Fox News misled on the current budget negotiations with the canard that President Obama was more willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani than meet with congressional Republicans, though Obama has said publicly that he will work with the GOP on reasonable budget proposals and it is not confirmed that he will meet with Rouhani.
On the September 23 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy attempted to obscure the debate over the looming government shutdown with a misleading analogy, citing reports that Obama might meet with Rouhani and contrasting them with Obama's supposed unwillingness to "meet with Republicans to discuss and negotiate over the debt limit." Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. repeated the allegation, calling the president's approach "topsy turvy" and claiming he needed to "focus on the real enemy." Fox then aired a brief clip from Obama's August 20 speech at the Ford stamping plant in Liberty, Missouri, claiming the speech demonstrated that Obama was more interested in attacking the GOP than working with them.
In fact, during the same speech, Obama emphasized his willingness to work with Republicans to find a reasonable compromise on the debt ceiling and budget:
Democrats and some reasonable Republicans in Congress are willing to raise the debt ceiling and pass a sensible budget. And I want to work with Democrats and Republicans to do just that.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also explained Obama's willingness to negotiate on reasonable budget proposals (emphasis added):
So I think what the President said goes to what we've been discussing earlier, which is, when it comes to reaching a broader budget agreement, the President has consistently been willing to seek common ground and to make reasonable concessions to Republicans and to their priorities. What he has not been willing to do is stick it to the middle class in order to achieve some of their ideological agenda priorities, and reach a compromise that benefits the wealthy and corporations, rewards insurance companies, but doesn't help the middle class -- in fact, hurts the middle class.
Furthemore, the Wall Street Journal reported on September 23 that Secretary of State John Kerry would meet with the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the U.N., but suggestions that Obama may meet with Rouhani remain unconfirmed. As Reuters reported:
White House spokesman Jay Carney has deflected questions all week about whether the two leaders would meet during the U.N. gathering. On Thursday, he acknowledged a change in tone between Iran and the West since Rouhani took office and said a meeting was possible, though one was not scheduled.
"It's possible, but it has always been possible," Carney said. "The extended hand has been there from the moment the president was sworn in."
Even if Obama were to meet with Rouhani, the administration has been clear that Iran must abandon any nuclear program. From Reuters:
Carney reiterated that Obama would be willing to have bilateral negotiations provided the Iranians were serious about addressing the international community's insistence that Tehran give up its nuclear weapons program.
"That is the position we hold today," Carney said.
Fox News echoed a Republican plan to promote "rising stars" in the party, debuting a week-long Fox & Friends segment that shares a name with a Republican National Committee initiative to highlight new Republican voices.
On August 15, the RNC announced its new "Rising Stars" program, which would "regularly spotlight and actively promote Republican individuals who are new voices in the party." Fox's Sean Hannity was quick to highlight the RNC initiative, echoing RNC chairman Reince Priebus to note that it was "an effort to attract a wider range of voters by promoting new Republican individuals and talent within the party" and welcoming two of the RNC's new stars, T.W. Shannon and Karin Agness, onto the August 15 edition of his show.
A month later, Fox followed up on the RNC's initiative with its own week-long "Rising Stars" series. On September 16, Fox host Elisabeth Hasselbeck announced on Fox & Friends that "[t]his week, we are meeting some rising political stars on track to reshaping our nation's future." She then welcomed Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon -- who was listed as one of the RNC's "Rising Stars" -- as Fox's first featured guest. During the segment, on-air text promoted Shannon as a "new face of the GOP."
Fox's Stuart Varney deceptively promoted a Republican bill that aims to delay the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) individual health insurance mandate by hyping the proposal's projected deficit savings without mentioning that it would leave 11 million Americans uninsured in 2014 and result in higher insurance premiums.
On July 2, the White House announced a one year-delay in the ACA rule that required businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to full time workers. Later that month, House Republicans passed a bill to also delay by one year the ACA's individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a fine.
Varney appeared on Fox & Friends on September 10 to promote the GOP bill by hyping a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that estimates the bill would reduce the deficit by $35 billion over 10 years, calling the bill a "lifeline" and "a way out" for President Obama and Democrats. Though Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked about the law's intent to "to give everybody health care," Varney evaded, saying that the situation with the law is "chaos" and remained solely focused on its narrow budgetary impact.
Varney's evasion obscured the negative impacts of the proposal. In fact, a year-long delay in the health care law's individual mandate would decrease Americans' health insurance coverage. As the CBO report noted, the GOP's proposed changes would deprive 11 million people of coverage in 2014, leaving a total of 55 million Americans uninsured that year compared to current law.
The delay would also lead to higher health insurance premiums for individuals. According to the CBO report, because insurers would still be prohibited from rejecting coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions, a disproportionate number of patients with high expected health costs would be likely to enroll, increasing costs for all enrollees -- though government subsidies would still incentivize more people to purchase individual health insurance, which would prevent "an unsustainable spiral of rising premiums."
A Wall Street Journal editorial pushed the myth that a Department of Justice lawsuit against credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) is retaliation for the company downgrading the U.S.'s credit rating, failing to note experts' explanations that the suit is likely a test case that may be used to bolster future action against other credit rating agencies and that the suit predates S&P's downgrade.
Fox News medical contributor Dr. David Samadi falsely claimed that he had only been "complimenting" women on their higher use of preventive health services than men when responding to criticism of his earlier call for higher health insurance premiums for women.
In an August 27 appearance on Fox & Friends, Samadi argued that women should pay more than men for health insurance because "they are using the [health care] system a lot more than we are, so they go through a lot of preventive screening, they give birth, they have the whole mammogram, pap smears." He also cited the fact that "women live longer" and that "women have the breasts, they have the ovaries, they have the uterus," while men "only have the prostate," as evidence for why women should pay more for insurance. After his appearance, Samadi was intensely criticized for his comments.
A week later, on the September 3 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade invited Samadi "to clear up" his previous statements about the difference in medical costs between men and women. Samadi misleadingly characterized his earlier comments as a "compliment" to women:
SAMADI: One of the things I said is women are excellent -- and this was a compliment to them. Is that they are very proactive and they go get screened. In my practice it's the women that bring men to our practice because they just -- men don't go get checked. So just like the mammogram, when U.S. task force said women, we don't want you to get mammograms, they went after, they fought for it, and they went ahead with mammograms. With men, when they said no PSAs, everybody said OK. Sound good to me, I'm gonna go watch my sports.
Samadi's explanation of his August 27 comments whitewashes his more outlandish points. Marie Claire blogger Maura Brannigan noted the ridiculousness of Samadi's decision to count the number of diagnosable body parts in determining appropriate health coverage costs, and Slate's Amanda Marcotte highlighted Samadi's evidence-free defense of his claim that women deserve to pay more for childbirth:
As Gretchen Carlson couldn't help but point out in reference to childbirth costs, starting a pregnancy takes two people, but bringing it to fruition only takes one. Samadi didn't really have a good rejoinder to that. "Not always," he said, creating one of those situations where you really wish a follow-up question was asked. Was he suggesting that the ridiculously small number of pregnancies created in single or lesbian women by sperm donors was justification enough to spare men the responsibility of sharing childbirth costs?
On August 26, Fox News hosts repeatedly demanded that the Obama administration make a statement about the shooting of Christopher Lane, an Australian student attending college in Oklahoma, ignoring the fact that days earlier Obama had offered words of comfort to the student's family.
America's Newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum falsely claimed that Obama "so far has been silent" on the alleged murder of Lane and noted that, since Obama previously "put himself into the middle of these situations" by speaking on the shooting of Trayvon Martin, "it raises the question of why he would not, you know, comfort this family, why he would not reach out and make a comment."
Later, on Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity again falsely accused Obama of promoting a "double standard" for being "quick to respond" to Martin's death but failing to speak out about Lane's shooting in the 10 days since the alleged murder had occurred.
But Obama reached out to Lane's family days before either MacCallum or Hannity's criticisms. On August 24, the Australian newspaper Herald Sun reported that Obama, through White House spokesman Matt Lehrich, had released a statement offering his condolences:
As news of the random shooting death continued to make headlines in the US, the President took time out from a tour selling his college reforms to make a statement about the tragedy.
He said through White House spokesman Matt Lehrich that Lane's family and friends were going through trying times.
"As the President has expressed on too many tragic occasions, there is an extra measure of evil in an act of violence that cuts a young life short. The President and First Lady's thoughts and prayers are with Chris Lane's family and friends in these trying times," Mr Lehrich said in a statement to the Sunday Herald Sun.
A spokesman for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said that "[t]he governor thinks the president did the right thing by reaching out to the Lane family and the people of Australia." Obama's words followed an August 22 tribute to "honor the strength and bravery of Chris' family as they deal with this unspeakable tragedy" from the U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich, who stated:
Like everyone else, we are struggling to understand how anybody could commit such a terrible and random act of violence. I've personally pledged to Chris' family our help in bringing Chris home as soon as possible, and to provide them with all the support within our power. We thank local law enforcement authorities in Oklahoma for their quick work and their efforts to bring those responsible to justice.
Fox News has previously attempted to frame Lane as a white equivalent to Trayvon Martin, using the incident in its ongoing campaign to hype "race-related crime" -- even after local District Attorney Jason Hicks told Fox that there was no evidence of racial motivations in the case.
Fox News' morning programming ignored Women's Equality Day, yet took time to highlight "National Dog Day."
In 1971, Congress passed a joint resolution designating August 26 Women's Equality Day, on the date of the 1970 Women's Strike for Equality. The commemorative holiday celebrates the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote, and is intended to call attention to women's ongoing struggle for equal treatment in the United States.
In advance of the holiday, President Obama issued a proclamation highlighting how far equal rights for women have progressed since the 19th Amendment was ratified. He noted that legislation such as the Violence Against Women's Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act continued to advance women toward equality, and reaffirmed the need to "renew our commitment to securing equal rights, freedoms, and opportunities for women everywhere," through further action such as the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act.
Fox News failed to mention Women's Equality Day on the morning of August 26, yet took the time to cover National Dog Day, airing pictures of Fox & Friends hosts' pets:
Over 40 years after the Women's Strike for Equality, women have not reached parity in America. Women continue to make less than their male counterparts, earning just 80.9 percent of what men earn -- a gap of about $163 dollars less per week. In fact, the gap between men and women's earnings widened in 2012.
Furthermore, research has demonstrated the benefits that programs that provide women with affordable access to universal preschool, paid family and medical leave, and affordable contraception could achieve for women's employment and the economy. But Fox has repeatedly ignored how such programs could assist women and their families and dismissed the hurdles that women continue to face in pursuit of full equality, instead turning to demonizing these programs and fearmongering about how greater equality for women is leading to the dissolution of society.
Media Matters searched internal TV archives and closed captioning for the terms "Equality Day" and "dog" between 5 am and 1pm on August 26 on all Fox News shows.
The Wall Street Journal reported that stagnant wages are "crippling" economic growth, debunking previous Journal editorials which have argued that minimum wage increases "hurt the poor and least skilled" and cause job losses.
An August 26 Journal article reported that stagnant low wages in America have contributed to the slow pace of the economic recovery, noting that "[c]onsumers remain the biggest driver of the U.S. economy, but without more money coming in, it will be difficult for them to spur robust growth." The article noted that wages have continually fallen below inflation rates while the insecurity of the job market hurts workers' ability to push for higher pay, "crimping their spending and potentially the recovery."
However, the Journal has previously argued against wage increases for low-income workers. A July 5 editorial claimed "minimum-wage laws most hurt the poor and least skilled" because they "drive down urban employment" and "have cost cities tens of thousands of jobs." Similarly, a March 20 editorial claimed "forcing employers to pay more for labor merely prices young or low-skilled workers out of the work force." These claims are contradicted by the Journal's recent reporting and economic research.
Multiple studies have found that minimum wage increases either increase employment levels or have no discernible effect on jobs. In 2011, the Center for Economic and Policy Research concluded that wage increases were more likely to have a positive effect on employment.
But according to the Department of Labor, the minimum wage is now lower than its historical average, and inflation has already negated the modest minimum wage increase that was implemented in 2009.
The failure to increase minimum wages plays a role in the stagnation of all wages. As the executive director of the National Employment Law Project noted, "the recent decline in real wages is part of a 30-year trend that we attribute to factors such as the declining real value of the minimum wage." The Economic Policy Institute also found that low minimum wages contributed to weak wage growth for the middle class in particular, and were a key factor in the growing levels of economic inequality in the U.S.:
Contrary to some political rhetoric of late, wage stagnation for American workers and rising inequality is not due to lack of effort ... Rather it is due to certain policies that have weakened the bargaining position of low- and middle-wage workers. Among these policies is the refusal to set the minimum wage at a level where it establishes a well-enforced wage floor at 50 percent of the average wage.
Furthermore, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago have projected that raising the minimum wage to $9 would help increase real income while boosting household spending by $48 billion -- resulting in an overall 0.3 percent increase in GDP.
Responding to President Obama's statement that Republican members of Congress are afraid of Rush Limbaugh, the radio host claimed that Republicans are not listening to him -- despite Limbaugh's regular boasting about his influence on the Republican agenda and Republican politicians routinely backpedaling their criticism of him.
Fox News criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for inconsistency in his decision to reinstate four State Department officials who were suspended in the wake of the September 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, but ignored findings from the State Department's Accountability Review Board that supported Kerry's determination that no employees' actions were grounds for termination.
On August 19, The Daily Beast reported that Kerry decided to reinstate the four State Department employees who had been put on administrative leave in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks. The decision came after a review by Kerry and some of his top aides confirmed the State Department's Accountability Review Board's (ARB) finding that "no employee breached their duty or should be fired." Though the suspended officials would not face formal punishment, the review did not find them "blameless," and in accordance with ARB recommendations, all four will be reassigned.
On the August 20 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade cited the initial ARB report before suggesting that the move to reinstate the suspended employees ignores its results [emphasis added]:
ANNA KOOIMAN [co-host]: Again, mid-level, not the top. We haven't seen any arrests from any of this. And these people, yes, they're back on the job, which is good for them, they feel, I imagine. But they have been publicly humiliated and been targeted and identified as being responsible in some ways over the last eight months. And is this fair to them?
KILMEADE: Well Tom Pickering and Admiral Mullen evidently put together a report the administration accepted and embraced, and they concluded that these mid-level guys didn't tell the people above them. All right. So they were relieved temporarily. Told to hand in their badges. Then they got word yesterday, come to work on Tuesday. So who is right? Was it a bad report, bad conclusions put together by Mullen and Pickering, or are they being ignored now by the the Secretary of State, Kerry, which means that he has a better inquiry, better than the one that was commissioned by the administration?
If Kilmeade had taken the time to review the ARB report, he would have known that it "did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty." In fact, Kerry's review "reaffirmed" the ARB's findings and largely supported the Department's eventual decision to assign some blame but not proceed with formal disciplinary action. From the ARB:
The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection. However, the Board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.