August 9, 2010

Explaining American Media to My Spanish Friends

We had the Obama ladies here in Spain the past few days and they got warm receptions everywhere. So what's this we hear of criticisms of the trip in the U.S.? What did they do wrong?

Well, nothing. You have to understand how the American Rightwing Noise Machine works. In this case, we have a radio announcer called Rush Limbaugh, who has a weekly audience that he estimates at around 3 million listeners. That's a lot of listeners; and he has press columns syndicated across the country and throughout the armed forces information network. This guy is so powerful that some call him the strongest voice of the Republican Party.

In an August 6 Broadcast of his show, Rush declared that Michelle Obama is "taking 40 of her best friends and leasing 60 rooms in a 5-star hotel - paid for by you." Wow! You can imagine the outrage across the nation (across the world if you consider all those military-base radios). Wasting taxpayers money during a recession!

The Obamas trip ended Sunday with a brief visit to the Spanish royal family at their summer vacation home, the Marivent palace in Majorca. King Juan Carlos, who is recovering from cancer surgery is at left; Queen Sophia greets Sasha; Princess Letizia and Michelle.
What Rush does not say is that that the Obamas paid personal expenses on the trip, including lodging, with their own money. And he ignores the fact that First Ladies have travelled around the world before and never picked up any tabs.

Back in June, Fox News - the loudest voice on the Noise Machine - was accusing Obama of staying on vacation all the time -- when, in fact, he's taken less vacation time than any president in decades. George W. Bush spent one-third of his presidential time on vacation, mostly at his Texas ranch, and there was never a peep of complaint out of the Machine.

Hey, I've picked up a very tiny example of what comes out of the Machine every single day. For the endless stream, go here:

Update: The lies keep coming.

Republican Michele Bachmann of Minnesota was re-elected to Congress in November, and immediately charged that President Obama's upcoming trip to India was going to cost $200 million a day and involve nearly three dozen warships.

At Fox News, which fawns over her, she regularly gets away with wild statements like that. But this time she was being interviewed by Anderson Cooper of CNN, who wanted to know where she got her figures. Well,  from fellow liars.

"Bachmann’s disastrous turn outside the Fox bubble was instructive, for it showed how the liars’ club works," wrote Timothy Egan in The NY Times. "The $200 million figure originated in India, attributed to an anonymous foreign bureaucrat, and quickly went to the [rightwing blogspot] Drudge Report. On Fox and Rush Limbaugh’s radio rant, the absurdity that the United States would spend more on a presidential trip than the daily cost to prosecute the Afghanistan war quickly became gospel. Did these people ever call the White House or the Pentagon to check the facts before going ballistic? Perish the thought.

"[Fox opinionator] Glenn Beck went nuts (a redundancy). And while acknowledging that he didn’t know if the figures were accurate, he felt comfortable enough to cite 'a report that has made the rounds on the Internet.' A commentator on Fox business 'news' and the Republican fundraiser and Fox host Sean Hannity followed their scripts and Beck."

And so it goes. The lying power of conservatives is somethng fearful.

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