Fox News cut away from President Obama's July 25 economic speech well before its conclusion, but Fox News personalities claimed to have watched it and gave detailed opinions on the content of the speech, even while it was still happening:
Fox News falsely suggested that Senate Republicans have blocked Richard Cordray from heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) due to legitimate fears about how he would handle the agency, when in fact Senate Republicans have, in unprecedented fashion, said they would oppose any nominee whatsoever until changes are made to the structure of that agency.
On July 16, the Senate will be voting on several executive branch nominees that Republicans have opposed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that if Senate Republicans refuse to allow an up-or-down vote on those candidates, he will push a change to Senate rules that will prevent the minority from filibustering executive appointments.
Previewing that action on the July 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said that Cordray's nomination had been blocked for "good reason." Ingraham explained that Cordray has been blocked because he is a "good friend" of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who proposed the creation of the CFPB, and that "a lot of people [are] very concerned about what he'll do in the regulatory process."
In fact, Cordray's potential actions as head of CFPB are irrelevant to the discussion as Republicans have said they would oppose any candidate for that office whatsoever.
In February of 2013, 43 Republican senators sent a letter to President Obama saying that they would block "any nominee, regardless of party affiliation," to the CFPB until structural changes were made to the agency. This is the first time in the history of the Senate that a nomination has been blocked for no reason other than a political party disagrees with the structure of the agency.
Cordray's qualifications include serving as Ohio's Attorney General where he recovered more than $2 billion for Ohio citizens and worked to protect consumers from fraudulent foreclosures and financial predators. Cordray also served as Ohio's State Treasurer.
Despite the right-wing media's most recent attempt to generate a "Watergate" style scandal imploding on live TV, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan continued to push the conspiracy theory that a recent break-in at a Texas law firm was orchestrated by the government in response to a whistleblower's allegations of misconduct among State Department employees.
Following June 29 and June 30 robberies at the Dallas office of Schulman & Mathias, lawyer Cary Schulman has suggested that State Department officials were responsible for the break-in. Schulman & Mathias represents a former investigator at the State Department's Office of the Inspector General named Aurelia Fedenisn, who provided documents to CBS News alleging misconduct among State Department employees.
In a July 9 Wall Street Journal blog post, Noonan baselessly speculated that the government was behind the break-in at Schulman's law firm, comparing the break-in to the Watergate scandal of the 1970s that resulted in the impeachment proceedings -- and ultimately resignation -- of President Richard Nixon. Noonan wrote:
Still, the Nixon-era whistleblower whose psychiatrist's office was broken into has some tough words, in an op-ed piece, for the current administration -- just as word comes that an Obama-era whistleblower's lawyer's office was broken into by . . . someone.
Just hours before Noonan's post was published, Schulman appeared on Fox News' America Live with guest host Martha MacCallum in a segment hyped as "'Watergate' Style Spy Claims." Schulman said that one reason to suspect State Department involvement in the burglary was because the perpetrators "have been unwilling to come forward with evidence of the crimes voluntarily and we don't know their whereabouts." When asked by MacCallum if he had any evidence to support these allegations, Schulman was forced to admit, "No I don't. All kidding aside, I was joking earlier. I don't know who did it."
The admission by Schulman that he has no evidence and was only "joking" about State Department involvement in the burglary did not stop Noonan from speculating that the government was somehow involved. Noonan concluded, "The burglary may or may not be a scandal -- but if it is, it's a big one."
A "Watergate" style scandal alleging the State Department was responsible for a break in at a former employee's office completely fell apart after its progenitor was given a platform on Fox News. Fox guest Cary Schulman, a lawyer representing a former investigator at the State Department's Office of the Inspector General named Aurelia Fedenisn, was forced to confess he was only "joking" about allegations that the State Department was responsible for a break in at his office after admitting he had no evidence to back up his claims.
On June 10, CBS News reported on allegations of misconduct among State Department employees. Fedenisn, who is represented by the Dallas law firm Schulman & Mathias, provided the documents to CBS and discussed the allegations with Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
Schulman publicly questioned whether the State Department or supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have been responsible for a recent break in at his office in which a computer and box full of files were stolen. The Daily Caller, TheBlaze.com, and others quoted Schulman saying that "strongholds of support within the State Department" may have been involved.
On July 8, Schulman joined guest host Martha MacCallum on Fox News' America Live to discuss the break in. In a segment hyped as "'Watergate' Style Spy Claims," Schulman admitted he was "joking" about his allegations after acknowledging he possessed no real evidence to suggest the State Department's involvement in the break in. He concluded by warning that "we should take a hard look at" the State Department if they were to determine there was no involvement by State Department employees in the break in.
Fox News continues to push Benghazi falsehoods in its quest to tarnish President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On June 28, Bret Baier hosted Fox's "Benghazi: The Truth Behind The Smokescreen" in the network's latest attempt to keep the Benghazi myth at the forefront. The one-hour special included repeatedly debunked falsehoods along with misinformation new to Fox's growing Benghazi mythology.
Sean Hannity ignored new reports that Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (CA) directed the Treasury Department's inspector general (IG) to "narrowly focus" its audit of the IRS' assessment of tax-exempt status requests to focus on tea party organizations, falsely claiming that "new claims by progressive groups that they were targeted by the IRS are in fact, false."
On the June 26 edition of his Fox News show, host Sean Hannity attempted to resuscitate the dying right-wing media narrative that the improper IRS targeting of groups was directed by the White House in an effort to punish opponents, by citing an IG audit of the IRS which found that some conservative groups received improper scrutiny when seeking tax-exempt status. Hannity dismissed reports that progressive groups had received similar scrutiny and the IG's investigation had been directed by House Republicans, citing the IG report in an attempt -- as he put it -- to "correct the record" saying: "If you've been paying attention to this scandal you know that the inspector general report outlined very clearly the distinct ideological imbalance."
Hannity concluded by asking: "If progressives were unfairly targeted, why didn't anyone say so earlier?"
A June 25 Hill article answered Hannity's question. The Hill reported that a spokesman for the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, said they were asked by Issa "to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations":
The inspector general's audit found that groups seeking tax-exempt status with "Tea Party" and "patriots" in their name did receive extra attention from the IRS, with some facing years of delay and inappropriate questions from the agency.
But top congressional Democrats have wielded new information from the IRS this week that liberal groups were also flagged for extra attention on the sorts of "be on the lookout" lists (BOLOs) that also tripped up conservative groups.
The spokesman for the Treasury inspector general noted their audit acknowledged there were other watch lists. But the spokesman added: "We did not review the use, disposition, purpose or content of the other BOLOs. That was outside the scope of our audit."
Prior to this report, Issa had leaked incomplete transcripts that were used by right-wing media to suggest that the IRS' use of improper criteria for determining which groups requesting tax-exempt status required additional scrutiny was directed by officials in Washington D.C., and potentially by White House officials. Other transcripts released later debunked this claim.
Furthermore, as a June 26 Associated Press article reported, progressive groups have claimed that they received scrutiny from the IRS, resulting in long delays in their being granted tax-exempt status. James Salt, a spokesman for the progressive Catholics United went so far as to claim the IRS asked the organization nonsensical, "weird" questions. A June 25 Wall Street Journal article similarly reported delays in tax-exempt status assessment for progressive groups: "Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah, said her "progressive" group has been waiting almost two years for IRS action on an application for tax exemption from one of its entities."
Prior to this revelation, a manager of the Cincinnati IRS office responsible for the assessment of tax-exempt status requests, and self-described "conservative Republican" John Shafer told congressional investigators that neither he nor his office "never discussed any political, personal aspirations whatsoever."
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, during the June 25 Hannity segment Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin went on to accuse the White House of orchestrating the IRS' targeting, saying: "All roads lead to Washington D.C. and all fingers, at some point, will lead straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
Fox host Bret Baier smeared legal abortion clinics by claiming a Texas bill that would heavily restrict those clinics was a direct response to the crimes of convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell.
On the June 26 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, host Bret Baier engaged a panel discussion on proposed Texas legislation known as Senate Bill 5 (SB 5). During the segment, Baier claimed provisions of the bill that would impose new, restrictive mandates on legal abortion clinics was "a direct result of the Gosnell situation in Philadelphia."
Baier's report failed to note that the standards SB5 would have imposed on abortion clinics would close more than 90% of the current facilites.
As Demos senior fellow Bob Herbert and BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith explained during an April edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Gosnell's business model was to prey on women who did not have access to legal abortion services:
HERBERT: What you want to do, though, is, if a woman is going to have an abortion, because abortion is legal in this country, then you want it to be accessible and safe. You want it to be done under sanitary conditions with qualified practitioners and that sort of thing.
One of the problems is that in so many parts of the country, it's just not available, and then women go to the terrible alternatives.
SMITH: There has certainly been a campaign on the right to make it, in lieu of being able to actually ban abortion, just to make it incredibly difficult to get. And this is obviously the downside of that, right, that people wind up going outside the law.
Reproductive health professor at the University of California, Tracy Weitz, has explained that Gosnell's actions have "nothing to do with the way in which the standard of care and later abortion procedures are performed in the United States," and that his practices are "nowhere in the medical literature."
Fox News selectively covered new reports on the IRS' targeting of political groups, raising questions about how the network will handle the new revelations in future reports.
According to an internal IRS document obtained by The Associated Press, the IRS targeted groups seeking tax exempt status by screening for terms that are not unique to tea party and conservative groups. Terms such as "Israel," "progressive" and "occupy" were also used by the agency to further scrutinize certain organizations.
On the June 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, host Bret Baier failed to mention the memo obtained by the Associated Press and instead suggested that the new information extended targeting to only religious groups, saying, "You can add Jewish and other religious groups to the agency's hit list." Fox's chief political correspondent Carl Cameron pointed out that "other religious groups" were targeted, and acknowledged that "as for those conservative groups that were targeted, they weren't just tea partiers and they included other type of policy groups." However, both Baier and Cameron neglected to mention that the words associated with left-leaning groups like "occupy" or "progressive" were also used in targeting.
On Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs also reported on new revelations in the IRS story but did not comment on the the Associated Press memo or the fact that left-leaning groups were also subject to improper scrutiny.
The Fox affiliated FoxNation.com also included an Associated Press story about the IRS' overreach, but focused on a conference call IRS commissioner Danny Werfel held with reporters in which he did not specify which terms were on the list of targeted words.
Sean Hannity misconstrued comments and ignored important context while critiquing President Obama's June 17 remarks on the struggle for peace, accusing the president of expressing hostility toward the Catholic school system in America while referencing Obama's education as a youth at "a Muslim school." Hannity's assertion is the most recent in a long line of attempts to gin up outrage amongst Catholics against Obama.
On the June 20 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Hannity claimed Obama "appears to compare segregation to the Catholic school system," while guest Ann Coulter accused the president of "attacking America while he's abroad."
On June 17, during a town hall meeting in Belfast, Ireland in front of the youth of Northern Ireland, Obama spoke of the importance of "breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves":
Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity -- symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others -- these are not tangential to peace; they're essential to it. If towns remain divided -- if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs -- if we can't see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.
Ultimately, peace is just not about politics. It's about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don't exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.
Hannity's critique of Obama's comments ignore crucial context regarding the president's speech and location. As Michael McGough of The Los Angeles Times wrote:
Northern Ireland is not the United States. Even in my childhood, when Catholic kids were encouraged to attend Catholic schools and there was an arguably Protestant ethos in many public schools, Catholics and Protestants weren't as isolated from (or as distrustful of) one another in this country as they continue to be in Northern Ireland.
Society in Northern Ireland is much more stratified, and the role of religiously defined schools more problematic. You can be perfectly comfortable with the role of Catholic schools in the American context and worry about their contribution to estrangement between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.
Additionally, Northern Ireland has a long history of violence between Catholics and Protestants. Over a 30 year period in the 1970's, 80's and 90's, more than 3,500 people were killed and thousands more injured as a result of conflict between Catholic Irish nationalists and Britain Loyalist Protestants.
In May 1998 Northern Ireland voters approved two referendums that would become known as the Good Friday Agreement, which helped bring an end to the violent struggle between the two parties and whose 15 year anniversary was noted by Obama in his speech. The agreement created a government body that was to include both Catholics and Protestants, called for disarmament as well as the release of jailed combatants, and forced a reorganization of a police force which, at the time, was 93 percent Protestant.
Hannity went on to criticize the president's comparison of the U.S. Civil War to the conflict in Northern Ireland. Hannity focused on a segment of the speech in which Obama said "Our Civil War was far shorter than The Troubles, but it killed hundreds of thousands of our people." Obama's comment on "The Troubles" is a reference to the period beginning in 1969 that resulted in violence against the Catholic community. According to a 2006 BBC article, throughout the 70's. 80's and 90's "Loyalist paramilitaries targeted Catholics in 'tit-for-tat' killings" in Northern Ireland. Furthermore, "The Troubles" were the culmination of constant revolts beginning in the 12th century and leading to "civil war and partition of the island."
Hannity then highlighted Obama's 2007 interview with The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof, in which the president described the Arabic call to prayer as "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset" and highlighted Obama's education at Islamic schools during his youth.
In their June publication, Playboy Magazine published an interview with Hannity in which he was asked if he was "fueling the myth that Obama's a Muslim from Africa" by referring to his time in Africa as a youth:
PLAYBOY: Trump was one of the most vocal skeptics of Obama's American citizenship. You've also said Obama grew up in Kenya. Do you regret saying that now?
HANNITY: But he did grow up in Kenya, and he told The New York Times that he went to a school there and one of the most beautiful things on the planet is Islamic prayer at sunset.
PLAYBOY: Are you fueling the myth that Obama's a Muslim from Africa by saying that?
HANNITY: I never fueled the myth. How do you come up with this stuff? He did go to a Muslim school. He writes about it in his own book.
PLAYBOY: He did not grow up in Kenya.
HANNITY: He went to a Muslim school in Indonesia, or wherever it was, Kenya. I forget. Now you've got me. I think it was Indonesia. I'm trying to remember his biography. It's going back so long. He admits he went to a Muslim school. It's on his audiobook, if you want a tape of it--you can hear him say it himself.
I'm a Christian. All people are the children of God. I'm just telling you what Obama said in his own words. He didn't go to a madrassa, which has negative connotations, but he did study the Koran and Islam and learn prayers that he could recite with a perfect accent, according to Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. As for the issue of his birth certificate, I thought that was one of the oddest things, a noncontroversy that the White House easily could have ended but didn't. If you've got the birth certificate, just release it and move on. That's what I said.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, with the help of guest Dick Cheney, peddled a number of long-debunked myths about the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, including the false claims that President Obama and the Pentagon decided to abandon Americans during the attacks, that troops could have reached Libya in time, and that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice purposely deceived the American public about the attack.
During a June 16 Fox News Sunday interview with former Vice President Cheney, Wallace claimed that the president and the Pentagon decided not to send any assistance to the U.S. forces and citizens under attack in Benghazi:
Wallace's suggestion that the president and the Pentagon coordinated such a decision ignores known facts about the circumstances and deployment of forces that night.
During a February 7 Senate hearing, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified that President Obama had "directed both myself and General Dempsey to do everything we needed to do to try to protect lives there." During the same hearing, Panetta later said, "[Obama] basically said, 'do whatever you need to do to be able to protect our people" in Benghazi the night of the attacks. Following that conversation with the president, Panetta ordered two anti-terrorism security teams stationed in Spain to Libya and deployed another special operations team to the region. These forces arrived after the attacks were over.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also confirmed that military forces would not have arrived at the attack in time to prevent the casualties. During a May 12 appearance on Face The Nation, Gates said the idea that military forces could have responded in time required a "cartoonish impression of military capabilities."
Later in the segment, when the discussion turned to Susan Rice, President Obama's recently announced pick to become national security adviser, Cheney referenced several debunked claims about Rice's involvement in and the motivation behind the crafting of the Benghazi talking points, suggesting that she "peddled the party line" by knowingly deceiving the American public about the attack in order to help Obama win re-election. Cheney concluded:
I just question whether or not somebody whose judgment was so flawed that they took what was apparently very bad information and peddled it as aggressively as she did.
Cheney's statements ignore the role of the intelligence community in crafting the talking points as well as the hundreds of pages of emails revealing that information was removed from the talking points to protect multiple agencies' investigations, including the FBI and the CIA. Responding to initial emails among CIA officials on September 14, 2012, CIA General Counsel Stephen W. Preston urged caution to ensure that no investigation would be compromised:
Folks, I know there is a hurry to get this out, but we need to hold it long enough to ascertain whether providing it conflicts with express instructions from NSS/DOJ/FBI that, in light of the criminal investigation, we are not to generate statements with assessments as to who did this, etc. -- even internally, not to mention for public release. I am copying [CIA FO] who may be more familiar with those instructibns [sic] and the tasking arising from the HPSCI coffee.
Furthermore, then-Director of the CIA General David Petraeus has also testified before Congress that the talking points in question were changed in order to avoid tipping off those responsible for the attacks.