from Chipotle because she is afraid that Sen. Marco Rubio may be consolidating the Latino vote.
2. Persecuted White Men
Bill O’Reilly, a staunch defender of the persecuted white Christian man, said that Clinton’s candidacy has potential because “traditional American values” are under assault. Reacting to the announcement of Clinton’s presidential bid, the Fox News host said that she has an “advantage” in a climate like today’s where “if you’re a Christian or a white man in America, it’s open season on you.”
1. Too Ugly To Be President
Surprising nobody, sexist attacks on Clinton’s age and looks began as soon as the news broke about her announcement. Fox News pundit Sean Hannity laid out his compelling case against Clinton like so: “She’s aging, out of ideas, often shrill, apparently, according to oral reports, angry and clearly not inspiring.” Conservative legal activist Larry Klayman called her the “Wicked Witch of the Left,” saying she is only “technically a woman.”
Don Feder, a Religious Right activist with the World Congress of Families, took it even further, writing that Clinton’s “hideousness factor” should preclude her from the presidency.
“Lyndon Baines Johnson was the last profoundly ugly candidate to be elected president, and he was a legacy of the martyred JFK,” Feder wrote. “Voters don't want a leader who looks frazzled or frumpy. We're told that Lincoln was too homely to be elected president in an age of television and paparazzi. But Lincoln's homely face had a dignity, a gravitas. If nothing else, we want a face that reassures us, not one that scares us, a la Night of the Living Alinskyites.”
CPAC changed its format for speakers this year, and now they can elect to use part or all of their allotted time to answer questions. But if today’s questions are any indication, they shouldn’t have to worry about facing any hardballs.
Ben Carson, the first speaker to have a Q&A session, fielded questions about how he will “make us feel more united and less divided” from a questioner who applauded his answers. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, faced a CPAC speaker’s dream question: “What is your biggest criticism of President Obama?”
The questions didn’t get any tougher.
Conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham kicked off her time with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by asking him how he “survived” the media’s “onslaught” against him. Sen. Ted Cruz fielded what was quite possibly toughest question of the night from Fox News anchor Sean Hannity of Fox News: “Why does Ted Cruz love America?”
Watch our compilation of some of the “toughest” questions asked today here:
After Sen. Ted Cruz’s speech at CPAC today, Sean Hannity came out to interview him, asking him such hardball questions as “Why does Ted Cruz love America?”
Hannity also asked Cruz a series of rapid-fire questions, asking for the first word that came to the senator’s mind when he said a name.
For Hillary Clinton, Cruz responded “Washington.” For Bill Clinton, he responded “youth outreach”…after Hannity did his best impression of Clinton hitting on a member of the audience.Hannity then asked for Cruz’s first impression of “Barack Hussein Obama,” to which Cruz responded “lawless imperator.”
RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.
On top of all the dizzying anti-government rhetoric emanating from the Bundy Ranch fiasco, the right-wing still had time this week for extremist and bizarre claims about gays, Muslim-Americans and Hillary Clinton.
5. Bundy Ranch Rallying Cry
Fox News, Tea Party groups and the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity have become major cheerleaders for Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his allied militias in their lawless stance against Bureau of Land Management, consistently citing debunked claims that the BLM is working on behalf of a solar energy project led by Harry Reid and a Chinese firm.
Fox News host Sean Hannity hinted that the government was trying to murder Bundy, and his network colleague Todd Starnes suggested that violence would have been an appropriate response to the authorities who confronted Bundy after his defiance of several court rulings.
4. The ‘Gay Jihad’
Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, whose over-the-top columns are so unbelievable that he may in fact be deliberately trying to embarrass the conservative movement and undermine it from within, this week warns that “‘gay’ jihadists,” along with the “power class of cultural Marxists and left-wing statists,” are pushing an “anti-Christian, sexually anarchist sociopolitical agenda.”
“Most people are naturally repulsed by the mechanics of homosexual conduct,” Barber writes, warning that their “filthy practice” is “the squalid, unnatural and feculent abuse of both the reproductive and digestive systems. Yuck.”
Therefore, he warns that gays need to take over public schools and the media in order to “indoctrinate” the public against their better instincts to oppose gay rights.
But Barber goes on to lament that most people aren’t as smart or brave as he is, leaving them easy prey of the gay “jihad.”
3. America’s Star Of David Badge?
Eagle Forum’s national political chairwoman Sandy McDade says that while she wants the governor to require people show a photo ID in order to vote, she opposes the REAL ID Act because it will turn America into Nazi Germany.
McDade, who also heads Eagle Forum’s Louisiana chapter, testified at a Louisiana legislative hearing on Tuesday against a REAL ID compliant driver’s license bill, warning that a gold star on the license is reminiscent of the Star of David badge that the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear.
2. Birth of the Shoe Truthers
It was only a matter of time before conservative activists conjured up a conspiracy theory about the incident in which a woman threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton while she was delivering a speech in Las Vegas. Writing for Fox News commentator Bernard Goldberg’s blog, Arthur Louis speculated that “Hillary arranged to have the shoe thrown at her” in order to “make her seem presidential.”
Herman Cain, who at one point was the frontrunner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, suggested that Clinton engaged in “fakery,” and tweeted an article from his website’s editor-in-chief, Dan Calabrese, about how “only a completely naive fool” would believe that Clinton didn’t stage the incident.
In the article, Calabrese carefully analyzed Clinton’s movements when the shoe was thrown in her direction, concluding that she had a “snarky grin on her face” and did not have “a natural reflex action.” “Listen carefully to the inflection,” he wrote. “I'm just asking: Did that sound sincere?”
Rush Limbaugh also weighed in, saying that he wouldn’t reject the “shoe truther” conspiracy theory because it all could have been a ploy to discredit conservatives who criticize the former secretary of state’s handling of the Benghazi attack.
So, it should come as no surprise that less than 24 hours after Chelsea Clinton announced that she is pregnant with her first child, we already have Clinton baby truthers.
1. Muslims Can Vote? What A Scandal!
Of course, Fox News hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy believe that a new group working to increase the civic involvement of the Muslim-American community is a dangerous threat to the US, so they invited former congressman Allen West to spread insane fears about the Muslim Brotherhood taking over the country.
Because only to Fox News is an effort to increase voting and participation in public life an attempt “to wage jihad from within.”
Right-wing groups and media are waging a concerted attack on Rev. William Barber, organizer of this weekend’s “Moral March” in Raleigh, North Carolina.
North Carolina’s politics lurched to the far right after multimillionaire Art Pope poured money into a far-right takeover of the state government. A tidal wave of horrible legislation last year attacked voting rights, public education, health care, and unemployment insurance -- and raising taxes on poor families to give tax breaks to a handful of the state’s wealthiest people. Basically, if you want to see what unfettered Tea Party governance looks like, look at North Carolina.
In response, a huge statewide coalition led by Barber, the president of the state NAACP, organized “Moral Mondays” protests to draw attention to the legislature’s extremism. State GOP officials initially dismissed the movement, with one legislator deriding “Moron Mondays” and others blaming the protests on “outside agitators.” But the protests grew to thousands, with more than 900 people, the vast majority of them from North Carolina, being arrested.
The progressive Forward Together coalition drew tens of thousands of people to Raleigh this weekend for a “Moral March,” which kicked off a year of organizing and voter engagement. This progressive mobilization has generated excitement among progressive activists nationally, and has made Barber a target of the right wing.
In recent weeks, Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren have invited Sen. Tim Scott, Allen West, and Star Parker – all right-wing African Americans – to attack Barber for comments he made suggesting that Scott is a ventriloquist dummy for the Tea Party.
In the days leading up to Saturday’s march, the state’s Republican Chairman Claude Pope slammed Barber for using "inflammatory and offensive" rhetoric. And Tami Fitzgerald from the North Carolina Values Coalition snarked, “The so-called Moral March on Raleigh is anything but moral. It is spearheaded by groups that support abortion and homosexual marriage.” I am not aware that Fitzgerald has raised moral objections to right-wing state officials’ attacks on poor families’ access to health care.
At a press conference after the March, Tea Party activist David Webb, a Fox and Breitbart contributor, badgered Barber about whether he owed Scott and other black conservatives an apology. No apology was forthcoming. The unruffled Barber said his job and calling are “to speak the truth about public policies, policies that hurt millions of people.”
Barber said his critique was based on policy, not personality. “While some people may choose to get caught up on a metaphor,” Barber said, “the real indignation and upsetness should be over the regressive agenda” and over policies that are causing “real-life suffering and death.”
If folk want to get upset, get upset over the denying of Medicaid expansion, get upset over voting to reject unemployment benefits for laid off workers who are Republican, who are Democrat, who are black, who are white. Get upset over reduced access to public education and funding of it….and get upset over the attacks to turn back voting rights that were won through blood, sweat and tears.”
Before he left on his holiday vacation, Glenn Beck hinted at some sort of "conservative summit" that would bring together Beck, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Rush Limbaugh in the summer of 2014. Today, Beck returned from vacation and discussed the event in a bit more detail, announcing that Hannity has already agreed to participate and is reaching out to Levin, and that the event will probably take place in June at some venue yet to be announced.
What appeared to please Beck most about this planned gathering is that it will take place shortly before the mid-term elections, with Beck and his co-hosts sarcastically musing about how coincidentally fortuitous if would be to "have a massive gathering somewhere right before the mid-terms" at which the conservative movement could come together in unity just before the elections.
"It would be really sad for the other side," said co-host Pat Gray:
Of course, just before the last election, Beck was confident that Mitt Romney would win because "God is not neutral in [the] freedom of all of mankind" and all the Tea Party and prayer rallies were just like what the Founding Fathers did to create this nation.
Sean Hannity last night was clearly upset that Rep. Keith Ellison exposed him for what he is — a partisan hack — and he is now launching attacks on the congressman by recycling statements Ellison made in the 1990s about the Nation of Islam, a group that the congressman later vociferously denounced. He even wondered if “we have somebody then in Congress that is the equivalent of one side of what the Klan is?”
Hannity has attacked Ellison over his faith in the past, arguing that Ellison’s use of Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran during his symbolic swearing-in ceremony “will embolden Islamic extremists” and is no different from a congressman using “Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which is the Nazi bible.”
While the use of inflammatory language and false claims is nothing new for Sean Hannity, we decided to use the segment as an opportunity to highlight the five Islamophobic smears regularly found on Fox News.
1. Obama is a Secret Muslim:
Fox News host Eric Bolling claimed that Obama “answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second” and Hannity himself alleged that Obama “went to a Muslim school.” Regular contributors like Charles Krauthammer and Donald Trump have also floated the claim that Obama was raised as a Muslim and back in 2007, Fox News ran with the discredited story that Obama was a student an Islamic “madrassa” in Indonesia.
2. Park 51 Will be used for Terrorism:
Dick Morris, who just recently was booted from the network following his hilariously bad election predictions, said that the Park 51 Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero is planning to “train the same kind of terrorists” that attacked the U.S. on 9/11, warning the building will be a “command center for terrorism.” Bolling alleged that Park 51 is being built to represent “the people who flew planes” into the Twin Towers and Bill O’Reilly warned the project is housing “condos for Al Qaeda.”
3. Al Jazeera Conspiracies:
Fox News contributor Lisa Daftari warned that Al Jazeera’s acquisition of Current TV will activate terrorist “sleeper cells” in Detroit and regular Fox guest Michelle Malkin called the channel “a cheerleader for terror” and “a Trojan Horse for terror TV.”
4. Sharia law a-comin’:
Regular Fox News viewers may be under the impression that President Obama, public schools and NASA seek to impose Sharia law. The network also recently hired Herman Cain as a contributor, who insisted that Muslims should be prohibited from serving in high levels of government and that localities have a right to ban mosques because Muslims seek to introduce Sharia law, warnings Hannity readily endorsed.
5. ‘All Terrorists are Muslims’:
Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends claimed that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” and Bill O’Reilly has implied that all Muslims were responsible for 9/11. Fox News regularly hosts anti-Muslim guests such as Brigitte Gabriel, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. In fact, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and contributor John Bolton prematurely blamed the far-right terrorist attack in Norway on government offices and a left-wing party youth summit on Muslims.