On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson interviewed author Brad O'Leary to rebrand Fox & Friends' fake "War on Christmas" campaign as a "War on Christianity." During the segment, on-screen text read, "The War on Religion? Stimulus: No Funds To Religious Facilities"; but in fact, faith-based groups reportedly received at least $140 million in stimulus money.
According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox News gave guests who oppose the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a path to legal status for certain immigrants who came to the United States as children, more than 40 minutes of airtime from November 23 through December 6 but only about 7 minutes to supporters during that same period.
Fox & Friends continued the right-wing media's war on nutrition this week by claiming the child nutrition bill passed by Congress last week could "ban bake sales at schools." The co-hosts kept singing the same tune even after one of their guests correctly observed that the bill does not "ban" bake sales and would not affect after-school fundraisers. The bill, called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, was passed by a vote of 264-157 in the House on December 2 and was passed this summer in the Senate by unanimous consent.
On the December 6 edition of the show, co-host Gretchen Carlson teased an upcoming segment on the bill by saying, "Don't touch my muffins! A new bill headed to President Obama's desk would give the government the power to limit school bake sales? Is that any of the government's business?":
Later, co-host Brian Kilmeade brought on two guests to discuss the bill and introduced the segment by saying, "Say good-bye to homemade brownies and Rice Krispie treats. There's new legislation on the way to the president's desk and backed by his wife, the First Lady, that could ban bake sales at schools across the country. Is this going too far?" One chyron during the segment read: "War on Desserts: Bill would ban unhealthy food at schools."
Well, the bill doesn't ban bake sales, as Kilmeade's first guest told him. Maryland State Senator David Harrington responded to Kilmeade's question about a "ban on bake sales" by pointing out that while the bill does "authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to set new regulations that provide [children] healthy choices... during their lunches," the bill's regulations "do not extend" to bake sales "outside of school hours...at basketball games, football games, clubs."
Kilmeade continued to push his line of attack, responding, "You're saying they can do it after but not during school." Harrington corrected him, saying, "No, they can do it during school," adding that the bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture additional authority to "look at bake sales" but not does ban, in Kilmeade's words, using "cupcakes...to fundraise":
Indeed, a December 3 AP article noted that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack sent out a letter last week stating that he would not use the new bill to ban bake sales. The article said the child nutrition bill gives the government power to "limit school bake sales and other fundraisers that health advocates say sometimes replace wholesome meals in the lunchroom" and later said:
Public health groups pushed for the language on fundraisers, which encourages the secretary [sic] of Agriculture to allow them only if they are infrequent. The language is broad enough that a president's administration could even ban bake sales, but Secretary Tom Vilsack signaled in a letter to House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., this week that he does not intend to do that. The USDA has a year to write rules that decide how frequent is infrequent. [AP,12/03/10]
The article also noted that the legislation "wouldn't apply to after-hours events or concession stands at sports events."
So after the interview with Harrington, Fox & Friends must have tweaked their language a little and acknowledged that the bill doesn't really "ban" bake sales, right?
Wrong. About an hour later, Kilmeade teased an upcoming segment with Buddy Valastro, star of the reality show Cake Boss, by saying, "We debated it earlier -- banning cake at school bake sales. We're not afraid to eat cake. The cake boss is here. He's not afraid to make cake. That's a dangerous combination. He's good at it":
During the segment with Valastro, which featured shots of the co-hosts frosting cupcakes, Carlson said, "Let me ask you this. Earlier today we were doing this debate about the federal food bill -- may outlaw things like cupcakes from public schools! What will the cake boss do?"
Interestingly, Valastro, by responding, "If it's done in moderation, having cupcakes are fine at a school. I don't think it should be daily, but in moderation, anything is good," doesn't necessarily sound opposed to moderating the frequency of bake sales:
If so, that would put him in the same camp as the American Bakers Association, because guess what? They support the bill.
Fox & Friends hosted William Gheen, president of the anti-immigrant Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), to attack the DREAM Act. Gheen not only rehashed falsehoods about the bill, but also levied several absurd claims, such as that the bill would "displace and replace" millions of American citizens and that its passage would mean that Americans can "kiss the borders of the United States goodbye." Gheen and ALIPAC have a long history of extreme nativist rhetoric and have been linked to white supremacist groups.
Right-wing media have been using recent headlines on TSA body scanners and pat-downs as an excuse to promote hysterical fears over the reach of "Big Sis," as internet gossip Matt Drudge refers to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Now The Hill is trumping up such concerns with a false spin on a recent interview Napolitano gave PBS host Charlie Rose.
In a November 23 article titled, "Next step for body scanners could be trains, boats, metro," The Hill reviewed Napolitano's November 22 interview with Rose to claim that Napolitano is one politician "who's suggested the advanced scanning machines could be used in places beyond airports."
Right-wing bloggers immediately pounced on The Hill headline. Blogger Jim Hoft titled a November 23 post on his blog Gateway Pundit, "Good-Bye Freedom -- Hello Police State... Napolitano Announces Next Steps for Naked Scanners Involves Trains, Boats, Metro." A November 24 post on the conservative blog Hot Air claimed, "Now it looks like we'll be getting scanners all over the place, including public transportation, trains, and boats." Drudge posted a link to The Hill article as "BIG SIS: Next step for body scanners could be trains, boats, metro..." on the Drudge Report on November 24:
In fact, Napolitano never actually claimed that the DHS is considering expanding the use of body scanners to other forms of public transport. Bizarrely, The Hill article itself acknowledges this, noting at one point that "[Napolitano] gave no details about how soon the public could see changes in security or about what additional safety measures the DHS was entertaining."
Here's what Napolitano actually said during her interview with Rose (accessed through Nexis, emphasis added):
CHARLIE ROSE: You said a very interesting thing. Part of your job is to know what [terrorists will] be thinking in the future. So what will they be thinking in the future?
JANET NAPOLITANO: Well, I think they're going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through. I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to train or maritime. So what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?
And then I think what we also, what we as a country need to be thinking about is what is the role in prevention. In other words, what is the process by which a young man in the United States goes from becoming radicalized to becoming radicalized to the point of leaving the United States to going to a camp somewhere for six months or whatever and then coming back with the intent of murdering his fellow citizens?
CHARLIE ROSE: So what do we know about that now?
JANET NAPOLITANO: I think that's where we need and can do more work. And when I speak with my colleagues in other countries, I think we all believe that understanding that process better is important.
Napolitano did talk about the body scanners and so-called enhanced pat-downs, but only to explain and defend their current use. She also briefly acknowledged that "there will be some tweaks or some changes as we go through...as we learn some things to improve the procedures." But, by the time she got around to discussing future threats to "mass transit or to train or maritime," the discussion had long since moved on from airport body scans.
So, The Hill could conclude, "Napolitano mentions DHS looking to mass transit safety," or even, "Napolitano defends DHS use of body scanners." But "Next step for body scanners could be trains, boats, metro" simply doesn't hold up.
Continuing the longstanding conservative tradition of attacking NPR, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy recently hosted professor Mark Browning to use some highly questionable math to determine that "25 percent of NPR's funding" comes from taxpayers. Browning, an English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, cited his recently published op-ed in the New York Post in defending this dubious claim.
During the interview on the November 22 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy highlighted what he found to be a "brilliant" part of Browning's calculations -- the claim that because NPR donations can be written off as tax deductible, they're really costing taxpayers tons more than NPR leads us to believe. Doocy said:
And then, something I never thought about -- and this is brilliant. They get 64 percent of their funding from gifts, from individuals and businesses and foundations and stuff like that...And of that money, a lot of it is tax-deductible, so you could argue that that is coming out of our pocket as well.
How does Browning himself describe this part of his theory? He calls it "the only iffy part" of his "analysis." Here's what he told Doocy:
Right, and that's the only iffy part of my analysis, is just how much of that is deducted and therefore subsidized by the government. And there's no way that I can know that, and there's no way that NPR can know that. And that's where that 25 percent -- well, maybe it's more like 30, maybe it's more like 20. But it's still a considerable amount.
Actually, he thinks his math here is less than "iffy." In his Post op-ed, he calls it "impossible." From the op-ed (emphasis added):
The lion's share of member-station budgets, some 64 percent, comes from individual, business and foundation gifts. Clearly, these aren't tax dollars -- but they are tax-deductible or tax-sheltered dollars.
Could all donations to NPR stations come from people who don't itemize deductions? Such a conclusion strains credibility. It's far more plausible to assume (as I do) that wealthier, more tax-exposed individuals give larger gifts, resulting in average deductions in the 25 percent tax bracket. This places another 16 percent subsidy from the taxpayer into the member station's coffers. (A $64 gift results in $16 tax savings.) That assumption is probably the closest to impossible math that I would dare.
This takes us back to [NPR spokeswoman] Anna Christopher's claim that these "figures and assumptions are simply inaccurate." Given that the figures are drawn from NPR's own materials, one wonders how she questions them.
The assumptions, on the other hand, are not quite so sacrosanct. After all, what 501(c)(3) organization can quantify the tax brackets of each of its givers?
It is, indeed, "impossible math." Perhaps the accurate figure is closer to 20 percent -- but it may just as easily be closer to 30 percent. What seems incredibly clear is that NPR enjoys far more than 1 percent to 3 percent taxpayer support.
So what Browning is arguing is that because donations to NPR are tax-deductible, taxpayers are indirectly footing the cost of private and corporate donations to NPR, at a level at which we cannot guess and no one, by his own admission, can truly know. This doesn't sound like math we can trust. Yet Fox is telegraphing Browning's suspect calculus anyway.
During a recent episode of America's Newsroom, Fox Business anchor Eric Bolling falsely claimed that "half of the filers who make over $250,000 will be small businesses" next year. In fact, the overwhelming majority of small businesses would be unaffected by allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire.
That wacky California is at it again! Or so Fox News would have us believe. In several segments on November 16, Fox News anchors distorted a recent California Supreme Court ruling that upholds a law allowing nonresidents who attended high school in California to pay in-state tuition. That group includes illegal aliens, and Fox was quick to paint the ruling as a step towards "immigration reform amnesty."
Fox & Friends kicked off this story on November 16, when Gretchen Carlson teased the story by saying, "A court says illegal immigrants should be allowed to pay in-state tuition. Should they really get a discount on an American education?" Text at the bottom of the screen read, "Illegal discount." Later in the episode, guest host Eric Bolling brought on Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. to discuss the California ruling. At one point, Bolling asked, "Is this the path to some sort of immigration reform amnesty?"
Later that day, guest host Shannon Bream on Fox's America Live promoted the story by saying, "Some of your tax money could soon go to educating illegals instead of Americans, U.S. citizens. And it's all been approved by a very powerful court."
In fact, the law gives the same tuition benefits to U.S. citizens who meet its requirements, and in the nearly 10 years since it has passed, has largely benefited them, not illegal immigrants.
The 2001 law, AB 540, extends in-state tuition eligibility to any student who attended high school in California for three years and received a diploma there. Ten states now have similar laws. This week's ruling rejects plaintiffs' claims that the California provision violates federal law by providing educational benefits to undocumented aliens that citizens can't receive.
Not only does the law also apply to U.S. citizens and legal residents, those two groups are its largest beneficiaries. Students who attended boarding school in California, for example, or who have become residents of other states since graduating from Californian high schools, are the bulk of those able to take advantage of in-state rates. According to an October 2010 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, a judge in the California Supreme Court ruling "cited UC reports that more than 70 percent of the students paying lower fees because of the law are U.S. citizens or legal residents, not illegal immigrants." In fact, the official UC statement on the November 15 ruling explains:
The law applies to students who attend high school in California for at least three years and graduate. It has benefited both undocumented students and U.S. citizens. In 2008-09, for example, nearly 80 percent of the 2,019 students who qualified under the law for tuition exemptions at UC were U.S. citizens or legal residents. Documented students have accounted for over two-thirds of those benefiting from the exemption in every year since the program's introduction at UC in 2002-03.
Viewers of Fox Business must think California is just the biggest spendthrift of our 50 states. The way Stuart Varney tells it, those greedy Californians, by taking "federal taxpayer money," are just robbing the rest of us -- particularly "the hicks who live in the Midwest" -- blind!
But in discussing California's would-be federal subsidies, Varney isn't telling the whole story. In fact, he's got it completely backward.
During the November 16 episode of Varney & Co. on Fox Business, Varney interviewed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Press Secretary Aaron McLear about Schwarzenegger's current efforts to balance California's budget. He asked McLear if he would take a pledge to "not take one more dime from federal taxpayer money going to California." Then he continues: "You guys in California, you've been making fun of...the hicks who live in the Midwest...you've been making fun of them. Now you want their money."
Incensed, McLear told Varney that "[California is] what is called a donor state. We get less on every dollar back from the federal government than any other state. States like Mississippi and Alaska get more back from the federal government for every dollar they spend."
McLear is right.
Numerous media figures have interviewed former President George W. Bush following the November 9 release of his book, Decision Points. Bush and his interviewers used these interviews as an opportunity to rewrite his presidency by promoting false claims and misinformation about Bush's tenure.