Drudge and Tucker Carlson Aren't the Only Clowns in the Circus: 8 Ridiculous Right-Wing Pseudo-Scandals About Obama
Photo Credit: Via Alex Seitz-Wald
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Working the right's Breitbartian outrage machine is really quite a racket. You dig up some bit of video or an old report which ordinary people would consider completely benign but that stirs the passions of those tuned in to your echo chamber. Then you insist that it's a hugescandal – bigger than Watergate! – and then, when the mainstream political press takes a look, yawns and dismisses it as a big pile of nothing, you get to jump up and down screaming about 'media bias!' Good work if you can find it.
Such was the case on Tuesday, when Matt Drudge spent the entire day hyping a blockbuster, game-changing video that was going to drop that evening. The world waited with baited breath, but what Tucker Carlson eventually released on his vanity site, The Daily Caller– and then hyped relentlessly on Sean Hannity's Fox show -- was just an old speech Barack Obama gave during the 2007 primary season. It was a good speech, but apparently Obama made the shocking claim – shocking! – that racial bias may have played some role in the federal government's pathetic response to Hurricane Katrina. Oh, and he also sounded kind of black (the speech was delivered at an African American church).
As Steve Benen notes, Obama gave the speech “as a presidential candidate, not at some secret fundraiser, but in front of a large audience at Hampton University. Reporters covered the speech, which wasn't seen as especially controversial, and all the major networks told the public about Obama's remarks at the time.”
Perhaps the highlight of the whole day of scandal fail was Tucker Carlson telling Sean Hannity, "People will say this has already been reported. Well, actually, it hasn't been reported. And I know because I reported on it the first time." Got that?
But Drudge, Carlson and Hannity aren't the only folks on the right to peddle ridiculous nontroversies, only to decry the media's supposed "liberal bias" when they fall flat. Here are a few of the sillier Obama “stories” the right-wing media has peddled in recent years.
As part of their “vetting” of the incumbent, the Breitbart crew unearthed a dark secret: in 1988, Obama attended a play about the radical organizer Saul Alinsky. Shocking, yes, but it gets worse. Afterwards, he joined in a panel discussion about Alinsky! Impeach? Obviously, impeach.
2. Obama Was For the Tea Party Before He Was Against It
If this one came from anywhere but the half-wits at Breitbart's Big Government, we'd be sure it was parody. But no, they think this is a legitimate 'gotcha!' (they even stuck “EXCLUSIVE” in their headline):
In 2009, President Barack Obama reportedlycalled members of the Tea Party "teabaggers." It turns out that our fourth greatest president,first in so many things, may have been the first "teabagger" himself, as seen in the 1997 photograph above. Yes, that really is Barack Obama wearing a regimental coat and carrying a tricorn hat in his hand.
The sum of this bombshell: in 1997, Barack Obama led a Fourth of July parade in Revolutionary garb.
3. Some Guy On The InterNet Suspects Photoshop
Dan Riehl, of Reihl World News, was eager to promote an obscure blogger's conspiracy theory -- based on nothing but the knowledge that black people can't be quarterbacks -- that this photograph was faked:
4. Obama Will Bailout Every Industry in America!!
Here's what Obama said during a campaign stop in Colorado in August, courtesy of Media Matters. It's boilerplate stuff:
THE PRESIDENT: We've got a bunch of examples of the differences, the choice in this election. When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, more than 1 million jobs at stake, Governor Romney said, let's "let Detroit go bankrupt."
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: I said I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back and GM is number one again. (Applause.) So now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs not just in the auto industry, but in every industry. I don't want those jobs taking root in places like China. I want them taking root in places like Pueblo. (Applause.)
Here's how Drudge pitched it, and the right caught it:
5. Someone Made a Mistake... Gate
In 1991, Obama's former literary agent published a bio for the future president which said he was Born in Kenya. This became a huge story on the far right, and remained so even after the former agent clarified that it was a simple error.
6. It's A Recession
When times are tough, as they have been since the crash of 2008, food stamp usage goes up. That's what it's supposed to do – provide a nutritional backstop.
The National Review dubbed this, “The Food Stamp Scandal.” And they were probably surprised when nobody else bit.
7. Obama Once Made a General Statement That Kind of Contradicted Something that Would Later Happen
This one's not only obscure, but boring.
During the restructuring of the auto industry, 20,000 non-unionized retirees at Delphi, a parts supplier, saw their pensions cancelled. That's truly awful, but it's not the scandal on the right. For Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller, the scandalous bit is that the Treasury Department was consulted about the restructuring. Also, in 2008, Obama said that “pension protection … [is] something we ought to put at the top of our priority list.” So, he was totally lying – scandalous!
8. Obama Hugged a Black Man
The last really big scandal for the right was when the Breitbart crew "unearthed" a video -- which had been online for years -- of Barack Obama saying nice things about, and then hugging, Derek Bell, the first tenured law professor at Harvard University. Why was this scandalous? Honestly, we have no idea.