Todd Starnes

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/19/13

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/18/13

Luke Brinker @ Equality Matters: Radio Host Janet Mefferd Applauds Jamaica's Anti-Homosexuality Law. Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: ‘Openly hostile to American values.’

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/9/13

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/4/13

Right Wing Leftovers - 11/20/13

  • Apparently, state chapters of the Christian Coalition still exist and the one in Alabama is launching a prayer and fasting campaign to save the state.
  • Rick Joyner is celebrating thirty years of ministry ... and false prophecy.
  • Costco has apologized for that fact that some Bibles in one store were accidentally labeled as "fiction." Another victory for Todd Starnes!
  • William Gheen has a list of "traitors" in the Republican Party who need to be primaried.
  • "An innovative action role-playing game [where] the message of the gospel is delivered through scripture found within the game?" Where do we sign up?
  • "The President is a liar!" says "Coach" Dave Daubenmire.

Starnes: Obama Will 'Turn The Military Against The People' And Attack Christians

On a radio commentary this week, Fox News commentator Todd Starnes warned that the US military may come after Christians, pointing to a training session in Mississippi that included the American Family Association on a list of hate groups.

Besides the patently absurd claim that the American Family Association is a “well-respected ministry” — you know, the one that thinks black people “rut like rabbits,” gays caused the Holocaust and God wanted the Native Americans slaughtered — Starnes falsely claimed that the military “labeled evangelical Christians and Catholics as extremists.”

Starnes went on to suggest that President Obama may be training the military for a potential attack on Christians in America.

“I am beginning to wonder if the Obama administration is trying to turn the military against the people,” Starnes said. “And what better way to do that than to train young soldiers that the folks down at the local First Baptist Church are members of a right-wing extremist hate group?”

Todd Starnes Blatantly Lies About President Obama's Handling Of Saeed Abedini Case

Todd Starnes of Fox News continued his tradition of blatantly lying in order to support maintain his narrative that President Obama is persecuting Christians, this time telling the Values Voters Summit that President Obama refuses to address the case of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor in Iranian jail.

“Our President, who travels across the globe apologizing for the United States of America, yet he cannot utter the words ‘Saeed Abedini’ from his lips,” Starnes said. “What is our President doing about it? Why isn’t he picking up the phone, talking to his new BFF, the Iranian president? Yet at this very moment an American pastor sits in a Muslim country’s jail and we do nothing about it.”

Watch:

Such a claim would be disturbing but Obama actually did talk about Abedini’s imprisonment when he spoke to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the phone.

And guess who reported on it?

Starnes’ very own Fox News:

A senior administration official tells Fox News that in addition to the issue of nuclear weapons and the broader relationship between the two nations, Obama expressed concern about the pastor—who was been incarcerated for a year at Evin Prison in Tehran —along with two other U.S. citizens.

“Obama also noted our concern about three American citizens who have been held within Iran: Robert Levinson [who is missing], Saeed Abedini, and Amir Hekmati, and noted our interest in seeing those Americans reunited with their families," the official told Fox News.

Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, immediately said the report of the call was "the most encouraging news I have heard since Saeed was imprisoned one year ago. I am very grateful to President Obama for standing up for Saeed and for the other Americans who are held captive in Iran. This development is truly an answer to prayer."

The discussion marked the first time that Obama has mentioned Abedini and his plight since he was jailed last fall. He has never spoken out about Abedini’s imprisonment but the State Department has repeatedly condemned Iran for holding him.

"We're very encouraged by President Obama raising the illegal imprisonment of American Saeed Abedini with Iranian President Rouhani," Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Saeed's wife Naghmeh and their two children, said when told about the latest development by FoxNews.com.

"President Obama's call to President Rouhani to release Saeed so he can be reunited with his family is a significant step forward in this critical case. We're grateful to President Obama for raising Saeed's imprisonment and call on President Rouhani to put his promise of being 'moderate' into action by releasing Saeed without further delay."

The Christian Post, where Starnes is an op-ed contributor, adds:

Pastor Saeed Abedini has found out that President Barack Obama spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and pressed for his release last week, which is said to provide the American citizen a "glimmer of hope" that he might finally be released.



"For the first time, Pastor Saeed had a glimmer of hope that he would soon be released. Iranian news sources had reported on President Obama's phone call with President Rouhani."

Obama's historic conversation with Rouhani on Friday was the first time an American and Iranian president have spoken in 34 years, and has brought notable encouragement to the Abedini family, who have been petitioning for the pastor's release.

But Starnes will discount such reporting—even when it is from his own employer—because it doesn’t fit his narrative that Obama is leading a wave of anti-Christian discrimination.

Right Wing Round-Up - 9/3/13

Right Wing Leftovers - 8/26/13

  • It is amazing to see anti-gay activists keep attributing language found in Justice Scalia's DOMA dissent to Justice Kennedy's majority opinion.
  • Does anyone care what Todd Starnes thought of last night's Video Music Awards? Of course not.  But he wrote about it anyway.
  • Wait, Trump University was a total scam? Who would have guessed.
  • Robert Knight thinks that the movie "Lincoln" was "a clever way to justify the ruthlessly partisan enactment of Obamacare."
  • In case you need them, here are "The Dos and Don'ts of Fashion as a Christian."
  • "Coach" Dave doesn't understand why he gets accused of hate speech.
  • Finally, Kelly Boggs warns that "the push to have homosexuality accepted as natural, normal and healthy in the United States knows no compromise. The movement to have homosexuality celebrated in America will not stop, nor will it be satisfied, until all voices that would even whisper it is sinful are squelched."

Boykin and Starnes Doubt Terror Alerts are Genuine & Suggest Warnings are Ploy to Downplay 'Scandals'

While speaking with American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios, Fox News commentator Todd Starnes and Family Research Council vice president Jerry Boykin floated the conspiracy theory that new security warnings might be a political ploy to distract from the “scandals” under President Obama.

Neither Boykin nor Starnes had any evidence to back up their claim. In fact, the last time such a move occurred was under Republican leadership: during the Bush administration, former Department of Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge revealed that he faced pressure from top officials to raise the terror alert during the 2004 campaign for political purposes.

Rios asked Boykin if the threats were genuine or “a way of covering for the scandals that are going on?” Boyin said that “both” of her claims are true.

He claimed Obama dismissed warnings about Al Qaeda’s work with other terrorist organizations, “the network is growing and the threat is very serious so that’s not what the administration has been telling us.” However, Obama actually made the point in May that Al Qaeda has become “more diffuse” and working in “regionalized networks”.

After distorting Obama’s views, Boykin went on to claim the alerts are an attempt to “deflect” attention from the administration’s “scandals”: “I think you’re absolutely right, I think there are so many things that are occurring today that are embarrassing for the administration, that are causing people to start to wake up and take a look at what the administration is doing and I think this is a way of deflecting attention away from all these other scandals.”

Not to be outdone, Starnes said that the warnings could be a “false flag” and asked, “I mean, is the entire planet endanger? Because they’re putting the entire world on this alert. Unfortunately in this administration it’s like the principle of the little boy who cried wolf, we just don’t know when to believe this administration.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/16/13

Oops: Five Conservative IRS Conspiracy Theories Fall Apart

Just as the GOP’s hyperventilation and grandstanding over Benghazi turned up empty, so are their claims that the IRS has been targeting right-wing groups. New reports show that the IRS did apply extra scrutiny to groups with phrases like “Tea Party” in their names…but the agency also applied the same scrutiny to groups with “progressive” or “occupy” in their titles. This backs up an earlier story from The Atlantic which also found that liberal groups had been targeted.

Prior to these revelations, we learned that the White House had no role in the supposed targeting and that the IRS manager accused of political bias is a conservative Republican.

But for some reason we don’t think this will stop right-wing activists from alleging that President Obama directed the IRS to go after political opponents as part of his plans to create an all-powerful, totalitarian government.

The IRS story has made its way into five right-wing conspiracy theories that we don’t expect to go away any time soon, despite being totally ungrounded in reality.

1) IRS May Deny Medical Care To Conservatives

Rep. Michele Bachmann led the way in giving credence to a claim that the IRS, through Obamacare, might attempt to “deny or delay” access to medical care for conservatives. After embracing the WorldNetDaily-inspired conspiracy theory, she told Fox News that the IRS may deny or delay health care “based upon our political beliefs.” Even Rand Paul latched onto the debunked conspiracy theory.

Right on cue, James Dobson’s son Ryan alleged that his father may be denied medical treatments under Obamacare, and Janet Porter said that the IRS may use the reform law to “target individuals on whether or not they have the ability to exist as a live human being” by denying people “lifesaving treatment” based on their “political views.”

2) Obama’s The New Hitler

Glenn Beck reacted to the IRS story by warning that the government could “shut down” and “scoop up” Tea Party members much like how Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews. “This is the way totalitarian states are created,” Beck argued. “We will be remembered as the most evil nation in the history of the world, we will dwarf what Germany did.”

World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder agreed, maintaining that “Concentration Camp Obama” may “shove you in a cattle car” and take you “‘camping’ in a very real sense” if you are part of the conservative movement, all by “using the IRS as a presidential goon squad.” Todd Starnes of Fox News even pointed to the IRS controversy to claim that conservatives “could be facing a 1930s Germany here,” while End Times radio host Rick Wiles used the IRS as proof that Obama is leading a “modern day Nazi regime” and the “Fourth Reich.”

3) Obama Committed Impeachable Offenses

Naturally, right-wing activists brought impeachment into the debate over the IRS. Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said Obama may face the same impeachment charges as Richard Nixon as a result of the “misuse and abuse of the IRS.” Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly said that the “IRS scandal is much worse than Watergate” and agreed that “there are many reasons why Obama should be impeached.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry similarly drew a comparison to Nixon and said that the “scandal” may “reach the level of criminal activity” and reveal “a pattern of abuse of power.” Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner went even further and asserted that Obama is “ worse than Nixon” and added it to his long list of supposedly impeachable offenses, while Alan Keyes demanded that the GOP’s “cry should be ‘IMPEACHMENT NOW!’” Not to be outdone, Glenn Beck argued that “if there aren’t impeachment hearings” then America is “already operating under tyranny.”

4) Obama Would Have Lost If It Wasn’t For The IRS

Even though conservative outside groups greatly outspent their left-leaning counterparts in the last election, the IRS controversy has led some to allege that conservatives groups were not allowed to get off the ground and that must have been why Obama won his race for re-election.

Janet Porter reasoned that “the elections were affected” because “every Tea Party group and every conservative group…weren’t allowed to exist” or “inform their members of what’s going on and what’s at stake.” John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, a champion of suppressive voter ID laws and voter purges, told Fox News that “the real voter suppression in the 2012 election was done at the IRS” and “suppressed the vote” to the point that it “may have played a role in the outcome of that very close election.”

The American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis even made the dubious claim that 5-8.5 million voters didn’t vote last year due to IRS actions. Dean Chambers, whose “unskewed” polls predicted Obama’s defeat, claimed he was right all along, alleging that the “systematic and wide-scale suppression of Tea Party and conservative activity and votes, via the IRS targeting of those groups” had “clearly denied Mitt Romney the election that [he] clearly would have won by about the very margin I predicted on November 5 of last year.”

5) Demonic Forces Behind IRS Scandal

Larry Klayman said that “felonious liberal Jews” have used the IRS to attack conservatives to undermine “our proud Judeo-Christian roots and heritage,” but televangelist James Robison took it one step further, arguing that “Satan himself” had a role: “He and his demonic forces are fiercely focusing their fury against God’s kingdom purpose and anyone committed to it. What you are witnessing daily in news reports concerning Washington’s bad practices and policies related to the gross abuse of power by the IRS, along with unconstitutional checks on the free press, reveals satanic intent to take away freedom.” Rick Wiles also saw a demonic role in the IRS pseudo-scandal, stating that the IRS is creating the “Fourth Beat as foretold by Daniel in the Holy Bible.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 6/21/13

Starnes: America Becoming '1930s Germany' Under Obama

In an interview with American Family Association head Tim Wildmon today, Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes claimed that America is transforming into “1930s Germany” under President Obama’s leadership.

Starnes’ proof? He mentioned a 2009 story about how administration officials under then-social secretary Desirée Rogers debated whether to have a crèche at the White House, ultimately deciding to do so. But in Starnes’s retelling, President Obama personally tried “to get rid of the nativity scene.” Starnes also referred to a brief statement made by Sen. Mark Enzi about a call he received from a constituent who said the IRS requested membership lists from his church. Enzi did not offer any further information.

Apparently all of this means that America is one step away from Nazism:

Starnes: I write about how the President, first Christmas in the White House, wanted to get rid of the nativity scene, that is not exactly the move of a faith-friendly president. I do think that it is a combination; I think that there are a lot of liberals and a lot of secularists that are serving in federal government positions and those folks see the opportunity to crack down because they know no one is going to say anything about it and their behavior is going to go on unchecked. It should frighten every person listening us to know that the IRS told a church in Wyoming that they had to turn over their membership rolls. This is not 1930s Germany gentlemen, this is the United States of America, and unless people of faith stand up and put a stop to this, we very well could be facing a 1930s Germany here.

Wildmon: We need some defenders in the Congress to help us and help average Americans out here against this oppression, against this abuse of power by the IRS.

Rios Warns LGBT Rights Movement Is Transforming America into Soviet Russia

Sandy Rios of the American Family Association hosted Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes today where they discussed a brochure [PDF] from the group DOJPride, a group representing LGBT employees at the Department of Justice, which they said was a sign that the U.S. is turning into the Soviet Union.

The brochure was simply a list of tips on creating an LGBT-inclusive work environment and has no enforcement provisions, but those plain facts didn’t stop Starns from arguing that the DOJ now “require[s] managers to post a symbol, an emblem, showing that they are pro-gay in their office.”

“This makes it clear that it’s not enough to give so-called equality, any objections must be eradicated and this is our future if we allow this to continue,” Rios warned, while Starnes called the brochure “un-American.”

Rios even claimed the LGBT rights movement is transforming America into the USSR: “When I was a girl the Soviet Union was such a great threat to the world, the spread of Communism, and those of us that remember that era we have not forgotten, we just never thought it would happen in our country. I’ve had callers to the radio show who grew up in the Soviet Bloc countries, I’ve had them call weeping to see what’s happening to our loss of freedoms.”

Starnes: 'You Can Be Assured That I Am Sharing With You Accurate Information'

Last week, the Family Research Council hosted its annual Watchmen on the Wall conference and among the speakers was the Religious Right's favorite "journalist," Todd Starnes of Fox News.

Starnes' entire career appears to be built around presenting one-sided culture war stories designed to fire up the conservative base, so it was hilarious to hear him declare that he prides himself on his accuracy, assuring his audience that when they read his stories, they are "getting the most accurate information possible":

You mean like the time he reported that a high school runner was disqualified for thanking God, which turned out to be totally false?

Or his report that the military was blocking the Southern Baptist Convention's website as an act of hostility toward Christianity, which was likewise entirely wrong?

What about the time he claimed that "roving gangs of thugs" had taken over New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy or when he falsely claimed that the Obama administration had not called for the release of Rev. Saeed Abedini from Iran?

Or how about his false report that two female middle school students were forced to ask one another for a kiss during an anti-bullying presentation?

And who can forget his article alleging that the military was going to court-martial soldiers for sharing their faith, which was entirely untrue?

Is that what Starnes meant when he said "you can read my stories and you can be assured that I am sharing with you accurate information"?

Because, ironically, that is not true.

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/13/13

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/8/13

Rick Perry, Fox News and Religious Right Activists Jump on Fabricated Case of Christian Persecution

Todd Starnes of Fox News has dedicated himself to finding cases of Christians facing persecution. Starnes recently reported that the military is deliberately blocking access to a Baptist website and may court-martial Christian soldiers, and alleged that a school in New York is forcing girls to kiss one another. However, these three incidents were all completely false.

On Sunday, Starnes filed another report on how a high school track team in Texas “was disqualified from competing in the state championships because one of the runners made a gesture thanking God after he crossed the finish line.”

“Derrick Hayes, the anchor of the Columbus High School 4×100 relay team had just crossed the finish line when he raised his finger to the sky,” Starnes writes, “thanking the Lord for winning the race that would send them to the state finals.

His article was based on the claims of the athlete’s father, and other outlets picked up the story as well.

Gov. Rick Perry wrote a letter to the University Interscholastic League demanding an investigation:

According to press reports, the student's father, K.C. Hayes, has been widely quoted as saying the student was pointing to the heavens to thank God.

In his letter, Perry said he would “not tolerate the suppression of religious freedom anywhere.”

“It is unconscionable that a student athlete could be punished for an expression of religious faith or that an act of faith could disqualify an athlete in a UIL competition,” Perry said.

He urged the UIL to “investigate this incident thoroughly and take whatever action is necessary to ensure protection of religious freedom and expression at UIL competitions.”

As the Texas Freedom Network has pointed out, Religious Right groups such as the Liberty Institute and Liberty Counsel both jumped on the story, as did Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott.

But much like the student who was supposedly given detention for praying in school when he was actually disciplined for fighting, the Texas athlete wasn’t waving his finger to thank God and he wasn’t even disqualified for the gesture he made at the finish line.

The student was actually disqualified for inappropriate behavior towards the referee, and he and his dad now admit that the incident had nothing to do with religious expression.

According to the UIL press release:

Over the course of the investigation, the UIL interviewed several eyewitnesses and reviewed video of the race. Additionally, the UIL spoke to the involved parties. The UIL has concluded the investigation and has found no evidence to suggest that the disqualification took place as a result of the student-athlete expressing religious beliefs. The basis for the disqualification was due to the student-athlete behaving disrespectfully, in the opinion of the local meet referee.

Based on the UIL’s investigation, the student athlete raised his hand and gestured forward at the conclusion of the 4x100-meter relay. The meet official approached the student-athlete in an effort to warn him of a possible disqualification should that behavior continue. In the opinion of the official, the student reacted disrespectfully. Based on his reaction, the student-athlete was subsequently disqualified. Any decision to disqualify a student-athlete at any track meet must be upheld by the head meet referee. The meet official and the meet referee conferred, and the disqualification was upheld on-site. At no point during the discussions surrounding the disqualification at the meet was the issue of religious expression raised by any parties.

The UIL’s investigation also revealed that all coaches involved were notified prior to the regional meet that any gestures in violation of the National Federation of State High School Associations track and field rule against unsporting behavior would be grounds for disqualification. Coaches were instructed to discuss this with their student-athletes prior to all races.

To assist the UIL in its investigation, the student-athlete’s parents submitted a letter stating that their son’s religious freedoms were not violated. “In looking back at the conclusion of the 4x100 race, we realize that Derrick could have handled the win in a different manner,” KC and Stacey Hayes said in the letter. “It was not our intention to force the issue that our son’s religious freedom was violated. Nor do we feel that way now. After discussing this with our son, we have come to the conclusion that his religious rights were not violated.”

The student-athlete who was disqualified also submitted a letter during the investigation stating: “Although I am very thankful for all God has given me and blessed me with, on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the Regional Track Meet in Kingsville, TX, my actions upon winning the 4x100 relay were strictly the thrill of victory. With this being said, I do not feel my religious rights or freedoms were violated.”

Congressmen Scalise and Gohmert Fall for Debunked Fox News Story on Supposed Plan to Court Martial Christians

Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes likes to report on culture war issues and frequently highlights examples of supposed anti-Christian persecution. He plucks the examples from Religious Right media outlets, which then turn around and point to Starnes’ Fox News stories for validation.

Fox example, one recent Starnes story alleged that a New York school was forcing girls to kiss each other as part of an anti-bullying seminar. But the ‘forced lesbianism’ story was baseless [PDF], and the school superintendent had to write to Starnes to urge him to, you know, report stories accurately [PDF].

In another instance of shoddy journalism, Starnes claimed that the military was deliberately blocking access to a Southern Baptist website as part of a “Christian cleansing” of the armed forces by the Obama administration. Well, as it turns out, the website was automatically blocked over malware issues and the Southern Baptist Convention’s own director of information systems acknowledged that there was malware on the SBC website, not any anti-Christian animus in the military, was responsible for the mishap.

So it came as no surprise to learn that a new Starnes column about the military getting ready to court martial Christians, since picked up by organizations like the Family Research Council, was also completely groundless.

Starnes contends that Obama administration officials are working with church-state separation activists to begin kicking Christians out of the military and cracking down on their religious freedom.

As Warren Throckmorton points out, the Defense Department guidelines on proselytizing and religious bias that has so enraged Starnes and others was actually put in place in 2008 during the Bush administration and the language clearly “draws a distinction between simply speaking about one’s faith and coercion.” Throckmorton also notes that Starnes twisted a statement from a Pentagon spokesman “to make it seem as though the outcome of religious proselytizing cases would be court martial.”

The Tennessean and Stars and Stripes have also debunked the story, but don’t tell Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who in an interview with Starnes said that Obama is trying to make Christian service members leave their faith:

“Under President Obama’s military you are no longer allowed to share your faith,” he said – noting that the policy is putting Christians in a tough position. “Do you follow President Obama or do you follow God and the teachings of Jesus?”

“That’s pretty tough when your commander in chief puts you on the horn for that dilemma,” he added.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) similarly told Tony Perkins on Washington Watch earlier this week called the story “yet another attack on religious liberty that we’ve seen from the Obama administration.”

Perkins: The idea that members of the military who share their faith, directly or indirectly, could be potentially court martialed, is this stunning or what?

Scalise: It’s frightening and shocking. Unfortunately it is yet another attack on religious liberty that we’ve seen from the Obama administration and it’s just been an endless assault from so many different angles. Of course it comes off the heels of the FDA approving the morning-after pill. There are just so many things that this administration is doing that go against a lot of the Christian beliefs that this country was founded upon and I think it really needs to be pushed back hard on.

While the victimhood narrative of oppressed white straight evangelicals is beloved by the Religious Right and trumpeted by Fox News, conservative activists may want to at least try to find real incidents of persecution and real journalists if they want people to ever believe them.

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